Tuesday, 24 March 2015


I lived in this stunningly beautiful and diverse country for 27 years of my life, most of them my formative years.  I completed a high level of education there, enjoyed sunshine, and a lifestyle that only a few can dream of - not one of wealth, not in the financial sense, anyway - but one in abundance of great days spent playing frisbee on the beaches with friends, going for sundowners with friends, braais (bbqs) with friends, heading out for a meal at one of the thousands of restaurants with friends, riding off-road motorcycles, fishing in crystal clear rivers, camping in some of the most remote and beautiful parts of the country.... the list goes on.  Did I mention it was with friends?  Oh yeah, that's because we are very social and like nothing better than gathering ourselves around a fire.

Was it dangerous?  Well, yes, it is pretty high in crime, but nothing ever happened to me. Why? Because I have something called Common Sense, and when I use it, I generally find that I remain quite safe.  It's a very handy commodity to own, and I keep mine close at hand.  Going alone into a township in the middle of the night does not belong in my Common Sense box.  But that's another blog...

However, I am gobsmacked at some of the ludicrous questions that I am often asked about South Africa, so I have decided to blog about it and to clarify - once and for all - for those that are interested in learning.  

Do you know where America is?  New York in particular?  
It's nowhere near there.

Yes.  We have elephant, lion and springbok - sometimes it can cause quite a traffic jam, those elephants are notoriously slow at zebra crossings.  But if you keep your wits about you, you may be lucky to flag down a cheetah or two, which could speed up the journey to your destination.

Yes, of course I know John!  Wow, what a small world it is.  Is he the one that lives in the third hut from the sun?  I'll send him a smoke signal. 

No.  We ate them all.

In Voortrekker days, when journeys were long and arduous, it was important to keep protein as long as possible.  The Voortrekkers discovered that you could preserve meat by coating it in a mix of salt and spices, and hanging it out to air-dry for a few days.  It is now a delicacy and common fare to all South Africans.

No.  It's as awful as smoked salmon.  We spend a lot of time preparing it and consuming it - we eat it as a penance for our sins.  We also export it all over the world in an attempt at World Domination.

Yes - the animals are getting quite out of control.  Baboons and monkeys in particular are nimble-fingered deviants of the highest order.  We shall have to shoot them all.

Um.  Because my parents are? 

No.  We just self-combust in intense heat, hence why there are less Whites than Blacks in South Africa.  

Yes.  We really do find it's easier than cars, and much cheaper.  We have very good motorways, three laned, which is quite suitable for elephants.  

We used to.  Now, due to load-shedding, I'm afraid we don't.  Candle sales are on the rise, and we are currently recruiting for wick manufacturers.

Our Minister told us he had good news and bad news about the economy.  

"The bad news is, the shit is going to hit the fan.  
The good news is, the fan will be off due to load-shedding, from 8am to 6pm."

No, no, not at all.  Some prefer caves.  Others still prefer tin shanties.  Some even have brick houses, although this sighting is rare.

No, we use buckets to catch the rainwater, which we then boil on an open fire.  
Most South Africans are immune to Eboli.

A few. 

No.  We prefer to complicate matters by carrying around all the cash we own.  
It encourages others to rob you. 

No.  The barbed-wire, electrified fencing around most houses is purely decorative.  

Yes.  But by New Year all our Christmas presents are stolen.

It all depends on the severity of the disability.  Some have hearing aids, others walking aids.

No.  They sleep a lot.

Only if you get a puncture.  Failing this, there is no reason to jack your car up. 

I do hope I have answered some of your pressing questions above.  Rest assured, your trip to South Africa will be nothing short of memorable, and a great way to lose weight, especially if you go diving with White Sharks.  

You will never forget your adventure to the Rainbow Nation, just don't expect any pot of gold at the end of it.  Jacob Zuma has already confiscated it....


Some interesting points by Eckhart Tolle that I am reposting for everyone.....  some people get their heads right at a young age.  For the rest, it's a matter of learning from our wiser counterparts.


