Tag Archives: UK

Around The World – Today’s Top 3 Countries.

Original post: https://livingfully2017.wordpress.com/2019/11/17/around-the-world/

Today’s top 3 country views are from: USA, India and the United Kingdom.

Welcome one and all, please feel free to say ‘hi’ in the comments and tell us a bit about what life is like where you are.

Welcome to ALL my readers wherever in the world you might be from. Peace.

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Around the World…

I’ve decided to start doing a ‘shout out’ to my readers, viewers, friends and followers across the world, from the first ‘top 3’ countries as per my Word Press blog stats.

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So today’s hello, welcome and thank you goes to our friends in (drum roll please):

The United States of America, The United Kingdom, and The United Arab Emirates!

Wow, amazing to glimpse where you’re from, thank you for following 🙂

P.S. It’s not stats alphabetically, that’s just coincidental that they are all ‘United’…it’s the top 3 countries from which people have given me the most views.

If you feel like commenting and telling me a little about life in your country, that would be amazing…otherwise, a big heartfelt welcome (including to all of my other readers of course too, I just thought this would be a bit of a fun thing to do) :).

Also, no matter where in the world you are reading from, feel free to share in the comments which country you are in and anything about your country that you’d like the blogging world community to know! 🙂

 

Winter Survival Guide (11) ~ A Cosy Night In.

If it’s anything, this time of year is the perfect time to snuggle up indoors and to have a cosy night in, whether that’s on your own or with your loved ones or friends. I love putting on some cosy and comfy clothes, warm socks and curling up on the couch to watch a good film, box set or TV programme.

In the UK, you know it’s autumn / winter time when ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ comes on the TV. It signals the countdown to Christmas and it’s become a bit of a TV tradition for me at this time of the year.

What are your favourite films, series or TV programmes to watch that make you feel cosy during the winter seasons? Do you have an equivalent in your country to the show I mentioned? Whatever you choose to do, stay warm, cosy, healthy and happy! 🙂 x

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Winter Survival Guide (3) ~ Walk While there is Light.

At this time of the year, the days are growing shorter and darkness sets in a lot earlier. It can be oh so tempting to spend most of our days inside, however, our bodies still need whatever sunlight we can get and while the days are still light, and reasonably temperate, my encouragement is to make the most of that by stepping outside whenever we can. It’s early November, and here although we have rainy and windy days, they are also interspersed with days like today where it is calm, still, and reasonably bright, albeit a little cold.

The ‘Brits’ are probably well known for talking about the weather a lot, but it’s probably because  things are so changeable over here. We can’t be guaranteed sun in the summer, and when it comes, we all get very excited about it. In Scotland, like Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’, these can often occur in one day!

At the moment, we are blessed with some crisp, cold, sometimes even bright autumnal days. I need to remind myself to make the most of these, to not spend an entire Saturday indoors, but to go for a walk while I still can, to wander down to the park and to enjoy the wildlife. It is beautiful, and so good for us to take in a bit of nature and breathe in some fresh air. Bearing in mind the winter seasons here often bring with them wilder weather, lashing rain and wind, and even snow, I really ought to enjoy as much ‘outside time’, even if that means a simple short walk, while I can.

It is good not only for the body, but also for those of us who have to work at our mental health, whether that may be depression, anxiety or some other condition, it is good also for the mind. So let’s make the most of the brighter and more temperate days while we can….for we know that they are very likely set to change very soon!

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Mental Health Awareness Week 13th – 19th May 2019

This week in the United Kingdom is Mental Health Awareness Week. Although this particular Awareness Week for 2019 ends tomorrow, the need to be aware of mental health is so important each and every day for a myriad of reasons, personally and societally. 

Mental Health affects everybody, just as physical health does. And we each find ourselves somewhere on the scale between mental wellness and mental illness just as our bodies at different points in our lives can be well or ill. Similarly, we may each be prone to various physical or mental conditions that affect our health and wellbeing. 

