Let’s Celebrate more often in the year ahead

The past twelve months have not brought many reasons for Planet Earth, or it’s inhabitants, to celebrate.  From election results that made me wonder if I had been transported to an alternate reality, to revelations about behaviour that made me feel angry and powerless.  Each day of 2017 seemed to increase my levels of astonishment, fury, despair and absolute astonishment.  And rage.

As we draw to an end of this dreadful year, I ask myself what I can celebrate; I always reflect on my successes at the end of each day, month and year.  It’s a positive, reflective opportunity to acknowledge my achievements and since my change of pace (from a too hectic “doing” life to a more present “being” one) one that helps me notice the little things that make a big difference to my wellness, my friendships and the lives of those I love.

There have been plenty of things to celebrate in my world during the last year, and when I stop looking at the overwhelming world-picture, one I can have very little impact on, and focus instead on my tiny, and rather beautiful, corner of Carmarthenshire, I see far more to be positive about than I imagined.  Each morning here, we sit in awe of the view from our window and watch the birds.  We start each day with a celebration of the decision we made to move here, thanking each other for the brave and bold move me made.

It can be so easy to focus on the negative news, the social media sensational stories that beg us to share the misinformation, stirring up hatred and ignorance.  All too easy.  It takes a bit more effort to focus our energy instead, on the positive stories, the daily heroes who interact with others and change lives, the things happening in our communities that we can be proud of.  Stories of hope and change.  Stories to celebrate.

They are there if we look for them; and when we choose to put our effort into finding, sharing and liking the good and the positive, when we spend time looking for things worth celebrating, guess what happens?  We find them!  We find them and enjoy them, and gain strength and hope from them, and when we share them with our friends and family, they smile and enjoy the thought that “there are things to celebrate in the world”.

I’m setting myself a challenge for 2018 and I’d love you to join me.  I’m going to find more to celebrate.  I’m going to go out of my way to share things I believe will encourage other people to celebrate the positives in their lives too.  And let me be clear, I’m not hiding my head in the sand or pretending that everything will get better for Planet Earth whilst I’m focussing on the positive.  I am not going to be silent, I am not going to sit back and let the world continue on it’s self-destructive path without speaking and peacefully protesting in any way I can.  And I will do that in a positive way, celebrating my ability to express my opinions in a (relatively) free country.

Who’s with me? I’d love to know how you’re going to celebrate more in the year ahead, and what you’re celebrating about 2017 that gives you hope.

Dinah

Alan Rickman – an agent of change

 

Alan Rickman was one of those actors who I always believed; no matter whom he was creating or representing in his portrayals, I always felt he nailed it and brought the character to life.

“Actors are agents of change,” he said. “A film, a piece of theatre, a piece of music, or a book can make a difference. It can change the world.”

I love this quote and it has certainly been true for me; many actors have influenced me politically, emotionally, even spiritually and had a lasting impact on my choices in life.

Hearing  he had passed away from Cancer today, a sense of sadness hits me that had barely healed a scab since the news that Bowie had died. “Not another one!” I shout at the Guardian online news report; “What the f••• is going on!”

I know partly that what’s going on is I’m getting older (does a little dance of celebration, as being ‘in my late 40s’ has never been on the plan due to my health) and therefore my ‘heroes’ are starting to reach the age where it is inevitable we will hear they have died.

I wonder if it’s also that since my own diagnosis, knowing I’m living with a ‘terminal’ condition, I feel the deaths with a different perspective.  I am not afraid of death, of my own dying. I am, however, fearful for those I leave behind; I worry about how they’ll cope in certain situations without me, who will comfort them in times of crisis or need and whether they’ll remember the recipe for my chocolate brownies. Hearing about the passing of Lemmy, Bowie and Alan, my first thoughts were for their families.

I’m so pleased to have been born during a time where we can continue to enjoy the legacy each of these amazing men leave behind (and of course many more); being able to play their music, listen to their words or watch their work, is a real blessing.  It makes me grateful for things like this blog, where my family will be able to look back and remember what mattered to me, and for places like Facebook where I’ve shared moments that made us giggle or cringe.

Thinking of Alan’s words, believing we can all be ‘agents of change’ I wonder what I’d most like to have had an impact on in my lifetime, what I’d like to look back on and say ‘I helped to change that’?  Will it be something ‘big’, like being involved in a campaign, or something ‘small’, like giving someone confidence to make a change for the better in their lives?

As an Agent For Change, what would you love to leave for others to remember you for?

Lessons from Branston

lesson one: An old dog can teach his owner new tricks!

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i’ve been watching Branston’s behaviour since we arrived in Wales in December. He’s like a dog who’s arrived in doggy heaven with a free pass to access all areas. From morning until bedtime, when he goes over to Nanny’s woodland home to snuggle up for the night, he’s the happiest dog alive. And he’s taught me a wonderful lesson that’s changing my approach to every day.

each morning seems to start the same way; John collects Branston from his mum’s static caravan and hears about how good/cheeky/funny he’s been, then Branston walks carefully past the car, almost as if to say ‘please don’t notice the car or we might drive away from all this’ then bounds into our kitchen & runs around like a puppy.

Through the day he’ll run up & down our field around 40 times, do a thorough search (sniff) of ‘his’ woodland at least three times, bark at and play with at least of couple of dogs who come through to do the forest walk and eat for Wales too! He is, as you can imagine, sleeping well.

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what he’s shown me is that he treats every day as though he might wake up to orrow and have to get in the car and go back to our old home. He squeezes every experience he can into his hours and never misses the chance to try something new or meet a new friend. He’s made it clear to me that I had not been living this way.

sure, I’ve always been a “liver” not simply a survivor. I like to think I’m a risk taker and someone who feels the fear and does it anyway; what I wasn’t doing was enjoying the moment. Allowing myself to be fully present in the day and not spend my time on the ‘I should be doing…’ Moments.

So I say thank you Branston for the lesson. When did you last watch your animal’s behaviour? They’ve got some great tricks to teach us.