Tuesday, 28 February 2017

There are friends and there are friends.

Kate the wife of my good friend.
It is good to know and be sure that you are surrounded by people you can call friends. Friends are such valuable beings and need to be treasured.
I do not know if I have shared the tale I am about to share some time in the past, this age thing and doing something different each day is a real test of memory. I suppose I should get my good friend to make me a spreadsheet of all the tales I have told and used. He does so enjoy his spreadsheets. I on the other hand can do spreadsheets but find the whole task something to avoid. 
Strange I should say that when only yesterday I was saying that while reading the book I am at present I should have a little spreadsheet to keep a note of the many wines recommended in the text. It was from a book by this very same author I discovered what must be my favourite red wine, Cahors, made from the Malbec grape.
I wander! let me get back to friends and those we call friends, and I suppose we have to mention the many "friends" we have on Facebook. 
A teacher was talking to her class about the very topic of friendship.
She produced three toys and asked the students to study them with care to see if they could find any differences. 
All three toys looked identical and the students told the teacher this.
She told them to look again this time much more closely. At last some of them began to notice there were little differences. After a while the students began to tell her that one of the toys had holes in its ears. 
Another student notice that another of the toys had a hole in one ear and one in its mouth. Then it was noticed that one toy had only a hole in its one ear. 
The teacher then said that it did not stop there. She produced a long needle.
When she pushed the needle into the ear of the first toy it passed right through and back out of the other ear. 
In the second toy the needle went into the ear and appeared out of the mouth.
In the third toy the needle went in but not matter how long they waited it did not appear coming back out. 
The teacher told them that the toys were very much like the people around us and ourselves. 
The first toy represents those who give the impression that they are listening to you with interest , and that they care about you. The trouble with them is that not long after you have left they have moved on and forgotten everything you have told them. It passes in one ear and out the other. Such people cannot be relied upon there depth of care and concern is shallow and meaningless. 
The second type of person will listen to you and give the impression that they care. But they are like the toy where the needle comes back out of the mouth. These people will listen to what you say and as soon as you have gone they will open their mouths and tell others. 
Such people we cannot depend on to keep our trust.
The third type of person are those who listen with concern. They take in what you are saying to them and it stays with them and they offer you support and help. These are the people you can rely on. 
Now before we jump to judgement of the people around us we have to remember for those around we are one of the people around them. 
What kind of person are we? 
It is wise to surround ourselves with those who are loyal and trustworthy, those we can count upon. it is of course equally important that we in turn nurture in ourselves the kind of friendship where people can look to us and depend on. 
True friendship is the golden nugget of life. 
Have a marvellous day and may it be a day surrounded by friends and those who bring joy to your day.  

Monday, 27 February 2017

Be careful.

It had to happen someday.

I suppose I had to get around to doing a drawing of my wife. I will now quietly await the consequences of my actions. Will she like it or not? 

Now form will tell me that she will not. I have almost reached the point of not taking pictures of her because for every hundred I take ninety-nine will have to be deleted for one reason or another. 

I actually believe it is a fairly true representation of her, but that might not be enough. 

The reality is I have done it and been brave enough to post it and now I await what is before me and cannot go past me. 

All of our actions lead to consequences and we can only hope that the actions we pursue will lead to good results and that the ripples we have created on the pools of life will bring joy. 

There is one truth in life that cannot be avoided whatever we do will always come to bear upon us.

There were four university students who foolishly went out partying the night before a very important examination. 

In the morning they awoke feeling the worse for the night before so they sat down and hatched a plan.

The plan was a fairly simple one learned from some past experience. They each made themselves look very dirty with oil and dirt. 

They then went to visit the Dean of the faculty and said that they had all been at a wedding the day before. They explained the on the way home the car had got a puncture and the jack had broken. As hard as they had tried they had been unable to fix the car and had pushed it the whole way home. 

Now here they were before him in no fit state to take this important examination.

The Dean looked at them and pondered the situation. After a moment he said that he would permit them to do a re-test in three days time. 

The boys thanked him and told him that nothing would stop them from being there and they would be ready to take the examination.

Three days later they all appeared before the Dean. The Dean said that as this was a Special Condition Test, all four were  required to sit in separate rooms for the exam. All four agreed as they had prepared well for the examination and felt confident. 

When they got seated and opened the examination paper it consisted of only two questions with a total of one hundred marks. 

