New Year 2019

Regardless of the country in which you live, if you are reading my blog right now you are possibly making plans to celebrate the end of 2018 and the start of a New Year, with all its promises.

We humans seem to have the knack of facing the New Year with optimism time and time again. It is this hope and positivity when thinking about the year ahead that keeps us going, despite any  hardships and sadness that we may have had to endure during the past year. It’s just as well that we are often able to start the New Year with enthusiasm and a certain amount of excitement at what the coming year will bring.

With the world having become so very much smaller due to technology, one is able to watch people in all different countries celebrating the arrival of the New Year. One can begin by watching magnificent firework displays in cities such as Sydney, Australia, or Auckland, New Zealand and then travelling to Africa and watching festivities taking place in Cape Town. Two hours later, the crowds around Trafalgar Square in London, despite the cold, are always up for a rip roaring New Year’s Eve party – even going so far as to jump into the freezing fountain (obviously alcohol fuelled!) Firework displays along the banks of the River Thames are also par for the course.

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Times Square in New York is among the last cities to celebrate the arrival of the New Year (obviously this depends on which continent one is living when making the comparisons) and the freezing cold weather seems to do nothing to dampen the enthusiasm for being part of the activities. Similarities do seem to exist in Western societies when it comes to the New Year celebrations. Counting down the minutes to 12 midnight, letting off fireworks, kissing those nearby (!) and toasting one another with glasses of bubbly – all these are well known to many of us.

The singing of Auld Lang Syne (composed by Robert Burnes) is, for many traditionalists, an absolute necessity at the start of the New Year.  However, if one were to actually celebrate New Year in Scotland things could be quite different.  The Scots celebrate Hogmanay (as opposed to New Year) and for them the traditions include the “first foot”. This has to be a dark haired man bringing with him a piece of coal and other items such as some shortbread, and a “wee dram of Whisky” entering one’s home at the stroke of midnight, or just after, in order to ensure good health and prosperity for the coming year.

Many of us have good and maybe not so good memories of New Year’s Eve celebrations over the years. Waking up on 1 January can be a painful experience due to the night before. There are parties which may have been well worth the headaches of the morning after, while others are best forgotten. With drinking and driving laws in most countries these days, many choose to stay at home on 31 December and watch television, or have a special meal in an attempt to stay awake long enough to toast the arrival of the New Year with a glass of champagne.

Here’s hoping that 2019 worldwide is a less traumatic and troubled year than many of the more recent ones have proved to be. To anyone who is reading this, my wish is that you will have a wonderful start to the New Year.

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CHEERS

Update and Comments: December 28, 2018

I cannot believe that it is over two weeks since my last update and comment! These public holidays which are accompanied by frenetic activities such as cooking, baking, wrapping gifts and spending time with family and friends tend to result in my getting all mixed up regarding the days of the week. Anyway, another Christmas Day has come and gone and a great time was had by all and now it’s time for a quick update!

As promised, I have inserted a photograph in the about page, and I have also created the contact page. Furthermore, the “Guest Contributor” section has been started with a hobbyist chef and his recipes. I am planning that, over the next few days, I will be starting to publish the first of several articles on local South African artists highlighting some of their work. This is all thanks to the kind co-operation of the Staedtler Company in South Africa and their extremely informative magazine, “MARS arts crafts and design”.  More information will be given to you under the umbrella of “Artists”. Suffice to say that I hope you will find this section of great interest.

Since having to say goodbye to our dear Rudie, I have been in touch with the well respected breeder from whom we purchased him almost 13 years ago, and it seems very likely that soon we will be welcoming a new German Shepherd pup into our home. I will be giving you more info (for those of you who, like myself, are dog lovers) regular updates on this development.

Meantime, as we all recover from an overload of food, alcohol (if one does imbibe), people and end of year stress, I will just say that I truly hope that we can share a lot of thoughts, ideas and useful information in 2019.

Once again, that’s all for now and see you on the Magic Roundabout!

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How Full is YOUR Glass?

Do you ever get the impression that somehow your moods are being determined for you and that there’s not much you can do to change how you feel?  I am constantly in touch with people of all cultures, creeds and financial situations and everyone seems to have one thing in common – an on-going battle to see the glass half full, when life is throwing curved balls their way. Somehow these challenging moments often coincide with the end of the calendar year and the Christmas season. This is a time when families are often separated and loneliness itself can be debilitating. How can one cope when you are feeling sad and abandoned and spending the holidays alone?

Glass 285x201 458985955Depending on where in the world you find yourself, it shouldn’t be too difficult to identify others whose circumstances are far worse, or at least comparable, to your own. Just reaching out to give them some encouragement often helps to alleviate your own feelings of sadness or despair. If you are able to cheer up another person  and maybe even get them laughing, it’s amazing how much it impacts on your own mood. I am not talking about major depression here, that is a different situation entirely, and medical intervention is critical to prevent potential self-harm, especially at Christmastime.

Missing someone who has recently died and handling the grief process makes it virtually impossible to see the glass half full. Something which I found helped me tremendously after losing a best friend through cancer, was to sit down and write her a long, chatty letter, telling her all my latest news. Having spoken  to her son and his family, I was able to tell her about her young grandson whom she had never met. It was very emotional to write this letter, but once I had finished it, re-read it and then disposed of it, it felt just the same as when we used to have our regular conversations before her illness. A cathartic way of channelling sadness which may be of help to others.

