Monthly Archives: January 2015

Show Compassion – Save A Teddy Bear

Nicki

Meet my teddy bear, Nicki (an avid reader). I’ve had him since I was born in Coventry, at which time he was bought in Hamley’s. And that’s a long time ago, as I’m turned thirty now (the Internet says so, so it must be true). I love him in a way I love no other inanimate object. A teddy bear can be so much more than a possession. A childhood companion, friend – even family. Nicki’s come with me round the world, when many of my friends and family could not fit in my suitcase, so, in a way, I’ve spent more time with him than anyone. I’ve lost many things – but I’d be heartbroken to lose him, and I’m fully grown now (perhaps even shrinking, which, at five foot nothing, doesn’t seem fair). Losing him as a child would have been Armageddon.

Compassion can wear many coats, but it often involves placing yourself in someone else’s shoes, and doing what one can to make those shoes more comfortable for their original occupant. I know many people who don’t adore social media – it’s not their cup of tea. For others, it’s an all-you-can-eat buffet. I’m one of the latter – ever sold on Facebook since someone found my wallet in the street and then found me on FB so they could send it back to me, from Edinburgh to London, declining my reimbursement of postage.

A post popped up yesterday comparing Facebook to a fridge – you know nothing’s changed, but you go and open it every ten minutes anyway. Working on my own, online, it’s often a welcome break that can clear my mind for a few seconds before getting back to it. And sometimes, magical treats have appeared in the fridge while I wasn’t looking.

A case study in point. A child lost their teddy bear, Ratty, and the story popped up in my newsfeed because of a local trading group I belong to in sunny Queenstown. It made me happy (not the child losing their teddy bear – I’m not a monster – but the story’s ending. Hmm, spoiler). This adorable photo is reposted with permission.

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People sympathised. And someone who’d seen a stray bear piped up. Unfortunately, he wasn’t the one.

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But then another did the same. And it was.

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Compassion can be big or small. It still counts. It can be a case of being big now, but remembering how much bigger small things were, when you yourself were smaller. It can be not walking past something that is lost, ignoring it because it is meaningless to you, but instead picking it up, because you know that it is meaningful to someone else.

Another treat in the fridge today? A case study from Lizzi, to whom compassion is first and second nature. It was sparked by seeing someone putting themselves in someone else’s running shoes. Look around you. Is there someone doing the same? Could you help? Is there a teddy bear lying in the corner, lost and alone? Maybe pick it up.

Join us on 20th February 2015 when 1000 voices will speak out for compassion.

To join the group and meet the movement, go here: 1000 Voices for Compassion Facebook Group

To read some background, return to Lizzi, whose inspiring post beats like a heart in our village-centre, and check in with Yvonne, who called forth a body of builders to grow around it – now over a thousand strong.

To sing and dance together on Twitter, tweet #1000Speak.

#1000Speak - Listen

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A is for Adelaide, B is for Beauty, C is for Compassion

#1000Speak

I came to Adelaide three months ago, a little bit broken. I’m leaving now, a little, well, less so.

This is due in part to an unwillingness just to curl up in a corner and not participate in the world, in part to the uplifting beauty to be found all around, but, most of all, it is due to compassion.

Compassion is someone holding out their hands rather than putting them behind their back. It is someone offering you their home rather than muttering a platitude. And then putting up with you every day in that home, while you un-mire yourself.

It is patience; it is kindness; it is observance. It is empathy; it is companionship; it is hope.

The world is a mess. It is depressing. Sometimes, it seems hopeless. The news is overwhelming. The small hurts and the big hurts form a league of reasons to bury your head in the sand.

I read a post a few days ago that made me dig myself out of the sand, because I saw others sitting up, taking note, and doing it too. Within a week, there are so many people digging that tunnels through the world, connecting all sorts of countries and people have appeared. Pop through those tunnels and you find writers worth knowing – because a common strand has resonated with them and tied them together. And it’s the idea of compassion.

Showing compassion, and talking about it, writing about it, championing it – this is one way to make the right mark on the wall of the world. It is one way we can lift up the people around us, rather than trampling them, rather than ignoring them. It is a call to action. So that more and more people can feel the vibrations, pop their heads out of their sand patches, and start digging themselves.

Join us on 20th February 2015 when 1000 voices will speak out for compassion.

To join the group and start digging, go here: 1000 Voices for Compassion Facebook Group

To read some background, go to meet Lizzi, who first popped her head out the sand, and go to meet Yvonne, who picked up the first shovel.

To sing and dance together on Twitter, tweet #1000Speak.

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Through the Wardrobe with Sara Litchfield

Come back through the wardrobe with me! Where I have a cozy chat with the lovely Libby 🙂

Through The Wardrobe

I have an absolute treat for you today TTWers for we have an author-shaped guest to the blog! As you know, 2015 has been heralded (by me!) as the year of the debut novel and so I am delighted to introduce first-time author Sara Litchfield. I have known Sara for many a year as I was at school with her younger sister but fate and the love of books has realigned our stars once more and I was lucky enough to read and review her debut novel The Night Butterflies earlier this week. To get hold of a copy of this fabulous book, click here.

Now before we get down to the nitty gritty q&a, here’s a little introduction to the wonder that is author Sara Litchfield:

SaraSara is a summer writer excited to throw her fiction at the world and see where it sticks. She blogs on happiness…

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Finding Your Wings

So thrilled to read such a beautifully written and attentive review from Libby at Through The Wardrobe Door 🙂 If you pop along, you’ll find a wealth of thoughtful reviews there! I’ve found more than one brilliant book recommendation through the Wardrobe…

Through The Wardrobe

The Night Butterflies

I remember the day they burned the babies.

