Tag Archives: healthy mind

Face your fears

These are two of my sayings about fear.  Try them on for size.  See if they fit.

“Let go of apprehension and have confidence.
All you need to do is take the first step and everything will fall into place.”

and

Some of us are more afraid of success than of failure.  Believe it or not, it’s right up there with fear of public speaking.

My mind was directed to facing your fears today when speaking to a friend.  And I remembered this article that I had published in a magazine a couple of years ago.  It was accompanied by a picture of an ogre and for some of us, our fears are like ogres.

Lonely woman

Fear is an acronym for – False Evidence Appearing Real – and this can be applied to all our fears. We all have them – so what is it you’re afraid of?  Is it:

  • Fear of public speaking – identified as the no. 1 fear for most people
  • Making decisions
  • Changing jobs – or any change
  • Growing older
  • Being alone
  • Success
  • Failure
  • Losing a loved one
  • Dying
  • Making a commitment.

I think I was one of those more afraid of success than of failure.  I was always going to write articles or even a book when the time was right, or when the ideas were properly organized in my mind and in my many notebooks. When I had time. When I had a real space in which to write, and on and on. Well, one day I said,”Enough! I can’t wait for everything to be right before I begin so, as the ad says, just do it.”

Here are some steps to help you face and overcome your fears:

  1. Write down your fears – when you see them on paper they lose some of their power.
  2. Decide which two of these fears you most want to conquer. Remember it’s too easy to overwhelm yourself with change. Take on a small number and when you have conquered those, take on some more. Remember to reward yourself when you have conquered a fear.
  3. Change your self-talk – don’t reinforce the fact that you fear flying, dying, or whatever it is. Listen to what you say to yourself and also listen to what comes out of your mouth.
  4. You attract to you that which you think about most so when you begin to think about your fear, change the thought to an affirmation – I enjoy flying or I love to write.  If decision-making is your fear, tell yourself, “I can’t lose whatever decision I make”.Affirmations may sometimes sound like you are being fraudulent (oh, who do you think you’re kidding?) but, over time, the little voice in the back of your head will be quiet.
  5. Turn up to the page to write your article; talk about dying with your close friends and relatives; volunteer at a hospice near you; make that decision – you can always change it; join Toastmasters or another club; spend time with older people and see how much they are enjoying this time in their life.
  6. Above all, act as if it is so. This is not the same as fake it till you make it.  People will soon see through that.

If you feel brave enough look for situations where you can face your fear.

  • Volunteer to introduce the guest speaker or give the thank you at the next club meeting.
  • Put aside some time to be on your own.  Here you can clearly determine what you enjoy on your own – is it reading, walking swimming?
  • Get involved in a club where you can meet new people.
  • Start looking for a change of job – attend interviews and be prepared.
  • Join a club so you don’t always have to be alone.  There will be at least one in your neighbourhood that attracts you.
  • If commitment is your fear, then commit to somebody for a short time, say for one week.  Then extend that commitment to two, three and more weeks.  If it works out great, if not you can try it with another person.

Take back your power. With positive thinking and affirmations, we know we can change anything and any situation. My favourite mantra is ‘If you can conceive it and believe it, you will achieve it.’
Remember too, that nothing happens without action and, in this instance, it has to be action on your part.  Take things slowly, take your time and enjoy the process if you can.  You’ll never know if you are a success or a failure until you try.  Facing and overcoming your fears, although scary, can be very liberating. Try it.

And of course, I have already posted a blog on this subject earlier.  In that, I gave other meanings for the acronym FEAR.  My favourite is Face Everything and Rejoice.

“I would sort out all the arguments and see which belonged to fear and which to creativeness. Other things being equal, I would make the decision which had the larger number of creative reasons on its side.”
Katharine Butler Hathaway 1890-1942, American author.


I Know it’s Winter Because…

“Every winter,
When the great sun has turned his face away,
The earth goes down into a vale of grief,
And fasts, and weeps, and shrouds herself in sables,
Leaving her wedding-garlands to decay –
Then leaps in spring to his returning kisses.”
~Charles Kingsley
, 1819 – 1875  English priest of the Church of England, university professor, historian and novelist.

