Tag Archives: growing younger

Gardening and other pleasures

I appreciate the misunderstanding I have had with Nature over my perennial border.  I think it is a flower garden; she thinks it is a meadow lacking grass, and tries to correct the error.
Sara Stein, My Weeds, 1988

I love looking at gardens.  I appreciate the work that goes into keeping them looking so beautiful.  But I don’t have the inclination to carry out that work.

Here in Wellington we have The Wellington Botanic Garden It covers 25 hectares of land on the side of the hill near the central city.  One of the real attractions is the Lady Norwood Rose Garden, with more than 300 rose varieties in 106 formal beds.

This open space  is a particularly peaceful place to withdraw to as it is within 2 kilometers of the thriving commercial hub of the city.


On my walks around our suburb with Lotte my Tibetan Spaniel, I see the results of many hours of patient work in gardens.  I have had large, well-tended gardens in the past, but the tending was done by others.  I have lived in an apartment with a large terrace filled with pots and plants.  These I tended.  And now I have a very small patch in an inner city suburb that requires tending by me. Today was a day for mowing the lawn – all 4 sq meters of it (well I don’t know how big it is but it certainly isn’t any bigger).  Now all I can think of is that old children’s song ‘One Man Went to Mow’

Preparation time approx 10 minutes

  • Find key to outside cupboard
  • Remove tools and paraphernalia to allow access to Flymo
  • Find power cord for outside use
  • Connect cord to Flymo now we are ready.

Mow lawn – time approx 10 minutes (because of the heat and the rain over the past week the grass was much longer this time and consequently took more than the usual 5 minutes to cut)

Tidying up – time approx 30 minutes

  • Rake grass and put into bag for disposal (no room for a compost heap here)
  • Unplug Flymo and return to outside cupboard
  • Replace all other paraphernalia
  • Lock cupboard and return key to its rightful place
  • Return power cord to its rightful place
  • Pour a cup of coffee and relax knowing that it will all have to be done again in a week’s time.

As you can see it takes longer to begin and to finish than it does to actually mow the grass.  A suggestion has been made that I turn this absolutely tiny area into a patio with paving and lots of pots (of which I have plenty).  Meantime, until the decision is made mowing is what I do.

And now the weeding – but first, another cup of coffee.  And I  just know that Mother Nature thinks my tiny herbaceous border is really a meadow.  Why else would there be such a proliferation of weeds.  Doesn’t matter how often I tell myself weeds are only flowers in the wrong place.

Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity. Lindley Karstens,

OK, that’s done but need another cup of coffee before I start on the back patio.

It’s an ongoing task – the leaves fall from the plane tree and I sweep them up; the next day they are all back.

Squirrel in tree

Is there a family of squirrels who live in that tree and delight in watching me sweep leaves? Well, I hope they enjoy it for I most certainly do not.  But what did I say about gratitude?  So I am grateful that I have a courtyard to sweep and can provide a home for these squirrels so close to town.

Cup of coffeeAnd now armed with another cup of coffee I am ready to take my book into my newly tidied garden and relax for the afternoon.  Having said that I certainly agree with the sentiments expressed :

Science, or para-science, tells us that geraniums bloom better if they are spoken to.  But a kind word every now and then is really quite enough.  Too much attention, like too much feeding, and weeding and hoeing, inhibits and embarrasses them.           ~Victoria Glendinning – (The Hon. Victoria Glendinning, CBE British  biographer, critic, broadcaster and novelist.  1937 –














If Everybody Does Just a Little


James on his 16th birthday

Each Wednesday I pick up my eldest grandson James  from school, spend time with him,have dinner with the family and stay the night.  I am really enjoying the one on one time with a 16 year old before his parents get home from work.

Unfortunately,  he is still in the monosyllabic state of teenagers and most questions are answered with yes, no, maybe etc.  But occasionally we have a break through and he talks about some of the things that bother him.  This week it was racism.  Sadly, and particularly with the some members of the older generation, it is alive and well in New Zealand.

We don’t have apartheid as demonstrated for all those many years in South Africa but we do have an insidious and underlying feeling among some that while all men (and women) are created equal some are more equal than others.

There is hope for our pleasant land and the rest of the world,  if the members of the younger generation are noticing this and talking about it with their peers, parents and grandparents.


On my way home every Thursday, after dropping James at school,  I see this elderly gentleman and his old dog, walking along the side of the road picking up litter and dropping it into a plastic supermarket bag.  I don’t know how much ground he covers but he is there every Thursday without fail.  Does he do it on other days as well?  I suspect that he does as part of his daily routine, walking his dog, picking up litter etc etc.

