How A Comment Left On One Of My Posts Got Me Questioning A Previous Life

Do You believe in life after death? What about life before life? Have you ever written yourself into a piece of fiction without knowing it?

Check out my latest post, ‘How To Write Yourself into A Piece Of Fiction Without Knowing It‘, on my column, Diversity with a Twist, at the Carrot Ranch. Find out how a comment left on one of my blog posts got me asking questions if I’d lived before and witnessed one of the biggest disasters of the Twentieth century.

Click the image below to read the post.

Diversity with a Twist Banner showing some coloured straight lines and pens on a white background
Diversity with a Twist

Many readers have already left comments, some of whom have shared glimpses of former lives.

Comments are closed here. If you’d like to join the discussion, please leave your comment on the original post.

Copyright © 2021 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

What To Do With New Year’s Resolutions

Why do so many of us make New Year’s resolutions? Do they help? Are they a pain? Do they put pressure on us? Do they stress us out? Do they work? Do they give us something to look forward to?

What to do with New Year’s Resolutions

The only resolution I made on New Year’s Day (which worked for me), was the one I made on January 1st 1994. It was the day I told myself to stop adding sugar to tea and coffee. I’m still ‘sugar-total’ when it comes to drinking tea and coffee. Success!

If you’ve made some New Year’s resolutions, then good luck with them. If, like me, you haven’t, grab the nearest calendar and count how many days there are on it.

Why am I asking you to count the days on a calendar? There’s a good reason.

Did you count 365 days? Yes? 366, if you’re looking at a 2020 calendar. Ditch that old calendar, and get yourself one for this year. Look at all those days on it.

Every one of those days is a day of new beginnings. Every day is a day to start something different. Every day is a day opportunities will come knocking. Every day is a day to set yourself a resolution (if you want to). Every day is a day you can make good use of. Every day is a day you can make somebody smile. Every day is a day you can do something good for somebody else. Don’t waste them.

What am I getting at?

Simply put, you can start a resolution on any day of the year. I’ve had more successes with resolutions I started on days other than New Year’s Day. But that makes a lot of sense when it’s 364 days against one day. And isn’t every new day the beginning of a new year in your life? Check out Erika’s post. I think she agrees with me.

Thank you.

There is something I enjoy doing every new year. I look back and thank those who shaped my life over the previous 12 months. And those include the people I never met, but who in some way influenced my life.

As a blogger, I’m talking about those who visited my blog, read and joined in with the discussions on the posts I wrote and photos I shared.

If you’re not a blogger, then the people you will have been in touch with on social media may have influenced your life in some way. Think about it. You don’t have to hear words from somebody for them to influence your life. And you don’t need to physically meet someone for them to have an influence on your life.

If it weren’t for all of you out there, the last 12 months would have been a little quiet and emptier here on my blog. And I don’t believe that’s something any blogger wants for their blog.

So, a big thank you for all your support, kindness, friendship, and for being a big part of my 2020. You listened to me; you made me cry. You astounded me; you made me think. You made me change my life or persuaded me to try out something new. You entertained me; you helped me through the low points and you encouraged me over the high points. You influenced me.

What was 2020 like for you? Think hard before you answer that question.

2020 may have seemed a horrible and strange year for many of us, but it will have given us opportunities and some nice bits too.

For me, one of the most significant opportunities was an invitation to become a guest columnist at the Carrot Ranch, a blog hosted by Charli Mills. I may already know some of the Carrot Ranch writers, but an invitation to write for another blog is an opportunity I am incredibly thankful to have come my way in 2020.

Another significant opportunity 2020 gave me was to sort out and donate stuff to my local charity shops. ‘Lockdown’ allowed me to declutter my home and pass on items I no longer needed. Those expired items not only went on to generate money for good causes but were brought back to life by their new owners. I like to think that the happiness those items once gave me has now passed on to the new owners.

2020 may be gone, but it shouldn’t be forgotten. Why? Elouise tells us why. Read her post here and read the comments on the post too.

Thank you 2020.

Thank you 2020 for the opportunities you presented to me. You may think you did a good job at hiding them from me, but they were there when I looked hard enough.

Now, I’m looking forward to the opportunities 2021 will bring.

Abba – Happy New Year

What to do with New Year’s Resolutions

My answer – Turn them into opportunities. Opportunities to make new friends, new acquaintances, new experiences. Make people laugh, make people happy, teach people something new, tell somebody something that will make them smile. Don’t turn your resolutions into opportunities that become barriers or hurdles for you or anyone else or that make people unhappy. Make people laugh, make people smile.

Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist.

We are all in the gutter. But some of us are looking at the stars.

Oscar Wilde

Which ones are you going to be in 2021?

New Year 2021

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Have you had any success or failures with them? What opportunities did 2020 give you? What answer would you give to the title of this blog post? Leave me a comment and join the discussion.

Copyright © 2021 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

The Dilemmas Of Christmas Cards

If receiving Christmas cards was a hobby, it would be a hobby I’d embrace and never let go.  

I’ve always preferred receiving Christmas cards to birthday cards. They’ve always been more important to me, but over the years have caused me a few dilemmas. Do you recognise any of these?

How to display Christmas cards

My parents always strung up Christmas cards along the longest wall in our lounge. I’d stand underneath the line and happily count them. And if any of the cards overlapped, I’d make it known so that they could be adjusted. 

I wanted every Christmas card to give the same pleasure to visitors as I got out of them over the festive period.

These days, we display cards on a card rack. The overlapping doesn’t seem to bother me as much as it used to. However, I seem to give priority to those cards I see as more festive.

How do you display Christmas cards?

School Days

During my early schooling years, my class would send Christmas cards to each other. Back then, Christmas cards came in different sizes in one box. The first dilemma was trying to match the correct sized envelope to the right card. 

A box of Christmas cards from the 1970s. Image taken from eBay

Usually, you’d end up with a couple of cards that didn’t fit the envelopes you had left or, on rare occasions, have cards left with no envelopes to put them in. 

These days, Christmas cards seem to come in packs and are all the same size, so the dilemma of matching envelopes with cards has gone. 

In class, we’d make a pillar box out of cardboard, cotton wool, paints and some sticky-back plastic. We were all encouraged to post Christmas cards into the box, and on the last day before the Christmas holidays, our teacher would sort them and distribute them out. 

I’d always be super excited to get a pile of cards with my name proudly written on the front of the envelopes. I’d open them all before rushing home to hang them up with the rest of the cards. 

If there wasn’t enough room on the line, I had to wait patiently for my father to put up another line. Sometimes, this could take days to do, and I’d get very frustrated that my cards were not on display.

And heaven’s forbid if any of the lines of cards came down because of the sheer weight of cards on them. I’d be inconsolable. 

After Christmas, I’d keep the cards I liked the most and make gift tags out of them for the following Christmas.

Did you send Christmas cards to your classmates?

The First Christmas Card

The first Christmas card was sent in 1843. Back then, there were no signs of robins, snow, Christmas stockings or Father Christmas on them. Most cards showed people drinking, eating and being merry.

It wasn’t until the 1870s that Christmas cards began to display some of the festive images we see today.

  

A Victorian Christmas card. Image by DarkmoonArt_de from Pixabay

Back in the 1970s (when I was sending cards to those in my class), there were certain cards I loved. These include the ones I thought were associated with Christmas. Those showing scenes that included Father Christmas, Christmas stockings, robins, snow, and Christmas trees were my favourites. 

And then there were cards I didn’t particularly like because I thought they had nothing to do with Christmas. These included ones with scenes of horse-drawn carriages, fox hunting, St Paul’s Cathedral, or a hand-drawn poinsettia. 

My favourite classmates always got the cards I associated with Christmas. The classmates I didn’t bother with much (or those I didn’t like) got the boring ones. Back then, you could always tell who didn’t like you much from the type of card they sent you (or so I thought, anyway).

Christmas Postcards 

Step back to the early part of the 20th century, and some Christmas cards were like postcards. Many years ago, I picked up some on eBay. This one is my favourite. 

An Old Maid’s Christmas
On the back.

Postmarked Dec 24th 1912, I love the humour on this postcard, although I’m not sure it would go down well these days. What do you think?

I can’t make out the postmark on this postcard, but the stamp on it tells me it’s from the U.S.A. 

Christmas postcard from the early 20th century
Christmas postcard from the early 20th century

And here’s another early one from the U.S.A, postmarked Dec 23rd 1913.

Christmas postcard dated 23rd December 1913
Christmas postcard dated 23rd December 1913

Postal addresses were so short back then.

Fast-track to the 1980s and Christmas cards were very different. Here are a few of my favourites.

Yes, I have a scrapbook that includes some of my favourite Christmas cards.