Question One: What is your name?...................(1Mark)

Question Two: Which tyre had the puncture?..............(99 marks) 

Options..... (A) Front Left.  (B) Front Right.  (C)  Back Left.   (D)  Back Right.

Be responsible for your actions because they may well come back and the lesson might be a difficult one to learn.

Have a wonderful day may you create some beautiful ripples in the course of it. 


Sunday, 26 February 2017

Some Men!

My Son.

I am still smiling at the thought of the conversation I had with a very dear friend. She was telling me that she was on a diet and that there were certain things that she was not allowed. 

Now I respected that she was making a very genuine effort to lose some weight but I found myself reacting to her words. The words not allowed do not exist in my dictionary. I have spent my whole life fighting the idea that other people tell me what I am allowed and what I am not allowed. 

I of course live my life within the parameters of the law and realise that there are certain things that it would be irresponsible to do or not do. 

But to tell me I am not allowed to eat certain things just does not work for me. I do not do diets. I eat what I like when I like but do so sensibly and try my very best not to over indulge. it has worked for me for years and even if I have to admit that the older I get the harder it becomes, I still cannot live with not being allowed. 

I also have this thing if somebody, or some diet thought up by somebody, tells me what to do and not do, it is not my choice so it might work for a short time but it will not work for me for long. I need to make choices for me.

Now a friend of mine visited a dietician. He was having problems with his weight. The dietician said, "Right lets get you started on a diet."

"I want you to eat vegetables and grains for two days, then skip a day and repeat the procedure for two weeks. All going well in the two weeks you will lose around about five pounds."

Two weeks later my friend returned to the dietician. When she looked at my friend she was shocked, he had lost nearly twenty pounds.

"Why that is just amazing!" she said, "Did you follow my instructions?"

My friend nodded, "I have to tell you though , I thought I was going to die on the third day."

The dietician looked at him and said, "From the feeling of hunger you mean?"

My friend scowled and said, "No, from all that skipping."

Right I am off to make a coffee and have three ginger nuts to dunk in it and maybe even a chocolate biscuit. 

Have a marvellous day, do not over do the exercise!

Saturday, 25 February 2017

The train.

The second sketch of my friends dog. Another work in progress. 

I have done some crazy things in my life some of which come back to haunt me The Christmas I bought my daughter of four a train set. And the following year a pedal car that took her almost until the next year to reach the pedals. 

I always contend that I thought at the time I was doing the correct thing. Strangely enough I am somehow never believed. 

I was thinking about that train set and the one I later bought for my son, one that could collect mail bags from the side of the track.

When we put the two together and found a wonderful spot up in the loft to lay out the track we did have hours of fun playing with them. My son and daughter both still have these trains and still in working order in their boxes. 

These memories reminded me of the mother telling me the account of her sone and his train and his getting very caught up in the imagination and the playing.

her son had been picking up language at school and repeating it at home and she was finding it very frustrating. I have to confess that when she told me about the train playing I could not help but have a smile to myself. 

He son had been playing with the train and also being the announcer speaking over the tannoy. 

All of a sudden the train had stopped she assumed at a station. She heard her son saying, " All the bitches on the train that want to get off get your asses off now because as sure as hell this is the last stop.  All you bitches that are waiting to get on get, get your asses on now because we are already running late."

The mother had rushed into the living room and very angrily said, "We do not use that kind of language in this house. Now go to your room for the next two hours and consider what you have been saying. When you come back out you may go back to playing but only if you refrain from that language."

Two hours later the young lad was allowed back to his train and the game took up where he had left off. 

Soon she heard the train stop again and her son saying, " All passengers who are disembarking the train, please remember to take all your belongings with you. Thank you for travelling with us today and we hope your trip was a pleasant one. We hope you will choose to travel with us again soon."

Then she hears hime continue, " For those of you just boarding the train we ask you to stow all your luggage in the space provided. We would remind you that there is no smoking on the train. We hope you have a pleasant journey with us and find the journey relaxing."

Thinking she had succeeded in teaching hm a lesson she was feeling really good. Then she heard the following.

" All those who are peed off about the two hour delay, speak to the bitch in the kitchen." 

When dealing with others it is often not enough just to say that some things are not acceptable without being specific about just what you mean. 

I hope whatever you are doing today you find enjoyable and relaxing.

Have a great day. 

