The sum of 5 people

It has been said that you are the sum of the 5 people you are around the most.  Who are those 5 people for you?

M: A determined individual who sets a positive example. Teaching daily about how to be the best version of yourself and leading by example. Keen reader and puzzle solver. Quite a methodical approach to things, speaks her mind with a fearless attitude.

D: Practical and visual approaches to solving problems. Quiet most the time but always thinking and observing those around them. Creative person working with their hands to craft various things from wood, fixing things and making new things from scraps. Sets the example of how to be strong minded and use of willpower.

L: Teacher of the old ways, supportive to help find an individual’s path. Fountain of knowledge and folklore. Creative themselves and encourages creativity in others to craft tools and aids. Honest and frank

T: Shared love of creatures and wildness. Full of vitality and groundedness they set the example of what to aspire towards while growing older – not disgracefully but with enthusiasm and spirit. Laugh every day and see the joy in little things when big things may not happen.

Tribe: More than only one individual Tribe consists of 7 people that include aforementioned L, T and D. Tribe is a safe place to be completely honest and open, Tribe teaches how to be natural, living with gratitude and care for others including non-human such as animals, plants and elements. Tribe lights the path leading to the person I want to be when I grow up. Supporting, advising, helping, creating all together and manifesting all that is good and healthy.

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Talk about your parents

Today my email prompt was:

Talk about your parents. How did they meet? How are they a part of your life today?

How do you start to tell the story of your lifetime? For if these two people had not met, I would not be me.

My parents were both living in Manchester at the same time in the early seventies. My Dad was born in Brighton, lived in Bristol and moved to Manchester just before his teenage years. My Mother was born in Manchester and moved between there and Norwich several times during her childhood until she was fifteen and back in Manchester.

She was shy and kept her associations to family (brothers and cousins) and worked in an office; he was a social butterfly working four jobs including prop-master at Manchester opera house.

One day a colleague of my Mother’s asked if she would babysit while his wife performed in a local players group, she agreed. Meanwhile Dad was at his job as a barman near the theatre and was asked by a mate if he could take a look at her leaking window at her house, Dad agreed. Then one early Friday evening Mother walked to her friends house ready to babysit that night when she approached the drive she looked up and saw a young man up a ladder fiddling with the window of her friend’s house. He looked down as she walked up the drive, “Hello” he quipped; “hello” she replied. Inside the house she went and chatted to her friend inside. The young lad finished fiddling with that window and refreshed himself in the kitchen with his mate Marie. He left soon after and the friends went out for their performance.

Not very long afterwards Mother’s friend, Dave, remarked that Marie’s friend liked the look of her, would she be interested in a drink, “I don’t think so”. But Marie and Dave persisted and invited each friend to a drink at a local pub, Mother went along for a drink with Dave and found the young lad there too. After a short chat (and it really was short) he asked her out for a date, “No thank you”, puzzled he asked “why not”, she replied honestly “I don’t like to go out because I have panic attacks and I faint, it’s embarrassing so I’d rather not”. He smiled broadly, “Well that is ok then, I volunteer for St John’s Ambulance, you’ll be safe with me”. Persuaded she agreed.

Like a storm in a tea cup or a whirlwind of emotions, they met once and then twice for dates, he then left for a three week holiday in Scotland with his aunt Maud and she stayed behind. Those three weeks were long, a postcard arrived suggesting another date, when and where. She turned up as suggested and it was like no time had passed at all.

The following week he took her to lunch at a local garden café, he sat across the table nervous, but pushed himself on, “Will you marry me?” Flattered but sensible she talked him out of it, but he continued again but that time he talked her out of it. By the end of that afternoon he asked her one more time (just to be sure I presume!) and she said Yes. So did he!

After six weeks there were engaged, courtship followed for another year – him working his shifts and turning up at 2am after the theatre to see her (but usually fell asleep on her lap), family introductions were made too and at the end of that year they got married and blissfully happy.

A book was run at their reception – how long before divorce? I give them six months, a year but Maud was generous and gave them two years. None of them would realise they’d still be together celebrating forty years later. Still happy (mostly) and still content (practically always).

I am an only child, for good reasons but hard reasons. I grew up in a very loving home and atmosphere. I’ve been supported and encouraged in anything I’ve been through. We’ve argued and fought, but we’ve always made up. Today they are both my best friends. I go to the pub with Dad and socialise frequently with him and mutual friends. Mother remains family social and I make sure she gets treats like Afternoon Teas, Spa breaks and theatre trips. They are both the people I turn to in times of fear, heartache, and joy. Each of us independent from each other, but a team.