The Boyfriend Dilemma

Finally, here’s a Christmas card from 1988 that was sent to me by my then boyfriend.

 

Christmas 1988
Last Christmas I gave you my heart. By New Year’s Day I’d taken it away!

Unfortunately, he went on to break my heart on New Year’s Eve, yet I kept the Christmas card he sent me. I wonder why?

Do you send and enjoy receiving Christmas cards? Have you ever had any dilemmas with them?

Copyright © 2020 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Have You Lost Your Desire To Write?

I’ve witnessed many people saying that they seem to have lost their writing mojo since the COVID-19 pandemic started. Likewise, it happened to me. 

I don’t know what it was, but I didn’t feel in the mood to write any forms of specific creativity. 

I couldn’t even bring myself to look at any of the drafts I had for new short stories, or even the two books I have in my computer’s archives. 

My desire to delve into them had taken a vacation that had no end date.

I had no idea why it was happening. Then I put something to the test. 

Like many, I’d found myself reading blog posts that had a ‘doom and gloom’ theme to them. 

The majority of those posts, of course, were COVID-19 related. 

However, since cutting down on the number of COVID-19 blogs posts I read, my writing mojo seems to occasionally show signs of returning.

I can sometimes see it waving at me before disappearing again. I was never any good at ‘hide & seek.’ I was always the first one to be found and could never find anybody.

When my writing mojo does appear, I do all I can to grab it by the horns and get writing. 

Writing something – anything – makes me feel good. In fact, it makes my day!

This led me to seek out more and more blog posts that contain positivity, laughter, humour and good news. Yes, despite what’s going on in today’s world, those happy blog posts are still out there.

Of course, not all COVID-19 related blog posts are full of doom and gloom. Some contain humour, so I haven’t cut myself entirely off from what’s going on in the world. I’ve even written a few myself, but so have many others. 

Yes, there is a COVID-19 connection in her post, but the video has made many readers smile and laugh. Thank you Willow, for giving me and many visitors to your blog a lift, and making our day with the video you shared. 

Then there are simple blog posts like the one from Elizabeth, at Tea & Pepper, which features a photo of something that brings joy to her moments of solitude. Her blog post made me smile and confirm to myself that everything will be OK. Click here to view Elizabeth’s post.

Social Media joins in with the humour

We mustn’t forget social media. It’s also playing its part in taking a bad situation and turning it into something that will make some of us smile.

Is now the perfect time to write?

You’d think that this moment in time would be perfect for writers and authors to get on with writing and editing their works-in-progress, especially given that many of us find ourselves at home. Yet, many have no urge to delve in and bring those pieces of fiction and creativity to life.

In a recent comment, I left on the blog of Cher Garman (The Chicago Files), I compared my current life to that of starting a new chapter in a book; a chapter in which I didn’t want to feature. Here’s what I said –

I look at the current situation we’re in as a chapter in a book, Cher. I’ll get to the end of that chapter soon, and a new one will begin. And, best of all, these chapters are a pathway to a happy ending.

The comment got me thinking, and I started to wonder if what is happening in the world today is only happening to me? 

  • Am I witnessing something that is a warning to only me? 
  • Are all of you out there just figures of my imagination?
  • Am I just a figure of your imagination? 
  • Are you watching a sci-fi movie of which I am the leading role?
#DoctorWho #television #scifi
  • Did I wake up one morning not realising that I had crossed over into a parallel universe?
  • Have we been put to sleep, and what is happening is a dream/nightmare we’re all experiencing at the same time?
  • Have I become the victim of one of my short stories because of all the scares they’ve given readers?

My creative desire to write may have hit a dead-end, but it seems my imagination is still in overdrive.

Thankfully, for me, it was only certain forms of writing I found myself struggling with. 

I’ve managed to continue to write and publish the weekly episodes featuring newlyweds Doug, Sophie and their friend Mike. And I’ve had no problems with posting my Wordless Wednesday featured photos.

A few weeks ago, I also started a new feature, The Entertainment Files, but all of these required only small amounts of writing. But, little steps lead to big success, don’t they?

After reading a blog post from Esther Chilton, I got those little steps moving and joined in with her request to write a limerick. What great fun that was, especially reading the limericks from other participants.

There was a young actress called Sheila

Who drove her friends mad with her new feature

A strange ring through her nose

As big as her big toes

Made her look like an outa space creature.

Hugh W. Roberts – 2020

Laughter is a medicine we all need at the moment.

