Saturday, 28 August 2010

What You’re Really Saying

 I am going off today in my caravan. I have been walking the coastal path where I live. To complete the whole walk we are taking a few days living at the far end and walking some of it from there. The total walk is some 90 miles. It will be nice to be in another place and the possibility of meeting other people.

I am, my wife tells me an avid people watcher. In truth I love the experience of new people. Some people make it very difficult to get to know them though. They roll out the carpet of unwelcome. Others, it seems just do not know how to take a compliment.

Yesterday I popped down to my plot. Before leaving I had been given a gift of two cabbages and a turnip. Feeling good I headed home thinking I would share my joy. I was heading to the newsagent when I bumped into somebody I had not seen in ages. I commented on how well she looked. “What do you mean?” she said. “Are you saying I do not look good every other day? You said I look good today. That must mean I do not look good every day.” I decided not to offer her the extra cabbage. Some people have a wonderful art of changing a compliment into an insult.

Strangers beware!

I remember once visiting a new church while on holiday. My son and I attended the early morning service. Not one member of that congregation spoke to us at that service. The following Sunday we returned. This time I put on my ministerial collar. We were overwhelmed by people wanting to welcome us. I said nothing about the pervious week, but when invited to preach the following Sunday. I preached on the carpet of unwelcome. I told them maybe they need to have a welcome mat. That congregation did just that. They had a rota of people who were there looking for strangers. I am sure many visitors enjoyed their visit to that church that summer.

It is all about attitude really. Some people look for rejection. Let me end with a great little story.

A young trainee salesman had become discouraged because he had been rejected by so many of the customers he approached. He asked a more experienced salesman for some advice.

“Why is it that every time I make a call on someone I get rejected?”

“I just don’t understand that,” answered the older salesman. “I’ve been hit on the head, called dirty names, and thrown out the door, but I’ve never been rejected.”

Rejection isn’t what happens to us but how we interpret what happens to us.

Oh the cabbage! I said good morning to a stranger after purchasing my newspaper. He responded by commenting on the weather and stopped to pass the time of day. I hope he enjoyed the cabbage.

I hope to be able to post my blog but if not it is because of circumstances not that I have rejected anybody.

Have a wonderful weekend.

This blog is linked to my other.  The Coastal Path

Friday, 27 August 2010

Where is my Chocolate Cake?

Somebody said to me the yesterday,”Ralph there is no need to say thank you.” Of course there is a need to say thank you. I can tell you now I appreciate when somebody makes a nice comment or shows they appreciate something I have done. Knowing how I feel I want to make sure others know how much I appreciate them. What does it cost to say thank you, and even more important what does it cost to accept thanks?

There is a true story of the old lady who lived alone. Her next door neighbour baked regularly for her fellowship coffee mornings. One day she decided to make a chocolate cake extra for her neighbour. When the neighbour opened her door, she was surprised to see her holding the chocolate cake. She said, "For me? Oh, thank you so much! You just don't know how much I appreciate it! You are so thoughtful for doing this! Thank you!"

Because the old lady had liked the cake so much, she decided the next week to bake her another one. When she took it over, the old lady opened the door and said, "Thank you so much. You are so kind!"

She took another cake over the following week. The old lady responded simply with, "Thanks."

The next week she took another cake over, and the old lady said, "You are a day late with that cake."

The following week, she baked her another cake. This time her neighbour said, "Try using a little more sugar and don't bake it quite as long. The top has been a little bit hard lately.”

The next week she was so busy, she was unable to cook for her neighbour. When she passed by her house on the way to the store, the old lady looked through the window and noticed she wasn't carrying a cake. She then stuck her head out the window and yelled, "Where's my cake?!"

It's so easy to get used to our blessings. After enjoying them for a while, we begin to think we deserve them. Then instead of being thankful, we complain. It's a process that occurs so slowly, we don't even realize it's happening.

I could sit here all morning relating similar true stories.

The real sadness is that it is a very short stop from taking things for granted to complaining about what we have or receive.

I remember one day out running with a friend. As we ran along the canal bank he stopped, bent down and picked something up. I watched as he unfolded it. It was a five pound note. I commented, “Your lucky day.” he looked at me and said, “If it had been you it would have been a ten pound note.”

Complainers so easily look at the negative side of all things. They do not give thanks, and they complain about what they have because it is never enough.

My goodness I am on my hobby horse these last two days. Forgive me and thanks again to all of you who day in and day out read this blog and take time to comment or get in touch.

I leave you with a little thought, and a question. The question first! Are you a you a thanker or a complainer?

And the little thought!

Complaining is like bad breath, you notice it when it comes out of somebody else’s mouth but not your own.

Have a thankful day. This is the way of the Tao.

I can hear you asking what is it with the picture today well follow the link and I will explain.

This blog is linked to my other. Trainers

Thursday, 26 August 2010

It Wisnae Me

It Wisnae Me

Translation (It was not me)

I had a marvellous day yesterday with my daughter. It was just one of those days when everything just went right. I hate timetables, but my daughter likes to be organised so I had taken the time to find out bus times. I wandered down to the village, bought a paper and arrived at the bust stop just as the bus before the one I was heading for arrived. The bus driver saw me heading to the stop and kindly waited and I was off.

I arrived in Edinburgh to a beautiful sunny day. From there on, the day just got better and better. Over lunch we talked about how we could sort out the world problems. Amazingly simple! Teach people to stop blaming everybody else and take responsibility for the error of their ways.

I do not know what it is like where you are, but here there are so many stories of people looking to blame somebody, and nobody ever wants to take the blame. Of course sometimes an accident is just that, an accident, and there is no blame. Maybe we also need to learn that lesson also.

Here in Scotland we have this lovely phrase, “It Wisnae Me.”

I reminded my daughter that we learn that syndrome very early in life.

The day, I heard crying, and went up to my son’s room. My daughter was there also. Ross my son was in tears. Before I could say anything she said, “It wisnae me.” I asked why he was crying and was informed he had hit his head off a bat that was lying on the floor. “Where was the bat at the time?” I asked. “In my hand.” said my daughter.

There is a true story of a young girl who the week before her final exams at university went to a Buddhist monastery to ask the monks if they would say some chants each day to help her pass her examinations. The monk she spoke to did not believe that was how it worked but he did agree to do so thinking it might boost her confidence.

They never saw the girl again, but they did hear rumours that she was telling everybody that the monks were failures. She had failed her exams because their chants were no use. She forgot to mention she had spent all the academic year partying.

I heard a saying some years ago. It is a bit rough but it sure hits the right spot.

The Itch.

A man had an itch on his ass

He scratched his head

The itch never went away.

I apologise if that is too coarse but it does bring me back to where I started. We need to stop blaming everybody else before first looking and asking about our own part in the things that annoy us.

Lets start with who is holding the bat.

Have a great day.

This blog is linked to my other.  Secret Places

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

A Day Well Spent

 Today I will be spending the day with the love of my life, my pride and joy, my daughter. We are to attend the Gallery of Modern Art where they are showing an exhibition called Another World. It includes some great works from Dali and the other surrealists. Then we head back to the book festival to listen to one of our favourite crime authors, Mark Billingham.

So it looks like today will be a day when I will be full of pride and together we will have a good time, and once again she will lead me off the straight and narrow. In other words I may have an ale, let me say that again I may have two ales.

We are very alike, my daughter and I, we both love to let our hair down and we both love to debate and discuss.

She has always been an independent person, once her mind was made up it was hard to make her shift. If she decided that wellington boots and a summer dress was what she was wearing it was best just to go along with her. At a very early age she insisted on going to the shops herself, with her trollybag and purse. This involved me phoning various friends along the route to look out and make sure she was safe.

