The importance of being popular.

The heading of this post is intended as food for thought, not a factual statement.

As children we strive for popularity, we are desperate to be well liked & be part of the ‘in’ crowd. For many of us it leads to feelings of inadequacy, as we fail miserably. We may well have friends, but for some reason we don’t quite match up to the ‘cool kids’. If we are lucky, we are accepted into the group, but are left trailing behind the popular leaders, never quite good enough to make the transition to becoming one of the central hub.  For many this is the reality of growing up, some don’t even make it to the outer edge of the group, left alone & isolated, their childhood is marked with the overwhelming feeling of being a failure.

The journey into adulthood passes through many differing stages, all marked with their own issues.  Teenagers generally adopt a pack tendency, with everyone striving to find their place in the world, hence the individual & often bizarre fashion statements. This in between stage is all about attempting to find out who you are.

Parenthood, especially the early stages can be extremely fulfilling, but can also turn into a comparison battle, with those annoyingly pushy parents who insist on flouting their childs’ genius or beauty. The majority of us, with our own cute, yet noisy, messy & let’s face it – normal children, are frequently left to question whether we’ve done our best for our offspring. Once again that familiar feeling of inadequacy.

Later years, with battles for promotion at work & the cut throat fight to climb the ladder of success can, once again cause us to question our worth. Neighbours & friends seem to have more income, better homes, faster cars, fancier holidays & often, more harmonious lives. All in all, life can feel like fighting a losing battle. We accept that we’re never going to be one of the ‘special ‘ people, we are just Mr or Mrs ordinary, plodding through life, just tying to get by. Of course this is just a generalisation, there are those who sail through life, seemingly successful in all that they attempt, but they are definitely in the minority.

This brings me to the subject for today – popularity. Throughout life we tend to go in & out of favour, but on the whole, the most confident ‘golden people’ will always be safely installed at the forefront of society, while the remainder spend a lot of time & heartache trying to reach those heady heights. Where on the popularity ladder are you? Let’s be honest, does it really matter?

What makes a person popular? Sense of humour? Kindness? Appearance? Money? Maybe a bit of all of these, but these attributes are only skin deep. Someone who is central to a group could be considered popular, but move them to a different location, where they are forced to begin again, it is unlikely that they will establish themselves so easily. This would force them to begin on the lower rungs of the popularity ladder & attempt the hard climb upwards.

The entire subject has no hard & fast rules, all we can do is try to find our way through the maze of life, hoping that we are accepted at some point.

Following a recent conversation, it made me think about the importance of popularity. Within my own life I have flowed in & out of popularity, although it has to be said that I have mainly been an ‘also – ran’, a nice enough, friendly person, but never on the top of the invite list. In my present stage of life, I know a lot of people & am comparatively well known in the area. It could be said that I am popular because I am the ‘go to’ person, the one to call on when a volunteer is needed, but then again I have only a small selection of very close friends  & am distinctly disliked by some members of society. So am I popular? No, probably not. So where do you draw the line? Is popularity about being liked by everybody? Celebrities are popular, yet apparently many of them suffer crippling depression & the happy, confident face is no more than a public mask. Robin Williams was a perfect example of this. He was much loved, always cheerful, you would imagine him to be fun to be around, yet his life was wracked with self loathing & feelings of inadequacy. He was certainly popular, yet so, so sad. So maybe that is the key – there is no real answer, it’s all subjective.

I believe if we were all able to forget about striving to be popular & instead concentrated on learning to be the kind of person that we would look for in a good friend, the world would be a lot less stressful. None of us is perfect, to some extent we all wear a mask at times, attempting to cover up our characteristic blemishes. We all have aspects of ourselves that we aren’t proud of. We all sometimes say or do things that we regret. In other words – we are all human!

