kindness

What's in a Name?

I'm thinking about names today.

Not just our actual birth name, or the name you have chosen for yourself, but how we are known in the world, and to those around us.

On this day - 22 July - in 1478 a man called Philip was born. He would become ruler of the  Burgundian Netherlands which is sort of the area which now incorporates among other locations, present-day Belgium, The Netherlands  and Luxembourg.

He was also titular Duke of Burgundy (1482 - 1506) in present-day France. And he was the first Habsburg King of the Spanish kingdom of Castile for a brief time in 1506, before his death in September of that year, when he was had the regnal title of Philip I. 

Philip the HandsomeHe was born into royalty and power. All these titles and territories were part of Philip's inheritance ... he was the son of  Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor and Mary of Burgundy, and he was less than four years old when his mother died, and upon her death, he inherited the Burgundian Netherlands. An arranged marriage in 1496 to Joanna, the second daughter of Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon, put him in line for more.

When her mother died in 1504, Joanna inherited the thrones of Castile and Aragon, and she became Queen of Castile which meant that Philip was proclaimed King in 1506, Sad story but when he died a few months later Joanna was left distraught with grief which gave her father, and her own son, Charles, an opportunity to seize power. Joanna was deemed insane and imprisoned for the rest of her life.

Life was harsh in those says. 

An aside here, Joanna was actually an elder sister to Catherine of Aragon, who would later become Queen of England, and the first of King Henry VIII's six wives!

But back to Philip ... he apparently was well known not just for his status and titles, but also for his good looks. He had fair hair and 'attractive grey-blue eyes' and so he became known as 'Philip the Handsome' or 'Philip the Fair'.

So, with all the things he did in his life, all the places he owned and the countries he reigned over, the obvious love he shared with his wife given her grief when he passed away, Philip's overriding legacy is that he was good looking!

Now, I don't know what he was like as a man, maybe he enjoyed that sort of admiration, perhaps he was vain and loved all the attention. But he might also be turning in his grave, wanting to shout out very loudly ...  'I WAS SO MUCH MORE THAN JUST PRETTY!'

Which has got me thinking.

How do I want to be remembered? In fact, how do YOU want to be remembered when you have shuffled off this mortal coil?

What will our legacy be?

Philip is known as 'Philip the Handsome'. Do you want to be remembered just as 'Polly the Pretty' or 'George the Good Looking?' 

How about 'Rachel the Rich' or 'Fred the Financier'? 'Peter the Powerful'? 'Brenda the Business Owner'? 'Cathy the Clever'? 'Norah the Negative'?

'Patsy from the Posh House'? 'Bernard with the Big Car'? 'Dorcas of the Designer Outfits'? 

I've just picked names out of the blue here ... no offense intended. But you see what I'm getting at?

How do I want to be remembered?

'Cathy the Rich, Famous, gorgeous'?' The person who lived in a big house, drove a huge car, wore designer gear and had a huge bank account? The person who was defined by the job they did, but not much more? The man or woman who went to flash parties and showed off a lot?

Or would I rather my legacy be more meaningful?

'Cathy the Compassionate'?

'Philip the Protector?'

'Bernard the Brave'? 'Patsy the Prayerful'? 'Charles the Caring'? 'Keith the Kind'? 'Rachel the Respectful?' 'Fred the Forgiving'? 'George the Generous'? 'Harriet the Hospitable'? 'Laura the Loving'? 'Polly the Peaceful'? 'Thomas the Thankful'? 'Norah  ... the Positive'?

When people think about us, and about our name, what 'values' might they assign to us? What will they remember us for? Will they remember our smile, our kindness, our caring nature, the love we gave?  Or will they remember that we lived in the big house, drove the big car, was obsessed by our looks and our status in life with little thought of others?

What's in a Name?

As I remember Philip the Handsome today, I'm minded to also think on this ... and to maybe consider a change in my attitude and behaviour now, before it's too late.

What's in MY Name?

Big Thinking Stuff for a Thursday!

                                                                                                                                            


Making a Difference?

There's this story which lots of us know... and it goes like this....

One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean.
Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?” The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.”
“Son,” the man said, “don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!”

After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said…” I made a difference for that one.”

