Archive for the ‘Family Life’ Category

The Journey 2 November 2015

November 2, 2015

Mindfulness is not a magic potion. Like a new diet, piece of technology or idea it doesn’t work unless you use it. New running shoes don’t exercise to get fit or lose weight. I have to put the shoes on and actually go for a walk. Otherwise I just donated $40 to KMart.

I have been guilty many times in the past, as have most people, of moving on to the next magic potion, being enthusiastic about it for a while, even actually using it per the instructions. And then forgetting about it for whatever reason.

In my recent transition to another go at mindfulness, I have already reminded myself of this: yes, used well mindfulness is wonderful; I haven’t failed if I spill a cup of coffee; a moment’s inattention at the wheel could have worse consequences than that coffee; don’t be too hard on myself if I drop the ball; sometimes even when we make mistakes, we are extended grace, so that we do not receive the full consequences of our actions; and when we remember that, we may remember to extend some grace to someone else.

So what happened today? I needed to book some flights and accommodation for work to visit Groote Eylandt next week. We are using a new travel agency; I am going to Groote to present a new travel policy – I wanted to do it all “right”. I got a bit to caught up in getting it right and put myself under more pressure than I should have. As recently as a week ago this would have really thrown me out. Today, I was still stressed but mindfulness helped me get the job completed, ruefully smile a bit that I’d got myself into my own bind, mostly in my own mind but by the time I got home, it was all behind me. No rehashing it over, chastising myself. Not only had I let it go but because of the work I have pout in just recently, the letting go was closer to a natural process than a conscious process. It’s like breathing, most of the time you don’t have to think about it but it still happens.

If that doesn’t communicate, think of the scene in the original Star Wars when Obi Wan first tells Luke about the force and has him use a light sabre against a drone. Initially he is hopeless. Then Obi Wan tells him to put on the helmet so that he cannot see the drone and resume the joust. It is counter intuitive, taking away sight. Luke thought he was mad and did not want to do it. Luke did better when he used his other senses to harness the force.

Again mindfulness is not a magic potion like the Star Wars force. But sometimes you need to relax a little, see how it feels and simply dispassionately observe what difference it makes.

This week I’m improving my daily life with mindfulness to help me along the way. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

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The Journey 1 Nov 15

November 1, 2015

This day has been a long time coming. There have been false starts, doubts, relapses and just plain laziness and pigheadedness. The Journey is about being present and mindful as often as possible, in all areas of life. My dear friend Kathie introduced me to the concept sometime in the last ten years. I was sceptical and resistant. After a time I tried it out. The first time I seriously tried it out was early one morning a couple of years ago in the back yard, facing the new day, eyes closed, stretching arms, legs and trunk while listening – to birds, passing cars, sounds that may not normally be obvious.Then on the drive to work, the radio was off and I just noticed things – passing cars, pedestrians, trees, gardens, signs – not the mere objects but movement, light, texture. This lasted a few days and was very powerful. Like any new habit, mindfulness has to be practised and exercised, as the newness makes way for familiarity.

Mindfulness has been to the fore in my life again in just the last few weeks. Today I am starting this occasional reflection. I’m not sharing these posts to the world of Facebook or Twitter. But I want to be able to log on here when ever I want to. If people happen across this blog, there will be a lot of boring stuff but perhaps just one nugget or so.

I am very inclined to put numerical measurements in place, especially in projects like this. This time there are almost none. No word count minimum or maximum, no schedule of posts. This is my gift to myself.

Mindfulness. Already in just this last week, consciously using mindfulness has given me the perception that time has moved slower than normal. I have been busy at work and at home but a couple of times things that I thought were two or three days ago were only yesterday. It is an especially modern phenomenon that time seems to speed up as we get older; we lose time. Could mindfulness help give us our life back by giving us time to savour it more fully than before? Today, I believe so. Time will tell.

I have a huge ball of string that has built up over the last 52 years, a lot of it in the last 10 to 15 years. It’s not regrets and mistakes – most of those I have fully come to terms with. It’s mostly the practical things of how I want to organise myself. But it’s just this: start from where I am, be mindful in all things as far as possible, be kind to myself – then I will have the time , energy and inclination to participate in the world around me.