Somehow though it has become easier and more acceptable to talk about an injured limb, organ or other physical condition than to talk about an injured mind or brain. Thankfully, the societal and personal stigmas surrounding mental wellbeing and mental illness are gradually being addressed and it seems that we are slowly beginning to accept that these things aren’t shameful, just as it isn’t shameful to have broken one’s arm, and that it is incredibly important to dissolve unnecessary stigmas and talk and raise awareness about such a vital part of human life. We have come a long way, but there is still a long way to go. On a personal note, I had to confront my own stigmas and challenge those of people close to me and listen to the advice of those friends who saw me at a particularly low point and told me that I needed to get help. Years of childhood and adult stress, a chronic situation that our bodies and brains aren’t supposed to be under, resulted in me experiencing full blown symptoms of complex post traumatic stress, severe clinical depression and severe generalised anxiety disorder. I didn’t, however know or understand what was happening to me, and it was very, very frightening. I blamed myself and felt ‘responsible’ for my mind, without realising that these kind of injuries can’t simply be ‘thought better’ and were not one being ‘weak minded’ as for me anyway, they were a result of my body and brain’s ‘default’ being to exist in fight / flight mode, imbalances in chemical regulation physiologically including with the hormones cortisol, adrenaline and the chemical sertraline. I have two first class degrees, and additional awards, and hold down a full time professional job within an organisation that focuses on helping the society and community and individuals facing difficulties on many levels, so having worked so hard to overcome the damage that a severe period of bullying in childhood and adult stress had done to me, and working in a profession that helped ‘really’ traumatised people with actual severe life situations, I felt and thought that I ‘ought to be’ able to function normally. And yet, the reactions my body, brain and mind were experiencing were in fact very normal reactions to difficult life events…and I had in fact done so well to have come so very far, and still be helping society on some level, even while I was experiencing frightening flash backs, severe low mood, fear, anxiety, chronic pain, intrusive thoughts, disorientation, dizziness, dissociation, insomnia, nightmares and severe depression. I had to fight hard to do simple things like even wash a cup or make a meal or walk across the room. I felt like my brain was exploding and there was no off switch or mute button or way to turn it down to get relief. So out of absolute helplessness and necessity for my survival I reached out and went to the doctor (something I was frightened to do, and something I was also advised against in case it affected my career – it didn’t – in fact I have since been very supported at work), and with the encouragement of some friends I finally took that brave step a few years ago and I am so glad that I did. Despite waiting lists, the help from the NHS I have been given both in terms of medicine and psychological support has been incredibly beneficial. Don’t get me wrong, there was no ‘quick fix’ – it has taken several years of commitment, showing up, doing the hard work to be in a place where I can manage my symptoms rather than them ruining my life. And I realise that I have a ‘toolkit’ to be able to get stronger and stronger and help other people too, so this blog post is a real victory, and I thank God for that. 

I want to encourage you if you yourself are struggling….with anything…or know a friend, family member or colleague who you think might be struggling with their mental wellbeing to be brave and take that first step to reach out. I do believe you will be listened to and supported. I know it can be daunting, but there are so many resources out there, and there are professionals who understand what is happening to you even if they don’t necessarily know or understand your individual life experiences, and it could just change or save your or somebody else’s life. 

I don’t know what the best resources are in other countries, but in the UK, here are some very helpful, caring, professional sources that you can reach out to – even if you don’t have any issues as such but just want to learn more whether that be to grow in awareness of mental health issues, or to gain understanding of someone you know, then these are a great place to start.

Please do leave a comment if there are any particular things you’d like to raise awareness of as I would like to write more about mental health and learn from you too as this is so important and might be just what somebody out there needs to hear.

I’ve also linked to a YouTube channel of a licensed mental health professional who is very relatable, so that’s something anyone can access which is good if you’re based in another country.