When she got older, and left home to go to university, I told her I would rather not know what was happening. She laughed and said. “Dad I will share the edited version with you.”

The truth was I never really worried about her. Unlike the mother who got the following letter from her son when he was away from home at scout camp.

Dear Mum

We are having a great time here in the highlands. Mr Ross, the scout leader, is making us all write to our parents in case you saw the flood on TV and worried. We are OK. Only 1 of our tents and 2 sleeping bags got washed away. Luckily, none of us got drowned because we were all up on the mountain looking for Barry when it happened.

Oh yes, please call Barry’s mother and tell her he is OK. He can't write because of the plaster on his arm. I got to ride in one of the search & rescue jeeps. It was neat. We never would have found him in the dark if it hadn't been for the lightning. Mr Ross got mad at Barry for going on a hike alone without telling anyone. Barry said he did tell him, but it was during the fire so he probably didn't hear him.

Did you know that if you put gas on a fire, the gas can will blow up? The wet wood still didn't burn, but one of our tents did. Also some of our clothes. John is going to look weird until his hair grows back.

We will be home on Saturday if Mr Ross gets the minibus fixed. It wasn't his fault about the wreck. The brakes worked OK when we left. Mr Ross said that a minibus as old as ours you have to expect something to break down; that's probably why he can't get insurance on it. We think it's a neat van. He doesn't care if we get it dirty; and if it's hot, sometimes he lets us ride on the tailgate. It gets pretty hot with 10 people inside. He let us take turns riding in the trailer until the police stopped and talked to us.

Mr Ross is a neat guy. Don't worry. He is a good driver. In fact, he is teaching Terry how to drive. But he only lets him drive on the mountain roads where there isn't any traffic. All we ever see up there are forestry trucks.

This morning all of the guys were diving off the rocks and swimming out in the lake. Mr Ross wouldn't let me because I can't swim and Barry was afraid he would sink because of his cast, so he let us take the canoe across the lake. It was great. You can still see some of the trees under the water from the flood. Mr Ross isn't strict and moany like some scoutmasters. He didn't even get mad about the life jackets.

He has to spend a lot of time working on the car so we are trying not to cause him any trouble. Guess what? We have all passed our first aid merit badges. When Dave dove in the lake and cut his arm, we got to see how a tourniquet works.

Also Wade and I threw up. Mr Ross said it probably was just a touch of food poisoning from the leftover chicken. He said they got sick that way with the food they ate in prison. I'm so glad he got out and became our scoutmaster. He said he sure figured out how to get things done better while he was doing his time.

I have to go now. We are going into town to mail our letters and buy bullets. Don't worry about anything. We are fine.

Love, David.

I hope you all have a great day Like I will surely have. Yes I know I am suffering the pride of a father.

Forgive me I will not be reading any blogs today. Ha ha.

This blog is linked to my other. Autumnal Abstract

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Age Is catching Me Up

I have a father in law who is ninety-two years young. He has just had new replacement windows and doors put into his house, so it seems he intends to be around for a bit yet. Strange, because when you visit him all he has to tell you is that he is unable to do anything. He cannot see when he takes off his spectacles, he is dizzy when he gets out of his seat, and it takes him ages to get dressed in the morning.

When I was a parish minister I used to visit an old man in my parish. Every morning he used to do press ups, one for every day of his life. He used to wonder why as the years went on it got harder. I asked him if maybe it had to do with the increasing number of press ups.

Two worthy characters indeed. They say we get wiser with age, I don’t believe it, we just get more foolish. We forget to account of the simple reality that we are getting older.

Reminds me of the two old men in the nursing home. Old John said to his pal George, “I am 85 and I feel I am falling apart. How are you feeling George?” George responded,” Even though I am nearly 100 I feel like a new born babe.” “How can you possible feel like that?” said John. “Well,” said George, “I have no teeth, I am nearly bald, I cannot sleep through the whole night and I am back in nappies (Diapers).”

I am telling you this, because yesterday I went running and I did the same run as I did the day before and I arrived home exhausted. I complained to my wife. She reminded me I had not only run the day before but walked also. She also pointed out that I had not tried to run the distance in the time I had that morning. I looked at the clock and went to the shower feeling amazing.

Somebody once said to me that life was all about, “attitude, attitude young man!”

An old lady living in the same nursing home as John and George complained to the nurse. "My arms are so weak I can hardly lift a cup of coffee. My cataracts are so bad I can't even see my toothbrush. I can't turn my head because of the arthritis in my neck. My blood pressure medicine makes me dizzy. But thank God, I can still drive!"

I keep telling the younger people I pass when out running. Just let me rephrase that, I keep telling the young people who pass me when I am out running. That I only have one problem in life, “Youth Deficiency.”

It is amazing though how I speed up when one of those who pass me is of the fairer sex.

I am so glad that we can still laugh in the face of adversity. I am about to go and try that run again, I know it is foolish, I should have a rest day. I tell you what. Why don’t I just go and try it, you go get a nice cup of warm coffee and laugh at me.

Remember we do not stop laughing because we get old. We get old because we stop laughing.

Have a laugh on me today. But whatever have a great day.

This blog is linked to my other.Self

Monday, 23 August 2010

I think I Might be Intelligent.

Before I write this blog today, can I say that I am expressing my own personal view, speaking entirely for myself, and not about anybody else? I am sure that there are many people who get much support from some organisations such as the one I am about to talk about. If you are a member I am sure you thought about it before you joined and that it was right for you.

From time to time friends ask me if I am a member of Mensa. I am not. At one time in my life I went through the process of completing the form and having my IQ worked out to see if I would be eligible. Pretty awesome for somebody who was asked to leave school at 15, because I would never progress in the world of education? I discovered I would qualify to apply for membership. Then wondered why I would want to.

I mention this because the question came up again yesterday. I told the person who asked the following tale.

A few years ago, there was a Mensa convention. Several of the members who were attending decided to lunch together at a local cafe. While dining, one of them discovered that their saltshaker contained pepper and the pepper shaker was full of salt.

Now this gave them an interesting dilemma. How could they swap the contents of the bottles without spilling, and using only the implements at hand? Clearly, this was a job for Mensa!

The group debated and presented ideas. After some considerable time they finally came up with a brilliant solution involving a napkin, a straw, and an empty saucer.

They called the waitress over to dazzle her with their solution.

“Ma’am,” they said, “We couldn’t help but notice that the pepper shaker contains salt and the salt shaker . . . “

Before they could get another word out the waitress interrupted them.

“Oh, I am sorry about that.” She said.

She unscrewed the caps of both bottles and switched them.

Without another word she left them to complete their meals and their deliberations.

How very easy it is to be proud of the talents we have and the abilities we have acquired with time.

The wise sage is the one who stays quiet about such matters and offers help when asked.

I remember having fun creating newspaper headlines. The game was to create a headline that would catch the attention and then to have the first lines of the article that would go with the headline.

There were some really funny ones but the one I remember the best was the following.

Dolphins Outsmart Humans.

The first lines of the article read.

Did you know that dolphins are so intelligent that within only a few weeks of captivity, they can train humans to stand at the very edge of the pool and throw them fish.

It seems the bottom line is not so much what you know in life but how you use what you know. Whether we use it for self gain or for the help of others.

I am aware I am speaking to bloggers who day by day use what they know to help others and it is good to be part of such a community.

This blog is linked to my other. The Tiger

A Product Review.

