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31 Days of Gratitude and today I’m grateful for Opportunity.

Once again it seems I am drawn to something that is non-tangible and today it’s opportunity aka luck. There are hundreds of quotes linked to opportunity and much discussion on the subject of opportunity or lack thereof. Described as “an occasion or situation that makes it possible to do something that you want to do or have to do, or the possibility of doing something”31 days of gratitude, recognising opportunities, travel opportunities,

It may seem quite an odd thing to write about, but I consider myself to be incredibly lucky with all the opportunities I have had in my life. I remember once many years ago, a company I was working for promoted me to Regional Personnel and Admin Manager. Prior to that I had been employed by the company in the position of Debtors Clerk. One of the ladies that had worked with the company for some years, a lot longer than myself got really shirty and on hearing about the promotion said “some of us are so lucky”. Well, luck is just hard work and taking the opportunity to do more than you are paid for. I may have started as a debtors clerk but due to my insatiable desire for learning I set about learning as much about the processes and systems of the company as possible. I investigated, and instigated systems and procedures to improve upon what was already being done. It saved the company a lot of money; ergo the promotion. But it was only because I took the ‘opportunity’ to learn and improve, not only myself but the company too that I got ‘lucky’.

It’s about perception.

On the negative side:

I took the opportunity to leave a very unhappy home life by getting married at 17.

I took the opportunity to get a divorce before I was even 21 even though being alone scared the hell out of me.

I took the opportunity to leave a destructive relationship even though he pursued me with threats of death.

I often look back on my life and see the ‘forks in the road’, the ‘opportunities’ that have come my way. Some I have acted on, others I have ignored. Invariably there are outcomes; both good and bad.

I took the opportunity to buy a house even though I really couldn’t afford it – we made a plan with a lot of sacrifices.

I took the opportunity to move to Cape Town when a good job offer came up.

I took the opportunity to go back to college in my mid 40’s and get a Distinction in Credit Management.

I took the opportunity to travel to Ireland for my sister’s 30th birthday after the company I was working for closed down.

I took the opportunity to apply for my British Citizenship.

I took the opportunity to travel as much as possible rather than have my own rented apartment.

I didn’t take the opportunity to buy Bitcoin when it was $2 a coin LOL – but cést la vie.

I think the point is that so often opportunities arise and because we are distracted, disbelieving, uncertain and afraid, we tend to not recognise an opportunity when it arises.

I’m grateful for the opportunities that I have had. The chance to live in the UK being one of the biggest I could ever have imagined. These days I am far more aware of the opportunities that come my way and endeavour to make the most of them. My job is the perfect example. I could stick within my ‘comfort zone’; have a home of my own with all the comforts that brings and only take jobs that are close to home, or I could take the opportunity that jobs in different parts of the country offer and travel to places I could never even begin to imagine, even though it is sometimes very uncomfortable.31 days of gratitude, recognising opportunities, travel opportunities,

As a result of the opportunities I have had to travel, I’ve started Project 101 and this is taking me to many more fascinating places in the UK and Europe, the most recent of course being the Camino I walked in September.

31 days of gratitude, recognising opportunities, travel opportunities, camino de santiago, walking the camino

scenes from Camino 2017

That has been an absolute highlight of my life, so today, as I reflect on all the wonderful, amazing and extraordinary places I have been and the thousands of awesome, stunning and incredible things I have seen in the last year, then yes……

Today I am grateful for the many opportunities that have been gifted to me.

31 Days of Gratitude – Day 10

 

 

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I’m so sharing this. Because of a small minority, it’s always the small-(minded) minorities that cause mayhem, based on their egotistical narrow-minded ideologies, that create an atmosphere of hate and anger.
Sadly this is often enhanced by our Governmental parties, usually again a small ego-driven minority (I won’t mention names like Farage and Nuttall and Griffin and many of the USA republican party etc to keep their anonymity 😠😠😠) and rags like The Sun and Daily Mail and more recently I’ve noticed; The Spectator, that spew their vitriolic rhetoric across their pages like vomit. It’s open-minded people, who are welcoming and inclusive of different cultures and religions and races that make up the world creating communities of love and kindness and sharing. I’m sure that’s what John Lennon meant by his song ‘Imagine’.
That’s what this writer is conveying. Feel free to share, it’s on a public post. This people is humanity. This is what the world is and will continue to be despite the efforts of warmongers, haters and vitriolic old men…no names mentioned just a reference to a rump aka #45.