Friday, 24 February 2017

A little help.

MY first little try of a friends dog. A work in progress. 

I was very pleasantly surprised that so many people took the time to contact me about my yesterdays rant. It is good to know that so many people believe that we have lost something and that it is sad that we are afraid to even speak to strangers or people we recognise but as yet do not know. Afraid because it just might be misconstrued .

So today here is a little about a little old lady that I know. It is a very true story and I know because I have been on the end of her kindness. 

The story begins with a lad who was not having a good day at all. He had just been made redundant and his car lights would not work properly and the rain was heavy. He really just wanted to get home.

As he drove down the desolate country road towards his home he saw an old lady standing at the side of the road in the pouring cold rain. He knew that there would be little chance of anybody else passing on this road this night. With the closing of the factory most people had left to seek work elsewhere.

So he stopped his car, hoping it would start again. He saw that she need help she had a puncture in her rear wheel.

When she saw the man approach she was worried and concerned. What might he do to her. Even with the smile on his face there seems to be a sadness about him.

He put her mind to rest. "it is ok, I have only stopped to see if I can help. My name is Joe. Why do you not go and sit in the car while I fix this tyre for you, it will be warmer in there."

Joe crawled under the car to find a spot to jack up the wheel all the time speaking to her and reassuring her everything was to be ok.

She told him where she had come from and where she was going. When he eventually put the punctured tyre in the boot and shut it she was most grateful. She offered to pay him for his help. She would have paid whatever he asked she was so glad to feel safe again and the nightmares of what could have gone had been put away.

Joe told he he wanted nothing, saying that he had been grateful many times in life when others had given him a hand. He had been brought up to believe in helping others. His parting words were, "If you really want to pay me, if you see somebody in need you can give them a little help. And when you do, Think of me, Joe."

He got in his car and drove off. The old lady got in hers and continued her journey.

A little down the road she stopped at a late night cafe. The waitress, who looked as if she had had a troubled  day came to serve her. When she saw how wet she was she went and got a towel and helped her get dried.

The old lady asked her why she was still working when it was obvious she was getting near to giving birth. She explained her husband had been made redundant and she needed to work. The old lady had a lovely warming cup and a fresh warm pancake and was feeling so much better.  As she sat she was full of joy of how she had twice been treated so well on one night.  She remembered Joe and his parting words.

She finished up and gave the waitress a twenty pound note. The waitress went off to get her change. When she returned the old lady had left.

Laying on the table were some more twenty pound notes and a little message saying, "Thank you so much for your kindness. Somebody else helped me out tonight and told me to remember him and help somebody in turn. Hope this little helps."

The waitress cleared up and locked up and went home. Her husband was in bed and she snuggled in beside him and whispered to him.

"I think we are going to be alright and I love you Joe."

My father lived by the idea that we should do at least one good act a day. It is a sure fire fact of life that what we give out most surely comes back to us.

Have a wonderful day.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Its getting better.

I had a very frustrating day yesterday. My motorhome  was due to have its service and the internal working such as gas and electrics had to have the annual check. This involved a long journey to the place where I got my motorhome, a five hour wait while the work was done and the return journey home.

The journey home became a nightmare getting caught in the rush hour traffic and miles of road repairs and diversions.

I was telling my friend last night of the terrible day and the roadworks. His reply was so straightforward I smiled. "It will be so much better once it is all done."

I thought, "Yes just like the last time they did it just over a year ago.

We live in an age when we are constantly being told the life is getting better. There is never a single day that some politician tells us, "Life has never been better." 

 But think about it. 

It seems to me that,

We have taller buildings, but shorter tempers, wider roads but narrow viewpoints, we spend much more but enjoy it much less.

We have more and more convenience gadgets, but much less time.

More and more people have degrees but there seems to be less common sense. 

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.

We have learned how to make a living, but lost how to make a life. We have added years to life, but not life to the years.

We have managed to reach the moon, but forgotten how to cross the street to help a neighbour.

We have all those computers that hold so much more information, mobile phones that can do so much, but in the end we have less communication become long on quantity and short on quality.  We text not talk. 

There is so much in the the show window and nothing in the stockroom.

Yes it will be better when it is all done! Now why do I just not believe that.

End of my rant for today. I hope there was one little thing there to give you a thought for today.

Have a marvellous day. 


Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Where is my phone?

The wife of the handsome man I had on yesterday.

