A-Z of Blogging

All posts in the A-Z of Blogging category

G is for Gratitude

Published 19/12/2016 by julierkendrick

Most of you know that at the beginning of the year I spent time in hospital after collapsing with heart problems (more about this next time), and the cliche is that it makes you realise that you shouldn’t take things for granted etc etc. Yes that is true, it’s a cliche for a reason but I think for me it has been more than that.

There was a period of time this year when I didn’t actually know if I would survive. I know that sounds dramatic but the doctors initially didn’t think I was taking it seriously enough and told Trevor to make me understand that this is a sudden death condition. It’s a very strange feeling to have your husband sit you down and tell you that you could die. But it did the trick and I became very aware of the severity of the issue.

Anyway, since leaving hospital I have started to look at life in a pretty wonderful way. Ever since my mother became ill and spent the next 20 years plus feeling sorry for herself and saying ‘why me, why me?’, I was determined that if I ever became ill I would be the complete opposite. I had that chance this year and grabbed it with both hands.  Instead of thinking, and saying, ‘why me?’ I have turned it round and said “why NOT me?” I’m no more special than anyone else. My life hasn’t been terrible. Yes I’ve had many difficult times but I got through them to where I am today. My overriding thought about what has happened to me this year is this; it is just my turn.

All of us at some point has had a loved one who has been ill or who has had to face something terrible in their life. If we are good people (and all of you are), we try to help them as much as we can and be there for them and, if you are a person of faith, pray for them. So this year I found myself being on the receiving end of the help, support, love and prayers.

And boy did it make a difference.

I didn’t realise how many wonderful people I have in my life. My husband, who adores me, was my absolute rock. My 4 wonderful sons phoned, visited and generally made me laugh like they always do. Sam, ahhh Sam he was only 14 and obviously scared but he put on a brave face and supported his dad, growing up a little quicker than he should have had to. My remarkable friends, Diane, Glen, Kala, Jimi, Nicky and so many more showed how they care in their own ways by always being at the end of the phone or at the end of my bed. And my church family. What incredible people they are. They prayed for me and supplied Trevor with hugs and unending love and spiritual support.

So, with all of this positivity around me how can I not be grateful? How can I not see the good in this situation. I look at the beautiful area in which I live and breathe in the clear fresh air and I am so happy to be alive. I see my dogs playing and being silly, making us all laugh and I am so glad that they are mine. I think about my 4 boys and feel my heart burst when I think of each one individually. I look at my house and possessions and remember the hard times Trevor and I have had and how far we have come. I think about my friends and smile, feeling blessed that each one of them is in my heart.

I now have my own business and fully intend to make a success of it. I want to spend the rest of my life, however long that is, being surrounded by things that make me happy. Not because I want to be selfish or that I am thinking only about my own wants but because I NEVER want to stop being grateful. I never want to stop getting pleasure from watching butterflies land on flowers, from listening to my dogs snoring, from singing at the top of my voice to a song that touches me, from the smell of Christmas candles, from surrounding myself with beautifully soft balls of wool, from being kissed fully on the lips.

Life is so magnificent and we truly don’t know how long we have ours for so I implore you not to forget the small things, the tiny things that can actually make your day when you focus on them and not the negativity that can obscure the clarity of a beautiful existence.

Gratitude. It’s a powerful thing.

gratitude-quotes

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F is for Father

Published 26/10/2016 by julierkendrick

I decided to wait until today to write this blog post for a very special reason. Today is my dad’s birthday. But not just any birthday. If he was still alive today would be his 100th birthday. He would have had his telegram from the Queen’s this morning (or does she text now?) and we would have celebrated in true dad style, but having a nice cup of tea.

photo-26-10-2016-14-53-46

This is Roy. He was my dad. A painfully shy man that liked a flutter on the horses and nice roast dinner with his favourite veg, runner beans. There is so much I could tell you about this man but I’ll give you a few bullet point facts.