I received an email from a lady called Alise Johnson she asked me to review a software product. I normally would never do such a thing but as some of you know I have been having terrible problems with a very sluggish computer. Yesterday I took time to try this software. Digeus System Optimizer. It took time to use, possibly because my computer was in such a state, but I have to say that this morning my computer started in half the normal time and it does seem to be running much smoother and faster today. I would therefore recommend this product to you. If you wish to know further about this I would be happy to send you the link or you could get in touch with them yourself.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Ten Past Eight

I thank you for yesterday’s responses. I was aware that such lists had been around for a long time, that is after all the way of life. Seldom does anybody come up with a new idea. I found this idea along with the letter writing idea many years ago. I will explain that in a moment. I liked both ideas and took them on board and made them my own.

From time to time I drag them out from my documents folder and consider them, make amends, remove and add or adapt, until I feel happy with them. The whole process I find helpful and it gives me the opportunity to consider how I feel my life is going. I do this on the basis that it is never too old to learn. My first list was about eleven items long. When I dragged it out the other day it had crept up to nearly 30. I shared what I considered the ten I had changed the least over recent years.

The letters are much more difficult. I have attempted to write to everybody I have ever hurt or offended. Some people answered others did not. But I have learned, that it is for me worth the time doing this.

Yesterday I bumped into a recipient of one such letter. The person recognised me in the store and came over and spoke to me. How wonderful an encounter and made the letter worthwhile. We parted laughing as she told me the very true story of her friend. Her husband and her had gone to the Edinburgh Festival Ticket Office and purchased a number of tickets for some shows. The wife looked at them and said to her husband, “You silly man all these tickets are for ten past eight. How can we be at the same venue at the same time?” He looked at her, and then the tickets.

“You are the silly one,” he said. “The tickets are for the year 2010 not the hour 2010. She looked at him feeling a fool but they laughed. He used the story to write a letter to the paper and one the letter of the day competition.

This story, which I assure is true reminded me of another that I am sure is not at all true but who knows.

It is the story of the employer who asked one of his staff to clean the lifts (elevators in the USA). He had a difficult time getting staff to do the job well. Four days later he bumped into the man still cleaning. He asked why the job was taking so long, but did complement him on how clean they were. The man explained that it was an enormous job. He asked the employer if he realised there were 40 of these things to clean. Two on each floor and sometimes they were not even there.

People are indeed so funny but I rejoice that there are always people who can leave us feeling good because we have been in their company for even just a short time.

So my lists and my letters will continue because for me they work and are important.

Thanks again for all the great comments.

This blog is linked to my other.You Make Me Feel Like Dancing

Saturday, 21 August 2010

I Am Angry With You But Never Mind.

I sure do not want to make him any angrier with me so he will remain nameless. He had come up to the village and left his wallet at home. He wanted to write me an IOU for the price of a pint of milk and a dram and half pint of ale.

I refused point blank to accept his IOU, instead I offered to purchase the pint of milk and then go with him while he had his whisky and his half pint of ale. I would then drive him home. We had spent a good time at our vegetable plots and the time together relaxing would be worth every penny. He reluctantly agreed. It was while I was driving him home his pride got the better of him and he said, “I am angry you would not accept my IOU.”

I told to stop fassing ( a good Scottish word) because as sure as sure there would come a day very soon when I would do the same. Age is catching up with me I told him I forget things all the time.

Friendship is the most wonderful thing we have and it has to be cherished. I have decided I will probably forget my wallet next week some time.

I will do this because of some of the things life has taught me over the years. Let me share just one or two of them with you.

I've Learned.

I’ve learned-

that you cannot make someone love you. All you can do is be someone who can be loved. The rest is up to them.

I’ve learned-

that it takes years to build up trust, and only seconds to destroy it.

I’ve learned-

that no matter how good a friend is, they’re going to hurt you every once in a while and you must forgive them for that.

I’ve learned-

that it’s not what you have in your life but who you have in your life that counts.

I’ve learned-

that you should never ruin an apology with an excuse.

I’ve learned-

that it’s taking me a long time to become the person I want to be.

I’ve learned-

that you should always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time you see them.

I’ve learned-

that heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences.

I’ve learned-

that money is a lousy way of keeping score.

I’ve learned-

that my best friend and I can do anything or nothing and have the best time.

This is the way of Tao.

That is by far not an exhaustive list but I do not want to send you away weary.

I have also learned that you can meet the nicest people in the world of blogging and miss them when you do not hear from them.

This blog is linked to my other. The Litter Bin

Friday, 20 August 2010

Artists are Funny People

What has been happening to me, these last few days, so very serious? Yesterday I met a friend of mine and he asked me if I was alright. I wondered what he meant. He then went on to say you are looking and sounding very serious and down. The truth is I was not, I was in fact feeling good, apart from the pain in my back after falling off my bike.

This made me think of the artist who was concerned that she had not sold any paintings for some time. She called the gallery owner where she had paintings hanging to ask if there had been any interest.

He replied, “I have good news and bad news for you. In what order would you like it?”

The lady replied, “Give me the good news first, that way I will be able to cope with the bad news.”

“Well,” said the gallery owner “A gentleman came into the gallery and asked if I thought you art would appreciate in value after your death. I tod him I was sure that it would. He purchased all of your paintings.”

“That is great news,” said the artist. “Now what is the bad news?”

“The gentleman was your doctor.”

It also reminded me of another little story of the artist who did not feel like painting one day. We all have those days, do we not?

The trouble was he had already paid his model for the day. When she arrived he told her he did not feel like painting so instead could they just sit and chat. She agreed. He opened a bottle of good wine and produced some lovely fresh fruit and cheese. He put on a piece of his favourite music, and they just sat and enjoyed each others company.

Later he heard the banging of a car door. His wife had arrived home early.

The artist jumped from his seat, “Oh no it is the wife. Quick get your clothes off!”

We artists, we are indeed a strange lot of people. Seems most of you who read this blog qualified on the test of ten I set you yesterday. Susan had me laughing when she reminded me of another. “The cold cup of coffee.” One morning my wife got up early and offered to make me a coffee. I have a lovely pottery cup I was given by her mother. I love coffee from it. She came back with the coffee and said, “I looked for your mug and I found five cups of cold coffee in the process.

Have a good day I am off to read your blogs.

This blog is linked to my other where I talk about the art used. Lotus River.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

How Do You Know If You Are An Artist?

I am sure I am not alone in asking myself why it is that I feel the need to paint. I have had a real dry period in terms of sales having sold very little for some time. I have painted and repainted a number of canvas. I have questioned and questioned why I keep trying when I see so many who are better than me. Yet try as much as I can I still seem to want to create.

I have taken out a membership of the National Galleries of Scotland. This allows me unlimited access to all exhibitions for a year. My thinking was that if I saw real artists work I would happily admit I will never be like them and just enjoy the art of others. The opposite seems to be the case, the more you see the more you wish to create.

So To lighten my mood I have been thinking of some of the crazy things that I have done since I began this painting. When I make a list of them it is so long I would not bore you with them all. But today I thought I had been making fun of teachers for long enough. So, a reality check. How many of you can relate to any of the following. I thought I would list possibly ten of the silly things I have done. I would suspect if you can say yes to five of them you must be as mad as me.

1. When somebody mentions the beautiful sky you tell them the different shades of blue.

2. You find yourself dipping your brush in your coffee.

3. The tints in you hair were not there earlier and you have not been to the hairdresser.

4. The colour of your car is as important as the engine.

5. You are late for an important appointment because just as you were about to leave you realised what that painting needed done to it.

6. Your friends ask you about the new trend in painted jeans.

7. You buy lots of books and most of them have blank pages.

8. You chose a Russian Sable rather than an ale and a full English breakfast.

9. You throw your palette knife in the coffee.

10. There are Prussian blue fingerprints on your cell phone and pen and wallet and glasses case and almost everything you own.

