Charity Begins at Home

dfid_logo_largeFor all the bad press and the flak that the British people get across the international spectrum, it was satisfying to see recently that the UK is the only one of the G8 Nations, and only one of 6 countries world wide that met their commitment to spend 0.7% of the Annual GDP on International Foreign Aid.

This afternoon as I was sitting watching TV, I was subjected to a barrage of Adverts appealing for charitable donations for everything from clean water charities, to ones that protect working donkeys around the globe. However, one of them stood out to me and got me thinking. It was a call for people to donate to pay for support to be provided to the refugees of the Syrian civil unrest.

Now I feel sorry for the innocent people caught up in the horror of war. It is never a pleasant reality to have to accept when we learn of the suffering, hardship and risk to hard working, normal citizens of any nation on earth. These are the facts of war, people are displaced, put in harms way, used as human shields. It is hard to deal with the images that are flashed across the screen, being used specifically to emote and provoke a response within you.

Having worked in the third sector, I know all too well how it is the powerful effect of seeing children suffering, or animals that are suffering in silence that bring the money rolling in through the door. What you don’t see luxury trimmings that senior management enjoy every day behind the scenes. The fat pay cheques, the nice cars, the expensive dinners, the plush offices, the flights, the hotels suites, oh the list goes on and on. But we all know and chose to forget that this is all a part of running an effective multi billion dollar charity. Hell the budget that these charities use on television advertising could probably educate a small army of third world children each year.

It was not this that got me itchy though. The more I thought about it, the more I began to wonder, how it is that only six nations have met this commitment to foreign aid. Who are the biggest donors, who make sure they meet their promises, and what did the league of international aid donors look like?

Before we actually look at the top ten donors in the world, let’s just check who the top ten richest countries in the world are by GDP for 2013, courtesy of Forbes Magazine In order from the richest, the top ten are; Qatar, Luxembourg, Singapore, Norway, Hong Kong SAR, Brunei, USA, UAE, Switzerland, Kuwait.

So then I took a look at the list of the top ten International Donations in the form of Aid. These are nations that have been donating a huge chunk of their wealth as successful hard working and profitable countries to those less fortunate. So who are the top ten this time? Well according to the United Nations this time, they are; Sweeden, Norway, Luxembourg, Denmark, Netherlands, UK, Belgium, Ireland, Finland, France.

Amazing. Not one of the Arab nations, places rolling in the wealth of oil profits, places that are so wealthy they can afford to build fancy palm shaped islands and state of the art cities, no expense spared. These are nations that don’t blink an eye at squandering billions of dollars building a ski dome in a desert, or buildings that defy the laws of nature.

Yet, despite all that wealth, NOT ONE of them are listed in the top ten countries that donate to the well being of others. Truth be told, the UN website provides information on the top 25 nations, and not a single one of them are from within the Middle East. Yet, here I am on a Wednesday evening, sat watching an advert on British Television appealing for UK Citizens to donate £2 a month to funding aid work in Syria.

The Western world have poured billions of dollars into international aid efforts in support of Arab nations all across the world. From Palestine to Pakistan, Syria to Libya, Turkey to Mongolia. These are the very nations that call for Western blood and despise our way of life, yet when the chips are down they are perfectly willing to allow the aid agencies to come running with their good will and generosity, no thanks needed.

It is pathetic. How a nationality of people, a whole section of our creed of mankind could be so small minded that when it comes to being able to reach out and alleviate the suffering of those less fortunate than themselves, that the Arab people collectively seem incapable of putting their money where it matters.

I accept that this is not the rule that applies to every person within the Arab community, and there are sections of the UK Arab fraternity that are as active in funding aid efforts to the Middle East as some Western Agencies. However I am disappointed that collectively as a people, with nations as rich and powerful as they are, they are not leading the way by example.

If the UK were to stop it’s international aid commitments this year, we would be out of debt in record time. We would have huge swathes of money available in our coffers to build new roads, create jobs, build infrastructure to support a real first world nation. Thing is, as a people, we actually do care about what happens in the world around us. Despite the fact that most people think that the Brits are a little pompous, maybe a bit full of themselves, probably aloof, the thing is they really do have a reason to be.

