When I think I’ve heard it all, I found out this morning that I haven’t!! So, with a HAPPY smile on my face, I am writing this post to make your day!
This is another “hair salon” story….“Oh, No …please spare us!” you are thinking.
It appears that this salon operator wanted to hire someone for her salon. She went to get the advertisement printed and was eagerly looking for the right person to respond.
Here is what Alison Birch said happened when she tried to list the job ad. She was looking for a part-time qualified hairdresser at her AJ’s Unisex Hair Salon in Stroud, England. (And I thought only crazy things happened in American salons that were news worthy!)
“The position called for someone with five years’ experience of working in a salon, who is “confident in barbering as well as all aspects of hairdressing.”And the advertisement stated, “This is a busy, friendly, small salon, so only happy, friendly stylists need apply.”
She claims the man at the job center said to her: “I’m sorry, but the word happy is a discriminatory word and we aren’t allowed to use it, as somebody who is not happy will be discriminated against.”
According to Birch, he then asked: “Should we change the word in case somebody thinks that they can’t apply for the job because they are not a happy person?”
“Was I being a bit sensitive, and is the word happy discriminating? Or has this whole world all gone mad?” Birch said.And plenty of Birch’s customers agreed with her outrage over the job center’s “ridiculous” stance on her advertisement.
Karen Evans commented: “The world has gone absolutely mad.
“Does this mean that every descriptive word is discriminating… happy, tall, smart, elegant? Good luck with your search.”
Julie Thickins added: “I thought this was a joke, realizing it clearly isn’t has left me absolutely speechless… what has the human race come to?” (Taken from South West News Service in England)
I’m sure my readers will remember the ads in years past when someone is looking for the perfect person to meet. Well, if those ads still exist…no one could say that they are looking for a “TALL and HANDSOME MAN.” Certainly that would be discriminating against the men out there that are “SHORT and UGLY.” (Which reminds me that my female, English students in Mongolia said they just wanted to marry a man that was “CLEAN and SOBER.” Poor, dears, they didn’t realize that they were putting the Mongolian men who were DIRTY and DRUNK in a discriminated-against category.)
It also occurred to me that when I patted my Golden Retriever this morning and said, “Bella, you are such a BEAUTIFUL girl….and a GOOD girl too.” I surely was discriminating against all the BAD, UGLY dogs in the world.
A special note from Boyer Writes:
Good luck, Ladies in England, on hiring a HAPPY person for your salon. You deserve happiness for happiness should not be prohibited! Yes, You are right… “The world has gone crazy!”
We may be worrying about the silent killer lurking within the person just around the isle from us in the grocery store. Have they been exposed to the virus or not? Why do they think they don’t have to wear a mask? Don’t they care about the most vulnerable who also must grocery shop?
We fill our grocery carts with those most “essential” items. What do we have on hand? Will the store run out of these basic things…like flour and SUGAR! We most likely will reach for the SUGAR because we can’t be out of that when we decide to bake our next cake or cookies. My husband loves the Hershey chocolates, wrapped in an individual treat size. Can’t go home without those!
We all know that ONE, tiny wrapped chocolate is never enough. Why is this? Self control may not be a strong point in our makeup…but there may be something chemical that makes us reach for just one more…one more…oh…just one more won’t hurt!…or will it? Believe me, I know from experience how difficult it is to turn down any great dessert…as probably you do also unless you are very disciplined. For some, “THE SWEETER, THE BETTER” as we found out one time when a friend brought us an extremely sweet apple pie. It is a shame to say that it went into the trash. I have found, however, that with some recipes that call for 2 cups of sugar, it really only needs 1 cup to not change the taste.
I also know that the body will adjust to the craving for sweets after a person stops eating these delightful, enjoyable treats. When I was teaching in Mongolia for two months, we ate primarily Russian food. After all, when Russia invaded and occupied Mongolia, they commanded a change in almost everything. That is called “Re-education.” Actually, in their case, reeducation is a euphemism for brainwashing efforts aimed at instilling certain beliefs in people against their will. (word finder)
The Russians removed Mongolian religious temples, required students to learn in their schools the Russian language. Of course over 70 years of occupation, Russian food became the main food of choice…except if the Mongolians were out on the Steppes near the Gobi and no one knew that they were eating “Mongolian style.” I also had the privilege of seeing a Mongolian Ger (tent) out in the countryside and being served REAL Mongolian BBQ. These very hospitable people also enjoy their National Drink of Airag (mildly fermented mare’s milk…an acquired taste is necessary for outsiders) and Buuz, a dumpling.
While I was teaching English to my Mongolian students, I ate less because eating borscht (beetroot and tomatoes) or Kasha (type oatmeal) was not my favorite. I lost 25 pounds. On returning to the States, my dear husband sent me out to buy new clothes…which was a real loving gesture and my Mother took one look at me and said, “I have my daughter back.” That hurt…was I that fat? I guess so…but now it felt like I was skin and bones.
I say all that because after coming home, when I ate my first, small piece of chocolate, it tasted like I had just put a whole sugar bowl in my mouth!! It is also amazing how quickly that problem went away. The brain knows the chemical is back.
Chocolate has a chemical called serotonin. What exactly is serotonin? Some call it the “happy.” chemical in the body. Everyone wants to be happy…right…but at what cost?
As a neurotransmitter, serotonin helps to relay messages from one area of the brain to another. … This includes brain cells related to mood, sexual desire and function, appetite, sleep, memory and learning, temperature regulation, and some social behavior. (Medical News Today)
What are some of the other chemicals in our basic chocolate?
Chocolate has a significant amount of sugar. In addition to sugar, chocolate also has two other neuroactive drugs, caffeine and theobromine. Chocolate not only stimulates the opiate receptors in our brains, it also causes a release of neurochemicals in the brain’s pleasure centers…Theobromine, formerly known as xantheose, is a bitter alkaloid of the cacao plant, with the chemical formula C7H8N4O2. It is found in chocolate. (Article by Thomas Carguilo)
Now we know the chemistry behind one of our favorite foods. Like all things, what should we decide to do about it? Moderation…or throw all advice about sugar out the window? I’m sure we probably will choose the moderation path because of the terrible dangers of diabetes, high cholesterol or tooth decay. How about you? (Maybe watch the video before making that big decision.)
What does the Holy Scripture say about our bodies?
For you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. Corinthians 6:20
CAN WE LEARN SOMETHING FROM HISTORY ABOUT FOODS?
VIDEO: The following short, 10 minute video, is a great history lesson about the time of The Tudors and their total misunderstanding about sweets…in particular SUGAR. It is quite informative…and the young lady who narrates is quite impressive…or some would say “really cute.”
She is Dr. Suzannah Rebecca Gabriella Lipscomb, a British historian. She was appointed to a personal chair as Professor of History at the University of Roehampton in 2019. One man said, “If she had been my history teacher, I would have paid more attention.”
By the way, don’t make this “required reading” for your wife, husband or friend if you are into all things healthy, as I would hate to loose a reader or start a family dispute. So…sit back with your cup of hot chocolate and enjoy!
Being a country girl from North Carolina, I sometimes go back to my roots…shed the classical music that I love…and listen to the songs or Southern words of a “Good Old Boy…or Man.”
Here is one for you with the salute to the many States of the United States and the freedom that we enjoy. It is no wonder that so many from so far want to be a part of the “Land of the Free.”
Are we perfect?…by no means, but what we don’t like we can say so without the threat of being locked up to suffer alone with no way out.
Are we always “united” in all ways?…no, but we still are the United States of America…with all the diversity that can be in one land.
Our thanks to our forefathers who came from countries around the world to search for a new way of life…away from dictators to their lives and from persecution for their faith. Our thanks to our brave men and women who stand ready to defend this country against all foes. For those Americans who have given everything in foreign lands to maintain freedom for all, we give them our heart’s gratitude and our prayers.
