The Call …

Years back, my father wanted a mobile phone.

For emergencies he said, to keep in his car glove box – just in case.

He wasn’t interested in web browsing (what’s that? I can hear him say), apps (what are apps?) so I bought him a “large key” mobile phone.

Easy to read, easy to use.

I programmed in some hot keys so he could dial me, my sister or the car recovery rescue company quickly.

Three large key buttons that he could easily press in an emergency.

My sister and I stored his new mobile number on our phones under “Dad” (very original) and he would make the odd call every now and again to us (not to the car rescue number) to check his memory of those hot keys.

He died back in 2013 and he is sorely missed.

On going through his things shortly after his death I recovered the phone from our box of his memorabilia.

I decided to charge up the phone to see if it still worked (and to check whether the pay as you go credit was still available).

I was over my sister’s drinking tea as she was cooking some food in her kitchen.

I took out his mobile phone (I was planning to surprise her that I had found it and it still worked) and pressed the hot key for my sister.

I could hear her scream from her kitchen as she saw the call from “Dad” on the display of her mobile phone, vibrating and ringing on her work surface.

Dad would have laughed out loud.

My sister didn’t …..😎

I’ve still got the phone ……it is safely stored away …

You shall not pass …

My secretary, Val, had phoned in sick.

The temp agency we used in these situations responded immediately and Lisa, the temp, arrived at my office within 30 minutes.

I had a busy day ahead catching up on writing a key business report for my Chief Executive so I asked her to protect me from all visitors and phone calls until lunchtime.

The hours flew by.

The report was completed.

I eventually came up for air and opened my office door and walked out to see Lisa.

“Thank you Lisa for protecting me this morning – did I have any visitors?”

“Only one, a tall guy with dark and grey hair, in his fifties I guess”

“I blocked his path towards your door and he look very surprised, slightly stressed”

“Did he have a strong Scottish accent?” I asked anxiously.

“Yes that was him and he’s left you a note…”

The note read …

When you can possibly spare the time please call into my office.

“Was he anybody important?” asked Lisa

“He’s the Chief Executive Officer, so I’d better rush up to see him!”

The CEO’s secretary, Sarah, escorted me into his office and sat me down.

He slowly looked up from his papers.

A serious expression on his face.

“Who was that secretary who stopped me from getting in to see you?”

“She totally blocked the doorway and wouldn’t let me pass!”

“I’m sorry, that was an agency temp secretary, Lisa, who was covering for Val who is away sick today.”

He looked up, smiled, and said “Don’t say sorry, she was amazing!

I’d like you to give Sarah, my secretary, her agency phone number so she can protect me when she is away on leave next month”

I left his office with my heart rate very slowly getting back to normal …and thanked Lisa again for doing a great job!

The 365 Update …

We meet once a year in London.

Normally in November because D visits her family in Australia for a couple of months in December and January.

We used to work together in my Corporate days and we have stayed in touch via annual update lunches.

She never forgets to remind me that it might be a good time for us to meet up.

A text message always asks me for some free dates.

We then meet up and have 3 hours of information exchange, amusing stories, recommendations on reading and films.

Both trying hard to not let our lunch go cold as the information flows back and forth.

She is bubbly, interested, a supreme listener and full of energy.

She reads more books, in more depth than me.

She sees more films of all types than me.

She makes allowances 😎

A review of our past year takes place minute by minute but is nicely topped up with a sharing of current perspectives and experiences from our busy and different lives.

A highly recommended annual event.

A bit like an automatic (and much needed) software update but much more fun.

I just need to remember a list of 4 or 5 highlights of my year so I can contribute to my side of the exchange.

And still gratefully reflecting on the fact that limiting to 4 or 5 highlights is still a real challenge – there is always so much more to highlight.

And for that I am extremely grateful.

Today was like a continuation from last year’s meet up.

Almost seamless.

Always enjoyable.

Thank you again D for that annual text message reminder ….

I am updated once more….

On the radar …

It was my birthday yesterday.

I’ve never been fearful of age – in fact I seem to positively embrace it.

I tend to confirm my age nowadays by taking my birth year from the current one but that’s not an issue.

