Learning to Drive – a leap of faith

“That’s my girl”… although she wouldn’t thank me for describing her as such. Not now that she is 17 years old and obviously wanting to move on, which is one of the reasons her petite frame is now sitting in the driver’s seat of my little car and I am strapped into the passenger seat.

But hang on.  I think – “this can’t be right”. It only seems like yesterday that I was strapping her into a car seat.

The car is parked on the drive in front of the house. I reversed it up earlier so that it was facing the ‘right’ way. This is my daughter’s first driving lesson and I am currently attempting to describe how to go about driving. I can drive; have done for years. But what has surprised me most about this exercise is how extraordinarily difficult it is to break down and describe to another the mechanism of how and what driving is. The art of trying to make conscious the thoughts that have, over time, quietly lain hidden behind what are now unconscious behaviours is quite a challenge.

But I shouldn’t really have concerned myself too much with the details, as whatever I was saying was clearly falling on deaf ears. My daughter’s attention was naturally elsewhere; her patience waning. My verbal efforts did draw out a response though.

“I got this.”

Her head swishes round as she clicks her fingers like some rapper might; her youthful confidence evident in her actions, the tone she uses hinting at a judgement, an opinion that it was time for me to “back off and shut up”. Message received and understood. I make one last attempt at instilling a sense of responsibility with the gentle reminder that a car is but another name for a lethal weapon and should be treated as such. If I were a religious person it would have been about now that I might have made a sign of the cross across my chest with my finger and send up a silent prayer for our safe return.

This is why, perhaps judged by others as somewhat premature, that I find myself moving away from talking about driving to actually experiencing someone else trying to learn to drive. I hand over the key and with that her head quickly disappears behind the steering wheel to locate the ignition key slot. Like a new lover she fumbles around for a wee bit before managing to insert the key and give it a turn. The engine responds accordingly and all too soon we are sitting on the drive with the engine idling. Her excitement is apparent; a sideways glance meets my gaze. It is full of triumph. I smile back.  I hear at the back of my head a voice repeating one of my own mother’s mantras of old.

‘Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.’

(if you have read my previous post you might not be surprised to read that I failed again to spell angel right the first time – spelling is so frustrating)

So with a few last minute instructions regarding feet and gears… we’re off.  And no surprises, the engine makes some interesting responses to a novice approach to driving.  We lurch forward; the engine coughing and sputtering before it abruptly stops.

“This is harder than I thought” she acknowledges; her smile a pained expression, her brow now furrowed.  Two attempts down and we have yet to make it off the drive.

“Not to worry.” I try to reassure. “As they say, ‘practice makes perfect’…It isn’t easy.” I watch her processing her own thoughts and feelings about the situation; her pony tail coming in for some rough treatment as she does. I encourage and suggest we give it another go

“Deep breath now.”

Gaining composure, she turns the key like an old hand and the engine responds.

“That’s it… relax… begin to pull your foot up off the clutch…gently now and at the same time begin to depress the accelerator…. release the hand break”, which she struggles with and strains to release. We ease forward …her hands on the steering wheel and mine on the door handle, alike, knuckles white…

I wonder how long it will take her to learn and pass her test. I might wish it to be sooner but that is way out of my control. In the meantime I will have to be content that this is a gift of an opportunity to come face to face with my own fears. Sitting here is not necessarily a comfortable seat to be in. It is as if I have knowingly relinquished control of my destiny to another and, if you were to ask her, for she can be a bit of a cheeky teenager sometimes, it would be too: “Yes of course –  to a far more superior being”.


Posted in contentment, Dyslexia, teenagers, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Angels – beautiful and radient beings or not?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABeing dyslexia has it’s challenges. Which is why I’m asking myself which is the right spelling – Angle or Angel?  It’s so frustrating not being able to tap into, like those I’d like to be more like can, an unconscious mental reflex and chose and instinctively spell the right one.  But since you may not know what I’m thinking about here you wont know which word is the right one either. I’m looking for the corrrect spelling for the word that names a celestial (thank goodness for spell check) winged immortal figure. 

Angle or Angel – Even when I look and compare the two words sitting side by side I ‘m not sure. There is no unconscious knowing guiding me here.  

It’s all a bit obtuse, however,  I’m confident I have the right spelling now (mother would be so pleased with me) – I’ve used the dictionary.

Angel it is – Angel as you know is the name that would describe a presence, an intermediary between heaven and earth.

If I asked you to see and form a picture of an Angel in your head  I bet you could make one materialise out of nothing…An angel, all angelic like ….perhaps the image has a  glow about it…   wings?…  a name?… a halo? – But don’t fret if you can’t see a halo –  ‘cause I can’t –  My angel apparently lost his halo years ago.  Again if you were inside my head right now you would be able to see that the image I had held in my minds eye was anything but angelic. it’s not a ‘she’ either – most certainly a ‘he’.  Not ideal but he wears a sweaty tee-shirt  and has short hairy legs.   My angel goes by the name of ‘The angel with the bent legs’.  That made you smile I bet, and I didn’t make it up either. And finally my angel does have some wings  but only by association ‘cause my angel’s’ other pet name is Garrincha which just happens to mean ‘little bird’.

Garrincha – Does that name sound familiar?  It might to you but I confess  it didn’t to me. A friend of mine mentioned it in passing recently.  The name  I wrote down, and call it divine intervention or just curiosity I followed through and checked him out today.

