Awards Are Awesome…And…

I have mixed feelings about all awards, not just bloggers awards.,

We’ve just had the New Year Queen’s Honours list announced in this country, and as usual the people who’ve had successful careers – many of them having made pots of money – have had the top honours and titles. At the bottom of the list were the people who deserved the top awards – people who’d loved and fostered 150 children, someone who’d worked teaching oldies how to keep fit for 57 years, a solitary SPCA worker, who’d rescued countless animals…

When it comes to bloggers awards my feelings are mixed too… not, I hasten to say, because the wrong people get them! But when I was ten my father sent me to a convent school. The nuns were mostly French and Belgian, but the bane of my life was not a nun, but a bigoted Irish maths teacher – the only person there who was not a nun.

She made up for it by being far more religious than the rest of them put together, so that even in the middle of long division she’d stop us all to stand up and recite the Angelus. Everyone loved it, because we stopped doing maths for about five minutes!

I had three strikes against me as far as she was concerned. I was hopeless at maths. I wasn’t a Catholic  – and secretly refused to pray as she instructed,  for my non-Catholic parents – I just didn’t believe they were going to end up in hell and pits of flame.

The third strike and final nail in my coffin came in the middle of a maths lesson when I became so angry at hearing history being twisted, and how beastly we Protestants had been to the “puir” Catholics like Guy Fawkes who’d tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament, and other famous plotters, that I rebelled.

I stood up to answer back with Bloody Mary’s burnings, the Borgia Pope’s poisonings and the Spanish Inquisition’s torturing and burning. (Thanks to my grandmother’s book shelves I had all the information at my finger-tips.)

I got no further than the Inquisition, because she clapped her hands against her ears and cried out in her thick Irish brogue to the rest of the class: “Oh what a pack of Protestant lies!”

No-one spoke to me for a long time after that. The worst thing was the regular and ritual public humiliation of being picked for teams of rounders and netball. The nuns would choose two girls to pick their teams. One by one the team leaders pointed to their best friends, their next best friends, the people who weren’t any good at games, and finally I was left – to tag onto one or other team. Always last to be chosen – if you could call it that – the most unpopular girl in the class.

This preamble is actually about Awards!

I was bowled over by the generosity of Stephanie at http://kokopellibeefreeblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/27/acknowledging-the-acknowledgement/ and oawritingspoemspaintings   who each gave me an award on my first day back at the office – I mean blogging! I love reading about people’s awards, and learning things about them, and reading the blogs that they nominate.

I totally get what a great idea it is, what a gift it feels to those who receive the awards, and what a gift too to the blogging world, as we are given the opportunity to explore new blogs we otherwise wouldn’t have come across.

Like everyone else, I’m always tickled pink when someone thinks of me too, and it’s always rather moving to read what others have to say about one’s blogs. The generous recognition from fellow writers, and from what feels like family is very precious.

But when it comes to dealing with awards, my heart sinks, and I feel overwhelmed. I’m so kack-handed that my computer skills are zilch, and I simply can’t work out how to deal with the technical side of it all.

But the real nub of the matter, is that I flinch from trying to pick just a handful of deserving blogs from all the lovely blogs I read. I hate to think of people feeling they’ve been left out of the netball team, or left at the end of the queue… whenever I give a child a birthday present I give all the other children a present too.

I know we’re all adults, and presumably well-adjusted, integrated ones! But I simply don’t want to choose between blogs – some of which I read for their spiritual content and profundity, some for their humour and wit, some to live vicariously and savour life on the farm, or in the country, or exploring churches, or growing and cooking food, some for their glorious photography, or poetry, some for their quirkiness, intelligence or thoughtfulness, others for information I’d hate to miss, and others to share their insights, challenges and be awed by their courage.

Some I follow just because the personality of the writers is so gentle, good and sincere, that the world feels a better place for knowing that they exist. Each blog has its own perfume, and each one is so unique. In fact, I love you all!

So since I don’t want to fulfil the conditions of the awards, it’s not fair to accept them either.  So I must say thank you, but no thank you, for all the reasons above.