This story gave me goosebumps; the person who shared this said:

“From a closed group but it deserves a wider audience, shared by a friend of mine on Facebook”……..read on:

“I went for a walk today.  First, down to the Post Office where the owner helped me with my parcel, checking the post code which he was worried was not correct.  He’s a Muslim, a first generation immigrant judging by his voice – not that that made any difference.  When I left the Post Office I decided to go home by a roundabout route in order to get a bit of exercise.  As I passed a gate I got a huge hello and grin from the chap standing there having a smoke.  He was black and had spectacular dreadlocks almost down to his waist – not that that made any difference.  I went on my way, passing a lollipop man who was greeting parents and children as they passed with a beaming smile.  He was white – not that it made any difference.  On I went on this chilly afternoon, up past the hospital and met a “walking bus”: two young women and about ten children holding hands with each other and chattering away nineteen to the dozen, making their way home from school.  Some of those children had white skins and some of them had brown skins, not that it made any difference – it certainly didn’t to them.  I carried on, past the bike shop with the white owner, circling through the park past the swarms of students from our highly successful 6th form college in their mixed ethnic groups gossiping with the energy that young people have in abundance. Not that it made any difference either.

When I walk around the town centre I hear voices in many accents and languages.  I have heard most of them all my life.  The Scots, Irish, Germans, Italians, Jews and Basques were already here before I was born.  So too were the Eastern Europeans, fleeing first the Nazis and then the Communists.  There are Latvian clubs, Ukrainian clubs , Polish clubs, Estonian clubs  and so on all over the region.  After the “Captive Nations” Europeans came people from the West Indies and then people from the Indian sub-continent and Africa.  The new voices around my home town are Chinese; we have a thriving University which has a good number of Chinese students, and those of a new wave of Eastern European people.  Not that any of THAT matters.

I taught for thirty eight  years in the area, mostly at a comprehensive, and taught children from all these backgrounds, and also from Africa, from Palestine, from Sri Lanka, from Greece and from Russia.  They were all, well, children.  They were, of course, mostly lovely.  My colleagues were white, brown, Christian, agnostic, Muslim, French, Spanish, Caribbean.  Not that any of that made any difference.  I spent my last five years of work at one of the highest achieving schools in the country where some of the pupils had doctors or surgeons as parents, some taxi-drivers, some accountants, some shop-keepers and some academics and so on.  Nearly forty percent of the pupils were Muslim or of Asian descent – and none of that, none of it, made any difference.

When I was about twelve I had an experience that did make a difference.  On a visit to my grandfather’s house one day, being left alone whilst everyone else went to walk the dogs I explored my grandfather’s library.  Looking through his books I discovered a photographic record of what the Allies found in the extermination camps in 1945.  There was a horrid fascination that kept me turning the pages looking at one nightmare after another.  I felt sick and yet I couldn’t stop looking: gallows, ovens and shower-rooms that weren’t.  One image stays with me: a giant yard full of what appeared, at first sight, to be neat stacks of firewood.  Except it wasn’t wood that was so neatly piled.  I couldn’t  tell my parents why I was so upset when they returned from their walk, I felt that I had been looking at something obscene and shameful, and I had.

So here’s the thing: I was taught at junior school that white people were naturally better than every one else, that there were such things as human races and you could judge people by which religion they held to.  It was all a lie.  None of it, none of this nationalistic, xenophobic nonsense that engulfs us today is true.  And it is why I am so angry about the results of the Referendum; that a project that was explicitly set up to ensure that the horrors of the past could never be repeated because we would be bound together at first economically and then through shared cultural experiences, a project that in those terms at least was an enormous success, that all this should be thrown away under the influences of those very forces it set out to destroy, is heart-breaking.  I say shame, shame to all those unprincipled politicians and media men who encouraged this Pandora’s box to be opened.  Let us hope that a butterfly of hope was released too.”

Although I don’t who it is, I love the person who wrote this…..and yes indeed, let us hope…..butterfly-quote

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I am a member of http://www.avaaz.org/en/ and often sign their petitions, the ones that I feel most strongly about. I repost these on facebook (sadly with very little response, and apparently it annoys some people) but at least I try.  I receive the avaaz emails (amongst others) on a regular basis and this one (see below in italics) popped into my inbox yesterday.  I am appalled at the fact that we as humans, and supposedly the Guardians of the Planet are the ones that are destroying it.   One of the most heart-breaking of these are the orangutans in countries like Borneo, whose habitat is being systematically destroyed by palm-oil plantations…….and all because we as consumers use the products that contain palm oil….it’s in so many of our food and cosmetic products, it’s frightening.

