Experts lay the origin of certain mental health complaints squarely at the foot of one’s early life experiences. That said, can they really account for as much as is suggested? If not, should psychological interventions be tailored to take this thought into account?
Environment and Genetics – Nature versus Nurture.
Marsha hosts a Writer’s Quotes Wednesday Writing Challenge –#WQWWC which I am joining in a little early today – as it is Wednesday here, already.
I believe the theme this week is Trustworthiness. My take on this theme is a little skewed, but I thought – Can I trust my intuition, my own thoughts? Should I trust my intuition?
Yesterday two things came to mind, nothing serious, just thoughts and today, those two things were most significant in events, both, in my house and the larger region where I live.
Intuition or coincidence?
Does this ever happen to you?
If you have pre-cognitive thoughts, do you or should you, trust them?
Often time in comments with other bloggers, we compare our lives in various parts of the world. People approaching retirement seek a lifestyle change. Country folks who have farmed all their lives will often move to the city whilst city dwellers move to the beach or a quiet country areas.
In selecting where we live and thinking about lifestyle benefits, can we really compare our lives given that our demographics are vastly different?
The acutely different rates of population density compared to land area in different countries, is startling and naturally, has far-reaching implications. Nevermore so in the management of social issues, chosen location and perhaps, even more importantly, also in the management of the Covid pandemic.
Consider the differences between a large city in Europe/UK, Australia and India.
Is it useful to compare apples with apples? ie. Two large centres. Let’s pick Shanghai and New York. What does that reveal?
There’s more space in China, but population density remains the same.
Let us also look at a smaller European city compared to the largest city in Australia. Population density appears the same as London, Delhi and New York.
“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless, diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped.
Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring those ripples to build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
― Robert F. Kennedy
Are you wanting to find more peace and contentment in your life, in this the year of instability?
Giving and assisting others is one way in which you can make people’s lives better and simultaneously feel a sense of satisfaction, achievement and contentment.
If you want to make a difference in your own world, start with the world around you.
If making a difference, all at once, seems a too tall an order or impossible for you, or the process of trying too stressful, consider that we can instantly make a difference, fairly easily.
Start by focusing on one person at a time – maybe that is the person closest to you.
When we don’t have time or cannot visit elderly relatives or neighbours because of work or Covid constraints, or even personal inclination – (a lack of interesting conversation), a small note, text message or phone call will always be welcomed by them.
Spread loving thoughts to cherished ones.
It is all too easy to assume family members are going to be there for us and thus, we might forget to make any kind of effort towards them. Ironically, those relationships are the ones we often need to nurture the most.
5 Easy Ways to Improve Humanity
Pay it forward – pay for the next person’s coffee in the queue, without expecting anything in return.
Donate to a charity something that you value – something that might bring joy to someone in unfortunate circumstances.
Give a homeless person, a home-baked treat or a fresh meal, a warm coat or bag of toiletries.
Help out at an animal shelter for a day or a week. Animals are incredible healers of the human spirit.
Smile at each person you met in a genuine time considered way – (being cognizant of cultural and social norms).
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honourable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
You do not need to convince anyone, only yourself.
Break Down Goals into Smaller Pieces
Always useful is the tip to break down seemingly impossible tasks or goals into baby steps, and work steadily towards your goal. This is a great life skill and a way to move forward when negative feelings overwhelm us.
If you make one person smile, or laugh, even just for a moment, their smile just might make others smile too. In this subtle way, you can touch the masses with thoughtfulness.
Aim to make a bunch of small splashes, and let the ripples spread naturally.
If you want to change another person’s mind or mood, you might have to change a little of yourself, at first and then work on enhancing the environment and the people around you.
I was announcing to friends that I was to leave my inner-city lifestyle and was moving to a Home by the Sea. A Seachange is the correct word, I believe.
“What. Why?” was the plaintive responses from colleagues and friends.
“Why move further out? That’s a long commute.”
Especially when, they continued to counsel me, a sought-after, inner-city lifestyle offers heady attractions and a swathe of facilities and friends, in close proximity? And my own kids concurred.