It is when painting consumes your daily thinking. I think then you can safely say you are an artist.

But beware, there is a great little tale of the two friends. Bill and Tom. Tom had just broken up from a long term relationship. he was of course feeling down. Bill agreed to organise a blind date for him.

On meeting after the date Tom shouted at Bill him angrily: "Bill, what kind of a guy do you think I am. That girl you fixed me up with was cross-eyed; she was almost bald; her nose was long, thin and crooked; she had hair growing on her face; she was flat chested; and her ankles were as thick as her thighs".

Bill answered: "Either you like Picasso, or you don't like Picasso."

I hope the paint goes with you today. I am off to make another coffee there seems to be something floating on top of this one.

This blog is linked to my other. Stormy Days

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

If I Give You

I will get back to that title I promise you. Yesterday I spent some quality time with my daughter at the Edinburgh Book Festival. We do this every year at this time, we select a few authors we would like to go and listen to, then decide how we will fill the rest of the day around it. Yesterday we were going to listen to only one author, so we also visited the National Art Gallery together. Between the two we had a nice ale and a meal.

While we were sitting together enjoying the food and the ale we were also trying to discuss the exhibition we had attended. The trouble was I could not concentrate. Sitting at the table behind me were three young ladies in full flight of conversation. They were speaking loudly so it was almost impossible to ignore them. There is nothing worse than hearing every word of a conversation and not understanding a thing said. No, they were not visitors from overseas, but they could have been for all I understood.

Let me explain by sharing a quick little story.

A teacher was walking along a corridor of the school and noticed a student walking towards her. She knew this pupil should be in a class and that the girl was renowned for skipping classes. She asked her, “What class are you skipping this time?”

The student replied, “Like, uh, see, okay, like it's like I really don't like think like that's really important, y'know, like because I'm y'know, like I don't get anything out of it."

"It is the English class, isn't it?" replied the teacher.

The dying art of communication! But it is not always one way. Sometimes we older people assume what we say is straightforward.

A teacher said to a young student called Patrick, “If I give you two rabbits, then give you another two, and then another two. How many rabbits do you have?”

“Seven,” says Patrick.

“Let’s try that again.” says the teacher. “If I give you two rabbits, then give you another two, and then another two. How many rabbits do you have?”

“Seven,” says Patrick.

“Let me try something else,” says the teacher. “If I give you two apples, then give you another two, and then another two. How many apples do you have?”

“SIX,” says Patrick loudly.

“Good, “says the teacher. Now let us try again. “If I give you two rabbits, then give you another two, and then another two. How many rabbits do you have?”

“SEVEN,” says Patrick.

“How on earth do you work that out, that three lots of two rabbits equal seven? asked the frustrated teacher.

“Well then,” says Patrick, “Ill already be having a rabbit at home.”

The speaker at the book festival was a marvellous communicator but I will not be telling many of his tales on this blog.

May the word go with you today.

This blog is linked to my other where I discuss the artwork used. The Meeting

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

The Negotiations

Another strike averted the negotiations between union and management have had a successful outcome. This was the news that I awoke to this morning. The possible closure of six of the UKs largest airports has been avoided. Tomorrow somewhere another set of negotiations will begin.

I suppose it is better that people get round tables and speak to one another rather than the alternative. This was always a line I took with my children. They wanted something I in return wanted something, it was amazing how often we could find common ground.

There were of course times when negotiations hit a wall and I had to draw the line in the sand. “While you are living under my roof, eating my food, and are under 16/18 that is a decision I have made. Maybe I was fortunate in that I had two children who were sensible enough to realise when they had reached that line.

This tact fortunately was not used often, and I never really felt comfortable when I had been forced to resolve to this method.

MY neighbour’s daughter has reached the age of learning to drive. Negotiations loom on the near horizon, about the use of family vehicles.

Reminds me of the story of the father and son and the outcome of their negotiations on this very topic.

The son had gone through the process of learning to drive and had sat and passed his driving test. The son approached the father to ask about the use of the family car. The father responded by saying that this would require some negotiation, and invited him to sit down and they would discuss.

The father opened the discussion, and pretty well closed it, by setting down the terms under which the son would be allowed to have use of the car. They were as follows:-

1. First you have to raise your grades at school from C to B.

2. Second you must, like the rest of the family be more diligent in Bible study.

3. Lastly you have to get your hair cut.

Some weeks later the son requested that the negotiations resume. The pair sat down and began to talk. The father noted that the son had raised his grades from Cs to Bs and in some cases even better, to As.

He also noted that he had seen the son regularly doing his daily Bible study.

At this point the son interrupted. He informed his father that during the said study he had learned that Samson had long hair. He had also learned that John the Baptist had long hair. What he thought was his winning comment was that he had very good evidence to believe that Jesus had long hair.

His father interrupted at this point with the words, “Sis you notice they walked everywhere they travelled?”

I am sure there was a riposte, but the son was seen leaving the hairdressers the next day.

I am off to read your blogs.

This blog is linked to my other where I will explain the picture on this blog; Natures Chair

Monday, 16 August 2010


How nice is it to sit here this morning planning my day, wondering what I will do with it. Will I go down and do the much needed clearing up at my plot or will I paint. One thing I will certainly do is head out for a run. I may not be losing the weight as fast as I would like but I am at least getting a feeling of well being and fitness.

It is such a pleasure because I know that all my friends who are teachers are heading off back to the various schools where they teach. How I loved this day in the calendar.

Two in-service days and the students will arrive and all will be well. I always used to begin the first lesson of the new academic year with a reminder to all my students of the wonderful value of education. Not just to get a job, but to enlarge them and expand their horizons. To give them visions of how things could be. Education the doorway to enlightenment.

I remember on year a student saying to me, “You do not have to be clever to be in a position to change the world. Look at George Bush.” What could I say?

Reminded me of the really funny tale of the math teacher.

Headline from the national paper, New York – Man arrested boarding a plane a member of Al-Gebra.

A public school teacher was arrested today at John F. Kennedy International Airport as he attempted to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a set square, a slide rule and a calculator.

At a morning press conference, the Attorney General said he believes the man is a member of the notorious Al-Gebra movement.

He did not identify the man, who has been charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of math instruction. "Al-Gebra is a problem for us", the Attorney General said. "They desire solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in search of absolute values."

They use secret code names like 'X' and 'Y' and refer to themselves as 'unknowns', but we have determined that they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country.

As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, 'There are 3 sides to every triangle'.

When asked to comment on the arrest, President Bush said, "If God had wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction, he would have given us more fingers and toes."

White House aides told reporters they could not recall a more intelligent or profound statement by the President.

To all those math teachers who are packing their weapons of math destruction best use your hands fingers and toes.

Have a great day I will think of you as I enjoy the fresh air. To all my artists friends, rejoice we are free to use our hands to create.

This blog is linked to my other:   Hands

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Remeber Grown Up Words

As I sit here this morning I feel the need to crawl back into bed and go to sleep. I had a party last night it was very drunken and very noisy and it went on till about 3.45 am. Now before you say well it is your own fault you are tired, let me explain.

I was not at the party, the party was in my street. I suspect some neighbours had gone away for the weekend leaving their son at home. So what does he do? He decides to have a party and invite his friends. His friends in turn invite others. So at 3.45am there were some 30 or 40 of them running about in the street making loads of screaming noises, and I will draw a veil over some of the other things that were happening.

