Sunday, 31 August 2014

10 keys to happiness...

10 keys to happiness by Deepak Chopra:

1. Listen to your body’s wisdom, which expresses itself through signals of comfort and discomfort. When choosing a certain behavior, ask your body, “How do you feel about this?” If your body sends a signal of physical or emotional distress, watch out. If your body sends a signal of comfort and eagerness, proceed.
2. Live in the present, for it is the only moment you have. Keep your attention on what is here and now; look for the fullness in every moment.Accept what comes to you totally and completely so that you can appreciate it, learn from it, and then let it go. The present is as it should be. It reflects infinite laws of Nature that have brought you this exact thought, this exact physical response. This moment is as it is because the universe is as it is. Don’t struggle against the infinite scheme of things; instead, be at one with it.
3. Take time to be silent, to meditate, to quiet the internal dialogue. In moments of silence, realize that you are recontacting your source of pure awareness. Pay attention to your inner life so that you can be guided by intuition rather than externally imposed interpretations of what is or isn't good for you.
4. Relinquish your need for external approval. You alone are the judge of your worth, and your goal is to discover infinite worth in yourself, no matter what anyone else thinks. There is great freedom in this realization. When you find yourself reacting with anger or opposition to any person or circumstance, realize that you are only struggling with yourself. Putting up resistance is the response of defenses created by old hurts.
5. When you find yourself reacting with anger or opposition to any person or circumstance, realize that you are only struggling with yourself. Putting up resistance is the response of defenses created by old hurts. When you relinquish this anger, you will be healing yourself and cooperating with the flow of the universe.
6. Know that the world “out there” reflects your reality “in here.” The people you react to most strongly, whether with love or hate, are projections of your inner world. What you most hate is what you most deny in yourself. What you most love is what you most wish for in yourself. Use the mirror of relationships to guide your evolution. The goal is total self-knowledge. When you achieve that, what you most want will automatically be there, and what you most dislike will disappear.
7. Shed the burden of judgment – you will feel much lighter. Judgment imposes right and wrong on situations that just are. Everything can be understood and forgiven, but when you judge, you cut off understanding and shut down the process of learning to love. In judging others, you reflect your lack of self-acceptance. Remember that every person you forgive adds to your self-love.
8. Don’t contaminate your body with toxins, either through food, drink, or toxic emotions. Your body is more than a life-support system. It is the vehicle that will carry you on the journey of your evolution. The health of every cell directly contributes to your state of well being, because every cell is a point of awareness within the field of awareness that is you.
9. Replace fear-motivated behavior with love-motivated behavior. Fear is the product of memory, which dwells in the past. Remembering what hurt us before, we direct our energies toward making certain that an old hurt will not repeat itself. But trying to impose the past on the present will never wipe out the threat of being hurt. That happens only when you find the security of your own being, which is love. Motivated by the truth inside you, you can face any threat because your inner strength is invulnerable to fear.
10. Understand that the physical world is just a mirror of a deeper intelligence. Intelligence is the invisible organizer of all matter and energy, and since a portion of this intelligence resides in you, you share in the organizing power of the cosmos. Because you are inseparably linked to everything, you cannot afford to foul the planet’s air and water. But at a deeper level, you cannot afford to live with a toxic mind, because every thought makes an impression on the whole field of intelligence. Living in balance and purity is the highest good for you and the Earth.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Zimbabwe - loved it!

How many times in our lives do we go from Wednesday to Saturday and ever remember much of what happened a few weeks later?

When I packed I took a note book to record a diary, but it wasn't needed. Every moment was precious, be it sight, sound, smell, taste or feeling, it was all new to me; I was on overload!

The flight from Johannesburg to Harare was an hour and 40 minutes marked half way by the Limpopo River, also the border between the countries. I've never seen it at ground level but from 36,000 feet it looked huge! Harare airport is small with only 3 gates, but very personal. When I didn't know the address of the  person I was staying with, security escorted me out front to ask the guy who was collecting me, then back to passports control.

