James Arthur – Safe Inside

I don’t normally talk about songs. It’s not that I don’t like music I do but normally that’s all it is to me. Something to listen to. And sure, there are some songs that I like more than others, some whose lyrics I can relate to, such as … Innocent Man by Billy Joel, That Don’t Impress Me Much by Shania Twain, I Believe in You by Michael Buble and others but there was something different about Safe Inside.

They say that songs are written for the same reason a book is written, that there is a message, that the creator of the work, wants to send to people. The only reason, I’m writing about this song is because it has touched me in a way, that quite frankly I don’t understand. So much so that because of how much it stirred in me I had to find out why this song was written.

I never hear of James Arthur until recently, I didn’t know anything about him and sometimes that’s a good thing, if you haven’t read anything about someone then you haven’t got a preconceived idea to draw from. You see the first time I heard this song I found tears running down my face. Not a huge amount but still that was unnerving. How could a song have that effect on me? How can a song still have that effect on me?

Life was not kind to me, and so I shut down my emotions down in order to survive it. One of the things I shut down was the ability to cry. I just don’t do that and yet this song causes me to shed tears. And anyone who knows me knows that just doesn’t happen.

And so I found a video of him discussing the lyrics and what he was trying to get across. The fact that it was about the close relationship with his sister who was abandoned by father.  He took her under his wing. That really says a lot about someone’s character despite any mistakes they, themselves may have made.

He relates to the worry of a parent for a child, he has a deep love for his sister. And he opens up about the drugs that he took and that he was in a dark place, yet he got himself together and hoped his sister wouldn’t go down the same path. He talks about how the family issues created insecurity for his sister. In his Facebook page, he talks about growing up in foster home and he has trust issues.

And as I watched this video of him talking about the reason behind the song I could see that it was hard for him to talk of these things. That it was deeply personal and when it’s personal it can be really hard to talk about it, because sometimes you feel as though you are the only one going through it, when in reality many others have gone, are going and will go through the things you have. And when you make yourself vulnerable by opening up, sometimes people can use it against you so it is not easy.

Many people though, have trust issues, insecurities, rejection, the list goes on. I’m one… I have serious trust issues and insecurities. I know people have given up on me but that’s okay because the few that haven’t give me strength when I want to quit.

Yet I feel that this song has a deeper level. That it is about a deep love one person has for another and that there are times when you either have to let go or there is a separation for whatever reason be that a parent – child relationship, a sibling relationship, friend or partner relationship.

That kind of love is deep, it is protective as well as nurturing and accepting. That kind of love will do anything to protect when they see the person they love hurt. It will give hope and make them want to stop the one they love from making the wrong decisions, knowing that all they can do is give advice and hope the right decision is made. And when the wrong decision is made be there to pick up the pieces.

Some siblings are so close they know each other so well that they can see and feel what the other is going through. They don’t want their brother or sister to be hurt and so that deep love that is protective kicks in and if they see their sibling making the wrong decision they will want to stop them. They will worry about them until they know that they’re okay. But they will love them, wait and when needed be there to pick up the pieces.

Friends are the same. I have friends that are close and when I don’t hear from them I wonder what’s going on? Are they okay? I don’t worry about them to the point I can’t sleep, but I reckon if I had a really, close relationship with them, then I would. I know that there have been times when talking to them and they’ve said things, and I think that’s not going end up being good for you, yet all you can do is tell them what you think and stand back, wait for the fall out and pick up the pieces.

Marriages and relationships fail sometimes. Yet often the couple still love each other deeply and they worry about the other person even if they are no longer together. Or they may be separated by distance because one lives or works in another country. They may chat every day but if the internet is down or there’s a disaster of some kind and they don’t hear from them. Then they worry, what’s going on? Are they alright? And they can’t sleep until they know they’re okay.

Then I watched the video. Thanks heaps, it set of so many triggers. I had flashbacks, but I was able, to not let the flashbacks pull me back too far, which I think is great. It shows I’m healing. I’m allowing myself to feel emotions which by the way suck sometimes, but I’m also liking the nicer ones.

