old age

A 17th century Prayer

In my traveling and musings through the years, I’ve collected lots of sayings and readings that I find inspiring. I'm not a 'collector' of many things, but I do have a store of inspirational thoughts which I sometimes dip into.

I may share some of them with you from time to time ...

And here’s one of them.

Just proves  I think that us humans never change really … and the older I get, the more this seems to resonate with me.


I do not want to be a saint but......

Lord, Thou knowest better than I know myself, that I am growing older and will some day be old.

Keep me from getting talkative and particularly from the fatal habit of thinking I may say something on every subject and on every occasion.

Release me from the craving to try to straighten out everybody's affairs.

Make me thoughtful, but not moody; helpful but not bossy.

With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all, but Thou knowest Lord, that I want a few friends at the end.

Keep my mind from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point.

Seal my lips from my aches and pains. They are increasing, and my love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by.

I ask for grace enough to listen to the tales of others' pains. Help me to endure them with patience.

Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally, it is possible that I may be mistaken.

Keep me reasonably sweet. I do not want to be a saint. Some of them are hard to live with, but a sour old woman is one of the crowning works of the devil.

Help me to extract all possible fun out of life. There are so many funny things around us and I do not want to miss any of them.


By a 17th century nun

Happiness and Joy

I guess if you asked people what they wanted out of life, apart from a long list of ‘stuff’, many of us would ultimately say  ‘I just want to be happy!’

However, I'm also guessing that for many people, happiness might feel just out of reach.

'If only I could .. get married, have a family, win the lottery, have the ideal job, pass my exams, live in a bigger and better house, have huge success and recognition, surround myself with beautiful things, enjoy dream holidays etc etc etc  … THEN ... then I’ll be happy!’

Big ambitions sometimes come with unrealistic expectations and the reality might be that being ‘happy’ is often elusive, because once we have attained one goal, we realise that it’s not made us whole, or completely happy, so we look forward to the next thing, or person, or situation which will ensure our ultimate happiness.

Now I'm not saying having dreams and ambitions is unimportant. I actually believe the opposite, I think having dreams and striving for them is vital. Well it is for me anyway. Some of the big dreamers in history have been those who have changed the world. Invented, created and made life better for their communities and the world! If I had not had some big dreams and pushed myself towards them even despite my own insecurities, I would not have done half the things I've managed to do.

But what I'm asking myself today is ... if our dreams and ambitions are just about US and the things we own or have, is that a recipe for happiness? Or might it be more about what we can do for others as well?

This whole idea of Happiness is something that has been occupying my mind recently. What REALLY  makes me happy?

I am a ‘glass half full’ person I think – not a ‘glass half empty’ person  -  more positive then negative. But sometimes I have wondered ... Am I really happy? And, to be more specific, am I JOYFUL?

And is there a difference?

I’ve read lots of really confusing things about the difference between Happiness and Joy.

Some say that 'Happiness' is more about what we do to make ourselves feel more contented and that can be short lived, whereas 'Joy' is deeper than that. It's connected more to your inner self, perhaps even to God, if you're that way inclined. It’s longer lasting, it survives even though the world around you might be falling apart.

As a child I remember being happy, and even joyful. Often.

I remember laughing a lot. Of course, I also remember being sad and insecure, but I remember getting pleasure out of really simple things – like running around on a beach, swimming, playing with my brothers, sitting on a fence looking at pigs, watching the cows coming in for milking. Yes I grew up on a farm!

I suppose at the time I didn’t realise how happy I was. Having ‘fun’ and being happy just seemed natural. I was fortunate to have a great childhood and I don't take it for granted and know I was and am very blessed. 

Later, going to university, travelling the world, starting out in my chosen career in journalism and broadcasting, meeting new friends ... although it did bring some challenges and it meant conquering my fears, having new experiences, however scary,  it was all exciting and that in itself made me happy.

Things are different these days and as I grow older, I ask myself - am I less 'happy' now? Or is it just different?

And the question I ask myself today is - are the things I do to make myself Happy also giving me Joy?

Well, my idea of fun and happiness has altered. Now a night in front of the TV is fun, or at least relaxing at the end of a long day. And a swim in the ocean and a walk on the beach are simple things, but enough to make me joyful. Yes, really 'joyful', feeling connected to the universe and yes, to God! Because these simple things are not just about having more things materialistically, but just breathing through life, appreciating what I have and the world I inhabit, recognising that there are things I can still do to help improve the world around me and the lives of others. 

I honestly find I don't need the rush of 'excitement' as much as I did in the past. Work, ongoing family responsibilities and not forgetting the stress of living through a global pandemic,  can make life feel a bit monotonous, and it would be easy just to let these situations overwhelm me. So finding 'joy' in the little things of life is important. Spending time with family members, having a coffee with a friend, feeling the wind in my hair, and that sea swimming I mentioned, which you'll hear more about at another time  - it's all 'small stuff' but there's nothing wrong with that.

It doesn't mean I won't stop dreaming, but maybe it'll put my ambitions into some sort of perspective.

Onwards and Upwards in Joy!







New Dreams

On this final day of August, I guess it's a time to be a bit reflective.

Although I'm hoping that there are still a few weeks of summer weather left, it is a time when the seasons are changing. 

Schools will go back soon here in Jersey, changes are in the air, lots of us are thinking about the months ahead and how we might spend our time.

Some of us might be contemplating a change. Maybe time to start thinking about moving, or changing our jobs.  Although we know that the New Year can often be the catalyst for transformation of some kind, I believe that actually autumn time is when some of the thinking might begin. It feels like change is in the air, and that can affect our psyche and maybe make us a bit restless, and yearn for the 'different'. Maybe it's a time to reassess what we may want in life and to set new goals for ourselves. That could be not just to progress our careers and ADD to our workload but it could mean to think again about HOW we are spending the precious time we are given.

