Archive for January, 2010

Today being Sunday, I am of course blogging about religion and spirituality (just because I like to be orderly).

As a child my mother used to send us to Church (Sunday school) every week.   There we got to learn about Christ and Christian principles and about God.  We also had a load of fun colouring in pictures and listening to stories, and one of my most vivid memories of Christ was of him dressed in a long pure-white robe, a long vibrant sapphire blue cloak over that, brown sandals long brown hair and a beautiful smile.   That image was portrayed in a large book my Mother had given us of Bible Stories.

As we got older and started going to grown-up Church, sometimes my Mother (or Father – depending on whom we were living with at the time) would come with us, most times not), I recall that the preacher – of whichever church was nearest at the time (we moved a lot), would stand on his pulpit and either preach about how God would punish us for various sins etc and banish us to hell, or would preach about a loving God who forgave all sins.   This confused the heck out of me and I could not relate that to the pictures I had seen in the book or the stories I had read. (I do confess I have never read the bible through, only got as far as Genesis and touched on Revelations, as well as briefly on others in between).

In the fullness of time church went out the window and religion took a back-seat to real life, and we practised what my Mother called a ‘shot-gun’ religion – church for weddings, christenings, funerals and the occasional seasonal catch up.   Although I then considered myself to be a Christian the reality was that I did not lead a Christian lifestyle.   Neither I, nor my siblings were either; Baptised, Christened or whatever.   We had conflicting experiences of how life should be lived and how life was lived – leading to total confusion.   Although I pretty much gave up on ‘religion’ per se, I was still curious and over the years I investigated, albeit briefly, different religions; touching on Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, I went to different churches: Methodist; Church of England; Catholic; and Baptist and even ventured into the world of Seventh Day Adventists.

When my daughter went to school, I sent her to a Catholic School for most of her junior years, the result of which that she has sworn off religion for life (so far).  (Actually, the Toasim venture, was unwittingly mitigated by her; through a Chinese school friend she was helping to learn English and who was teaching her Mandarin in return.)   We were totally taken with the whole experience and faithfully attended services every Friday, which lasted till they told us that cats don’t have souls!   Bearing in mind: I am a cat lover of note, had five cats at the time, one of whom had just been killed by a car that very day – bad timing).  Taosim went out the window.

On the rare occasion I have attended church since my childhood, it is usually to pray for someone else (I do believe in an Almighty God/Entity), to attend Easter Service or Christmas Eve Mass (I enjoy the carols) and for weddings, funerals, christenings and very occasionally just because I want to enjoy the spiritual environment.   Other than that I am totally taken with old churches and cathedrals and love wandering about whether they be whole or in ruins.   It is more for the aesthetic beauty than religious, and I also love the traditions.

Which brings me to spirituality.   I would consider myself to be a spiritual person; I had an amazing experience at Date With Destiny (see my book).   And I have been thinking; what is religion as opposed to spirituality and how does spirituality fit into our daily lives?   Doing some research, of course my first stop was Wikipedia and this is what I found.

Traditionally, religions have regarded spirituality as an integral aspect of religious experience and have long claimed that secular (non-religious) people cannot experience “true” spirituality. Many do still equate spirituality with religion, but declining membership of organised religions and the growth of secularism in the western world has given rise to a broader view of spirituality.

Secular spirituality carries connotations of an individual having a spiritual outlook, which is more personalized, less structured, more open to new ideas/influences, and more pluralistic than that of the doctrinal faiths of organized religions. At one end of the spectrum, even some atheists are spiritual.   While atheism tends to lean towards scepticism regarding supernatural claims and the existence of an actual “spirit”, some atheists define “spiritual” as nurturing thoughts, emotions, words and actions that are in harmony with a belief that the entire universe is, in some way, connected; even if only by the mysterious flow of cause and effect at every scale.

Some modern religions also see spirituality in everything: see pantheism and neo-Pantheism. In a similar vein, Religious Naturalism has a spiritual attitude towards the awe, majesty and mystery it sees in the natural world.

