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Reasons To Be Cheerful. Sunday September 3, 2017

This is from an article I wrote in 2003 for our UK church magazine.

A pop song – another 'Don't worry, be happy'. We'd just returned from India, and turned into curmudgeons – not even 'Old Codgers' which has overtones of cosiness. From a country which had poverty and sadness, England seemed full of discontent – illustrated by the politician's words 'You never had it so good'. Young people were well fed, educated, they had total freedom of choice, yet the crime rate was rising, children of broken homes on the increase, many did not have the joy of a father-figure because modern woman thought she could manage without (by choice or abandoned), and many children were under psychiatric care.

In the same issue were extracts from 'If I had my life to live over' by Erma Bombeck*, written when she found out she was dying of cancer. A few of her 'regrets':

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have taken time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show dirt, or would last a lifetime.

When my children kissed me impetuously, I would never have said 'Later, now go get washed up for dinner'.

There would have been more 'love you's. More 'I'm sorry'.

Now, 14 years later, neither of us is terminally ill, but it's often difficult to be cheerful. However, the picture above has real meaning. Among the girls is the one we have 'brought up' from the age of 7. She was rescued from an awful childhood, and taken into a Catholic convent. We paid all the bills, and visited 9 times. I lost touch – her English is not good. Then I heard she had moved states, followed by the news that she was ill and had an abortion. Reading between the lines it seems likely she was raped, she'd never tell me. I thought she was dead. Now, she has 'surfaced' through Facebook, it was her birthday a couple of days ago, and we are going to be 'grandparents' again in a few months. (She regards us as her parents, and our children as her siblings, she knows all about them). Reasons to be cheerful indeed.

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

* Erma Bombeck was a much syndicated writer of humorous columns in the US, she died of kidney failure.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Sally Sun, Sep 3rd 2017 @ 6:38am

Wonderful, TG. I like Erma Bombeck a lot, her quotes are very apt, and you have quoted a very true set of "regrets" of hers here, starting with that pink candle! She was truly inspirational, wasn't she? As are you of course, TG!
It is true that you have much to bear right now...poor you and Mr G...but you have a wealth of past experiences to draw on. How sad and wonderful about your young Indian friend...I wish her well, and hope this time, she gets to keep and love her baby. I love the colourful photo you have included as , for me, India represents exotic colours on the one hand , and abject poverty and living conditions on the sad but on the other hand, so inspiring. I have never been there, however. So just drawing on things I've seen and read about that country. I listened to a lot of the programmes on partition last week. And to Salman Rushdie's serialised book "Midnight's Children".
Thank you for drawing it to our attention that by comparison, we are all here well fed, yet tend towards discontentment...the words feast or famine come to mind, because as you say, many children and young people over here require psychiatric help, a sobering thought .
Go well today, and think pleasant things/memories as far as you can. I do realise it is not easy, though. (We are seeing our son today, who has complex learning difficulties, etc, but he goes back to the care home afterwards, and thus we to our normal everyday lives. It wasn't always so, but that's another story...)
As a four- year- old once told us "Life is tough and hard" . At times, yes, it is indeed.

the room above the garage Sun, Sep 3rd 2017 @ 7:11am

Hello Sally, I hope you have a good day with your lovely son xxx.

Sally Sun, Sep 3rd 2017 @ 7:48am

Aw, thanks, tratg, that's so kind of you. Xx

Jane SG Sun, Sep 3rd 2017 @ 9:38am

I love the quote ' I would have cried and laughed less at TV and more at life.' Sometimes things I see on TV, or read about, though remind me how fortunate I am. X

The Gardener Sun, Sep 3rd 2017 @ 12:01pm

So glad you have an acceptable 'solution' with your son. A wet Sunday with Mr G is an ordeal. When we eat out at week-ends there are often parents, I imaging just like you, whose children are in professional care all the week - I admire the parents for their courage in taking them - down's syndrome, palsy, etc. Although, if wasn't for the extreme welcome and tact of the restaurant we go to I don't think I could cope with going out. This morning in Mass Mr G twice tried to eat his coin for the collection thinking it was the wafer. Organist introduced us to a composer called Boely, contemporary of Bach - who fell out of favour with his 'sponsor', but a wealth of very varied music none the less.

the room above the garage Sun, Sep 3rd 2017 @ 7:10am

Hello TG, your photographs are your salvation, they bring the world back to you. I love the photo and hearing your good news. Thank you, love ratg x

