Category Archives: Random

Helping Hand

I was at the supermarket today, arms full with bottles of shampoo and conditioner, making my way to the checkouts when I saw an elderly lady in the crisps aisle. She was reaching up for a multipack on the top shelf. She’d put her basket down and was pushing the bottom of the packet up in the hopes that it would topple forward and land within her reach. This trick learnt by many a child is apparently one that comes in use later in life too. Her efforts were to no avail and the crisp packet remained firmly on the top shelf.

I precariously moved the bottles I was holding so I could free my other arm, and on tip toes I reached up and took down the packet she had been reaching for and handed it to her. I smiled at her and she smiled back as she put the crisps in her basket. Without need of a “Thank you” because I could already see the gratitude in her smile I turned and went to the checkout; my good deed done for the day.

As I waited in the line I saw the same elderly lady carrying on with her shopping and I hoped that should she need anything further that someone else was able to reach the top shelf for her. But what happens to the people who don’t have someone to help them? Whether it is a member of staff or a person willing to take a few seconds out of their day and notice that someone needs help, what if that person isn’t around?

I suppose I notice these things more now. I worry about what will happen to my parents as they get older. I am there to help them, but I am not there all of the time. My parents, like so many people, are proud. They do not want to have to ask for help. We all crave our independence, and to admit that we are not able to do the things we were once able to do so easily hurts. In a society where people are living longer, we have to do better.

I understand the need to block food items to make them more appealing, we used to do it with movies. Create the biggest visual impact in the hope that it entices customers to buy your product. But instead of side to side blocking why can’t it be vertical? Have several items on a shelf so that the same item forms a column rather than a row. That way, no matter what your height is you are able to reach the products. Surely that would help with stock rotation too? Everyone would take the items that are easy to reach over the ones that are higher up, so you can encourage people to take the items that are nearing their use by date.

Staffing issues mean that it is not always possible for someone to help customers that need assistance; pride often means that people won’t ask for help anyway. A simple step like remerchandising their stock is something supermarkets can easily do in order to help their customers. Hopefully we all get the chance to grow older. It is little steps like this, which will make a difference.

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40 Days

Fifteen years of Catholic School and I still needed to Google why it is exactly we give things up for Lent. I knew the general idea, Jesus fasting for 40 days in the wilderness. I’ll always tick the Catholic box but one of my favourite movies is Dogma, this probably tells you all you need to know about my faith. Still, I pray every night and I try to live my life in the way the God I believe exists would want me to. That’s more than many who claim to be devout can say.

I remember we used to get Lenten boxes in school that we were supposed to use to save all the money that we weren’t spending on crisps and sweets (potato chips and candy to the non-Brits amongst you). They were green and usually had something to do with CAFOD. It’s funny what memories you keep from your childhood.

We were often encouraged not to just give something up for Lent but to also take something on. I was never very good at either to be honest. It was always a case of saying I was giving up something that I wasn’t really a big eater of anyway. And even with the best of intentions, saying that you’re going to help more around the home and then dropping a plate every time you did the dishes quickly dissuaded your parents from asking you to be helpful.

For the most part, since I left school, Easter meant double pay if I chose to work or more recently a few extra days off in April. Easter eggs have always been a part of the season but most often because it meant I got a new mug to go with my chocolate egg that would usually sit in the fridge until someone ate it. The mug too would be relegated to a cupboard until one of my actual tea drinking friends would pay a visit. I roll my eyes at the thought of giving “Easter presents.” Really? At least there was a St. Nicholas (jolly or not) so those gift-giving roots are traceable. I don’t ever remember reading about a saint that delivered gifts at Christmas, and I didn’t need Google to verify that.

I’m not sure why I chose this year to decide to give something up for Lent. Perhaps it was the example of my friends. They’ve always exercised amazing willpower when faced with chocolate filled temptations. More though I think there is a need in me to be better, and that means not only giving up the junk but also having the discipline to stop bad habits. No more chocolate. No more crisps. No more biscuits. As when I was younger, I never ate any of these in excess but they have become the snack of choice.

One of my worst habits though has become my addiction to my Blackberry, it hasn’t earned the “Crackberry” name without good reason. The first thing I do when I wake up is reach for my phone and it’s the last thing I check at night. It used to be that if I was spending time with friends it would remain in my pocket, but recently that too has changed. I am a slave to that flashing red light. So it’s time to break the habit.

