Happy New Year 2021

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Photo by Jakson Martins from Pexels

At last we reach the final hours of 2020, a year filled with lifestyle changes, health risks, financial problems, and for many, learning what the rest of the shared household is really like.

For those of who have lost someone to Covid-19, for those of us with elderly family members or friends in senior’s lodges, our most vulnerable, I am truly sorry that you have had to deal with that along with all the other things the year has brought.

For the people who work in essential services, thank you.

The majority look at the dawn of a new year as a new beginning, although that is false, really, as everyday can be a new start.

The year, though, with all those days ahead – let us look forward to them all!

We have the promises of new and effective vaccines, and our health advisors everywhere, worldwide, learn more and more about this virus which means that we in turn have better ways to stay safe, providing we listen to the experts.

I have always been fascinated by the sea, by waves, and even on the shores of Lake Ontario, I learned to love the cry of the seagulls, the rhythm of the waves and the sound of them.

Video by Engin Akyurt from Pexels

It seems to me, that when the old year ends and the new begins, it is like the waves washing away the past, the losses, the gains, the successes and the sadness of the years before.

Every wave brings in new water, and the sand changes, as the water covers it and goes away again.

And then we have the new start – morning comes and the promise of days and months to come, all unknown, a mystery as yet – it waits for each one of us.

Photo by Bella White from Pexels

Resolutions? None here. It can be a good time to make a change for many, since that fresh calendar can offer a clean slate and an incentive.

Happy New Year.

May the best of 2020 be the worst that happens to you in 2021.

Let’s see what this new year brings us!

Happy Thoughts or Else!!

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Photo by Hello I’m Nik 🎞 on Unsplash

Once upon a time, there was a little prince and a little princess. They lived in a cold stone castle that was built on a hill. From the hilltop, when Jakob and Jeserea went out to play, theycould see other hills, and trees and tiny houses far below.

There were servants in the castle, who looked after Jakob and Jeserea’s every need. Never did they go hungry, or feel cold or sleepy, for if either of the children spoke of these things, the servants quickly made them food, warmed them or tucked them into bed. They always knew just what to do, to keep the children happy all the time.

Boredom? No! If Jakob or Jeserea told a servant that he or she was bored, the servant could always summon a jester, or find a game, or interest them in something that would make them happy again.

No one ever frowned, or cried in front of the children. Oh no! The servants had learned, when Jakob and Jeserea were only tiny, that if either of them saw these negative things, that servant would be ”disappeared”. That was the children’s name for it, though the servants called it another thing, and often shook their heads when they thought the children weren’t looking.

”Disappeared” meant that the servant would simply vanish into thin air, and it would be as if they had never lived at all.

There is no ending to this story, for if Jakob or Jeserea should decide to read it, they will make me ”disappear”. You see, not only do they not like to see unhappiness and other negative things, they do not like to read about them either.

In many ways, Jakob and Jeserea are like some of the citizens in the country today.

There is a cult surrounding the belief in positivity that serves to deny genuine feelings, both in the self and in others, to deny reality and focus exclusively on the positive as though all negativity is wrong.

Here is an excerpt from The Psychology Group Fort Lauderdale, LLC

”when positivity is used to cover up or silence the human experience, it becomes toxic. By disallowing the existence of certain feelings, we fall into a state of denial and repressed emotions. The truth is, humans are flawed. We get jealous, angry, resentful, and greedy. Sometimes life can just flat out suck. By pretending that we are “positive vibes all day,” we deny the validity of a genuine human experience.”

2020 © Copyright of The Psychology Group Fort Lauderdale, LLC

https://thepsychologygroup.com/toxic-positivity/

I have seen this frequently on national news report sites, in the comments section, when someone posts, ”More bad news and negativity! Can’t you report something positive for a change!”

While the book, “Pollyanna” written by Eleanor H. Porter in 1913 is the origin of the word,

The Cambridge Dictionary defines ”Pollyanna” as ”a person who believes that good things are more likely to happen than bad things, even when this is very unlikely”.