Here are 10 valuable and powerful insights taken from his teachings:
1.) Happiness: Seeking happiness is futile. If you seek happiness you will never find it. Happiness is created in the present moment by finding the joy in everything you do.
2.) Unhappiness: Situations don’t bring unhappiness, your thoughts about the situation do. Be aware of your thinking and aim to bring facts so situations rather than emotional “stories”. One example Tolle gives is this- “I am ruined”- this is an emotional story whereas, “I have 50 cents left in my bank account” is fact. Sticking to the facts will help bring you clarity to move forward.
3.) The Ego: The main voice in our head is the voice of the ego. You are not this voice, you are simply observing what this voice says. By observing this voice, instead of reacting with it, you create awareness and through this awareness you can free yourself from the limiting talk of the ego.
4.) Present: The present moment is the only moment that is real. The past is already gone and the future is not yet here, so the only way you can live with truth is to live in the present. Living in the present moment and focusing your attention to the here and the now is the first step to achieving higher consciousness.
“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have.”
5.) I Am: Who are you? You are not your physical body but rather you are the essence that runs through it. While your body is your temple, identifying yourself with the physical can lead to suffering. Appreciate your body, but understand that you are so much more than it.
6.) Doing Good: Being a good person has nothing to do with “trying” to be good, being a good person starts with finding the goodness that is already present inside of you and then allowing it to emerge.
7.) Peace: If peace is what you really want, then you will always choose peace. If you would rather sit and suffer in the validation of the ego, you will go after the drama. Instead of trying to change your life in order to achieve peace, consider realizing instead who you are on the deepest level.
8.) Stress: The main cause of stress and anxiety is wanting things to be different than they currently are. When you bring acceptance to all situations, despite your expectations, you instantly remove the need for stress and worry.
“Stress is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there.’
9.) Love: Looking outside yourself for fulfilment is the work of the ego. Instead, bring your awareness to the treasures that you have within and know that to love another, is to recognize yourself in the other.

10.) Life: Whatever events life brings, know that they are here with the ultimate purpose of helping you to raise and expand your consciousness.

Saturday, 31 January 2015


  1. behaviour that shows a lack of good sense or judgement.
    • the quality of being stupid or unintelligent.

"Serendipity is the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way."

Stupidipity is the complete opposite.  John Cleese sums up the definition of stupidity in a way that even stupid people may have a chance at comprehending it:

"The problem with stupid people is that they are so stupid, that they have no idea how stupid they are. You see, if you're very, very stupid, how can you possibly realise that you're very, very stupid? Surely you have to be relatively intelligent to realise how stupid you are?  

There's a wonderful bit of research conducted by a guy called David Dunning, who has pointed out that in order to know how good you are at something, requires exactly the same level of skills as it does to know that you are good at that thing, in the first place.

Which means that if you're absolutely no good at something whatsoever, then you lack exactly the skills you need to know that you are absolutely no good at it."

Now we have all come across this in some shape or form in this modern society in which we live.  Take X-Factor, for example.  Some participants absolutely, categorically, and beyond dispute, cannot sing a note.  Yet they are so stupid that they do not know this, and are convinced beyond reasonable doubt, that they could be, and in some cases, would be the next X-Factor superstar.  How can someone be that stupid? How can you not know you are not good at something?  

Does this depend on your intelligence levels?  Of course.  Because if you had any intelligence at all, even just a modicum of it, then you would know that you are no good at whatever it is you're trying to do!  However, it does of course make brilliant television viewing, and offers the rest of the world - with a modicum of intelligence - a benchmark against which to measure their own intelligence.  

Result?  Stupid people have a place in this world, after all.  

They serve to make us feel better about ourselves.  They help us feel intelligent, superior, and more successful.  Imagine a world where there were no stupid people whatsoever.  We'd be under fierce pressure to up our own games to keep up with the Joneses.  So, inverto, stupid people allow us to take days off, to relax, to take time out, because we know we are not stupid, so therefore we can afford to relax without fear of the lesser beings catching us up anytime soon, and we safely maintain ourselves on the upper rungs of evolution.  They are our benchmark for our own roles within society.

Now I am not sure if pure, undiluted stupidity in its finest form is a result simply of genetics, or a lack of education, or perhaps simply the inability to engage the ol' grey matter into some semblance of progress.  Perhaps some brains are just not ever ignited, or fuelled up.  Could this have to do with our food intake?  DNA?  Too much in-breeding?  I don't have the answers.  But boy, have I met some stupid people in my life.  Or rather, people who have made very stupid mistakes.  Or choices.

