Tag Archives: laughter

No Damage

No Damage
No Damage by K A Hodgson. Available worldwide on Amazon.com & Amazon.co.uk

I can’t stop smiling today because I have finally finished and released my book No Damage. I have been writing my story since early 2012 and simply cannot believe little old me has written a book! What makes it even more incredible and joyful is that REAL people are reading my words and leaving the most beautiful customer reviews. I feel like checking it is me they are talking about.

‘I’m only on page 15 of No Damage by KA Hodgson and I get the feeling that after reading the whole book it will change my perception on life. Incredible book, well worth a read (available on Amazon)’

‘I couldn’t put this book down. The writing is so honest, with such sense of humour. I laughed and cried all the way through. Highly recommend’.

I poured heart and soul into sharing my story, I cried many tears and often felt like giving up but I carried on because I had a dream and I still hold that dream close to my heart and tucked away in my hands. From the moment I began writing, I knew that all I wanted was for No Damage to reach people across the world and inspire them. All I wanted was for my words to bring comfort to those that needed it most, to bring laughter, encouragement and a reason to smile when the going gets tough. I wanted to shine a light on the dark corners of life, talk about the taboos and bring hope to the world. I also wanted to delve into the utter embarrassment of being left at the almost-altar twice, the hilarity of internet dating as a novice and somehow finding myself in a South African prison. Life really did throw some curve balls at me for a few years! In spite of everything that happened during those years, this book is a funny and uplifting look at life that promises to inspire the reader. Please enjoy and help me make my dream a reality by sharing this story with your family and friends.

The true story of a woman on the eve of turning thirty who seemingly had it all, with a successful career and home life, until her first fiancé left her at the almost-altar one Christmas and her life began to spiral out of control. This is the hilarious, brutally honest and uplifting story of one woman’s journey to survive having TWO runaway grooms whilst coping with cancer, internet dating as a thirty year old hairy legged novice and her ridiculous, enormous dogs. This is the story of turning a broken life into something brilliant.

No Damage on Amazon.com

No Damage on Amazon.co.uk

‘A beautifully written book. Fascinating in its honesty, gripping in its drama, entertaining in it’s humor and inspiring in its thought provoking analyses of the difficult situations faced by the author in some turbulent years of her life. I challenge anyone to read this book without laughing out loud and shedding some tears.’

 

No Damage Cover

For the following people and their blogs who inspired me, thank you and Merry Christmas. You are all incredible!

Apartment Wife

Be the love of life

Bucket List Publications

Dave Cenker

Piano with Rebecca Singerman-Knight

Leap life a frog

Miss Lou acquiring love

Letters to Humanity

Less equals more

Cupcake n sunshine

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Autumn Blanket

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Today I am in utterly in love with autumn. Despite the fact I live in the southern hemisphere and it is notably warmer than an autumn in the UK, I can still feel the change that moving through autumn and into winter brings within me. The shortening days undoubtedly send me into a slower pace of life and I find myself longing to hibernate under a thick blanket with a bottle of red wine and a pile of nostalgic films. The golden crushed leaves on the sidewalks have been swirling up around dogs and walkers alike and the south easterly wind sends my long hair flying free. As the wind whips past I am craving deep rich hot chocolate of an evening and thick oat-filled syrupy biscuits. I long to see root vegetables on my plate in all the colours of autumn from the blackest purple beetroots to the vibrant yellow of squashes and roasted sweet potatoes. As winter sets in I wish to have my dear friends over for poker nights and share my love of food, books and writing with those I know that care for such things. In all I am craving warmth, comfort and companionship.

