My story part V (2001 -2011) Julia

When John and I first started our M25/M3/M27 relationship John was pretty stoney-broke as he wasn’t working having been made redundant. So when he came to stay with me and we went out I would readily pay for anything we went to – evidently it wasn’t his wealth that was the attraction. However he had put an advert out offering himself as a driver and had had quite a few interesting responses. Including picking up members of the local NSF group, now known as Rethink for their weekly meeting. They really liked him, his humbleness, his gentle sense of humour, his willingness. He befriended one lovely lady, Sue who asked him to take her and her daughter to visit her parents and family in Swansea, which became a regular assignment two to three times a year. The family took a real liking to John and treated him as one of the family complete with the mum’s wonderful home cooking. His first real taste of a big loving family.

He also joined a singing group and volunteered weekly to do the washing and drying up at the local MS centre. Through our discussions on BK he found a local Raja Yoga meditation course and then joined a care agency. He began to earn a wage again as they found him lots of work with people of all ages with disability physical and mental, elderly and young people with autism.

So when I moved to Bournemouth in 2001 to join him, I also joined the same agency so we could work ‘as and when we wanted to‘ and still have plenty of time ‘to play‘ for ourselves. Sharing lots of long walks & fair weather cycling, we even brought ourselves some roller blades and later enjoying our own overseas holidays & weekends away. To Bulgaria when John courageously tried his first ski-ing, to swim in crystal clear blue waters in the Caribbean, lots of cycling in Kos and had a great holiday in Turkey where we read and shared more of NDW’s Conversations with God books.

I cannot recommend these Conversation with God books enough. They are literally written as a dialogue between God and Neale. They are very humourous together and quite irreverent at times. The words discussed will open your mind to new ideas to ponder upon – one story told which made a real profound change in my understanding and enabled me to see the parts we all play in a different light was the Story of Little Soul– see if it gives you some food for thought.

Even at this time I wanted to share these books and had composed my own ‘reading list‘ of all the books to date that had influenced me – the first person I gave this to was Beverley who we met on our holiday to Turkey. Beverley was with her two children celebrating her 40th  birthday and when she stepped out from the lift she positively shone, she had a beautiful light and we connected instantly. Since our meeting and sharing, Beverley was ready to become aware of her own spiritual path and continues to grow, and learn, and walk it boldly.

By the time John and I met the amazing Julia in April 2003 on a Disabled Christians Fellowship holiday to Cyprus, we had regularly been as volunteer helpers on overseas holidays for Winged Fellowship Trust. I have the most complimentary evaluations when I won the Best Speaker Award at our Cottonwood Speakers meeting from an evening 3 months later, when I spoke in awe of Julia. John and I are both agreed that she has become our lifetimes greatest teacher. No one could ever personify the lessons of patience, determination, perseverance, tolerance, gratitude and appreciation as much as our friend Julia.

Julia has cerebral palsy, hearing impaired and since going blind is now in a wheelchair and reliant on her excellent team of carers or P.A’s as Julia likes to call them, who support her independent life in her council adapted bungalow in south east London.

Another unexpected gift from our friendship with Julia developed from our second holiday with her, again to Cyprus when the three of us curiously attended the open prayer sessions led by Jenny the DCF holiday leader, herself in a wheelchair since contacting meningitis when a young nurse. We were really inspired and touched by the simplicity of these meetings and since our return, John and I decided that we would do our own prayer session every morning at home.

This prayer time has become our daily morning practice.We always start with thanks for this new day, and thanks for a good nights rest. Acknowledgement of all we have done the day before and blessings for all we are to do for today. Thanks for our cosy little home, our delightful garden and the peace that surrounds us, including our neighbours. Thanks for our beautiful, healthy families. Thanks for the amazing abundance we have in our life. Thanks for each otherThanks for our wonderful bodies especially Johns incredible ‘one remaining little kidney’ that continues to hold it’s own with all of our love and prayers. I had also shared my Lucis Trust prayers with John and he had learnt them both, bless him and we say them with the Sai Baba morning prayer and then, the Lords prayer at the end, before going into our own quiet time and private prayers.

It is also through Julia that many of our daily practices were enhanced – bringing into the moment and noting and appreciating every wonderful simple action that our amazing body does for us; in gratitude with awareness for each breath (no breath, no life!!!); for our eyes that see & appreciating the many simple beautiful sights there are; being able to hear with our ears; being able to feed & dress ourselves; the automatic processes of our organs and digestive system that happily serve us 24/7; having hot running water to be able to wash ourselves and flushing the toilet after a natural bodily movement; having money in our purse; to name just a few – what a lot we have to be thankful for?  TYG

This in itself can be a meditation whenever we decide to take precious time out to consciously reflect. They used to say, ‘Be thankful for small mercies‘ and ‘Count your Blessings’ – take time to look at what you do have and not focus on ‘what you don’t have’ – remembering we always have a choice. This choice is our Will – what do you choose to dwell upon? Remembering that whatever we feed will grow.

