Live on the sunny side.

Today I’m going to be thankful, grateful and happy about the good things, instead of letting all the dark stuff mess with my brain. Instead of getting depressed about the way our government is treating asylum seekers (a source of great shame for our nation) I’m going to be thankful for all the refugees who were accepted here. They have enriched our culture, our economy and our intellect. These people planted vineyards and market gardens; opened restaurants with exciting food ideas that finally taught us there were other ways than the old meat and three veg; they became doctors, scientists, psychologists and educators; they brought colour, excitement and adventure to our arts and they forced us to realise we live on a small planet and that other ethnicities have things to share which will benefit us all. I choose to believe that eventually good sense will prevail and things will turn around. Instead of being saddened by the racist dinosaurs that can still be found in police stations in this country, I’m thankful for the majority who treat people with respect and who do a great job protecting the innocent. Many of them put their lives on the line for us and I say, “thank you.” For all the scumbags who attack the weak and elderly to rob them of a few dollars, there are hundreds more who voluntarily give their time and money towards caring for others. For the few who mistreat animals, there are hundreds more who love them, provide for them and rescue them. Rex the Wonder Dog came from such a shelter and he’s brought a lot of love and joy into our lives (as well as many stains on the carpet). In spite of politicians being unwilling to send experts to help with the Ebola crisis, many doctors and nurses have voluntarily placed themselves in harm’s way in order to help our African neighbours. Today I choose to believe that the violent haters, who only want this planet to be inhabited by people like them (what an interesting picture that paints!) will be overcome by good-hearted sensible people, who want to live peaceably with their neighbours regardless of race, creed or colour. Long before there was the Monty Python song, “Always look on the bright side of life” there was an old gospel song: Live on the sunny side, always on the sunny side, live on the sunny side of life. It will brighten up your day, it will help you on your way, If you live on the sunny side of life. Today I’m letting the sun shine in. How about...

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How ya goin’, mate?

One of my blog readers (hello, Claire!) sent me a link to a set of data, graphs etc about suicides in the USA. Have a look here:  http://www.socialworkdegreecenter.com/suicide-notes/ It makes for some interesting reading. It looks at the distribution of suicide according to states of America (Texas and California look like good places to live), gender, age and ethnicity. It also gives some warning signs for people to be aware of and suggests some things we can all do to help prevent our loved ones committing suicide. Two things in particular stood out to me. 1. We weren’t included in the graph showing the suicide percentages of different countries in the world and 2. the disproportionate number of Native Americans who felt compelled to end their life.  Although they represent only about 2% of the population, they were the second highest number in ethnicities. That is deeply disturbing. It made me think of our indigenous people here in Australia. I wonder what the statistics are for them. I know they already have a much higher rate of kidney disease, liver failure, infant mortality and a much lower life expectancy. That’s enough to make anyone depressed. Warning signs:- Talking about wanting to die Researching methods of suicide Talk of hopelessness Referring to self as a burden on others Increased alcohol or drug use Reckless behavior Change in sleeping patterns (too much or too little) Extreme mood swings Self-isolation Loss of interest in hobbies or activities Sudden sense of calm in absence of therapeutic or medical intervention The only thing that bothered me was the list of things we can do to help. Basically, their suggestion is to ring the authorities or send the person to a hospital – oh, and keep them away from guns and poison. Now, this is all fine and medical help is definitely a good thing but it’s not enough because it remains impersonal. The thing is, when you are gripped by the black dog of depression, you feel as though you are completely alone: no one cares, no one understands and no one can help. I like our RUOK? program here in Australia. It is so important that we are aware of the people we are with and that we make the effort, if we notice things don’t seem well with someone, to take the time to ask, R (are) U (you) OK?  Or, as we Aussies like to say, “How ya goin’, mate?” And then, to take the time to listen. Don’t give advice – unless it’s asked for – just listen, be interested and love them. If we can break through the fog that’s swirling around them and can let them know they’re not alone, that someone does care and that this too will come to an end/an answer can be found, then the battle is well on the way to being won. So, R U...

