Had a perfect life?

Philosopher Epictetus said:

“It is not events that disturb people, it is their judgements concerning them.”

I can see how we can use this idea in our present lives, however it occurred to me today that perhaps it could help us deal with the past as well. I am inclined to believe that we have all had some bad/difficult moments or experiences throughout our childhood, teenage years and beyond. We didn’t have much say over some things and as children may not have had the capacity to reason to the same degree as we do today.

If you are like me, the past can still impact on us today by robbing us of our self-confidence and self-esteem – if we let it. What if we were able to look back with wisdom and realise that our judgements (of ourselves and others) at the time were incorrect or at least inaccurate?

Maybe this would help restore some peace of mind and liberate our thinking about who we are today.

Something worth giving some more thought to, I think!

Epictetus teaches us that each individual is responsible for their own good or their own evil; their own fortune or their own misfortune; their own happiness or their own own anguish. There is no such thing as being the ‘victim.’ Suffering is self-inflicted and can be cured through a discipling of the mind. It is not things that upset us, but our judgements about those things. “When we are frustrated, angry or unhappy,” Epictetus explains, “never hold anyone except ourselves – that is, our judgments – accountable.”

https://dailystoic.com/epictetus-discourses-summary-quotes/

A Memory Triggered

I was on the treadmill at the gym this morning. They have a screen where you can choose to watch TV or have different outdoor scenes etc. I chose Channel 54 on TV. They featured different holiday destinations in Australia. I was surprised to see Echuca, Victoria and the Murray River as I used to live and work there. A paddle steamer was chugging down the river.

I remember I had a job managing a ‘corner store’ that sold just about any convenience foods and takeaway lunches. I worked from 5am to about 10pm at night six days a week. I have never worked so hard in my life! I was twenty at the time and we were living in a tent (true story for another day) in the caravan park adjacent to the store. The owners wanted to take a couple of months holidays and offered us the job with the house behind the business.

On Sundays I would take a ride on the paddle steamer and just stretch out on the bench seat and relax! I had a precious few hours off and I really soaked up that leisure time. When I saw the paddle steamer on the screen this morning, that was what immediately came to mind.

PS No, that is not me on the treadmill 🙂

And now for something completely different!

I went into a shop today and the first items I saw were bags of Snowballs. I told my son I bought some and he asked me what they were. I thought everyone knew but just in case, here are a couple of photos.

Food has all sorts of purposes and meaning in our lives. My dad loved Snowballs. In fact it is one of the last things I remember him eating when I last saw him a few weeks before he died at 89 years old. When I visited I often brought him Snowballs and for my mum it was ginger chocolates!

In case you haven’t come across them before they are balls of marshmallow dipped in chocolate and then rolled in coconut. Sometimes they are advertised as “fat free” which almost makes them sound healthy.

Here is a little video on how to make them. This one uses bought marshmallows but my mum used to make her own.

Yum!

Uncertain Times

Our World has faced an unprecedented time these last few months due to Covid19. Each country has been impacted differently and has responded in its own way. Only history will help us see what we could have done better and what were our good decisions.

My life hasn’t changed enormously but there have been some changes in the daily routines. We have missed the luxury of being able to go to the gym. I had been going regularly for about 18 months and found it to be really good for my mental health and well-being. I also feel a bit fitter too!

The retirement community where I live has been very quiet with very few guests passing through. The lock-down has created a feeling of solidarity among residents and greater desire to say hello and chat when the opportunity arises.

Now there is talking about relaxing restrictions. In many ways we do want that to happen, but not too quickly – for safety sake but also I have come to like the SLOW life and not sure I can pick up the fast pace again.

Anyway, I shall take each day as it comes and enjoy what it has to offer!

Photo by Sophie Xiang on Facebook

Just for Today (3)

3. Just for Today, I will adjust myself to what is, and not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will take my family, my business, and my luck as they come, and fit myself to them.

Author Unknown

How did you go yesterday with remembering you are as happy as you make up your mind to be? Confession time – I didn’t do so well but the quote kept coming to mind so I wasn’t totally unaware that my happiness is in my own hands.

Going back in order to go forward

Barbara Mallon (A Year of Creativity) says that:

Sometimes in order to go forward you have to go back to earlier times when the path you were starting out on was still covered in virgin snow.

She poses the following questions and suggests you write your responses in your Creative Year Journal. I will include my answers to the questions in this blog.

My favourite childhood game was…. “let’s pretend.” This included dress-ups, shop keepers, TV characters …

The best TV program I saw as a child was … Lassie Come Home or Black Velvet or Mr Ed. I also loved Popeye cartoons …

My earliest memory of school was … my very first day! I did not want to stay there and I got stuck into Sister Kevin by kicking and screaming – much to my mother’s horror!

The toy I loved most was … paper dolls that you could dress in paper dresses (anyone remember them?), dolls & teddy bears, musical jewelry box and wind-up toys.

If I had the perfect childhood I would have grown up to be … the person I am now but maybe would have got there a bit quicker in a more favorable environment.

The best gift anyone could have given me as a child would have been … their full and undivided attention.

NB My answers included multiple items whereas the questions mostly asked for one thing. I couldn’t decide so included those strongest in my memory.

Even if you don’t want to blog your answers you may enjoy giving some thought to what your answers might be. My answers were a surprise to me!

Life’s surprises are not always welcome

As I look back over my life there are probably a dozen incidents or more that were a significant blow to my equilibrium. The sort that makes everything else seem petty and unimportant.

I am sure that we all experience these things from time to time. My first experience I remember was when my school friend’s father died. He worked at our school and was very popular with all the kids. It was my first encounter with death and the aftermath.

I have since experienced marriage break-ups, sickness and deaths in the family, tragedies such as a five-year old neighbour’s child drowning, losing my brother and sister-in-law too soon …

I am not unique – similar things are happening every day to people around us. When I am in my ‘happy space’ I may not even be aware of others’ suffering.

I don’t know what I am trying to say today – just that life can be tough at times – we need to love and care for each other.

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What is the opposite of depression?*

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*According to writer, Andrew Solomon, it is vitality! That makes a lot of sense to me.

I listened to his talk on the video below and could relate to much of what he said. I had my first encounter with depression when I was in my 20’s and have experienced it on and off over the years. I have used a variety of methods to help me feel and do better.

Solomon raises the issue of “psychological vs physiological” and proclaims that we don’t have enough scientific evidence to choose either one. Maybe in time there will be a better answer.

Most of the time my depression is not noticeable to other people. I function quite well. I remember learning about “putting one foot in front of the other” and another tip was “just keep breathing” – these sayings were helpful at times.

Anyway, I won’t go on about depression apart from asking you to be aware among your family and friends and be brave enough to ask them if they are okay and be prepared to listen to their response. Thanks 🙂

Life’s lessons

I have heard the following expression at various times in my life. Are you familiar with it?

” Whatever or whoever is in front of you is your teacher.”

It is not always easy to remember this when I am in an uncomfortable or awkward situation. Sometimes I might get caught with someone talking about things I don’t believe in. I try to stay silent and listen – after all, they may have some greater insight into the issue than I do.

Or maybe someone doesn’t turn up on time when I am on a tight schedule. Maybe I need to learn patience or that some things are more important than punctuality.

What about when it is a really tough situation and I don’t feel like learning? The word compassion (for myself and the other person/s) comes to mind plus the ability to distance myself from the situation and try to be objective.

Not an easy thing to do, however I acknowledge there are still plenty of lessons for me to learn in life and I try to remain open to them. Just because I am in my sixth decade doesn’t mean I can put my feet up and relax! And yes, sometimes I get it wrong.

wisdom