Ten Ways to Tell that You’ve Had a Successful Summer Recess

You know you’ve had a successful summer recess when:

1. You spent less time in the emergency room this year than last year
2. Your house looks like Genghis Khan rode through
3. You have bright, shiny new graffiti on your walls
4. Your laundry is threatening to break out of the laundry room
5. You still can’t find where that smell is coming from
6. Your cupboards are bare
7. Your neighbours are still talking to you
8. You managed to put together an acceptable school uniform
9. You opened your last jar of coffee on the day they went back to school
10. And despite all that, all you can think about is going back to bed to catch up on some sleep!

Congratulations. You’re a survivor.

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The Power of “No”

image

We lead such busy lives, today. We are surrounded by clutter. We buy too much and spend too much and eat too much and leave too much lying around.

Yes. I admit that I’m as guilty as anyone else. I have to make a conscious effort to clear my desk every night. I have to make a conscious effort to put things away. And I don’t always succeed.

But the biggest clutter comes from other people. How often have you planned some activity, only to answer the telephone and hear the pleading voice confirming that you are the only person in the whole wide world who can help and it’s really, really, desparate, and if you don’t help the caller doesn’t know what he or she will do?

And how many times have you given up your day out to go and help, only to find that it was something that could have been put off till another day?

That’s why we need to schedule personal time every week. We need time for our immediate family – which does not include the children who have left home. And we need time for ourselves, too. We need to protect that time. Don’t let anything trivial get in the way. We have our own needs to take care of. And if we don’t look after ourselves, we will not have the resources to look after anyone else.

This is where we need to learn the power of ‘No’. We need to learn that our time is precious and must be protected. Yes, there will be emergencies. But as one fridge magnet puts it, “Bad planning on your part does not constitute a crisis on my part.”

After all, there will always be other opportunities to look after the grandchildren; opportunities when you can plan fun activities, rather than being stressed about what you cannot do or should do or could be doing.

De-clutter your schedule – learn to say, “No.”

Are You Sure You Want to Share That with the World?

The European Court of Justice recently decided that Google must offer the right to be forgotten. That decision, however, leads us to ask, “Do you really want to share your history with the world?” It also begs the question, “What does the world really want to see?”

A History of Communication

Let’s take a quick run through the history of sharing.

Communication has always been one of the most important features of human activity. In fact, people have been known to have died through a lack of interaction with others. That is why solitary confinement is such a cruel form of torture.

People love to talk. And they will talk about anything an everything. Have you ever looked back on an evening spent with friends? We often describe the conversation as “putting the world to rights,” or some similar local phrase. Yet, if we were to be asked to relate the contents of that evening’s conversations, we would, undoubtedly, struggle to list more than a handful of topics.

Along came the written word, and communication experienced an expansion as people learned to share news with people farther afield. Posting letters is an ancient activity, even if they were not called letters in those days.

When radio and telephone were invented, it was not long before people learned to communicate over the airwaves. They could now pass instant messages to the farthest corners of the globe.

Amateur radio arrived and people started to share personal matters with relative strangers. Yet these were still relatively trusted people. After all, they were a special community of like-minded individuals.

Then Came The Internet

Then came the Internet; or, to be more precise, the electronic bulletin board, used to post messages to people who lived in different time zones.

In its infancy, these were mostly messages of a technical nature posted on university electronic boards. But they soon started to become more personal. This led, of course, to Instant Messaging and Social Networks. Now, people can share their thoughts, knowledge, and experience with anyone and everyone, almost worldwide.

Still, as I mentioned in my post, The Hazards of Social Media, we have to consider any information posted on the Internet as being public, or easy to make public.

Social networks, of course, mean more than just instant short message services. They can include blogs and other forms of personal websites.

Putting Yourself in Danger

Consider some areas where you could put yourself in danger.

Let’s say that you just bought a new music system, TV set, or computer. It is a top-of-the-range model and you are proud of your purchase. So you post photos of these items online for your friends to see.

A few weeks later, you tell your friends that you are going on holiday for two weeks; and the local burglars say, “Thank you for that information.” You come home to find your house cleared of all those nice new items, and several more.

Worse, what if you published an item saying that you were a little concerned about being alone in the house while your mate was away on business. What dangers could you be opening yourself up to, now?

Also, what about those photos that you take on the way home from work, every evening. Do they say, “Look at the route I take from work, every evening. And I walk this lonely path on my own. Come and get me!”

Putting Others in Danger

I have long believed that many parents protect their credit card details better than they protect their children.