 

In a nod towards those desires I have taken to making my own granola and I have packed the freezer with the resulting little niblets of heaven. My granola has so far consisted of a happy mix of oats, pumpkin seeds, chopped figs, cranberries, pecan nuts and almonds. All mixed up with a generous dollop of raw cacao paste and virgin coconut oil, many dollops of raw honey, a dash of olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt and a generous sneeze of cinnamon. I baked the mix in the oven for 20 minutes on a low heat and I can honestly say it makes a perfect snack to go with a cup of tea. My next plan is to find a way of making it without baking so I don’t lose the goodness of the raw honey. Raw honey is number one on my list of must eat foods these days for health and wellbeing.

 

Autumn here is also a time of new beginnings for me. As the heat of the summer is becoming a distant memory I am able to run through my local wetland without falling into a heap of sweat and dizziness. I still turn heart attack red but at least I don’t actually feel like I may have a heart attack during the cooler autumn days. I am stretching my limbs to the bright blue sky in an attempt to regain my fitness one step at a time. I will become a better runner and I am also going to start practising yoga, which is something I have always wished to do but have so far avoided. It is time to get stretching my body and also my mind – which will be achieved with the inspiring world of TED Talks. I recommend to everyone that they watch at least one TED talk a week to experience their vibrancy and inspiration. The talks cover every topic one could wish for and really are an incredible motivator. First up on my list are these little gems and I can’t wait to watch them:

Success, failure and the drive to keep creating – Elizabeth Gilbert

Why giving away our wealth has been the most satisfying thing we have done – Bill & Melinda Gates

Why I must come out – Geena Rocero

My daughter, Malala – Ziauddin Yousafzai

The sunrises at this time of year are spectacular here and I am incredibly lucky to be able to witness many of them from the boat at work each day. Check out this little number courtesy of Mother Nature. A perfect work of art.

 

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As if that were not enough happiness I have also had the pleasure of my Dad visiting us for the past ten days and it has been blissful. My Dad and I have always shared an especially close bond, like many fathers and daughters, and our latest adventure has been perfect. I had the delight of showing off my gorgeous partner in crime to my Dad and vice versa and I have watched them form their own friendship and bond over long walks in the hills, evening fires and bottles of wine from Stellenbosch. Look at those happy faces!

 

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They say it all to me about the importance of family and friendship. I have also finally been able to share my beloved sharks with Dad and it was such a privilege to share his first cage diving experience with great white sharks. My Dad is an adventurous soul and inspires me to be positive and full of life in the years to come. I will always remember him lying horizontally in the cage, feet up on the edge, the sunshine beating down on him, without a care in the world and surrounded by magnificent sharks. What an awesome example of being free. I really couldn’t ask for more. Have a wonderful Monday and may you all be free and happy this week whatever the season and weather.

 

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Happy Branch

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I played a little game this morning. The sun is shining down upon my patio and, as my mug of green tea steamed up my glasses, I thought why not. Let’s get creative and explore for a moment. It led me to this. I wrote down six emotions I have felt this last week that I am not particularly fond of. I wrote them out hastily in my black biro – perhaps a reflection of how much I disliked these feelings? Not a pink pen moment. Emotions that have pushed me off my happy branch where I like to bask in the sunshine and preen my feathers. Emotions that sent me fluttering to the rain sodden ground like a tired crispy leaf in autumn when I was enjoying being the pink, scent-filled cherry blossom in spring.

My mind, in her infinite wisdom, enjoys sending me upon an emotional rollercoaster now and then and I figure there is always a lesson to be learnt. I try hard to work with her, I try hard not to fight her and accept that the downside of being creative is perhaps being prone to a little too much self-awareness and a little too much of the crazy. In the absence of a lesson I roll my eyes at her and laugh as I climb my way back onto the happy branch again.

 

 When all else fails. Laugh and do it loudly. Often

 

With that in mind I started my game with some heartfelt laughter and wrote down the six emotions that left me on the rain sodden ground earlier this week. I scribbled hastily on my scrap paper as I lay in the sunshine. I asked myself….

 

How do I bring out the good in these emotions?

Can I use my heart and mind to make them blossom into something more beautiful?

