ACTIVELY DEEP LISTENING

post_SilentListen_121816Actively deep listening to hear correctly, affirm and understand what people are saying means a lot to them. It is more than being a sounding board to help talk and discuss life matters. To be allowed into the deepest inner thoughts of a person takes courage so be present in here and now. Affirm by nodding and agreeing, saying “yes” to fully engage in the conversation is part of the process to ensure properly hearing person. And a feedback clarifies topics discussed to reassure person listening attentively. Be polite if speaker feels stressed, anxious, calm them, pay attention to help them open up to share innermost feelings or thoughts. It is encouraging to build their confidence to reflect on their plans and fears. Art of listening, hearing is act of love, takes commitment, ability to read between lines and desire to understand, appreciate person talking. Greatest gift coaches have is ability to help people to know where they are coming from. Listening (1)Understandably needs to provide a safe space to see life from their standpoint is so important and necessary. Life can feel lonely sometimes so knowing that someone really cares and understands matters. It is important to open up to share true feelings without thinking being judged. Health and wellbeing help the lonely or isolated to express inner thoughts and their ideas of life. A phone call to friend or passing time of the day with colleagues is what makes society happy and cohesive by including others. Idealised happiness of fantasy, domestic bliss on social media on the Facebook is unnatural needs so private, confidential space helps open up to deal with what is not working in life.Couple speaking on a benchCoach Kenny Mammarella D’Cruz, The Man Whisperer, talks of importance of men opening up, sharing “without any judgments, ‘shoulds’ or ridicule” as he regularly feels safe in his men’s groups. His workshops and meet-ups invaluable for men from teens to pensioners and offers support, understanding and the reassurance that someone really has got your back. Today ask someone about themselves, really listen, reflect and say something generous or insightful back. Watch their faces. Our ears never get us into trouble and here is a lovely quote, as David Augsburger’s thought sums up: “Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person they are almost indistinguishable.”  

