Who I am

Unpredictable reflections from reality, deep thoughts from life, haunting sounds of silence, and cries from the voiceless, keep my mind busy. What makes me happy is: a beautiful piece of art from painting to music; a serene scene from skimming stones lakeside to on top of a mountain; good news from friends near or far; and a message or hug from one I hold in heart and soul. It is the simple things I am grateful for.

I prefer to see the diamonds of the sky or beach to ones on my finger or neck, and flowers in my hair or in the garden than an animal in a zoo or laboratory. Laughter and lunch with friends, rather than mocking and munches with uncaring colleagues. Talk music, philosophy, art and politics, than get drunk, stoned, laid and dizzy. The free spirit who only wants the best for those she loves and will let her be who she is without ever trying to clip her wings. This is who I am.

© Fi S. J. Brown

The Springtime Opera

After being awoken by a kiss from a Prince Charming of bumble bees, the cherry blossom blooms in pink and white across the land. Singing their duet that in turn wakes up the northern world to spring, from the first act of the grand opera that is nature’s own ring cycle. Climaxing as it falls like a spring snow onto both pavements and roads. Each white petal glides slowly down as though a majestic swan, and each pink petal as though it were confetti from a wedding.  Like tears, they are swept into gutters, and their relationship is over…well at least for a few months. Thus the curtain falls and ends act one.

Act two opens with the lambs’ chorus, to which they dance around the fields among the daffodils. The lambs are like children and their white coats mark their innocence, as spring’s story is one celebrating birth and new life. The daffodils along with the tulips and bluebells when touched by the wind sing and dance their songs. Not forgetting the biggest diva of Planet Earth has to sing her aria, such is the human way, thinking their own song is the most important element of them all. Finally, the days gradually get lighter at night, these are the notes of nature’s songs getting longer till act two ends.

© Fi S. J. Brown

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Earthly Ponders (for Earth Day 2014)

These days it feels like humanity lives in an artificial world of our own creation. We take comfort in a world of concrete and clay, rather than with rivers and mountains. We have become drunk with our own superiority, toasting our successes with egos the size of forests, rather than content to be a bird in the tree. 

Equally, we are living, or should that be sleepwalking, in a virtual world to escape the realities and responsibilities of the world we can touch and feel. We are hooked on technology and gadgets like drugs to pacify and sedate us from seeing the true impact our greed and actions are having on the real world around us.

Furthermore, we want more and more, put a price on everything from hummus to hippos, hills and humans; will we ever learn to say stop before it is to late? Sadly there is no way to go back, as we are already stationary in our progress. We fill our lives material and disposable goods, losing originality, creativity and love.

So, what can we do. Focus on what matters, the people we love do not need to be showered with gifts for our love comes from our daily thoughts and actions. Stop the hate of others who are different to ourselves, respect and empathise. Finally, extend that to all other living species seen and unseen on Planet Earth.

© Fi S. J. Brown

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The Bumble Bee’s Tale

The humble bumble bee must rank as one of the most vilified creatures on Earth by humans. As children we are told to be careful not to be stung by one, yet they only do so because it is frightened or protecting the colony – most of us would lash out if someone tried to attack or those we love too! They then suffer the tragedy of dying for protecting those they love, because a mammal’s skin is so thick it can remove the stinger back out and it’s organs are torn out in stinging. It would be like the police shooting us for defending our homes as we attacked an intruder to our homes.

Then their role in pollinating plants is often underestimated what they bring to us. Many of us love to see flowers blooming around us and almost around in the spring air but do we ever thank the bee’s role in this sight of colourful beauty? Probably not. In the UK it has been estimated that we have lost 97% of our flower-rich grassland since the 1930s. Furthermore, bees account for 80% of all insect pollination of plants at least 30% of the world’s crops and 90% of our wild plants to thrive due to pollination from them. That is like us humans taking over 80% of the world, using at least 30% of the available animals a food source and killing 90% of the wild animals as do not bring us any “benefits” (i.e. food or companionship).

You may think that last comparison is silly or crazy, but is it so far out? When we have human greed by materialistic goods increasing, a new iPhone or designer handbag having more importance than hills and rivers. We want to put a price on everything we can see or hear. In the UK alone two species have become extinct in the last 80 years and others have declined dramatically. Maybe it’s about time we thanked them for their help in giving us peas to strawberries, rather than reaching for pesticides or growing genetically modified crops so do not appeal to insects before they are no more and once we saw dancing with the spring flowers.

© Fi S. J. Brown

 

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Six strings

I was given the following instructions by a friend: “Hold your hands out in front of you, palms down. Imagine that you have a total of six strings tied around your fingers. What objects are dangling from the strings?”

