I Forget That I Cannot See

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As my fingers expand out from the located space bar on my laptop, I forget that I cannot see. As I feel for and find the glass of water that sits exactly an arms-length away from me I forget that I cannot see. As I find the different textured coats hanging up on the coat hangers and locate the smooth coat with metal buttons, I forget that I cannot see. As I feel for Munch’s Guide Dog harness to get him ready for our walk, I forget that I cannot see. As my fingers dance in stillness towards the handle on the door, I forget that I cannot see.

As my hand trails the rail that leads us from the front door to the gate, I forget that I cannot see. As we walk the rehearsed steps that we have learnt to dance along the way, I forget that I cannot see. As we step over the blown concrete that is 17 steps away for the bend in the path, I forget that I cannot see. As we smell where the freshness of nature ends, and the staleness of buildings begin, I forget that I cannot see. As I wait patiently for the engines to stop zooming by on the road so that we can safely cross, I forget that I cannot see.

As we enter the shop and Munch takes me to the food that I ask him for, I forget that I cannot see. As he finds the worn-out spots that we stand on each time we are here, I forget that I cannot see. As I feel the familiar products that we want, I forget that I cannot see. As I hold the product next to my nose to check its established blur, I forget that I cannot see. As Munch finds the checkout I feel that the conveyer belt is free, I forget that I cannot see. As I find the money in my well-ordered purse, I forget that I cannot see.

As we walk home with wandering minds, I forget that I cannot see. As he leads me home whichever way he fancies, I forget that I cannot see. As I trust that tomorrow will be an equally fulfilling day, I forget that I cannot see. As I crave the new opportunities that always provides excitement in our lives, I forget that I cannot see. As I feel thankful for being here to think these thoughts, I forget that I cannot see.

As we go through life focussing on the negatives, we forget that we can live another way. As we go through life we focus on what we can’t do more than what we can. Whatever you are facing in life, remember that we can forget to allow these things to get in the way as we learn new ways to successful living. Remembering to forget may be the secret to your perfect life.

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Munch And His Gang

Maybe I should have learnt my lesson by now. Ever the optimist I thought that asking my 16-year-old son to help get Munch ready to transform into on duty Minster was an easy ask. Oh, how I was wrong when he decided to jazz up his look by putting a hat on him. My son and Munch have the most loving relationship ever and have that brotherly love and banter that is usually only present in humans, but nobody has the heart to tell Munch that he is not human. When Munch first moved in, he decided that one of our downstairs rooms was to become his, with his own personal sofa and TV. Earlier this year my son decided to make it into his room as the children all wanted a room each, so they have been lovingly trying to nudge each other out of the way with smiles on their faces ever since.

My son has this unique outlook on the world that causes him to think outside of the box and is comfortable in his own skin which is refreshing to witness. Munch matches his way of being in an almost identical way and when they are together they know each other’s way of thinking. They both posses the most chilled energy that you will ever come across and you can spend hours in the room with them and never need to speak a word as their blissful energy radiates from them.

Munch has a different relationship with the 4 of my children. My beautiful 21- year-old daughter lives a couple of miles away with her partner and daughter, but they come and visit us a few times a week. As soon as he sees her he smoothers her with kisses and won’t leave her alone until he has her undivided attention. She has such a loving gentle energy and he tunes into this. If we meet up when we are out, he dashes over to her pulling me along trailing behind him to have the fuss and attention that he knows this loving soul will give to him as the two beautiful souls connect.

Munch’s day is lit up when my gorgeous 20-year-old daughter is home from University. Her compassionate nature is mesmerising to watch in her personal life as well as through the Midwifery Degree that she is studying. They are both wise souls that possess knowledge way beyond their years and know things that take most people many lifetimes of reincarnating to get. The strong will that they mirror in one another keeps them grounded in the beliefs that they take through life that are always from the place of unconditional love.