 

I wrote down the ways in which I try and bring out the good in me when those emotions come rolling into my mind, demanding to be listened to and cultivated. The ways in which I aim for the sky instead of turning into a crispy leaf. I asked myself…

 

What happens when I do these things?

What is the benefit?

 

Now this was absolutely a pink pen moment. A grin spread across my freckled cheeks, much like the Cheshire Cat, as I wrote down some surprising realisations of the good my efforts can bring to myself and those around me. This only took me ten minutes. Ten minutes of scribbling, exploration and a cup of green tea. It was worth every moment, just to get to know myself a little better this morning. Try it, you might be surprised at the result.

So here is my list and the discoveries I have made on my patio today. I think they have a touch of relevance to us all. They give me a ladder back onto my happy branch whenever I need it most. I hope they will do the same for you.

 

 Fear

The feeling that tightens your chest and leads you to believe that you simply cannot do it. Ever. You will fail; your paralysis and terror tell you that is the truth. Left to her own devices Fear can be a cruel vixen indeed and magnifies with every frightened breathe you take.  When Fear rises within me I try and recognise it and take a step back to focus on her arch enemy Courage. I think courageous, playful thoughts and imagine me conquering Fear with my Superhero pants on and shouting chaaaarge very loudly. I ask myself that age old question ‘What would you do if you had no fear? If you knew you couldn’t fail?’ As I start to imagine a world of possibility the fear subsides and is conveniently replaced with one of my favourite emotions. Excitement. You know who she is. The one that puts the sparkle back in your eye with her giddy tone and makes you giggle uncontrollably in anticipation.

 

 Jealousy

This has to be right up there as one of the worst emotions to experience. The bitter taste of green, much like overcooked cabbage. I have moments of jealousy where I desire what others have, just like we all do. I ache for the flat stomach and long legs of the pretty people rather than my rounded little belly and the 29inchers that are apparently fully grown legs. I am jealous of the insanely kind, patient people that are always so content and able to forgive. When jealousy draws my eyebrows into a knotted, slightly wild frown I pull myself backwards to reality and focus on wishing the object of my envy joy. Wishing them every happy moment of their long legs, their contentment or whatever it is they have that I lack. I wish it with my eyes closed and with all my heart. This is not easy, especially when it involves the object of my affection and goes along the lines of ‘I wish you find the true love of your life. I wish you the woman that will bring you happiness, a lifetime of love and contentment and long legs. Even if that isn’t me’ But you know what, focusing on sending out those loving thoughts to other people brings me back to my heart. It takes me away from turning green and gives me the beautiful gift of Acceptance. I love that feeling.

 

 Selfishness

Now I can really be selfish at times and I am not proud of this. As evidenced by my one rule in life….I do not share dessert, ever. That is so selfish but true and I apologise I cannot seem to change this. And there are many more selfish things I have done and will probably do in the future. But let’s not go there. When I am being selfish, thinking of me a lot and retreating from others concerns I find myself feeling ill at ease, flat and prone to pacing. Slightly odd but again true. This is quite obvious but when I find myself being selfish I intentionally focus on being selfless. I go out of my way to think about the people in my life I can do something nice for and DO IT. It doesn’t matter how small the gestures are, they help. They help bring on the number 1 feeling of them all. Love. Pure, selfless, love for those around me and for myself. She wraps her warmth around us all like a soft blanket by the log fire and makes everything okay.

 

Hate

I see things in other that I hate. I see others that I hate. Isn’t that a terrible thing to admit? It is an appalling, poisonous emotion and I am guilty of cultivating it at times despite knowing this. I try to be non-judgemental and compassionate but sometimes Hate gets the better of me and ties my hands behind my back with her grasp. Pours poison into my veins and it spreads rapidly. There is only one thing to do when Hate strikes. Stand still and recognise that the thing I see and hate outside of me is merely a reflection of something within me I am yet to accept. Not everyone will agree with me on this but I believe it to be true. If I hate someone it is usually because they have a quality I can’t stand and have failed to accept I too have within myself at times. With that recognition I can give myself a big mental hug, send a little self-love my way and Bingo that person no longer offends me.