The result of this is that the habitat of the orangutan, and thousands of other creatures who call these jungles home and depend on them for their survival, are being destroyed…..hectares by the minute.   80% of the jungles in Borneo have already been destroyed!! This is horrendous. And this is our doing and we ARE responsible.  Yes, it’s the large corporations that plant/buy the palm oil and manufacture the products that contain them, but we are the ones that buy the stuff!!  We are responsible.  If we stop buying products with palm oil, then the corporations will be forced to reconsider their strategy.  Anyway, at least 70% of products on the shelves at the supermarket today is unnecessary to our survival.   We just blindly buy, buy, buy…taken in by, and fools to clever marketing and advertising.  If the large corporations used the billions they spend each year on advertising, on helping to save our wildlife, our planet would be a much better place.  It’s our demands for more than spurs them on to make more and more products that we don’t need and fill their bank accounts with the profits they get from our blind consumerism.  If they started destroying the ancient forests in Britain to plant palm oil there would be a huge outcry with people marching on parliament, waving placards and demonstrating against the destruction….and yet we have the audacity to condone and accept it being done in other countries (you condone it by buying the products, don’t try wriggle out of the responsibility).

There’s a crucial corridor connecting two essential orangutan habitats in the wetlands of Borneo that is on the brink of destruction. Saving this land could be the difference between life and death for countless orangutans, who need continuous swaths of forest and trees to survive. 

I have pledged £24.00 enough to protect up to 1568 square meters (a very small portion of Borneo jungle) – if I had more I would contribute more.  And I am not telling you this to pat myself on the back, but merely to make a point… Every penny/pound/dollar/whatever currency you have will help.  Surely it’s not too much to ask….and if they don’t raise enough, then avaaz have pledged to not take the money from my account.   I may not be able to save the world, but I can make a tiny contribution towards helping these magnificent creatures to survive and give them a chance.  The £24 I have pledged is a weeks budget for food or 5x Costa Coffee & carrot cake…not a lot really.  And if they don’t manage to raise sufficient funds then I will donate that £24.00 to the Orangutan sanctuary http://www.savetheorangutan.org/ with whom I have already been communicating to that effect.

I am hoping that by posting this blog, I can reach someone else who is willing to make a small contribution towards saving the small corridor of jungle that will make all the difference to the orangutan but very little difference to our pockets. Unless you are out of work or in severe debt…then you’re excused 😉  I have also taken a pledge to NOT buy food or products that contain palm oil…..there isn’t very much really, so I have taken to buying only fresh foods and prepare from scratch.  Not only has this had an impact on my budget, but I have lost weight and feel a lot healthier….ironic innit!!  As for my cosmetics and cleaning stuff, I now only buy organic products and use them sparingly.  We can’t let these creatures die out on our watch!!!

The world’s orangutans are hanging on by a thread, with scientists warning we don’t have much time left before they’re extinct. Now there’s a brilliant plan that could save them, if we all chip in what we can.

There’s a crucial corridor connecting two essential orangutan habitats in the wetlands of Borneo that is on the brink of destruction. Saving this land could be the difference between life and death for countless orangutans, who need continuous swaths of forest and trees to survive. Conservation NGOs and local groups have fearlessly announced they will buy the land and protect it for good, but to do it they need enough money to beat out profit-hungry companies looking to move in and destroy it.

This is exactly the kind of moment the Avaaz community was made for — our unique, people-powered funding model could allow us to finance the crucial sanctuary quickly, and create a fund to defend other key pieces of land around the world. Pledge what you can, we’ll process the donations only if we raise enough to buy the land.

Body of the email: “Orangutans are some of our most intelligent, thoughtful relatives — their name means “person of the forest” in Malay. They spend 90% of their time roaming and climbing trees (the males can stretch their arms up to 7 feet!) — even sleeping high up in nests of leafy branches, and they use big leaves as umbrellas when it rains. So, as demand for palm oil skyrockets and companies rush to clear more and more land, their homes are literally falling like dominoes.

Allowing the world’s orangutans to die out would mean not only losing one of the planet’s most majestic creatures forever, but would also change the entire ecosystem of the rainforests they inhabit. As they roam the forest eating fruit, orangutans scatter the seeds far and wide, helping the entire forest stay healthy and robust.

