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Archive for the ‘Bloggers for Peace’ Category

Anyone who has been with me on my writing journey for a while will have seen B4Peace posts, or at least posts tagged with that moniker.

Bloggers For Peace was set up in 2013 by Kozo and Cheri, who is still the active admin on the WordPress site.  Over time, the active input into the B4Peace community has dwindled, although there are still a few posts popping up in my reader that have the B4Peace tag.

Recently, I popped onto the Bloggers for Peace website and saw a post from a while ago asking what people want to do with the site. The idea it might stop was quite sad, and it made me want to do something practical to re-engage.

So, I am hereby committing to a monthly peace post.  It will be one of my Thursday ones, as I can’t fit any more in at the moment, but that’s part of what free posts are about – enabling me to share something from my non-writing mind!

It would be great to get more people back on the peace train.  We need to lift our voices and speak loudly of love, community, friendship, warmth, companionship, respect, trust and all those wonderful things that peace can provide.

We have all seem what hatred and fear can do. B4Peace is a way of countering all the negative voices, and showing there is more than one way to see the world.

Let me know if you want to get involved.  And, in lieu of writing a specific post for January yet, here’s a quote about peace from Desmond Tutu that I found on the Peace alliance website, which is a perfect summary to the B4Peace ideal:

Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.

Be peaceful,

EJ

🙂

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I am struggling to express my profound sadness at the state of the world this week. Our news in the UK is filled with images from France – but that is just one part of the terrible story.

It feels as though countless people from all different parts of the world are intent on ripping apart any sense of commonality, of community, that one human can have with another.

I have seen news reports of bombs dropped onto Syria, of the dead peace protestors in Turkey, of refugee camps and soldiers and terrorists waving guns in the air. I have watched reports of victims, people fearful for their lives, people who will never be free of the chains bound around them – whether physical or mental.

I wish we could find another way forward, share our sameness and accept differences with respect and tolerance.

In light of the world as it is, writing about my own plans seems vaguely nonsensical. And yet I must live my life in the best way I know how. Part of that is trying to build bonds across the world through shared dreams and experiences, trying to be non-judgemental, fair and respectful.

I am not perfect, and I am not always any of those things, but I am making an effort to be mindful of my own behaviours.

I will collate all my writing news and share it with you in a separate post tomorrow. For now, I will leave you with a thought: peace is worth the effort.

Be peaceful,
EJ

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There’s been a lot of focus of refugees and migrants in the news here in the UK this week, and the political rhetoric is all over the place, so I had to write about it today.

My thoughts are muddled, but I know that it hurts to watch the news reports.  I swing from horrified to terrified to traumatised that this is the world, right now.

There is some information worth thinking about – in respect of Syrian refugees alone – courtesy of World Vision:

  • Nearly 12 million people have been displaced
  • Over 4 million of these are refugees in neighbouring countries
  • About half of the displaced Syrians are children

The population of the country before 2011 was around 22 million people: nearly 18% of the population are now refugees.

Add to this number those fleeing violence, persecution or totalitarianism in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea and you can see there’s a vast number of our fellow travellers through life who cannot sleep easy in their beds at night, who cannot build a positive future for themselves, who do not feel safe.  People who no longer have a home, anywhere.

Then consider the people in our own communities, living with illness, poverty, abuse, homelessness.  Those who are afraid of the world they experience, and who have been demonised simply for struggling.

It’s hard to see the good in the world, sometimes.

That is where we come in – those of us who want to take some sort of constructive action, or spread a positive message to counter some of the negatives.  I have seen all sorts of examples – from donations of goods and services, and people taking carloads of essentials to makeshift camps, to practical support such as offering a home to a displaced family or a helping hand to an elderly neighbour.

People have the capacity to be amazing.

Even just a friendly smile and wave can change someone’s day.  In fact a friendship offered may not be the first practical support someone needs, but longer term, it could be the difference between existing and living.

We might not be able to change the world as a whole, but perhaps we can each change one person’s experience of the world for the better. That sounds like a triumph to me.

Just remember…

Humanity: it’s all about us.

Be peaceful,

EJ

x

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Do you remember the film Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure? It was made at the very tail end of the 1980’s (I hadn’t realised it was as old as that!) and starred Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves. It was a silly film with a good heart.

There was one line in it that keeps springing to mind at the moment – ‘be excellent to each other’.

