Summer’s here! No it isn’t… Well…

People always joke that you can tell it’s Christmas because Easter eggs are in the shop. Well, we’ve just done with Easter (there are still loads of eggs in the shop, mind you) so, one could be forgiven for thinking that it must be summer now. Is it just me that gets confused by this, or do you humans have a problem with it too?

True, it rains all the time here, so it could very well be summer and nobody has told me. But the rain slamming down on the conservatory roof feels at odds wth the flip flops and picnic paraphernalia I saw half an hour ago in the shops.

The clocks have gone back. The body clock however is having slightly more difficulty adjusting. I’d hate to wake up late one morning and realise that I’d missed summer. It is, after all, the best day of the year. Yes, I know. I don’t like sunshine. It hates me back. But a summer’s day is delightful, if confusing in the wardrobe department.

Sunhat and wellies?

Scarf and sandals?

Waders and sunglasses?

Oh, the combinations are endless.

The furball continues to take me on long walks (she’s currently mapping the local area in her little doggy brain, and enjoys knitting places together in the oddest combinations). She also continues to try to drag me into the sea after her. And all the while, she still refuses to stick her nose out of the door if it’s raining. Consequently, she’s in the conservatory, surveying her kingdom from the warm, dry safety of her sofa. And while she’s out there doing her ‘Mistress-of-all-she-surveys’ routine, it’ll hopefully give me the opportunity to squeeze in some yoga without her

a) giving me an impromptu face wash

b) mistaking my ‘downward dog’ for me wanting to play with her (that often ends up with a rope toy swung into my face)

c) showing me up with how weirdly bendy she is

Our earlier walk was, surprise surprise, on the beach, which this past week has been increasingly populated by tourists with their free-range mutts. Next week, she’s got a shock in store. I’m starting running again. And she’s coming with me.

Ah! I know what the giveaway thing is. I’ve remembered why I keep thinking summer might be on its way.

Endless holiday adverts and people bashing on about being “beach body ready”

Huh?

The beach is ten minutes down the road.

I have a body.

Boom.

Job done.

Oh! You mean the body has got to be perfect?

And by that, you mean so skinny that I could snap in half if caught in a high wind?

Well, that’s going to take a bit longer.

Because I refuse to be told what to look like.

Because even if I did, the vox populi (which thanks heavens, is not vox dei) would still find something to binch about.

Because I prefer to be strong than skinny.

And because, in order to fulfil this impossible and fake ideal, I’d probably have to give up chocolate.

And I’m no quitter.

 

There’s no business…

…like snow business.

First of all, I hope everyone is keeping well and warm. I don’t have a problem with the cold weather. One of the advantages of my vampire metabolism. I don’t feel the cold the same way that you do.

I have to admit, the only problem I do have is that when I’m writing, my hands have a tendency to get a bit chilly, but that’s about it. I think they move so fast over the keyboard that the blood gets confused and doesn’t know where it’s supposed to be… Still, it’s a great excuse to have lots of hot drinks.

Here’s my current favourite: turmeric latte. Get your spices mixed… 3 parts turmeric, 2 parts cinnamon and 1 part each nutmeg & ginger. Throw in a pinch of finely ground black pepper (helps absorption). Keep it in a cute jar. Heat up a mug of milk, stir in 1/2 teaspoon and sweeten. All those lovely spices will warm you up and just taste downright naughty. Obviously, I use non-dairy milk (coconut works best with this), because, well, vampire metabolism… Can’t touch most animal-based stuff. Ironic really.

The furbaby is refusing to leave the house. While other people are posting photos and videos online of their doggies leaping around like joyful loons in the snow, mine has turned into a teenager.

She’s staring at me, sandwiched between two (yes, two!) duvets.

“You need to go outside.”

Silence.

“Food?”

Flicker of interest.

“Walk?”

Death stare.

Last night, just after midnight, she leapt up and decided she had to go out. Now. Right now. Now! Come on, hoomin!

You have got to be kidding me, pup.

So she darted out, neatly dodging the knee-high drift at the back door. She hared around, did what she needed to do, and threw herself back inside, in much the same style as a stunt man in an action movie.

And, pretty much like a stunt man, she decided to make use of available props…

Like the snow drift.

Cue internal explosion of snow. A wall of cold froth boomed its way into the conservatory (the same one she’d been sunning herself in only a couple of days previously).

Result? Snow on the floor. Snow on the walls, the windows, the ceiling (what the-?!), and one snow-coated vampire. Head to foot.

So while she thunders her way back upstairs (probably nicking my space in the bed), I’m stood there picking potential snowballs out of my ears, mouth, nose…

We’ve gone from action movie to comedy in ten seconds flat.

Thanks.