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OUR INTERCONNECTEDNESS

cultural-diversityToday our interconnectedness requires caring compassion more than ever before for a common good for all in society. In John Ford’s film The Searchers, John Wayne’s character spends years looking for his niece Debbie kidnapped as child by Comanche Indians. When he finally finds her, she wanted to stay with her Comanche husband rather than return home. Although shocking in the film, it’s historically accurate. Whites captured by American Indians commonly chose to stay with their captors and the book cites a case of a captive woman who hid from her would-be rescuers. Sebastian Junger argues in his book that people need to feel connected to others. During war often people from different classes mixed in the ways they did not before and joined together in the face of a common enemy. More astonishingly, from the earliest days of Europeans in America, settlers of both sexes ran away to join Indian tribes. This was not just a few people but hundreds of hundreds as the practice was so rife in the early 1600s settler leaders made it an offence with harsh punishments. But over the following centuries people still ran off in huge numbers. It hardly happened the other way, Indians did not want to join white society. The attraction argues Junger, was the sense of community, the importance of the tribe, evident in other primates primitive human societies. The superficial attractive American Indian life was obvious: more relaxed, clothing more comfortable, religion less harsh. It was mostly structure of Indian society appeal as less hierarchical, essentially classless, egalitarian.438a8-jewish2bimmigration2brussia2bto2bunited2bstates252c2bcopyright2bby2bheb-2bpub-2bco-2b1901252c2bpublic2bdomain2bvia2bwikimedia2bcommons People nomadic so personal property hardly mattered, as limited to what you or horses could carry. What changed this natural way of living for humans was agriculture and industry. And accumulation of personal property led to people doing what they thought best for themselves, rather than for the common good. But, Junger, says we are not happy like this we’re wired to the lifestyle of community tribe. Take the London Blitz during World War II as it began the government feared there would be riots and maybe revolution as people fought one another for space in bomb shelters or for food but infact exactly the reverse happened. People from all different classes mixed in a way they had not before joined together in face of common enemy. Historians credit ‘spirit of the Blitz’ as the cause of the Labour landslide victory in the 1945 election, strong feeling for community led to foundation of NHS and a robust welfare state. Percentage of buildings in Hull destroyed in the Blitz. Junger, an American journalist and former war correspondent, gives many examples of what our modern way of living cost us. In a modern city or suburb you can go through an entire day meeting only strangers. Affluence, urbanisation rise, rates of suicide, depression go up. The World Health Organisation says people in wealthy countries suffer eight times depression rate of those in poorer ones. When we revert to group for support in a community tribe things improve.Sebastian Junger argues in this book that people need to feel connected to others. During the war, people from different classes mixed in a way they hadn¿t before and joined together in the face of a common enemy  Those caught up in the bloody conflict in Bosnia say they were happier during challenges. The reason was all pulled together and so felt connected part of something bigger than themselves and spent time embedded with others. U.S. troops in Afghanistan said they never felt alone there, soldiers slept a dozen to a shelter you couldn’t stretch an arm without touching someone. People of all colours, classes, creeds bonded as they had to look out for one another. So idea of interconnectedness is associated with sustainability, in reference to the manner in which environment, society, and economic systems are inextricably linked. Interconnectedness also refers to phenomena not structured hierarchy systems for dominance and control. So the internet and flight make the world closer than ever before so distance is no longer an issue. The interconnectedness of things allows that common language to take full advantage of all societies in a new way. Breaking all of society into a long-term patterns of change in human interconnectedness. Rising level of such interconnectedness has ‘civilising’ effect in encouraging societies to form ‘unions of states’ to respond to shared problems. These outline of global cliques intensify difference more than common good.  In tribes survival individual depends upon survival of group. Lack of kind support makes it hard for the returning combat veterans to reintegrate in contemporary fragmented society lifestyles. unity-is-found-in-gods-wordAbove all, people need to feel connected to others. It’s a good starting point for rethinking the way we live our troubled modern lives. Community spirit in U.S. rocketed after 9/11. And the suicide rate dropped dramatically. There were no rampage shootings in public places in schools, colleges for 2 years. Shootings happen in middle-class rural suburban areas never in poor inner-city location, gangs provide tribal sense of belonging. Bonding with larger group often begins at birth in and less developed countries children sleep with in close proximity to parents and extended family group. In Northern European countries and U.S. small children sleep alone so go through a developmental stage of bonding with stuffed animals, ‘comfort’ blankets. In Junger’s book self-determination theory of things necessary is life contentment. People need to feel competent at what they do to feel authentic in life. Above all, they need to feel connected with others. It’s a good starting point for rethinking the way we live our troubled modern lives. In Bible this deep sense of intricate belonging is described as the parts of bespoke wheel joined together to function congruently in unison. Each codepends on others to work together and in isolation is just a piece of tool not accomplishing good by itself. Is a notion built upon word of God that it is better to give than to receive. The joy of relief shared being helpful to each other strengthens group rather than division by haves and the have-nots suffering. Coupled with their pressure is a fear of constantly looking over their shoulder of threats of others taking back what they usurped. Means they never relax or feel secure at peace. The inner peace and inner joy thought to be gained by excessive gains and superabundance is illusive replaced by worries. Jesus told the rich young man to sell all to help the poor yet society is enthusiastic about loving money more than loving precious priceless humans. Fragmented society divides materialism which does not constitute real life and yer an entire lifetime is spent collecting and preserving material possessions left behind. Absolutely nothing is taken into the grave but those things caused stress of a lifetime misled to value them as the status of life. Within a second life passes helplessly without those very material things life is enslaved to produce. All the precious years wasted acquiring, chasing, replacing, storing, maintaining if only spent better to take more care of all humans as Jesus recommended. And the cycle continues getting worse as the trend to accumulate more deprives all others more marshal laws are made to safeguard and enforced at cost of whole community deprived. The irony is those communities that hold onto intergrated values of common good for all are being threatened and endangered by a selfish few destroying their own. They stretch further and further afield with a sight on conquering the whole world even if it means losing their souls. This further leads to disappointment, resentment, conflict over demands for fairness and justice. The good news is there is soon coming a great day of recompense to restore all the years the cankerworm and locusts eaten times of double restoration. God is resetting agenda to take back nations to be given rightful owner LORD Jesus.