Garrincha, I learnt was a talented footballer who helped Brazil win two world cups. His value would not have been predicted if you had based it solely on his appearance since he had been born with a warped spine and two twisted legs.  Furthermore one of his legs was several inches shorter than the other. Yet despite all these limitations, once taken of the bench, he displayed an unequaled skill to effectively dribble the ball down the pitch weaving in and out the defense. His style is described as both unorthodox and unpredictable, which I guess, made ‘reading’ him more difficult giving him the advantage. Similarly whereas typically footballers play by thinking and creating a  game plan he was considered to play by ‘inspiration… and unplanned’. His motivation to play football in his early days was apparently more about wanting to entertain the crowd than winning the game.

May be you do, but I don’t profess to know anything about football, but not knowing, doesn’t stop me being able to admire any player who is able to overcome limitation and adversity.  I would, at the end of the day, love to be that person myself – to do well despite being labelled dyslexic.  For Garrincha had his life followed the predicted patterns for a lad like him born in his village he would have spent his life working in the local factory. But getting his lucky break meant he was able to,  by some standards, ‘live the dream’. Yet despite his good fortune he was not content,  quoted to have been ‘unable to conquer his demons’.  Dubbed as the ‘original bad boy’ he died at 49 years in 1983; a penniless alcoholic; father of 14 children.

So to finish with a light bulb moment my angel delivered a couple of new angles of hope. These are:

  • Success can arise from the most unlikely of origins.
  • To whom success will attach itself is hard to predict.
  • Being accepted for who we are can take time. Sometimes we just have to be content to sit it out until the time is right.
  • Finding a way that works to best effect using what we are naturally blessed with can bring both personal reward and much joy to others.
  • A gentle reminder that success does not equate to happiness.

And from the ‘Angel with the bent legs’  maybe his final message would be

  • To learn to keep in-check that part of us that keeps us searching for that which we think we are missing and practice more in accepting and enjoying what we do have.
Posted in contentment, Dyslexia, hope, imagination, insight, inspiration, self help | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How I Found Inspiration to Strive and Thrive

Have you wondered where inspiration comes from?

Is inspiration just a name for thoughts that we chose to listen to above the rest?

Do we like to be inspired ‘cause it makes us feel more rather than less?

Are these thoughts so called inspiring because they support, create and motivate?

An inspiring thought for me is one that enables make me to think in a way that make me feel better with myself. To have inspiration keeps me progressing  to achieve a goal.

For example, today I found myself having self- sabotaging thoughts – concerns about the effects of my dyslexic on my employ-ability. Yet in the moment I became aware I was entertaining these unhelpful thoughts, I asked myself for help and in that moment inspiration struck.  An inspired thought in the form of a name  popped into my head, one which had been mentioned in passing earlier in the week. The name was Django Reinhardt.   

Unfamiliar to me on hearing the name the other day I remember trying to attempted to say it and repeat it back.  It’s supposed to help memory recall…Ha ha ha.

“Yang Lion heart WHO?”  I’m smiling.

Which was completely wrong and is the precise reason why it has just taken me a while to look him up now on Wiki ? That’s my style you see – always slightly off center.

“No….Django Reinhardt”

May be you are thinking “Cripes…Doesn’t she know who Django Reinhardt  is!” Try not to judge but call it fact or an excuse I do have a notoriously poor general knowledge base. I attribute it to my dyslexia orientation. This is my style.

From my research I’ve learnt that Django Reinhardt was a gypsy, born in Belgium in 1910.  He played guitar exceptionally well – “super human” is one description. He perfected his potential with intense practice, direct imitation of others and with the help of a well atoned ear.  With no schooling, he only knew rudimentary literacy yet by 13 years he was earning his living from playing. Disaster struck however when aged 18  he sustained first- and second-degree burns over half of his body when his caravan caught fire.

The story continues.

The fire left his right leg paralysed, and notably the fourth and fifth fingers of his left hand badly burned. Doctors assessed his leg to be serious enough to warrant amputation and the injuries to his hand predicted to end his music career. He chose to ignore their pessimistic outlook, discharged himself and over the next 18 months worked tirelessly on himself. In the end he was not only able to walk (with a cane) he was playing his guitar to. But he wasn’t JUST playing he was playing with a unique style – his style. Inspiration had helped him to master a new way of playing based on his limitation.  It was his unique style that launched a whole new genre of guitar playing now referred to as Hot Jazz Guitar.

Django Reinhardt is the source of my wellbeing inspiration thoughts for today.

But it is not his musical talents that inspire me for I can’t profess to be a Jazz fan or guitarist.  However he does inspire me in a different way. It is these  inspiring and motivational thoughts that arise apparently through  me now –

  • There is nothing wrong with us the way we are.
  • Finding and developing a unique style that is true to ourselves that accommodates and works with any limitations is good and can be sustainable.
  • What may be perceived as misfortune at first, such as Dyslexia may be the making of us.
  • To follow the advice that others give us is not always going to be in our best interests for it might leave us severely limited.
  • Potential is present yet to realise it will require deliberate and sustained action.

Django died at 43, which might be just the timely reminder we need that we don’t have forever to go on ignoring our most inspiring thoughts.

So what has inspired you today?

Posted in feelings, inspiration, optimism, perseverance, self help, success, thoughts, thrive, well being, wellbeing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment


Who doesn’t want to think themselves as being special in some way?

