Saturday, November 30, 2013

It's all just stuff

Apparently in the States there's a thing called Black Friday, and it comes after Thanksgiving. Now being Australian I don't do Thanksgiving - or Black Friday. In fact when Amazon started sending me emails about it I was baffled because the only Black Friday I knew of was Friday the 13th and it wasn't that. I had to do a little research to figure it out - really I should just have paid closer attention to my Facebook news feed... Anyway it would appear to be like the Boxing Day sales. I'm not a real fan of those, and from the blog posts and various status posts on Facebook I'm guessing a lot of people are not a big fan of Black Friday.

But a lot are, I've seen pictures of people camping out to be ready for the doors' opening. I know there are people who genuinely need specific items and sale days like these are the way to get them at an affordable price. But I also know (because I work in retail) that a lot of stores mark up items and then mark them down, giving the illusion of a great bargain when in fact it probably isn't so great. Or they mark down items that are not good sellers to get rid of them in a rush of eager customers.

I do think that if I really truly needed a specific item and a sale like this was the only way I could afford it, I would probably go - although I totally would not camp out. However in general I have issues with these sales and not just because I don't like crowds. They seem to me to promote greed in the general public, and not only that, they perpetuate the modern myth that stuff will make a person happy.

For sure a nice wardrobe of clothes and shoes (and she confirms that yes she is a girl), a nice house full of nice furniture and knick-knacks, cool electrical gizmos, a flash car - whatever it is that makes your heart beat a little faster - those things are great. But they are only things. Buying them, owning them, may give you a rush of endorphins. But they are just stuff. If you are desperately ill are you going to want your new shoes to comfort you? If you lose a loved one, will that flash car help you to smile again? I know some of us have intense love affairs with inanimate objects but really it's a one sided love affair - the shoes, car, jewellery, they have no emotions. They are just stuff.

We need the essentials of life of course, yet there are many millions of people who do not have even the most basic of essentials. They don't need stuff, they need a roof over their heads, clothes on their bodies and food in their bellies. They need the basics while we are overflowing with stuff. Getting caught up on the conveyor belt of collecting stuff is a trap. Got the iphone 5? Now there is the iphone 5C and 5S. Will you upgrade or keep the 5? Got the latest model whatever car floats your boat? But next year will be a new model - what to do? This society is driven by consumerism - nothing new, you knew that already. But you don't have to subscribe to it. It's easy to lose your way in the excitement of new stuff, it's easy to lose yourself a little.

It feels great to buy something new, but it's a little like a drug to some and the only way to get another hit is to buy something else, and more and more. Stuff becomes the focus of life instead of just nice window dressing. And that's what stuff is, window dressing. Sure our clothes, our houses, our decoration choices give an indicator to who we are. It's a way of personalising our space and our bodies, maybe to blend in, maybe to make a statement. It's nice to have but we don't need to keep on buying. That is the consumer myth that keeps the western world afloat financially (more or less). Buy, buy, buy.

I'm as guilty as the next person of collecting stuff, clothes and shoes mainly. Teacups were another passion, so beautiful. But how many teacups can you drink tea from? And is there really any point to having new clothes all the time? It feels good to get new stuff, but the more you get the more desensitised you become, and the more you need to feel good. Just like a drug, you need more and more to have the same feelings of happiness. And around and around you go, a mouse on a wheel. Just ask any celebrity with an empty inner life and a full closet.

Stuff is not the way to be happy. Stuff is just stuff, cluttering up your house, cluttering up your life. When I did my big life changing thing, I realised this stuff -  clothes and shoes and teacups - it's just inanimate objects. They didn't make me happy, they gave me momentary pleasure for sure but it didn't last. I had to look inside myself to find myself again. I had to look deep and find the things that really make me happy.

I did a lot of soul searching. As I said in my last blog, to attract a good person and a good life, you first have to learn to love yourself and that is pretty damned hard for a lot of us - me included. To be happy with yourself, to like yourself and to love yourself (not always the same thing) is the first step towards finding happiness in life. When you change yourself everything around you changes too. Better people come into your life, you start believing you deserve happiness, and you start to value yourself.