Language, and use of it, is a sure sign of someone's intelligence.  I can forgive basic spelling mistakes, I do them myself.  Even grammar mistakes.  But when someone fails to have a grasp of the basics, I shake my head in amazement that they have survived thus far.  Here are some errors taken from real CV's received by prospective employers:

  1. While working in this role, I had intercourse with a variety of people
  2. Hobbies enjoy cooking Chinese and Italians
  3. Career break in 1999 to renovate my horse
  4. I am great at pubic speaking.
  5. My interests include cooking dogs and interesting people
  6. I am a rabid typist

The next level of stupidity, after language, is behaviour.  I don't discriminate against anyone.  I take everyone at face value, until such time as they reveal themselves to be assholes.  And I am continuously fascinated at how people's minds work;  how they treat other people, how they feel they can pull the wool over someone's eyes. Now, granted, there are some very intelligent conmen in the world, who have simply chosen to use their intelligence for the betterment of themselves at the cost to others.  Those are automatically cast into the asshole pile, and forgotten about.

However, take Jackass, for example.  Why?  What would make someone sit at home and think up the most dangerous, ludicrous, and self-harming activities known to man?  What is wrong with them?  Is it Stupidity at full-throttle?  Or are they so in need of attention that they allow themselves to be egged on by fellow-stupiditers? Where are the boundaries?  The logic?  More importantly, what are the rewards?  In short, there aren't any. Other than watching in glee as their Youtube hit counters rise daily.  "Hey, man, one million dudes have watched me set myself alight!".  Alrighty, then. You little human fireball, you.

I think they are striving towards a Darwin Award, where some must behave, and ultimately die, by stupid behaviour in order that one less idiot survives, thus ensuring the long-term survival of the species. 

Some people should just have "Insert Foot Here" tattooed above their lips.  You know the ones.  No matter how hard they try, they just don't manage to learn any common sense.  

Take fat people who just can't understand why they are fat.  Here's the revelation you've been waiting for:  You Eat Too Much.  It's not rocket science.  No diet, or fad, or quickfix is going to make you lose weight.  Movement is.  Or less food.  Get up.  Get out.  Walk.  Eat well.  If it's really what you want, of course....  you can also just stay exactly where you are, and have another packet of crisps.  And if you're happy eating your crisps and staying just as you are, then what's the problem?

And of course, lest we forget, the Bible Punchers.  Praise the Lord for all the good things in my life.  Let's not praise the Lord for all the tragedy, hurt, starvation, deprivation and poverty - no, that's not my god's fault.  Well, if the negatives aren't your god's fault, then surely by pure reasoning, the positives aren't either?  Aren't they a compilation, rather, of choices, and co-incidences?  And to put an end to all this malarkey about your life being charted out, and fate, and it's God's Will, let me ask you this:  if YOU were God - and assuming now that you are All Good and stuff - would YOU not make sure that all the negative sufferings of people around the globe were obliterated?  Of course you would.  But it's easier to lay praise, and blame, at another's feet rather than face up to the reality of Life:

Blessed are the Meek, for they shall inherit fuck-all.

Ain't that the truth.  You make your own way in this world;  no one owes you anything at all.  You could live seventy years on this planet and not make the slightest impact at all;  or you could live thirty and be remembered for the good work you did.  It doesn't cost money to be decent, and kind, and honest, and loyal.  These are attributes of behaviours you are free to choose from. So if you choose to be bad, then you need to take the consequences for your actions.  Because D-Day will come.  It might not involve a man in a white cloak on Judgement Day - but then again:  it might.

I watch youngsters on a daily basis flailing about in a pointless, directionless manner.  I speak to people regularly who are lost, confused, hurt and befuddled by this world.  And I can't help but wonder, what are you waiting for? Intelligence comes from opening the mind.  From using the eyes in your head to absorb, and process, information that surrounds you constantly.  Tomorrow is not guaranteed, ever.  So the only thing you can really control are the choices you make today - these choices will lay the foundation of the tomorrow you'll experience, if you're privileged enough to see it.

For the assholes out there?  I'm afraid there's no cure for that.  That's an inherent kind of stupidity and ignorance for which there is no known cure.

Herbert Spencer coined the phrase "Survival of the Fittest", after studying Darwin's On the Origin of Species, and perhaps stupidity has, in fact, its own purpose here:  to eradicate the weaker species in order for the stronger to survive.  

But in order for that to happen, more stupid people need to abound.

And I don't think there's any fear of us running out of those quite yet.  