I know it’s winter because yesterday I had my annual flu injection.

Syringe

via Wikipedia

Here in New Zealand these injections are free to all over the age of 65 and anybody with a life threatening condition.  So I made an appointment with the GP and went along for my shot.

I was greeted by a nurse who introduced me to a trainee nurse and asked if I minded Melissa being there and would I allow her to administer the injection.

After asking how many she had administered before I was met with a beautiful smile to be told that she had been a ‘body piercer’ for 13 years before beginning her nursing training.  There followed an interesting conversation on body piercing and oh yes, I did get the shot.

I know it’s winter because sweaters, scarves and umbrellas are the order of the day more often than not.

Woman in sweater

So much younger

The children are all muffled up against the cold as they walk past the house on their way to school.

They look absolutely miserable, whether from the weather or just simply because they would rather not go to school, who knows?

I know it’s winter because the heating is on every day now.  While we don’t have the extremes of temperature that many places have, it does get cold here.Fire alight

And it rains and the wind blows so it is great to come into a warm house after walking the dog, or grocery shopping or whatever.

I know it’s winter because  Lotte doesn’t want to get out of the warm bed in the morning.

Lazy Lotte

Too cold to get up

She looks so comfortable on my bed and only gets up when I move her so I can make the bed.

She does get more alive when the lead is produced, or the car keys come out and she know/thinks it’s time for a walk.

I know it’s winter because I can walk along deserted beaches with only Lotte and the gulls  for company.

Gulls on beach

Photo - Bill Peters

The beach in winter is usually deserted apart from the seagulls and us.  I can spend hours just looking at the distance and thinking without any disturbance from other people.  On occasions I see nobody else in the hour or so that I walk the beach.

I know it’s winter because I have time to sit beside the fire and read some of the books that have accumulated in the pile during the summer months.  And Pile of booksbecause I can’t get out into the garden I can spend some blissful, uninterrupted time with my books.

The weeds are growing apace with the rain that seems to fall constantly and it is so warm in here with my cup of tea

“Brew me a cup for a winter’s night.
For the wind howls loud and the furies fight;
Spice it with love and stir it with care,
And I’ll toast our bright eyes,
my sweetheart fair.”
~Minna Thomas Antrim, 1861 – 1950, American writer


I know it’s winter because my son can have his fill of “Mummy’s Soup. 

Bowl of soup

via Wikipedia

Since he was a little boy he has told everybody that nobody makes soup like his ‘Mummy”.  So in winter, when I go to their house I take some soup. Enough for him to freeze and take to the office for lunch. 

Isn’t it great how we can still please our children so very easily?

And because as Percy Byshe Shelley asks “If winter comes can spring be far behind?” I am posting my favorite rainbow knowing that spring will break through the gloom and rain and the world will awake from its long sleep once again.

Rainbow

My rainbow - looking forward to spring

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire:  it is the time for home. ” ~Edith Sitwell, 1887 –  1964  British poet and critic.


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Thursday Afternoon Blues

“Watching a peaceful death of a human being reminds us of a falling star; one of a million lights in a vast sky that flares up for a brief moment only to disappear into the endless night forever.”  ~Elisabeth Kübler-Ross 1926 – 2004, Swiss-born psychiatrist and author.


MPH LogoThursday afternoon always finds me in an introspective mood.  Because this is the day that I serve lunches at our local hospice.  Sometimes Thursday lunch is a joyful experience as I mentioned in past blogs; sometimes it is sad and sometimes, like today there is a general air of disquiet, unease about the place.

There was no particular reason for this.  But smiles met with pained expressions from those going through painful experiences both physical and mental.  Even those patients whom I had interacted with before seemed particularly withdrawn.

So I asked myself, why would this be.  It was like a miasma had descended on the place.  In my reading and learning I know that thoughts can affect not only people but also places.  I clearly remember the feeling that was left in the church when there had been a funeral immediately before I ran a wedding rehearsal.  The grief, anguish and tears felt and shed at the funeral were palpable.  Yes, some of the other people who worked at the church were skeptical when I said this.  But I do believe it is so.

