Flit like a butterfly…

meer focus

You might wake up some mornin’
To the sound of something moving past your window in the wind
And if you’re quick enough to rise
You’ll catch a fleeting glimpse of someone’s fading shadow
Out on the new horizon
You may see the floating motion of a distant pair of wings
And if the sleep has left your ears
You might hear footsteps running through an open meadow

That was Bob Lind singing about the elusive butterfly of love.

The butterfly I am thinking of flits aimlessly, changing direction for no reason other than a splash of colour, is wafted up and sideways by the breeze….

That’s my mind, which generally has a struggle to focus and apply itself. Distraction is easy and frequent and false hares are irresistible once started, so I end up foxless.

Is that procrastination, a lack of discipline, poor focus, scant 1 thing at a timeconcern? Probably all; which is somewhat depressing. Tenacity and determination have always been my weak point: it took me 14 years to achieve my BA, for heaven’s sake!

 

in the momentPhew! This started out as flash realisation it was Friday and I had not written my weekly blog and a mild self castigation for following  bloody butterflies again!

 

I have been meaning to read up on meditation; maybe this is another message?

who cares

Enjoy your weekend, y’all!

Spreading Happiness by the body

camel feeling goodYeah! I am back on the happy horse again. In the past, I believe that happiness and fulfillment were neglected. It’s like what happened to butter – it was once a no-no, with potentially fatal consequences (it and a lot of other stuff too).

Now we find that butter is really good for you. Suddenly old fashioned cooking and remedies are the in-thing. We should have stuck with our grandmother’s advice – after all, it was based on centuries of experience. Who said: Too much learning is a dangerous thing?  Give him a banana!

And so with happiness, the traditional approach to mental conditions, attitudes and behaviour has been from the unhappy end of the spectrum: cause and cure research has been focussed on the unhappiness in anxieties, neuroses and psychoses.

med next aisleLately, the realisation has dawned that the other end of the spectrum is the cure to many of those ills and greater attention has switched to positive psychology.

So prevention and cure could be: Don’t worry be happy!

Positive Psychology is the scientific study of human flourishing and an applied approach to optimal functioning. It has also been defined as the study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals, communities and organisations to thrivepositive-psychology-mind-map

A  Daily Telegraph article by Philip Johnston highlighted the new focus on happiness and wellbeing:

  • More than 200 colleges either have research institutes or offer courses in positive psychology.
  • Politicians are saying things like:
    • “the best society is that where the people are happiest, and the best policy is the one that produces the greatest happiness”.
    • “The first thing we know is that in the past 50 years, average happiness has not increased at all  – despite massive increases in living standards.”
  • Economists have noticed one apparent paradox: that despite a substantial increase in GDP in the industrialised West, the levels of human contentment have remained static.

More and more countries are developing a happiness and well-being index and measuring progress.

be so happyIn 2011, the United Nations invited all countries to measure the happiness of their people and to use this to help guide their public policies. The first World Happiness Report was published in 2012. The 2017 Report is available online.

make someone happyMy point is that if it’s happening on national levels, then everyone should be measuring their own happiness and well-being and working at improving it and spreading happiness.

Always look on the bright side of life!

As you may detect, this is not all my own stuff: I am doing a free course on Happiness and Fulfillment offered through Coursera.

If you are interested, have a look; there are 100’s of free info-only courses. I am on my third one!

Hallelujah Chorus

Profanity palls

I cannot claim to be angelic in this regard; I admit that I sometimes blurt profanities in theangry words company of those that dislike such language. I always regret it,  but this little streak of perversity persists.

But if we pause to look at profanity, we see a bunch of stale words which have not evolved much except in the mouths of those seeking to offend or draw attention to their meagre presence and vocabulary.

I subscribe to an omnibus blog digest (Medium) which presents individual views on ‘anything goes’. I follow topics on art, cooking, creativity, history, politics, productivity, psychology, racism, religion and technology.

Much space is taken up by angry people. You may not believe how much is written on racprofanity Tism, feminism and anti-feminism. Vitriol and profanity spew out!

Profanity usually accompanies extreme displeasure or discomfort. It has also become some sort of sign of manliness. Big boys use profanity to impress little boys with their naughtiness and daring.

Some women seem to believe that they are liberated by their profanities. How sad! People striving to emulate others in every way destroy their uniqueness and charm.

What is also very sad is the proliferation of profanity.history_of_swearing_in_hollywood

It seems now that coarseness has become an indicator of equality, maturity and defiance. Users seek to shock perceivers and inspire the same sort of admiration that big boys sought from little boys.

Unfortunately for them their audience is different and is discerning and scornful of such puerile and pathetic efforts.

