I've always enjoyed reading, both fiction and non-fiction. I particularly like auto-biographies. I've also always enjoyed writing. Years ago I used to write very lengthy letters to my friends and family 'back home' and I wrote those in long hand, rarely making mistakes or needing to cross out. On reflection, I don't know how I did it! Thank heavens for a delete key!
So taking all this into account, a few years ago I started writing for the internet, about aspects of my own life that I wanted to share. The articles on this page have all been published on other blog sites or webpages. I bring them together here in hope that one or two of them strike a chord with you, make you smile or give you something to ponder on in your own life.
A Surprising Path to Increased Vitality
Most of my life, I would say I was a ‘busy’ person, and so you assume I had a lot of vitality. I was a daughter, wife, businesswoman, mother and a volunteer in our community. As if that wasn’t enough, I was often studying some course or taking a class. I didn’t do this with ease. I was always chasing the clock, so to speak.
During that part of the day or evening where I could actually sit down or lay down, I stayed busy in my mind pre-planning what I would do tomorrow or next week – and my mind loved hashing over things that had happened the day before, thinking of all the clever things I ‘should have’ said.
Love Thy Neighbour
Our neighbours can have a big impact in our lives. As elders, we probably have had both good and bad relationships with our neighbours, at one time or another. In my last home, I had a delightful couple on one side and very irritating neighbours on the other! With the increase of high-density housing, it’s almost understandable that we have become somewhat protective about ‘our space.’
Some purposely put up a cold shoulder to their neighbours, not wanting someone knocking on their door unexpectedly asking for a favour. Others prefer to live in rural areas so that they don’t have neighbours right next door.
The Joy of Community Singing
I’ve never been what you would call a singer, I never joined a choir, I never sang in public. I was one of those people who used to lip sync ‘happy birthday’ for fear someone would hear me actually singing and tell me ‘that I was singing off key.’ I never sang around the house, not even in the shower. As I got older, I could see how others were really enjoying singing, particularly in a group.
I wished I was able to join in but couldn’t figure out how to go about that since I was convinced I couldn’t sing. It wasn’t so much about the singing but about the group experience.
The Yoga of Stillness
I probably attended my first yoga class in the early Seventies. But with a house full of small children, it was hard to get out to classes and so I found a 28-day yoga plan that I could do at home. There was a different sequence of postures for each day and I would get up early before the kids were up and get in some ‘me’ time by doing yoga.
For years, I was able to use my various postures as sort of a party-trick, showing friends and family that I could stand on my head and contort my legs into unfathomable positions.
When you think about true friendship, what does that mean to you? Not so long ago, I would have said that true friendship is when someone is always there for you when you need them. I would have also probably jumped to the conclusion that it means someone I see, or at least talk to, on a regular basis. But recently, I’ve had a situation arise that made me stop and ponder the definition of true friendship.
Several months ago, I was visiting my country of origin. I was spending time at our family cabin. One day I answered the phone and the person on the other end of the phone said, “You’ll never guess who this is.”
Emails Between Friends
This is an email thread that naturally developed over several days amongst a few members of the Joy of Ageing website team. It shows how true friends can express to each other how they feel without fear of judgment or reaction and be open to another’s reflection. When we are held with such understanding we are inspired to take an honest look at our life and it is easier to let go of what is not working for us and move forward.
Sorry I couldn’t make it today. I’ve been surrendering to the world of fevers and night sweats and lost all track of time.
A Conversation about Ageing with Vitality
I am extremely fortunate to live in a community where the majority of the people are what I call ‘switched on.’ The are committed to their own health and the health of their families, friends and larger community and by this I mean physical and mental health and emotional well-being. They are very conscious of the quality of food they eat, when they eat and why they eat.
They are also conscious of the energetic aspect of life. They stay active even after retirement age, either continuing to work or committing to community and social volunteer work.
The early fur trappers referred to Montana as the “Land of the Shining Mountains” which alludes to the 50 mountain ranges in the largest landlocked state of the US. In 1962 Montana officially adopted the nickname “The Big Sky Country” when it acquired the rights of a book title and put the slogan on the state license plates. In recent years, travelers have named Montana “The Last Best Place.” All of this hints at what awaits a visitor for the first time.
Montana is the fourth largest state in terms of landmass. And yet it is the third least populated (only Alaska and Wyoming have fewer people per square mile). You can see why it still feels a bit like the Wild West of yesteryear.
Remedy for the Blues
Depression comes in many forms. Some people are burdened with serious depression and others may have only had the occasional ‘bad day’. Sometimes depression can be a lifelong problem and for others they may only have had a short bout of depression on some occasion. So, when we talk about depression, it is good to remember that the spectrum is long and varied.
Depression is often triggered by events. Of course, the death of a loved one, a close friend or a pet can cause depression. Break up of relationships and financial stresses are also common causes. Whether the situation causes short term or ongoing depression may be dependent on how we process the situation.
Can I have that guy's phone number?