It does bug me, and seem rude, yes I accept that. But when you have a nation that actually steps up to the mark, takes its responsibilities seriously and gives a shit about others before themselves, then I am sorry, but next time you want to go burn a flag or spread some hate, look at home. You might find you get more achieved when you start to sort things out in your own back yard.

Charity really does begin at home. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The first world needs to wake up and realise that we need to get it right at home, here in our nations, where our people are suffering and struggling; before we go running off to fix the rest of the world. Nature is cruel, it is harsh and it is unpredictable. You can’t save them all. I cannot help but wonder if the Euro Zone and Northern American Alliance were to turn off the tap of International Aid tomorrow, how long it’d be before the world went into total melt down. Sad but true, half this world rely on the backhanders and funds that pour out of the coffers of a very few nations that help to prop up and sustain a world in need, while the rich and greedy, just get fatter and greedier.

Advertisements

Europe 2013 – The Fifth Reich?

The idea of the Third Reich was something that we became expressly familiar with through the second quarter of the last century. The German Empire was established by a power hungry megalomaniac hell bent of World Domination and German Totalitarianism. A single nation, under the leadership of one party, for the good of one race of people, come hell or high water. The effect of this madness? A war that wiped out millions of people, flattened whole cities throughout Europe and damaged the economies and geopolitical landscape of the Euro Zone for decades to come.

Fast forward sixty years, and the current German Chancellor seems to have pulled off what the Nazi Dictator Adolf Hitler yearned to do without the shot of a single bullet, without the concentration camps, massive armies and widespread destruction of infrastructure, assets and the establishment. How? Simple, forget about using the dominance of force, and allow the folly of man’s greed play the power into your hands.

Europe 2013 is meant to be a United Zone of nations, brought together in a common interest, to give equality, diversity and collective prosperity to every member country right? Governed by a parliament, protected by a system of complex legal legislative directives, and operated for the preferential treatment of members through a variety of agreements and allowances that enable growth and development through trade, financial stability and equality.

In its simplest terms, the Euro Zone is an agreement which sort to unify Europe. In a world unbalanced by national policies designed to protect and ensure the stability of the national economy of a country, areas of global inequality in terms of workers rights and how the protection of these rights has lead to areas like the Euro Zone finding themselves incapable of competing against developing markets where labour is cheap and operating costs are low, the idea of a unified, equal and protected Europe was appealing to all.

Industrialised nations were only too happy to climb into bed with their lesser developed neighbours as they saw opportunities to secure markets for their skills, manufacturing industries and productivity. As prosperity grew, the union, flush with the proceeds of member nations keen on building equality to stimulate trade, grow internal markets and develop the region, was only too happy to distribute huge financial incentives in the forms of this grant or that loan to facilitate infrastructure projects which in turn lead to the stimulation of job creation, and promoted an internal demand for manufactured goods, skills and supply lines throughout the Euro Zone.

All well and good while the system is working. Everyone seems to be equals, there is a collective system of bringing concerns to the table, discussing them, and working together to resolve any issues. Legislation is worked out, debated and determined to the benefit of all the member states, bringing into effect a national style of identity across the board in all EU Member Nations. Employees suddenly have equal rights from Romania through to France. Members from any member nations enjoy freedom of travel/movement. Protections are in place to protect savings, business, trade, infrastructure, natural resources, the environment and the collective economies of every member of the union.

Courtesy - Derek Bacon - Getty Images

Courtesy – Derek Bacon – Getty Images

That is, until something goes wrong. Cue the global financial meltdown of the last five years. In these unprecedented financial times, it is clear to see the cracks in the system. Equality? What equality. For the first time in half a century, German dominance has once more taken centre stage as Angela Merkel shows time and time again over the last few years the reality of what equality means for Greek and now Cyprian citizens.

