The Importance of Family

“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family: Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” – Jane Howard

I’m in the middle of a busy period in my family: Weddings. Each week its somebody’s wedding or engagement and one thing or the other is going on which is leaving me with very little time to upload something that I have written. Most of my blogs I start at least a couple of days in advance in order for them to be ready to go live on dates I have set but wedding season has delayed this schedule slightly. Nevertheless, the fairy tale wedding season has actually forced me to think more about the importance of family in my life.

I come from an Asian Indian background, and for me, family is the core element of my roots and foundation; it really does mean everything to me. If it wasn’t for my immediate and some extended family, I would most certainly be lost and I sincerely believe that I would not be the person I am today. As I look back in time, it is clear to me  how significant my family has been in all aspects of my life. My upbringing, the values, principles and faith instilled in me and the moral’s I was taught define me; my family environment has become an integral part of my identity.

An individual’s immediate family lays down the foundation for their personality and the majority of our behaviour is heavily influenced by their family life. Psychologists have strongly argued that children and young adults acquire the greatest amount of knowledge and life skills from their family life which has a direct and lifelong effect on the individual’s personality. Throughout their development, children are usually closest to their parents/primary caregivers and siblings than anyone else in the world. As children and young adults grow and develop, they form friendships, work with colleagues, get married and also have their own children with whom they begin to share their lives with. It is through time that these changes come about; however, the importance of family remains the same. Furthermore, studies indicate that children reared with strong family connections paired with a foundation of good education, values and ideals have been reported to lead much healthier and happier lives. Therefore, the importance of a family unit cannot be denied.

Luckily for me, I have been brought up with best of both worlds where I have been able to combine my own Asian Indian heritage with the Western culture. As a multi-cultured person, I have often been forced to waver on the edge of both Western and Eastern cultures, where on occasions I have been on either side of the often very fine demarcation line. Yet, through my development as a somewhat independent individual, I have come to realise that my family relationships and family values have contributed considerably towards the nature of who I am today. The strength, perseverance, courage and security have come directly from my family unit necessary for future development. Psychological research has demonstrated that adults who have experienced a smooth and well established family bond are generally more successful and display higher levels of confidence in all aspects of their life. In this respect, the family unit remains of utmost importance to initiate, nurture, conserve, and base other relationships on which an individual develops throughout their life.

My upbringing has been in a Western culture where I have very often witnessed family values and relationships not being given the deserving respect and commitment, and furthermore, they are not held as strictly as they are in the East. However, for me it remains in my own heritage to take forward this tradition of family values.

My family provides me with my identity because I am a direct descendant of my parents; my parents are my blood and the primary reason for my existence. However, I am more than a mere biological product of my parents; I am a messenger of my family’s values, principles, beliefs, understandings, fears, thoughts, failures and triumphs. My childhood was spent growing up in their home from where I acquired a great deal in terms of life skills which I’ve implemented throughout my life as I have grown and developed. Some traditions I have modified or ceased using in line with the society and generation to which I belong and have grown up with. My earliest memories of my childhood and my family life, regardless of whether they are pleasant or not are extremely precious to me, they are memories which simply cannot be replaced or erased. They are treasured beyond all other memories and many of them shape and define me today. I have recollections of moments where concepts such as love, acceptance, and understanding have become clear to my naive self and as I look back now I am grateful for these moments as it was these which provided me with comfort, security, and opportunity to grown.

I found a great deal of comfort with my parents, particularly when I experienced trouble at school but it wasn’t until I was a naive teenager that I really began to understand the importance of the many teachings of my family and parents in particular. It was the mere act of stepping away that shaped my identity, personality, nature and solidified my principles and values, while remaining flexible and open to suggestions and change. It not only allowed me to demonstrate my independence but it empowered me with the opportunity to challenge myself based up on my parents and family’s teachings. As a young adult who was very much independent I most certainly appreciated my parents and family considerably more. One finds themselves loving their parents mannerisms so much more and with a sincere feeling of gratitude I thank them for the practical as well as emotional support they provided me with as a child and as I have developed into an adult. I thank them further for educating me to be a strong independent woman with strong family values, compassion, understanding and faith. Furthermore, I thank them for the endless support I know they will continue to provide me throughout my life. As I look forward to the future, I realise that one day I shall also be the same source of strength for them in their old age as they were to me as I grew and developed. It is being this pillar of strength, this reliable point of support and connection with my roots that echoes the essence of my parents and family’s teachings. Family is very important to me.

