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    Monika Schott PhD
    Monika Schott PhD created a new blog post, Expectations

    Expectations

    Posted in Blogs on Tuesday, 30 June 2020

    Over the years, I’ve written about some of life’s certainties — birth, death, time and change. You can guarantee we will all experience those things. Birth and death are at the centre of our existence. We are birthed onto this Earth, to leave it again. No matter where we’re from, how much material wealth we may accumulate or what colour our skin, the scent we exude. Us humans are birthed into this world to die. Animals and plants too. Birth and death occur in tandem with time, which leads to change. Life is in a constant state of flux, sometimes deep and challenging, other times gloriously joyous and uplifting, tender and sensuous. Change happens as time passes, ticking over every minute, day and year. Tick, tick, tick … Rushing, darting, dashing, being somewhere, anywhere, and nowhere. Time, there's never enough, we always want more. Time to act and do. Time to be and play and have fun, time to walk and run. Faster, quicker, need it yesterday ... I don’t have time. More and more, more time to work and more work. Time’s ticking, always ticking. Time to feel, time to heal. Time to see and be. Time to love and be loved, and feel the love. Time to feel sad and hurt and heal from the sad and hurt. Or, we can have too much time. To think, and do nothing. The trepidation in time. Life’s certainties don’t stop there though because we also have the dreaded: Expectations. We all have them, no matter how hard we try not to. Expectations come from the act of expecting, wanting, requiring. Demanding. They can be ego driven, selfish and ungracious, and can creep in like muted millipedes found curling in a corner of your home. Black, hard little critters. Or they can thrash in as a heavy, weighted monster that won’t budge. The problem with expectations is when they aren’t met, they lead to all sorts of frustration and disappointment. I’d go so far as to say that unmet expectations can be killers. You set your mind to attaining something, and when you can’t achieve it, become disheartened. It becomes doubly so, tripled and quadrupled even, when that something hindering your ability to reach your expectation is something you have no influence over. An expectation of a sound sleep can be lost to a neighbour playing loud music at 2 am; the expectation of juicy apricots in summer can be lost once insects bore into the 20-year-old apricot tree, and dies. Most obvious is COVID-19. Without banging on about the obvious impacts, the expectation of many to carry on with our ‘usual’ life has been quashed by the outside influence of COVID-19. Many expectations pre COVID-19 are today unmet, and the impact of that can be debilitating. Unmet expectations aren’t necessarily in the extreme and can be as simple as expecting to walk your puppy around the block in 15 minutes, only to be gone double that time because your puppy wants to sit or chase a butterfly, or refuses to walk and instead wants to bite at the lead. Of course, it can go the other way too. That rascally puppy who runs amuck in the backyard, chews the skirting board of your home, might be the epitome of the model walking dog. The expectation of mayhem and mischief on a walk is a pleasant surprise when the puppy walks tall. The challenge is in managing those expectations, especially when they’re unmet, is letting go of them before they twist you into a tourniquet that’s too tight to untie. Some say to have a goal and set a plan in action to achieve it, but be prepared to change the plan if it isn’t achieving your goal. Perhaps it’s as a friend said to me the other day, who believes everything derives from and is love. Life is about ‘the love of the self, to become sovereign to the self.’ I liked that and took it to mean being respectful of one’s self in all one’s entirety, in all beauty and flaw. And to be grateful for what is, appreciate who you are and what you have and don't have. In our constant motion of time, look around and breathe in what we see, drink it in and savour it, whether bad, sad or positively blissful and everything in between. Wonder at life. Be inspired by the expanse of red soil that meets a horizon of blue in the distance, find the awe in the incandescence of snow laden mountains illuminating at 2am in an Arctic winter. The natural world is full of marvel and being in awe of it puts expectations into perspective and can shrink them into a manageable insignificance. Sit with a young child that’s waking in your arms, and appreciate their faith in your love and protection. Meditate with the birds calling in sunrise, or fall asleep to waves that never stop their rumble into shore. Take a three hour lunch with a friend on a sunny winter’s day, chat with someone who has known you over lifetimes; appreciate kindness. I love this quote from Julia Baird in her book, Phosphorescence: on Awe, Wonder and Things That Sustain You When the World Goes Dark, for it’s a reminder to take the time to appreciate: We need to learn how to regard and pay attention, to mine our inner strength, and accept the possibility that we can emerge from pain and grow by moonlight — in times of darkness — that we can push ‘right back’ on winter and find inside a summer. We also need to seek and settle upon a purpose in life — something many people seem to discover once they fully open their eyes (Baird, 2020, p. 204). Perhaps that’s another of life's certainties: learning how to let go of, and manage expectations. Maybe it’s a case of expect the imperfection in life, where expectations are one of them. And take note of those moments of satisfaction and fulfillment in simple pleasures.

