The Road that Led to the House of Joy (with my Integrity Intact)

Our Relationships and Connectedness are the Heartbeat of our Deepest Sense of Meaning and Wellbeing. Tolerance, Acceptance and Understanding open up a World of Possibilities. Tolerance Creates a space for Quality Interaction with others despite Potential Differences in Values, Beliefs and Opinions. Treat others how we want to be Treated. Respect, Accept and Appreciate the Existence of Others. Each one of Us is Unique and offers something Different but Necessary to the Whole. See Virtues rather than Weaknesses; Take Responsibility; Give Cooperation; Be Compassionate and Uplifting; Forgive and Forget; Open your Heart and be Generous; Foster an Attitude of Humility and Self-Respect because Humility Reveals our Truth.

Four months since I stood on this platform, opened my heart and spilled the latest turn of events on this rollercoaster of a ride that is my life. It is absolutely, totally and truly a much tamer, safer, comfortable and mostly enjoyable ride than for so many of my fellow citizens, human and non-human, but nevertheless, it is my ride and, in my search for fulfilment and desire to use my life to actively improve the life of others, I have been around some sharp bends, stomach churning curves, repetitive loops, U-turns and just hung upside down every now and then! On Wednesday 20th December I will be dancing off the ride that has been my job for two and a half years and breathing a sigh of relief as I do a jig or, possibly, a squirm out of the office that has drained the life, soul and spirit out of me over the past years as I have lobbied for changes that don’t happen. I am leaving with my integrity intact. If I stay any longer, I will cease to recognise myself, hence, the possibility of squirming out of a role that has made me act in ways that I feel ashamed about but has taught me some valuable lessons about myself.

“Looking Behind, I am filled with Gratitude. Looking Forward, I am filled with Vision. Looking Upward, I am filled with Strength.”
– Quero Apache Prayer

2017 has been a struggle professionally, a pleasure personally, relatively still emotionally and a discovery spiritually. As autumn asserts herself, winter begins to whisper in the background, and nature’s colours begin to fade and mellow, my own mellow and passionate nature is starting to reassert itself as I am released from the grip of a role that has become toxic and cheerless. I can start to smile again in the knowledge that the countdown to my exit shimmy squirm is on! I feel my personality, that has been subdued and controlled, starting to shine again and my inner confidence, that has been battered and bruised has been given a boost by the offer of a wonderful new position.

Live Life guided by Generosity, Active Positivity and a Fierce Desire to Enhance and Reflect this Vision.

Over the past few months, I have begun not to recognize my ungenerous and negative behaviour at work and I have had no desire to reflect that attitude in my personal and charitable life, although it has seeped through. I have discovered that I have an ego which I haven’t possessed before and which I desperately need to bury now. I have allowed the behaviour of my colleagues to alter my once positive and genuine attitude and responses to those of suspicion and insincerity.

Every Second, Every Moment and Every Breath of your Life is Nurtured by Attitude.

So, I am leaving and not a second too soon! I am going back to what I know; making a difference in the here and now. I have spent over two years of my life trying to influence and improve social policy and it has beaten me. Doing what I can to stand up and speak for those who face inequality, discrimination and disadvantage suits me better if I am doing it with and for them NOW, not promising them that I will use their voice to influence change in the future.

“ Some doors lead to amazing things. Some doors lead to…well, not much. But the more doors a person tried, the greater the chances are that those amazing things will be discovered. If you try once and succeed, you’re amazingly lucky. If you try 1000 times and succeed, you’ve earned it. The only trick is to keep on trying until it happens.”
– Doe Zantamata, Author of Happiness in your Life, Book one: Karma


Challenge Injustice and Harm through Values of Love, Kindness, Compassion, Determination, Tenacity and Humility.

The job role I am leaving has threatened to challenge all these values in me. I have lost faith in the powers that be and have come to the realisation that the only way to make a difference is to do it ourselves. (I already knew that but I was given an opportunity to make a change by informing and influencing; believing that I could use my knowledge, wisdom and passion, I took that chance, only to be brought down to earth with a huge bump with the realisation that the establishment, sadly, incomprehensively, frustratingly and devastatingly, just don’t really care.)

“Tolerance is an attitude of reasoned patience toward evil … a forbearance that restrains us from showing anger or inflicting punishment. Tolerance applies only to persons … never to truth. Tolerance applies to the erring, intolerance to the error … Architects are as intolerant about sand as foundations for skyscrapers as doctors are intolerant about germs in the laboratory. Tolerance does not apply to truth or principles. About these things we must be intolerant, and for this kind of intolerance, so much needed to rouse us from sentimental gush, I make a plea. Intolerance of this kind is the foundation of all stability.”
– Fulton J Sheen

I have lost all tolerance for the “system” and I have lost all tolerance for people who believe in the “system” meaning I have lost all tolerance for those I have worked alongside. All this time, I desperately wanted to believe that my work was interesting and worthwhile even though I don’t have any faith in the decision makers.  I am not interested in the government plans for people which I know are not based on what the people need and deserve.  I am interested in the people themselves. As I have begun to realise the negative effect my job has been having on my personality and behaviour, it has dawned on me that, for the first time in my life, I haven’t been taking my work home with me. This is not a good thing. I have always taken my work home with me because I have loved and believed in my work and the difference it makes.  All I have taken home with me in this role, is despair, frustration and incomprehension at a system that targets the vulnerable with no evident bother and the heartache of being in a role that is supposed to give me some influence that isn’t worth the paper it is written on.

