Life Circumstances

“Life Circumstances!”

Having Ray’s book* released to the world triggered many thoughts, not the least of which is how one’s life journey can change directions in ways that could never have been predicted, simply as a result of specific circumstances.

If I had not failed my pre-career medical, I would have never met the girl that I married.

If I had never married that girl, I would have never come to Canada because it was her aunt that sold us on the idea and eventually sponsored us.

Many years later, if I had never been put on a special project by my employer, I would have never met Carol.

If I had never met Carol, it would have been virtually guaranteed that I would have never contemplated letting a dog into my life.

If I had never let Ray into my life, I would have never written the book about him!

If somebody told me in 2008 that, in 5 years, I would be living with an almost 80 pounds dog who had been abandoned and carried significant emotional baggage as a result, I would have grinned and responded “Yeh……….. right!”

If that same person told me that I would do pretty much anything for that dog, I would start to wonder what they had been drinking.

If they then told me that I would write, and publish, a book* covering the trials and tribulations of his first 18 months with us, I would be convinced that they were totally delusional.

Circumstances! Aren’t they wonderful? They can just happen, and our life takes on a completely new direction.

Circumstances! Provide us with incentives to step out of our comfort zones.

Circumstances! Offer us challenges from which we can expand our horizons and generally grow.

Perhaps we should all reflect on the circumstances that brought us to our current “place” and celebrate because, regardless of the positives and negatives of the various life-changing circumstances, they did happen and they did make us who we are today. As for tomorrow? There will hopefully be more circumstances.

* “Who Said I was up for Adoption?” is available direct from the Friesen Press Bookstore

https://books.friesenpress.com/store/title/119734000018826578/Colin-Chappell-Who-Said-I-Was-Up-For-Adoption%3F

A Reality Check!

I wonder how many of you have contemplated what you would like to do, but have not actually started yet. Perhaps you have an  artistic flair you want to develop? Perhaps you want to do some volunteer work? Perhaps you want to get yourself into a fitness routine? Perhaps? Perhaps? Perhaps?

There are so many aspects of our lives that could be developed, and we have every intention of working on them one day don’t we … but here’s a reality check to which some of you will be able to easily relate.

For me, the past 10 years have been a blur of events. Ray came into our lives – I lost a couple of dear friends – COVID arrived – Ukraine is fighting for survival. Then there are the various elections; the significant localized events.  Of course we can’t forget the extreme weather patterns that are generally attributed to climate change, plus events that are a natural part of our aging planet. If you are a regular news “junkie”, then you have probably pondered the “sabre rattling” by North Korea, and also by China. Will Hong Kong maintain its status quo or will it be absorbed into mainland China’s political structure?

So much of the above is simply a sign of my age. I am at an age (75) where I can recall simpler times. Of course they weren’t really simpler times at all, but I was so much younger and more self-involved so was not impacted too much by those kinds of events …. but here’s the reality check:

I was in a thoughtful mood the other day, and generally contemplating the world (and life) in general. It crossed my mind just how fast the past 10 years had gone by. It made me wonder how our world will look in 10 years time … and then it crossed my mind that I may well not be around to see it! Given the average lifespan of men here in Canada, and looking at the male side of my family tree, there is a very strong possibility that I will not be around in 2032.

The significance of that is when I think of how fast the last 10 years went by, and concluded that the next 10 years will presumably pass equally fast. I don’t know about you, but if that perspective doesn’t make you get moving on some dreams/goals, then I don’t know what will!

Food for thought!

Money! Money! Money!

I thought I had broached the topic of money a few years ago but, in the absence of a successful Blog search, I’ll pour out my thoughts on money here and now!

Money is nothing, in that it has no value until it is used to do something.

Money invested serves no purpose except to make more of the same. i.e. it is generating more nothing!

The above may sound a little irrational to some of you … but think about it.

It is an obvious fact that money is a means to an end. If you  are saving to buy a home (e.g.), then when sufficient funds are created, and the home selected, the money serves its purpose. The same rational obviously applies to cars, boats, furniture, weddings, Christmas etc. etc. The point is (and without wishing to be repetitive) that money only has value when you do something with it.