Ok maybe ‘special’ isn’t quite the right word for you here so perhaps to  be noticed, admired, loved, needed and /or valued would be better suggestions.

We all know how at least one of these states feels like. We are all naturally drawn to wanting to experience and feel at least one of these. It fills us up and makes us feel good, hopeful and more effective. However don’t you just find there is a tendency not to allow ourselves the pleasure of enjoying the feeling more often?

I’m guilty of this one, I can get so wrapped up in my own little world, with all my so called woes; get so consumed by all the details of the so called  injustices of life that I just don’t count those little acts of kindness others do for me. I can quite easily forget and pass up the opportunity to feel that which I need to feel the most.  May be it’s because I’ve unconsciously set the bar too high, or I  have an imagined, and cemented a belief of an ideal of how I think my life ought to be.

With the book idea, you’ll laugh with me now  when I say the point I thought I would find that state that would make me feel worthwhile and valued –  I raise my hand above my  head – was up here. “oh at least 10.000 sales in the first year…  not to mention the Booker Prize”. Too high. Not well grounded, or realistic and experience has shown me the same.

So perhaps for now, you could practice with me to deliberately try and  turn the attention to what we do have in this moment rather than letting ourselves be distracted by thoughts of what we don’t have and want, or how we would change things from how they are if we could.

In this moment nothing is wrong… and relax and enjoy those pleasant sensations as they arise. Let yourself feel that which you most need to feel.

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Is it possible to be myself and be and feel ‘good enough’ doing it?

Is it possible to be myself and be and feel ‘good enough’ doing it?

We could all make a list of the things we thought we needed that would make us happy or feel better?  Writing a book was on mine.

I thought it was going to be my ticket to a better life. May be I was being naïve but writing a book didn’t make me happy, not all the time, and in truth it has actually delivered the opposite feeling.  Sadness and disappointment. When the book didn’t actually fly off the shelves liked I’d hoped it might it stood on the shelf and became symbolic of all my short comings.

Thoughts can be so untrustworthy at times.

One conclusion I’ve drawn from this experience is that I can’t rely on my book to bring in a revenue steam and therefore I need do something different. Makes sense doesn’t it? However all my attempts to find meaningful employment so far has come to nothing.  Something is always wrong. In one case despite having the necessary qualifications I lacked the experience they are looking for. For another I was told I had all the skills they needed and showed the right aptitude but the job was offered to someone with the right qualifications.  The last job I went for ticked all the boxes but it turned out to be in the wrong place. 170 miles away to be exact. That would have made the school run a bit of a challenge.

So what’s to be done? I’m not letting my recent job hunting experiences stop me from looking for a ‘proper job’. There has to be something out there for me. I know there is work to be done on my interview technique and a need to be more imaginative with me CV. And I will do all of these but I’ve also decided to give myself break. Here in this blog space I want to try my hand at being myself for a change – a big step into the unknown.

I recognise to make this work I need to make some pledges to myself. These are

  1. Not to let any thoughts of any personal shortcomings get in the way of my efforts.
  2. To let go of any idea that the only way to write pieces is in a format that would please an English teacher.
  3. And finally to keep as my highest intention to preserve my own sense of well-being and yours.

‘Being Me’ is an unfamiliar concept.  I’m usually lost playing the part of wife and/or mother. I’m just little ‘ol me, ordinary in so many ways yet awkward at times. I can be perceived as lazy, useless and forgetful – challenged by dyslexia. I may be all of these at times but in common with you I have my own unique way of thinking and of processing information. The results of my thinking, these posts, are my ‘Light Bulb Moments’ – Metaphorically Speaking.

The inspiration comes from a desire to understand and to make sense of my own and others unease.

Please take a look and feel free to make a comment. My aspiration is that with posting my ‘Light Bulb Moments’ Metaphorically Speaking  pieces it both will light up your day, and deliver a welcome sense of well-being.

Posted in Dyslexia, self help, well being | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

“Where there’s a will there’s a way”


It’s that time of year.. . it’s New Years Eve and here I am sitting in the still blurr that has crept in after the Christmas activity; just thinking, reflecting and contemplating.

Thoughts are arising. Maybe you are feeling a little like me? –  happy to say ‘thanks’ to 2013 but equally not too sorry to say ‘good bye’  to it either.

So being mindful of the quote: ‘Where there’s a will there’s a way’, this years resolution is to find and activate that Will that will ensure I will embrace 2014 for all it has to offer… so as to find the way to experience 2014 as being better… better than 2013. That’s my mission for 2014. What’s yours?

But while you contemplate your answer let me take this Time and Space to wish you and all the readers and followers of Getting Recognised a ‘Very Happy New Year.’

Photo by Carnie Lewis

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Bored ?… how to get a life

madge-gill-photo-2Bored?  Feeling weary and restless? If so we have something in common. Come on now, got the time?… come and share an idle moment with me.

Not sure about you, but I arrived  at boredom having been  affected by ‘Writers Block’.  The words were struggling to manifest themselves, made worse by an inability to convert the imaginative ideas I do have into a visible written form that make sense to others. Dyslexia can be unforgiving  like that.

The Solution

So what do you do when you are struggling to get the results you want? Bury your head in the sand and hope the problem goes away?  Go for a jog, ‘stick kettle on’ or take a break and eat another biscuit? Or do you share your frustration with the world #NoNewThoughts?

