Aspiration … or Inspiration?

(This is a copy of a much earlier posting, but it is still relevant today.)

“Treat others as I would like them to treat me.”

It’s a wonderful basis for living, and I adopted it many years ago. Of course, how effective I have been is open to debate, but I like to think that my “compliance percentage” is quite high. The problem though is that it is often misunderstood. I know that because, when I broach the concept with some people, they respond with “Aren’t you disappointed though when they don’t behave accordingly, or when you go out of your way to help somebody, but they never reciprocate … don’t you wonder why you bothered?”

It is so important to understand that the quote was not “Treat others as I would expect them to treat me”, but rather “as I would like them to treat me.” Understanding the significant difference is important if one intends adopting that concept. An “expectation” that is not achieved can be really disappointing … but a “like” that does not follow through is just a part of living. There are a number of areas which are important to understand if we are to role model effectively.

We have to understand that each of us is a product of so many factors – parental influences, childhood experiences, teen experiences, location, lifestyle, traumatic experiences, success and failures etc. etc.

Romantics will often stress our uniqueness; our individuality. They are quite correct. Because we are all exposed to so many (and varied) influences as we proceed through life, we are indeed absolutely unique individuals. This means that I need never be disappointed at how “you” behave. I could of course not like how you handle a specific situation, but I just need to remember that your life influences are different from mine. If I can always remember that, then I can accept what you do/don’t do. I may not like your actions in a specific situation, but I can accept that your life has taken you in that direction.

I am reminded of a lesson I learned many years ago when my two teenagers were being particularly challenging – “There is no reason why you cannot always love your children. You may not love what they do, but you can always love them for who they are.” – My issue with that was learning to separate the person from the action. I did not find that easy to do, but it makes so much sense when you think about it. Why should we stop loving anybody simply because of what they did, when all they did was behave in accordance with their life experiences?

We should perhaps each spend a little time to understand who we are … what/who were our biggest influences … who we admired, and why, as we grew up … what made us happy, and what brought us to tears … our emotional highs and lows …. our successes, and our failures.

If each of us was a cake recipe, it would indeed be a very complicated recipe, and each cake would be unique. Once we have grasped that perspective, it is so much easier to accept others simply for who they are.

“Treat as others as I would like them to treat me.”

Does this provide a goal for you to aspire to, or does it simply inspire more thought? Regardless of your answer, somebody once said “Role model how you would like the world to be.” There are more of us than there are politicians so, rather than wait for our leaders to move in this direction, we should simply take charge and demonstrate our desire for a better world. There are millions of us, so can you just imagine what such a common perspective could achieve?

Winning the Lottery!

Winning the Lottery!”

It never ceases to amaze me how many people, who are on controlled budgets, give buying lottery tickets every week a high priority. The rationale generally falls into two distinct groups.

There are those who feel that, regardless of prior results, they think that this week will be their turn for the big win! Then there are those who simply buy tickets because “If you don’t play, you can’t win eh”!

What they all seem to have in common is the desire to win a large sum of money, and how happy they believe it would make them. Of course the whole lottery “advertising machine” encourages such thinking when, without exception (in my experience), all advertising focuses on self indulgent spending.

I find the whole lottery scene interesting because so many people are thinking nothing of spending $20-$25 a week on tickets. However, most of them would admit to a degree of excitement if they were given $1000.00. For some reason, the rationale does not holdup when you suggest that they stop buying tickets for a year; saved the money, and then gave themselves $1000.00 at year end!

It would appear therefore that while a $1000.00 gift would be nice, it is the $multi-million prizes that are the attraction. Again, I have to question the logic because there are so many examples of people forced into bankruptcy after a big win, simply because they spend with no thought for their resulting obligations. Moving into a multi-million dollar home dictates very high taxes and utilities plus the general upkeep of such properties! A luxury yacht is not a low maintenance item! Buying everybody a Rolls Royce car may well not be appreciated at vehicle service time.