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/pollyanna?q=Pollyanna

The shunning and running away from negative things and negative people is acceptable in society it seems. When did negativity get such a bad reputation? And why?

I think we often take for granted what is accepted in the general population, without ever asking ourselves, why is this and does it make sense?

I don’t condone sinking into depressive and negativity at all. I am just saying that maybe there is a time and a place for the not-so-happy and not-so-positive things.

We can’t live in a childlike world, all sweetness and light where everyone is always joyful and nothing bad happens. There is no such place.

I suggest we need to accept the negative and deal with it, not hide from it.

Bad things do happen. Horrible things happen. This is life. To embrace the negative as well as the positive is to embrace life and all that it has to offer.

Photo by Birmingham Museums Trust on Unsplash

Denial, Acceptance, Reality

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Photo by William Warby on Unsplash

I have been reading a book written by a doctor who worked with the notorious Dr. Mengele during the Holocaust, in Auschwitz.

Auschwitz – A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account by Miklos Nyiszle and Richard Seaver

Information about the Holocaust:

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-holocaust

In the forward to the book, Bruno Bettelheim presents a suggestion, that the idea of the death camps was so horrendous that no one, either those victims, Jewish, gypsies, physically or mentally handicapped, aged or ill, gays, Jehovah’s Witnesses, or those on the ”outside” – those who lived in close proximity to the crematorium within the country, consciously recognized what would be their fate/the fate of the prisoners confined there.

No one could accept the horrors of the reality.

And since the Holocaust, since World War Two ended, there have been the denialists. They claim that ”six million didn’t die” as though numbers are what matter, when it is the loss of lives and the horrible way they were allowed to die that matters.

There have been claims that it never happened.

When I was eleven, in Alberta, Canada, an old man showed me the tattoo on his arm – and told me that he was in a camp.

That memory stayed with me through the years.

I know that our new way of life – of Covid – 19 – has affected all of us, some more than others.

The denialists frighten me. Despite the most knowledgeable experts in the medical and scientific communities around the world telling us what must be done to curb this disaster and loss of life, there are people who refuse to accept the reality.

Their death wish is strong, and they no longer seek life.

”According to Freud, the death-drive manifests in the psyche as a tendency toward self-destruction, or more precisely the elimination of tension, which can also be turned outwards, whereby it becomes aggression.”

https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803095704767

And so we have, on social media, in the group protests, and the violence towards store clerks who try to enforce the store policies of mask wearing, self destructive behaviour on the part of those who refuse to accept the reality – the threat to our lives – that Covid 19 represents.

Instead, it is easy to deny the reality.

”Covid is just a flu”

”Nobody has died except for a few old people”

”It’s the government (pick your country). They’re trying to take away our rights and freedoms”

”It’s my right to not wear a mask”

Misplaced anger, aggression and fear.

Let’s face the reality.

A child died just today, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Under the age of ten.

Do we still want to deny that Covid is dangerous?

That we – all of us – are vulnerable?

The Covid denialists remind me of those who have denied the Holocaust all these years.

The same refusal to accept the reality that horrible things can happen. That we can all be vulnerable to sickness and to death.

That’s right. It isn’t just the ”old” that die from Covid. Not to mention that the medical community now has identified a long term and lingering effect on the health of those who do survive. We still don’t know what will happen to those people. What will be their condition in a few months, or years?

Let’s live – not in fear, as some of the anti-masker denialists say – but in hope – let us wear our masks, to protect others – let us wash our hands, because we know basic science – and let us care even more about others, not just about ourselves.

Maybe, just maybe, that is something we can all take away from this time.

Let us begin to see ourselves as part of the community, part of our locality, part of our state or province, part of our country! Part of the world.

Maybe this is the one time in history that we can all make a difference and save someone else.

Let’s try.

Give Until You Can’t

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When I was six, my mother and I lived in a lovely little town on the shores of Lake Ontario, Canada. Port Hope is known for having the best preserved main street in the province of Ontario.

https://www.visitporthope.ca/en/index.aspx

We had come from the northern reaches of British Columbia, and it was a change for me – I had spent two years in the wilds, learning about trapping and tracking animals from the man my mother worked for as a housekeeper, and then I was in a town, with streets and traffic and it was a true culture shock.