Instead, I came here and turned to the internet looking for answers. Ever hopeful. The answer has got to be here somewhere…

A simple search revealed all sorts of schemes that work for beating writers block and promising a start to squeeze out those elusive creative juices. A second search showed up a variety of tools and strategies to  overcome grammar, spelling and school related difficulties too. In short… advice and information is not what I lack.

The Question

There is no shortage of hint-related material at my finger tips; most of it sound common sense. Yet nothing seems to make a difference. Therefore, what I want to know is… how do I turn sensible advice into good habits that can make the difference to me? Ok laugh if you like, but I did another search and the internet provided a comprehensive answer to this one too!  But converting it into results? … give me a break will you! You know, all I really want is to be, to have and to do…  just like all those who have written the advice. It’s all up there in the cloud yet, depressingly, just ‘wanting’ those things doesn’t make any of it come and be a reality. Taking an idea and making it work is an entirely different ball game isn’t it?

Tinker Bell had pixie dust to make Wendy fly, but for us mere mortals, with our feet firmly on the ground, what DOES make the difference?  Because that’s what I want; a shed-load of what must feel like real magic…

The Answer

‘I’m bored’.  Shush… don’t read it out too loud in your head because I’m not really supposed to confess to being so. My mother hated the expression and would even clip me round the ear if I let slip that this was how I felt. In fact I learned not to ‘be bored’  because otherwise I’d find myself doing something I’d rather not be doing, like ‘Go and tidy your room’. And now being the adult who does much of the mind numbing chores that make ‘being bored’ feel more like a unaffordable luxury, I can appreciate why she sounded a bit put out. But that was yesterday and it still doesn’t change how I feel today. Which is why I turned to the internet for answers, just like you most likely did, having arrived here at this blog post.

‘I’m not lazy and I don’t have to feel guilty’ are the personal mantras that help me cross the line  from thinking I’m a bad person to one who can simply sit back and be bored… which I am dealing with by surfing around the world’s internet collective mind. I just let myself go anywhere that my curiosity takes me. I enjoy seeing where and on what my attention happens to land. I’m interested in the words and as I read them I enjoy  listening to the thoughts that arise in my head as a result. However I do have to remind myself that, in this time and space, I don’t have to understand or remember everything that I hear, see or read. This way I can relax and  let go of any expectation that I have to perform as well as anyone else. It saves me from the personal flogging I used to give myself for failing to retrieve those facts that I think I ought to be able to… having read all about them earlier….

Today’s little internet journey began with a scrap a paper I came across whilst dusting. I do this… write odd words on bits of paper and leave them lying around. It’s a coping mechanism. If I write it down I think I’ll have half a chance of remembering it. It makes me feel better.  I work my way through the week picking up words. If they feel important I write them down. I suppose to those in the profession, this is my equivalent to keeping  a writers journal. But for me who straddles worlds it is far less organised or intentional, to  an outsider it is rubbish left littering  horizontal surfaces, to me its something I might on occasion come back to. This one I did. I used it as a prompt to get me started today.

“We never do anything well till we cease to think about the manner of doing it.”

William Hazlitt

My boredom-buster process thus is set in motion, with scrap of paper in one hand I re-read the phrase back over. The words come to life in my head as my eyes scan over them, whilst the fingers on my other hand follow a silent instruction and begin typing the phrase into the search engine. Even before they have finished typing my head is asking and working out questions and  answers of it’s own. It’s happily running its own search in parallel to Google’s, but in this case through the archives of my memory. It’s looking for an example from the past which appears to mirror what ‘ceasing to think’ might look and feel like. It finds an image. I confess my ego wants to believe that it’s ‘writing’, but it also has doubts. Attention rapidly splits again, trying to confirm if ‘writing’ does indeed qualify; computing this judgement by looking at the results I have had to date. It compares my results, book sales in particular, with those of others. Unfortunately for me it picks on  JK Rowling,  who has sold 400 million copies…  verses Jayne Franks… err… let me count…. OK not quite so many 🙂

This is somewhere I don’t want to go…. self–defeating  self–talk… and recognising it as such I deliberately pull my attention around and ask a better question:

“At the times I believe I have written well was the work produced out of a state when I ceased thinking?’

“Yes..Of course”.

That’s the answer my ego wants to believe, because that would evaluate what I write as being something of substance and therefore likely to be judged as ‘good’. I ignore this response… its too heavily biased to be trusted completely and before I let the thought go I make one more observation –  ‘You do cease to think about your surrounding, the passage of time, and fail to  hear the phone ringing’. Is that what it means by the phrase ‘to cease thinking’? But a pessimistic voice  replies:

“No.. the number of sales to date could be construed that ‘the work’ you produce can’t be ‘too well’ after all.”

At this I could have let myself again be distracted with more negative thinking. Being bored has a tendency to encourage this sort of downward spiral, but  instead I chose to find out who William Hazlitt was. Wiki revealed that he was a Londoner, born in 1778; a chap who managed to make a living selling his ideas and thoughts. I’ve learnt that although his work is read little, much of it now out of print, amusingly he has been recently described as  the original blogger. This title was awarded as his latter work often tended to balk at convention and be written in a much more personal style, describing his own experiences on topics at the time considered beneath cultured society, such as his colourful description of a fist fight.  He evidently found his niche and attracted attention by daring to be different; stepping outside of the safety that comes from sticking with convention.