 

Loss

We all feel the pain of loss at times. The way it leaves you feeling alone, broken and wistful of Before…that time when it was simple and there was no loss to mourn. And you know what, I have come to realise that no matter how much I dislike feeling my losses there is only one thing I can do here. Accept them. Let them sit within me, cry it out when I need to and recognise they are a part of me. They are precious gifts in my heart that have brought me compassion and understanding but they will always hurt. It’s okay that they do. There is nothing to work on here. Just let them be and move on when you are ready.

 

 Pride

My pride, she comes from my Ego. That ridiculous character within me that likes to think I am better than others; that I cannot and must not fall from grace and in no circumstances should be vulnerable or wrong. Pride keeps me distant from the world around me, builds a horribly isolating shell that keeps me from making real connections. From being REAL. So when my pride strikes and I feel my Ego getting the better of my heart I drop her. And I drop her fast. I do everything I can to step back and recognise when she is talking – she’s that voice that is high pitched, whinges, reacts quickly and defensively to others and takes life entirely the wrong way. When I am able to recognise those moments I am rewarded with a wonderful feeling indeed. I come back to ME. The real me. The one who is made up of heart, soul, smiles and laughter. The one within me that sings every day for the joy of being alive. You know the one; the person within you that thinks life is great, doesn’t care about looking like a fool and goes out of their way to be humble and thankful. A fantastic person indeed.

 

If you look up you will find that version of you sitting on the happy branch. Waving at you to climb and join in.

Go for it. Enjoy and be free.

Hopeful Flower

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My beautiful niece with the flowers she loved to admire in Gran’s garden

 

There is a flower called hope and she lives in us all

 

I am sharing something quite different today, so bear with me. Put the kettle on, settle down with a cup of tea and let’s see how we go.

Since the loss of my wonderful Mum three years ago today I have striven to become more ‘me’ in this life. I have taken hope and inspiration as my friends and let myself blossom, no longer hiding away my gifts. As part of this I have begun a journey of words and started writing my first book this year. A book of my tumultuous life in recent years, of inspiration and of helping others.  With this in mind and in honour of my Mum today, I am putting myself out there with you. Here is the very first draft of a part of that book.

 

This is the story of one day in my life that brought hope when I thought there was none

 

I will resist the urge to say ‘it isn’t perfect, it isn’t very good blah blah’ and instead say I just hope you enjoy the read. Thank you for bearing with me and have a wonderful day x  

 

I had never experienced the funeral of someone I utterly adored and I was frightened and apprehensive of what to expect. I didn’t know how I was supposed to behave; what I should do and say when I felt all eyes would be on my family and our grief. I wanted to show the world how incredible this family was, how we would celebrate Mum’s life and be strong for her. Could I do that?

 

I awoke early in my bedroom and peeked behind the blind. The early morning sun touched my hand whilst family members were waking up in the rooms around me. I could hear them all amid the quiet atmosphere in the house and listened as they rose and trooped upstairs for breakfast.  My family were starting the day as they meant to go on; together, loved and as one. The laughter of my two young nephews and niece filled the air upstairs. Their footsteps thundered across the kitchen floor and brought life to us all when we needed it most. I knew they missed their Gran terribly but they smiled their innocence and lived for the day. Strange things happened that morning as we moved around one another in the house with hushed gestures. Electric appliances failed time and again, switches ceased working. We just knew mum was with us and keeping us on our toes. I could see the sparkle in Dad’s eyes returning for a moment as he thought of mum sending him jobs to do by causing these failures. We shared a moment and laughed. Mum knew Dad needed to always be kept busy, especially in her absence.