I spent most of last night discussing possible time restrictions and designated hours. However, the reason I got this phone was to make myself accessible to my friends at all times. I know I am not that indispensible that I need a bat signal, but it puts my mind at ease that should my friends need me then I can be reached. I am certain the purpose of Lent is not to make me constantly worry about my friends. So there will be no restrictions in place.

However, what I have decided is that during the job hours the phone will stay in my pocket. Out of sight will hopefully mean out of mind. There will be no BBMing or Tweeting after 12am on school nights (with the exception of ABM Fans update days and birthdays for the obligatory midnight tweet). When in the company of friends it will be set to show that I am not available.

I know that these goals are realistic. A year ago it was how I lived my life, and it’s how it should be. I’ve just lacked the discipline to do it. Jesus used his time in the wilderness to prepare for his ministry. In 40 days I’ll have broken bad habits. In 40 days I will have my life back from that little red light. In 40 days I’ll be back to where I need to be.

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Step Back

I haven’t updated my MySpace profile in over year. It is still one of my start-up tabs but I never look at it. Today I chose to. I read the words I placed there and as I did I couldn’t help but think I seemed to have more sense of who I was then. In between when I wrote it and now it feels like much has changed, but I couldn’t tell you what exactly.

There are things I knew then that I appear to have forgotten. Clarity that somehow became clouded. Steps I had taken that I appear to have gone back on. I need to figure it out again. The knowledge is there somewhere, perhaps it’s time to clear things out of my head in order to give it space to come to the forefront. First step, back to my homework.

“I used to think that it was enough to not be unhappy, and some days that is enough; but it’s no way to live. I think that once you decide what it is that makes you happy then that’s a third of the battle won. The other thirds being making that your life, and keeping it so. None of these tasks are easy.

It’s taken me a long time to figure what it is, and who it is that makes me happy, and I don’t think I’m done yet. That’s not to say that everything I choose to keep in my life always makes me smile, sometimes it’s hard and a little more work than I would hope, but I’ve tried to live without some parts and I’ve learnt that I just don’t function without them.

I’ve stopped running after certain things, maybe with age I just can’t do it anymore. More though I think that when we stop chasing that which eludes us, if it’s supposed to be ours then it’ll stop and wonder where you’ve gotten to and come and find you. Sometimes it takes our absence for people to realise that we matter. Sometimes it takes their absence for us to realise that we no longer need them. Those that are in my life are there for one simple reason – I choose to keep them.

I’ve never been one for big gestures or outbursts. I keep a lot of what I think and feel to myself, and that isn’t always a good thing, or a bad one at that. Sometimes a person’s actions will illicit little more than a raised eyebrow, and sometimes the smallest of things will cause me to get up and leave. I hope that through my actions, if not my words, those that matter know that they do.

When I was younger, one of my teachers said that they’d love to know what goes on inside my head. It’s really not that exciting in there. I’m not that complicated. I smile at the simplest of things. I am moved by the most basic of human gestures. Though I try not to, I can get angry over the most seemingly inconsequential matters. Sometimes I spend too much time in my own head. I can, and have, been hurt deeply by those that I care about the most.

I think that everything happens for a reason, not always a good one – but a reason none the less. Just when you think you’ve started to understand how it all works and who people are something might happen that will surprise you and you won’t know which way is up anymore. I believe a person should treat others as they would want to be treated. At times I forget that and I’ll say things that I later wish I hadn’t.

I’m not perfect, but I’ve never intentionally tried to hurt someone. I would never want to be that person. I try to be the best person I can be; some days are harder than others. What I expect of myself is far more than I would ever ask of others. That is my choice, as are many things in my life. I’m just me. No more, and certainly no less.”

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”

Benjamin Button

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30 and 1/3

A third of the way through my 30th year and I am starting to feel the changes in me that may form the basis of who I am come my next evolution. With that, I see changes in the people I thought would almost certianly be a part of my life. There is irony in the fact that the very changes they have told me I need to make appear to be what they take issue with.

They seem unable to understand that when they tell me I need to stop being everything to everyone, that also includes them. When they tell me I need to do more for myself it means I will be able to do less for them too. When they say I need to start living my life more for me I can’t live for them. When they want to know what is happening in my life, that can’t just be the good and the exciting parts. Sometimes being able to have an ordinary day can be extraordinary. I exist in the breaths between the moments too.

