Archive for January, 2012

It’s My Birthday And I’ll Cry If I Want to!

I do this for a reason. I want you to donate to a children’s charity and write to me. Please see the About Lesley page or read the instructions at the end of this post…..

Quick Post Time! You know I am not crying but I always loved that song:)

Tis my birthday but I am beyond the time when I should be counting the numbers. Age doesn’t bother me, why be bothered about an inevitable act plus I don’t fancy the alternative for a few decades yet. However, since it is my birthday shouldn’t I be able to make a wish? Why not I say….

My wish is simple. I want you to put a pound, a dollar, a euro in a charity collection box tomorrow. I don’ t ask you to write to me on this, this is merely for you. Make note of the wish though. I say collection box on purpose. Those boxes are everywhere you know, we just don’t see them. They sit beside the tills of small local shops; they stand, a little woebegone in shopping centres. Do you think we blank them out? Are they so part of the landscape that they are invisible?

It seems to me the big charities focus on advertising to generate regular monthly donations so that they can map out a revenue stream. This, along with their drives for sponsored walks and marathons is a great way to bring in money and I am sure this is cost-effective for them. My birthday wish is not for them, today I think the smaller charities are the ones that need a lift today.

Consider this an act of random generosity as well as a random act of kindess to me. You may think me selfish but I think you will enjoy doing it as much as I love the thought of it…….

So, please don’t write to me, just drop a few pennies and make that satisfying *clink* in the collection box.

Thank you,

Lesley

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January 25, 2012 at 11:12 pm 2 comments

Hackneyed!

I do this for a reason. I want you to donate to a children’s charity and write to me. Please see the About Lesley page or read the instructions at the end of this post…..

The thing about blogging is that you have to write words. The thing about writing words is that you worry about your prose. If you want readers you need to be smart, funny, incisive and interesting, a bit of a challenge. The thing I fear most is sounding trite, hackneyed and clichéd. I am sure that all bloggers fear this, whatever their interest. I decided that the easiest way to deal with this is to tackle it head on and do a blog with as many clichés as possible. So, deep breath, here I goes!

Let’s get down to brass tacks here. In this world there are children without food and shelter, am I letting the cat out of the bag or did you know this already? In the final analysis this is not a fact of life I enjoy thinking about. It is as easy as 1-2-3 you know, donate to a charity that helps children, make my day please:)

We all have to knuckle down, these are hard times. Not everyone can grasp this nettle but perhaps we can aim to do our good deed for the day? Make it easy on yourself, pick a charity close to home, then it is just a hop, skip and a jump to pop in and pass them a few of your hard-earned pounds.

You might say, ‘Hold your horses Lesley, you are just jumping on the bandwagon’. I may be but I am in this for the long haul. Repeated blogging is my labour of love, I will continue until I have one foot in the grave. I blog ergo I am, that is my motto for life. It can be hard to get the words out but you know what they say, when the going gets tough, this tough old broad gets writing.

Perhaps you think my purpose for blogging is too hard, I have picked too tough a topic? Sometimes I am between a rock and a hard place, it is difficult to point people towards painful truths, we all prefer to look at the sunny side of life. But when I take a long, hard look at myself I know that I am inexorably drawn to nag you all into donating to a charity that will help one child, many children. For me it is no pain, no gain. Do you think I am all mouth and no trousers? I promise you I put my money where my mouth is, I donate monthly to two charities that help children. It wouldn’t do for me to preach, I need to live into my intent.

I love blogging but it is a joy and a sorrow. I have to think outside the box, dreaming up themes that will catch your interest. I have no hidden agenda, no place to hide. I will take the long hard road, throw in everything but the kitchen sink. If it catches your imagination then it is worth it to me. I won’t be a fly by night blogger. I do dream of my fifteen minutes of fame, I want more readers and more people to donate. I will crawl out from under my rock if it gets those readers to think and act.

Almost done, promise:) I hope my cliché-ridden blog will catch your eye and won’t take my prose in a new direction, the road to hell is paved with my good intentions. This is my attempt to cleanse myself of all clichés, I hope it isn’t easier said than done! I am being light-hearted today but know my aims are true, it would be beyond the pale if this post made you think my prose doesn’t cut the mustard. If that happens I will run away to sea….

I close, as always, with this:-
  • Please donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are older.

I will:-

  • 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
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

January 21, 2012 at 11:54 am 4 comments

Censored? Moi?

Why do I do this? Simple, you donate to a childrens charity and comment on this blog about the donation and what you wanted to be when you were 8. Want to know more? Please read the About Lesley page….

A very quick and perhaps facetious post?

