Keeping Up Appearances

My local gym pool had a clean recently. Nine people were crammed into the dry sauna while the staff hosed down the steam room. Instead of the usual British – we have to make skin/costume contact, but do not engage verbal contact as well – we actually decided to laugh at our sardine situation and talk to each other.

One guy in his late 20s was picking my brain for food information to build up his muscles to even bigger than they already are. My NLP training kicked in, and I was prepared to offer you’re fine as you are, really. You’re already taking up most of the bench with your muscle mass as body dysmorphia can be from a self esteem issue. He talked about his Irish wife’s anaemia, and then unexpectedly he said, “I was told that being married and having children would bring me the greatest happiness. I love my wife and kids, but…” and then he trailed off, with a sad look.

My NLP training definitely kicked in, as did my Buddhism readings. This was a classic case of doing what people expect of you, rather than following your heart. It leaves you hollow. Most commonly it’s in marriage and climbing a career ladder. You get married, or reach the top, but you’re still not satisfied. The promised happiness isn’t there. This guy worried too much about what other people wanted of him (manly muscles, wife and kids), and he was understandably unhappy. Happiness cannot come from an external source or reason, as that reason can be taken from you.

I know that I’m not marriage material. I was asked a question many years ago – if marriage didn’t exist, would you invent it? – and I said no. I began a sentence to show that there were alternatives to social expectations. If I hadn’t been interrupted, the sentence would have been, “I thought about getting married. It’s not for everyone.” Pick any point in that series of sounds to be cut off with:

You haven’t met the right man yet.

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Post-Christmas 2015

Hello, and Happy New Gregorian Year to those who celebrate!

It’s still raining. Storm Frank is still interfering with my sleep and the layout of my garden (the neighbours are returning the errant plant pots). Three electrical items decided to die on the same day, but thankfully the sales are on so they were seriously upgraded. It’s quite interesting to have a flat TV. Thankfully it still has a scart socket in the back for my retro console urges.

This month, I am a guest blogger with Clare London for her birthday:
http://clarelondon.com/category/blogmonth/

My post is about being generous with my time, skills and items, having successfully completed my reverse advent calendar. The comments were very nice. Most people are generous when a need arises, but they themselves may take up a challenge to look for opportunities to be generous in future.

Right now, the space that was occupied with unwanted Christmas presents is now vacant, thanks to a trip to a charity shop. (“Unwanted Christmas presents” is my current favourite search on ebay, and it’s filled with fitness/weight loss DVDs, and gender and age stereotyped unWRAPPED presents in pink and blue paper.) Christmas and the Winter Solstice isn’t about materialism for me. It’s about presence, not presents. I had two Christmas’ this year, to make sure everyone had someone – not someTHING. The laughter is what I’ll remember, and the unique expression of decorations. Not the stuff that’s probably in someone else’s possession by now.

I loathe the consumerism marketing that has convinced people we need to buy things, that people have to buy my loyalty with physical gifts in order for us to keep knowing each other. Really, just no. It is highly unlikely our friendship started because you bumped into me on my birthday and handed me a gift I adored.

My cat slept on me New Year’s Day. She’s never brought me anything, but that moment will stay with me and sustain me with happy thoughts.

1. I have money. If I want something, I can get it myself.*
2. Waiting for people to do things I’m perfectly capable of doing for myself is unhealthy dependence
3. Holding onto things for an arbitrary day (birthday or Christmas, for example) rather than immediately doing them is stalling the enjoyment of life.

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You Never Forget Your First… Troll

In the spirit of the Internet, and things not coming across right without verbal inflection, I thought I’d fill in some details.

My mother died to me in August, when she invited a known thief and source of severe anxiety into my home earlier this year. I fled from my own home – which is supposed to feel safe. My mother knew this other family member is a source of anxiety, as on a previous visit she saw me shaking at the dinner table in their presence. A mother to me is someone who protects their children from harm, including emotional harm. She failed to do that, even though she knew better.

My paraffin that I use to clean the paint brushes also went missing when I fled. I am led to believe the money thief also took this by my former mother, but whether she is telling the truth or not I don’t know.

Also in relation to family mistreatment, the paedophile from my childhood also assaulted my mother. It took my Dad ten years – ten years – to realise it was best if my Dad visited him, rather than bringing the paedophile to a house with children in it. I believed – truly believed – that as my mother knew what it was to be abused in her own home, that she would learn an block other abusers.

Hopefully my mother will come back to me, by never inviting the current family mis-treater into my home again, even if I happen to be away. Especially at Christmas. It is much better for me to heal if I am safe in the knowledge my home is free from such people. Sadly, it seems my mis-treater doesn’t want my former mother either, as the bed high enough for her to stay in is blocked by other stuff.

I doubt my anxiety inducing family member has any respect left for me. If they did, they would never come here again in my lifetime, and decline any invite.

I told my former mother in August that I was away for Christmas. That is just over two months notice to use her own initiative to make sure she was with people at Christmas, rather than waiting for other people to do it for her. I hope she doesn’t give up her independence as quickly as her own mother did. I got no notification whatsoever that the new mis-treater was coming, when I fled.

With regards to tradition, I am in the process of doing things that I enjoy, and looking back perhaps seeing a tradition of things I do every year. I don’t want to do things because I’ve done them before, as it traps me in an unhappy ritual. Christmas here has changed over the years in many regards. My childhood tree was green with lots of spaces in the gaps, so it was a wonder to peer inside at the decorations. Currently it’s a white tree which you can only surface decorate. The tinsel across the ceiling in the front room used to have rainbow coloured decorations hanging from it, and now it is all turquoise. I don’t have stockings any more. We used to have foil hanging decorations. There are other changes, but this illustrates a point.