MEN’S SAD GRIEVING ISSUES

Bearded adult man with migraine headacheGrief is an inevitable part of every human life, regardless of gender. It is also one of the great isolating forces in the lives of men. Male grief is all too often invisible, misunderstood, and unwanted, which leaves many men in the difficult position of having to deal with their grief on their own, if they deal with it at all. Most men myself included routinely reject vital aspects of themselves and their histories because they do not want, or do not know how, to feel and move through the grief that is bound up and waiting inside them. The fear of being shamed by another when most vulnerable of being stripped of one’s masculinity by women as well as by other men is powerful motivation not to feel and express one’s grief. The requirement to go into grief all alone, in secret for lack of understanding, trusted support is another prime or completely understandable reason for avoidance. There is a deep and profound loneliness in knowing one must do such difficult, intense work alone, without witness, and it’s no wonder so many men don’t want to do it. I fight that battle myself all the time. Today I’d like to share excerpts from three posts I’ve seen recently on the subject of male grief that shine some light on this important and severely neglected aspect of the masculine experience. My hope is that, in some very near future, the dialogue about male grief can become far more common and open than it is today, so that men who are grieving can come out of the shadows and men who need to grieve, but haven’t felt the freedom and support necessary to do so, can begin.repast-after-funeral_f20726a791b0215c

Women Learn About Male Grief
The first selection, written by Mark Mercer, is called “What Women Should Know About Male Grief”. Mark, who has been a hospice bereavement director and counselor for 18 years, says, “Men grieve far more than shown or discuss. I would certainly agree. Excerpt is almost never cry in front of other men. If we feel that a woman is “safe,” we may cry with her. But most of our tears are shed when we are alone, perhaps while driving our vehicles. In too many cases, our hot tears become a deep-freeze of anger or rage. Most very angry men are very sad men dealing with grief. You can read Mark’s entire post hereFor additional thoughts on how women can create safe emotional space for men who are grieving, see my companion post “What If He Cries?” here.men-3-300x200

Teenage Boys – Grieving and Loss
The second post, written by Earl Hipp, is called “Teen Boys – Grief and Loss”. Earl is involved with groups, organizations that focus on men’s issues, development for over thirty years. In his post, Earl talks about learning, as a boy and young man, how he was supposed to deal with grief and loss: The absence of support, or even positive role modeling around dealing with loss, grief, communicated a pretty clear message: You’re on your own, just deal with it. I did … became a kid who was emotionally bound up, pressurized, and lived with thick veneer as shield over all anger and sadness. On the top I wore an “I’m OK” mask. I know that story all too well, as do countless men. Earl’s focus, as always, is on using his own experience as a starting point to help succeeding generations avoid the traps and pitfalls that have caused, and are still causing, so much pain for so many boys and men, and he devotes the majority of the post to that task. You can read Earl’s full post here.depositphotos_53419697-stock-photo-young-man-lost-in-depression

Tom Golden’s The Way Men Heal
The third and final post is a reader review by Andy Thomas of the new book The Way Men Heal. The author of the book, Tom Golden, has been exploring, writing, and speaking on the subject of male grief for many years. In his review, Andy shares a personal experience that illustrates how the taboo against male grief is often enforced, not only for the man who is grieving, but for any other man or boy who might be watching: The day after my Dad died, I was speaking to a friend of his when I broke down, cried briefly I was interrupted by a woman who had known my father but who did not know me. She asked, what would my 4 year old niece think if she saw me crying while handing me a tissue I did not want. Had I been a woman, no doubt she would have put her arm around me, but as a man I was politely told to “man up” my pain was embarrassing her. As someone who has a certain awareness of society’s different expectations for men and women, this experience came as no great surprise to me. For young minds, such experiences are painful however, and quickly teach young boys that “real men don’t cry.” They learn how to keep pain to themselves. Again, this story no doubt resonate powerfully and personally with a lot of men. You can find out more about Tom Golden’s book, The Way Men Heal, here.44934bcc89d831c518266700e7fbc0dc

Male Grief: Not Alien Concept
I hope these excerpts will encourage you to read the full posts and learn more about the male experience of grief in all its aspects. I recall being quite mystified 30 years ago when I was first introduced to the subject via the work of Robert Bly, John Lee, and Dan Jones. They all emphasized critical importance of a man’s awareness of his own grief, his conscious relationship with it, and his ability to feel it and to allow it to move through him so that his natural energy and innate masculine power would not be blocked and withheld, both from himself and the world. At the time, all that talk of grief mystified me. I didn’t have any idea what it was. I was keenly aware I was angry, frustrated, lonely, sad, depressed … had no sense of any grief. I didn’t really understand what grief was or how it might feel. It seemed completely abstract to me, completely foreign. Perplexed, I wrote poem “grief” found in my book Iron Man Family Outing one day as a way of trying to figure out what this grief that I kept hearing about might be. After many years of hard work, I understand. I’m far from fully comfortable with my own grief, but it’s no longer an alien concept to me. I hope to see the day when male grief is no longer an alien concept to other men, and to the women around them, as well.

