Thought for the Week

"A hug is a perfect gift - one size fits all and nobody minds if you give it back."


I was browsing the web whilst trying to come up with some inspiration for a fun blog entry, something a little bit light hearted maybe or some theme that readers could follow on with on their own blogs.

I have looked at hundreds of pages. Then I stumbled across a site that had held a Haiku competition.

What's a Haiku I hear you ask? Well, I didn't know what it was, maybe I was just being a bit blonde!

Definition of a Haiku ~ a mini verse of 3 lines of 5/7/5 syllables.

Sounds easy enough I thought, so I decided I would give it a go. It really cannot be that difficult to write 17 syllables about a topic. It doesn't even have to rhyme.

How wrong can you be! 'Easy' would be to copy some of the entries from the competition and claim them as my own, but plagiarism isn't really my style, so I continue to sit here, trying to write 2 or 3 Haiku for your pleasure.

An hour has past since I began this entry and I have made some progress.

No, really, no applause, it's progress not a finished work of art!!!

I thought it would be fun to try and cover different areas of my life and/or thoughts with each one. So after a little more effort, and a lot more thought, here are 5 little Haiku covering different aspects of my life.

PS - Does anyone have a spare delete key, I think this one's worn out!

~My new passion

Wake every morning
Wondering what thoughts to share
With my blogsphere friends

~My loves ...

Rough seas, tidal flows
White horses a crest the waves
Crashing on the shore

~... and my hates

The blue screen of death
Ate my entire life's work
Fresh page. Start again

~My past ...

Death. Dark. Depression.
Lost him, he's gone forever
Sad thoughts, heavy heart.

~... and my future

Husband, Son, Daughters
Love and adore them always
They are my riches

Goodness, its harder than you think to write something meaningful with so few words!! I hope you enjoyed them. I know which one is my favourite, but that's for very personal reasons; which do you like, if any?

Healthy Eating

We are all told that to stay fit and healthy we should eat at least 5 portions of fruit & vegetables every day.

For one who’s not keen on vegetables this can be quite tricky, so how do you get enough portions and who the hell ever tells you how much a ‘portion’ is?

Granted, many manufacturers now include this on the packaging of their products:

“This provides one of your recommended 5 daily portions”

and for those of you who can’t read they include a nice clear pie chart. Fair enough, even I can add up to 5, I have enough fingers, which is lucky because taking off your socks and shoes to get your toes out in the supermarket is frowned upon. But what if your eating strawberries, cherries or some other small fruit?

How many strawberries constitute a portion? If you ask my kids, a portion is as many as you can pick and eat from the garden before I catch you, but that’s not a lot of help if you are trying to follow the government guidelines for healthy eating.

I decided at this point of my ranting, I should maybe do a little research and see if I could find some answers on the net to illustrate my point… and I found a full list of the quantity of fruit and vegetable that represent 1 portion. So for all you lovely people who are just itching to know the answer to my question you need wonder no more:-

1 portion is equal to:
7 fresh strawberries or 14 fresh cherries!!

I bet you were all gagging to know that weren’t you! If you want the full list, you can download a PDF file from here, the Department of Health’s website; but please ... don’t all rush at once, we’ll eat their bandwidth (and no that won't count towards your 5 daily portions!!). The following is an extract from the guidance given on that website, now pay attention, because I'll be asking questions at the end!!!

The health benefits of fruits and vegetables.

Increasing consumption of fruit and vegetables can significantly reduce the risk of many chronic diseases. It has been estimated that eating at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day could reduce the risk of deaths from chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer by up to 20%.

Higher consumption of fruit and vegetables also reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. A recent study found that each increase of 1 portion of fruit and vegetables a day lowered the risk of coronary heart disease by 4% and the risk of stroke by 6%.

So, my question is this:

If you buy your salad as a pre-packed item at the supermarket, does the protein content count as one of your 5-a-day?

Well - does it?

and if it does..

... is it really fair...

... to make them eat it?

Have a nice lunch!

Memory Monday - Paternal Grandmother

Today's memory is a tribute to my paternal grandmother, who died in 1994 after a long, healthy, happy life.