 

As I looked at my reflection in my warm, sunshine filled bedroom I placed a silver heart pendant around my neck and pulled my new dress on over my head. The beautiful pendant sat with its pink beads just next to my heart and I knew my sister would be placing her identical pendant over her heart.  Mum had asked that we wear bright colours to her ceremony, that we make her day full of colour and celebration. So my sister and I did what we have always been taught to do by Mum throughout our adult lives. We shopped and my goodness we did that moment proud.

 

My sister and I roamed the streets of Padstow a few weeks earlier during a surreal and memorable shopping trip as we searched of our dresses. The tiny back streets were busy with tourists and hugged by cottages in pastel shades of pink, turquoise, lilac and cream. The shops reflected the day with their slate edging as children pressed hands against the windows and searched for sweet delights and fudge. It was busy, bustling and seagulls wheeled overhead as we weaved in and out of every shop that sold clothing. My sister and I had spent many hours shopping together previously but this was for our mother’s funeral whilst she lay resting in her peaceful hospice bed. It was utterly confusing and exhausting. We jostled with conflicting emotions yet found our joy in admiring jewellery that mum would adore, comments that she would have made by our sides. Should we be enjoying this sisterly time together? Enjoying a day out by the seaside being girls when the reasoning was so sad? We visited every tiny little shop that town had to offer, browsed and thumbed dresses of every imaginable style. As we sauntered past yet another shop, wondering when we would find the right attire, we saw an inviting open door and walked in. The shop was tiny, full of ladies browsing and we grabbed every dress we could find.

 

My sister walked out of the changing room in yet another dress and looked me straight in the eye. She squared her shoulder backs, stood proud. Her face deadpan yet with the merest twitch of a smile and a twinkle in her eyes.

 

‘Oh my god. Sue. You cannot wear that!’ I clutched my knees as I fell about laughing at the dress we had both loved on the hanger.

 

It was a fish print tea dress and we felt the fish print might be a nice way to represent mum living by the seaside. The trouble was Sue looked like she was wearing an apron. A very pretty apron, but an apron none the less. We imagined us arriving at mum’s funeral in such attire and couldn’t help ourselves. The tears fell down our cheeks as we leant on the changing room door for support and tried to snigger and snort quietly. Every time we looked at one another we burst out laughing again. The other ladies in the shop began to avoid us and glance at us with disdain. Poor mum deserved so much more than her daughters turning up in kitchen clothing. We scuttled out of the shop laughing and enjoying a moment of release from our grief. As it turned out we later found two stunning flower print, summer style dresses that day. We would be beautiful and elegant and a tribute to the woman that brought us into the world.

 

My dress was the palest sky blue, covered in bright spring flowers with sparkles at their centres. A summery pink shawl hugged my shoulders as I continued to ready myself. I placed a much loved high heel shoe on each foot and rose from my bed. I smoothed down my beautiful dress, observed the pain and strength in my eyes and breathed deeply. I heard the voices of my family in the hallway and adrenaline coursed through me. I could do this; I would do this for mum and play my part to make the day uplifting. Find a way with grace and love to remember. I closed my bedroom door gently and walked forwards with family by my side.

 

The hearse was shiny and black, like an enormous beetle carapace, and our funeral director welcomed us sincerely as he dipped his head to the ground. I had always expected funeral directors to be thin, hunched, with pursed lips and a yellow tinge of morbidity. Ours was more like Father Christmas but in less fanciful attire. As I looked towards him and blinked at the bright morning sunshine I was reminded of his kindness in recent weeks. Reminded of his round belly and wonderfully warm smile. He had kept us going when we felt like falling apart and had brought moments of laughter into our darkest of hours. I couldn’t help but feel safe with him by my side, guiding us through this day. I sat deep into the cream seats. Again my expectations were entirely different from reality. As I huddled close in the back seat to my brother and his family, like birds on a wire, we chattered and smiled. We remembered happy times, we enjoyed the scenery of Cornwall rolling by and we found strength in our huddle. I was surprised at how uplifting the day felt so far, though I knew the hardest parts were yet to come.