Today I give you, the reader, a tribute and a pledge to MY BEAUTIFUL AMERICA by Charlie Daniels.
Even here in Florida, we are experiencing a cold snap…so for all the readers who are experiencing more extreme cold…get your cup of hot chocolate and sit by the fire. Enjoy the cozy times.
This music is for you from Boyer Writes.
My last blog was in honor of a dear friend who passed away five years after brain surgery. It led me to think about those who were more fortunate to live a very long, productive life…even to 100 years or more.
One of those centenarians was 107 years old Raffaella Monne from a village in Sardinia. She had a great statement, which is part of a very interesting book called The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner. This is what she said that she would like to tell people today:
“Life is short. Don’t run so fast you miss it!”
National Geographic was part of the research on why some people live longer in different parts of the world. All these so-called “Blue Zones” had several things that were important to them:
- Diet: Mainly of home-grown vegetables, nuts, fish and sometimes meat. They were not strict vegetarians.
- Strong family and friend support system…taking time to chat and relax.
- Worked hard and walked a great deal, but slowed down to take a daily nap…less stress was important
- Strong faith in God and belief system
- Let the past be the past and live happily…with something interesting to wake up to each day.
Throughout the book, the American or Western lifestyle is challenged because of not only our unhealthy lifestyle, but the stress that brings on pre-mature disease and death. It is not hard to look around us at even the young who are carrying loads of fat on their bodies.
In the parts of the world that had a history of longevity, as soon as the Western-style businesses with fast foods became part of their lives, the death rate began to go up. I highly recommend that for a more thorough understanding of the things listed above, that you give this book a read. I am grateful that a friend recommended it to me. The Blue Zones
Dr. Amit Sood, MD of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. had this to say about missing life. “A Mind in Hurry hurries past the present. I am in a hurry when I am getting late. I am in a hurry when I am on time. I find myself hurrying even when I am before time. Hurry for me has become a habit.”
Determine to slow down…for it could be the best thing you ever did. Take a moment to look at the beautiful clouds, a rainbow, a bird on a branch, a small colored leaf or a child’s sweet smile. Say a prayer to God and thank Him for all these things. Breathe a fresh breath of life.
Raffaella, of Sardinia, had wisdom beyond her 107 years…for not missing life. We could call her short statement a God-sent, for we all would like not to miss the good things that life has to offer… simply by rushing around too fast to even notice.
“Life is short. Don’t run so fast you miss it!”
Music for a stress-free living from Boyer Writes
Thomas Edison is quoted as saying:
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
In case you are a little rusty on history, Thomas Edison was one of our great American inventors. The lights that we can see around the globe from outer space can be attributed to a man who literally lit up the world. The music that we enjoy was first recorded by this man. We, in Florida, benefited from his concrete houses when hurricanes tear through our state. These inventions and so many more are those of an inquisitive mind who did not mind hard work. Edison liked to say, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”
Who was Thomas Edison?
“People often say Edison was a genius. He answered, “Genius is hard work, stick-to-it-iveness, and common sense.”
Thomas Alva Edison was born February 11, 1847 in Milan, Ohio (pronounced MY-lan). In 1854, when he was seven, the family moved to Michigan, where Edison spent the rest of his childhood.
“Al,” as he was called as a boy, went to school only a short time. He did so poorly that his mother, a former teacher, taught her son at home. Al learned to love reading, a habit he kept for the rest of his life. He also liked to make experiments in the basement.
(It is surprising how many people who have touched the world with their creativity were home-schooled or allowed to skip school. Some may not know that the great movie maker, Stephen Spielberg, was often taken out of school by his mother to attend concerts, see the great art galleries and more when he was a child.)
Al not only played hard, but also worked hard. At the age of 12 he sold fruit, snacks and newspapers on a train as a “news butcher.” (Trains were the newest way to travel, cutting through the American wilderness.) He even printed his own newspaper, the Grand Trunk Herald, on a moving train.
At 15, Al roamed the country as a “tramp telegrapher.” Using a kind of alphabet called Morse Code, he sent and received messages over the telegraph. Even though he was already losing his hearing, he could still hear the clicks of the telegraph. In the next seven years, he moved over a dozen times, often working all night, taking messages for trains and even for the Union Army during the Civil War. In his spare time, he took things apart to see how they worked. Finally, he decided to invent things himself.
After the failure of his first invention, the electric vote recorder, Edison moved to New York City. There he improved the way the stock ticker worked. This was his big break. By 1870 his company was manufacturing his stock ticker in Newark, New Jersey. He also improved the telegraph, making it send up to four messages at once.
… Edison moved from Newark to Menlo Park, New Jersey, in 1876. There he built his most famous laboratory. He was not alone in Menlo Park. Edison hired “muckers” to help him out. (Old English word meaning low-level laborers) These “muckers” came from all over the world to make their fortune in America. They often stayed up all night working with the “chief mucker,” Edison himself. He is sometimes called the “Wizard of Menlo Park” because he created two of his three greatest works there.
The phonograph was the first machine that could record the sound of someone’s voice and play it back. In 1877, Edison recorded the first words on a piece of tin foil. He recited the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” and the phonograph played the words back to him. This was invented by a man whose hearing was so poor that he thought of himself as “deaf”!
Starting in 1878, Edison and the muckers worked on one of his greatest achievements. The electric light system was more than just the incandescent lamp, or “light bulb.” Edison also designed a system of power plants that make the electrical power and the wiring that brings it to people’s homes…
In 1885, one year after his first wife died, Edison met a 20-year-old woman named Mina Miller. Her father was an inventor in Edison’s home state of Ohio. Edison taught her Morse Code. Even when others were around, the couple could “talk” to each other secretly. One day he tapped a question into her hand: would she marry him? She tapped back the word “yes.”… (Practical…but not so romantic)
Edison built a laboratory in West Orange that was ten times larger than the one in Menlo Park. In fact, it was one of the largest laboratories in the world, almost as famous as Edison himself. Well into the night, laboratory buildings glowed with electric light while the Wizard and his “muckers” turned Edison’s dreams into inventions. Once, the “chief mucker” worked for three days straight, taking only short naps. Edison earned half of his 1,093 patents in West Orange…
Not only did Edison improve the phonograph several times, but he also worked on X-rays, storage batteries, and the first talking doll. At West Orange, he also worked on one of his greatest ideas: motion pictures, or “movies.” The inventions made here changed the way we live even today. He worked here until his death on October 18, 1931, at the age of 84.
(from the National Park Service)
Edison would certainly say, “Try…try…and try again.” for whatever you try to accomplish with your God-given abilities.
(turn up sound for video)
My husband has found a new hobby in the last few years. He never expected to be a woodworker since his calling and profession has been as a minister of the Gospel of Christ…first in the United Methodist Church, also as a Navy Chaplain…and now as an Episcopal priest. He began making trays and surprised me recently with a beautiful wooden tray with inlaid wood shown to the right below.
He continues to experiment and has just finished making a chest of drawers for his closet. I think he is quite good and I’m proud of his efforts.
Bill’s woodworking has led me to do some research on Paul Sellers, who is a master at woodworking. He lived in the USA, but has returned to his roots in Wales. Now he is training and passing on the talent and skills that he knows to younger men and women.
Paul says, “For me, I must realign my way of life as a maker to teach and train. I invest what I’ve learned and built in the safest possible place I can think of. In a sense, it’s more a condition than anything else. When someone wants to become a master of something they prepare a place to receive and store the information. It’s a safe place I’ve found. A protected place I see a man on his knees tightening clamps and it reminds me that skill begins to build with a single chisel cut, a saw stroke and the placing of a plane on a board of wood…So I look at this week’s memories and see different things that I learned and think back to 1989 when I started seriously teaching people how to work with wood. I said to myself back then that something had to change.”
