No Walls: No courage = No Victory

RE:  Richard  Armitage, British Actor @RCArmitage

Dear Richard,

It is of course your absolute right to choose what to write and what to delete on your timeline and I would always respect your choices and freedom of speech or lack of it, just as I hope others respect mine. I feel compelled however to express my deepest sadness to learn this morning that you have also deleted the very first tweet you sent to Mr Trump with the images of the Berlin wall and the #nowalls tag.

When I ponder on the Annals of History, I always end up with the same reflection: How many awful trends, atrocities and human suffering could have been avoided if only more people had been courageous enough to make their voices heard in the face of evil, greed and pride? I often imagine myself living in those episodes of history and try to honestly gage what I would have done in those situations; what I would do now, if a similar situation arose. This is a mental exercise I do often to pluck up the courage to speak up when I know it matters; when I know it counts. It is scary and it comes at a price, but I am not here to win a popularity contest. Life is too precious, too exquisite to simply settle for that. I guess, I do what I’d call a “John Proctor” drill. God knows this world is becoming an increasingly hostile place and the time may well come again for all of us to make such impossible choices.

I feel we are very much on the onset of such a situation, but as in previous chapters of history, for so many of us our attention is focused on all the wrong things, the trivial things, things of no real consequence to the wellness of humanity and this world in general. So many of us have become complacent and voyeurs in others’ lives whose reality is so much worse than our own and yet, we often dismiss it as not our problem. It is their life it affects after all, not ours.

The whole world is watching, because the whole world is looking for answers, the right answers. In a world where social media has such predominance and worldwide reception, it seems to me it is the optimum platform to make some waves which in turn create bigger waves that ultimately can pulverise some of these issues threatening the very delicate balance upon which our world stands today.

I was so elated when I saw you tweeted that hashtag to Mr Trump. It gave me hope that things can change; that there are those like yourself who act on their sense of responsibility to the wellness of those beyond ourselves, responsibility to stand up and be counted as another voice who is prepared to risk everything for a reality so much bigger than our own, and yet so intrinsic to our own. It blew me away to learn that someone of your popularity and following would have the courage and character to stand up to Mr Trump and speak up. After all, when I do so, I am not really risking all that much, or at least not yet, but for someone like you, there is much more at stake. The ripple that your wave will create is multiplied by the thousands, whilst mine may initially have some impact but soon dies away.

There are so many youngsters and adults even who wait by your side every single day, virtually anyway, to hear what you have to say or not say. So many completely at a loss as to what to make of what they see in the news and in their towns, on their doorstep. So many seeking direction from voices like yours, voices which belong to individuals that are already placed in a strategic spot to be able to change the course of events, to influence through their gifting, their work, their mere presence, the very fabric of history.

Perhaps I am mistaken and the ripples that your tweet to Mr Trump created are not as powerful as I believe them to have been, but I am certain that the effect of you taking that tweet down will be monumental. I fear that it will take the wind out of the sails of those who are inspired by and aspire to emulate the behaviour of the people they see as role models, exemplary, trust-worthy. Not to mention that Mr Trump’s following and anyone who is watching will regard it as a retreat. Another battle won. Let’s go on our merry way to win the whole war.

I do not sit here in judgement. How could I? I know nothing about your circumstances besides what we read in the media and what you put on twitter. You obviously have your reasons for your change of heart. I am no one to judge you one way or the other. As I said at the beginning, it is your absolute right to do as you will. I simply wanted to share my sadness this morning as one of the thousands of people who are inspired by your character, integrity and moral and social conscience, that you have retraced your steps on what I felt in my heart to be a gigantic leap of courage and extraordinary behaviour in this current climate of self-exultation, self-absorption and self-glorification, qualities which Mr Trump is the true champion of.

With my love always,

Mercedes Underwood

 

Is human creativity an attempt to reconnect with the reality we see with our spiritual eyes?

A friend kindly tweeted me yesterday a quote to encourage me in my writing, which said: “You write because there is fire in your bones. You have got to do this whether anybody ever reads it or not”.