How many parents do you know who post photographs of their children on the Internet? Oh, they try to disguise the children by giving them false names. Some people only post the initial letter of the child’s first name. Others will use the pet name that the family uses for the child. You know the sort of entries: “This is my daughter, J;” or “Here is a photo of Princess.”

Now, what is to stop someone with nefarious intent approaching your daughter and saying, “Hello, Princess. Mammy asked me to collect you from school, today.” These parents have given away one of the key safety measures available to the child: “If Mammy sent you, what does she call me?”

Should It Be Shared?

Another area that needs careful consideration is the question of whether an item should be shared with others, anyway.

In my post, What’s with the Selfie? I asked why so many self-portraits make the subject look evil. Is it the latest craze that I have missed? Or do people no longer care what they look like? If you are going to share a photo of yourself, at least try to make it look flattering. Posting photos of yourself looking as if you are the evil twin do nothing for your credibility, and could even lose you your job.

Another type of post that I often wonder about is the sharing of personal experiences, whether happy or sad. Okay, this is more difficult. The entry that says, “Sorry I haven’t been too active, lately. I just found the new love of my life,” is probably on the safe side. But when the writer goes into the details of his blonde hair, blue eyes, and muscular stature, I often wonder just how true the story is. I also wonder whether I really want to now.

The opposite side is, “I’m sorry I haven’t posted much, during the last week, but we had a bereavement in the family.” This is a little more acceptable as it is reaching out for comfort. Yet I still wonder how many people really want to know.

Sharing personal experiences is more about sharing knowledge and wisdom. It is about helping other people to cope with their lives by sharing your story of successfully overcoming your trials and tribulations. It is not about seeking sympathy.

The Pity Party

Perhaps the worst kind of entry, then, is the pity party, especially when it is accompanied by photos.

I recently saw some blog entries, accompanied by photos, updating the world on the progress of someone’s operation. Listen people, these are not photos that I want to see on a public notice board! If I want to see the stages of repair and healing I will go to the medical websites. Seeing your stitches, and the resultant scars, is not top of my agenda; and I don’t know many people who do want to see them.

These blog entries also frequently mention the author’s illnesses. Look. I know you want to share your experiences with the world, but if that’s the world you inhabit, then fine. Most normal people really do not sympathize with the “Woe is me!” mentality. Just because you are suffering, there is no need to make the rest of us suffer, too. By all means, share your experiences on websites dedicated to these illnesses; but leave the more public forums alone unless you are going to share the strategy that helped you to successfully deal with the problems.

For example, the Reader here on WordPress makes it possible to select blogs based on key words or phrases. So if I want to interact with people suffering from fibromyalgia, I can. If I want to know how others cope with a child who has autism, I can. If I want to ignore those conversations, I can. Other Social Media sites, however, do not have that luxury. So, if I want to follow a certain person, I have to see their lives, warts and all.

To Share or Not To Share

So what am I saying, here? That I cannot control what I read on the Internet? Not really. That I am not interested in people’s petty ailments? No. I am concerned. I have my own health issues and I subscribe to channels that provide news feeds related to those issues. When I find a successful solution to my health issue, I share it in positive terms, telling people how it has helped me and encouraging them to consider whether it would benefit them, too. I do not whinge about every ache or pain that I suffer as a result of my health issues.

What I am saying is that we need to be careful what we share. By sharing personal, often intimate details, we are exposing ourselves, not only to danger of physical or psychological harm, but also to ridicule. There are plenty of obnoxious people out there who will think nothing of ridiculing a sufferer, just for the fun of it.

Worse than that, maybe, is the fact that we could be alienating even our long-trusted friends. These are the very people who could protect us from the ridicule; who would provide a safe haven in times of need. Yet, these trusted friends probably already know about our latest medical episode. So why broadcast it to the whole world?

Don’t get me wrong. There are some instances where sharing such information is invaluable. At times of disaster, the telephone network may be down, but we can still post to our social network pages. A message saying, “I’ve lost everything, but I’m glad to say I’m still alive,” is always welcomed. In fact, after many disasters, it was the amateur radio operators, in times gone by, and the social networkers, in more recent times, that have brought the news to the world.

So, before publishing your most intimate secrets, think about what you are saying. Read through what you have written with the eyes of a stranger; and ask yourself, “If this was about someone else, would I really want to know?”

Pride’s Compass

She doesn’t know
The pain we feel when we see
The sadness in her eyes
That ought to shine so bright.

She doesn’t see
The tears we hold back,
The worry that racks our minds
Whether she is near or far.