And as I step back from the awards, I want to thank the many generous and wonderful bloggers who have gifted me not just with awards, but with kindness and friendship and encouragement… if I start to name you, I will be doing what I dread, I might leave someone out! So congratulations to you all, my wonderful blogging family, and a happy new year of living, writing and blogging!

PS  There was a sequel to the story of the maths mistress. Thirteen years later, feeling like the cat’s whiskers in my expensive fitted green uniform, high heeled court shoes, and painted nails, fresh from London, I sashayed into the first school I’d been invited to speak at in my new job  on the Army Team of Lecturers. It was in remote country, and I was puzzled, because the children didn’t seem to be the right age group, and it was a shabby, run-down rather sad place. I wondered why I’d been invited.

The head mistress who greeted me and my film operator was a faded, vulnerable, and anxious middle-aged woman with an Irish brogue. I suddenly realised it was my old adversary, Miss Cummins. Intriguing as the coincidence seemed, I refrained from recognising her, and reminding her of her glory days in the upmarket school where we’d first met. The reversal in our fortunes seemed too painful to gloat over. I discovered that revenge was not sweet at all.

Food for Threadbare Gourmets

I know it’s politically incorrect to dislike lettuce, but so it is for me. I don’t mind iceberg lettuce, love cos lettuce in Caesar salad, but arugula and all the fancy fashionable green leaves leave me cold. Unfortunately arugula has 70 per cent more calcium than iceberg, 50 per cent more magnesium, 40 percent more beta-carotene and sixty per cent more vitamin C. And since I have a generous neighbour who gives me the overflow of arugula from her garden, I feel I should accept fresh organic nutritious food, and behave myself!

I’ve now found a way of enjoying it. After reading that soup is the most efficient way of absorbing nutrients, I’ve created what I call green soup. Take one chopped onion sauted in butter, or leave it out and just use a leek, plus a stick of celery, some broccoli if you have it, and a potato for thickening purposes – all chopped.

Gently fry them in butter or oil. Then add some chicken stock and simmer until soft. Wash and tear the lettuce leaves, and put this with plenty of parsley and celery leaves into the blender with a cup of milk. Whizz till they’re blended, then pour this bright green mix into the soup, whizz the whole lot, and re-heat. (I don’t use parsley stalks as they can taste bitter.)

Season with salt and pepper. I usually add nutmeg, and sometimes a taste of sugar makes a difference, especially if there’s lots of lettuce. I add and leave out all sorts of different green vegetables, including asparagus. It always tastes fresh and delicious, served hot or cold. Sometimes there’s more celery in it, sometimes more leeks, sometimes plenty of broccoli – they all work. This is more than enough for two.

Food for Thought

The final piece of reaching for authentic power is releasing your own to a higher form of wisdom.                                                                                                                                 Gary Zukav,  born 1942.  Author of ‘Dancing Wu Li Masters’ and ‘The Seat of The Soul’. Popular and regular guest on Oprah Winfrey’s show.

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62 Comments

Filed under army, bloggers, cookery/recipes, great days, history, life/style, philosophy, spiritual, The Sound of Water, Thoughts on writing and life, Uncategorized

62 responses to “Awards Are Awesome…And…

  1. As usual, Val, you have managed a *chuckle* and lots of *smiles* upon reading your astute words. I especially enjoyed your referral to ‘maths’ and the lack of that being your favorite subject…I am a retired math teacher:>) Hopefully, nothing like your maths mistress Miss Cummins. LOL:>) As for the awards, I can certainly understand your perception for I have found the most difficult part is making the award decisions. As a matter of note, you also have an award from catnipoflife that was bestowed upon you on Dec 2. Even though you were ‘offline’ at the time you were still in my heart. So, whether you choose to display and pay forward the award is totally a personal decision. Just remember that it is given from my heart to yours!

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  2. Valerie, I totally understand your feelings about awards, and share them .I agree with your negative feeling about singling out some people and putting yourself in a position of judging their work. I thought about denying awards too, but in the end was just so overwhelmed and delighted to be nominated by another blogger. I do not, as you do, have a published book to show for my writing efforts, and awards listed on the sides of my blog give me a sense of accomplishment and recognition.

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    • Thank you so much for commenting…I support you completely in enjoying your awards, it is a great fillip to morale, and I enjoy it too… but I just can’t cope with the other half of it !!!!