This is a version of a story called 'The Star Thrower' by Loren Eiseley, the American anthropologist, educator, philosopher, and natural science writer. It's been re-used and re-worked many times since it was first published in 1969 including by motivational speakers and even as a story for children.  

One thing I learned about Loren and which I love is that he was many things and for him, writing itself becomes a form of contemplation, a way of directing mind, spirit and body towards other than himself. And his writing is engaging and thought provoking.

Take this story for instance. It's been picked over and interpreted and analysed for its meaning. It's been used to encourage people to compassion, to action and to make a difference in the world.

The story has depth, of course, but actually it's also quite simple.

And it is summed up in this quote....

Helping one person

So - just a question ... if you've got this far...

Are you making a difference, if not to the world, but at least to those around you?

Are you a Starfish Thrower?

 


Calling it out

If you're as old as me, you'll remember the days before the internet ... and social media.

Those days when if we wanted to contact people, we would have to write a letter, take the trouble to meet them in person, or phone them.

Today, though, we can post something online, send a 'direct message' on one of the social media platforms and get almost instantaneous replies.

It's like magic! 

Well I think it is anyway.

When social media first came around I was a bit dubious. Did I really want to tell the world what I was up to? Did I really want my opinion out there? Did I want to get involved in conversations not just with people I know, but perhaps with those I don't?

Well ... the answer was 'YES'... although I determined from the start that I would try to be wise.

Social media has, of course, been accused of creating the downfall of humanity, or something similar.

But actually I've realised that social media is only the vehicle for misbehaviour and vile, and even evil. It allows us to be more vocal, to be nasty ... especially for those who want to do so while 'hiding' in plain sight. 

Social mediaBut as this quote reminds us ... it's not as simple as that!

And it's down to us all to call it out.

Take, for instance, the recent racist vile and vitriol posted online ... on Twitter primarily ... by those who blamed certain individual footballers for losing the England football team the Euro 2021 Cup.

So, a few of those most excellent young sportsmen missed a penalty which meant that the Italians won the game, and picked up the trophy.

In the past those racists who pointed out that these brilliant sportsmen are not white might have spouted their evil to like minded friends in the pub. But instead they posted on Twitter. Which thankfully resulted in lots of 'calling out' .. and hopefully a ban from that social media platform. Hopefully for life!

Posting on social media in public IS just like having your face on a big poster for all to see. And if you think you can behave immorally and unethically, and with hatred and offence, then think again!

You will be called out and there are masses of us online now who are determined that the social media platforms will NOT be hijacked by the 'Nasty'.

When I first started using social media, there were lots of people who doubted my sanity and thought I was going to the 'dark side' of life.  Social media was an evil place and we should all stay clear. If we didn't want to be corrupted, we should just not go there.

But I quickly learned that it didn't have to be like that. We don't have to exclude ourselves from the magic of social media. In fact, we can be part of the solution, rather than the problem or allowing the problems to be perpetuated.

I've seen so much amazing stuff, so much positivity, on social media. Prayer circles for sick friends, positive quotes and comments for people to be inspired by, encouragement for folk who are having a hard time. Certainly during the COVID19 pandemic, and lockdown, social media was a bit of a saviour for a lot of us, keeping us in touch with our family and friends when we could not meet. 

So ... as for me ... when I'm on social media I try to block the negative. I report when I see bad stuff, and I try to stay away from the controversial discussions. I certainly don't welcome them into my life and I don't go looking for the bad, but I do try to share the 'good'. It's part of what I'm trying to do with this daily blog, which I daily also post to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

I'm mentioning all  this today because apparently it was on July 15 2006 that Twitter was publicly launched!

Yes, it wasn't that long ago and yet these days Twitter and the other social media platforms - Facebook, Instagram, and now Tik Tok and other newer inventions - are just part of our every day life. And some of us can't imagine life without it!

When Twitter came along, with its 140 character limit, I thought I'd never get it. 

As you know if you read this blog regularly, I'm a bit verbose!

But now I love it. These days I get up to 280 characters to say what I want to say, but for me each tweet is a bit of challenge.