Image: “Blue Spaceman” by David Jewell. Used by permission. This post is part of Common Grief, a Healthy Living editorial initiative. Grief is an inevitable part of life, but that doesn’t make navigating it any easier. The deep sorrow that accompanies the death of a loved one, the end of a marriage or even moving far away from home, is real. But while grief is universal, we all grieve differently. So we started Common Grief to help learn from each other. Let’s talk about living with loss. If you have a story you’d like to share, email us at strongertogether@huffingtonpost.com.

A SOCIAL GOSPEL OF JESUS

the-new-evangelization-and-social-justice-6-638Jesus preached a social gospel typically to diverse audience of religious leaders, governors, media, officials, the masses, to reach their heart, mind, body, soul to relate with others on Godly terms. This theme King put in historical context as part of social justice to bring awareness to each other. Especially with regard to God’s superabundant human resources provided and entrusted to all as stewards. Reverend King, the prophet, theologian, scholar, preacher, pastor dwelt on these social gospel themes analysing society’s lifelong struggles for economic justice, empowerment of the poor working-class people of all colours. King described himself as “profound advocate of social gospel” who tried to teach the capitalist system not to put profit, property rights ahead of basic human rights demanded people have adequate food, education, housing, decent job, well paid income. His more revolutionary quest for social justice, society above racist poverty, prevention of war not celebrated as his peaceful civil rights movement. Martin Luther King Jr. emphasised there is no intrinsic difference between workers. And King told American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) an American important trade union in 1963, that skin colour, ethnicity must not divide those working for a living, he said. “Economic justice,” King said, required land so men must not take all the basic necessities to give luxuries to the few,” and “where all our gifts and resources are held not for ourselves alone but as instruments of service for the rest of humanity.” Same year, King called on President J. F Kennedy to honour emancipation of African-Americans from slavery in 100 years before. King said, a new freedom agenda is necessary. People gather at the end of the Poor People March on 19 June 19 1968 in Washington DC.This agenda was not only about civil rights so 28 August demonstration culminated in King’s “I Have a Dream” speech publicized 4th April Washington for Job Freedom. It was result of many years of organizing by black workers and their unions. In his speech, King said nations gave former slaves a “bad check” promise of freedom that did not materialize. And generations later, his dream is for equal rights for substantive change in people’s economic and social conditions. Though country’s adoption of Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act completed “first phase” of freedom movement King said. The “second phase” was for “economic equality” so everyone could have a well-paying job or basic level of income with decent levels of healthcare, education and housing. In October 1966, 100,000 copies of the booklet A Freedom Budget for All Americans, with introduction by King distributed by unions. Freedom Budget proposed a second New Deal to promote job growth of living wages for public spending on social goods. After 50 years since Martin Luther’s demand for equal human rights for all people, it is sad go say things have gotten worse. Although it is true that great strides are achieved since 50 years, some of these issues got worse for working classes. So many are suffering although they built the country and their labour, resourses or blood sacrificed as veterans to fight and defend country they do not receive the due entitlement. As a matter of fact society has shifted from human centred needs of Marlow’s hierarchy to selfish few depriving the majority. The divide of haves and have nots intensified and so many thousands now homeless and without food daily. It is scandalous tons of perfectly good food, clothes, items are thrown away instead of giving it to poor starving and dying daily. Government issued final warning to the businesses to report gender pay gap by midnight it emerged Conservative party did not plan to file its own figures until a day after the deadline. Amber Rudd, the minister for women and equalities as well as home secretary, said there was no excuse for businesses not to be transparent as deadline on Wednesday 4th approached warned them refusing to report is breaking law. Jesus-expulsa-vendilhoes-do-templo IMG_20180424_195818Those with 250 or more employees had until before midnight to meet the legal requirement to report a pay gap data to government or face enforcement action by Equality Commission. 