on thinking, choosing and being you

the television news this morning is full of young people gathered in school and college halls awaiting the results of their A levels.  Shiny anxious faces some with huge smiles, others more subdued talk to the camera in the annual intrusion by the media.   What a difficult time to be a student.  So many choices, and yet maybe not any choices at all especially if grades are not what was hoped.

I would say to all these young people,  don’t panic.  Whatever grades you received today, whatever choices you make, will not define you forever.  At eighteen the world is an enormous place, and for some young people it is all just too daunting. We are living in a age where university seems to be the ‘done’ thing.  Where our young people spend time, being young in another town or city, cushioned, if they are lucky, by the bank of Mum and Dad. They will spend three years making friends for life and with luck gain a qualification enabling them to move into the workforce.

University isn’t for everyone, lots of young people are tired of education by the time they finish their A levels.  Thirteen years of classrooms, timetables, studying and sitting still  for some now is the time to kick back the heels and do something, anything else.

The question I would ask all young people, well everyone really, is what exactly is it that you want to do?  If the answer is ‘to be a doctor, a lawyer or and engineer’ then yes education is the place to head to.  What about the people who say they want to be poets, or writers, artists and designers?  What about the people who want time to think?

Thinking is the most important skill of all.  To be able to be quiet, in your own company and allow your brain to work, to ruminate on things that interest you and to form your own thoughts, is a vital skill.  I think it should be on the timetables.  We need to have time to think and to process our own needs and desires.  Thinking is the key to everything.  Those who can think can do.  Those who understand the value of thought understand the value of action.  Being thoughtful is a wonderful place to be.

So to all those who are at a crossroads I would say, perhaps don’t take the obvious route.  Spend a bit of time thinking about what your needs are and what you actually want to do and be.  This way you will grow strong, you will be able to be the person you already know you are and the world will respect you for it

on finding friends

Today I had an unplanned visit from a dear friend, who bounced into my kitchen with her usual enthusiasm for life.  This is a person who has always followed her own road, who is compassionate and intelligent and huge fun to be around. Sitting in the sunshine with a cup of tea we chatted and caught up on several months of news and views, and I was reminded how lucky I am with the friends I have.

Everyone I know in my home town I didn’t know less than twenty years ago.  It was then we made the decision to uproot the children and start a new life in a different county, a new town and a new way of life. I arrived in my new home, alone, with four children and that first morning I awoke to the thought that beyond the front door I knew nobody.  This seems incredible now.

I have great people in my life.  I have people who have challenged me, who have cared for me and with whom I have laughed and cried in equal measure.  I cannot imagine not knowing them and having them in my life,

I sometimes wonder what would have happened if we had chosen a different town to make our home. All the people I love and consider friends, would not be in my life.  I then start to wonder if there is a parallel world, in which all my potential new friends are living and loving, in a town we didn’t move too, and not knowing me or me knowing them.  Thoughts like this often make my head hurt.

So, did I just get lucky?  Did I chose the place where I would find my friends, or would I have had similar relationships with other people, in a different town?  I have no idea, but lucky I am.

on endings and new beginnings

Never a New Years morning,

never an old year ends,

without somebody thinking of someone,

old times old loves old friends

The end of the year is almost upon us, tomorrow is the day Mum used to send us kids to the window to look for the man with as many heads as there were days left in the year, how we stared waiting for a many headed man, only to realise eventually that there was in fact only one day left.

How much store do we all put on the New Year?  On the chance to start again, make good the wrongs of the year we were so hopeful for 365 days ago.  What does that tell us?  It tells us that this is a great time for reflection, for considering what has gone before and what we would like the future to bring, it also tells us that unless we make things happen things will never change.

It is fair to say the past year has been full of momentous change for me and for my family.  Nothing is as it was this time last year.  We live in a different house, I have a new job, we have lost some of the most important people in our world, and we have welcomed a darling new baby into our family. The feelings overwhelming me this time last year are not important today.  It is good I didn’t know what was to be, another of Mum’s sayings come to mind.  ‘we never know what is in the pot boiling for us’ and frankly if we had I wonder if we would have had the strength to deal with it.

The constants do remain.  The love for family and friends, the weather, yes it has snowed in December again, and we had sun in the summertime.  The world is a fluid place with small decisions leading to big changes and big decisions often leading to not a lot.

Today I have spoken to three dear friends who are separately dealing with unimaginable difficulties,  Watching loved ones who are ill, making bad choices and being powerless to help.  Each of them are wondering why? What have they done wrong?  How can this be happening?  To them all I say, we don’t know any of those answers, but we do know one thing.

We cannot choose what life throws at us, but we can choose how we deal with it.  In the worse situations of all there is still some good.  We need to find the good, focus on it and make it the centre of our being. It is not easy to do, there are times that test the best of us, but, it is always an option.

So, as we say goodbye to one year, and welcome in another, really the change is within us, the date on the calendar is just that, a date, and while reflection is good, we should remember that now is all we have, tomorrow is promised to not one of us. So lets make each day the best ever day, for the next year, we have three hundred and sixy five chances to seize the good and be happy.  May it be so for you all.