Love to you all and thanks for reading, and for being you. Never be afraid to reach out and ask for help – that’s what it’s there for, and everyone is important and valuable. Also, if you know of any helpful resources in your country leave a comment in case someone else is looking for help where you are. Thanks. xx

NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/nhs-services/mental-health-services/how-to-access-mental-health-services/

MIND: https://www.mind.org.uk/get-involved/mental-health-awareness-week-2019/

Samaritans: https://www.samaritans.org/scotland/how-we-can-help/contact-samaritan/

Breathing Space: https://breathingspace.scot/

The Blurt Foundation: https://www.blurtitout.org/

YouTube Kati Morton Licensed Therapist: https://www.youtube.com/user/KatiMorton

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Unsung Heroes & Lessons from a Snow Storm…

There is someone you know or have heard of, who you know deserves a medal. A medal that they will never receive. They go above and beyond the call of duty, beyond the work that they are paid for, or perhaps for no pay at all, quietly, with regularity, motivated perhaps by deep values of compassion, faith, personal integrity or a love and concern for other people. These unsung heroes and heroines work diligently behind the scenes, receiving little praise, and yet they are the ones that remind the vulnerable that they are cared for, keep people safe, and come to the rescue in times of need. Perhaps this person will never receive a medal, but is there some way that you can encourage them and let them know how wonderful you think they are? 

For as their many little and more significant acts of kindness touch the lives of others, so too your own acts of kindness and gratitude to them may make a huge difference for them to know that they are noticed and appreciated. 

I wonder if there is someone on your mind right now? And are you thinking of a gesture, or maybe a few prompts could help to inspire you to find your own personal way to say that ‘thank you’ that they might otherwise not receive? Perhaps this could come by way of a card, a personal letter, a box of chocolates, a visit, a message, a telephone call, an anonymous note, a gathering of appreciative friends or colleagues, or simply a kind and gentle word of gratitude. These all make a difference. 

So where, you might be wondering, does the connection with snow storms come in? Well, as I write I am somewhat ‘snowed in’ and like many others in my city, and all across the UK, I am off work due to the ‘snow day’, and the red and amber weather warnings to only travel if absolutely essential. All train services here are cancelled until further notice, buses are mostly cancelled and although I walked to and from work the day before yesterday, it took over 45 minutes each way, and the conditions are considered unsafe. That and the pain in my legs and advice from the Government, Met Office and other sources to stay indoors, has resulted in me taking a couple of annual leave days, like many others, until the storm passes. 

However, walking 45 minutes to work in the snow, given that I am fairly young and able bodied is hardly a commendable feat although it may be appreciable. What is commendable are the many doctors, nurses, care workers and others who have put their care and duties towards others before their own. The snow and storms and icy blasts have brought tragedy in the UK in the past couple of days. Over a dozen people have died from the very young to the elderly due to getting caught in the bad weather. A young child of 7 died, and a man in his late 60s drowned after trying to rescue his dog from a frozen lake. An elderly woman in her late 70s was found by a passer by, frozen to death, lying near a stationary vehicle ~ it was thought that she had been confused and wandering about outside before she died. There have been road traffic accidents, and perhaps a whole host of other situations that have as yet not come to light, or to the attention of the mainstream media. Today, it was reported in the news that a Scottish care worker who was known and respected in her profession for over 15 years was found dead in the snow as she had been walking to fulfil the duties of caring for her clients in their homes. A homeless man was found frozen to death in his tent. However, in the bleakness of this unusual ‘Spring’, there has been beauty also.