But why does it stir so much in me? Probably because I can sense and feel the depth of emotion and love that he has for his sister and that resonates, because I am learning about that depth of love and understanding that emotion I can sense through the song is the feeling, the emotion that goes with it, which for me is quite intense.

I also read some reviews that were critical of him and read others that talked about him having a breakdown and I thought you know what, this social world of the internet will always have haters and critics, but for a person who writes, be it songs, books or articles, what they write, isn’t for the majority, of the world, although that would be good if everybody liked what you wrote or sang, but it is for the one.

The one person that you touch, that what you say or sing makes a difference, helps them in some way, that is what matters to writers and singers.

I think if James Arthur can stay humble and not fall into the glorification of fame, or let himself get too overwhelmed again, he’s got a great message of hope and overcoming obstacles that he can share with the world.

 

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I Didn’t Realise I was old.

You’re getting old’ a very nearly excommunicated friend told me. Why? Because I’m over 50. The fact that she’s 49 is beside the point.

That’s exciting’ she continued.

I’m intrigued. ‘How so?’

Well, you’ll be able to go on cruises, travel and take it easy. Life will be smooth sailing, no worries, no problems, I can’t wait till I get old.’

I learnt that her view of old age was the pictures she sees in the magazines and papers. You know the ones, older people lying on deck chairs, playing tennis, taking photos of places they’ve visited yet getting old is not that fantastic.

Don’t get me wrong. I’d love to travel and not care what people think of me, but age is what society has determined. We know this because of the latest viewpoint going around – you know – the forties are the new twenties, the fifties the new thirties, the sixties the new forties and so on. This shows that when once society viewed a person as being old when they hit over their sixties, they now see people as old when they hit their forties. Heck, at one time a child was not an adult until they were 21, now it is 27.

I know people who are ‘Old’ in their twenties and I know old people who are ‘Young’ in their seventies. I know 60 plus year olds who go kite surfing, travel the world, go scuba diving, dancing they try new things – society says they’re old but their brain and body is still very young. I know 18 year olds that should be out partying, being reckless because of their age, yet they sit at home watching DVD’s, knitting and talking about politics.

Society does not like to talk about the elderly. Where possible, society ignores them, they don’t talk about the issues facing those getting old because that means having to admit that there is a problem. Getting older is not the most fantastic thing. I don’t enjoy my hair going grey and having to get it dyed every three weeks, still, maybe that’s how I can earn some money, invest in the company that makes hair dye.

Nor do I enjoy the aches and pains. It really is harder to get up in the morning these days. And I don’t follow the normal pattern of arthritis which took a year to figure out I had. Older people complain about how their arthritis is worse during the colder months, mine is worse during the summer months.

Then there are the diseases that the elderly can get, the dementia, the cancers, the heart attacks and the discrimination. Yet all these things which are seen as ‘Old people’ problems affect the young as well. There are people in their twenties and thirties that have dementia. There is so much cancer around affecting even toddlers, it’s scary and young people have heart attacks now, which was never seen decades ago.

Diseases don’t listen to society’s viewpoint. They don’t discriminate and yes some of it is because of lifestyle choices, but some of it isn’t. Life can be hard. Abuse, conflict, war and disease – all these things have an effect on the person’s body, mind and emotions.

Some people have to deal with more issues than others, and sometimes that is through a personal choice, but sometimes it through another’s choice. But we all have a past, and the thing about getting older is that sure you make mistakes, but have you learnt from your mistakes?

Society shouldn’t look at age as in a number. Age is in reality timeless, but if one is going to look at a person who’s old, then maybe it should be based on how the body copes, with the ravages of time, and what life has thrown at that person.

Society seems to be swinging all over the place as to what it accepts and doesn’t accept as being representative of the whole. Society likes to be politically correct, so much so, maybe we should get rid of the terms like baby, toddler, young, teen, middle aged, old and elderly.

We, as society would then be very politically correct, but then if we have nothing to distinguish the age of people, then we have just de-humanised humanity even further.

There are programs now where people are pushing for mature age workers to be considered because of their skills and what they can teach the younger generation. For example: a 70 year old gay person, is not going to shock a teenager with that revelation, yet when that 70 year old was young, it was an illegal act. What will shock a teenager though, is that there were no mobile phones, no televisions and no Internet.