Now, the last impression I want to give you is that I have had a rosy, almost fairy tale like family life as not only is this simply not true, it does not demonstrate true learning and development. Growing up in a Western culture, with an Asian Indian and Hindu heritage, my family and I very often clashed in our ideas and views. I could never understand why our lifestyles were so different to that of my peers, why we lived a certain and why we did things the way we did. When I wanted to go out with my friends, I found myself asking why could I never be like them? Why did I have to do things so differently too? We had debates about clothes, alcohol, smoking, diet, festivals and celebrations; you name it and there had been a debate or some form of heated argument about it in my family. There have been tears too, from hurtful words and pain to joy and triumph. There have also been moments of complete silence where we have all required the time and space to reflect on the present circumstances to move forward, to rebuild the relationship, to regain the broken trust and overcome disappointments.

However, despite the disagreements and clashes of cultures, I am privileged to have a close relationship with my family. We aren’t all this lucky. People often say that no matter how hard you try, you can never disconnect yourself from your family. A family unit is viewed as an integral part of an individual and the harder and individual attempts to distance themselves, the closer they become. I disagree. If this statement were accurate then why do we have so many elderly nursing and residential homes across the world? Did these parents love their children any less? or was it that the children were unable to care for their frail parents? Why are the numbers of children being abandoned or taken into care increasing each year? Why is the divorce rate growing year by year? For those of us who do maintain a close connection with our families  should consider ourselves privileged purely because if we observe those around us, we may find others less fortunate than us whether it be elderly parents or it be lonesome children. I have witness my father live for almost 28 years separated from his family. The neglect and rejection my father has experienced over the years has had a detrimental effect on his own sense of self-worth and identity. It is on this basis that I am grateful and certainly do not take for granted my family relationships. Family provides the link to our beginning and a guide to our future and I say we must embrace every opportunity we have to remain close to our family’s instead of minimise it.

Family and Self Esteem
“What God is to the world, parents are to their children.” – Philo

At every significant point in our lives, we all require the feeling of ‘belonging’ and to feel accepted by those nearest and dearest to us. This sense of belonging and acceptance is derived from a secure family bond. Family is where our roots take hold and from there we grow and develop; we are shaped within this unit, which prepares us for the world as well as the many experiences to come. Values are taught in childhood are carried forward with us throughout our life. Close family bonds represent a safety net which catch us when we falter and pushes us back up when necessary. It is within these bonds that we find refuge, whether it be a listening far or the practical support when we experience difficulties in life. These family bonds allow us to develop and instil trust and hope for the world around us as well as belief in ourselves and our abilities. We all had small, fun rituals when we were younger, such as bedtime stories, sweet treats, hugs, weekends at theme parks, holidays and meals shared together which provided a sense of warmth, structure and safety that many of us still carry with us today. For me, these small but significant rituals and traditions have created memories, leaving behind a family legacy to cherish for years to come as well as laying the first path in my life – a path which is positive and realistic.

Our spirit, soul and the essence which defines us can either flourish or perish within this family unit, particularly when we do not receive the essential elements of security and the influence of strong family bonds early in life. This can often result in the very foundation being built on emptiness, which one may seek to fill through destructive means instead. If one does not receive love and affection as a child, it is highly likely that they may later seek it through more detrimental ways. Such individuals are likely to display a deep yearning and a hollowness which they experience and which they are looking to fill. This hollowness residing in the heart and soul is often as a direct result of never knowing what it’s like to be loved, accepted and appreciated for ‘being’ apart of a family unit.

This lack of a bond or living in a detached or dysfunctional family or environment have been known to have a detrimental and long-term effects on an individual’s physical as well as their mental health. For example, a destructive cycle can emerge and be repeated when a child has grown up in such an environment. As an adult, this individual is likely to view dysfunctional family bonds as the norm, where unfortunately drugs and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and crime is what they are accustomed to and in turn will seek such situations and people. They are unlikely to easily recognise any healthy relationships and family bonds as this is a foreign concept to them.

