Friday, 3 November 2017

What does it take to be friendly?

I was in a shop yesterday where I stood waiting my turn to be served. I watched the young man as he served each customer before me, I was wondering just how long it might take him to get to the point of actually saying a please or a thank you to one of the customers.

Then again maybe it is just me. Maybe people no longer want to hear somebody say thank you.

Later I popped into the newsagents where I was greeted with the exact opposite.

Here the lady greeted me with, “Good afternoon darling, what can I get you? Is that all I can do for you today sweetie? You have a nice day now.”  Maybe the silent approach was better.

So I am never happy. The first lad seems to have lost it completely, it was almost as if he did not want to be there, the second just did not sound for a minute as though she meant it. 

What happened to just being nice to each other, interested in each other? Polite to each other. 

Where is all this leading to I hear you ask? Well before I get there can I apologise to those of a sensitive nature, but I just could not help myself when I was told this story. I did really laugh out loud, and it was so appropriate after my experience in the two shops. 

It started when I was telling a friend about my two shop experiences. This lady was confused about the word service. She asked if I had noticed that like logistics it was appearing everywhere.

She thought about all the places the word seemed to be used but was confused why. 

She laughed when she noticed that sometimes the British Broadcasting Company, BBC, was often being called the British Broadcasting Service.  it might be lots of things but I doubt if it is a service? 

Then there are one or two others.

Inland Revenue  'Service'
Postal  'Service' 
Telephone 'Service'
Cable TV 'Service'  
Civil  'Service' 
Customer 'Service'

It seemed that the word service was being used out of context when you consider how each of the above responds to you. 

Now if you are of a sensitive nature be warned miss the next paragraph. 

She then went on to tell me how it all fell into place when she heard two farmers having a discussion. One was telling the other how he had hired a wonderful bull to service all his cows. 

In that moment she realised what the word service meant in our modern society.

Have a wonderful day. I guess I will just continue to be friendly to others and hope that they in return are friendly to me. I can but hope. Or maybe I have to await my return to France where no matter where you go or who you meet you are welcomed with a Bonjour or Bonsoir.
Please do have a wonderful day. 

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Learn to Win

I am sure I am not alone in being caught up in the drama of the olympic games. Have been a runner and competed in many events, I feel I can almost be in he minds of those competing. Ok I started to late to be competing at the level of an olympian . I did though take part in many marathons. On the start line there were those other runners whom I had beaten in the last race, or they had just beaten me. They were there to be raced and to race again. Then of course there was the clock. Was I going to better the time I had last outing? Was I going to get a PB (personal best)? 

I have remained a very competitive person. Even at my age, before this operation that has meant I cannot run, if I saw a runner in front of me on my morning run, I still tried to catch up and maybe pass. Did not seem to matter that they were thirty years younger than me.  Maybe this is why I am suffering now?

I did though learn some lessons, that can be taken into other fields of life, even into art.

 1. Expect to win.
       Know in your heart that you are a winner.

  2. Let your expectations show.
       Express no doubts, let your competitors and your friends know  that you have none.

  3. Work, practice, work, and practice some more.
     At the top of his field, the athlete can still be seen training - even if he's just          won.

  4. Dress and act like a winner.
       This is a part of keeping yourself in a winning frame of mind.

  5. Have a sense of drama - don't create it but know it when you see  it.
       You don't have to seek out publicity, but know how to accept  and use it when it comes to you.

  6. Know that there is always room to grow.
       Being the best does not mean you can't be even better.

  7. Hang with the winners.
       They understand the pressures and situations in which you will  find yourself.

  8. Put yourself in situations where you are not known as a success.
       May be difficult, but this helps you to stay real.

  9. Value and protect your free time and do what you enjoy.
       The discipline of being a winner needs a safety valve from time  to time.

  10. Remember those who need help.
       Somewhere, someone helped you - be willing to give back.

May the Chi be with you and may you feel at the end of the day that you have given of your best and that it has been a good day.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

The Carrot, The Egg and the Coffee

I promise not to keep going on about recent hardships and adversity but I really do feel I need to share this thought today. Yesterday I managed to walk a number of steps without the use of my crutches. These steps were slow and not without pain, but the sense of achievement at the end was wonderful. Buoyed up by this I rested and later managed to climb the stairs and go to the toilet and back down without the crutches. Yes maybe I did do a bit too much but I wanted to try.

I saw my chair as the carrot urging me ever onward.  Then somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered something about a carrot, an egg and a coffee bean. So hear it is that story with a very meaningful message.
 A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

 Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word.

 In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

 Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me what you see. "Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.

 Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg. Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma.

 The daughter then asked, "What does it mean, mother?"  Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity -- boiling water. Each reacted differently.

  The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.

 The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became

 The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

 "Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?"

 Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

 Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat?  Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial
 hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

 Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water,  the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it  releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things  are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.

 When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

 May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy.

 The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way. 
The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can't go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.

The artwork used today is my most recent painting. Using a lot of texture. I like it because it reminds me of the runs I did daily and it is the first painting I have done for some time.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014


I am sure everybody knows this painting, it is so very well known. Hands are very difficult to paint so I thought I would have a try at painting my version of Durer's hands. There is nothing wrong with learning from the masters, either in art or in thinking. I spend some time each day listening to the words of the greats of thought.

