Old Man Trouble.

26 Jun 2018
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I'm taking a cautious breath and looking round; sniffing the air, so to speak. The coast seems clear; the breeze light; the sea calm. It looks to be plain sailing ahead. To change the analogy, I feel a little like a wildebeest at a watering hole, deciding whether it is safe to drink, and tentatively deciding it just might.

I am cautious because things seem to be going alright. They haven't been alright for some time. Our troubles seem to be over – for now.

Without boring you with details – and, besides, those of you who are regular readers pretty well know all the details anyway - 2016 was a disastrous year for us. 2017 was better, but still difficult. This year started with a bitter betrayal.

But now, in this brilliant June sunshine, there seems to be not a cloud in the sky; and I can't quite believe it.

My favourite uncle used to say that life was a game of survival and achievement. You would go through hard times when it was all you could do to keep your head above water: you worked to keep the farm. Then there would be good times when you could work on your plans and achieve things and the farm could then keep you.

The older I get, the more I come to appreciate his wisdom. The last three years have been survival – even up to last week, just getting my eldest through her GCSEs was an achievement of survival in itself. * Maybe now we can enter a period of building.

It seems, however, that we regard this state of "plain sailing" to be normality, and the times of hardship and survival to be unusual. We seem to think we have the right to have it easy and wail, "What have I done to deserve this?" when we suffer the inevitable slings and arrows of misfortune.

The answer is that often we have done nothing to deserve this. Although I am a great believer in "What goes around, comes around," misfortune visits us all from time to time. Sometimes even acts of kindness misfire and blow up in your face.

A while ago, in a Personal Development seminar I learned that upset has only three roots. It lies in disappointed expectations, frustrated intentions and undelivered communications. If we expect life to be easy then we will be consistently disappointed. For many of us, it is never easy.

So, I am grateful for the sunshine, both literal and metaphorical. I will appreciate every minute of it, because it is not my due.

Oh, don't get me wrong: I am not looking for Old Man Trouble: if he wants me, he knows where to find me.

But when he knocks on my door, I'll be expecting him.

Mary

A Moodscope member

* Yes – everything you have seen on the news regarding those exams is true. My favourite (stupid) question in physics was, "What would be the advantages in measuring radioactivity in units of bananas?")

And – because you expect it from me: here's Fats Domino with Old Man Trouble. http://bit.ly/2K55wRK

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Comments

Just some guy you know

June 27, 2018, 5:15 a.m.

Hi Mary. Great post which taps into a couple of feelings I am having at the moment. The first is the sense of always needing to get on, have a plan and be heading in a particular direction. And when things are up, like you describe, there is a sense of prospects or achievement. But not sure how much living in the moment there is. And who needs to check your mood at moments like this? And then there are the inevitable downs, when things look tough, and there is a focus on feeling low and needing to try and fix it. So I admire your philosophical approach, and the acceptance it suggests. I feel I need to cultivate similar good habits of recognising my feelings, accepting them and move on. Guy p.s. those radioactive bananas units are not as mad as they sound at first - check out http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/mobile/magazine-15288975. Thanks for learning me something new for today :^)

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Mary Wednesday

June 27, 2018, 8 a.m.

Yes to the bananas! My daughter explained, with some disgust. It was a 2 mark question. She said she could have written an essay for English on the matter, but she wasn't quite sure of what they wanted other than it being more accessible and relatable for people.

Brum Mum

June 27, 2018, 6:02 a.m.

Mary, what a wonderful blog! And just what I needed for this morning. I am still in bed trying to get up for work (good job I work from home). Life is tough at the moment but I would be a Pollyanna if what I currently face didn't phase me.... So Fats Domino and radioactive bananas out a smile on my face. And I am with you on GCSEs.....my lovely, dyspraxia nephew just finished his. There is a collective sigh of relief from parents and children across the country. May life continue to be good for you and yours xx

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Mary Wednesday

June 27, 2018, 8:02 a.m.

Thank you, Brum Mum. I hope things get better for you soon.

Lex

June 27, 2018, 6:09 a.m.

Mary's Wednesday Wisdom, especially this powerful paragraph: "It seems, however, that we regard this state of "plain sailing" to be normality, and the times of hardship and survival to be unusual. We seem to think we have the right to have it easy and wail, "What have I done to deserve this?" when we suffer the inevitable slings and arrows of misfortune." #Awesome

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Mary Wednesday

June 27, 2018, 8:03 a.m.

Wednesday wisdom: I like that! Oh, if only!

Orangeblossom

June 27, 2018, 6:22 a.m.

Hi Mary, thanks for the great blog. I have made a note of the statement from your Personal Development course about the sources that cause upset. “I have taken them away with me.”

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Mary Wednesday

June 27, 2018, 8:05 a.m.

They have been of great use to me over the years.

David Gosling

June 27, 2018, 6:44 a.m.

We all need periods of relaxing and rejuvenating, this happens to me in my days of painful depression. I feel well now after over6 months and riding on the crest of a wave. David.

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Mary Wednesday

June 27, 2018, 8:09 a.m.

I am so pleased you are well just now. Long may it continue.

Duma

June 27, 2018, 9:46 a.m.

Glad to see you’re back. I was preparing to miss you. :D

Valerie

June 27, 2018, 7 a.m.