So now let’s move on to those of us who have pretty much what we want. We have probably worked for many years and have managed to achieve a low debt load, or perhaps even a zero debt load. We may still be working. We may have financially lucrative interests. We may have investments. In fact, if we have lead a financially responsible life, we could now be enjoying a relatively (financially) care-free life.

Most of us have been raised in a culture that is extremely money driven. This is neither wrong in any way, nor should it be a revelation to any of you. Money really does make our world go round. We need it to provide the basic necessities of food and shelter. We need it to ensure we get the medical treatment we need, but these are all examples of money showing its value by being used.

What about the money that is not being used? What about that investment made a few years ago on the advice of perhaps your bank. You had it in your bank account doing nothing so investing it made sense, but what are you investing it for? You may have a very precise answer, but for so many people,  the investment is “Well … why not?” “It might come in useful one day.” “Who knows what the future will bring?”

This brings to mind a quote (author unknown) “99% of what we worry about will never happen to us. Insurance companies know that and flourish as a result …………. and at our expense!”

I have suggested to a number of people that they withdraw their savings and treat themselves. Take an exotic holiday. Buy a luxury car. Do something that they have often thought about, but have hesitated because of the expense. The reality for so many people is that they work for most of their lives, and have managed to create a financial “nest egg” … which eventually is inherited by their dependants. i.e. They will enjoy the pleasure of the deceased person’s financial decisions.

There is something wrong with the concept that you and I should spend our lives saving as/when we can, but it is our dependants that get the pleasure from it all.

It should be stressed the leaving a financial gift to one’s dependants is a lovely gesture, and one which I totally support however, at what value is that gift excessive. It is my belief that my children (now middle-age!) should be given a financial gift as/when I leave this earth. My emphasis however is that it should be relatively small gift, rather than a life-changing one.  The issues I see with large gifts fall into two areas.

If they are aware of a large inheritance, they will likely plan accordingly and generally behave like privileged individuals. As their father, I want them to stay financially well grounded and be productive  members of society.

I have the options to enjoy my savings now, or let somebody else enjoy my savings later. I can determine where my money goes in advance (specify in a will),  or I can let the recipients determine where it goes.

So what was the point of this post? I wanted to stress two rather obvious, but often little thought about, aspects of money.

  1. It has no value until used to do something. Saving it for the sake of saving and with no defined end purpose is not only pointless but rather insensitive given the amount of publicly funded organizations providing key services to our less fortunate members of society.
  2.  I would suggest that we all have financially dependant dreams for ourselves. It may be a luxury cruise, or perhaps buying a boat etc., or perhaps helping a local charity achieve its goals.  Do we want to pursue those goals while we can, or do we want our dependants to make the decisions about how the money is spent?

Finally, and only if you do have some available money, click on the book covers in the right hand column and decide which one (or two) you are going to treat yourself to! I can highly recommend “Who Said I was up for Adoption?” to anybody who has a “soft spot” for a rescue dogs. I can also highly recommend “The Odessa Chronicles” to anybody who loves fun fiction, especially when it involves a human trying to negotiate his way through life, but having to deal with a Barn Owl, a Jackalope and a Cat! If there is a child within you … you will love this book. There is also “Just Thinking” …. highly recommended if you are a thinker, and love to ponder various aspects of life!

Food for thought.

 

Laughter really is the best medicine!