  • He was the eldest of 3 and had 2 younger sisters. They all got on exceptionally well their whole lives. I never knew them to argue or fall out.
  • My dad never drank or shouted and I only heard him swear a handful of times. He did however, smoke like a chimney.
  • He was married before he met my mum and had a son and a daughter (neither of whom want to know me).
  • He was in the RAF and took part in WW2, however he never ever set foot in a plane and never flew in his whole life.
  • There was 25 years between him and my mum and when I was born he was 54. He was often mistaken as my grandfather.
  • He was very affectionate and loved to brush my hair when I was little.
  • My dad was a Christian and encouraged my faith but never forced me to go to church. He did take me to Sunday School but I never ever saw him inside a church.
  • He was an absolute stickler for good English and spelling and instilled in me a love of language. On a Sunday afternoon when I was Primary School age he used to set me 10 spellings that I had to get right and those I didn’t I had to write 10 times each. This wasn’t a punishment more like practice of an art form. I never resented this and have passed this on to my boys too. I hope he would be proud.
  • He was terrified of hospitals and throughout my life only had to go in once, in 1985 when he had heart failure. He was in a week and then on meds for the rest of his life but he was to all intents and purposes as fit as a butcher’s dog.
  • I believe he knew he was going to die because in the week leading up to his death he wanted to spend a lot of time with my boys who were 3, 2 and 8 months at the time. He told me they were wonderful boys and would make me proud. He was right. I am sad he never got to meet Trevor or Sam. He would have loved them.
  • My dad died very suddenly and unexpectedly on 10th May 1995 aged 78. He rang me up at midday saying he felt ill and I told him I would take him to the Doctor’s at 6pm. He had his lunch and fell asleep on the sofa, like he did every afternoon, and never woke up. Unbeknownst to him he had a massive stroke and a brain Hemorrhage. He never felt any pain and never had to suffer the indignity of being in hospital.
  • His last words to me were “I love you Julie”.

It’s been 22 years since we lost him and I really do think about him most days but today is definitely dedicated to him. Happy 100th Birthday Daddy. I love you.

tommie-s-tools-100th-day-of-school-vcig1u-clipart

E is for Epiphany

Published 14/10/2016 by julierkendrick

Well hello again. It’s been a while. About 2 years I think and for that I must apologise.  I don’t really know why I stopped writing because I really do enjoy it and the feedback I received from my blog was always positive.

Anyway, this quick post is just to let you all know that I have recently had an epiphany and will now be writing my blog again. This amazing turnaround occurred earlier this year and I will document it, among other things,  over the coming posts to keep you all entertained with my musings. There will generally be one post per week although I am sure that some burning issue will crop up and i will have to add my own take on it.

I am going to continue with the A-Z of blogging because I like a challenge and, well it’s taken me 2 years to come up with ‘E is for Epiphany’ so I can only improve when we come to letters like Q and X (gulp).

Please feel free to comment, either here or on Facebook, I’d love to hear what you have to say too.

epiphany

See you soon

Julie 🙂

 

D is for Dads

Published 11/06/2013 by julierkendrick

As we are fast approaching Father’s Day here in the UK I thought it would be appropriate to make D for Dads.

Last year I posted a tribute to my own dad which you can read here if you wish so I won’t talk much about him in this post. Over the years dads have had a bad rap. When a relationship breaks down it is usually the man that leaves and the mother that brings up the kids. Now before you all leave comments saying that I am generalising etc please read on. Of course there are dads that leave and never see their kids, or become someone that pops in and out of their lives when it suits but that is by no means the norm now. I have heard of plenty of mothers doing the same.  I have many male friends who are dads and this post is really a tribute to them.

dad 2

One of my friends has been separated from his wife for a few years now and he has willingly brought up his kids. He does everything for them and although he has a full time job he runs his house like clockwork. He spends quality time with them, has instilled good morals and values in them, he is silly with them and strict with them. These two kids are so well rounded and happy that they are a testament to him and he is a testament to dads everywhere. He proves that a single father is as good as a single mother. In fact in his case he may even be better because they are all happy and that is surely preferably to being in an unhappy marriage!