Find your passion, and then allow yourself to fulfil it. For me, that means writing. It means that I write even though right now I'm not making much money from it. I'm not making a living as yet although I believe that I will. But I am writing because that is my passion and that makes me feel fulfilled, content and happy. I have had to allow myself to follow this dream. I have had to give myself permission to do what makes me happy instead of what others want me to do. It was surprisingly difficult to let myself sit down and write each day instead of doing something more productive - as a former partner once said to me (do something more productive, not follow my dream I mean).

And now that I'm writing, and I took that huge step without a parachute and I am pursuing the life I want instead of the one other people think I should have - I don't have a need for stuff. The rush that I used to get from new things I now get from within when I write, and from when I take the steps required to begin my new life. I see things in the stores and I think they are lovely, but I no longer feel the desire to buy them and bring them home. In fact I've been de-cluttering the house. I'm getting rid of clothes, shoes, knick-kacks - stuff. I'm slowly emptying the house and my life of things that are not necessary.

This is not to say I'm getting rid of everything and planning to become a Puritan. I am keeping certain things (such as a coffee maker) that make life easier, things that do give me pleasure like a few of my teacups that I really do love. But I'm simplifying my life and my possessions. We don't need an excess of possessions, just enough.

What we do need comes not from stuff, it comes from learning to be happy with who we are. It comes from trying each day to be an improved version of who we were yesterday. It comes from following our instincts, finding our dream and our passion and pursuing it. It comes from love - love in all avenues of life and in all forms. It comes from finding pleasure in the little things like a beautiful flower or a cat purring on your lap. It comes from a myriad of things that are not in any way connected to stuff. The happiest people are not the ones with the most stuff, they are the ones who are content with who they are and where they are in life.

You, you reading this, (and by the way thanks for reading this!), you owe it to yourself to find your passion and follow it. Follow your instincts, listen to your heart - really listen. Find what it is within you that gives you joy and follow it. Don't drown yourself in stuff, look past that. You are not the sum of the stuff you buy. You are an individual with your own purpose in this life - find it and do it and you will find your joy. And get rid of some of that stuff!

Sunday, November 24, 2013


So ok, it's a subject done to death, love. Songs, poetry, books, movies, essays, blogs. And I'm probably not going to add anything new. Well for sure I'm not going to add anything new. Love has been discussed, debated, rationalised, scientifically identified as a chemical reaction etc etc etc. So I can't add anything new, I can only give my perspective.

Love of course is very individual, and there are many many forms and variations. Some people feel more deeply than others, some perhaps feel too deeply (hello obsessed stalkers of the world!). Some forms of love may perhaps more rightly be called obsession, a crush, an addiction even. But to the people feeling the emotion, it is simply love. It may be romantic love - that's the type most talked about. But of course all love is important, love is the most important, purest emotion in the world. With love nobody would be motivated to help others because without love, how could one feel empathy? This world would be a sad, bad and evil place without love. So love exists in all of our lives - love for God, love for family, friends, pets, a good book, an awesome pair of shoes. The good feeling engendered by love gives a rush - you can get it from that awesome pair of shoes, from your dog greeting you excitedly when you come home. You get it from many sources and that is because love is everywhere in this world.

Romantic love is the subject of most writings of course. Romantic love can give such highs and lows, like a roller coaster. Unrequited love is painful, love gone wrong is painful; love given and returned can be heaven on earth. Love shapes us, defines us, directs us. As children we love our parents unconditionally, we love our pets unconditionally too. And those pets inevitably die and we are devastated. I remember still the shock and pain I felt when I was a child and my first cat died. She was named with great imagination 'Mumma Cat' for the simple reason that she was always a mother, giving birth to litters of kittens with the regularity of a rabbit instead of a cat (and sometimes having those kittens on my bed, something I was thrilled about and didn't understand at the time why my mother was less than thrilled). My Mumma Cat eventually was spayed and she died on the operating table. I was completely inconsolable.

The loss of things we love as children, such as our pets if we are lucky - because if we are not lucky that loss is of a person - helps us to develop coping strategies for grief because the downside of love of course is grief. Inevitably there will be times when that which we love, be it person or pet or relationship, dies. It is devastating no matter what age you are. It is devastating if it is a person, also if it is a pet. Adult or child, grief is paralysing. The death of a relationship, friendship or romantic is also paralysing. One goes through stages of grief with the death of a loved one be it person or pet and one goes through similar stages at the death of a relationship. It is hard to say goodbye to what you had, what you were, who you were within that relationship.