I began to think of myself in this situation.  Coming to the end of my time here on earth.  How would I react?  How would I cope with this smiling person who asks me “How are you today?”  This of course, is the way in which we normally greet somebody.  But this is a far from normal situation.  The person to whom I am speaking is nearing the end of their journey in this life and they obviously are not great.  So I have to rethink my greeting.  If anybody can help me with this I should be most grateful.

I then got to thinking about how I could make my transition from life to death easier for my children.  When my husband died 13 years ago it was very sudden and we really had no idea what he would have wanted, apart from knowing that we had both discussed cremation.  My children took over the planning for the funeral without any real idea of what their Father would have wanted.

Some weeks later, when the dust and the fog in my brain had cleared somewhat, I found a page on which he had written the kind of funeral and the hymns he would like.  Well, it was too late.  The funeral had been held.

So I have put together a file for my children so there will be no question of what I want.

  • I want to be cremated and my ashes placed with Robert’s
  • I want the funeral to be in a church not an undertaker’s parlor
  • I don’t want lots of eulogies – I would rather people said nice things about and to me when I am alive
  • I don’t want lots of flowers and prefer the money to be donated to Mary Potter Hospice
  • I want my son and daughter and my grandsons to be pallbearers
  • I want my friend and organist at Old St Pauls to play a hymn – Jerusalem
  • I want there to be singing as well as the hymn.  I recently attended a ‘joyous’ funeral.  And this is what I want.  For many years my mantra has been “I hope you dance and I particularly want my favorite version  played – “I Hope You Dance” by Leann Womack.

Oh and I really like this poem and would ask my daughter, she of the fantastic voice, who read “Stop all the clocks” by W H Auden at her father’s funeral, to read this:

She is Gone

You can shed tears that she is gone
or you can smile because she has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that she’ll come back
or you can open your eyes and see all she’s left.
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her
or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember her and only that she’s gone
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
or you can do what she’d want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.
David Harkins, English author, poet and artist.  1958 – .

I am sorry to be so serious today, but I truly believe that we should all make provisions for our passing out of this life into the next (if that’s what you believe).  In any event, we are going to pass out of this life at some stage.  My children took over all the funeral arrangements after their Father died.  I would like to think by this forward planning on my part, the chore will be easier for them the second time.

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. “ 1817 – 1862, American author, poet, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister,  historian and philosopher.


A Foggy Day

“A foggy day in London Town
Had me low and had me down
I viewed the morning with alarm
The British Museum had lost its charm”

from  A Foggy Day by George and Ira Gershwin; sung by     Frank Sinatra

London bus in smog

I am old enough to remember when London was shrouded in smog on many days during the winter.  The smog was a combination of soot and smoke from all the open fires burning in people’s houses and the fog that rolled in most days.  This combination and fog plus sulfur dioxide gas combined to form deadly smog.

In the winter of 1952, the smog was really bad. From December 5 to December 9 this thick layer of smog covered London.  It was caused by a period of very cold weather, an anticyclone and virtually windless days.  Living in London we were used to ‘pea-soupers’ and Londoners went about their business in the usual way.  Some of the smog penetrated into houses and offices it was so bad.

Open fire

As usual, when cold weather struck, Londoners reacted by pouring more coal and occasionally some wood, onto their open fires and this of course, only exacerbated the problem.

At the time, the major problem appeared to be the disruption of traffic due to lack of visibility.  Again, Londoners were used to this.

For my part – we had moved house and it was decided that my young sister would continue at her original primary school for the rest of the year.  Being 3 years older (about 11 I think) I was designated to pick her up from the bus and bring her home.

It was a usual foggy day and as the day wore on and night approached the smog got thicker and the street lights that came on did nothing to penetrate the gloom.  Visibility was practically zero.

I arrived at the bus stop and to get out of the cold a little, I stood in a shop doorway.  What I didn’t know was that the bus had already arrived before me and my sister was standing in the next shop doorway.  No shopping malls then.  Just shops side by side along the high street.