I also have a friend who is a dad and and few years ago came out as being gay. As shocked as his family was, they accepted this. His son, however has been completely unaffected by this revelation. His dad is his dad and they love each other deeply. They are so close and spend as much time together as possible. My friend has a partner now and as often as they can all three go on holidays together. My friend has never felt he has to over-compensate for his sexuality. He is still the boy’s father and he disciplines him and gives him support and advice like any good parent would. Once again another example of a great dad.

dad 3

Of course I know plenty of dads that are still in a relationship with their children’s mother. I love it when I see hands on dads over the park, playing football, doing food shopping, watching ballet lessons and generally spending time with their offspring. It makes my heart go all fuzzy. I don’t know why this is but it may be because I like the fact that old generalisations and opinions of dads are wrong.

My husband, Trevor is an amazing dad. What makes him so fabulous is not only the relationship that he has with our son, Sam but also the one he has built over the years with my other 3 sons. When we met I was already a mother to 3 little boys aged under 6. That must have been a daunting prospect for him to take on 3 children that young. But he did it without question and in the 15 years that we have been together the boys and he have cultivated great relationships. All 3 are very different boys and he has a unique bond with each one. I am very proud to say that over that time, even through teenage turmoils and hormones they have never said the dreaded words “You’re not my dad”. They respect him as their step-dad and one of my boys even told me that he felt lucky in that he had two dads.

dad

I do hope that this post hasn’t come across as patronising, it certainly is not meant that way. I just want to give a all dads a cheer and say

Happy Father’s Day you wonderful men.

 

 

Julie 🙂

 

 

 

C is for Children

Published 02/06/2013 by julierkendrick

I imagine you are thinking that this blog post will be about my 4 boys and how wonderful they are and how much I love them etc etc…. WRONG!

Don’t misunderstand me, all of the above is true but I am feeling the need to have a rant about other peoples kids.  I have heard many times, people say “I really can’t stand other peoples kids”, well I have to say I sympathise with them. Generally I feel the same. Now obviously my friends have kids and they are lovely, for the most part (ha ha ha sorry friends) but there seem to be so many parents that have no idea how to bring up their offspring.

Working in Waterstones brings me into contact with children and their parents on a daily basis and regardless of how they behave I have to be polite and helpful. But believe me some of these kids, and parents push my buttons.

So, here is a list of my pets hates in ranting format:

1. Kids that don’t say “Thank You”. As obvious as this is it still really irks me. A child will come to the till and give me their book and the money and I have a little chat with them about what they have chosen and then when the transaction is complete I hand over the bag. I expect to be thanked for this but 95% of the time the kid takes the bag and walks off. What tends to make this worse is that the parent invariably says nothing to the child. They usually thank me themselves but I don’t want thanks from them. They have send their child up to buy the book and they look on proudly as Johnny/Jenny gives the money over and takes their purchase but they haven’t taught them how to complete the process with a polite ‘Thank you’.  Much to my colleagues amusement I have taken to holding on to the bag whilst the child tries to wrestle it from my grasp as I wait for the thanks I am due. Some kids, cotton on and say it but others just looks dumbly at the parents who look dumbly back at me until I give up and let them have the damn bag.

2. Kids that say “I want”. This one again falls into the category of manners. It’s not just the words ‘I want’ that bother me so much as the demanding nature in which they are expressed. “I want that Gruffalo”, “I want 2 books” and the worst, “I want more money”. Whenever I hear these words I look at the parents and hope that they will firmly but quietly tell their child that these demands will not be tolerated and that “May I have” is a much better way of expressing ones wishes. Yeah, that almost never happens. What does happen is one of two things. Either the parent gives in and the child is presented with said Gruffalo, books, money or the child is completely ignored by the parent and continues to repeat “I want….. I want….” ad infinitum. It takes all of my will not to march up to the child and give them a lesson in manners that hopefully the parent will learn from too.

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3. Screaming toddlers. Now I know that toddlers can be a nightmare. I know that they have no sense of spacial awareness. I know that they have no social skills. I can accept all of these things with a sigh and a smile. What I cannot bear, though, are toddlers that just screech for apparently no reason. Kids between the ages of 18 months and 3 years tend to have the highest pitched voices and can scream louder than Janet Lee in Psycho. Why, why, why do they do this? What do they hope to achieve by bursting the ear drums of everyone within a half mile radius? I have taken to glaring at the child to try and encourage them to shut up; and I have a very scary glare. If that doesn’t work then I glare at the parents. But then I realise that these are probably the parents who will end up giving in to the child in a few years once it starts in with the “I want…..” routine.