My paternal grandmother was a petite woman, of steadily shrinking height and what I would today call 'The old school' She had very high principles and morals and an even greater respect for the church. Devoutely religious, she attended church every Sunday morning without fail, and until later in her life, every Thursday morning too. It had been the same church for all the years she had lived in the town since moving down from Northamptonshire just after she married my grandfather. I had never known my grandfather, he died 5 years before I was born, but he was the headmaster of the Church of England school that was a part of the Church my Nan attended, and it was this job I believe that brought them down to the south. Although she was from a very religious background, she would never preach at you about God and the Bible, but she did expect you to live by certain standards.

I can clearly remember that she would sweep (not hoover, she never did own one of them) the carpet in the living areas on her hands and knees, using a small dustpan and brush. This was no mean feat in the kitchen area where there was a coal/wood burning Rayburn stove. Her washing was done in a washer, (like half a twin-tub) with a mangle attached to the back, and many days we would help her squeeze the sheets through, catching them as they came out the other side so that they would not drape across the scullery floor. Sometimes it caused arguments with my siblings because we all thought it was such fun to crank the handle round and watch the dripping wet bed linen go in one side and emerge on the other in a super flat and considerably drier state.

Her cutlery, tableware and some of her provisions were not stored in kitchen cupboards like today, but kept on shelves in the pantry. A bare concrete floored small room just off the kitchen, it was dark and cold, with no natural light, but as a young child I loved this little room. It was full of all sorts of interesting things. There was a small stack of plates in various sizes and designs which were for everyday use, or for the likes of us grandchildren lest we should drop and break them. There was a second, smaller pile of 'Sunday Best' crockery, including matching cups and saucers. Why did the older generation always keep things for 'Sunday Best'?

Her television, which for most of her life was merely a black and white T.V was used very little. Not at all like today, where a family now see's relaxing at the end of a hard day as a cause to sit down and put the T.V. on to watch the best of what they can find. Her telly would go on for specific programs and then be turned off again, and woe betide anyone who made more noise than the telly. She would give you one of her 'looks' and tut I can still here you Nan.

She had fruit bushes in the garden and was forever complaining about the rabbits eating the fruit before it was ripe enough to pick and use. She was so funny, that us kids would often get bored and decide that a little joke was in order. One or more of us would run full pelt into the house shouting

"Nan, Nan, there's a rabbit at the gooseberry bush"

to which the standard response, and of course the one that we were waiting for was to curse the rabbits, grab a tea-towel and trot outside as fast as she could. With the tea-towel held by both hands and flapping around like a flag, she would rush down the path toward the gooseberry bushes waving the tea-towel and saying something like

"Shoo, shoo you litte devils, get off, shoo"

Well, us kids would all just be sat there on the lawn, watching the show that we had engineered, and falling about laughing our heads off. At which point, Nan would realise that she'd been had... again... and would tell us we we're little terrors, but she always laughed, always.

She would often bake cakes and pies, and her home-made marmalade was second to none. I have a particularly soft spot for a good ol' fashioned mince pie, always have. Mince pies were one of my Nans regular baking features, and because she knew how much I loved sweet mincemeat she would always use the last, already double-rolled, piece of pastry to make me a special little mincemeat jalousie, or some similar divine item. It always made me feel special, because it was just for me!

Yet again, I have surprised myself with the things that have come to mind once I started to type. I could go on all day, but alas, time has beaten me again.

If you want to take part in Memory Monday click here

The Paddle Steamer

I had yesterday off work to go on a day trip with my husband (G), on the world's last sea going paddle steamer the 'Waverley'

After a poor start, partly due to the weather, and partly due to 500 expectant passengers congrugated at the port in Dover with no sign of a vessel to board, we were told that due to unforseen weather conditions, we would be taken by coach to Whitstable, an hours journey away, and that we would board the boat there. A large number of the crowd, including me and G, felt cheated by this as, being local to Dover, we wanted to see the famous cliffs from the sea and sail around the Foreland Point.

Once onboard however, we were captivated by the beauty, and enchantment of this very rare and unusual craft. It was as if we had stepped into a different world. The deck boards were glistening as the rain fell softly upon them, the paddle turned, gently at first, then faster, producing a sound I had never heard before. It was similar to the 'chug-chug, chug-chug' of a steam train but with much less motion. In fact, the motion was hardly noticeable for the entire trip which lasted about 7 hours.