Then there are those who have won multi-millions, and have decided to take a vacation while they decide what to do with it. Very often, it is decided to treat family and friends to small (relative to the win) value items such as pay off mortgages or buy cars. I am no accountant, but it is apparently very likely that a $multi-million win could be gaining more interest over a year than is being spent! People can literally have “more money than they know what do with”. Given all the new friends that they will undoubtedly have, and all the charities that will be in constant touch with them, it is highly unlikely that this will be a carefree and happy period in their life!

It seems to me that the ideal person to win a $multi-million lottery, is someone with a good basic knowledge of accounting and investments; someone with business experience, and someone with a philanthropic perspective. As far as I can deduce, that person would have a chance of being happy as a result of a big win but then, would that person actually buy lottery tickets?

Politics & Religion!

The following Post showed up here in 2019, but this does seem to be an appropriate time to repeat it:

Many bloggers will steer clear of politics and religion and, given the abusive nature of isolated comments that are usually generated from those topics, it’s an understandable position. While I can acknowledge the sensitivity of those areas (together with a few other areas), I do believe that feelings/opinions should be expressed. We all view the world differently, and those differences are based on our upbringing, together with any significant emotional experiences. It is therefore quite natural that, while you and I will hopefully have some common interests and perspectives, it is highly unlikely that we will agree on everything. We must recognize the significance of that.

There were many cases of people who lived through the US great depression, who later stored their money at home. A very natural reaction given the collapse of many banks during that time period and, if you cannot trust your bank, it becomes necessary find a more secure location …. say under the bed mattress! Storing money at home is, to me, rather reckless  as I trust my bank … but I can still understand the other perspective.

Anybody raised in a “working class” environment, will have a very different perspective of the world than somebody whose family was financially very secure. It is not coincidental that door-to-door fundraising is more lucrative in working class neighbourhoods than it is in affluent neighbourhoods. The rationale explained to me a long time ago was simple – “The more you have, the more you have to lose … the more you hold on to it.”

Living in an area which is either very industrial, or rather precarious in its existence, will often result in a very giving/sharing culture. I experienced that in the industrial north of England, and many will attest to it in Canada’s East Coast communities.

As children, many of us grew up generally trusting people and, while reality dictated that there were “villains” out there, we could believe that they were not a significant factor to us. Conversely however, if we experienced abuse from somebody we trusted, the after effects could quite naturally have impacted our perspective on people for many years into the future.

So where is all this going? It is simply to spread the word that you and I do not necessarily have to be right or wrong. Neither of us needs to get upset at the other’s viewpoint. What we do need to do is to acknowledge that your perspective is created from your life experiences, and my perspective created from mine. If we can respect differing opinions, and perhaps even make an effort to understand them, then we as a society will avoid so many issues.

As for politics and religion? Go for it, and if/when you get a really abusive Comment … try and remember that their life experiences have dictated their behaviour. I moderate all my Comments in order to catch those with suggestive, vulgar or otherwise offensive phrasing, but I do that to maintain a standard of blogging. Even if I do not understand the reasons why an individual becomes abusive here, I can at least acknowledge that there certainly are reasons. Spread the word! 🙂

Temporarily Inactive

As a result of a number of challenges presenting themselves at the same time, this Blog will be inactive for the immediate future. As I will still be Following your Blogs, you will no doubt still receive Likes and a Comment or two … or three … or four! There are a number of unknowns impacting this decision, but hopefully Blogging can get back to normal in the not too distant future. Regards to all. Stay safe. Take care. Colin.

And to 1958

Still in the Lonnie Donegan era, “Jack of Diamonds” was apparently released in 1957, but it was some time after “Cumberland Gap” before I heard it. If I recall correctly, “Jack of Diamonds” was the first 45rpm record I owned! As with “Cumberland Gap”, the lyrics are not particularly meaningful, but then … wasn’t skiffle all about rhythm?

 

One more benefit of self-publishing!