4. Destructive brats. I don’t know about you, but I taught my children not to touch when they went into shops. Our children’s section is bright and colourful and of course invites kids from 0-17 to explore so I don’t expect the no touching rule to apply here. I do, however, expect the no mindless destruction rule to apply. We have a spinner for Mr Men books so that they can all be easily seen. I have lost count of the times that a destructive brat has spun the display so fast the books fly off. Not the worst of crimes, I grant you, but once again the parent from hell steps in to make the situation just peachy. They pull the child away leaving the books all over the floor, sometimes even treading on them as they leave. (Excuse me while I hyperventilate a little). I have even heard parents say “Don’t worry about putting them back, the lady will do it for you.” What the hell??? I did not clear up after my own kids when they were deliberately messy, I made them do it. I am certainly not going to do it for some spoilt brat who thinks it’s OK to tread on books. My colleague, Della, who runs the kids section has her work cut out for her every day. She spends most of her time putting books back where they belong and straightening bent pages. Don’t even get me started on the problems we have during half term.

5. Nose pickers. Bogies are disgusting I think we are all agreed. Kids pick their noses, we are still agreed. But please please please tell me why they feel the need to wipe them on something that is not a tissue. I’ve seen bogies being wiped on our display tables, chairs and even on a book that the kids was holding at the time. It was this particular child’s parent I told that she was wiping her nose products on our merchandise. The mother smiled and said “Yes, she does it all the time.” Unbelievable. The only saving grace was that she bought the book. Urgh!

6. Smelly teenagers. It’s not just small kids that drive me insane, teenagers that don’t wash test my patience too. Teenagers are bags of hormones and sweating is a prerequisite to growing up but it is the parents job to inform their young adult that they need to pay attention to their personal hygiene. There now, that wasn’t difficult was it? Apparently that doesn’t generally happen in these kids’ households. The other thing about teenagers is that they tend to hang around in large groups. This at least triples the smell and I am surprised that there is not a grey cloud above their heads like there was over Pig Pen in the Peanuts comics. When these youngsters wander in to the shop I want to formally introduce them to a bar of soap or a roll on deodorant at the very least but instead, when they leave, I spray the shop with polish to restore the lovely book shop smell.

Pig Pen

Pig Pen

I have found compiling this list quite therapeutic. I am sure you all think I’m a grumpy old cow now and yes, at times I am but is it so wrong to expect children to behave when they are in public? And when they don’t is it too much to expect the parents to deal with them effectively?

I, of course invite your comments below but please don’t pick your nose when you type them.

Until next time.

Julie 🙂

B is for Books

Published 26/05/2013 by julierkendrick

Continuing the A-Z theme, B is unsurprisingly for Books.

Being as passionate as I am about writing, it obviously follows that I am just as passionate about books, A is for Author has already laid testament to that fact.

Working in a book shop is the most amazing job for me and I am extremely lucky that I work in one of the best. Being surrounded by brand spanking new, pristine books with their crisp pages and intoxicating smell is a joy I get to experience for about 20 hours every single week. I have had many jobs from being a driving instructor to a police officer but I have to say that this is by far my most favourite. I love it when our daily delivery arrives and I get to rummage through the big totes full of books to see if any new releases have been sent, and of course keeping one or two (or three) aside for myself.

The Best Book Shop

The Best Book Shop

There is, of course, a down side to working with books….. oh yes there really is.

Firstly, most of my wages end up going in the till. 😦

There is also the very minor matter of having no more room for books in my house. Of course I bought a Kindle, and I love it, but there is no substitute for the real thing.

I have persuaded my long suffering book widower to fill our spare room with shelves because I have made a radical decision. I will only keep books that I haven’t read. (Excuse me while I have a few palpitations here). Now that may not seem radical to you but when you have been reading for nearly 40 years and have still got most of the books you started reading at 6, you have a slight storage problem. When I told Trevor my plan I could see he was genuinely pleased that books would be leaving our house but, as he knows me so well he knows they have also continued to arrive in their droves. My ‘to read’ list is huge and this isn’t a metaphorical list. Oh no. I actually buy the books I want to read even though I haven’t read the last 200 I bought.