But I digress. Love, in all its forms, shapes us all. Love of a friend, of a pet, of a child, of a parent, love of a partner - they enrich our lives. Love can never be wrong. What we do in the name of love can be wrong - but that is an individual reaction, a complex thing that must be tracked back through life to find the cause of the desire to commit murder, or other crime in the name of love. Jealousy of course is a part of love. We want to keep the one we love to ourselves, we want them to love only us, we think we might lose them to another. It's natural and normal and even healthy. I am of course talking about healthy jealousy in a healthy relationship.

Unhealthy relationships - we have all had them. We are all flawed and sometimes that shows in the choices we make in relationships. Life and love is a learning process. We learn to be a better person as we go through life. We learn to love the way we should also. As we grow and mature, so the love we feel is more giving, deeper and truer. This is so with all forms of love. The more we grow and develop as people, the truer the love we feel. And the most important love of all? It's not romantic love, it's the love of self.

Without loving ourselves, how can we love others? How can we be treated with kindness, thoughtfulness, respect and love if we don't love ourselves. We can't, and we choose partners who will not give us those things. We do it because we think it is all we deserve. The only way to break that cycle is to look at ourselves, learn ourselves, be kind to ourselves, forgive ourselves and love ourselves. Then and only then will we find the romantic relationship we want and deserve. Then and only then will we be able to give and receive true and pure love.

So, homework. Yep, homework. Go look in a mirror, look at yourself, truly look at yourself and tell yourself "I am growing to be a better person every day. I am already a good person. I am beautiful/handsome just as I am. I am worthy of love and I love myself because I am loveable. I believe in me." Don't feel like an idiot, do it and believe it. You can change your life when you believe in yourself and think positive thoughts about yourself. We are all guilty of thinking we are deficient in some way, not worthy of good things or good people. What we believe is what we get. Change how you think about yourself, change your attitude to yourself and to life. Believe in yourself and believe you are worth good things and good things and good people will happen. Believe me, it really works, I speak from experience here :) Try it, Cut yourself some slack, be kind to yourself, love yourself (I don't mean develop a sense of entitlement and think the world revolves around you - it totally doesn't, but love yourself the way you want to be loved) and your world will change.

Three pics again today - as to the last one, I assume you all change your underwear, it's the first two to look at ;)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sheryl gets deep and meaningful

I have two things to write about today, and I've started writing to see which one my fingers choose. Having just returned to this country yesterday I am severely jetlagged and struggling with the heat as well, so I'm not even sure if I can write a coherent post - let's see shall we? Note - totally failed at the coherent post. Instead I fell asleep and it is now three days later... (no, I haven't slept for three days!)

A long time ago, when I was small, things happened to me that shaped the person I became as an adult. This is true of everyone of course, not just me. However today's post is about me! As a child I learned coping mechanisms that were useful at the time, but things learned like that tend to stay with us throughout our lives.

One of my coping mechanisms was to be a chameleon - not that I changed my skin tone or anything like that. What I did was to modify my behaviour to suit the people I was with at the time. Again, this is true of all of us to some degree, however I excelled at becoming variations on myself. Who I was depended on what the people around me wanted me to be. As a coping mechanism it was great; if you are being what others want you to be, you exhibit similar qualities, blend in, become invisible.

However I did this all of my life, modifying my behaviour, modifying myself, to fit into whichever environment I was in at the time. Doing that meant that I never ever learned who I really am. I was like an actor, playing a role for however long I needed to and then going on to play another. They were all variations of me, just adjusted and pruned to suit. But I was never simply myself, mainly because I just didn't know who I was. I didn't go through the process of learning myself in my teen years as others (so I've been told) do. I was too busy blending in.

People like that, people like me, can go a very long time never knowing a real sense of self. And one of the repercussions of that is that people like me don't have a dream to follow or personal needs and wants. If you don't know who you really are, how are you going to know what you really want out of life? In my case, I played my roles, did whatever was required of me. This is not to say I did not enjoy playing these roles; in every incarnation of me there was happiness and satisfaction. But I was a two dimensional person. I never had any wants or needs of my own, only an extension of what the people around me wanted.