It was late 1999. My life had undergone major changes in the previous two years. My husband had died. Following his death, I had sold the business that we had started and run together for a decade. The business had been on the main street of town, making us very much a part of a small community. I just had to get up and go to work, and the world came through my front door. It was a wonderful segment in my life. And it was over. I was feeling displaced. I was menopausal. I was depressed. But I figured I had good reason to be so I wasn’t looking to fix it. I was just dragging myself around.
Did you have a mother or grandmother who always offered everyone a cup of tea in times of trouble? “Here dear, sit down and have a cup of tea, it will make things better.”
I often accepted the cup of tea, not thinking for a minute that it would make any difference to how I felt, but doing it instead because it was going to make my grandmother feel better, not me!
However, I recently came across a tea bag saucer that had these words printed on it:
sinceri-tea n. the quality of being open and truthful while drinking tea
Do you have a fear of singing? Me too.
I used to be afraid ... very afraid. But not anymore. I think it was as simple as dropping the story, getting rid of my excuse for holding back. It was as simple as showing up in full, accepting my divine place in the choir of life. I developed a fear of singing at a very young age. I was one of those children that everyone told to quit singing. And so I did. Over time I came to sincerely believe that I could not sing. I let this belief build and build and eventually it had built very strong walls all around me. I even lip synced “Happy Birthday” in a crowd, for fear that someone would hear me.
What the Dalai Lama has to say about the media
“The power of media, whether direct or indirect, is a real power which acts on us, which modifies our behavior, our tastes and probably our thoughts. Like all authority, it cannot be applied at random. Otherwise, that power could become arbitrary and irresponsible. The power gives media people responsibility comparable to religious or political responsibility. In their own way they contribute to the establishment and maintenance of a human community. The well-being of that community should be their first concern.”1
As a community radio broadcaster I had felt this responsibility in my heart for many years, although I had not articulated it so succinctly.
Before and After Photos
For some reason, “before and after” stories, especially with accompanying photos, pique our interest. The most common stories are of dramatic weight loss, usually linked to a fad or diet, and often stories about cosmetic surgical make-overs. But the kind of before and after stories that have intrigued me the most are the ones that are about people taking responsibility for how they are living, for making different choices – for making choices that are more self-loving, more nurturing. These changes are impulsed from within but still create an outer change.
These are the ultimate human-interest stories.
A Sacred Relationship with Self - Inspired by Natalia Benhayon, founder of Our Cycles App
I recently attended a presentation by Natalie Benhayon on “A Sacred Relationship with Self.” This subject has been in my conscious awareness for a few years as I have been learning about and developing more self-love and more self-nurturing which has led to more self-esteem. When I received the notice of the presentation being given by Natalie, I suspected there would be a slant on how to be in relationship with my self as a woman. I’ve been a late bloomer so to speak, in the sense of realising what my true expression as a woman means for me. I was eager to attend, yet still a little apprehensive. The apprehension had to do with not being confident about ‘how to be a woman’. As the presentation began, I quickly learned that the evening would be about a relationship with my sacred self.
A Lawless Frontier
We are now fully immersed in the World Wide Web. The Internet allows us to stay in touch with friends and family, for free, with technology such as Skype and Facebook. We can save hours and hours by doing things online, from banking and making purchases, to distance learning. I can manage my ageing mother’s affairs from the other side of the world.
At the moment, it is a lawless frontier. Anyone can start a blog without the need to show any identification; they remain anonymous by using a pseudonym. The same applies to Facebook pages. There is an emergence of “bullies and bad guys” in the ‘www neighbourhood’.
Many of you will have seen the disturbing expose on Insight, where you hear, first hand, from a troll about how they get their jollies tormenting other human beings.
Christmas Lies, Christmas Myths and the Truth about Christmas
As we end another Christmas season, I have been pondering on Christmas myths, Christmas lies and the truth about Christmas…
I have been slowly disengaging from Christmas over the last 25 years. I’ve always disliked the push of Christmas consumerism, the over expenditure, the forced family gatherings, the excessive consumption of food and alcohol, the inherent squabbles, often followed by the disappointment and depression. Still it has taken me nearly a quarter of a century to be really free of the mass consciousness of Christmas, which includes the Christmas myths and lies that I was told as a little girl. Last year I felt I was truly clear of it except I still experienced pressure in the work place, with deadlines in preparation for the long closure.
A Little Bit of Alcohol seemed Safe Enough
I never really liked the taste of alcohol. However, it was part of being normal in society and so I tried. I wasn’t very successful at enjoying or abusing alcohol. Nonetheless, it has played a major role in my life.
My father had fought in the trenches of Germany during WWII. By the time he came back to the US, met my mother, and I was born, he was heavily into a relationship with alcohol, to try and drown out his memories and nightmares. My mother held off for several years while us kids were really young, but she eventually joined him in his misery and chosen relief.
I married at 18 to get out of the house. At the time I married my husband, he wasn’t truly an alcoholic – yet, but he was well on his way.