My youngest son who is 14-years-old is the most boisterous one of all the children and matches Munch’s large persona that he inflicts on the world. You can hear both before you can see them and that will never change. Wherever you find harmless mischief taking place guaranteed you will find this pair egging each other on. As they race through life refusing to keep still as they just don’t have time, they live life to the fullest and love every minute of it. They only slow down for the numerous cuddles that they love to give people throughout the day which are always magical.

When this hat wearing pooch came into our lives, he brought out the best parts of this bunch of soul mates that were waiting for him. As my 5 go through life together bringing out the best in each other I am glad that they see themselves in each other. Being surrounded by this quirky lot is such a heart-warming blessing to be given. I hope that you find equal happiness in the furry and not so furry souls that surround you too.

Seeing You Through Perfect Eyes

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I love to watch you go through life doing what you do best. Spreading your infectious joy with those that cross your path, nobody is immune to the sparks of delight that emit from you each day. As you laugh your way through life, life has no choice but to bring you more content for your personal show of happiness that you are always starring in.

When you stop in your tracks when you come across negativity, I know that your presence will diffuse even the most hostile of energies. You have that energy about you that all peace makers possess, and peace destroyers are envious of. You transcend pointless drama is an almost other worldly way, yet remain as grounded as can be.

Even when you are hurt, I know that you know that this is just a temporary state and normality will soon be resumed in your beautiful world. The tears of disappointment only happen because you see the best in life and are sad that the best is absent at that moment in time. Finding the way back to your contented zone will happen as your compassion compass will always guide you there.

Experiencing new things in life keeps you moving forward and will help you learn about things in the world that many people will ignore. As you celebrate the things that have long been forgotten by many, I can see why your soul now feels complete. You have a view on the world that should be taught to all to help them remember the true meaning of life.

Your beauty is a thing that cannot be classified by any language as the words do not exists to explain it. Your head turning beauty is just a bonus to the internal beauty that you have always had and will never leave you. As you choose to do beautiful things in the world, your beauty grows to match your surroundings. Life is what you have made it.

As you make the lives of those around you more enriched by your authenticity, we are all thankful that you came into our lives at exactly the right time. You are the common point of interest in everyone’s diverse lives and for that everyone is thankful. Being your true self rubs off on all those arounds you and brings them closer to their true self.

Being able to see you through imperfect eyes is such an amazing thing to experience. I may not be able to see your physical form, but I can see who you really are. Feeling is believing and as I feel who you really are, I believe that you are nothing but perfect. Seeing when you can’t see is the best thing ever to bypass illusion to see the truth. Keep being you.

Smiling His Way Out Of Trouble

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This is Munch’s face that should show regret but shows something totally different. This is the reaction that I got back after I gave him a row for the second time that day for stealing the cat food from Angus. He swiftly walked off with glee after I had attempted to show my authority yet failed miserably. As he jumped on the sofa and lay on his back contentedly, paws to ceiling, he knew that he was invincible. Merrily brushing off my stern words he sighed deeply, smiled widely and allowed my adoration to commence. He had won yet again.

His first victory over me that day was when we were out in the garden and we were digging the flower beds in sync. I was attempting to plant, he was successfully causing a soil Tsunami nearby. There must have been a fault in the signalling system that day as whenever I said stop, he heard go as he carried on with his Munch like behaviour. As he washed away my futile attempt of a row with his doggy kisses over my face and a smile, he knew that he had won this battle as I stopped to play ball with him. He knew how to win an argument.

His second victorious win later that day had been when he ran off with one of my granddaughter’s soft toys yet again. As it had been in the washing machine a million times already that week, I tried to take it off him. As he knows I cannot see what he has, he comes up as close as he can to my face to show me what he has in his mouth and knows that the race is then on to see who will cross the finishing line with the object. As he hurtles through the house knowing that I will never catch him, he is always in the lead. Pretending to ignore his naughty behaviour will eventually pay off so I patiently waited for him to settle down with the toy in his mouth. When I did eventually get the toy back he gave me the sweetest of smiles as I lay my head next to his as he gently nudged the toy towards me. He had won me over again with his cheeky little smile.