 

The crematorium loomed in front of us as we arrived and adrenaline spiked within me again. Inside the magnificent cream building there were friends and family members waiting for us, waiting to be there for us. There were Aunts and Uncles that I had not seen in recent years. Cousins, old friends, family friends, neighbours and more. My hand shook as I reached for the hearse door but the grounds surrounding me took my breath away. We stepped out onto a terrace backed by the cream walls of the crematorium. The land rolled gently away into gardens filled with young and delicate trees. Their glossy bottle green leaves swayed heavily with the weight of summer as insects danced around them. Butterflies drifted down to beds of rainbow coloured flowers that hugged the trees, lifted my spirits and carried me into the welcome room.

 

For a moment I just stood, tensed and stared at my feet. I couldn’t begin to imagine what to say to this sea of faces. How was I supposed to speak when all I wanted to do was run outside and far away from the moments ahead? And then I looked at my Dad and, without knowing it, he gave me the hand on my back that told me what to do. I knew his pain like I knew my own yet he stood tall, handsome in his suit and colourful tie. He moved around the room and spoke to everyone with a smile on his face. I watched as he made genuine connections with people that loved him and could see it brought him a sense of belonging. I scanned the room and saw my sister and brother talking to cousins and dear friends. There was serenity in their movements. I scuffed my shoe heel on the floor and wondered how I could do the same. Dad must have known my hesitation for he brought people to me for introduction and I followed this lead. The kind gestures and expressions of sorrow knitted us all together for mum.

 

The seats were hard and I was reminded of church choirs from my youth as we sat for mum’s service. I could feel the quietness behind us from rows of loved ones gathered together and a feeling of peace enveloped me. Peace wrapped her arms around us and quietly settled us in. Mum’s casket was magnificent, an absolute artwork of spring and summer flowers and she would have adored it. Mum had always loved her garden and spent many hours admiring seasonal flowers as the years went by. She had adored the sunshine on her skin and on her lightly freckled face. She found peace in her garden birds, roses, lavenders and more. It is fair to say that Dad had always been the gardener, been the one to dig and plant tirelessly for his beloved wife whilst Mum had happily played her part in creating pots full of pretty annuals. Mum would sit on her garden bench with a cup of tea and admire it all whilst Dad, ever busy, would dig some more. They danced this way every season and I loved it. The parts they played were familiar and comfortable. In a final tribute to mum, she was surrounded by not just the fresh flowers filling the room but also by the flowers on our dresses and the sunshine she had given us to carry in our hearts.

 

I completely embarrassed myself. I poked myself in the eye by accident and let out a high pitched squeal into the hushed room. I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me at that moment before the service began. I sounded ridiculous and, to make it worse, it also made me want to laugh. Emotions were high and thankfully Father Chris joined us and brought me to my senses sharply. He was much like the funeral director in that he had a warm welcoming face and a sparkle in his eyes that I admired. It occurred to me that his name was almost the same as Father Christmas as well. He guided us onwards and weaved a beautiful story of mum through us all. He lifted us with memories gathered from close family. He brought us gently through the understanding that this was a goodbye but also a great celebration and a moment to cherish. My sister in law was the image of summer in her butterfly print dress and held her daughter close whilst she spoke her poetry. She had always been a peaceful and intuitive soul, just like mum, and her words were stunning. We sang with our hearts, we let tears roll down tired cheeks, we smiled at happy memories and held hands as a family united. As the service ended I rose and walked towards mum and her flowers. In life she had been my best friend and sunshine. In death she was still sunshine and flowers, willing me to go on. As I touched those flowers goodbye I knew I would never be the same without her. None of us would. But I scanned the faces in front of me and saw just how many lives she had touched. How many hearts she had lifted and cared for and inspired with her gentle manner. She was truly an inspiration.