Be Street Smart – Raise Funds while you Dine Out

December 5, 2011

So, volunteering by giving time is just not possible at the moment. How about supporting Street Smart. Here is a little bit more about the organisationfrom their website:

“We established StreetSmart Australia in 2003 to support and strengthen smaller, grassroots community organisations helping the homeless, frustrated by the lack of action and support from Government. These smaller organisations are critical in helping many people in crisis. StreetSmart helps out by raising funds and delivering financial grants, raising community awareness of the issues of homelessness and assisting these organisations to connect across their communities.

We see StreetSmart as a unique bridge between those that want to help people experiencing homelessness and the grassroots agencies that are changing lives. We believe in the support of emergency aid and critical services, and development of projects and programs that encourage social inclusion, empowerment and sustainable change for people experiencing homelessness.

When money is raised from the public 100 per cent of your donations are distributed in the form of grants. To date we have raised $1.67 million, supporting 400 grassroots projects.

We currently operate in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, SA, WA and ACT.”

From now until 24 December just add $2 or more to your bill at participating restaurants to help raise money for the homeless. More details are here!

Are you a business person who owns and runs a cafe or restaurant? You and your patrons can get involved, details here.

Faithful Friend-Tom On Tuesday has a Dog!

January 13, 2011

You may have guessed by now that Tom On Tuesday is a cat person. I definitely don’t like big scary looking dogs, also known as “big headed dogs”. I don’t care how cute and harmless their owners SAY they are, I don’t even like going past big headed dogs even if there is a fence between me and them. As for smaller and less scary dogs, I still prefer cats for practical reasons. Cats are self-cleaning, easier to keep inside or in a small area, can be left on their own overnight (or at a pinch two nights) and are mostly calm and easy to cuddle. Dogs however smell, drool, require way more attention and are really better as outside pets. As for leaving them to their own devices for 24 hours or more, not likely!

This is where my opinions stood around five years ago. The woman I had met and was soon to marry not only came with two teenage daughters but also a DOG! It was a couple of years before I realised that the handsome lad to the right was not actually a dog. This Jack Russell cross is a Bruno. And it turns out that I am a Bruno person…after five years, some days I am actually more of a Bruno person than a cat person. Ssshhh – don’t let The Empress know!

So Bruno, or to give him his full title, Lord Bruno of Bentley, has one of the sunniest personalities I know. Jack Russell’s are well known for this. However Bruno is ALWAYS EXCITED when his humans come home, whether they have been gone an hour, a work day or a whole week. Even so for the first couple of years, Bruno was the lone outside pet, with only occasional excursions inside. Jacinta and Marmie (the cats) were allowed to come and go via the front door and to spend as much time inside as they liked.

So what changed? After those couple of years, the previously mentioned step-daughter #1, the dog lover, who had chosen Marmie the kitten as her pet, ONE DAY REALLY WANTED A DOG. I wasn’t keen. But I relented. It turns out the dog was still a puppy but nevertheless was a BIG HEADED DOG! She was already bigger than Bruno. Nevertheless they seemed to get on well and they were somewhat companions for each other. Domestic bliss seemed to reign for some time, somehow with the two dogs and the two cats. The cats though sure steered clear of the backyard with the new dog in residence.

The new dog grew and grew and for a while this didn’t seem to be a problem. Occasionally she would turn around and at snap at Bruno but nothing untoward. Until, one afternoon when the new dog was around four times Bruno’s size, she got ticked off with Bruno, grabbed him by the throat and while locked on thrashed him from side to side. It took two of us to separate her jaws from Bruno’s throat and only then after several minutes. We bundled Bruno down to the vet. I had thought to wrap him in a towel and cuddle him while my wife drove. It was alm0st instinctive. I knew humans could go into shock after such trauma, I figured that dogs could be the same. It was some time before the vet could operate. Bruno seemed in the clear as far as still being alive but the vet could not promise that he wouldn’t be disfigured with such a deep wound to the neck. At best his head would look a bit lopsided. Well, it was the best $1,000 we ever spent. In time miraculously Bruno was as good as new, not even a lopsided head! BUT…

THAT was when Bruno became an inside dog. He slept and ate inside and he was only allowed out in the back yard under human supervision. And you also may have guessed. As I cradled Bruno in that towel and as I spent more time with him in the ensuing months, I became a Bruno person!

