Sunday, 30 December 2012

An Old Rant to End an Old Year

I read something today that had me bouncing off the walls. It was in a blog post by a lovely intelligent woman blogger named Cate, who writes a very thought-provoking blog called Infinite Sadness or Hope. The post I read today certainly provoked some strong thoughts - an old rant actually! Not ranting at her, but more ranting for her. 

Cate has written an excellent thought-provoking post that I highly recommend reading, but for here I'm taking a specific quote from her writing in order to explain what caused my rant. Cate said:
"Songs I sang in Sunday School taught me that I came last.  And I guess that’s where I always put myself."

Songs that taught her that she came last in life... songs taught in Sunday School - a place of (supposedly) religious nurturing of innocent children? 

 I’ve come against this warped view of what being a Christian is before, not at home, but in school religious classes and in the mindset of some of my friends.

But if we go back to the actual Bible and to what it states Jesus said? Well…

Matthew 19:16

16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

“Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” 

Or in basic words – treat other people with the same respect, love and kindness you should be showing yourself. Jesus understood that you cannot give love to others in a healthy way unless you first love yourself in a healthy way, so why on earth do some churches insist on teaching the exact opposite of what Jesus himself suggested?

Using religious guilt ts used in order to bully people into being doormat souls has got to be one of the more unforgivable sins! 

If we are made in God’s image… why would he want anyone to be a doormat? If we are made in His image… surely not loving ourselves and taking care of our needs is slapping God in the face? Jesus seems to be advocating balance – that we love ourselves and others the same, alike… no selfishness, but no senseless martyrdom and self-abasement either. Which is why I prefer to follow Him than follow any church.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

The Feast of Saint Stephen

For today I'm putting up a very famous Christmas Carol with some facts that probably aren't as well known. The song is "Good King Wenceslaus"... 

But who was Wenceslaus and when is the feast of Stephen?

Saint Stephen's day is today - 26th of December, or 27th for the Eastern churches. He was a Christian martyr and in earlier times his day was a holiday feast celebrated during the full twelves days of Christmas that ran from 25th December to the Feast of the Epiphany (when the three wise men found the baby Jesus) on the 6th of January. In the olden days all twelve days were spent in various religious observances, parties, gift giving and feasting.We've lost out in modern times!

And King Wenceslaus? Well... he was a real person, but he wasn't a king. He was the Duke of Bohemia, born around 907and died around 935, so he was actually a fairly young man. Legends vary, but it seems his father was Christian and his mother probably Pagan, but Wenceslaus grew up Christian and was famous in his homeland and England for being a kind and pious man. 

 Wikipedia states that the chronicler Cosmas of Prague  wrote this about him:
But his deeds I think you know better than I could tell you; for, as is read in his Passion, no one doubts that, rising every night from his noble bed, with bare feet and only one chamberlain, he went around to God’s churches and gave alms generously to widows, orphans, those in prison and afflicted by every difficulty, so much so that he was considered, not a prince, but the father of all the wretched.

According to some legends, after Wenceslaus was murdered by his evil brother his faithful servant, Podevin, avenged his death by killing one of those who helped murder his master. I wonder if Podevin is the page in the Christmas Carol?

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Skating in Scotland

There's an interesting story connected to the man in the painting below. His name was
Reverend Robert Walker and he was a Church of Scotland minister. Robert was born on the 30th April 1755 in Monkton, Ayrshire, but his father was a minister of the Scots Kirk in Rotterdam. It's probably here, on the frozen canals in winter, that the young Robert learnt to skate.

In this painting, by Sir Henry Raeburn, he's skating on Duddingston Loch, which is where the oldest skating club in Britain used to meet!  - the Edinburgh Skating Society, the oldest skating club in Britain...

The Edinburgh Skating Club is recognized as the first organized figure skating club.[1][2][3] While some sources[1][4] claim the club was established in 1642, most sources accept 1742 or 1744 as the date of its founding. The next-oldest skating club, in London, was not founded until 1830.[1]

The claim to the 1642 founding date appears to derive from a small book published by the club council in 1865, The Edinburgh Skating-Club with Diagrams of Figures and a List of the Members. As of that writing, the club's oldest extant records were dated January 1778, and the reference to 1642 appeared in only in club records from long after that period.[1]
There was an early contemporary reference to the Club in the second edition (1783) of the Encyclopædia Britannica that supports the 1742 or 1744 founding date:
The metropolis of Scotland has produced more instances of elegant skaters than perhaps any country whatever: and the institution of a skating club about 40 years ago has contributed not a little to the improvement of this elegant amusement.[1]

I had no idea figure skating was that old!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

A Note from the Universe...