Today I take my motorhome for its annual service. I have a long drive to get it there and so have to be up and off very early. So  I will keep this blog brief and to the point. Forgive if you think it is not up to the mark. 

I was thinking only yesterday how we become very attached to some things in life. This thought was prompted by reading in the news and hearing a report on the radio about the youth of today. 

It seems that if a person becomes detached from their mobile phone for more than five minutes they begin to become anxious and fretful. 

I do know that last week I made a bus journey and the young girl sitting next to me for the duration of the journey kept switching her cell phone on and off checking just to make sure nobody was desperately needing her help. 

I also know that my friend after being walking with me left her phone in the back seat of my car. She was obviously not nearly as attached to it as the young girl I just spoke of she did not notice until it was nearly bedtime and she was going to put it on charge. 

The buddhist say that all such attachment can only lead one way, to such anxiety .  Let me explain with a lovely little Taoist tale.

A young student of the Tao happened to break a precious vase belonging to his teacher. 

When he heard his teacher's footsteps, he quickly held the broken vase behind him. As the teacher walked up to him, he asked, "Why does one die, master?" 

"It's natural," said the teacher. "Everything has a beginning and an end. Everything has just so long to live and then has to die." 

The student held out the pieces of the broken vase and said, "The time for your vase to die had come."

Have a beautiful unattached day. 

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

I am so glad.

A very appreciative friend of mine. 
I awoke this morning and I instantly thought, "Yes another day, what damage can I achieve today?"
It is so very easy to take things for granted, the things that surround us every day. It all comes down to how we look at life. 
I try to live my life by the ancient philosophy of Lao Tzu. In this philosophy we are encouraged to always look at the positive, that is not always easy but it can be done with a little thought and less anxiety. 
Let me give you a little side by side of the ways we can look at every day events and things. 
The clothes I complain about because they are a bit too tight.  The truth is I can rejoice that I have enough to eat. 
The shadow that watches me toil.      At least I must be out in the sunshine. 
That lawn that needs cut and that flower bed that needs weeding.  Well, that means I have a home and a garden.
For the taxes I complain about.       It means I at least have enough to have to pay them.
For my pal who when he sings he signs off key.  At least I have the hearing to hear he is off key. 
The weary muscles and the tired legs. I have been able to do some tasks and possibly enjoyed a walk. 
For the alarm that wakes me. It at least means I am alive.
That heating bill.   It at least means I am warm.
When I cannot find a parking place and have to walk. Well rejoice that I still can and that I have a car and transportation. 
For the mess that has to be cleaned up after friends leave. I have friends who care enough about me.
That teenager complaining about having to do dishes. (Not anymore for me.)    But at least when they were at home complaining they were not out on the streets doing worse things. 

For others.
The husband, lounging about on the sofa getting in the way. He could be down the road getting drunk.
The wife that says evening meal is something you are not to keen on. She is at home and she could just as easily be elsewhere with somebody else. 
And oh. That pile of clothing I have been asked to put away three times now. I have a pile of clothes that have been washed and ironed. 
Have a wonderful day. 

Monday, 20 February 2017

The Trap.

My daughter in law Louise a teacher. 

We seem to be living in a very difficult society. In the last few days I watched a documentary about the behaviour of prisoners and I remember back to my time as a prison chaplain and the prisoners who had learned from their mistakes and were just getting on with serving their time and starting life afresh. Some of them still keep in touch and keep me informed of their progress. 

Then I heard on the news that there was to be new law brought out to protect staff working in shops from violent assaults and abuse. I remember back to the days when I worked in shops and the only grief we ever got from customers was a bit of teasing and banter. 

Then I read of the number of teachers assaulted by students, even in primary school, and the number of follow up incidents because parents would not believe their child was to blame. I think of the wonderful times I had as a teacher and the number of students who still keep in touch. 

Where has it all gone wrong? 

There is a story.

A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package. “What food might this contain?” 
He was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap.
Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning. “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!”
The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, “Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it.”
The mouse turned to the pig and told him, “There is a mousetrap in the house.”
The pig sympathized, but said, “I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured you are in my prayers.”
The mouse turned to the cow, and the cow said, “Wow, Mr. Mouse. I’m sorry for you, but it’s no skin off my nose.”
So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer’s mousetrap alone.
That very night a sound was heard throughout the house -- like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey.
The farmer’s wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmer’s wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital, and she returned home with a fever. 
Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup’s main ingredient. But his wife’s sickness continued, so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.
The farmer’s wife did not get well; she died. So many people came for her funeral, the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them.
So, the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and think it doesn’t concern you -- remember -- when one of us is threatened, we may all be at risk.
 We are all involved in this journey called life. 