For a Christian, to refer to him or herself as “more spiritual than religious” may (but not always) imply relative deprecation of rules, rituals, and tradition while preferring an intimate relationship with God. The basis for this belief is that Jesus Christ came to free humankind from those rules, rituals, and traditions, giving humankind the ability to “walk in the spirit” thus maintaining a “Christian” lifestyle through that one-to-one relationship with God.

Interesting!   This is just a small sample of what I found.  What are your thoughts?   Of course there is much, much more on the internet and the subject could be beaten to death, however, please bear in mind that I am not decrying, deriding or slating any religion, belief or way of life, in any way – I am just voicing what is my belief and how I have experienced life.   I do not wish to be ‘converted’ and if you leave any comments kindly do so at a constructive level, respecting the fact that everyone has a different set of beliefs, values and their own model of the world and that in my opinion we are all correct in our thinking and that we all have the right to our own beliefs.   I also do not feel that any one religion or religious sect, or way of thinking or set of beliefs, is either right or wrong; it just is.   How I do wish that we could all accept that.

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Interesting article:

Time was that being ‘old’ in the job market meant 70, maybe 60. Now, when you hit 40, you can be considered ‘over the hill.’

It’s mostly because of stereotypes. Even though people are living longer and healthier lives, employers still worry that an older employee will cost more money for healthcare. They also believe, wrongly, that older employees won’t understand technology. Many organizations think that people who didn’t grow up in the digital world can’t or won’t adapt fast enough. And finally some employers just see the divide between Baby Boomer and Generation X or Y as too great for effective teamwork.

So, say you are 40 or so, or 50. What do you need to remember when applying for a job?

1. Don’t give your age away! Make sure your resume doesn’t date you. Omit your graduation dates. Especially if you graduated before the recruiter was born. Include only ten to fifteen years of experience, any more will show your age.

2. Look good for your age, or younger! Gray hair, a 20 year-old suit and an ‘80s tie was okay at your last job but now it dates you. Get a professional makeover so that you look your best. Impressions matter!

3. It’s illegal under federal law for employers to ask you about your age — but that doesn’t mean they won’t try. Watch out for questions that ask you to detail your career history with dates. You may be giving your age away when you say, “Yes, I was at Microsoft for 20 years.”

Interviewers cannot ask questions about your family, but they still do. “So, what does your family think about you taking this job and moving?” “They’re all grown up. I’ll miss the grandkids.” Dated yourself! These types of questions can be finessed: prepare and rehearse.

4. Overcome the age barriers an employer might have. Show that you are healthy and well. Employers are nervous about older candidates because of the cost of health insurance. Talk about running a marathon, coaching Little League, the yoga classes you take. Give examples of how you work well with younger people — a potential employer concern that you may need to address in your interview.

5. Show why you are the best candidate. Have great but succinct stories that highlight your experience, success and its relevance. Do your research in advance to show your insight into their issues and how you can add value.

6. Hit stereotype-based fears up front with humor. Make a joke of your age if that feels right for you. It could be the elephant in the room that you need to feed a banana! Take out your iPhone and pretend you don’t know how to use it — and then show that you are a whiz with the latest app.

Of course, humor can be tricky, so rehearse your ideas with a trusted colleague. Employers sometimes think that older employees can’t work with technology so prove them wrong, and cite an example of a recent job problem you solved using technology.

Good luck in your job hunting.” end of article.

Wow, some great tips there. Wjat are your thoughts on being over 40 and returning to work, or even just working. Personally I am retiring at 55 🙂

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Interesting article I read in one of the daily newspapers a few weeks back:

as read:

Health Editor Sam Lister

Loneliness and stress ‘raise the chances of breast cancer’.

Loneliness and stress may play an important role in triggering breast cancer, a study suggests.

Scientists studying cancer-prone rats found that isolation ad stress increased their risk of developing breast tumours more than three-fold.

Animals kept on their own grew 84 times more tumours than those which suffered cancer while living in groups.

They were also afflicted with more aggressive and deadly forms of the disease.

Scientists believe the findings are relevant to humans.  Both rats and humans are naturally sociable and suffer stress when isolated.   The biological mechanisms leading to breast cancer are also similar in both species.

