Category: Life and Living

Feelgood Friday [3] – Robin Red Breast

If you’ve ever experienced the death of someone close to you, you’ll know that you can’t help but wonder if there is some kind of life after death, or a spirit or just something. To many people, it’s a comfort to believe that death isn’t the end, and that it’s just a transition to another state of being.

Robin at gravesideWhich is why this story of a lady who lost her son at the age of 4 and has been visited by a robin at his grave on the anniversary of his death is so so lovely. I’ve heard on numerous occasions of people who’ve lost a loved one and then regularly seen a robin (butterflies are another one) but this little bird went one step further and actually sat calmly on her hand, still enough and long enough for her to be able to take a photograph.

Of course there are haters who say it’s a load of old nonsense, but if it brings this lady comfort then does it really matter if there’s any science behind it? It’s just lovely that she can feel a closeness to her son, and believe that he’s telling her he’s ok.

I know that I took a lot of comfort in what we believed to be signs from somewhere when my Dad died last year, and I’m one of the biggest cynics there is!

I hope this story brought a smile to your face.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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Feelgood Friday [2] – racism is taught

Continuing my new feelgood Friday series, here’s this week’s pick!

Little Sophia is 2 years old and obsessed with being a doctor when she grows up. Because she’s doing so well at potty training, her Mom took her to the shops to buy a treat to say well done.

Sophia chose a doll dressed as a doctor. The doll also happened to be black.

At the counter, the sales assistant suggested to Sophia (who is white) that she might want to choose a different doll because the one she’d picked didn’t look like her.

And Sophia said…

“Yes, she does. She’s a doctor like I’m a doctor. And I’m a pretty girl and she’s a pretty girl. See her pretty hair? And see her stethoscope?”

L.O.V.E

Proof, as if it were needed, that children don’t see colour, or certainly don’t see it as a difference or a negative thing. Racism isn’t ingrained or inherited. It’s taught – by small minded, ignorant, bigoted parents. People who should be doing completely the right thing for the little people they have created, but instead are teaching them negative opinions and ways.

Look how happy Sophia is with her doctor doll!

Sophia and her doctor doll

Take that, racism!

Read the full story here.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

 

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Feelgood Friday [1] – be yourself, whatever your age

With there being such a lot of misery, horror and nastiness in the world right now, it can sometimes be difficult to see good things. So I thought I’d start a new mini series of nice stories that make me go all warm and fuzzy inside, and I’ll be sharing them on Fridays.

This week’s pick is this story about a 90 year old transgender lady who has only just recently come out after living a lie for most of her life.

She says she knew she felt like a girl from the age of 3, but in those days being transgender wasn’t a recognised condition and the word didn’t even exist. It wasn’t until the 1970s that she heard the term and finally had something to relate to.

The two bits of this story that give me the feels are:

  • That her wife knew her “secret” and would buy her jewellery and dresses, and treat her as a woman when they were at home.
  • That she’s finally getting hormone treatment enabling her to have the body that matches her mind, even at her advanced age. God bless the NHS for not discriminating based on how old she is, and for giving her a chance at the life she craved for all those years.

Just look how happy she is!

90 year old transgender lady

Lovely stuff.

Have you seen anything that’s made your heart happy this week? Let me know!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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One person does not represent an entire religion

In light of what happened in London yesterday, the above is something that we all need to remember. I was dreading reading the inevitable comments from racist bigots, Britain’s First supporters, UKIP voters and some Brexiters saying this would never have happened if we were stricter with our borders.

London

Luckily I’ve seen very little of this ilk. And, based on today’s news that the attacker was British born, it would be nonsense anyway (not that haters are ever stopped by facts).

I don’t think anyone can be surprised at the attack. Surprised at the location and method, yes. But surely we’ve all been expecting something, if we’re truthful. My only surprise is that it has taken so long after the Paris and Brussels attacks. And that’s testament to our police and intelligence service, and their commitment to keeping the general public safe.

It seems very much that this attacker was a lone wolf. It wasn’t a carefully orchestrated attack. A guy driving a car at people and then stabbing with knives isn’t on the same scale as the armed terrorists who killed so many revellers in the Bataclan, or the timed multiple bomb attacks in Belgium. That’s not to say it’s any less serious – of course it isn’t – but it does seem to suggest that there’s nothing that could have been done to stop it, which again leads back to the great job being done to foil bigger, more complex terror plots.