Jane SG Sun, Sep 3rd 2017 @ 9:36am

Dear ratg, just to let you know I have replied to your comment yesterday. My first response was lost xx

The Gardener Sun, Sep 3rd 2017 @ 7:26am

Thank you, Sally and RATG. Had a pretty disturbed night, and Mr G has woken up in full grumble. I watched the Whitney Houston documentary last night - what a waste of beauty and talent, and her daughter followed the same tragic trail. But I have the blog - brings back good memories - church, lawn mow, admire my flowers and beg, or pray, for patience and humanity to get through a day without 'cracking' and descending to Mr G's now childish level. Have a lovely Sunday, whether it is walking the dog, newspapers in bed, church, 'big' lunch. xx

Orangeblossom Sun, Sep 3rd 2017 @ 8:06am

Thanks for the positive cheering blog. A new month started on a positive note meeting a friend for a get-together. Yesterday I chatted to another friend who I seem to have lost contact with. Regaining confience & looking forward to new academic year. Hope that you have a good week The Gardner.

Mary Wednesday Sun, Sep 3rd 2017 @ 8:14am

What a lovely photograph - so full of life and colour. We have so many possessions, here in the "West", but in the end, happiness seems to be nearly always about community. The road I live on has only 18 houses and we have the great gift of a green area in the middle. Yesterday we put up a marquee and held our 12th annual barbeque. 15 out the 18 houses attended, some with guests, and we had, as always, a time of neighbourhood bonding. It is true that our houses are bigger than some, but it is not the size of the houses, or the make of the cars in the drives which matter and which make our road a lovely place to be, it is that we all look out for each other and (as the old soap put it) neighbours have become good friends. Many of us are still in touch with old neighbours who have moved away - and even from America we get old neibhbours saying they miss us and wish they could be with us too. I do think however, when we have so much, it is our duty and our joy to make the lives of others less fortunate a bit better. I like the sponsoring a child approach, and there are quite a few charities which do this.

The Gardener Sun, Sep 3rd 2017 @ 9:07am

Hope weather is kind, Mary. France has it's 'quartier' get-together - neighbours willing! We were in Paris, a sophisticated area, streets closed, ox being roasted! Best was an 'impromptu' picnic, all in white - held in the Champs-Elysee area. It was SO popular, and SO disruptive that it was discontinued. I am going to try not to moan - but I've never had such an awful time with Mr G as this morning - going to church, then Sunday stretches, grim and miserable, and wet. Courage, and more courage.

Jane SG Sun, Sep 3rd 2017 @ 9:36am

Really lovely blog TG. I missed the documentary on Whitney. Will have a look for it. I hope you have a good day today xx

Bearofliddlebrain Sun, Sep 3rd 2017 @ 10:30am

Hug x

Jane SG Sun, Sep 3rd 2017 @ 11:12pm

Thank you Bear xx

LP Sun, Sep 3rd 2017 @ 9:55am

After such a difficult morning, it's the perfect time for your blog to have been posted TG.
Firstly what a stunningly beautiful picture. I could spend ages looking at the details, colours, faces. It'd be nice to know which is your girl.
Your story shows how even in the darkest times, things can change for the better over time.
Thanks to for the reminder to live how I want to while I can.
Thank you for a wonderful blog TG and a beautiful up image to brighten up the day.
Wishing that you are still able to enjoy the day and best wishes to you and all LPxx

Bearofliddlebrain Sun, Sep 3rd 2017 @ 10:19am

Hi Lillypet...sirry you've had a difficult morning...hope it is easing off now and you get to sit and adore this beautiful picture.....their faces look so colourful, just like their clothes! Bear hugs xx

Bearofliddlebrain Sun, Sep 3rd 2017 @ 10:29am

*{+#^#%€ sorry...not sirry- I is sirry!!!! ....but maybe my mistook maid thee larf??? Bear x

The Gardener Sun, Sep 3rd 2017 @ 7:51pm

LP - I think our girl (Archana) is in an orange dress in the far left group. We first saw her when she was 7 - must have been alarming, few Europeans in a poor-ish agricultural community. We bought her a dress in Madras - but there were 28 girls in the convent. What present? I bought 12 Barbie dolls, and added to their own garish garments about 30 outfits which I knitted. they were over-joyed, dolls used for Saturday theatre - even decorating the creche. Later visits we took 'cast-offs' from a grand-daughter of the same age - Archana loved wearing her 'cousins' clothes. In Jakarta was a Japanese department store, very expensive. Then the rupiah went from 3,000 to the £ to 18.000 to the pound - so we went on a buying spree - clothes to UK for grand-daughter, then on to India. One dress, pure silk, bought in UK for about £60, was given to a smaller child, Susheela, a real orphan (others just abandoned) who used the dress to good effect. Future visits had all group presents - musical instruments, art materials, a cistern! Solar panels for the hospital - my knitted shawls, hats and masks, a TV, computers and printers - then, from golden wedding money education of 8 girls for professions. It was quite an era.

