Knowing what is right from wrong.

I listen to the rules of society, and do the best I can. Will it ever be enough?

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Whilst sitting down to write this blog, my mind is wandering, shall I make a cup of tea? Do I need a toilet break? Can it wait? Should I put the dogs out? Should I be walking the dogs? Why am I sitting here, on a beautiful sunshiny day, writing a blog for life-labs when I could be out, and networking, at the leisure centre jogging, walking, dancing? Why, why, why?

I can talk myself around in circles and it was when I realised, I could do this, that I decided to start blogging for myself, no one asked me to do it, I chose to do it. No one officially asked me to write blogs on here either, no one told me to do it. I am choosing to do it.  Sharing snippets of my life-leap journey as I go, and a friend did ask ‘why you? You’re a nobody. What have you got to share?’ This stung a little at first, but I did agree, she had a point. I’m not a presenter, an actress, a philanthropist, a leader, politician or an activist. I am simply a normal-nobody, someone that you might pass in the street and never notice, unless you look up and say hi. 

I am somebody who will be an unknown for my whole life, because this is what I choose. I will say hi to you if I ever pass you by, because that is the type of person that I am. I don’t fear the world. I embrace every moment of the everyday and try not to shy away from exciting experiences, but rollercoaster rides and concerts are not every person’s thing.

I listen to the rules of society and recycle to the best that I can.

I finally declared last year that I would try not to eat the animal and would possibly term myself to be the pescatarian right now, because I do still eat fish and I still cook meat for the family, because they don’t choose to feel the same way as me. I’ve felt like a hypocrite for so long, talking about protecting the welfare of animals, but never participating in making a difference to the cause, and although I have possibly saved a single cow and sheep in my mind this last eleven months, I have this niggle that I won’t have saved it. It may have become supermarket food waste, but in my mind, I feel like I am doing the right thing and that is what matters.

As I mentioned, I’m not an activist or a guru, or a coach telling others to do this or that, all I can focus upon is myself and my own needs, wants and wishes.

When I buy fruit, I try to buy it with minimal plastic, but there is still so much to throw away. I can’t change the supermarkets and how they trade, and if they used paper bags, then we would be harming more and more trees. If I sound like I am overthinking, I apologise. If I sound like I am negative self-talking, sorry again. If I sound like I am fearing change, this isn’t the intention and if I sound like I am trying to please everyone, feel free to ring a bell.

I wondered, am I not eating the meat because I don’t want to, or because it’s a popular discussion at the moment? Am I worried about plastic because that is all the environmentalists and news reporting harp on about? Am I frustrated with societies lack in compassion for their surroundings because other voices tell me to be, or am I truly concerned?

Being conscious can be an uncomfortable place.

Back in November 2018 I had to have three thirty-foot trees removed from my garden. Sorry to be living in the past, but that is how the life of the writer works. I’ve lived where I currently live for over ten years (the longest place of fixed abode), and I did think when I moved in that the previous owners shouldn’t have planted these trees so long ago because they would outgrow the garden and pose a potential future risk to homes, for us and the neighbours. At the time, I am sure the person planting the trees thirty years ago, they thought they were doing the right thing.  Now, two of the trees had began to rot at the trunk and core, no-one could see this in the neighbourhood but me because our hedges and fences are so high, and I had to ask for permission to have the trees removed.  The council approved the removal, it was a no-brainer to them.

It took another 10 months of deliberation, because I felt like I was damaging the environment by taking them away. I was torn. Save the trees or risk a future insurance claim from upset neighbours when the trees fell into their garden sheds.

I decided to buy a Weeping Willow to replace the trees in Summer 2018, and it stood in the garden for quite a while, in a plant pot amongst the three magnificent trees, a Eucalyptus, a Cedar (once upon a time someone’s Christmas tree) and an Ash. Several quotes and deliberations later. I booked the woodcutter in, within the late autumn to early winter months to avoid nesting season and limit the effects upon nature. Every decision has been made with sincere thought.  

When the trees were taken down it was harrowing to watch, even though I knew two of them were certainly dying I had hoped to save one, but the woodcutter agreed, the trees should never have been planted so close to houses.

When the trees were finally down, I felt like a participant to murder, and the woodcutter mentioned that the neighbours were taking photos and he didn’t like it. The woodcutter mentioned that he is often identified as a tree-killer, but nobody ever asks him about the 4000 trees he annually plants.  

Reluctantly, I approached the neighbour and asked them why they were taking photos, and they told me they were devastated to see the trees go. Even after my explanation that the trees were dying, I was dismissed. He was enraged and sad too, I accepted that, apologised and left. The neighbours who are normally genuinely kind people didn’t send me the usual Christmas card, and have recently blanked me when passing in the street.

Then recently, after the mighty winds of the weekend passed, a branch of one of my neighbour’s pear trees - after it had been left to its own evolvement and been savagely attacked by an ivy bush for a number of years - it collapsed into my garden. I had to knock on their door last week to ask them what they wanted me to do. I was worried. I knew they would still see me as a tree-hacker and not the lover of nature that I am, but I had to stay strong and do the right thing.

I could sense their discomfort in speaking with me, and the husband didn’t really talk to me, but said he would speedily clear it away. I said, I wouldn’t want to have done anything with it, as they might perceive me as on the attack. They responded by saying, ‘no, don’t touch our trees and yes we would have thought that’ and deep down inside I wanted to release my true emotions and cry, but I held it together because, they don’t really know me, nor the turmoil I went through in making the decision to remove three mighty trees.

The neighbours won’t see the strategically placed Weeping Willow Tree grow for at least another ten years, or the off-shoots of three other small growing trees that rarely exceed 20 feet which I have given a safe position to in my garden, and they won’t appreciate the memories that I have attached to this whole experience for doing the right thing, even if it leaves a nobody to be judged as cruel when I do the right thing. Even acts of kindness can still hurt others, and my mum’s saying, ‘sometimes you can’t do right for wrong’, pops into my head.

So, why do we do what we do? I don’t like conflict. Why blog? Why not eat meat? And why try to use less plastic? Why make the choices that we make? Because we can’t please everyone and sometimes we have to make the right decision, even when we are tested by the actions that we take for the good of ourselves and others.

Take care of you.  

Julie Spencer

Ambassador and Learning Support Assistant, Psychologies Magazine

Proud Ambassador for Psychologies Magazine. The magazine encapsulates many of my core values: being kind, have compassion, look after your health and wellbeing, be professional and be supportive of others. A little self belief can go a long way. I have studied as a mature student. I went into a writing frenzy and spent 3 years writing in solitude. I was a stay at home mum, too. What I learned: being alone for long periods of time is bad for your health and wellbeing. Thanks to a little nudge from Psychologies Magazine I am reconnecting and rebuilding my C.V. I'm a creative. I have lots of ideas and I need to constantly realign my focus onto one project at a time. Until recently I had a real fear for public speaking, but after reading a book that suggested I acknowledge my fears and challenge them anyway; with the support of the Psychologies community and more I'm working through my fears one blog at a time.