Archive for March, 2011

Though Sticks and Stones?

I blog to get people to donate to kid’s charities. I don’t want money, I want you to donate direct to a children’s charity then write to me by commenting on the blog. Please read the ‘About Lesley’ section of the blog to find out why I do this; the Comments and Running Totals pages to see how far we have come….

I have been thinking about words and their power. Rhetoric is a wonderful talent if you have it. When you can take your passion and translate it into speech or prose you will be able to persuade and draw people to you. I am not talking about fancy words and overblown language, you lose your message if people have to concentrate on understanding the ‘words’. Simple words will capture an audience more effectively. When you think back to some of the greatest speeches in history they had a strong, clear and simple message. The language is crisp so that the message is all. I will give you a few examples; they will be familiar to you demonstrating their longevity:-

JFK – And so, my fellow Americans : ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world : ask now what America will do for you but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

Martin Luther King – I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four children will live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Mohandas Gandhi – Gentleness, self-sacrifice and generosity are the exclusive possession of no one race or religion.

Daniel O’Connell – The altar of liberty totters when it is cemented only with blood

Winston Churchill – I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.

There are many other quotes I could have used; I hope you agree that the examples above show language at its most powerful. Words will inspire love and compassion when used wisely. Those who use words well will always capture my attention and imagination, I am a sucker for good words…..

However, there is, as always, another side to words. They can wound deeply and unforgettably, often in the most casual way. I am not talking about swearing, I am quite good at that! For me the cruelty of words is often associated with tone and carelessness, a lack of regard. I have witnessed words being used to diminish and deride, I have been on the receiving end, we all have. To my shame I know I have done the same myself. However, I know that the damage from ill-used words and tone can last, you may think me over-sensitive (I would agree) but I’ll bet that you occasionally hark back to conversations you prefer had never taken place.

I know that words do not cause immediate physical damage, many of you may think this post ludicrous. However, words have an emotional impact and those on the receiving end of too many cruel words will be impacted; this may manifest itself in physical illness. It is your choice to have a positive or negative impact with your words. I hope you choose the former.

The rhyme may state ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’; I am not altogether convinced. I hope this post gives you pause for thought, I am off to indulge myself by seeing what my favourite raucous, foul-mouthed banter twitterers are up to!

I close with my normal request to you:-

  • Donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice. It is easy to do – online, collection boxes, Give as You Earn. Any amount is important and I am delighted for one pound, dollar, euro, yen to reach a charity. Donate a present to a family or child that will not have the holiday season that you might expect and plan for.
  • Visit this blog and comment anywhere with the charity, amount including currency and please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I love the stories of childish ambitions.

I will then:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • All comments will be stored on the comments page so that you can see what charities people are interested in and also what a variety of 8-year-old ambitions we have already. I am looking forward to way more surprises from you all.

The steps are simple. Again, if you like the idea please tell others so that they will come and tell me their stories.

Take care of you and yours.

Lesley

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

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March 26, 2011 at 3:12 pm 6 comments

Sometimes No News is Good News…….

I blog to get people to donate to kid’s charities. I don’t want money, I want you to donate direct to a children’s charity then write to me by commenting on the blog. Please read the ‘About Lesley’ section of the blog to find out why I do this; the Comments and Running Totals pages to see how far we have come….

I wanted to touch on the theme of news again tonight but with a slightly different slant. My thanks to @mimiraad on Twitter as it was a conversation we had that triggered this post. I had been, as I often do, watching the news and was feeling rather overwhelmed by the levels of disaster and war. Mimi responded that her 7 year-old son had said that one bad thing about growing up was learning about bad things like bombing, tsunamis and girls disappearing.