A totally different way to try to lift the cloud of negativity is, and I know this is a cliché, to do some form of exercise which will produce the endorphins in the brain which in turn will assist in a more positive frame of mind. All of you personal trainers out there will most likely be endorsing this advice.  It can be so tough to actually force oneself to get up and at it and do that dreaded exercise. However, it is amazing how much better you often feel after a good workout, whether it is running on a treadmill, going for a long walk, riding a bicycle, bashing a punchbag with great gusto or having a swim. The results are much the same, although the amount of stiffness the next day depends on the activity chosen!

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The moral of the two frogs

The story of the two frogs who fell into a tub of cream is another example of seeing the glass either half full or half empty and acting accordingly.

The first frog looked at his situation and, knowing he couldn’t swim in the cream, just gave up and sank to the bottom of the tub and died. His brother on the other hand realised that if he kept on kicking his little legs he could stay afloat in the tub of cream. He kicked and kicked and carried on kicking. Suddenly the cream began to turn into butter, and guess what? The little frog was able to hop out of the tub of cream and life carried on for him.

So, the moral of the story is that things are not always as bleak as they may first appear. Sometimes one has to try to look outside the box to find the answer to life’s problems. When all seems to be lost just carry on kicking your way to the top.

When the glass still seems half full, the following poem might help to keep you focused on the fact that everything changes, and when you are really down, the only way is up!

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DON’T QUIT

When things go wrong,
As they sometimes will,

When the road you’re trudging
Seems all uphill,

When the funds are low and
The debts are high,

And you want to smile
But you have to sigh,

When care is pressing you down a bit
Rest, if you must…but don’t you quit.

Success is failure turned inside out
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt.

And you never can tell
How close you are,

It may be near when it seems afar.

So stick to the fight
When you’re hardest hit…

It’s when things go wrong
That you MUST NOT QUIT!

Anon.

Update and Comments: December 10, 2018

Being rather technically challenged where IT is concerned (another shortcoming along with astronomy – planets, stars, galaxies etc.,  which are still a total enigma to me), I have a “behind the scenes” assistant who is presently still familiarising himself with WordPress. Therefore, I must admit that the blog is still “under construction”! I hope you will bear with me on this one!

I have lots of plans for keeping my blog one which should be interesting and, hopefully, appealing to many people who have varied interests and opinions. To prevent you from only hearing my voice, there will be a section for “Guest Contributors” and this will give an insight into the lives and passions of a variety of people from totally different backgrounds. I am not going to say too much about this section right now but you won’t have to wait too long for the first contribution.

Taking selfies is not something which appeals to me and I have never really enjoyed being photographed. I will, however, be replacing my unusual “About” photo once I find one which is more the real me – one which highlights just how much my looks have changed!

I realise that initially my posts tended to be too long, and the objective criticism I received in this regard has resulted in my splitting them into portions which should prove to be more easily digested. I do not want you to feel that you have to wade through my writing to get to the point.

Oh, by the way, I will also have a contact page on my blog in the not too distant future.

Well, that’s all for now and see you on the Magic Roundabout!

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Update and Comments

I do hope to be able to communicate my plans for my blog with you, the reader, using this section in the weeks and months to come. Sometimes I won’t be doing a full post, but will just jot down some thoughts and opinions right here which I trust will be meaningful and possibly thought provoking?

 

R.I.P. our Loyal Friend

Just a few days ago we had the heart breaking decision to make to take our beloved 13 year old German Shepherd, Rudie, to our compassionate and trustworthy vet, for the last time. To take oneself out of the equation in order to do the right thing is never easy. The devotion and loyalty that Rudie has given us throughout his entire life meant that it would not have been fair to prolong his pain. He suffered from hip dysplasia which only came about a few years ago. Being on good medication which helped alleviate his discomfort meant that he was able to live an active and happy life until recently. However, he stopped wanting to eat and slept most of the time. I did give him some bacon that last morning which he devoured with relish- making me think of death row prisoners and their final meal.

Rudie came from a highly recommended breeder and his lineage was excellent. His mother had been trained and used to sniff out explosives in war regions and his father was chosen for his temperament and intelligence. We brought home the most gorgeous, fluffy 8 week old long haired pup who grew up into an amazing family dog. He was always wary of strangers – typical of this breed – and was protective to the very end.  I do believe that if one is going to give a home to a potentially vicious breed of dog then it is critical to know as much as possible about the parents as well as the history of the pup.  Even a young puppy who has been roughly treated from birth could potentially become a difficult dog to train and early training is so very important.

We miss him every minute of the day, but have some wonderful memories – not least of which is trying to get him to stop helping to water the garden. He constantly made holes in the hosepipe so the only solution was to give him a rubber chew toy to stop the destruction!

One day we will start the process once again of bringing home a fluffy baby, endure the puppy socialisation classes and give the new addition as much love as we gave to dear old Rudie.

RIP our trusted loyal boy. You will never be forgotten.