If we stop worrying about what anyone else thinks & work at bringing out the best in ourselves, then the whole issue of popularity becomes unimportant. With a kind, genuine personality, friends will be drawn to you. Be spiritually generous, compassionate & caring, consider the feelings of others, while looking after your inner frailties, be honest & thoughtful. Smile often. Offer unconditional love to the world, yet treat yourself with respect & consideration. Be yourself, ensuring that the real you is a genuinely worthwhile person. If you achieve all of this, or at least make big inroads, you may not be number 1 on the popularity lists, but you will have something less fickle, you will be someone that many enjoy in their company. You will bring joy into other lives. That is worth so much more !

Until next time, stay happy,

Rosie x

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Namaste.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder – or so they say!

I am acutely aware that I have been neglecting this blog site & apologise to my followers for my irregular posting.

Life has been extremely hectic. I have spent months attempting to set up a group aimed at alleviating loneliness in the local community, but unfortunately I have had to admit defeat, it’s been almost impossible to attract anyones’ interest, and without getting people through the doors,I was unable to cover hall rental, so sadly I had to abandon my project. I didn’t enjoy giving up, I felt a failure, but deep down I know that I did everything I think my power to try to get it off the ground. Abandoning it was the only sensible option.

It must be a significant time for abandoning projects – Since I last posted, I have decided to relocate to the coast, prepared my flat for sale & put it on the market. I found a new home, was busily packing, when I suddenly realised how foolish I would be to leave. I have a great life here in Wells. I have a wide support system, great friends & several enjoyable voluntary jobs, I even have a monthly column in the local newspaper. Why on earth was I considering leaving? So I changed my mind & just as quickly as I had put my home up for sale, it was removed.

Changing your mind, or direction is often seen as a failure, but I totally disagree. So many times in my past I have gone ahead with plans, even though I have had second thoughts, because I didn’t have the courage to stand up tall & say that my earlier decision was wrong. There’s no shame in it, in fact I think it shows greater strength. Far too many people behave like sheep. They follow the flock, keep their heads down & are afraid to stray from the expected path. Why? Our instincts will tell us when we are making a mistake, we need to learn to trust ourselves. If we listen to that nagging doubt, rather than attempt to override it, life would be much happier. Why shouldn’t people be  allowed to turn around, or even go in a totally different direction? The younger generation tend to find it easier to do, us oldies are usually too nervous or afraid of causing disharmony to go against the laid down plans.

It’s never too late to change direction, no matter what aspect of life it entails. Of course we need to consider the effect on family members & other nearest & dearest, it would take a steely resolve to totally ignore their feelings. However, when it comes to the bottom line, if we learnt to think of our own happiness & treat ourselves with more consideration & respect, the world would be filled with a lot more happy people. Maybe this sounds selfish, but think about it? We all know people / families where repressed anger has turned to spite & unpleasantness. Sometimes blame & misery has lasted almost an entire lifetime, simply because one partner was coerced into doing something against their will that they had felt unable to refuse. I for one know only too well how that felt. I was blessed with the courage to leave a violent, unhappy marriage & set out alone an unchartered path as a singleton. It has been scary at times, being alone, miles from family support isn’t easy & there have been many times when I almost ran back, tail between my legs, but I listened to the gut feeling. I knew that I was on the right path for me. I’m not sure what caused my little wobble & near foray into relocation, but it really isn’t important, I know that I am where I belong. Hopefully this will be my forever home, but who knows? However if the time ever comes to change my mind again, I will do it & no, I won’t be apologising for it.

Rosie x

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Devonshire Delight.

 

I’m currently having a few days away at the favourite sea-side haunt from my childhood, hoping to rest, recuperate & regain my writing inspirational drive. Too much of my time is given to others, somewhere along the way I lost myself. I knew that a few days in solitude was what was called for, so here I find myself in Exmouth, spending money I can I’ll afford, but the cost of not doing it would have been far higher.

Earlier I met a lovely couple while I was scribbling a few lines, after falling under the spell of the marina. The man told me that he was an artist, yet he too had found himself too busy to take time out for his passion. This drove me to complete the marina piece. It is still in it’s raw state, but I’d like to share it with you.