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Sorry, Mrs Brooks

This apology is a tad overdue but I’m aware of the years whizzing past and I think it’s high time I cleared my conscience. Mrs Brooks, it was me (and your daughter) who rang your door bell and then ran and hid. We did it a number of times, often several on the same day, and it must have driven you crackers. We thought we were being daring and bold and adventurous but, now that I’m a grown-up, I realise it was just selfish and irritating. Sorry. I could tell you that it was originally your daughter’s idea (and it was) but that would be shirking my responsibility in the matter. I was quick to acquiesce. Also, there’s the matter of your hospitality. I appreciate all the mornings you minded me while my mother was working in the local kindergarten. I had fun playing with your daughter and you were always kind to me. But then my mother would arrive at lunch time and present me with the dilemma: did I want to come home with her or stay at your place for the afternoon? You and your daughter would smile at me, expectantly, and I couldn’t bear to let you down, so I’d say I’d stay. Then, after my mother left, I’d feel guilty that she had to go home on her own. I worried that she might think I didn’t love her so, when you weren’t looking, I’d sneak off up the road and go home. Now that I’ve had children and am older and wiser, I realise that my mother might have been looking forward to having an afternoon to herself. After all, I was the youngest of four children and time to herself was a rare commodity. I also realise I might have worried you a little, disappearing like that. However, as I did it a number of times, I expect it didn’t take long for you to figure out what I was doing. I’m sure you and my mother discussed it, often. But, I’m a little concerned that you might have misunderstood my motivation and it’s quite a relief being able to finally clear that up for you. Your daughter and I would have got up to a lot more mischief if her health had held up. It was probably, in some ways, a minor blessing that she had to spend so long in a body cast. You see, just before that happened we planned to run away from home. (I can’t remember why but I think it was more to do with having an adventure, rather than any grievances we had with our home life.) We had arranged to meet in the middle of our street (so dramatic) in the middle of the night. We didn’t have any idea where we were going to go, nor did we think of taking anything with us.  Not that we had anything to take, in any case! I crept out of the house and stood, waiting…waiting…waiting… Eventually I got too tired and thought, “Stuff this, I’m going back to bed.” I thought she’d stood me up. Turns out your daughter had slept right through the night. When she finally remembered what we were going to do, the moment had passed. Just as well, when you come to think about it. There, I feel much better now that I’ve got that off my chest. The things kids, do! It’s a wonder any of us survived past...

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So, indulge me a little…

The sale of my book, Beast-speaker, is going well. It looks like I’ll soon be ordering some more copies. If you want one, it’s very easy to buy it with a credit card here on my web-blog; just look to your right. (Not suitable for young children; high school and up is better.) I’ve noticed that some of you are being a tad recalcitrant about making a purchase. I promise, the Old Boy has set it up so it’s easy-peasy to do. Now the pressure is on to get Book Two done. It’s giving me some serious headaches. The mess the world is in at the moment is providing plenty of inspiration, so that’s a good thing, but I’m having a lot of trouble working out how to get the story started. I need to get my hero into the city and it’s proving a logistical nightmare. The rest can’t happen until he’s there. I’m tempted to cheat and just begin with the assumption he got there somehow, and begin with him already back home…but I feel I’d be cheating my readers if I did that. Of course, none of this means diddly-squat if you haven’t read Beast-speaker. (Look to your right and click on the BUY NOW button.) For those of you who haven’t read it, this is all “secret Beast-speaker business”. Don’t you wish you knew what I was talking about? Okay, this is a shameless plug for my book but, hey, I think it’s worth it. I’ve been delighted with the positive and glowing responses from readers, both eBook and print version. Thank you, everyone. After all, without people actually reading the thing this writing business would just be a masochistic exercise in self-indulgence. We’d just be talking to ourselves and, believe me, there’s already a bit too much of that going on already! Rex the Wonder Dog sends his...

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