It took a while for me to realize that my little sister was waiting for me.  But all ended happily when we reached home and were given a warm drink in front of the open fire.  In a cup of course.  No coffee mugs then.

warm drink

Photo – Pamela Hodson

 But in the weeks following the December smog of 1952, doctors were reporting the major effects on the human respiratory tract.  It has been estimated that as many as 4,000 people died prematurely and thousands were made ill because of the smog.

Coal lorry

Courtesy lvvs.org.uk/

Most houses were heated by open fires.  Few had central heating.  We had a coke-fired “boiler” in the kitchen that heated the water for the house and also reticulated hot water to the one radiator located in the hall.  This meant that our house, that also had two open fires, was considerably warmer than many others.  But coal and coke are heavy and the local coal men delivered it in hundredweight sacks each week.  My first memories are of a horse-drawn cart used by the coalmen but later they progressed to lorries (trucks).

Following the terrible experience in 1952, the burning of coal in open fires was banned and the use of electricity to heat houses became common.

So while Frank Sinatra sang  “A Foggy Day In London Town” Londoners were choking on the fog for real.

And now that oft-repeated quote from  Samuel Johnson (also called Dr Johnson) 1709 – 1784, English author and diarist.

“Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”

London Collage

via Wikipedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more memories of this period see Pat Cryer.

A Life Being Well lived

“I learned what every dreaming child needs to know – that no horizon is so far you cannot get above it or beyond it.”
Beryl Markham, (26 October 1902 – 3 August 1986)  British-born Kenyan aviatrix, adventurer, and racehorse trainer.

I discovered Kuki Gallman when browsing in the airport bookstore for something to read on the long flight to London.  This was way back in 1996.

Kuki Gallman is an Italian writer and poet. Born in Treviso, Veneto, she moved to Kenya in 1972 with her second husband and son (from her first marriage) and is now a Kenyan citizen.

The book I discovered was “I Dreamed of Africa and this book was made into a film in 2000 starring Kim Basinger. In this her first book, Kuki Gallman tells of her ongoing fascination with Africa.  She tells of being given an essay to write when she was 12 years old.  The theme was what she wanted to do and be in 20 years time.   The teacher dismissed her essay with the words “Why did you have to write about Africa?”  Her response (copied verbatim from the book) “But I do want to live in Africa.  I do not want to stay here all my life.  One day I shall go to Africa.  I shall send you a postcard from there, signora in twenty years time.

Twenty years later, I did”.

Her book tells her story of traveling to Africa with her second husband,her son, Emanuele  and the two daughters he had with his late wife.  The two girls were sent home but Kuki, Paulo and Emanuele loved Africa and stayed.

The book tells of finding the perfect place to live and the dangers and thrills of setting up life in a totally different country, where they neither spoke the language or knew the local customs.

“Between 1972 and 1980 they acquired Ol Ari Nyiro, a 100,000 acre (400 km²) cattle ranch, on the edge of the Great Rift Valley, in Northern Kenya where they created the first ever anti poaching squad to protect the largest population of Black Rhino in Africa and large populations of elephants, buffalo and leopards. Kuki became deeply involved with conservation.”( Wikipedia).

Kiki  had a daughter in 1980.  Paolo, her husband had been killed  in an automobile accident shortly before the child was born.  He had decided to have a crib made for the new child and while bringing it home for their unborn baby was killed when a lorry crossed into his lane.  This was the first death.

Black Mamba

Her son Emanuele was fascinated by and loved snakes.  Three years later (at only 17) he died of a snake bite while trying to extract viper venom for antiserum.

Kuki founded the Gallmann Memorial Foundation in honor of Paolo and Emanuele and has dedicated her life to saving the environment and wildlife of Kenya.  She still lives in Kenya with her daughter, Sveva Makena Gallman , who is also involved in conservation and helping African children preserve their heritage.

The second book, “A Night of Lions” I discovered a few months later.  This an illustrated collection of stories about the African land and people.  In reading this book you get the feel of her total love of the land and its people.