I have been blogging for almost two years. In that time you lot out there have been extremely kind to me. You have written to me about over sixteen thousand pounds worth of donations, lovely people that you are:)

I have set myself milestones for the blog and always have my next target in place. One of those aims has always been to make the front page on WordPress. I have always hankered to see one of my daft posts sitting up there. It is not a vanity thing, honest! My wish to hit the front page is to get more readers and, if I am extremely lucky, more subscribers to the blog.

Wouldn’t it be just my luck to be selected for the front page today? I can see it all in my head. The burst of excitement that I have ‘made it’ and then the realisation that this is what people will see:-

Can it Wait Until Tomorrow?

 
They wouldn’t be so cruel, would they? 🙂
 
PS – I do agree with the protest…..
 
I close, as always, with this:-
  • Please donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are old enough.

I will:-

  • 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
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

 

January 18, 2012 at 2:50 pm Leave a comment

Social Media, Angel or Demon?

Why do I do this? Simple, you donate to a childrens charity and comment on this blog about the donation and what you wanted to be when you were 8. Want to know more? Please read the About Lesley page….

I had a brief conversation on Twitter earlier this evening. The discussion centered around one person, gone from Twitter, who abused the trust of many people and caused great hurt. He was a charming person, I met him once when I went to a tweetup in London. We did follow each other and had some conversations but he was closer to many others on the medium. He met many regularly, taking their hospitality and kindness but repaid all this with lies and deceit. There are more specific posts on this person who I will not name. It only triggered in me some thoughts on the concept and possibilities of social media and what it can be or do……

I know I am me on social media. That may sound odd to some of you but social media is a place where you can be someone else. My picture is up there, out of date but it is me. I have my own name on there too. I use social media for fun; I do try to publicize the blog on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and Linkedin but I don’t hide that, this blog needs readers and people to write to me so that I can fulfill my blogging aims. The rest of the time I use it for laughs and to learn things.

Many people, however, choose not to share their names and pictures. I don’t see a problem in that, a private life is just that and many like to keep their identities quiet for personal reasons. I know of people who have left social media as work colleagues/relatives have found them and made their lives uncomfortable. I also don’t mind that there are people who want to leave their normal identity behind and adopt a persona for their social media life, that choice is theirs.

Where the problem may lie is how people use that persona. Most people trust and give that trust freely and quickly, I know I do. I may be silly-optimistic but I like to think that people do not want to harm others. Yes, we all have been hurt by other people in life or Twitter, sometimes to heartbreak but is it fair to say that this probably wasn’t the intention from the start? I am sure there are some mean users of people out there but 99% of people work to be decent and fair. I am interested in your thoughts on this one, please write to me if you agree or disagree.

The red-tops often have a ‘shock-horror’ story on the Great Perils of Social Media. They imply that behind every avatar lurks evil personified. I agree that social media has been a gift to those who would groom the vunerable whether they be adults or children. I don’t believe in corporal or capital punishment but these people take me close. The online world is not easy to police and those who aspire to evil are always working hard to circumvent any controls. I have and do warn my children about this; they roll their eyes at their sad mum and mumble something that sounds like ‘we would be more worried about you’. Eh? 🙂

So, how do we protect ourselves from the perils of social media? Isn’t it simple? We be ourselves whether we show a picture and a name or not. Don’t send inappropriate private messages, those can be misleading. I do send private messages but only to people I have regard for. Be rude and funny, just don’t be truly offensive. I follow many people that others could find over-the-top but they are funny and sarcastic and I love them all! I have met people in real life, both in Northern Ireland and England. I think some of my family were worried when I sauntered over to my first tweetup in Derby but I had a fantastic time with a great bunch of people, many of who reciprocated and spent a weekend in Belfast. Last summer I also went to a large tweetup in Regent’s Park and it was awesome. I met people again, new ones too and I regard them as friends. Yes, we all met in public spaces and yes, it took a short while to warm up but then the craic and laughter was high-quality. I will do it again. This may not be to your taste, you perhaps think I am foolish. But know this, I am a sensible person and I act sensibly. I don’t want to look back at my life and think what I could have done, I want to look back and know what I did.

There are liars and cheats in all walks of life. Those who are determined to do so will inevitably have some success until they are found out. I know this, if it seems to good to be true then it likely is too good to be true. I will be me, I will be sensible and I hope that my trust when it is put out there will not be abused. I say be careful out there but don’t forget to have fun too.

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Please donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are old enough.

I will:-

  • 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
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

January 15, 2012 at 10:06 pm 4 comments

Mean Girls? Mean Boys? Teenage Kicks…

A little reminder of why I do this. The premise is simple. You donate to a childrens charity and comment on this blog about the donation and what you wanted to be when you were 8. Want to know more? Please read the About Lesley page….