My mental arithmetic is still good 😎

But yesterday’s birthday was something special.

Nothing to do with presents/gifts at all.

Although I did appreciate them (before I get into trouble!).

It was stand out special due to the number and care of the number of contacts I had with family and friends.

People who are often off the radar, due to their busy lives, just taking a moment to wish me happy birthday via social media, via text message, via a phone call.

People from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Greece, South Africa, USA and the UK.

Yes, I’m now quite surprised and humbled at the global reach.

I have been reflecting on why I am just so fortunate to be receiving this attention and care.

I hope it might be because I do try really hard to do it to others – just a moment of connection and support whenever the opportunity presents itself.

There really is no greater feeling.

Thank you … all of you.

There’s no grey …

I must be missing something.

I’m hearing more and more from people around me about how difficult it is keeping in contact.

“He/She never rings me, or sends me a text message”

“No point in me having a mobile phone, nobody ever calls me!”

Sorry to raise this but some of this is self inflicted.

I accept that we don’t all want too many contacts to manage, too many calls to handle, too many “friends” to look after.

But here’s the truth.

Do you want to keep in touch, yes or no?

It’s binary, it’s digital.

You either do or you don’t.

There’s no grey …

So decide what you want and make the effort … or not.

Contact those people you really want to connect with.

No delay, just do it.

Do it now.

Do it tomorrow.

And the next day too.

Use a text message to contact if it feels less embarrassing if they decide to ignore you.

Don’t expect the World to chase after you and seek you out.

Life’s not like that.

Don’t worry about rejection either.

Worry about not doing it.

I am blessed with contacts, friends, sources of support, numbers to dial on my phone.

I’m nothing special or super human.

I just care enough to want to make the effort.

I just keep at it, day after day, week after week, investing time, following up, remembering who’s on my list, treating it as important.

So if you really want to be connected to more people, or reconnect to those you have lost contact with over the years, just reach out and make the effort.

I do and I am richer for it.

Not wealth richer, but emotionally and spiritually richer.

You will be too… if you really want to be.

It’s a nice thing to do …

I’ve been thinking …. again.

Standing back and just observing life.

Working out a few things.

And talking to my daughter, J.

We do this on occasions, probably not nearly as often as we should.

We were talking about helping people out.

Accompanying friends to hospital appointments, dentist visits, giving them lifts in the car etc. 

Just being there.

Being available on the phone when needed, sometimes at the oddest times.

Sending a random, impulsive, supportive text or message to somebody who has been out of your sight for a while.

Setting up a future visit for a chat.

Something for you both to look forward to.

You can learn to get better at this but some of my friends seem to do it instinctively.

They reach out and support but certainly not for any personal return.

As J says “it’s a nice thing to do”

What a lovely way to describe it.

For the giver this support is amazingly rewarding.

For the receiver it can be amazingly helpful at a difficult time.

And sometimes at just the right time too.

Life is busy, we all tend to fill up our capacity, but we don’t always look out for those outside of close family.

We don’t keep check, not deliberately, but we just don’t.

Look at the list of your recent phone calls, in and out, look back at your diary.

Who did you call, who did you meet up with?

Who keeps in touch with you?

As the lady says ….. it’s a nice thing to do.

She’s right.

Trust me.

It is.

One warning though.

You need to be in a fit shape yourself to help others.

The demands on your time can be addictively flattering and demanding.

So you need to look after yourself, both physically and mentally, and know how much time you can give….. 😎

Turbulence ahead …

Life is not smooth.

Nor is it predictable.

But for me that’s what can make it interesting and fun – when I’m feeling good.

However understanding why certain days are great and others a complete strain is a tough job.

I’ve been reading quite a few blog posts lately from people I follow and meeting a few friends who are struggling with the pressure of work, of illness, of relationships.

I tell my friends that I’m definitely not qualified to suggest informed, professional solutions but I’m always available for a chat.

I tend to insulate myself from the odd bump in my own mood by surrounding myself only with people who make me feel good when I meet or talk to them.

Those supportive types who give you a buzz with their energy and enthusiasm or just listen attentively while you talk and talk…. and talk.

And offer another perspective or two.