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  3. Hi Valerie!

    First of all: Happy New Year!

    And now to your post: I absolutely can relate to your feelings about passing on the awards and your reasons for not accepting them. I, too, was always picked last in sports teams and have been an outsider at school for many years.

    For me, accepting those awards is a way of freeing myself from those experiences – not in changing “sides” but in allowing myself to create totally new experiences.

    As each of us is different and therefore the choices that work for us may vary, I understand your choice as a different way to create a new experience for yourself and it makes me happy to be reminded how colourful the world is.

    One note may be added: When I started to write my post in which I nominated you for the award, my information was still, that you had stopped blogging and I did not even assume that you would have to struggle with passing it on (yes, I sometimes am a rule breaker in those things…). I just wanted to gift the award to you as acknowledgement for your beautiful messages which you had given us with your writing, here. That you came back to blogging and sent out the corresponding post right while I was typing my post about awarding you is a beautiful synchronicity which I on my side acknoledge with great joy!

    Much love and all the best to you! 🙂

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    • Yes, I thought it was the most amazing synchronicity that our thoughts linked across the world.
      I was deeply touched that you had thought of me, and love it that like minds connect.
      And I am so grateful that you perceive my writing as you do, and as a writer yourself you will know what a gift it is to feel we’ve reached another heart.
      Thank you for your lovely words, for your messages, and for our connection, much love from Valerie

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  4. As one who was often picked last for sports teams (because I wasn’t very coordinated!) I enjoyed your story. Seems like different things are important in school than in life. Thank goodness for that.

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    • I’m sure they should introduce counselling for those of us who were traumatised by being left until last !!!!
      It probably left us with unhealed scars for the rest of our lives, and a complex about always being at the end of the line!!!!

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  5. Valerie,

    I was always picked last for sports teams too in school, so I can relate.

    I do know what you mean by the blog awards. The hardest part for me is picking blogs out because everyone is deserving in their own way.

    Happy New Year my friend. I’m glad your back.

    Sunni

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    • Hello dear Sunni –
      yes, that’s just how I feel – I just don’t want to single out some blogs, when I value them all.

      Happy new year to you, and yours, and especially the kitty-kats.
      So good to be in touch

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  6. My dear Valerie! Revenge is not sweet at all, as you so eloquently noted. It is like eating poison and hoping someone else will get sick. An excellent discussion on awards – thoughtfully written and wonderfully inclusive, as is your usual way. You have briefly touched on something that I have struggled with over the years – our competitive spirit. There are so many good points about being competitive and yet, I have seen an negative side in action. Well meaning organizations select individuals for monetary reasons (donations) rather than on merit. In school, we are now seeing that students are going for the mark rather than for the joy of scholarship. In business, profitability trumps compliance. One of my research projects for this year is to explore this topic in more detail. I am looking forward to our continued dialogue. Happy New Year!!! We are going to have an amazing year…

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    • Hello Rebecca, Great to have your comments. I know exactly what you mean about competition, I hate the pressure it puts on people.( and myself!) The best year of my life at school was when I was the only one taking one particular subject, and so I had no measurement. I simply did what I did. It was wonderful, and I know that I probably did better that way than if I’d had someone to measure against, and decided I only had to be as good as them rather than as good as myself!!! I also hate the way competition stresses people out, eats up their confidence and self-respect, and stratifies intelligence by only one measure. It rarely allows for emotional or spiritual intelligence, which may well be more valuable for society than success… sorry to go on… one of my hobby-horses!

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  7. I am so happy that you have returned to the world of Blogging. You were missed so much, that it felt like a Blogging light had been turned off. The way your posts illuminate my life is beyond words and you have written what I would have to say, is a brilliant article on the pro’s and con’s of awards.
    Thank you and welcome back. 🙂

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    • Dear Sandie, What a lovely welcome back to the blogging world and what beautiful garlands you heaped around my neck. It makes me so happy to know that what I write from my heart reaches another heart like yours. And I’ve found it fascinating to see how you’ve grown in confidence in your blogs. One of the qualities I most enjoy is the honesty and directness in your writing. I’m glad you understood the thoughts on awards… and yes, it’s lovely to be back…

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    • Ive seen this great australian band from when they stretad with Bon Scott twice and every tour since then with both Razors Edge & both Black Ic…

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  8. Hi Valerie

    And what a great story! I know exactly what you mean about the team selection, so cruel!!

