Thursday, 26 March 2015

A Pinch of Salt....

Remember that “song” Everybody’s Free (to wear sunscreen) by Baz Luhrmann? I only remembered it after I started to type something, a kind of advice to my younger self. Anyway, this is not me trying recreate something that’s been done before, it’s simply me giving myself a bit of a talking to, whether it’s to my younger self, my older self or me as I am now.

First things first, you need to understand that everyone’s got an opinion and advice. Some keep it to themselves, some carefully discharge it with wisdom and others blurt it out indiscriminately whether it’s any of their business or not. Take it all with a pinch (or a bucketful) of salt. Be careful who you share your opinion with and how you do it.

There are some things you should know.
There are some things you don’t need to know.
Learn to discern which is which and act accordingly.

As sure as the sun rises in the east, other people will let you down - don’t let them get you down but do get up to see the newness of the sunrise.
As sure as the sun sets in the west, you will let yourself down – learn to build yourself back up and remember to enjoy the beauty of the sunset.

Dare to wander barefoot into the meadow of your imagination. Tread softly, gently, sit awhile and discover the beauty that exists in endless possibility.

Be courageous
Be polite
Be courteous
Be brave

Be loyal - when all else is gone loyalty will mean you are not standing alone. Your credibility and integrity matter more than anything else. When IT is gone you are in trouble.
Stay out of trouble.

Don’t allow feelings to stop you doing the right thing. Feelings come and go. Your conscience will always be with you.

Understand that true friendship is more valuable than a huge house, a full bank account or any other material treasure. Your friends are precious; cherish them.

Life is precious; cherish it.
Forgiveness is vital; hold on to it.
Regret will eat you up – let it go.

Live a life which brings peace of mind. If you don’t have that you will forever be tormented by what if’s and maybe’s.

Spend time gazing at the stars. The universe is huge, you are tiny in comparison. Allow your breath to be taken away by a shooting star and the beauty of creation.

Allow your heart to be broken – you will retain a tenderness which allows you to love again.
Bitterness callouses the heart and poisons your thoughts.

Take risks.
Eat well.
Always have a dream big enough to grow into.

Allow your passion to show others what you believe and what you stand for.

Believe in yourself.
Stand up for others.

Colour outside the lines. Do not be constrained by the expectations of other people. Express yourself freely as only you can. You are unique.

Understand that there are many viewpoints. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean someone else can’t. A church tower has four sides; if there’s one person looking at it from each side you will all see a different clock face but you’re all looking at the same church and the same tower. Life is not always quite the way you see it.

Be an educator. The greatest threat to an inclusive society is ignorance. Educate the ignorant with words of love not condemnation. You will win others over to your side more quickly if you treat them with respect. Do not use words of hate. You are not judge, juror and executioner, even if sometimes it would feel better if you were.

Write. Poems, songs, prose. Just write.

Walking away is not a sign of weakness. Sometimes the bravest action is to walk away even if it appears to be in defeat. Living to fight another day when you are stronger is more important than fighting with no energy. Learn to pick which battles need fighting today.

You don’t need to explain yourself.
Don’t ask others to explain themselves.

Look after your teeth.
Look after your heart.

Forgive others
Forgive yourself.

Hold on to memories which make you smile.
Let go of memories which make you wince.

Travel to far off places and broaden your horizons.
Stay close to those who love you. Do not treat them with contempt or take them for granted. Invest your time in those who care about you and those you care about.

Smile. It encourages those who love you. It confuses those who dislike you.

Laugh. Every day. Laugh long and laugh loudly.

Sing. Sing the song of your heart. Sing in the shower. Sing in the bath. Sing in the kitchen and the lounge. Sing in church. Sing in the car. Sing in the street. Sing in the mountains. Sing in then valleys. Sing in the forests. Sing in the deserts. Even when there are no words; sing.

Cry. Allow your tears to bring healing to your wounds. Welcome them; do not despise them. You cannot make the past disappear but with every teardrop you get stronger and one day you will be glad for those tears.

There is beauty in brokenness. If you never hurt, you never truly love...

….and finally listen to the advice you give yourself. But remember…if you listen to this, take it all with a pinch of salt….

Monday, 16 March 2015

It's all about Evie...

I thought it would be a great start to Down’s Syndrome Awareness Week by having a guest post from another parent. So I asked Kirsty to write something about her beautiful daughter Evie and here it is!

****STOP PRESS****

The great news is that Kirsty has now joined the world of blogging so you can follow Evie’s journey at so please give her your support!

Hi. Thanks to Paul for asking me to takeover, I mean guest blog. ;)

I’ll introduce myself, I’m Kirsty and I have the most gorgeous six year old daughter called Evie. Evie is our eldest daughter and the absolute centre of our world. Evie also happens to have an extra copy of chromosome 21, more commonly known as Down’s Syndrome.

For Down’s Syndrome Awareness Week, in the lead up to the great Lots of Socks Day, I’ve been thinking about what Down’s Syndrome means to me. Is it about scary hospital appointments and learning a new language surrounding learning disabilities? Is it about being fearful of the future? No, it’s this…

Evie has opened my eyes. She is so in tune with her feelings. If she wants to lie in a puddle she will, if she doesn't feel like walking - she won't, if she wants your chocolate biscuit, then it's hers. It's refreshing (and often infuriating when I want that biscuit). There is no hidden agenda. Evie takes life and she shakes it up. She makes you question your values. She is honest to the core. What's not to love about that? 

Finding out that Evie had Down's Syndrome was terrifying. I admit that we were beyond scared. We knew NOTHING expect the crap you see on the tv. I didn't think that her life would be fulfilling. I have never been so wrong in my life.

I've heard other parents say that it was never an issue for them, when their children were diagnosed. I can't say that and to be honest, I can't quite believe them either. I was afraid. Mainly of myself and what others would think. Thanks to Evie, I really don't care what Joe Bloggs on the street thinks about us.

What I do care about is that our society seems to think that it is ok to belittle those who are different. Whether it be Down’s Syndrome, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, microcephaly, Turner’s Syndrome, if their sexual orientation is different to what that person thinks that it ought to be, if their skin colour is different, if they are female or male. Why do we treat each other this way? Who gives us the right to judge and mock? To have one-upmanship over others?

Different is good. If we were all the same, it would be a very boring world. Variety truly is the spice of life. I’ve asked my friends and family to help.  I want them to back us and people like us; to help us promote the worth of our families, the fact that actually having any disability or any difference shouldn't matter. You shouldn't look or stare or judge. It could just as easily be you. In our case what is an extra chromosome between friends? Join us. Together society can change.

Saturday, 14 March 2015


Who, here on earth, could possibly compare to a mum caring for her children?
She is the most revered of women
She deserves a place of honour in her household
And a place of respect in her community

She has no concept of what it means for her hands to be idle
Her thoughts are forever on tomorrow’s diary, packed lunches, appointments
She is forever planning, creating, preparing
Always thinking, watching, caring

She is worth more than diamonds, emeralds, sapphires and gold
More beautiful than a golden sunset in the western sky
More determined than any Atlantic wave that crossed the ocean to pound the Cornish shore
More gentle than a feather floating on the wind

There is nothing she would not do to get the best for her children
And for this she pays a heavy cost
She is tired, she is weary; she gets angry and frustrated
She is easily bruised but she is never beaten – ever!

This mum is the very cornerstone of society; a hero, a pillar, a rock
She deserves far more than she receives, yet still gives, gives, gives
In return for her toil she receives a grateful smile
And her heart melts

Thank God for the mum caring for her children
She lives on through every generation
Her influence, her life, her love always close

She is near, she is dear, she is you…