In Borneo, where 80% of the orangutans’ habitat has already been destroyed, even a small area of land can make a massive difference as it can link together protected forests that have survived. That’s why this plan to save the orangutans is so powerful — by connecting a forest reserve with a wildlife sanctuary, we can get the most from every cent raised.”

Please could you make a pledge?  even as little as £3.00 will make a difference.

And in case you don’t believe me or even avaaz, here is some more reading for you:

http://www.orangutan.org/orangutan-facts/why-is-the-orangutan-in-danger-2

http://worldwildlife.org/species/bornean-orangutan

It’s like the starfish on the beach, you may not be able to save them all, but it will make a difference to the one you throw back into the sea.

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I was knocked for a loop this morning when my daughter came through and read me the news that Whitney Houston has passed away.  The news was a real shocker and my reaction no less so! I started crying with no idea why.  I had loved much of her music and of course just loved the movie ‘The Bodyguard’…the ultimate romance.  I won’t say I was a fan as such, but I did feel very, very sad at the death of someone who was so talented, and at one stage appeared to have it all; talent, fame, money, travel and all the trappings, and yet it wasn’t enough.  Here is a really beautiful video, of the Dubai fountains synchronised to the words of :

I will always love you

I hope you enjoy the video, it’s really beautiful. Not too sure about the site…but the video is gorgeous.

Just after midday I took myself off into London for the afternoon to go walkabout, one of my passions and something I always find totally uplifting.  As I walked I mused at the fact that despite that I don’t have much money, very few possessions and with a mountain of debt to conquer, it is something as simple as walking about this beautiful city that has a richness that money can’t buy.  Is it really true then that money can’t buy happiness?

After a most wonderful afternoon, wandering here and there, up alleys twisting and winding, alongside the river, admiring and enjoying the sights, many familiar and well beloved….I arrived home to tea and rusks with my wonderful daughter.   Then I got onto facebook only to discover that one of my facebook friends with whom I had frequently exchanged comments or liked his posts was on the verge of suicide.

His post read: “I have fought so many battles in my life from a violent father, bullying at school and much more yet I have achieved so much. 3 special beautiful children and the best partner anyone could want. I am so so tired now though. I can’t fight any more, my mind and body are ill and worn out, my motivation gone. I am ready and it is time.
Thank you for all your love, it has been amazing. I will sleep peacefully and at rest now and start a new journey. I am looking forward to seeing old friends and family and devastated to be leaving mine.
Goodbye cruel world.”

The tragedy is that we all saw his earlier posts, the sad comments and unhappy picture posts and no-one realised just how much help he was needing. So many people said ‘I wish I’d known’ or ‘I wish I’d said something’.  But felt they couldn’t at the time.  How constrained we are by the conventions of society.  When your’e on social media you are meant to be ‘happy’ all the time, with thousands of ‘quotes’ or ‘inspirational’ posts or quotes filling the timeline.  Why are people unable to be normal?  Sad or unhappy posts are not always welcomed by those who read them.  I know…my daughter went through a very difficult time last year and came under fire from some people for her posts, not all mind as many were incredibly supportive.

The follow up to that post by his friends on facebook was fantastic and thankfully someone found him in time and he is now in hospital and being treated, his 3 special beautiful children at his bedside.  There is an advert currently being shown on TV that highlights mental illness and how awkward it is for people to know what to do or how to react.   I wonder how it must have been for Whitney Houston, a troubled, unhappy person who appeared to have it all.  I wonder at the outpouring of grief…I wonder that we left till after she died to say how much we loved her music, how much we cared. Would it have made a difference to her life?

Folks, if you know of someone who is going through a tough time right now, reach out to them, mental illness is not a shame and perhaps a kind word or gesture would make all the difference.  Smile at a stranger, don’t be afraid of looking foolish, or making a mistake….just reach out and even if you don’t know someone who is going through a tough time….reach out to those around you anyway.  Say how much you care and don’t leave it for the #RIP.

Below is what I saw today….

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and somehow the grey day was beautiful and quite apt for a sad day.

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the devil in this instance being advertising aka marketing aka subliminally/blatantly telling us we need to have/taste/buy something that we most likely don’t need or never thought we needed until viewing said advertisement!

As mentioned in a previous post I went to St Pancras Station last sunday to see the Halloween event that was being staged there in conjunction with Wicked and the National Woodland Trust.  And it was fun, I am so glad I went despite having missed the tour with the @TheSock Mob.