What did Paul mean by change? He knew that we were losing to this generation the skills that were not being taught. Yes, we have machines that can do a cut…and a job, but Paul thinks that these only make every piece made look the same. It is the hands of each man that moves and turns to make each piece different and in many cases a work of art. We have to pass on what we know about how to do things with our hands before those who know how pass away and the talent is no longer with us.
Question: What have other countries done to ensure that the “passing away” of special talents and skills does not happen?
In Germany, for instance, the following is part of the overall educational program. Our son, Steve, who speaks fluent German has spent much time there. He shared this link with me from Wikipedia:
“Germany has high standards in the education of craftspeople. Historically very few people attended college. In the 1950s for example, 80 percent had only Volksschule (“primary school”)-Education of 6 or 7 years. Only 5 percent of youths entered college at this time and still fewer graduated. In the 1960s, 6 percent of youths entered college. In 1961 there were still 8,000 cities in which no children received secondary education. However, this does not mean that Germany was a country of uneducated people. In fact, many of those who did not receive a secondary education were highly skilled craftspeople and members of the upper middle class. Even though more people attend college today, a craftsperson is still highly valued in German society.
The History of a true Craftsman:
Historically (prior to the 20th century) the relationship between a master craftsman and his apprentice was paternalistic. Apprentices were often very young when entrusted to a master craftsman by their parents. It was seen as the master’s responsibility not only to teach the craft, but also to instill the virtues of a good craftsman. He was supposed to teach honor, loyalty, fair-mindedness, courtesy and compassion for the poor. He was also supposed to offer spiritual guidance, to ensure his apprentices fulfilled their religious duties and to teach them to “honor the Lord” (Jesus Christ) with their lives. The master craftsman who failed to do this would lose his reputation and would accordingly be dishonored – a very bad fate in those days. The apprenticeship ended with the so-called Freisprechung (exculpation). The master announced in front of the trade heading that the apprentice had been virtuous and God-loving. The young person now had the right to call himself a “Geselle” (journeyman). He had two options: either to work for a master or to become a master himself. Working for another master had several disadvantages. One was that, in many cases, the journeyman who was not a master was not allowed to marry and found a family. Because the church disapproved of sex outside of marriage, he was obliged to become a master if he did not want to spend his life celibate. Accordingly, many of the so-called “Geselle” decided to go on a journey in order to become a master. This was called “Waltz” or Journeyman years.
In those days, the crafts were called the “virtuous crafts” and the virtuosness of the craftspersons was greatly respected. For example, according to one source, a person should be greeted from “the bricklayer craftspersons in the town, who live in respectability, die in respectability, who strive for respectability and who apply respectability to their actions” In those days, the concept of the “virtuous crafts” stood in contrast to the concept of “academic freedom” as Brüdermann and Jost noticed.
Nowadays, the education of craftspersons has changed – in particular, self-esteem and the concept of respectability. Yet even today, a craftsperson does sometimes refer to the “craftspersons codex of virtues” and the crafts sometimes may be referred to as the “virtuous crafts” and a craftsperson who gives a blessing at a roofing ceremony may, in many cases, remind of the “virtues of the crafts I am part of”. Also certain virtues are ascribed to certain crafts. For example, a person might be called “always on time like a bricklayer” to describe punctuality. On the other hand, “virtue” and “respectability”, which in the past had been the center of the life of any craftsperson became less and less important for such education. Today, a young person who wants to start an apprenticeship must first find an “Ausbilder”: this may be a master craftsperson, a master in the industrial sector (Industriemeister) or someone else with proof of suitable qualifications in the training of apprentices. The “Ausbilder” must also provide proof of no criminal record and proof of respectability. The Ausbilder has to be at least 24 years of age. The Ausbilder has several duties, such as 1) teach the craft, 2) teach the techniques, 3) instill character, 4) instill social skills. In some cases, the Ausbilder must also provide board and lodging. An agreement is reached on these points before the apprenticeship begins. (Taken from Wikipedia)
Pictures below are of the Journeymen (and women) in Bad Kissingen, Germany and two Journeymen of Denmark:
What about the history in the United States to provide for this type of training?
I was impressed with an article written by Rebecca Glazer. Read it and weep for we may be missing the boat here in America when it comes to passing on the skills needed by all of us!
“We all have that friend—the one who speaks four languages but can’t operate a coffee maker to save his life, or ours. Yet to some extent, we’re all that friend; we tap out 20-page papers on comparative literature, we debate the merits and shortcomings of various philosophical worldviews, and we excel in the biochemical laboratory, but if a faucet starts to leak, our only recourse is to call the plumber. We take our cars to the shop, we buy our vegetables at the grocery store, and when we need coffee, we order it from Starbucks. Our generation illustrates the outcome of an educational system that has abandoned technical skills. Not only has this system never taught us better than to undervalue and underpay those who do possess these vital skills, but it has also bred a generation of highly-educated college graduates who lack the basic skills of self-reliance.
Technical schooling in America has traditionally come in two forms. In the first, students studied at specialized institutions known as trade schools or vocational schools, while in the second, they learned technical skills within the setting of their public high school. Vocational schools were particularly popular throughout the Vietnam War, when companies and firms hired directly out of feeder schools, providing competent instructors and up-to-date equipment. After the war, however, many school districts felt that these highly exclusive trade schools were unfair to the majority of students, and so discontinued the partnerships between specialized schools and companies. Instead, they made vocational training available in all public high schools, to any students who desired such an education.
In the 70s it became evident that U.S. students were falling behind the rest of the world academically, and so the country made it a mission to improve the academic programs in secondary schools. In 1984 the Perkins Act was signed into law in order to continue funding vocational education, but at a drastic reduction of its previous scope. This meant less funding and fewer hours for vocational training, which was re-named CTE, or Career and Technical Education, in the 2006 reauthorization of the Perkins Act. Students can still graduate with one or two CTE credits in fields like construction, agriculture, and manufacturing, but educational emphasis has been placed far more heavily on preparation for college. While this shift in educational focus significantly improved college enrollment rates for several decades up to the present, it also left a generation seriously lacking in any of the technical skills practical to life outside a cubicle, and with little regard for those who possess them…
This disparity of income reflects an ideological shift parallel to the growing emphasis on college education: the devaluing of manual and technical skills. In sacrificing vocational training for academic rigor, we as a country expressed our preferred values, the purely mental over the also manual, all the while forgetting how much patience, precision, and intelligence are required to perfect those skills we have come to dismiss.
Since the early 20th century, according to a 2000 report from the BLS, the number of people employed in manual or technical fields has fallen sharply, while the number in fields requiring higher education has risen. Teachers, lawyers, accountants, and computer specialists now dominate the workforce, with 23.3 percent of all employed people working in “professional” fields, and another 19.3 percent serving clerical roles, up from 4.4 percent and 5.2 percent in 1910, respectively. In contrast, craftsmen have fallen from 5.5 percent of the working population to less than 2 percent, and laborers (excluding farm and mine) declined by 64 percent, from 10.4 percent to only 3.7 percent of the population, likely as a result of the outsourcing of manufacturing and production to other countries.
These shifts away from manual and towards mental labor don’t just reveal a trend towards education for its own sake; they reveal a shift in attitude from vocational schooling as a popular and prestigious choice to a “second-rate” education. The choice to pursue a technical field now carries social stigmas that discourage young people from learning how to work with their hands.
It’s hard to know whether working wages fell because manual work was no longer considered valuable, or whether the work was undervalued and passed over because it was already underpaid. Either way, the choice to emphasize knowledge over skills has created a society in which a life of manual labor is a path to be escaped rather than pursued. Yet as we flee from the necessity of working with our hands, we lose valuable skills which were once commonplace…
When we don’t have skills and don’t live with the people who do, we forget their value. When your handyman lives next door, he forces you by proximity to respect him and his career, but when he drives to your home from a very different part of the city, you forget how much you share in common. You pity him for his life of labor, and hope his children will have the opportunities he didn’t. Then you wonder, “If everyone is able to get a good education, who will come to fix my sink?”