What a difference it would make to our world if we all did just a little bit.  As we know there is an incredible power in small things.  The compounding power of many small things/steps can create something very big.  Small details that nobody else notices or thinks of can separate you from the rest of the pack.

Can you imagine the difference to the highway if everybody picked up just the litter that they saw.  We pride ourselves on our Green land here in New Zealand, but we still have those people who are careless with their litter.

And it’s not just litter collecting.  You can be extraordinary by doing small things.

Imagine a doing a few small acts of kindness every day with each one making a difference to someone else.  It need cost you nothing and it would benefit you as well as the recipient.  What a legacy and an example you would leave for your family and others.

A compliment to a harried salesperson, a word of encouragement to a friend or colleague, a small act of helping a neighbor or even a complete stranger.  This is where you see the incredible power of small things.

Yes there is still room for the amazing feats of boldness but the everyday acts of kindness are equally, if not more important to us and our world.

Today’s quote comes from Ellen Swallow Richards 1842-1911, American Scholar and Ecologist.

“The environment that people live in is the environment that they learn to live in, respond to and perpetuate.  If the environment is good, so be it.  But it is poor, so is the quality of life within it”

Choices, Values and Rules

Everyday we make choices and the choices we made yesterday determine where we are today.

Penguin with cymbals on polar bear

..then run like hell

Some of the choices are made using the Rules and/or Values that we have acquired or adopted during our life. They can be values or rules inherited from our parents or taken on board from peers, friends and acquaintances.  Often we are not even aware that we have adopted these values and rules.

And today’s blog was prompted by another blogger who raised the question “Do you make your bed each day?”

Bed make up for the dayWell, yes I do.  This is one of the things I do each morning without fail, so I guess you could say it is a rule.

But in our lives we have rules by which we live and not all of them benefit us really. Would it matter if I didn’t make the bed one day; or if I went out without my makeup on?  The answer is probably no,  not to anybody else, but these two rules are part of who I am.

Values however, are quite different.  My values include:

  • I am totally honest in all my dealings with others
  • I treat everybody with respect and expect respect in return
  • I am always supportive of family and friends
  • I listen to the points of view of others
  • I treat everybody with kindness.  I do not knowingly hurt others
  • I do everything as well as  I can and have pride in my work
  • I am working on being patient and gracious in all things

Values empower us They assist us in how we live; they help us make the choices offered every day.  Whereas Rules tend to place limits on us:

  • I make the bed every day
  • My house must always be tidy
  • I never go our without makeup on

And sometimes Values and Rules can cross over as in:

  • I must always be on time – as a value this can be respect for others; as a rule this is can be limiting

I am sure there are many others – why don’t you make a list for yourself?

Today’s quote comes from Barbara De Angelis , American relationship consultant, lecturer and author.

“Living with integrity means: Not settling for less than what you know you deserve in your relationships. Asking for what you want and need from others. Speaking your truth, even though it might create conflict or tension. Behaving in ways that are in harmony with your personal values. Making choices based on what you believe, and not what others believe.”

Thank you for visiting.  Please come back soon.

Lotte and Major

Best friends

  • (gatehouse13.wordpress.com)

Changing Seasons

Sunflowers at Waiheke Island, NZ

Sunflowers at Waiheke- Photo Barbara-Ann Kerr

Here in Wellington, New Zealand we certainly have four distinct seasons.  We have been enjoying a lovely summer, with long hot days and warm nights.  Fortunately, in Wellington we don’t suffer from the high humidity of many other areas of the country.

But now the days are closing in.  Darkness is coming earlier and there is the occasional autumnal nip in the air.  The plane tree that nestles right over my roof is shedding masses of leaves onto the back courtyard  Pretty when the leaves stay on the tree, but what a mess in my little courtyard. Oh well, another daily task.  But perhaps I should add this to my gratitude list – thanks that I am able to wield a broom to clear the courtyard and thanks that I have a courtyard and a broom.

We also enjoy daylight saving from September to April so very shortly (April 5) the clocks will fall back an hour.  We will all have to adapt to the changed time and this usually takes a few days.

So Lotte (my dog) and I will continue to enjoy the lovely days and we will put off thinking about the coming winter until we have to.

Now excuse me while I go to sweep up the leaves.  Then with Lotte, I  will walk around the streets of Brooklyn (my suburb) admiring the gardens as they morph into autumn.  Until tomorrow.

Make Life Sense-ational

Walk in the park

Today I asked myself the following question.  When was the last time you paid attention to your five senses? And I have decided to use the day to take notice of how often I:

Look without seeing; Hear without listening; Touch without feeling; Eat without tasting; Breathe without smelling.

Most of the time our senses are asleep.  We turn them off so that they don’t interfere with what we are doing.  So today I am going to turn my senses back on. How will I do this?