Whilst I appreciated fully the sentiment with which she forwarded this tweet to me, I felt a great unease about the implication in that statement: whether one has an audience or not, one must write and use their writing as an outlet for that fire, that passion, that message, truth that lies deep within them. My reply to this kind lady was “Writing is an art form which makes us feel through another person’s creation. No artist creates something to keep it hidden, a gift must be shared”.

I don’t believe that those of us who feel the absolute need to be creative, be it through a painting, a poem, a novel, a drawing, a sculpture, a song, an instrument, a performance, can create with the same integrity, intent and vulnerability, if we are fully aware that there is no recipient to the art we create. Art stems from an undeniable need to communicate something to the rest of the world, be it for their benefit or our own. Yes, ultimately, as we create art, we experience a moment of reckoning with ourselves, our fears, our longings, our hope, our frustrations, but I believe that being able to create something is a privilege, a tremendous gift from above, an opportunity to reach others where direct words or even actions may fail. I believe that there is a purpose to every gift; there is a responsibility inherent to every talent. For isn’t it in the ability to create something new, something powerful, something way beyond our mundane existence, that as humans we are able to best connect with our spirituality, that side of us which is so mysterious, unexplored, that dimension which remains hidden and yet is so apparent, so beckoning, so vital to our existence and how we relate to the world around us and each other?

It is through art that we depart from the natural and we step into the supernatural; we leave a temporal, ephemeral reality and we take a chance into a world of dreams, hopes and endless possibilities; a world  where the optimum side of the human race fulfils its utmost potential and also a world where the most evil side of humanity is fully realised and visualised too. Art gives us the opportunity to take a glimpse of heaven as well as hell and as we undertake that journey, be it as the artist or the person who explores that work of art, we are able to connect with, explore and develop our innermost self, our own tendencies towards good or evil or both as is the case for most of us.

I am fully persuaded that creativity is a gift and as with every gift, with every good thing, its goodness and worth increases a hundred fold, if we are able to share it with others, if we offer it to others so that they too have access to that other dimension which is so elusive and at the same time so present in all of us. I cannot imagine an actor who would perform to an empty theatre, or a painter whose work gets exhibited in a room which is always empty just as I cannot comprehend the notion of a writer who puts his heart out on a piece of paper for all to see, only he is also expected to bear his soul with the same intensity and passion where there is not a  single witness to benefit from such an introspective and didactic encounter.

Getting back to the quote at the beginning of this post, yes, I write because there is fire in my bones. I write because I feel called to do so. I write because it is in being able to create something outside of myself, which can only be attributed to myself, that I feel most akin, and closest to the God who created me, who put that fire in me in the first place. Perhaps it is worth considering for those who are believers and maybe more so for those who are not, that creativity is the vessel which allows us to break the boundaries of time, place, matter, proof and knowledge, for as we create we reach out into another world, a world where we can give free rein to that inner voice that whispers to us in the quiet of night, and the buzzle of daytime: we are called to a different existence: something more grandiose, something more beautiful, more perfect, more free.

It is almost as if lying deep within all of us there is knowledge of a far superior reality we feel called to fulfil and aspire to, and that knowledge cannot be suppressed no matter how hard we try to deny it in our everyday living. It has to surface somehow. Art is like bubbling magma under the surface fully aware that its sole purpose is to eventually burst out with uncontrollable magnitude into the surface and annihilate with it the certainty of anything that exists and is secure up to that point. Creativity challenges all of us from what we know into a world of what we might suspect exists but refuse to accept.

 

 

WHERE DID MY TRUE SELF GO?

The end of a year is always a good place to reflect upon where one’s life is at and where it is heading. My problem is that being a thinker is an intrinsic and essential part of who I am . I think too much, too deep, too often. Can’t be helped! When you meditate on things as often and as deeply as I do, you come to realise that when certain thoughts and ideas keep creeping up is because they need to be considered and acted upon, or else they will haunt you and be forever present as painful reminders of your lack of courage and the hope deferred of what could have potentially been a much more fulfilling, purposeful life. There is something in our consciousness, in our spirit that acts like the rudder of our life. We are the ones turning the rudder but ultimately it is most definitely not us at the helm, or at least that is my own personal experience. I am under no false illusion that I direct my steps, but at the end I would like to think that I was able to at least recognise and act wisely, intuitively on those moments in life when I encountered a junction on the road or when a seemingly accidental curve ball was thrown my way to force me into jumping one way or another, to make a choice, to push forward without fear or coercion.