Back in the fifteenth century, in a tiny village near Nuremberg, lived a family with eighteen children. Eighteen! In order merely to keep food on the table for this mob, the father and head of the household, a goldsmith by profession, worked almost eighteen hours a day at his trade and any other paying chore he could find in the neighborhood. Despite their seemingly hopeless condition, two of Albrecht Durer the Elder's children had a dream. They both wanted to pursue their talent for art, but they knew full well that their father would never be financially able to send either of them to Nuremberg to study at the Academy.

After many long discussions at night in their crowded bed, the two boys finally worked out a pact. They would toss a coin. The loser would go down into the nearby mines and, with his earnings, support his brother while he attended the academy. Then, when that brother who won the toss completed his studies, in four years, he would support the other brother at the academy, either with sales of his artwork or, if necessary, also by laboring in the mines. They tossed a coin on a Sunday morning after church. Albrecht Durer won the toss and went off to Nuremberg.

Albert went down into the dangerous mines and, for the next four years, financed his brother, whose work at the academy was almost an immediate sensation. Albrecht's etchings, his woodcuts, and his oils were far better than those of most of his professors, and by the time he graduated, he was beginning to earn considerable fees for his commissioned works.

When the young artist returned to his village, the Durer family held a festive dinner on their lawn to celebrate Albrecht's triumphant homecoming. After a long and memorable meal, punctuated with music and laughter, Albrecht rose from his honored position at the head of the table to drink a toast to his beloved brother for the years of sacrifice that had enabled Albrecht to fulfill his ambition. His closing words were, "And now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, now it is your turn. Now you can go to Nuremberg to pursue your dream, and I will support you."

All heads turned in eager expectation to the far end of the table where Albert sat, tears streaming down his pale face, shaking his lowered head from side to side while he sobbed and repeated over and over, "No ... no ... no ... no."

Finally, Albert rose and wiped the tears from his cheeks. He glanced down the long table at the faces he loved, and then, holding his hands close to his right cheek, he said softly, "No, brother. I cannot go to Nuremberg. It is too late for me. Look ... look what four years in the mines have done to my hands! The bones in every finger have been smashed at least once, and lately I have been suffering from arthritis so badly in my right hand that I cannot even hold a glass to return your toast, much less make delicate lines on parchment or canvas with a pen or a brush. No, brother ... for me it is too late."

More than 450 years have passed. By now, Albrecht Durer's hundreds of masterful portraits, pen and silver-point sketches, watercolors, charcoals, woodcuts, and copper engravings hang in every great museum in the world, but the odds are great that you, like most people, are familiar with only one of Albrecht Durer's works. More than merely being familiar with it, you very well may have a reproduction hanging in your home or office.

One day, long ago, to pay homage to Albert for all that he had sacrificed, Albrecht Durer painstakingly drew his brother's abused hands with palms together and thin fingers stretched skyward. He called his powerful drawing simply "Hands," but the entire world almost immediately opened their hearts to his great masterpiece and renamed his tribute of love "The Praying Hands."

There are some things that others do for you that no words can ever express your thankfulness. Artists are so fortunate that they can express there inner feelings in what they produce with their hands.

Monday, 10 February 2014

What I Have Learned.

Having spent my life since the 20th of December either on crutches or in a hospital bed, I have had a great deal of time to think and consider. There is nothing more than the thought that you just might not make it to make you realise what is and what is not important.

I am aware that I have done a blog like this before, but trust me there are changes in here from my reflections.
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. How wonderful to know that you are indeed loved. 
I've learned - that no matter how much I care, some people just don't care back. We have to accept this is the case. 
I've learned - that it takes years to build up trust, and only seconds to destroy it. So put your brain into action before your mouth. 
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 can get by on charm for about fifteen minutes. After that, you'd better know something. 
I've learned - that it's not what happens to people that's important. It's what they do about it. When down, get back up. 
I've learned - that you can do something in an instant that will give you heartache for life. 
I've learned - that you should always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time you see them. Oh how important this one is. 
I've learned - that either you control your attitude or it controls you.  
I've learned - that regardless of how hot and steamy a relationship is at first, the passion fades and there had better be something else to take its place. 
I've learned - that learning to forgive takes practice. But how important it is. 
I've learned - that money is a lousy way of keeping score. 
I've learned - that sometimes when I'm angry I have the right to be angry, but that doesn't give me the right to be cruel. 
I've learned - that true friendship continues to grow, even over the longest distance. Same goes for true love. 
I've learned - that maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you've had and what you've learned from them and less to do with how many years you've lived. 
I've learned - that you should never tell a child their dreams are unlikely or outlandish. Few things are more humiliating, and what a tragedy it would be if they believed you.
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 isn't always enough to be forgiven by others.
Sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself. 
I've learned - that no matter how bad your heart is broken the world doesn't stop for your grief. 
l've learned - that just because two people argue, it doesn't mean they don't love each other and just because they don't argue, it doesn't mean they do. 
I've learned - that sometimes you have to put the individual ahead of their actions. 
I've learned - that you shouldn't be so eager to find out a secret. It could change your life forever. 
I've learned - that no matter how you try to protect your children, they will eventually get hurt and you will hurt in the process. 
I've learned - that your life can be changed in a matter of hours by people who don't even know you. 
I've learned - that even when you think you have no more to give, when a friend cries out to you, you will find the strength to help. 
I've learned - that writing, as well as talking, can ease emotional pains.
 Even the worst experiences in live have lessons to teach.

Todays artwork is a pen and ink drawing I did recently and a very good friend bought it for his dear wife.  It is "The House of John Knox" situated in the heart of Edinburgh.