The long term effects of living in a dysfunctional environment are not often very obvious. Both children and adults will display a diverse range of behaviours, yet the similarities between them may still be visible. Children and adults may have poor self-image or self-esteem often displayed by them isolating themselves from peers at school, college, work or home. Adults hold negative beliefs regarding themselves and that as an individual they are somewhat inadequate for the society in which they reside. They generally lose confidence in their own abilities, their future and their relationships. Children on the other hand display more subtle behaviours such as shyness, low levels of interaction with peers and adults as well as referring to themselves in a negative manner through demeaning expressions such as ‘I’m stupid, I’ll never learn this’ or ‘what’s the point’. Children and adults may also display signs of holding anger and pain inside.

This level of poor self-esteem affects the individual’s entire life which adversely influences an individual’s ability to make positive choices as well as be close to others. Their own inner tension and feeling of shame can very often lead them behaving adversely, ranging from emotional and physical withdrawal to aggressive and combative outward behaviour. The family is widely seen as an important influence on self-esteem as this is where the initial sense of oneself first begins to form.

As important as family life is, it is rapidly becoming a rare appearance in the world today where the families are breaking down and higher rates of divorce are contributing to an unnecessarily high number of children suffering needlessly. In today’s world, one of the biggest problems we are facing is the growth of independence resulting in the family bond losing its significance and the younger generations missing out on developing vital relationships. Furthermore, in segments of the world, the length of time people are now choosing to spend with their families is decreasing rapidly, all because we are too busy chasing after our careers, money or even to simply make ends meet.Yes, as humans we are social animals and we require company and although we may enjoy solitude on occasions, we cannot prosperor live happily in isolation forever. It is at this point that our family provides us with reasons to laugh, cry, think, express, create and provides reasons to live life.

Our family members are the only network of people who genuinely demonstrate and express true feelings for us and I can most certainly say they remain the only network of people who really care for us. It is our family which keeps us afloat, provide for us without any form of expectation. In today’s society, even our friends have expectations from us, we must call, text, email and even socialise regularly enough to be considered a ‘good’ or ‘real’ friend, but with family, and particularly our parents they don’t ordinarily have these expectations. No doubt they will feel bad and they may even be given good reasons to complaint due to our lack of consideration, yet their love and affection will remain.Always remember that the goodness in you, your nature, your personality and they essence of who you are today is due to your family. It is primarily because of this group of people who you are here today and they will remain the only people in society that you can turn to, even in your darkest hour. You are a part of this unit known as family, be happy that are lucky enough to have a family!

“The strength of a family, like the strength of an army, is in its loyalty to each other.” – Mario Puzo (The Family)
Best Wishes,
Maahi PM
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In another world

In another world I would be accepted
differences eradicated
flaws dissolved
equal status

In another world there would be no pain
tears disappear
torment ended
suffering aborted

In another world, running will come as second nature
wind blowing through my hair
heart beating hard
moving faster and faster

In another world I will be loved
affection, comfort, trust,
understanding, honesty, peace
adventure, fun and security

In another world I will have freedom
freedom of expression
freedom to live by choice
freedom from hatred

In another world I tears would never come
In another world I would not want to hide
In another world happiness would be the norm
In another world…….

Vanish

I want to disappear
I want to vanish
To be away from all this anguish
To to free of this pain

My mind consumed by confusion
My heart filled with hurt
Eyes searching
Faith breaking

I want to be invisible
I want to be gone
Protect myself from this hollow world
Guard my dreams from scattering

The smile on my face eradicated
My soul trapped in despair
Tortured desires
Mistreated human

I want to fade away
I want to evaporate
To stop this crippling hurt
To survive

I want to escape
I want to vanish

Freedom

She is seated on a park bench,
Her breathing: shallow and rapid,
Her body: shivering with anger,
Hot droplets of sweat dripping from her brow,
Thoughts come at the speed of lightening.

Happiness, a faint memory of feelings extinct,
Replaced instead with a turbulent struggling soul,
Tears streaming, war raging, heart beating, still surviving.

Her vision blurred, her objective clear,
Anticipation, a distant distraction,
A glistening momentary clam, a release,
Stillness.

