barking mad.

Getting a dog will change your life… I was told.

For those of you who don’t know, put simply, I’m just NOT an obvious dog person. A friend once challenged me: I honestly don’t think you love my dog AND, worse than that, I’m sure you don’t understand why I love her. A bit embarrassed, I laughed – because she was absolutely right. There was nothing in me which could love a dog. Nor another child. Nor another man, for that matter. I’m totally done in with loving and caring and giving. (But that’s another story).

So imagine the reaction when we carefully talked and thought through this plan and decided that yes, we were going to open up our home to a canine dependant.

2 weeks in, I’m slowly getting the picture. While the downstairs of our home now undeniably smells of DOG, and I’m often found freezing outside begging this little mite to wee/poo plus I’ve picked up more done-deeds off my kitchen floor than I’d care to count and I’ve found teeth marks in everything from cushions to children’s arms … I’m feeling this curious, warm, fuzzy feeling. What is this? Is this IT?

Aside from pet insurance, vaccines, food, toys, training pads…. KITCHEN ROLL (I feel perhaps we should have made a tactical financial investment into the most absorbent of brands) … the emotional investment is also significant. Completely determined not to make this a dog-child, I’m resisting any temptation to over-indulge and yet there’s a squeaky toy everywhere I put my foot and at least one housemate hovering to stroke his belly.

Of course it’s still early days and I do occasionally (often at 6am) feel that we’re barking mad, but the moment you see his little furry face, those searching eyes oozing limitless optimism and that unconditional love, right then and there I know we’ve done the right thing.

Ziggy Star Dog

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an expectation… of words.

For more than two months, I have been absent here, while my ‘drafts’ folder is pretty bulging. What is going on? Why am I struggling with my words? I’ve written for 10 years week in / week out and yet something now is making me question my paragraphs and their meaning.

I want to write. It’s not as if I’m sitting here with a gun to my head, forcing out word after word. And I have a surplus of ideas as I walk up and down to Hampstead twice a day. However, when I review my output, I’m (perhaps overly) critical and (therefore) too disappointed to fling it out into the ether.

When those people ask – why don’t you write your blog anymore?  I mumble some sort of weak response and slink away before they can dig for more.

Wondering how much of this is about expectation, the boy and I were discussing this very topic as we strode up the hill yesterday morning. How much of our lives are dictated by the expectation others ‘put’ on us?  We’re expected to do this and that and be here and there and it seems that, at times, this expectation might be a bit of a trap – random potholes in the road ahead?

*Get a grip* I hear you cry … which is why I’m sitting here yet again filling my screen.

When I think about all those positives associated with the online world, self-publishing – for me – is the icing on the cake. Pressing POST on an illustration, photo, comment or piece of writing is the immediate form of validation any creative needs. But, of course, the flip side to all this is that fear of failing. The feeling that just perhaps no one will think what you have created is valid and true and that the point you have waxed lyrical about doesn’t strike a chord with a single person out there.

But that’s when your inner voice needs to step up and be that assertive boss in your head.

There is only one thing worse than no one appreciating your words. And that’s not writing them at all.

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let’s call her Sue

I’ve always written some sort of New Year message for my blog, usually a retrospective of the year with a nod to the new one. This time though, I want to share something a bit different with you.

I want to tell you a story of a woman – let’s call her Sue. She lives in a nice enough home with her reasonably handsome husband and healthily opinionated children. She has had a fulfilling career, enjoys her sociable metropolitan life and – for the most part – looks and feels pretty damn good.

But Sue’s biggest issue is that she grew up with the promise that this world we live in was her oyster. Her parents and teachers applauded her, opened doors for her and generally made her feel that almost anything she wanted to achieve was possible. And this really is THE issue. Always looking for that next mountain to climb or that sea to sail, she ignored any of those complexities inside her head. Questions of existence, getting to know her true self and understanding the power of thought, feeling and how they connect to our experiences were all left unanswered.

And because today – more than ever – the digital landscape is placing so much emphasis on promoting the notion of each of us individuals as brands, this spells trouble. It’s so obvious (plus extremely concerning) that social media has fundamentally changed the way we are all growing, especially for those who have economic resources. This focus on individualism – making it, selling it, being the best, having the best – quite frankly, life has become one big performance. And the irony in all this is that I keep hearing just how empty it is making others feel.

On the surface, Sue feels just fine. Deep down, she and most of us digital natives have a danger of feeling empty.

So while I wish you all, my readers, Happy New Year, I just wanted to say – enjoy your time online but do make sure it isn’t consuming you. In contrast, by consuming something altogether different, you might just find that pearl.

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but… why?

On Monday a number of us lost a friend. On Tuesday a few hundred of us buried him. And every day since I have been thinking of him, his premature exit and the beautiful humans he has left behind.

And I’m writing this down because none of it makes any sense.

Our friend was funny and kind and passionate and silly. Just the sort of extra we need on our stage. But citing the words: cruel, hideous, desperate, wrong won’t bring him back… to enjoy his company just one last time.

And I’m writing this down because none of it makes any sense.

His beautiful wife is also our dear friend. Drawing on her inner-most-strength, she will build herself up again. And we will all be here to carry and support her. She will live on for him and parent for him and do the very best she possibly can, without him.

But I do ask why. Why didn’t I see our friend more often? Why did he have to go? Why are any of us here and then quite­ suddenly not here any more?

And I’m writing this down because none of it makes any sense.

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