Spartans had the right idea

Perhaps not as brutal or unreasonable as first thought… the people of Sparta had a strategy.

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Spartans used to put their newborns on the hillside and leave them overnight.  If the newborn survived they were deemed Strong and Spartan Like and worthy of song and celebration.  If the baby got the snuffles or worse, meh, it was worth a try, at least they knew right then.

When I first heard of their supposed practice I was pearls clutchingly horrified but now not so much.  I can see the merit.

Thankfully we have great access to medical care in the UK.  It may not be shiny or new fangled or particularly swift if you attend the one for all and all for one NHS, but the staff know their stuff and are lovely, the medicine is readily available and nobody dies because they couldn’t afford a co-pay or were uninsured.  Darwinian it may not be, but it works for us.  A healthy-as-can-be workforce is an appreciative and productive workforce.  A healthy student is a hard working student.  Hardworking students go far in life and end up running the world.  There’s everything to play for.

But the people of Sparta, not as daft as they seem perhaps.

Down to 4000 calories a day

First day back to work after the winter / Christmas / New Year break.  I feel I should have brought more provisions with me…. I don’t know what suddenly dropping down to 4000 calories a day will do to a woman after the holiday excess!  My clothes are no indicator of whether I have overindulged as I wear jersey wrap dresses or long loved jeans on any given day and both are relatively forgiving.  Three squares a day with Hobbit-esque mid-meal-meals thrown in to the mix and all should be well.  I ate fruit willingly yesterday, that’s a good thing, right?  So, if I eat an apple, do I have to sacrifice a square of chocolate to offset the calories?  Hope not.  No resolutions here, just an onward and upward trend toward awesomeness.  Happy 2018, folks.

Do Not Scratch The Surface

Flipping heck.  There I was, bimbling along, having a nice time making new acquaintances and learning new skills at a First Aid refresher course and they talk about recognising heart problems, described the symptoms and inexplicably and unreasonably I started feeling upset and raise my hand and say in a quiet voice “I’m not having fun anymore, this happened to me” and like a freaking cissy I start fighting back tears and feel stupid.  “I’m not having fun” was a light-hearted way to indicate distress to the instructor who was flipping amazing and brilliant and responsive and kind.  But stupid happened and the tears came and every time I was alone for the rest of the day tears came again.  Continue reading “Do Not Scratch The Surface”

The surprise benefit of being free of bad debt

To not be shackled to yesterdays worries so that we can fully face todays challenges is a beautiful gift.

I am pragmatic.  I decide to talk about positive things.  I believe we either talk and act ourselves in to or out of a happy life.  However I don’t care whether the glass is half full or half empty.  I know how much water is in the glass, I know what I am working with on any given topic.

So the benefit, or even blessing, of being unshackled by debt during a period of potential financial constraint is a superb comfort and reassurance.

Like everyone, I have income and expenditure.  Thankfully I was blessed with the moxy and ability to get out from under a serious financial burden in the tens of thousands of pounds range and reset the financial accounts to “we don’t have a lot but we’ve paid our taxes for the benefit of the country and what we do have is our own” as we paid down every debt we’d been left with.

When guaranteed income is in jeopardy we start to look closer at the expenditure side of the spreadsheet.  It has been one of the few delights recently that unlike previous times either house or income is at risk, this time I am not carrying a negative financial legacy like an albatross around my neck.

I have to find a way to generate revenue to cover our modest living expenses but I don’t have the worry of paying for things on instalments, I don’t have the worry of credit card debt, I don’t have the worry of consumer spending spread conveniently on an unreasonable monthly payment at an exorbitant APR.  I just have to make sure that enough comes in for Mortgage, utilities and groceries.  That’s it.  That is far less of an ask than carrying the worry of paying for something I bought and used up two years ago.

Being in this fortunate situation brings a degree of peace, a calmer disposition than I would otherwise have had.

It also frees me up to be flexible with regard to the future opportunities I can pursue.  I don’t have to find a position to cover Bills and Debts, I just have to find something to cover Bills and anything else is a bonus.  That is a freedom for which it would be hard to quantify the optimism and relief felt at the moment.

I am the head of my household and the responsibility sits on my shoulders.  Until you’ve been the head of the household you have no idea what so ever how heavily that mantle sits on the shoulders.  It is completely and utterly different to being the 2nd earner.  Head of the household is like being an Adult Plus.  Nobody is going to bail you out, you are it.  The buck stops at your feet.  The responsibility for keeping everyone in your abode alive, sheltered and fed sits with you.  Once you get the hang of it, it starts to sit easier a little but the knowledge in the back of your mind never actually quite goes away.

If I could wish for you one thing, it would be the freedom of being bad debt free.  It is worth the blood, sweat and tears, the overtime, the going without for a while, the humble birthday and holiday presents, the dinners in rather than takeaway or restaurants, the forsaking holidays in the sun or snow to reach the goal of being without that burden.

Bad times come for such are a part of earth life and mortality.  To not be shackled to yesterdays worries so that we can fully face todays challenges is a beautiful gift.

 

Zen During Turmoil

Occasionally there comes a time in personal turmoil that you reach a state of Zen.  You reach a point of “oh well” and start to calm into the trouble rather than fighting it and getting nowhere.