The following were sent to me with an introduction that read – “These are from a book called  Disorder in the American Courts and are things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and published by court reporters that had the torment of staying calm while the exchanges were taking place.”
Given that I heard a slight variation to one of them around 50 years ago in England, I strongly doubt the authenticity however, I give the writer full marks for creativity … and welcome anything that causes smiles! Enjoy!
**   ***  *****  ***  **
ATTORNEY: What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning?
WITNESS: He said, ‘Where am I, Cathy?’
ATTORNEY: And why did that upset you?
 WITNESS: My name is Susan!
**   ***  *****  ***  **
ATTORNEY: What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?
WITNESS: Gucci sweats and Reeboks.
**   ***  *****  ***  **
ATTORNEY: Are you sexually active?
WITNESS: No, I just lie there.
**   ***  *****  ***  **
ATTORNEY: What is your date of birth?
WITNESS: July 18th.
ATTORNEY: What year?
WITNESS: Every year.
**   ***  *****  ***  **
ATTORNEY: How old is your son, the one living with you?
WITNESS: Thirty-eight or thirty-five, I can’t remember which.
ATTORNEY: How long has he lived with you?
WITNESS: Forty-five years.
**   ***  *****  ***  **
ATTORNEY: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?
WITNESS: Yes.
ATTORNEY: And in what ways does it affect your memory?
WITNESS: I forget..
ATTORNEY: You forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot?
**   ***  *****  ***  **
ATTORNEY: Now doctor, isn’t it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn’t know about it until the next morning?
WITNESS: Did you actually pass the bar exam?
**   ***  *****  ***  **
ATTORNEY: The youngest son, the 20-year-old, how old is he?
WITNESS: He’s 20, much like your IQ.
**   ***  *****  ***  **
ATTORNEY: Were you present when your picture was taken?
WITNESS: Are you shitting me?
**   ***  *****  ***  **
ATTORNEY: So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?
WITNESS: Yes.
ATTORNEY: And what were you doing at that time?
WITNESS: Getting laid
**   ***  *****  ***  **
ATTORNEY: She had three children , right?
WITNESS: Yes.
ATTORNEY: How many were boys?
WITNESS: None.
ATTORNEY: Were there any girls?
WITNESS: Your Honor, I think I need a different attorney. Can I get a new attorney?
**   ***  *****  ***  **
ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated?
WITNESS: By death..
ATTORNEY: And by whose death was it terminated?
WITNESS: Take a guess.
**   ***  *****  ***  **
ATTORNEY: Can you describe the individual?
WITNESS: He was about medium height and had a beard
ATTORNEY: Was this a male or a female?
WITNESS: Unless the Circus was in town I’m going with male.
**   ***  *****  ***  **
 ATTORNEY: Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?
 WITNESS: No, this is how I dress when I go to work.
**   ***  *****  ***  **
ATTORNEY: Doctor , how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?
WITNESS: All of them. The live ones put up too much of a fight.
**   ***  *****  ***  **
ATTORNEY: ALL your responses MUST be oral, OK? What school did you go to?
WITNESS: Oral…
**   ***  *****  ***  **
ATTORNEY: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?
WITNESS: The autopsy started around 8:30 PM
ATTORNEY: And Mr. Denton was dead at the time?
WITNESS: If not, he was by the time I finished.
**   ***  *****  ***  **
ATTORNEY: Are you qualified to give a urine sample?
WITNESS: Are you qualified to ask that question?
**   ***  *****  ***  **
And last:
ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
WITNESS: No.
ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?
WITNESS: No.
ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?
WITNESS: No..
ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
WITNESS: No.
ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY: I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law.

The Past is the Past!

“The Past is the Past” is both quite complex and simplistic. It is complex because most of us (perhaps all of us) have events in our history which we may question many times, and simplistic because it is a statement of simple fact.

A number of blogs I follow have recently posted thoughts about dealing with the past, and this can be very challenging depending on the individual and also (of course) on the specifics causing the unrest.

Past unpleasant (perhaps traumatic) experiences can generally be attributed to what somebody did to us, or what we did to somebody else. The following thoughts/comments are around the latter scenario because sometimes it seems easier to forgive somebody else for their mistakes, than it is to come to terms with our own.

Perhaps that decision we made a long time ago was, in hindsight, simply poor judgment? Perhaps we just listened to the wrong people when trying to decide how to address a particular situation? Perhaps we were given good advice but, even knowing that it made sense, chose to ignore it anyway?