The choices are three: either you condemn a certain percentage of the population to a low-wage, undervalued existence; you learn to value, respect, and pay well for the vital technical skills you lack; or you figure out how to fix your own sink.
No matter what we choose, our society is at a crossroads…Our generation needs an alternative. We need vocational training, not only to provide the general population with the most basic of technical skills, but also to train a manual workforce that is both skilled and respected. We need to value both mental and manual labor, to admire those who possess the skills and knowledge we lack…”
If you know a person with a skill, encourage him or her to work with an apprentice. Pass on what you know! Teach…teach…and teach some more for the world will be a better place when we have the young people of today with a chisel, hammer, saw or other tools in their hands rather than a phone.
VIDEO: Paul Sellers passes on his skill as a woodworker to others.
Today I want to introduce my readers to a man who has found his direction in a most unusual way. I write about him because in my previous blog, I talked about “New Directions.” This man has followed his passion after leaving a profession as a sailor and it has led him to more than he could have ever imagined. His name is Caras Ionut (or Ionuţ Caraş in the Romanian language ) His specialty is manipulating photography in a surreal style.
“In his work, he uses his own photographs, which he inserts, composes and colorfully adjusts in a suitable way. In his dream works, physically impossible scenes arise, such as a little girl hanging on a swing hundreds of feet above the ground, an elephant riding a bicycle, a little girl riding on the back of a huge fish, and the like. Ionut often puts man in his paintings. Often they are small children, but also special people not fit into the standard society. Roamers, beggars, comedians, and so on. Their image is enhanced by a dark landscape with old trees, dark sky, mist, mountain scenery or rainy weather. Often, the element of umbrella, ships, water, rocks or birds (such as ravens) is repeated in his work. Ionut’s inspiration for his works draws from his dreams in the night, from the colors of autumn and winter. He works as a professional photographer and a retoucher, offers courses and tutorials for those who want to learn how to digitally manipulate photos… Many of his images have been used for book covers, audio cd, bank advertisements, website materials, local publications, prints, and many other uses. He now has many clients…such as Stephen King and others…” (Wikipedia)
Below are three sets of slides for you to enjoy. Take your time and study them for the creative side is excellent. I’m not certain if the child he often incorporates in his photography is his own, but the combination of the “impossible” with the real is somewhat chilling, but very interesting.
- THE IMPOSSIBLE
- DRAMATIC NATURE
- THE WARMTH OF ORDINARY PEOPLE
Look around you for the beauty that is in YOUR path…
Credit: All photography by Caras Ionut
The following article was written by Rolf Dubelli several years ago. At that time he had stopped watching or listening to the news about four years. He had a number of good things for us to think about and that is why I am passing it on today. I think the one reason I began thinking about it was when one of my neighbors said that the news was so bad that if she could “leave this country” she would do so. I thought to myself at the time….”just where would she go?” The news is bad all around the world. She did have a good idea though…that maybe she would turn off the TV channels and just listen to “easy listening music.”
Anyway, this is what Mr. Dubelli had to say. You may decide he is right…or disconnected somehow. In any case, it seems to have made him happier. Perhaps it is worth a try. If the world should blow up while you are “out of touch”, I’m sure someone will let you know.
Article by Rolf Dubelli
“In the past few decades, the fortunate among us have recognized the hazards of living with an overabundance of food (obesity, diabetes) and have started to change our diets. But most of us do not yet understand that news is to the mind what sugar is to the body. News is easy to digest. The media feeds us small bites of trivial matter, tidbits that don’t really concern our lives and don’t require thinking. That’s why we experience almost no saturation. Unlike reading books and long magazine articles (which require thinking), we can swallow limitless quantities of news flashes, which are bright-colored candies for the mind. Today, we have reached the same point in relation to information that we faced 20 years ago in regard to food. We are beginning to recognize how toxic news can be.
- News misleads. Take the following event (borrowed from Nassim Taleb). A car drives over a bridge, and the bridge collapses. What does the news media focus on? The car. The person in the car. Where he came from. Where he planned to go. How he experienced the crash (if he survived). But that is all irrelevant. What’s relevant? The structural stability of the bridge. That’s the underlying risk that has been lurking and could lurk in other bridges. But the car is flashy, it’s dramatic, it’s a person (non-abstract), and it’s news that’s cheap to produce. News leads us to walk around with the completely wrong risk map in our heads. So terrorism is over-rated. Chronic stress is under-rated. The collapse of Lehman Brothers is overrated. Fiscal irresponsibility is under-rated. Astronauts are over-rated. Nurses are under-rated. We are not rational enough to be exposed to the press. Watching an airplane crash on television is going to change your attitude toward that risk, regardless of its real probability. If you think you can compensate with the strength of your own inner contemplation, you are wrong. Bankers and economists – who have powerful incentives to compensate for news-borne hazards – have shown that they cannot. The only solution: cut yourself off from news consumption entirely.
- News is toxic to your body. It constantly triggers the limbic system. Panicky stories spur the release of cascades of glucocorticoid (cortisol). This deregulates your immune system and inhibits the release of growth hormones. In other words, your body finds itself in a state of chronic stress. High glucocorticoid levels cause impaired digestion, lack of growth (cell, hair, bone), nervousness and susceptibility to infections. The other potential side-effects include fear, aggression, tunnel-vision and desensitization.
- News increases cognitive errors. News feeds the mother of all cognitive errors: confirmation bias. In the words of Warren Buffett: “What the human being is best at doing is interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact.” News exacerbates this flaw. We become prone to overconfidence, take stupid risks and misjudge opportunities. It also exacerbates another cognitive error: the story bias. Our brains crave stories that “make sense” – even if they don’t correspond to reality. Any journalist who writes, “The market moved because of X” or “the company went bankrupt because of Y” is an idiot. I am fed up with this cheap way of “explaining” the world.
- News inhibits thinking. Thinking requires concentration. Concentration requires uninterrupted time. News pieces are specifically engineered to interrupt you. They are like viruses that steal attention for their own purposes. News makes us shallow thinkers. But it’s worse than that. News severely affects memory. There are two types of memory. Long-range memory’s capacity is nearly infinite, but working memory is limited to a certain amount of slippery data. The path from short-term to long-term memory is a choke-point in the brain, but anything you want to understand must pass through it. If this passageway is disrupted, nothing gets through. Because news disrupts concentration, it weakens comprehension. Online news has an even worse impact. In a 2001 study two scholars in Canada showed that comprehension declines as the number of hyperlinks in a document increases. Why? Because whenever a link appears, your brain has to at least make the choice not to click, which in itself is distracting. News is an intentional interruption system.
- News works like a drug. As stories develop, we want to know how they continue. With hundreds of arbitrary storylines in our heads, this craving is increasingly compelling and hard to ignore. Scientists used to think that the dense connections formed among the 100 billion neurons inside our skulls were largely fixed by the time we reached adulthood. Today we know that this is not the case. Nerve cells routinely break old connections and form new ones. The more news we consume, the more we exercise the neural circuits devoted to skimming and multitasking while ignoring those used for reading deeply and thinking with profound focus.
- Most news consumers – even if they used to be avid book readers – have lost the ability to absorb lengthy articles or books. After four, five pages they get tired, their concentration vanishes, they become restless. It’s not because they got older or their schedules became more onerous. It’s because the physical structure of their brains has changed.
- News wastes time. If you read the newspaper for 15 minutes each morning, then check the news for 15 minutes during lunch and 15 minutes before you go to bed, then add five minutes here and there when you’re at work, then count distraction and refocusing time, you will lose at least half a day every week. Information is no longer a scarce commodity. But attention is. You are not that irresponsible with your money, reputation or health. Why give away your mind?