We began by sailing down the Medway River from Whitstable to the Medway Towns, and although there was not a great deal to see, there was a completely calming, peaceful feel to the journey. When we had travelled as far as we were to go down the river we had a tug boat to turn us 180ยบ to go back to the sea and on to the River Thames. It was quite a site to see this small, insignificant boat 'tug' us round in the water. The passengers were all leaning over the side of the boat in an effort to get a better view, and an even better photograph. Some could be overheard taking verbal bets on whether the rope was going to snap!

On board the ship we visited the Tea Room for a drink of something hot to warm ourselves. As yet the weather hadn't improved by any amount worth talking about and we were pretty chilled. It was cosy in the Tea Room. Lots of people sat around, happily chatting and drinking tea's and coffee's and looking through the misty wet windows at the grey sights outside. Some of the older passengers definitely looked like they were set to stay in their warm, cosy little seats for the duration.

With tea in hand, we walked along the boat and as I peered through the tiny, round, glass porthole I could see the paddle crashing through the water, powering us in our chosen direction, white surf-like water rushing and gushing and gurgling as it fell from the individual paddles back into the vast mass of water below.

"Oh look, you can see the wheel through here" I said to G. Well... he just fell about laughing.

"It's not a wheel darling, why do you think it's called a paddle boat? God am I going to get some mileage out of this one!"

We moved on a little, G still chuckling to himself and trying to hide the fact. We stopped to look at the engine room. The sides of the 'room' were cut away so that it was open plan and you could look across and down on the powerful, thrusting crankshafts. (I'm still talking engine parts here girls, stay with it). It was quite mesmorising to watch. The continuous, even movement as the parts moved back and forth, back and forth and round and round. Not wishing to have the 'wheel' incident held over me for too long, even if the evil glint in his eye does make him look damn sexy, I thought maybe he would forget it if we talked about the engine a bit, it's one of the things that makes him tick, being a mechanic by trade, he is always fascinated by different kinds of engines. (I know, it's a man thing!)

"That's the biggest piston I've ever seen" I said, with a similar mischievious grin! There was a pause, followed by another pause, followed by:

"urm.. I can't let you get away with that darling (grinning now from ear to ear), it's not a piston it's a crank shaft, and that bit there is the connecting rod" he said, pointing to the shiny steel pole that was equal in girth to a telegraph pole (wait, maybe I should go and check with him what metal it was) . "That's the piston rod and the piston...well that's the bit you can't see, but it's on the other end of the piston rod" he concluded, with a cheesy grin and a wink.

The trip up the Thames was fantastic. The weather was beginning to clear, and there was patchy sunshine in places. Whilst all the softies remained under cover we stood out on deck as far forward as we were allowed and this gave us a magical, panoramic view of both sides of the river as we sailed towards London.

Going under the QE2 bridge which carries vehicles from Essex back into Kent gave a completely different aspect to that which I am used to. I have travelled by car over that bridge many, many times and looked down onto the calm waters below. From the river looking upwards it seemed to reach up to the skies, a view that is well worth seeing.

The most interesting part of the journey of course was further up the Thames, as we came into London. Canary Wharf, with it's oh so distinctive pointed roof, stood tall and proud and was visible for miles before we reached it. The Millennium Dome, an interesting building for sure, but so under utilised for the millions it cost to build (enough politics Ali, move on). The Greenwich Observatory, The Maritime Museum, The Cutty Sark, The Tower of London, and of course the finale, the most beautiful, most graceful bridge I have ever seen - Tower Bridge.

For those of you who don't know about Tower Bridge, building of the bridge began in 1884 and took 8 years, it is a road bridge that has the capabilities of being 'opened' to allow very large, tall ships and boats to pass up the river. It is an absolutely amazing site, and a feat of engineering to marvel at.

Our paddle steamer was one such vessel, and as we watched the bridge on our approach we saw the traffic cease to pass over it, then slowly, gracefully, she began to open. Each half of the bridge lifting upwards to create the space for us. We stopped the traffic in London. All the drivers had gotten out of their cars and stood at the edge of the towers to watch the bridge open. Then, just as we emerged the other side, there was an almighty cheer and round of aplause from all the spectators.