Although the first 'tweet' or message was sent in March 2006 by the company's CEO Jack Dorsey, (who created the platform with Noah GlassBiz Stone, and Evan Williams) it was publicly launched in July and it soon caught on. By 2012, more than 100 million users posted 340 million tweets a day,  and Twitter was handling an average of 1.6 billion search queries every day.

Today (actually as of January this year)  Twitter  has in excess of 350million active users!

It's a powerful platform.

Yes, of course those who run these huge companies have a duty of care to ensure the platform is not abused, and to ensure those who do abuse others online are dealt with, but it is also down to us, the users, to ensure we behave online, and to call out those who don't.

If I want social media to be a healthy place, I need to be part of the community which encourages goodness online.

And I suggest that if we all did a bit of that, the world (and that includes social media) will be a better place!

 


One Positive Thought

How are you today?

Feeling positive, or a bit down?

I don't know about you but it feels easy sometimes to get into a negative frame of mind.

The sun isn't shining or it's even chucking down with rain,  you've put on (more) weight and feeling a bit unlovely. You don't feel like your life is going anywhere? 

If I wake up with those negative thoughts in my head, already worrying about what life will throw at me, then I know I am likely to be fairly pessimistic all day.

So - for me the lesson is - try and have a positive thought in the morning, and everything else will look more optimistic.

That rain? Well the sun could come out! Fingers crossed anyway!

That weight? Well today is the first day of the rest of my life so I could start today with a healthy breakfast?

Feeling unlovely? I ask myself ... 'what is beautiful?' I determine not to judge myself by other people's standards and think more about inner beauty (kindness, love, peace, gratitude, friendship and so on and so on....) rather that outward appearance. I try to remember that I am unique and ask myself 'do I really want to be like anyone/everyone else?'

And smile ... that I believe will always create an intangible 'beauty'.

Life not going the way I thought it would? Well maybe I need to change my direction? Maybe the course I'm on is not the one for me?

Perhaps TODAY is the day I'll start a new life! Or at least start to think about it?

Or, if I don't want to do all that thinking maybe I'll just start with ....

'Today I will enjoy each moment ... it's the only July 13 2021 I will ever get!'

 

Positive thought


All that You Do

Have you ever wondered what the world would be like if we were all just a bit nicer and a bit kinder to each other? 

A little less self centred, a little more considerate of others?

If you've been reading this blog for the past few days you'll know that I'm a bit thoughtful at the moment ... and I've been thinking about the world we create.

Kindness is a big thing for me and in fact I'm beginning to work on a project about that with a friend - more about that later.

But today, as I continue to think about my impact on the world, my influence and the world I want to live in and to leave for others, I turn to the Bible for ultimate wisdom.

In the New Testament in one of Paul's letter to the Corinthians he says this ... 

Do everything in love ! Love without stopping!

Those words come from different translations of 1 Corinthians Chapter 16 verse 14, respectively the New International Version and The Message.

In the old King James Version it's put like this ...

Let all that you do be done with love.

Imagine what the world would be like if we all did even a little bit of that. 

What a perfect thought for a Sunday especially.

 

In love


Not Alone

I was chatting to a doctor recently who explained that one of the issues he sees more and more, especially with his older patients, is loneliness.

It's a real issue which affects not just their mental health but their physical wellbeing. 

This past year, with the coronavirus pandemic restricting our movements, many of us have become more lonely. Some have had to spend many hours on our own without company, friends, family. While some have, I'm sure, enjoyed doing their own thing without interruption, for some it's had a terrible effect on their wellbeing.

Governments across the world, including in the UK, are now recognising that this is having an impact on millions of people, and have realised that it is having and will have dreadful consequences for health services in the future. They've researched the subject, commissioned reports from experts and are devising policies to combat loneliness. 

Loneliness 'Networks', funding for charities working to alleviate people's loneliness, 'Let's Talk Loneliness' strategies ... and so on and so on...Some of those policies are being implemented, but when it comes to long term government plans, well it can all take quite a while to materialise.

And here's a thought.

What happens when the government and even charity priorities shift as they inevitably will? What happens when the funding dries up?

While I applaud the official research and the sentiments of support being expressed, and hope it will result in lonely people feeling ... well, not so lonely ... I think there's more to this than just policies and strategies. As well as all the 'official stuff' it's also down to us personally to make a difference in a lonely world.