What truly beggars belief is the complete madness of fiscal policies that the Euro Zone seem willing to implement in nations on the edge of the system, places where it would seem to be of little consequence whether the idea is of sound and logical design, but drawn out more from a need to appease voters at home, than the equality or future reality for real, honest citizens of this United Europe. In a market desperate for stability, direction and a clear sense of responsibility, all we see are leaders rushing to dodge the bullet, pass the buck, and make sure at whatever cost that they are protecting their own national interests. Bugger the United Europe in this instance.

The worrying trend for me is the way in which at every turn along this torturous road it has been the German politicians that have really been calling the shots. Since the demise of the world money markets, we have seen any number of wealthy European Economies fall into fiscal woe. Ireland, Italy, Spain, Portugal to mention but a few. Yet in these cases billion dollar bail outs were handed out freely, without bringing a nation to its knees. Now however, when it comes to less important member states, economies perhaps not viewed as critical to the Euro stability, that we see the reality of what equality means to the German powerhouse. The sad thing is that when it comes down to it, no one within the Euro Zone has the financial muscle to stand up to Angela Merkel, and for this reason, she is able to bull headedly put the very future of Europe at risk to maintain credibility back home.

There is an argument that says Cyprus has become a safe haven for Russian Billionaires who use it as an off shore centre of storing large deposits of dirty money, and for this reason, why should German tax payers foot the bill to bail out the Cyprian government in their hour of need. I would love to see this argument used in Switzerland should heaven forbid, it ever need a financial bailout. Regardless of who has banked their money in a nations financial banking system, how does this translate to fairness when a fiscal demand attached to a bailout offer sees consideration given to taxation of ordinary savers who have placed their hard earned money into accounts throughout a nations banking system.

Stop for a single moment and consider what savings are. I have listened to numerous financial experts who freely wag their chins on Radio and National Television suggesting that savers should be exposed to the same type of risk as anyone investing their money in any type of investment based on the expectation of a payment of interest on their savings. For the vast majority of people, savings are exactly what they would suggest. Deposits made into what is perceived to be a safe and secure domain to prepare for a capital purchase at some time in the future. Why do we use bank? If it were safer to keep my money stored under my bed do you not think I would do this? The only reason we place our hard earned capital into a bank account is based on the idea that for the 95% of the population that are not wealthy, the bank is the only safe institution where we can store our money while we go through the motion of saving up for that deposit on a house, a new car, a family, education, business idea.

If we perceived a savings account as a financial risk, would we use it as a way of keeping our money safe? If we were told openly and honestly that in real terms, this is NOT a savings account, but a vehicle of investment, a loan in effect to the bank, and there was no guarantee that we would get out of it as much as we put in at the start, would honest, hard working, average people be at all interested in depositing any sum of money into a savings account?

Quite honestly, if this was the truth they were forced to print in the literature of a savings accounts terms and conditions, I could see the sales of home safes going through the roof in the next five years. If you are looking for a fairly good stock market investment right now, Chubb would be a pretty good bet!

All jokes aside, it is astounding to me, or any lay person, that anyone with access to the top financial economists money can buy, would even consider the proposal we currently see on the table in Cyprus. A tax on savings is ludicrous. Do you WANT to start a run on the banks? Are you seriously looking to destabilise the rest of Europe? I mean come on, can you honestly tell me that no one considered that a possible result of such a proposal would be that savers in every European Country in financial difficulties right now, would not look at the proposal in Cyprus, put two and two together, and realise that, just maybe, their own savings could now be at risk?

I am no economist. I do not work for any government, nor do I confer or speak daily to financial experts, and even I can figure out that this is a potential risk. Why? Simple. I am a saver, with funds in a large British Banking institution who is wondering if my savings could ever be pounced on if the UK gets into choppy waters. We’ve already been downgraded by one financial institution, indicating that they are expecting us to have difficulties in repaying our debt. What can I draw from this? At some point in the future, it is likely if not certain that the UK will default on its payments. When this might happen, who knows. It is even possible it will never happen, however, for someone out there, it is a very real possibility, and for that reason, it is a very real concern to me.