Stay warm. Stay safe. And if you can help anyone else to, please do.

Take care.

Re:Fuel

Serious post time.

Bullying.

Harassment.

Call it what you will. It takes many forms. I’ve been reading up on all this a lot recently – surprise, surprise and while there’s a lot of stuff out there on bullying, it’s still mostly school-oriented. I observe it everywhere. I may be a recluse, but I still like to sneak out and people-watch. The problem is, it doesn’t stop when you leave school. There is no age limitation on being a bully. Or on being bullied. There is still very little is about bullying in the workplace or within families – even with recent events. ‘Straightforward’ harassment / abuse, yes, but not much else.

So, what have I gleaned from my research and my own observations? It’s like that story of the three people in the dark room with an elephant… One feels the leg, thinks it’s a tree. One feels the trunk, thinks it’s a snake (he may have been the one who ran screaming to find the light switch), while one feels the tail and thinks it’s a rope.

I’ve realised that all these little snippets of information form a cycle. I suppose it’s also relevant to continued bullying in general. All of these little snippets feel like platitudes until you link them all up…

1) You’re kind/pleasant to the bully.

2) The bully mistakes this for weakness.

3) The bully tries to control you (and hopefully fails).

4) The bully realises they can’t (hopefully).

5) Then follows abuse, lies, misrepresentation, manipulation of how others see you.

6) There’s a break.

7) Reconciliation of some sort.

8/1) You’re kind/pleasant to the bully.

AND OFF WE GO AGAIN

And that’s only if you’re lucky. Sometimes the process ‘succeeds’ (for the bully) at step 3). Usually the target cracks at that step. If they’re lucky /strong / have support, the targeted person may get to step 4). If you don’t have support, then please, please, please find some.

The difference being that hopefully the bullied person learns and either stops the cycle at 6) or changes themselves before they re-enter the fray because, let’s face it, the bully will never learn. They’ve been way too successful for way too long to stop using a winning formula. Plus, if an outsider calls them out on their behaviour, all it takes is a few crocodile tears and they’re safe again.

Sadly, for my own part, I realise that most of the major changes in my life have come about as a result of being bullied… Leaving my home country (twice), becoming a first-time homebuyer, leaving a profession (the same one – twice)…

And why does it keep happening? Because of step 1). Does that mean we take it out of the equation? No. Let’s face it – bullies won’t change. I mean, why would they? They’ve got a winning formula.

So…

You say to yourself…

If the bully/harasser isn’t going to change what they are or what they do, then I’m not going to change what I am (let’s face it, I personally wouldn’t be able to). But I do need to change what I do.

So stop the process at 6). Don’t go to 7). Let them try doing a little of 1) for a change. But it’s quite safe, because we all know they won’t. They won’t ‘lower’ themselves to ‘your level’. They’re too proud / powerful. They have too many people already in their pocket to make it worthwhile. And you can always tell who those people are – they’re the ones who say things like:

“Surely it’s not as bad as that?”

“I think you’re making a mountain out of a molehill.”

“I think you’re overreacting.”

“Well, you’re not exactly perfect, you know.”

“Ignore them, they’ll soon get bored.”

“Well, I’ve never found X to be like that at all.”

“Some christian you are. Aren’t you supposed to forgive /l ove everyone / turn the other cheek?”

“It takes two to tango.”

But, whatever you do…

DON’T STAY SILENT.

Does it take guts? Undoubtedly.

But is it possible? Heck, yeah.

Missing the point(illism)

Bonfire night, scattered over a fortnight or so, is more or less officially done with now. It’s once more safe to go out. I’m surprised we still celebrate it, given the Politically Correct culture we now live in.

I was never allowed to attend these ritual burnings as a child. Mother would not allow it. I thought it desperately unfair. Of course, it’s only as an adult that I realise (with great annoyance) that she was correct. She had a very good reason – possibly two – for her forbidding my presence there.

It turns out I can’t be around fireworks or large fires. I found out the hard way. When I went to university, I made full use of being ‘off the leash’ and went to a bonfire party at the first opportunity that presented itself. The next few days were spent in asthmatic regret. Clearly, the smoke and fumes are some kind of vampiric Kryptonite.

Oh, the other reason? Well, you do know about how to kill a vampire? Perhaps she was concerned that, if anyone found out about me….

Anyway, let’s get back to the disgruntlement…

I have mentioned this before, that sometimes in life we are told things that are initially an affront to us. We stomp, we whine, we moan about how unfair it is on us. Of course, if it is a case of political correctness, we state how unfair it is on others.

Off at a tangent, I was once severely told off for laughing at a blonde joke (I am extremely blonde, as you may recall). Yes. Told off. That’s not funny, they said. That’s offensive, they said. Why aren’t you offended? they said. My reply was quite simple (and probably equally offensive) ‘Oh, I don’t need to be offended at blonde jokes. I have people who do that for me. They’re called brunettes.’