I have just been subjected to a teen flick. I am very tempted to end this post now with a very loud and silent scream – you know what I mean. However, in the spirit of blogging more in 2012 I thought I should write about teenagers.

I state upfront that I only have one teen left but she is my third experience of the species that is ‘the teenager’. A strange and puzzling race they are. I am still struggling to work them out when it comes to food, fashion, music, books and online gaming. One thing has been proved to me time and again, I know very little and I have no real taste. I accept all of this, tis the way of the world that children know their parents know nothing, at least while the child is aged between twelve and twenty. This is a rite of passage (or in today’s overused and sickening cliché, a journey?) for all parents and children. At some point in their early twenties most children have a revelation, their parents actually know stuff and some of their words might be worth listening to, shock horror!

There is one thing that puzzles me though. Why do groups of teenagers scare so many people? What is the obsession that the red-tops and Daily Fear and Screams have with ‘feral teenagers’? I am sure some people have had bad experiences with young people but like all age-groups most of them are kind, polite and trying to get through life the best way they can. Teenagers are only one more age-group, there are good ones, not-so-good ones and the ones that learn from their mistakes and move on.

Can you remember when you were a teenager? I can. I thought I knew way more than I actually did. My friends and I alternated between thinking we had everything sorted to knowing that our world was ending to being completely bored! That is the nature of the teenager; they are trying to figure out what they are and are as inward-looking as the rest of us. To those who find them intimidating because they travel in groups I ask this – did you not do exactly the same?

You may counter my words with ‘but teenagers are more violent these days’. Are they really? If you think that I suggest you google the 1960s and mods and rockers. The outrage that leeched from the headlines of the red-tops was something to behold. Yes, there were fights and riots, they were conflicting teenage cultures and could not see a space for each other. That was fifty years ago, the world turns and history repeats itself now with gangs and hoods.

I am glad to say that I have survived the teenage years, both my own and those of my children. At least two of them know that Motown is awesome but they haven’t really taken on the joy of Karen Carpenter’s voice, although I live in hope. As for me, I have learned that Nirvana wrote some really decent songs but am still immune to the charms of Bob Dylan.

My last note, they may look like this a lot of the time but they are loveable, sometimes it just takes a second look to see the loveliness……

Awwwwww, coochy. coochy!

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Please donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are old enough.

I will:-

  • 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
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

January 10, 2012 at 10:00 pm 4 comments

Parenting or Punishment?

A little reminder of why I do this. The premise is simple. You donate to a childrens charity and comment on this blog about the donation and what you wanted to be when you were 8. Want to know more? Please read the About Lesley page….

I read an article a couple of weeks ago on child-rearing. Amy Chua is an unabashed ‘Tiger Mother’. Four hours of homework/practice daily and total control of the day-to-day activities of her children. It works for her, her children are high achievers and we all want our children to fulfill their potential, even stretch themselves to make that potential soar. However, Amy’s style is not and will never be mine.

However, it got me thinking about parenting ‘styles’. A business it its own right, it isn’t easy to get overall figures on revenue but one of the most popular books, Dr. Spock’s baby and Child Care book has sold 50 million copies in 49 languages. Another best-seller is Gina Ford whose methods would appear to differ from Dr. Spock. I have read neither but know that both have huge fan-bases as well as dectractors. From a cursory glance I would have more in common with Dr. Spock’s methods.

There are many new parents out there who feel they need help to raise their children and there will likely be a book that can match their core beliefs and styles. As families spread out geographically I can see a need to have support from books, healthcare professionals and the like. I happily confess that I have never read a child-rearing book, I learned it all the practical way. I am one of nine children, eldest girl, middle child. When I was young there were always babies and I learned how to play with a toddler very early on. I also learned mothering skills from my mother. She was and is a wonderful parent; she had nine children then studied for her degree. If you want to know the value of hard work in my family you just look at my parents. They also taught me one of the best things I know, that words are the stuff of life. I am lucky that they are both still with me, even if they take my money playing poker on a Friday night….