“If nature has made you for a giver, your hands are born open, and so is your heart; and though there may be times when your hands are empty, your heart is always full, and you can give things out of that—warm things, kind things, sweet things—help and comfort and laughter—and sometimes gay, kind laughter is the best help of all.” 
  – Frances Hodgson Burnett, novelist and playwright,  1849 – 1924

But, I do take home, the stories that have shaped my purpose to stay in my role for this long.  They live and will forever remain within my heart. They rouse the determination and resolve in me to be effective in making a change.

“It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”                                                                                                                       

– Mahatma Ghandhi

“Every person from your past lives as a shadow in your mind. Good or bad, they all helped you write the story of your life, and shaped the person you are today.”
 – Doe Zantamata , Author of Happiness in your Life, Book one: Karma

I am not interested in being instrumental in influencing  the “corridors of power” anymore because I know that the top chiefs and whips will not make the difficult decisions that will create positive change.   The only interest that is left for me is direct, grass roots, frontline action. That’s how it always was but  I was side-lined into believing there could be another way. It has been a tough lesson but a valuable one and has made me more determined than ever to stand alongside and with the voices. I have spent over two years just listening. Going against all my instincts in the name of a “Watchdog” and a professionally paid job. Vegan Cuckoo is going back to the people, my community, …to listen … and DO!

“Intuition literally means Learning from Within. Most of this were not taught how to use this Sense, but all of us know well that gut feeling. Learn to Trust your Inner Feeling and it will become Stronger. Avoid going against your better Judgement or getting talked into things that just don’t feel right.”

Doe Zantamata, Author of Happiness in your Life, Book one: Karma


To anyone reading this, I have been working for a “Watchdog”. For the previous twenty-five years, I volunteered or worked directly with people facing adversity in some form or other. A Watchdog is simply a way for the Government to say it is “listening” to it’s people. I tell you now – that’s an immense LIE … or perhaps it isn’t? they might be listening but that is all they are doing. What is the point of listening and not taking any action to help? Why not spend the money used to prop up a “Watchdog” on actually making a difference to people directly: DIRECT ACTION not VAGUE LISTENING AND NO ACTION.

“Live your Beliefs and you can Turn the World Around”
– Henry David Thoreau – American essayist, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, and historian.

So, in January, I will be sitting in another seat in the rollercoaster of life. This time I will be in a position that will enable me to do what I do best – make a small difference, in my small way,  in the moment. I will be 6K a year worse off but I will be fulfilled, motivated and happy to be bringing the stories of those people who shape my world home with me, knowing that I am doing more than listening.  I will be seeking alternatives to a system that creates disenchantment, despair and cynicism, finding new insights and creative solutions to guarantee constructive, concrete change and determine direct difference.

“It is only in our darkest hours that we may discover the true strength of the brilliant light within ourselves that can never, ever, be dimmed.”
― Doe Zantamata, Author of Happiness in your Life, Book one: Karma

I have faith that, in this seat, I will take the best job ride yet and my instinct genuinely tells me that I will be sitting in this seat and taking this ride till I am too old to ride a job rollercoaster!  Having learned so much professionally and personally over the Watchdog years. I am wiser than ever and, therefore more in a position to help than ever before.

The loop the loops of the past years, however, stomach churning, have brought me to the place I am heading. An opportunity to be instrumental in having an impact, effect improvements, impart knowledge, inspire hope, develop alternatives, bear witness to, challenge the status quo, cause movement and create change in every social movement affecting society today. A place of privilege and humility. A place I belong.

Humility comes from understanding that the force behind whatever help you give to others comes not from you but from the power of love. It is not true that if you are humble, others will walk all over you. It is when there is no humility that you can easily be influenced by others and things seem difficult. But when there is humility, there is also the power of truth. You know internally that you will achieve your aim, regardless of what others say or think.

– Daily inspirational thoughts


I have learned the above lesson over the past couple of years in a way that I hadn’t been taught it before. I resolve that, I will use this lesson well and strive to tolerate situations and take responsibility as well as to cooperate even when I am not appreciated. And, as I wrote in the first paragraph of this post, I have learned that I need to understand that all beings have innate good qualities and that each of us has the right to express these in their own unique way. I have been reminded over these past years that by using my personal power, I am being given two options – the opportunity to speak up and take a positive stand in order to change something I don’t like or the chance to accept whatever it is and move on. Despite feeling bruised and battered by my “Watchdog” experiences, I still have my positive vision with a free thinking, non-discriminatory, non-judgemental attitude which is open to possibilities. I know that positive thoughts create positive results while negative thoughts create negative results and that I have the power to choose. And I have chosen. I have chosen to be true to myself and to my vulnerable, marginalised, disadvantaged, disenfranchised, underprivileged and excluded neighbours.

“Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.”
– Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

“Compare yourself only with yourself. You don’t know others’ full story, and there’s no need to feel guilty for not being as good as them, or feeling justified in being “better” or “worse” in any area. We all walk our own path, and we all have our own lessons and challenges to face. The more you focus on you, the better you will become.” 
– Doe Zantamata, Happiness in Your Life – Book One: Karma

So, as 2017 begins her descent into her final throes, the beauty and radiance of nature in Autumn is refusing to budge Winter awake which is fine with me! I am still in my flipflops and desperately clinging onto memories of the magic that was our Majorcan holiday!

Goodbye Autumn Hues, Hallo Winter Blues!

The world continues to hurt, tragedy abides and inequality remains. Just today, the news informed us that a painting has been sold for 400 million pounds while 600,000 Rohingya people have been driven from their homes, had their land destroyed and endured torture and rape while searching for safety. Rwanda is happening again and the world is turning a blind eye. Trump has just changed the law to let bloodthirsty, sick America hunters to murder elephants in Africa and bring their heads home as trophies. Humans and Non-Human beings are being victimised, brutalised, persecuted, abused, exploited and oppressed as they have been for aeons and glimmers of hope seem non-existent.

What hurts us, is what heals us

-Paul Coelho

However, despite the constant pain I feel in my heart, I strive to find my way through the grief in my soul and suffering in my spirit. I know that I have to remain strong for those who do not have my privileges. I must make a difference in my own world, believe in hope, and trust that one day those differences will cause ripples that will rid the world of inequality and injustice.  I must also live my life for my family and friends while encouraging and empowering them to make a difference.

“Sometimes, the only thing in your control is the way you react to something.”
 – Doe Zantamata, Happiness in Your Life – Book One: Karma

To that end, 2017 has seen us celebrating our daughter turning 16 and achieving the most amazing GCSE results, a true testament to the fact that hard work reaps rewards. We have lamented the first anniversary of losing my dear Father-in-Law and Beautiful Orla. I have spent many memorable and special Friday nights with Matthew in the apartment that he has now owned (with the help of a bank loan mortgage!) for over a year. We have adopted an 11-year-old pussy cat called Jasper. Bleu and I have made it to some brilliant musicals, Rob and I got to go to some comedy shows and we spent a very romantic weekend away on a Vegan Cookery Course in Malvern. We have hung out with friends both individually and as a couple and we have spent time with our immediate families – parents, brother and sisters. Its been a lovely year, full of life, love, laughter, hope, happiness and togetherness.

“Two very priceless gifts that should be enjoyed often,
are the beauty of a sunset and the company of a friend.”
 – Doe Zantamata

Despite the frustration I have felt at work, those people I have endeavoured to speak up for will stay in my heart and mind as will those I have had the privilege of getting to know who are working on the ground to create sustainable change. Wonderful, Generous of Spirit, Warm-Hearted, Inspirational, Remarkable and Lovely People who I will support in any ways I am able to. It is because of these individuals, that I can look back with gratitude and not bitterness.

“The most truly generous persons are those who give silently without hope of praise or reward.”
― Carol Ryrie Brink, American Author, 1895 – 1981

I have also had cause to have many interactions with people through the power of scent! In shops; in the garden centre; walking along the canal; in pubs and restaurants and while conducting outreach in the name of the “Watchdog”!

Patchouli – the Social Scent!

2017 didn’t throw too many surprises our way but instinct tells me that 2018 might! Money is going to be a concern now that I have taken such a drastic pay cut, but I know we will manage our way through the skintness and develop coping mechanisms! Who knows what else will come our way but, as our non-human fellow citizens do, if we follow our natural instincts we will see our way as they do, and with a positive attitude, faith, hope, belief, cooperation and tenacity, we might just create that change in our small part of this beautiful world.

Trust your Instinct, Intuition never Lies.

I dedicate this post to Robbie, my constant rock; Matthew and Bleu, my pride and joy; my parents for their love and contact; Jimmy James for being my inspiration; my brother and Amanda for being amazing parents;  my Bestie BFF Kate; my AASS Kay;  Sandy for being a wonderful, patient friend and listening; Pen for her encouragement and constant belief in me; Jac, Shaun and Pop because I adore you all and would do anything for you; Elaine and Steve because you are incredibly special to me; Deb for coming back into my life and lastly to an amazing lady who I met only last week. She cares for her profoundly learning disabled daughter who is the same age me and she has been fighting for her for that 45 years. Rachael – I am humbled and can’t wait to share your journey to Alexandra’s House of Joy.

There actually are glimmers of hope and change! I have seen the proof!

“Become the person who you want to see all over your world.” 
– Doe Zantamata, Happiness in Your Life – Book One: Karma

Earth Blessings
Vegan Cuckoo x