Tuesday, 31 January 2012

A Challenging Time at the Cinema

Another day without real purpose. It's interesting I should say that because it sounds as if my day was pointless. I don't feel it was pointless. I just didn't have anything specific I must do. When you are in gainful employment, be it working for someone else or, if you are self employed the day revolves around doing. In my opinion the main thing about being a retiree is that I don't really have things I must do beyond those to maintain a reasonable lifestyle. 

So today after some interesting chat on twitter about authors and criticism I decided to go to the cinema to see The Iron Lady. I thought long and hard before going to see the film because of my continued antipathy towards Margaret Thatcher. Antipathy which had started when she earned the name 'Margaret Thatcher Milk Snatcher' in 1970. I know that she must have had some redeeming qualities but in my considered opinion they were very difficult to see. Much was made of her being the first woman to gain top office but that wasn't about being female but playing the men at their own game. If the film is to be believed,  it was about her being her father's daughter or, a clone of her father. She had little interest in her mother who appeared to be the head cook and bottle washer of that particular relationship. 

The film itself is good insofar as it's well made. I wasn't sure about it using Thatcher's dementia as a way of telling the story. It somehow doesn't seem appropriate and detracts from a true depiction. It's shot in flashback and with Dennis Thatcher as a ghostly presence in her deluded state. Instead of the intransigence she was noted for we are presented with admirable determination and a woman who sacrificed all for her party and country. Only briefly are we shown the harder edge and though Streep's performance is a tour de force this is where the film falls down. This is a Hollywood version of the Thatcher years which if I'm honest on occasion made my blood boil. I had to resist the urge to walk out of the cinema.

I make no secret of being a life long socialist as I'm sure many who follow me on twitter will already be aware, but that doesn't mean I'm blinkered. However, I find it difficult to find anything admirable about Thatcher. This article by Germaine Greer is nearer my point of view. Meryl Streep may win an Oscar for her performance which is as I've said is good but the film ultimately fails to portray the true divisive nature of Thatcher's time in power.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Acting on Impulse - I'm Attracted To My Son's Friend

Dear Babs

I am a 42 year old mother of 3. I have been married for 20 years but if I'm honest we've not been close for years. My husband is a self employed workaholic. We spend very little time with each other. He's either working, playing golf or he's asleep. I have a good job as an administrator. I am a member of a squash club and I have people I can socialise with. I can't remember the last time we had sex but I've always been happy masturbating so I've not really seen it as a problem. I know some people would find it difficult to believe but I've been reasonably content. That is until our 19 year old son's friend started coming on to me. He's attractive, with a good body and he wants me. That feels very seductive. I know I should just say no but that feels very difficult to do and part of me thinks what's the harm? Am I kidding myself? 

Dear Anonymous

The short answer I'm afraid is yes I think you're kidding yourself. I think there could be a great deal of harm in acting on your impulses. I can understand the attraction of being desired especially with someone younger? But let's be clear even though this young man is technically an adult you are the one with the life experience. This is a potentially explosive situation for a number of people and I don't just mean your family unit. 

Let's say you succumbed and had sex with him. Would that be it or would you carry on? What if he wanted to carry on and you didn't? What if he disclosed to someone else about the experience? How would your son and your family feel about it? I know that sex is supposed to be sex but usually there are feelings involved. I am not responding from a moral standpoint but from a purely pragmatic point of view. I think if you take this particular genie out of the bottle it would be impossible to put it back in.

My advice would be to look at your relationship with your spouse and ask yourself is this what I want? If it is then ok but having sex with this young man in my opinion would be just scratching an itch. The choice of course is yours.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

It Started With A Fish

It started with a fish! No that's not quite true. The day had started normally for us. I was doing my Friday follow recommendations and OH was glued to the news. Suddenly he shouted 'another fish is stuck'. What he meant was one of our cherry barbs had found its way through an opening in an ornamental tower we have in our aquarium and it couldn't release itself. This had happened on a previous occasion with a happy ending but this time the fish was so badly injured we had to put it out of its misery. 