Telling me they want me to be more, but angry that I am no longer who I am. I have no chance of winning this game and I am unwilling to play it anymore. Tomorrow is promised to no one. Those words branded where they cannot be forgotten. Once upon a time it meant that I would forgive anything, life was too short. More and more it means that I will not make apologies for other’s behaviour. I am tired of being the only one who will admit they’re wrong. I am done with being the only one who is told they need to change.

I am what I am. I will be more to you if you let me, but I will not be less.

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Open Book

“My life may be an open book but that doesn’t mean I have to read it to you.” This is what I think about my personal life. Talk to me and I am more likely to tell you of the lives of the people around me than my own. Get me to talk about myself and you are a very rare creature indeed. I don’t hide who I am but I don’t feel the need to broadcast it either…says the person who still averages 20+ tweets per day. Perhaps I should qualify, even if I won’t read the words to you sometimes I have been known to hold open the book should you care to read.

It reminds me of a line from Anyone But Me. It’s more than halfway through the first season and Aster and Vivian are arguing over the fact that Vivian is treating Aster as “the friend.” Quite rightly Vivian says, “I shouldn’t have to announce my personal life to people I don’t know.” Quite rightly Aster storms off in anger at being the hidden part of Vivian’s life. This is one of the many reasons why I love this show. You shouldn’t have to make announcements about who you are, but you should be proud of who you are.

Again today I was reminded of ABM. We were having drinks after the job was done for the week, drowning our sorrows in celebration that one of ours had gotten a permanent role on another team. Bittersweet. I heard people talking of the new guy starting next week and the word ‘slick’ is used to describe him. Two friends, a guy – possibly gay but who can tell these days, and a girl – possibly gay but who can tell these days, talk and laugh. ‘You’d better be careful he might try it on you.’ Laughter. ‘Yeah right, like that’d work.’ Uproarious laughter between the two. I leave you to decide which of them said what.

Watching the exchange, I wondered how difficult it is to have to come out again and again throughout your life, one of the questions explored in the show. Not just in terms of your sexuality, but any label. For someone, such as I, who chooses not to define themselves in terms of so many categories I wonder sometimes what labels are placed on me. Some things are obvious or loudly declared. Comic book reader. Filipino. Musical theatre enthusiast. Writer. ABM Super Fan. Traveller. I’m sure many other things are presumed.

You are who you are when no one else is looking, but when people are looking at you – who is it they see?

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90 Million

If someone offered you £1 million to not see someone in your life – who could you afford to lose? That’s one of those questions that came to me when I was trying to figure out what I was going to do with my millions once the machine started behaving and chose my numbers. I thought it was more interesting than asking the usual questions about what you would do with a big win.

Tonight the jackpot on the EuroMillions is £90m. That’s not a bad bit of pocket change. We were talking about it at the job today, we’ve been betting numbers the last couple of weeks because we’ve been quite fortunate. Never winning enough that it was worth cashing the tickets in so we roll the money over to the next week in the hopes of a bigger winfall. £90m is pretty big. Not the biggest it’s ever been, but still pretty big.

I have plans for my share. They involve much travelling, quite probably on my yacht – the Angelina. If you know the reference I might even consider taking you with me. I also have a few projects that I’d like to invest in and there are certainly some roads around Phnom Penh that need to be built before it becomes the concrete mess that so much of the Philippines has turned into. Yeah big plans for a big win, but still there’s that question playing Devil’s Advocate.

I like the question because it forces you to look at yourself and the people you have in your life. If you’re the kind of person who can look at your friends and think for the right price you could cut them out what does that say about you? If there are people in your circle who you could “afford” to lose then why are they in your lives?

The origin came from my own observations, of myself and of others. If I were ever in the kind of position to make that offer I wouldn’t ever ask it of people I consider my friends. I would ask it of people who were my friends though, once upon a time. There is always a story when I say, ‘We used to be friends.’ It means at some point I considered them amazing, and something happened to change my mind. Not just a simple growing up and growing apart, more a realisation that I couldn’t have that person in my life anymore. This doesn’t mean that I stopped considering this person though.

I am very retrospective in nature and my thoughts often turn to the people who used to be necessary to me. When I ask this question I think of them, if I posed to them the question, who in their life would they let go of? Mostly I ask it because I know who I’d cut out of their lives. I also ask because I know that if offered the right price they would cut people out. I suppose that’s part of the reason why they’re no longer necessary.

