O is for…

… Olivesolives

I was going to go for something more profound but really, an olive IS a pretty important thing. As I have a particular adoration for them, I did a little research.

The following fascinating facts I’m about to share will undoubtedly convince you of the Importance of Being an Olive.

Firstly, I’m willing to bet that you had no idea that the edible olive seems to have coexisted with humans since the Bronze Age. That’s around 5 to 6 thousand years. We should know each other pretty well.

Second, we’re not exactly forward in appreciating the health properties of the olive. The ancient Greeks used to smear olive oil on their bodies and hair as a matter of grooming and good health. Greasy Greeks are in good nick.

The oil of the olive (considered a fruit btw) also has a long established reputation of being sacred. Used to anoint kings in ancient times (and athletes, oddly) it was also used to burn in temples and fuelled the original Olympic torch, the ‘eternal flame’ (not the one that The Bangles referred to).

Lastly, the sanctity of the olive and its role in religious traditions is something appreciated in both Christianity and Islam, featuring 7 times in the Qur’an and countless times in The Bible. If only we could all focus on the humble olive.

I didn’t imagine I’d ever find myself writing about olives but now I’ve dipped into it, I could well go on to become the world’s leading expert, and write prolifically about this remarkable little fruit. Olives, it turns out, are a rather understated part of world history and civilisation as we know it.

A bit tongue in cheek… but really..! Who knew?!

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N is for…

Nothing.

nihilism-theres-really-nothing-to-it-quote-1
Absolutely NOTHING will pop up in my head when I try to think of an ‘N’ to write a short, imaginative and captivating post about. Why it is that I am so wholly devoid of inspiration I don’t know. It’s possible that a pervasive tiredness bears some responsibility, that and the illness I have tends to hijack the parts of my brain that might be otherwise creatively engaged.

So N is for Nihilism. For the philosophically uninitiated, this is the belief that the world and everything in it, life, values, morals, laws… are meaningless. There is no POINT to anything, nothing has any meaning.

Macbeth sums it up beautifully when he says:

“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more; it is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.”

It’s a painful thought; one which challenges the my Christian faith on a daily basis at the moment. It would be so much easier to believe that life really is just a brief candle which is eventually snuffed out to burn no more.  Perhaps owing to the extremist tendencies of Anorexia, nihilism stalks me daily, lightly running cold fingers through my hair. Death-coated whispers trickle through the aural canals, trembling tiny bones and dizzying my stance.

Turns out I have something to write about after all.

N is for Nietzsche. For Nihilism. For Nothing.

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M is for…

…Mentoring.A2Z-BADGE-2016

It’s what I’m good at, and you honestly won’t hear me use that phrase very often.

As the official leader of The Society of Burnt Out Teachers, I nowadays realise that although my passion for teaching English and English Literature will never waver, the transference of my enthusiasm doesn’t have to be within a classroom. No. In some ways, it’s easier to deliver it within a mentoring relationship. Because, as most good teachers will agree, at a certain age, its RELATIONSHIP which is the single most important factor in the delivery of successful teaching.

Mentoring allows a relationship to flourish (hopefully) and then, once established, it’s an open landscape on which, as a trusted mentor, you can help to build whatever scene and whichever structure, will most benefit and satisfy the mentee.

I’ve mentored a lot of your people, before and during my teaching career. Nothing sparks me like being able to nurture an ambition in someone. I love to help breathe hope into other people’s hearts. Nothing gives me a renewed sense of purpose like showing someone else their purpose.

Anybody else get this?

L is for…

… Love

Here are some things I love that begin with L

Lighting. – I did a little post mentioning my love of the softer season’s evening lighting but I’m also mad about LAMPS! I have a growing collection of the weird, the wonderful and the beautiful!

Longfellow – The beauty of his words very often nearly drives me over the edge!

Lakes – Particularly the deep blue pools in the Pyrenees

Licorice-I’m quite mad for the stuff!  It has to be hard – tear – with- your- teeth licorice. The sort that you can buy in little bags… cuttings…

Learning- I’m fascinated by the world and it’s people!  Sometimes I wonder why we/I bother to research something,my tendency towards nihilism creeps in. Then I realise that I have a genuine love of knowledge and of learning.  And sometimes it’s okay to do something for its own sake.

Lemon – Generally love lemons!

Literature- I couldn’t live without it. Oh… and Languages… I love to learn new words in any language. I’d like to be fluent in all the European languages,ancient Greek, Arabic and Latin!

Hmmm… Overall, L is looking kinda like a lame excuse for a post.

Apologies to any who visit!

 

 

G is for Guns…

n’ Roses…

Yep. Little old me. Who’d have thunk?

In my mid teens I discovered rock. And unfortunately for my parents, it wasn’t of the geological variety.

I literally fell in love with Guns n’ Roses.

There were others of course. I had flings with Aerosmith and Def Leppard, flirted heavily with AC/DC and Nirvana and occasionally eyed up Motorhead; but in truth, the sound of Slash’s searing guitar riffs, the crazy versitility of Axl’s FIVE OCTAVE vocal range, stole my heart.

In the years between then and now, I’ve played the field more times than Man U. I’ve been seduced by Opera, persuaded by Pop,  lured by Classical, grabbed by Grunge and utterly captivated by my eventual partner, Country.

There are moments though, when a certain smell, a kind of summer car heat, a particular road, when I think of them. Like the memory of a first love, I am filled again with a hunger for that tender, youthful craving for some wordless void that only music can begin to voice.

 

F is for…

wp-1460045656741.jpgand the computer… said

NO.

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E is for Evening Sunlight…

That fleeting time when the wordless glory of the evening sun dashes against the bricks and the hedges, the streets and the people; firing the land with its last red breaths and, for one trembling moment, the humdrum earth of … Continue reading

This Short Life

wpid-imag1676_1.jpgA poet like Dickinson has the enviable ability to load a verse with meaning so deep and so heavy you wonder how such simple words can bear the weight.. Her gatherings of commonplace words so often made to shine by their careful ordering, carry a grief so weighty you wonder the words don’t crumble beneath the despair.

This simple little verse almost sags in the middle with the enormity of her existential reflection!

I wanted to put it out there because I think it’s something that every one of needs to have asked and explored. Not in a naval gazing way, more in a back-of-the-mind type of way.

Because I think it’s sometimes good to widen my frame of reference. To briefly place my life on the time / space continuum. It’s sometimes good to feel humbled by the stars. To put my pain and suffering in the context of world history.

And sometimes, it’s good to rethink the areas of my life I can control; and the areas that I can’t. Personally I find it useful to remember that life is short, and wanting control over something doesn’t grant me the right to it. More than that, I know that there are things WITHIN my power, that I need to take control of, rather than deny or disown.

THAT is the hard thing. That’s where Dickinson’s innocent thought is a smack in the face!

Shhhhhhhhhhhh..!

ListenCame across this today and thought it was worth sharing. I honestly think that people don’t get properly listened to.

So many problems go unheard, so many issues misunderstood.Two ears, one mouth, yet our listening rarely reflects that ratio. The antithesis of this little saying is of course, the better known concept of giving somebody “a good talking to”. And really, how often is THAT effective in solving a problem?

Perhaps we can make more of a conscious effort to listen a little more carefully to those around us today. Maybe just being in less of a rush to respond with an opinion, or trying to quietly understand more.

Go on! It might make a real difference to somebody.