How lovely for you all that for now things are going well.I was going to add "well deserved" and "long may it continue" but that would be in contradiction to the spirit of your blog.My problem is that I expect nothing but disaster,I don't recognise the good times when they are staring me in the face. It is shameful to awake,as I frequently do,with a sense of apprehension,what trouble does the day have in store? I quickly rally,run through the gratitude list in my head.Wonderful blog,full of wisdom to reflect on. x

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Mary Wednesday

June 27, 2018, 8:09 a.m.

Gratitude lists are wonderful things!

Duma

June 27, 2018, 7:34 a.m.

Hey Mary. I waited all week for som Odin’s day wisdom. And you feel like a prey animal? I can’t blame you, The Hush has been following me about like it wanted the cream off my porridge, since 1/1/80. Yes Folks - the eye of the storm iIS my presidium arch. I hope you feel tougher seen Mary. Your friend (in ambuscade) Duma.

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Mary Wednesday

June 27, 2018, 8:14 a.m.

I love that phrase "following me around like it wanted the cream off the top of my porridge!" Hugs to you.

Duma

June 27, 2018, 9:18 a.m.

Hugs. No pat-down, SVP. *Fist-bump* x

The Gardener

June 27, 2018, 7:49 a.m.

Clinging to what sanity I have left - making sure all my lovely flowers survive the extreme heat - preparing presbytery garden for farewell party for a nun after mass on Sunday - nice to see it used - can only work till 10.30 when sun hits it. Utterly shattered, tribunal will not take place for 3/5 months - My husband will be dead or as good as, but they still intend to come and look at him to see he is incapable. I am in a mess up to my neck. Thanks Mary xx

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Mary Wednesday

June 27, 2018, 8:16 a.m.

I can nothing except heartfelt sympathy and warm hugs. Those I send with abundance.

The Gardener

June 27, 2018, 2:04 p.m.

Guy speaks of the 'need to be getting on'. I think many of us need to be 'busy'. Also 'having a plan'. Life has been thrown into turmoil, worst ever experienced. People are actually appalled (these are mostly French people) at what burocracy has thrown at me. I am working hard to heed advice, make sure I have made all contacts possible, then put it to one side and get on with life. But the worry bug gets in your head and stays there unless zonked. The cliche 'mind over matter' is so important. At least have met so many friends, smiles, sympathy and encouragement.

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Mary Wednesday

June 27, 2018, 4:01 p.m.

I think it was Wellington who said that plans are useless, but planning indispensable. Planning helps us prioritise and strategise. Mostly our plans fail, or at least must be dramatically altered, but the planning enables us to steer a path through the storm. Steven Covey calls it "Beginning with the end in mind." For those of us with a Christian Faith, the beginning- and the road - is Salvation. The end (which is a new beginning), Heaven. I'm not sure if that takes us much further as we deal with the trials and pain of the day to day, but sometimes it is worth lifting our eyes from the ruts and sharp stones, just for a moment, to check that we're on the right course. I am about to read Pilgrim's Progress for the first time. Should be interesting!

The Gardener

June 27, 2018, 2:07 p.m.

Realise do have a diversion - the next few days have become so packed, need complicated logistics to get it done taking in weather, no way a lot can be done in our extreme heat. So as exam season think back to degree essays, formulate plan and work accordingly.

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Mary Wednesday

June 27, 2018, 4:01 p.m.

Yes - I wrote the above before I read this. Absolutely!

The Gardener

June 27, 2018, 5:08 p.m.

I thought of Mary's 'betrayal' which obviously hurt so much. And Cesar? 'The unkindest cut?, For 4 years I have been told to look after myself, which any 24/24 carer will tell you is difficult. Now I am 'free' but in chains (cf Rousseau). My notary is idle and incompetent, I've known him since he was 11. Hate change. I was warned about French burocracy now proved inhuman and intransigent. And people are saying, not too smugly, 'we told you so'. Agony Aunt needed.

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The Gardener

June 27, 2018, 5:12 p.m.

My 'Agony Aunt' (proxy daughter here) has more problems than I. We sat in my shop this morning. and on the principle that two minuses make a plus, if we put all our troubles in a basket and shook them would they them be easier? Just used 20 litres of water on my terrace, know the amount - so difficult to water I have to use a 1 litre measuring jug. Right, shut up, food, TV, and Evelyn Waugh. Another thought about evils and the day? Bible? Fuddled. Good night, sleep well all of you. xx

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Lexi

June 27, 2018, 7:47 p.m.

Hi Mary! A few years ago I came out of a particularly bad depression, and then something great happened, and I thought "Hmm. Never saw that coming." I was reminded on the spot of the story - I am not religious so apologies to all for badly paraphrasing this parable - about the man who was walking in the sand with ***, and in the good times there were two sets of footprints but in the bad times there was only one set, and the man thought *** had deserted him. But *** was there the whole time, just carrying him through the bad. I don't think I ever expected my life to be easy, so when I did have some good times I felt...grateful, but in the true sense of the word, feeling full of grace, like all along there was a better plan for me and I just couldn't see it. Things have been hard again since that moment of realization, and I still get very down, but I am less surprised now when things are better. Perhaps this is me letting go? Not sure, but in a (very backwards kind of way!) I am saying I loved your post today. xo Lexi

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Oli

June 27, 2018, 8:06 p.m.

I love the bananas as a unit of radioactivity concept -- been reading all about that! What a long day! Glad that you're in a sunnier place Mary :-)

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