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Monday Moments: New Perspectives On The Year

Introduced By Amber Hall

This month, our theme continues to be ‘Reality And Perspectives’, which is an especially relevant topic to explore as the year draws to a close.

I’ll be honest, I find this last hurdle difficult. No matter what’s going on in my life, I get pulled into ‘should’ thinking; never quite believing I’ve done enough in the past 12 months. It doesn’t help that my birthday falls on the very last day in December. I’m always acutely aware of time’s passing as my age goes up and the year bows out.

As we roll into December, it’s easy to get caught up thinking about the things we didn’t do. New Year’s resolutions pressure us into focusing on the ways we can better ourselves, but we’re rarely encouraged to embrace who we are in this very moment. What if we changed our perspective – what if we’re already enough?

I think it’s important for us to recognise our collective reality right now, too. We’re experiencing a world in turmoil and simply showing up – just getting through the day, in some cases ­– is enough. More than enough, in fact.

I’ve decided that my only resolution this year is to live unburdened by ‘shoulds’. We so often measure our worth against these things, feeling a deep shame if they don’t come to pass or turn out as we expected. But truly, we’re all enough, just as we are. Sure, there are things we might want to do, but ‘wants’ and ‘should’ are different. A want comes from knowing yourself; ‘shoulds’ come from assumed expectations and a fear of judgement.

The pieces I’ve chosen for my page this month explore and celebrate our differences, our emotions and our inherent worthiness. I wish you all a very happy holiday season – and a 2024 free of ‘shoulds’!

First, I’d like to start with a poem from our ‘Thoughtful Tuesdays’ page editor, Eithne Cullen. This joyful piece highlights the gift of creativity, which can sometimes be stymied by our own fear or perfectionism. Whether you choose to submit your work or not, the most important thing is to overcome these blocks and get your ideas onto the page.


When you’ve got chicken and potatoes
That’s a dinner
When you’re dieting and running
You get thinner
When you’re heading straight to Hell
You’re a sinner
When the food is growing mould
That’s a binner
When you see a shark in the water
That’s a finner
When you’re bowling down the crease
That’s a spinner
When you’ve got a stupid smile
That’s a grinner
When you’re only starting out
You’re a beginner
When you’ve got a get rich scheme
That’s a money spinner
When you spot a spider in the corner
That’ a web-spinner
Who’s that actor with no hair?
That’s Yul Brynner
And those thin chocolate mints
They’re for after dinner

And you write a brilliant poem…
That’s a winner!

© Eithne Cullen, 2022

Connect with Eithne on X: @eithne_cullen and Instagram: @eithnecullen57.


Next, Ray Miles writes about dealing with tempests; those challenging moments we all face. In waiting out these storms, we see that they eventually pass. And, though we may be changed, we survive.

The Storm

I’m standing in the path of the storm
Rooted to the ground with fear.
There’s nothing I can do to protect myself
Or to stop what is inevitable.
I can see the dark clouds approaching
But every second has expanded one hundred fold
And everything is in slow motion.
My feet have turned to clay.
The only quick thing is the beating of my heart.
Lub dub, lub dub, lub dub, lub dub
It’s deafening in my ears.
It seems so real.
But the storm is my emotions, in turmoil once again,
And the effect is the same.
I’m buffeted and bruised but live to fight another day.
It passes by.
I gaze in wonderment at the trail of destruction
Left behind, and thank the powers that be
For sparing me again.
And life goes on……

© Ray Miles, 2023


Hongwei Bao uses mythology to explore bias and division. I like the freedom and authenticity expressed in his poem, and the way compassion is presented as a unifying force.


Taotie (饕餮) is an ancient Chinese mythological creature that was commonly emblazoned on bronze and other artifacts during the first millennium BCE.

I first saw him on a bronzeware.
He looked angry and fierce.
With big, round eyes popping out,
and spiky teeth stretching long.

Stay away from taotie.
The teacher warned,
They eat naughty kids.
I stepped back, conscious of his stare.
I could feel his loneliness,
and his longing for company.

Years later I grew into a taotie.
I started to understand
why people keep away from us.
‘cause we look different,
‘cause we refuse to follow rules,
‘cause we dare to say no
to the authorities, the norms.

Don’t engrave our image
on the bronzeware just to scare.
Don’t use our story
as a cautionary tale
for all children who rightly think
that taotie is cool,
and they can be taotie too.

© Hongwei Bao, 2023

Connect with Hongwei on X: @PatrickBao1.


Finally, I wanted to share this heart-warming festive story by Lezlie Wade. It serves as a reminder that connection can be found anywhere, and that there’s more that unites us than divides us. By looking outward, we discover what it truly means to be human.

A Christmas Story

A few Christmases ago, when in Paris, I happened to become friends with a homeless gentleman who frequented the corner at the end of my street. He sat upon a shocking pink suitcase with his little dog, Lucky, curled up at his feet and wished everyone who passed by a heartfelt “Bonne journée.” He never asked for money. Not once. He never scorned those who scoffed, or worse, judged. He simply smiled and addressed every passer-by with a sincere greeting of goodwill.

I’d been warned repeatedly about beggars in Paris. “Charlatans,” people said. “They’ll take everything you own if you let them.” So, when I first encountered Nichola, I hurried by, shunning eye contact and willing myself NOT to look at the dog. Like the rest of us, I can turn a blind eye to things too uncomfortable to deal with and reasoned that, since this was my first visit to Europe, I deserved a break from routine considerations. But no matter how much I wished I could ignore them, they were always there, as constant as the Eiffel Tower.