To the couple who inspired me, apologies, I’ve forgotten your names already   ( possibly Jeff?) To them & all who find themselves being stretched so thin that they are unable to use their creativity when they want. Please, please don’t allow your creative juices to dry up under pressure of pleasing others. Take a little time out – NOW. Don’t allow feeble excuses to flow from your mouth. We all need to be true to ourselves & for those with an artistic bent, that means actually creating something before the drive is allowed to wither away.

Devonshire Delight.

To & Fro they rock, unwanted,  unneeded,  tethered, abandoned.   In comparative calm they bob, side by side, packed tight like sardines in their tin, floating in their bed of brine.

The mass of water still, just a ripple snaking across the surface from the stiff breeze. The near tranquilty belying the pounding, crashing seas, a mere few metres away. Here however, protected by the harbour wall, they are safe – removed from the chaos that nature has deemed necessary to inflict on this quaint sea edged Devonshire town.

Rangers Delight, Cup ferret, Arvor, Quick Silver, White Lady, Merlin V111 ( I wonder was there 1-7?  If so, I can only surmise their fate.) Unlikely names yet some aren’t even granted that dignity, just given a large, garish number adorning their otherwise sleek hulls.

Overhead a few flags flutter furiously. Two seagulls squabble over a discarded crust, their cackles cutting through the evening air, disturbing the idyllic scene. Above, storm clouds gather, racing to blot out the vestiges of afternoon blue sky. In the distance, indistinct idle chatter from couples taking an evening constitutional, heads tipped forward, collars raised against the impending rain.

Soon it will be dark, the inky night casting it’s blanket over the peaceful scene. But when dawn breaks these forlorn boats, with their coats of many colours will be in demand once more.                                                                                                              Trips into unchartered territory for some. Fishing expeditions. Pleasure cruises.   The sardine tin will be emptied until days end, when once again the entire scenario will be replayed.

This picture book scene will remain etched in my memory. Should I feel trapped or drained, I will be able to draw on it for inspiration. I chose to capture it in words, others may prefer pens or paints, others will use more modern technology. The medium doesn’t matter. What does, is not to allow the memory to go to waste.  When we are shown something so evocative, we are blessed. I for one will not waste it.

Rosie x

I hope that you enjoyed this little muse. Hopefully it will be the beginning of more regular offerings.

If you want to read more, please ‘Like’, ‘Follow’ & ‘Share’. Like most creatives, I write for  the love of it, but knowing that it is being enjoyed by others is like Manna from the Gods, food for the soul.

Until next time, take care. Rosie x

 

My Business Card

If anyone wants any help or advice, please feel free to contact me .IMG_1557

I know the importance of asking for help or advice, something it took me a long time to learn. Humility – to many, a dirty word – but in truth the most enlightening thing we can learn. I am incredibly grateful for my life and so if I am able to help, or guide, listen or advise, then I am happy to do so.

While I naturally charge for my services ( humility doesn’t pay the bills,) I am happy to give any simple help or support through these pages without charge. If in doubt – just ask.

Rosie

Never too old to Learn.

Like many people of the older generation, we were brought up to believe that once you exceed your ‘best before’ date, new knowledge isn’t something to worry about. Our poor old shrivelled brains don’t need to be bothered with such things.

I WHOLEHEARTEDLY DISAGREE!

Agreed, information isn’t absorbed as readily as in youth, however learning anything can be invogourating, can help to keep life interesting, as well as helping to stave off the ravages of some forms of dementia.

Since I reached my 60s, my thirst for knowledge has actually grown, even though I am unable to process/ retain some information due to stroke damage.However, by accepting certain limitations and changing direction in my quest, learning less academic subjects, instead favouring those that have more relevance in my life, has been a real brain stretcher.

As someone who left school, aged 15 without qualifications, I always intended to attend adult education classes to gain at least the most basics certificates. With all good intentions, a large family & manic home life got in the way and when I was finally able to spare the time, my confidence had deserted me. I told myself that I was obviously stupid & would probably never have passed my exams anyway, besides, how relevant would it be now anyway? I can see now that I was just making excuses to cover up my fear.