A small sample of my 'to read' books

A small sample of my ‘to read’ books

Anyway, my latest project was to get my books organised. A very exciting job.  I piled all of the unread ones on my bed and got one of my many many notepads (another addiction, but we’ll leave that one for now) and labelled the pages A-Z. I then entered each book, alphabetically by author until every single one was recorded.

OK, so what is the point? Aha! that is the ingeniousness of this plan. When you have as many books on your ‘to read’ list as I do, you can imagine that I invariably forget what I have already got. How then can I add books unless I have an organised record of each one? See… genius.

Just don’t tell Trevor.

My book bible

My book bible

 

Catch ya later – Julie 🙂

A is for Author

Published 03/05/2013 by julierkendrick

Well it is the start of my new blogging journey. Blogging from A – Z. Unsurprisingly I will be starting with A and I think it would be silly if I didn’t write about being an author.

Most authors have someone who inspired them to start writing.  It may have been a teacher or parent but I would guess that for most it is someone who wrote the books they loved to read as a child. I, like most little girls growing up in the 70’s and 80’s loved Enid Blyton. I devoured everything I could get my hands on that had been penned by her from The Wishing Chair to Malory Towers.  So quintessentially English but nothing like the childhood I knew.   Growing up in the heart of East London couldn’t be further removed from the beautiful countryside and lashings of ginger beer the Famous Five were used to. But for me that was the appeal. Stories of boarding school, children detectives, a wonderland at the top of a tree and a chair that could fly constantly stimulated my imagination and the stories I wrote in my wallpaper covered exercise books were full of amazing fairies and rainbows and don’t forget lashing of ginger beer.

Enid Blyton

Enid Blyton

As I grew older my love for reading grew with me. I moved on to books by Judy Blume which helped me through my teenage years with stories such as “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret?” and Deenie. I still had a good stock of Enid Blyton’s to read and re-read though.

It was when I reached the age of about 15 that I discovered horror, in the form of none other than Stephen King. I still remember the first book of his I read; Cujo, the story of a dog who catches rabies told from the dog’s point of view. Amazing! This was a whole new world of reading for me and probably the first book that made me cry (I could never watch the film). This book was quickly followed by Pet Semetary, Thinner, Salem’s Lot and It (which was the inspiration for my story Chuckles). How could one author, scare me, amuse me and make me cry all in one book? I just wanted to be able to do that too.  Richard Laymon, James Herbert, Dean Koontz, Sean Hutson are amazing horror writers all of whom have inspired me and continue to do so.

The Original Cover I Had

The Original Cover I Had

Stephen King

Stephen King

Now, though there is an new genre it’s called YA or young adult. Wow, this didn’t exist when I was a young adult. So there was nothing to ease us in to the world of adult fiction.   That’s not necessarily a bad thing but I am envious of the teenagers of today, so many authors writing just for them.  The world of writing has expanded like never before and as subject matter pretty much anything goes. Young adults are not stupid or gullible and they don’t like to be patronised or humoured with watered down adult fiction. Oh no, YA tackles gritty subjects like  death, puberty, sex, divorce and an endless list of issues that affect the youth of today. But they are also still very young at heart and have the joy of books like Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. In fact the YA genre has exploded on to the scene so comprehensively that more adults than ever are buying books from this section.  Some of my new favourite authors write for the YA market, Amanda Hocking, Cassandra Clare and Lauren Kate to name but 3 and there are more being published every day.

So with all of this inspiration, all of these wonderful stories written by extremely talented authors how the hell will I ever measure up? You know what? It doesn’t matter, but I wont know until I try.

With 14 published short stories under my belt I am now in the process of writing two books, both aimed at the YA market. One is a paranormal romance and the other a genre fusion of paranormal and crime. I’ll keep you updated with how they progress.

Oh and by the way I still have a copy of The Wishing Chair on my shelf.

Wishing Chair

Wishing Chair

See you all soon.

Julie 🙂