Now that I am on my own, human wise, the other dog has long gone. I am here with Jacinta, Marmie and Bruno. Marmie and Bruno have become best mates. They even alternate as to who chases who! Marmie is a much better pursuer than Bruno. And one more irony. After the cats have eaten for the evening, they are just as happy to go out. Bruno however has a permanent bed inside. After all, he is still convalescing, isn’t he?

Get Free Pet Information about looking after your pet by clicking here!

More Pets of Tom on Tuesday: Marmie

January 11, 2011

The accompanying photo tells you a lot about what you need to know about Marmaduke, or to his family, Marmie. For instance, he chewed out the flap in the cardboard box, all by himself, because he could. Marmie chews a lot of things, just because he can! Yet he somehow manages to look sweetly innocent!

It was slightly unexpected how Marmie came to live with us. At the time, I lived with my wife and two step-daughters. One day they all went to the local animal shelter. SD #1 is a dog person and has always wanted a dog. So naturally she chose the cute ginger and white KITTEN to bring home! The Empress Jacinta was not impressed! At one time she was the lone pet in the Tom on Tuesday household. After some years, when T-o-T began to co-habit with the aforementioned human family, the Empress Jacinta was forced to share with a dog (more about him in a later post). The arrival of another cat proved too much. I have never heard the Empress hiss so much as she has since the arrival of Marmaduke.

SD #1 moved out a couple of years ago and by then she and the boyfriend had collected four pet dogs, one that she chose AFTER Marmie. And these were all BIG dogs! So, that is how Marmaduke came to stay with Tom on Tuesday.

As with the Empress, I have given Marmaduke a title, two in fact, just for fun. Marmaduke, Duke of Earlville, Earl of Dukeville. So, it is a play on the “duke” in Marmaduke. I do in fact live near a suburb called Earlville. Dukeville is fictional. And in case you were wondering, an Empress definitely outranks a Duke or an Earl. I checked. “You know who” considers it an important detail!

Marmie is definitely a curious cat. Apart from chewing various items, Marmie has yet to meet a bag, a box, a cupboard or a shelf that did not require him investigating. I once thought I would cure Marmie of his habit of climbing into open cupboards by closing the door after him. It didn’t work. He just finds space on a shelf and curls up asleep. Family members thought that his chewing and investigating behaviour meant he is somewhat stupid. Over time it has become clear that that assessment is not correct. Marmie actually prioritises activities in his life: playing, sleeping, eating, annoying the Empress. He only expends energy on important things: eating and occasionally annoying you know who. The rest of the time he saves energy. So falling asleep in any old cupboard, shelf, box or bag is simply an efficient use of energy!

The most memorable adventure Marmie had was when he disappeared for a day. Or rather he missed dinner one night. This was unusual enough to raise concern. When the disappearance extended to two days it was time to start a more determined search. Posters were made, neighbours were questioned. By day three we were really worried. Until we heard a faint “meow”. No more than twenty metres from our house, Marmie was down the storm water drain. First we could hear him, then eventually  he appeared below the grate! The two nearest grates were stuck. At least we knew where he was. We dropped some biscuits through the grate.

Next day, we requested assistance from the fire brigade (“we don’t do that”) and the local water authority. Apparently the employees of the water authority are not authorised to go into the drains! Hello!  That evening, with greater determination I removed one of the grates. I could stand in the hole but could not see along the drain. Finally son-in-law coaxed Marmie along the drain. Marmie wasn’t worried at all. He thought son-in-law had come to play, so Marmie rolled over and asked for his tummy to be tickled. One more strange thing. The drains were damp and definitely dirty. Marmie, however, after more than three days was perfectly clean!

Get some Pet Care Tips here for your much loved furry friends!

Later on the night we rescued Marmie from the drain, it poured rain! Marmaduke, the charmer has a charmed life!

The Pets of Tom On Tuesday: The Empress Jacinta!

January 3, 2011

I previously warned my dear readers that Tom On Tuesday’s domestic animals would sooner or later appear in this blog. Rarely have I had pets that were specifically mine. They were usually family pets or ones chosen by others or at other times I lived for years without any pets at all.