    One of my worst experiences about the award scenario came when my son left junior school. The school leavers at the tender age of 11, all had to sit on the stage in front of proud parents etc and then were presented with an endless series of awards for this, that and the other. This went on interminably until only a few children were left without awards, one of whom was my son.

    Thank God I didn’t have a video camera to record it, like many other proud parents, or else this would have been recorded for posterity.

    I was so upset by it, I don’t know if my son was, I didn’t ask for fear of the answer, that I wrote to the Headmistress.

    In that situation, with so many awards given, I felt there should have been either one for everyone, or just a few well chosen ones. Maybe I over-reacted, maybe it triggered off the team selection scenario, I don’t know, but I do still flinch a bit at the whole award thing.

    As for the come-uppance of the Maths teacher, that strikes a chord too. I had a bully boss for many years who made my life hell, because she could!! Now she has fallen from grace and my life has visibly improved but I don’t feel the sweet revenge that I thought I might. I don’t wish her well, I don’t wish her ill. I am largely indifferent, and I never thought that would be the case, such tyranny did she wield for so long. Strange, isn’t it??

    So glad you are back blogging
    Happy new year to you.
    Corinne

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    • Hell Corinne – thanks for your lovely chatty comment. It must have been absolutely devastating sitting watching those boys at the school leavers ceremony. We had a very famous school here that everyone wanted their sons to get into, which published in the school magazine at the end of the year, everyone’s marks and where they came, so that the ones at the bottom were constantly publicly humiliated. One brave father fought this for years, even though his son was at the top. I think he finally won, but it was a knock down drag out fight!
      Thank you re blogging – it’s so good to be back among my blogging friends – and a happy New year to you and yours, Valerie

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  9. What a happy and delightful surprise to read your words again! I hear the heart, the wisdom, the humor and the unique Voice which I had come to love! Welcome, welcome, welcome! Happy New Year, the soup makes a very healthy start…I would rather eat a Ceasar salad every day as well! Love, Linda

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    • Hello Linda – how lovely to see you again, and read your words, which even in prose are so poetic!
      Thank you so much for your welcome… it’s lovely to be back among all my warm loving blogging companions…
      Yes, I’d rather have Caesar salad myself, but cos letter doesn’t come from my generous neighbour!
      Happy New Year to you, with love, Valerie

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  10. The thing about awards, even when we do not feel comfortable with them, is that they remind us, it’s not just about me, the person who gave this award has been acknowledged themselves and so I like to place more emphasis on that, going back and joining in the congratulations and acknowledging their award and reward. I don’t think it matters at all whether or not we pass them on, and we shouldn’t feel guilty about that, but in the spirit of encouragement, they are a timely reminder.

    So congratulations to you on the award Valerie, you and your blog are very deserving recipients, as are the kind women who nominated you.

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    • Thank you Claire for your comments – there always so any different angles on everything!
      Yes, I”m always very grateful to the lovely people who pass on the awards, but do feel I rather let everyone down by not passing them on….seems like having my cake and eating it!!!

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      • That’s your kind hearted nature and perhaps a bit of that catholic guilt, however the blog comes without rules except those of our own making and the way we on them is what attracts or not. That you attract an award is a gesture someone else wishes to make, you and I make our gestures in another form, that is not letting anyone down – banish that thought please 🙂 an offer of cake maybe, but eating it, not at all, its perfectly acceptable to decline yet appreciate the offer of cake.

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      • Love it thanks Claire- such sound common sense!

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      • As much to myself as to you Valerie 🙂

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  11. I don’t like blog awards either. When I first arrived on WP I got lots of awards, before I’d really got to know anybody else’s blog or my own blogging style. It felt v pressurising, esp the stuff about ‘rules’ telling me what I ‘must’ do. It’s eased off now that I ignore the awards. For finding new blogs to read, I look at who’s clicked ‘Like’ or posted comments on the blogs I already read.