Something else that also happened was that by way of a comment, I heard from another blogger who told me how they were trying to spread some positivity.

What a great idea in helping some individual bloggers move away from blogging about COVID-19 by challenging them to write something positive instead.

I may decide to challenge some of you, so watch out for some pingback notifications from me.

Do you still want blogging tips from me?

I’ve wondered if during these uncertain times if anybody wants to continue to read blogging and social media tips. Given I’ve had little appetite for reading any, is this something people still want to read on my blog?

Please let me know by leaving me a comment.

  • Are any of you finding that there has been a decline in engagement on your blogs since the COVID-19 pandemic began? 
  • Have the number of comments you usually get decreased in number or have the comments become shorter? 
  • Have you noticed a change in the writing styles and subjects from bloggers who typically write and publish about specific genres? 
  • Are you carrying on as usual and writing and publishing the same stuff you always do? 
  • Have you noticed other bloggers doing the same?  

It’s a strange world out there, but as I look out of the window, nature doesn’t seem to have stopped. There may be a lack of people, traffic and life outside, but everything else looks the same.  

Some believe that COVID-19 will change the way we all live our lives in the future. I wonder if it will also change the way many of us write? Or are these changes already happening? What do you think?

Just before publishing this post, I read an interesting blog post by Anne R. Allen which goes into much more detail as to why many writers are finding it tough to write at the moment. Anne gives some excellent advice on how to beat the slump. Click here to read her post.

Copyright © 2020 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

How Not To Kill Time

I can’t remember when it was I heard this quote, but it’s stuck with me and will remain with me until my ‘best-by’ date expires.

‘Life is like a toilet roll
The nearer you get to the end
The quicker it runs out.’

Unknown

Before I retired in 2012, my life was hectic, and time was often my enemy. With deadlines to meet and places to be, I was forever rushing around like somebody who was too busy to tell anybody how busy I was.

I’ve always been a good timekeeper and will often arrive at appointments with lots of time to spare. However, that can backfire on me as I start questioning myself about the time I am wasting when just sitting in a waiting room, or am killing time when window shopping in the high-street.

I don’t like the idea of murdering time. How will Father Time deal with those who waste what he creates when their time comes to meet him? 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Father Time – The creator and keeper of time. Somebody all humans encounter as they travel through his world. 

Likewise, I don’t like the thought of me killing time because I don’t usually have enough of it to get everything done in my day. How often do I read or hear somebody say ‘I don’t have enough time’ or ‘I wish I had more time?’ 

When I think back to my childhood years, time seemed to go slowly. I can remember the school summer holidays and how those six weeks of freedom seemed to last forever. 

Long, warm summer days were filled with plenty to do and with plenty of time. I never complained about time then, because the thought of having to go back to school was a rather horrid one. 

Even the two-week Christmas school holidays, when the nights are at their longest, seemed to last forever. Back then, time was my best friend. 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Then, I got my first job. Not so bad to start with, but, as the years went by, I began to find myself fighting for time. If only I had saved up some of the spare time from my childhood days. I could have done so much with it.

The days would go quickly, and I often heard it said that it was a sign of being busy. On a Monday morning, I’d arrive at work dreading the full week ahead, but it would often pass me by like an intercity express train. 

Before I knew it, Friday afternoon would arrive, and the thought of all that free time over the weekend would put a big smile on my face.

Even better when the weekend was an extended one because of a public holiday. ‘Three days to roam free‘ was something else I remember being said to me by a work colleague. It’s yet another quote I’ve never forgotten.

Time is like money. Those who spend it wisely, will never lose it.   

Hugh W. Roberts

Yet, as the office clock struck five, and a long weekend was upon us, why did I often find myself resisting going home and getting the long weekend started?

Was it because by delaying the start of it, the long weekend would last even longer? Or was it because I wanted to enjoy that feeling of ‘three days to roam free,’ even longer? Time doesn’t stop for anybody, does it, so why was I kidding myself?   

When I retired, the thought of all that spare time on my hands was one of the benefits of retirement. I had no ideas what I would do with all my spare time. However, what I did know was that I would not allow myself to get bored or to become addicted to daytime television. 

I’m proud to say that I’ve never been bored or been addicted to daytime television. What probably helps is living so close to the coast. Even in the winter, there are always lots of walks to take and so much to do.