We were both upset. After all it is sad when any living creature dies but because I'm not emotionally attached to the fish I accepted it had happened and turned back to what I was doing. My spouse felt unable to do that. He was really affected. He is a softy when it comes to pets of any kind so to some extent his response was normal.  However, after awhile I started to feel irritated because his response seemed out of all proportion to the demise of the fish. I mean this is a man who is an enthusiastic fisherman and though he tells me it's not painful for the fish to be pulled through the water I am not convinced it's fun for it either. Anyway back to fish, aquariums and upset.

What was it that made my OH respond in that way and how could I shrug it off?  I think in part he was feeling guilty about not removing the tower after the first incident. We had agreed it was a hazard now the fish are bigger but we hadn't and the accident occurred. But what made him feel the guilt so profoundly? After all we are both invested in 'doing the right thing' and yet I was able to accept the unfortunate incident whilst he was metaphorically wailing and gnashing his teeth.

I tried to speak to him about it but he would not be drawn. We went for our walk with Billy Westie and not a word was uttered. If I tell you we usually have a good natter you'll get my drift. So by now I'm feeling grumpy and it's starting to infect our day. I'm thinking for goodness sake shake yourself chuck we don't even know which cherry barb it was!  I don't know whether that's relevant but it seemed it to me. But no my love continued to stay in the slough of despond and I'm really hacked off.  I realise I run the risk of seeming hard or unsympathetic and I know that there shouldn't be a hierarchy of response but in my world the death of an aquarium fish isn't a major disaster. It's regrettable but.... 

Perhaps I have become inured to suffering after all counsellors listen to very disturbing stories and if the client is to heal we have to show we can handle it. However, I don't really feel it's that. I often find myself overwhelmed reading about or watching other people's pain and suffering. I think it's about connection and attachment. If I can connect I feel. I don't connect with aquarium fish. I think they're pretty and calming to watch but I have nothing invested in them. By the way I don't think my OH has either. I think he was connecting with his failure to do what he thought was the right thing.

So what happened next? I went out to meet a friend and by the time I returned he'd recovered his equilibrium. We've taken the tower out of the tank and we're just off now to buy something to replace it and to look at some other fish. In our household that could be the basis of another trauma!

What about you? How would you have responded to this situation?

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Lorraine's Lesbian Relationship

Dear Babs

I will be 40 in a couple of months. I have a good job, my own home and a cat. I divorced a couple of years ago and I have no regrets about that. It was the right thing to do. My ex has since remarried and seems idyllically happy and we now get on better than when we were married. When our only daughter married just before Christmas he gave her away and we were all able to have a really enjoyable time. So why am I writing to you? I have recently formed a relationship with a woman at work and I think I love her. She has told me she feels the same. She now wants to meet my daughter and my friends but I'm not sure I'm ready for that. She acknowledges she's gay and she's been out since she was a teenager. Her family accept her and she has lots of gay friends. But me, everyone thinks I'm heterosexual. I can't even begin to think of the impact on everyone. I think my family will be mortified. I don't want to sacrifice the relationship but I am so scared. I don't know what to do.

Dear Lorraine

I read your message thinking how clear thinking and together you were until you started speaking about your current relationship. I won't be disingenuous and make out everyone is cool about sexual orientation because that's not the case. However, you say you love each other and that your partner is comfortable with herself and her sexuality and is serious about you. Isn't the question then, how are you going to share your relationship with those close to you? My suggestion would be to start with someone you trust, perhaps one of your close friends or a member of your family and then when you're comfortable proceed in an orderly fashion. However, I find it interesting that you haven't disclosed to anyone before? Perhaps your fear speaks of your own discomfort rather than anyone else's? My feeling is that those who are close to you will eventually come around even if they are initially shocked. My experience tells me that your daughter will probably be more preoccupied with her new relationship than yours. I'm assuming your parents are still living and are probably in their 60's and again could possibly see you being happy as more important than the gender of your partner. Of course I could be wrong you may come from a family who are less accepting and will struggle with the situation. It seems to me that the end of the day that if you want to keep the relationship perhaps you will need to feel the fear and do it anyway. 