I was going to do something to have the noise stopped, instead I remembered that at their age I would have probably been doing the very same. Just because they look like adults and wish to be treated like adults does not make them adults. Had I suspected they were in any real danger I may well have done something. Instead I lay in bed counting, not sheep but the parties I had attended.

Yesterday seemed to be party day in my street. Earlier in the day my next door neighbour had a party in her back garden. Her son was celebrating his second birthday. They had great fun.

I was reminded of the tale of the teacher trying to make children adults too soon.

A group of children had started nursery school and were trying very hard to do all that was expected of them.

The biggest hurdle they faced was that the teacher insisted on NO baby talk! You need to use 'Big People' words,' she was always reminding them.

She asked John what he had done over the weekend.

"I went to visit my Nana," he replied.

"No, you went to visit your GRANDMOTHER. Remember we must always use 'Big People' words!"

She then asked Mary what she had done

"I took a ride on a choo-choo".

She said. "No, you took a ride on a TRAIN. You must remember to use 'Big People' words".

She then asked little Alex what he had done.

"I read a book" he replied.

That's WONDERFUL!' the teacher said. "What book did you read?"

Alex thought real hard about it, then puffed out his chest with great pride, and said,

"Winnie the SHIT"

Well you see if you ask children to be adults they might be just that.

Forgive the use of that word but I always laugh when I think of that book. When my daughter was very young, I had a CB radio in my car. In those days people had a handle, a code name. Being a minister of religion mine was of course, Sky Pilot. My daughter Lindsey loved the Pooh books so her handle was, Linnie the Pooh. My son in his innocence one day asked why Lindsey was always asking to go for a pooh.

Have a good Sunday

This blog is linked to my other Butterfly

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Happy Saturday

Josephine Tale Pedlar has what she calls her happy Friday blog, or something to that effect, it is always upbeat. I suppose this is because it is the start of the weekend, a time to relax. I always laugh to myself because Saturday is my nightmare day. Shopping to be done and then lets just have a look in, the next ten shops, I just cant wait for it to happen.

MY daughter in law was all excited last night. She starts back to her teaching on Monday, the summer is over. She is starting in a new school and looking forward to it so much she bubbles. Made me think back to my teaching days and the end of summer. How I could not get back to the kids, I had missed them so much.

So I am thinking weekend and schools. But I want to get the weekend started with some light-hearted thoughts.

So for all those teachers about to head back to a new term, and the rest of us who watch them go, here are the ten main reason why you continue to want to be a teacher.

1. You have no time for a life between August and June

2. You want to slap the next person who says, “Must be nice to work from 9 till 4 and have the summers free.

3. When out in public you feel the urge to talk to strange children and correct their behaviour.

4. You refer to adults as "boys and girls."

5. You encourage your husband by telling them they are a "good helper."

6. You've ever had your profession slammed by someone who would never dream of doing the job you do.

7. Meeting a child's parents instantly answers the question, "Why is this childlike this?"

8. You believe "extremely annoying" should have its own box on the report card.

9. You know hundred good reasons for being late.

10. You don't want children of your own because there isn't a name you can hear that wouldn't elevate your blood pressure.

Anyway have a good last weekend and remember you must not be late of the first day back. Not like the family who had just moved into a new area and overslept. The daughter was sure to be late for school.

The father, though late for work himself had to drive her. Since he did not know the way, he said that she would have to direct him to the school.

They drove past many streets before she told him to turn for the first time, several more before she indicated another turn. This went on for 20 minutes - but when they finally reached the school, it proved to be only a short distance from their home.

The father, much annoyed, asked his daughter why she'd led him around in such a circle.

The child explained, "That's the way the school bus goes, Daddy. It's the only way I know."

Have a great Saturday.

This blog is linked to my other.  Textured Sunflowers

Friday, 13 August 2010

What Goes Round Comes Round

I think it was Susan who said in a comment recently what goes round comes round, or something to that effect. It reminded me of this lovely tale.

One day a man saw an old lady, stranded on the side of the road, but even in the dim light of day, he could see she needed help. So he pulled up in front of her Mercedes and got out. His old Ford was still sputtering when he approached her.

Even with the smile on his face, she was worried. No one had stopped to help for the last hour or so. Was he going to hurt her? He didn’t look safe; he looked poor and hungry. He could see that she was frightened, standing out there in the cold. He knew how she felt. It was those chills which only fear can put in you.

He said, “Can I help you sort that tyre? Why don’t you wait in the car where it’s warm? By the way, my name is Bryan Mac Taggart”

Well, all she had was a flat tyre, but for an old lady, that was bad enough. Bryan crawled under the car looking for a place to put the jack, banging his knuckles as he did so. Soon he was able to change the tyre. But he had to get dirty and his hands hurt.

As he was tightening up the nuts, she rolled down the window and began to talk to him. She told him that she was from and was only just passing through. She couldn’t thank him enough for coming to her aid.

Bryan just smiled as he closed her boot after putting away the punctured tyre. The lady asked how much she owed him. Any amount would have been all right with her. She already imagined all the awful things that could have happened had he not stopped. Bryan never thought twice about being paid. This was not a job to him. This was helping someone in need, and there had been plenty who had given him a hand in the past. He had lived his whole life that way, and it never occurred to him to act any other way.

He told her that if she really wanted to pay him back, the next time she saw someone who needed help, she could give that person the assistance they needed, and Bryan added, “And think of me.”

He waited until she started her car and drove off. It had been a cold and depressing day, but he felt good as he headed for home, and her taillights disappeared into the night.

A few miles down the road the lady saw a small cafe. She thought she would stop and relax and have a small meal before finishing her journey. It was a dingy looking restaurant. The whole scene was unfamiliar to her. The waitress came over and brought a clean towel to wipe her wet hair. She had a sweet smile, one that even being on her feet for the whole day couldn’t erase. The lady noticed the waitress was far into a pregnancy, but she never let the strain and aches change her attitude. The old lady wondered how someone who had so little could be so giving to a stranger. Then she remembered Bryan.

After the lady finished her meal, she paid with a twenty pound note. The waitress quickly went to get change for her, but the old lady had slipped right out the door. She was gone by the time the waitress came back. The waitress wondered where the lady could be. Then she noticed something written on the napkin.

There were tears in her eyes when she read what the lady wrote: “You don’t owe me anything. I have been there too. Somebody once helped me out, the way I’m helping you. If you really want to pay me back, here is what you do: Do not let this chain of love end with you.”

Under the napkin were another ten £20 notes.

Well, there were tables to clear, sugar bowls to fill, and people to serve, but the waitress made it through another day. That night when she got home from work and climbed into bed, she was thinking about the money and what the lady had written. How could the lady have known how much she and her husband needed it? With the baby due next month, it was going to be hard….

She knew how worried her husband was, and as he lay sleeping next to her, she gave him a soft kiss and whispered soft and low, “Everything’s going to be all right. I love you, Bryan Mac Taggart.”

“What goes around comes around.”

Thanks again to Susan for the initial thoughts that made my brain go down this road for both blogs.

This Blog is Linked to My Other  Love Reaches Deep

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Don’t Dump Your Rubbish Here.

It was bound to happen on day sooner or later. Every Wednesday is bin day where I live. That means we but out our rubbish (garbage) for collection. One week it is just the household rubbish the following it is household and garden and so on. Usually they are emptied in the morning and I go out and put my bin away and any of the neighbours bins still out I wheel away for them also.

Yesterday I had not heard them arrive so it had gone out of my mind altogether. Later in the day I drove out the drive in reverse, you have guessed it, and hit the bin scattering my rubbish. Nice job to clean up after just having a shower.

Reminded me of a lesson I learned many years ago.