At the first whiff of this decision, the adult children refused to be involved. They saw it as a hedonistic move to the region’s boganesque outskirts, better known as, ‘The Peninsula.’
So why did we decide to continue with a Seachange?
Because life in the city cuts both ways.
Inner City Lifestyle is Attractive
Our urban locale of many years was idyllic, or so we thought.
Picture energetic, vegan eateries and sushi trains, interspersed with Craft beer hangouts playing Indie music, to all hours. Streets lined with cafes, punctuated by glamorous shops, awash with white and taupe furnishings, selling those ludicrously expensive cushions that are positioned for looks, rather than comfort, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of my former location. Many would find that attractive.
I have to admit the inner city life was swanky and practical. I had only a short walk to public transport, of all kinds, and a multitude of library and shopping options, as well as bakeries or gourmet restaurants, so close, that I’d never had to worry about squashing the bread or drinking and driving the car home.
So I had to ask myself again, why did I want to leave?
Because, it seemed. there was a niggling discontent in my heart.
I had begun to notice the downsides to urban living and they were becoming more and more bothersome, the closer I got to retirement age. I needed a change.
But wait. I began to hesitate.
Did I really want to give up work and this urban lifestyle right now, given that one’s work and financial contribution to society forms a large part of our identity?
I had to think this through properly and reassess what I’d really miss and what might be a potential deal-breaker. Was I ready for Retirement and a Seachange? It was a big move!
Weighing Up the Pros and Cons of Hipster Life in the City
Point #1 – Endless Facilities
City living is an ongoing adrenaline rush and offers many opportunities, but it also results in an expanding waistline and other First-World Problems that triggers a level of guilt, in me, one I wasn’t entirely happy with.
I had to admit Triple-shot Macchiatos or Banh Mi Market Breakfasts with Almond smoothies, at the local markets, were really fun but also the chief suspects in my increasing girth.
Those lovely market stalls one browses, on Sunday mornings, you know the ones that feature lovely handmade items, or organic Kombucha with a Turmeric and Kale chaser and a pulled pork bun, are very hipster, but as I wasn’t exercising too much, (I dislike aerobic exercise), you can have too much of a good thing. Diet and health concerns were not the only pressure.
Add to this, I felt indulgent. This consumerist lifestyle felt privileged and wasteful, considering how much poverty, need and homelessness exists in the world. There had to be something better that aligned more with my twilight years.
Point #2 (Or should I call it: bothersome fact #2?) – Noise, Busy Roads and Traffic
There were loads of new facilities, medical centres, shops, gyms and pilates studios opening every other week in the inner city districts. However, the incessant noise from the construction was something I wasn’t getting used to. Quite the contrary, my sleep was disturbed more and more with each passing month. Sleep deprivation is the kind of torture that one can’t abide when the childbearing years are far behind you, so the noise did nothing to foster a jolly mood.
Couple this issue with two near-miss incidents with myself and heavy machinery, plus a workman’s vehicle swerving towards me, both happening at pedestrian crossings near home, were other imperatives to move to a quieter area. (Twice in one week, I was nearly run over simply crossing the road to follow the concreted footpath!)
The horse and buggy style of those dated inner-city alleys and streets, that no cat worth his salt would be found swinging in, are all very quaint when you are a pioneer in the early 19th century, but crossing the street after 6am in 2020 was akin to having a death wish.
And, don’t get me started on the lack of on, or off-street, parking. That was Point #3.
Point #4 – Sharing Space with a Growing Population Density
Exercise in the inner city constituted a 30-minute stroll in the morning down a popular shared bike and pedestrian path. Early morning walks here, had recently become a dance with death as teams of hardcore, professional cycling enthusiasts, festooned in their all-too-revealing-bodysuits notoriously rode at that same time, and usually three abreast.
Some would forget to ring their bell as a warning of their impending presence and I’d stumble to maintain my balance and calm my frightened dog, as they swished past in a blur of lycra, shouting, “Move – it’s a bikeway,” in a range of accents, or offer a very defiant ‘finger,’ if I didn’t move to let them pass.