Researchers at the University of Chicago compared outcomes of female brown rats which were either kept alone, or in small groups.   The rats were genetically engineered to be susceptible to breast cancer, and tended to grow tumours in middle age.

The findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that rats that lived alone produced higher levels of stress hormones and became more sensitive to stressful situations.

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This little gem came to me in an email the other day!!! It’s really funny and well worth sharing:

“My son came home from school one day, With a smirk upon his face.
He decided he was smart enough, To put me in my place.

‘Guess what I learned in Civics Two, that’s taught by Mr. Wright?
It’s all about the laws today, The ‘Children’s Bill of Rights.’

It says I need not clean my room, Don’t have to cut my hair
No one can tell me what to think, Or speak, or what to wear.

I have freedom from religion, And regardless what you say,
I don’t have to bow my head, And I sure don’t have to pray.

I can wear earrings if I want, And pierce my tongue & nose.
I can read & watch just what I like, Get tattoos from head to toe.

And if you ever spank me, I’ll charge you with a crime.
I’ll back up all my charges, With the marks on my behind.

Don’t you ever touch me, My body’s only for my use,
Not for your hugs and kisses, that’s just more child abuse.

Don’t preach about your morals, Like your Mum did to you.
That’s nothing more than mind control, And it’s illegal too!

Mum, I have these children’s rights, So you can’t influence me,
Or I’ll call Children’s Services Division, Better known As ‘C.S.D.’

Mum’s Reply and Thoughts…………………

Of course my first instinct was to toss him out the door.
But the chance to teach him a lesson Made me think a little more.

I mulled it over carefully, I couldn’t let this go.
A smile crept upon my face, he’s messing with a pro.

Next day I took him shopping At the local Goodwill Store..
I told him, ‘Pick out all you want, there’s shirts & pants galore.

I’ve called and checked with C.S.D . Who said they didn’t care
If I bought you K-Mart shoes Instead of Nike Airs.

I’ve canceled that appointment To take your driver’s test.
The C.S.D. Is unconcerned So I’ll decide what’s best.’

I said ‘No time to stop and eat, Or pick up stuff to munch.
And tomorrow you can start to learn To make your own flipping lunch

Just save the raging appetite, And wait till dinner time.
We’re having liver and onions, A favorite dish of mine.’

He asked ‘Can I please rent a movie, To watch on my VCR?’
‘Sorry, but I sold your TV, For new tires on my car.
I also rented out your room, You’ll take the couch instead.
The C.S.D. Requires Just a roof over your head.

Your clothing won’t be trendy now, I’ll choose what we eat.
That allowance that you used to get, Will buy me something neat.

I’m selling off your jet ski, Dirt-bike & roller blades.
Check out the ‘Parents Bill of Rights’, It’s in effect today!

Hey hot shot, are you crying, Why are you on your knees?
Are you asking God to help you out, Instead of C.S.D..?’

Send to all people that have teenagers or have already raised teenagers, Or have children who will soon be teenagers or those who will be parents someday OR ANYONE WHO’D JUST GET A LAUGH. I love this One!!!
From a MuM (Mean Unappreciated Mother.)”

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I was reading an old newspaper (as you do!) yesterday and saw this article about the taxman and our esteemed Chancellor!  Mmm, interesting!!! It also reminded me of how much I battled to file my blessed return on the internet. One would think it would be straightforward…but no, it ain’t.  Have a query….phone this number!!! Right on>  I tried for 4.5 hours at a cost of over £4 and still, all I got was a voice message to say “our advisors are very busy right now, please phone back at another time!!!   Enough said or else I will go purple 🙂

Anyways here is the article…abbreviated.  It was a newspaper article and very long:

“10.12.09 Yesterday, Mr Darling (such a misnomer), put out his plans for our future.  He raised future taxes for anyone earning more than £20,000 to fund schools and hospitals and postponed tough decisions on spending cuts.

The budget deficit runs at more than £170billion with public debt set to double to £1.5 trillion.   Promising to have the budget in an – ‘orderly way’ within 4 years he ducked decisions on where to make most of the cuts.