After much pondering, here is what are on my six strings:

  1. A photograph of all those that are special in my life, which changes as it blows in the springtime breeze, whose touch is like the special touch they bring to my life with being in it, and have made a special place forever in both my heart and soul;
  2. A pencil as a reminder for all that I have been fortunate to learn in life and all that I will learn throughout because it is not all about the formal study but what we learn from our experiences and being empathetic to others as understand their pain and joy;
  3. A lemon which may sound odd but some may see lemons for their bitter taste but others may find the smell of one sweet; which is a reminder that even when there maybe something I dislike or disagree with, there is always more than one point of view in life;
  4. A seed of the horse chestnut tree, a.k.a a “conker”, not only does it symbolise my love of nature but as a reminder of autumn (my favourite time of year), the changes that occur within and childhood innocence running among the freshly fallen leaves;
  5. A tube of purple paint as not only does it symbolise my love and passion for creativity from art to music with the sounds and visuals both bring, it is the warmest yet also the most coolest of colours making it magical and mysterious at the same time;
  6. A sunflower to remind me of dawn and that each day is a new opportunity to start again, put away what has upset me the day before and not dwell on it, as well as starting new tasks that may not be easy but will be ultimately worthwhile it in the end.

What would be your six?

Greatest accomplishment

I was recently asked what do I considered to be my greatest accomplishment to date and why?

I took a moment to think. Many may expect it to be my academic qualifications, after being almost written off  at a young age due to developmental dyspraxia to end up having a degree, two masters and a PhD by the age of 32 is a fair accomplishment in anybody’s books. However, I see what I learnt formally as an experience, the qualifications say nothing about me as a person, or the journeys that took to get there. Some people in this cannot read or write, so I am humbled to have such gifts. Equally, life is all about learning and as a friend’s mum showed in Pakistan it is never too late at 65 to learn to write your own name.

I thought of the people that have come into my life, which I have helped (directly and indirectly) to get on the path they want to be on or been there when they needed someone to listen. However, I felt that was egotistical as it was what I had done for them, and almost felt like I was trying to take possession of what they had achieved, or belittle achievements that they should shout across the world not taken as something I achieved. I would never want to take such ownership, as prefer to sing songs along with my friends than autotune it with my own beliefs, traditions, and interpretations on how their song is sung.

I considered posting my recent photo post to Facebook during the “make up free selfies” for cancer of me without my wig (as make up free is the same as any other picture of me). Although that took a lot to post and the response from friends old and new, near and far, overwhelmed me like a tsunami of support. That photo became a symbol of something beyond the vanity of some that I read about online for me. However, I could not say it as again to me showed was a thing of ego and pride, for as proud I am of making a statement it is not an accomplishment as it is part of me and not any different to posting any other photo.

Perhaps I was being hard on myself over the selfie, for a few years back I could not even look at a photograph of myself or look in the mirror such was my poor self-image. However, does posting a photograph of any sort if it is of us really become an accomplishment worthy of praise? I know last year I was in tears with myself posting a photograph to an exhibition curated by Yoko Ono as knew I could not have done it a few months before, it was like self-evolving to the point I could post the above photo. Was I was being adversely harsh on myself, and did not want to sing my song encase others laughed, mocked and judged me?

I finally decided my great accomplishment was self-acceptance and love. From the internet to magazines, printed press, friends and family all have an opinion on what we should be like, who we should be, and what should matters to us – when in reality the only one that walks this journey is ourselves. Those that are closest friends accept us for who we are, the flaws we see they see as part of our character, it is a shame we often cannot accept ourselves. For it is being able to put both hands up and saying I accept this shell of a body I have, I may not have the looks, the money or dream job but this who I am – 100% human.

 

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The Childcare Paradox

Why is it that a woman who chooses to stay at home to bring up her child it is seen as a “waste of time” instead of having a job, where the child is left in the care of others? “You’re throwing away your potential” cry some, how is wanting the best for a child throwing anything away, surely we are by being there when our child needs us most, being a true mother and not just the woman who gave birth to them. A child’s relationship with each parent is different and unique to that child, surely the influences of both matter?

We praise our teachers as they do so much and are often overstretched by doing increasingly more than teach, which should be the role of parent but is blamed on bad parenting for them having to do so. It’s almost like we cannot win, whatever we choose. A parent of either gender can act as teacher, nurse, counsellor, disciplinarian, storyteller, chef, etc. on one day alone, but does not get the same recognition or respect from others as chooses this as their vocation rather than a slave for money to others.