In the Urban Dictionary (a highly reputable source!!!) Zen is defined as thus:

“One way to think of Zen is this: a total state of focus that incorporates a total togetherness of body and mind.  Zen is a way of being.  It is also a state of mind.  Zen involves dropping illusion and seeing things without distortion created by your own thoughts”.

Now, I am no Japanese Master of Eastern Philosophies yet there comes a point in seeking Continue reading “Zen During Turmoil”

Idolatry, Money, Military

The pendulum has swung too far back after the vitriol military experience post-Vietnam.

The levels of hero worship and idolatry from what we are seeing out of the extremely posturing nations is rampant right now.  If you are religious you’ll have heard that one of the Ten Commandments is to have no other Gods before (Him).  It is right up there in the top 5.  It is pretty important.  If you are secular you will have seen in generations past when things became mighty tense when one person or an idea caught hold and a fever infected the nation – often leading to civil or international wars.  People profess to be reasonable and level headed but their narrative and actions betray them, even among my friendship groups.

I am fiscally a conservative (little C), and socially a liberal (little L).  My stance is that drugs harm society and ruin lives, gun owners or users kill people, that if people are of legal age and appropriate age gap they should be able to date and marry.  My stance is also that Business (big B) is good, industry is necessary, someone needs to keep the lights on and the infrastructure needs to be paid for and maintained, that investment is needed in the Arts and in the Sciences, that innovation is crucial to preserve and improve the lifestyle of the inhabitants of this nation.  It is my stance that manners are essential to grease the wheels of civility.

It is my observation that there is a role for emergency services and the Military.  It is my observation that the whole “Thank you for your service” is cringe worthy and dangerous.  It is my observation that people are being placed on a pedestal as great servants of a nation when they are actually in paid employ and chose to do this.  Hero worship is rampant, emergency services and military personnel are deified and just because they wear a uniform are held in highest esteem.  We don’t know who they are, they are, by definition, Uniform.  Unless there is a stand out act of service or courage, they’re just employees.  Many are nice, a few are nasty, but they are paid to do what they do.  That’s not a hero.

The pursuit of someone to worship is filling a void and is acting as a sticking plaster to cover an emotionally grazed knee of a nation.  Accept that the world is a harsh place and both the East, Middle and West are having a hard time with each other and we send our delegates to resolve our conflicts for us.  Military folks don’t deserve special treatment.  They’re pretty regular people who have been taught how to do their job.  Idolising them diminishes them as a person.  The reception for Vietnam Veterans upon repatriation was brutally harsh, it is my stance that perhaps after feeling guilty in hindsight people have let the pendulum swing too far the other way and there it hangs in the air, precarious and fragile.

Don’t get me started on the pursuit of money and how Darwinian the current strain of Capitalism lays.  A nation who is blinded by their rights and unwillingness to stand up to Medical Insurance companies who are actually gouging them and keeping premiums high in pursuit of profit is a sorrowful thing to witness.

In the mean time, someone needs to work, pay a fair level of tax, have access to housing, water, medicine, food and the rule of law.

 

Wasted Saturday

A wasted Saturday is a rare and glorious gift to ourself.

It seems that I am good in company at the moment, feeling genuinely cheerful and happy to be in social situations just chatting or dancing or listening to buddies, but am plunging in to worry and anxiety when alone when there is nowhere else to run from myself.  Feeling emotionally breathless is absolutely rubbish and I recommend it to nobody at all, not even my worst enemies.  So, Saturday my daughter and I took a day off of everything, absolutely everything.

When I’d awoken before dawn I realised that I could afford to get a bad day out of my system as I wasn’t required to be anywhere particular this weekend apart from Sunday Services.  I had a two A4 page of Honey-Do’s I’d written for myself, each line being a tiresome project which needed completing in the house preferably before winter falls. And I couldn’t face it.  I was close to tears, on a Saturday! What a waste of tears.  I determined I was not going to cry on my own time!  Instead, I was going to be still.  I was going to ignore the day as long as I could.

My teen padded in to my untidy room around midday and flopped on the bed.  We conspired together that we deserved a complete day off having run ourselves ragged for years.  It was exciting to be in this together.  We chatted a while about books we were reading on Audio because we’re both a little dyslexic and I’d rather listen to a book than struggle with text and so would she.  We’re both perfectly capable of reading but sometimes for recreation we just have someone read the darned book to us.  It feels like cheating but what is the point of technology if you can’t use it to enhance your experience of literature and make available that which you wouldn’t have tackled without the electronic intercedent.

After a while she padded off again and I settled in for more breathing.  Breathing is something I’ve taken for granted all these years but of late my glorious mind keeps trying to trick me that there is insufficient oxygen in the atmosphere.  Stupid glorious mind…

So, I lay there in my unmade bed and breathed.  Then when I’d done that for an hour or so I took a nap, then listened to a show and then breathed again.

I was roused only by the offspring’s enquiry as to what was for dinner.  Without said offspring I would gladly have spent all the hours until the next day in my room, but I’m contracted to care for the kid so up we got and a dinner of beef burgers and pasta was rustled.  Then, relocated to the living room, I sat and breathed some more until I realised it was now 2am and I really should go to my untidy room to breathe.  Brushed my teeth and toddled off to my chamber for some more breathing.

Is it me, or did somebody really turn down the oxygen supply in the atmosphere?  Asking for a friend.