As a postscript my observations are not a substitute for counselling and that whilst it seems pretty clear to me you may find it useful to speak to someone about coming out

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Plans, Goals and Just Being

This morning has been like most recent mornings with breakfast, news, music and before you can ask what time is it? A couple of hours have whisked by. Today was different, however, because I had decided I needed to get back on track and start blogging. What I was going to write about wasn't clear but I was optimistic that something would occur that would inspire me and dear reader it did. 

The idea came from one of the numerous quotes that pop up on my twitter time line and resulted in me reflecting on how in our current society goal setting seems de rigueur. The tweet was roughly 'the only goal you need is to have a goal'. I mulled over the idea that things get done and achieved for most people without them ever considering they're setting goals or making plans. Now I don't  want the coaches and trainers among you to think I'm disrespecting you because I'm not. I've used planning techniques with clients and in a personal sense and have found them very useful. It's just that sometimes I get fed up with the idea that happiness lies in success and the only way to be successful is to have a goal and a plan. Because in truth some of the best things that have happened to me have been a case of serendipity?

I think plans and goals come into there own if you want a particular job, or say in a personal sense if you feel dissatisfied, or unhappy, because if you know what makes you feel that way you can take a pragmatic approach and sort it. Even if the answer is 'I feel there's something more to life'. There are the questions you can ask yourself to promote clarity for example (1) what makes me feel that? (2) What constitutes more? (3) What can I do to resolve it?  After asking these questions it may be that one of the the answers you come up with is to seek counselling or to put more enjoyment into your life and both are achievable goals. However, both of them could cost money so unless you already have the funds you would be off making another plan on how to get the money which now becomes a goal in itself.

So plans are good, goals are good it's just that they're not in my opinion the whole shebang. What seems far more important to me at this point in my life is acquiring the ability of acceptance and to just be. This isn't a new idea for me. I've been talking about acceptance and just being in a professional sense for years. Recently, however, I've been exploring the idea  in a very personal sense and it is pretty good. I am enjoying the desultory nature of my days and the freedom that retirement has brought. However, when I mentioned just being I meant something more than reacting to whatever the day brings. What I really mean by just being is acquiring a level of self acceptance which says, this is who I am, this is where I am, and it's OK. 

So what do I know at the moment? I know I like being retired, I know I am happy in my relationship, I know I am loving, I know I am funny, I know I am irascible, I know I get angry, I know I am kind, I know I am unfit, I know I am overweight, I know I am scared of losing my edge, I know I need to trust in the universe. 

So you could ask is just being accepting all of that? In a sense yes. It's accepting that this is where I am and this is how it is now. Will it always be like that? It could be but it probably won't be. For example it's a fair bet that I'll still have a tendency to irascibility but that matters less because it's offset by kindness. Will I remain overweight and unfit definitely not and for that I have a plan! 

Monday, 16 January 2012

Beth's Bind - I Don't Want Sex With My Husband

Hello Babs

I have read your problem page with interest and of course your blog. I know that you have not been well recently but I wondered if you could help me. I have been married for fifteen years to a good man. He loves me and our children and he does everything you could ask of a partner. The problem is I do not feel for him the way I feel a wife should. I love him Iike a friend or brother. I am not attracted to him at all physically in fact when he tries to have sex with me I just pull away. He knows how I feel and says it's ok that eventually things will work out but I'm not sure. I have been flirting with one of my colleagues who I'm very attracted to. He's recently divorced with no children so any complications would be on my side. He has told me he likes me and would be happy to just see me when it's convenient to me. I feel that wouldn't be appropriate either. I don't want to be someone who cheats and my instinct is to end my marriage but I feel it would be selfish since so many people would be hurt. It seems as if everyone in the family are happy except me. I know you say you won't tell people what to do but Babs I am really struggling.

Dear Beth

My heart goes out to you because you do really sound as if you're struggling. It feels as if you've put yourself between a rock and a hard place. You don't want to have sex with your husband and you don't want to cheat and have sex with anyone else. Can I ask you what would you do if you ended your marriage? Would you seek to have a relationship with someone else who asks very little of you? In fact I'm a little intrigued as to what makes your husband asks for so little. You have children so I know you've had sex but I wonder has it ever been enjoyable? If you and your spouse had come to me for counselling or sex therapy one of the first things I would have said is I can't make anyone fancy anybody. I know you fancy your colleague but I wonder if it's principle that stops you acting on it, and of course it could be. I certainly have no wish to impugn your honour. I am thinking, however, that perhaps you are not really interested in sex with the other man but that you are enjoying the attention. 