Maybe society should go back to basics. People are born – that never changes. People grow up – that never changes. People die – that never changes. What changes is technology and advances in research which aids in humanity’s ability to live to a longer age.

Let’s get rid of age defining attitudes. Life is a journey from the day one is born until the day one dies, be that a short or a long time on this earth. Live the best you can. Treat others well. Leave a legacy that will have people talking, even if that is just your family.

The Instructions of Life

Signs, labels, instructions. Everywhere you look, there are signs of some description, telling you what you can and cannot do. They are on the streets telling us where we can and cannot park, and for how long, when to stop and give way and the speed limit, although for some people these are just suggestions.

They are on our food. Warnings about the contents, directions on how to cook. They are on our clothes telling us how to clean them. And they are in booklets instructions of how to put something together or how to use something that you have just bought.

And anyone who has tried to put a flat pack object together knows it’s less stress to just pay someone to do it. It seems like a good idea at the time. Get it, put it together, it’s quick and easy…Not.

First you have to make sure that you have all the parts and haven’t lost any. The you have to translate the instructions from English into some sort of intelligible English. Sometimes you have to reverse the instructions given, in order to complete the task. And then you have to allow way more time than you think because it will take longer than what is said in the instructions. Yep, way easier to get someone else to do it.

And the Do’s and Dont’s in instruction booklets and on clothes. The thing is when warnings are given, when the instruction booklet says ‘Don’t’ that is because someone, somewhere has, in all probability, done exactly that and probably been hurt in the process. And so the manufacturer has included it in the warnings.

But some of the instructions leave me shaking my head. I read it and then read it again because I’m sure I’ve misread it. But no what I’ve read is correct. I get that we need warnings and some of it is or should be common-sense.

People should know that water and electricity don’t mix so don’t spill liquids on to the power board. But there are some things where you just say to yourself – Really, who would do that? And then you realise that someone, somewhere, must have, because some of the instructions are so bizarre.

Take the warning on a baby’s jumpsuit. Take baby out of clothing before washing…. Who would not take the baby out of the jumpsuit, or any form of clothing, before throwing the clothes in to be washed. I would’ve thought that was common-sense but apparently not.

At a holiday home one of the instructions said…. Do not encourage the chickens. Anyone else have a visual of people giving the chickens a pep talk, some motivation so they don’t get too depressed. No… no one else sees chickens with self confidence issuesit must be just me.

Another said… The owners take no responsibility for the disruption of the holiday caused by flora and fauna. I get the fauna especially in Australia, our wildlife will try to kill you. That look of cuteness is just a ruse. But the flora.. short of walking through a field of stinging nettles or to close to a rose bush, what can a flower do. It’s not like it’s going to invade your cabin.

But how about the instructions found

On an iron…Do not iron clothes on body.

On superman costume…Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly.

On a chain saw…Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands or genitals…and I’m leaving that one well alone, but really, who? what? really!!

In a microwave manual…Do not dry pet in microwave.

On a toilet brush…do not use orally. Ok, who tried to do that. Is your mouth really that big?

On a blow torch…Not used for drying hair

The list goes on and on and on. There are so many that I have to wonder have humans really become that stupid. Whatever happened to common-sense? I have no idea but apparently we need to be protected against our own stupidity.

Children are Impossible

‘Children have changed so much today. They are impossible. They have no respect for anyone. Not like in my day’ was what I heard recently. Another person said ‘Children have changed from generation to generation and will continue to do so.’

This is the general idea isn’t it though? That children have changed and yet I beg to differ. I don’t think that children have changed at all. But society has. Society has changed over time with its expectations on how people are supposed to behave.

Let’s look at a child. No matter where you look in history. Children are first of all born. Even Jesus was born as a child. When children are born the only need they have is ‘Feed me, change me and hold me.’ They don’t care what’s happening in the world, it’s all about them and so it should be, seeing as they can’t feed themselves or change themselves.

A child has no preconceived ideas about people or biases when they are born, They are born innocent and vulnerable. They have no trust issues or hatred in their heart. That has not changed at all throughout history.