LP Sun, Sep 3rd 2017 @ 10:22pm

Hi Lovely Bear, I didn't express myself very well, I meant after TG's difficult morning! As it happens though, I had one of my no energy mornings and felt like I couldn't move out of bed for hours, not good. Dragged myself through the day and Hopi g to pick up tomorrow. Thank you for your thoughts and hugs, the lovely photo did give me a lift LPxxx

LP Sun, Sep 3rd 2017 @ 11:31pm

Hi TG, Ahh sweet! Thank you. Wow how great to be able to make such a wonderful difference to so many young lives! Xx

Ach UK Sun, Sep 3rd 2017 @ 10:04am

Good morning Gardener, Thank you for your blog, how lovely you have found your your 'daughter' again.
Your 'name' is indeed apt; the seed you have nurtured has flourished and flowered.
We cannot choose where we are born but by our actions we can choose to improve the soil.
Do you know the poem by Rudyard Kipling - "The glory of the garden"?
I'm singing to Mr G this morning (hope my voice is acceptable) -thinking he might join in and we can sing in harmony and may it keep him occupied at least while you get 10 minutes for a cuppa!
"Courage " indeed ma brave.

Bearofliddlebrain Sun, Sep 3rd 2017 @ 10:20am

Lovely singing! :) :)

The Gardener Sun, Sep 3rd 2017 @ 12:08pm

Irresistible to look up Kipling - thanks. 'While better men than we go out and start their working lives at grubbing weeds from gravel paths with broken dinner-knives'! Done that, if you break off something like deadly nightshade it quadruples the next week. Have succumbed, regretfully, to chemical spraying. Thanks Arch uk

Ach UK Sun, Sep 3rd 2017 @ 12:34pm

Oh Gardener, are you any good at spraying mosquitoes? ;)) PS glad you found the Kipling.

Ach UK Sun, Sep 3rd 2017 @ 12:39pm

Bearofliddlebrain With your waving and my dulcet tones we could start a Moodscope choral group. . . . get out your conductors baton.

The Gardener Sun, Sep 3rd 2017 @ 2:17pm

No answer, Ach. We have few mosquitos, wasps or butterflies this year. In India, directed to a slum school for abandoned girls in Bangalore, we fetched up in a new AIDS hospice.(It's a toss up if you get anywhere you intended in India). One man had died that morning - another was dying - being 'sung' out of this world sitting in a circle holding hands with other sufferers. We went in for the customary tea. I looked at my arm, covered with a shawl. A mosquito with a proboscis like a bradawl was boring through my arm. We'd stopped taking malaria pills, expensive, and said to be ineffective to most breeds. This was the one that stings during the day and causes dengue. I thought 'will I die of dengue, malaria or AIDS?' I was reliably informed that mosquitos cannot transmit AIDS from one person to another - anyway, I'm still here.

Bearofliddlebrain Sun, Sep 3rd 2017 @ 10:28am

Ah are courageous and brave....through everything that life has thrown at you (and still does, by the bucketload!) you post this great blog and wondrous picture!
Like LP, I keep looking at the picture and it just warms my heart.
Sad too, that your 'daughter' has found herself in terrible situations, but I'm also happy for her and you, as she is now in touch with you and you'll have a new baby in your extended family. Lucky that you were able to do what you could for her and I'm sure you will continue to support her when you can.

Waving Bear paws to all, especially those like Jane SG who need continued waves and hugs.
Bear xx

Frankie Sun, Sep 3rd 2017 @ 10:43am

Morning Dear Gardener; what a lovely blog and photo - thank-you! I especially liked "I would have talked less and listen more ... now to put that into practice ... Hugs Frankie xx

Lexi Sun, Sep 3rd 2017 @ 2:42pm

I knew it was you from the first sentence, TG. Erma Bombeck is frequently in my head - the pink candle - I try to live by her words whenever I feel I am holding on too tightly to something. I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook, but connecting with old friends from a lifetime ago is the part I love the most about it. I am so glad you found your daughter again and that you and she are sharing a new chapter in your lives. I often read your comments and think how much I would like to know you in person. Your strength and perseverance and caring nature and humor…it cheers me to know there are people like you in this world. Xo Lexi