Anyway, back to my point. Pun not intended. Have you ever seen a Pointillist painting? Artists such as George Seurat (apparently people in art galleries get upset if you call him George Sewer-rat) created the most incredible works of art using, not brush strokes, but small dots of colour. This means one thing though: stand too close to any of his paintings and they just look like a mess of tiny splodges. But stand back…. and be prepared to be hit by the beauty and sense of his work. Yes, sense. Suddenly, it all becomes clear.

Yup. And that’s life for you, too.

Although, here’s the thing…. this happens on a couple of levels. Live long enough, and you’ll see the pattern emerge.

1) The conscious level. This is all those times someone (usually a parent, haha!) gives you advice/instructions that at the time annoy the bejabbers out of you, only to discover afterwards (sometimes years afterwards!) that they were in fact, correct.

2) The subconscious level. This is where the big pain and big changes often happen. This is where the ‘advisors’ themselves are actually unaware of what is taking place…

Who are they? Usually (but not always), they are people who pride themselves on their ability to manipulate people and circumstances and are so often totally unaware of the big picture. Of what is actually occurring. Of course, I speak only from my own past experience. It can also be a pleasant process, with pleasant people. But, more often than not, it isn’t. This is why it all seems so clouded and incomprehensible at the time.

Sometimes you will find someone who plays chess with people’s lives, moving them around like the useless or inconvenient pawns they presume them to be. Playing with them like a spiteful child would play with puppets.

What few realise is that it is they who are the puppets, with the Universe, some greater power using them as tools to force/enable us to move onto some greater purpose. And as they clap their hands and congratulate themselves with smug self-hugs on another life ruined, another face-that-doesn’t-fit gone from their tiny kingdom, little do they know they have in fact helped the caterpillar break (however painfully) out from their cocoon and take to the skies of their future. They are in fact being used to help you, not hurt you – ultimately. Though it’ll never feel like it at the time!

So many incredible things in life are achieved only through pain: birth, growing teeth, healing…  Think of how a horseshoe is made – no amount of pleasantries or cajoling will coax that straight piece of metal into its final shape. Try it. Okay, start with something feasible like a wire coat hanger. Tell it to become an egg whisk. You know, one of those curly ones. Talk to it nicely. Offer it treats, bribes, then ultimately reminders, particularly about ‘how disappointed’ you are. I’m guessing nothing much will happen until you forcibly twist and twirgle it into shape. Ouch.

Think something doesn’t make sense? Step back.

 

 


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Sometimes the best things in life are free!

Life is pants.

“Never sweat the petty things, and never pet the sweaty things.”

Good advice.

I also like “Never sweat the small stuff. It’s all small stuff.” I’m not sure about the link between perspiration and good advice, but I’m sure someone out there is clever enough to come up with a syllogism for that too. There is so much advice out telling us what not to do for a happier, healthier life, in the form of books, videos, cute little memes (yes, them again!). But say we’re fortunate/determined enough to give up over-thinking, over-analysing, over-indulging, over-anything-else-ing, with what exactly do we fill the void?

Over the decades, I’ve seen so many parents barking ‘don’t ‘s at their kids: don’t run, don’t talk back, don’t put that in your mouth, you don’t know where it’s been (bonus points on that one!), without offering an alternative… I would just once like a toddler, on being told not to run, reply “But mother, I’m only three years old, it’s in my programming to run everywhere. I’ve only recently perfected this technique of movement, and I wish to maximise my newly acquired skill. Give me an alternative, mother, and I will gladly comply.”

Or, more simply put – “Don’t run? What else am I supposed to do?”

So, here’s my two penn’orth: always have an alternative option to hand. Want someone to stop doing something (and that includes you!)? Then give them an alternative or two to try out. In sort, have a Plan B (C, D, and so on). Have a escape route. You always have a choice.

I like to do swapsies… Swap horrors for delights. And make the most of those delights, even if they are only tiny ones. Find yourself a list of simple pleasures. Make these the things you dwell on as you fall asleep at night, rather than visualising the person who hurrumphed at you in that queue, or who took your last Jaffa cake…

There are a few simple pleasures in life which can’t be beaten. Not in the schadenfreude kind of way, you know, where you derive deep pleasure from seeing the person who cut you up on the road get stuck behind a horsebox. No, I mean the true, pure innocent pleasures of life.

Here are some of mine…

  1. Moonwalking (literally) out of a pair of socks after a long day.

  2. Duvet Arms. This is when you snuggle down under the covers after sitting up in bed with bare arms. Try it. You’ll be glad you did.