We must keep an eye out for one another and make an extra effort to encourage one another. 

We are all a special thread in another persons tapestry of life. We are all woven together I so hope I am contributing to a beautiful pattern of love and care. 

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Leaving a Mark.

Having shared two stories of teachers who left a mark on the lives of students I heard a little voice in the back of my head reminding me that the most important people in the school system were not always teachers. 

Of course there were also head teachers and deputies who equally left a mark on the life of a school.

But everybody associated with schools learned that the people you made sure you stayed friends with were the secretaries and the janitors. A disagreement in those departments was not a good idea for the wellbeing of your department or career. 

I then remembered a story that should bring a little smile to your day but still has a little lesson.

The school was faced with a real dilemma.  

 A number of 12-year-old girls were beginning to use lipstick and would put it on in the bathroom. 
That was fine, other than some thought it was a bit young for girls to be going down that route. The real trouble though was this. After they put on their lipstick, they would press their lips to the mirror leaving dozens of little lip prints. 
  Every night the cleaners and janitorial staff would remove the lip prints, and the next day the girls would put them back.
Finally the principal decided that something had to be done. 
She called all the girls to the bathroom and met them there with the head janitor. 
She explained that all these lip prints were causing a major problem for the janitors who had to clean the mirrors every night (you can just imagine the yawns from the little princesses).
To demonstrate how difficult it had been to clean the mirrors, she asked the John the janitor to show the girls how much effort was required.
He took out a long-handled squeegee, dipped it in the toilet, and cleaned the mirror with it. Since then, there have been no lip prints on the mirror.

There are teachers... and then there are educators.
Have a wonderful day. Go on smile you know you want to.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

The Best Ever.

It seems that many people like to hear about teachers who become an inspiration to other. So this morning I am simply going to share another such tale and one I can assure you is a true story.

This story started many years ago when a primary school teacher,  her name was Mrs. Thompson. And as she stood in front of her class on the very first day of school, and she told the children a lie. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same, or that she would treat them all the same and fairly.
But that was impossible because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named  Thomas Brown
Mrs. Thompson had watched Thomas the year before and noticed that he didn't play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. And, Thomas could be unpleasant. 
It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X's and then putting a big "F" at the top of his papers. At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child's past records and she put Teddy's off until last. 
However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise, Thomas's first  teacher wrote, "Thomas is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners...he is a joy to be around." 
His second  teacher wrote, "Thomas is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle." 
His third  teacher wrote, "His mother's death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best but his father doesn't show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren't taken." 
Thomas's fourth  teacher wrote, "Thomas is withdrawn and doesn't show much interest in school. He doesn't have many friends and sometimes sleeps in class." 
By now, Mrs. Thompson realised the problem and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful paper and tied with pretty ribbons, except for Thomas. His present which was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he got from a grocery bag. 
Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one quarter full of perfume. But she stifled the children's laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist.

Thomas Brown stayed after school that day just long enough to say, "Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my mom used to." 
After the children left she cried for at least an hour. On that very day, she quit teaching reading, and writing, and arithmetic. Instead she began to teach children. 
Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Thomas. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Thomas had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Thomas became one of her "teacher's pets." 
A year later, she found a note under her door, from Thomas, telling her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life. 
Six years went by before she got another note from Thomas. He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life. 
Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he'd stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had in his whole life. 
Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor's degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had. But now his name was a little longer - the letter was signed, Thomas R Brown, MD. 
The story doesn't end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Thomas said he'd met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit in the place at the wedding that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom. Of course Mrs. Thompson did. 
And guess what? She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. And she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Thomas remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together. They hugged each other, and Dr. Brown  whispered in Mrs. Thompson's ear, "Thank you Mrs. Thompson for believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference." 
Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, "Thomas, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn't know how to teach until I met you."

There have been some little changes made to this tale but let me assure you I know it is true.

Have a wonderful day and remember the person who once along the way inspired you.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Just a little hand.

My apologies for the use of this same painting again but I hope you agree it fits with my thoughts today. 