A short time ago, I published (here) a Post about various aspects of self-publishing (link below).

Publishing your Book!

My general message was that anybody who has a dream of publishing their writings should do so, even though there is a strong possibility that the financial costs involved may never be recouped.

As some of you already know, there can be great pleasure in simply holding a copy of your first book. Imagine then the sense of satisfaction when a copy is sold and, further, the big smile on your face when you read a review and realize that your book has impacted another person sufficient for them to express their views publicly.

Another cause for self-satisfaction would be when the owner of another Blog decides to review your book! Not only are you getting the benefit of another perspective on your endeavours, but your work is then exposed to their readers with the resulting sales potential.

“Who Said I was up for Adoption?” has just been reviewed by Tiana Kelly who authors Sit, Stay, Blog – link below:

https://sit-stay-blog.net/2021/09/17/who-said-i-was-up-for-adoption/

Thanks Tiana and, being a dog person yourself, I was so pleased that you saw aspects in the book which could help new dog owners develop a relationship with their dog.

Publishing your Book!

There are a lot of writers “out there”, and they are generally visible by their Blogs. That is not surprising really as blogging offers a golden opportunity to expose one’s writings to a very broad audience. However, some bloggers are more productive than others and the temptation to market a book can be very tempting. Imagine the sense of achievement when your book is in print for the whole world to see!

For anybody contemplating this “adventure”, there are a number of challenges which must be  confronted. The main hurdle (based on my experience) is the initial cost to publish the book, and the ongoing promotion costs that must follow.  The traditional publishers will often cover those costs if they are certain that sales will be sufficient to warrant the investment. That rather limits their perspective to already established authors, politicians and other celebrities.

A very practical alternative is to self-publish. There are a number of companies that will assist with this … but it is not free!  They will, quite reasonably, expect to have their costs covered as they prepare your manuscript to be published in book form with all that entails. There are copyright details and ISBN registration and other facets which ultimately make a book available. When your book is available, it is unlikely that a book retailer will purchase copies unless there is a guarantee of reimbursement for books not sold (dead stock).

A very convenient solution to the inventory issues is Print on Demand. This means that when (e.g.) a copy is purchased from an on-line retailer, they simply order a copy to be printed and shipped.

Having said all that, there are some realities to be confronted. Below are the key statistics from my three books:

“Who Said I was up for Adoption?” – Published August 2015 – Cost to publish $5809.22 – Total Sales to date 118 – Current debt $6066.52

“Just Thinking” – Published September 2017 – Cost to publish $3835.06 – Total Sales to date 20 – Current debt $3822.20

“The Odessa Chronicles” (as this book was a collaborative effort, all costs are mine i.e. 50% of the total costs) – Published July 2018 – Cost to publish $2183.06 – Total Sales to date 88 – Current debt $1948.72

Why the significant costs to publish? It was because I valued an independent review of the draft and received valuable information covering structure, grammatical errors and overall presentation of the book. I also had the book covers professionally done. Finally, getting the book registered for sale and the administration involved in creating (and making generally available) the POD software had costs attached.

Why has my debt load generally increased? Simply because the cost of advertising has been greater than the royalties generated from sales. Advertising is quite expensive and, with book royalties generally around the $3.00 to $4.00 per book, must be considered carefully.

It is difficult for me to express the immense satisfaction I have felt with getting those three books published, especially when the reviews have been so positive. The fact that the revenues from sales have not covered my costs is rather immaterial when balanced against the pleasure of knowing that people have enjoyed the “fruits of my labour”!

So should you publish your book? Absolutely!

 

“Will You Be My Friend?”

Two weeks ago, I was invited to write a “2000 or less words” piece in the context of a memoir, and submit it in a writing competition. I duly wrote “Will You Be My Friend?” however, on reviewing the terms and conditions of the competition, I decided to not enter.

Not wishing to leave it unread though ……………………..

Will you be my friend?

