Tag Archives: Life

Better Together

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Today I find myself being thankful for togetherness as I walk the dusty cobbled side streets of Egypt. The early afternoon sunshine beats down gently upon my shoulders whilst I trundle along in my flip flops. It is ever so quiet at this time of day as the local men of all ages gather at the mosques for their Friday prayers. Old bent grandfathers with whiskery grey faces walk peacefully alongside young children skipping and bouncing with the energy of youth. They share the togetherness of family, of male companionship and religion and I enjoy their moment. The streets are empty, prayers are whispered in mosques across the town and I walk in my own peace. I treasure it against the usual noise of beeping taxis and people going about their business every other day of the week. Through the togetherness of their Friday payers I can enjoy some solitude and daydreaming as I place one pink flip flop in front of the other and walk on.

 

I pass my favourite bougainvillea as I turn a corner towards the sparkling ocean. It sits atop a strong sand coloured wall and is touched by the sun. This bougainvillea is huge; tumbling and cascading down the wall in a mass of heavy boughs and tendrils. It is covered in magenta pink flowers that peek and poke out of every curved branch of thorns and leave no space for a birds’ nest or even just a little bird. I cannot help but admire its vibrancy, its sheer obviousness, yet few people see it in this quiet corner. With just one flower it wouldn’t amount to much but the togetherness of many hundreds of flowers make it utterly magnificent and beautiful.

 

The ocean calls me across the deserted road to admire her fringing reef and shades of turquoise water that lap at soft sand. I smile to myself at a cloud of sand swirling and drifting in the water from an aqua aerobics group marching in the shallows. Together they twist and turn energetically to the music and encouragement of their instructor. Their pump their hands high, determined and coordinated and no doubt tired in the hot sunshine. From my cliff top view I simply cannot tell which one is the instructor as they circle closer in, they are that enthusiastic. I can only admire their sense of togetherness as they splash some more. I smile and walk on by with the occasional twist and turn of my own to the music of my iPod.

 

As I open the front door to my apartment I see our shoes lined up together, ready for the next adventure. I see walking boots that have taken us across foreign countries together as we laughed until our sides ached and had to lean upon each other for support. I see your sandals that have taken us on walks as we held hands and gave us time to talk at cafes and restaurants in our togetherness. Times of good food, shared jokes and references; a private language and world of our own. The same sandals that you wore to hospital when you held my hand through illness and didn’t let go. I place my cracked pink flop flops gently beside them, they look so tiny next to you.

 

I ask myself what life would be like without togetherness as I pour my cup of tea and settle into my chair. It would be empty and dull, like an old fusty sock lying at the roadside on its own. Unclaimed and unwanted as people walk by and wrinkle their noses. If we lived a life of isolation, of being apart from friendship, community and love I think we would fade away just like that sock. It would be like walking life with one shoe; painful, awkward and slow. Without togetherness there would be no mass of flowers to enjoy, no quiet prayer time on a Friday, no shared enthusiasm and no hand to hold. There would be so little joy.

 

A simple walk is all it took to remind me today that life really is Better Together. I am so thankful for the hand that I hold each day, for the opportunity to be others’ support and for people. They make my life what it is. A pretty, perfect, peaceful Friday.

 

 “And as ridiculous as it may sound, sometimes all any of us needs in life is for someone to hold our hand and walk next to us.”
James Frey

 

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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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Making Lemonade From Your Lemons

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We all get handed lemons in life from time to time. Sometimes they come to us in easy to handle, bite sized chunks that can be fixed with a good slosh of gin, tonic and ice. I like those kind of lemons….they add zest to life, give a good story to tell and keep us on our toes for some personal growth. But then there are those big, waxy, mean lemons. You know the ones, they sidle on up to you when you least expect it, when you are happily skipping through life, face to the sunshine, smiling like a child whilst singing Bill Withers ‘Lovely Day’ at the top of your voice. Then damn it, you are unexpectedly floored with an eye full of lemon juice, surrounded by slippery pith and with your knickers on show. THOSE kinds of lemons are the ones I’m talking about.

I have had my fair share of those lemons in the past few years. Just your ‘run of the mill’ stuff one goes through, at least that is how I like to palm it off. Just a couple of run-away grooms, a flooded house, loss of a loved one, loss of career and the odd wobble here and there as I waded through it all. Come to think of it, those freaking lemons were the size of grapefruits and quite frankly I do believe they were being thrown repeatedly at my face like some bizarre version of human coconut shy. Anyway, more on that story another time, I am digressing from the lemons.

So, I was chatting about the above fruit bowl of disasters with a dear friend of mine the other day and yipping in excitement as I described my plans for the future and wiped the pith from my skirt. She said the most memorable line I have heard in a long time ‘wow, you really are making lemonade from your lemons’.

You really are making lemonade from your lemons

Doesn’t it just sum up life perfectly? Yes, we all have lemons and yes the big ones floor you. But we can all do something to turn our lemons into a more palatable experience or maybe, dare I say it, to make our lemons the start of something truly fantastic. So here it is. My guide to how I have made my lemons into lemonade.

a)      Slice and dice

No-one can eat a lemon whole without choking, as far as I am aware, and I am no exception to this. To cope with big lemons I need a bigger knife. Manageable chunks = the way forward for crisis survival without losing your marbles. Sure it’s not original and neither will that phrase ever sell a book but it is true. Call it Baby Steps, call it One Day at a Time, call it anything that works for you. The important thing is the slicing. Go, slice your mental lemons and stand back. Look at what they really are….pathetic slices of sour fruit that you can cope with. Yes, your heard me, you can cope with. Label those slices as each of the issues that you need to tackle, one at a time, to get your world back together. When dealt with one slice at a time they are still sharp but they make a mighty fine gin and tonic to help you along the way.

b)      Mix it up

Your world is one big fat lemon. Been there, been on my knees and have come close to giving up entirely. Haven’t we all. But you know what, I have come to realise that there is always something to smile about if you look hard enough. Some of my funniest moments have occurred during my darkest hours and the laughter at those times pulled me through. I assume it was laughter but then maybe I was losing the plot and becoming hysterical? Either way, even if it is just for a moment and is no more than a twitch in your facial muscles or is a raucous belly laugh at the moon – go and find someone or something to make you smile today and remind you why life will get better in time. Why every lemon can be mixed with some decent ingredients and made into a cake. And if you can’t find anything to make you smile, just smile anyway and annoy everyone with how well you appear to be coping. That in itself is very therapeutic and satisfying.

c)      ???

You see this is where I run out of sensible ideas. That was it. I appear to have survived on (a) and (b) alone, which doesn’t exactly make a survival guide for anyone. Evidently I won’t be writing a self help book anytime soon.

I will offer you these words instead though: If all else fails I suggest you duck as the lemons come flying at you, run like hell in the opposite direction and hide. Wait it out with a big glass of red wine and a vast bar of chocolate. Remind yourself that there is always someone worse off than you doing exactly the same thing. And if it helps, I spent Valentine’s Day 2009 having a romantic ‘dine at home meal for two’ all for one. I’ll be damned if I am missing out on those deals. There is nothing like an entire bottle of pink cava and a three course gourmet meal to make one feel better.