Thought For You

For me personally, the last two weeks have been a quietly controlled spell of manic activity in the bigger scheme of things. For a while, I have been locked down in a world of woe, wondering what tomorrow will hold and when the inevitable is going to happen.

It is never a pleasant feeling, knowing that you are headed for a world of pain, and there is nothing that you can do to avoid it, side step it, or even really prepare yourself for it. These are facts of life, nature in all of its cruel splendour, the things we have no control over, pain, sadness and sorrow that there is no words for, no proper way to describe, no real effective means of communication.

What is lovely about being busy is the fact that my mind has little time to ponder these circumstances. I have thrived over the last two weeks, not only from the personal fulfilment of a long time desire, but also from the satisfaction of feeling productive, needed, back in control of something. It may sound stupid, but being able to make decisions, being allowed to make a contribution, being involved as a working part of the dynamic is a strangely rewarding and liberating feeling.

In some ways I am ashamed to admit these words. Regret that I feel this way. Feel bad that I like to feel alive and part of something that I can influence, control and manage. The feelings of uselessness are abated  the frustration of having to sit and watch, unable to change the course of nature is soul destroying and only depresses the mind, body and spirit. There is only so much that one person can handle, and when we are faced with things we cannot affect, we are not only completely out of control of destiny, but also out of control of our feelings and abilities to deal with what is happening around us, this is when we find ourselves at our lowest. This is when we are vulnerable, exposed, out of our comfort zone, alone!

I know what tomorrow holds for me. Maybe not in the physical sense of tomorrow, the day after today, but I know what is coming in my near future, and as I struggle to prepare myself for this eventuality  I have begun to realise that I am totally incapable of preparing myself. I do not have the skills or the experience to know how I am going to handle the things I will have to face. I know not, where I will find the strength to do the things I will have to do. I cannot begin to plan for it, do not want to face it, cannot accept that it is necessary.

Yet, this is my lot. This is the reality of my situation, and so be it. I begin to understand too, that while I am not in a place or frame of mind to really be able to cope with these things, I am in some ways starting to plan for these times. While focusing my mind on things to keep my busy right now is in keeping with my trend of burying my head in the sand and pretending I do not have to deal with these things, in so many ways the things I am engaging in right now are the foundations of my preparation for life beyond my current situation in life.

Networks and friendships I am forging with people who understand, care, love without condition and share without expectation are the corner blocks of setting up a life line, a safety cord that I can reach out and hold in the dark times ahead. There is a sense of relief in knowing that someone, anyone will be there. Loneliness is a curse that no one wishes to meet. It is one that far too many of us live with, accept and embrace. It is a bitter pill that swallows us! I don’t want to feel alone, and I know that you don’t want to feel its embrace either, so when a simple post card drops through my letter box, the person that took the time to write it can never know how special the words scrawled across the white surface mean to me.

When a short and simple message pops up in my message box saying here is a random hug for you, on a day I was just thinking about you, the writer of that message can never truly know how much the words enclosed in that missive sent through the marvel of the internet really means to me.

The cheerful banter in a chat room, the laughs we share on skype… The stories that I manage to get lost in, the encouragement through comments, feedback, conversation….. It all adds up. And I don’t think we really give full credit to the power of these simple actions we undertake on a day to day basis. You are reading this thinking, “heck, maybe he is right,” or maybe you are not, but did you stop and realise while you are reading this, just how special YOU really are?

No? Well take it from me, in my eyes each one of you that make the effort to be a friend are so much more than you allow yourself credit for. It is people like you that make the world spin. You give life meaning, bring a sense of purpose to survival, and without realising it give value to the things, relationships, actions we each undertake, that we become a part of, that we live for daily.

Those things that have kept me busy for the last two weeks, gave me cause to sit and think to myself today while I was working. Yes they kept me active, they thrilled me and involved me and made me feel productive and useful. However, they also gave me a reason to reflect on how much I value the contact that I have with people. People like you reading. Many of you will interact with me in some way, simple and brief as it is, it is appreciated  You may be reading and have never spoken with me before, yet what I say rings true in your own mind, and mirrors itself on your own experiences. Who knows, maybe in reading this blog you will for the first time reach out and say hello, to me or someone else important.