Unleashed is the frustration.
Unleashed is the pain.
Unleashed is the anger.

The warmth is calming,
It is comforting and silent,
She is smiling,
For finally she has freedom.

Walking In The Rain

God’s Creation….
Have you ever walked in the rain? I have, in fact I’ve just got in from walking in the rain and I had to share this experience.
Beautiful Rain….

It has been raining the entire day, heavy summer showers pattering on the windows of the training room was forcing me to secretly smile. My mind was diverted away from the trainer onto planning my journey home. Small fireworks of excitement exploding inside me. Finally, I thought the opportunity to get wet in this glorious summer rain! I finished my training session for the day and I stepped outside to a light drizzle of rain which started to become heavier. I plugged in my headphones, turned up my best tunes and started walking. The rain comes down fast, gently soaking through my hair, my coat, my bag and skin. The feeling is exhilarating, joyous and liberating. I am free, my soul is free. The rain hides my tears, it washes away my dirt, it cleans my mind. I receive strange looks from people yet I am beaming with laughter, lighting up with colour. My stride increases, but I am careful not to over step and fall. I feel like I am flying. The world is drowned out by my music and now by the rain, I am almost invisible.

Liberation…..

The rain continues to fall even while I travel on the bus. I disembark a stop earlier and walk the rest of the route home. All the while the rain continues to nourish my soul and heal my pain, while hiding my limp. This is heaven on earth, really why would anyone want anything more than this real touch of God? It has rained on me before, the wind has blown at me too and the cold has frozen me too. They have all threatened me all at once too. But I have learnt, I have learnt to sing in the rain, ride with the wind and play with the cold too. They were the hardest conditions I have ever lived through. Now I love these conditions, I love the rain, I enjoy the feeling of it on my face and on my skin. What a wonderful feeling! The rain kisses me, it beats against my head gently blessing me and sings me a lullaby to sooth my anguish. The rain brings with it a renewed scent of the earth, a scent implying a new beginning, a clean start and an opportunity for growth. It cools the air, it cools the earth and it cools my flame of despair. It drive away my hunger for acceptance for now I am gracefully accepted.

Rain Kisses…..

I cry tears of joy resembling the rainbow of peace with a glimmer of hope. Oh do I love the rain so for it quenches my thirst so!

I do hope you enjoy the rain as much as I do!
Best Wishes,
Maahi PM

The Disappearing Friend

Your work is not to drag the world kicking and screaming into a new awareness.
Your job is to simply do your work…
Sacredly, secretly, and silently…
and those with ‘eyes to see and ears to hear’, will hear, – The Arcturians

When it comes to lifelong friends, I’m pretty unlucky. The many ‘friends’ I have had over the years have either been extremely selfish or full-blown drama shows. Traits such as being supportive, kind and genuine have more often that none been non-existent and the relationship a heavy burden to carry emotionally.

Moments such as sharing a funny story or joke, tears over lost love, a shopping spree or a good old wallow over a Ben and Jerry’s tub are either scarce or non-existent in my history. I have no complaints though, I have learnt a great deal from those who have been selfish or temporarily my best friend.

Now, I wont name any individual but a majority of my so-called ‘friends’ have the brilliant skill of disappearing without a trace or a word. I completely accept that some of my friends, particularly those I know well have genuine reasons to not be in touch and I have no complaints against them. However, I like many other people with certain friends have been through the time phase where I have called, text, and even emailed to no avail. Now I don’t bother and I learned a long time ago and the hard way to accept that this is the case for a large majority people I have crossed paths with. I realise that there have been common reasons for such a disappearance namely, a) I know it’s not personal at all but I just haven’t the time at present for even myself, b) ‘I’ve been genuinely and really busy’ and c) can’t be bothered perhaps? It’s ok my friend, I can take a hint.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet a high-ranking police officer which was published in the local newspaper. A friend who had fallen into the black hole of disappearance suddenly reappeared causing me some serious discomfort. She wanted to re-establish out friendship which I was unsure about at the time and even how to do. When we first became friends it was during a 3 week training session with a local charity and for a long period of time preceding this training we kept in touch regularly through calls, texts and meetings. Ours was not exactly an established friendship but it certainly wasn’t a new-born relationship and I truly believed that we had both invested a great deal into it, particularly emotionally. Then with a flash she disappeared completely, without a trace. I attempted to contact her through the usual mediums to see if she was OK, to chat and lastly to make sure she wasn’t mad at me for any reason but no, I was only to be met with silence. Took a while to recover from that one, she was once one of my best friends.