Perhaps what I have been experiencing in these last few months is nothing more than a mid-life crisis; a point in one’s life when you take stock and ponder on all the what-ifs, all the alternative paths one could have taken or may yet still need to take. It is a cliché to state that in the midst of investing one’s life in raising a family and cultivating a marriage with solid roots; in living sacrificially by putting everyone else’s happiness before your own, one can easily loose their identity and simply be identified as the link that keeps different chains together, be it family, work or relationships. Cliché or not, I have most definitely found this is true in my own life.

The recurrent thought or voice echoing on my head as of late has been saying: “Stop hiding behind what you are good at, what is familiar, and go on the journey to discover what it is you are destined to be, what it is you are meant to excel at. Go on a journey of self-discovery. Put for once in your life yourself first and discover what it is that you were made for, what makes your heart sing. I have spent so many years putting everyone else’s needs before my own that I am beginning to feel that my voice, the essence of who I am has got lost in the midst of life’s demands; my voice has been drowned out by those whose voices matter most or so I thought.

I know this will sound heartless and self-absorbed, but I am all about being honest to others and primarily to myself, and so I call it as I see it. Yes, I must say it: I would like to wake up tomorrow and not feel the ongoing, relentless, unforgiving burden of being a mum, a wife, a sister, a daughter or a friend. I want to know what it feels like to be truly free, free from a heavy sense of responsibility, free from the yoke of religion, education, history, expectations and promises, free from the oppressive sense that our life is all panned out for us; from the predictability of what is to come; the barrenness of what will never be. I long for my chains to be broken so that I can walk forward with only one thought in mind: How can I best use my personality, my knowledge and my gifting to be able to claim when it is all said and done that I have lived my life fully, without reservations, fear or regrets; that I have always been true to myself, pursued my truth and no one else’s?

Every fibre of my being assures me that I was meant for more than what I am today, than what I have achieved so far, and I am not talking about a reputation, fame or material success. I am referring solely to a place where my life will finally reach its purpose and full meaning; a point where I can assuredly say: “I have arrived”; a point where there will be no more internal turmoil, wrestling or strife. Perhaps such a place doesn’t exist, but why then be tormented by a void within that no one and nothing can fill? I know I am not alone in feeling this. When you move in Christian circles, you are told that only God can fill that void, but God’s presence is ever beating in my life and yet that void, that call to something more meaningful not only remains but rings louder and clearer each time.

I do not regret the path I have chosen, far from it, but I do not want to resent it because it stopped me from finding out who I am besides Mercedes the mother, the daughter, the sister, the wife. There is so, so much potential in all of us to do extraordinary things. I do not want to short-change myself by hiding behind what it is I am expected to be doing instead of braving it and embarking on the quest of finding what I was truly made to be. I know that longing I feel burning inside of me is a seed that has been planted in my soul. I did not put it there. To ignore that latent undeniable inner call that incites us to discover what is yet to be achieved, what is yet to be fulfilled is to clip the wings of a bald eagle and expect it to still dazzle us with its majestic presence and skill.

There must be more than this. I know there is!

Seeds planted deep into our DNA were meant to grow into fruitful mighty trees

Screenshot (757)Screenshot (758)Dear Richard,

Your Christmas message on twitter moved me so deeply and struck a vulnerable chord in the fabric of my being. I am a foreigner living in the UK. In the current climate, not a day goes by when I don’t give thanks for the opportunity to live in a country which is not my own, to have been welcomed with open arms and to be able to immerse myself in another culture, learn and hopefully give something back too. My folks are all in Spain and though I do not see them as often as I wish to, this is due to the life I chose and not a set of depleting circumstances forced upon me, beyond my control. To think that things could so easily change and I could be forced out from my own home, family, friends and livelihood here in the UK shakes me up to the core.