I strongly recommend both these books to you.  In particular, I loved “I Dreamed of Africa”.  It captured me from the outset and I hope it will capture you too.

“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some people move our souls to dance.
They awaken us to a new understanding with the passing whisper of their wisdom.
Some people make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon.
They stay in our lives for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.”
Flavia Weedn, American author and artist.

Flamingo

Photo – Steffan Foerster


There must be a reason

Juvenile Red billed gull, Petone, Wellington, ...

Image via Wikipedia

There must be a reason for rivers to flow.
For beautiful trees and flowers to grow.
And why have the birds wings to fly?
There must be a reason why.

The changes from season to season,
The dawning that brings the new day.
These wonders must all have a reason,
It was intended that way.

So sang Frankie Lane eons ago.  If you are not old enough to remember the singer or this song click here.  Oh sure it’s a love song, but I wanted to write today about not only the changes from season to season but the changes from day to day.

If you read yesterday’s blog (what there was of it) you will know I was close to retreating into my cave.  Now today I am my usual self and ready to take on the challenges of being over 70 in today’s fast-moving world.

Petone beach

Yesterday the sun shone and it was a good day to take my small dog for a walk along the beach.  I was in Petone having lunch with a friend and a walk along that deserted beach was a great idea.  Where else in the world would you find a beach this deserted on a public holiday?

Lotte (the Tibetan Spaniel) enjoyed the change of scene and it certainly lifted my spirits.

Petone Settlers MuseumPetone is a thriving suburb of Lower Hutt City, Wellington’s nearest neighbor.  On the shore is a memorial built to commemorate the arrival of the first New Zealand Company Settlers on Pito-one’s shores on 22nd January 1840. Serving also as a bathing pavilion, the Wellington Provincial Centennial Memorial became the heart of Petone’s thriving beach scene.

Petone beach wasn’t thriving yesterday though.  But it was just great for a solitary walk accompanied only by my best friend.

Lotte

And then the camera batteries died and as it was Good Friday, none of the shops were open.  We have strange laws about Easter here.  Coffee shops and restaurants can be open on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, as can gas stations but not Supermarkets, electrical/hardware shops or Garden Centers.  Go figure!

Bathing women

Photo: Charles Adshead. Collection of Petone Settlers Museum

So now to today. And here is the rainbow I’ve been looking for

Rainbow

The rain has gone

Easter Saturday.  All shops are open now that I don’t need them.  Batteries are recharged so the camera can operate once again.

The day dawned as overcast and threatening to rain.  So once again no gardening.  How sad!  If I was a real gardener I would go out for a couple of hours.  But the weeds will still be there tomorrow or the next day.

Anyway,  a friend and her son and his family came to visit.  Her son lives way down in the south island and so we don’t get to see them often.  But he and his sister grew up with my family and his sister is one of my surrogate daughters.

Now they have left. So what next?   Once again I am spoiled with choice of what to do (having decided what not to do).

Bowl of soup

via Wikipedia

The chicken is in the pot making stock for soup.  And now I ask myself what soup to make.  But I know I shall make Mulligatawny soup.

The books are in a pile just waiting for me to get at them.Pile of books

Lotte escaped this morning and is now looking for me to take her for her walk. But I think she will have to take her ‘escapologist adventure ‘ as her walk for today.

Fire alight

The fire is alight and looking so inviting – perhaps I shall just read a book while I wait for the stock to be ready.  In fact, I know that is what I have decided to do.

And here is a particular favorite quote.  Enjoy.

“Next time a sunrise steals your breath or a meadow of flowers leaves you speechless, remain that way. Say nothing, and listen as heaven whispers, “Do you like it? I did it just for you.” — Max Lucado, 1955 – best-selling author and writer and preacher

Sunrise


NO POST TODAY

“He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.”
W H Auden, 1907-1973, Anglo-American poet

Certain days are harder than others.  Today is the 13th anniversary of my husband’s death.  So I will spend time with my children and later meet a friend in an attempt to stay out of that dark cave that always awaits me on this day.

“Fly free; Soar high; Breathe easy.”