That one small statement rocked me on my heels. I am a grown-up; please feel free to say that it is easy for me to bemoan the awful events happening at the moment from the comfort of my sofa, I can take that. However, imagine being a child and catching the news over recent weeks. Nature has sharpened her teeth and is showing us her feral power, people are rising up and being put down with  venom and violence, people disappear suddenly and the world is in a recession. How do children take all this on board and how do we deal with their questions? My children are now grown-up but I remember both being a child in Northern Ireland throughout the Troubles and my elder children growing up in the same situation. My position then is the same as now, people should not be disliked or reviled based on their religion or origin. I was not alone in feeling this way and am glad that my children feel the same way. I am pleased we now have a more peaceful situation here. It is not perfect, there are many who will judge you based on ‘which foot you kick with’ but we are a warm and welcoming society on the whole.

I also remember my eldest son becoming quite concerned about death when he was very young, he was just two. He would ask me to promise that I wouldn’t die before the morning. I always said I would do my very best not to die, I wouldn’t promise him ‘just in case’ but it did worry me for a very long time. I used to sing the Postman Pat song quite a lot to make him smile before he went to sleep. This reinforces my belief that although we do try to protect our children from news and horror they will always pick up on it in their own way.

So, how do we deal with children and the news? I don’t have all the answers here, you will all know your children and what best to do for them. I am sure most of us would like to embargo news completely for our children but that doesn’t work as the playground will always have an influence. Children also love a bit of ‘naughty’ as evidenced by the Grimm Brothers and the superlative Roald Dahl. However, fairy stories generally have a moral core and a happy ending, the news doesn’t. Children will pick up on news and will want to talk about it. They do want to understand and this is where parenting has to meet the difficult challenge. We need to help our children understand some without leaving them with no hope, a fine line to walk. I know I talked with my children about the news, they needed to understand that not everyone is kind. To counterbalance this, I emphasised that most people are good and wish for peace, that good people needed to stand up to those who would be bad. I kept it very simple whilst they were very young, as they got older we had more in-depth discussions. I’m not saying this will work for you but I hope that you get your balance on this very difficult topic.

I close with my normal request to you:-

  • Donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice. It is easy to do – online, collection boxes, Give as You Earn. Any amount is important and I am delighted for one pound, dollar, euro, yen to reach a charity. Donate a present to a family or child that will not have the holiday season that you might expect and plan for.
  • Visit this blog and comment anywhere with the charity, amount including currency and please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I love the stories of childish ambitions.

I will then:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • All comments will be stored on the comments page so that you can see what charities people are interested in and also what a variety of 8-year-old ambitions we have already. I am looking forward to way more surprises from you all.

The steps are simple. Again, if you like the idea please tell others so that they will come and tell me their stories.

Take care of you and yours.

Lesley

March 24, 2011 at 12:00 am Leave a comment

What in the World? Part 2.

I blog to get people to donate to kid’s charities. I don’t want money, I want you to donate direct to a children’s charity then write to me by commenting on the blog. Please read the ‘About Lesley’ section of the blog to find out why I do this; the Comments and Running Totals pages to see how far we have come….

I felt obliged to return to the theme of What in the World? I recently blogged about the range of topics that made the news in 2011 to compare the human tragedy of the New Zealand earthquake versus the nonsense that was Charlie Sheen and his Twitter followers. I wanted to make the point that however smart we humans consider ourselves we are a mere nothing when Nature flexes its muscles.

I am truly saddened by the most recent evidence of this with last week’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Channel 4 news showed a montage of the footage taken by Japanese people as the events unfolded; it was terrifying and hypnotising all at once, you could not take your eyes from the screen while it played. It then showed interviews with those coming back to what had been towns and villages and was now a vista of mud and wreckage. Their faces as they talked about missing parents and children were a mix of stoicism and devastation, it was heartbreaking.

The after effects are frightening also. Japan has always put safety as the forefront when building it’s nuclear power stations. With the latest stories of fires and radiation leakage the fear-factor around nuclear power has come to the fore again. However, we shouldn’t forget that the situation would have been much worse if there hadn’t been such an emphasis on safety when the power stations were constructed. I know this is no comfort in the current situation and the debate will continue as we look to cheap and safe power sources.