So what do I do? Rush down to the bank and draw out my savings? How many other people throughout Europe are asking themselves the exact same question right now? How do we now AVOID a run on the banks?

For many people, this is quite simply a fore runner of a tax on wealth. This means that for 5% of the worlds population, they are really itchy about having to pay more on their vast sums of money, so they would prefer to see 95% of the worlds population suffer to foot the bill so they can continue to live in the lap of luxury.

Fair? Where is the equality in that? No, I am sorry this is not balanced Europe. This is not a place where it does not matter what you bring to the table. When it comes down to the crunch, it is the people with the power, in this instance our good friends the Germans’ that are calling the shots. If it is not in their interest to offer a bail out plan, then to hell with it, they will bring the EU to its knees before they see any more of their taxes paid out to help their neighbours in the Euro Zone. So that concept of equality, openness  fairness? Yes well, it works when it is in our interest to see it work, but when risk is put before us, and you expect us to come to the rescue, expect your lives to become a living hell while we do it.

As a simple worker, a person much like the majority of the sixty plus million people living in the UK, all I can see from where I stand is a super powerful Germany becoming a dictatorial leader within this Europe on our borders. When ludicrous fiscal policies are being put forward, debated, considered and insisted on by the weight of a financially powerful nation within a Union, I would suggest that the union is not quite a union. I cannot help but wonder if there are people behind the strings, hell bent on collapsing Europe. Plunging the world into an economic melt down like no other. Let us be quite clear. When the normal man is losing everything he owns, there are powerful institution’s, and hugely wealthy people making money as a result of the collapse. Is this what is really going on in the Euro Zone?

I cannot believe that the German’s do not know what they are doing. I am not able to believe that no one in a position of power has not been able to consider the very things that I have written about above, without considering the risks associated with these actions, and for this reason alone, I cannot help but wonder what the real reason behind it is. For a long time, people have talked about a single currency, a worldwide monetary system, the phasing out of dollars and cents, and the introduction of a financial monetary system for the digital age. Is this how they are going to do it? Force the collapse of one major economy? It is only logical that the collapse of one single national economy will start a chain reaction around the globe.

We are teetering on the edge of oblivion. In our life time, money, the way we buy and sell, our value system and how we trade will change. For this to happen certain things have to take place. Look for example at how the British people have resisted the Euro. The offer 20 years ago of a single currency, an inter dependence, a great new world was a bridge too far for simple people. The idea was shunned, and so back to the drawing board they went. So if you can’t get people to buy into an idea openly, how do you introduce the idea? You create a set of circumstances that demand that people have to adopt your idea to survive. Bring the world to the brink of a financial melt down, threaten peoples savings, lose people money in bank collapses, bankrupt a country or two along the way and what happens? You will cause a panic like never before. Introduce a solution, in a single currency, a digital trading system that does away with paper money and plastic credit cards, and means that you store your financial certainty in your body in the form of a chip or some such device, safe, secure and never again at threat from being lost in some scary international collapse, and every single person will buy into your idea without batting an eye lid.

How certain are you now that Germany are not behind some weird kind of world domination conspiracy? Didn’t the Third Reich want to own the world?

I am not one for a conspiracy theory if I am honest. There are too many ifs, buts, ands, etc. Questions without answers, and assumptions without evidence. I don’t like assumption. However what I am saying is that there is something more than meets the eye going on here, and if it looks like a dog, sounds like a dog and feels like a dog, then sorry it is a dog!

I don’t know exactly what is going on, but one thing I am certain about. We will see a very different world soon. It is going to happen in our life time, and not for the first time in my life, I am certain that these are the end of days as we know them. Something very different is coming and it is coming soon.

Greed Will be the Death of Us

2426469440_3b104dcc4d
Picture courtesy of http://www.drawntonature.co.uk submitted by kjhayler

I am lucky enough to have grown up in a place where I was able to be close to nature and bare witness to some of the most remarkable animals on our planet.