I have several suggestions but the two important ones are that you either seek counselling as a couple or for yourself as an individual. If your life isn't as you want it then what is it you want? It sounds from what you say that sex is the only problem but that can be worked out if you want to. Help is available and there are lots of self help books. But Beth  if you don't, and only you can answer that, then perhaps it would be kinder in the long run to end your marriage now? 

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Post Op - Day Two

Another Sunday and day two after my operation. I spent a restless night. The only plus was that I got to listen to the inimitable Alan Bennett reading his audio book - Smut. Though, if I'm honest I would have preferred the sleep. I am not what you would call a sound sleeper anyway but what prevented me nodding off was the discomfort from the wound site and the fact that I've developed a rather bad cough. I am pleased with the operation which clearly went well. I've proved it with the continuous coughing. However, I am feeling grumpy. I want to concentrate on the positives and not to be thinking here we go again but there has been a little negativity creeping in.

As Sundays go it's been pretty normal except I've not been walking with my loved and pampered pooch Billy. But what's really on my mind today  is how do I stay smiling and upbeat? I guess if I were speaking with a client I would be suggesting taking time to rest and to relax because although my operation has been a relatively simple one this time it is still body trauma. Perhaps also I could spend some of the time thinking about what I want to change. When I have done that previously I have kept coming back to wanting to feel alive and fit. So what's the first step on that road? 

I think over the next few weeks I am limited as to what I can do but I'm not going to let that stop me. We have already been scrutinising how we eat and have decided to just cut back on the carbs and reduce portion size. I am going to try to walk around the block tomorrow to see how I feel. However, it will really only be a test so if I can't make I won't be despondent it'll be a bench mark. 

If you have similar experience and would like to share how you got fit or changed things around for you please let me benefit from your knowledge and leave your advice or comments.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Post Op - Day One

Day one post op and I'm feeling fine. I'm sore and achy and if I'm honest a bit wary of going to the lavatory but otherwise I'm fine. Once again I would like to mention Facebook and Twitter because I have been overwhelmed with good luck messages and support and for that I'm grateful. There will be people who think it doesn't count or it isn't real but let me tell you it makes me feel loved so hey bring it on!

I have had visits from my daughter and eldest granddaughter. I suppose there's nothing remarkable in that after all I see them all the time but again the offer of support is important. My son called me and I have had loving messages from my daughter in law and most of my grandchildren which I appreciate and phone calls from friends all of which boosted my moral. But the best thing is that my OH is there with me all the way and is there even though it's inevitable that I'll chew his ear during the healing process. I confess I am not the easiest patient. I am pernickety and hate not being in control. He is also a controller but in a covert way!

We have been married for fifty years come August and it seems like only yesterday. No I wouldn't cancel it if it was tomorrow though I've cracked that particular joke for years! It hasn't all be unalloyed happiness and it would be fair to say the most difficult have been the last ten years since my OH's retirement. He didn't find the process easy and then went for broke when he had his second heart attack and developed prostate cancer to make it more interesting! My twitter mate Robert Cragg wrote about loss of identity after retirement and I think my spouse certainly felt that. I also feared it but to date that hasn't been the case. Anyway I digress I wanted to speak about the support we can access not necessarily from our family but from friends on the net.   

I have found and continue to find my interactions via the social networks stimulating and nurturing. Yes I've experienced a bit of bother secondhand but that's nothing in comparison to all the positives I've received. Yes there are charlatans and users but the vast majority are ordinary people who want to reach out and connect. Ok had I not been online I would have still had the operation and the support from my inner circle but I am online and as a result I'm able to access good feelings on an enormous scale. That for a girl like me who in childhood felt unloved and unwanted counts for something!  