Despite all of this, it was the bruises that finally cemented my decision to sell and move to the Home by the Sea.
Point #5 – Small Rooms
In particular, the bruises incurred when my toe, or shin, connected clumsily with the bed-posts in the small inner-city Townhouse that I had down-sized to, as a potential retirement home. Low maintenance it was, but Townhouse living was going to be problematic.
Every room in my ultra-modern townhouse was so small, so confined, that it meant kicking my toe or shin, on the corner of the bed, vanity or chair, became a daily event. It might have been cute, compact and a breeze to clean, but there’s always a trade-off, isn’t there?
It was clear that I needed somewhere with a tad more space.
Not only that, but the family dog agreed with me.
Point #6 – Limited Yard for Pets
The small courtyard at the Townhouse gave the family dog no place to bury a bone, nor conduct her usual border patrol for illegal animal infiltrators. Her job, she thought, was to protect the premises from the likes of lizards, cats, Ibis or random Scrub Turkeys. The small astro-turfed courtyard just didn’t cut it, for my Princess.
A Home by the Sea
So weighing up the odds, we decided to move.
In complete contrast to Townhouse life, the Schnauzer loves her new home that has a small to medium L-shaped grassy yard. Now she can choose whether to sun herself or roll around in delight on the soft, green grass.
A bit like me really.
Retirement and the Pandemic
The Covid pandemic may have meant I retired a little prematurely, but more importantly, it has given me time to walk the dog, enjoy early mornings on the beach and not have to rush off to work, in busy commuter traffic.
To date, I have not sustained any bruises from the furniture in my new home by the sea!
A seemingly unending blue sky, fresh sea air, a comforting quietness as well as new places and friends to discover, has me feeling relaxed and content with no time constraints and nothing to do, but enjoy the rest of my life.
I am a bit late with posting my Sunday Sayings quote as it is now Monday afternoon, in Australia. I don’t want writing a regular blog post to become a chore, for then I feel sure my writing would lose spontaneity and appeal, so if I can’t think of anything useful to write, I won’t post at all. Just so you know.
Today’s inspiration resulted after a long walk along the beach with a friend.
Being on the beach at sunrise is fantastic and I feel extremely fortunate to experience it. With little accompanying wind and a mild air temperature, (given it was a winter’s morning in a sub-tropical part of Australia), the sun bid good morning through the low level cloud, hugging the islands across the bay.
That fire breathing star of atoms we all depend on for life, shone over the lapping seawater like a spotlight on a runway carpet. A beam of golden light that stretched across the ocean from the horizon to the shore line like a path to eternity. Magical.
As we walked, my friend and I chatted about life’s dramas, past experiences and the week ahead. She told me about a gentlemen on a UK TV show, who faced enormous challenges in his daily life, and who had seemingly had more than his share of devastating family tragedies, with one cataclysmic life event following another.
In chatting about the TV show and these experiences, I remembered a quote I had read some time back.
Life Challenges and Adversity
After our walk was done and I was at home sipping a cup of tea, I pondered some more about life and facing adversity.
We have all experienced some level of adversity in life.
Everyone has challenges, sooner or later. There wouldn’t be one person on the planet that hasn’t faced some kind of adversity.
Given that such challenges and adversity are omnipresent, or a natural part of life, aiming to live a life without them seems a tad unrealistic and even far-fetched.
Yet how often do we yearn, and sometimes expect, life to be challenge free: wishing for an easy life.
I guess it is in our nature to want life to be trouble free and have free time to pursue hobbies, sport or leisure pursuits. Devices, gadgets and the latest electronic inventions promises itself as a panacea to our time-poor existence.
So I ask:
Why are we looking to save so much time?
In doing so, are we living in the here and now, or looking forward to a mythical ‘down’ time, failing to notice our lives, passing by?
Why do we Want More Leisure Time Anyway?
To make life more meaningful
To experience more relaxation and peace
To conduct leisure pursuits
To stop working in a job that bring us joy
What is it that gives us a sense of satisfaction in life?
If the Covid pandemic has any lesson, it is that some folks become completely bored without work, with nothing constructive to do, and a few even create mischief for others.