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    Rosy Cole
    Rosy Cole commented on the blog post, Florence

    Thank you for your delightful comment. It is good to reflect on a way of life that has been lost.

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    Rosy Cole
    Rosy Cole created a new blog post, Florence

    Florence

    Posted in Blogs on Tuesday, 16 June 2020

        This is the moment she lets down her hair, newly washed at the Belfast sink, and offers it to a beneficent sun. The coiled braids, set free, ripple in a fanciful breeze and glisten with silver. She is standing on a grassy incline, next to the hawthorn hedge, where no one will see her in this state of disarray. No one except the small girl who is bemused by the transfiguration. An elfin shadow falls aslant behind her.For Florence, it echoes of another little presence, far away and gone. She knows about grief. After going into service, she gave birth to a son fathered by her master. The child was torn from her life, as though he had never lived, and the long conspiracy of silence only stresses her the more. He would be a young man by now, perhaps with a wife and family of his own. Sometimes, she is sure of it: her psyche is populated with shadows that live and move and have their being within the wings of everyday reality. Young men did not come courting after that, but how could they when they lay lifeless in some corner of a foreign field? She bears her shame with meek fortitude, holding her head high among those who do not see her.     “Least said, soonest mended,” is what she tells her sister, Bella, who bicycles over the hills in her hat and coat on visits. Bella is inclined to pretend Daisy isn’t there. The sisters whisper overhead, while Bella glances down her nose and chides Florence for being put upon. Daisy catches a phrase or two, though she is more interested in the magpie browsing the apple tree. “Lonely child, lonely woman,” says Bella. “She mixes well enough. I don’t mind,” Florence tells her. And adds, somewhat cryptically, “It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good.” Florence keeps house for her engineer brother, a saturnine fellow who likes a lot of mustard on his food and finds children tiresome. 'Your wife, your dog, and your walnut tree, the more you beat them, the better they be,' he jokes. "Give over," Florence scolds. It is whispered that he has taken up with a woman two villages away and plans to marry. Daisy is fascinated when Florence gets on her knees with Lol’s boiler suit spread over a wavy brick floor, lathering the tough denim with Sunlight soap and scraping the slurry off with a blunt knife before it goes into the copper to be boiled in suds created with soap and a cheese-grater. Men have fought for their country in trench, jungle and desert. They are the breadwinners, the prime holders of mortgage agreements, the payers of rent. Way must be made for them and their interests served.   She is a country woman to the core and delights in her garden, the digging and planting and picking, the rogation days and harvest home. The child capers back and forth with a toy watering-can imprinted with mermaids, dipping it into the rainwater butt and dragging it to the thirsty plants. Daisy loves her floral ‘choir’ that stands tall at the edge of the potato crop. The ink-blue of delphinium spires, the chuckling sunflowers, the hollyhocks and ox-eye daisies, the canterbury bells, and snapdragons whose jaws are gently prized by furry bees prospecting for gold. Her favourites of all are the marigolds. Her wheaten locks, parted and tied in bunches, bob up and down behind her ear lobes as she darts to and fro. Startled, her little forefinger guards her mouth and she is motionless, sure that she can hear singing from some far distance place. Lavender’s blue, dilly dilly, lavender’s green... Florence is seized by a moment of undiluted joy. “See the piggies?” suggests Daisy, off on another tack. “I’m all behind like the cow’s tail today,” says Florence. “There’s Lol’s shirts to iron and...” Daisy is crestfallen, because Lol’s shirts are definitely not top of her agenda. “Well, you’d best go and put your bonnet on, then, while I take my pinny off and make myself fit.” Daisy squeals with delight and does her happy dance. In the afternoon, they call at Farmer Knight’s where Daisy clambers on to the pigpen gate for a lofty view of a litter of inquisitive snouts. Fortified by flapjacks and squash, the pair stroll home through field, wood and churchyard, sucking barley sugars, the luminous air filled with the hum of summer, while silken butterflies alight on flowers and dragonflies hint rainbows.                 It is a beloved ritual through the seasons, the naming of flowers. Snowdrops, aconites, anemones, Star of Bethlehem and wood sorrel. Violets, bluebells, lady’s smocks and dog roses. Speedwell, ragged robins and Queen Anne’s lace. Cornflowers, campion and tansy. Autumn crocus, Jack-in-the-Pulpit… Daisy can reel off this litany to her heart’s content. A mosaic of tiny yellow petals, tinted with crimson, half-hidden in the grass, catches her eye. Delightedly, she pounces on it, losing hold of Florence’s hand. “Egg and bacon!” “That’s right,” says Florence. “But you couldn’t eat that for your tea, now could you?” She thinks of the apple cake resting on the pantry shelf and a gratifying brew of pekoe tips to round off the adventure with her small charge.“What’s that?” asks Daisy, pointing. “Baby pansy?” “Why, that’s heartsease,” says Florence. But Daisy has no time for sighs. She is telling the time with a dandelion clock. The flossy seeds float upwards and away, to take root in some other pasture. Florence will hug this day of mystical balm to herself for ever. And she will never know the treasure she has bequeathed. The lady is aptly named.     These images reveal the glorious exuberance of nature in a churchyard during lockdown.    