Whatever it is that prompts us to take an action, make an effort, touch a life, it is our humanity and our need to be seen and to feel needed and wanted and accepted that allows each and every one of us to add value to each others lives. I am much like you, much like the person next to you, much others dotted in over 7 billion places across this globe of ours. We are all essentially the same, thoughtful, vulnerable, curious, mysterious, unique, interesting, judgemental….

I could carry on using words into eternity  but at the bottom line of things, we all have to accept that we are no better than the richest or the poorest, the most arrogant or most humble, most knowledgeable or most severely disabled among us. I am NO better than you because of what I do or who I am, and the same goes for you. When we overcome this perception of ourselves and our fellow man, maybe we can begin to understand how special we are, and what level of potential each of us holds. We can change the world by touching people, we can reach out and fill that void of loneliness, fear and pending hurt. We can all make a difference to someone’s life, circumstances and sense of self worth, and is that not something worth trying to do?

For today, I am grateful that I have reached out here, and made friends. Friendships that I treasure, relationships that grow with every day. I say this kind of thing often, and will continue to do so, as I really do believe the things I have said before, right now, and will say in my future are true, important and real. You are Special, today, tomorrow, forever.

Thought for today – “Butterflies do not know the colour of their wings, but human eyes marvel at their beauty. Likewise you cannot see how good you are, but others see and know that you are special.” Author Unknown

Song for today – Feeling the Moment by Feeder


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

LOL or ROFL That’s My Mom

We have always been rather blessed as a family, as comedy for our entertainment through the years has kind of always been provided by my mother. Mom is a wonderful woman, but takes fright really easily and is so gullible bless her. I have some pure classic memories through the years of funny instances and events that provided much mirth for me as a kid and us as a family.

It is always good to get around the table and recount these memories or tease mom over the various mishaps through the years. From bringing a rather posh restaurant to a standstill on Christmas day, to having a coffee shop evacuated in error, or learning to skateboard on a parcel trolley, unintentionally I might add, mom has always managed to make me crack up.

This week was a perfect example. To give everyone some background, my mom has Alzheimers, and I am a full time carer now for her, luckily having been given permission to work from home. Now while this is over all a hugely difficult thing to face, it does produce some moments that can only be describes as hilarious.

On Monday afternoon, while I was busy working in my room, mom occupied herself in her room with some chore or other, and everything seemed fine. At some stage I became aware that mom had been in the bathroom for a fair amount of time. It is like a sub concious thing I have kind of developed to listen for tell tail signs of distress or emergency, even when I am busy.

So, I noticed that she’d been in the bathroom a fair while, and so decided to just give a close listen and make sure she was ok. I could smell her shampoo (it has a really strong scent) and realised she was washing her hair, so panic over. However, a half hour later, she was still washing her hair. I wondered what was up, but again, I have learnt to be patient and allow her to do what she needs to do as long as she is in no danger.

When I eventually heard the door open, I called out to check she was ok, and heard her gawf as she wondered through to her bedroom. I waited for her to change, and could hear her giggling in her room, and by now my curiosity was raised to high levels.

Eventually she came through to my office, and while still drying her hair, informed me she’d had a disaster. I turned to look at her, and asked what had happened. She explained that she’d found some stuff in her cupboard for her hair, and had decided to try it out on a little bit of her hair to see if it still suited her. Well, apparently she’d got more than she anticipated on the one side of her hair, and it was a disastrous colour, (I assume from its age or something). Too shy to tell me, she’d rushed to wash it out, but it took 16 washes to get the stuff out.

Well by now I was giggling myself, just from the state my mother was in while trying to explain this all too me. I got up and followed her through to her room to dry her hair for her, and as we got there I asked what she had done with the ‘stuff’ she’d put in her hair.

“Oh I threw the bloody stuff out,” she told me. “I don’t want to be doing that again.” (please bear in mind my mom’s memory, she’d probably forget she’d tried this in a few weeks, and if it was still lying around might try it again. I am blessed in that my mom is still aware of her mental problems and manages them quite well when she can).