Almost five years ago my life changed dramatically when I found myself single again. With a unused brain & disabling depression, I felt like the village idiot. Try as I might, I was unable to retain anything. Yes, I obviously was thick!  But no, I wasn’t! I simply had limited my learning abilities as a form of self protection. If I didn’t stretch myself, I couldn’t fail, could I?

Once I had fought my way out of the depression, I knew that I needed to find something to keep me stimulated, to prevent the likelihood of a recurrence. And so my love of learning began….

It started on a very small scale, dabbling with pottery and art, with a lot of home reading. I became obsessed with holistic healing ( something I’d always even interested in.) Shortly before my divorce I’d surprised myself by training as a Reiki therapist, even as far as becoming a Reiki Master, although I wasn’t really convinced of my worth. Once single, I began to relearn & gradually added to my list of holistic abilities, even so, confidence was by far the biggest challenge, but no books could really teach it, I had to discover it for myself. Once I had found confidence, nothing seemed an impossibility, I realised that actually I could attempt anything that I wanted. Suddenly succeeding seemed less important than having a go.

With a lot of encouragement I became a flexercise leader ( I thought it was an easy option), but soon I realised that I didn’t want to stop there. Certain things were unrealistic due to health restrictions but I have since accrued a list of practical qualifications. Through my voluntary work I have taken training in Mental Health studies, taken courses in Life Coaching, first aid, food hygeine & safety. I am newly qualified as a Tai Chi Instructor, Food Waste Champion, run a writing group and lead a women’s group, with another one starting next month. I have written books, learnt to self – publish, have become a motivational speaker & next week have to go before a ‘dragons den’ type panel, to try to obtain a grant to further my work. I can now set up basic websites, write a column in the local newspaper, have several voluntary positions & am currently undertaking three different online college courses.

Phew! I’m exhausted just reading that list. It’s as if it has happened to someone else, not me. Not stupid, unqualified me? Me who was only capable of making good cakes & looking after children?  Me, who thought that I was a write off!

I still don’t have academic qualifications, I am currently taking an English Grammer course, simply because I believe it will aid me with my writing, but as for the rest? Well, I have realised that I’d rather use my brain space with things that interest me. I don’t need a certificate to prove my worth. My life is doing that!

I know that not every pensioner shuts down their brain, some are naturally interested in continuing achievements, however far too many aren’t.

I’m not advocating that everyone follow my path. There is no one right way. Everyones’ journey is different. However I wanted to share this with you all, to prove that nothing is impossible. If I can encourage one person to achieve something that they can feel proud of, then I will be delighted. Life is very different for upcoming generations, where women in particular are becoming more self – assured & are able to follow their ambitions a lot more easily. Pre 1960s,Women were only good as housekeepers, wives & mothers, maybe reaching the exalted heady heights of shop assistant once their children had left home. Thankfully that is in the past, most people in developed countries have choices now.

We are very fortunate to live in a Country where we have freedom of choice (more or less) we don’t have to scrabble for food & on the whole our lives are fairly comfortable. However  it breaks my heart to see so many older people who are resigned to a life of loneliness & misery because they feel unworthy of anything more. Their latter years are filled with little more than a television for company. They don’t believe that they are capable of anything else.

Three words : YES YOU ARE!

Two words : GO FOR IT!

One word: BELIEVE!

Rosie x

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Putting my patience to the test.

I have just added my first two books onto Amazon ( kindle, Kobo inc) which has been hardwork & more than a Little perplexing. Not only did I have to learn the whole e-publishing thing, I had no idea how to format my manuscript correctly.

A couple of weeks ago I published my first book; Silly Tilly gets lost, but once it was online I discovered that I had made mistakes. I re- edited & republished, only to find that I’d done it incorrectly.
At the same time I was desperately attempting to complete and publish a book for charity, a compilation from my creative writing group. After an initial hiccup I figured out the system, but every time I thought it was ready, I’d republish, only to discover further errors. It took 18 edits in all, which must be something of a record. However it, like the Silly Tilly is now live on Kindle.