I consider myself honoured to have been close to elephants, been charged by a rhino, stood eye to eye with a water buffalo, watched a pride of lions devour its kill. I’ve stroked a cheetah, albeit a baby one. I have listened to the hyena giggling outside our tent in the dead of night.

I’ve taken pictures of the cutest jackal (i never knew they were so small) and been scared witless by a puff adder crawling in our garden. One of the joys of living in Africa is being on the doorstep of some of the most spectacular game and natural beauty on the globe. Anyone that lives there knows it, anyone who visits it, knows it, and anyone that’s seen pictures of it knows it.

But this is the scary thing to me. The idea and thought that one day soon, all I will be able to look at to recall the magnificent creatures that I was once able to stand and watch roaming free, alive and wild is a picture like the one above, scares the hell out of me.

12 animals, slaughtered for nothing more than an ivory tusk by a gang of professional poachers???

When the hell did poaching become a professional occupation? In Africa poaching has always been a serious issue. Mainly due to its vast size and poverty stricken people. Give a man an opportunity to feed his family for a year without hassle and you have a powerful motivator in your hands to inspire anyone to commit the most heinous of crimes against our natural world.

The latest outrage to have made the press in a big way over here is an attack in Tsavo National Park in Kenya. A place where once over 30,000 elephants roamed free and wild, a place where now concern is so critical that a government is considering the formation of a national army to fight against poaching gangs. So is this the launch of an International war on Poaching?

The crazy thing is that we living in the Western world get outraged as we see these things happening around the world, yet 50 years ago, it was us doing similar things in the pursuit of an ivory trinket to adorn our mantle or line our necks. Furs, skins, heads, teeth, body parts. You name it, we’ve wanted it, pursued it, taken as we please. Even I am guilty of this. Leather jackets hanging in my cupboard. An ivory handled letter opener on my desk. Think about it, nearly everyone of us are in some way guilty of it.

Now as another part of our world comes into its time of wealth and prosperity, all those things that we enjoyed at the height of our time at the top, is now being craved by a whole new generation of people willing to pay the price to have the status symbols of success and power. And only now are we outraged by the senseless killing! Cites? An international treaty on the trade of endangered species? Hell it is a treaty without muscle and one that fails to go far enough to secure and ensure the safety of what little natural beauty this world of ours has left.

It is the incessant greed of mankind that will be the ultimate downfall of this planet. We won’t stop wanting what others around us have, until there is nothing left to want, and then even more. If is not the tusk of a Rhino to enhance our sexual performance then it will be the hide of some poor beast to line our boots and make our hand bags look pretty.

Of all the things that I miss from Africa, the outdoor beauty of the natural world is the biggest on my mind. I cherish the moments I’ve spent on safari, camping, exploring the vast open savannah plains. My heart cries out at the senseless killing of such a treasure trove of beauty, yet I know deep down it will not stop. One day, very possibly even in my lifetime, I will not be able to dream of returning to see and explore the beauty I remember from my childhood, and that my friends is criminal. If anyone has the right to expect to be left in peace and allowed to prosper and multiply it is the animals that do nothing other than to enhance and give great wealth to our natural world.

Woe are we, for we all have blood on our hands.

Thought for today – “Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty.” – Socrates

Song for today – Caribbean Blue by Enya

Top 5 Television Adverts of 2012

So last year I spent some time going through all the adverts I could remember from 2011 and shared my top 5 selections with you. Hmmmm, well I think I started something that would just be totally uncool not to continue, and see how things develop over time. Don’t you think?

As always, 2012 was filled with a mind bogglingly huge selection of commercials to choose from. There was really great ones, okiesh ones, and of course the epic fails that continue to plague us through the year. The Go Compare team still fail to understand the concept of great advertising, and for yet another year we’ve been subjected to hours of some operatic twits warbles in a vain effort to convince us to partake of the offerings from Go Compare.

Compare the Market have milked Aleksander for as much as they can get out of him for a while I think, and while I loved the concept at first, their range and ideas have become rather stale and bland through 2012 in my opinion.