- News makes us passive. News stories are overwhelmingly about things you cannot influence. The daily repetition of news about things we can’t act upon makes us passive. It grinds us down until we adopt a worldview that is pessimistic, desensitized, sarcastic and fatalistic. The scientific term is “learned helplessness”. It’s a bit of a stretch, but I would not be surprised if news consumption, at least partially contributes to the widespread disease of depression.
- News kills creativity. Finally, things we already know limit our creativity. This is one reason that mathematicians, novelists, composers and entrepreneurs often produce their most creative works at a young age. Their brains enjoy a wide, uninhabited space that emboldens them to come up with and pursue novel ideas. I don’t know a single truly creative mind who is a news junkie – not a writer, not a composer, mathematician, physician, scientist, musician, designer, architect or painter. On the other hand, I know a bunch of viciously uncreative minds who consume news like drugs. If you want to come up with old solutions, read news. If you are looking for new solutions, don’t.
- Society needs journalism – but in a different way. Investigative journalism is always relevant. We need reporting that polices our institutions and uncovers truth. But important findings don’t have to arrive in the form of news. Long journal articles and in-depth books are good, too.”
Mr. Dobelli says, “I have now gone without news for four years, so I can see, feel and report the effects of this freedom first-hand: less disruption, less anxiety, deeper thinking, more time, more insights. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.”
( Credit: This is an edited extract from an essay first published by Dobelli, The Art of Thinking Clearly, Better Thinking, Better Decisions by Rolf Dobelli)
Often we hear a philosophy or belief in a specific culture that makes a great deal of sense. For instance, the Japanese believe that when a person turns 60 years old, they are able to start a new cycle of life. They call this special age, kanreki.
It is a time for people to arrange things in a proper place. Some Americans may call it “getting things in order…or even downsizing.” The Japanese think it is a time of celebration and the beginning of a new life cycle, so they celebrate the 60th birthday by giving gifts that are red and having a party. The gift could be a red shirt, scarf, or even red underwear.
Now the color red is a vivid color that has energy and stands out from other colors. Perhaps this infers that this new phase of life should be taken on with a new enthusiasm and with new prospects for the future.
According to Japanese Society, “achievements are celebrated and a lifetime’s troubles are forgotten as the celebrated individual enters a new stage of life with all the joy and possibilities of a newborn.”
Perhaps we Americans should think more along this line and have more fun. We often hear people say things like “Getting old..or older…is not for the faint-hearted.” This seems pretty pessimistic to me. Life is not over…it is just a new chance at a new beginning.
The Japanese also refer to this year as a Year of Reflection.
60-year olds are expected to use this year as a year of reflection. They are to look at their lives and achievements and use this time as a good opportunity to plan the direction in which they would like to move as they begin their second sixty-year cycle of life. Beyond the Kanreki, they celebrate the Koki (70 years old), Kiju (77 years old), Beiju.(88 years old), Sotsuju (90 years old), Kajimaya.(97 years old), Hakuju (99 years old), and Hyakusai No Ga (100 years old). (from online Japanese culture)
As a Christian, we would say to be “Thankful” for a long life and give God honor for all He has blessed us with in life. The Japanese think it is a time to forget the past and move on…leaving it behind. This seems like a very good philosophy of life. If you are passed the age of 60, you can still celebrate…for you have lived longer. If you are not age 60 years old, dedicate your life to the beauty of living…for the years that you may have before you.
Another thing I read about recently was the way the Japanese look at a snowflake. It is a perfect example of symmetry and each one is different. The pictures below were made by Wilson Bentley.
As you can see, each snowflake has a different shape. We could compare them to the fact that every human is made differently and wonderful. The snowflake is beautiful as it floats from the sky to the ground. The time of its forming until it melts on the ground is a short time. So is life. The days of men and women are numbered and short, but much of life is beautiful…especially if we try to see that beauty. Your life was specifically formed to be only you. Each one of us will live and each one will die…as the snowflake sheds beauty on the world until it is no more.
Even the Japanese cherry blossoms come only for a short time in all their glory. Sometimes they even look like snow drifting …drifting…gently drifting. Shortly they will reach the ground, sharing their beauty one more time.
Try to share your special beauty with someone around you today. Celebrate Life!
Enjoy Kyoto in the Snow video. Turn on sound.
(Taken by Althea Pan)
We know that we in the West can’t solve all the world’s problems. Nor can we be the “Policemen” of the world. We have problems of our own to solve. Nevertheless, it is not a bad idea to consider what the ordinary people of the world go through when there are such things as ethnic cleansing and unstable governments as well as years of war.
We complain that our Congress “can’t get things done” in a timely manner. We worry about the future, but nothing can compare to the PRESENT distresses that many in the world are going through. That is why I titled this….”Feeling sorry for yourself?” I also want to highlight the women who are mothers, sisters, and wives around the world.
If you are for any reason feeling down, consider what is happening each night when you go to sleep in a warm bed. Consider also those who have no food when you cook a delicious meal. Think about the children who had no voice in coming into this world or where they would be born. If you have a husband who cares for you, kisses you “goodnight” and treats you with respect, think about the women who are under great restraints and persecuted through cultural beliefs.
When you sit down with friends to watch football, have a drink and put your feet up to relax…consider that mud is not under your couch or chair as it may be for those who are fleeing their countries. Is all this to make you feel guilty….NO…just THANKFUL… that you have freedoms to do and be what you want to be and where there are no wars at your doorstep.
Say your prayers for those who are the persecuted. We know a loving God cares for them…that He can help them through their crisis times. God does not promise that it will be easy going when men, or women, with evil intents, carve out brutal paths for their people to take. He did ask us to humble ourselves and to seek Him. So much of human suffering is made by mankind and by government leaders.
Our heavenly Father won’t force goodness in the minds of the wicked who would persecute the innocent, intimidate their women or harm innocent children. Dictators and Government Officials are decision makers, who through greed and power, often care little for the needs of their people. It has always been that way and will be…until the day of the coming of Jesus Christ. That will be when every knee will bow and everyone will become accountable for all that has been said and done to those around us.
In Afghanistan, there is a resurgence of the madrassa, which is, in this case, a fundamentalist Muslim religious school for young girls. They are taught only religious beliefs and rarely math, science or literature. The building program for these schools is said to be wide-spread, with thousands of female students. One may think there is nothing wrong with teaching the young the religion of the region and praise the fact that girls are attending schools, but there is also the concern by some Muslims that this teaching is indoctrination that their more moderate practice of the faith is not according to the Koran…as well as being anti-West. To learn more about this Madrassa teaching, read this article: Madrassa
I recently found online an award-winning photojournalist named Paula Bronstein. Paula has spent time in dangerous and interesting places around the world. Her years in Afghanistan have given her the ability to talk to the women of the area, whereas her male photojournalists did not have that access.
Here is a video that will shed some light on the history of the living conditions as well as cultural rules that are forced upon women in many parts of the world. Perhaps there will be a change in the future, but change is often difficult… especially in war times and with certain cultures.
VIDEO Turn up sound (taken from u-tube, Paula Bronstein)
To be really…..really good at something, it takes efforts that no one ever sees. I follow a blogger whose name is Iain Crockart. He recently shared a film that he directed about the artist Vincent Kamp. Kamp lives in England and his efforts to paint the ordinary people that he finds in barber shops or in a more seedy side of London are quite amazing.
It is not the subject matter that makes me want to write about Vincent Kamp. It is his passion at what he does and the great wealth of study that he has put into his artistic efforts that no one will ever truly understand, but the artist himself.
I am a writer, photographer…and sometimes artist. I know that I shy away from anything that is realistic basically because I don’t have the skills to produce such works. The closest to realism that I come is when I photograph something special and then use my paints to paint and enhance certain sections of the photograph. Some have turned out to be quite interesting, but if it becomes too much of an effort, the whole thing may turn into an abstract. It is the colors in abstracts that often fascinates me. Painting artistic realism is as much of a dream as I have at becoming a great pianist.
