Friday, 4 January 2008

Our Parents - Experts or Trainees?

I often think back to my relationships with my parents, how they changed over the years and how different experiences molded and shaped my perceptions and memories.

At one time my dad could do no wrong; until he accidentally hit my thumb with a hammer when I was helping him do a job in the garage.

Mum? She was a true master of the kitchen, turning out wonderful cakes and biscuits, often taken for granted, but sorely missed when she was no longer well enough to do her own cooking ... and finally no longer with us.

I often look back over these often turbulent times and remember that through it all they were my mum and dad; making mistakes, as I now do with my own children; trying to be this thing called a parent without any formal training other than 'on the job'.

Although, they were flawed, like I am flawed, I somehow saw beyond their failings and looked-up to them just because they were mum and dad. I often wish that I could look through my own mistakes and the mistakes of others and love the person underneath; warts and all.

I recently received a poem from a lady who obviously experienced similar tensions, trials and no doubt, exasperation with her father ... but beneath, he was still 'dad' and she still loved him for who he was in spite of what he did. Enjoy ...

To My Late Dad

Oh dad you would still not be too old
to debate and triumph in this world!
To still play host, mentor and guide
- you should still be here at our side.
Elders thought sons would live on
- so devastated now you're both gone.
A whole life's story you have missed,
a generation never held or kissed!
Your doctor warned you well I think
of over-indulgence in food and drink
But no, you failed to take advice
even when threatened once or twice.
Cutting back, you said, no option
rich food, fine wine intoxication.
Life so full of such temptations
would not submit to deprivations.
But dad, you would still not be too old
to be loved and cherished in this world.

Copyright © December 2007 Debra Dando

My Zimbio

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Familiarity Breeds Contempt

'Oh! I've known you for ages. I don't think it's my job to tell you when you've done something well ... just when you need to improve'

So ended a conversation with someone I'd known for years ... and it hurt ... and it set me thinking!

I see many people, especially young people/young adults with a desperate need to be affirmed, noticed, respected (in the true sense) and encouraged. They have many 'friends' whom they have known for a long time, but somehow the familiarity has also put scales on the eyes of friends, so that they no longer encourage or feed positives into their life ... only a destructive neutrality.

And yet I am just as guilty as my friend for either prejudging (appearance, comments from other people etc) or just looking for things I can improve in them, whilst missing the core values and reasons why they are my friend in the first place. What should be a relationship becomes a monologue: I forget their needs and aim to fulfil my wants.

I remember friends at school who were devastated when they had tried their hardest and yet weren't quite good enough because the standard of their work didn't compare to the standard of work submitted by other members of the class. Rather than being helped and encouraged, they were targetted by teachers and fellow pupils; they were the butt end of jokes; they were labelled 'thick', 'stupid', 'dunces' (and worse) ... and I was right there with the crowd taunting them!!

What effect did this have on the individuals concerned?

They responded in a number of ways. They became:

Discouraged ... they perceived themselves as not good enough.
Demotivated ... their enthusiasm and interest declined and not surprisingly, their marks got worse
Disillusioned ... long-term, some of my friends gave up in that subject
Some became Disenfranchised from the education system ... they continually got into trouble with teachers, pupils and in some cases the law, and very sadly, some lost hope.

But thankfully, some became very successful people, running their own business and enjoying life.

So what happened to buck the trend?

In most cases there was either an individual who took interest in them, coached and encouraged them, hung in there and made a difference. In other cases the inner drive of these people to prove to themselves that they had value and could succeed was so strong that they drove themselves to achieve what they had been told could never happen.

I hear sad stories about people like Robbie Williams and Mick Hucknall, two high profile, talented personalities in the music world who were told by teachers at school, 'You will never amount to anything.' Ouch! Wouldn't it have been so much better if their talents had been spotted, encouraged and nurtured so that they could reach and enjoy their success without so many hangups and low self image.

As we look to cultivate relationships with others we should 'earn the right' to their friendship by building trust and demonstrating that we are worth having as a friend. And once we have built these friendships and relationships, it is the responsibility of each of us to accentuate the positive rather than highlight the negative or, equally as destructive, make no comment at all.

I believe that by applying these principles to our relationships, in all areas of life, we will benefit, our friends will benefit and those around us will benefit.

My Zimbio

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Hot Air Balloons

One of the joys of running the Friendship is a Verb website is that visitors occasionally send me their poems (along with a load of spammers that send me all sorts of unrepeatable offers!!).

It is my intention to publish these poems on this blog rather than the website so that you can all enjoy them and pass on your own comments and encouragement.

Here is a poem I received today from Debra Dando. Enjoy ...

Hot Air Balloon Invasion

The hound will not abate his incessant woof
but summons me urgently outside to look.
A balloon glides by
in the perfect blue summer sky.
Brightly coloured it cheers the air,
sailing over the village - I simply stand and stare.
Its calmness and serenity I admire, as this stately visitor ascends higher
and passes reverently over the old church spire.

Next door’s feline declines to stir,
basking on her terrace with sun-warmed fur.
Even birds in the bushes ignore the fiery whooshes
as the balloon floats regally by.

The herd on the hill do not panic or stampede,
the sheep continue grazing down in the mead
But the hound lies not still -
he protects his territory with great earnest until
The invading sphere clears his space;
he's completely untouched by its grace.
Though vigilant and brave 'tis true,
Dear Friend, I wish that you could sometimes see things as we do.

My Zimbio

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Happy ... New ... Year

Happy New Year!

I've been thinking about what are probably the three words in the English language used most often today.

Happy - Our aim for the coming weeks and months.

New - Time and opportunity for a fresh start

Year - A period of time.

As we look at our friendships and relationships this year let's think about making them happy for all parties concerned, let's look at how we can develop and improve them (even if that means saying, enough is enough) and let's start today but look forward to the fruit of our decisions and actions over the whole year.

I know it's not always simple or easy, and frequent review may be necessary but I'm thankful that I have now, and will have through this year, new chances to make new starts!


I'd never have done it that way
If I knew what I know now.
Or asked such stupid questions,
If you had shown me how.

We'd have arrived much sooner,
If I had known the way.
And we'd still be together
If I'd thrown my pride away.

Our lives would be so different,
If only I had seen,
The way that God was leading
Is not where we have been.

"What?" and "If" and "Maybe"
Are easy when its done.
But they're decisions to be taken
When you're on the run.

With hindsight its so easy,
You know where you went wrong;
You see the steps you've taken
As you have gone along.

But life is one long journey.
We need to count the cost.
Experience is learned from good and bad,
Without it we'd be lost.

My Zimbio