This is just one incident which I can recall, there have been many during school and university. Now my approach has changed, my attitude has changed. If I find that a friend has become a vanisher, I allow them to have their space if at all this is what they need otherwise I wish them luck on their journey through life. I completely accept that good friends do have the right to disappear for a bit, and it is a privilege which they have truly earned through proving themselves as friends. The few good and true friends that I do have call me a total pushover and believe this form of temporary emotional investment is so not healthy for me. Being totally honest I partly agree that yes it does hurt to go from being close to totally insignificant but you can’t change people, you have to either accept them as they are and/or start living life without them.

Just a thought….

Am I right? or am I a total pushover? Many have called me a total pushover!

Best Wishes,
Maahi PM

A Cricket Match

I don’t consider myself a sporty individual in the slightest; in fact I’m far from it. Despite my history of working in a sporting and a betting environment, I have never really been drawn towards any sport except cricket. Here in the UK, there are a number of sports which are considered to be major international sports, including football, cricket, rugby, tennis, snooker, golf and horse racing to name but a few. The sport of football is a very popular one in this country and throughout the year there are very often various competitions going at both national and international levels. At social gatherings, it is these competitions and matches which cause a buzz and dominate conversations.

Cricket on the other hand I feel does not create as much a buzz yet I have seen and experienced occasions when cricket has brought about a real electrical buzz too. The recent world cup for example saw large crowds of Asian supporters take to the streets to celebrate India’s victory. An exhilarating experience I must say.

So why cricket then? Well for me it’s a sophisticated sport, played with patience, strategic team work and technical sportsmanship. It’s a calm sport, but on occasions creates a buzz which is most electric than that of a football world cup. I find it very enjoyable to watch, no matter who’s playing and have done so from a young age. While the rest of my peers enjoyed cheering on their preferred football clubs, I chose to follow what was deemed the boring sport.

Nevertheless, I was not deterred and I became more interested in the sport as I grew older. Now I follow the sport at local, national and international levels with a keen interest in selected teams, players and championships. However, despite my avid interest I have never had the opportunity to watch a live match. Of course I’ve watched matches live on television but to see it actually being played live on the grounds was not something which I had had the privilege to experience until today.

I recently came to know that a friend of mine plays cricket with his local club and excited by this prospect, I said to him if that if it was at all possible, I’d love to come and watch him and his team play. Shit I thought! In my slight over enthusiasm, I realised I had self-invited myself without considering anything else! His reaction on the other hand was much better! He did say I was more than welcome, if I was brave enough to consider the travel distance.  Not a problem, it was a nice opportunity plus I had the bonus of watching a friend play too! I thought it to be much better to attend a match supporting a particular team and a player than just merely being a spectator.

The journey to the match ground was not the shortest for me, but that wasn’t going to deter me and in fact it which was stress free and quicker than originally anticipated. Bonus! There was rain on my journey to the match which began to dampen my hopes of seeing a live match. Anyway, when I got to friends house to pick him up he informed me that despite the weather conditions the match was stilled scheduled to be played with only a slight delay. My friend of course was not impressed by the prospect of playing on wet ground. It will be challenging to play he said, the ball will be wet, it will be harder to score boundaries and bowling will be a nightmare! Nevertheless, we still left for the ground.

The ground was being inspected by the team captains as we arrived. All the while it was raining heavily and my friend gently informing me of the highly likely chance of the match being cancelled. If they don’t cancel it then it’s highly likely players are going to get the least amount of enjoyment, the ground is very damp. We can almost eradicated boundary scores and as a bowler I will constantly be cleaning the ball due to the damp ground. If we have to play then I’ll play but I won’t enjoy the match, he said. I could of course see his argument; wet ground really is difficult to play on, consuming all ounces of energy at the best of times. I on the other hand was wishing they would play even in the rain, what better condition to play in? Yes, a little crazy I realise that. But after seeing the ground and the severe weather conditions even I began to have some doubt on the likelihood of play. After a short while, even I commented that I hope they do cancel the match, the weather is really bad. Don’t worry, I said, I’ll come again and watch you play another match. After a delay of approximately half an hour, players were asked to get changed for the match. The match was on. You got your wish my friend commented. I beamed a big smile.