One of the things that the pandemic taught us was that sometimes we have to work hard to help people out of their loneliness. Now restrictions are lifting we can do more than phoning people once a week or once a month, or dropping bags of groceries on the doorstep. Perhaps we all need just to think of others a bit more. Be a good neighbour, knock on the door, chat to someone in the street. Recognise that people may be hiding their loneliness with bravado, false smiles and fake humour.

Some people's problems go very deep and we can't solve everything for them, even with all the policies and strategies in the world, but we can walk alongside them, letting them know that whatever they are going through, they are not alone. Reaching out a hand of friendship, a listening ear and a neighbourly smile.

What a thought!

When someone is broken


Positive Thinking

Today I'm thinking about being positive.

If you're a 'glass half full' sort of person, the kind who usually views the world optimistically, you might do all this automatically. But if you're a 'glass half empty' type of individual who might be inclined to look at the world rather pessimistically, I hope this might help.

Sometimes we need to work at being positive because there is so much which can bring us down if we let it. 

And if you need to get started ... here are just a few tips to being more positive or at least to start us down that Positivity Road!

Have a great day everyone!

How to be positive


Never Look Down on Others

Have you ever met someone who acts 'superior'? Or at least thinks they are above everyone else?

You know what I'm talking about. Those people who believe that in all sorts of ways they are 'better' than the people around them.

They earn more, they live in better houses, have better jobs, wear better clothes, go on better holidays. They believe they are more popular and live 'better' lives than all those around them because they mix in 'better' circles, go to parties filled probably with people just like themselves. They even think they are more 'beautiful' or 'handsome' than those around them and they look down on those who they don't consider up to THEIR standards in life.

I've met people like that. And actually on occasion I've had people tell me to my face, or at least imply, that they ARE superior to me and that I am worthless!

To have someone say to you that they believe that you are a 'has-been' and 'over the hill' - yes one person actually told me that to my face - or not quite up to the mark when it comes to looks and style, is not just upsetting but can also be described as simple 'bullying'.  It can be detrimental to your mental health and wellbeing and certainly your inner happiness.

At least for a while.

Or at least if you allow yourself to dwell on it or allow their toxicity to affect your sense of 'being'.

Fortunately over the years I've rationalised this a bit and I've come to the conclusion that many of those who think they are 'superior' may actually be quite insecure themselves. They rely on the 'outer' and the superficial rather than in the 'inner' hidden assets and values that beautiful people carry within their characters and souls. I feel quite sad for them and worry that such reliance on the superficial things in life means they may be missing out on so much that is lovely in the world, including the people around them who might even become friends if they weren't quite so judgemental.

Sadly, there are those people, of course, who are just basically selfish and self-centred, think they know it all and have the right to judge others, and can't actually admit even to themselves that they might not be so great. And then there are some people who are just narcissists (or suffer from narcissism ) lack any sense of empathy, have an overrated sense of their own worth and importance, expect 'special treatment', always over exaggerate their own looks, success and power. This lack of empathy means they may take advantage of others, with little or no regret. Even if they don't suffer from an actual Narcissistic personality disorder they may be getting there.

Now, we all have an 'ego', which can be literally translated 'I' and which impels us to work and think in our own interests, but that shouldn't mean that gives us permission to feel superior or look down on others. But it does mean that we have to dig deep sometimes and think beyond ourselves and our own needs and wants and our own sense of self importance, to think kindly about others.

I saw this quote from Jesse Jackson, the American political activist, Baptist minister, and politician, and it inspired me.

Ok, so it also brought back those horrible memories, but once in a while it's good to remind oneself how far we've travelled in life, the trials we've faced and the people and experiences that have helped us to overcome the negative.  And it reminds me that in addition to not looking down on others, perhaps we should try also to help those we notice who are struggling.

I do hope you don't have any 'superiors' in your life but if you do, I pray there will be strong people around you to lift you up.

 

Helping them up


Choose Day

It's Tuesday. I saw this and thought it was fun!

Today I choose to be happy, to smile at people and to be kind! 

I choose not to be negative.

I choose to be positive.

Have a great day!

ChooseDay