50 years after Martin Luther King’s pleas for the social and economic system justice still society seems worse off. Jesus said the rich are getting richer while the poor get poorer due to greed of those in charge of God’s resources misallocated. Hardworking people are poorest dealing with lack of resources, hunger, poverty inspite of challenges keep their heads up high with dignity. Those in charge label them “lazy” underclass not worth same equal treatment. Those entrusted responsible to provide equally for them hurt them by their unfair policies. The world sees more wealth and more resources than ever before limited exclusively to those few privileged at the top. They ensure all their needs and luxurious wants met but despise other’s needs and refuse to provide for them. Many suffer and die needlessly because of such treatments and unfair policies. #Paymetoo women’s platform seeks justice from boardrooms exclusively run by men without realistic knowledge of women and family needs. Society is still run by draconian policies that treat women as inferior weaker sex not competent as male counterparts. So refuse to recognise great talents and the achievements of women globally in all spheres of life. Some men literally think paying women well diminishes power over them use pay gap to bully women. Interesting colleagues trained by same experts, graduates of same universities, employed by same company refuse to pay them equally because is male and other female. Gender is used to punish career women working twice to run the home, family and gender discrimination at work. 21st Century women in space contribute to all aspects of life. Behind every successful man is a woman and men need women’s input so pay well. It is important macho policies recognise a need to provide to help working-class children’s life chances and wellbeing as they are introducing policies actively to make their lives worse. Look at anti-welfare measures like cutting “in-work” benefits freezing housing and children’s benefits. So education system scrapped education maintenance grants, stripped school budgets so teachers are unable to afford paper for their pupils. Closure of local youth clubs and children’s centres as research from Barnardo’s this week finds funding to early-years children’s services has been cut by 50% in some areas since 2010. Families now choose between eating and buying medicines. social justice and the gospelPeople gather at the end of Poor People March on 19 June 1968 in Washington DC. Photograph: Arnold Sachs/AFP/Getty Images Before travelling to Memphis in 1968 to participate in garbage-workers’ strike King had been criss-crossing the country for weeks, promoting a multi-racial coalition to pressure Congress to reallocate money from Vietnam war to money for human needs. King called it Poor People’s Campaign so promoted an economic bill of rights for all Americans including five pillars of meaningful jobs at a living wage; a secure and adequate income; access to land; access to capital, for poor people, minorities; ability for ordinary people to play truly significant role in government. It was, King said, a “last ditch” effort to save America from the interrelated evils of racism, poverty and war. Historians constantly search for and reshape knowledge of the past, based on challenges faced in their own times. Public awareness focus on King’s “first phase” of the movement, for civil voting, rights, a plethora of scholarship sees King as inconvenient hero who led a movement beyond civil rights to more fundamental economic or social change.JIMEverything decent and fair in American life is under threat, King said in his time so all must do well to remember a fight for economic justice as King’s dream for better encompassing American society. Remembering King’s economic justice, broadly conceived helps understand the relevance of his legacy today. It helps us to realize King’s moral discourse of the gap between “haves and the have-nots” from his role in labour movement and civil rights movements. Remembering eloquent man in the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, remembers King as man on the streets, sitting in jail cells, or as a man rousing workers at union conventions and on union picket lines. Remembered as nonviolent surrounded by a violent police, screaming mobs, and physically assaulted by white racists sometimes. It is essential all nations remember King’s crusade seeking justice and fairness for all alternatives to America’s exploitative racial capitalism. King is remembered as a pioneer helping to understand the agenda for modern times. Exploitative capitalism will come to an end as Bible warns in the book of Revelations.

  • Adapted from To the Promised Land: Martin Luther King and the Fight for Economic Justice by Michael K Honey. Copyright © 2018 by Michael K Honey. With permission of the publisher, WW Norton, Inc. All rights reserved