“Oh”, I said. “What was it doing still lying around?” My mom stopped dying her hair a number of years ago now.

“I don’t know, I just wondered what it would look like, so wanted to try a little, but that didn’t work,” she giggled.

“What colour was it?” I enquired.

“Hang on, I’ll go get it,” she replied wondering off as I readied the hair dryer.

When she returned, the fun started…..

What she handed to me was a small bottle of Revlon Facial Foundation in a light sandy colour. Well, I was rolling on the floor. I couldn’t talk, tears were streaming down my face and my sides hurt like hell.

When I could eventually talk, I explained the reason for my hysteria to my mom. “This is facial make up,” I explained.

My mom’s eyes became the size of saucers, and she proclaimed, “Oh good God, what would I want to put that s**t on my face for?”

Well, this moment will live long in my memory. My mom is a fine old lady that has done so much for me in my life, and while it is hard to deal with what is going on around me, it is our ability to laugh that makes it bearable some days. I hate to think about the reality of it all, but they say it is the good things in life you remember the longest. In this instance I know that this is true.

We will all face hardship and difficult times at some point in our lives, but even in the darkness, there are days that are good days.

Thought for today – “While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.” – Angela Schwindt

Song for today – Mama I Love You by the Spice Girls

Climb Every Mountain

So the London 2012 great Summer of Sport came to a close this evening as the Paralympics came to an end at the Olympic Village.

It has been a fantastic display of achievement on many fronts. Not only did we witness man going faster, further, higher, we learnt that the British are not as bad as we imagined, that a warm, friendly environment is as much a part of London as it is in Sydney, Beijing or Athens.

We saw 70,000 people emerge from the shadows and step up to the mark to become Games Makers, a fitting tribute in name to a voluntary army of individuals who made the face of the London Games. Some of us were blessed with continuous coverage of every sport on individual channels. We got interviews, felt inspired and challenged and impressed by the talent, determination and ability of men and women, young and old, of every colour, creed and walk of life.

We celebrated Iranian success in London, we rejoiced at Libyan sporting representatives. There were smiles and tears, pride and heartache and all the finest things attributed with the human endeavour of sporting achievement.

So, what did it all mean for me? What did I get out of the amazing display of talent and British pride.

To be honest, I was lucky enough to be caught up in a world of excitement and intrigue first hand, and was thrilled by the opportunity, and have memories that will last me a life time. Did that move me, or have a lasting impact on my perception of the world? Sadly I can only say that as a person that loves sporting endeavour, and as an avid sports watching fan, it was to me just another Olympic games. Yes admittedly, it was in my back garden, I got to participate in the event, and greatly enjoyed that. However there was nothing fundamentally outstanding about it for me.

That was until three weeks later, when for the first time ever, I was almost forced to become wrapped up in the Paralympic games. For anyone living in the UK, they will know that it was almost impossible not to get caught up in the fever of it all, as British Channel 4 television mounted a relentless coverage of 11 days of ferocious sport.

One of the first things I noticed that gave me pause for thought was the song choice that Channel 4 used for its theme tune to its coverage. I was somewhat mystified as to its choice, as the full song is nothing about sporting endeavour, or celebrating the good of mankind. The track, Harder Than You Think by Public Enemy is a rap tune that talks about the hardships of Afro American people and I suppose that it was drawing parallels with the prejudices that disabled people experience that prompted Channel 4 to choose the track. However, after hearing the tune several hundred times during the many advertising breaks that peppered the coverage of the sport, I began to hone in on the opening line that the edited version of the song used on the tele.

“Thank you for letting us be ourself.”

It was this that really pricked my consciousness and in some ways, actually got me a little wound up. I mean, for starters, people with disabilities are not second class citizens. They are not a special breed to be allowed to be themselves once in a while, for which they can celebrate being allowed to be “out” and free. Why on earth should they have thank us for allowing them to be themselves. I mean they are who they are, people with soul, spirits, passions, desires. They bleed red, and cry tears just like you or me. Maybe that was me being over sensitive, but after hearing the line over and over again, I did begin to wonder if anyone else had noticed it. Maybe the Paralympians do feel a need to thank the world for recognising them on the same platform that we do able bodied Olympians, but we don’t expect Olympic competitors to thank us for being allowed to be Olympians. Where is the equality in that?