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Anonymous Bullying Part 2

I'm feeling thoughtful today. I had my pre-op tests yesterday and all seems well. I have, it would be fair to say, had a few ups and downs over the last year but I am determined to make 2012 a much better year. To that end I have, as promised, been putting in place small changes to ensure both emotional and physical fitness. 

One of the emotions I've always had easy access to is anger. I sometimes think I came out of the womb angry. But even if that wasn't the case I certainly learned all about it in my early life. However, I've blogged about that before so I won't repeat myself at this juncture.

I started thinking about it yesterday when I was writing the post on anonymous bullying. I was really cross with this individual (who keeps popping up in various guises) invading my space. Those of you who know me know as they say in Yorkshire 'I call a spade a shovel'. I also shoot straight from the hip. I have no truck with duplicity. I like my interactions honest. I can deal with other people being angry. I do not like being blamed for their responses or being held responsible for their reactions.  

Today I have received yet another comment for Mr or Mrs Anonymous which read 

'Is asking a reasonable question classes as bullying?' (sic) 

The answer to that dear reader is no but what you were offering was not a reasonable question it was a highly contentious question with an intent to incite or wound. So once again I would say if you have an axe to grind then do so in the right quarter you will not gain a voice on my blog. I apologise if that frustrates you but there it is. The blog is for intelligent debate not for for slagging off. As they say 'them are the rules' follow them and I'll post the comment but if you don't your response is destined for the trash can. 

I am no longer angry but instead I feel sorry for someone who feels so impotent to change things that instead they lash out. Do yourself a favour mate let it go because life is too short! 

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Anonymous Bullying

One of the Potential Problems with Blogging as far as I can see is that one can be opening up an arena for anonymous bullies. To date I have been very fortunate on that score. I have been respectful to others and others have been respectful to me. However, a couple of days ago something quite disconcerting happened. I had suggested a debate asking whether children should be dressed as mini adults and I received a couple of comments. The comments were not about what I had said but to what one of my respondents had said. Both comments were not pertinent to the debate and were obviously meant to be contentious and insulting and though initially I printed them I then decided to delete them. 

This morning I received another comment which read

 'Do only posts that agree with you go on here or are people able to share opinions?! Or is it that some people posting don't like the truth?! 

and so I decided to deal with it here and now. The answer is that you do not have to agree with what I have said and I am quite happy to print your responses. In fact I welcome debate. What I do not welcome and I am not happy to print is abuse. I will not allow my blog to be used to bully anyone and nor will I be bullied. I would suggest that the person or persons who are emailing me from a yahoo account desist forthwith and if you wish to air your views then air them with the person concerned and not on my blog.

To the other readers of my blog please keep coming back and sharing with me. I really do appreciate every one of you and I feel very lucky that you connect with me and the things I have to say.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Phil's Problem - We Don't Agree on Retirement

Hi Babs

I am a 60 year old teacher and I am about to retire. My wife retired a couple of years ago and after a few hiccoughs settled into it. In fact our life together has been pretty good. She took over the household chores and the day to day running of the house and still found time for herself so she was pretty contented and so was I because it meant I was freed up to relax when not working. Now though with retirement looming we've already started to squabble about how life will be once I finish work at Easter. 

We have been married for 30 years and I would say our life together is settled. We're not in the first flush of youth after all. Sex has been good. It's less frequent now but when it happens it's still good. We know what each other like and we are both considerate of each other's needs. But now it seems after all those years of consensus  we're at loggerheads. What would you advise? 

Dear Phil 

Thanks for writing to me. By the sound of it you're suffering from pre-retirement nerves and I can empathise with that. But you know this could be a really good phase in your life. I would suggest that you and your wife write down what you both want from retirement and then compare lists. You may find you have more in common than you think. In my experience couples often fear what life will be like together when they no longer work but if you think about it there is no reason for it to be problematic. If you co-operated when you both worked and you've been able to co-operate while only you have worked then why should this be different? If you stick to the rules of me time, couple time and family time it should all work out fine. I find myself repeating this mantra but good relationships are about co-operation and working out a win win solution. If you can be married for 30 years and have a sex life where you can both be considerate of each other's needs then I think you can be considerate of each others wants. Good luck with the retirement. 