It is only as they grow that they learn from those around them. They learn their parents likes, dislikes and biases and when they go to school, they learn from other kids who have learnt from their home lives the likes, dislikes and biases of their parents. So when a child makes comments about another person they had to learn that from somewhere. It is from parents and family that a child first learns to hate or to love their fellow man.

What has changed is society’s expectations. There used to be a time when a child was punished for violating the house rules. Sometimes that punishment was too extreme but today, parents are not allowed to hit their kids, and if they punish the child by grounding them, or taking away their mobile, then the parents run the risk of being sued by the child.

It is the foundational start that the child has, that sets up his or her belief system, that then guides or misguides them as they try to navigate through life. That belief system comes first from their parents, then family, then school and later life.

What has changed is parents want their children to have the best of everything so that they are not alienated by their friends but what that teaches them is – I want, I get – but unfortunately, that doesn’t work in the real world.

Schools give all the children participation ribbons on sports day so that they feel inclusive and everyone feels equal, everyone is a winner. But that doesn’t teach them that the world is not equal. That sometimes in the game of life, they are going to lose a few rounds, but they haven’t been taught how to deal with losing.

Schools make sure they’re food friendly for those with nut and other food allergies. Creating a safe environment. Commendable but doesn’t teach the child how to deal with the work place when the boss doesn’t care about allergies.

The same with schools having a ‘Friend’ chair so that if a student is lonely they sit on it and the other children are encouraged to include them in their group. It doesn’t teach children that there is no ‘Friend’ chair in the real world. Some people just aren’t going to like you.

And no more clapping because some children have sensitive hearing. The world is a noisy place it’s better to deal with that at school because the world isn’t going to quieten down just because someone has sensitive hearing.

Teachers now want the children to call them by their first name so that the children feel closer to them, that they are their friend. That doesn’t teach them respect. Teachers are not supposed to be their friend, they’re supposed to teach.

Have children changed? Yes

Are they more aggressive, demanding and spoilt? Yes, some are.

Are they ruder and disrespectful? Yes, some are.

And there in is the answer. Some are, but some are not. How can that be so, if it is children, that have changed?

The answer is that it isn’t children that have changed. It is society. Society is very good at telling children what their rights are but not very good at telling them what their responsibilities are.

Society’s lowering of standards in regard to respect for their elders and their parents and other figures in authority. Society has lowed its expectations of politeness. Society needs to take some responsibility for setting children up to unrealistic expectations without helping to give them coping skills for when it doesn’t work out.

Throughout history it has been, and is a balancing act that keeps swinging from one extreme to the other. The pendulum is swinging back again as society tries to reinstate some values. Children don’t change, they don’t come with a manual when they are born but they are raised by the parents values and beliefs.

Children need to be valued, loved and have their self esteem built up as this is what helps them to become productive members of society. But that needs to be balanced with rights and responsibilities so that they learn coping skills when things don’t go according to plans.

No One Is Home

  • These four walls surround me. The space within them is safe but I don’t like it. I want to reach out to people I once knew. but I can’t.

  • I don’t feel like I belong. I tried for a while, but it seemed like I was the only one making an effort, so I stopped and I was right, no one called.

  • It’s okay when I’m working but when I get home there is nothing, no one.

  • The television is my companion;

  • They say that they’re my friend but they’re never available. They always have an excuse not to catch up.

  • I’m used to my own company.

Have you ever thought like this? Despite the fact that social media connects us to the four corners of the world, many people suffer from loneliness. You can be the life of the party, or be in a crowd and still feel lonely. Loneliness is, I believe, one of the most destructive issues that we, as a society have.

Research has shown that loneliness is more than an emotion. Loneliness can kill you, it is that devastating. Research has shown that loneliness is the cause of medical problems and increases our mortality by 26%

Loneliness causes

  • Physical symptoms – aches and pains, headaches, illness or worsening of medical conditions

  • Mental health conditions – increased risk of depression, anxiety, paranoia or panic attacks

  • Low energy – tiredness or lack of motivation

  • Sleep problems – difficulty getting to sleep, waking frequently or sleeping too much

  • Diet problems – loss of appetite, sudden weight gain or loss

  • Substance use – Increased consumption of alcohol, smoking, medications, drugs

  • Negative feelings – feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness or thoughts about suicide