CHERISH YOUR SPOUSE

IMG_20180331_130704Cherish your spouse by focusing more on their strength and positive points so instead of dwelling on what annoys you make a big deal when your spouse does something positive and good. Have constant urge to make loved one smile always by looking for unique new ways to impress each other. Some go for dinners; some go for gifts, while others go for surprise vacations. One thing that always helps is to manage living lovelife. Do something to bring in the spark each day as a way into the heart is communicate through the mobile phone too and talk daily.
Expressed Love even if you feel upset
Keep Dwelling on positive points that made you love each other and refuse to be drawn into angry negative energy of spouse who wants to hurt your feelings. Do not tolerate anger on because upset spouse delights in winding you up. And learn to protect your joyful spirit.IMG_20180331_130635
Focus on what is working. If you are keen to exit a cycle of negativity, create a list of the lovely things your partner does, no matter how small, that you can be thankful for. Rather than focusing on what annoys you, elevate small details of your partner’s thoughtfulness. Better still, make a big deal out of it when your partner does something positive. It will motivate them towards acts of kindness.
Be vulnerable. A criticism holds veiled wish so when you say, “You’re always at football with your friends,” you mean, I wish you were here with me so ask for what you want with the possibility that you may not always get what you want.
Abolish sweeping accusations. Phrases like “You never, “You always…” are loaded with negativity. Listen to the difference between “I will love it if you do dishes this evening, I’m really tired” instead of  “You never do the dishes!”IMG_20180331_130605
Listen carefully. When something is thrown your way, take a pause. When we are in critical mode, take the time to reflect. Think about the following: why am I feeling angry? What do I want? So take responsibility for feelings, share it.
Adopt the Avatar approach. In James Cameron’s film Avatar, “I see you” is used as a greeting on Pandora. When open up and really “see” your partner, in the spiritual and connected sense of the word, chances are you will be more understanding of the situation at hand.
Think Rumi. The 13th-century Persian poet wrote, “Raise your words, not your voice. Rain grows flowers, not thunder.” A relationship cannot blossom if voices are raised. Try whispering if upset and let God be at the centre of your love life. Forgive spouse daily as Christ forgives us and raise your children to love, fear honour God in Jesus Name.Published by Anne-Celine Jaeger Sources: Esther Perel’s State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity; psychotherapist and author Barton Goldsmith.

ARE YOU AN ONLY CHILD?

Last night, as we snuggled up to read your bedtime story, you asked me the question Daddy and I have been half expecting. With a slight ripple across your brow and your blue eyes wide, you said: ‘Mummy, why don’t I have a brother or sister?’

Are you an only child and did you know why you became one literally? Perhaps it is a health or a financial circumstance beyond parent’s control or unfortunate situation of loss of parent making it not possible to have siblings. The parents of an only son have written a letter to him explaining their choice and decision to him alone. The letter stated that mother found out ‘last night, as we snuggled up to read your bedtime story, you asked a question Daddy and was half expecting. With slight ripple across your brow and your blue eyes wide, you said: ‘Mummy, why don’t I have a brother or sister?’ I kissed the top of your head, squeezed you closer and momentarily panicked about how on earth to answer. At four years and four months, you are clearly starting to notice many of friends at nursery talk of siblings or babies. And thankfully this time, you gave me a reprieve turning your attention straight to dinosaur story read to you.’ Last night, as we snuggled up to read your bedtime story, you asked me the question Daddy and I half expected. With a slight ripple across your brow and blue eyes wide, you said: ‘Mummy, why don’t I have a brother or sister? But I know one day the ‘why’ will become more persistent. Daddy and I are far from alone in deciding to stop at one child. Apparently by 7years, half of all families in this country will only have one offspring. Not that it stops me from feeling occasional pang of guilt. I know there will be many positives to decision like our undivided attention for starters so you never know a prickly adjustment period when a new baby arrives. How about sibling rough and tumble you’ll miss out on? A constant companionship for better or worse? I cannot pretend it hasn’t been a real dilemma. Yes, there have been moments when my resolve wobbled particularly as you get closer to starting school so baby no more. Who doesn’t get broody when they see a tiny newborn enfolded in a mother’s arms. But deep down, I know we’ve made the most responsible choice. I just hope, as you grow older, you agree. The truth is Daddy and I would loved another child but quite simply are too old. We liked the idea of two or maybe more, Daddy even hoped for twins! We imagined you all together and nobody ever short of a playmate, bundling you all into the bath after a day at the beach or the park. Sometimes I do wonder if we left it too late to start our little family. After all, we’ve been together for 19 years. Will you wonder what we were doing all that time? know many positives to our decision of undivided attention, helps you thrive. But I turned 44 last year, a day you and Daddy helped me devour the birthday cake I’d made. ‘That’s REALLY old!’ you exclaimed. In terms of having another baby, you were right. More women are have babies well into 40s and beyond but risks proven to be grater for mum and baby not least Down’s Syndrome or other birth defects. I wonder if we left it too late to start family. After all, we’ve been together for 19 years so wondering what we were doing all this time? We met through mutual friends in our mid-20s, drawn together by similarities: we’re both driven, determined, sociable and aspire to wring the most from life. But like many of our generation, chose naively it turned out to let time slip by. Distracted by careers, Daddy as a chartered surveyor and board director, and me as a journalist, we saved like mad for our future, bought property, played hard and enjoyed exciting holidays all over the world. Sometimes I do wonder if we left it too late to start our little family. For 19 years prepared in advance for your arrival. Family and friends badgered us about settling down but we felt buying a home together was the greatest commitment. I know there will be many positives to our decision — all that undivided attention, for starters, and you’ll never know that prickly adjustment period when a new baby arrives There were the more important things paying off a mortgage, for example than a wedding to spend money on. As for having a family, conscious of getting older, of course, honestly didn’t think leaving it to late 30s was a problem. After all, many friends in a similar situation. And in February 2011 of 12 years together, finally married at a beautiful country house in North Yorkshire. By then we were financially secure, happy, had bought a spacious barn conversion and wanted nothing more than to have a little family. But three months after our wedding, early one cool, grey May morning, my own beautiful, adoring mummy your granny died. She’d had cancer for four agonising years, and in the end the doctors and nurses couldn’t do anything more to save her. If I had just one wish in life it was that Granny had lived to meet you. She would have been besotted by your mischievousness, love of being silly and making people smile traits you share with her. Losing her made me all the more desperate to become a mum. I wanted to love and nurture another little person the way she’d always loved my brother and me. I longed to watch her warmth, wisdom and trademark cheerfulness live on in her grandchild. Grief stricken, I barely ate or slept for months.Grief stricken, I barely ate or slept for months. I ran for miles at a time as a coping mechanism and lost a lot of weight despite being slim anyway 