I have friends who exasperate me at best, and at worst make even this sometimes mild-mannered person want to put their head through a wall. Then there are others that I would rip my own heart out if I thought it could help them. Whichever group they fall into however there isn’t an offer you could make me that I would take in exchange for the people I truly consider to be my friends.

I doubt I’ll win tonight, but I still bought my tickets. If you don’t take a chance you don’t have a chance right? The plans are always there if I do. I suppose the point in asking that question is that you learn who you are. I find those to be the best kind of question to ask. The people in my life, they are an elite group of amazing individuals who know my worth as much as I know their value. I am the richest person in the world.

£90m. If someone asked, who could you afford to lose?

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To Everything There is a Season

More than a few years ago now when my system decided to scream at me, ‘You can’t carry on this way anymore, it’s not what your life should be!’ I was hesitant to listen. So it shook me harder, and it continued to until I could do nothing but listen.

Lesson taught I realised I had to change. It wasn’t easy, I’m stubborn. I needed to be taught the lesson a few more times, and I was. That’s the great thing about time, it’s incredibly patient. Eventually I began to recognise the signs myself, and when I knew that my life was once again on the path it shouldn’t be, I was able to change my course.

Where I find myself today is perhaps where, in hindsight, I would have chose to be; but had you asked me 10yrs ago I’m almost certain I would not have chosen this life. I’m glad that whatever force is out there, knew better than I.

No doubt there are parts of my life that can be improved. I could be healthier, I could have more in the bank, there are things that I would’ve liked to have done by now that I haven’t, but I can honestly say, I don’t think I could be happier. How many people, whether they are where they thought they would be or not, can say that? If I was where I expected to be, I don’t think I’d be one of them.

I’ve always felt that everything had a reason, and it may not always be a good reason, but there is usually a reason. More and more I see how even the smallest of choices causes a ripple in our lives whose affect often goes unnoticed.

One summer you choose to go out to dinner spontaneously with two friends. They drag you into the Apple store and set you up a Facebook account. You write some words in your info and forget to change them. One Christmas you click on a link on a website you can’t even remember how you found but now visit regularly and your interest is sparked by what you find.

In the spring you’re having Starbucks and another friend is trying to convince you to join this new thing called Twitter. You’re not entirely convinced coz you’re still loyal to Tom and haven’t even fully embraced this FB thing yet. Perhaps you’ll give it a try.

Months later you fulfil a promise to ensure another friend has at least one vacation that year. This friend who you hardly knew over a year ago who is friends with someone you went to college with whose friendship was restarted because you needed a code. Someone else you considered to be your friend lets you down one too many times, the way they are always guaranteed to do. You take a seat and pull out your phone.

All these things: the dinner, the words you wrote, that link you clicked, the decision to go back to the scene of the crime, the premiere you decided to go to, the person that let you down, your need to take a seat. Isolated none of them hold any significance. Combined, all contributing to where you are right now and very much a reason of why now, all it takes is a single thought for your smile to return.

Whether any of these things would have happened had other choices been made I can’t be certain. Not only my choices influencing the outcome but also others. Why they wanted to know why you weren’t talking in a conversation full of strangers.What words caught their attention and made them intrigued enough to find out more. Why they made that call. Their reasons remain unknown.

I’d like to think that no matter what my choices then the people who are in my life now would still be there, but perhaps I would not know them the way I do now. Most definitely they would not know the me I am today.

I don’t have the job I thought I would have. I don’t have the bank balance I wish I did have. I don’t have the circle of friends I expected to have. Those first two I still have time to change, that last one, I wouldn’t want to change. The people I have in my life are the very reason I can smile with just a single thought.

I live my life with a single regret, but still believing that there is a time for everything so perhaps I will be granted a second chance and even that will be erased. If it should’ve been then it would’ve been, so you should let life take you where it takes you, and believe that you will be where you need to be when you need to be there. Like me, you may not end up where you expected, but chances are you’ll end up where you were supposed to.

I have chosen happiness, and yes it is a choice. My words are no longer laced with a hidden darkness, but when there is need of it I am reminded that I can be a different writer each time I need to write. I have a veracious appetite for knowledge, if I don’t know the answer I seek it. When I look at the people in my life I often feel as though I’m not enough, but that is only because I feel they deserve more, and because of them I know I can be.

My life is at it is for a reason, and my life is so very very full.

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