(https://www.lifeline.org.au/get-help/topics/loneliness-isolation)

Loneliness infiltrates every aspect of our lives. Psychology Today reported that when socially isolated our nervous systems automatically switch into ‘self-preservation mode’, which makes us more abrasive and defensive – even if there’s actually no threat.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/loneliness-makes-your-brain-work-differently-study-shows-a6732056.html

So how did we get to be a world full of loneliness. Sometimes it’s a choice and other times it is through circumstances that are not handled well. Someone close to you may have died, maybe you’re disconnected from your family, you are shy and don’t do well in social gatherings, have a mental health disorder and people don’t know what to say or do so they stay away from you and you stay away from people, maybe you fear you’ll be rejected because of your beliefs or how you act, maybe you just don’t have a purpose in life.

There are many reasons why we are lonely, and everybody gets lonely at some point but when it is for extended periods of time, it is a problem. It could even be a habit that you have grown used to, you may not like it, but you’re used to it.

Social media is great at connecting but as we know it can also be quite toxic. You can connect with anyone, any where in the world because at any given point in time, someone, somewhere will be awake.

You can have a job and be good at what you do. You can go out with people and have fun and laugh but when the party is over, when the work day is done – how do you feel? Who do you go home to or do you go home to an empty house where the silence screams louder than the fun you just had or the milestone you hit at work? How do you feel when your only companion is the television or the radio? Do you turn it off or leave it on for background noise so that you know you’re not alone.

But how do you end the loneliness cycle. It’s very easy to say get over it. Join a group or get a hobby. It’s very easy to say go out and meet people. It’s not that easy, if one has been hurt by people or if one is shy and feels awkward in social situations. I put my hand up here, I’m not good in social situations, I pretend I like them, I’ll go, I’ll have a conversation or two but I feel out of place.

I have a handful of friends. I love catching up with them but we’re all busy. We have work or study or family commitments and they can take a priority, but I also know that if the crunch came, I can rely on those people, to find time to have a coffee and chat, no matter what the time of the day is.

Loneliness can contribute to mental health disorders of depression and anxiety. Who haven’t you heard from in a while? What family members haven’t you spoken because you’ve been too busy. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy phone call or a visit.

Just a simple sms message or message via Messenger to say Hi, you’re thinking of them, will start the process of connection and show you care. And when you invite them out for coffee and chat and they tell you that they can’t. Keep asking because they really want to.

As March – Mental Health Awareness month starts to wrap up think about those in your life. Let us start to reconnect and let the ripple effect begin.

No One Hears You Scream

It was just a word spoken in jest. Nothing was meant by it. An action that in any other circumstance would be just that an action. But it takes just a word, an action, a phrase or tone of voice to bring back memories that I would rather forget.

I am that person who prefers not to sleep, so I don’t dream. I am the one who wakes in the night screaming, sweat pouring off me, my heart racing, as the nightmare plays out in my head again. I am the one who freezes, because of a word uttered, and I am the one who braces myself fall the fallout, ready to defend myself when someone raises their voice or a hand.

Yes, I have PTSD, but only those closest to me, might get glimpse of it, every now and then. For the most part, most people wouldn’t know, because I’ve learnt to deal with most of my demons, I know how to breathe to calm down and to avoid certain places. But I along with many others live with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

PTSD is one of six common types of anxiety disorder. The others are Generalised Anxiety disorder, Social phobia or social anxiety disorder, Obsessive Compulsive disorder, Panic disorder and Agoraphobia.

Anxiety disorders is one of most common class of mental disorders. Approximately 14 % of Australians have an anxiety disorder in any given year. People with one anxiety disorder are likely to have another, and also to experience depression. There are however many mental disorders that people suffer from – different phobias, schizophrenia, bi-polar and paranoia just to name a few.

March is Mental Health Awareness month and whilst it’s good to dedicate a day or a month to a certain issue, be it Cancer, Domestic Violence, Epilepsy and the list goes on, it shouldn’t be just forgotten about until the next year.

Issues like Mental Health should be talked about daily but sadly Mental Health as with other topics are still taboo and only discussed when something happens, like a murder. When it hits the news people suddenly become informed and will speak their opinions,without thinking, about the wrongs or rights of a situation.