I was fortunate at a young age to be confronted by disability first hand, by having a friend who was an amputee, and maybe that has given me a more open out look on disability. I learnt not to be shy to look at a disabled person, or speak to them as an equal, without the feeling of curiosity, or the guilt of that same curiosity. I learnt to deal with the awkward stares and the lack of words. I got over the feeling of  pity and the feeling of wanting to protect or prevent further hurt from coming to my friend.

In reality I discovered that Ian was just like me. Yeah he only had one leg, but in every other way he was a horny teenage boy with dreams, insecurities, determinations and abilities. He was resourceful and boy could be accomplish something once he’d set his mind to it. While in our later years, we have lost touch, he is just as successful today, in fact being the proud owner of a restaurant and a fully trained master chef somewhere in Austria last I heard. I take my hat off to him, and knew from way back then that he’d be a successful man one day.

But this is the thing. He didn’t want pity or special treatment. He never had to thank me for treating him as someone different, or being allowed to be himself. Now looking back, and thinking about things a little more, I realise that as children we don’t have prejudices. We are less inclined to make judgements or draw conclusions based on our own shortcomings and inability to deal with disability or disfigurement. I have seen people unable to look at a disabled person while talking to them. I’ve heard people say less than pleasant things about them. I’ve even been guilty of being patronising towards a disabled person myself. Maybe in as much as our kids are able to look beyond the limitations and be accepting and open and friendly, we can become, or more importantly I can become more understanding of a disabled person to be seen first as a human being, and second as a person with a disability.

While I like to think I am not too bad, I found myself thinking “shame” as I looked on at some of the participants on track, and I woke up to a realisation that even though I may think I am not that bad, there is so much more that I could do to be more aware of disability and learn to consider them as equal. Seeing beyond the disability to the true person inside, and give everyone the same chance I would give an able bodied person, or desire to be given myself.

The UK are pretty damn good at looking out for the interests of disabled people. I have seen more provision for people with all manner of challenging conditions in this country than anywhere else I have visited, and that is something to be proud of. But while our institutions and government maybe get it a little more than the average Joe Bloggs on the street, I honestly do think that this time around, the Paralympic Games in London have challenged a nations perception of disability and disabled people. I know it challenged me.

One of the commentators said of the games that, “back in Sydney the Paralympic Games gave disabled people a platform to become equal with their able bodied brothers and sisters in sport. The London 2012 Games gave them a platform to become heroes”, and it was this statement that made me realise that disability in my mind has come of age. It is not something to fear or pity or look down on. Disability is a challenge in life, just as much as able bodied living is a challenge. Yes they are on different scales and make life difficult in a variety of ways, but give a man an opportunity and watch in amazement as he learns to perfect, excel and master his art. London 2012 showed me and the world that regardless of adversity, application and dedication to the task at hand, hard work, guts and a desire to win is a part of every walk of life, able bodied or otherwise.

Thought for today – “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” – Napoleon Hill

Song for today – Every Tear is a Waterfall by Coldplay

Let Them Know They Matter

So it has been a tough couple of weeks for me which culminated in a bit of a disaster yesterday. Here is how it unfolds…

As a person I tend to be a pretty private person, but when I find I like someone I will open up pretty quickly, and hey I think we are all like that to a degree. You have to let the people you want to become close too, to see the real you. Sometimes slowly, but once in a while you do it a little faster than at other times.

Well, time and life has taught me that this is not always the best thing to do, coz once you start to let those walls down, you expose yourself to hurt, and people are fickle. They build impressions, make assumptions and guess an awful lot, and when things don’t pan out quite to what their expectations were, you find yourself carrying the can. Yep, you may assume from this that I’ve been disappointed, and the answer to that would be yes, but then haven’t we all at some point in our lives? So pick myself up, quit moaning and move on. Fair enough.

Now this is where I open myself up to share a little piece of me with those of you that bother to read. I could easily allow such an experience to sour my perception of the world. In 38 years of living it has happened enough times to make me fed up of having my feelings trashed at the feet of people that couldn’t care less, and yeah at times I just wanna scream. I wanna smash something, lash out and be nasty. What would I gain though?

