Managing Change

We don’t realise it at the time but when we are very young many, perhaps all of us, consider that we are the centre of the universe and that everything revolves around us. We demand attention, we want everything immediately. So, we shout and scream when that does not occur. I think that in the majority of cases, as we grow we learn that we aren’t the only one around and as a result we cannot have just what we want exactly when we want it. That is very true if we have siblings, especially ones older than ourselves. Gender can also play its part! However, there are some who get spoiled and that becomes even more apparent as time passes when they begin to interact with others. Also the longer it takes for them to realise how life really is, the harder it can become for them to change their ways. Sadly, some never do. What seems to make it worse though is when the selfish person tries to turn things round and make others feel like it is their fault and that they should be the ones to change their ways! But sadly that is the classic behaviour of a narcissist. Some may give in to them and accept that way of life, but it can be damaging and ruin their lives. There are even those who have turned to extreme violence as they could see no other way for their situation to end. Happily there are a number of groups specifically designed to help folk in these circumstances by such things as counselling, in fact simply talking to someone who will listen and empathise, letting the person see that their problems can be overcome makes a real difference. They know they are not alone. I remember a lovely tv advert from years ago which featured a child who said “and when I grow up, my mummy says I’m going to be a proper little madam!”. We must surely have all met or seen people just like that and who become extremely selfish in their ways, with absolutely no thought or consideration for others. So it can be difficult to cope with such people and there are those, who despite knowing it isn’t probably in their best interests, stay with and almost ‘accept’ such folk. It may be that there is a fear of the unknown in some, as we know the old saying ‘better the devil you know than the devil you don’t’, but sometimes it can become just too much. It can be a change in your own capabilities, or perhaps in that of your partner that causes us to recognise the need to change. I know of someone who married a big, strong man and they lived together for many years, had children and grandchildren, all seemed well. Then the man became ill and was no longer big and strong, ultimately forced into giving up work. The two finally separated and divorced as his wife could not accept the change which had occurred in her husband. I have managed many changes in my own life, from coping with a muscular disability since birth, then epilepsy and later a heart problem. So I take a few tablets every day, I am very well cared for and more especially I am alive to tell others that it is eminently possible to manage change. It is easier with a positive attitude, recognising and being thankful for the not so good as well as the good because, as has been said many times, ‘falling down is often easy – it is the getting up again that can be difficult’. It also fascinating to me how attitudes have changed over the years regarding such things as disability. I worked in an office for very many years, I have said before that my work all too often involved filling in forms and quite a few of my work colleagues were absolutely delighted when computers were installed – it meant I was able to type, as being left-handed my writing was and still is nowhere near the best! Also I can only use my left hand to type but I could and I still do so fairly quickly. Not only that, but modern programs tend to include an auto-correct feature, though that can be a hindrance rather than a help at times! So before sending out each weekly blog post, I read through it carefully as if I were a stranger. I think perhaps what helps me there comes from my few years spent in a telephone directory compilation team, where we used to hand-write entries on computer cards and include simple computer code so that the computers could recognise the difference between certain letters and numbers – now that was a challenge. Most especially, we would check the results printed by the computer every week and when it came to the final checks before the directories went to final print once a year, only a very limited number of changes were allowed on the final draft! But years later I was chatting to a former work colleague who admitted they had no knowledge of my physical disabilities. Happily the years have passed and attitudes have changed, so others have learned to accept me for exactly who and what I am today.