If we educate our children at home instead of mainstream schools there is also a stigma that some how they are failing to learn important life skills that being at school brings. Yet as life is all about learning new things and age is not a barrier to learning, why not use the world around us as a classroom rather than box in a child physically, mentally and emotionally. A child’s curiosity should be encouraged as much as their creativity, to develop who they are as individuals not what is interpreted they need to learn.

Is the family unit being destroyed like so many other things, another part of the ever crumbling cookie. We are told each generation is getting smarter, faster, better, when the reality is we’re getting stupider, slower, and sicker than our elders. The lack of respect some of the younger and older generation show each other is worrying too. Older people have the experience, knowledge and wisdom, the youth as want it all now and cannot wait for tomorrow, with the new adventures it will bring. 

© Fi S. J. Brown

21st Century Life – Is modern life rubbish?

From the videos of current popstars and actors to the celebrities who’s ‘fame’ is from who they are in relationship with to being on a talent show are shown in the media as rich, attractive, false, shallow, and sexual. Where are the healthy role models, those who express, love, understanding, compassion, charity, health, spirituality and more of what has real value in life? The people I grew up to admire were those that had achieved something in life from Emmeline Pankhurst leading women to fight for the right to vote to Anita Roddick highlighting animal testing in the cosmetic industry and Jane Goodall for her work with chimps. Equally as a music nut, I did not fancy the musicians I listened to, despite being bullied for not knowing which of Take That I fancied. For it was their talent that I admired from John Bonham on drums, Gary Moore on guitar, John Deacon on bass, and Freddie Mercury for his vocal showmanship. This still stands today.

If we ‘hate’ something, it is said the best way to deal with it is to ignore it as nobody forces us with an imaginary gun or got us trapped in a cage torturing us to look or watch. When the real reality of escaping from the modern world’s media is far harder as social media has meant we can see the impact upon our “friends” and their opinions like never before. For me the media has become like an imaginary prison, which we cannot see the bars of our cell. In particular music, movies and TV program us to accept certain ideologies as normal as we see and hear them all the time. I look to my grandparents’ generation, for example when they married it was for love and companionship, working out their problems, now we are amazed if a couple manage to stay together while their children complete secondary education. Have relationships like everything else become so disposable with a use by date now?

Sexuality has increased in my lifetime in the media. I remember “Girls on film” by Duran Duran caused such a stir in the 1980s and now we have people blaming Miley Cyrus or Lady Gaga for the downfall of morality! All three’s record labels and management have used the adage “sex sells”. What may have passed for an X rated soft porn film thirty years ago is now to be found almost acceptable in mainstream popular music video or movie at the cinema. Music videos like Lady Gaga and Beyonce’s “Telephone” or Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” are designed to get people watching them in their millions and discussing them not just in the street but on social media too. Makes me wonder where will the makers or puppeteer go next with their “visual art” and what are hidden in messages within them as per Katy Perry’s latest.

Finally, we have become dependent on technology from our portable phones to our computers, it seems impossible for some to leave their phone alone for as little as ten minutes. UNICEF is currently trying to encourage people to do just that. Considering I can leave mine in a different part of the house from where I am working or in my bag when outwith, I find it amazing that one friend said she only lasted five minutes without touching her phone. I was once told that technologically we did not progress from the end of the Roman Empire to the start of the Industrial Revolution, which in itself I feel belittles the achievements of people we will never hear about both before and during this time period. Equally, technology I was told as a child was 40-50 years ahead of what is made public, which I can certainly believe is true if not even greater.

So are we now living in a wondrous age as have access to all this technology? For me, no, I much prefer a good chat with someone – in person or on the telephone, or even a good old letter rather than email. Call me old fashioned but I much prefer the feel of a book over a Kindle, the tactileness to the information inside I feel I understand better as focus more than on a computer or tablet screen. We have access to almost any information we could ever dream of, as well as some made up nonsense and disinformation for good measure. Yet many take what they read on certain sites as proven fact, when many things are theories or as good as Chinese whispers. Is life in the 21st century rubbish, I would say more depressing than rubbish, as we have almost stopped achieving and creating new things that matter to humanity? I look at beautiful art and architecture from hundreds to thousands of years old wondering to myself could this or that be made today, often saying ‘no’ as we have become focused on other things, which do not matter like TV soap operas to how overpaid football players are,. Perhaps if we switched off the TV and computer, left our mobile phones at home, and let’s spend time with those we care about and/or creating from just our imagination, rather than focus on the doom and gloom that is encroaching ever closer, before it’s too late.

© Fi S. J. Brown