Then there is the economic impact. I understand why some Japanese industries will take a pause to assess and make plans for future rebuilding. What I don’t understand is the stock market reaction. The Japanese Government has had to invest billions of yen to minimise the impacts of a huge drop in the Nikkei index. It would be an obscenity for financial gamblers to make profits on the back of misery. I can only hope that the markets prefer to focus on helping bolster and maintain the Japanese economy as rebuilding begins on buildings and lives.

My thoughts are with all those who have undergone tragedy this year, whether small and personal or from the impacts osf major disaster. I hope that Nature takes a rest for a while, I really think we would love some quiet time.

I close with my normal request to you:-

  • Donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice. It is easy to do – online, collection boxes, Give as You Earn. Any amount is important and I am delighted for one pound, dollar, euro, yen to reach a charity. Donate a present to a family or child that will not have the holiday season that you might expect and plan for.
  • Visit this blog and comment anywhere with the charity, amount including currency and please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I love the stories of childish ambitions.

I will then:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • All comments will be stored on the comments page so that you can see what charities people are interested in and also what a variety of 8-year-old ambitions we have already. I am looking forward to way more surprises from you all.

The steps are simple. Again, if you like the idea please tell others so that they will come and tell me their stories.

Take care of you and yours.

Lesley

March 16, 2011 at 12:14 am 2 comments

What in the World?

I blog to get people to donate to kid’s charities. I don’t want money, I want you to donate direct to a children’s charity then write to me by commenting on the blog. Please read the ‘About Lesley’ section of the blog to find out why I do this; the Comments and Running Totals pages to see how far we have come….

I have been looking at the major news stories over the last few months. With rare exceptions they are depressing. I list a few from the recent headlines:-

  • Natural disasters. Whether it be the earthquake in Christchurch, Brazilian mudslides or floods in Australia, it feels as if nature is giving us one of those nudges that mean don’t assume you can best me, I am all-powerful nature. Man assumes that brains are the answer to everything, current events belie that arrogance.
  • Revolution? Oh my, the events in Egypt and Libya over recent weeks have been rather mind-blowing, haven’t they? It is as if a new wind is blowing in and making people want more freedoms and fairness. I admire those who take a stand against dictatorships but I worry about the response from the Governments concerned. Those who feel they must take action for change can also place themselves in great danger but they must feel that the potential sacrifice is worth it. I am not sure I am brave enough so applaud them.
  • From disaster and revolution to the downright ridiculous? We see Charlie Sheen tweeting and he breaks the record for reaching a million followers in the fastest time. I don’t judge, will confess to having had a look at his tweets and even replied to one in jest. I do follow some celebs but admit I don’t spend much time checking them, I prefer to talk to real people on twitter. Real people are funny, outrageous and generally kind. I was at my second tweetup last weekend and we had a blast in #Twelfast, aka a tweetup in Belfast.  This I recommend, I am sorry Mr Sheen but I don’t recommend you.

So, what is the world coming to? Honestly, I think the world is all that it ever was. Nature will subdue us, people will rise up (and I hope succeed) and there will always be some bonkers that people will be diverted by. The world is a scary, impressive and eejit place and I love it. I will always hope for peace and a little bit of daft to make us smile but I will think of those who are victims of nature or authoritarian regimes.

I close with my normal request to you:-

  • Donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice. It is easy to do – online, collection boxes, Give as You Earn. Any amount is important and I am delighted for one pound, dollar, euro, yen to reach a charity. Donate a present to a family or child that will not have the holiday season that you might expect and plan for.
  • Visit this blog and comment anywhere with the charity, amount including currency and please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I love the stories of childish ambitions.

I will then:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • All comments will be stored on the comments page so that you can see what charities people are interested in and also what a variety of 8-year-old ambitions we have already. I am looking forward to way more surprises from you all.

The steps are simple. Again, if you like the idea please tell others so that they will come and tell me their stories.

Take care of you and yours.

Lesley

March 5, 2011 at 12:03 am Leave a comment


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