confession, penance, atonement, amends, forgiveness
Today, the 28th of February, is Shrove Tuesday ~ a day when the basic tenents of religion, 12 step recovery programmes, and a spiritual lifestyle all come together. It’s all based on strength, honesty, purity, unselfishness, and love. It’s sometimes called a moral inventory, and it may involve the God /Goddess of your understanding, your Higher Power, your most trusted friend, or any combination or variation of all three. Ash Wednesday, and by extension Shrove Tuesday, is really a Pagan Festival anyway ~ the main thing is that today is a good day for me to take the next step on my own spiritual journey.
All this, the whole point of Shrove Tuesday, may have nothing to do with religion, or recovery from an addiction, or eating special meals, or the carnival celebrations of Mardis Gras ~ but what it should have to do with is acceptance of who we are, who we used to be, and who we wish to become in the future. Today I will take a long look at who I was and what I did, all the good, the bad and the ugly. I will try to accept and understand the past. I will acknowledge the reality of the past, and think about making my amends in the future. Today I will forgive myself for yesterday’s mistakes, and hope that others do too. I will think about being a ‘better’ man tomorrow than I was yesterday. My personal tools for doing this are the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.
I am not a follower of the Buddha ~ in fact my personal ‘higher power’ is the Mother Goddess, in one of her forms, (it’s complicated). But the Buddha’s Teachings will make sense to me today ~ Shrove Tuesday. I will be making pancakes today, but the whole idea of Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, Carnival is not really an English Gentleman’s thing. Mardi Gras isn’t really a spiritual event, it’s just a street party.
Have a Happy Fat Tuesday, a Great Carnival, a Joyous Mardi Gras, and a Calm and Spiritual Shrove Tuesday.
(Maybe one day I’ll look for a cool woman wearing a great mask at Mardi Gras.)
Easy Lifestyle Changes Could Save You A Small Fortune.
There some very basic things you can do which, added together, will save you a great deal of money. These changes to the way you live your life are not difficult, they’re not complicated, and they will not take up a lot of your time. In fact, all of these things are what my granny used to call; ‘basic common sense’. Get on with it, smell the roses, save yourself some money, and live a better life.
- Pay off all your credit and store card bills. The average interest rate on credit card debt is around 16%, with some banks charging as much as 79.9% per annum, this is just extortion and usury. Far better to borrow elsewhere, at a cheaper rate, and pay off your plastic.
- Use the internet and find cheaper providers for your gas, electricity, water, mobile phone, (cell phone), land line telephone, internet, cable television, and car insurance. Switch to the cheapest provider because customer service will always suck, no matter who you are with. And, by the way, do you really need all those rubbish TV channels?
- Lower the temperature of your heating, and raise the temperature of your air conditioning by a couple of degrees. We all pay far too much for heating and cooling our homes.
- Lower the temperature at which you wash your clothes. There is a 30C setting on my washing machine, (about 90F), and most of the time that’s what I use. This gets rid of most dirt and stains, but it does not get rid of germs, and it’s not hot enough to get whites clean. So, I still always wash my bed linen and whites at 90C, (about 200F). Mind you, I always use biological washing powder which works well at lower temperatures.
- Always make a shopping list. Far too many people go into a store and come out with a whole bunch of stuff they don’t really want or need, while forgetting the important thing they went in for. Make a shopping list and never, ever make impulse purchases.
- Try own-brand goods. Very often the own-brand products are just as good as the more expensive named-brands. Quite often own-brand products are made in the same factories and on the same production lines as named brands. Stores always try to make you buy the most expensive, premium goods.
- Never buy ‘designer labels’ ~ don’t be a logo whore, and who wants some other guy’s name on their clothes and shoes anyway? It’s pathetic.
- Learn to do DIY. I hate contractors, repair men, decorators, gardeners, with a passion. If it needs doing then 90% of the time I do it myself. Learn to decorate, put up a shelf, fix a leaky tap, (faucet), and save yourself an absolute fortune.
- Make your travel arrangements early and do it on the internet. Always shop around for the cheapest deal. Always pay by credit card. Get a brochure from the travel agent for information and to give you a comparison.
- Learn to drive properly. Almost everyone I know is a crap driver, especially women. Almost everyone I know drives too fast, races between the lights, uses the accelerator hard and the brakes hard, and sits in the wrong gear. Drive a little slower and learn what anticipation means and you will not only use less petrol, (gas), there will be much less wear and tear on your car.
- Don’t always buy the newest, top-of-the-range car. A low mileage used car, or the basic model in the new car range can save you thousands. Remember, the biggest cost of owning a car is depreciation. Most cars will lose between 50% – 60% of their value in the first 3 years. (Just don’t buy an Edsel ~ people will laugh.)
- Walk, don’t drive. If you don’t have far to go and don’t have much to carry, don’t drive, walk instead. That won’t only save you money, walking will do wonders for your health and fitness.