This reminded me of a recent programme I’d started to watch earlier in the week but hadn’t finished: BBC1 “Imagine”.  It’s available on catch-up  for a couple of weeks from now if anyone is interested. It was a documentary covering  ‘outsider art’, naïve art   or Art Brut. This is the term used to define art which is generated  by persons who are marginalised by society due to mental health and/or disability. To qualify as an ‘outsider’ your work is of an appreciable standard, despite you having had no formal training. It’s this lack of influence that makes the work completely novel, as it falls outside of modern cultural conventions. A freedom from self censorship, without a desire to make money or achieve fame, creates some wonderful and fascinating  pieces. Again, if you’re interested here are some of the more famous names worth looking up : Madge Gill, Carlo Zinelli  and Adolf Wölfli. More names were covered in the programme if I have whetted your appetite.

An interesting insight came to me as I finally caught up with myself and finished watching  the programme. Maybe William Hazlitt was right: thinking can get in the way of doing something well.  I guess I am like a lot of people who want to be  ‘normal’ and to feel  good with themselves by ‘fitting in’.  To this end I stick to behaviours that I was told as a kid worked well, including more that I have since learnt and practiced  and which I think serve my interests. Logic tells me that this reduces my chances of feeling awkward, out of my depth or the butt of everyone’s jokes. However I am beginning to appreciate that ‘ceasing to think’ might well be an effective strategy to do something ‘well’. It feels like there is some merit in taming the desire and thought to be like others.

Am I not right that not one of us, when we do our internet searches, really want to keep opening pages and dropping down menus to read more of the same information, that might have been expressed slightly differently, but is essential saying more of the same…? This is what I have been guilty of I guess. Wouldn’t it be more helpful, rather than finding ourselves being bored by having to wade through more of the same, if we were able to quickly identify that precious snippet… that nugget of information that would make us take notice and react positively? A search that would find the magic that translates words into meaningful action…

The Conclusion

  • I could fare just as well if I learnt and practiced being a little more robust and stopped worrying about what I think others are thinking.
  • Our potential to succeed could well be found in the very parts of our nature that actually make us different from everyone else.
  • The resources needed to make the difference may well remain  inaccessible if  we choose to hide and/or over-compensate for those differences.
  • Boredom is not necessarily a bad thing  … especially if the time lost in it opens up a whole new way of life.

Image: Outsider artist Madge Gill

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“THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU !! …but getting what you want most certainly is.

garden meWanting to be successful… being good at what you do… is that something you want?

Of course it is. And ‘Hand it to me on a plate” would be the perfect solution wouldn’t it just? Sorry: ‘no can do’. Worse still, I can’t even predict which way our fortunes might fall either. Shame, because that would save us all a lot of effort.  Now I’m not telling you anything that you don’t already know. But you’re curious and like me you might want to know the secret to how some find success and peace of mind. For lots of people, it might not seem to come by so easily..

We want to be on the winning team. Right?

A Google search reveals thousands of ways as to how others have achieved success in their field. But when it comes to actually finding the ultimate answer, don’t you find that there never seems to be one perfect, ideal match for where you find yourself right now? I want book sales, an effective marketing strategy and enough motivation and energy to control my eating and generate some muscles to die for. The internet can throw up loads of suggestions as to how to achieve what it is we want, which includes some bright innovative ideas accompanied by very convincing testimonies. In fact there are some great things ‘out there’, floating around for anyone to be inspired by and to get off on. I’ve even tried some…  And yes, despite all the attention I’ve given it, success remains elusive.  So which is it; more effort required or more patience? You need some of that too?  Then we do have something in common, but I reckon right now you’d maybe rather we didn’t.  🙂

Chill out

Ok… I hear the words… easier said than done… I know. Book sales are only part of the story, as I’ve already intimated. Body image is also where my attention is going. And to give you some idea of how it goes with me I invite you to take a quick peep.

I’m sitting slumped up against the end of the bed. Eyes are all red, and nose is snivelling. My bum and hips have spread out, in their attempt to take full advantage of the space given to them in these ‘who is there to notice anyhow’ shapeless ‘trackies’ that I settled on earlier. When I woke up this morning I wasn’t particularly preoccupied with my body image.  But now I’ve let my head become monopolised with trying to resolve the conundrum of how to satisfy an invitation stating a ‘smart but casual’ dress code; made more challenging by the limited resources at my disposal. I can do smart at a push, but they’re ‘work’ clothes, while my casual is another man’s slobbish. The combinations I’ve tried so far haven’t worked to best effect. In fact the opposite has happened. I feel old and out of shape. The bedroom looks like a bomb has hit it. The wardrobe doors hang open, my rejected clothes… chucked off… lie strewn on the bed and across the floor.

Frustrated and overwhelmed.

‘You can clear it up later’ is the self-talk I listen to, while a ‘can’t be bothered’ attitude complements it into there being no immediate clear-up strategy in the making. I’m feeling bad with myself. I’ve made a mess and I feel a mess. The dividing line has blurred.

I have a mug of coffee in one hand and in the other a forbidden biscuit. Or at least there was one until a second ago. The packet, glancing to my left, is looking a lot emptier than I remember… which begs the question: ‘How did that happen?’ I ask it of myself in a surprised tone, as if I might not have had some part in the process.

Is the packet half full or half empty?  