Is it in the facing of challenges that we come alive?
In overcoming adversity and challenges, even if painful or sad, we can learn and grow. This, in turn, might lead to a greater sense of satisfaction and contentment. Right?
You tell me.
What is it that you are seeking in wanting more leisure time?
Would you prefer a life completely free from challenges?
Join the Discussion
Everyone is welcome to comment, well except for spammers, of course.
Margaret uses a Box iron – that is heated on the fire to iron her clothes. She cooks all her meals and bakes her own bread in a pot oven, over the open fire. She lives in a house without electricity and modern conveniences. This is not a reality show where we are taken back in time for a short period. This is the life of someone living in modern times, but just as people did 100 years ago in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.
The fire, Margaret says, is essential not just for life, but for the house itself to survive, as the timbers, need the fire to preserve them. Without the fire, you could not live this way.
In addition, this county has interesting natural and social history features. As well as rare plants, there is the pagan stone – where the firstborn of stock and family were sacrificed in pagan times! A Holy Spring is located there – the waters of which are supposed to cure nervous and paralytic disorders.
It is thought some of my family may have come from this county, around 130 years ago, so this is a snapshot into the way of life they may have led. Margaret doesn’t see this house as a time capsule, the way we might.
She sees it as home just as her father and Grandfather did.
Could you live a life without modern conveniences. the way Margaret does?
If you had to give them up, which one would you miss the most?
Today is Australia Day, or if you are a First Nation person, you might call it Invasion Day. Back in 1788, the “First Fleet.” of British ships arrived on Australia’s eastern coast and began establishing a British colony.
The British considered the Australian continent unoccupied – as the indigenous peoples were not considered as a nation in themselves. However wrong this was at the time, it happened and today we still celebrate this day with a public holiday.
January 26 in Australia, marks the end of the long summer holidays and that means lots of folks travelling on the roads and lots of pool parties and barbeques.
At a time when the dude from Top Gear is making egotistical comments about Australia, Boris Johnson comments on our ‘resilient spirit.’
Is our country still resilient? When many of us support dirty coal fired power generation? Or deny climate change?
Not all Aussies fully comprehend the gravity of the planet’s situation as they only hear what the media here tells them. The media often fails to give a balanced view!
So, What can you do, when those who are ignorant or closed to new ideas vote in ignorant fools, because they read and listen to tabloid tripe? It’s a little depressing.
Whilst European economics has its problems, at least they are aiming for better air to breathe, and a better country for their children.
We seem to be taking a longer time to understand the problem.
This Australia Day – take up my challenge and show that Australians can:
Read more widely – especially those opinions that you don’t at first agree with – they may have a point of view that resonates somewhere. It can’t hurt you even if you don’t change your opinion – you will just be better informed.
Seek out facts to substantiate your opinion. The Radio and TV commentators might be and often are misinformed or wrong.
Discuss this with your friends and listen to feedback.
Challenge long held beliefs – the world is changing.
When you live in a hot climate, exercising is hard. The will to jog or pump iron in the blistering heat of a steamy summer’s day, is almost impossible to find.
Entering my fifth decade, I discovered that if I didn’t exercise regularly and followed my ever increasing sedentary lifestyle, my body and its joints quickly became stiff. The flexibility and mobility of my youth was lost. As we age, many of us find this loss might even become permanent, if we don’t find a way to move.
Balance is also the first of our senses to deteriorate with the passing years, so it is vitally important to find a way to preserve that sense of balance, for as long as you can. How many older folks pass away or deteriorate after a fall and the consequential broken hip?
Gentle Exercise with Benefits
If you find the prospect of jogging or hard aerobic exercise unbearable, as I do, Yoga is the perfect way to begin an exercise routine and achieve some gentle movement, in your body. If you are able to devote a few minutes each morning or even three times a week, you will find that before too long, your body will begin yearning to stretch.
The best thing about Yoga is that it is designed for people of all ages and levels of fitness. The beautiful thing about Hatha or most styles of yoga, as opposed to the punishing regime of Bikram or hot yoga, is that it is not competitive. You work at your own pace, listening to your body, gradually encouraging it to stretch and strengthen when it’s ready.