“I’ll expect perfection from you as soon as I can set the example. You’re quite safe for the foreseeable future!” … has been my philosophy to staff, friends and family for many years now. However, while mistakes will always be made, I do have an expectation that lessons will be learned and, hopefully, the mistakes not repeated.

In the context of coming to terms with your own shortcomings in past situations, it is my belief that you have to accept two very basic truths:

None of us are perfect … and that includes you!

Every mistake we make produces an opportunity to learn from it.

Admitting to ones own flaws can be an issue, especially if there is an existing lack of self-esteem. However, there is a reality that everybody will/does make mistakes and, while that must include you and me, it is good to remember that it also includes those around us who may well act to convey quite the opposite impression.

We have probably all encountered individuals who project a sense of confidence about everything in general. It would seem that their life has been perfect. While a healthy ego is a positive asset, it must be balanced with a sense of reality, so while they may not acknowledge their inherent imperfections, it is up to us to recognize that they exist in everybody … in order to put ourselves at a healthy point of  reference.

i.e. It is probably a good start in dealing with our own history if we simply acknowledge that, regardless of the images presented to us by various people, we are all imperfect. We can all make mistakes. In fact, just as in dealing with an addiction, the first step to healing is to acknowledge that you do have a problem. (You cannot fix a problem you don’t have … right!)

If you can do that, then you are already ahead of so many others. Well done!

So, if you accept that everybody makes mistakes (including you), and you accept that every mistake is an opportunity to learn so as to avoid a repeat performance, what is next?

Perhaps dwelling on your specific oversight would be a good starting place, and then asking yourself (with hindsight) … “What could I have done differently?” Depending on the issue, the answer could be quite simple, or it could involve more thought.  An option may well have been to simply not said/done whatever it was in your past, but you may have had a goal in mind which dictated an action on your part. In this case, perhaps think about alternative ways you could have approached the issue.

If your action was done of out  of ignorance of other factors, then you now know for the future. If it was done with no allowance for the potential sensitivity of the issue, then you know to be more sensitive next time. If it was done because you were acting only in your own interests, then you have learned to consider other perspectives next time. All of these examples result in a more educated you, and how can that be anything other than good!

The whole point of the above is not really to prepare for a repeat of those circumstances as that is unlikely to happen, but is intended to reinforce that while mistakes were made, there have been things learned as a result which we can hopefully apply to whatever lies ahead of us.

Remember – None of us are perfect, and we therefore all make mistakes.

Remember – Every mistake provides us with an opportunity to learn and grow.

Remember – The past is the past. It is history and cannot be changed. Tomorrow, however, is an opportunity to live our life using lessons learned from our past.

Just some thoughts.

Spring?

Spring is just around the corner! That is what we are telling ourselves as our snow has melted quite a lot these past few days, but then …. I can recall being dressed “for the Arctic” one Easter. I can also recall getting sunburned one Easter, so perhaps it is wishful thinking and with minimal basis for it to be true! The reality is we could get pretty much anything for the next month or two.

The pic below is of our town harbour which was totally iced over not too long ago, but the attraction was not the ice flows, but rather the sole Canada Goose mixing in with the seagulls. (You may not see him/her on a small screen). I was trying to come up with a caption for him/her, and thought of “So Spring is right around the corner eh!” or “Hi Gulls! How yer doin’ eh!” or (to the Gulls) “Hi Guys! You don’t mind if I chill here for a while eh?”

What I eventually decided on is below the pic!

“MOM . . . . . . . .  MOM . . . . . . . . ! Where are you Mom? MOM . . . . . . . I’m surrounded by a gazillion Gulls! MOM . . . . . . . !”

 

The Magic of Music!

There was no music planned for today, but then I had some thoughts about music pieces being kinds of milestones! This was made very clear to me this past week … but I am getting ahead of myself,  so let me go back in time.