It’s heartening to see and hear people pulling together, reiterating that terrorists won’t win, and standing proud in protection of our nation and the values we hold dear. And while we must pay our respects to those who’ve been injured or tragically killed, we also need to be mindful of other people who weren’t involved but will be affected – Muslim students turned against by fellow pupils, Muslim parents and their children being racially abused in the streets, Muslim shopkeepers in fear of their livelihoods being retaliated against. These people are innocent victims too; tarred with the same brush purely because of their religious beliefs or colour of their skin.

In the wake of any mindless tragedy, strength comes from deep within, from the power of community and humanity. Don’t let terrorists take that strength away from us by inciting divisions.

RIP to PC Keith Palmer and the other innocent victims.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

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It’s been emotional

I’ve been an emotional wreck for the last few days. I don’t know why I’ve been so touchy, but that’s life. Not really the best subject matter on International Happiness Day – sorry!

Be Happy

It started with this story which had me in tears at my desk on Friday, Seriously, it hit me right in the heart and I had to go and shut myself in the toilet for a sob. 7 year old Filip’s Mom died when he was just 2 years old and is buried in Poland. Now Filip is dying from leukaemia, and his wish is to be buried alongside in his Mom so she can look after him in heaven. That poor little boy. His photograph broke me, the story broke me, and his Dad’s crowdfunding efforts to grant his boy’s dying wish broke me. And, no offence to anyone reading this who believes in religion, but stuff like this is further proof to me that God can’t possibly exist, because why would an entity that’s supposed to be good ever ever cause so much pain and suffering for an innocent child?

I never really donate to crowdfunding efforts but I couldn’t not chip into this one. The nice news is that they’ve smashed the initial £6,500 target, so poor little Filip will be reunited with his Mom when the sad time comes.

On the back of that (and crying over it again on Saturday as I was telling my Mom about it) I got all emotional about our impending move. A couple in their late 50s came to view the flat, with a view to just the man buying it. They’ve been together for over 30 years but don’t want to be together any more, even though they’re still great friends. And that made me really sad. People try so hard to find love, and when it comes to an end I think that’s heartbreaking (unless someone cheats in which case it’s bloody good riddance after smashing up their stuff and badmouthing them to anyone that will listen).

Those tears (which came after the viewing was over!) soon developed into a full on blart fest about leaving the flat. We’ve been so very very happy here. We only intended to stay for 5 years but have been here for eleven, and they’re the happiest years of my life. I know it’s only bricks and mortar but I feel content, safe and settled here. And while the new place will be great, it’s still a big wrench to leave our little space in the sky.

Crying about moving on to better things in life, nuts eh?

So, there you have my uplifting take on International Happiness Day – ha! I can’t say I’m any happier today, and I don’t know why! I need a bang to the head!

In spite of all that, I actually had a nice weekend; family time and Indian food for my Mom’s birthday on Friday night, friends time at a gig on Saturday night, and husband time on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

What have you been up to?

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

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5 things estate agents suggest to help sell your property

Our flat is going on the market today! The estate agent has taken pictures, made a floorplan and is getting it listed online and in their branch. It’s exciting and nervewracking and lots of other complex emotions.

In the lead up to today we’ve been making sure that our home is in as good a condition as it can possibly be. So we’ve been painting, decluttering and somewhat depersonalising (prospective buyers probably don’t want to see our band artwork or the husband’s bongos – not a euphemism!)

I also had a quick Google to see if there are any other useful tips we might not have thought about. We’ve all heard the suggestion to bake fresh bread and brew coffee to entice buyers, but here are 5 others you may not have heard.

Top tips for selling your home

  • Flowers on the table. Makes sense. Nice scent, a pop of colour; this is something we can totally do.
  • Make your bed, using bedlinen to match the room décor. Bit of a nobrainer this one? Who’s going to leave their bed unmade?
  • Remove selected interior doors to give the illusion of space. Eh? Where are you going to put the door? And what about the hinges that are left behind? To me this would just look like you’re a bit trampy or you’ve had a fight and one of you have smashed the door in!
  • Take a sofa out of the lounge, again for the space thing. WHAT? That’s bonkers! If I went into a lounge with only one sofa, in my head I’d think the room is only big enough for one sofa and it would definitely put me off. And again, WHERE DO YOU PUT YOUR “SPARE” SOFA???
  • Park high end cars on the driveway. OK, so I’ll just go out and hire a Range Rover and a Porsche to sit there until my home sells, god knows when!!!!