    When I broached this subject on my own blog, somebody summed it up by saying that a blog award felt to her like one of those ‘chain letters’ that used to circulate.

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    • So good to hear from you… like everything else, so many viewpoints on one thing! This is one of the wonderful things about blogging, isn’t it, the variety of viewpoints , and the live and let live to each other!
      Yes, I do the same about reading new blogs, and often can’t remember how I got to where I end up!!!

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  12. I am completely entertained when I visit Valerie. Thanks for finding the time to return and delight us with your words and humour!
    I too received awards that I was unable to follow through with all the rules, choosing instead to promise to create a Blog Roll Page and give each person I love to ‘follow’ a well deserved place in the sun.

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    • Lesley, lovely to hear from you, and thank you so much for your generous words and welcome. Your solution sounds the perfect answer to award angst!
      It’s so good to be back among my lovely blogging friends – a happy New Year to you, and I look forward to reading and savouring your beautiful blogs…

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  13. Oh Valerie, first let me say your soup sounds fabulous and I have copied your recipe to try (though I love lettuce and salad, all kinds).

    The awards thing, yes I understand and even agree though I will respond to them usually not as people ask me to. I like a few of my other blogging buddies will collect awards and do ‘shows’ periodically, rather than as we receive them. It is so hard to keep up and so hard to pick.

    How I loved your story from your school days. You painted such a vivid picture I could see you.

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    • Hello Val, great to hear from you… it’s been so fascinating to see how everyone thinks and feels about this unique blogging thingie!!!!
      Glad you enjoyed the school story.. a skinny little girl with long black plaits and serious brown eyes!
      I hope this is an easier and happier New Year for you than some others have been, warm wishes, Valerie

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  14. Hoping for all the best in 2013, dear friend, for you, too!

    Hugs,
    Wolfgang

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  15. In this festive evening sleigh let you bring the best wishes of happiness :joy, love and happiness.May happiness and blessings to you and forever stop by and follow .HAPPY NEW YEAR

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  16. I don’t feel compelled to follow the awards rules but I see it as a chance to mix things up a bit and be creative. And it is a good way to find other blogs. But you are right, sometimes it can be a bit much.

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    • Thanks for joining the debate! – it’s fascinating to see so many points of view…on a uniquely blogging discussion – good humoured, wide-ranging, and throwing up imaginative solutions…!

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  17. Lots of food for thought…Excellent post. I am so glad you are back!

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  18. Woah … you are cool.

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  19. Math and sports, two areas in which I always hoped to be ignored, neither being a strong suit of mine! I love greens soups. I throw anything I’ve got in the pot with a little olive oil and fresh garlic, add a potato or, for a change of pace, a sweet potato/yam, and blend. In the warm months, I like to keep the soup in small mason jars in the fridge for a lovely quick lunch or snack. Happy new year, Valerie! xoxoM

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    • Hello Margarita, yes, maths and sport… no-no’s!!! The sweet potato sounds a good idea… must try…yes, just going to have a quick snack myself ! Reading blogs has made me hungry! And a very happy new year to you and your loved ones, XXX

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  20. Dear Valerie,

    The writing is the single most telling common denominator in all the factors (Math terms? Oh my! It’s everywhere) that combine in the instant of thought that leads to my reading a particular blog. The other items you ably mention in your piece are important, yes, but the final arbiter for me is the writing. If your cross to bear was to have a less than ideal grasp of mathematics, mine is that I am clueless about sentence construction rules and the name and function of each part of a sentence. This terrible void in my education was a direct result of inattention on my part during school and has not been filled in the years since. So when I say ‘writing’, please understand that I am not referrring to it in a mechanical sense but in the way it flows and sounds and how it makes me feel. Your writing, Valerie, is delightful and I could read it forever.

    Re blog ‘awards’ I cannot get past the feeling of tooting my own horn undeservedly. Add to that the ‘rule’, ‘musts’, and orders in general and I balk at continuing the chain letter. In the past I have tried to explain my feelings and thanked those who have graciously ‘nominated’ me, but your post has given me some new ideas. I will try to celebrate and acknowedge the person who received it and passed it on and in so doing I will think of you.