Frankly when reading the large amounts of money they toss about like so much straw in the wind, it makes me feel quite ill.  And what exactly does he mean by ‘orderly way’?   Why is the budget not in an orderly way now?

Although Mr Darling outlined £5billion of cuts by reducing IT projects, reforming legal aid, privatising prison management (is this a good idea?) and cutting the cost of residential care, he is not specific about the amounts in question for those and leaves big questions about where the rest of the money will come from unanswered.   Perhaps the Politicians ‘claims’ would be a good start.

Of course it comes as no surprise that the budget was a bit of a patsy, considering that May2010 marks an election, with the Conservatives accusing Labour of losing it’s ‘moral authority to govern’ by putting electioneering ahead of fixing the economy.  On the news last night they even mentioned the dreaded ‘T’ word…..some people even went so far as to say that the present government will reduce Britain to a Third World Country!!!

With what the Times calls a ‘bingo budget’, the Conservatives seized upon the point that Labour considered anyone earning over £20,000 as well off, due to the .5% rise in National Insurance from 2011, this on top of the .5% already announced.   Apparently the middle classes (odd that we still have a class system in this country!) have the most reason to squeal as the NI increases will be almost the equivalent of a penny on income tax in 2011.  A penny!!!! Goodness gracious!

In addition to this, more people will be brought into the 40p rate of tax as a result of the one-year freeze in the threshold of 2012.   The Treasury admitted that the 2-year cap on public sector pay rises at 1% was effectively a cut due to inflation rising above 1%.   It would appear the ‘Public Sector’ workers, many of whom are low-paid would have to pay the price for a crash they did nothing to cause, and yet the Bankers are set to receive massive bonuses despite the fact that we the public had to bail them out with our hard earned taxes.   Why is that?

According to ‘The Treasury’ 95% of the NHS budget would remain constant; meaning a £3.7billion rise on 2012-2013.   This would be a good place for them to start if they want to save money.   Have a look at the atrocious waste of medications and equipment that drains through the plughole that is the NHS.   I have personally seen massive amounts of wastage in my career as a Carer.   Many of the homes I visit have 2, sometimes 3 zimmer frames floating around.   When you enquire about this they, the client say that Oh, Yes that was given to me by the NHS, but I dont use it anymore.   So return it for goodness sake.   When you raise the question with the District Nurse or the Occupational Therapists, that are all NHS provided the answer usually comes back as: ‘that is not our department’.   So who is responsible for recovering all this redundant equipment that ends up in the skip in the long term.

And medication!   I have never seen such a massive wastage of anything as there is with medication.   The system dictates that once prescribed, and even if incorrectly prescribed, once the medications have been boxed and handed over the counter, if returned, untouched and unused they are binned.   These medications cost thousands most assuredly it would be incumbent on the medical staff and Doctors to ensure they prescribe the correct meds and dosages in the first place.

Then there is the ‘free’ side of the NHS.   It is not free!   We pay for it out of our taxes.   I am absolutely certain that if they introduced a fair and equitable system of payment for the medical services in this country, not only would that save a massive amount of money, but people would be less careless about how they use it, and with the money saved they would be able to not only pay the Nurses etc a decent salary, but they would be able to train and employ more to take the strain off the very understaffed hospitals.

Millions of pounds are spent on Consultants doing checks on hospitals to see if they achieve the correct guidelines for cleanliness and health, and yet the money and staff needed in order to achieve those targets is not available, before the fact.

Going back to the pre-budget budget, Mr Darling was forced to admit that the recession had been worse than he predicted last year.   The economy would shrink by 4.75% in 2009 compared with his Budget estimate in April of 3.5%.   Apparently public finances were also deeper in the red with a deficit of £178million this year – £3billion more than he had predicted.   So what does he base his predictions on and as the …… most assuredly he should be better able to ‘budget’ and ensure he has the correct figures on the table.  Perhaps he should have the pay-cut that he is fond of handing out to those who do a good job and can ill afford one.