Yesterday I was walking with my friend, just the two of us. Somehow or other we got to talking about teachers who had made an impression on us. I think maybe it was because I had been talking about Ian the friend on my blog the other day there, who changed my whole life.

There is not doubt that teachers can have a very positive effect on those they teach, often without knowing it. They can also have a very negative effect. It is such a marvellous honour to be able to influence and mould young lives. 

I feel privileged to hear from students and they tell me I made an impact on them. 

Reminds me of a true tale.

Christmas Day was near. 

The teacher gave her class what she hoped would be a fun assignment. She asked them  to draw a picture of something for which they were thankful.

Most of the class might be considered economically disadvantaged, but still many would celebrate  Christmas with turkey and other traditional goodies of the season. These, the teacher thought, would be the subjects of most of her student's art. And they were.
But Douglas made a different kind of picture. Douglas was a different kind of boy. He was the teacher's true child of misery, frail and unhappy. As other children played at the break, Douglas was likely to stand close by her side. One could only guess at the pain that Douglas felt behind those sad eyes.
Yes, his picture was different. When asked to draw a picture of something for which he was thankful, he drew a hand. Nothing else. Just an empty hand.
His abstract image captured the imagination of the other students. 
Whose hand could it be? 
One child guessed it was the hand of a farmer, because farmers raise turkeys. 
Another suggested a police officer, because the police protect and care for people. 
Still others guessed it was the hand of God, for God feeds us. And so the discussion went, until the teacher almost forgot the young artist himself.
When the children had gone on to the next task, she paused at Douglas' desk, bent down, and asked him whose hand it was.
The little boy looked away and murmured, "It's yours, teacher."
She recalled the times she had taken his hand and walked with him here or there, as she had the other students. How often had she said, "Take my hand, Douglas, we'll go outside." Or, "Let me show you how to hold your pencil." Or, "Let's do this together." Douglas was most thankful for his teacher's hand.
Brushing aside a tear, she went on with her work.
The story speaks of more than thankfulness. 
It says something about teachers teaching and parents parenting and friends showing friendship, and how much it means to the Douglases of the world. 
They might not always say thanks. 
But they'll remember the hand that reaches out.
It is not always easy to offer the hand of friendship but it is always worth the time it takes to do so.
Have a wonderful day. Whose heart might you touch this day. 

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Wonders to behold.

It is wonderful that we all see life from our own perspective. If you take the time to look at a famous street or a famous scene as it has been depicted by different artists you cannot help noticing how each sees it in a different way. 

On television just now there is another of the series of the "Great Painting Challenge'. Here we see a number of artists each looking at the same thing and each painting it so differently. At the end of the painting time the so called experts give a critic of the finished work. On top of this a group of people from the public are invited in to give a vote of the painting they like best. 

Two things that struck me. The first was that the artists whom we are told they had searched long and hard for, some had never shown their work publicly before, I found this strange. The second thing that fascinated me was that the experts did not have much good to say about the art voted for by the public. I found myself in full agreement with the public. 

So it is we all see life so differently.

A group of students was asked to list what they thought were the present "Seven Wonders of the World." Though there were some disagreements, the following received the most votes: 

1. Egypt's Great Pyramids
2. Taj Mahal
3. Grand Canyon
4. Panama Canal
5. Empire State Building
6. St. Peter's Basilica
7. China's Great Wall 
Not necessarily in that particular order. Had I been asked I am not sure I would have selected the same seven. What do you think?
While gathering the votes, the teacher noticed that one quiet student hadn't turned in her paper yet. So she asked the girl if she was having trouble with her list. The girl replied, "Yes, a little. I couldn't quite make up my mind because there were so many." 
The teacher said, "Well, tell us what you have, and maybe we can help." 
The girl hesitated, then read, "I think the 'Seven Wonders of the World' are: 

1. to see
2. to hear
3. to touch
4. to taste
5. to feel
6. to laugh
7. and to love." 
The room was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop. 
The things we overlook as simple and ordinary and that we take for granted are truly wondrous! 
A gentle reminder - that the most precious things in life cannot be built by hand or bought by man.
Have a wonderful day and I am sure it will be full of wonders to behold.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Love for more than a day.

Well, here I am again facing the same dilemma , what do I do with the huge pile of valentine cards? Do I keep them or recycle them?