Vincent Kamp worked on his talent. Never having a degree in art, he became self-taught by looking at books and pictures painted by the great art Masters or sitting in on living artists’ demonstrations that he admires. His depth of study when painting a portrait takes more effort than most would ever attempt…bone structure and anatomy being some of his research.
This is what is written on Vincent’s website.: “Vincent’s arresting portraits are built on the assumption that society will always identify with rebels and the gritty underground world of urban subculture. For his latest work he has traveled around the UK visiting barber shops and events to gather material in a setting which transcends social class and makes everyone feel like ‘one of the boys’. These mesmerizing oil paintings evoke emotion, fascination and intrigue about both the backstory and the future of a character. He seeks out moments of tension, and explains: “My paintings are all quite dark, subtle and intense. I’m always imagining there’s something surreptitious going on in a potentially innocent situation.” He is heavily influenced by cinematography and its impact on storytelling, believing that by manipulating the composition, light and color you can completely change the feel of scene.”
Below is a film that I am sharing from the blog by Iain Crockart mentioned above and shown on Vincent’s website. Whatever your passion may be, decide that you will put the effort into learning and improving your skill, as Vincent Kamp has done. Hopefully, his words on the video below will be your inspiration.
Click and give video a moment to start: See video on Vincent Kamp’s website
We are in the middle of the Season of Lent…a time of reflection, repentance and waiting for the great and glorious Easter Day. Having recently attended an event with educated, talented and, yes, sophisticated people, I was struck by the attitude of a person I knew to be a regular church-going person…a professing Christian. It began as a friendly conversation that moved clearly into a belief in self-importance and frankly, snobbery. The person mentioned that they had left a certain congregation because “the people just didn’t have our same social class…mostly trailer park people.”
I came away wondering what Jesus would have thought about “trailer park people.” Many of the people we know, especially in the mountains that we visit each summer, might fit that category of housing…small places, double and single wide trailers, but they are some of the nicest people I know. Some of their dwellings may be humble, but they are definitely down to earth, courteous, loving and caring about others….the salt of the earth. If this person, that I mentioned above, had the opportunity to sit down beside one of my friends in a small cafe and really get to know them, she would find out what we know…they are are truly real people!
In fact, these are some of the very people that Jesus went out of His way to seek out. They weren’t the wealthy or the highly educated…or even the most moral. Most were not self-righteous or condescending about others. They did, however, have people who refused to socialize with them. The woman at the well, who had many husbands and was then living with someone other than a husband, could not understand why Jesus, a Jew, was speaking to her as a Samaritan. Yet, He never spoke down to her as if she was not worthy of God’s love. Most Christians believe that simply giving a drink of cold water in His name is the same as giving it for Christ.
How often modern day people…even Christian people…lift themselves up on a pedestal, thinking of themselves as better than others. I think it is time that all of us take a hard look into our hearts and see if any of these words apply to us:
- holier than thou
When speaking of others or refusing to reach to others, because of our own self-importance or superior feelings, is certainly not following the example of Christ even if we profess to be a Christian. We were not called to be a Christian by elevating ourselves above others. Ultra-sophistication can severely limit the joys in life and the people that He would bring into our lives because we believe that others do not quite make the grade.
We have been told that there is level ground at the Cross. Even the mother of the sons of Zebedee missed the mark when she asked for her sons be able to sit directly next to Jesus when He came into his kingdom. Why would she feel that they were any better or more important than others that followed Him? Jesus left it up to His Father in Heaven to make this decision. He also talked about those who wanted to be “great…shall be a servant.” (Matthew 20:26)
Think about it as you approach people in your walk of life. Those who think of themselves too highly may end up being rebuked by our Lord, as were His disciples.
For me personally, I’m looking forward to sitting with my friends who may live in humble circumstances …hearing their delightful stories and being enriched by their lives… and hopefully to enrich theirs.
VIDEO: Turn up sound
If you have never traveled to Japan, you will enjoy this overview of the city and country life. At the end of the video are some steps in Tokyo that my husband and I climbed and listened to a piano concert by a very young girl, who could hardly reach the floor with her feet. The students of Japan have a great emphasis on learning some form of music. The high school that I visited has a whole wing of baby grand pianos and the students were practicing. I learned another impressive thing about the Japanese education. Two young men were sweeping the halls and scrubbing the floor outside their classroom. I asked if they were being punished for something. The reply was, “Oh no, they are taking turns in having pride for their school.”
The calmness of Japan and its beauty is something we will not forget. Take a ride on the bullet train, walk the streets, and enjoy nature at its best.
If one looks up the word, TRUST, used as a noun, it has to do with confidence, belief, faith, certainty, assurance, conviction, credence, or reliance. I’d like to start with the word, “assurance”. Can we really be assured that we can trust someone or something to be all those words? Confidence is a very strong word. It gives the feeling that we do not need to doubt because there is total confidence.If the truth be known, there is probably a little doubt in any of these words that we equate with trust.
- Think about this for a moment. We get in our car and drive somewhere in the world. Here, in front of us in a bridge…perhaps like this one below if we happen to be driving in China, which is not recommended. While we are on the subject of bridges…made by human beings; constructed by human beings; maintained by human beings…we might also be driving across the Millau-Viaduct Bridge in France. This is not for the faint of heart or those who have a fear of heights, because this is considered the world’s highest bridge.
We get to the airport and once again we are asked to trust: Trust that the security has been checked correctly and thoroughly; trust the pilot has not had a rough night; trust that the mechanics have performed their duties for our safe flight.
I remember getting on a Russian airlines, flying out of Ukraine at a small airport. The attendant at the gate checked my ticket and passport and we boarded. The flight crew decided that the runway would be safe enough to take off with holes in the runway and weeds growing out of big ruts. Having a second thought, he moved the plane over on the grassy area, gunned it and took off… while from inside I watched a very large screw dangle over my head. Immediately I wondered who serviced this plane? Looking at the man next to me, from Amsterdam, I asked, “Do you think we’ll make it?” He answered, “I trust we will.” Oh my, his trust was better than mine. This is only an example of how trusting we are with our lives. If we were not, we would surely miss the adventure that goes with seeing the world and exploring new places. Even staying at home in our bed has its risks. A man in Florida went to bed; a sink hole opened up and swallowed the whole house. (This is true.) As far as I know they never found him because the sink hole was so deep and this is his grave to this day.
Another one of the words about trust, is “reliance”. Almost everything in our lives has a reliance on others to do the right thing. We eat at a restaurant and we rely on the fact that the kitchen is clean and not filled with cockroaches or that the food has been properly refrigerated so that we don’t have an evening of agony from food poisoning. I usually check out a new restaurant’s bathroom…for a dirty bathroom usually means a dirty kitchen. This is not for certain, but possible a good connection. It has not worked a few times and tainted food does mean “I think I’m going to die!” We also rely on those who grow our food to not have a sewer ditch right next to where our vegetables are growing soaking up the water nearest them. Hopefully as you read this, you are not going soon to your next meal. Trust me…wait a while.
Saying the words, “Trust me” is something we often hear someone say. I think they mean that we can have confidence in what they are saying or doing. It is a glib statement that carries little weight…yet we do often “trust”…regardless.
All in all, to trust is a very scary thing. Even in relationships, we marry the person who promises to love us always. Many know that those trusts can be broken. For those who have found the person who also makes their way of life a trust-worthy one, we are most fortunate indeed.
Some of the people we trust the most are those in the medical field. We want to be certain that the nurse or the lab technician is careful to give the exact test asked for by the doctor as well as the correct results. When it comes to diagnosis, this is critical. Our physicians must have up-to-date training and knowledge as the average person must trust their opinions and proper treatment.