Tutti Frutti Sun, Sep 3rd 2017 @ 3:51pm

Hi Gardener Just wanted to thank you for the blog. Too tired to say much more right now. Love TF x

The Gardener Sun, Sep 3rd 2017 @ 6:13pm

Having an awful day except these replies above. Church OK, but 1st lesson Jeremiah. My mum was a Jermeiah. Mr G has been an utter misery all day - does not leave me alone for a minute - said he wanted to go to bed - so I tucked him up comfortably with some music and settled with the Burleigh Horse Trials. Every five minutes he got up, or shouted for something. It's rained all day - could not even go and dead-head. Then, all the weeping and wailing sent me sideways to an ace wailer - Lord Lundy - Hilaire Belloc - first time I've smiled all day, except to people at church. For those in need of a pick-me-up - google it, swear it will make you smile. Got a Kir - going to tear a strip off useless estate agents (think Lex has a word to say about them?) and try to write a blog on the Jeremiah theme! Cheers (half-hearted) will have another one, either under table or cheered up. Thank you everybody xx

The Gardener Sun, Sep 3rd 2017 @ 6:23pm

Lord Lundy addition - his ducal grand-pa, fed up with the wimp, said, in desperation 'Oh, go and govern New South Wales'. Apologies to Leah - inference that anything that was no good to the UK could be sent to Australia

Nicco Mon, Sep 4th 2017 @ 11:46pm

Sorry, but I can find within myself no reasons to be cheerful today - thought I'd better be honest - as I'm feeling very low. My score is 18% (which is higher than my all time low of 2% but still below my average of 37%) but I guess those are just statistics. I'm finding it harder to live with my husband than without him (we separated a while ago but finances means he's back here again). I feel I have no love in my life just now.

Jane SG Tue, Sep 5th 2017 @ 7:28am

Sending you some love this morning Nicco. I do hope it reaches you. Wise words from Sal below xxx

Nicco Tue, Sep 5th 2017 @ 1:44pm

Many thanks, Jane - very much appreciated.

Sal Tue, Sep 5th 2017 @ 12:18am

Hello Nicco, it seems we are both up late. I'm sorry to hear you are feeling so low - sending gentleness and kind wishes your way. I hope tomorrow brings brighter feelings, and some inklings, however tiny, of love in your life. I'm reading at the moment a book called 'The Compassionate Mind', and the author puts a lot of emphasis on our ability, and need, to be kind to ourselves, and to think lovingly and forgivingly of our own actions - I hope that some of that spirit may come your way very soon. Love, Sal

Nicco Tue, Sep 5th 2017 @ 2:07pm

Thank you, Sal. It sometimes feels like my whole life's been a battle. I can usually 'jolly' myself along, looking forward, not back, forging ahead, but things are particularly hard atm so the past is crowding in & I don't see how I can reconcile the past if the same thing keeps happening in the present. I do try to be compassionate (the book sounds good - I will look out for it), but I guess I've been programmed to be more compassionate towards others rather than myself (but not feeling particularly compassionate towards my husband atm), so you've reminded me to do just that - not to be so hard on myself, but kinder & more compassionate towards myself. With that in mind, I am going to do something I enjoy doing (making curtains for a dolls house) rather than things I ought to be doing (the pile of ironing seems to be frowning at me (if that's possible!) & making me feel guilty! Someone once said it's good to have a little 'hardening of the oughteries' now and again. I read RATG's blog on fairies & bubbles just now & I understand that 'magic' but don't get much of it in my adult life - I did once, when I was gardening & came across a huge ant nest with loads of big white eggs... Just when I thought I should get the ant powder as the nest was quite close to the house & we had a problem coming inside at that time, a robin, thin and scrawny, flew down & devoured the lot! I was amazed at how he didn't mind me being so close. I even had time to go indoors & fetch my camera - he was so fast, thought, that most of the photos came out as a blur. But it's memories like those that I try to conjure up when feeling particularly low. It's good to know I can be honest on this site because, although I like to feel I can be of some small cheer at times to others who are feeling down, there are times when obviously one needs a little cheering too. So, thank you, Sal, you have taken my mind to a cheerier place with my robin. Off to find the material for those curtains - it's a quirky witch house & one of the rooms has fairies & butterflies & flowers in it - I think I will concentrate on that one today! x Nicco x

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