What a fitting end to a magical trip.

Cool Slideshows

Memory Monday - A Son is born

I had a theme in mind today, but after reading a couple of other entries about motherhood, I thought I would run with it too.

I remember the day my first was born like yesterday, it was 22 years ago. I was just 17, and had a good pregnancy but after 17 hours of labour there was no progression and so the doctors decided to perform a caesarian section. 17 hours earlier it would have horrified me, but now, now I just wanted to get it over with. They prepared me for theatre, increased the dose of anaesthetic in my epidural and took me to the operating room. 20 minutes later, I was being stitched up and holding the most fantastic, most adorable, most precious little bundle I had ever seen. I had tears in my eyes and my heart beat so hard against my chest that I thought it may burst. I was SO proud. I had blossomed in the previous 9 months, from carefree teenager to mature, responsible adult. Suddenly it dawned on me just what a massive responsibility I was cuddling. His entire future was my responsibility.

I was still living at home at the time and my parents were fantastic. My son was born the day after my Dad's birthday, and being the first grandchild, they formed a very close bond. His job meant that when he was on an early shift he would be up at 4am and we spent many a morning when my son was still waking at nights, sat at the dining room table with Dad whilst he had his breakfast. I say 'we' I mean at 4am I was there in body, the enthusiasm somehow never quite made it downstairs that early in the day. Dad and his grandson would chatter away; strictly speaking Dad would chatter and my son would ga-ga. They would play cars across the table, often using Dad's cereal dish as a roundabout and the smallest child would squeal with delight when they crashed into each other. How often did I say 'Don't get him too excited, I will never get him back off to sleep'? It never made any difference of course, Dad was smitten with his first grandchild, and his first grandchild loved him to bits.

My mum was fantastic too. I was lucky in that she was at home full time and she was my rock. She was the one who basked with me in the glorious sunshine of the happy days; the one to steady my ship on the stormy days and the one who lit a torch for me on the dark days so I could find my way. Being a single Mum is one of the toughest things I have ever done, and without my own parents encouragement and support I am not sure I would have got through it unscathed.

My mum visited me one day, after I was in my own home with my soon to be husband, and my son had a cut on his arm. He had been hurtling around the garden on his little sit-n-ride car in his usual cavalier way, two wheels round every corner and as fast as his little, chubby legs could manage down the straights. Of course, when you're 2 years old, two wheels are not always enough to keep you upright! He came tumbling off and had caught his arm on a sharp stone in the lawn. My mum asked him how he had hurt himself and cool as you like, not a nano second of hesitation, he replied:

"Oh, I cut it on one of Mummy's kitchen knives"

Well! You could have knocked me down with a feather. The little terror had run straight back out to the garden to carry on his game of football, and I was left sat there with my mum with a look of total disbelief. Did I hear that right? By the brief look of absolute horror followed by fits of laughter from my mum I guess I did. Thank goodness it hadn't been the Health Visitor asking the question!!!

I have so many memories, happy memories of the time spent with my children growing up. As Elaine said, I wonder how many I have forgotten. The tales relayed here were only remembered as I started to write, I was quite surprised myself by them. I guess that means that getting older is not necessarily bad for the memory, we just have to dig a bit deeper to find the buried treasure.

I think I will see how many more memories I can recall that I have not thought of in a long while. Maybe I will make Mondays, Mystery Memory Monday, and start each new week with some enchanting, fond memory of the last 22 years, yes that's what I will do, anyone care to join me?

If you want to take part in Memory Monday click here

No Friction in the Forest

Firstly, I would like to thank all those who have taken the time and trouble to read my blog and comment on what they have seen. It somehow makes more sense of it when other people leave feedback.

I'm glad some of you have enjoyed the pictures I snapped of the Cliffs at Dover, hopefully later in the year the quality of the pictures will be much better. Next week I begin a GCSE course in Photography. I have always been interested in photography,what makes a good composition, how do you know just how much lighting you need etc, but I am a long way from a David Bailey. Hopefully I will learn how to take good photographs with digital and film cameras as well as developing the film etc.