Bob

R.I.P Robert Paisley Baxter 1.11.29 – 22.04.98

Back tomorrow. See you then.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what is it that you fear?

Storm

Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism.  Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make you a far happier and more productive person.  Dr David M Burns.

I am part of a group of women who get together to support and learn from each other.  This is a new group that has had only one meeting so far.  At that meeting it was decided that future meetings would have a ‘theme’ and the ‘theme’ for tonight’s (the second) meeting would be FEAR.

We were asked to put something together about our fears and how we planned to get over them aka move/live through them and come out the other side.

When I sat down to put together my piece for the meeting I thought about the many acronyms for FEAR and several came immediately to mind.

The obvious one is False Expectations Appearing Real but what about

For Everything a Reason

Forget Everything and Run

Forget Everything and Remember

Failure Expected and Received

Face Everything and Rejoice

False Emotions Appearing Real

Forget Everything and Relax

Future Events Appearing Real

Of these my favorite is ‘Face Everything and Rejoice”.

But of course when we usually talk about FEAR it is in the negative sense.  For me, having lived this long and interesting life, there really is nothing I fear except perhaps ending my life as a vegetable.  This could be Alzheimer’s or some other debilitating illness.

MPH LogoEach week at the hospice I see people in the last stages of their life.  By the time they arrive at the hospice they all appear to have accepted that their life is coming to an end.  I don’t fear this as an ending to my life but I would hate to be totally dependent on somebody else for all my needs.

Not since I was a small child have I been dependent on somebody else.  I was inter-dependent with my late husband  for more than 40 years but this is something quite different.  We were mutually supportive of each other.

There are two things that I really dread – losing control of my mind and losing control of my body.

So I am doing everything I can to stop either of these things happening.  I walk up and down the hills of this very hilly suburb in Wellington, on a daily basis.  I walk to the local store and take opportunities to walk when I can.

Golf club and ball

Photo -Karl Nelleson

I play the occasional game of golf with a friend.  Neither of us is particularly good but we love the game and the open air.  I promise to play more golf in the coming months.

I read vociferously.  I love words and word Pile of bookspuzzles and these form part of my everyday life.  I play bridge, not as often as I used to but I promise I will take it up again.  I will find three others to play with on a regular basis.

Playing cards

I will keep on working on these things so that my daughter will never hear me say “Who are you?” when she comes to visit.  And I will also  exercise the body.


I would sort out all the arguments and see which belonged to fear and which to creativeness. Other things being equal, I would make the decision which had the larger number of creative reasons on its side.  ~Katharine Butler Hathaway 1890-1942, American author.


Is anybody there?

Couple walking along a deserted beach

‘Is there anybody there?’ said the Traveller,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champ’d the grasses
Of the forest’s ferny floor:
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
Above the Traveller’s head:
And he smote upon the door again a second time;
‘Is there anybody there?’ he said.
From ‘The Listeners”. Walter de la Mare,
1873 – 1956) English poet, short story writer and novelist.

Sometimes when I start my daily blog I wonder whether in fact there is anybody out there interested in the ramblings of an elderly English woman.  And then I look at the number of visitors to my site and the number of hits and tell myself these can’t be all family and friends.  So a big thank you to whoever is reading my blogs.

And sometimes when I sit down to write the blog I am confronted by a blank screen (the writer’s equivalent to a blank page in the typewriter) and try to think what I will share with you today.

So today building on the theme is anybody out there I picked the quotation from The Listeners.  From a very young age, I have loved Walter de la Mare’s poetry and still have a prized copy of ‘Come Hither” first published in 1957 and have spent many rainy afternoons stuck in the pages of this book.

When I was growing up poems were meant to have rhymes, stanzas/verses and meter.  I am reading much newer poets these days and a new favourite is James Rainsford.  Now for today’s post…

It is autumn here and the sun is shining brightly today.  In New Zealand, we are energy conscious and many people dry their laundry on clotheslines outside.  So today I can see my neighbour’s washing dancing on the line.

Washing on line

And when I look at the washing dancing in the notorious Wellington wind I think back to when my children were small and I too had lines of their washing out in the sun.