Hatha Yoga practices are designed to align and calm your body, mind, and spirit.
But don’t think you won’t get any sort of workout in Yoga if you like something more challenging. You can choose to push your limits, if you are able, but you will do it gently and safely and calmly. No stress, no over reaching your body. Just gentle stretching.
Practising Yoga not only keeps you fit and toned, but provides innumerable benefits to the internal systems of the body as well. The many forward bending asanas, or positions, stimulate digestion and elimination.
Calming the Nervous System
Twisting poses and backbends stimulate spinal nerves, benefiting the entire nervous system but please start out small, very small, if you haven’t exercised for some time.
Yogic stretches and accompanying breathing techniqes are one of the best way to calm an over-stimulated nervous system, and with regular practice, you’re find that you are able to relax and face life’s difficulties more easily. Inversions – even as simple as forward bending and touching you toes, pump up your blood circulation and can even counteract depressive feelings.
The ancient Yogis believed that holding a ‘downward facing dog’ posture for up to 30 minutes could cure depression! Perhaps that is a stretch, (no pun intended), but I think holding a pose like this, would certainly distract anyone from feeling bad about themselves, albeit temporarily!
What is the Secret?
The breathing exercises incorporated in yoga, bring increased oxygen to the blood, which then washes through the body’s cells, rejuvenating them from the inside out. It is the squeezing and releasing of muscles within the many physical poses that then creates many of the bodily benefits.
Yoga asanas may also affect the glands and regulate the production of hormones, something modern medicine finds difficult to control without nasty side effects. In fact, hatha yoga does wonders for all systems of the body and for your general immunity.
Even a small effort at this form of exercise is repaid almost instantly with increased feelings of well being.
With regular yoga practice, you will quickly notice how your body feels lighter, livelier and more limber.
Depending on the Yoga exercises you choose to do, you can focus on improving your balance, strength and/or flexibility and general mobility.
More subtle forms of yoga aid and prepare for a meditation that may relieve stress and benefit the body, mind and you, the soul.
Change might be disruptive and jolting, a shock to the system but it also heralds new possibilities and opportunities.
I will soon be moving to a new location. A new house, new area, new neighbours. It is exciting but a little daunting.
Some of you know that we have been prepping for this move for over a year and soon it will become reality. Add to that, I will be semi-retired- whatever that means?
Have you some moving tips for me? Last year when I moved to my current townhouse, I become stressed out and exhausted. I used to be an ace at moving house, when I was in my twenties and moving flats every year or so.
Thirty years on, I am older and need some tips on making it less stressful.
This salad has something a little different for ingredients and looks great on the table due to its intense color and flavour. All the more perfect and refreshing, if it is summer, in your part of the world!
If you are looking to make a quick lunch, possibly to take to work, and still have leftover that can double for a light and healthy dinner, then this Quinoa and Pomegranate Salad, I’ve adapted from Lorelle’s recipe might be a perfect option. [After all who likes a soggy sandwich for lunch, or has the energy to make a nutritious gourmet meal, when work finishes late.]
As the main ingredient was “Quinoa,” one of those buzzy superfoods that everyone is talking about, and I noticed a bag of tricolour Quinoa just begging to be used in my pantry, I thought I’d try it out.
In addition, this recipe has pomegranate and I do like pomegranate!
But first a little about Keen-wah, or Quinoa!
“Quinoa is gluten free, high in folate and Magnesium, and Manganese. Quinoa is (also) high in fiber, protein and has a low glycemic index. It has been linked to weight loss and improved health.
Red quinoa (which takes on a brownish hue when cooked) has a richer taste, slightly chewier texture, and somewhat nuttier flavor compared to white quinoa. It’s often the quinoa of choice for cold salads as it holds its shape better during cooking. “
“Quinoa is also high in B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E and various beneficial antioxidants.
These important molecules have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-cancer and anti-depressant effects in animal studies. “
Potassium has the added health benefit of, “protection against loss of muscle mass, preservation of bone mineral density and reduction in the formation of kidney stones.”