If I reflect musically, I am taken back to numerous recordings which made an impact such that they are associated with a particular time in my life. My father was an ardent lover of Classical music, and had little time for the “pop music” of the 1960’s (my teen years). My mother liked some classical, and some “pop”, but she really liked the soundtracks from musicals such as “Carousel”, Oklahoma” etc. I had an older sister (by 3 years) who was listening to Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, Sal Mineo, Pat Boone etc.  My exposure to music during my teen years was therefore rather conducive to developing a broad range of musical tastes …. and I can revisit certain periods in my past simply by recalling the music.

Let me give you some examples:

Peter Lind Hayes – “Life Gets Tedious” … goes back to the late 1950’s and could well have been the first song I heard which I liked. It was unusual, creative and funny!

Lonnie Donegan – “Cumberland Gap” – Released in 1957, was my first 78rpm record, and I loved the skiffle rhythms.

Bruch’s – “Violin Concerto #1” (3rd Mvmt) – My first connection with a classical piece. I loved the violin tones and the speed of the piece. I later learned that 3rd Movements were typically written for a fast tempo. I was therefore “anointed” into the realm of Classical music by Max Bruch around  1960/61.

The Searchers – “Needles & Pins” – Came out in 1963, but I first heard it at the beginning of 1964 when I was living in a college across the other side of the country to my home.

During college, and for quite a few years thereafter, music was relegated to a rather insignificant position in my life due to unplanned career path changes and a social life, and then in the late 1960’s I met Les who had just moved into a house just round the corner to us. We shared a common interest in music and he introduced me to The Moody Blues “Question of Balance” album (and many others). He played guitar as a hobby (with dreams of public performances) and eventually influenced me sufficiently that I went out and bought one!

What does all this have to do with milestones? The above clearly suggests that music can take us to a specific point in time, and I would not be surprised if many (perhaps all) of you can travel back in time to a point dictated by music. However, this post was not started with the goal of reminiscing over music, but rather the potential ramifications of a journey into the past and being guided by music.

My very recent journey started when I was in FB, and came across an old photograph of Les (ref earlier comments). It was instant recognition because it was exactly how I remembered him, with very long and rather “out of control” hair! Given that there has been no communication since we moved to another part of town (and later emigrated), the question that came to mind was “What does one say to somebody after 50 years?”

The answer was very simple … say “Hi Les. Just found you by accident. Remember me?”

We are now in regular dialogue as we slowly recap our respective lives. Les is still playing his guitar and  has partnered with a lady who plays/teaches violin, and sings. They have formed a “contemporary folk” group (aka alternative folk), and were playing  pubs and clubs until COVID put an end to that. As I also maintained my musical interests (my book “Just Thinking” includes a number of pieces that were originally written as songs), we are currently in the process of sharing our musical endeavours!

… and all this came from music. Not only can significant time frames in my life be revisited  by way of a song, but a common interest in music was a catalyst to restore a 50 years old relationship.

Music does seem to have that ability to create memories, and if you cannot remember too much about specific times in your past, you probably will if you hear the appropriate song! I am enjoying the magic of music, especially during these COVID times … are you?

Life Gets Tedious –  https://meandray.com/2018/04/07/life-gets-tedious/

Cumberland Gap –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRUGuuz7yVo

Bruch’s Violin Concerto 3rd Mvmt –   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5Qhne9qZFY

Needles & Pins –   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFHpEINyZ-E

Question –   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NP9iOqdxS8c

Just a pic but …

The picture (below) says so many things:

The ice is expanding out into the lake. Lake Ontario will not freeze over, but the ice will creep out quite a way before the Spring thaw.

Our temperatures are unusually low. Typically we are around -5C (23F) now but, with a brisk breeze, we have been in the -15C to -18C range (5F to -0.4F).

Grand-daughters are wonderful. Mine made me that hat many years ago.

Daughters are wonderful. Not only did mine raise a wonderful grand-daughter, she also made me that (very long and super thick) scarf!

You can see Carol’s shadow as she holds her ‘phone to take the pic and … finally …

You can see the shadow made by Ray’s leash which, if you follow to its conclusion, will show you a shadow of our beloved Ray!

🙂