Life lessons from a dog

I always try to have a positive outlook on life. However, at times I find myself getting lost in a moment of drama that is usually something trivial being blown out of proportion. I sometimes wish I could be more carefree, and be better at letting things go.

I watched my dog playing in the garden. He is so easily pleased. You throw a ball for him, and his tail starts frantically wagging in excitement. He then explores the surroundings, sniffing every scent he could possibly find. He seems to live in the moment. That’s when it struck me that perhaps I should try to take some life lessons from my dog. After reading A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle I have begun to increase my awareness and try to live in the present moment. My dog has mastered that art perfectly. He explores every inch of the garden as if he had never seen it before.

Another great characteristic, which my dog seems to have a better grasp of than me is forgiveness. If he gets told off, he doesn’t sulk or behave any differently afterwards. He carries on as if nothing has happened. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just have a shake, and then that would be that? There would be no overanalysing or replaying pointless scenarios in our heads. What done is done, and now let us enjoy the present moment.

I then began to question whether his easy going personality, where not much about life phases him was due to his lower intellect. Perhaps, but in dog terms, he actually is quite clever. He learns tricks pretty quickly and remembers them. He learns people’s routines and then waits ready when he knows it’s time for him to be let out. So, I would say he probably does have the ability to sulk should he choose to, but he doesn’t. He would much rather wag his tail and want to be stroked than to lie quietly in a corner, cursing the people in his life. So I will try to have a more laid back approach to life. I will be looking up and appreciating the scenery, as if I have never seen it before and I will try to let things go. If my four legged friend can do it, then so can I!


Letter to the Prime Minister

Dear Prime Minister,

Let’s pretend you will read this letter and value my opinion. I’m writing to you to express my frustration towards the unjust tax system. I am a hard working law abiding individual on an average salary. I worked extra hours and managed to earn myself an extra £350, which I thought would come in very useful in January. Of this I naturally expected to pay my usual taxes (which I have no objection to). I was offended when I received my pay slip to find that HMRC had only paid me £136 of this additional money. This means I received 38.9% of the hard work I invested. I would also like to point out that I am by no means in the high tax bracket. I realise that £350 may not seem a lot to you. Perhaps the equivalent to a cheap bottle of wine, but to me it is a lot. I would like you to look me in the eye and explain to me how you think penalising the hard working public will encourage people to work. What is the benefit to us putting in hours of work to receive such an insulting proportion of our wages? I put it to you Mr Prime Minister, that you are creating a work environment so hostile to the general public that no one will want to work anymore. If we lose the ambition of a nation, where will we be? Rather than quibbling and insulting each other in the House of Commons like five year old children, I suggest you perhaps took a step back and assessed the system. Maybe you would realise that if you cut taxes, people are more inclined to work, and you would not only have a greater proportion of people in work, but you would also have a gain in overall tax. With multiple large companies closing down in the UK, making 1000’s of people redundant, and moving abroad, where more competitive rates are encountered, does it not make you wonder how your system is no longer viable? I used to be proud to be British. I loved living in a country where anyone could be or do whatever they wanted as long as they were willing to work hard. We are so fortunate to have a society where children can get a free education and continue from there. If one would chose to go to University, we would now have to pay £45 000 in fees alone for a five year degree. Let us not forget the additional living expenses that go on top of that. You say, we only have to pay it back once we earn a certain salary. With interest rates the way they are, we would be lucky if anybody manages to pay back the money. How are people able to get a mortgage or invest in a business? Education is now becoming a privilege, and as a result only the well-off will benefit. Again, you are creating an environment that encourages people to move and study abroad, where they will not incur these indecent charges.

Let’s go back to the money rudely deducted from my salary. I do realise that a proportion of the money deducted went towards paying off my student loan. We are not all as fortunate to obtain an Eton education and have parents pay our tuition fees. The majority of us have to take out loans. I propose to you that you put yourself into the shoes of somebody on an average income, who tries to make ends meet for just one week. How would you support yourself, a child or even an elderly person? I would love to see the changes in policies made if you were to have your monthly allowance reduced to that of an average working person, paying rent, bills and general living costs. I would also like to see a simpler, transparent tax system, which does NOT exceed 1000 pages to cover up loop holes that probably mainly politicians exploited. I don’t consider myself to be a stupid person, but I like many others find it impossible to understand the tax code. It is by far one of the most complicated ones in Europe and I suggest you look at other countries to comprise a better template.