And then I started the memory lane trip once again.  I seem to be doing this a lot recently.  I thought about school days and how different they were for my children in three different parts of the world.  In Scotland they were very young, my daughter was in the first two years of primary school and my son only attended nursery/preschool.  They both started preschool at 3.

My daughter was 7 when we moved to Auckland, NZ and she attended the local primary school for a term before transferring to a school situated on the beach.

Takapuna Beach

The beach at Takapuna

Our house was on the beach and she used to walk to school along the beach, dressed in her school uniform, satchel on her back and shoes in her hand.  So different from Glasgow.

At 5 my son went to school in town and so had a bus ride to a school founded on the Scottish education system by a Presbyterian minister.  Some unnecessary information for you here – St Kentigern (or St Mungo) is the patron saint of Glasgow hence the name of the school – St Kentigern Primary.  He missed out on the walk along the beach but not the uniform or the satchel.

Then to Montreal where they both attended the same school.  I learned recently that the school was closed in 2006.  Here they learned to brave the winters and play winter sports.  In class, they learned more French but according to French friends I made while living in Montreal it was not true French and in fact, I often had to translate for a French friend from Paris.

Then back to New Zealand.  The children picked up where they had left off and all was stable for about a year and then we moved to Wellington.  So two new schools for the children.

But all this chopping and changing didn’t seem to affect them very much.  The grew up to be two well rounded, caring people as I have said many times before.

So on to today – Now occasionally I hang my grandchildren’s washing on the line.  Lines and lines of socks, underwear, shirts, pants etc.  Do they have more clothes these days or do they just leave them in a pile until their mother (or grandmother) lifts them and puts them in the wash?  Then when they are dried, the clothes are ironed or folded and put away to be worn again, discarded after wearing and eventually washed again.

Laundry in basket

And today’s quote –

“Have you ever taken anything out of the clothes basket because
it had become, relatively, the cleaner thing?” –
Katherine Whitehorn
, 1928,  British journalist, writer, and columnist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I Had My Life to Live Over, I would…

 

“If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall I would go to more dances.  I would ride more merry-go rounds.  I would pick more daisies.”
Nadine Stair was 85 years old when she composed this poem.

When I moved into a much smaller house I had no room for all the books I had collected over so many years.  So many of my old friends were given to be sold for charity and I hope they have all found good homes.

I kept those that had special memories for me and two of those were bought by my late husband for no reason other than he thought I would like them.  No birthday presents, just ‘presents in-between’ – as he used to say, ‘because quite the nicest presents are the presents in-between’.  These books are collections of writings and poems by women, reflecting on their lives to date.  One is entitled ‘I am becoming the woman I’ve wanted’ and the other ‘If I had my life to live over’.

No doubt we all know Erma Bombeck’s “If I had my life to live over” and today I found this video.  I just love it.

With Mother shortly before she died

I have few regrets in my life but when I found this poem I started thinking of my own mother and what she had missed because two of her daughters moved away to far places.  So though she is no longer with us I should like to dedicate this poem to her

If I Could Begin Again…

grow as a speck of dust would grow then let me begin by being a better daughter Let me begin by understanding the silence of your life; by showing you the sounds of sight: how a peach full in the sun might be the sun, how a flock of starlings fanning the sky is like one large wing, by remembering Dad’s gentleness his quiet but deliberate way of speaking, so easily read by you. Let me begin with patience – that I need not shout, simply face you when I speak. ~Sue Saniel Elkind~

Sue Saniel Elkind started writing poetry at the age of 64.   She died on January 21,1994 and is finally beginning to receive recognition, long overdue, as a distinctive, significant voice in contemporary American poetry. 

These books are full of such moving stories and poems.  I am trying to become the woman I have always wanted to be.  I slip and slide just when I think I am getting there.  And then a breakthrough when somebody compliments me on something I have achieved, or a stranger smiles thank you because in some way I have helped them, or one of my grandsons smiles just because he sees me. This ‘getting there’ is not easy and is a continuing journey.  I am enjoying the journey and I hope you are enjoying yours.