I didn't even know that until someone asked me what did I want from my life - my life, not other peoples. I had no clue, none at all. When I took away the wants and the needs of the people in my life, I realised what I had thought were my own desires were in fact what I thought the people around me wanted me to have. All I did was reflect off those around me; I wasn't a fully three dimensional person at all, even though I thought I was. So I decided to try to be myself, to learn myself and stay true to myself.

The problem with trying to learn oneself and showing that self to others is that they are probably not going to like it. Why would they, when the person they know is the one they prefer - much easier to get on with. And then a person like me, with no real sense of self and no sense of being entitled to any wants and needs - that person thinks "Hey, I'm not a nice person, they don't want who I really am, better go back to the person they like." And so it goes on, but as I learned, eventually there will come a catalyst and change will occur.

Change, that thing I'm not good at, loss of control, that other thing I'm not good at. Another aspect of my coping mechanisms was a brilliant ability to repress bad memories and cut off the feelings they engendered - stuff the whole thing into an internal box and slam and lock the lid. The problem with that though is that it is unstable, like a dormant volcano. It only takes a trigger and the whole thing will explode. My trigger went off and my internal volcano exploded, and just like a real volcano the ash and lava in my soul took years to clear. It was a cathartic process but very painful and the repercussions were like ripples on a pond, ever expanding into all aspects of my life.

This is one of the reasons why I keep on falling into that black hole.  Learning to let go of who I thought I was and finding who I really am, that is painful. Facing painful memories and letting them go, that is painful too. It is a grieving process, for the child who was hurt and for the adult who is still feeling that pain. I'm resistant to change and I try to keep control of the things and the people around me partly because in my childhood change was forced upon me; I had no control over what happened to me and it was not good.

But I hide behind that resistance to change, that attempt to control people and events. It's scary as I have said before to take that leap into the future without a net. But it's also the first time I have really truly felt alive, and I have let myself be exactly who I am. I haven't tried to make myself into a suitable variation of me, I have found the courage to be me - faults, foolishness and all.

In my life there have been exactly two people with whom I have felt safe and have been just myself. One of those is my sister (she's probably surprised at that). The other knows already. These two people have given me the courage to let go of my past, to let go of the pain, to finish the grieving process. They have given me the courage to take the step into the future without the baggage of my past. Because of them I believe that I do deserve to have the life that is right for me. Because of them I am taking the steps to get there and because of them I believe in myself and my as yet untapped potential.

I know its baby steps, but I am taking them, and as I go along I will take bigger steps until one day I will be striding with confidence through my life, lived my way as my own person.

Pretty deep huh? Next blog I promise to lighten up!


Monday, November 11, 2013

Just a tiny rant

Today I'm going to indulge in a mini rant. I'm not exactly annoyed, just a little bit tetchy. As you already know, a result of being sick and surfing the web was me spending far too much time on Facebook. Or to put it another way indulging myself completely and becoming a Facebookian. This is not a word but it should be. Anyway while doing this I found a few things that annoyed me - the one that annoyed me the most was the subject of a recent blog here, namely people posting things without checking first for accuracy.

That was not the only thing that annoyed me however, just the main thing. Another was something I found to be prevalent among the professional Facebookers. You know the ones, they have pages that have some sort of whimsical name, like Unicorns Are Free or else they are professionals spruiking their business/web page/blog/whatever. I'm not talking here about pages with multiple admins, I mean the individuals. These are the people with 70 000+ likes or followers, the people who update their status several times a day - or several times an hour with some. Now logic is going to say that if you have around 70 000 people reading every word you write - and in many of these pages 70 000 is a conservative estimate - then you are not going to entertain all of the people all of the time.

If you have a Facebook page that you have created solely to promote yourself or your product, and you intentionally seek as many likers/followers as possible then you leave yourself open to criticism as well as approval. Naturally you want approval, adulation even. Most of these people are shameless self promoters and good luck and wealth to them. Many of them are in fact attention whores, they thrive on having gazillions of people hanging on their every word and putting gushing compliments in the comments. I have no problem with that at all, each to their own etc. A lot of them are there to promote a book or a blog or a product or a business; also good business sense, social media is an effective advertising tool. Some are there because of a strong social ethic and they wish to reach the public about their particular cause, and some are there as an emotional outlet from a difficult life.