A friend sent me this in an email. I added the pictures myself. :-)

The Official Top Ten Spiritual Ways to Defeat Boredom, Make Friends, Find Love,  Shape Up, Discover Your Purpose and Shine Your Light are...
 1. Take action.
 2. Show up.

3. Lean into it.


4. Start anywhere.

5. Keep busy.


 6. Get out more.

 7. Ask for help.

8. Shake more hands.

9. Give more hugs.

 10. Don't stop.


Monday, 10 December 2012

Grace in the World

I stumbled on a song by a South African band that I love, Just Jinger. I think this song fits for this time of year when we have so many holy days from Diwali and Samhain in November to Hanukkah and Christmas in December...

If there is Grace in this world
If there is light on this earth
Let us use it, let us see it.. starting right now

Can we be down with ourselves?
Respectful and mindful of one
Of one another, your significant other,
Your sister or brother?

Peace, Love, more tolerance.
Faith, hope, trust in the same name of God
Peace, Love, more tolerance.

Faith, hope, trust in the same name of God in whose
name we die for, take an innocent life for
well that's not what he means..
and it doesn't matter what Book you read

Is there relief up ahead?
Cos Judgement and hearing await
A weight on our minds to bear,
A shame on our hearts to wear

Where is Salvation now?
Now that we have what we want
Now that we have our wars..

Peace, Love, more tolerance.
Faith, hope, trust in the same name of God in whose
name we die for, take an innocent life for
well that's not what he means..
and it doesn't matter what Book you read

with a little bit of ease and little bit of calm
acceptance is the key to all we know
what about a stir of compassion and lenience?
what about some understanding?
what about some sympathy?

Peace, Love, more tolerance.
Faith, hope, trust in the same name of God in whose
name we die for, take an innocent life for
well that's not what he means..
and it doesn't matter what Book you read

Music and Miracles

A friend sent me an email yesterday about a new movie that's out on the story of Sugar Man.The song of that title is a cult classic in South Africa, but trhe actual musician who wrote and sang it vanished into oblivion over the years... until South Africans went hunting for him. 

"In the early 1970s, Sixto Rodriguez was a Detroit folksinger who had a short-lived recording career with only two well received but non-selling albums. Unknown to Rodriguez, his musical story continued in South Africa where he became a pop music icon and inspiration for generations. Long rumored there to be dead by suicide, a few fans in the 1990s decided to seek out the truth of their hero's fate. What follows is a bizarrely heartening story in which they found far more in their quest than they ever hoped, while a Detroit construction laborer discovered that his lost artistic dreams came true after all."

The story of what happened is both heart-warming and amazing. I highly recommend the movie.

 ... and I highly recommend the South African band who made the song Sugar Man a hit all over again in the late 1990s - Just Jinger. ;-) I'll be putting up another song by them that better fits this festive time of year. 

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

NEWSFLASH November 2012

I used to do a newsflash at the end of each season, but I realised, looking back through my posts, that the last one I did was.. November 2010!

Here's the idea - give the everyday news update on my life in a format first started by another blogger, Jeff.

Nature Entertainment Wise words Spirit Family Lessons Artist Smiles Home

Nature decided to get up close and personal this last weekend. Hubby was tidying up the garage when a field mouse shot out from behind a box. He took a closer look and discovered that a family of field mice had shredded the edge of a dust cover blanket and stuffed it into a box full of pots and pans stored in the garage. Field mice will come into buildings for the winter and we've had them trying to nest in our car and in the garage of another house we were in years ago. They store food for winter too. They filled our car radiator with peanuts once and they also filled my dad's golf shoes with seeds and nuts one year, but they are so darn cute that it's hard to get angry about it.

When hubby took the box out onto the lawn another mouse shot out and ran like mad, but a third one decided the box was less scary and stayed put, hiding under a small frying pan. Eventually even he made a run for it, but he ran to the house, squeezed through the grating covering the kitchen drain and.. vanished! It's a long deep drain. Hubby went across and sure enough - there at the bottom was Mr mouse paddling madly, unable to climb back out. Hubby took the cover off, stuck his arm down the drain and scooped the little guy out. He was gone in a mad scamper, this time away and into the hedge.