In 2001 that all changed. At a Saturday morning market I wandered past a couple with five fluffy balls that were kittens. On a whim I decided maybe I was interested. You realise in retrospect that to hold one is to take one home. I did however check in with my mother first as I was then living with Mum and Dad for a few months and they had not had pets in their house for years. I got the go ahead.

Returning to the market, I was introduced to “Precious” a female, long haired, Persian cross, with dark fur (chocolate brown as it turned out but easily mistaken for black). Even besotted as I was with the kitten, “Precious” was well, a bit precious even for me. As time would tell, her “birth name” it was indicative of who would usually have the upper hand in this relationship. My name for her was Jacinta. What can I say? I was newly separated so the cat got a human name and I’ve long liked J names.

I should add that some years on, on a whim and because it suits their personalities I have given each of the pets honorary titles. Jacinta, naturally has long been a princess. Later that progressed to Queen and subsequently, Empress. The Empress title only came about because well an Empress is superior to a Queen! This is one cat that was destined to reach the top! Not wanting animal egos to get out of check, the titles are of course only used on special occasions like birthdays and reviewing of the staff! You may well ask, Queen or Empress of where? If you knew Jacinta, the answer is of course where ever she wants!

After I moved out on my own, Jacinta was my only pet for another four years or so. She liked it that way. A cat with such a high opinion of herself does not brook competition and does not share staff! Staff? As any cat owner can tell you a feline’s staff are the humans who feed, clean up after and generally dote on said feline. In Jacinta’s case the staff were well, me, Tom On Tuesday.

Jacinta’s life was to change greatly when Tom On Tuesday decided to remarry, relocate and co-habit with other…staff! Three more staff to be exact. But there was a problem. For Jacinta a very distasteful, almost unmentionable problem. A dog. That’s right a D-O-G! For Jacinta, it wasn’t who let the dogs out. It was, “whose idea was it to let a dog live her in the first place, huh?”.

Until now, I never knew how much the Empress could hiss! Charming!

And the dog? He is a happy go lucky, glad to see anyone Jack Russell, named Bruno. Or to give him his full title (for special occasions only), Lord Bruno of Bentley. But HIS story is for another day.

And I’m still not sure that Jacinta has ever forgiven Tom On Tuesday for forcing her to SHARE!

Click here for more on looking after your cat!

Hope. Christmas is full of Hope.

December 24, 2010

Ironically it is easy to be melancholy at Christmas time. Christmas is, at least in the Western world, a time for families, togetherness, celebrations over meals and for Christians, the time of the year to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the birth of God’s Son, Saviour and representative on this earth.

Perhaps melancholy at this time of year is not such a stretch. Families disperse for all sorts of reasons, beloved family members die, some people are more worried about their immediate financial or residential future to worry about what might be on their table at Christmas. There are some that will have been hurt by their experience with “religious people” and who have no need to be reminded by the occurrence of another religious festival.

Some may think that perhaps this melancholic phenomenon is a recent one. Say, latter 20th century recent, with all the family breakups, rabid consumerism and departure from “good old-fashioned values” that a modern age has brought.

I don’t believe it. Christmas for as long as it has been celebrated has occurred in Europe and North America as a mid-winter festival. The days are short, the weather is freezing. I bet there were big blizzard years when no one moved very far, long before snowed in airports became the bane of 21st century travellers. Cold weather, short days and a general lack of sunlight are not good for the healthiest of people let alone those who are biologically pre-disposed to depressive melancholy.

And yet. And yet. Human beings have survived several millenia despite inhospitable winter conditions. Although the origins of 25th December being the celebration of Christ’s birthday are uncertain, it has been noted that one explanation is that it is close to the date of pagan northern hemisphere winter solstice celebrations. Early Christian Church leaders were thought to want to draw the attention away from pagan celebrations towards the Christian faith. One way or another, Europeans in particular, in the depths of the hardest time of the year, were determined to celebrate getting half way through winter and started looking forward to longer and warmer days ahead. As the focus moved to the birth of Christ, there was similarly hope that from humble beginnings, Christ was destined to become Our Saviour for the eternal life ahead. Pagan or Christian, the message is one of hope. That better is ahead, whether temporal or eternal.