I miss my large family back in Spain terribly at times but I am blessed and lucky enough to be able to get on a plane at the drop of a hat and go and see them, just like you do. I cannot even begin to fathom what it must be like to feel such terror and threat of staying in your own home that you feel you have no other choice but to drop everything and everyone and flee for your life into the unknown and sadly sometimes into a worse fate than the alternative.

I was out at a Christmas party on Friday night and there I chatted to a Belgian guy who visited Syria many years ago. He told me about this stunningly beautiful country where people used to enjoy the affluence you speak off. Many lived in villas with swimming pools and enjoyed the luxuries and comfort that so many of us take for granted and feel a sense of entitlement to in the West today. And then he told me about the Evil that hit and tore this country apart, the rapes, the violence, the cruelty, the utter annihilation that has engulfed this nation. These people and anyone fleeing their own countries are no more deserving of this hell on earth than you and I, but they sure deserve our compassion and empathy, our love and support. It could just as easily be us having to face, for whatever reason, displacement from our homes and a total alienation from or being robbed off the life that we have always known and enjoyed. Suggesting closing our doors, borders and hearts to those in need is not progress but regressing into a mentality of the survival of the strongest, where the humane part of us is gobbled up by our animal instincts. It is regressing into a primitive state of ignorance and savagery, of dominance and control, a state of staleness and blind spots where cultures and races can no longer learn from each other and enrich each other’s points of view and gifting, be it intellectual, artistic, or even humanitarian. Closing our borders, hearts and minds is regressing back into chapters in history of oppression, annihilation, fear, dominance, holocaust, suspicion and stagnation, creating the perfect environment for yet more radical and extreme individuals to thrive in and take away the core values so many fought so valiantly and sacrificed so much to give us today.

Richard, you are absolutely right. Who are we to judge who can and cannot have what we enjoy every single day? What sets us apart from others to feel with such pride that we’ve earned a life of freedom, civil rights, choice and affluence? Absolutely nought. What makes us so darn special and sets us apart from those who live in the Kibera Slums of Nairobi or the Favelas of Brazil, those who are persecuted for their faith or discriminated against because of their race or religion? Absolutely nought! It is mere chance that has placed each and every one of us in the place we live in, to be born within a particular race or colour and to be brought up to be guided by a certain creed. To think otherwise is to lead humanity into a dangerous downward spiral of selfishness, self-centeredness, narrow-mindednes, greed and success at the expense of innocent people’s suffering and destruction; the most despicable legacy or lack of anyone could leave behind.

There is, however, a point in which I wholeheartedly disagree with you. Your profession as an actor not only does not automatically discount you from voicing your opinion in these matters, but rather places a heavy responsibility on you to do so. Whether you recognise it or not your celebrity status, your reputation and outstanding work as an artist precedes you and makes you into an exemplary role model to thousands of people out there. You have an exclusive and unique platform to not only vent your opinions but to stand up and be counted as a person who will use their influence and global presence to make a vital difference in the course of events in this turbulent world we live in. God forbid we leave the fate of this planet solely to politicians. It is specially people like you who through artistry but also through the multitudinous following you enjoy in today’s most powerful tool, social media, can actively fight the threat posed by the far right views you refer to and challenge the views and opinions of those who blinded by their own egos and agendas are willing to sell their soul to the highest bidder, even when that means putting at risk the lives of millions of innocent individuals.

My wish for this Christmas and indeed for the year ahead is a wish for more courageous men and women like you in advantageous and strategic places in society to follow their true calling or the fire in their belly, the flame that burns within at the core of their being to come forth and challenge relentlessly radical and extremists views at the hands of those who can do the most damage to democratic multi-culturally, intellectually and artistically rich and vibrant societies. I am a great believer in investing my life in exploring and pursuing without fear those little nudges we all get, the quiet small voice in our head that is telling us to push forward in certain areas, to go beyond what we are good at and into what ignites us, what we are most passionate and uncompromising about. Everything about you, starting with the name you have been given, shouts out leadership, righteousness, courage, sincerity and above all an incandescent and latent social and moral consciousness, an unwavering determination to fight for what is right. Yes, you are an actor, but I see another side of you coming through, striving to make itself heard, burning up in everything you do and say. I see a man with remarkable, exceptional qualities, qualities which are not only required but which are essential to fight the good fight, to fight to the end for the things that truly matter in this precarious world we live in.