I have said before that change is all around us, every second of the day. As I was growing up at home I would see that my mother was worried about this or that and I would politely ask her what she was worried about. Quite often it was about something in the future over which she had no control, so I would ask why she was fretting about such things. To me, such worry is like spending life in an empty room sitting in a rocking chair, going back and forth. There is action to be sure, but no achievement. With each of the generations seeds are planted in all things, then they grow and many bear fruit which feed others. Thunderstorms occur, lightning may strike trees and create a fire which can burn parts of a forest, but when that happens seeds fall and new trees slowly grow. It is a cycle of life which continues. I learned a little while ago of a man who was having difficulty organising people to get to a particular place on time, I believe it was getting equipment for a concert, something like that. He had been taught all about geography and map reading, with coordinates, Northings and Eastings but to this man it was so very complicated. So he talked to a friend and they came up with the idea of dividing the whole world up into individual three-metre squares, so each one had a simple three-word name. As a result, we now have What3words, that is described officially as a ‘proprietary geocode system’ which has been designed to identify any location with a resolution of about 3 metres (9.8ft). It is owned by What3words Limited, based in London. The system encodes geographic coordinates into three permanently fixed dictionary words. For example, the front door of 10 Downing Street, London is identified by the code ///indoor.myself.rather and can be made into a weblink by altering the code slightly to So the three words do not change, just the prefix. This has been proven to be extremely useful finding folk who are perhaps halfway up a mountain, in fact because the English version works with the world’s oceans as well, emergency services can use it to find anyone, anywhere. But even a simple thing like meeting a friend at the entrance to a stadium or maybe a caravan on a large campsite can be, I am sure, really useful. The important point is that What3words differs from most location encoding systems in that it uses words rather than strings of numbers or letters, and the pattern of this mapping is not obvious, also the algorithm mapping locations to words is proprietary and protected by copyright. The company has a website, apps for Apple iOS and Android, and an application programming interface (API) which easily converts between postal addresses, What3words addresses and latitude/longitude coordinates. The system divides the world into a grid of 57 trillion 3-by-3-metre squares, each of which has a three-word address and the addresses are available in around fifty languages. Translations are not direct, as direct translations to some languages could produce more than three words. Rather, territories are localised considering linguistic sensitivities and nuances. Each What3words language uses a list of 25,000 words (40,000 in English, as it covers sea as well as land). The lists are manually checked to remove homophones and offensive words. The company states that densely populated areas have strings of short words due to more frequent usage, whilst less populated areas such as the North Atlantic use more complex words. Sometimes the simplest of things can be the best of ideas. As many of you know, some years ago I was able to go on a superb cruise holiday and as part of that cruise aboard the P&O ship ‘Arcadia’, each day the position, course and speed was given. I have now converted all of the daily latitude and longitude details into What3words and one example is which links directly to a three metre square on board a cruise ship in the bay close to Akaroa, New Zealand. The link opens a web page with various options, including different views and sharing options. Alternatively, if I arrange to meet someone in Birmingham, perhaps by an entrance to the Symphony Hall I would share the link It can also be useful finding a car in a car park, maybe like the three words pull.bids.push, which can be seen on a web page as It would even work in a multi-storey one, I would just need to remember which level I was parked on! I could say the three words to a car Satnav, as a few have this feature now, or over the phone or text the link to a friend. I think that I will try and use this facility. I don’t often advertise, but on this occasion I think this is worth sharing. Having said that, you could already be using What3words. But just in case not…

As I have already mentioned, we live in a constantly changing world and it is, generally, our choice as to how we manage that change. But then sometimes that adjustment is forced upon us by a change in outside circumstances. I know of one particular man here in England who got married and they had children, but then their circumstances changed. Years later the man married again and this time he and his new wife had several children in a fairly short space of time. Meanwhile around them the world was still turning and the government of the time decided to ask its residents if they should either be staying in the European Union, or leave it. As a result, a referendum was put to the people of the country. It was called ‘Brexit’, a portmanteau of ‘British exit’ and resulted in the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union at 23:00 GMT on 31 January 2020. It meant that at that time, the UK was the only sovereign country to have left the EU. The UK had been a member state of the union and its predecessor the European Communities (EC) since 1 January 1973. Following Brexit, EU law and the Court of Justice of the European Union no longer had privacy over British laws, except in certain areas relating to Northern Ireland. As many expected, not everyone was happy with the decision to leave the EU, but the decision was reached by a majority vote. However, there are still people who continue to moan and complain that it was the wrong choice. I believe that the man who I mentioned earlier has stated how wrong he thought it was and he continues to moan, but I hope he will be educating all his children that despite all our hopes, dreams and wishes our lives may not always work out quite as we would have wished. I am reminded of the sorry tale about the young man who, having recently passed his driving test, went on a drinking spree to celebrate but then, whilst drunk, drove his father’s car at excessive speed and whilst he survived the subsequent crash he killed his best friend. Despite our best efforts, we make mistakes and must live with the consequences, no matter what they may be. I am presently living in a Care Home as I do my best to recover from medical issues, in my case my heart has a damaged mitral valve which I have had since birth, I have a muscular weakness on my right side and I also have epilepsy. It has meant that I am unable to do certain things, but I have learned to adapt, more especially to accept the changing circumstances as I have grown older. I am in a place where a few folk have dementia and I see how they live from day to day, they are fed, they are cared for and most especially they are treated properly and with respect. I am allowed to do as much as I can for myself, to manage as best I can, but if I need help I have learned to politely ask for it. To ask for and accept help has perhaps been the hardest thing for me to do as over the years I have learned to be independent as far as possible. We see and learn change all the time with lives, even species dying out, but there is definitely an innate willingness in so many of us to survive, to continue, to learn and to better ourselves. Yes, change continues and who knows what will occur on Earth in years to come. So I do my best to learn from the past, live in the present and look to the future with a smile. Which reminds me of a lovely quote, with I have included below.

A quote by Srinivas Arka.

This week…
The other day I happened to watch a clip from the tv series ‘Yes, Prime Minister’, which to me was extremely entertaining. The prime minister had come up with what he thought was “a brilliant idea, a real vote-winner”, as it would allow parents to choose for themselves which school they could send their children to. But Sir Humphrey Appleby was utterly appalled at the idea. In his eyes, choosing a school was a job for civil servants, as it was beyond the capability of parents! The Prime Minister then enquired who chose the school that he, Sir Humphrey, went to and with a knowing smile, Sir Humphrey replied “Oh, my parents, naturally…”.

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