The answer that I favour will without a doubt support todays outlook. The reply is known before my hand involuntarily feels for the roll of excess midriff flab that is failing to keep a firm and low profile. ‘Guilty’… deduction: ‘Half empty’. Exit loud sigh

But you don’t really want to know how I feel do you? … I thought as much… and that’s perfectly fine.  I understand that it wasn’t the reason you called. Perhaps you were hoping for something different; a little bit of hope or a push in the right direction. Or perhaps just something better. Hang in there… read some more… all will be revealed. So back to the story. I feel wretched. I’ve been thinking… asking myself a lot of questions that follow a general theme of ‘why’; the loudest and least attractive being:

Why Me?’

At the back of my mind, apart from the immediate dilemma of what to wear, a collection of other thoughts are being processed in the same kind of negative vein. It’s distracting this type of thinking… drawing conclusions that tell me why things aren’t quite right. Also coming in at right angles, complementing the thinking process, are subtle signals and inferences that I’ve collected along the way. I haven’t told you about these. It’s not that I’m deliberately withholding information from you. It’s just because I’m not even aware that I’m thinking of them yet… or if I am I’m not fully appreciating the extent of their hold they have on me at the moment or why I think them important.

Dlling… dlling…   Dlling…dlling…

It’s Frank on the phone, I don’t know this yet of course, but he’s calling for several reasons. He has time on his hands. A chat is one remedy. He’s like me; wrapped up in his own world and asking himself a lot of questions. Maybe like me, although I don’t really know… going round in circles, meeting similar problems and searching for solutions in the same but different places and contexts. I know that he wonders a lot, complains sometimes and draws logical conclusions that appear right… to him. He’s human in other words.

Dlling… dlling…

I roll over  like a beached whale and  pick up the phone. The line opens up and I hear:

“Hi Jayne”

Even before he has finished sounding my name I have made the connection; formed a mental picture of who it is and retrieved his ID…

“Frank… how goes you?”

“Good thanks”…  pause… “And you? How are you feeling today?”

He chants back like a well-trained parrot of convention. I consider my response. I’m a size 12, which in the scale of national averages means that I’m not fat. I might think that I’m old, but with a life expectancy of almost 78 years in real terms I’m not that ancient either. So how do you explain to someone that you feel both of these when it’s likely to make no sense to anyone else but me?

“Fine thanks.”

“You don’t sound it.”

“I’m OK. Just feeling a bit down… exasperated and a bit frustrated with myself”. And hoping that was enough concluded: “You don’t want to know  Frank… trust me.”

Frank has a kindly nature; well-meaning and hates to see others suffer. He likes to help out where he can. It makes him feel good, valued and worthwhile. He doesn’t like to think that he’s let someone down or that he’s failed:

“Oh dear”…. sigh…. “Doesn’t sound very good. Is it something to do with me? Is it something I’ve said?”

I can feel more frustration surfacing:  “No.It’s just me”

“Well is it something I’ve done then”… nervously laughs… “or something I shouldn’t have done?”

“No.” The tone sharper, the volume louder, my response more clipped: “Just drop it Frank.”: anger beginning to form as thoughts arise.

“Look… I just rang you for a friendly chat!! What’s going on?  It must be something I’ve done as you seem very agitated, reluctant to talk about it.”

“Frank you’re not listening to me. You wouldn’t understand.”

“Try me.”

But how do you explain how you feel when they are not inside your head? Now wasn’t the time while I was in the thick of it; thinking, feeling and experiencing it.

“How I feel right now has nothing to do with you… you don’t have to feel bad… can we just leave it?”

I sensed his energy fall with the sound of an unguarded sigh released as he collected his thoughts.

“Well I do feel REALLY bad now, I don’t understand. Why are you behaving like this?”…  brief pause while he rationalises another thought…  “If you’re not telling me, it must have something to do with me, I just don’t understand, I feel like shit.”

“Frank… you are not listening to me. This has nothing to do with you. This is about MY feelings. Stop trying to hijack them. Let me deal with this. Trust me…” By this point I’m getting angry with myself and frustrated with him. “You know you do this a lot… It’s irritating.”

Long pause as message is taken on board.

“What is it I do a lot of?… sounding put out… “Then it is something to do with me then? Why don’t you just…”

Been here before.  I’ve lost patience now. I didn’t think about it. I knew I wasn’t going to snap him out of it. Distraction won’t work, so I just broke away… mid-sentence… and put the phone down…

Finding success in the material world is a bit hit and miss and from my experience to date is somewhat beyond my control. But success in terms of our emotional world is another thing. If there is anyone out there who is close to someone who is accusing them of not listening, then are you? If you can stay calm and resist taking their words personally to heart; avoid reacting in accordance with your own insecurities, then you may become a better listener and a more successful and happier individual in the long run. Feelings are real to those who own them, and if you hear: ‘this has nothing to do with you‘, then they are probably right… even though it makes no sense to you at the time or is something that you want to hear.

I wish you well.

“We would be far better to trust that everything that is happening right now and in our lives is moving us in the direction of our goal” (Bob Proctor)

For more about what makes Jayne and Frank tick, see www.jaynefranks.com

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“It’s been a long long time?”

heartThey say ‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder’.