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    Stephen Evans
    Stephen Evans commented on the blog post, Florence

    Enjoyed this so much. Charming, evocative, and lyrical.

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    Monika Schott PhD

    Thanks Rosy. The story had to be told and I've been the fortunate person to be able to tell it. The gratitude goes both ways. x

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    Stephen Evans
    Stephen Evans commented on the blog post, Milton: A Limerick

    Helpful context :)

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    Rosy Cole
    Rosy Cole commented on the blog post, Farm Reflections: Lands faraway

    Monika has taken us on a wonderfully illuminating journey, full of interest and humanity. We are so grateful to her for generously sharing it with us. A PhD well deserved. Thanks, Moni! xx

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    Rosy Cole
    Rosy Cole commented on the blog post, Milton: A Limerick

    'They also serve who only stand and wait.'

    When I Consider How My Light is Spent: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44750/sonnet-19-when-i-consider-how-my-light-is-spent

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    Monika Schott PhD

    I'm pleased you're enjoying it, Angela. Thank you, and thanks for your feedback. :)

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    Stephen Evans
    Stephen Evans created a new blog post, Milton: A Limerick

    Milton: A Limerick

    Posted in Blogs on Saturday, 13 June 2020

      It is said that John Milton was Blind And the world that he served was Unkind So he waited to See Standing Gloriously For he couldn’t go blind in the Mind   Illustration by Seba Armstrong via Shutterstock.com      

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    Stephen Evans
    Stephen Evans created a new blog post, Coleridge: A Limerick

    Coleridge: A Limerick

    Posted in Blogs on Saturday, 06 June 2020

      Samuel fancied a Dream But Xanadu vanished Abeam Of the pipe and the Puff For the love of the Stuff He imagined a higher Esteem

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    Rosy Cole
    Rosy Cole updated their profile picture
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    Stephen Evans
    Stephen Evans commented on the blog post, The Problem

    I think the rare and precious revolutions of human thought happen this way - Buddha, Plato, Kant, Einstein.

    I have neglected Shopenhauer - may have to correct that.

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    Rosy Cole
    Rosy Cole commented on the blog post, The Problem

    Am somewhat bemused by how this can be validated or proven.

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    Monika Schott PhD
    Monika Schott PhD commented on the blog post, Quiet strength

    Rich in experience too.

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    Stephen Evans
    Stephen Evans created a new blog post, The Problem

    The Problem

    Posted in Blogs on Sunday, 31 May 2020

      "The problem is not so much to see what nobody has yet seen, as to think what nobody has yet thought concerning that which everybody sees"  Arthur Shopenhauer   https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/11682.Arthur_Schopenhauer

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    Stephen Evans
    Stephen Evans commented on the blog post, Quiet strength

    "Acceptance of the polarity of life" -a phrase rich in meaning.

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    Stephen Evans
    Stephen Evans commented on the blog post, That kid

    So charming.

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    Monika Schott PhD
    Monika Schott PhD updated their profile
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    Monika Schott PhD
    Monika Schott PhD commented on the blog post, That kid

    It's amazing how common sleepwalking is.

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Latest Blogs

Over the years, I’ve written about some of life’s certainties — birth, death, time and change. You can guarantee we will all experience those things. ...
    This is the moment she lets down her hair, newly washed at the Belfast sink, and offers it to a beneficent sun. The coiled braids, set...
  It is said that John Milton was Blind And the world that he served was Unkind So he waited to See Standing Gloriously For he couldn’t go blind in ...
  Samuel fancied a Dream But Xanadu vanished Abeam Of the pipe and the Puff For the love of the Stuff He imagined a higher Esteem...
  "The problem is not so much to see what nobody has yet seen, as to think what nobody has yet thought concerning that which everybody sees"  Arthur ...

Latest Comments

Rosy Cole Florence
17 June 2020
Thank you for your delightful comment. It is good to reflect on a way of life that has been lost.
Stephen Evans Florence
16 June 2020
Enjoyed this so much. Charming, evocative, and lyrical.
Monika Schott PhD Farm Reflections: Lands faraway
15 June 2020
Thanks Rosy. The story had to be told and I've been the fortunate person to be able to tell it. The ...
Stephen Evans Milton: A Limerick
15 June 2020
Helpful context
Rosy Cole Farm Reflections: Lands faraway
15 June 2020
Monika has taken us on a wonderfully illuminating journey, full of interest and humanity. We are so ...