Wednesday, 21 January 2015


Let me introduce you to Keela, the coolest Yorkie on the planet.  And so well-travelled, too. She even has her own passport, I kid you not.  And microchip - which, incidentally, I'm surprised they haven't yet introduced for children.

I had to make a trip to the UK recently, and I would be gone for quite some weeks.  There was no way on earth I was leaving her behind for that length of time;  we are joined at the hip, and I am her pack leader.  I wouldn't leave a child, and I certainly wouldn't leave my dog.  But there are many things to take into account when travelling alone with a canine, not least whether they'll make good company.

So the madness commenced, and she was injected, de-flea'd and de-wormed and 120 euro later, Keela was deemed fit to travel.  The vet kindly sold me some sedative in a tube, and told me how much to give her - a mere drop, because this sedative would knock out a horse.  It said so on the tube. I only wanted to sedate her temporarily, not permanently.

So D-day arrives, the ferry is booked and the car fully-loaded;  Keela and I are the last to squeeze ourselves into the car.  I'd bought a brand new dog bed for her which was on the front seat, so that she could snooze on the journey.  Fat chance.  Keela is very nosey.  And awfully afraid that if she takes her eyes off you for just one second, you'll disappear.  She hasn't quite got to grips with the fact that I'm the one driving the car, and that where the car goes, I'll go, and she'll inevitably follow.  But I digress.

We begin our trip from County Cork and make our way up to the ferry port, which is long enough but non-eventful.  To a point.  About an hour before we are due to arrive at the ferry, I decide to test out my sedative so that I know how well it works, how fast, and how much to give her.  I turn the dial to minimum, squeeze out a pea-sized droplet, wipe it around her gums and leave her settle into her bed.

It doesn't take long.  For her bowels to give way.  All over her new bed.  It's the smell that hits me first.  That pungent baby's-got-diarrhoea smell that's unmissable.  Except I am now back on the motorway and travelling at close to 140km an hour, and Keela's trying to stand up.  On rubber legs. Uncomfortably close to the shit.  Keela is mortified;  she has never, ever shat anywhere other than outside, ever.  And now not only is she as high as a kite, but she's worried about the damage she's doing to her new bed.  And mammy's driving.

So we screech to a halt and come to rest on the verge;  I'm trying to keep her still, breathing through my mouth so I don't gag (I never realised how small the inside of a car is), I have both windows open, and I'm hitting the tarmac before I've even come to a full stop.  Round to the passenger side.  Rip open the door.  And manage to rescue Keela before she submerges herself totally in the mess and starts doing the breaststroke.

OK.  Right.  Trucks are flying past, cars are hooting, and here's me with a doped up dog who can't stand, trying to lift out the bed with one hand whilst holding Keela in the other.  It's not working.  So down goes Keela onto the grass who promptly flops flat on her face, and I whip out the wet wipes I remember I have in the boot.  Keela gets an in-situ wet wipe sponge bath, tongue lolling out the side of her mouth. I wonder briefly if I've given her too much sedative, and how to give mouth-to-mouth to a dog. Bum cleaned, I lean her up against an obliging pole, and tend to the mess within.  She looks like a scarecrow.

Said bed is now somewhere on the N25.  I did try and clean it with the wet wipes, and I succeeded - mostly - except for the smell.  It was time to for the bed and me to part company.  I do hope no one thought they'd scored if they found it, because the stench is still in my nose today.

Dog is now lifted back into the car, on a thick towel just in case her bowels are pulling a fast one and have one more blast to give, and tentatively pull out again, leaving a trail (I am embarrassed to say) of korma-coloured wet wipes in my wake.  The wind didn't even want to take them.

Just under an hour later, Keela is still passed out next to me.  I feel awful.  I did this to my dog.  She is comatose.  And the ferry port is approaching.  I stop again, this time to retrieve an empty hand luggage case from the boot for just this purpose.  I carefully lift Keela's lifeless body into the suitcase, wondering if she will flop upside down to the bottom when I stand the case upright - she has no body control.  She's not even on the planet.

You see, the dog is supposed to stay down below deck.  With the cars.  In a very noisy and scary environment.  Look at my dog.  She would be a nervous, dribbling wreck in dire need of Xanax if I left her down there.  How could I?  I'd paid extra for a cabin that I'd only use for four hours, with the sole purpose of getting the dog in there.  Sans detection. And I have no idea at this stage whether there'll be sniffer dogs, X-ray machines, or car inspections - I've not travelled on the ferry before.