I would love to hear your response to my points and your reasoning for punishing the hard working people of Great Britain. I realise that you will never read this letter, and that you will probably never listen. But if I don’t talk, then nothing will change. So, I’m talking.

Kind regards,

Miri Isla Hollar

A new blogger ponders

I am a notorious technophobe and if somebody had told me a year ago that I would be creating my very own blog, I would have considered them mad. Yet here I am today, writing yet another entry for my newly created blog. To be quite honest, until a few months ago, I wasn’t even really sure what exactly a blog was. As I am beginning to learn the ropes of blogging and twitter, I can see why the world has become obsessed with it. It is an incredible tool to link people and ideas, who and which would never have otherwise been collaborated or linked. It is amazing to think that people from Mexico, Oz or anywhere really are able to follow my opinions here in Scotland.

Whilst I was trying to learn the ropes of how to create a website, I put out a question to the bloggers of the world. If I was being honest, I didn’t really expect a reply, but within 24 hours, I received the answers to my questions (and they were very useful indeed). That made me think how wonderful the human race really is. How people are coming together from all over the world to help one another. The flip side to this is of course that we may be relying too much on technology and therefore losing the ability to talk to each other face to face? Should I fall flat on my face crossing the road, would people come over to help me, or would they assume I was a drunken weirdo and continue to walk? The anonymity that the net offers is a wonderful shield to hide beneath, and cyber bullying is something we all hear about. Another point to consider is that it is not all too uncommon for people to be texting, tweeting or checking e-mails at the dinner table. Surely, that is a time when we should be talking to each other, face to face?

I am very fortunate that I have lovely neighbours, who have become great friends. But how many people these days even know the name of their next door neighbour? I have heard of families, who are now communicating with each other via the likes of facebook, in their very own house! Surely, this has got to have a detrimental effect on the social skills of mankind.

On the other hand, now that I have discovered the fascinating world of cyperspace, I don’t think I will go back. It is remarkable to follow people that I find inspirational on twitter (even if at first I found it a little bit stalkerish). We are now able to put out a version of ourselves to the world at large, and hope that people can relate to it. I just hope we are not becoming to reliant on the need for people to “like” or reassure our every move. So in conclusion, now that I have opened the doors to blogging, twitter and forums, I don’t think I can close them again. But like everything in life, it is all about balance, and I still want to have dinner with my friends in person and have a phone free evening.

Why I began to write

I never really considered myself as a writer. I was always more interested in science than languages, but after I began working I used writing as a creative outlet. During my university years I worked with people who suffered from disabilities, which gave me some insight into the effect it had on their loved ones. Writing this book has been completely out of my comfort zone, not only because I never considered myself as a writer, but because I knew very little about human rehabilitation post spinal trauma (or rap music for that matter). I thoroughly enjoyed researching the topics of this book, and feel liberated through the process. I was inspired to start writing due to a pay discrepancy disagreement at my work as well as recent deaths of wealthy celebrities. I loved reading books like The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, which I find hugely inspirational. I hope that by writing the type of novel that I would like to read, I managed to relay an overall message of there being a higher purpose in life.

The story I have written entails topical political concepts (including conscious capitalism, equality and animal welfare), dealing with acquired paraplegia, the power of the mind as well as scenes of a sexual nature.

Debating current affairs, perhaps controversially at times, plays a vital role in this novel. I hope that the story teaches us not to show prejudice, not only towards people in wheelchairs, but people who portray a certain image through their appearance. I feel that talking about people with disabilities, especially about their sex lives is often a taboo subject, and I hope that this book will spark a more open debate. I also want to highlight the importance of having a well balanced life. One in which we are not obsessed that money is the sole answer to happiness.