 

The sunshine was glorious as we regrouped outside and dropped our shoulders. I could sense people relaxing and beginning to share their stories and memories. I walked alone amongst the flower beds and made friends with the butterflies surrounding me. Dad joined me after a short while. We had been an inseparable team these past two weeks; propped each other up from the moment of Mum passing through every step of planning the funeral and beyond. With words unspoken we admired the hills around us and acknowledged we had made it. We had given mum a service that told of who she was and celebrated her incredible strength in life. It was time to move on to the wake and I longed for a summery, ice filled, gin and tonic. Longed for a comfortable chair with my loved ones by my side.

 

The setting for the wake was meant to be, I knew that from the moment we first saw it. It was a country pub nestled amongst picture perfect thatched roofs, surrounded by a traditional English village green in the height of its summer. Ducks paddled across soft grass and quacked their afternoon stories in the breeze as we arrived and entered. The gravel crunched underfoot as guests followed us, eager to relax their grief. A procession of colour and life. The slate flagstones, oak beams and ash filled fireplaces around every corner soothed us all as we propped up the bar. We found laughter and conversation in the bottom of draught beers, gin and tonics, wine and more. But the best was on the horizon as we gathered our family and friends. We led them to the sun filled oak conservatory and I smiled.

 

Mum was everywhere in this room. She was in the lightly coloured soft furnishings of rattan and cotton. In the heat from the sunshine, the flowers and the beautiful food served for us all. But most of all she was in the huge olive tree that stood at the very centre of us all. Mum had been given the name Olive for her golden skin as a baby and, like the olive tree, she had been a lover of warmth and the Mediterranean in life. I looked around to my left and saw friends perched happily on chairs, tables and window ledges. They were laughing and smiling and creating new friendships with one another. I looked to my right and saw family members bonding after years apart due to the time constraints of modern life. Everyone looked happy, relaxed and truly celebrating the day. With our love of mum and our love of life we had created something more akin to a wedding party than a funeral. I leaned back into the soft cream chair and breathed out. I kicked my heels off under the glass table and tucked my tired feet under a soft cushion by my side. I let down my hair, I let down my defences and I admired the people around me.

 

 Under the branches of that great olive tree they were Olive’s legacy. Under her watchful eyes across the years, Mum had loved and inspired every one of those people. I realised there never was a goodbye that day. There never was a real loss, for Mum continues to live on in us all. In our gestures, in the warmth in our hearts and in every sunrise that touches the freckles on our noses.

 

Glasses clinked on the table around me as one by one my family flopped onto cushions and brought familiarity and laughter with them. A fresh gin and tonic was pushed into my hand, the ice melting slowly. We raised our glasses and began to create the next chapter of our lives sat atop those cushions. We began to live again.

Jelly Cherish World

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Sometimes life doesn’t take us where we expect it to but there is still beauty to be found along the way

This week I have learned how to power walk in flip flops…I adore sharks and, as some of you will know, I have recently moved to South Africa to work with these beautiful creatures as an ecotourism guide. I sat on my patio the other day watching the sun skip over the mountains and observed the clouds draping themselves over the horizon like a soft blanket. As I was doing so I heard the Fishhoek shark siren. We have a siren here that is sounded if a great white shark is spotted within the waters at the beach. The idea being that it warns bathers that they may wish to postpone their swim if they are not comfortable sharing their space with these impressive fish. If I hear this siren I think all of my Christmases have come at once as there is a shark waiting to be found at the beach!

Anyway, I heard the siren for the first time since I had moved here and couldn’t have been more excited. I promptly dropped my laptop with a clatter, paced across the house a few times in a flap, grabbed my flip flops and camera and raced out of the front door. I was so excited at the prospect of seeing a shark that I didn’t quite know what to do as I walked along in my flip flops. It is a good ten minute walk to the beach and I discovered that running in flip flops is not an option and walking is just too slow. What if the shark were to swim away due to my inappropriate choice of footwear and ungainly, slow pace? Instead I adopted a version of flip flop power walking and was very grateful for the lack of passers-by whilst I wiggled my hips and bottom in the hope it was faster than regular walking.