This is not my gripe - I have a Facebook page and I use it to promote this blog. (and here - for those that found their way here by other means than Facebook and I know there are some of you - is the link in case you wish to visit ;) I don't post a lot of status updates but I do share a lot of pics that I like and you might like also - I'm not above shameless self promotion). I don't have a Facebook page for me the author although I should do. I don't because at this stage I feel that devoting the amount of time to build and grow a Facebook page as a promotional tool is actually contrary to my needs. I should be spending my time writing, not in a time consuming field of promotion. (Writing these blogs I have been able successfully to rationalise as excellent writing practice) I should also have a twitter profile - in fact I do. I have not actually posted a single tweet simply because I am not fond of the medium, but eventually I will do something there also because twitter is very useful. So I am not opposed to social media as an advertising tool, not at all.

However I am opposed to these people bringing their own issues with negative comments to the rest of their loyal followers. I find this distasteful, a negative kind of attention seeking. All of these people have thousands and thousands of followers who think they are amazing and wonderful and I have no doubt that they are. But nobody can have the whole world like them, and nobody can say something that everybody likes, not when they get that many people reading their words. I follow quite a lot of these people myself, I get notifications of status updates and I go look. Most of the time I like what I read, sometimes not. If I begin to not like more than like, I quietly unfriend them and my problem is solved and they do not even notice they have been unfriended by one person.

Clearly some people are more confrontational and they make unfriendly comments, or they inbox their issues. Now this may be nothing more than a misunderstanding, such as a person new to Facebook who does not understand why they are getting status updates from someone they don't know in their news feeds - there are a lot of people who do not know what happens when they 'like' a page. Maybe it is someone who has taken issue with a status update and feels the need to make a snarky comment. Who knows what is in their past to prompt this need to respond negatively. My point is not about the people who are rude and confrontational.

My point is directed at the owner of the page who feels the reciprocal need to tell all his/her supporters about the negative comments, sometimes even showing the name and a link to the person's Facebook page which I think is an extremely hostile act. That person may then be subject to abuse from many of what may be thousands of followers who read this and feel the need to protect the owner of Unicorns Are Free - a page which does not exist by the way, I just made it up and then checked in case someone actually felt the need to start a page about how unicorns are free and why they should stay that way.

My point is that the owners of these pages should be more professional. If someone takes exception to what they say, the best way to deal with it is to try to talk to that person, suggest that if they don't like what is said to unfriend the page. If that doesn't work delete and block and the problem is solved. Don't involve the followers of the page, it's unprofessional, and it's the worst kind of attention seeking. By having a Facebook page that is open to the public and indeed is seeking supporters and followers, the owner is also open to unfriendly comments.

I think sometimes the owners of these pages begin to believe their own publicity and they think that they are entitled to nothing but adulation - rather like certain celebrities. So when there are negative comments they are shocked more than is necessary.

So to all of the owners of these Facebook pages - the thing to remember is that the negative comments are coming from somebody YOU DON'T KNOW and will never meet. It doesn't matter! It's just the opinion of a stranger. Likewise the multitude of gushing comments. These people do not know you, they only know what you choose to share. Sure it's great when people like what you write and tell you that you are amazing/funny/smart/awesome etc. It gives you a buzz and you feel pretty good. Likewise when someone is nasty you feel bad. That's human nature. But don't take any of it personally, and don't bring other people into the fight. Don't make your followers hate the person who posted a negative comment; even if that person is incredibly abusive to you that is the risk you take when you make yourself a public figure. It's your problem and it's easily solved. There is no need to involve your followers. Perhaps if you can't think of anything to say you can make a general comment about some of the silly things people do or say, but don't be all upset and hurt and make your followers feel bad and/or aggressive on your behalf. Delete and block, move on - easy. Lecture over. Realistically not one of those page owners will actually read this blog but hey I felt good venting!

Life's path is hard enough to negotiate without being sidetracked by issues and people that truly do not matter. Choose your fights with care and know when to let it go.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Onwards and upwards and yes it's all about me ;)

Good morning/afternoon/evening, whatever the time happens to be when you read this. A new blog so soon, you are all so lucky! I have almost recovered from the dreaded lurgy and I'm writing because I'm ensconced in the kitchen, it's 4pm on a wet November Friday in the UK and it's cold and almost dark. The kitchen is warmly lit - and warm! - and I'm feeling cosy. The rain is pattering pleasingly (you will note the alliteration) on the skylights and I have a hot cup of tea. Plus I am feeling virtuous because I've devoted some time to my first book, which I sent out on its own back in April. It's my first book and my first self publishing experiment (for those of you who perhaps have joined my journey later on and thus missed my initial blogs which were devoted to Book 1) and it has been travelling the waves of e-space all alone.