We arrive, and I'm as guilty as sin.  I try the nonchalant look, but end up looking like I have twenty balloons of cocaine shoved up my ass.  I flush as the security waves me through.  I'm over-friendly; too chatty, too smiley.  I drive past the booth, smiling, waving like the queen.  I even asked the security whether or not he wanted to frisk my car.  What the fuck was I thinking?

Anyhow.  On I drive.  Up the ramp.  Waving at everyone.  And just at that moment, Keela decides it's time to wake up.  The case starts shuffling next to me.  I think I see a smidgen of nose pushing through the zip area.  I press her down, croon to her, and shove my coat over the top of the case. Once parked, there's men in high-viz jackets everywhere, guiding the cars on board.  As fast as I can, I slip around to the passenger side, whip out the suitcase, and throw my coat over it, wheeling it casually-fast towards the lifts that will take me to my cabin.  Keela is now attempting some form of break dancing and my jacket is flapping up and down.  I keep smiling.  And waving.

And before I know it, I have retrieved the key to my cabin, dragged the suitcase - with Keela probably doing a handstand inside it - to the cabin, and exhaled as the door closed behind me.  She's delighted.  She's ecstatic.  And she still can't stand.  She wags her tail to see me, unaware that it was me that doped her up, God love her trust and loyalty.  And stumbles sideways into the cupboard. Within minutes, she is ensconced on a very comfy bed, with a white duvet and soft feather pillow, and I've settled down with my book.  We made it.

Four hours later, Keela is very much recovered, and reluctant to return to the suitcase, but in she goes, coat a-top, and I wheel her as fast as a bullet back to the car.  In the lift, four other passengers are chatting to me about how lovely the crossing was, and probably wondering why I was shifting from foot to foot to disguise my moving case.  Keela wanted out.  I hoped, no, prayed, really, that no one made a sound like pssshhhht, because that's the cat sound and Keela goes off like a rapid-fire machine gun when she hears it.  Thankfully, no one had a sneeze.

The rest of my trip was uneventful, and we made our return journey recently, with a daughter and granddaughter in tow, and by now Keela almost zipped herself into the suitcase.  She's a fast learner.

It was funny;  it was an experience.  And the worst that could have happened was I would have been reprimanded and made to return the dog to the car.  The most surprising, and worrying, of all, really, was the lack of security checks.  My passport wasn't checked.  My luggage wasn't.  My car wasn't. Not in my presence, anyway.  I could have had a suitcase full of drugs.  I could have been smuggling a baby.  And no-one blinked an eye.

On my return to Ireland, I asked the security guy if he wanted to check my passport.

"Where do you live?" he asked.  "Cork," I replied.

"Ah sure, if you're Irish, you're Irish!"

I think I'll chance both the cat and the budgies on the next trip.

Thursday, 6 November 2014


I think a lot of people have it all wrong when choosing their mate for life;  yes, we fall in love, or lust, the butterflies run amok, we get giddy feelings where we shouldn't, and we are swept along a tide of electronic impulses that thrusts reason straight out of the window.

We believe we have found our soul mates;  we talk all night, we laugh, we make love and it's wonderful, and we believe - if that's what we're raised to do - that we have found The One.

We marry, we set up home, and somewhere along the line, a few years, a few decades, the cracks begin to appear.  Where did we go wrong?  How did we lose what we once had?

I remember finding some old love letters from way back when, that I wrote to my now-ex-husband when we were parted for three months.  As I sat on the floor of my bedroom and read through them, I wondered who this girl was, who was gushing forth platitudes of love, she sounded fun, and happy, and full of optimism and hope.  I was jealous of this girl in the letter, this girl who seemed to have no obstacles in her way, who had the strength and enthusiasm to tackle anything that would dare stand in her way.  This girl who was bubbly, and mischievous, who teased in her writing, and made promises of happy reunions...

Where had this girl gone?  Who had I become?  Because as far as I can remember, and it's some years now, the girl I was at the end of my marriage held no resemblance to the excited girl in the letter.  I was angry, and unfulfilled, and so lonely, my husband was practising serious avoidance tactics, staying late at work; and when he did come home, it was not to a blissful, happy house of laughter, but one of reproach, and silence and tension.  Back then, I had not yet learnt the art of honest communication;  of being able to put into words the emotions I was feeling.  Instead, I would lash out about trivial matters, and he would retaliate, tit for tat, until we tore each other to shreds, until our union went from a beautiful fabric to a tatty and tired rag.