At least according to Western calendars, December is at the end of the year. Christmas is almost at the end of December. Human beings are wired to take notice of patterns, seasons and the tick over of time. With Christmas almost at the end of one year and with traditions of feasting and meeting up with extended family, what better time to also consider the year ahead? And the hope of a New Year is that its story is yet untold, there is the possibility of having dreams fulfilled, there is time to make new beginnings.

So while the approach of Christmas can be melancholy for those that cannot be with family, or will not enjoy a sumptuous feast, the New Year nevertheless beckons. Christmas, a mere week before the New Year, is a time for Christians to recall the birth of Christ the Saviour. For the Pagans, there is much to rejoice at having got at least half way through a tough winter (or trying summer)! For all it is a time to pause, to tell stories of the year gone by and to anticipate the year ahead.

However you look at it, Christmas heralds Hope, Christmas is full of Hope!

My cats are registered – how soon can they drive?

December 18, 2010

Our beloved Cairns Regional Council has now brought in by laws that all cats in the council region must be registered. Registration between now and 30 June 2011 for de-sexed cats is **free**, otherwise $35. After next 1 July who knows. The hitch is that a cat owner needs a vet certificate verifying the de-sexing before the free registration can proceed. I am soon to find out how much that will be. But wait a minute, all de-sexed cats have a tattoo in one ear. I feel like fronting up to council chambers to show the staff the tattoo. Maybe I will do that!

Actually I’m glad that the Council is now requiring registration of cats. My dog has been registered for years but he still can’t drive the car because his legs are too short. With THREE animals now registered hopefully they can work together with all the controls to chauffeur me around town. That’s NOT the purpose of pet registration? Pity.

Actually I will be relieved once the cats are registered. A couple of years ago Marmaduke, the ginger male (de-sexed!) cat disappeared for a couple of days. To know how unusual that is, Marmaduke loves his food too much to EVER voluntarily miss dinner time. To miss one was unusual, to miss two meant we mounted a search party.

It turns out after another day missing that he has gotten down the storm water drains near home and was unable to get out. Actually the story we discerned was that Jacinta (female, fluffy cat), who is disdainful that she has to share the pet role in the household with Marmaduke and a DOG, in fact must have lured Marmaduke to the drain entrance. Then she “pretended” to hop into the drain to show Marmie how easy it was. In truth, while Jacinta’s fluff makes her look larger than she is, she is in fact quite a small cat.

So it took a while to get Marmie out of the drain, a whole extra day. And is there any help available. Fire Brigade? “We don’t do that.” They do on those cutesie TV shows where the owner is an adorable child or a charming female! Cairns Water? “Our staff aren’t authorised to work in the drains.” Hello! YOU are Cairns Water! “Sorry, no can do.”

So, with cat registration, if there is a next time, or perhaps with Marmie it is when there is a next time, I will demand to see my taxes in action!

The Ultimate Answer is 42

December 10, 2010

Author’s note: Tom On Tuesday turned 42 in 2005. But he wrote this article in 2008. The reference in title of this post to 42 is drawn from Douglas Adams “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”. I always liked the idea that something so profound could be tongue in cheek reduced to something so precise. All the rest is the original work of Tom On Tuesday.

Now we know why the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe and Everything is 42. Douglas Adams wrote about it for us.

For me, if a show reel was made of the ordinary person’s life, it would be no longer than 42 minutes. Think about it. A public figure gets an hour on “This Is Your Life”. A significant historical figure may get a two hour documentary or docu-drama. Someone who changed the world is worthy of a six hour mini series.

Immodest as we are, people insist on publishing diaries, writing autobiographies and charting family trees. All of which takes considerably longer than 42 minutes.

Arguably one of the most influential people in recorded history, Jesus Christ, gets a mere five books of the New Testament to record his life. And even that chronicle is silent about Jesus’ life between the ages of about 13 and 30. In that context, a show reel (or DVD) of 42 minutes is rather generous. But with a tip of the hat to twentieth and twenty first century popular culture, 42 minutes it is.

It is 2008. I will be 45 years old in April. In the history of mankind, 45 is the age of a veteran, a grey hair, one of the third generation. Even in the early 20th century, more died before 45 than lived past it. In the 21st century, age 45 seems commonplace. Young-ish middle age. Old-ish youth. But life is precious. 45 years are precious.