Better to have a face to face meet up of course (body language is invaluable) but even written exchanges can help.

However if I cannot meet them then a chat over the phone, for me, wins hands down.

Texts can be ambiguous and not really dynamic, like speech.

Texts can intrude, annoy even and add to the load.

I can cover much more in a live conversation.

So I know who to call.

Know who to meet.

I have recently realised that I really do have a “help me out” list of friends.

I guess I have been subconsciously building it all the time.

Not in a mechanical “numbers game” type of way.

Not loads of people either, just a handful who I can ring at any time.

I hope I’m on their list too.

I can never predict when I might need to connect up and be recharged a little or be a source of support for somebody else.

But I am prepared 😎

Stand back and be amazed …

It must be my age.

I’m finding everything to enjoy.

Nature, people, events and opportunities.

Perhaps I am seeking things out now whereas before I just went rushing with the flow.

This blogging universe, is a great example.

I only got into it 4 months back, but it has been a revelation.

I’m left mostly speechless by my fellow bloggers’ writing, thoughts, issues.

A whole new set of connections I didn’t know existed. Across the Globe.

It’s as if my senses have been fine tuning over time to receive and appreciate even more data.

And the data is not filtered or ignored.

A couple knocked on my front door yesterday asking me if I thought the World was in a declining state of doom and gloom.

If suffering everywhere meant we needed to appeal to a higher power for resolution.

I said

“I can see that viewpoint but I don’t share that perspective personally”

“I think life is just great with a few tough challenges of course”

“Peace, Poverty, Climate Change, Working Together all need to be priorities”

“ but nothing is perfect”

“But there are people to meet, places to go, support to give, advice to take on board, nature to see, things to do”

“I think this is an amazing time to be alive”

My doorstep callers were very sympathetic to this very unexpected burst of optimism.

I suspect other neighbours they had visited didn’t necessarily share my view.

The couple nodded when I encouraged them to look around, take it all in, and be amazed.

It felt a little like role reversal but I think I cheered them up.

And I hope I don’t get excluded from their future visits …..😎

It’s time to look up …

I rarely moan.

I rarely get irritable.

This evening I got irritable.

And wanted to moan.

I arrive at my yoga class nice and early every Monday evening.

I await the finish of the body pump class held in studio 2, where the yoga class is held straight after it.

While I’m waiting I watch the karate class held in the main hall where the Sensei runs the class with a caring but authoritarian style.

He chides them when they don’t listen to him and hugs them when they need some support.

They love him.

You can see it in their eyes as they flit around the karate mat.

At the side, on chairs, there are a collection of parents seated facing the kids.

One parent has a laptop computer open and is staring at the screen.

The other parents are all on their smartphones, texting, checking the news, looking at the weather forecasts, you name it.

Nobody is looking at their kids.

What a wasted opportunity.

How sad for the kids who are trying to impress both the sensei and their parents.

Parents lost in their internet world, but missing out on the real world right in front of them.

When I was young my parents used to watch me, cheer me, support me, smile at me when they came to watch.

Glorious eye contact and supporting body language.

Always.

So my request is – just break away from the technology and look up.

You miss so much when you don’t appear interested.

I wonder if the parents really know what they are missing?

I think the children do.

It’s time to look up …

A Blogger’s Delight …

I’ve only been in this blog space for just over 3 months and I’m still shell-shocked and delighted at what turns up.

I’ve appreciated the follows, the likes, the comments on my own posts of course – as you would when you write stuff that other people appreciate.

Some blogs I follow just seem to stand out as “must reads” as they hit my inbox.

But there’s one in particular.

Yep, there’s one.

I rush to read it, drop whatever else I am doing, and reflect and smile and feel sad and feel angry because what she says invariably strikes a chord.

V of Millenniallifecrisis (http://millenniallifecrisis.org) writes like she knows what I’m thinking.

Even before I’m thinking it.

It’s a bit spooky.

It’s nice.

This lady needs a break.

She needs a hug,

She needs a few more on her side.

She needs a load more on her side.

Nobody told me this might happen in this blog universe.

I’m just very lucky I guess.

Check her blog posts out.

She’s a bit special.

Like me, you’ll be glad you did …