    To my mind the best award or acknowledgement that I can give to another blogger is to ask them for permission to re-blog a post. I do it rarely because I value the time of those readers that will have a chance to read it via my blog, but when I re-blog, it means that I have been moved and want to share that which moved me.

    Valerie, may I please re-blog the above post on Ironwoodwind?

    It is wonderful to ‘hear’ your voice.

    Happy New Year and Aloha,

    Sincerely,

    Doug

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    • Dear Doug,
      Lovely to hear from you, and hear your voice too
      Thank you for your long and interesting discussion., and also for the generous things you say about my writing.
      I think we probably come from the same place when it comes to writing. Like you, I have no idea of grammar – I’ve forgotten anything I ever learned about parsing and analysis, and have no idea what a gerund or subjunctive is!
      I was saying to someone today, I have no idea what the rules of writing are, – I’m like someone who plays the piano by ear, and loves it, but I can’t read music!
      So maybe you also write by ear, and play the piano beautifully! I think you have an ear for language, and rhythm and balance, ( as well as a sense of fun) and I suspect that those things are more important than any rules….
      And of course you can re-blog my piece! – how flattering it is to be asked!
      Looking forward to reading some more of your succint works of fiction!
      Warmest wishes for a Happy New Year to you, Valerie,
      ..

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      • Dear Valerie,

        Thank you for your permission to re-blog your post and for sharing that you and have some of the same feelings when it comes to our writing.

        I’m going to enjoy sharing yours with those writers i care very much about.

        Aloha,

        Doug

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  21. Reblogged this on ironwoodwind and commented:
    Dear Friends,
    To my mind, the highest form of praise for a blog author is to be re-blogged. I do it rarely, but when I do, it is with you in mind. I hope you will read Valerie Davies work(s) and come to enjoy her writing as much as I have. Sharing this because I think very highly of you.

    Aloha,

    Doug

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  22. Doug, this is a real Pat on the Back – Thank you so much for your generous recommendation, yours Valerie

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  23. Dear Valerie,

    You are most welcome. Least I can do in return for the joy reading your words has brought me.

    Aloha

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  24. Lady Valerie, I recently started blogging in November 2012. Reading your blog has humbled me. And it’s a reminder of and confirmation to my God-given purpose here on WordPress.com. Thank you kindly.

    P.S.
    Your experience with the Irish Math teacher and Catholic nuns reminded me a little about Jane Eyre’s story. 🙂

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  25. Boy did I miss you!! I am glad you are back and really enjoyed today’s article. Being in a Catholic school myself I can fully identify! Although I was Catholic my husband teases me and tells me I finally got it right – I became a Presbyterian after I married him!! ha ha That said there was one sister in our school that believed in spare the rod spoil the child, and regardless if we were Catholic or not, lets just say we were not spoiled. But that said I will forever remember Sister Patricia – who took a lonely frighten 7 yr old and made me feel special. Anyway…I am glad you were nominated for some awards, even if you don’t participate it speaks volumes for how we feel about you.

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  26. Val

    I feel similarly about blog awards – I don’t have the necessary energy or willpower to do them and don’t like choosing just a few people to give them to (that said, I chose to do something similar for my current post which is a summing up of my year and reads not unlike a blog award!) In my last blog I received so many that this time round I put an ‘award free blog’ image that links to a page about it, in my footer. So far, so good…

    Love your story of your maths teacher. I also went to a convent and am not Catholic (but am not Christian, either) and there was one teacher – a nun – who, when we were bad, would say to her class of small children (this was primary school) “It’s your funeral”!

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  27. Val

    Oh, and may I wish you a happy new year!

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  28. Thanks you so much for commenting… how funny about your nun – when we’re unconscious we have no idea what our words reveal or what impact they have on others, do we!
    And thank you for your good wishes, I hope the new year is a good one for you too, and brings all that you would like to see in your life,…

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  29. What a fabulous story about the Irish maths teacher! And I totally concur on the awards issue. It’s part of the reason I don’t have a blogroll either – I follow a lot of blogs. I couldn’t possibly list everyone, but then, who would I leave out? Too much of a dilemma… We will just share the love however it comes.

    Like

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