It would be tragic if the economics and rationale of media moguls prevailed anprofane sponge bobd
we are faced with further entertainment perversions, worse than Married at First Sight (#@&%!!) and presented with ‘real life’ scenarios in childrens’ hour

twain profaneGenerally speaking, I believe that, if used, profanity should not be spoken in the presence of parents or children (or by them) or indeed, anyone who would be offended by it

 

no interest profane

Ouch! But that is a stern test for big boys and girls!profane crutch

 

Nuff said!

 

Will you take a tint, Paddy?

guinessWell it may not be a surprise to some of you, but I am an Irish citizen. With a name like Malachy, you might have thought there was a hint of Guinness somewhere. Mind you some in the Wes-Transvaal thought it was a Jewish name.

The first of my family name invaded Ireland as a Norman knight. Family
service to the Crown was duly recognised in 1328 by granting of the title of Baron of Loughmoe with even a castle in Tipperary. Purcell_crest
The medieval Irish genealogist Dubhaltach Mac Fhirbhisigh wrote that our family genealogy begins with Charlemagne, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

The family supported the Catholics after Henry VIII and lost the title. So there is no need to refer to me as Your Grace.

My great grandfather was a stonemason in County Clare. Just after my grandfather was born in 1861, the family left for Leeds in Yorkshire.

He became a soldier and served in the Cape Mounted Rifles, commanded the Rand Rifles Regiment in South West Africa and then served as a Brigadier General in the South African Expeditionary Force in World War 1. He retired to Ireland but sadly the IRA suggested he should leave because of his senior service with the British Army.

shamrockMy father was taught the Gaeilge by Mrs De Valera herself. And if you ask me nicely later today, I might sing James Connolly.

 

Today is a day for joy, a drop, appreciation for the the skilful word and a limerick or two. The thing about limericks is that one needs to read them aloud.not calm

It is an old maxim in the schools,
That flattery’s the food of fools;
Yet now and then your men of wit
Will condescend to take a bit.

(Not mine but that of Jonathan Swift).

 

O long life to the man who invented potheen –snoopy paddy
Sure the Pope ought to make him a martyr –
If myself was this moment Victoria, the Queen,
I’d drink nothing but whiskey and wather.

(Anon)

Let schoolmasters puzzle their brain,lovely day for a guinness
With grammar, and nonsense, and learning.
Good liquor, I stoutly maintain,
Gives genius a better discerning.
Oliver Goldsmith

Have you heard about the Irish boomerang?
It doesn’t come back, it just sings sad songs about how much it wants to.

It’s not that the Irish are cynical. It’s rather that they have a wonderful lack of respect for everything and everybody.
Brendan Behan

Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.
Oscar Wilde

I have particular regard for this pithy aphorism by George Bernard Shaw which seems to apply to all media today:

Newspapers are unable, seemingly, to discriminate between a bicycle accident and the collapse of civilisation.

irish harp

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig ort! Saint Patricks Day Blessings on you

 

Ash Wednesday

This day marks the beginning of Lent, the Christian tradition of fasting andustd renewed contemplation of spiritual life. It endures for 40 days in commemoration of the time Jesus spent fasting in the desert, during which he endured temptation by Satan. Adherents focus on prayer, doing penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement and self-denial.

All very commendable and worthy practices.

I recall the tiny Catholic Church in Mbabane, overflowing with serious and devout Swazis lining up to be marked on the forehead with an ash cross. Incense and sweat and lovely singing. I couldn’t wait to get out and surreptitiously wipe my brow before any of our friends could see me – they were all Protestants.

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” – a sobering thought.

Dad gave up his Gordons pink gin and water (ugh!) before lunch and his John Jameson’s whisky before supper. I think Mum gave up smoking? My brother alent-birthdaynd I had to forgo sweets, which was really heavy!

The fast was for 40 days but Sundays were excluded and so were birthdays in our house.

I have for some years maintained a fast by giving up beer, which is quite a sacrifice for me.

sacrificesHowever, this year I have decided to give up meat. I must confess that my motivation is not that pure: I have been working on reducing my girth by eating healthier and less food and I am conscious that like many colonials, I eat too much meat. So a wee bit of vanity sneaks in there, but discipline and self-improvement trump them.

Giving up meat is not as simple as just forgoing beer; it is a major disruption to household habits, which affect not only me, but also my wife.

She does not like most fish. She has always done the catering including evening meal preparation. You may discern the tension. So I must prepare my own evening meals.

My research into Lent indicates that some fasts only included animal meat, so fish and fowl are acceptable. So tonight it will be tuna fishcakes; tomorrow sardines on toast, Friday could be salt and pepper squid, Saturday maybe crumbed whiting and Sunday will be braaivleis!prawn-salad

Monday boiled eggs, Tuesday tuna salad, Wednesday spaghetti marinara … I am getting into the swing of this! Suggestions are welcome.

I also intend to read up on meditation and perhaps practice it and attempt to complete the book I am writing, which is a major challenge as I have reached a stale block.