(Copyright C. Chappell 2021)

Many, many years ago, I was a 14 year old boy living in England. I had a keen interest in trains, and a busy railway line was just ten minutes walk away! The walk was very simple. Turn left outside our home, and walk for about five minutes; cross a main road, and I would be at the railway line in another five minutes. One Saturday morning, I decided to go to the railway line for a few hours. This was not an uncommon thing for me to do, and the weather was perfect for spending time with “my” trains.

I should perhaps explain that I was a very independent child, a trait learned after experiencing persistent teasing at school as a result of a speech impediment. I stammered, and saying my name was a major challenge. Children thought it was funny to keep asking me my name, and were clearly amused at my efforts to answer. There was security in trains as, not only were they very large and very exciting as they roared passed, but they never felt a need to ask me my name. Even the ones I saw standing in our local railway station seemed to be quite happy letting me simply be me.

I walked down our driveway and turned left at the end. Just a few yards in front of me was a lady who lived at one end of our street, and she was talking to our neighbour who was doing some gardening. Standing next to the lady was Sabre, a white female German Shepherd. I had seen Sabre a few times when she was on her walks in the neighbourhood.

There was nothing particularly unusual about that day until I started to walk past them. For reasons that can only be surmised, Sabre appeared to see me as a threat and suddenly lunged at me, biting the top of my leg. Given the potential power behind a German Shepherd’s bite, I think it more accurate to say that she nipped me but, as she broke my skin such that I started to bleed, it was a bite to me. I quickly returned home to show my Mom, and she took me to the hospital where I received an injection. My life soon returned to normal, except that I did not like dogs. I did not trust dogs. I wanted nothing to do with dogs.

Over the next fifty years, and while I was indifferent to dogs in general, I did get to know a few people who owned dogs. There were occasions when they went out of their way to show me their dog was not a threat and, while it was reassuring to know that they are not all aggressive, it did very little to change my overall image of dogs. There were dogs on our street who got to know me and, despite my no doubt obvious reservations, came up close and invited touching. Patting their furry bodies and stroking their ears was a rather nice experience, and I became quite comfortable responding to their requests for attention. I even found myself looking forward to meeting certain dogs.

One day a thought crossed my mind that perhaps I could find room for a dog in my life? That thought was quickly rejected as being totally ridiculous. A few weeks later, that same thought made itself apparent once again and, once again, it was dismissed. It was not long before the thought of owning a dog seemed not only practical, but worth investigating. My partner of many years had a number of dogs in her past, but she was well aware of my history and so never pursued the idea of adding a dog to our home. I eventually decided that I should discretely look into dog ownership. Discretion was important because I did not want to raise her hopes that we would be getting a dog.

I introduced myself to our local animal shelter, and explained my journey so far towards dog ownership. I explained about Sabre, and stressed that I knew nothing about caring for a dog. They were very understanding and suggested that I take a walk past the adoption bays and let them know if any of the dogs aroused any interest. Questions would inevitably arise which they could then hopefully answer. There were a number of dogs which I thought may be nice, but so many questions were spinning around in my head. How do I know which is the “right” dog for me? What do I need to know to look after a dog? What if I pick a dog who does not like me? I would like a large dog, but perhaps small would be better? We all agreed that I should go home and think about it some more. If I was still interested in a few days, then we could sit down and talk about my concerns.

The idea of having a dog in our home was constantly on my mind and, during one visit to the shelter, we discussed what I expected from a dog, and what I could offer it in the way of a home. As there were no obvious negative aspects in the context of me adopting a dog, it would now be up to me to look at the various dogs and let them know if a specific one was of interest to me. I felt that I was now “out of my depth” and so decided to get some experienced help. My partner was duly advised and was obviously very happy at the prospect of possibly having a dog in our home. We both walked past the adoption bays on a regular basis and, after a few weeks, decided that a dog named Ray could be a strong possibility. However, he was most certainly part German Shepherd which posed the question of whether I could adjust to another one without dwelling on my history with Sabre. It was mutually agreed that as my comfort level with Ray was a critical factor, I should make the final decision. With that goal in mind, it was suggested that I see Ray as often as possible until such time as I knew whether or not Ray was the one for me.