Have you come across any bonkers house tips that make absolutely no sense? Moved or are moving house? Hit me up!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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Moseley Park and Pool

A couple of miles outside of Birmingham, right in the middle of Moseley is a beautiful hidden park. I say hidden, because you wouldn’t know it existed unless you knew, if that makes sense. The main entrance can be found down an alley way that runs between two shops, and the only other two entrance gates are hidden away from view on two parallel roads.

At 11 acres, with a huge pool, it’s been in existence as a public space for over 100 years (previously being part of the gardens of Moseley Hall) and is now part of a charitable trust, meaning it can never be sold off or developed (phew!)

It costs £45 a year to be a member of the park, or free day keys are available for a returnable deposit of £10. By charging for membership the Trust is able to raise valuable funds, and it also means the park is looked after and respected by those using it.

In recent years they’ve started hosting festivals there too – a Jazz, Funk & Soul In July (read here about last time I went) and a Folk in September (read about that one here). Chaka Khan is playing this year, that’s pretty cool!)

Last Monday the husband and I took an unscheduled day off work to sort some estate agent stuff, and went for a lovely Spring wander round.

It was a lovely sunny and still day, and the reflections in the pool were magnificent.

See the houses over yonder in the pics above? If you’re very lucky very rich and you live in one of those, you have a gate to the park right at the bottom of your garden! Although the key costs you £10 extra per year than us mere mortals who have to use the tradesman’s entrance.

Watching ducks floating so serenely is very…serene, isn’t it?

Look at the colour on that mallard’s head. So shiny – I wonder what conditioner he uses?

Moseley Park 9

Although the trees are all still very bare, we spotted some burgeoning blossoms and spring flowers.


The air felt full of promise that spring is truly upon us. The continuing good weather last week and this has proved it! It feels so nice to know that winter is on it’s way out and there are light nights and (hopefully) sunny days ahead.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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Grief – 6 months on

Today should have would have been my Dad’s 60th birthday. Instead it’s 6 months since he died. 6 months. Half a year. That’s ages, right? Think how much can happen in 6 months.

I don’t know where I expected to be, grief wise, 6 months down the line.

Grief

People say that time is a healer, and I know that to be true. But, so far, time only makes things worse. For me, anyway. I feel like it’s getting more difficult to accept that my Dad is gone, because it’s so hard to comprehend that I’m never going to see him again. That all this stuff – 6 months worth of life and living and things – is happening without him and I’ll never be able to share it with him.

At first it just felt like I hadn’t seen or spoken to him for a while (even though that very rarely happened). But it gets more and more real as time goes on.

Today hurts every cell of my being. I ache with loss.

My Dad had an opinion on so many things, and he never hesitated to share it. All this house buying and selling malarkey would have been equally exciting and infuriating to him. He’d have been frustrated on our behalf with errant estate agents and sloth like mortgage applications. He’d have been excited at our moving and renovation plans. It’s almost impossible to comprehend that he’ll never visit our new home.

We speak about him often, in general conversation or around specific subjects. I’m very close with his wife, who is so young to be widowed and who he loved so much. Having her gives me a closeness to Dad, because she is so vivacious and full of life – their life and her own.

We talk about them

But, ultimately, there is no rulebook to feelings and dealings. Some days just thinking about him makes me cry, while others I feel pure joy at the memory of him. So many times I think that I must phone him to tell him about something that has happened at work, and then the fleeting moment where he’s still on the end of a phone is gone, to be replaced with abject sorrow.

What am I saying here?

It sucks. It still sucks.

I guess it will always suck.

I just wanted to put something into words, to mark today, to relive his memory.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

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Transgender children are not degenerate perverts!

Donald Trump has created yet another hoo-ha; no surprise there. The targets of his bullying tactics, as usual, a minority group who need protecting rather than denigrating.

But then again, this is Donald Trump.