On my walk today I am going to really notice things.  How lovely is that garden; how pretty the little girl walking alongside her mother; how good that shop window looks; how young and happy is that young woman.

And after my walk I am going to visualise as many of the things I saw.

On my walk I am also really going to listen to the sounds around me.  How noisy is that car; how plaintiff that baby’s cry.  Then when I return,  I am going to put on a CD and listen to the background music rather than the singer.  If I close my eyes will it be clearer?

And there are many things that I touch during my day.  Today I will make a point of being aware of them.  The touch of the computer keyboard, my small dog’s silky fur, my grandson’s hand in mine; my wet hair after it has been washed.

Smelling the flowers

We do eat without tasting so today I am going to savour the tastes of the food I put into my mouth.  The fruit with my Muesli had a different taste to the fruit on its own; the sandwich that I shall make for lunch tasting the various ingredients individually and as they combine, and then dinner.  I will also be aware of the taste of the tea and coffee that I will consume.

A good exercise is to fill a glass with water then keep sipping until you can describe its taste.  Not as easy as it sounds, but it will make you aware of how often we drink without tasting.

And smells.  The house is full of smells and today I am savouring them.  The cupboard where the spices are kept is a veritable cornucopia of smells.  The fresh flowers in the vase and of course in the garden assail the senses.  The smell of clean laundry taken off the line.  Exhaust from a dirty truck is not so pleasant.  Smells of bread baking waft out from the local bakery and the smell of coffee is to tempting to ignore.  Even different types of fruit have quite different smells.  Close your eyes and smell a sliced apple and then a sliced pear.

Then just enjoy being alive.  Be aware of the wind in your hair. How does it feel? Gently massage your temples for a few minutes.  Is there one area that provides the best relaxation? Put the hairdryer on cool or warm and play it onto your hand, arm or legs.  Can you describe how that feels.

So what’s the point of all this?  You may not like all the sensations but if you continue to be aware of your senses, even for brief periods of time, you will discover many pleasant sensations.

As always be grateful for the things you have.  See my blog on An Attitude of Gratitude.  Give thanks to your god or the Universe and always be aware of how fortunate we are.

Shall we dance?

Today, being the first day of the rest of my life, I am going to start a new routine.  I used to love to dance.  As a child having tap dancing and ballet lessons; as a teenager rocking to Bill Haley, Elvis Presley and Tommy Steele among others; as a young wife and mother at balls and now…

Well it has been a while since I danced.  So today I am starting to dance to the music on the radio.  OK so I have to find a station that is more music than chat.  And if that fails, I will find a CD to dance to.

The dance and a person learning or teaching others to dance has been the subject of several memorable films.  Did you see the film with Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez and Susan Sarandon.?  Click here to see a short video. And earlier, Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr in The King and I.

Not only does the act of dancing release energy it leaves one feeling re-energised.  All constraints fall away and a fantastic feeling of freedom is found.  This is what we should be looking for particularly as we age.  The positive reinforcements we receive whether dancing alone around the living room with one’s small dog for company, or with others are so uplifting and beneficial to our health and well-being.

I will add dance to my daily routine, of 5 Tibetan Rites and walking.  I am sure that in this way I can halt or at least slow down the changes that inevitably happen.

So today I shall find the music and start to dance.  And as always

If you get the choice to sit it out or dance;
I hope you dance.

Young at Heart

On the subject of being young at heart, have you heard of the group of elders who form the chorus Young at Heart?  If like me, you have heard of them and seen the movie then you know what I am talking about. If you haven’t seen or heard of them, beg, borrow or buy a copy of their DVD.  It is heartwarming and certainly uplifting.  See the trailer here.

This very active ‘gang of seniors’ has taken the world by storm.  They have traveled the world and were even in New Zealand recently although unfortunately, I was unable to get a ticket to see them.

They are so enthusiastic and full of life.  Fred (see the photo here) who was dependent on oxygen to get through his days and had difficulty moving around so spent most of his time in a wheelchair,  got totally into the spirit of the group.

“The current performers in Young@Heart range in age from 73 to 89. There are some with prior professional theater or music experience, others who have performed extensively on the amateur level, and some who never stepped onto a stage before turning eighty. None of the current performers of Y@H were part of the original group that formed in 1982, but they have kept alive the spirit of the early pioneers and continue to push the group into glorious new directions. So says Bob Cilman the man behind this amazing story.