I doubt I’ll watch A Muppet Christmas Carol ever again without vomiting.

A 32 year tradition? As you’ve called yourself Disgusted, I’m going to call you that if I have the misfortune of meeting you. Chances are you’re family to say that number.

With regards to a shining example, the context was expressing gratitude. The context was not double standards. There are a lot of double standards mentioned in the post, as I’m trying to fathom why someone’s behaviour is so confusing to me, and sometimes detrimental.

Here’s my gratitude – thanks for the opportunity to clarify some points in the previous post.

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A Christmas Carol in Reverse

It’s been an interesting year for me in relation to my family. Following the death of the paedophile in my family, I’ve felt able to talk about the ordeal safe in the knowledge that he really can’t touch me any more.

My live in carer (occasionally my mother) is bemused. In her words, “water under the bridge” as he’s dead. This bemuses me, as she still talks about her mother leaving the family home when my mother was six.

The most recent example of this was October. My friend in Lincoln is house bound by an anxiety disorder, and I’m making sure she has someone at Christmas. I told my live in carer this, and she said: “Your father always made sure I had someone at Christmas, as my Mom wasn’t there when I was young.”

My father has been dead since 2010, and while I physically resemble him, our lives are our own. Whatever he chose to do with his life died with him.

My Nan has been dead since 2002. I think that’s a pretty good reason not to come to Christmas dinner.

You’ll note that “water under the bridge” was absent from this conversation, even though it mentioned two dead people.

Roll around December, and I’m concerned that my live in carer has done absolutely nothing to be with people at Christmas, to the extent that she asks what the suitcase is for. I speak to our neighbours to check in on her. Her lifelong friends come to the house, and she doesn’t ask them if they can pick her up and take her to dinner.

I make the decision to contact other family members, and they are happy to have her. It is fortunate timing, as they have just got their driver’s license back. My live in carer asks what I thought would happen if they didn’t have a driver’s license. I replied, get a taxi. She scoffed at the prices they charge at Christmas.

There was a tiny moment that I wished my family had phoned to say they couldn’t pick her up. She could have spent Christmas alone, having made no effort to be with people. She would have held onto the £50 cold, hard cash, instead of hugging people in warm kindness.

There’s a tale about holding onto money and not making the effort to be with people. We usually watch the Muppets’ version of A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve.

Personally, I’m looking forward to spending Christmas that appreciate the effort I’m going to so they have someone. I endeavour to be grateful for everything in my life, and be a shining example to others.

Is your Christmas different this year? Are you spending it with people that are grateful for what you do?

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Photo – Big Explosion

Imagine that you woke up one day and a winning lottery ticket had been posted through your door. That’s how I felt today checking my inbox.

Viewbug (where I host my photos) seems to award photos, even if you haven’t entered a contest or competition. I have been awarded “Won Staff Winter Selection 2015” for my photo Big Explosion.

http://www.viewbug.com/photo/52005331

The image is one from my Iceland 2013 trip. I stood with my camera waiting for the geyser to go off. Every explosion was unique in its timing and magnitude, and the wind soon took the steam away. It was ice cold, and my nose hairs and eyelashes developed icicles. Sometimes this ice was initially 100oC water from the geyser heading in my direction.

Fond memories, and thank you Viewbug for thinking my photo is awesome.

What’s the best memory you have of taking a photo?

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MADness, the bad kind. Marrakech, Morocco

 

Country seven of two hundred. A place I have no intention of returning to until I have engineered biological agents that make people gay. I wish I could move the Riad Maison BelBaraka to outside the Medina walls, and I wish all the best to the Berber’s who stay safely in the Atlas Mountains.

Trigger warning: Sexual assault

 

Monday 9th November 2015

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Reverse Advent Calendar

In the wake of fear mongering by controlled media sources, and a pretty rubbish experience in Marrakech at the same time, this year I’m doing a reverse advent calendar.

For each day in December leading up to Christmas, I’m giving away for free something that I won’t use again, or use so little that I can’t really justify keeping it.

I’d be pleasantly surprised if it happened one a day for 24 consecutive days, so as long as at least 24 things go freely, I’m happy. 24 is the minimum. It’s the Christmas spirit, after all.

I’m looking at the big jumpers that I don’t wear often, as I tend to layer up rather than have one bulky item. I’m thinking of the people sleeping on the street who need it more than I do.

I have spare carpet offcuts left over from insulating the loft that others could use to keep the heat in their house, or to have something soft to sleep on outside.

I’m looking at sites like Freecycle, for broken and tatty items that charity shops won’t accept, and that no-one would pay money for on auction websites. People still want such things to repair what they already have, or to repurpose. For instance, I hoover up tent poles from ripped tents and make greenhouse tunnels with them. Rough sleepers may delight in a tunnel ‘tent’ that protects them from winter, that packs down to nothing if they are told to move on.

I have Internet access – I’m literate enough and affluent enough to use it. So I’m thinking of those that are unable to access or use the Internet, and connecting items given freely to those who would otherwise miss out.

I have jewellery that’s hidden away in boxes, that never sees the light of day. It’s meant to be out on display, adding to the joy of life. It’s worthless if it’s not being used. There is joy in knowing it is going to be out there, reaching it’s full potential.

I totally overstocked on seed packets when shops were reducing the price to make way for Christmas items. I can give these freely to young families, to reconnect children with nature and where food comes from. They can learn the taste difference between home grown for nurture, and mass produced for profit.

I can give my time to people to put up their Christmas decorations. I can give my photography services freely, to capture special moments such as friends visiting for Christmas. Time is the one thing you never get back, which makes it the most precious thing you have. Stuff circulates, but time (unless you’re a Doctor Who fan) can only be given once.

Are you doing anything this December / Advent to create the world you wish to live in?

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