But does it really? I’ve been away… floated… drifted…  I’m aware that for those 100 followers who have hung in there… waiting patiently… there has been nothing new to read for quite a while. And if you are one of those followers reading this now, take a moment to slow down your reading speed and really enjoy hearing the words that are about to rattle around your head:  ‘you are ‘special’.  My appreciation for you is genuine. And to those who have read this far and may be  feeling a bit left out… please don’t be! Just let yourself go. You are most welcome to stay and, if so inclined, to sign up and become a follower too. 🙂


My time away was never intended to be this long. At first… hands held up.. ‘guilty !!!!!’… my non-appearance was due to procrastination. My dilly-dallying around turned into avoidance to the point of ‘loss of sight’, which then ran hard into a solid wall of resistance and lethargy.  Self sabotaging mantras began to re-sound…’I don’t know why I bother’… which sapped the heart and the inclination to start afresh. The inner bland question of ‘who cares anyway?’… utterly debilitating… These thoughts stop you doing…. Heard it all before… Yawn… It’s nothing new…

There have been genuine distractions of course; like you perhaps, holidays, children off school and work to fit in. All excuses in the main.  But to my defense, although I have nothing to show you yet, there has been other ‘stuff’ going on in the back ground. On the whole it’s the type of ‘stuff’ that’s hard to account for, being predominantly of the talking and thinking variety.  But I have been doing a bit of reading, picking up new knowledge, as well as writing to several outside agencies to try and drum up trade. The results have been varied but, needless to say, in real terms none have generated the kind of desired reassurance that I am on the right track.


It has though forced me to re-think and re-evaluate what I had, what I have and what I want. So… wearing my most dispassionate and rational hat, I’ve come to a  conclusion; a rather sobering one.  Writing ‘Alice Wakes Up’  (read more here) was far easier to accomplish than finding a sustainable way to make her work for me. It is evident that a change of approach is needed if I am to experience something different, especially since what  I am presently doing  isn’t working for me.

Sadly it is not enough to have a great innovative exciting product on your hands. To make it fly takes something else. Sex sells and so does knowing someone in the know. (See previous posts).  The last few months’ endeavours have also taught that a marketing degree and a compulsive interest in IT and web design would certainly not have gone amiss.  There’s even more ‘nice to haves ‘ and ‘if onlys’… but what’s the point of going over old ground? Yes it would be great to have all of these attributes at my disposal. Then Jayne Franks would surely jettison into the global market place. But I don’t… or at least I haven’t got them yet. And, I like to remind myself, because it lets you down more gently, that even if these were at our disposal there is still no guarantee that Jayne Franks would make it. Nothing is a ‘God given cert’… well is it?


I’m really not alone in finding myself arriving at this juncture. Did you know that 50% of all businesses fail within their first year and  95% within 5yrs? Harsh. One of the main causes they suggest for this significant dropout rate is because  we  entrepreneurs “underestimate the challenges through unfounded optimism”.

Despair not. Nothing is wasted, for this experience has enabled me to put some things into perspective. Chasing sales is not what I do best, nor is it something that I enjoy doing. It’s like the dyslexia thing. If I focus all my attention on what I can’t do well (ie grammar, spelling) I lose the connection with the transformative creative quality that my writing can have.  Similarly, when I focus all my attention on trying to sell it, I lose the will and the desire to write. For now I have decided to do what I like doing, which is painting pictures with words… follow your passion, learn more, experiment, play around and see where it takes us. It’s all a bit of an adventure and in the meantime I shall indulge and enjoy… really enjoy the lovely positive feelings that arise when I get comments back such as this latest one:

“I smiled as I read your accounts of living with teenagers……I actually enjoyed the read… I liked your style… humorous”. (PS)


So does absence  make the heart grow fonder? In my case ‘Yes’. It’s given me the chance to realise what I could have lost had I continued to place all my attention on what I think I need… rather than focusing with appreciation on what I already have.

Image Credit: P.O.Arnas

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No one can hurt me without my permission

Tears, Stains on the Pillow Babygirl‘No one can hurt me without my permission’ is a quote from Mahatma Gandhi. It’s an insight that can help to shift perspective; to stop feeling hurt when working round problems, difficulties and conflicts.

Now keeping this quote of Gandhi’s  in mind, sit back and relax. Imagine a room in a house, set up like an office, and see a desk with a computer. Don’t look too closely, but there are balls of dust gathering under the desk, trapped between the mass of dangling cables and leads! Do though take a cursory glance round and try not to cast too poor a  judgement  when you see, beside the monitor, two half-filled mugs of cold coffee and this mornings used breakfast bowl. You will notice that the desk has the usual untidy piles of papers and on the nearby shelf are displayed a number of primary school photos; pictures that capture a time when brother and sister liked being seen together. Cute pictures, fresh faces that glow with happy childhood; their age determined by the number of missing teeth and their lack of self consciousness reflected in the bedraggled state of the uniform and skew-whiff-erdly-ness of the hair styles… pictures of those who have now become teenagers and who would rather like you to take them down…  There are two chairs. The larger one, positioned as the driver’s seat, is taken up by one of those children;  now most definitely affirming her role as a teenager. The other, a smaller chair, is occupied by a humbled, middle-aged, techno-challenged, vulnerable-feeling  mother.