As he uses his smile to charm his way through life, I feel blessed that I have been gifted such a quirky Guide Dog that I love so deeply. As he lays on his back with no care in the world, he knows that I will always forgive his mischievous ways and still shower him with the love and affection that he rightfully deserves. As he selflessly guides me through life and spreads his Munch magic with others, I hope that he will always keep smiling. As he smiles away with a belly full of cat food, I know he is planning his next victory he can have over his lowly maid and I am planning how to let him think he has won. It is sometimes worth losing just to see someone else’s happiness when they win.

Your Squirrel, Your Rules

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Reaching for the pitted snapped chunky wax crayon that I thought I needed, I joined in with my 5-year-old friends and coloured in the photocopied squirrel in front of me. As my lively hand began colouring in what I thought was inside the lines, I was halted mid stroke by an alarmed voice. One of the blurry children on my table was horrified that my squirrel was purple and shot out of his chair to go and tell the teacher about my rebellion in a room full of conformists. As the teacher loomed over me and gave me a row for my colourful creative creature, I was mystified about the problem that everyone else saw but was oblivious to me. I thought that I was colouring in the same as everyone else but apparently my purple squirrel did not match the dark red ones that were scattered around me. When the teacher asked me if I had ever seen a purple squirrel before, I answered I had never seen a squirrel before so I had no idea what colour they were. Being 5 was hard enough but when you only had partial sight on top of that, things get a whole lot harder.

I never understood the world that people around me spoke about. When I was young, I thought that people around me were like Superhero’s and possessed powers that could help them see things that I could not and spoke about things that I never knew existed. It seemed that they raced through life retrieving things from what appeared to be the ether, where I only saw blurred space. I used to sit in awe as they used descriptive words about people and objects and I made up my own personal images of what these must look like. My analytical brain could never shut off even as a child as I needed it to stay alert to take in the sensory information that surrounded me that I could not see. Searching my memory bank for the past experiences that each descriptive word was used in became a fun game I loved to play.

I thought that freckles on a person’s face were sparkly particles that the sun had kindly given to a chosen few. I thought that moving clouds were just floater in your eyes when you looked up towards the sky but could never work out how everyone else saw white when I saw black. I thought that badgers were the same size of frogs as the outlines looked so similar in the books that I held close to my face to see. I thought that people around me must have fallen off pavement edges and rolled down slopes at least once in their lives to know they were there as I had no depth perception and could not work out how they would have otherwise known. I thought that on a car dashboard there must have been a binocular type gadget somewhere for the driver to see oncoming traffic and the bends in the road. It was fun though as I always thought of things that most children would never think about. Life was never boring.

When I learnt the truth about all these mysteries that I had made up beautiful stories about, the world seemed a little more boring. Living in a world full of purple coloured fast moving blobs that lived in green tall marshmallow type objects, was a far better option than just squirrel in trees. My imagination always had fun. I would love to meet up with my teacher who stood there that day giving me the biggest row ever to thank her for highlighting my inability to conform. Even as a child I chose to be myself in a world that expected perfect clones and learnt to love the beauty where others could see inadequacy. Don’t let any closed off minds spoil how you interpret the world. Your version will always be far more fun, so colour your squirrel however you want.

The Mischief Maker

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Entertaining your little cherubs when they are off school for the long summer break can be quite a challenge. When the boredom kicks in chaos can kick off, so keeping inquisitive minds active can mean the difference between summer bliss or utter pandemonium. Munch has decided he is one of these little cherubs as technically he goes to school during term time to work (I use that term very loosely) so he feels that his summer should be filled with me keeping him entertained. How lucky am I!