42 minutes are invaluable and here are mine:

Three minutes recalling the best times I have spent with and the most valuable lessons I have learnt from my Dad and Mum, Ron and Sue. Since they are both still alive, I throw in any happy memories still to come.

Two minutes reminiscing on cricket, with some personal recollections from Steve Waugh.

Two minutes recalling every job interview where I scored the job. I really was on fire on those days.

A minute more for the most satisfying achievements in all the jobs I ever had.

Two minutes covering all that I gained from volunteer work – for every bit as much as I put in, I gained.

Two minutes to tour India, preferably culminating in a train setting off from a busy station.

Two minutes exploring my faith – from unbelief in an other world, to child like Christian belief to deconstructing what is worth keeping from what mankind has set up.

A minute remembering the worst of times – mental anguish spiralling through suicidal thoughts and actions. And still a light of hope, almost always carried by a dear loved one.

One minute with an angels’ eye view of those two motor vehicle accidents – 1986 in Queensland and 1996 in New South Wales. My time on this earth was not up then – maybe another point of view will help me see why not and how not.

A minute just to laugh – the eye watering, out of breath, literally belly aching laugh, usually at something very silly.

A minute for all the great movies, plays and performances of any kind that I witnessed – the ones that were entertaining, inspiring and just amazing in the performance.

One minute with my first love, D, who first loved me back.

One minute experiencing the giddiness of any new love.

One minute enjoying the antics of all the pets I’ve known.

Wow 21 minutes.

A minute’s silence for all those who strove and achieved a better life for themselves and those that came after them.

A minute’s silence for babies, infants and children who barely got a start to life, so missed out on much of what life has to offer.

Seven minutes with the love of my life now, K. Seven minutes will never be enough but seven minutes that I will claim nevertheless.

A minute just to laugh – the eye watering, out of breath, literally belly aching laugh, usually at something very silly – together with K.

31 minutes – 11 precious minutes more.

The minutes seem to count more when you treasure them.

A minute for the unexpected, the surprises, the things that you never thought would happen but are glad they did.

A minute for the unexpected, the surprises, the things that you never thought would happen but are glad they did – see, that was unexpected!!!

Three minutes for all the friends I have ever had – it is not a long list so they get many seconds each!

36 minutes.

Four minutes for all the adventures still to come.

And two more minutes with K.

Defined by our offspring

December 7, 2010

The gap filler of news reporting is the reference to a subject’s status vis a vis their number of children. “Mr Jones, father of two, was protesting about the price of Anzac biscuits outside a supermarket in Upper Woop Woop today.” We may well care about the price of Anzac biscuits – at least that is the story – but who cares about the number of offspring that this bloke has sired?

“Mrs Merryweather, mother of five, is distressed about the treatment of wild camels in Australia” Great, but do her 5 kids care as well?

Perhaps children are relevant to the story if the story was about childcare, education, potentially dangerous toys or the effect of fast food on children’s waistlines. Otherwise the information is as irrelevant as commenting on the car that the interviewee drives.

“Father of twins, Errol Twiddle, who has 1204 unpaid parking fines, appeared in court yesterday to explain his conscientious objection to council parking policies.” Were the kids dragged before the magistrate as well? Are they preparing for a show and tell segment at school? Is there some interesting study about the effect of court fronting parents on twins? Who cares?

How does the budding journalist describe the childless, when the story has nothing to do with child bearing, fertility or lifestyle? “Miss Snorkel, childless and slightly distressed to be so, is pictured showing her prize dahlias at the Lower Great Wumpet Flower Show last weekend.”

Is this the last frontier of discrimination and public embarrassment, being named childless and somewhat desperate? As a childless fellow, I have a mind to take this careless reporting to the UN and have it banned. Or should childless people be content with the fluffy epithet “Aunty or Uncle of all, parent of none.”?

The journalist is driven by the mantra of “Who, what, where, when, and how.” Opinion writers even delve into “why”. While aspects of a person’s identity such as name, age, occupation and location may have some relevance to a story, the presence or absence of offspring rarely adds anything to a story. In telling the story, the mention of offspring is most often merely a vocal pause, a place marker before the real information is delivered. If we need such a pause I would just as soon have “umm…ahh”. Wait on…let’s get the kids in, ask them what they think.