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Should Children be Dressed as Mini Adults?

A very early start today after Billy Westie decided to rouse us from our bed this morning with a bout of loud barking. To be fair he rarely does that. He usually waits quietly for us to wake but today he decided to call the alarm. It was probably one of the local cats crossing the garden.

Today is like any other Sunday. We plan to have no plan. It's usually Andrew Marr, newspapers, dog walking and copious amounts of coffee which works very nicely. This morning, however, we also decided to watch The Big Question hosted by Nicky Campbell and what a disappointment that was. The questions were good but the audience were divided into opposing teams and on each question a stance was taken and not shifted from and Campbell's attitude in my opinion served to trivialise rather than invite real debate.

I want to see if I can do any better in promoting debate and one of the questions I'm interested in is the sexualisation of children. I feel very much that our children aren't allowed to be children. Almost from the cradle we dress them as miniature adults. I started thinking about this yesterday. I was waiting at the checkout at the local supermarket and coming through on the next till was a grandmother and her granddaughter. The child was at a guess about seven years old. She was dressed in leggings and a leather bomber jacket. Her midriff was bare and she was wearing kitten heeled boots. In my opinion the look was inappropriate. It could be that I'm out of date and or old fashioned but I don't understand why children are being dressed in such a provocative way.

Where do you stand on this? Is it ok to dress our children as mini adults or should they be dressed as children?

Saturday, 7 January 2012

HELP - Facebook is it a Forum or Simply Social

Earlier today I asked for your opinion on my Facebook page of the current controversy surrounding faulty implants. To be honest I expected to be deluged by responses but to my surprise not a dickie bird. I did ask for comments via twitter and three tweeps responded. One like me thought the private sector should be held responsible for their own work and the other two thought the NHS should help regardless. Whether either of these stances is yours doesn't matter what matters to me is that you connect. I'm at a loss? Why is it that something current and involving women gets zilch response? Is it apathy or is it Facebook? Please believe me I am not haranguing you I would simply like to know. Why do I want to know? It's because I do want to promote my page as a place where we come together and share points of view. Not necessarily world shattering events it could be just what's preoccupying you in the moment. Tell me am I flogging a dead horse or is there some way to make it happen?

Friday, 6 January 2012

A Day of Disappointments

A day of disappointments but nevertheless I am still feeling positive. So positive that I'm finding it difficult to believe it. I do hope it continues because it is preferable to how I have felt since May of last year. Even the GP saying today that he wanted to continue the investigations and that I may need another operation hasn't sent me into a spin.

Today was set to be a good day. I was due to go to book club. We were discussing poetry and I was really looking forward to it. But OH was in some considerable pain so I cancelled and took him to the doctors instead. The diagnosis was a frozen shoulder and it sounds as if it'll be some time before the problem is resolved.  Now what I'm thinking and what I've said to OH is that whether I or we get upset about what's happening we still have the same problem so in my opinion it's far better to resolve things as they occur than rail against the fates. 

My first concern as I was saying yesterday is to be as fit as I can be before my operation on Friday. I will fulfil that but ironically it's likely to be achieved through chores rather than specific exercise. But that's ok the main thing is to feel as fit and as healthy as I can. I am a little worried that OH won't be fit enough to take up the slack and look after me but there's not much I can do about that so I'm going with the flow.

I keep you informed of my progress but this going with the flow has much to commend it.  

Thursday, 5 January 2012

The Best is Yet to Come - Retirement Part One

How am I feeling this first real week into my retirement? I know I finished work before Christmas but I've not really had a normal week without working before. 

I ended 2011 feeling unwell and despondent but whether it was all the red wine I drank on New Year's Eve or, the pep talk both my children gave me or, a combination of the two I don't know but I woke up New Years Day feeling different. Feeling as if the best is yet to come. Since then I've kept to my plan. Each morning I decide on three things I want to complete or achieve that day. They aren't necessarily massive just things that want doing. That way I figure I'll keep a sense of achievement. I think I have finally got my head around not doing everything. For example Jim has been ill today which has meant that the everyday chores were my responsibility. So I've contented myself with walking the dog, cleaning half of the kitchen cupboards and looking after the invalid. I know a few years ago that wouldn't have been enough and I would have stretched myself to doing 'everything' but I wouldn't have been happy. I would have been stressed and feeling martyred. Today I've done less but feel much better. 