The school was okay as I loved to learn. The teacher was nice. No matter that I got lost when leaving the school the first day or so to go home, as I was used to marking my way by following the signs in nature, not streets and buildings.

Our first home in Port Hope was above a bakery on Walton Street. The delicious aromas of baked goods floated up to us early in the morning. At Christmas, the town decorated the streets with lights and beautiful holiday themed ornaments.

But…there was music – Christmas music – for hours throughout the days.

It was quite unbearable after a while.

We were poor. My mother was lame – one leg shorter than the other, and I came to her late in life. By then, she could no longer support us by working, and we lived on the small income provided by welfare.

Christmas would have been a very sad time for us except that the local organizations provided food hampers and Christmas gifts for those in need.

Can I tell you how this mattered to a six year old child?

It made our Christmas shine and the memories I have, of the knock on the door and those volunteers bringing in a box of food and some colourful wrapped presents is something that I still treasure, sixty years later.

So – my thoughts are these. If you can, give. It doesn’t have to be a lot and it doesn’t necessarily have to be dollars. You can give of your time and your good thoughts.

Because, I can tell you, that as a child on welfare, I sensed even then, the stigma of my not being ”deserving” or ”good enough” of being ”a freeloader” of being ”lazy”.

Not true. Children do not choose to be poor. Mothers do not choose to live in poverty, afraid that an abusive partner will somehow find them. They do not choose to be physically unfit to work.

Give then, of your means or of your understanding, for the next poor or homeless person you see. Please know that these situations are not by choice.

As we enter this Christmas season may you and yours have enough – enough food, enough warmth and shelter, enough love and caring – to get you through this time, when things are so uncertain.

We need each other.

That is what makes us human. What makes us able to carry on, no matter what.

And – thank you to that fraternal organization in Port Hope, in 1959, that gave my mother and me a wonderful Christmas and a special memory.

I wanted to find illustrations for this post, but I couldn’t. I searched for ”poverty” and ”childhood” and so on, but nothing seemed right. I guess there isn’t a ”just right” graphic that I can share to show the life I knew.

Success, Failure, and Aging

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I learned something new a while back.

It is entirely possible to take on a task that is too difficult and when doing so, it is important to recognize that the outcome may not be ideal.


Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

In fact, sometimes it is wise to give up!

Quitters…

How often have we heard, ”No one likes a quitter!” or “Keep trying! You can do it!”

You know what? It is not always true.

In my latest experience, I decided to move some very heavy furniture. Not a good plan. Turned out to be far more challenging than I expected. I did get it done – but the toll it took on me wasn’t pleasant.

I suffered with neck pain for several days. Over the counter pain relievers helped a bit, but I regretted my actions.

It is time to accept that aging can mean some things that I could do once are no longer wise.

In the case of a marriage gone bad, years ago, I stubbornly tried to stay in the relationship, but it was at the expense of my mental well being.

I had to quit.

I was a smoker. In that instance, it was a good thing to be a Quitter. I did succeed.

Rewarded for Existence?

When I hear that all the participants in some competition are handed a trophy, ”because they took part, even though they didn’t win” – well, that just seems wrong.

The idea that children, or anyone, for that matter, should be rewarded for just ”existing” – how did that become a thing?

I think that learning to cope with failure, with not being ”first”, with not be ”equal” to everyone else in a peer group is a fundamental part of becoming and of being a person.

Limitations – We All Have Them

As I age, I am learning to cope with the changes that come.

When parents tell their offspring that ”you can be anything you want to be in life!” – is that not a lie and a great disservice to a child?

To be realistic, no child is going to be smart enough, or tall enough, or strong enough, or talented enough, to become ”anything” that child might want to become.

Let’s applaud those who know when to quit, when to give up and when to change direction, if it needs to be done.

There is no shame in being honest, with others or with yourself.