I do not claim to be a great parent but I have been the best parent I could. If I boil down my parenting style it would be something like this:-

  • A routine for a baby is a good thing. However, there are times when a routine cannot be applied. Yes, a baby may cry for a few minutes before sleep but a distressed cry is different from a tired, ready to sleep cry. You will know the difference and you will know they need lifted for food, cuddles, whatever is required.
  • I remember being told that you shouldn’t look in the eyes of a baby when feeding during the night so they knew this was a quiet time. What tosh! How can you not make eye contact with the loveliest thing in the world?
  • Babies and toddlers need love, laughter and play. Fun is good for everyone and everyone should play with their children.
  • All children need to learn the meaning of losing. The notion that you cannot have a sports day so that children feel like failures is just ludicrous, to be honest it makes my blood boil. You can participate, have fun without winning and children need to learn this. There is some prevalence to the notion that children should never feel as if they fail; this myth is being perpetuated. I am not saying that any child is a failure but few excel at everything. Children are not stupid, when they are told they are awesome at something they know they struggle with they will get confused. Grown-up life has rejection, in relationships, in exams, in the job market. If losing a sack race at school gets you ready to deal with this isn’t that a good thing?
  • In the same vein everyone needs to learn the meaning of ‘no’. I have heard of parent’s being advised not to use the word to their children as it has ‘negative connotations’. This makes my teeth hurt. The word no is important. If a child gets everything they want all the time their expectations are set. There is nothing wrong with learning that a new game must be earned’ that pocket money earned from doing small chores can be saved to buy that game. My kids always felt very proud when they could buy some longed-for item with their own money. That sense of achievement was worth it to them.
  • Eating together makes a family. This doesn’t happen so much in my house now as they are all grown-ups and focused on work, going out, seeing friends and that is how it should be. However, it was always a rule when they were smaller that we sat together to eat dinner most of the time. There would be rows but there was also a lot of laughter. When we do go out as a family to eat it is still the same, a vast amount of mickey-taking but a heap of laughter to boot. It is rarer than I would like but I always enjoy it, even when I am the butt of the jokes. You should all know that I have no life and when I was young I had no idea how to party. I do not correct that myth, some things are better kept in my head:)
  • I save the most important one for last. Children need to know they are loved and supported. Smiling, talking, telling your children you love them is important. Even when they are getting right on your nerves and you are having a row they need to know you love them. I hope mine know it every day because that is true every second of every day.

My last thought on this. The reason that everyone loves to see the You-Tube videos of ‘talking’ twins and laughing babies is that the sound of a child’s laughter is the sweetest sound on earth.

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are old enough.

I will:-

  • 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
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

January 8, 2012 at 3:59 pm 2 comments

Life is not Fluffy Bunnies

A little reminder of why I do this. The premise is simple. You donate to a childrens charity and comment on this blog about the donation and what you wanted to be when you were 8. Want to know more? Please read the About Lesley page….

Apologies for the flippant title for a very serious post. Many of you will have seen the news today with the horrifying story about Sahar Gul. Married off at 14 to a man twice her age, she was the victim of severe violence, incarceration and starvation from the family she married into. The story is here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-16356247. Sahar was a child when given in marriage, she is still a child now. Her parents prompted her rescue after not being able to see her for some months. I am glad they did so.

There are so many currents to this sad tale that I am not quite sure where to begin. Allowing a child to be married at fourteen is a start. The legal age for marriage in Afghanistan is sixteen but it seems culturally acceptable to marry earlier. In a society where 90% of the world’s opium originates and a Government  under consistent attack from a regrouping Taliban a chocolate-box childhood is not to be expected. With extreme poverty and sporadic education both for boys and girls, starting work early (where work can be gained) and marrying early is the norm. I cannot therefore say anything bad about Sahar’s parents. They may have let her marry but they also tried to maintain their relationship with their daughter and were the cause of her rescue.

Domestic violence levels in Afghanistan are said to be very high; some estimates state over 70% of women and children experience it. It is hard to get firm figures as so few cases are reported. When any news reports you see on the country stem from violence, against troops stationed there, against rival tribes and factions, then violence is at the very heart of day-to-day life. The chilling part of this is that violence begets more violence. Growing up as I did in a country where arms took the place of dialogue for many years you can see how ‘everyday’ violence ingrains itself into a society. It is a long, hard road to change this. The problem with Afghanistan and so many other places in the world is that many do not want violence to stop. They see it as an indisputable right, their struggle and conflict is right, everyone else is wrong. With this mindset in place across the opposing forces then nothing will change.

Violence cows people, it leaves them submissive. Submissive people are easier to control but that submission can lead to more violence. Flinching against a blow that doesn’t come can anger the dominant and lead to blows once again. This is not a life for anyone. This is barely an existence. It is suggested that Sahar suffered some of her abuse due to her refusal to become a prostitute. If this is so then she is beyond brave. Sahar will need time now, physical wounds will heal but I hope they find someone who can help with the mental battle she will now face. I also hope her story prompts more action on behalf of those who have not yet been rescued.

Lastly, violence against the defenceless is not unique to this story. We should never forget that. If you know someone who is being treated badly then please do something about it….

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are old enough.

I will:-

  • 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
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

January 1, 2012 at 3:31 pm Leave a comment


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