Because, isn't it the truth - it is not in the good times you need someone at your side, but the bad? It's not who you turn to when you're happy, but who you'd want at your side when you're sad.  Whose shoulder do you want to lean on when you're tired?  Whose hand do you want to be holding when you get that bad news, that there's no hope, that there's no return from the place you now find yourself?  Will there even be someone next to you?  If there is, hold on tight.

These are not the things I considered when I had my husband, nor what he considered when he had me.  There are regrets, from both sides, but no comeback.  There is no U-turn to be made, because we made sure that there were only ashes left by the time we turned away from each other.

So the question is this:  When we choose our mates, perhaps for the second time, what are the things you should consider?  Perhaps I am now at the stage where I should overlook the tummy, the balding head, the slight limp, and look deeper at the person who lies within.  Because, at the end of the day, it is not the face you will remember, but the heart.  And I am no oil painting myself, just a normal, everyday girl growing older and wiser.

I am having major back problems at the moment, and find myself making excuses when asked out - who would want to date a person who's struggling?  Surely they would run a mile?  And so I continue on my path alone, yet there's a niggling voice at the back of my head reminding me that the grey hairs are a-massing, that the mind may still be eager but the body is tiring...  and whilst I refuse to stoop to "beggars can't be choosers" (I ain't no beggar), there is a tendency to be more tolerant, less critical, as the years pass.

How lovely to have someone next to you who makes you tea when you've had a bad day. Or cares enough still to bring you flowers in the rain?  Now I have my dog, and she's not great at the tea and sympathy.  And it's my own fault - I hold my hands up to this.  I was too young, too naive, too displaced within my own self to know that it takes two to tango, not one.  I am not saying that our marriage would have worked - there were many other contributing factors that came into play.  But perhaps if we had minded each other a little more, both of us, perhaps if we had stood by during times of trouble instead of being "too busy at work", perhaps we would have lasted the journey that is Marriage?

So now I have new things to consider:  how does he handle sadness?  Does he shy away from stress or face it head on and look for a solution?  How does he behave around elderly folk, the homeless, the underprivileged?  Does he like my dog?

I went for a meal with a guy once - and when we came out of the restaurant, there was a homeless guy sitting on the floor on a piece of cardboard, a tatty blanket wrapped around his thin shoulders.  I stopped.  I rooted in my purse and gave him some money, but I also got down on my haunches and spoke with him for a while :  How are you?  How long have you been sleeping rough?  Is there somewhere you can go when it gets really cold?  How are people treating you?

We ended up having a short chat, and for those brief moments, I hope that I connected with him as a fellow human being, for there but for the grace of God, go I.  And it must be awful to sit in the cold and be ignored, unseen, uncared for by passers-by.  The point here is this : when I had finished my little chat, I looked up for my date, thinking he was close by in support, perhaps even rustling in his own pockets for a few euro which he could well afford.  But he was 100 yards away down the road, looking into shop windows.  That, my fellow readers, is what put me off him straight away.  No compassion.  Arrogance.  And a sign of the man within.

So now my priorities have shifted a little - I am not looking for cockiness, but for kindness.  I am not looking for arrogance, but compassion.  People facing second-time-around have travelled the road, have had their knocks, and carry their baggage upon weary shoulders.  If that trip has not taught them how to be there in the bad times, then I most certainly don't want to see them during the good.  If he doesn't want to see me tonight because I have a cold, he won't be seeing me tomorrow night either, when I'm hot to trot and back in action.

Shoot me down if you will, there are readers out there who constantly criticise what amounts to my own opinions on these blogs - throw those stones.  But mind your glass windows lest a stone comes back at you. Someone once said:  when you point your finger at someone, there are three more pointing back at you - try it.  And make sure those three fingers find no fault, before you lash out at someone else.  The reader of whom I speak knows who she is - so this paragraph is written especially for you - feel privileged.

In sickness, and in health.  Those words mean a lot.  My parents celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary recently.  Sixty four years.  Think about it.  My father has just bought a treadmill so he can stay fit during the rainy season - and he even got my immobile mother up on it.  We laughed so much, she managed two steps before admitting defeat, and to see the two young people they once were look at each other with their wrinkles, and their aches, and their flailing bodies, and share that "moment", is something too beautiful for words.  I salute them.