In reality, we should be able to talk about Mental Health and other issues, that society faces with facts and empathy, in order to gain understanding and knowledge. For it is with knowledge, that one can begin to help another, and as a society, is that not our role. To help one another, not shun someone, because they have an illness.

Cat’s vs Humans

Ever notice that cats are interesting creatures. In some ways they remind me of humans. I know, I’m weird, but just think about it for a moment.

Cats can be quite aloof creatures. They definitely have their own minds about what they want. One minute they want to know you and will come up, purring and rubbing themselves up against you, to let you know that they want to be held and petted, and at other times they will walk away from you. Ever notice that humans can be like that. One day they like you the next they don’t, one day they’ll talk to you, the next they’ll walk away and ignore you.

They, being cats, can be fussy eaters. Some will eat anything while others will be picky. Mine, for example, will only eat an expensive brand of cat food. I have tried them on cheaper ones but they refuse to eat it. I have heard people say that if you leave the food there, the cats will get so hungry that they will eat it eventually.

I tried that but my cats are and were stubborn… maybe they take after their owner, but after two days, I gave in. They refused to eat it and I felt guilty that they hadn’t eaten, so I relented and got the tins that they like.

But humans can be fussy eaters too. There are those who will eat a specific diet like Vegans and Vegetarians; or those who are lactose or gluten intolerant. There are some who will eat anything and everything, including anything you leave behind on your plate. Then there are those who have been traumatised by food, yes that has happened, and so don’t like specific ways food is cooked. If we didn’t need food to survive I for one would be quite happy not eating, period. And all the food lovers have just gasped in horror at the thought of not eating.

Each cat I owned had a different personality. One was feral so I treated her with care, one started attacking people but when she attacked at night, the vet suggested Valium to calm her down. Well she ended up on 10 micrograms, enough to knock a person or two out. but no, she kept on attacking and ended up having to be put down. My current cat is so docile.

She is 16 but looks like a six month old. She never grew very large nor did she age and so I’m always forgetting just how old she is. She’s very rag-doll in her behaviour. She has tiny little teeth and claws that do absolutely no damage. So she’s very cute.

You can roll her over and rub her tummy and she won’t do anything but lie there. Occasionally she gets grumpy if you rough play with her and she’ll give a little bite, but the look on her face is priceless. If she does bite, she gets this horrified look on her face that says ‘Oh no, what have I done. I’ve bit the human.’

People have different personalities too. Some are aggressive, some are docile, whilst some of them, their mood depends on whether or not they’re having a good or a bad day. Some people look their age whilst others don’t. Cats come in all shapes, sizes and colours depending on their breed. So too do humans. We have different shapes, heights, cultures, colours – it is what makes us unique and should bring us together in unity rather than divide us.

Sometimes I think that people are a bit like cats. Sometimes we’re nice and want to be social and at other times we just want to be left alone. We can be snarly and scratchy or cuddly, warm and friendly. Really though, we should not forget that people are not purrfect, but we are meant to be relational. We are meant to get on with each other; we’re not meant to go through this world solo, yet many of us choose to for whatever reason we have to do just that.

Unwanted House Pets

Yuk. Yuk, yuk, yuk – that’s all I can say. I have a few pet hates. I like nature so long as it’s outside where it can roam free and chances are that I won’t see it. But there are a few of nature’s critters, that insist on coming inside and that’s where I draw the line. I’ll put up with flies, they’re mainly a nuisance in summer but the good old fly spray does wonders at killing them, although their death dance is annoying. And I’ll put up with the odd ant, sure it’s got a bite but I’ve got a rule, bite me and die, but there’s a few things I won’t put up with. Even the possum is preferable and he’s noisy, oh boy, is he noisy.

I hate cockroaches. Every time I see one, I cringe. I’m not alone in this. Most people when you just say the word, ‘Cockroach’, they cringe and say ‘Eeww.’ I have heard people scream when they see one.

I know they have their purpose, they are nature’s scavengers. They can eat anything and can survive without food for long periods of time. These things have survived from prehistoric times, so they’re not easy to kill off. We often joke, that if anything is going to survive an atomic blast, it’s the cockroach, but it wouldn’t surprise me, these things are tough.