Not only the sublime beauty of nature’s splendour, but also in the kindness of strangers and friends and the resourcefulness and creativity of individuals. Drivers were stuck in their vehicles on motorways, some for over 12 to 15 hours, and strangers gathered supplies of hot drinks, food, snacks and even warm milk to feed a baby and walked through the snow to bring some practical comfort and words of kindness to those who were having to spend the night on the roads. Churches and event halls opened their doors to provide emergency shelter for homeless people. Charity workers went out into the streets to let homeless people know how and where they could get help. Neighbours with 4 x 4s drove doctors and nurses to their place of work. Medical health professionals chose to sleep overnight in hospitals to ensure that there was cover, and to relieve their colleagues, and provide patient care. Children helped their parents bring food to those who were vulnerable. Neighbours checked in on elderly people who were alone in order to make sure that they were ok. Trade unions spoke up for those who were being forced to work in inclement conditions including delivery drivers and riders (as many fast food deliveries in cities are now done by people on bicycles carrying the boxed food on their backs as they ride), who are putting themselves at risk at the demands of their employers. People have been finding ingenious ideas to get around or make the most of the snow by snowboarding down streets, skiing into work or simply having an icy blast with snowball fights and sledging. Photographers have captured some of nature’s beauty to inspire others. Neighbours have helped parents with childcare arrangements and family and friends and communities have ‘pitched in’ to help one another. Rail workers, council employees, gritters and others work through the cold days and nights to clear roads, railway tracks and to get systems up and running again for the rest of us. 

We so often hear the news of terrible events, tragedies, evil, abuse, injustice and violence. However, every so often something seems to bring out the best in people and those smaller yet no less significant stories come to the fore. And yet, day in and day out, and through the night many quiet and unsung heroes and heroines including children go about their tasks with love and care and commitment in expectation of no reward. Perhaps their reward is a higher purpose and one that shines forth in times like this where they can clearly be seen to be doing it for more than just money or human applause. Perhaps you are one of those people. Perhaps you feel that you are not, and wonder if you are making any difference in anyone’s life. 

Well, let me encourage you right now, that you are so significant, and your life so powerful, and each act of kindness however small is of so much importance. Maybe you are not saving lives, but perhaps a word of encouragement could result in a life saved for someone. Maybe you are not able to do the more ‘hands on’ frontline work, but perhaps you can encourage someone who is or help in some small way. Perhaps the greatest ways you can help are by prayer, small acts of kindness each day, and even through your own blog as you put something encouraging into the world for others to read and think  about and share. 

We all need these unsung heroes, but unsung heroes need encouragers too. And maybe, just maybe, an encourager is what you are called on to be today. 

Much love. xx

Expect the unexpected! What are the certainties in your life? …

February, being the shortest month, has swiftly drawn to a close, and March ~ the month in which we expect spring to have sprung ~ has promptly arrived.

However, here in the United Kingdom, as anyone who is familiar with our obsession with talking about the weather will know, spring, summer and in fact all four seasons can be a little unpredictable. At least *that* is something we can be certain of!

Here is a delightful scene for the first day of spring!

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Snow and sunshine has graced the first morning of spring. However, despite how pretty this scene looks, the Met Office has declared a ‘Red’ weather warning since yesterday – the highest level – with possible further disruptions and risk to life as the ‘Beast from the East’ as the Siberian chill and moving weather patterns has been termed gives way to what the Spanish and Portuguese meteorologists have named ‘Storm Emma’, coming up from the South. Emma and the Beast! What a combination!

This gently beguiling scene veils the travel disruption, cancelled trains, hundreds of commuters stuck in airports and ‘stranded’ in their cars on the motorway for over 12 hours since last night, early office closures and increased call outs to emergency services. For a cold country perhaps we are a little ‘light weight’ when it comes to dealing with the varying forms of precipitation we intermittently face. Perhaps Canadians and New Yorkers and people from other regularly snowy countries and cities would laugh us to scorn at our inability to take such storms and snow flurries in our stride. However, the snow has brought out a brighter side to things. The crisp cold air, and beautiful natural scenes of trees and parks blanketed in white, the snow ball fights, gleeful children during their school closures and people sledging and having fun have all been something to bring a smile to the heart.