I decided that I no longer approved of the cover of this book (I spent many hours teaching myself how to make an e-cover and designing and making this cover that I have just decided is no good. Without the help of my sister I would have destroyed my computer out of frustration I think when I was learning) so I designed a new cover and today set about changing it. I think I have said in a previous blog that I try always to follow my instincts and my instincts tend to announce themselves in a sudden and impulsive decision - so I'm listening to my instincts. To change the cover I had to make sure the dimensions were accurate and log into my Smashwords account. As far as I can tell changing the cover on Smashwords (this is the e-book publisher I decided on by the way) also changes it for the distributors. I hope so.

Seems relatively simple so far, yes? Of course, I had no idea what sort of cover I wanted so I spent quite a lot of time aimlessly surfing the web until I found a suitable pic. Then of course I found I had completely forgotten everything I learned about making a cover and had to relearn it. Then get my sister to change the pixels because I totally suck at all this technical stuff. Then find out how to change the cover on Smashwords which thankfully was very simple. However it was rejected as the cover was too small and my sister is at work and I am impatient... So now I know how to dick around with the pixels - and it was accepted which quite frankly astonished me since as I have said I suck at the technical stuff.

Now I have to wait while the entire book is reviewed again on Smashwords and then I think re-released to the distributors. I am also published on Amazon so I went through the same hoops with them and am waiting there also for the review. I decided to change the cover to make it more appealing because so many readers look at the cover and if the cover does not grab their attention they don't even look inside. I know I am guilty of this. Don't judge a book by the cover - yet we all do I think.

In the process of doing all this I noticed that I have actually had sales and some recent ones too which heartened me considerably! And I have sold on all of the distributor sites as well which again has heartened me. This is quite a feat for a new author - I know some have the joy of going viral and having their lives changed forever, but in general there are so many e-books that it is all too easy to get lost in the crowd. So to have sales across all distributors warms my heart and gives me real hope for my career as an author. 

I didn't have a point for this blog, - well I never do - I was simply excited to see that I have slow but steady sales and felt re-energised to continue my chosen path in life. I have on my path taken many steps back and some sideways. There have been big holes and I have fallen into almost all of them. This path is not an easy one, it is narrow and there are many corners I cannot see around. Obstacles present themselves unexpectedly or I make them myself through my fear. But this is my path and it is right for me.

I have learned a lot about myself, my life and what I want from it. I have been on a journey of self improvement and there have been some huge learning curves. I have learned to let go of what was so that I can embrace what will be - easier said than done. I have learned to let go of trying to control everything, to have faith and trust and to jump without that parachute - waaaaaaaay easier said than done. And I have learned that if you take that jump, take that risk, change your way of thinking and your way of living, that the rewards are far more than you could have imagined.

I'm only part way along my journey, and I know there are still obstacles and problems. Career wise selling a few books is not going to make me a living, but it's a start and a positive start. A great many authors who self publish e-books sell not one copy ever, so I am pleased that I have been noticed in the massive jungle that is e-book publishing. In my life there are still many loose ends to tie up and problems to find a way through or around. But today, I really believe I can achieve all that I want. I just need to take one step at a time, tackle each problem as it arises, and keep on moving forward towards my goal. 

I know what I want and where I want to be and I know how I want to get there. And I am truly blessed to have wonderful people in my life who know me and support me and are always there for me. 

As a matter of interest, here are the two book covers, the old and the new, should you feel curious about them :) 


Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Well I know I said this next blog would be back to being all about me, but I've been struck down by the dreaded lurgy and I've been sick in bed for several days. It's just a cold but it's a nasty one and I'm feeling extremely blah. So I'm not going to bore you all with a list of my symptoms because who wants to hear someone else's symptoms - we all just want to tell everyone about our own ;)

Since I've been confined to bed and the house and my head has been so stuffed with virus that it has muffled my words, I have been spending far too much time surfing Facebook and the web. Also because I'm sick and therefore have no patience at all I have been becoming quite frustrated with things I see, and so this is why this blog today. I'm venting people, and I know I said just last time we all need tolerance and we do - but we all also need to think!