#photography #SundayStills #beach

I look back at my 32 years of working full-time and often wonder how on earth I managed to fit everything in. Where did I find the time to do what I had been doing, as well as finding all the time I had spent enjoying a social life that often took me away on holiday or on long weekend breaks? It’s something I never found out the answers too.

Fast forward to the present, and I often find myself asking ‘where does the time go?’ 

Unlike during the early years of my current life, the days, weeks and months seem to zoom pass even more quickly. I often find myself comparing my life to the toilet roll I mentioned at the beginning of this post. 

Now that I’m travelling through the autumn of my life, how can that be when I have so much spare time on my hands? 

I was never good at mathematics. And when it comes to time, the maths still doesn’t add up, does it?


This was a guest post originally published on Retirement Reflections, a blog by Donna Connolly. The post has been updated since its first publication on 8th April 2018.

Copyright © 2019 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Why Do We Not Like Talking About Death?

In September 2015, when my mother passed away, both my brother and I were with her as she took her final breath. I remember thinking how beautiful she was. She’d been in a deep sleep for nearly a week and, over that week, she seemed to age quickly. But during the last ten minutes of her life, beauty and youth came back to her.

Can people nearing death hear us?

The medical staff told us to talk to Mum while she slept. ‘She’ll hear you’, were their words, but how could they have known? Had they once been near death’s door where they witnessed the voices of those still living, or had somebody who had experienced near-death told them what happens?

#family
My mother and grandmother. Taken January 1962 ©hughsviewsandnews.com

We took their advice and talked to Mum as if she was sitting there having tea and biscuits with us. However, occasionally, general chit-chat turned to tears as we told her how much we loved her and to go on her way with whoever was waiting for her. But how did we know that somebody was waiting for her?

Twelve hours earlier, Mum had briefly opened her eyes and looked up at me. I spoke to her and wondered if she knew who I was. I didn’t tell her who I was but made sure I told her that I loved her.

Having suffered from dementia for the last five years of her life, I asked myself if her condition was still stopping her from recognising me, and if she saw me as a stranger?

When she looked into my eyes, squeezed my hand gently and smiled, before closing her eyes again, I thought I knew the answer. However, years on, I still wonder if I did have the answer. Why? Because I didn’t have any proof of who she saw when she had looked up at me. However, at least she did know that she was loved.

Do books and movies hold the secrets to death?

Maybe the answers are in the fiction we read and watch? After all, whenever we read a book or watch a movie, are we witnessing what the author or authors believe about death?

When we read about a person being at ‘death’s door’, or watching a film where a death occurs, is the author sharing some of their experiences with us from a previous life they can’t quite remember?

What about those who claim to have witnessed the bright light that appears when they were near death? Are they talking from experience, or is it guesswork? Even if only a tiny amount of what they tell us happens, are they telling us what they have witnessed, or are they merely portraying it?

Do the lights go off when we die?

Is knowing you’re about to die, a gift?

Death is something many of us find difficult to talk about. When my step-father asked me to help him organise funeral plans for both him and my mother, it was something I didn’t want to talk about with him. I felt uneasy having to discuss it with him.

He, on the other hand, didn’t seem to have any problems in asking me to help him put the funeral plans into place. He’d already decided which company he wanted to use, how much he wanted to spend, and what would happen on the day.

After I agreed to help him, I wondered why he had chosen that time to ask for my help. He had, after all, been thinking about death because he already knew which company he wanted to use and what both funerals should include. Nine months later, he suffered a heart attack and passed away. Did he know that the actual day of his death was nearing?

Are the displays of death as beautiful as the displays of life?

Have I made any plans for my death? No. Why? There’s something about death that I don’t like talking about, yet here I am discussing it with you.

Talking about death makes people uneasy. None of us wants that, do we? However, in some circumstances, shouldn’t the discussion make us feel happy that it’s out in the open?

If talking about death takes pressure off others, why do we still not want to talk about it?

I knew that my step-father was glad when I helped him organise his and my mother’s funerals. He knew that nobody had anything to worry about when he and my mother passed away. It was all paid for, and nobody had to do anything apart from pick up a phone, and report their deaths.

Everything was taken care of. My step-father was happy, and I should be happy because some of the pressure he’d experienced with death was something I wouldn’t have to go through.

#death #life

If Hell is below us, why do we still bury some of the dead in the ground?

Can only the dead answer the questions we have of death?

Do you ever wonder who the last person will be that you will see before closing your eyes and allowing death to take you on your next journey? Is there another journey after death? Are there journeys for all of us, none of us, or just some of us?