I was in Harare to represent and introduce our company, e-perceptum, at a head-teachers conference. Along with our partner technology company we were invited to the University as part of an ongoing government initiative, to expand e-learning throughout the country. Before the start of the presentation I suddenly developed a gusher of a nose bleed, going through a whole toilet roll in 15 minutes. Security fetched a nurse, a doctor followed from a nearby practice, a bit of an overkill for a nose bleed I thought. I joked that I always get nose bleeds when I listen to teachers talking for over 5 hours, but it fell on deaf ears. The first question was, "Have you come from Nigeria?" Ah! Ebola! One of the symptoms is nose bleed, suddenly it all fell into place. A quick temperature check and I was cleared and people started walking close to me again!
Quick sandwich before we went on stage

Our presentation film on DVD along with flyers and information at our stand went out to all delegates, and the following day was peppered with meetings and phone calls. I can't give any detail really because that's the way it works there. If you behave and show respect, they reciprocate, then you can make great progress.

I stayed with a wonderful family who were building, while living in their house, way out in the countryside on a gently sloping hillside. No toilet yet, just a hole in the ground which could have been bigger, but then you wouldn't have wanted to fall through that space!

The children thought it hilarious every time I paid a visit, and I made loud noises as I pushed so not to disappoint. On the last day I took imodium as a treat; one days rest from that bloody hole was worth the constipation. 

We also had a braai (bbq) the night before I left, and the african sunset was one hell of a backdrop as the men and women talked and laughed and the children played. Nobody drank alcohol, it was a 4 day dry out to me but it felt great. I was an 'elder'! Yes, in Africa it's different when you're old. I explained to the bemused throng that in the UK, families put their old people in special homes to die with other old people. Often smelly places where they get very depressed and lonely. In Africa, the elders are respected by all for their experience and knowledge and are always the first to be considered and consulted in everything that goes on. You might think Africa is still a bit primitive but believe me, I was shown great respect in Zimbabwe by everyone, regardless of their age or economic circumstances.

But back to earlier…I got the chance to walk around Harare for a few hours by myself. I was the only white person, I didn't see anyone else that even came close! I knew I was in 'real Africa' for sure. Everyone spoke English along with their own tongue, something you couldn't claim in London. I bought a handmade shoe brush from a street seller, I wanted a souvenir that would remind me of Harare every-time I used it. I wasn't to notice the 'made in China' label until later that day! A man rooting in a bin pulled out a half eaten sandwich and started to tuck in. I pulled out the 2 dollars I'd just been given in change for the brush and held it out to him. He looked at me and said, "I have everything I need, give it to that man over there", pointing at an old chap in a wheel chair who had no legs. I went over and offered him the money. He said, "I'm not a beggar, why are you giving this to me?" I explained that I hadn't assumed he was a beggar, but that the young man eating the sandwich had asked me to give him the money. He took it, thanked me and acknowledged the other man with a slight wave. I'll never forget that or the lesson behind it.

Was I familiar with the '3 bucket system'? I said yes because, what could be complicated about 3 buckets at wash time? I entered the room and hey, just to add to it, there were 4, not 3 buckets!
I brushed my teeth and scooped a big handful of water from the green bucket to rinse my mouth. Tasted funny, mouth went a bit tingly and numb, thought maybe that's the way water tastes here. The other buckets were simply hot and cold, but this was to be nowhere as easy as having a shower. It took ages sloshing water on, especially around those difficult areas! I later found that the mouth wash was a chlorine based sanitizer!

Never carry a fully fired up braai into the house! Why? Mmm let me think! Firstly there are kids running everywhere, secondly it's very hot, and thirdly? Yes, it might just fill the house with fumes so that nobody can breathe!
5 minutes later, sure enough, we were all back outside coughing and laughing!

