Karine has taken a week off to go to her yoga and meditation school somewhere in the north of Holland.  Each morning she has to get out of bed and begin at 4am and on Monday morning she was one of the first to have a cold shower for 20 minutes at 4.00am!  Just to add the final dimension to this story, it is currently around -10C at that time in the morning.  Apparently others have to help dry you off and then carry you into another area to warm up as you can no longer physically move.  The rest of the week is easy – just a short cold shower each day at 4.00am 🙂


Upgrading my website

I am in the process of upgrading my website to a brand new design.  I like it so much more.  For any of you that are trying to visit over the next few days, please allow for the fact that it could look a bit strange as I am changing things in and out.  I will send out an email once the whole thing is finished.

The banality of some song lyrics

Over the last few days when I have been driving to work, the lyrics of certain songs have penetrated into my conciousness.  Normally I totally ignore the lyrics and have absolutely no idea what any song is actually about.  But in listening I realised that the majority of the lyrics are total crap but more importantly as a message to young women there not exactly encouraging. 

First song:  – ‘can’t live without you, my life will never be the same again, will love you until I die’.  Translated = this means that he is head over heels in lust but hasn’t gotten into her knickers yet!

Second song – ‘not sure I understand it, haven’t spoken to you on the phone or heard from you for 3 days’.  Translated = achieved getting her knickers off and then realised in doing so that it wasn’t as great as the expectation he had built up in his head.

Third song – ‘i just don’t believe you when you say it is over.  You told me that we would be together until we die.  I am sure you don’t really mean this, I just want you to try again’.  Translated = no sorry, I realised that you are actually very boring and yes, we did shag quite a bit but I honestly don’t want to spend anymore time with you, please get over it and don’t hassle me again.

As I said, whilst this is probably a fairly accurate description of many peoples every day lives, it’s not entirely an encouraging message although I am sure that the sales of these songs are markedly boosted by those in the very same circumstances.

Diaspora and families

Very recently I had time to think on this subject, in relation to my family and the impact.  When I really understood it, it came as a surprise.  I’ll explain.

Growing up in NZ we had no family whatsoever from my father’s side who had come to NZ as a refugee following WW2.  The only family was on my mother’s side.  My mother was one of four sisters and being the youngest, her sisters all had children older than my brother and I.  I remember a lot of occasions where the family would come together for one reason or another.  So there was the 4 sisters, their respective husbands and children.  Between the 4 sisters there was 11 children (I think).  We all used to play together quite well but it was only on those occasions.  To my knowledge, each of those 11 children also had children.  So over the space of 3 generations there has been something like 30+ family members in the extended family.  The total is a pure guesstimate as I don’t actually know for sure, and this is what got me thinking.

We all came together because of the bond between those four sisters.  My mother was the first of the 4 to die some 25 years ago and the last one died 3 days ago.  That death feels like a door has been shut on a whole branch of a family.  To my knowledge there is very limited interaction between the first generation of the 4 sisters and there is absolutely zero interaction between the 3rd generation.  I have absolutely no idea what there names are, where they live, what they do and if they are even alive.  Now, cynics amongst you could think at this point “well thats just Paul, he doesn’t give a shit”, which to a degree you would be correct.  However my brother who still lives in NZ, finds families to be quite important and I know from my conversations with him that he doesn’t have any contact either.

So in the short space of 3 generations, a family that was bought up through very tough times (the 4 sisters) where closeness and dependibility were factors that helped you to survive as a group has evaporated to the point that my own 2 children who are now 11 and 9 have absolutely no idea or concept that they are indeed part of a bigger family.  f course you can say shame on me, but the truth is (and that is the point of this post) I have no idea who they are or where they are.

On my fathers side, it is a similar story.  He really has only the 1 brother with 3 children, which we have no contact with primarily because we dont speak Yugoslav and they dont speak English.  So once either my father or his brother dies, that will close that door as well.

The summary of this little tale is that I owe to my children to try and find some sort of thread or information to help them get in touch with the fact they are really just one part of a much bigger picture.

My personal litmus test for 2010

Since January 1 of this year the following has popped up twice at moments that were extremely relevant.  As a consequence, I have accepted the truthful simplicity of the message and I am now going to integrate this into my life wherever possible.  For anyone who is a Star Wars fan, the phrase will be well known to you.

“There is no such thing as ‘try’. You either do it, or you don’t”.   

Totally Stress Free Christmas in 6 easy steps

Perhaps some 20 years ago I decided that the stress associated with Xmas, I needed to avoid.  The reason for me was simple, I no longer felt that it was a season of joy and peace, more a season of increased frustration and increasing levels insanity.  I think the moment that this really began to crystallise was when I worked with someone who spent so much on her credit card for Xmas presents, that it took the following 12 months to pay the debt off, only to start all over again – what for?  When you take all of this and reflect that in fact, the christian population is celebrating an event that didn’t actually occur on December 25, but on January 7, I reached a personal conclusion that I was wasting my time.  This is a personal stance only and for those who choose to go the ‘whole hog’ –  respect!

So for any of you that truly want a completely stress free Xmas, here are my 6 tried and trusted steps:

1. Don’t buy and/or send Xmas cards.

2. Purchase your gifts for your real loved ones via the internet and have them delivered.  This avoids going anywhere near a shop.

3. Get the kids to put up the Xmas tree on Dec 24.

4. Keep television turned off throughout the entire period.

5. Avoid going to anyones place on Xmas Day, who you honestly don’t want to spend the day with which includes obligatory lunch/dinners with families that result in frustration and arguments.

6. Have the same children take down the Xmas tree by Dec 31.