Some of us still have a birthday to look forward to this year, while the rest of us may be looking forward to a birthday next year. But what about our death day? During the last 12 months, we’ve all passed the date in the month we are going to depart this world (our death-day). Do you ever wonder about that date, knowing that it passes you by every single year?

Does not knowing the date of our death day make us better people or make our lives any more comfortable? If you knew the date of your death-day, would you change anything about the way you live your life? Would you ensure you became a better person and made the most of every single moment of your life?

#death #trees #fog #life

Do we become isolated when we die?

Would you visit those you seldom see more often knowing that you may soon lose the chance ever to see them again?

Like my step-father did, would you ensure that loved ones are taken care of by preparing for your death? As well as celebrating a birthday, shouldn’t we all celebrate our death day?

Has the location of our death already been chosen for us?

I’ve often wondered about the place where I am going to die. Is that place already somewhere I know or is it somewhere I’ve yet to visit? Will it be at home? Will it be in a shop, theatre, cinema or a bar? What season will it occur? What day of the week will it be? Perhaps, Friday (the day I was born)?

Will I be with others who all have the same death-day as me, or will I be on my own? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be alone when death approaches me. I want to be with people (just as I was on the day I was born).

I’m not sure about being surrounded by my family and friends at the time of my death. I don’t like the thought of them watching me pass away. It wouldn’t be fair to them, would it?

However, being surrounded by total strangers seem alright. I wonder if those strangers are already in my life or if I’ve yet to encounter them?

I don’t like to think about myself dying in a hospital bed or on a beautiful beach in full sun. Although I love living by the sea, the feel of sand on my skin is something I’ve never been fond of experiencing, yet its beauty attracts me.

Rainbow over Swansea

Can I become a rainbow when I die?

I do like the thought of dying while sitting in front of the TV, especially if what I am watching is making me laugh or feel happy.

Does the way we’d like to die change as we grow older?

When I was younger, the thought of passing away while in a passionate embrace was something I thought was one of the best ways to die. However, as I grew older, I started to think about how unfortunate it would be for the person with me at the time. Now, I wouldn’t want to find myself in that position. Would you?

Final thoughts

When I pass away, will anything or anybody replace me? How do I convince people not to be sad that I am no longer here? I want them to celebrate my life, not my death. Does grief have to come hand-in-hand with death? Even if it is a stranger who has just entered my life when I close my eyes for the final time, and sadness will be erased away by time, won’t it?

There is something about death that I do know. While we are still here, we should do all we can to ensure that the sadness that often comes with death is not the kind that buries its roots deeply into those that we leave behind.

Do the dead leave us behind, or are we leaving them behind?

Copyright © 2019 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Why Books And Libraries Can Be Terrifying Places

Every time I walk into my local library to pick up some recycling bags, I feel like I’m entering a world that doesn’t want me there. Or is it that I don’t want to be there?

Photo by Janko Ferlic on Pexels.com

For me, libraries can be terrifying places. Just like picking up a book and opening it can be a terrifying prospect. As an author and writer, you’d think that both would be something I’d get a lot of pleasure from.

Why I’m terrified of libraries and books?

Dyslexia – that’s the answer. As somebody who is dyslexic, reading and writing are two things I have always found difficult. When I enter the library and am faced with all those books that can introduce me to new characters and transport me to different worlds, I feel like a big door is being slammed shut right in front of me. Why? Because I know that I would find it difficult reading many of the books on the shelves.

How does being dyslexic affect me?

Being dyslexic affects me in many different ways. For example, I often find myself struggling to know what a word or its meaning is. Even when I try saying the sounds the letters make as they appear in a word, it doesn’t always come to me. Struggling on a word in the middle of a sentence can literally stop me on my reading track and, sometimes, make me feel a failure. It’s as if the word is some sort of barrier preventing me from carrying on reading.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Occasionally, when I pick up a book, I find myself coming across too many words that I don’t understand. They can be the simplest of words, yet my brain can not work out what the word actually is.

If I have to go back to the beginning of a page or chapter because I don’t understand the plot or what’s going on, I will almost certainly give up on the book. I may have another go, but more often than not I will never pick up that book again.

It’s not only about reading

When it comes to writing, one of the strangest things dyslexia does to me is not putting certain letters in the correct order. I seem to struggle if a word has both an ‘A’ and ‘C’ in it. For example, I can write the word ‘because’ in a blog post lots of times, yet Grammarly will underline every ‘because’ I’ve written because I’ve incorrectly spelt it. It’s always the ‘A’ and ‘C’ in the wrong order. I have trouble with other words where ‘A’ and ‘C’ follow each other too.