Thank you Batsie and Prisca for making me part of your family and friends for 4 amazing days, I look forward to our next trip over in the very near future. There are good times ahead for the people of Zimbabwe and a bright future for your children, I'm certain of that. I'm sorry I didn't eat the liver at breakfast time but I tried to make up for it with the beef and papa later that day.

Here are a few more photos…

Sugar cane

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Tribute to Robin Williams...

So sad to hear that Robin Williams has passed away today. I remember watching Mork & Mindy and thinking, hey, there is a better place out there. An amazingly funny guy who made me laugh out loud, and not many can do that. We are watching 'Good morning Vietnam' tonight in remembrance of this great and oh so funny man.

Things that Robin said that made me laugh….

“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”

“I was an only child. I did have kind of like a lonely existence. The idea of being a character who is kind of isolated, I can relate to that.”
“But only in their dreams can men be truly free It was always thus and always thus will be.”
“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”
“What’s right is what’s left if you do everything else wrong.”
“Never pick a fight with an ugly person, they’ve got nothing to lose.”
“After I quit drinking, I realized I am the same asshole I always was; I just have fewer dents in my car.”
“Ah, yes, divorce … from the Latin word meaning to rip out a man’s genitals through his wallet.”
“If women ran the world we wouldn’t have wars, just intense negotiations every 28 days.”
“Reality is just a crutch for people who can’t cope with drugs.”

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Is there rabbit in 'Bunny Chow'?...

Had my first 'Bunny Chow' yesterday, loved it but couldn't finish. This dish can be just about anything, served in a hollowed out loaf, or half loaf of bread. You're supposed to eat it all, but after I'd finished the beef curry, there was no chance of eating the bread. Top quality food though and at less than £5 you can't go wrong!

Been in South Africa 9 months now and in theory, 3 months left to go because that's when our rental contract expires. But then what? Well either the work that we have will keep flowing and keep us here for a while, or we will head off to Jaipur in India come the end of November. Christmas in India? Never had such uncertainty in my life! My Dad used to say, "When your life becomes certain, end it". I prefer, 'change it'. 

Wish I could write stuff about what my kids are up to, but they have completely banned me from that. They don't want their private lives splattered all over the internet, which I understand. With my parents, everything was a secret, everything was private. "Don't tell the neighbours", my Mum would say, "What would they think?" As I grew older I realised that people have enough on their own plates without the triviality of thinking what I'm doing. But wouldn't it be nice to imagine that one day, if I had grandchildren, I could announce it on here and show a wee photo or two! 

I heard on the news that the UK will soon have everyone on 'super-fast broadband', with speeds of up to 80 Mb/s. Currently they are struggling with speeds as low as 12 Mb/s in some areas! Wow! I had to laugh because on average our download speed here rarely hits 2, is mainly below 1.5 Mb/s and often, it's just gone! We've got used to downloading films overnight so that we don't have to watch them live, and pausing to catch up for 3 minutes every 2 minutes. I think of it as 'African speed' because nothing happens fast here, and in general, I like that.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

We have lost a great man today in Terry Herbert...

It was very, very sad to hear the news today that Terry Herbert had passed away in Australia. He founded YANA after being diagnosed with prostate cancer about 12 years ago. It stood for 'You Are Not Alone', and became a support and awareness group for thousands of men worldwide. When you joined you certainly realised that you were not alone. Although I never met Terry in person, we knew each other very well through our numerous communications. In the early days of my diagnosis he gave me sound advice on winning the mental battle and started me off on the road to helping others. It's hard to believe he's gone, but I'm sure YANA and the memory of Terry Herbert will live on with us all. He was from South Africa originally, and it is from here that I send condolences to his family and friends for their sad loss.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Yorkshire Day…let's celebrate

Happy 'Yorkshire Day' to Yorkshire folk around the world.
I moved from Essex to Harrogate, Yorkshire in 1967 and what a great escape that was!
My partner Beverley was born in Leeds and grew up in Barnsley. Now if you want to see a town that's still very Yorkshire, go to Barnsley.
What I'd give to be in Yorkshire today!