Of course I do not have to go far to recycle in fact I only have to clear my head of dreams. There are so many traditions surrounding the day that nobody really knows which one was the start. It was of course called St Valentines Day at the beginning it being like so many of the days of celebration began by the church. One very early tradition was that little hearts with St Valentine written on them were give to children to protect them epilepsy. St Valentine was executed because he performed wedding for soldiers who were forbidden to be married. It is said that the night before his execution he cured the daughter of his jailer hence the association with illness.

Now of course it is all tied up with an easy way to make a fast extra income for business. Today the same shops will now put all their energy into Easter. 

I apologise that I sound such a cynic. But let me assure you that love for me is a 365 not a one day event. I am moved by any expression of love shown to me and make sure that those around me know that I care. I am a total failure though when it comes to valentines days and such.

I suppose I am a bit like Johnathan.

Johnathan visited a florist's shop which had a large sign in the window saying, "Say it with flowers."

He said to the shop assistant , "Can you wrap me a single rose please?"

"Only one?" said the assistant with a frown.

"Yes just the one," Johnathan replied, "I am a man of few words."

 Now if I was being a real cynic I might have added and small pockets.

Or maybe the couple who on Valentines day decided to make a special effort to save they're failing relationship.

The decided to contact a counsellor and seek his help.

Several visits followed with lots of questions, loads of listenings and many words spoken.

Eventually one day the counsellor felt that he had discovered the main problem. He stood up and went over to the female and asking her to stand up he gave her a cuddle.

He then turned to the man and said, "This is what this lovely lady needs, at least once every day."

The man frowned and thought deeply, he considered for a moment, then he spoke, "Ok, what time do you want me to bring her back tomorrow?"

The man in my sketch above once said to me , "If love is anything at all then it has to be expressed at every opportunity and never assumed that it is a taken for granted."

I hope you all had a lovely Valentine's day and that today is even better. That you feel surrounded by love and warm thoughts.

Might I just take a little moment to thank all those who surround me with love I frequently do not deserve.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Well I Suppose.

I suppose that I will have to at least acknowledge that for loads of people this is a very special day. I know of at least one couple who have chosen this date to get married. At least as they grow older they will never forget their wedding anniversary. 

Am I sounding miserable and cynical? I suppose I am.

I really do not have fond memories of this day at all. As a schoolboy I do remember the hype about this day and all the things that happened. The furtive sharing of cards sneaked into school desks. 

Being the smallest and by my very nature and the difficulties I had with reading and such I hated this day with a vengeance. There never seemed to ever be a valentine for me. I suppose that said as much about me as it did others. But it was a day I dreaded.

Later when I became a teacher, and schools organised a kind of valentine mail service I always very secretly made sure that the students who I thought fell into the me category were not missed out.

I remember a tale about just this.

Little Chad was a shy, quiet young man. One day he came home and told his mother that he'd like to make a valentine for everyone in his class. 

Her heart sank. She thought, "I wish he wouldn't do that!" because she had watched the children when they walked home from school. Her Chad was always behind them. 

They laughed and hung on to each other and talked to each other. But Chad was never included. 

Nevertheless, she decided she would go along with her son. So she purchased the paper and glue and crayons. For three weeks, night after night, Chad painstakingly made 35 valentines.

Valentine's Day dawned, and Chad was beside himself with excitement. He carefully stacked them up, put them in a bag, and bolted out the door. 

His mother decided to bake him his favourite cakes and serve them nice and warm with a cool glass of his favourite lemonade when he came home from school. She just knew he would be disappointed and maybe that would ease the pain a little. 

It hurt her to think that he wouldn't get many valentines - maybe none at all.
That afternoon she had the cakes and lemonade on the table. When she heard the children outside, she looked out the window. Sure enough, there they came, laughing and having the best time. And, as always, there was Chad in the rear. He walked a little faster than usual. She fully expected him to burst into tears as soon as he got inside. His arms were empty, she noticed, and when the door opened she choked back the tears.
"I  have some cakes  and lemonade for you," she said.
But he hardly heard her words. He just marched right on by, his face aglow, and all he could say was,  "Not a one. Not a one." 

Her heart sank.
And then he added, "I didn't forget a one, not a single one!" 

It is the giving of love that matters not the receiving of it. Yes it is nice to know you are loved and cared for but the other 364 days are there to do that also. 

I hope today no matter where you are you feel loved and have a wonderful day.