 May the force be with you! God knows I am.

With love,

Mercedes

Celebrity Culture is the most inexcusable form of ignorance

In an age where Social Media is King, personal interaction and family values have become the next casualty in a long line of species which have and are becoming extinct. Celebrities have become our God. As long as the distance between them and us is kept, so is their perfection and inability to do wrong in our eyes. We live in a world full of awe, mystery and wonder. We find ourselves right at the centre of it, and yet we are utterly lost, confused as to what is our purpose, the meaning of our endless toil and weariness throughout our brief lifetime in a vast expanse of infinite, glorious space and time. We spend our life desperately looking for answers in all the wrong things; we pursue happiness through all the wrong avenues. Yes, some do make the journey slightly more bearable for a time: alcohol, drugs, money, sex, you name it, but after the hysteria and adrenaline ebb away, after each binge, comes an even bigger fall, a deeper pit we struggle to get out of, as we come once again face to face with the bottom-line realisation that we are flawed and in desperate need of rescuing.

And so having tried all the usual avenues for a quick fix and despite the fact that history has taught us time and time again that all these paths lead nowhere, like dogs we go back to our vomit; we become suckers for punishment, and then we pridefully pat ourselves on the back and remind ourselves and each other that it is our intelligence that sets us apart from the animal kingdom. Something is different today, though. We have gone from an age of Theism, Agnosticism, Atheism, etc. to the worst and most SELF-DESTRUCTIVE alternative: Discarding the logic possibility that a God could have made us into His own image and believing instead the nonsensical illusion that it is us who can make Gods in our own image and be sustained, rescued and healed by them.

And so it began, an Era where we no longer entertain the possibility of a Superior Being, a spiritual reality which has brought about the heavens, the earth and everything that is in it. Instead, we use our superior intellect to come up with the alternative of making Gods of other people, venerating them and putting them on a pedestal. So long as these celebrities remain distant and out of reach, we can sustain the illusion that it is they who define the optimum state of being that any human can aspire to: to be successful, internationally recognised, to look aesthetically pleasing, to have charisma, sex appeal, do good deeds, champion a cause or dip in an out of altruistic pursuit often enough to sustain the lie that their life is more selfless, worthy of recognition or called to a higher purpose than that of the rest of us mere mortals.

Social Media lends itself perfectly as the optimum medium, the ideal environment which  can turn celebrities into our own personal Gods with the mere click of a button. But let’s remind ourselves at this point that those of us who look up to and even adore celebrities are not the only culpable party in this sad and cancerous fallacy. Celebrities for the most part willingly feed and thrive in this lifeline that evolution and technological progress has handed to them. Yes, there are many whose reputation precedes them for their dignity, honesty, hard work, dedication and commitment to their craft, but these values are not present to any lesser degree in a mum who dedicates her life to sacrificially giving of herself to her children, or a husband who sacrificially commits to making his marriage a success. I could give you a thousand examples of “everyday” people, faceless individuals whose lives are full of honour, dedication, hard-work and sacrifice, but the difference being that what they do is done in secret, without expecting anything back, or assuming a self-righteous sense of entitlement to special treatment by the rest of us. These faceless individuals are the true unsung heroes of our time, the real human beings who live with purpose, whose unassuming presence and unapparent progress causes invisible ripples of transformation and goodness which ultimately make our world a better place.

What is the number one criteria which defines a God? Perfection. Our human intellect and life itself give us enough proof that no human being is perfect, but add to the mix the convenient ingredient of creating a virtual reality, a cloud where the only acceptable currency is “make believe and having more than a hundred thousand followers”, and presto you can produce a God out of any celebrity in a matter of seconds. Furthermore, celebrities can keep that God image alive infinitely by intervening in the proceedings every once in a while and feeding their devoted worshippers the next delicious morsel by way of a twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. entry, which will keep them loyal and prevent them from becoming defiant until the next time. How easy it is to help others put us on a pedestal when we create a safe distance where no one has access to who we really are behind closed doors, to who we really are when no one is looking or reading. How easy it is to appear humble, focused, committed and dedicated to a higher cause than our own success and development, when we don’t have to surrender anything, make any personal sacrifices, or give any of our choices and everyday luxuries up in order for that to happen. Simply retweet a link to a charitable cause or endorse someone else’s altruistic work and let the thousands of followers/worshippers reach into their pocket and do the rest for you , raise that much needed profile, reputation and awareness across the earth in a matter of seconds; raise the millions needed to bring action to desperate places and people with the click of a button and get all the credit and further veneration from your loyal subjects.