Further reading –

How To Accept, Process, And Learn From Failure
by Chris Meyers Former Forbes Contributor

Featured photograph at top of page is by Leora Dowling on Unsplash

New Beginnings

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Photo by Dennis Buchner on Unsplash

 

When I was a teen, I got spring fever every year. As the snow melted, and the sun warmed, I had an urge to just run – somewhere, anywhere that was new, that was not ”here”.

I think that traditionally, we tend to think of newness, the fresh growing green grass, the flowers bursting through the soil, as a beginning.

But, really, any season can mean a new start. Not even a season, but the dawning of a new day.

In fall, as the leaves change color, the sun rises later and sets earlier, as the temperatures cool,  we may look towards the long and cold winter ahead – depending on where you live of course!

But that time can be a fresh start too. While there isn’t any new growth in nature, there is change. Changes to all of our surroundings.

And change should be what moves us forward, into the future, the next day, the next month, the next season.

Squirrels gather acorns for winter, and we can too!

Save up your happiest memories of spring and suummer, and make more good memories today and everyday!

Every season, like every person, has something to offer.

Be open to what can be.

Photo by Prahalad Sanjeev Varma on Unsplash

Is that what Good Friends do

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I have seen many memes posted on Facebook the last while, that reinforce the idea that ”I am busy and so are you, so if you don’t hear from me for while, it isn’t important. We are still close friends.”

Not! Since when did our personal lives and busyness take over from nurturing close relationships?

Never!

In what universe do you live, that you believe that you can just remove yourself from an acquantantices life, and then pop back in whenever it is convenient for you and expect that you will be welcomed with joy and acceptantance?

Do you believe that a relationship deserves that kind of ignoring?

Does a husband and wife, or wife and wife or husband and husband accept that sort of ignoring?

Of course not!

And what makes anyone think that a friendship is any different?

Because – it isn’t.

If you aren’t prepared to spend time and energy on working on a relationship – whether it be a couple situation, a relative situation or a friendship, how can you be so self absorbed as to expect that person will be there for you, will be willing to wait for you, until you are ready to get around to contacting them?

No. Any relationship requires commitment, empathy, and involvement.

If you can’t offer that to another, in a relationship of any kind, then you are too selfish to deserve the caring and loyalty and friendship of another human being.

I was in a very bad place in late 1971, and this song was so very appropriate. And still is today.

Isn’t this what you really feel, isn’t this the real feelings that you have? It’s time to stop hiding our feelings and be honest.

Serenity

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Image by Pexels from Pixabay

As I grow older – do we ever say, ”I am old” or is that a place we are always moving toward?

My sister, at age 86, took exception when I described her as ”elderly”!

There is a poem that I like, https://www.poetrynook.com/poem/song-246

Song

by Florence Smith

HOW PLEASANT it is that always
There’s somebody older than you—
Someone to pet and caress you,
Someone to scold you, too!

Someone to call you a baby,
To laugh at you when you’re wise;
Someone to care when you’re sorry,
To kiss the tears from your eyes;

When life has begun to be weary,
And youth to melt like the dew,
To know, like the little children
Somebody’s older than you.

The path cannot be so lonely,
For someone has trod it before;
The golden gates are the nearer,
That someone stands at the door.

I can think of nothing sadder
Than to feel, when days are few,
There’s nobody left to lean on,
Nobody older than you!

The younger ones may be tender
To the feeble steps and slow;
But they can’t talk the old times over—
Alas, how should they know!

‘Tis a romance to them—a wonder
You were ever a child at play;
But the dear ones waiting in heaven
Know it is all as you say.

I know that the great All-Father
Loves us, and the little ones too;
Keep only childlike-hearted—
Heaven is older than you!

Confused as to where this post is heading? Ha ha. So am I!

I suppose what I really want to say is that as we grow older, I think that most of us tend to become a little more accepting of others – of our differences and the things that we used to vehemently disagree about don’t matter so much.

I like to believe that as we move towards aging and the loss of our faculties -because for many of us it does happen, and stop trying to pretend it isn’t so – we also become less likely to judge others and to find fault.