How often do you let other people's nonsense change your mood? Do you let a bad driver, rude waiter, curt boss, or an insensitive employee ruin your day? Unless you're the Terminator, for an instant you're probably set back on your heels. However, the mark of a successful person is how quickly she can get back her focus on what's important.

I learned it in the passenger seat of an old mans car. Here's what happened. We were driving in the right lane when, all of a sudden, a black car shot out of a parking space right in front of us. My friend slammed on his brakes, skidded, and missed the other car’s back end by just inches!

The driver of the other car, the guy who almost caused a big accident, whipped his head around and he started yelling obscenities at us. My friend just smiled and waved at the guy in a very friendly way. So, I said, "Why did you just do that? This guy almost ruined your car and sent us to the hospital!" And this is when he told me what I now call, "The Law of the Bin Lorry." (For those of you on the other side of the pond substitute Garbage Truck)

Many people are like rubbish trucks. They run around full of rubbish, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their rubbish piles up, they need a place to dump it. And if you let them, they'll dump it on you. When someone wants to dump on you, don't take it personally. You just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. You'll be happy you did.

So this was it: The "Law of the Rubbish Truck.” I started thinking, how often do I let Rubbish Trucks run right over me? And how often do I take their rubbish and spread it to other people a work, at home, on the streets? It was that day I said, "I'm not going to do anymore."

Good leaders know they have to be ready for their next meeting.

Good parents know that they have to welcome their children home from school with hugs and kisses.

Leaders and parents know that they have to be fully present, and at their best for the people they care about. The bottom line is that successful people do not let rubbish trucks take over their day. What about you? What would happen in your life, starting today, if you let more rubbish trucks pass you by? Here's my bet. You'll be happier. Life's too short to wake up in the morning with regrets, so. Love the people who treat you right. Forget about the ones who don't.

I told this tale to a lad yesterday. He was getting a lot of stick from others because he is different. He sent me a lovely text this morning saying he had let three rubbish trucks pass him this morning and was feeling better for it.

This blog is linked to my other. Sunflowers 2

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

A Job Half Done and a Story Half Told

I knew the minute I did it I should not have, talked about my dear old Gran I mean. She was in my mind for the rest of the day. The things we did together and the sayings she had.

Another favourite of hers was this one, “Fools and bairns should never see a job half done.” I will come back to that saying again on my other blog, because I do hope you have noticed that the artwork on here today is not in fact a painting, but a half finished one.

It is like something else that happened yesterday. My wife never tells me jokes, for two reasons. One she often does not see the funny in the punch line, or she has forgotten the ending. So it was with great surprise I heard her say she had a joke to tell me. We were out walking at the time. An hour later I had heard the beginning of the joke but she had forgotten the ending. Now how frustrating is that.

I spent a lot of time later trying to work out what the ending to that joke could be.

It is a bit like this.

A physics teacher said to his class, “Isaac Newton was sitting under a tree when an apple fell on his head and he discovered gravity. Is that not just wonderful?

Now if I stopped there you would have a couple of sentences giving some information you have probably heard a million times before. If I go on to tell you the response of one of his students I hope you feel the need to smile.

The student said, “Yes sir, if he had been sitting in class like us reading books, he would never have discovered anything.”

Or to put it another way, with another little tale.

Two factory workers were talking. The female said that she was going to get her boss to give her a day off. The man asked how she was going to manage that. She told him to watch and learn.

When the boss appeared she jumps up and hangs upside down from the ceiling. The boss of course asks her what she is doing. She tells him she is a light bulb.

The boss looks all concerned and tells her she has been working far too hard to go home and have a days rest.

The man then takes off his overalls and begins to put on his jacket. The boss asks him what he is doing.

“I am going home. How can I possibly be expected to work in the dark.

So a job half done and a story half told. Kind of sums up my day yesterday really.

I will try and explain about the artwork on my other blog.  Sunflowers In The Painting

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

The Grass is Always Greener.

I did not think anybody would be at all interested in what I ate, sorry Jerry. My daughter made a marvellous Thai Green Curry while I cooked fresh rainbow trout on the fire outdoors. The trout were stuffed with leeks and dill fresh from my plot and lemon. The only small problem was the string I held all this into the fish had a tendency to want to burn. Such is life.

Now while you think of that I am thinking of that fresh grown tomato, there is nothing to beat produce freshly picked.

This discussion reminds me of a beautiful little story of the young girl.

The little girl lived in a small, very simple, poor house on a hill and as she grew she would play in the small garden and as she grew she was able to see over the garden fence and across the valley to a wonderful house high on the hill – and this house had golden windows, so golden and shining that the little girl would dream of how magic it would be to grow up and live in a house with golden windows instead of an ordinary house like hers.

And although she loved her parents and her family, she yearned to live in such a golden house and dreamed all day about how wonderful and exciting it must feel to live there.

When she got to an age where she gained enough skill and sensibility to go outside her garden fence, she asked her mother is she could go for a bike ride outside the gate and down the lane. After pleading with her, her mother finally allowed her to go, insisting that she kept close to the house and didn’t wander too far. The day was beautiful and the little girl knew exactly where she was heading! Down the lane and across the valley, she rode her bike until she got to the gate of the golden house across on the other hill.

As she dismounted her bike and lent it against the gate post, she focused on the path that lead to the house and then on the house itself…and was so disappointed as she realized all the windows were plain and rather dirty, reflecting nothing other than the sad neglect of the house that stood derelict.

So sad she didn’t go any further and turned, heartbroken as she remounted her bike … As she glanced up she saw a sight to amaze her…there across the way on her side of the valley was a little house and its windows glistened golden …as the sun shone on her little home.

She realized that she had been living in her golden house and all the love and care she found there was what made her home the ‘golden house’. Everything she dreamed was right there in front of her nose!

As they say the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

This blog is linked to my other.   Castles in the Sky

Monday, 9 August 2010

Heaven and Hell

Thanks to all who left kind words and thoughts, over the last two days. Yesterday ended up to be a beautiful day with the sun shinning all day long, the first day this week this has been the case. We had our meal outside in the garden surrounded by the butterflies.

It had been agreed that the day would be kept light. When my family get together the conversations tend to get deep and heavy. So not much food for thinking about todays blog.

So I go deep into my thoughts this morning to think of one of my favourite stories. Strangely this little tale with the title heaven and hell never actually makes me think of those two things at all rather they make me think of my actions and the way I respond to the aggression of others.

The old monk sat by the side of the road. With his eyes closed, his legs crossed and his hands folded in his lap, he sat. In deep meditation, he sat.

Suddenly his zazen was interrupted by the harsh and demanding voice of a samurai warrior. "Old man! Teach me about heaven and hell!"

At first, as though he had not heard, there was no perceptible response from the monk. But gradually he began to open his eyes, the faintest hint of a smile playing around the corners of his mouth as the samurai stood there, waiting impatiently, growing more and more agitated with each passing second.

"You wish to know the secrets of heaven and hell?" replied the monk at last. "You who are so unkempt. You whose hands and feet are covered with dirt. You whose hair is uncombed, whose breath is foul, whose sword is all rusty and neglected. You who are ugly and whose mother dresses you funny. You would ask me of heaven and hell?"

The samurai uttered a vile curse. He drew his sword and raised it high above his head. His face turned to crimson and the veins on his neck stood out in bold relief as he prepared to sever the monk's head from its shoulders.

"That is hell," said the old monk gently, just as the sword began its descent. In that fraction of a second, the samurai was overcome with amazement, awe, compassion and love for this gentle being who had dared to risk his very life to give him such a teaching. He stopped his sword in mid-flight and his eyes filled with grateful tears.