After a few days, it became impossible, and frankly tiresome, avoiding him. On the fourth night of my stay, I happened to be returning from a concert at the Chapel in Versailles. Intoxicated by the music of Faure, I was in a particularly good mood when I noticed Nichola and Lucky asleep on the street. It was cold that night and a light wet snow had fallen, so they were huddled on a grate for warmth upon the wet pavement. My heart cracked. I made my way to the apartment I was staying in around the corner on Duvivier, and laying on my bed, stared at the ceiling, unable to sleep. I had no idea how I could help, or what comfort I could offer, but pretending they didn’t exist was now impossible.

If you learn one thing in Paris, it’s about man’s inhumanity to man. Art galleries, of which there are a plethora, boast painting after painting of retribution, judgment, mercy, benevolence and grace. Who knows more about these things than artists? The lesson from nearly every painting is how downtrodden the poor are, how much God loves the unfortunate, and the cautionary tale of revolt. No matter where I went, or what I saw, it was always Nichola and the dog. Van Gogh stared at me from his self-portrait and whispered, “What are you going to do about Nichola and the dog?” The Raft Of Medusa by Théodore Géricault became a depiction of the homeless people piled on a barge with nowhere to go. Gustave Courbet’s self-portrait with a dog was none other than Nichola himself, with Lucky tucked into his side. And no, it wasn’t lost on me that Nichola (namesake of Christmas) was sleeping on St. Dominque Street. Dominique, the patron saint of astronomers; a man who selected the worst accommodations and the meanest clothes, and never allowed himself the luxury of a bed. What was the universe trying to tell me?

The following morning, I had breakfast with Nichola and Lucky. I brought croissants, dog food and coffee, and for an hour I sat cross-legged on the sidewalk as we made our first attempt to converse. My French is très mauvais, which didn’t matter, as I soon discovered that Nichola’s native tongue was Romani. With the help of a translation app, I learned that Romania and Bulgaria, where the majority of Roma originate, became full members of the European Union in 2007. But “transitional arrangements” in their accession to the EU meant that citizens of these former communist bloc states did not enjoy complete freedom of employment in France until December 31, 2013. Even then only certain Roma are able to be hired for certain work. He showed me a photograph of his daughter in Czechoslovakia and gleaned that I was in theatre, visiting Paris on a bursary I’d won from the Stratford Festival.

Breakfast over, I waved goodbye and headed to D’Orsay, or Versailles, or the Louvre, but I always came back to Nichola and Lucky for dinner between five-thirty and six o’clock. On nights when the weather was bad, I gave him money for a shelter, or would return home to find that he’d already earned enough for a bed somewhere. Those nights, I slept better than others. Nights when I knew he wasn’t on the street, I imagined (probably somewhat naively) that he and the dog were at least safe. It occurred to me that it was possible I was being bamboozled. It’s conceivable that my friend had a stash of money somewhere, coaxed from emotional tourists like me.

Truth be told, nothing would have pleased me more than to find out that Nichola had a fine apartment in a good arrondissement and dined well with Lucky curled up on Egyptian cotton sheets. If I was being fleeced, then so be it. Anyone who begs deserves money, as far as I’m concerned. It’s demoralising, tedious work – brought to light even more so during the holiday season when, as Dickens points out in A Christmas Carol: “…want is keenly felt and abundance rejoices.” So, rather than eat at the most expensive restaurants, I ate at moderately fine establishments and saved the difference for Nichola. I bought day-old croissants and gave the difference I saved to Nichola. And when my departure date drew near, I bought him a care package of food, blankets, socks, dog food and treats.

My last night in Paris, I made my way in the dark to Notre Dame and listened to a Christmas concert in an overflowing cathedral filled to the brim with parents and children. How fortunate for me that I was able to experience the cathedral before the fire. Even an atheist would be hard-pressed to admit there wasn’t something spiritual about that space. And sitting there amongst the Parisians, I felt a kind of peace. “What will happen to Nichola?” I asked the rafters. What came back was the sound of children singing: Angels we have heard on high, Sweetly singing o’er the plains, And the mountains in reply, Echoing their joyous strains: Gloria, in excelsis Deo! Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

As I walked home after the concert, I happened by the famous bookstore Shakespeare & Co., and was stopped in my tracks by the store’s motto: “Be Not Inhospitable To Strangers Lest They Be Angels In Disguise.” The next the morning, before I left for the airport, I gave Nichola enough money to return to his daughter and said a tearful farewell. I mention this, dear reader, not to draw any attention to  me whatsoever. It’s our job to help our fellow man…at least, Charles Dickens thought so when he penned: “At this festive time of the year… it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at present.” Three months later, I received a letter from Czechoslovakia. Enclosed was a thank you and photos of Lucky, Nichola and his daughter in the backyard of a home set against the hills. If I can help someone, then so can you.

 © Lezlie Wade, 2023



Facebook: Lezlie.wade X: @lezliewade Website:


Issue 18 of Write On! is out now and you can read it online here. Find it in libraries and other outlets. You can find previous editions of our magazines here. Look out for issue 19, coming to you on 12 December!

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As we roll into December, it’s easy to get caught up thinking about the things we didn’t do. What if we changed our perspective – what if we’re already enough.