She doesn’t understand
Why we should be concerned
About her welfare,
About her happiness.

She only feels
The anger deep within
That stems from knowing
She should have listened.

She only knows
That now there’s no way out,
Unless she finds the strength
To accept the help we offer.

And maybe, then, she’ll know
That all we said and all we did,
We did with best intentions,
For her protection and benefit.

She won’t accept
That we could know
The consequences
Of a life thrown away.

So now she cries
An endless stream
Of tears that will not wash
The sorrow from her heart.

She only knows
That there’s no going back.
Her path is set
By pride’s compass.

The 14 Habits of Highly Miserable People

Brilliantly written article. By the time I read the first two habits I was crying with laughter, so much so that I couldn’t see to carry on reading. My sides were aching with it. This is so descriptive of so many of today’s miserable people. Absolutely brilliant.

Mind Chatter

How to succeed at self-sabotage.

  

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/aastock

Most of us claim we want to be happy—to have meaningful lives, enjoy ourselves, experience fulfillment, and share love and friendship with other people and maybe other species, like dogs, cats, birds, and whatnot. Strangely enough, however, some people act as if they just want to be miserable, and they succeed remarkably at inviting misery into their lives, even though they get little apparent benefit from it, since being miserable doesn’t help them find lovers and friends, get better jobs, make more money, or go on more interesting vacations. Why do they do this? After perusing the output of some of the finest brains in the therapy profession, I’ve come to the conclusion that misery is an art form, and the satisfaction people seem to find in it reflects the creative effort required to cultivate it. In other words, when your living…

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For Those Who Travel Deep Within

Llangorse Lake

Rest awhile where sanctuary heals
By waters, calm, reflecting azure sky.
Majestic mountains add dimensions
That only those who travel deep within can know.

Opening, once again, the wounds of time
That will not heal till sorrow passes,
To calm and soothe the furrowed brow
That only those who travel deep within can know.

Baring soul to mindful scrutiny
To live again experiences sad,
And pain the heart with sorrows yet untold
That only those who travel deep within can know.

Is it me? Or am I just the victim?
Did I cause effects that no one else can see?
Have I done such wrongs that leave a scar
That only those who travel deep within can know?

Is there empathy or understanding
Anywhere within my circle of acquaintance;
Companions who may see the pain
That only those who travel deep within can know?

Boldly forging on with tears blurring sight.
Listening to the sound as waters lap the shore.
Watching memories passing by
That only those who travel deep within can know.

Mindful meditation taking pain
And watching as it ebbs and flows.
Knowing thoughts that cannot be expressed,
That only those who travel deep within can know.

Can peace be found on water’s edge?
Or on the mountain’s weathered breast?
Can there yet be another way
That only those who travel deep within can know?

Surely time will heal the savage thoughts
That echo endlessly in mind and heart.
So few can understand the life
That only those who travel deep within can know.

Angry people flocking to and fro
With ne’er a thought for peaceful contemplation,
Intimidated by the peace
That only those who travel deep within can know.

Lost

tracks2

“I’m lost.”

“No, you’re not.”

“I am.”

“How can you say that?”

“Because I don’t know where I am.”

“You’re here!”

“But where’s here?”

“Why does it matter? Where do you want to be?”

“That’s the point. I don’t know where here is; and I don’t know where I . . . Well, actually, I do know where I want to be, and I’m not there.”

“How do you know?”

“I don’t. That’s what’s so confusing. I’m not sure I can really explain it.

“You see, I look around and I’m in a jungle between lots of trees with a dense fog, all around. There’s no clear path out. I can’t even work out how I got here. Yet I’m also not sure that I don’t want to be here. I mean, it could be said that I’m here by choice, couldn’t it. So, if I’m here by choice, I probably want to be here. But why would I want to be here?”

“Why do you think you want to be here?”

“I don’t know. Am I hiding from something? Or someone? Who? I feel like I’m hiding from . . . myself! Why would I do that? Am I trying to deceive myself? Why? There’s something I need to do and . . . and I’m afraid to do it; somewhere I have to go, but I’m afraid to go there.”

“”Where do you have to go? And what do you have to do?”

“I have no idea.

“Well, actually, that’s not quite true. I have to go inside and search.”

“Inside? Inside what?”

“Not what? Who? I have to go inside myself. And that’s scary.”

“Not many people can do that.”

“Tell me something I don’t know. Too many people go off to ‘find themselves’ and never come back. No wonder it’s scary.

“Yet, really, I know where I am. I’m here; wherever here is. I’m not really lost. I know where I am; I’m here. I just don’t know where here is.”