While I waited for my friend to come from the changing rooms, I observed the ground. The pitch area was covered to protect it from the rain but the fielding area was exposed to the rain. Furthermore, the grass was much thicker than required which added to the difficulty of hitting boundaries but assisted in stopping them too.

The match was brilliant! My friends team (Team 1) was the away team who won the toss and elected to field first, grabbing the unique opportunity to use the adverse weather conditions to keep the oppositions run score as low as possible. Wise decision team 1! The captains of both teams agree on an 80 over match purely due to the unpredictable weather conditions. My friend was the opening bowler and team 2 posted a total of 101-9 from 41 overs thanks to some very talented batsmen in the tough ground conditions. My friend’s bowler figures were commendable with him bowling 8 overs, 30 runs, 1 maiden over, 1 wicket and 2 catches! I recall one of the dismissed batsmen commented on his way back to the changing room that your friend bowls very well, I must say I’m impressed. I thanked him and allowed him on his way. The final score for team 2 was 101-9 in 41 overs.

During recess, my friend commented that the oppositions score shouldn’t be too difficult to reach but I really hope rain does not disrupt play. I was wishing the same too as the first half of the match had been a pleasure to watch and disrupted play would most certainly have been a disappointment. Thankfully, it remained dry.

My friend was 8th in the batting line up. I hope you have the opportunity to bat I said. My friend laughed and said, I hope not; as it would it would imply that our teams batting skills and level of competency was somewhat questionable compared to that of the other teams. Point I thought. Anyway, we sat discussing the game while the first pair in the batting line up began the match. Team 1 looked in trouble at one point with 4 wickets down at a low score; this was beginning to be a nail-biting second half. My friend then went to do some umpiring while I went back to my car and continued to take some photographs. It was starting to become cooler as the afternoon continued. I watched as the wickets fell and felt a little uneasy. Once my friend had completed his time as umpire, he came and watched the match with me albeit in a somewhat sombre state. I really hope we win; it’s actually a lot tougher out there than I first thought. The grass is wet plus it hasn’t been mowed therefore, the ball isn’t reaching the boundary, resulting in the batsmen being forced to run more frequently than usual in order to remain a head of the game. And to add to the difficulty, we are losing wickets too; he remarked after a while. I certainly understood his anxiety. Plus, he said, I’d like to win because it’s your first ever live match and I don’t want you to go away disappointed. I smiled, it wouldn’t make much difference to me anyway, and I am grateful that I have been given the opportunity to see a live match plus see a friend play too. If the team wins that will be my bonus, just play your best, I know how good the team is, I have seen how well you play, and I don’t need to see a win to work that out. It’s a game, you win some, and you lose some.

We went back to the bench as the wickets continued to fall. The end appeared bleak. The last two batsmen were my friend and his team-mate and they played exceptionally well, building a steady partnership to reach the end result. In the end my friend scored 9 runs in 11 bowls which led to the team winning the match. The final result was team 1 was 102-8 in 36.3 over and as the pair walked back to the changing rooms there was a standing ovation. A moment of joy and pride for me, I was truly happy for my friend and his team. On our short walk back to the car I said to my friend, you got your wish then and we both laughed!!

The final score was:

Team 1 (away team): 102/8 in 36.3 overs.

Team 2 (home team): 101/9 in 41 overs.

My friends score:

Bowling: 8 overs, 30 runs, 1 maiden, 1 wicket, 2 catches.

Batting: 9 runs in 11 bowls

A wonderful match to watch, one which I know I won’t ever forget. Well done my friend and well done team, a truly well-deserved win!!

Best Wishes,
Maahi PM

Cold

English: Lovers Walk at Portland Park Looking ...
Photo credit: Wikipedia

I walk the walk

On this cold winters day

The icy wind rushing through my hair

Tears rolling down my cheeks

I dig my hands deeper in my pockets

Trying to keep out the pain.