The family of the elderly must be certain that their loved ones are going to be cared for properly when they can not care for themselves. More than once I observed, when my Mother was in an assisted living facility, that she had to trust herself to be given the proper medicines. I had to step in, as her advocate, to assure that mistakes were not being made with her. Either the nursing attendants were overwhelmed with work or were simply careless when passing out the little cup with several medications. Once my Mother said, “No, no I don’t get that one.” It is sad to think of those who are in wheelchairs and mentally unable to challenge those whom they should be able to trust.
Even in faith, we are asked to trust. One of my favorite verses from the Holy Scriptures is Proverbs 3:5, 6. “TRUST in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not to your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.”
Back to the people we trust everyday: the restaurant owner, the engineer, the pilot, those responsible for our safety around the world and in our homes…those who care about us enough to protect us, I have one thing to say. Do your jobs diligently and even in the smallest details! Your job may not be important in your own eyes, but you may be a life saver to others. There are people out there trusting you. Never forget it.
“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.” —Albert Einstein
I have a blogging friend in the UK. We enjoy reading each other’s blogs and find friendly ways to agree and disagree. Stephen has nominated me as for a quotation challenge and I, in turn, have nominated bloggers who are worthy of note. (Thanks, Stephen)
Here are some of my favorite quotes:
- What you are is God’s gift to you. What you become is your gift to God. Hans Urs Balthasar (Priest from Switzerland 1905-1988)
- Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen. Sir Winston Churchill (Prime Minister of the UK. born 1874- died 1965)
- As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy (1917-1963 35th President of the United States who was assassinated at the age of 46.)
I always like quotations that are uplifting, challenging and inspirational. If they are politicians, I may not be on the same thought wave…but appreciate any words that have meaning to me personally or to this troubled world in general.
Here are the rules for the Quotation Challenge and my nominees, who have blog sites worth notation. If you have not seen these sites, please take a look. You’ll be glad you did.
1.) Either once a day for three days, post a quotation, or post all three quotations at one time. It is your choice.
2.) Nominate and notify three other bloggers of the challenge.
3.) Thank the blogger who nominated you.
The nominees are under no obligation to complete this challenge, but it would be fun if they do. Plus, this will introduce them to a whole list of new readers.
My NOMINEES for the Quotation Challenge are:
He lives in our town in Florida. Woody Blevins is turning 101 this year. Over the years our small town of Howey in the Hills has watched Woody get up each morning; work his ornamental garden, care for the flowers and make his town and ours a more beautiful place. His lovely wife, Leah, who is a excellent pianist, has worked in the garden along side of Woody.
Let’s take a lesson from a dear man who just wants to leave this world “a better place.” Happy Birthday, Woody!
Click to hear Woody at 101 ( Turn up your volume to hear Woody better.)
From the first time I rode up the steep mountain from North Carolina to Fancy Gap, Virginia, I knew it was a special place. It took, however, living here as a “flat lander” to get to know the mountain people. One may ask, “What is a flat lander?” Those are the people who come from places far south…like Florida.
This “flat lander” had grown up in the Brushy Mountains of North Carolina and later in the Winston-Salem area. I was blessed with a big family…about 15 first cousins and many aunts and uncles…in that area, but my parents moved away from the cold of the mountains to the warmth of Florida. It took me over 50 years to return to my roots…even if for a few months of the year.
I found more than I had expected….a whole way of life that I now call the “Mountain Way”. It first became clear to me when my husband and I were looking for a second, get-away place in the Virginia area. The realtor who showed us around drove us in a 4-wheeler up a steep mountain that leveled out onto a pasture land with a beautiful view of the Blue Ridge. (In case the Blue Ridge is new to any of my readers, it is a stretch of mountains running over 400 miles through several southern states. The building of this wonderful place is another story, but briefly it was to give the people work during the depression. The wonderful rock bridges; scenic overlooks and miles of blooming rhododendron is worth the trip. Dogwoods blossom in the spring and there seems to be waves of trees and flowering bushes that make their entrance to the place known as the Blue Ridge Parkway.)
Back to my first introduction to the mountain way. The realtor stopped the car and a farmer who was bailing his hay made his way up slowly in our direction. No one introduced us, but the farmer and the realtor began an extensive discussion about his land. This conversation seemed to be quite long about almost nothing to those of us flat landers who like to get things done quickly. We sat quietly and listened. Finally something was mentioned about my early years down the mountain…in N.C. and all of my relatives there. There was a complete change of mood…and accepting smiles. We found out that the realtor knew what he was doing because in the mountains it is customary to “visit a while” before getting down to business.
Family relations mean everything to the mountain people. I was to find out that many of the old farms date back before the Civil War. One young man told us that his family was given hundreds of acres by the King of England, before the Revolutionary War. This land remains in his family until this day. One can see scattered around the hills little family cemeteries.
Mountain people, we are told, are glad that the outsiders come to the mountains…enjoy the area…and spend their money to help an ailing economy, but they have “about all the friends they need.” Almost everyone is related to someone…or if they are not, they have grown up with them and know all the family members.
These warm and friendly people are strong in their beliefs…as this is also known as the Bible Belt. Faith is important. When a politician made a remark about people “clinging to their guns and Bibles”. A truer statement could have not been made…even if it was said with some sarcasm. Even recently, we noticed that when the controversy about the Confederate flag made the people of the mountain think that their southern history was being attacked, the few Confederate flags suddenly became many flags being flown from porches or alongside the American flag. “Don’t tell us what should be politically correct here in the south….and don’t even think about taking away our guns!” one might hear a mountain man or woman say. While living here, we have not seen racial bias…which is not to say there isn’t any. One thing is certain. These are a strong people… a proud people…with mountain ways which anyone who plans to live here will be smart to learn and appreciate.
The mountain people have dug their roots deep into the soil. They are unpretentious and comfortable in who they are. It may be the older men who sit around at the local store passing the time or the hefty man in bib overalls talking on his cell phone about getting the cooler ready for a side of beef. Everyone shares their vegetables of corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach and some things I didn’t know grew in the ground. Almost each time my husband returned from choir practice, he had a bag full of the latest items grown in someone’s garden.
Mountain stories and the history of the area tell of tough times when people tackled the cold of winter while raising huge families down in some of the mountain passes and hollows (low place in the mountain known as a “holler”). There are places with names like Buffalo Mountain, Fancy Gap, Groundhog Mountain and more than one can remember of gaps and passes. (*see history books below) The deer roam freely and stop their eating to stare at those of us passing by.
We had only just moved into our Virginia house when a man came down the road asking if we had seen his cow? It appeared that the cow had gotten through the fence…as did a very large, black bull that also came down our road. People in the mountains help each other…even the flat landers. Our neighbors arrived from Florida one snowy day and could not get up their steep driveway. Hearing the spinning tire noise, it was not long before another mountain neighbor came with his tractor to pull them the rest of the way up the drive.
Ever hear of the two finger way? Almost all mountain people use it. This means, regardless of who it may be…the passing driver will raise his two fingers off the stearing wheel to give a little wave as the other driver passes. My first impression of that was, “Do we know them?” The answer of course is “no”…but it is the friendly mountain way.
Music is a wonderful part of the mountains. Tonight we rode the parkway to the Music Center to hear a concert of country music along with the “blue grass” strumming of banjo, guitar, bass, and more. One of the best of the best is a gentleman named Wayne Henderson. Mr. Henderson has a tiny workshop where he makes guitars. These are so sought after that a person may wait years to get one…and at a very hefty price. He is a man of the mountains who has been honored for his contribution and preservation of mountain music…even playing in Carnegie Hall.
Below is a video that I’d like to share with you because this blog may become a book if I continue. The fact is I may write more about my experiences here in the mountains where the August temperature moves easily from 65-75 degrees, with a cool mountain breeze. Today this “flat lander” is glad to be in the mountains…enjoying the mountain ways and the wonderful people here.
Wayne Henderson video:
History books about the Blue Ridge areas found on Amazon.
