December dawn: and a new decade

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Drawing back the curtains this morning, this is what I saw. The pink of the rising sun set against the the pale blue promise of clear skies to come, with the silhouettes of nearby trees standing dark and proud in contrast. A touch of soft grey mist hovered gently in the middle distance.

Another day was dawning, and soon it will be another decade.

That we are moving from the 20-teens to the 20-twenties in a few day’s time has only recently registered with me; I’d only got as far as musing on the past year, let alone the past decade.

With my professional astrology hat on, I could expand on the current on-going rubbing of the shoulders of the planets Saturn and Pluto. I’m not going to do that, apart from saying that Saturn, as I see it, symbolises dyed-in-the-wool traditions and Pluto is the force that seeks to break down and throw out what is no longer of use and move on. Read into and interpret that as you will, there’s enough evidence of this taking effect on a global scale.

Going back to the photo, what I’m struck by is how strong, upright and present that tree is in this scene. It’s a tree I see daily, and perhaps don’t take that much notice of, although I do enjoy getting out my binoculars to ID whichever bird happens to be perching at the top. Sometimes it’s a magpie, sometimes a blackbird singing its heart out, and sometimes it’s a woodpecker. All have to be viewed against the light, hence the need for the binoculars to get more detail.

Could the shape and silhouette of that tree be a metaphor for the year/decade ahead? It’s suggesting to me the need to stand strong and proud, to be unashamed, to be present, to have a straight back like its trunk, to reach high like its crown where the birds perch, and to have open, welcoming arms which reach upwards, like its branches.

The most wonderful time of the year?

IMG_0547Switching on the radio the morning after the UK General Election (I already knew the result), what I heard was Andy Williams singing “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” – a schmaltzy Christmas song that I’ve never liked. I switched off.

For me, it’s a trite and rather dreary song, but it did get me thinking. Regardless of the result of the election, there are and will be people sleeping rough on the streets of Britain. There are and will be people barely managing, needing to go to food banks, even if they’re in work – maybe on zero-hours contracts.  Will this go away under the new, jubilant Tory government? Despite what our MP, herself a Tory, said at the recent hustings I attended, I feel in my gut that the erosion and depletion of care and concern for those less fortunate in our society is likely to continue for some time. I may be wrong, the glass may be half full, and right now there is only so long I want to stay in this rather gloomy place.

So Brexit will happen then, on 31st January….or will it? It seems a lot of  people in Britain fell for Boris Johnson’s 3-word mantra of “Get Brexit Done” and voted him in as Prime Minister, even though many of them were traditionally Labour voters. The country is still reeling with jubilation or shock, depending on which way they voted. My vote is a floating one these days, and I voted tactically – not for Boris I might add.

He’s going to have his work cut out trying to bring healing to our disunited country; time will tell if it works.  There will be much work to be done to secure and finalise leaving the EU – it will probably take years to get it done. Oh joy.

In the meantime, I’ll step out of Scrooge mode and do my best to express in my everyday life the sentiments of the quote I have on the About Me page on this blog.

Three things in life are truly important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; the third is to be kind – Henry James

With the cup half full – probably a lot more full than that – here’s to more kindness and generosity of spirit, smiles, warmth and humanity towards all people, living creatures and the environment as we approach the festive season and the turning point of the year – the Winter Solstice. May the returning warmth of the sun and light awaken something more positive in us all. We need it.

By: A one in ten opportunity

I receive occasional email newsletters from Bridget Whelan, author of Back to Creative Writing School, with hints and suggestions for aspring writers. This one has just arrived, and her suggestion is:

When you have time to write, but don’t  know what to write….
Find the 10th  book in your home (or where you are right now). Go to page 10 and find the 10th word on the 10th line. That will be your title. Use it no matter how difficult, even if you have to look up its meaning, even if it is THE. Write for 10 minutes.