This world we live in is amazing in so many ways, the wonders of nature that we all take for granted, the wonders of the human spirit that so often go unnoticed. Things that are amazing become common place when they are seen all the time. You could live close to the pyramids and because you see them every day they cease to become a marvel of engineering and ego and become instead just a large pile of rocks. You could live in a beautiful city full of fascinating architecture and fail to see it because it's there in front of you all the time.

Likewise things that are wrong will be overlooked if they are constantly visible, they fade, become part of the fabric of everyday life. Now I could go on a tangent about some of the truly horrific living conditions faced by so many citizens of this planet and by the casual acts of cruelty committed everywhere every day. But this blog is not about that. I will probably not write a blog ever about that because it is so shocking and horrendous and it makes me sick to think of it. Plus there are many many writers far better and more qualified than me to write such stories.

No, this blog is about stories circulated on social media that go viral - and are completely inaccurate. Sometimes they are just bits of foolishness and sometimes they feed paranoia. As a brief example of what I am talking about there is currently a story circulating about toothpaste tubes, you may perhaps have seen it:

The accompanying blurb reads like this: 
NEVER even knew about this!! PLEASE SHARE IT
Have you ever noticed that there is a distinct color at the bottom of each toothpaste pack ?
Do you know the meaning of the colors ?
Green : Natural.
Blue : Natural + Medicine.
Red : Natural + Chemical composition.
Black : Pure Chemical.

It's plausible isn't it? It must be, I've seen it dozens of times from various sources. It's also completely untrue as the quickest Google search showed me. This is actually what those colours mean:

Looks pretty convincing, doesn’t it? Well, it’s an urban legend. Here’s the truth about those stripes:
The story on the meaning of the stripes is this: They have nothing what-so-ever to do with anything that would even vaguely interest a consumer. Long story short, it only relates to packaging and the stripes can be read by a scanner.
The urban legend grew out of someone having way to much time on their hands and probably loves throwing a scare into people.
Here’s a great way to find out what really is the make-up of your toothpaste: READ THE INGREDIENTS ON THE SIDE OF THE PACKAGE!
The colours are different simply because different sensors are used in different packaging companies and they are there only so the sensors can read where to fold or to cut the packaging. It's the work of seconds to do the initial research on Google, there are dozens of web sites devoted to uncovering urban myths like this one. It is not very hard either to undertake further research and check things like how sensors work in packaging factories to see that this is in fact the correct version of the story.
And that's why I say THINK! We live in a world where there is unparalleled access to information. I adore Google, I use it all the time. I was that child that was always asking questions, always wanting to know and now I can look up anything and find the answer. But we also live in a world with unparalleled access to misinformation. We need to be in control, we need to question everything, think about it and do the research. Don't believe anything you see or read on any form of media. Not even the news media. News corporations are just that - corporations, often global corporations and the information they give may not necessarily be completely accurate.
Remember, we all have our own unique view of the world based on our environment and experiences. The same goes for all reporters, writers and dispensers of the news and other items of interest. Don't assume, don't believe it is truth, truth is relevant to the position of the reporter. And don't ever assume just because a picture and the accompanying blurb is plausible and also is something you would like to believe, that it is actually true. Social media is rife with such misinformation. 
And there is my point for this blog. There is so much of this misinformation, so much so that we see things, say surely that isn't true and move onto the next thing. Or we see it and become shocked and share it with others and perpetuate an urban myth. But because there is so much of it, it becomes familiar and once familiar no longer something to comment on. I think this is very wrong. It is encouraging us all to stop thinking, to accept all that we read as truth. And as I said, the news should not be considered to be completely accurate, the side shown may not and often is not the whole story. 
By accepting and believing the stories on social media which are so often so completely wrong, I wonder if it makes us all more likely to accept stories told on news media. We should not, any story that resonates within should be researched, all sides to the same story should be found and read, because the truth, as much as can be found, will be somewhere between the two. We all know this, we all know stories where we are privy to both sides and someone else hears only one side. We say the story was one-sided and it means just that, only one side was told but there are always two sides to a story. In this day and age of easy access to a global network of information it is the responsibility of us all to ensure that we are as well informed, and as accurately informed as possible. 
So in conclusion, when you see something, hear something, read something, before you go rushing off to share it with the world stop! think! research! Then, if it is accurate, go for it!!