The Man Who Moved a Mountain by Richard Davids
From January 1st, the hype is on to change who you are. Diet programs fill the airways. Every ad shows a woman who is trim…or even in the modeling world… sometimes anorexic. It is an understatement to say that women’s bodies are totally different from that of men’s. They are curvy…and every curve has a reason. Yes, a reason!
Since the beginning of time and the family, the breast is for nursing a baby. The breast has become a visual sex object in more than just intimacy between loving couples or a mother and a child. Go no further than the Hollywood red carpet. Almost every dress exposes the cleavage down to the naval. Which brings us to the hips and back-side which they are also showing quite regularly. The width of the hips is actually to be able to give birth more easily. Try getting a 10 pound baby out of a narrow hip….oh the pain! God knew what He was doing when He molded the female hip, believe me!
Are you a woman whose weight or curves bother you? We are not talking about being obese for we know that this is totally unhealthy. However, you can have some lumps and bulges and still be active and at your best self.
Remember the time when an expectant mother wore big floppy dresses to cover the little bundle growing inside herself? Now expectant mothers carry their little “watermelon” proudly in front of themselves. Society has changed about this issue. Now it is time to make some changes in attitudes about real women and their bodies as well as living a long life.
What are young girls learning from their role models…whether it is their own parent…a rock star….model or others that they see on TV? Some of the children’s books that I have written have to do with self-confidence and self-esteem. We know that young girls go through bullying and ostracism from their peers because they are not rail thin like the models they see everywhere they look…TV, books, magazines, ads, video games, or movies. This is hurtful and our society needs to discuss and embrace real people and who they are. No one, adult, teen or child….male or female needs to feel less important or unattractive…because they are measured by such an unfair standard. All societies have their own standards of beauty and acceptance. Look no further than certain women in Africa whose lips are their status…and not their hips.
It is time for women …of all ages to claim themselves. Heredity makes a difference in who we are…and our genes will not change. If your mother or grandmother was a curvaceous woman…then it is likely that you will be also. If they were thin…most likely you will be too. Of course diet plays a part as we all know. Whoever we are, we must learn to accept ourselves…or we will never be happy. Eat right; exercise…even if just a walk each day…and be your best.(A side-note here: If you know a good looking young man who is considering male modeling, they need to look up the term and video on “manorexia” in men that is life-threatening. Other less known, but very prevalent is ENDOS which is also an eating disorder with grave consequences primarily found among young women. )
This video below is worth watching…and you don’t have to blind-fold your husbands or the men in your life. It is how a young girl could have lost her life as she entered the modeling profession. Today she is her normal self and is considered a plus size model at her best. Of course, a size 12 may not seem “plus” to most of us, but it is in the fashion industry. She may have little cellulose but is now a real woman who can eat and be happy.
Highly recommended for a parent to watch with a teen girl.
(Click onto You Tube as directed for full interview. )
If people are not trying to kill you, it may be a good idea to lean back into babyhood when communicating. The word “communication” sounds so sophisticated and grown up. We may have to learn from babies and children what it really means.
By this, I mean, start with a little face to face. Go straight to a little sound or two. Grab his/her hands…keep looking into the eyes and then give those words and sounds all you can muster.
Take a look at these two in our video below. They get the idea…and maybe we can also. It seems so simple and yet we have so much trouble with communicating. . Maybe it takes interest…Yes, that is it. How interested are we really in the other person? Do their little sounds or sighs mean anything to us?
There are different forms of communicating. We first have to realize that there are those sitting right next to us that are as surprised at what is happening around them (and in the world) as we are!
Sometimes we just have to cry together!
Sometimes we just have to listen when someone is trying to tell us something.
Other times we communicate by just being together….quietly.
Eating together is always a fun thing to do. Just remember to turn off the phone…and give that person full attention.
“Out of the mouth of babes” we are often taught. Communicating seems to be a natural thing…built in…and waiting to happen. Somewhere along the way, we have made it a hard thing… perhaps becoming fearful…which was not the way it was meant to be.
For 2015, take a few “baby steps” to communicating…listening…and appreciating one another.
CLICK FOR VIDEO but be certain to notice the light in the eyes…the expressions of “I’m just glad you are here!”
Well, it’s that time again. People begin to make New Year’s resolutions and the “lose weight” companies come out in droves! Maybe it is also a time to get real. Exactly how do I look to others? What am I doing to myself if:
- I’m a little overweight…progressively overweight…or very overweight?
- My blood pressure is on the border line…medium high…very high?
- My legs feel like they have too much to carry…my feet hurt…my hips and back hurt?
We won’t go on…but you get the picture! Oh, speaking of pictures. The internet is full of them that may tell the story better than I can. Of course, one knows that if you put it out there to be photographed, in today’s media age…there is no hiding!
Here are a few to give us a good start.
Men, Women, Children…and don’t forget the animals. We thought we would not show any children because they are not all together responsible for their overweight. It is the parents, of course, who give the food, sets the boundaries, and set the examples.
This poor little dog was probably fed from the table or begged for food constantly. His face shows his misery. Have we had enough?
I can hear the reader saying now, “But…I don’t look like that!” Neither did these people at one point in their lives.
We often hear of how things “creep” up on us. Nothing can be truer than the condition that many Americans find themselves these days.
As for me, I won’t ever look like this woman nor do I want to…but looks aren’t everything. Health is! So get out the tape and decide what you need to do to make 2015 a Happy and Healthy New Year.
AFTER POST FOOTNOTE: Upon posting this blog, Stephen Liddell, one of my readers, wrote me a comment which I would like to share. It may be helpful to those wanting a change. I am posting my reply to him that may be of some interest to you about losing 25 lbs while in Mongolia.
Comment from Stepehen:
“With all respects to those in the photos, I would be ashamed to go out looking like that. For the last 3 Christmas periods I have started by New Year diet 2 weeks early, in mid-late December.
It might sound like a crazy idea especially in the UK where Christmas and New Year is a week long event and myself with a birthday in the middle but really it is the perfect time. Nowhere does the message of Christmas encourage over indulgence. This time of year is already a blessing for its religious message, cultural and childhood traditions… time off work, good shows on the TV etc.
I don’t need the extra happiness of too much good food. Maybe in February when it is still dark and snowy that is the time for chocolate. Perhaps in July when the weather is hot and it seems a good idea to have some ice-creams. Not Christmas though.
Starting an eating plan in December is easier too, it means you’re already in the groove for new year resolutions and you’ve missed out on one of the heavier eating periods of the year. A double bonus!
Last January I started a ‘no sugar diet’ http://stephenliddell.co.uk/2014/01/25/sugar-is-the-new-tobacco-why-are-all-my-healthy-foods-so-full-of-sugar/
which i have stuck to do this day. http://stephenliddell.co.uk/2014/06/17/the-no-sugar-diet-5-months-on/
I did not do much else. As much as I don’t like pigging out, I am definitely not one for the gym or having muscles but rather the old fashion ideas of heating home-cooked wholesome food and doing lots of walking. I was happily surprised that I had lost one or two sizes more by November.
It’s never too late to start and during my 30’s probably lost around 3-4 stone and that has stayed off or reduced further in the last year or two and I haven’t spent a penny on fancy foods or sports equipment and clothing. My 40-42 inch clothes are long since replaced by the 32 or even 30 inch waist on a good day.
I hope someone will write back in 2016 to tell of their good news too!”
My reply to Stephen:
“Thanks, Stephen I’d like to share one of my experiences (and I need to lose about 30 lbs to be at my best). When I was in Mongolia teaching English, I lost 25 lbs because the food was unfamiliar and while there I did not have any sweets (for 2 months)…as you mentioned about sugar. When I returned to the States, my first bite of chocolate was like I had eaten the entire contents of a sugar bowl. It was awful, but of course, I readjusted myself to the love of chocolate….but this definitely tells one something about certain foods.” Nancy at Boyer Writes