With that in mind, today I just want to share this inspiring thought from one of my favourite authors.

New dreamCS Lewis is best known for the Narnia Chronicles series of stories and books for children... that's how I first got to know him.

But CS Lewis was also a Christian and wrote loads of books about faith... including another of my favourite books, The Screwtape Letters, which is the fictional correspondence between the Devil and an apostle or minor devil. It's a very clever and weirdly sideways look at Christian faith. It's challenging and thought provoking but also quite fun actually. 

By the way, you may not know this, but CS Lewis was good friends with JRR Tolkien, author of  The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series of books. The  Screwtape Letters is dedicated to Tolkien, who was also a Christian, a Roman Catholic actually whose faith apparently was a significant factor in Lewis's conversion from atheism to Christianity,

CS Lewis wasn't afraid of change, or to dream  of a better life. You only have to read the Narnia Books to see a glimpse of that... so I'm very happy to take a bit of advice from him when it comes to my own 'dreams'. 

Life for me in the past six months or so has a bit changeful and I'm still waiting really to see what might lie ahead. It's easy to think as you get older that it may not be possible to change one's life, set new goals and go after our dreams... but these wise words from Lewis really encourage me to think out of that box.

As you step into these final few months of 2021, if you have unfulfilled dreams maybe now is an opportunity to really contemplate what the future may look like!

Be inspired!

Keep Dreaming!


How Can I Keep from Singing?

Today I'm celebrating a favourite and brilliant actress ... an amazing performer and a real inspiration to me and to many millions more.

She's renowned for playing Queens of England on film ... Queen Elizabeth 1 and Queen Victoria spring to mind. But she's so much more ... and she's graced our stages and TV and movie houses for many years, and she's still going strong.

In recent years younger audiences will know her for playing 'M' the chief of MI6 in eight James Bond films but for those of us with slightly longer memories we will recall her time on TV in Shakespearean classics, amazing movies and in gentle British comedic dramas like A Fine Romance and As Time Goes By'. There are also fairly recent roles in popular movies like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel  and thought provoking and challenging roles in films like Philomena, one of my particular favourites.

I'm talking, of course, about the wonderful Dame Judi Dench, who's birthday it is today.

Dame Judi was born on December 9th in 1934 and she is, without doubt, one of the best actresses in British history. She's played every part under the sun, from Shakespeare and classical plays with companies like the National Theatre Company and the Royal Shakespeare Company to stage musicals like Cabaret. She's won so many awards down the years, it's astonishing. Dame Judi is a multi-award winning performer, including seven Academy Award nominations - she won the Oscar or Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Queen Elizabeth I in the movie Shakespeare in Love - and during a lifetime's work she's been honoured with Olivier Awards, BAFTAS, Golden Globe Awards, a Tony ... the list goes on. And, of course, she's been recognised at the very highest level by the Queen of England with several titles, including the honour which made her a 'Dame' in 1988... when she was awarded the title of Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

Dame Judi is not just hugely talented and charitable but also feisty. She's not afraid to speak out on stuff like injustice. And she's been very outspoken on the prejudice she has encountered against 'older' actresses in the movie industry. She is reported as saying she is tired of being told that she's too old to try new things.

In 2014 she told the Hollywood Reporter: 'I should be able to decide for myself if I can't do things and not have someone tell me I'll forget my lines or I'll trip and fall on the set. [...] Age is a number. It's something imposed on you. It drives me absolutely spare when people say, 'Are you going to retire? Isn't it time you put your feet up?' Or tell me [my] age."

Good on you Dame Judi ... I absolutely love that. That's one of the reasons why Dame Judi inspires me ... and I suspect that the older I get,  the more I feel I may rant against a world which wants to put me in a compartment and define me through their own 'ageist' prejudices and tell me what older people may or may not do. We need more people like Judi Dench to speak out against this sort of ageist nonsense. She's proved time and again that age is no barrier to excellence.

And here's another thing about Dame Judi and one you may not know - she has been a Quaker since she was a school girl, and her Christian faith is very important to her. In 2013 she is reported to have said of her faith ..."I think it informs everything I do. [...] I couldn't be without it."

As I said ... inspiring.

So to celebrate Dame Judi's birthday today I'm actually turning to one of her most recent projects... a song recorded by the singer/TV presenter Aled Jones with Dame Judi narrating ... It's on his 2020 album 'Blessings'.

'How can I keep from Singing?' is an adaptation of an American folk song and hymn written originally in the 19th century by the American preacher and hymnwriter Robert Wadsworth Lowry and it's beautiful. 

Just take a moment and listen to the words...it'll lift your spirit!

How can I keep from singing

My life flows on in endless song above the earth's lamentation
I hear the real, though far-off hymn that hails a new creation
No storm can shake my inmost calm while to that rock I'm clinging
It sounds an echo in my soul...
How can I keep from singing?
What though the tempest 'round me roars? I know the truth it liveth
What though the darkness 'round me close? Songs in the night it giveth
No storm can shake my inmost calm while to that rock I'm clinging
Since Love is Lord of heaven and earth...
How can I keep from singing?
I lift my eyes, the cloud grows thin I see the blue above it
And day by day this pathway smooths ... since first I learned to love it
The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart. A fountain ever springing
(All things are mine since I am his)
How can I keep from singing?
(How can I keep from singing?)

Happy Birthday Dame Judi! Keep on being brilliant and strong and wonderful!