I ran for miles at a time as a coping mechanism and lost a lot of weight despite being slim anyway. Perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised when, after almost two years of trying to have a baby, doctors confirmed that the shock of losing Granny had caused my body to shut down. I was almost 40 by so we referred for IVF. That’s when something magical happened against all the odds. In late January 2013, I went to fertility clinic in outskirt of Nottingham for some initial scans before starting a treatment. After minutes, sonographer took off her glasses, wiped a tear from her eye and said: ‘You’re not going to believe this you are already pregnant!’ I was around five weeks, but there you were on the sonographer’s screen, a microscopic dot. I cried, and couldn’t wait to tell Daddy. We were elated you arrived in September that year by a planned Caesarean section. I adored you in an instant with your cute little face and love of a cuddle. When I delve into my handbag for a lipstick and instead pull out a toy car or a dirty twig from the park that you’ve put there, it makes me smile 

But I admit I struggled emotionally for a long time. Within a space of under two and a half years went through the two significant events in a woman’s life losing my mum and having a baby of my own. Not having Granny around at that time was heart-wrenching. During the three days that you and I were in hospital, I longed for my mum to walk in, beaming and saying: ‘Aren’t you a clever girl? He’s absolutely gorgeous!’ When Gramps came alone to meet you for the first time, he hadn’t seemed more solitary since Granny’s death. In the months that followed, I’d take you for seven-mile walks in pram along the canal paths and country trails close to our home and tears would roll down my cheeks as I daydreamed about Mum walking by my side. When I delve into my handbag for a lipstick and instead pull out a toy car or a dirty twig from the park that you’ve put there, it makes me smile  What I’d give to have just one photograph of her cuddled up cheek-to-cheek with you. Daddy was wonderfully sensitive and supportive. But at times I felt very alone, as many women do after having a baby. The impossible sadness was juxtaposed by the unrivalled joy you brought to Daddy and me.I know that watching you with a little brother or sister would be a delight. But another baby now? I was 40 by the time I had you. We quickly decided it was more important to enjoy you, rather than focus on trying for another simply because the clock was ticking 