But I can’t stand them. It’s not like they’re even pretty. No, they’re downright ugly but I’m sure someone likes their sleek style and reddish tinge. Fly spray doesn’t kill them, if anything it just makes them angry. And you have to spray them from underneath to do any kind of damage. I don’t like stepping on them because I hate the crunching noise of their body breaking underfoot. And they are fast, I mean these things are incredibly fast and they can turn and dodge just as quick. They’re also mean; I swear they deliberately chase you down.

Up there with cockroaches are spiders. I have a fear of spiders, so much so, that I will freeze if I see one. If it is near me I start to panic. Someone suggested watching the film ‘Arachnophobia’ to cure my fear of spiders. It worked so well that my fear has increased. Having been bitten by a few poisonous spiders, surely no one can blame me for not liking them in my presence.

I heard on the radio a guy from the museum explaining why spiders come in when it’s hot. ‘They have sensitive legs’ he said ‘so they come inside because the heat outside is upsetting them.’ They’re upset. They have sensitive legs, really, oh my gosh. Care factor, zero. I’m sorry, I don’t care, these things bite and their fangs hurt. I still have the fang marks from one encounter.

The huntsman are the worst, they like to scare you. Oh, they’re not poisonous but they do like to get into places where you’re likely to see them or come into contact with them. Like the poor guy who picked up his coffee cup to get a drink and found one inside. Shiver down spine moment. Or the guy who took off on his motorbike, builds up speed, flipped his visor down and found one on the inside – no wonder he had an accident.

But there are those that are poisonous and winding up in hospital is not my idea of fun. There are so many nope’s with these pests I don’t know where to start. No spiders, absolutely not allowed. Rule of house, if you’ve got 8 legs and come inside… you die. End of story.

A long time ago there was a mouse plague. I was up in the rural area and the mice were everywhere. There were so many that the cats gave up hunting them, they just let the mice run amuck. You just had to lift a sheet of tin of the ground or bang on the shed walls and they’d go running. I even woke up one night to find one looking at me. Yes, it gave me a fright, that is not what you expect to wake up and see.

Driving down the roads at night and they’d be streaming across the road. You had no choice but to drive over them, all you heard was a popping noise as you ran over them, but it made the owls very happy and very well fed, without having to do too much work. But I’m not a fan of mice.

Lately there’s been a lot of activity in the neighbourhood and surrounding areas. We’ve had a lot of houses ripped down in the neighbourhood and new ones being built but the problem is when they demolish and dig up the ground they disturb the mice and rats. And where do those vermin go? They find a new place to set up home which is usually the nearest house.

There is nothing worse than hearing something chewing or gnawing at night. Nothing worse than seeing a mouse or rat run across the floor or across the curtain rod. Mice are a little more tolerable. They tend to scurry away and almost apologise for disturbing you but rats. Those things will stare you down and dare you to deal with them. I’m so glad for the new self setting traps. No injured fingers or hands when using them.

Those are the house guests I don’t like entertaining and they know the rules. Enter and I see you, you die. I don’t like killing spiders, mice, rats or even cockroaches but I’m not setting up a breeding centre either. They can find somewhere else to inhabit. I don’t care where, so long as it’s not in my house. And now, I have to go explain to my cat, that her role is to kill the mouse, not make it her friend.

What Have I Got To Be Thankful For?

You have a lot to be thankful for. You may not see it but you do. Being thankful though doesn’t necessarily come naturally. Being thankful is, in fact, a choice. It is an active, deliberate choice that one has made in order to think about the things that he / she has rather than the things that they don’t have. When you are thankful for what you have it releases a joy, a happiness within you, that others can see, and it allows you to be generous to others, no matter whether you have a lot or a little.

I used to struggle with having no gratitude or thankfulness. I’m not perfect, I had a hard life and so I struggled big time with this concept. So I know others will, have and do as well.

When you hear the word ‘Gratitude’ or ‘Thankfulness’ what does your brain start thinking because those first thoughts are good indicators of whether or not you have a heart of thankfulness. Do you think ‘I’m so thankful for…’ or are your thoughts more like ‘Are you serious? What do I have to be thankful for?’