Looking around I think, I wonder,

The world around me so calm

Yet my heart and mind are at war.

I hear my foot steps on the ground

I recall your voice in my head.

I shake, I think, from the cold or

from your memory I wonder.

I feel lost yet I know where I am.

Why do I walk the walk in fear?

I ask the trees, I ask the leaves,

I receive no answer

I hold on tight to my memory

Like an insect stuck to a spiders web

I walk the walk

Tears still rolling I try to hold on

I ask myself why my heart won’t let you go

I close my eyes for a second

I see your face I see your aura

Realising how alone I am without you

My skin aches for your touch

My heart for your love

I walked the walk which came to an end

I breathe in the frosty wind

It burns my heart in pain

I look back, nothings changed

I look forward in hope

That you will return.

©PurpleMystique 2012

Volunteering

There is a new buzz word about town; ‘Volunteering’. Everywhere I seem to turn there’s a new voluntary position whether it be for a large national organisation or a small local support group, everyone seems to be in need of volunteers. I’ve never seen such high demand for volunteers and this demand isn’t just restricted to charities; corporate companies also expect their workers, particularly new recruits to have some form of voluntary experience in a relevant field. So it would appear that volunteering really is quite a powerful form of experience to have but just how powerful and to whose benefit?

The Job Hunter
When looking for work, it is essential that we give ourselves the right opportunity to be in with the best possible chance of getting a great paid position. With the present economy, secure jobs have become almost on existent and paid work in general has become scarce and due to no fault of our own, many of us have employment gaps, I included. Furthermore, these gaps cast a negative shadow over the many qualified individuals applying for one particular position and any potential employer is highly likely to look enthusiastically upon those who have filled such gaps with positive activities such as volunteering.

Job Search

As a job hunter myself I have found that volunteering my time to worthy organisations can not only fill the gaps in our employment history, but also help build up our skills bank for when a job within chosen field becomes available. In the selected few job interviews I have attended recently, my voluntary activities have demonstrated to prospective employers that not only am I dedicated to work but I am serious about the field in which I want to develop my career and for me this is the compensation which drives me forward. In addition, my voluntary work has shown to my prospective employers my level of self-motivation, contributing to a work force which is diverse, fast-moving, rigorous and competitive.

In preparing for my career as a psychologist, volunteering with a diverse range of organisations has given me many important things. Firstly, it has provided me with a renewed and clear perspective for a career that is very involved and complicated. For me it was vital to obtain this form of real perspective in the field of psychology, the types of issues within the discipline, my co-workers and the environment in which I will be working. I have often asked myself, “Can I, as a person and as a trainee professional psychologist, see myself working in this environment and with this group of people?” The answer for me is yes.

I have enhanced my skills in areas such as communication, time management, team work and organisation which are not only transferable, they are uniquely applicable to the field in which I wish to pursue my career. Being a volunteer has meant that I develop these skills and learn the role at my own pace, at my own time without the pressure of targets, review meetings and performance appraisals. Oh the luxuries of volunteering!! There really is no real pressure to perform to what I believe is often an unrealistic standard for a new recruit and any incompetency’s or a lack of skills are addressed by the manager with enthusiasm to teach and develop rather than follow procedures. As a job hunter, I have found that volunteering has maintained my level of confidence and optimism. Very often, I have seen people’s level of confidence and self-esteem plummet during their job hunting due to unsuccessful applications however, much research as demonstrated that those who volunteer have a higher level of confidence than those who don’t. There is nearly no end to the ways in which an individual can learn and develop themselves while volunteering so long as they are willing to step outside of their comfort levels, look for adequate opportunities and try something new.

So my fellow job hunters, go ahead and volunteer, you never know you may just land yourself that dream job!

Boosting Mental Health and Well-being
We all know that volunteering provides the essential services to a wide range people who genuinely require them. But in addition to this, much research has demonstrated that volunteering also helps people manage their own mental health and well-being by receiving a genuine positive feeling for their contributions which is a commonly accepted fact.