Cilit band continues to torture us with Barry Scott and his ludicrous claims that Cilit Bang is so powerful that it even has a turbo boost , which it advertiseses by parking a jet in a hanger with a couple of shelves of Cilit Bang around it. Turbo Power? I didn’t know jets had turbo’s!!

Of course the list of painful, dull and lifeless adverts is endless. As I have said before, I like to be wowed by a commercial. Made to think or made to chuckle. Keep it fresh, keep it relevant and entertain me. In this way, maybe I am really actually interested in checking out your product or service.

There are some companies that you expect to produce a great advert. Places like British Airways, or John Lewis. Marks and Sparks and some of the big name Corporate Brands. I think John Lewis totally missed the mark with their Christmas advert this year, which was a disappointment, and in a year when so much was going on in the UK, BA really missed an opportunity too. But even though some of the big boys on the block didn’t feature, there are some pure beauties still.

So for this year, these are a selection of the five best adverts in my opinion. I am not sure which one is the best, so there is no specific order to them.

1. E.ON Best Deal Advert

2. Pedigree Denta Stix Advert. This makes me chuckle every time.

3. The BBC 2012 Olympic Coverage Advert

4. Cartier Long Form Advert

5. Matalan Christmas Advert

Compared with last year, it was not easy to choose my top five this year, and that was not because there were too many too choose from. I guess that the lack of money is even hitting advertising budgets ey? So of the five presented, which is the best in your opinion then?

The Value of True Friendship

This is a funny old world in terms of friendships, relationships and how we interact with people. I have found over time that my outlook on life, and how I value my friendships has changed so remarkably in the last few years, maybe as a result of doing a bit of growing up myself.

Traditionally I have always been terrified that allowing myself to ‘grow up’ or become more mature would make me boring. I guess in my limited view on the world, once you got to thirty or something, you automatically became old fashioned, boring or too sophisticated to have fun.

Well I’m thirty nine now, so been in my thirties for quite a while, and I’ve come to realise that being thirty does not make me any less weird or crazy than I really ever was. The biggest change is that my body can’t keep up with what my mind wants to do, and as a result I am frequently at an internal battle to get more out of myself.

Another thing that I have come to realise is that once you get over that hurdle of accepting that age is not the be all and end all of life, you actually begin to realise that older people are indeed a lot more fun than I’d ever given them credit for. Yes they have so much more life experience and are more willing to er on the side of caution, but this is not because of boredom  it is more to do with them wanting to help us avoid pain or hurt in the long run, or simply avoid it for themselves.

We don’t give the older generation the consideration or credit they deserve sometimes, and I have been massively guilty of this in my time. It is sad to think that it has taken all this time for me to realise this. I have written a couple of times on my blog about age and how the golden glow of youth is so treasured and sort after, and I think that much of the world chases after that image of perfection and eternal youth. I know that personally I never really wanted to grow up. Foolishly, I always wanted to consider myself young at heart, and I figured that this meant being young in life, but sadly I have grown up, and aged and gotten older and wiser. I now realise that I can remain young at heart without having to associate with the young, and still be able to enjoy myself without the fixation on youth.

As a matter of fact, I am beginning to learn that without the fickleness of the young, relationships, friendships and communication is a whole lot simpler, more sustainable, and has a loyalty and stability that I am wholly unaccustomed too. Friendships up to date have existed around a bristle of selfishness, uncertainty and an egotistical climb to the top of the ladder. Don’t get me wrong, friendship is friendship, and I have wonderful memories, and some amazing mates, but I do believe that while most friendships have a certain degree of selflessness, and an awful lot of selfishness, there comes a time in your life when this balance swings in the opposite direction, and you begin to realise just how important and precious friendship really is.