Over the next 6 years we were priviledged to take Julia on many holidays, including one to Portugal where she was delighted to be allowed up close and personal with a dolphin. Two years ago in 2015 when her main carer John who was her best & incredibly loyal friend died, bless him, he was tired and worn out after being on dialysis for more than 5 years – all her many friends thought Julia might go down herself after his death, however this woman continues to show what true resilience is – she is utterly amazing and we are so blessed to call her our friend.

Very soon I began to experience a bit of a void eventually realising that I needed to be involved in some form of voluntary work again. In Harrow I had been a driver for a Contact the Elderly group so I searched if there was one locally. There was already a very established one and when visiting the organizer she suggested I start my own group in the Poole area. For two years or more we developed a lovely little group which we felt was divinely inspired,  with three other drivers beside John and myself, and about fifteen very sweet ‘oldies’ who qualified as being ‘lonely and isolated‘. We gathered them up one Sunday in the month, and drove them to the home of a volunteer hostess, whose only credentials were to have a big tea-pot, a big heart, a downstairs toilet and provide lots of sandwiches and cakes. Our group was very special and we would have a jolly sing-song, simple quizzes, a few games of bingo, and a raffle. They really looked forward to it – we were even featured on a Channel 4 TV programme called ‘Just a Moment’ in 2004,the video tape sits on my book shelf.

Whilst trying to find kind people to host the Sunday tea party – it was a brilliant idea as you only had to find twelve hostesses and they only had to offer once a year!! – I was guided to ask for volunteers at our local Positive Living Group which was now organised by a lovely lady called Sue Stone and her delightful daughter and twin boys. Sue has continued on her own amazing spiritual journey to become a powerful motivational speaker and happiness

About two years earlier, pre Sue, John and I actually did a talk at PLG together called “Life Enhancement through Giving” referring to all the times we both had benefited from our service to others.

And here I was at the end of one of Sue’s PLG meetings telling them about the benefits of volunteering with Contact the Elderly. Natalie, Sue’s daughter quickly persuaded her mum to host a party and that is how I really got to know and admire Sue – she is one of those rare people who really walks her talk.

My group of Contact the Elderly came to an end after my dear Mum had died, (see full story My Inspirational books 2004)  and my Dad moved into a local sheltered scheme and needed more of his daughter’s time to look in about every 6 weeks.

That was the year of the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami and interestingly, my John and I were seeing if early morning meditation was for us. Around 4.30 am that day we were in our lounge, quietly attempting to meditate when John became quite distressed and couldn’t continue, feeling quite dizzy. It wasn’t until hearing the news later that morning did we realised that John had actually felt the fear and after effects of the tsunami. He definitely is the psychic one – and together we decided not to continue with our early morning meditation.

That same day my son was actually on holiday visiting the beautiful islands of Thailand and the previous day had been diving in the Andaman Sea – had he been there the following day God only knows what would have happened to him but he had sub-consciously been divinely guided to move to the other side of the island. TYG

Whilst still doing the agency work, the Universe brought to my attention a brilliant holiday company for people with disabilities who were looking for staff – this really took my attention. So John and I offered ourselves in June 2005 spending the first week in Weston-Super-Mare supporting the owner Wendy and her husband who ran most of the holidays themselves. We must have made a good impression as they asked if would like to join their team and lead some of their forthcoming holidays ourselves see ; 

We were blessed to have an amazing five years with them doing over twenty holidays, me organizing the group and John supporting me and being my transport manager – driving the mini-bus to carry the group around. We would pray together for each of their highest good and the harmony of the group, each morning of the week before the holiday. We worked so well together and did many holidays in Southport, York, Scarborough, Norfolk Broads and overseas to Lanzarote, Tunisia, Euro Disney, USA and, every year taking up a hotel in Bournemouth for the whole of August. We would have some other wonderful support staff and together we created some really memorable times for the clients who would go home happy and totally relaxed, looking forward to coming again. My Dad even came with us for a week in his 89th year, one Christmas week to Southport.

John had also found his own niche as a volunteer at another centre for young adults, nearby in Ringwood. This was before the tightening up of all this ‘health and safety nonsense’ and he would take out his own group by himself, usually about 6 – 8 of them. They would drive by mini-bus out into the Hampshire countryside, where they went for a healthy long walk, ending up back at the vehicle which would have been parked conveniently where they could get a cup of tea, a piece of cake and the must-have toilet. They all enjoyed this time together for a couple years and the group really bonded with my John and he with them. He was also invited to accompany them on a number of their holidays.  Sadly his time for driving the mini-bus came to an end  when his age became greater than the insurance coverage.

Part VI  (2011 – 2016)