You make us laugh uncontrollably often every day with your funny little ways and your constant chatter and wonder at the world around us. I was 40 by the time I had you. You’re as affectionate and loving as you are boisterous and wilful, destined to be strong-willed given our own personalities! And even when you’re throwing a tantrum we wouldn’t want it any other way. I know watching you with a little brother or sister would be a delight. But another baby now? I was 40 by the time I had you. We quickly decided it was more important to enjoy you, rather than focus on trying for another simply because the clock was ticking. After all, there are so many couples who’d give anything to have just one child. And who’s to say it would have happened a second time, given how long it took us to have you? Plus, at what point do you draw a line under the disappointment of trying and failing? Besides, we’d found being a family of three suits all of us. I am still able to do a job I love while you’re at nursery three days a week. More importantly, Daddy and I are able to focus our attention on you rather than feeling torn between more than one child. Your energy knows no bounds and I have to run you like a dog every day to expend it. I’m not sure I could cope with another little one fizzing with such effervescence. You have always loved your sleep, too: And imagine if you had a sibling who wailed all night for months. That said, I can’t deny the occasional well of sadness: the ‘what ifs’ and fear you’ll miss out on the fun of having a sibling. If I had just one wish in life it would be that Granny had lived to meet you. She would have been besotted by your mischievousness, love of being silly and making people smile — traits you share with her Since I’ve always been so close to my own little brother your uncle Robbie, 42, who loves to tickle and dangle you upside down. Daddy and I have often looked wistfully at our friends with four kids: they’re never without a ready-made playmate. On the other hand, we know siblings who fought terribly as children and barely speak as adults. We know lots of gloriously happy, and well grounded, sociable, selfless children including your brilliant cousin, Saffron, who’s five years older than you. It was adorable watching you playing together on the beach and in the pool on a recent family holiday in Spain. How I chuckled listening to the two of you animatedly discussing favourite or not vegetables in back of car. Nobody ever questioned our decision although there are friends who still tell us: ‘Go on, have another!’ Some people assume things of an only child that they are spoilt because they don’t learn to share. Or they miss out on so much. But Daddy and I will ensure you never feel isolated or become spoilt. Bracing ourselves to hosting lots of play dates sleepovers. We’ll do everything to encourage you to continue to be sociable caring confident little boy you already are. What I’ve realised more than anything is there is actuala much shorter answer to your question. Quite simply, Daddy and I feel enormously fortunate to have one healthy, happy, hilarious little boy who fills our lives with magic every day. We have never been left wanting more.

 

SCHOOL OPENS OWN BANK

Pupils save over £100 in new school bank!

 

Ws4g3Students at Walthamstow School for Girls have thrown open the doors of their very own bank.

11-14 year olds have been trained by MyBnk to get fellow pupils into good financial habits by offering accounts and loans of up to £40. Using real money, their MyBnk-in-a-Box scheme opens once a week at lunchtime and is also accessible online.

“I opened an account today with £2 and I think it’s important to save so you don’t have to worry about your parents spending all of their money on you! I would like to buy things for myself and be independent”. Amy 12, young saver.

Ws4g2Also opening accounts on launch day were the Mayor of Waltham Forest, Saima Mahmud and our patron, broadcaster and campaigner, June Sarpong. Scores of young people deposited over £100 in a single lunch break.

The young bankers now will also run incentivised saving and enterprise start-up drives for their fellow pupils. This is backed up with financial education workshops covering everything from tax and pensions to student finance, supported by Prudential.

“At WSFG we believe that our girls should understand how banks work and understand how to manage their personal finances. We try to build in transferable and lifelong skills that they will use in their everyday lives, as well as ensuring that they achieve the very best academic achievements they can”. Marianna Philippou, Maths teacher, Walthamstow School for Girls.

 

Ws4gSoon, Walthamstow will be joined by another London school bank, run by young people for young people. Savers bank on average £3.64 a week, 59% of their pocket money, an adult would bank £295 a week on an a £26,000 salary!

“The sooner young people are familiar with banking, the better they can develop sound financial habits like saving and navigate the system. We’re going all out for a generation that will have to make smarter financial decisions and create their own opportunities”. MyBnk CEO & Founder Lily Lapenna.

If you are interested in running the MyBnk-in-a-Box financial education programme in your school, get in touch via info@mybnk.org or 0207 377 8770!

financial education