We all use these words; “I love my friends, I couldn’t live without them!” Yup, even I have been one to say something similar. “You can never have enough friends!” The cliché statements about friendship are endless, and while there is some truth in the words, the majority of it is a hollow expression of what we want the world to believe we mean, but fail to act out. As I reflect on friendships I’ve had in the past, I can’t help but face the fact that I’ve been guilty of failing to be a true friend. I’ve always had a selfish streak, expecting people to stay in touch with me, always chasing the next big fix, forgetting about the people that maybe need a quiet word, or a simple hello. The worst thing is realising that there were people who were that kind of friend to me, and have fallen by the wayside as I surged onwards on my selfish quest for self fulfilment or something I never really found.

Oh how the benefit of hindsight is a curse. Hindsight is a wonderful teacher, and if we heed the lesson, and we can change. Yes I have waisted some cherished friendships. People who have moved on, yet at one time or another were right there at my side, and while I may never get that back again, I can learn to shift the balance towards being a true friend myself. As you grow up in life, you begin to understand that the world does not revolve around you. There are those that are delusional enough to believe this still, and for them I feel sorry, but for the vast majority of us, at some stage in our lives, we wake up to the fact that we need to give more than we receive to survive. This is the balance of true friendship.

For some, they will learn this lesson very quickly. Others, like myself, will take a while to get it. Whatever the time line, we all come to the realisation one day that we are not islands in the world. I see those that think they can survive on their own terms, and revel in their selfishness, and while I do not despise them, I only see myself in them, and realise that at some stage in the future, they will come to the hard realisation that their point of view, selfishness, and deluded understanding of true friendship is skewed.

So while in my past I have been foolish, I have come to learn that friendship can be very satisfying with people from every walk in life. I have met and continue to meet amazing people in my life and slowly I am learning so much about life, myself, and the world around me. The people I am lucky enough to consider my friends are teaching me that sharing is a wonderful thing, that life has many facets, and that learning to accept who I am and what I am to the people that see me, is all part of being alive. There is true value in a strong relationship, and not every friendship is based on some form of attraction. There are many assets in the people around us, and each has their own special gem, a quality that makes them stand out from the crowd. It is taking time to see beyond what I need from a relationship that has allowed me to realise that I have so much to give. I can be a good friend, I can share, I can make a difference with a simple hello, or a kind word spoken on a bad day. To those that have taken the time to befriend me and show, teach and encourage me, thank you. You will never truly know the full impact you have had on my life, and continue to have every day.

Thought for today – “Trust is like a mirror. You can fix it if it is broken, but you will always see the crack in its reflection.” – Lady Gaga

Song for today – Here In Your Arms by Hellogoodbye  

Never Feel Alone

I love to keep busy. It makes the days race by, and all of a sudden, look, it is Saturday, and I am left wondering to myself where the hell did the last week go?

The plus side of being a busy bee is that your mind is occupied and you get to spend lots of time doing fun things that recently you have not really been given the opportunity to enjoy. But then with every up side, there is a down side too, and while I have really enjoyed being as busy as I have this week, I have also missed kind of having my finger on the button so to speak.

Does anyone else suffer life withdrawl symptoms?  No? Ok, I’ll shut up now! :P

lol. So you are all reading this thinking ‘God Rob’s gone mad!’ and to be honest you wouldn’t be far wrong. Life recently has been such a wild roller coaster of up hill and down hill, bored to distraction one moment and rushed into a manic frenzy the next. I do kind of feel like a tornado has swept through my life and left me very uncertain of where the heck I landed.

Learning that life has moments of chaos and that we are actually quite adept at sorting it out, adapting and getting on with it is often an amazing feat that i pause to marvel at. Humankind has got to be the most adaptable creature on the planet, and the age old saying of “We’ll make a plan” rings as true today as it ever has. Sometimes they are botch plans, temporary fixes, a patchwork to get us through the moment. Other times they are organisational wonders, detailed plans that involve hours of preparation  loads of operational skill, and produce amazing results.

Thing thing that I always find amusing about this random approach to our circumstances, is how often we are as unsuccessful as we are in getting the results we wanted in the first place. Failure is an ever present part of the plot, the uncertain and unpredictable result, much the same as a roll of the dice. Yet this doesn’t seem to phase us as people. We just plough on, pick up the pieces of our failure and find another way. I love that about the human endeavour.