Not all is lost

I’m pleased to say that I don’t have problems reading all the books on my ‘TBR’ pile. I seem to go through peaks and dips with them. Recently, after reading a book review by author and blogger Teri Polen, I read ‘Call Drops‘ by John F. Leonard.

Not only did I get pulled into the story quickly, but I also whizzed through it in two sittings. Maybe it was the way the book had been written, but I didn’t struggle with any of it. It was the first book I’d read from start to finish in a while. Of course, I also left reviews on Goodreads and Amazon for it.

Am I reading another book?

You bet. I’m currently reading, and enjoying, The Jack Lockwood Diaries by Geoffrey David West.

A library was the setting for a piece of flash fiction from my first collection of short stories, Glimpses. Set in the future, it’s a story about a teacher who takes her pupils to a library where she reveals the truth behind the disappearance of trees.

Story #28: The Library – by Hugh W. Roberts


“And this is the library.”
The students stood open-mouthed.
“So, these are books?”
“Yes, these are books, Trudy.”
“How many are there, Mrs Millar?” inquired Tommy.
“Nobody has ever counted, but we think several million,” replied the teacher as she nodded slowly. “And paper is what every one of these books has in common.”
“So, this is the main reason why all the trees disappeared from Planet Earth?” asked Trudy.
Mrs Millar continued to nod her head while admiring the books.
“Yes, and each and every one of the authors that was alive when the last of the trees disappeared, was put to death for the crime they committed,” smiled the teacher.

Click here to buy Glimpses.

Happy endings

I allowed dyslexia to suppress my love of writing for far too long. In February 2014, when I published my first blog post, I felt like I had conquered it. Maybe I can do the same with reading books and visiting my local library?

I’ve often heard it said that people with dyslexia have unique imaginations. I’m not sure if that’s true, but it’s been a happy ending for me.

©hughsviewsandnews.com

Now it’s over to you

Are you dyslexic? How do you manage with your reading and writing? What book are you reading at the moment? Tell me about them by leaving me a comment.

This post is my entry to the Sunday Stills challenge, hosted by Terri Webster Schrandt. This week’s theme is ‘For the Love of Reading and Books.’ Click here for full details.

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True Stories: Gay Memories – Coming Out Of The Closet #LGBTQI #LGBT

One of the biggest regrets of my life is that I never sat down with my Mother and told her that I’m gay. I chose, instead, the easy option of writing to her and telling her that I was a homosexual.

nips heart wallpaper
Photo by Sydney Troxell on Pexels.com

Facing Mum for the first time, after writing that letter, I was very nervous as I travelled to where she lived. I hesitated several times before walking up to the front door, ringing the doorbell, and announcing my arrival.

What a shock I got when she came towards me with open arms and, as she gave me one of her wonderful hugs, hearing her whisper the words “I always knew you were gay, I don’t know why it took you so long to tell me.”

Mum & Hugh
Me and mum. Taken sometime in the 1980s, just after I had told her I was gay.

Not all my family were like mum, though. Some told me they were having difficulty in accepting what I was because it wasn’t the sort of thing that happened to men in the area we came from. Hurtful words, but I already knew that the best thing I could do was to keep away from those who were upset by the life I was given, and allow them to live their lives as they wanted.

Over the years, I regained contact with some of those family members and, thankfully, have the changing face of society to thank for bringing us back together.

The fact that, in the past, there had been a few other men in the family who had never married, never seemed to raise any suspicions that the family had gay people as a part of it. It may have been talked about, but never while I was in the room.

I don’t know if any of those men ever ‘came out.’ Probably not, but it must have been difficult for those that were gay at the time they lived. This only made me more determined to live my life how I wanted and not the way others wanted me to live it.

Moving to work and live in London, in 1986, was one of the most important decisions I’ve ever made. Although the city acted as a wall which seemed to protect gay people, I was still finding it difficult to ‘come out.’

It was a strange situation because the first two jobs I took in London were in industries where other openly gay people were employees.

When I took my next job, which would last 23-years, it took me six years to come out, and that was only when I heard the words “Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?” Of course, nobody cared that I was gay, yet for all those years I had been terrified what some of my work colleagues would think about me had I ‘come out’ of the closet.