 BE EXCELLENT TO EACH OTHER -  BE EXCELLENT TO EACH OTHER  Bill and Ted

(image from quickmeme.com)

Isn’t that a great sentiment? ‘Be excellent to each other’. Not be nice, or do the appropriate thing, but be excellent. Be the best you can be, the top of your interpersonal game. Be the one leading the way.

I think of excellence as being something close to perfection, but maybe to be excellent to each other means genuinely doing what we can to help and support the people we meet on our journey through life.

To make it real, to make it our mindset on a daily basis, takes work, but so does everything we really want. How hard did we try as babies to learn to sit, to speak, to be understood? How hard do we strive for the things we feel are important?

We are human, and imperfect, and we shouldn’t be hard on ourselves for that.  But if we all work hard at being excellent to each other, at least we’ll know we are trying to be our best selves, and that’s a great thing in and of itself.

Have an excellent few days and I’ll be back on Sunday.

EJ

🙂

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I am going to keep tonight’s post short.  It’s not that the subject isn’t worthy of a long post, or that I didn’t originally write enough to keep the blog going for weeks.

It’s that I would rather you spent five minutes thinking about what I’m writing than five minutes reading.

We all have our own viewpoints, shaped throughout our lives.  We all have different priorities and an eclectic mix of beliefs, traditions, languages, cultures and ambitions.  But if all we focus on is the differences, we lose sight of the important things that bring us together.

We are fellow travellers through life.  I found an article on a university website that pointed out ‘every breath you take has, at one time or another, been associated with another living organism‘.  We are, fundamentally, a part of one another.

And yet – and yet.  War, terrorism, murder, violence, hatred, bitterness: these are the defining features of millions upon millions of lives.  Differences are justifications for unbearable, unspeakable things.

I have visited this subject before, on more than one occasion.  Maybe it won’t change in my lifetime.  Maybe it will never change.  But if we could all just spend a few moments thinking about what we share in common with each other, and not think about what we don’t, it might give us hope that we can build some bridges over the vast chasms that we’ve created.

I’m going back to basics tonight, spurred on by the idea of shared breath.  I will be thinking about breathing.

I will be thinking about how the molecules that pass through me might touch another, might create a bond between us.

We are all different but we share so much.  If you want to, please feel free to share an idea or experience that is common to all of us in the comments.  Build a bond with me.

Be peaceful,

EJ

xx

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…Is a messed-up place.

I’ve said before that I feel an urge to write something more political, to use my sense of impotent dismay and channel it in some way. So I decided that today I’d write about it here – after all, this is part of my writing as much as any story or poem.

Sometimes when I read the news, I really wish I hadn’t. Today in three stories I read about mass murder, mass drowning, and a miscarriage of justice to an extent I can’t even begin to comprehend.

I have been safe this week: able to travel freely in my country, able to work, able to wear the clothes I chose, and believe in the various things I believe in. I have been able to shout at the politicians on the tv and dance with my nieces and nephews and gobble down too much food with my friends.

Every day I should remember how lucky I am that this is the case.  It is so easy to feel angry or frustrated by small things, and completely forget that those small things are emblems of my freedoms and choices.  I don’t have to flee my country due to war, famine, sickness, politics.  I don’t have to risk my life for healthcare and the chance of a better future.  

I cannot imagine the experiences of those I have read about today, but I can think about what I can do to make the world safer and fairer.  I can remind myself how many privileges I have, and how much I have to be thankful for every day of my life.  

That’s where I’ll begin, and the rest of the story will develop as I go.

This wasn’t the post I was going to write for today, but it’s the post I needed to write this evening.  Thank you for reading it.

Happy writing,

EJ

xx

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This week I’ve split my writing between poetry and prose again.

In the prose corner, it’s all been about whodunnit. I’ve been gaily writing away and building up the story; although I said at the start it would be a short story (I thought about 20,000 words) I think it is drifting towards novella lengths and when completed it’ll be about 50,000.

I know there’s a writing purpose to this – all about the twisty-turny plot points – but the story exists in its own right and I have to go with my gut and get it on paper. I’m going to keep my target at 3000 words this week but hope to exceed that to keep the momentum up.

There are some technical points I need to address but that’ll come with the first revisions.

In the poetry corner sit a few pieces that I’ve drafted up, that now need a bit of tlc to get them reading-ready. I am working on building my set for the listening lunches, as I’ve said before, so it’s important not to lose sight of the flow from one piece to another. There needs to be some link between them, whether that is style, tone, subject, emotion – whatever, really; it just needs to be right.