Watch a small child. They set their mind on an eventual goal, and learn through experience how to go from where they stand, to the mind blowing feeling of achievement that success brings to us. It is this desire to win, this overwhelming burden to get it right, be the best, find a way, that makes us special people. So even in the chaos of random activity, the pressures of our daily lives, we still manage to find a way.

Ways to stay in touch. Ways to let those who matter, know that they are important. Ways to stay healthy, and fed and watered. Ways to keep our finger on the pulse. So yeah, I guess I am just saying that despite the fact that we dip in and out of the focus of our friends and acquaintances  it does not make us any less special, needed or important. We may from time to time feel a little isolated, lonely or forgotten, but reading between the lines, we realise that there are times we all just don’t have the time we wish we had. It is probably just at that moment that the people you miss need to hear that you are there, alive, well and thinking of them. A simple message, a word of encouragement, a smile on a highly pressured day. These are all things we need, cherish and desire, so make a little effort and remember that those around us have just as much on their plate as we do on our own. Together we are the ones that make the difference in our world. :hug:

Thought for today – “How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in our weary world.” – William Shakespeare

Song for today – Girls and Boys by Blur

What defines Love?

There is one thing in each of our lives that affects us in some fashion regardless of how we might try to avoid it, fail to understand it, or seek to find it.

It can be illusive, it can be mystifying, it can be frustrating, it can creep up on you unexpected. It amazes us, it brings us great happiness and unbearable heart ache. This wonderful, powerful, thing is not a person, it’s not physical, it’s certainly not something you’ll see or meet, yet it lives in each of us, can be very physically expressed, and you see it on peoples faces every day and meet it every time you find two people in love.

Love. Only four letters. Such a simple word, but one of the most complex emotions know to man. It is something we all crave, something we need, a feeling we require almost as much as we need food or water to live.

Yet as much as we need it, it is not something common to find. It is something we mistake too easily, a feeling we share too freely, an emotion we abuse, take for granted and lose far too much. It’s something that when we have it we are blissfully happily, and when we find ourselves without it experience feelings of loneliness that makes life quite unbearable.

What is it about love that makes it such a domineering emotion for mankind? Why do we need it so?

I think if we were all to list our personal reason for its importance in our lives, it would be interesting to see the different levels that love impacts our lives on every level. I also think that we’d do well to see the variety of reasons that we present for its importance as part of the reason for its complexity. You see, everyone views love through different eyes. We all have different expectations, our needs, insecurities, dependencies, curios traits, funny habits and a whole list of other factors of each persons personality that makes love one of the biggest things of our lives.

Some would say that you only have one shot at true love. Others would argue that you can find love anywhere if you look hard enough. I believe that a lot of people hide behind the word for a variety of selfish reasons. Some will tell you that real love arrives when you find your soul mate, and yet more would try convince you that love is all about learning to love.

But what is it about love? I mean come on…. What is all the fuss about?

The truth? We are not designed to survive without it. A human man, a woman, a child…. We cannot survive without love.

As a child we learn love through the expression of those around us. Mainly from our parents, but in some cases from others that show us time, care about us, and makes us feel warm, safe and special. We learn to feel comfortable in love. It brings us happiness, acceptance, safety, companionship and possibly most importantly gives us a sense of identity. Knowing someone cares that much for us kindles a fire within us. It’s these feelings that drive us. We all want to feel them at every level of our lives, especially from our peers, from our friends, from the people we like, the people we choose to spend time with. Without these feelings where would we be?

Love can be expressed in many ways, but which ever way we receive it, there is something about it that is special for each one of us, and these are the feelings we crave the most. So next time your thinking about love, just stop and ask yourself what it is that makes love special for you. I think you’ll find it’s not an easy question to answer, but taking a moment to try understand it gives us a completely new appreciation for it.

Thought for today – “You can close your eyes to the things you don’t want to see, but you can’t close your heart to the things you don’t want to feel.” – Johnny Depp

Song for today – Caribbean Blue by Enya