Fast forward to today, and being gay is something much of society accepts. Or is it?

When we moved to our current home in South Wales, both my partner and I were a little hesitant that people would accept us. There are fewer people here than where we had lived for over 30 years. We were coming back to that place I’d been told that ‘being gay didn’t happen.’ We couldn’t have been more wrong!

People have been so welcoming, and we’re as part of the community as anyone else. Strange, though, that every now and again when I meet somebody for the first time and am asked who the other guy is that walks our dogs, that I find myself hesitating before saying “he’s John, my partner.”

Maybe some of the scars from our past never heal?

Rainbow over Swansea
Swansea Bay. A 5-minute walk from our new home.

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The Three Ladies In My Life

I have always been a lover of life. Yes, it’s thrown many wrong things at me and said: “here, deal with that!” But, my love affair with life has never ended or been anywhere near ending. I could just ‘like’ life but, no, I have always adored it and will carry on doing so until my’ sell-by date’ comes along.

The other day I was thinking about my life and reliving some memories. I tried to remember my first ever memories of life that included my mother. A few memories came to the forefront of my mind.

The memory I am sharing with you today is extraordinary because it includes three wonderful ladies who I will never forget. So, let me take you back to a day I can remember and tell you what it means to me.

I’m sitting on the floor in the huge living room of our house. In front of me is a big high dark wooden table and, on top of the table, I can just make out the brightly coloured yellow truck I had been given that day. The colour fascinated me and became my favourite colour until about twenty years ago when blue took over.

Sat at one end of the table, to my right, is the first of these ladies, my Grandmother, Nana Wallington. She looks down at me and smiles. She has thick black-rimmed spectacles, which make her eyes look huge. She’s wearing a green’ pork pie’ style hat, which has two red cherries stuck to the side and is dressed in a velvet green two-piece jacket and skirt.

Underneath the jacket, I can see a cream cardigan helping her keep warm. She wears some white pearls around her neck. Her lips are painted a bright red, and she has a pair of flat, black shoes and beige coloured stockings on. She’s quite a chubby lady and adores me because I am her first grandchild.

To my left is the kitchen. In there, I can see the back of the second of these extraordinary ladies, Mum. She’s busy peeling sprouts, and I wonder why she makes a little cross on the bottom of each sprout with the knife. I only know she is doing this because my Grandmother has told her to remember to ‘cross the sprouts’ at the base. 

I can see lots of steam coming off various pots boiling away on the stove, and the house is smelling of ‘roast dinner’. 

Mum is wearing a green flowery dress and a new pair of slippers, which are tartan green and have cream coloured fur inside them. She talks to my Grandmother about how long it will be before the men come back from the pub.

Behind me, I can hear a baby stir. It’s the third of these special ladies in my life, my baby sister, Jayne. I look behind me. Over in the corner sits a small, artificial Christmas tree lit up by colourful Victorian looking lanterns. I love looking at the bright red, green, blue, and yellow lights. The tree is on a small table to prevent me from getting my hands on the chocolates which hang from some of its branches. There are no gifts under the tree because they’ve all been opened, most of which are scattered across the living room floor.

Jayne starts to cry, and my Grandmother gets up and takes a peek inside the carry-cot while my mother continues to peel sprouts. Besides me, I notice a few selection boxes, one of which is opened. On the front of each selection box is a picture of Father Christmas in his sleigh, pulled by some reindeer over some snowy roofs and chimney pots of houses. 

Pictures of the various chocolate bars and sweets inside the box are displayed on the front of each box. To my Grandmother’s dismay, I’ve eaten most of the contents of the opened box. She tells mum that I won’t want to eat my Christmas dinner!

Upon the ceiling are pinned two colourful paper bells; one just above me and the other down the far end of the room. When taken down, unclipped, and closed up, they both look like the shape of a boot, the type my mother would wear when going out. When taking them down, my Father would always say how the form reminds him of a country called Italy and that one day he would like to take us all there for a holiday.

My Grandmother and Mum continue to talk while I play with the toys delivered the night before. Mum eventually comes into the room with two small glasses of sherry and hands one to my Grandmother. Even though I am just coming up to the age of five, I already know that these three special people will be the three most important ladies in my life.

The date is 25th December 1966.

***

In Memory Of Gwladys Elizabeth Hill, Who Sadly Passed Away On 15th September 2015

I’ll Never Ever Forget You, Mum.

Mum & Hugh

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