“If you did know where ‘here’ is, what would you do with that information? After all, you said there are no visible paths. So it would not matter which direction you go in.”

“True. But at least . . . at least if I’m moving, it would be easier to turn.”

“Interesting.”

“And I’ll never find my way unless I can see where I’m headed for.

“I suppose the real question is where I want to be headed for. If I’m searching for myself, and I know I’m here, then haven’t I already found myself? Haven’t I already reached my destination?

“No. That’s not quite true. The idea of a destination suggests that the journey will end. Yet the journey never ends, does it. Life goes on and the journey doesn’t end. After all, once we reach our destination we look around for somewhere else to go. The journey never ends. And, since I know that I’m here, this is just a stopping off point on my journey.

“So why can I not see which way to go? Because I have no clear direction? Where do I want to be? No. Why do I want to be here?”

“Good question. Why do you want to be here?”

“Because I need a rest. I need some time without the demands of other people tugging at my resources. Yet I also don’t want to ignore the needs of those who matter to me. That’s why I’m afraid to search for myself – I don’t want to lose those I care about.”

“And yet you know where you are.”

“So I don’t need to search! I’m here.

“And the mist is clearing. Mist? Fog? What’s the difference? It’s clearing. There is always a path between the trees. It may not be a well-worn path, but it’s still a path. It’s a path I have to make for myself. It’s my life; my journey; my path.”

“So what does that mean?”

“It means I know where I am. And I know where I’m going.

“I’m here, and I’m going to keep going. I’m simply going to walk between two trees and keep going.

“That’s strange.”

“What is?”

“Where did that path come from? Did I just make that path? Yes. It’s my path.”

“Where does it lead?”

“Wherever I want it to lead. I am in control of my life. I can choose to stay here or I can choose to move on. It’s my choice.”

“And what have you chosen?”

“To move on.”

“Where to?”

“Wherever my journey takes me . . . No . . . Wherever I want to go. And I want to go and look after those I care about; which includes myself. After all, I’m actually in a clearing between trees.

Now, look between those two trees. What do you see?”

“It’s not about what I see. It’s about what you see. But I see a path.”

“ Of course you do. It may not be much of a path, but it’s my path. It’s my way forward. Thanks for listening.

“So. Are you coming?”

“Do I have a choice?”

“Not really.”


If you have seen this, previously, on my other blog, I apologise. I am moving everything to this blog in order to simplify my life in harmony with minimalist principles!

High Force

High Force 1

High Force, Teesdale

Stand below the waterfall,
See the flow from way on high,
Washing, cleansing all within,
Till the rivers all run dry.

Where the place where rivers go?
To the seas the waters send.

Where the source of endless flow?
Rainclouds pouring without end.

Stand beneath the shower’s feed,
Close your eyes, and bow your head,
As the waters wash your soul,
Feel your troubles being shed.

Hang your arms and let your woes
To the seas with waters go.
Yet recall from up above
Flows great love to us below.

As our worries waters cleanse,
Washing sorrows far away,
Think, just as with waterfalls,
So this grace is here to stay.


I don’t normally comment on anything religious or political. This is deliberate. It’s not because I don’t have strong feelings about such things; those who know me are well aware of my belief system. My choice not to comment on such things is based on my belief that they are better discussed face to face. That way, there can be no misunderstanding based on interpretation of the written word, and such misunderstanding will not lead to hurt feelings. Facial expressions and gestures add so much to a discussion.

However, no matter what we believe, most people feel a sense of gratitude and responsibility to a higher power. Some look to God, in whatever form they see him. Others feel that they owe much to their parents, mentors, etc. Whatever we believe, we have this sense of responsibility and gratitude to a higher power, regardless of the form of that power. We can learn much from those with less experience than ourselves.

For example, I don’t believe that my doctor and I are any better than each other. Yet I am grateful for his superior knowledge of human anatomy, health, and fitness. I don’t believe that my bank manager and I are any better than each other. But I am grateful that she can take a dispassionate look at my finances. I don’t believe that my mother, my children, my grandchildren, and I are any better than each other. Yet I am grateful for the lessons that we learn from each other, almost on a daily basis.

It’s the same with whatever power we rely on to help us cleanse ourselves from the toxic effects of the world around us. Life, today, can be so stressful, if we allow it to be. A few minutes with head bowed and arms hanging whilst allowing the shower to pour over us can help us feel those stresses fading so that we can face another day. It is one more way to meditate mindfully.

But we must be ever aware of that higher power on which we rely. Because without it we would be lost.