Mental Health & Well-being

When one is slightly depressed, feeling down, lacks a form of motivation or is genuinely bored with their day-to-day activities, it is these positive and uplifting emotions generated from volunteering which over time can alleviate these negative and depressing feelings. They can also increase the individuals sense of hope, optimism, self-confidence, self-esteem and motivation. Furthermore, these positive feel-good emotions allow us to divert our mind from our own problems and issues for a short period of time, which in turn allows us to revisit them with a new, often optimistic and realistic perspective. For example, I have found that when I came face to face with the complex and long-term problems of another, I have been forced to reflect on my own life and circumstances which has made me realise that there are things in my life that I really should be more thankful for and not take for granted so much. Another example I have seen so often on the news is when volunteers are helping clear a town or city destroyed by a disaster, it has forced me to view my own standing house and town from a different more thankful perspective. When providing assistance to someone in a hospital or a nursing home has helped me to realise how fortunate I am for my own health and the small aliments I do have really are quite small compared to that of the many people I have come across who have conditions which are much more debilitating. During Christmas time, when serving food to the many homeless men and women has reminded me that my small wages are something to be appreciated. Never underestimate the power of helping others when attempting to deal with our own problems. 

Networking and Meeting New People.
What better way to boost your mental health and well-being than meeting and networking with like-minded individuals? Volunteering is a fantastic opportunity to meet like-minded individuals whom you may not otherwise have an opportunity to meet. It is this association with people who are vastly different from ourselves and our differing circumstances that provides us with a much deeper understanding of the world in which we reside, as well as ourselves. I have found that it is not just interacting, working and helping the service users, it’s also the staff and other volunteers with whom I have worked that has given me a host of new friends. Furthermore, I have found that through group collaboration when facing a challenging situation, or raising awareness on a mutual issue can be a very bonding experience from which I have learnt and shared experiences. Go ahead, you never know who you might meet in your ventures!

It’s Great Great Fun!!
Believe it or not volunteering can be a huge amount of fun, and it certainly isn’t restricted to assisting or supporting people who are ill or suffering and are desperately in need some form of support. There are a vast number of volunteering opportunities dedicated to recreational activities. For example, volunteering at a local school or preschool as say a sports coach gives an individual the opportunity to become a child again and provide the children with an opportunity to become more involved with sport. Also, assisting in a fair or other community event can allow you to be creative while contributing to a good cause.

Great Fun

My next venture is to possibly volunteer abroad with children with learning disabilities particularly in India and as a result I am hoping this experience will enable me to develop a better understanding of the diverse needs of people in other countries. I would also like to organise a charity concert for terminally ill patients both young and old and much much more. The list really is endless and there are numerous ways volunteering can lead to fun and exciting adventures which can suit a diverse range of audiences. Often the end result can be very satisfying when you observe that your client group or service users have genuinely and positively benefited from your event and contribution.

This is just a small sample of good reasons to get more involved in volunteering. As you can imagine, volunteering can really have a very profound effect on the individuals who regularly make this commitment and often most people who aren’t volunteering have no idea of its effects. One of the main reasons volunteering is so powerful is because people actually choose to do it rather than it being a compulsory part of their life. Volunteering is highly appreciated and it allows us to contribute, develop as well as give back to our communities in our own unique.  For me, it is the thrill of a new challenge and unique experience alongside the opportunity to make a difference where it really matters. I would say I’m a challenge junkie where I’m always looking to learn something and experience something new. I have a love for new places, new people and of course new voluntary opportunities.

So tell me what’s your voluntary experience? What made you want to volunteer?

Heavenly Daydream

If you could read my mind

you would realise the way I feel about you.

Moments and seconds of pure adoration,

adoration for you.

Feelings that you have thrown across my heart,

deep-felt wishes to be in your presence.

I long to be with you, hold you,

to feel you close to me.

Your voice soothing away the choking fears,

casting the tones for my daydreams,

dreams about the valleys and meadows of love.

Scattering the essence of the my thoughts,

one soft spoken word, a smile and I am lost,

lost in your world, floating in harmony.

You walked the pathway to my heart,

leaving footprints of engaging emotion.

Brittle footsteps of young love,

an inspiration to daily living.

On the breath of the wind I hear your name,

gently whispered by mother nature,

The care I feel, and the care that

I share for you is true. I trust you know this.

©PurpleMystique 2012