I arrived at the beach (definitely faster than regular walking) and promptly ran towards the first few people I could find:

‘Have you seen the shark? Did you hear the siren?!’

It was only after a few puzzled looks that I wondered why they didn’t understand the importance of this. I carried on pacing back and forth, scanning the waves for the familiar dark silhouette. And then a dear old lady said good morning and, after my explanation as to what I was doing, gently told me that the siren I had heard was that which announces the arrival of each train at FishHoek, not the arrival of a shark. Ah, I see. Trains not sharks.

I was quite disappointed to be honest but had a good old laugh at myself afterwards. For had it not been for my flip flop power walk to the beach with my camera I wouldn’t have found the beautiful smaller creatures such as the jellyfish you see here. Instead of feeling the fool and kicking my toes in the sand like a disappointed child (well not for too long) I focused on the beauty in the small moments on the beach.

 

There is so much beauty in the small and insignificant. If only we can find the good grace to focus our eyes and hearts on those moments we will be all the richer in our souls.

 

I have a table dedicated to my small moments and it is littered with quotes, seashells and other treasures from the beach. It reminds me to keep positive, inspired and to cherish each day with the people that touch my life. Two of my inspirational poems are on this table and I read them almost daily; Desiderata and If. Go on, try reading them out loud and see how it affects your outlook today. I just know they will make you smile!

They were given to me during difficult times to remind me to keep smiling, to keep appreciating my life and never give up hope. They still do this for me, even on days when the clouds have entirely covered my mind like a blanket and I can’t find my way out of my own mental fog. May they do the same for you and inspire you to cherish your world.

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Words Worth

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I have been struggling with inspiration today, struggling to find some worthwhile words to encourage me to put pen to paper. I went on my daily walk to the sea, my daily walk with my Ipod in my ears and the fluffy clouds as my companions. Yet still I couldn’t find any words where normally they would flow. I looked closely. They were not hiding under the rocks amongst the jewel red anemones, they were not tucked against the hulls of the painted boats being lapped at by the gentle waves. They were definitely not at the harbour edge being flattened by the pitter patter of seagull feet whilst they chased tasty discarded chips. No, there have been no words of inspiration under my footsteps or amongst my thoughts today. No profound moment of knowing what it is I need to say this week to bring some happiness to our world. I trudged on, Ipod still in my ears and hoped something would come to mind. Words, I thought, words. And then I realised that the problem is not the lack of words, there are words in every moment. The problem is that I was judging myself for what I deemed to be ‘worthwhile’ words and so worth sharing with you. Maybe all words should be shared – all positive words at least. Perhaps it isn’t for me to know if in others eyes they are beautiful, boring, thought provoking or inspirational?

My words are really all I have and all that I can give to the world and to the people I interact with. With a word I can make someone’s heart leap; make someone feel comforted and loved, cherished and adored. With a word I can make someone cry, bring their world tumbling down around them for just a moment due to my lack of forethought or grace. I can change my outlook on the world and yours too purely with words. With a word I can open one door and close another and create a smile, a tear or a frown. I can encourage you, support you and be your strength and mine in times of sorrow. Our words, in short, are everything. They determine how we feel, how others feel, how the world goes around with either a smile on her lips or a tear in her oceans. They determine what we do.

So today, whilst this may be brief because of my own lack of inspiring or amusing words, it is with these few that I remind myself of this:

We should all take more care with using our words. We should choose to use them to bring joy into peoples’ lives and spread laughter among us. By being positive, by speaking kindly to ourselves and others, we can change our world for the better. For a brighter tomorrow.

May you all use your words more often to bring love and laughter into someone’s life.

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