Naturally I’m delighted but I have to admit to nearly giving up. I’m sure that the errors were mating! They seemed to be multiplying! I wanted to throw in the towel so many times!
In my past I would have either given up, or made it passable & just accept it as ‘good enough.’ There may well still be unfounded mistakes, it was my first time, s perfection was probably unlikely, however I believe it now to be As near perfect as possible.

This has been a hard but useful learning curve.

I could have given up, or just made do, but wouldn’t have been satisfied. Perseverance was necessary. Anything worthwhile is worthy of it.
I will remember this lesson, I will also give thanks for the new skills that I have learnt.

Time to continue with book Three…..

The books in question are as follows:
‘Silly Tilly gets Lost,’ by Rosie Bright. Price £2.99 available on the kindle/ Amazon site.

This is a story about a cute, yet naughty Yorkshire terrier. It is the first in a proposed series & is aimed at aged 3 – 6 year olds.

The second book is a compilation book,from members of my writing group, with proceeds going to charity. It is filled with mainly humorous/ light hearted short stories & poetry, also included are many 50 word and 6 word stories.

It is called ‘When the Muse Strikes by Rosie Thomas with Wells Scribblers. Again priced £2.99 available on Kindle/ Amazon.

I hope that you will consider buying one or both. Your support will be much appreciated.

Rosie x

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Helping myself by helping others.

So many well-meaning friends keep nagging me about doing too much, I agree that I do burn the candle at both ends – and in the middle! However remaining idle isn’t an option. I enjoy being a multi-faceted volunteer.

Today I ran a ‘Time to Talk’ session, helping fight mental health stigma. During conversations with attendees, over and over the problem of apathy was brought up. If I allowed myself to stagnate, my passion for life would deteriorate, without question.

Keeping busy in my various roles, helps me feel alive. Sure,it causes me untold pain and exhaustion but it’s a small price to pay. Seeing the difference that me – little old me- can make is exhilarating. I love my life & refuse to allow room for self- pity or sorrow to creep in.

Keeping our minds active has a very underrated effect on our wellbeing, both physical and emotional. Life is now sedentary for a lot of people with evenings glued to the television, where is the mental stimulation?

Ok so I might take it to extremes, but it works for me. Everyone needs to find the right level for themselves, everyone is different, unique. The important thing is for everyone to find something that helps to enrich their lives and keeps them interested.( and no, supping beer or wine isn’t what I meant!)

For me that is helping others – and I wouldn’t change it for anything.
Don’t knock it until you try it!

The price of suspicion.

I am saddened by the suspicion that is aimed at anyone who chooses to help others. I know that this can be a hard, difficult world, but there is a flip side. There are a lot of kind, considerate and caring people spread throughout the planet, so why aren’t they accepted & appreciated without having to justify their motives?

I was brought up to trust & give people a chance. Yes of course I have been used & abused but that doesn’t alter my belief that on the whole, people are basically good. There have been times that I’ve teetered on the edge of doubt, but I still prefer to trust humankind.

After many years of self survival through abusive relationships, I celebrated my freedom after divorce by dedicating my life to helping others. This has taken many forms from volunteering, assisting, donating, encouraging & showing general kindness to everyone that I meet.
Let me say – I’m no saint, I make a lot of mistakes and am not always as good as I’d like to be but I do keep trying. Too many people say the words but don’t put them into action. I attempt to live my life in a way that I feel brings harmony, it also brings me a great deal of pleasure!

There have always been doubters, those who can’t understand why I do something for nothing, I guess there always wil be, but it’s very sad.

This was brought home clearly today. I live in a retirement building & despite my best attempts, I have been unsuccessful in gaining the trust of many of my neighbours. I am not a typical pensioner, I am a child of the 60s who never really outgrew the hippy idealism. I believe in self expression, wear whatever I like & live a lifestyle that suits me, including being a non-smoking,teetotal,vegetarian. I don’t enjoy being glued to a television set, hooked on the exploits of various soap characters, or gossiping about anyone who comes into their orbit. I live a very busy, full life, so when home, tend to be hermit-like, listening to music while writing or reading. This is treated with absolute suspicion. I can accept that. I choose to be an individual, not a sheep. I enjoy my life.