I chose the photos of lily pads for a reason. As a child, of four or five, I lived in a beautiful and remote part of northern British Columbia, Canada. The farm where I lived had a pond complete with lily pads and frogs.

In those days, I had no idea that people could be cruel, uncaring, or prejudiced. I spend hours at that pond, catching tiny toads, and listening to the frogs and the birds.

The few kids and adults who came and saw that pond liked it. There was never a hint that I might learn about loneliness or hate then.

Perhaps we all have a special place, or at least a special memory of a time, or a person or a place, that made us happy.

As I grow older, I think of that place, and today, all this time past, it makes me happy.

If you feel depressed, or alone, misunderstood, try to think of that place – yes, to risk being trite – of your ”happy place” because so many of us do have them.

If you lack such a special place, take my memories of that beautiful, quiet secluded pond, and make it your own.

Listen to the sounds of the birds chirping in the trees. Hear the croaks of the frogs as they hop from one lily pad to another. Hear the gentle lapping of the nearly still water. Smell the water. There is no algae here, just the soft scent of water and the forest.

There is a fate that awaits us all, hopefully not too soon for most.

But we need our memories and our happy times to get through the years.

Serenity….the hidden pond in an otherwise hectic and often sad world.

Image by Corinna Schenk from Pixabay

Humanity Forgiveness and Peace

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I confess to having taken a break from the daily news the last while. I am tired of the coronavirus talk. No, I do not think the virus is a hoax, and yes, I believe it is a threat to us all.

I am tired of the constant reports, though, and just for a bit, I will think of other things.

I stopped watching about the time Black Lives Matter protests began.

In Canada, we have not only had BLM demonstrations, but here we also have an ongoing problem with the way our indigenous people view the current citizens and the way the indigenous people have been treated over the years, since the first fur traders came, and since the explorers arrived.

In this country, the wrongs and injustices are paid for, by the government, in the form of money distributed to our indigenous people, for things like land claims and the treatment they say they received in the government run residential schools.

I believe – I hope – that our black population has been respected more here, than elsewhere in the world.

I know that there is a lot of animosity towards the immigrants of today, and the refugees arriving in Canada.

I wonder, though, when does the hate and the resentment and the anger at the ”new people” arriving in the country, stop?

So, I have a couple of things I want to say.

First, for the indigenous population, the people who live in Canada today have nothing to do with the explorers, fur traders and settlers that came here and became a part of the country.

So, isn’t it time we, the descendants, can stop having to pay for the ”sins” of our fathers?

Throughout history, the urge to explore has been a fact.

How far back are we supposed to go, before the ”real” people of this country can say that ”they” are the rightful inhabitants?

I think it is very easy to fall into the trap of blaming others for everything that one dislikes about life today.

That doesn’t make it right.

We hear a very one sided story, when it comes to the way Canadians settled in this land.

There were many martyrs, thanks to the indigenous people attacking and torturing the priests who came to spread the message of God’s love.

We don’t ever talk about or hear about that today.

Injustice towards anyone, towards any group of people breaks my heart.

The things that have been reported in the USA about the treatment of black people, is horrendous.

It is wrong. No question.

I think it is time to do this.

Stop expecting money to solve the problems of history.

Stop asking for apologies for things our long dead ancestors did in Canada.

How about this?

Instead of expecting money to solve injustice, we begin a new approach.

Let’s learn to live together. Let’s respect each other.

Let’s – dare I say it – let’s Forgive.

Psychiatrists and psychologists will tell you that an important step in gaining freedom from the past is to accept and to forgive.

It is a concept that seems to have been forgotten today.

We – all of us – need to strive for inner peace. Money and possessions won’t do it.

Let’s all try to stop hating and blaming others.

We need to learn how to live in this world, in harmony with others.

Instead of placing blame, calling names and trying to rewrite the past by destroying history – defacing and tearing down statues – let’s all face the future, together, in a spirit of brotherhood.

Forgiveness does not mean anyone has to stop working for change.

It is a freeing of the spirit, so that great things may be dreamed of and accomplished.

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.

Martin Luther King, Jr.