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What is Personal Development and what does it mean to you?

Personal Development takes many forms and is not necessarily just about attending a course or seminar.  It can be learning to drive a car or raising funds for charity.

How do you know if and when you need Personal Development and why?   What would be the point of engaging in a given course of action?   What would be the steps you need to take?   And why would you even want to start?   When you engage in a given course of ‘Personal Development’, what are the components needed?

Say for example on the 1st of January as one of your New Year’s resolutions you decide to run in a marathon, where do you start.

First of all think about why you want to do the marathon and what is the result you want to achieve.

Are you competing or participating?   Do you see yourself actually completing the course?

Are you doing the marathon to raise funds for charity, and what is your objective?

If you are raising money for charity, is it a cause you feel passionate about and how much would you want to raise?   Will you advertise to raise funds, depend on your friends and family or seek corporate sponsorship?   Will you raise a lump sum or a set a goal per kilometre?

Are you doing the marathon as part of a group or on your own?

Or are you running in the marathon because you think you need to get fit and lose weight?

Are you already fairly fit or are you an ex-couch potato?

Did your Doctor suggest the programme or is this something you just want to do for yourself and why?

Will you have a buddy to keep you motivated?   Who will you buddy with and what is their objective?   Is it someone you know will stay the course?

Identifying your motive, where you are now and your end result will help you to clarify your objectives, and set the parameters of action steps to take.

What date is the marathon?   If it is 6months away and you are really unfit, how much time do you need to invest per day, and how many days per week?

Do you need to give up anything in order to start the programme?

What level of fitness do you have to achieve in order to last the course?

Do you have to make changes to your routine and or home life in order to participate?   What equipment do you need?   Do you have to change your eating habits and give anything up?

Before you start on any programme of Personal Development it helps to identify your reasons, what will motivate you and keep you going, what will you need in order to overcome the challenges that lie ahead?   Do you have the time to participate and what do you have to give up in order to set that time aside?

Lets assume you want to learn to drive a car and get a Driver’s Licence.

Why do you need to learn to drive?   Is it just because you want to, or because you have to?

How will learning to drive make your life different once you have gained your license?

Will you hire a Driving Instructor or arrange for a friend to teach you?

Do you have a deadline for achieving the license?

How will this help the people around you and what are the benefits to you?

In order to achieve any objective as part of a Personal Development plan, it helps to identify your motivations, your desires, your objections, the challenges, your final goal, and how will it affect the people around you?   Are you prepared to make the commitment needed, and most importantly, when times get tough, as they do, what is it that will get you to continue?

As with any course of action, having a solid reason and a plan for doing it will help you to achieve what you set out to do.

quote# “Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising, which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.’’  Ralph Waldo Emerson – Poet and Essayist

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So, you’ve been back to work for just on three weeks now, and already it seems like months.   Do you have the January blues?  If you do, then now is the time to book that DreamTrip. To help you decide which country suits you best, here is a guide to the number of sunny days, the average rainfall and approximately how long it will take to get there – (barring any delays)!!! Happy holidays

Average number of sunny hours in a January day:

Algarve:            6

Tunis:               5

Cyprus:            5

The Gambia:            9

Dubai:              8

Egypt:               8

Sharm El Sheik:  8

Cape Town:            11

Mombasa:            9

Maldives:            8

Mauritius:            8

Phuket: 9

Orlando:            7

Barbados:            9

St. Lucia:            9

Tenerife:            6

Fiji:                   7

Inches of rainfall in January:

Algarve:            2.7

Tunis:               3.1

Cyprus:            3

The Gambia:            0.5

Dubai:              0

Egypt:               0

Sharm El Sheik: 0

Cape Town:            1

Mombasa:            1

Maldives:            3

Mauritius:            10

Phuket: 1

Orlando:            2

Barbados:            3

St. Lucia:            5

Tenerife:            2

Fiji:                   12

Flight times, in hours:

Algarve:            2.5

Tunis:               2.5

Cyprus:            4

The Gambia:            6

Dubai:              7

Egypt:               6

Sharm El Sheik: 6

Cape Town:            11.30

Mombasa:            8.30

Maldives:            10.30

Mauritius:            12

Phuket: 14

Orlando:            9.30

Barbados:            6.30

St. Lucia:            8

Tenerife:            4

Fiji:                   21

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Saw this in a magazine the other day: it’s cute, so decided to share it with you:

Cycling burns 555 calories an hour, and pedalling your bike for just 20 miles a week is enough to reduce your risk of heart disease to less than half.