At the moment, my photographs are OK, a bit hit and miss sometimes, especially if it's a dull day, but I'm a kinda point and shoot gal if you know what I mean. Now there's nothing wrong with a bit of point & shoot in the right context, but photography is not necessarily the best place for it!

If all goes according to plan, I will be able to treat you (or you will have to endure!!) similar projects later in the year, how lucky are you?

Until then onto something different. I received an email earlier today, and a couple of the attachments reminded me of you Elaine... (that's me off the christmas card list..) sorry, but they did. They are just so your kind of humour, and mine too, so I thought as you were doing such good job of drumming up trade for me on my blog I would dedicate them to you:

Out on the Bike

I was feeling pretty fed up when I left work on Friday, but in the context of keeping my whining for other places I won't go into detail.

Hubby had a day off work and so he picked me up with the intention that I drop him back at home so I could take myself off down the gym as I do every Friday after work. Once back at home I suggested maybe I should give the gym a miss, and as the weather was so nice and he was on a day off, maybe we should go for a spin on the bike instead.

This is one of our favourite pass times when the weather is fine and I knew that spending time with him coupled with the fantastic feeling of the wind in your face heading off to wherever your fancy takes you would blow those cobwebs away just fine.

... and I was right. Above are a few pictures I took from ontop of the Cliffs at Dover, sitting above one of the busiest Ports in the world relaxing with my husband. The views looking down onto the Cliff face were taken from further along, once we had negotiated the winding chalk path just a foot or so from the edge of the cliff, if only it had been clearer weather.

We jumped back on the bike and went to Samphire Hoe. This is a piece of manmade land with strong sea wall where you can stand and look back at the Cliff front, which used to be where the sea came in to. On a clear day, if you look out to sea, it is possible to see both Calais and Boulogne. Samphire Hoe was created from the 4.9 million tons of earth and chalk which was removed during the construction of the Channel Tunnel, and now makes this enchanting, peaceful place.

What Emoticon Are You?

Take the test and see what kind of emoticon you are today!

Or maybe you are feeling a little brave and will try the 'Kissing' test...

Your Emoticon Is Laughing

You've got a wicked sense of humor. You're everyone's favorite IM buddy... at least today!

Your Kissing Technique Is: Perfect

Your kissing technique is amazing - and you know it.

You have the confidence to make the first move.

And you always seem to know what kissing style is going to work best.

Sometimes you're passionate, sometimes you're a tease. And you're always amazing!

OH MY GOD ... It's official, and you read it here first.

I've Been Rasterized..and I liked it!

Yep, I have to admit it, I have been openly rasterbating, and boy have I enjoyed it. I rasterbated this morning and have been rasterbating this afternoon, and I have played with rasterbator this evening too. No, get your minds out of the gutter, I didn't need to enter any credit card details - it was free!!

Actually, I think I'm all rasterbated out! OK, let me explain.

Whilst reading through a 'Money Saving' weekly email I receive, I spotted a link for 'The Rasterbator' which briefly explained what it was, but I was still intrigued, so being the nosey cow I am, I went for a peek. After all, I thought, what harm can a quick peek at a bit of rasterbating online do? Yeah, yeah, I know, my mother told me the same thing!! I clicked the link that took me to the website, and began to read the instructions. Hey, there's nothing wrong with a bit of light reading to make sure you're doing it right! Then I began to rasterbate too. It's a pretty neat idea, and now I have a picture of my rasterbation I'm going to stick it on my wall so I can admire my handy work!

Why don't you have a go too? Go on, it doesnt have to take long, just a quick rasterbate now, and I guarantee you will want more! I have put the link in below, and will add it to my list of fun sites in the side bar.

I will also add a link in my side bar to the Money Saving newsletter/site for any of my fellow Brits that are interested. You can sign up to a weekly email, and can easily scan what money saving tips are included so that you only need to read the bits that are relevant to your needs/interests. The site is owned/written by Martin Lewis, the guy that had a show on CH.4 recently where he helps couples with Money Makeovers.