However, as much as we Brits talk about the weather, the true essence of these musings is a little deeper than the 18 centimetres of snow this city saw at one point. As the snow thaws in the sun, and seasons change, we realise too that our lives are passing, fleeting and as much as we long for the predictability and familiarity of seasons clearly demarcated as they ‘should’ be, our lives are actually often windswept by unexpected change, unpredictable events, uncertainty and consequently anxiety. We strive to pull out all the stops to regain control such as shovelling away the snows of doubt and worry, hoping that with enough effort we can clear our own paths and watch the unknowns melt away. Perhaps you are a seasoned warrior of change, or maybe a seasoned worrier with every uncertainty. Maybe you thrive on the adrenaline rush that living in the moment and embracing the unknown brings. However, regardless of your temperament, I believe that as human beings, at the core we do need a root of certainty in our lives. Not the certainty of known events or situations or happenings as such, but something even deeper and more fundamental. We need to know, deep in our souls, that when the storms of life come as inevitably and sometimes without much forecast or warning they do, that we have something to anchor to, something that will sustain us in our deepest uncertainty, and something far beyond our meagre efforts to dig out a clear pathway for ourselves.

Do you ever think about such things when life is going smoothly for you? Do you find yourselves wondering what will hold you when you are in the eye of your life’s storm? Perhaps you are yet to weather any severe or significant storms in your life as yet, but how can you be certain that you never will? Perhaps you have weathered many difficult experiences in your life and wish that the storm would soon pass and the sun would shine again. And maybe through your adversities you have gleaned great insights, or maybe you feel defeated, discouraged or broken hearted.

Your story, your life matters. It matters because you matter. But as you make your way through one changing season of your life to the next, what is your anchor? For me, through many storms, some longer lasting than others, I have found that nothing I can do can truly anchor my own soul, and the anchor which holds me, the rock on which I know I have a sure foundation in life is the Rock of Christ. Tried and tested, and found Faithful through every storm, and in the sunshine seasons of life too. And ultimately my Certainty and Hope beyond death.

What do you hold to? What or who holds you? Do you have certainty in your uncertainty? I would love to hear your thoughts, but if you’d prefer not to comment, then I hope you can find a few quiet moments to ponder and reflect upon your life, your uncertainties and what you have knowingly or subconsciously put your hope and trust in to hold you through all of life, as you embark upon this new season and first day of ‘Spring’.

Much love. xx

The Greatest Train Journey in The World!….

Now, I don’t know whether that is strictly true, having limited experience of great train journeys, however that’s how it was advertised, and I decided that it might just be the mini travel adventure I needed.

I have travelled on trains in a few countries including India, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and America. All of these journeys have been memorable for me in some way or another whether that be the insights into different cultures, breath-taking scenery, or simply the novelty of travelling in a new country and unfamiliar environments. One particular train journey in India will stay with me throughout my life, as it involved an accident and me coming face to face with death, for the first time.  But that’s too deep to explore in this post.

There is something so nostalgic about steam trains – a piece of the past, and one unknown to me at my age, right here in the present.

So I decided to go for it: “AAAALLLL AAAABOARD!! The Jacobite Steam Train from Fort William to Mallaig, in ‘Bonnie Scotland’.

The tour however, which was by bus, departed from Glasgow (just a few days ago on Friday 7th July 2017), which meant travelling up to and spending an afternoon and an overnight in Oban before setting off for the Fort William departure by train the next morning.

A Whistle Stop in Oban:

Now Oban itself is a lovely harbour town, with interesting walks, Oban Whiskey Distillery https://www.visitscotland.com/info/see-do/oban-distillery-visitors-centre-p418591, McCaig’s Tower https://www.visitscotland.com/info/see-do/mccaigs-tower-p255141 , boats and more boats, and plenty of nice eating places, including those where you can sample some delicious Scottish chips!

From Oban to Fort William to Mallaig:

The next morning I awoke to a beautiful view of the sun on the water, followed by a bus journey from Oban to Fort William where I boarded the Jaobite Steam Train for the first time, and made the journey from Fort William to Mallaig and back again.

It was definitely a memorable adventure, and a great opportunity for a spot of photography. Here are some photos that I took on my trip. I hope you enjoy! 🙂

P.S. I have plenty more photos of my trip – if you would like to see more, whether of Oban, Mallaig (which I haven’t posted here), or the Jacobite Steam Train and the Glenfinnan Viaduct, feel free to let me know and I can create a subsequent Gallery post.

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