- Give up smoking / vaping. Both will seriously damage your health, both can kill you, and both will cost you a fortune. A pack of 20 cigarettes will cost you about £7 in the UK and about $7 in California, (USA prices vary by state). So, a 10 a day habit will cost you about £1,300 per annum in the UK and $1,300 a year in California ~ a lot of money for a disgusting habit that’s killing you.
- Cut down on your drinking. Too much booze will make you fat, ill, and temporarily or permanently stupid ~ it will eventually kill you. How much booze is too much? If you drink a bottle of wine a night, or 4 bottles of beer, or a quarter of a bottle of spirits, then you are drinking far too much. Decent booze is hellishly expensive.
- STOP GAMBLING. Gambling is exactly the same as throwing your hard-earned money in the trash. Gambling is an addiction, and all gamblers lose heavily over time, always, with no exceptions, (not even the Cincinnati Kid).
- Never, ever, join a gym, and if you have gym membership, then cancel it. Most people with gym memberships don’t go often enough to get their money’s worth. Gyms are poor value for money and bad places for most people to exercise ~ you’re breathing stale air, being made to listen to loud music, and you’re indoors under artificial lights. Nasty. Exercise for free instead.
- Plan ahead and buy stuff in the sales, at discount stores, and in thrift stores.
- Claim all your tax and other benefits. Use the internet at learn what you can really claim.
- Never use pay per view TV or TV services such as Netflix ~ this is just stupid. Do you really need to dumb down so much as to sit in front of the TV, and pay extra for the privilege, over and above whatever stupid cable subscription you are already paying for this crap?
- Never, ever buy extended warranties on things like a car, new washing machine, or television. These warranties are scams, not worth the paper they’re printed on, and cost a fortune.
- Stop buying expensive pre-prepared, ready meals. Learn to cook instead. ‘Ready meals’ are full of unmentionable crap, and are terrible value for money.
Remember, when you want to save money, when you want to stop wasting money, the internet is your friend. You may think you don’t have the time to spend on internet research, trust me, you do have loads of spare time, it’s just that you waste that too. Stop ruining your mind by watching hours of drivel on the TV, stop ruining your health by spending time in your usual sleazy pub / bar, and stop making excuses.
Never, ever, sign anything you don’t understand. Never, ever, trust a salesperson.
The sun is still well below the horizon but its light reflects from the clouds and dawn is not long away. I could see the horizon, so it was Morning Nautical Twilight.
This far North, first light in the middle of December came at 0735. Most people don’t realise just how far north England lies ~ my little town is as far north as the Gulf of Alaska and the Canadian cities of Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario, about 55N. And, today it is cold for England ~ about 22F.
Some may ask what I was doing on the cold sea-shore well before first light? The thing is I had not been to bed at all. The thing is sometimes memories, regrets, and guilt haunt my midnight. The nightmares, werewolves, harpies, and the faces of those I have wronged come back to remind me of my vile misdeeds.
If I was ever going to live with myself there was something I needed to do.
I have made a list of everyone I have really harmed, not including myself. Without exception they are women I have had some kind of relationship with. I seem to have had an uncanny ability to fuck-up every relationship I have ever had. Perhaps relationships are something that I never learned to understand.
Even when a woman walked out on me, it was my fault and I had hurt her along the way.
I think I have always acted as an English Gentleman. Sometimes it was just an act, and sometimes an English Gentleman can be a cruel, unfeeling, heartless bastard. Too often I gave money and material things instead of love and affection. Too often I put my own transitory gratification ahead of what could have been good and fine in my life.
Relationships and illicit affairs came and went. When in trouble I would hide in the bottom of a bottle or run away to work in another city, on another continent. Facing up to what was wrong did not occur to me, especially since what was wrong was me.
Of the bad things I have done, affairs with married women is probably among the worst. They could never end well, and someone was almost bound to get hurt along the way. In that kind of an illicit affair there is a family to consider, and I never did. Some say that it takes two to tango. And, that the woman must share some of the blame. All I know is that I can charm the very birds from the trees, and I had a great deal of money to throw around.
For my own sanity I need to deal with this.
Step 8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. ~ The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous
The picture is of just one of the married women I had an affair with. Now there is no chance for me to hurt her again, or even to make amends. Living with that is a small price for me to pay for everything I have done wrong.
words and pictures by jack collier
The only thing you can change is yourself.
The Serenity Prayer
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And, the wisdom to know the difference
(Add a Deity or Higher Power of your choice at the beginning of the prayer if you wish.)
After twenty years of struggle I have made a little sense of this simple prayer. I know I cannot change another person, nor do I have the right to try. I cannot change the world. What I need is the courage to change myself. I am the only thing in this cosmos I can truly change. That is immensely difficult to accept, and even more difficult to make meaningful progress in. All a good guy can do is try.
The only thing you can change is you
Everything else you try to change
Is either impossible, meaningless, or strange
The good thing is that when you change you
The world and everything in it changes too
words and picture by jack collier