"And at," said the monk, "is heaven."

And that is the way of Toa.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

It Is That Kind of Day

I apologise if yesterday I gave the impression that my anniversary was then. Yesterday was the day I had to complete the long list of preparation tasks I had been set by my family.

Today is the day, 40 years to the day when I got married. I remember it well because it was a simple wedding with family and friends. Being at the time a student studying theology there were more ministers there than at most. Six if you count me as one of them.

I wrote the wedding service, and used it for the next twenty years as I conducted the weddings of so many people. I only laid it to rest a few years ago, continuing to conduct weddings even as a teacher.

I enjoy thin king back to all those weddings and rejoice when I hear of couples still together and happy.

Unlike the girl who on returning from her honeymoon was asked by her mother how it had gone. “It was marvellous, mother, and so romantic. But since we got home it is terrible, John has changed and is using terrible language, all those four letter words.” “Calm down,” said her mother, “tell me what are the four letter words he is using.”

“Terrible words like, cook, dust, wash and iron.”

I find it sad that we live in an age where relationships do not last. It is as if we are constantly looking for perfection and when we have to face reality we just give up. Nobody should ever have to live in an unhappy relationship, but it does often seem that we have lost the idea of working at making things better. We seek instant everything including happiness.

We need to find some way of making things last a bit longer to give life a chance. Like the couple married for 48 years with ten children and 23 grandchildren. Asked how they had managed to stay together the lady said, “We made a pact at the beginning. The first one to consider leaving had to take all the kids with them.”

I used to tell my children that if their mother and I ever parted company I would fight tooth and nail not to have custody.

Today we will all gather together and round the table and laugh because they know that they are and always will be the most important people in my life.

Hope your weekend is going well.

Did you notice the flowers at the top of this blog?  Buddleia

Saturday, 7 August 2010

It All Depends on How You See It

Today it will be for me all go, so much to do, so I am going to keep this short today. Tomorrow is a big day in my family. My children wanted to take me out for a meal to celebrate but after much consideration and talk it has been agreed to have a family gathering at home.

It is only after 6 am in the morning and already I have been given a list of things I have to do in preparation. I cannot understand what all the fuss is about; my family come here frequently for meals. Just because some 40 years ago I stood beside my wife and said, “I do.”

I keep telling her if I had murdered her I would have been paroled ages ago. But here we are on the threshold of this big step in life, a ruby wedding. I will rejoice I do not have to get all dressed up and wear a flower. Will put my kilt on and relax and think of Jerry in his Indian shoes.

Ok I can hear you all saying this is so not true. It is true that tomorrow is that special day, what is not true is I am being anything like I sound. I feel pleased that I have reached this stage in life and will tomorrow be reminded of it all. More important I will be sharing it with my family who are very precious to me.

But it just shows how you can always see everything in two different ways. I read a blog from somebody yesterday who visited my blog. A young lad who seemed to think he was of no value to anybody at all. I then noticed 615 people were following his blog. Who is he kidding, only himself.

I want this day to be light hearted and joyful. To help you have a good day I have two little tales for you that make me smile.

A boy was skating on one skate. A man saw him and said, “Don’t you know that you’re supposed to skate on 2 skates?” The boy said, “Someone stole my other skate, and that’s why I’m skating on one.”

As the man walked away, the boy yelled, “Hey Mister! Did you know that you can still have a lot of fun on just one skate?”

You have a choice. You can get mad at the person who stole your skate, or you can keep having fun on just one skate.

People do get mad at the slightest little thing sometimes.

A grouchy man walked into a cafe. After sitting down, he couldn't find on the menu what he was hungry for. Ten minutes passed and still no one had waited on him. Finally he yelled to a waitress who was walking by, "Hey! Do you serve crabs here?"

She said, "Yes, sir. I'll serve you in a minute."

Have a wonderful Saturday I am off to complete all the things on my ever growing list of tasks.

This blog is linked to my other. Cornflowers

Friday, 6 August 2010

Dance Like There is No Tomorrow.

I was thinking about the number of people I know who are busy in the queue waiting. No they are not waiting for a train or a bus they are waiting for things to change. if we are all honest we have all stood in that self same queue at one time or another.

We convince ourselves that life will be better after we have left school and university, or it will be better once we get married, have a baby, then another. Then we're frustrated that the children are not old enough and we'll be more content when they are. Later, we're frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with. We'll certainly be happy when they're out of that stage.

We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we get a nicer car, or we get into the house we have dreamed about, are able to go on a nice vacation, when we retire.

The truth is, there's no better time to be happy than right now. If not now, when? Too late to be happy yesterday and tomorrow well not a lot we can do about that until it comes.

Your life will always be filled with challenges. It's best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway.

One of my favourite quotes comes from Alfred D. Souza. He said, "For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, or a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life."

This perspective has helped me to see that there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. So, treasure every moment that you have and treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, and they were prepared to share it with you, special enough to spend your time with...and remember that time waits for no one.

So, stop waiting until you finish school, until you go to university, until you lose ten pounds, until you gain ten pounds, until you have kids, until your kids leave the house, until you start work, until you retire, until you get married, until you get divorced, until Friday night, until Sunday morning, until you get a new car or home, until your car or home is paid off, until spring, until summer, until autumn, until winter, until the first or fifteenth, until YOUR song comes on, until you've had a drink, until you've sobered up, until you die, until you're born again, until whatever excuse you can think of to decide that there is no better time than right now to be happy.

How many times as an artist I have waited till I got the correct colour the correct canvas. The number of times I have waited for the right moment or the right feeling. As I have said so many times on this blog the time for waiting is over.

Happiness is a journey, not a destination.

Oh and just to get you started the lady waiting for the bus. Let me tell you about her. She was wanting to go to visit a special art gallery. She asked a policeman how to get there. he told her to wait at the bus stop and catch the 46. Two hours later he passed again she was still there. He asked her why she was not at her gallery. She told him not to worry she would get there soon the 42nd bus had just passed so only four to go.

Happiness is a journey not a destination or waiting for it to arrive.

This is the way of the Tao.

This blog is linked to my Other.  Home From The Sea

Thursday, 5 August 2010

I Am Alive and it is a Good Day

I have said many times that we have to continually make choices in life and the choices we make effect everything that follows. I have also said more than once that we should always be making positive choices. I was asked a very interesting question yesterday while talking to somebody about this very subject. It had all begun when the person looked at the artwork I have included today. More of that elsewhere on my other blog.

One way or another, the two people I was chatting to were sure, that there were many situations in which it was impossible to be positive. One of the two has been unemployed for some length of time. He said that it was impossible to stay positive in such a situation. He has applied for many jobs and keeps getting letters telling him his application has been unsuccessful. How can you be positive? I am aware that there are for all of us difficult times life is such that it is impossible to go through it without.

The truth is still the same, making positive choices each day are the way to face all things. This brings me to a true story.

A friend owned a restaurant which was always very busy. More than that he had kept the same staff with one or two small changes for most of the years he had the restaurant. He was a very positive thinking person and he always taught his staff to be the same. The result was that the customers attended not only for the food. They came because they knew they would leave feeling well fed and feeling good about themselves.

He heard me say one day that I had been invited to feel miserable but I had refused the invitation, and today was, as Jerry keeps on saying, a good day. He took this saying on board and I heard him share it with customers often.

It is all about choices and I will not be moved from that spot.

To continue with the story about the restaurant owner. There was one night just after closing time. He and one of the other members of staff were doing a final check of the takings and getting it ready for banking. Two men broke in through the back door brandishing guns. The female member of staff was terrified and reacted. It seems the men though she was going to press an alarm or something and they panicked. A shot was fired as they ran for the door. The owner was hit in the chest.