I started a new one today that sits with a couple I’ve already done – there’s an underwater theme, but each one tells a different story – of hope, finding a place in the world, loneliness, captivity and so on. It’s a really exciting theme for me; almost as exciting as the space theme I was working on a couple of years ago!

In other news – Book 78 on the 100 novels list is another American classic (that I haven’t read): To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It came up as an option for reading group this year but based on my desire to read less dramatic/difficult/depressing books we opted for something else first!  I won’t read it yet but it may come up through the group later in the year.

And finally – a bit about B4Peace.  This one is falling well off my radar as I am struggling to find time for two posts a week at the moment, let alone adding in B4Peace posts or Thoughts on a Thursday.  This is bothering me quite a lot!  However, I am trying to keep peace in my life: I am off to a mindfulness in the workplace event (which I’ll tell you about next week) and I am seeking out sayings and quotes I can share to add a little calmness to the end of my post each week.

Here’s one of Cicero’s that I recently found:

Peace is liberty in tranquility

Happy writing

EJ

🙂

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This week’s post isn’t about writing. I thought I’d better tell you that straight away so you could decide to move on to something more useful if you like.

Although I think this is kind of useful, in a way – it’s a Bloggers for Peace post really, so it has that in its favour!

Today marked the third monthiversary of my wedding (yes I know it’s not a real word but I’m working on it :-)). We decided when we got married that we would mark the day each month, make sure we did something special, or if we couldn’t for some reason them we’d at least think about our marriage in a conscious way. How long this’ll last is anyone’s guess but we’re trying!

Monthiversaries

 

Us with our bubbly stuff on our honeymoon!

It’s important to focus on people we care about. Last year I got back in touch with a friend who I hadn’t seen in 18 years and it’s been such a lot of fun getting to know each other again and catching up on the years – yesterday we went out for a girl’s night and we didn’t stop talking the whole time.

It made me think what a shame it was to have lost contact in the first place.

It was also a reminder how easy it is for contact to fall away.  You haven’t called someone in a month or so, and it stretches to six months, then a year, and finally you feel it’s too long, or you just stop thinking about that person altogether.  Life is like that.

But there have been lots of times when I’ve heard from someone out of the blue and it’s been such a pleasure that we instantly pick up contact and meet up or talk more regularly.

So celebrate your relationships, raise a glass to your monthiversaries, but don’t forget the person you haven’t spoken to in a few months.  Finding lost friends is worth just as much celebration!

Be peaceful,

EJ

🙂

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It’s the end of a really long week, where I have been variously dancing, acting, working, and ill.  I have written, a little; I studied, a little; I spent time reading newspapers and researching.

I have caught up on some life things that need to be done.

But today I have very little to actually say.  Maybe I’m still a little under the weather or just tired out from a busy week but my mind is pretty empty.  Not my normal blathering-on-about-nothing empty, but actually unable-to-form-coherent-sentences empty.

So I am sharing a bit of classic 1980’s music to keep you entertained instead.  If you like, you can think of it as a stand-in for my very delayed peace post, or as a mini holiday from the vagaries of a writing life.

Either way, push up the volume and sing along if you fancy it!

John Farnham – ‘You’re The Voice’

Happy writing/listening,

EJ

🙂

 

 

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Balance is important to me.  If something is out of kilter in my life I can feel it strongly; whether it’s too little time studying, or too much time alone, or not enough time with my family, the lack of balance seems to affect the way I feel about the world.

When that happens, I know I have to take action to fix it before I topple over, metaphorically speaking – I have to act before it affects my life in a negative way.

 

Balance

 

This picture was taken in a slightly damp field in Cornwall.  It is the centre stone of a group called Men-an-tol, around which many myths have grown of special properties and powers.   Like so many of these sites, it stands in a quiet spot, alongside cattle and a great deal of greenery.  There is no pomp and ceremony to it; it is a part of the landscape that pre-dates much of the world around it.

It’s also a reminder that anything can find balance, if it has the right tools.  In this case, a strong foundation was needed.  In my case, there’s a web of inter-connected points – writing, family, friends, reading, studying, alone-time, working, cooking and so on – that all need to be given the appropriate level of attention.

It took me a long time to realise the importance of balance in my life; it seemed such a small thing to have such a big impact on my outlook.  But it does make a difference to the way I perceive the world, and my own role within it.  When I am out of kilter, my thoughts get blocked up.

Blocked up thoughts are bad for a writer, but they are also bad for anyone trying to get the most out of life.

So I’m going to put this picture up on a wall somewhere and remind myself that seeking balance is about making my life the best it can be.

Maybe these stones do have special properties, after all…

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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