Today I was reminded about the sadness that suspicion causes. I arrived home during the weekly tea gathering. Aware that I hadn’t socialised with my neighbours for a while, I joined them. I entered the room to mutterings of “oh look who it is, wonder what she wants?” I smiled & took a seat. After general chit chat, someone commented on having seen a poster about a book reading that I am doing soon & asked what it was all about? I explained that I had written a childs’ story book which I am due to publish via Kindle. I then told them about another book that is also due for publication, a collaboration between my writing group, that is being sold to raise money for charity. This was met with cross questioning – which charity? Who would be handling the money? How could I prove what we’d collected? Once I’d answered to general satisfaction, someone pipped up ” what charity are you selling your childrens’ book for?” Then I said something that was apparently absolutely abhorrent! – I answered that it was being sold for my own benefit. It took hours of hard work to create, why shouldn’t I benefit from sales? HORROR! How could I do such a thing?
I left the lounge, having difficulty accepting that attitude!

Over the past 4 years I have tried setting up various groups with little success. A previous exercise class being terminated when someone stole the television set that I used. Choosing not to involve the police, I appealed for it’s return, but it was ignored. Other events have met with indifference so eventually I decided to stop trying within this building, using my energies where they are appreciated. Needless to say, this hasn’t gone down well.

This has made me question the motives of the doubters. What do they get out of it? Can’t they understand that through their mistrust & suspicion, they have lost a willing, caring participant in their community? Now of course I’m vilified for putting my energies elsewhere.

None of this has changed my attitude, I still am dedicated to helping others, nothing will change that!

Isn’t it time that poeople began to trust their fellow man? Not everyone is out for what they can get. The bitter, suspicious neighbours have lost what I could offer, simply because it is easier to doubt, to look for the hidden agenda, unable to accept there was none. How many opportunities are lost worldwide through mistrust?

That is so sad. It’s personal choice of course but I prefer my way. With more love and less spitefullness, imagine the difference we could make to the world?

Rosie x

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Spreading your web.

Recently a friend asked how I tackled being alone when I first moved to this area. Was I lonely? Yes of course I was! I was 60, knew no-one & wasn’t sure where to begin.
There is really no definite formula that I can guarantee would work for everyone, however there is one tip that I believe always helps – that is to put yourself ‘out there’ and be pro-active, strangers are unlikely to knock on your door, begging for your friendship!

As I have previously said, at first, although nervous, I joined lots of groups and clubs until I found my feet and had begun to build a social circle, then I re-evaluated the usefulness of the clubs, dropping those that weren’t really working for me, leaving space in my life to join others If and when the opportunity arose.

Through these groups I was able to make contacts, through those contacts, further ones and so on. The point is that everything has to have a starting point. Wanting to make changes won’t work unless you actually do something about it.

As someone told me many years ago:

Nothing changes until something changes.

Think about it – then DO SOMETHING!

Loneliness is a dreadful thing and the longer the situation continues, the more difficult it is to resolve. That first step will never get easier, there will never be ‘the right time,’ the time to take action is NOW.

Don’t allow the fear to hold you back. Nervousness won’t kill you, it may feel like a step to far & that you’re not ready yet, but when is that likely to change? It is unlikely to. The first step is to make a personal commitment, the second is to walk through that door! Sure, so some people will turn and look at yo, just as people did when they first started, just as you probably will when newcomers join after you. It doesn’t mean that they are being unkind, generally they are just intrigued about who this stranger is, possibly wondering if this could be a new friend for them.

That very first time is scary, the next time it will be easier, soon you won’t bat an eyelid, so go on – do it! Make 2017 the year that your social circle will expand. But don’t wait till next month, or the spring or summer or your birthday, or any other excuse, because that’s all it is – an excuse, a reason to put off something that seems scary.

Please do it. Decide on something that you would like to join, ( if retired the local U3A is a good place to start.) find out details, phone up the contact number if there is one ( this will actually soften the blow), make a date to join and don’t let yourself talk you out of it.

Life is only as good as we make it so make it good!

Be brave. You can do it!

Take care

Rosie x

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