Finding a poor person to provide a meal to is difficult in the relative prosperity of a social welfare state. Some local homeless people demand money instead as they get too many meals!! I shall seek an alternate charitable cause.

I suppose I am an agnostic, but I believe in some of the traditions and practices and need self-discipline and spiritual renewal.

Give it a go! It’s a far more achievable challenge than New Year resolutions!

A Moral Compass

 I often feel that we are morally adrift, that we do not have a clear sense of how to ground our identities and actions to ultimate values that transcend time and place. That is not to say that our society is largely immoral. Just amoral—lacking a clear compass or a foundational guide.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/experts/gregg-henriques-phd

moral-compass

The image shows integrity as the core or hub of the moral compass: the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles

synonyms: honesty, uprightness, probity, rectitude, honour, honourableness, upstandingness, good character, principle(s), ethics, morals, righteousness, morality, nobility, high-mindedness, right-mindedness, noble-mindedness, virtue, decency, fairness, scrupulousness, sincerity, truthfulness, trustworthiness

My preference was for the cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance

Prudence anever-let-societynd justice are the virtues through which we decide what needs to be done; fortitude gives us the strength to do it and temperance tells us how to do it.

Virtue is not easy; it involves sacrifice and challenge of ormoral-compass-quote-roosevelt at least avoidance of peer pressures.

When I wrote about this about 12 years ago, someone commented that we should not require these values/virtues/principles to be taught in school but instead set the example ourselves. I agree that we should but know we frequently fall short…

So if integrity is the true North of the moral compass of life, how do we instil it in our own lives and those of the next generation?

Your ideas, experiences and thoughts would be appreciated. My spur of the moment suggestion and this is what I am doing, is to start a conversation, issue a challenge, ask for help. Would that be worth it or should we just leave it to osmosis and hope for the best?

small-step

Fishcakes

Even though I say it myself, I regard my culinary talents as adventurous, even challenging!

I only married in my 30’s, so had a fair bit of cooking experience in my bachelor days, despite living in Africa where cooks were often employed for most meals. Of course being an African male, I am an experienced vleis braaier, which is Afrikaans for ‘meat guerrilla’.

braai-vleisThe braaivleis, known as barbeque in many parts of the world, is a cultural practice which involves the cooking of piles of meat. The cooking often takes place after a few drinks and is not really that important; the meat just has to look cooked. It often does in the evening twilight, after a few beers…

But I am not here to talk about meat, of which, I have realised, I eat too much. Accordingly, I have resolved to give up meat for Lent in accordance with older traditions and instead of beer.

My wife is perturbed as I said that I would eat more fish, which she is not fond of. So I have set out to show her that there is no need to fear, by cooking some fishcakes as a surprise.

In order to ensure a special dish, I used my pilchards in chili sauce, which I had been saving pilchards-chilifor a treat. I combined it with some bread crumbs of the nutty, seedy bread she prefers. To make the mixture more special and because she doesn’t like raw onion, I used sliced pickled onion, which I thought was quite innovative. To add some colour, I added a couple of sliced pepperdews, small red capsicums in a sweet syrup. I mixed in an egg for binding, salt and pepper seasoning and some finely chopped parsley from the garden. Simple!

Please note, this was my own recipe!

The mixture made six and a half cakes, which I fried in olive oil. Even though I say it myself, they were delicious! (A couple fell apart, so I had to eat them for lunch).

To my consternation, my wife turned down the fishcakes without hesitation – she doesn’t like tuna, chili or my cooking, especially when I try different ingredients…

Looks like I’ll be cooking for myself for the 40 days of Lent.

P.S. I had a nibble of half a cake before I went to bed. I must confess I had a very weird dream about riding a brown ox which was chased by a lion past a lion reserve full of identical lions following each other, holding the tail of the foremost one in their mouths…

afrikaner-ox

Don’t worry, be happy

I like the idea of positive psychology.  she-believes-she-could

Instead of studying what’s wrong with us to eradicate it, study what is right to emulate it!

The stoic philosopher Epictetus believed that: ‘It’s not things that upset us, it’s our view of things.’

We all have inherent tendencies to certain negative thoughts that evoke unhappiness and disturbance. Once we accept that fact, we can learn to spot these negative thoughts as they arise and then challenge and re-think them.

Or just stop thinking negatively:                  i-decided ctrl-alt-del

 

get-upi-can-do-it
face-sunshine

roses-and-thornsCognitive therapy is all about learning about how our thoughts create our moods; I can recommend it.

be-kind-to-yourself

let-shit-go

It teaches one to test one’s negative thoughts, which become beliefs which become thunderstorms.

 

Looking at them closely discloses their falseness, so they can be discarded.

Fill that space with good thoughts! 

you-are-stronger