It regularly features the latest/newest deals and explains which are best and why, on things like Credit Cards, Bank accounts - Current, Savings and ISA's, insurance, utilities etc etc. There is always a section which gives you 'loopholes' in loyalty/bonus schemes, and he is the main weight behind the 'Ask your bank for the last 6 years charges back, they are illegal' campaign. Last week, he was first to break the news about Virgins new Gatwick to New York route, and to celebrate Virgin were offering seats at £160 return. Yes you read it right. I went onto the Virgin website, and they weren't even promoting it there, not a mention.

So you see, it's not just useful if you have loads of money to invest, it always has loads in it which is a must for ordinary folk like me!

Why Dad's Shouldn't Babysit

I was checking through a big batch of emails I have from a contact who keeps me well supplied with jokes and funnies. I can get anything from half to a couple of dozen a week, and of course, they don't all appeal to my sense of humour but there are some crackers amongst them.

Whilst opening some of them up looking for a particular email that was a play on words and mirrored text I came across one entitled

Why Dad's Shouldn't Babysit

I couldn't help but laugh to myself at the pictures, even though I have seen them before they really brightened my day, and so I decided to share them with you all, and have added a caption for each one just for fun.

Maybe you can come up with some other 'Captions' for one or two of them. Leave me a comment and let me know what you would have put - I would love to hear some alternatives

How long before dinner Dad?
Maybe I could just share Fido's!
Oh boy, maybe you should ask Mommy for some cookery lessons Dad, this Sucks!!

I think I've mastered it Dad, does it go like this? Yeahhhh! Wait til I get home and show Mommy what a clever boy I am!

Mommy always said you couldn't multi-task, she'll never believe me when I tell her she was wrong Daddy, now where did that dishcloth go?

OK, we've been good girls, we stayed quiet and amused ourselves so that we didn't interupt you and your mates watching the game and having a beer. Can we go to the park now, please.

And my all time favourite!!

I don't think this is what Mommy meant when she said "If he doesn't settle, take him for a ride, that always calms him down"

Larry, you were brilliant

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
Aldous Huxley (1894 - 1963)

I have been having great fun exploring the world of blogging. As you may have noticed there are frequent additions and/or alterations to my layout and design. I am sometimes like the little girl in a candy store who wants a little bit of everything she can see, and still wonders if there is anything else she may have missed. Heck, who am I trying to kid, I'm always like that! I so badly want to make my blog interesting, not just for me but, for all the visitors who may stop by, that I need to try everything out and see for myself what works, what doesnt etc. Exploring the different sites that give you the opportunity to have site counters, photographs montages and other fun stuff is for me, just like being let loose in the sweety store, sometimes I get carried away and have far more than is good for me.

I currently have photos here from my holiday last year to the USA. What a fantastic country, and contrary to the sometimes misconceived idea the British people have that Americans are obnoxious, loud and rude, I would like to set the record straight. DON'T believe everything you see and hear on T.V. My husband and I travelled to Boston, MA and took an anticlockwise tour to Lake Placid, Niagara, Washington DC and New York. We found, almost without exception, that the American people are in fact extremely warm, friendly, inviting and very hospitable, and you have the most fantastical breakfasts, my husband thought he had died and gone to heaven every morning! The other thing that was obvious is that Americans are totally passionate about their country. We brits have a tendancy to 'always look on the dark side' of the governments failures, to always point out what's wrong with the way the country is run, or how this policy or that amendment does not go far enough to deal with a certain problem. Americans on the other hand, although blatantly aware of the shortfalls in their systems, are only too pleased to tell you about the great and the wonderful too.

Whilst in Washington, we were lucky enough to take part in a guided tour of the cities most historic landmarks, monuments and buildings. I will never forget the man who headed the tour. His name was Larry, and I have never before or since met a man who was so passionate about his job. This man could list every single Amendment in the Constitution, maybe not that incredible, but he could also tell you how it came to be a part of the Constitution. He could tell you the name of every single man, in order, that had ever been elected to President. Nothing strange for a considerable number of Americans I'm sure, but could you also tell us which college they attended, what they studied and when and how they entered into politics. How about the exact date they were elected, and how long they served, or the names of each and every one of their wives. Larry gave incredibly detailed information and descriptions of the many and varied statues, monuments and buildings that we drove past or stopped at, way beyond what was necessary to meet the requirements of his job. But do you know the most amazing thing? Not one person on that tour went back to their hotels that night without having gained an unexplicable infectious interest in America's rich politics and History. Not one.