The longer a celebrity can sustain their mysterious aura, that manufactured image which followers are desperate to trust and believe as real, the more their Godly status will be enhanced and accepted, and how can one do this? By cleverly marketing themselves and surrounding themselves with smart PR companies who know what sells and how to sell it. Study your target market carefully, what your fans crave for and then just feed them exactly that, never letting them see WHO truly lies at the core of that illusion they have created and which you have done nothing to dissipate: a flawed human being in search of answers to deep existential questions just as much as you and I, an imperfect being on an unending quest for love and acceptance as much as the next ordinary person.

This Celebrity Culture however, sustained by the elusiveness and lack of accountability propitiated by social media, is doomed to self-destruct from the onset, for even those celebrities turned into Gods can’t live up to other people’s unattainable expectations, and inevitably they trip and fall along the way, just like the rest of us do. Some can hide it better than others, but nothing truly goes unseen or unheard any more in this electronic world we live in; in this Big Brother existence we lead. Many celebrities create an image of humility, integrity, consistency, goodness and selflessness, of living for others and not themselves but soon enough thousands of shreds of evidence to the contrary circulate globally. They paint themselves in a particular light but a picture here or a quote there betrays their secret and their chimera no longer stands.

And so it finally dawns on us that being a celebrity is not all it is cracked up to be; that celebrities have earned the right to look at the rest of us from up high on their lofty pedestals on no other grounds than because we were weak and ignorant enough to put them there.

SIGNS AND WONDERS ARE ALL AROUND US – PART 3

Our holiday certainly got off to a very interesting start. Approximately 10 hours after our wonderful but altogether spooky encounter with Martin Freeman at Heathrow airport, we touched down on North American soil, and what a soil that is. It saddens me greatly that having witnessed such glorious landscapes and communities with such diverse and heroic provenance, America’s presence in today’s world news is dominated by gun crime occurrences and senseless killings.

The flight from London to Denver was rather uneventful which is always a welcome state of affairs, bearing in mind hundreds of people are completely at the mercy of technology and the skill, competence and work ethic of the two men or women at the helm. Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning that as another little bit of encouragement sent my way was the presence of a third pilot who was sitting with his family right next to us on the plane. In the mind of a person who is a nervous flyer, two pilots are better than one but having three pilots on board is even better than two.

I cannot go into detail about every single place we stopped at during our road trip. We covered over 3,000km by car and so I will only mention my highlights, those moments during which the signs and wonders that stand before you help you regain that much-needed sense of perspective which we often neglect as we bear the burden of everyday life’s concerns and responsibilities.

I have always been very intrigued by the journey of the pioneers across North America; I have always been stunned by their courage and boldness to abandon everything they knew to go chasing the unknown, chasing their dreams of a better life. This fascination of mine became even more poignant when I discovered a few years back that my own great-grandfather left the Basque Country in the North of Spain and travelled to San Francisco, California, in 1907, for these very same reasons and with this very same adventurous spirit which perhaps as for so many, was born out of an asphyxiating sense of desperation. It seems my great grandfather’s gamble paid off and he spent 40 years of his life in the States, returning to Spain at the end of his life with a small fortune and plenty of stories to be passed down the generations.