Do you think they had a blissful, calm-water sailing?  Ha.  Be real.  They suffered. And struggled. And fought.  And survived.  And today, as I watch them sit in their matching chairs alongside each other, my dad reading the paper, my mother knitting quietly, facing their Winter years, knowing the path ahead is not very long, I realise this: there is a lot to be said for the older generation, for commitment and loyalty, and love, because it had the staying power to move through all the seasons - spring, summer, autumn and winter.

I'd just be happy to get through the silly season.

In sickness, and in health.  At the moment I can offer myself in sickness, with the promise of better things to come in my health.

Mind each other.

Friday, 31 October 2014


Everywhere I turn these days, people are fretting themselves over very little.  In fact, it seems they have now developed a new pass-time of worrying, as if their lives are so empty that this is all they have left to do.  Have we become a nation of worriers to replace a nation of warriors?  It is very worrying.  In fact, I am very worried about how many worriers are out there.... I shall stay awake all night tonight worrying about how much worry there is in the world.

Tonight someone asked me a question : should we start a Forum where people can complain about things? Like services provided, or quality of goods, or general dismay at the misery of life in general? What, I asked, like a kind of Whinge-a-Holics Anonymous?  Is this what the world has turned into, or just in this little bubble called Ireland, where thoughts are never far away from the nearest pending doom and gloom, like taxes.  Or little Johnny's failure to understand Algebra (which he will never use unless he becomes a scientist, and let's face it, he never will if he doesn't get Algebra to begin with - another worry).  Just turn on the television or open a paper in this country and tis no wonder we worry - we are thrown asunder with worry of obesity, underage sexual encounters, disease, the dangers of leaving a peeled onion in your fridge, the concern that your house might go up in smoke if you keep your money under the mattress.....  and all the while, sales of Xanax are on the rise everywhere.

There's a new buzzword in town : Generalised Anxiety Disorder.  This in itself is a worry, because this type of anxiety doesn't have a real name, or a category to belong to, so it's just dumped into the "general" category so that clients can worry a little more about the real cause of their worry.  After all, it can't be identified, so it must be worrying, no, to live with this type of uncertainty?  I mean, if the psychiatrists and psychotherapists can't identify it, I mean, what chance is there?  Worry, worry, worry....

What is worry, by definition?  "Worry is to feel, or cause to feel, anxious or troubled about actual or potential problems".

See, there's my worry right there - that you can now worry about potential problems - surely there is a potential problem in anything and everything these days?  What if that chicken has salmonella? What if I don't wake up in time for work tomorrow?  What if the car doesn't start?  What if they cut my electricity off?  What if my husband has an affair?  What if this pimple bursts all over my new pillowcase?

How about this one : What if you don't fucking wake up tomorrow, now THERE'S a real worry.  Or not.  Because if you don't wake up tomorrow, you'll have nothing more to worry about - you have reached your destination.  Please collect all personal items as you depart Life....

I am so sick of listening to people moaning, complaining, worrying and whingeing, all the while doing absolutely nothing to change the things they are moaning, complaining, worrying and whingeing about.  They always seem to find me, these worriers.  I think I give off a radar signal of "I don't give a shit about anything!" and they home in on it like flies to a cowpat.  Perhaps if they hover close enough to me, their worries will fade into the background.  That worries me.  See, now I'm worrying.

But I don't, really.  I don't sweat the small stuff.  Anything that has happened to me has, eventually, become part of my past.  And so whatever shite I might find myself quick-sanding in, shall too become part of my past - I just have to paddle a little faster for a little while.  I don't get into debt, therefore I don't have to worry about not being able to pay my bills.  I live within my means, and I sleep peacefully at night.  I don't mix with assholes, so therefore I don't have to worry about having to be polite to them under false pretenses.  I don't eat shit food, so I don't have to worry about whether I'll live to be 61 or 64.  I don't drink, very rarely, so I don't have to worry about what I'm doing to my liver.  See, it's all about choice in the end, isn't it?

Your actions will have a consequence - so choose what you do wisely.  I wisely choose not to worry, because worry takes away from the only thing that's actually real in this world : the very moment in which you're standing.  At the moment I am in a lot of pain - I have a prolapsed disc in my back that has been hindering me for the past good many months.  Am I worried?  Not one bit.  Am I in pain? Oh, for sure.  And lots of it, too.  So I channel my energy into making sure I'm doing the best I can at this point in my life to limit further damage, whilst assisting my body to heal as best I can.  I've seen the neurosurgeon - it may warrant surgery;  this I shall find out next week when I have my next MRI scan.  Am I worried?