He remembers the being in the ambulance and being told he was going to be fine. He certainly did not feel he was going to be fine and the sight of the faces of the doctors and nurses at the hospital did nothing to confirm the paramedics message. He says from the look on their faces I was already a dead man.

One of the nurses asked him if he was allergic to anything. He said that he was. There was a moment of silence and a doctor asked what. He said he was allergic to bullets. he then went on to say I am choosing to live though so please treat me like a man alive not a dead man.

He still has his restaurant and all his staff are still working for him. Each day he chooses to have a good day.

I hope you have a great day today.

This blog is linked to my other.  Lead Kindly Light

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

You Can Do It If You Really Want To

I am sure you have all heard the saying, “If you want something done ask a busy person to do it.” This saying has stuck with me throughout my life. It goes along with the well know words I have also heard often. “You need to learn to say No.”

I remembered these words yesterday as I overheard a conversation between my son and my wife. I am not sure the content of the conversation but I heard, “Look just stop finding all those other things to do and get on with what you know needs to be done.”

MY son has always been a very strong minded character, knowing exactly what he does and does not want to do. Let me illustrate by sharing two stories from about the age of five.

He was in church attending the Sunday morning worship, which I was conducting. For some reason there was not the normal point in the service where children left to do their own thing under the supervision of adults. My sermon was in full flight. Then I noticed him walking up the aisle towards the front of the church. I paused just long enough to let him give vent. Loudly and clearly I heard him say, “If it is ok with you dad I will just go out and play. This is just going on and on and I am fed up with it.” My wife at that point got hold of him and in a trice he was out the door. I do not know what was said at the back of the door but they both returned quietly and he sat as good as gold till the end of the service.

Another example of his strong will bring me back to my main point for today.

It was bedtime for him and he was all ready to head off upstairs. I noticed the floor of the sitting room was covered in lego bricks. I asked him to put them away before we went upstairs. “Oh dad I am just far too tired.” I lifted him, sat him on my knee and we did the humpty dumpty. This ended with my opening my legs and letting him fall through with a gentle bump. He loved this silly game. “Do it again dad.” I did, three times. On the request for a fourth I said well how about another three after the bricks have been cleared away. I have never seen anything happening much faster. Very interesting considering how tired he was just a few moments ago.

Is it not amazing how we can always find the time to do the things we want to do. How equally easy it is to find reasons to do the things we do not. I wonder how many excuses I will mange to conjure up today?

This blog is linked to my other.Marathon

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Learning to Fly

Yesterday I visited the art gallery where they were showing an exhibition of impressionist garden paintings. It was overwhelming. So many of the masters in one place, almost too much for the mind to comprehend in one moment.

I was so engrossed in three of Monet’s Water Lilly paintings that I forgot I was alone. I said to the lady standing next to me, “I find these paintings just flood my mind with feelings.” Then I remembered where I was and was about to apologise. She turned and said to me, “Thank you for saying that I was just bursting to say that to somebody but was so aware of being alone.”

We spoke together about one or two others and then we went our separate ways. As she was about to leave I thanked her for her comments. She said I had made her day and I think we both left feeling touched by the art and the joy of sharing.

It is amazing how easy it is to be uplifted by another and in turn uplift. I have a moving story to share with you.

There was a little boy who lived in an orphanage. He was one of the youngest and often felt alone. He used to sit at the window and watch the birds. How he longed to be able to fly. He spoke of it often. “Why cant I fly like the birds?”

Next to the orphanage was a park where he was allowed to go and play. He was so often alone playing in the sandpit. One day there was another lad about his age sitting in the sand. They talked to each other and made castles and magical places. They laughed and joked for what seemed like ages.

Time came when it was time to leave. The father of the other lad went behind the park bench and wheeled over a wheelchair. The lad who wanted to fly had not been aware of his new friends disability.

He went over to the father and spoke to him. He returned to the lad and said, “I cannot help you to walk or run but I can do something. The father lifted his son onto the orphans back and laughed as they ran round the park.

Tears rolled down his cheeks as he laughed at the words of his son. Sitting on his new friends back he waved his arms and shouted loudly. “Look Daddy. I can fly, I can fly.”

I noticed that somebody left my followers yesterday apologies if I am offending or being too heavy.

This blog is linked to my other where I discuss the art.  Thoughts of Spring

Monday, 2 August 2010

Something to Consider

Having taught world religions and philosophy for so many years I have always been interested in how people seem attracted to the use of special numbers. Consider, seven occurs often, forty is frequently used to consider indeterminate time. Five is another figure that appears and sometimes in the form of two lots of five coming to ten. The Ten Commandments and then the Beatitudes. Islam has its, Five Pillars and Sikhism, has, The Five Ks.

None of these numbers are used accidentally, they are significant and so often have deeper and underlying messages.

I was reminded yesterday of two that I have used frequently throughout my life. Both have the number five. Forgive me if I am boring, and if I am please say. But I feel an urge today to share them with you. Maybe you might like In a quite moment to consider them and keep or discard.

The first is, Five Bad and Five Good. I like to ask myself to stop for a moment and list the five worst things about me. If they are still the same five things as the last time I did this exercise I have not progressed at all. Then I will attempt to list the five best things about me.

I always found that it was easier to say five bad than it was five good. I have had to work fairly hard at being able to do both.

The other five I would love to share with you I think you might have come across. The Five Balls of Life. They are, Work, Family, Health, Friends and Integrity. We all the time try to keep these balls in the air. What a difference it made to learn that the ball, Work, was a rubber ball. Drop it and it bounced back. The other four are made of glass and if dropped so easily become damaged or maybe even smashed.

Once we really understand that we can get balance into our lives and the Five Good Five Bad become so much more meaningful.

I have just read that all again and am tempted to change the blog so will not be at all surprised if the comments today start with an instruction to lighten up.

This Blog is linked to my other  Summer Days and Holidays

Sunday, 1 August 2010

The Examination.

It was very interesting to read your comments yesterday. I do so enjoy reading the comments people make on blogs. It is a kind and caring community the blogging world. Susan made comment yesterday that I have been fortunate in life to have met a great many people. I am sure she has also.

I meet many people because I go out of my way to get into conversations with people. My wife Irene continually makes comment about this. It was only last Friday evening we went out for an ale with my son and daughter-in-law. At one point she asked me if there was anybody in the place I did not know as one after another fellow customers came over to speak to us.

I was not always like this. My mother frequently gave me a ticking off for walking with my head bowed. I was extremely shy, and to some extent still am, but life has taught me how to compensate by being extrovert. Does that make any sense?

Another turning point for me was the examination. We had a lecturer at university who came in as an extra to assist us to become both pastors and preachers. She helped us with how to deliver sermons and the correct use of the voice. How I wished I had listened more to her on that topic. She also offered advice in reading body language and how to be a caring pastor.

One day she set us an examination, about the third day I met her I think. The examination was mostly on general knowledge. This did not concern me, I was always interested in what was happening. Throughout the paper there were what seemed, very odd questions. What is the first name of the curator? What is the name of the lady who each days vacuums the carpets in the students lounge?

At the end of the examination I asked her if those four questions were to be taken as part of the grade mark. "Absolutely," she said. "In your chosen profession, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say 'hello'." "I've never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy, and later I learned the names of all the cleaners and curators.

What a lesson indeed. Before you ask, I do know the names of all the people who follow my blog although one or two names are harder than others to remember. Nothing really I used to know the first names of every member of my congregations. One of whom, Ena, now aged 94 called me yesterday just for a chat.

This blog is linked to my other. And So It Was