We have spent the first week so far being out and about as much as possible in the rare cool moments that we get in this bizarrely hot summer. When people see him as on duty Minster then off duty Munch, they find it hard to believe that he is the same dog. His off-duty mischief making persona can usually be witnessed from afar. It seems to be his mission this summer to lead angelic obedient dogs astray by any means possible and he is making good ground on this mission.

Whilst having a free run a few days ago, he befriended a little Labrador pup and decided to become the tour guide to explore this new surrounding that both had stumbled across. They ran side by side up and down banks and across a field like they were training for a doggy Olympics. Munch thought it would be good to take his new-found friend into some bushes and non-pup friendly places that neither of them should have been in. The utter look of contempt that Munch apparently had on his face when the pup’s owner rescued him from Munch’s planned expedition, clearly showed his disapproval of being belittled.

After this short-lived adventure, Munch decided to widen his search for a new partner in crime. He found a potential candidate in a dog that was nearby trotting along obediently next to his owner. In a milli-second Munch appeared by his side and bowed down in front of him to invite play. They were soon hurtling away into the distance happily together. Just a few minutes into this play session, my friend who I was with began calling Munch back as the little monster had found some flower beds awaiting his Yeti type invasion. He took with him his innocent friend who had never bothered with the flower beds on previous visits. Luckily, they came back before any real damage was done.

The next day we took him to a nearby lake and wooded area that he loves, to let him run free again. As he swam around in the lake whilst loving life, he spotted some oncoming canine friends coming close and merrily barked away to invite them in. He was elated when one came in for a splash around with him. They swam and chased each other around in circles for a bit until his pal had enough and went out of the water. Reluctantly Munch got out to see if he could come and persuade the owners to let their dog play for another few minutes, but they had to leave. Munch sat down in protest as he often does and was copied by his playmate. This staged sit in was once again led by my diva dog and I apologised for his bad influence yet again.

If this little cherub was a child, he would be the one that was always central to any mischief that was taking place. He just loves to play and is always on the look out for someone to corrupt into making mischief with. Keeping him entertained and out of too much trouble on our 6-week holiday will be interesting and will certainly stop me from getting bored. My little Monster Munch was put on this earth to keep me on my toes and prevent any boredom. Hope your holidays are filled with less mischief. Unless of course you are causing mischief yourself, and in that case enjoy. If you need a partner in crime, Munch will be eagerly awaiting your invite.

A Personalised Hello

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Hello to the child that nobody sees. As the world zooms by when you feel all alone, we will be here waiting for you to want company. We can’t wait to hear what makes you happy in life which we will listen to for hours and enjoy it all. Tell us your problems and we will find a way together to destroy the power that they have over you and find the solution that you need. We see what an utter piece of perfection you really are.

Hello to the teenager that feels so many emotions. When you feel different from your friends that you were once so close with, we will notice your sameness in your ever-changing world. As you talk about your hopes and dreams that everyone else wants to quash, we will help you make the plans that you need to turn them into a reality. We will be your sounding board to things that need to be said. We are so excited to see you transform into the contented adult that you will become.

Hello to the first-time mother that has just entered a whole new world. When you feel overwhelmed with change, we are here to help you find the normality in this. When everyone is cooing over you baby and forgetting you, we will pay attention to you as a person as well as you as a mother. When you feel like you could cry endless tears, we will assure you that our waterproof shoulders are always waiting for you. As you grow with your baby, we will all have happy hearts.

Hello to the middle-aged man who feels lost in life. When things are not what they used to be, we will be there to watch you find a new way of life. We will be there to admire the new you that you were once fearful of creating. When you are looking for a simpler life in a complex world, we will help you feng shui the things that drain you in life. When you realize that the best part of your life is yet to come, we will be there to capture the memories.

Hello to the older lady who spends most of her time in her own company. When family and friends move away and get caught up in their own lives, we really want to hear about your life. Your experiences in life should be shared with us to help us appreciate the things that we sometimes forget. If you feel forgotten, we will remind you of your worth. We will spend time with you celebrating everything that you have created and are yet to create.