Lorelle’s wonderful recipe suggested using Pomegranate Molasses as an ingredient for the salad dressing. But where would I find that?
Not in the mainstream supermarket, that’s for sure.
Lorelle suggested I try to source it from a Middle Eastern Grocer. That required finding one first, and getting a free day to go there, so instead, I decided to adapt Lorelle’s recipe using some extra honey in place of the Molasses and adding a few of my own ingredients, that I had in my pantry.
Recipe on the go.
NB. I have included the usual way to prepare Quinoa at the bottom of this post.
Then I encountered another problem I had not anticipated –
Problem #2 –
How do I peel the pomegranate, and get those beautiful juicy capsules out?
How do you do that, I thought? Anyone have a suggestion?
There was a somewhat aborted attempt, by me, to cut the pomegranate in quarters and then scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon.
Those in Club Pomegranate ‘knowhow’, can probably imagine the slightly shocking scene that soon confronted me:
Tens of dozens of small ruby red pomegranate capsules flinging about in all directions over my kitchen bench and floor as I tried valiantly to scoop them out. To which, my son who had just arrived hoping for something to eat stood at the door of the kitchen, with his mouth gaping, pointing quizzically towards the floor.
What’s happened here? he said, his face aghast.
I looked down at the ruby red smears on my hands and all over the kitchen floor – quickly realizing the creamy-white tiles were now reminscent of a scene from a B grade Murder Movie. “I was trying to remove the pomegranate seeds,” I said. “But I am not quite sure how.”
The look of his face made me think he remained totally unconvinced I wasn’t killing some poor creature, for its meat.
Luckily for me, and somewhat late to the party, Youtube came to my rescue.
This is how Ishould have approached the task.
Only when you know how!
So Helter Skelter Scene averted, and tiles duly mopped clean, I was back to the salad.
I did add some other minor variants to the Lorelle’s ingredients list, so I do hope she doesn’t mind.
Here is how it turned out:
Looks pretty scrumptious and I am happy to recommend it.
Instead of sharing it with my family, who are prone to turn up their noses at strange new dishes, I took it to work, for lunch.
Work lunch – Done!
Here is the full recipe:
Chickpea & Quinoa Salad
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup uncooked Tri-colour Quinoa
¼ cup toasted sunflower seeds
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
1 ½ cups chicken stock*
1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 can corn kernels, rinsed and drained
1/2 punnet Gourmet Pecorina tomatoes,
(I used yellow and red ones for contrast)
½ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup chopped mint
1 cucumber, [diced]
½- 1 cup pomegranate seeds
¼ cup olive oil
4 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon salt
In a medium saucepan heat the Olive oil.
Add garlic and sauté lightly
Add Quinoa and stir over low – medium heat for a few minutes.
Add the chicken stock* or water and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer covered for 15 mins or until water is absorbed.
Cool completely. Once cool, fluff the Quinoa to separate the grains.
Mix cucumber, herbs, and the rest of the ingredients together in a bowl, before adding the cooled quinoa and toasted nuts and seeds.
Mix all ingredients for the dressing together. Pour over Quinoa salad and mix well.
Serve on a bed of spinach* leaves for an extra nutritional boost of Magnesium, potassium, Vitamin K, A, and Iron.
* “Spinach is one of the best sources of dietary potassium and magnesium, two very important electrolytes necessary for maintaining human health. Spinach provides a whopping 839 milligrams of potassium per cup (cooked). As a comparison, one cup of sliced banana has about 539mg of potassium.”
As some of you may know, I am preparing for the next stage of my life. Retirement from work. It is a few years off yet, however I do like to be prepared.
To this end, we are building a future home at the beach. A new home means a new blog called A Home By the Sea.
If you wish to follow along on this journey with me, click on the link above and you will be magically transported to my blog: A Home by the Sea.
Just to be clear, Something to Ponder About will continue in its present form. The new blog will have more of a personal journalling function.
At the moment, it is in its infancy, merely following our building projects’ ups and downs. But the challenge of transitioning to retirement will bring loads more stories, commentaries and pictures, so that will come later.