I visited Ray at least five days a week. Typically he would be brought outside to me, all leashed and ready to go. I would walk with him around a nearby park and then, upon returning to the shelter, would take him into a small fenced area where he could be detached from his leash for a while. There he would just wander around, and sometimes watch other dogs going off on their walks, or perhaps off to their new homes. This was the focus of my life for the next few weeks, until one morning in March 2013. The events on that day not only changed my life, but are etched so deep into my brain that I suspect I will remember that day, even when so many other events are forgotten.

It had started off like so many prior visits. I drove to the shelter and asked to take Ray out for a walk. They said that they would get him ready and meet me outside. Ray and I were soon off on another uneventful walk and, while I was contemplating a future with him, he was just following his nose. Upon our return, I took him into the fenced area and let him wander around as was his habit.

In the absence of any sitting area, I went into a squat position and leaned back against the chain-link fence. It was a relatively comfortable position for me as I watched Ray explore the area once again. He tended to stay close to the perimeter fence as he wandered around but, this time, he suddenly stopped and turned his head towards me. He was on the opposite side of the area, probably about fifty feet away, and he was motionless and staring at me. “What just happened?” I asked myself.

Ray is a German Shepherd/Rottweiler mix. He has the broad head of a Rottweiler, but the overall coloring and general appearance of a German Shepherd. At close to 80lbs in weight, he could be quite daunting and, from my squat position against the fence, his eyes appeared to be fixated on me.

He then started slowly walking directly towards me. It was a controlled walk, and his eyes were holding my attention. I stayed where I was and watched him coming closer, but I was starting to think that perhaps I should stand up? Perhaps his intentions are going to be unpleasant but then (I thought) I had done nothing that could even remotely be interpreted as threatening. He was now about ten feet away and I was still, quite obviously, his focus. I decided to stay in my squat position and simply trust him. As he stepped closer and closer, I was thinking about all our walks together, and our times in this fenced area. I was thinking how good he had been when leashed. I was thinking how, when the shelter staff brought him out earlier that day to go for a walk with me, his tail had been happily wagging.

My relatively short life with Ray was flashing through my mind when suddenly he was standing right in front of me. I have never before seen eyes quite like Ray’s. They are brown, with almost black pupils, and can really hold your attention. He was just staring into my eyes, and I had no desire to look away. I was reminded of something I had recently read, which stated “The eyes are the windows to the soul”. If that statement is true, then I have to believe that our souls briefly connected during those moments.

He then very slowly leaned forward until his face was probably eight or nine inches from my face. I was totally transfixed and could only await whatever was about to happen. I watched him move even closer and, still staring into my eyes, his nose touched mine. Contact was very brief, after which he turned and walked away from me.

I was puzzled, very relieved, and needed to know what that was all about. I called Ray over to attach his leash, and then we made our way back to the shelter. As the staff person took the leash from me, I asked if she had a minute because something had happened during our walk which I would really like to understand. She immediately looked concerned so I reassured her that Ray had been very good, but there had been an incident in the fenced area. I then related what had happened and, when I had finished, she was in tears.

She looked at me through her teary eyes and said “You have no idea what he was doing have you?” I explained that my experience of dogs is minimal and so no, I have no idea. She then explained that it was a dog’s way of saying ‘Will you be my friend?’ She also noted that, as far as she was aware, he had never done that to anybody in the four months that he had been with the shelter. “How did you react?” she asked. I explained that I didn’t react as I was somewhat in shock over the whole experience. It was decided that I would have a few more minutes on my own with him, before he was returned to his bay in the shelter building.

We adopted Ray in March 2013, and he still “loves” with us at the time of writing this memoir.