No.  Because either the MRI scan is going to show no improvement (meaning surgery), or it's going to show improvement (meaning yaay, no surgery).  Either way, surgery or not, the outcome is surely going to be the same - the elimination of pain, either through self recovery, or an operation.  What's there to be worried about?

The amount of shit I listen to on a daily basis beggars belief.  I think I made a conscious decision to not be like someone I know - he is the world's most prolific worrier, and I see how much stress worrying puts on him;  his mind is never at rest.  He is always fretting about something, and if he has nothing to worry about, he makes something up.  That's very sad, all that energy wasted, and I feel sorry for the torment he's in, mentally.  He's actually very funny, the things he worries about.  Like driving over a manhole cover is going to damage the tyres of the car.  Or what people could be saying because I walk my dog with a man who is unmarried and single, and who is one of my very best friends - yes, friends. Or what will happen if he tries to sneak in some contraband into the recycling bin, like a rag, or a bottle.  Will he be caught?  Will he be in trouble?  Will he ever be able to settle down, be normal like "other people" (define normal?). Another friend worries that he will be poor, whilst being comfortably wealthy.  Worry, worry, worry.

I can honestly say I have mastered the art of thinking about absolutely nothing, whilst simultaneously looking relatively pensive.  It's quite an art.  You can feign interest in a brain-dead conversation whilst planning your dinner, or ponder the outcome of your next Scrabble encounter without blinking an eye.  Blankness is a wonderful ability, and I am so grateful I have trained myself into switching off the clatter and chatter that so many brains suffer from.  All that gibberish, voices fighting to be heard, all the bullshit your ego spews at you and tries to get you to buy into, and detracting you from lovely peace and quiet.  It must be very worrying.  To others.

And like anything in this life, worrying started somewhere.  It is a learned behavioural pattern, like everything else we're made up of.  And you've got to take control of those little voices in your head - the ones that tell you you're not good enough, or strong enough, or pretty enough, or clever enough. The ones that snigger at your efforts to improve yourself.  Drown them out by telling them, quite simply and in plain English, to fuck off.  Because that's all it really takes.  Be in control.  Listen to how you think, sure, sometimes you think quite nice and helpful things.  But be quite happy to discard the thoughts that increase your blood pressure and stop you from sleeping, because these thoughts are not your friends.

Are we designing a nation of worriers, I'll ask again?  We have labelled our children whom we once would have described as enthusiastic or full of energy, as having ADHD.  We have labelled quiet and pensive people as insecure.  We have labelled mentally weary people as lazy.  We have embraced high sugar foods as a staple in our diets, and wonder why we are so tired and overweight.  We have labelled, we have labelled, we have labelled.  And we have created a nation of anxiety that has served nothing more than increased customers for the pharmaceutical industries.

My benchmark is self-made.  How do I feel about myself today?  Well, sometimes I've pain, sometimes I'm happier than others, sometimes I'm lazy, sometimes I'm giddy, and sometimes I'm just plain bored.  But I go with whatever I'm feeling, because if I am agreeing with my mood, there's nothing to worry about, not so?  Conflict, that's the real concern here.  Conflict in the mind, a constant barrage of questioning and doubting, that's what causes worry.

I just couldn't be arsed.  Worry sounds like an awful lot of hard work to me, for no return whatsoever. I've had tough days, and I've pulled through.  I've had poor days, and I've still eaten.  I've had cold days, and I've warmed up again. It's history, isn't it?  Aren't we supposed to learn from history to improve our futures?  And my history has told me that despite some of the hardest things anyone could ever go through, I am still here.  So why worry?

I'll leave you with this thought to ponder - or worry about.  The choice, ultimately, is yours.

Why worry? 

In life there are only two things to worry about:
Whether you are well;
Or whether you are sick

If you are well, 
you have nothing to worry about.

If you are sick, you have two things to worry about:
Whether you'll get better;
Or whether you'll die...

If you get better,
You have nothing to worry about

If you die, you have two things to worry about:
Whether you'll go to Heaven;
Or whether you'll go to Hell

If you go to Heaven, 
You have nothing to worry about

If you go to Hell,
You'll be so busy shaking hands
with all your friends,
You won't have time to worry...

So why worry?