Hup, two, three, four, stomachs in and touch the floor!  According to recent reports, one in 3 of us will be obese by the time of the 2012 Olympics, and that’s not a good place to be.   So it make sense to arm every couch potato with a timely reprint of “Exercises for Gentlemen: 50 Exercises to do with your suit on” First published in 1900, the “practical course in physical culture was designed to keep chaps in tip-top condition, especially those with ‘no inclination to disrobe’.  Anova £6.99

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I subscribe to the Daily Insights email and often receive lovely stories which are uplifting and thought provoking.  I receive this last week (am still working through the 400 or so emails I had in my inbox (down to 70 now) hooray!  anyways back to the story; I loved this and wanted to share it with you in case you had not read it yourself. –

by Darcy Keith

When running in the race of life, what kind of shoes is on your feet? Are they high-heeled stilettos, loafers, house slippers, or tennis shoes? While we may be concerned with what is on our feet and how comfortable they are in the situation, if we don’t have the right type of shoes on, we may not succeed.

I mean, a runner doesn’t wear a pair of wrestling shoes if he is running a marathon. He wears the most appropriate running shoe that will go the distance. When you prepare to run, one of the first things you do is stretch to warm your muscles. If not, your body isn’t prepared for what you are about to do.

But what about the race of life? There are many things, which come up for which we may not be prepared. You may be stressed out, suffering, and not know how to handle the situation. But, there is HOPE. Hope that you can overcome whatever you are facing and be victorious.

As my pastor, Randy Gilmore, says, “Hope is confidence in present resources and ultimate good.” The word, Nike, is Greek for ‘victory’ or ‘overcoming’. In the race of life, I want to have my Nikes on. For those of you who have heard one of my motivational presentations and me talk about my “shoe issues”, when I tried out for the girls’ basketball team in eighth grade (I couldn’t find shoes big enough to fit me in the women’s section, so I had to go the men’s shoe area to find a pair), guess what tennis shoes I picked out? A new white pair of Nike hightops with a red swoosh. Though I didn’t know if I would make the team, I had hope in wearing my Nike tennis shoes as I was prepared to do my best.

In the middle of life’s storms where you may feel stretched, stressed out, are suffering, or something else may be going on in your life, Hope lifts our spirits as we go though the storm. God has generously provided a way to carry you through it. Having hope protects our minds, like a helmet.

Hope provides us a way out of our struggle and shields us, like an umbrella. Hope lifts our spirits from the storms in life, which may be dampened. Hope is having your Nikes on when facing your situation, as we are overcomers and victorious. There is power in hope!

Here are three thoughts to keep in mind when running in the race of life:

1. Look for hope in your present resources.
2. Surround yourself with friends and family who support you.
3. Seek guidance and assistance from others who can help you along your journey to reach the finish line.

Be victorious and have your Nikes on!


Darcy Keith is a national award-winning professional speaker and author, and is an expert on overcoming challenges. She has presented before various corporations, associations, service organizations, churches, and universities, as well as being featured on various television and radio venues including ABC, CBS, and FOX. Visit her website, www.DarcyKeith.com

p.s. if you want to subscribe to the Daily Insights newsletters etc you can find a link on my website http://www.notjustagranny.com

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good things are worth repeating 🙂

Memory was something that you lost with age!

An application was for employment!

A program was a TV show!

A cursor used profanity!

A keyboard was a piano!

A web was a spider’s home!

A virus was the flu!

A CD was a bank account!

A hard drive was a long trip on the road!

A mouse pad was where a mouse lived!

And if you had a 3 1/2 inch floppy…..

….you just hoped nobody found out!

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