As mentioned in said post I stood in the queue to get an autograph from some members of the Wicked cast 🙂 and of course Lee Mead *big smile*, and while standing in said queue I was subjected to a billboard (one of those roll-up and pack away type billboards) that was advertising Nestle Mint Aero.  It was kinda in your face and you could not miss it if you were in said queue for over 20 minutes!! Also it was a very pretty and bright advertisement……

On my way home I suddenly developed a craving for peppermint chocolate and thereupon stopped by at the store enroute (won’t say which one since they are one of my pet hates) and bought a ……………………

Nestle Mint Aero...the one with the bubbles

Never ever let it be said that advertising doesn’t work!!!   I have bought aero before – however, never a mint aero since I am a bit picky about peppermint and chocolate and like the South African version of Peppermint Crisp.

just look at all that delicious peppermint wrapped in a creamy coating of chocolate 🙂 mmmm

 (invented by Wilson-Rowntree in case you wondered but now produced by Nestle in RSA) and now my mouth is watering and drooling at the edges 🙂

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SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT!!!

Imagine that you had won the following prize in a contest:

Each morning your bank would deposit (your currency) 86,400.00 in your private account for your use.

However, this prize had rules, just as any game has certain rules.

The first set of rules would be:
1. Everything that you didn’t spend during each day would be taken away from you.

2. You may not simply transfer money into some other account.

3. You may only spend it.

Each morning upon awakening, the bank opens your account with another (your currency) 86,400.00 for that day.

The second set of rules:

1. The bank can end the game without warning; at any time it can say, “It’s over, the game is over!”

2. It can close the account and you will not receive a new one.

What would you personally do?

You would buy anything and everything you wanted, right?

Not only for yourself, but for all people you love, right?

Even for people you don’t know, because you couldn’t possibly spend it all on yourself, right?

You would try to spend every cent, and use it all, right? 

ACTUALLY, THIS GAME IS REALITY!!

Each of us is in possession of such a “magical” bank. We just can’t seem to see it. 

THE MAGICAL BANK IS TIME!

Each awakening morning we receive 86,400 seconds as a gift of life,

and when we go to sleep at night, any remaining time is NOT credited to us.

What we haven’t lived up that day is forever lost.

Yesterday is forever gone. 

Each morning the account is refilled, but the bank can dissolve your account at any time…….

WITHOUT WARNING. 

WELL, what will you do with your 86,400 seconds?

Aren’t they worth so much more than the same amount in any currency?

Think about that, and always think of this:

Utilise every second of your life, because time races by so much quicker than you think.

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I was reading a very interesting blog today from Jeff Bullas; 30 Things You Should Not Share on Social Media.

He mentions some seriously idiotic things that people post on facebook and following close behind on twitter.  They tend to forget that their posts are open to public viewing and all it takes is for someone to take offence or perhaps a work colleague to notice a detrimental comment and ooops you could lose your job, or at the least face disciplinary action.  I was aghast at some of the stuff people write about and call me naive or ignorant, but I did not think that people actually post pictures of themselves inebriated or comments on their bodily functions!

One of the replies on the blog from a reader commented that because of the apparently virtual anonimous space of our computers, the barriers of propriety are breaking down and things you would not dream of saying to someone’s face, are shared via the virtual world.   Stories have a way of spreading and going viral as it is known today.     I was thinking about the various items that Jeff mentioned on his blog and the power of social media for spreading the word so to speak.   But what of the age old methods from the past: gossip.   Gossip passed on becomes rumour, and no less damaging albeit on a smaller scale.   Imagine my suprise then when I opened my email box today to find this article from my sister:

“Once upon a time an old man spread rumours that his neighbour was a thief.     As a result, the young man was arrested.     Days later the young man was proven innocent.     After being released he sued the old man for wrongly accusing him.

In court the old man told the Judge:    “They were just comments, didn’t harm anyone.”       The judge, before passing sentence on the case, told the old man: “Write all the things you said about him in a piece of paper.     Cut them up and on the way home, throw the pieces of paper out. Tomorrow, come back to hear your sentence.” 

Next day, the judge told the old man: “Before receiving the sentence, you will have to go out and gather all the pieces of paper that you threw out yesterday.     ” The old man said: “I can’t do that!    The wind spread them and I won’t know where to find them.”

The judge then replied: “In the same way, simple comments may destroy the honour of a man to such an extent that one is not able to fix it. If you can’t speak well of someone, rather don’t say anything”.”

Which brings me to the article from Jeff and the list; beware of what you say on public forums; if you can’t speak well of yourself or someone else, rather don’t say anything at all.

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