So the weekend was spent taking everything out of the garage to check, clean, and repack in safer places. They made quite a mess, but not too much damage, thankfully. The only things damaged were some curtain tie backs (real cotton fibre) and the old blanket edge. But they peed on EVERYTHING so we were fairly worn out with all the washing, cleaning and disinfecting.

The best entertainment, recently, has been watching Masterchef Professionals on TV. Only down side is that watching the show makes everyone feel hungry! We all love the show and the food they create... wow. It's inspiring and makes me want to try more adventurous cooking; I always end up trying some new recipes after this TV series.

The BBC has some of the recipes from the show up HERE. Now if only field mice could cook like Ratatouille...

My Wise Words choice are always from a fellow blogger. This time I'm picking Cate of Infinite Sadness... or Hope?

"There is a lot of talk about invisible illnesses, and how difficult they are because others can’t see my hardship or pain. When I think about it, most illnesses are invisible. There’s only a few where we can see the physical effects of the illness, but even then do we automatically assume that means they are sick and/or in pain? Not always. And how do we see pain? Realistically we can’t. What a person experiences as pain is beyond the grasp of another. I know this well because I have a condition (fibromyalgia) that is known to be about chronic pain. But knowing that does not enable another to understand just what that pain is and how it affects me.
I’ve heard people say that it’s not fair that people with cancer apparently get more compassion than someone with an invisible illness. I believe that is a generalisation that isn’t helpful for anyone. The thing is that we are all struggling in our own way. My reason for not being able to maintain friendships to the degree I would like to is my physical health, but it could just as easily be something else, equally as valid.
Everyone is fighting their own battles. My battles are not necessarily and greater than yours.  They’re just different, but equally valid. I guess what it teaches me is not to jump to conclusions. Not to assume I know why a friend appears to have let me down. I hope my friends (and family) can do the same for me."
The spiritual part of November links back to Cate's thoughts on pain and invisible illness. and how we need more compassion and love as well as more understanding. The hardest thing in the world to explain to anyone else is how trauma (grief, fear or pain) affects your life, because it is different for every person. I know people who take part in extreme sports that cause them physical damage who still go pale and weak when you mention a dentist. I know people who can endure high levels of physical pain, but have phobias about things as varied as heights to mice. We are all different and yet far too many doctors and health care professionals seem to dismiss or ignore that fact.

Far too often online this year I've seen people talking about doctors who think their ailments or fears are "in their heads" or  cases of people who become annoyed at how long another person is taking to get over a trauma like a death, an accident, etc. There are no time limits on things like grief or fear. There are no tests to gauge levels of sadness or levels of pain and to become impatient or annoyed with anyone who doesn't "get over it" is just completely unfair. It is understandable, we don't like seeing people we love suffer so we do tend to push and urge them to get better, be happy, let go of fear, but the truth is the only thing we can do is give those we love enough space and most importantly enough time to heal, even if that means an entire lifetime. 

Family news was the exciting find of the book my great great grandfather's sister, Evie Culling, wrote about her adventures during World War I. Evie also mentions a family tragedy in the book - the death of her niece, Marie Vetsera, who committed suicide with the crown prince of Austria. Hubby thinks I look like her. Here's me, age 24 at a fashion show modelling a caftan.  

  And Marie...

Actually, I think I look more like Marie's uncle, Aristides Baltazzi.

Life lesson of November has to be the experience of taking part in the first Book Week Scotland as one of their League of Extraordinary Booklovers. 

I did two morning sessions of giving book-related advice via email and twitter.Some questions were easy, when people wanted ideas for books in genres I know well, but some questions truly stretched my book reading memory to the limits. It certainly was both challenging and good fun. I learnt that I have read a lot of awesome books, but that there are still hundreds of wonderful books still left out there for me to read.

My Artist choice for November is musical  - the glorious "Now we are Free" by Lisa Gerrard and Hans Zimmer. This song was used in the movie Gladiator, but I'm going with a YouTube video of beautiful photos rather than the movie clip.


I wasn't sure what to write for this section and then I saw what I wrote two years ago in my last News flash...
Where will I journey next year? Where will you be on your life road? Who knows! All any of us can do is hold onto our map books and hope for good weather and safe roads but even more important - you need good travelling companions. :-) I've had excellent company this year, both in my literal travels with my family and in my online 'travels' with friends. I'm very grateful for both...