  3. Climbing into bed with fresh sheets, especially after a shower.

  4. Radiator Pants. On a cold day, leaving your clothes on a radiator overnight and donning deliciously warm undies the next morning.

  5. Sitting down on the sofa and finding that the cushion fits your back perfectly, without any need to shuffle it around first.

What five things will make your list?


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…because no good story ever started with a salad.

One Meme Mama

****WARNING****

This is another of those posts which are unsuitable for anyone of an oversensitive disposition, and may contain opinions which differ from yours.

Okay, those of you that know me will get that the above is largely tongue-in-cheek. Having said that, I am unapologetic for being me, as I have had very little offstage practice at being anyone else.

I do feel that, as I’m on my soapbox today, you do at least deserve to be forewarned in order to prepare your nerves for one of my inevitable rants. Perhaps ‘rant’ is a strong word, but certainly these days, anything spoken about with passion or conviction is pigeonholed as either ranting or rousing – depending on where you stand via-à-vis the issue in question.

Yesterday, I saw a meme on one of the many available social networks. It was a beautiful selection of pastel swirls, decorated with a suitably heroic font and almost perfect grammar.

Only a mother can love and protect a child.

At first I wanted to reach for a bucket at the emotive saccharine. That quickly changed to a little hurt and outrage as it (I felt) sought to over-spiritualise those that do, and marginalise those who don’t have children.

So, let’s burst that elitist bubble right now. I have charge of a small group of darling little humans once a week. I teach them about being alive; they teach me about being human. I would happily die for any one of that little group. Or kill for them. I know which option sounds more fun…

No, I don’t have kids ‘of my own‘ (like you could ‘own‘ them anyway!). No doubt something else to do with my crazy vampire genes.

I’m going to throw out a few generalisations at you. Fellow vampires (if there are any) – please feel free to back me up here…. we don’t feel comfortable at baby showers. We’re grateful for the invite, to know you are including us but when we go, it does feel like we’re the only gluten-intolerant at a coffee morning…

Look, we know you can’t have cake, but you’re welcome to watch us eat some. Ooh! Here’s a Victoria Sponge for you to hold.

(the little devil sat on my shoulder tells me I should know my place as an inferior specimen and to hold my envious tongue. He then kicks me in the ear for good measure).

Ok, so no, I have never given birth. But then, neither have a lot of adoptive mums who will switch just as quickly to mamma bear mode when needed. I’ve never been catapulted into the heart of a sun, but I still know to put sunblock on if it’s a sunny day.

But here’s a thought that’ll fry your pancakes.

Everything happens for a reason, right?

What if….

What if the reason that some of us don’t have kids is not what we think?

I’m talking big, philosophical reasons here, people. Two, at least.

Bear with me: this applies to humans too.

Number One

I believe there is literally more to life than what we have in this physical body. what if it all plays out on a longer time scale as a result?

To clarify – consider the way we could never have all those things we wanted as a child (remember saying “when I grow up, I’m going to…”?), but we were able to do/have/be those very things when we became adults…

What if, in the grand scheme of things, this life is only the childhood section of an eternal life track..? Trust me, I’ve had long enough to contemplate eternity!

Number Two

And this is the possibility which I find particularly makes sense to me :

They say (I’ve still to discover who ‘they‘ are) that life/God/the universe only gives you the lessons you need to learn. Notice how certain things keep happening to you, until you learn to get past them? A good teacher will never set a task that the pupil has already succeeded at. What a waste of time that would be! When I went to school, my first teacher did not teach me how to go to the toilet successfully – that had already been accomplished (the same went for reading and writing, incidentally).

So what if…

What if the reason some people remain childless is because the skills and talents needed be a parent are already in place in these individuals? What if it’s actually a box we’ve already got ticked?

Lesson learned, move on.

What if we don’t have kids because we simply don’t need to practice being parents? (oh, you’re just trying to justify your failure to accomplish a fundamental human function, says the little shoulder devil again. Well, he can do one, for a start) Look around at the people you know that don’t have kids. I’m betting a fair few of them are actually pretty good around the little ankle-biters. How did they get to be so good with kids if they don’t have any in what must be their empty, unfulfilled, incomplete little lives (yes, I’ve had all those adjectives levelled at me at various points in my ’empty’ life!)?

But, in the meantime, we have to live in a worldly world that wants everyone (humans and vampires alike) to feel pained over what they don’t have. To focus on that pain until they – we – feel like utter failures.

I can’t ride a bike, said the fish. I’m a failure.

I can’t fly, said the elephant. I’m a failure.

Stuff this, said the earthworm. I’m outta here.

Excuse me, I have an imaginary shoulder devil to throttle. Please feel to give your own a darn good talking to as well.

 


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(((hugs)))