By undoing President Obama’s bill allowing transgender people to use the gender bathroom with which they identify, Trump knows he’s condemning a portion of society in certain states to a life of being ostracised, outcast and embarrassed. Or, more accurately, that’s more ostracised, outcast and embarrassed than they already are. He knows that there are states that will relish the opportunity to once again impose a transgender bathroom ban, so that kids who are already tormented by their feelings, hormones and emotions will once again be constrained by what’s in their underwear rather than what’s in their brain.

rainbow-painted-childrens-hands

My main issue with this is the arguments that are put forward for segregation. Parents who don’t want their daughter/son being preyed upon by a transgender person.

For god’s sake!

Do people really genuinely think that a young boy would go to the trouble of living life as a girl, looking like a girl, identifying as a girl, being teased and bullied and vilified for wanting to be a girl just so that they can prey on “real” girls? Or that a girl would act like a boy, walk like a boy and talk like a boy in order to use the boys toilet? Not even the same cubicle, just the same room! Really? I’d love for these people to say it out loud and realise just how ridiculous that sounds as an argument.

We’re not talking about young boys in dresses and make up trying to look like girls here. Or teenage girls binding their breasts to hide their femininity. We’re talking about kids born in the wrong body. Kids for who everyday might be a struggle, and who really don’t need to be made to feel different for something as simple as taking a pee.

Transgender kids aren’t seeking attention, special treatment or a look inside the other kids pants. They’re seeking acceptance, recognition and understanding of a proven condition.

There seems to be way too much concern from other people about what goes on below the waist, rather than what goes on inside the head. A penis does not make you a boy. It might make you look like one, but it doesn’t make your brain feel like one.

And, for the most part, transgender kids do a really great job of looking like the gender they identify with, so isn’t it going to be more weird for a female to male trans kid – who looks every inch a boy – to go into the girls toilets? Isn’t that going to cause more alarm?

Oh, and one more thing. People who blame parents of transgender children for “making them that way”. What would you do? Imagine your young boy is threatening to cut his penis off with scissors? Imagine your young daughter is crying hysterically and asking when her boy parts will grow? What would you do? This isn’t a Mom who wanted a girl instead of a boy. Or the opposite. This is fucked up biology.

I’m tired of people of all ages, races and genders butting in to things that don’t really affect them. Making a big deal out of trivial things when there are way bigger fish to fry. Me? I couldn’t care who has what in their pants! If I need a wee, I need a wee! I’ll go into the toilet, shut the cubicle door, and do exactly what everyone else is in there to do, regardless of what hole it comes out of.

Still not convinced? Watch this video of Gavin and his 83 year old Nanna.

By her own admission she’s “learning”. But her acceptance is beautiful and a true example to anyone who ostracises a family member. If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, skip to 4 minutes 40 seconds. If only all transgender people had an Elaine in their life (she also chose Gavin’s name).

Proof, yet again, that love wins!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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It’s nice to be nice!

Because a big part of my job is looking after social media, I get to see all sorts of things I wouldn’t usually come across. How else would I know that last Friday was Random Acts of Kindness Day?

Well, actually, I was aware-ish because Fiona over at Fiona Likes to Blog posted about it, with a whole list of lovely things you can do to make someone smile. Have a read of her suggestions.

My absolute favourite one on there is “pay someone a compliment”. People love to get compliments (as long as they’re genuine!) In fact, certainly in my case, we’re so used to people being mean to each other these days, and reading/hearing critical insulting opinions on Twitter, Facebook, the news and in magazines and newspapers, that a genuine compliment holds more weight than ever. It’s like it’s a surprise that people still have the ability to say nice things!

its-nice-to-be-nice

A few years ago the husband pointed out that I was staring at a woman and that it was rude. I told him that I was only looking because she looked fabulous. And it got me to thinking how cross (and paranoid) I get when I think someone’s staring at me, but maybe they’re looking for nice reasons too. So now, if someone catches me looking at them, I try to let them know the reason why (unless it’s a bad reason, obvs!) If I walk past someone wearing great shoes, I’ll tell them. See a girl with funky hair – I say it looks ace. And don’t just reserve it for appearance related stuff. If someone does something kind, point it out. If a sales assistant is particularly helpful, let them know.

You don’t need to do it all the time, that would be overkill, but a well placed acknowledgement can also do wonders for your own wellbeing. Try it, and see how good you feel knowing you’ve made someone else feel good too.

Spread the love!

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