I intend spending the next week keeping up the momentum with my new  healthy regime. I haven't made a big change to the way I eat because we have always eaten healthily but I have reduced portions and I've cut back on the drinking. No alcohol in the week at all and only moderate drinking at the weekend. I have also stepped up the exercise and have included Zumba and treadmill work to my usual dog walk. Again I'm not going for broke just going for gradual improvement.

Next Friday I have another op this time on my bladder. I am hoping I recover quickly and resume my regime without too much difficulty. After that I want to think about putting something into my life which is mentally stimulating. But until then I'll just keep to the initial plan of getting fit. 

The Power of Integrity and Passive Resistance

Yesterday I went to the cinema to see The Lady. It is the story of Aung San Suu Kyi the pro democracy activist and leader of the Burmese opposition party and her husband Oxford academic Michael Aris. I guess at heart it's a love story and an example of the sacrifice of individual happiness for the greater good. 
The story is made more powerful by knowing it's true and for me there were moments when I was truly horrified by the unfolding events. There seems to have been no heinous act that the ruling generals would be unwilling to commit to enable them to hold onto their power. This thought provoking film has made me reflect on the power of integrity and passive resistance.

I guess Mahatma Gandhi is the name that immediately sprang to my mind when I started to think of passive resistance and Aung San Suu Kyi is seen reading him and absorbing his philosophy in the film. One of his powerful quotations she repeats is 'you may not think of politics but politics thinks of you'. Though Gandhi is thought of as a pacifist there was nothing passive about Gandhi. He was proactive in the extreme. The passive in this context really means non violent. Nelson Mandela was another proponent of this method and both men were hugely successful in moving their countries towards freedom and democracy. 

Of course Aung San Suu Kyi, Gandhi and Mandela are big characters with big causes but their example can be used in a much smaller way in our everyday lives. By that I mean we can highlight injustice and work to eradicate it. We can get involved with the political party of our choice. We can support charities. We can give time to helping others. We can petition. We can vote. We can shake off apathy and get involved. That's my take what do you think?

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Jade's Anger and Disappointment

Dear Babs

 I am a 24 year old administrator and I have been seeing my boyfriend who is 20 for a year. I love him and he says he loves me and we've talked on and off about moving in together but we've never actually agreed to do it. I think it would be fair to say I'm keener than him but I haven't actually put on the pressure. Now my flatmate has decided to move in with her boyfriend which means I need someone to share. I thought when my boyfriend knew the situation he would offer to move in but he hasn't and now I'm feeling angry with him because it feels as if he doesn't care and with my friend for leaving me in the lurch.  I know the sensible thing to do would be to talk to both of them but I'm not sure I can do it without it resulting in slanging match. I hate confrontation and I'm usually anything for a quiet life but this has really wound me up and I am so disappointed in them both.

 Dear Jade 

 Thank you for writing to me. I agree 'the sensible thing to do would be to talk to both of them' but I'm not sure what you would like to say. On the face of it both of them are exercising choice? It seems to me that your flatmate has the right to end her arrangement with you and move in with her boyfriend. It sounds as if she's given you due notice so I'm wondering why you feel angry with her after all if your boyfriend had decided to move in with you it would have been ideal.  

 I do understand you being disappointed but I'm wondering if in fact your boyfriend is doing you a favour because if he doesn't really want to live with you then it's better you know. I understand you've talked about it but you've not actually said why you were considering it. Reading between the lines it sounds as if you see it as the next step? At 20 he is very young for domesticity so I'm wondering whether he feels rushed? I know there's only four years between you but that can make a lot of difference when your young. I think it would be fair to say young men of that age are often emotionally immature.  I think sitting down with him and sharing your feelings would be a good idea but you need to know what's happening for him as well. I have a hunch that's there's lots going on. Finally I think looking for someone else to share with you even if it's only on a short term basis would be a good idea. That way it gives you both some breathing space.