Hippos, Exmouth

Talk about friendship and the role it plays in your life

Friendship: It is not like the movies. There are not tight nit groups of gaggling girls who know what the other will say before speaking. There is no rescue in times of need, no matter what and just when you want it. Friendship is like a fairy-tale – you are extremely fortunate if you acquire it and keep it for a lifetime.

Friendship is there when you ask for it during those times of need. It is compromise to fix a convenient time and place to join up together. It comes and it goes as each person grows and evolves. It can let you down while at the same time surprising you. Occasionally it is absent, or there to be rebuilt or to be found.

Friendship is not promised to you, it can be conditional and it can be unforgiving. The trick is to appreciate it when it is present, value them while you can and accept when it is time to move past it.

Who’s a friend that you really respect? Why?

It seems a little crude to announce her by name on the internet without gaining her consent first, so she shall remain nameless for now. My friend who I really respect is an amazing woman. I first met her as a new colleague roughly five years ago and first impressions of her were that she was a too whimsical and flighty – oh god what on earth have they hired into the team now!

But within two days I had gained such a high regard for her. That first impression was a reflection on my character more than hers. I saw a very tall, slim blonde woman who was beautiful to boot and I felt inferior; my instinct was to find as many negatives as possible about her. I am ashamed of myself, but by getting to know her as a friend I have learnt to put that aspect of my character aside and instead become much more open minded when I meet people and I am pleased to say that I haven’t jumped to conclusions through such judgements since.

This friend of mine thinks of others before herself, which is probably why she is such an excellent community engagement officer – she identifies what I community needs quicker than anyone else by really listening to what the community has to say. She has savvy instincts to ask the right questions. She would rather buy second hand than new and knows all the best charity shops in her town. She rarely puts herself first and gets more enjoyment from doing activities that others want to do. She brings the fun to everything, she is an amazing dancer and performer, taking part in local community plays. Above all, she is genuine. Everything she does is heartfelt which makes time spent with her special and gifts from her cherishable. Anyone who is called ‘friend’ by her is very lucky.

Who’s had the biggest influence on your life to date?

I would not be here without my parents – in the literal sense because if they didn’t get together I really wouldn’t be here. They worked as a team to raise me as a child, teaching me skills and manners. They must be the greatest influence on my life, without them I would be a totally different person.

My Dad taught me how to apply make-up (his experience working as an actor and my mother never wears it); he taught me to wet shave (my mother only used electric shavers and wax); he taught me how to service a car, build things, fix a toilet, what was right and wrong, how to drive – building me into the practical person I am. My mother taught me how to be thoughtful, mindful and considerate of others, she taught me to budget and mend things – building me into the emotional person I am.

Outside of them, I have been influenced by writers such as Keats, Rowling, and Gainman. I have been influenced in fashion by Miller and Barrymoore; inspired in overcoming mental health problems by Dench, Walters, Gilbert, Byrne and Wax. I wouldn’t have discovered my ambition and potential without my friend Sarah.

I continue with an open mind to be educated by others experiences, being influenced by those around me and in front of me.

Running into an old friend

I ran into an old friend from college the other night while I was out. We had a couple beers and started talking. I couldn’t believe…

I ran into an old friend the other night; there was a chill in the air and people were wrapped up in thick scarves and hats. My hands were shoved into their pockets to stop the tips from freezing. This old friend of mine stopped me first; it had been years since we last saw each other. It felt like it had only been a few months.

As he spoke about mutual friends he was still in touch with, I started to internally question when the last time was that we had seen each other. Eleven years! Time has this funny way of feeling like there isn’t enough and everything has to be ready and obtainable right now, but the longer it passes the less time feels; the more we spoke the more eleven years felt like only a matter of months.

All at once I was back in the moment, back in reality, when he mentioned a mutual friend had been sent to prison. A boy I had known a lifetime ago, a saviour of sorts who kept me out of trouble and kept trouble at bay from me. Many times had he stepped in when there had been abuse, a kind and sensitive boy but occasionally with a hidden agenda. There has been nothing sinister about him during those times. Now though, he was a man and he was firmly in the wrong. He’d pleaded guilty, which I suppose is something, but a heinous crime nonetheless. I just couldn’t believe it