The purpose of this meeting of the ages was to bring the mother up to date with the intricacies of Facebook. Having now got the book ‘Alice Wakes Up’ on sale (click for more info) it seemed like a natural progression. It was an idea I seeded a couple of weeks ago and today, with exams over, seemed like as good a time as any. The teenager was, or so it appeared to the adult, after all doing nothing other than killing time moving music files around on the screen while waiting for, and immediately responding to, incoming texts on her phone. We had started off with an unspoken promise of co-operation and seemingly on congenial terms. However, as anyone with teenagers will know, it is a situation that cannot be guaranteed to last. Today has proved to be no exception. Teenage patience is notoriously fragile and not found in abundance… unless it is focused on the game presently happening, which goes by the name of Candy Crush.  Also, what seemed like the modicum of tolerance on offer today is noticeably slipping away with each emotive, but at the request of the parent, ignored vibration of the phone against the table. Then BANG… an explosion occurs.  I’m not sure whether it was the pressure of knowing there were at least five unanswered texts waiting for a response, or my inane questions, my body language, or the tone of my voice, but something triggers a reaction and ignites the blue touch paper.


say’s the  teenager who is at that moment facing the computer screen. Adult, now on high alert as the thought occurs that her training session is under threat of being cancelled, notices teenage fingers letting go of mouse control and grabbing edge of desk.  Her swan-like neck straightens, the head twists round and the fringe deliberately and dramatically flips back.


Her right hand lets go of desk edge, drops, while leaning onto the padded arm of the chair. Her torso twists to follow the direction her eyes are moving in.


The chair swivels round completely, the movement executed by a set of painted toes pushing against the floor. She takes a closer look at the bewildered adult, as if to confirm her suspicions.

…”get it, do you?”…

The stare is held, whilst silent and invisible thoughts  flash through her mind. The eyes drop in dismissal, having seen what they wanted to see. Her shoulders follow suit. The tension in her toes eases off and the chair coasts back round to face the screen. Grabbing her phone as if it were a security blanket. she seems to need reassurance in the more in-tune and understanding world that she finds as she scrolls down through her messages. I watch her lovely shiny hair gracefully falling down in front of her eyes as she taps who-knows-what into a text. The sigh, which parts her hair, is audible; released in unison with the touch of the ‘send’ button. I interpret the body language to mean: ‘what did I do to deserve this?’ I’d lost the thread on how Facebook pages relate to and differ from the account holder.  I hadn’t grasped the importance of  how comments and posts work and how they can be used. I just couldn’t visualize who sees what, what appears where and who on what sorts decides the type of information that occurs on timelines and walls. It was all very confusing to this adult who keeps a traditional address book, still sends cards through the post and if and when they feel they have something worth saying will pick up a landline phone to speak to the person who they think will want to know. Facebook-speak, if you’re not familiar with it, is Double Dutch to the disassociated and untrained ear.

As a side issue, did you know that Double Dutch is a phrase that sprang out from a translation of one of Moliere’s plays? Out of curiosity I’d looked it up, but much worse I think, I must confess to not knowing who Molière was either, so I had to look him up too. A weak retention of what I see as General Knowledge  is something that I have attributed to being dyslexic. But thanks to the internet (which comes to my rescue all the time) I read that he was a French actor and playwright of the late 1800’s. Wikipedia is great! I learnt that he had an unconventional and individual style and used his wit for brilliant effect. Interestingly, I also picked out from the blurb that he often ‘had faulty grammar, relied on too many words to fill out his lines, and reportedly mixed up his metaphors’. Sounds familiar. I wonder if he was dyslexic like me? 🙂  The plays he wrote upset the Church but, luckily for Molière, were liked by Royalty who, because of the association, enhanced his career.  One further interesting fact I picked up was that  ‘Moliere’ was not his real name; instead born Jean-Baptiste Poquelin. He is said to have changed it to spare his father the shame of having an actor as a son. Interestingly in those times actors were regarded as lowly beings; so low that even in death the label stuck, forfeiting their entitlement to be buried in sacred ground, although this didn’t entirely happen to Molière. Compare this to how Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger for instance were/are regarded and how they might have expected to be treated. It’s amazing how values and beliefs can change when people decide to adopt a different attitude.

So what are the key insights of this week’s little interlude while quietly reflecting on Gandhi’s quote?

  1. Teenagers are and will be what they are. I have the choice on how I think, feel and react to them.
  2. If Molière had dyslexic tendencies it evidently wasn’t something that he would have worried about, because the condition hadn’t been defined then. I might now be labelled as having dyslexia but that doesn’t mean that I have to  distort my self-belief or let it dampen my outlook. People with dyslexia can do well; some really well and others exceptionally well.
  3. All projects will have their fair share of supporters and critics. It would be wonderful if royalty backed me, as they did in Molière’s case. But hey… anyone or any event unbeknown to me could be the catalyst. To be kind on myself  I need to stay focused, keep making forward steps and eventually, if it’s meant to be, something interesting will happen.
  4. Remind myself, and take comfort in it in the short term, that attitudes can change. For now I know that I just have to learn to let go more of what I think I want and grin and bear these teenage years of self-expression and development;  hanging on to the hope that my children’s current belief in me as ‘just’ a lowly and embarrassing parent could change in the long term. Getting hung up on it now is not in my own best interest or being kind to myself.
  5. Finally, I can take a bit of  satisfaction in the knowledge that even if my girl did carry out her desire to disown me by changing her name in a vain attempt to cover up the shame of being associated with such an inept parent as I appear to have become…  it won’t make a scrap of difference. I will always love her and will strive, whatever she may do, like Molière to locate my own space of sacred ground in which I will endeavour to rest in peace.

And the good news is that we did manage to create a “Jayne Franks : Dyslexic Writer” Facebook Page. Please take a look and, trying to prove that I’m getting my head around the lingo but probably not sounding too cool here, please press the ‘Like’ and  ‘Share’ buttons, while not forgetting to leave  a comment. I promise to respond.

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