You can meet some of the members of the chorus here

When Bob Cilman and Judith Sharpe organized the Young@Heart (Y@H) in 1982 all of the members lived in an elderly housing project in Northampton, MA called the Walter Salvo House.  Some had lived through both the First and Second World Wars but still felt young enough to enter into the spirit of this amazing adventure.  They will tell you that it has been an adventure.  Many have traveled the world and many of those say they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to travel if it hadn’t been for the chorus.So don’t say you can’t do something because of your age.  Life is an adventure.  Let’s all live it.

I am certainly inspired by these elders and am waiting to see what next awaits me on this journey.

Discovering Something New Each Day

Following on my determination not to let my mind lie fallow, I went with a friend to a presentation by Paul Hoogendyk on his travels with his wife Phoebe, to many corners of the world to meet with the ‘keepers of the ancient knowledge’.  Paul is a master carver of greenstone, the nephrite jade that comes from the South Island of New Zealand.  It is known as pounamu by the local Maoris.

The spiritual significance of greenstone has long been recognized in New Zealand and many believe that if a person is attracted to wearing a carving it will have an enhancing and empowering effect on their life.

Paul has been called upon by the Ancients to make 12 carvings to be planted around the world in various sacred places.  Read about Paul and Phoebe and their travels at www.ancientpathways.com.au.

I came away with much to think about after the presentation.  Paul is a master of story weaving and kept us entranced with his gift.  He told us a little of the people and places he and Phoebe have visited since their journey began.  I am looking forward to reading his book which we bought and listening to his meditation CDs (which I won in a draw).

So continue to stretch your mind.  Who knows where each thing will lead you?  For myself I am now on a path to discover more Story Weavers to hear and read about.

Until tomorrow.  Remember you are in control of how you will spend the rest of your life.  Will you have to ask your daughter “Who are you?”

Mother and her daughters c1945

Fitting exercise into our life

We know that we should exercise our bodies at least five days out of seven, but in our very busy lives it is often difficult to make the time.  Perhaps like me, you have joined a gym and then been unable to take advantage of the membership because of calls on your time.  Have you purchased exercise equipment to use at home in the belief that you will exercise while doing something else, ie watching TV?

I think we have all tried these things and for me they have failed.  Recently when I moved into a smaller house, I put all this seldom used/unused exercise equipment onto an internet trading site and sold them.  They had been sitting there almost chiding me for not using them.

So I looked around for other ways of exercising my body.  I have a small dog who needs to be walked daily.  So come rain or shine we go out for usually around 30 minutes but sometimes longer.  One of the things I do is behind the scenes activities to assist my real estate friend.  At least one day a week Lotte (my small dog) and I walk the streets of our suburb delivering fliers and other advertising material for her.  This usually takes about 1 hour after which I have a very tired small dog who collapses in her bed.

This walking is great.  I purchased a pedometer and try to walk 10,000 steps each day.  It’s amazing how far and how many steps we take just following our normal routine.  I would encourage you to purchase a pedometer.  they are readily available in sports shops for a minimum price.

And walking can be easily integrated into our every day lives and activities.  Just get off the bus one stop before your usual stop; park the car further away from the office or train or bus stop; use the parking area furthest from the entrance to the mall.  Each of these little things can be the catalyst to big things.

But Lotte is a small Tibetan spaniel and I thought that besides the walking I needed some stretching or other EASY exercises to keep me in shape.  That’s when I discovered the Five Tibetan Rites.  These are easy to use exercises for those of us whose chronological years are high.  But they can be easily done by most of us.  Remember to start slowly and do the preparatory exercises first.  See Five Tibetan Rights.

I now start every day with these exercises and I must say after only a few weeks I really do feel more supple than I have for years.

So remember, it’s never to late to start.  And as Zig Ziglar says ‘You can eat an elephant a bite at a time.’

And my mantra for you – If you get the choice to sit it out or dance; I hope you dance.

Enjoy your journey as you grow younger each day.












I choose how I will spend the rest of my life

During the last years of her life when my Mother was suffering from Alzheimer’s she rarely knew who I was.  She would mistake me for a nurse whom she would thank for my gift and on occasion she was convinced that she had never met me before.

On my last visit to her some years before her death, she had a few lucid moments and in one of these she briefly talked about my son, thinking he was a little boy still and saying that he could come and stay with her at any time.

How sad it was to see this once strong woman reduced to a shell.

Because I live on the other side of the world to her – she in London and me in Wellington NZ – I only managed to visit every two years.  On each visit there was a noticeable decline and her hold on reality was slipping further away.

Following her death I was ‘haunted’ with her question to me “Who are you?” that she asked on my final visit.  I determined then to find out all I could about keeping the mind active as well as to exercise to keep the body trim and fit.

I knew that our thoughts determine the results we achieve and in the next weeks and months I will share with you my journey.  The journey is still continuing and will do so until I die at which time I will not have to ask my daughter “Who are you?”.