When people feel lonely in a world with over 7 billion people, we need to act.

When people feel like misfits in a world full of conformists, we need to include.

When people feel fearful of change, we need to preserve.

The stories behind the people that we meet we may never truly know, but we should always be there to listen if they ever want to be told. Loneliness can not thrive in an environment full of positive connections so how do we create more? The power in the simple word of hello should never be underestimated. It can threaten the loneliness that may have taken hold in a person’s life. When we all begin to be there for one another, our own lives will take on a whole new meaning. Taking time to say a personal hello may mean more than you will ever know.

Photo Shoot Mayhem

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When I hear the words photo shoot, many other words spring to my mind. Perfection, alluring, professional, co-operation, ideal, beauty, empowerment and organised are just a few words that conjure up in my mind what it must be like to partake in a shoot and produce images that any photographer would be proud of. When I am asked to take part in a photo shoot with Munch however, less positive words take up residence in my now worried mind. Imperfect, questionable, novice, ill timed, restricted, comical, feral, disheartening and haphazard are my versions of photoshoots regardless of how amazing the photographer is if I am the subject. Add Munch into the mix and it goes a little more unpredictable.

I have this way about me that would make a clown look elegant. When I am meant to look one way, I can be found facing another. When half of my body is doing as it is being told by the photographer, the rest of my body is starting a spontaneous dance that the camera will always catch. Just as the rest of me is looking camera ready, my Cousin Itt wild hair will cover my face. The thing is, being blind you forget that others can see, and they see things that you have no idea about. On a plus side I could not see the photographers disapproving expression that I just knew he was giving me as I did the opposite of what I was being asked.

Munch is also a reluctant participant when having photos taken and likes to do his own thing. I have been told that there are some amazing photos on the internet of dogs lovingly gazing at their owners and some beautiful action shots that show the characteristics of both dog and owner. Anytime we have attempted to have photos done, we probably look more like strangers being caught in a chance meeting, not a pair that live together 24/7. With me not being able to physically see where he is and him knowing where I am but choosing to scan the area for any chance of mischief, what is captured is more of a calamity than a connection.

On this day, as we sat by a tree for a photo shoot, he was whining whilst looking up the tree and I knew that there was a squirrel near-by tempting him up the tree to act like Tarzan with a Baloo type body. A near-by river was also inviting him in for an afternoon dip, but I told him we couldn’t, and he sighed and sulked like a stroppy teenager. Not the best face for a photo when we trying to capture the joy in life. Another way that I spoilt his day was by not letting him to go off and play with the photographer even though it also happened to be his favourite ever dog walker. Munch really was a reluctant model that day so between his mood and my scattiness, I could sense that the photographer was wishing he was anywhere else but with us.

We needed just one picture of us for some local press to say about the book deal, so it didn’t seem too much of a mammoth task to most but to us it was. We were finally able to settle on a photo with my hair looking like a fuzzball (despite it being previously straightened and some anti frizz spray applied) whilst Munch lay beside me with his tongue flopping out the side of his mouth as if he had been drinking some doggy happy juice and that would just have to do. Perfection is not in our nature, but authenticity is. Being ourselves in the photos would just have to do as anything else just wouldn’t be us.

Thanks to Steven Hill Photography for your patience and lovely photos.