So, Larry, thank you, it was an honour to ride on "Dolly" with you as our guide.

How Rich are You?

"No matter what you have done to this moment, you
get 24 brand new hours to spend every single day." -
Brian Tracy

How many times do you wake up in the morning and think to yourself

'I really wish I didn't have to go to work today'

or maybe something along the lines of

'Hell, if only I hadn't drunk quite so much last night'.

Maybe you awaken some mornings with a heavy heart, with regrets for things you have done or a longing to do something you have never done before. Do you ever sit at the dinner table and discuss what you would do if you won on the lottery? How you would spend your millions. How you would make all your wildest dreams come true if you were rich? Which car would you buy? What would your holiday of a lifetime be? Would you buy a new house far from where you live now?

All those dreams, all those desires, all those plans. They are just that - dreams. We all need dreams don't we. We need to believe there is something in this life that's better than what we have already. Everyone aspires to better themselves. My question is this - how do you quantify what makes you 'better'. What makes one of us better than another? Is it being rich and being able to buy all those material things you dreamed of buying when you won the jackpot on the lottery? I don't believe it is.

I believe that we are all equal. For sure, some people are lucky enough to have more opportunities than others to pursue the career of their choice. Some people may be more intellectual than others and some will be more practical. Where would the sense be in having an architect draw up plans for a beautiful building if there are no men with the skills to build it? Some will be followers and some will be leaders. Whatever your strength is, recognise it. Use it. Allow it to benefit someone else but always remember that no-one is better than you and you are no better than anyone else. We are all human, we all need to feel useful. Each and everyone of us needs to feel wanted, loved even. We all dream of being rich.

I am rich already of course

And so are you, if only you knew it.

I have a wonderful husband of 20 years whom I am still very much in love with and 3 wonderful, well adjusted children who are now all independant (just about). I grew up with parents who always loved me unconditionally and a sister with whom I am very close. I have neices and nephews who smile and get excited to see me and I have a handful of close friends who will always spare me time to talk no matter how busy they are. So, you see, I am richer already than I could ever dream of being.

On a completely different note to end, a friend referred me to this fun little web site which is basically an online "Message in a Bottle" service. Pick an empty bottle, write something meaningful, something you want to get off your chest, a little joke or some amusing anecdote, the possibilities are endless. When you have written your message, place it in the bottle and toss it out to sea. Where it will end up nobody knows. You can leave the window minimised whilst busy with other things, but check back once in a while and you may find that a bottle has washed up on your little piece of the shore. Open it up. What will it say? How will you reply? Add your own message to the previous one and toss it back again. You could travel all over the world without even moving from your computer! Go on... give it a go.

A Thought To Touch Your Heart

I have finally joined Blogland! I may be slow but I get there in the end.

My blog to me is merely a place to lay down some of my thoughts and happy memories. A place to muse over those insignifcant, useless pieces of information we collect along our journey of life.

We have a desk calendar at work that has those little rip of pages each day, and every day I lean down and squint at the tiny writing on the bottom - that little inspirational thought for the day. Sometimes you wonder exactly what 'inspiration' you are supposed to draw from the seemingly meaningless line and other days you find yourself nodding in agreement, or raising an eyebrow and thinking "oh how true that is" and when someone asks what it said you realise that you actually said it out loud!

So, I have been rambling pages on the web in search of some inspirational gems, and I came across this one:

"A life is never ended until all the lives it has touched have ended too."
It made me stop and think. We all lose people we love and care about. When our friend or relative has lived a long and happy life we say we are grateful that at least they had a good innings (I wonder where that saying came from?) When our loved one is not quite so old and has not had such a full and happy life it can be so easy to dwell on the what if's, to feel that they were cheated in some way from what might have been. In fact, I guess, it's those of us who are left behind that feel cheated, feel a huge sense of loss, of grief, of sorrow.
So to all of you out there who have temporarily lost contact with someone special, remember this:
"A life is never ended until all the lives it has touched have ended too."