We cannot change who we are! This is a fundamental fact of life. You may be able to alter little things, you might be able to harden your heart, but you are who you are, and you have to find a way to be happy living in your own skin. I can honestly say that this is not as easy as it may seem. Some people have a marvellous ability to appear happy all the time. Some of them really are happy, but for the vast majority of us we are smiling to the world to hide our scars, laughing with friends to fit in, and giving the impression of happiness to fool ourselves into believing that life isn’t so hard.

This is the thing. Life is tough, for me, for you, for any one of us. We look at the rich and famous and think they have it all, but reality knocks and truth is happiness isn’t found in wealth and fast cars, trendy clothes and expensive gifts. Sure money might make things a little more fun, but money can’t buy you the one thing that you really need to be happy.

Wanna know what I honestly believe that is?

Simple. People around you that honestly, truly, and without compromise love you. Happiness lies in the people that are there to pick you up when the chips are down. Happiness is being able to share with someone that listens as much as they speak. Happiness is knowing that you have someone that you can call any time you need them, be it 4am in the morning or 8pm at night.

They will cry with you, laugh with you, go shopping with you. They have the courage to tell you when you are being an idiot, they will tell you when you are heading for disaster and they will always be there to help you pick up the pieces. These are the things, no, hell no, these are the PEOPLE that you must learn to treasure, and if there is one thing that you have to do in life…. Tell them you love them. Tell it to them each and every day if you feel you must. Tell them how important they are, how special and unique they are, and how much they make your life worth living. Don’t assume these things are known! Tomorrow will come and it is always too late when the chance is stolen.

See this is the stark realisation that I came to this week. You may or may not know that I care full time for my mom who as an elderly woman has a fair few things wrong with her, so it is little wonder that at some time in the near future she will pass on to that special place where she will be happy and free from our worldly woes. But I shudder to think how I will deal with that day when it comes, and on Friday afternoon, I almost thought the day had come. My mom collapsed in my arms and lost consciousness for a period of time. My initial thoughts when she went down was that she had died in my arms, and while that may sound awfully dramatic and maybe a little over the top, when it happens to you one day, you will appreciate the fear, horror and alarm that suddenly courses through your veins and races through your mind.

I was sitting there on the floor, with her head on my lap on the phone to the ambulance people begging her not to die because I hadn’t told her how much I love her. Now in my case, I am a mummies boy. Probably why looking after my mom is actually quite a pleasure for me, and while it depresses the hell out of me to watch her slowly deteriorate, and I feel so useless sometimes to stop it, I do get an element of satisfaction out of being there for her just as she was for me once.

Now please, I know that every one of us has different circumstances, and some of us have had wonderful home lives and others have not. Some of us are close as families and others not, so please don’t feel that this post is trying to tell you to bridge gaps with your family or something. Your circumstances are your own, and you know them better than anyone, so will know what is right and what is wrong for you. But….. we all have someone special to us. A friend, a relative, a pastor, a partner. Who ever it is, don’t be stupid like me. Don’t just assume that they will know.

Heck obviously my mom knows that I love her right? She is my mom for crying out loud, it is fairly natural to expect that despite our differences and arguments and fall outs over the years, to expect that she knows I love her, but the truth is, when I was sat there with tears running down my cheeks looking at her pale body on the ground, all I wanted to do was tell her how much I loved her.

And this is the point I try to make today. People in life will let you down. People will hurt you, abuse you, tear you apart emotionally, but a small handful of very special people will be there for you every step of the way, and it is only right to let them know how much they really mean to you. It doesn’t have to be some big display of affection or a statement of intent. Simple words like, ‘Hey you are a really special person to me, and I love you.’ This is only my own humble opinion, but we need to let those special people know how important and loved they really are. It is for your own good as much as theirs, and heck it really ain’t that hard.

Hope that these words will encourage you to go away from here today and tell someone close that you care enough to tell them they are loved.

Thought for today “When you are up, your friends know who you are. When you are down, you know who your friends are!” – Brian Marijeni

Song for today – From a Distance by Bette Midler