When Two Working Dogs Meet

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Distracting a working Detection Police Dog is not the best of ideas but for Munch it is ideal. In his mind by doing so, he can meet a fellow working dog that he may be able to tempt away from work for a little play. In my mind by doing so, he is showing himself up as a rebel whilst the police dog shows him how he should be behaving. Nevertheless, on this occasion his distraction worked.
We had just boarded a train early to find seats with enough space for Munch to fit comfortably on the floor, when he spotted his opportunity to try and lead an angel astray. A police woman and her detection springer spaniel came into the carriage to check for anything dodgy and they were faced with Munch. She asked if he was okay with dogs and Munch answered her by happily trotting up to them both and sniffed away until his nostrils were content. Acting as a true professional, the springer spaniel said a quick hello to him and then carried on doing his job of sniffing out danger. Munch followed in tow and began sniffing around slightly but was unsure on what they were looking for, so he turned his attention on distracting the lovely police woman again.
She was so sweet and began giving him the fuss that he thought was rightfully his. Asking if he was allowed a treat, he speedily turned into a well-trained dog and sat by her feet and was soon joined by his new-found friend. She kindly gave him a treat along with her dog and gave him some more fuss before she headed off with her furry colleague to do such an amazing job. With a treat filled stomach and a massaged ego from being told how gorgeous he was, he came back to happily lie down on the floor in front of us.
He would never have done that if he was still on harness but as he was chilling on the train and the lovely police woman came up to speak to him first he knew that he could make the contact. That momentary meeting of these 2 working dogs was such a sweet moment and it is as if they both respected that they were working so they kept the interaction short. If it was a non-working dog, Munch would have tried his best to lead him/her astray, but he knew that this would not be allowed. I find it fascinating that he can tell the difference between fellow Guide Dogs that are off duty and other working dogs and will behave so differently with them than other dogs.
On his work harness is printed “Please do not distract me I am a working dog” but I am debating if should have a sign printed for him saying “I am sorry for distracting you, but I just love attention”. I often wonder why I was matched with the Guide Dog that although is amazing at his job, likes to break the rules slightly. Giving him space to be himself is the least that I can do in return for him changing my life forever. Without him, I would not have been on that train travelling with the freedom that he has brought into my life. I hope this rebel with a cause never changes his ways as he is the best version of himself. With such an expressive face, people can’t help but be distracted. He really is one of a kind.

To The Bullied Child

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Come in. We have been looking forward to seeing you today. Munch has warmed up your seat ready for you, but he will soon be jumping to the floor when you come in. Sorry in advance for the doggy breath kisses that he wants to smother you with. Can you give our apologise please to whoever washes your clothes, as they will be covered with hair from him cuddling into you. He loves seeing you each week and has no concept of personal space so he just wants to sit next to you and connect.

When he sits by your feet and gives you his paw, he is speaking for both of us as we thank you for showing up and being here with us for the next hour. As he gazes up at you, he sees the most perfect human ever and will never tire of seeing you. He sees you as a friend and will always be loyal and will never leave your side. As he rubs his head into your lap, he is trying to leave a part of him behind, that will stay with you as you go through your day. As he lays down on your feet, he is telling you that you belong to the same pack of warriors that this world so desperately needs more of.

Life outside this room can be tough, but when you are here with us we really want you to know that life can also be full of love. The words that fall out of the bully’s mouths do not belong to you. You are a totally different person than they make you out to be. We know the real you that your loved ones know and adore. We also know the sheer joy that you bring into people’s lives without even knowing it. As the bully lures you away from the real you, we will always keep you anchored to your true self. Our counselling room door will always be the doorway to healing whenever you are ready.

As my Guide Dog becomes your Pet Therapy pal, he waits to see you transform into the person that you want to be. Loving yourself is easier to do when you surround yourself with people who love you. These are the cheerleaders that you need around to help you through the game of life. You may not have met your tribe of people yet, but they are so excited to meet you so search for them in the unlikeliest of places. By changing your surroundings, you are changing your opportunities.

It is impossible to brainwash a waterproof brain so whatever the bully tries to throw at you, it can never hurt if your self-love seal is intact. Don’t allow people to chip away at the perfect human that you are, as a broken you would not be you. Learn to love the life that you were born to lead and don’t let anyone get in your way. I hope that one day soon you can see yourself as the perfect being that Munch sees you as. You too would fall in love with yourself and know the beautiful difference that you make in the lives of others. Just ask Munch.