Whilst THE sounded challening enough, I thought it was just my luck to end up with BY. So here goes…

By. What does that word suggest? Immediate response is that it means ownership. Something may be written by me (like this) or it may be owned by me, like the laptop I’m using to write on, or the desk that I sit at or the rather snazzy art deco style chair I sit on when using the desk.

If “by” suggests ownership, it also means the responsibility that comes with it. I have to own and use my possessions in a way that doesn’t harm others; if I write something and get it published with my byline saying it has been written by me, I have to own the views and opinions that I’ve included in the article or blog post or tweet. I can’t wriggle out of something I’ve written or said and pretend it’s not been said by me; to do so would be dishonest and inauthentic.

So “by”, in the contexts mentioned relates to ownwership.

Other verbal or written expressions of the word “by” might be spelled differently and have different meanings – “Bye!” as in goodbye; a “bye” in cricket is a run scored from a ball that passes the batsman without being hit; “buy” is commercial, in the sense of buying goods or buying into an idea or scheme. And if we stand or sit near something or someone, we say we’re by them or beside them.

That’s my ten minutes on “by”. By me, naturally!

At the Hustings

I’m reblogging this account of the hustings from “I Can’t Believe it!”

Last night I was  at the Tatton hustings in Cheshire, which became lively and noisy when ex-Cabinet minister Esther McVey was booed and heckled. She was depressingly monochrome and only really came into her own (drawing on her experience as a TV presenter) at the end when she did her summing up. It was like she was back “on script”, giving a performance. Hadn’t the Tories issued candidates with a crib sheet of what to say? It sounded like she’d learned it off by heart; she didn’t convince me that she was speaking from the heart.

The other candidates, however, felt and were a lot more genuine, with Labour’s James Weinberg standing out as a beacon of hope for the future, where change is desperately needed in our riven country.

Environmental issues and climate change are infinitely more important than Brexit, yet I suspect that the silent block of Tory old schoolers will vote for McVey and Boris the Blamer. Significantly, it was only McVey who blamed other parties in this debate and sought to bring them into disrepute. The other candidates occasionally referred to other parties, but did not to blame or dwell discussing or disrepecting them.

My hope (and vote) is for our once “safe seat” for “shoo in” candidates (previously George Osborne & now McVey) becomes a lot less safe and gives way to new wave of refreshing change.

I can't believe it!

We’re into the last week of the UK General Election, so we went to the local hustings, in Alderley Edge. As background, Tatton is a Conservative safe seat currently held with a huge majority (58% of voters, Labour second) by ex-minister Esther McVey.

The hustings were held in a church and chaired by the vicar. Candidates answered questions put by selected members of the audience.

Esther McVey largely stuck to the party line – get Brexit done, with little detail on anything else. She was bemused as to why there were more food banks today than 10 years ago, and why politics is now so divisive. It seems it was all caused by Labour’s creating the financial crash of 2008 and leaving the country in a mess. Nothing to do with the banks and Tory policy in the intervening years, then. Derisive laughter met her attempts to explain why police…

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Kindness is key to health and happiness, and it’s free!

I’m sharing this blog post by Jane Fritz, who writes from Canada – and she writes a lot of sense too. This post about kindness, and how it can benefit everyone, is something to consider, embrace and act upon. Be kind. It costs nothing but the gains are temendous. Give it a go… smile…and be kind….

Robby Robin's Journey

Today is Thanksgiving in the U.S. and, just as with Thanksgiving in Canada (which is a little earlier, when travel is more predictable), it’s a time for many people to consider all that they have to be thankful for and to be reminded that gratitude is good for our health. In fact it’s very good for our health. Just google “gratitude and health” and you’ll find out.

As it turns out, being kind to others is also good for your health, maybe even more so. You can google that as well! Engaging in kindness has all kinds of positive physical effects. Ongoing research shows that kindness can actually extend your life. It lowers your blood pressure, reduces anxiety and depression, and helps the immune system. Research shows that kindness can help you live longer and better, both in the giving of kindness and in being the recipient of kindness. And…

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