I knew that though he arrived in California, he spent most of the 40 years in Idaho and so my family and I agreed beforehand that Idaho was a definite point of interest during our road trip. Having had a good night sleep, we woke up the next morning full of anticipation at the prospect of finally setting foot on some of the many spots in the States recognised as places of natural outstanding beauty. And so our adventure set off from Colorado Springs. Amongst various fascinating places where you could almost smell the dust and hardship of the old settlements, we came across a gem named “The Garden of the Gods”, a natural park filled with the most awe-inspiring and striking rock formations. It seems many of the native American tribes had a great spiritual connection to this place and it is easy to understand why. It is an incredibly dramatic landscape as it is unique. The beautifully red sculpturesque and monumental rock formations were not the only signs we encountered in the park, however. No sooner we got out of our car, this uncanny sign welcomed us:

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The image of a snake is full with symbolism and meaning for a Christian at any time, but context is everything and seeing that sign at that moment in time automatically brought it to life for me. I always look for meaning in things beyond the obvious and what easily appears to the naked eye, and so this translated for me as a gentle and ironic reminder that in life we tend to be safe, if we stay on the beaten track, but step out of it, and you will have to deal with those whose turf you are invading or threatening to bring change to. A lesson we all do well to learn in everyday living. I have to look no further than my own social media experience just prior to this trip. Everybody talks about the value of free speech and how wonderful democracy is, but dare to challenge the status quo, to go against what a fierce majority are saying about any particular subject and you might aswell have begged for World War 3 to start, because retaliation will come your way regardless of whether you deserve it or not.

I leave you for now with some images from the Garden of the Gods.

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WOULD YOU PLEASE SUPPORT ME IN RAISING MONEY FOR CANCER RESEARCH? UPDATE

Just wanted to leave an update here on how I am getting on with my Dryathlon to raise funds for Cancer Research. This is my first ever fundraiser. Please don’t think I am in the habit of asking people for donations. It is not in my nature to ask people for anything, so I embark on this plea with much apprehension and fully aware of how irritating it can be to be made to feel like you are not worth your salt unless you part with your cash to support the millions of amazing charitable causes happening today all around the planet.

I am not the adventurous type or maybe I am, but perhaps not in the thrill-seeking sense that motivates so many to challenge themselves with mammoth tasks such as triathlons, marathons, mountain climbing, parachuting and the like. My courage and adventurous spirit are definitely there but shape up in a much more “behind the scenes”, “mingling in the background”, demure way. I am an introvert and don’t fare well at all when I mingle with lots of people all at once or when the limelight is on me, so seen but not heard is how I like to do things, at least when it comes to my achievements. If you have been reading this blog for a while you will know that with regards to my convictions and the principles I stand by, I make a point of being heard or at least of trying to. Some things are just too important, too essential to who I am to succumb to holding back for the sake of peace keeping and compromise.

I am really pleased to say that so far I have raised, including gift aid, a total of £400. Not bad for a month of giving up alcohol, but I know I can do better, and so I have now upped the ante and committed to giving up alcohol for three months if I reach £500 and for 6 months if I raise £1000, which means I may have an alcohol-free Christmas and that is going to be the toughest challenge of all.

I realise when you compare my challenge with the mighty physical and mental battles others take on for charity, what I am doing is nothing to shout about, but I am a great believer in small beginnings and humble efforts. I am convinced that if every single person who is able, used what they have to improve another person’s life, be it directly or indirectly, this world would be a much more balanced and healthy place.

Besides, it is not just cancer which affects so many of us but alcoholism too. You must be wondering at this point whether I am an alcoholic myself. No, I am not, but I do like my wine and if it wasn’t for the grace of God, I could easily be one. I am doing this as a change in my personal lifestyle, but much more so in honour and remembrance of those whose life has been lost to either of these two awful illnesses or to those whose life has been affected in some detrimental way by them.

I hope that if you fall into either category and can spare some change, you can make a donation no matter how small. Who knows? If I was to reach £1000, I may have to consider remaining apart from my dear old friends Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for even a year. Now, that would be a Marathon worth shouting about, wouldn’t it?

Cancer and alcoholism have been in the scene for far too long. I’d say they have definitely overstayed their welcome. Will you stand with me to bid them farewell? If you are a bit cynical and are thinking right now: That will never happen just as “The poor will always be with us..”, I put it to you:

“Where there is no vision, the people perish…”

http://www.justgiving.com/Mercedes-Underwood-dryathlete2015