Imagine a stark world where medication is your only sustenance, manufactured offspring your only company and a dark secret your only hope. Where the very air is poison and the concept of humanity has been lost. This is the world of The Night Butterflies.

Litchfield centres her debut novel within a dark dystopian future, a place where learning to survive is key in the aftermath of a nuclear apocalypse but it comes at a price. Exploring the devolution of humanity in a world of uncertainty, this accomplished YA novel is told through the eyes of five different characters whose lives intertwine and influence each other’s as they search for a reason to live.

The beautifully poetic title juxtaposes the world it introduces and Litchfield consistently uses wonderfully lyrical turns of phrase to describe the harshness of her characters environment. The five…

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There And Back Again – Finding Direction In 2015

Sydney Harbour Bridge, midnight 31/12/14

Sydney Harbour Bridge, midnight 31/12/14

Happy new year! Here we are in 2015 and I hope it’s a wonderful one for you all! The festive road trip has finished and I’m back in Adelaide with much more movement to look forward to. And who knows where I’ll end up? I certainly don’t.

But that’s not a bad thing. A steady state has its comforts and attractions, but life has been a wonderful whirlwind since I left London three and half years ago, and the volatile roller coaster doesn’t seem about to stop. Coming to the beginning of a new year and looking back as well as forward – life has more highs than lows. Sometimes you just have to seek them out. Sometimes you need to take a shovel.

All I know is that it was a brilliant idea to end up in Sydney to see out the old year and in with the new – with the biggest of bangs. I adore fireworks and want to live my life like one – going off in all directions, popping, fizzing, delighting, colourful, crazy and illuminating. It doesn’t matter which way you’re going as long as you’re causing a ruckus on the way, filling as many lives as possible with light, laughter and love.

Many people will have so much they want to achieve this year, having achieved so much already – best of luck with it. Just don’t forget to stop, look around you, smell the roses, watch the sunsets, notice others, and leave the people you pass the happier for having known you. Strive as much as you like, but enrich those around you as well as yourself. Sing and dance, but invite others to add their voices and join the foxtrot. Put being plentiful in the soul before the pocket, and share.

Technically, ’tis the eleventh day of Christmas (who knew the twelve days start rather than end on Christmas day?!). So here’s a parting gift from my lovely friend and wonderful illustrator’s collection. As the familiar festive sights and scents fade away for another year, remember to keep the spirit of Christmas around and enjoy the whole twelve months ahead giving, loving and hoping. Everyone will have a better time for it.

What do you hope for this year? I hope it finds you.

Eleven Pipes Piping

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Looking for something new to read this year? Enter the world of The Night Butterflies and join the search for hope amidst horror…

The Night Butterflies

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Survival Of The Christmas

Giant Lobster, Kingston SA

Giant Lobster, Kingston

I’m on another festive road-trip, this year OZ rather than NZ. Christmas is such a great time to take a holiday – and while I’d love to be tucked at home with family and friends in the UK, amidst cosy jumpers and twinkling trees, I also love the utter freedom of constant movement and the excitement of seeing brand new things every day. Especially the sunshine. And my year wouldn’t have been complete without Sunday’s giant lobster on the roadside.

Christmas, nestled as it is before the end of one year and the start of another, often seems a time to compare. Compare life now to this time last year; compare location, occupation, partners, possessions; compare life’s pros and cons, what’s been gained and what’s been lost.

Our first night camping, what was lost was mainly sleep. Having been sweltering over in South Australia, we took a selection of sheets but decided sleeping bags would be surplus. Wrong. The tent, positioned as it was in the centre of a vortex, winds tearing around out of nowhere, was freezing. And I hadn’t even brought layers of clothing that could ease the situation.

Last night, we recovered in a motel. Whenever I stay in a motel I feel like I’m in an episode of the X-files. But there are no aliens here. Maybe just ghosts. I’m followed around by the ghost of last year’s Christmas road-trip, which I was lucky enough to enjoy with ex-partner-in-crime. I miss him like crazy. And last week, I went to see my friend Kade’s family on the Gold Coast. Not so much earlier than this time last year, partner-in-crime and I were over there for his funeral, and I’d not been back since.

Bad stuff has happened this year – stuff I’d rather hadn’t. But it’s not ever, nowhere near, the same as really losing someone. When someone dies, it doesn’t end. It’s never over. They’re gone forever. And every Christmas, every birthday, every holiday – they bring a peak in the ever-present pain for those who were closest. Seeing everyone left behind there, wishing my friend was still around, wishing it was possible to save each person from their grief… Those are Christmas wishes that could never be granted.

But such things are utterly out of our control. They can only be suffered and survived. And where there is unending grief, friends can only be supportive. Be present. Be there.

Not so with everything. Yesterday we acquired sleeping bags so we wouldn’t have another disastrous night of cold cramps. There are certainly things in our lives that go wrong that we can learn from and correct. Some things lost can be found again. I can think of several situations a tad more dire than lack of camping equipment that, with a little motivation, I can sort out next year.

Have a ridiculous holiday. Frolic until you’re famished and feast until you’re full. But spare a thought for those without. Those without the ones who would have made their Christmas complete. My heart goes out to you if you’re one of them. And if there’s anything distressing in your life that you know is fixable, that would make life merrier in 2015 if fixed, then make the resolution to address it. We owe it to ourselves – we who are lucky enough to have a full and fantastic life to live.

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