Does your thoughts go to the problems in your life. How can I be thankful I have no money, no food, no home and/or no work. Or do your thoughts go deeper – how can I be thankful my life was terrible, I was abused, I’m in a Domestic Violence situation, or perhaps, I was or am being bullied.

The problem with this line of thinking is that soon the ‘What if’s’ and the ‘If only’s’ scenarios start to play out. We can find a whole lot of reasons to not be happy and to not be thankful. I know I’ve been there, I have the scars to prove it, and my life could dictate to me how I should be ungrateful, because of the trauma I’ve been through, but at the end of the day it comes down to a choice.

We can spend our life complaining about what we don’t have, and living in our own torment, sorrow, anger and jealousy, at those that have what we want or think we want, or we can change our mindset and be thankful for that which we have, which can then potentially open a door for more good to come through.

Being thankful, having a heart of gratitude produces joy – a happiness that others can see and for those who know your circumstances, it confuses them to the point that they want that happiness too – because they will be thinking when they watch you ‘How can he/she be so happy when…. has happened?’

But it’s not easy especially if you have scripts from the past that play on a constant reel in your head. It’s hard to silence that voice. I know how hard it is to be happy when you have nothing. I’ve been there; I’ve been so broke I’ve been homeless, days when not eaten because I chose to pay a bill over getting food. It’s not easy when everything you see says you’re not good enough, nothing you do will work out but that’s where you have to find strength from somewhere to push through and tell yourself that you are better than circumstances say.

I’d love to have the bravado and creativity of Sir Richard Branson. To look at him you wouldn’t know that he was an introvert, that he trained himself to be an extrovert. I’m an introvert, I’m not a people person naturally but I force myself to pretend that I like people, I engage with people and I make them laugh and can have a great conversation. I’ve been told by people that they I encourage them and they wish that they were as confident as me and when I tell them that its an act, that I’m not that confident, they say that they would never have known. But I would like some of Sir Richard Branson’s creativity to get around problems.

I’d love to have just a fraction of the capital that the rich people do, like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and how about Oprah. I’d love to have enough so that I could pay my bills on time, to not have to worry about whether or not I can eat this week or to have plenty so that I can buy a coat because Winter is coming. But I wouldn’t like my life to be on display like there’s is for all the world to see and love you one minute and hate you the next. And coming from a Domestic Violence background I definitely can’t afford to have my picture splashed across the tabloids. But it’s nice to dream occasionally.

Changing your mindset though is going to take time. For some it will take a long time, for others a shorter amount of time, for others who really struggle they rely on God to help them change but it is making the decision that you want to change that is the first step to change.

I was challenged several years back. I felt it was God challenging me to look at changing my attitude from ingratitude to a more thankful attitude. I felt Him challenge me to write down one thing that I was thankful every day for a month. I was okay with that. Not a problem. But then came the criteria.

It wasn’t allowed to be the same thing every day. Okay, that makes it more challenging but yep, I can do that and then the final criteria. It wasn’t allowed to be shallow, I had to say why I was thankful. So I committed myself to this challenge and got a journal and spent the next month writing down something I was thankful and why each day.

A couple of my entries were:

I’m thankful for those coupons I get. The 4 cents of fuel voucher, the buy 4 coffees and the 5th one is free, spend $5 at the bakery and get stamp, on the 6th trip I got free loaf or 6 rolls, or the buy two for one. Why? Because I saved money which could be spent on something else and interestingly enough the free coffee and the free bread was usually when I didn’t have any money left.

I’m thankful that I don’t live in a country that is riddled with war. Why? I live in a country that gives me freedom. Freedom to wear what I like, to have an opinion even if it’s different to someone else’s, I can go to uni, I can live where I choose to live. I’ve got a lot to be thankful for living here.

I’m thankful that I woke up this morning and there wasn’t a chalk line around my body. Why? It gives me an opportunity to say hello to someone, to encourage them, to show them that someone thinks that they’re important.

Being thankful is a choice. It releases joy and happiness and a desire to share what you have whether that be a little or a lot. Being thankful becomes a lifestyle.