Mother’s Day in Australia is on 10 May 2015.
Photo source: Unknown
By Kerry Cue
Watch this TED talk if you want a laugh. But watch it also to learn why we laugh less as we age.
Do we really become GRUMPY OLD men and women? Or is something else happening. In this funny talk (Watch especially for the You Tube Clip at the end), Sophie Scott, who is both a neuroscientist and a standup comedian, explains that we do not learn to distinguish spontaneous laughter from fake laughter until we hit our late thirties or even our early forties. But as we age we become more and more immune to contagious laughter.
WE need the social context. Don’t sit in front of the tellie. You are immune to canned laughter. Get out the door and socialise … that’s where you will pigsnort-laugh yourself silly.
Remember, laughter is therapeutic.
by Sibyl Jules
How do you describe the old chemo trip which, incidentally, I finished 2 weeks ago after 6 months of 2 weekly cycles? This is only my experience- everyone has different sorts of chemo and some are much worse than others. My side effects were horrible on one drug, which I was spared after 4 cycles because of weird stuff happening. I never wanted to know what the side effects might be beforehand- then I’d only get them! A useful tip shared by an oncology nurse friend was to keep the literature they gave me as a reference if something did feel unusual or bad, and just read it as you need to. This helped me avoid worrying about things that might happen and to respond appropriately to them if they did.
I can’t say chemo was easy, but when I meet with any of my ‘cancer club’ as my partner calls them, he always comments how happy we all are. We are, after all, alive, and eating, drinking (albeit a modified beverage of choice) and laughing with friends. I think that the last 6 months of chemo has taught me to enjoy and savour every tiny joy- cooking and sharing food and wine with good friends and family has always been an important part of our lives- so when chemo flattens me for a week, being able to eat and drink and meet friends again- or go to WOMAD, the happiest 4 days of the year as I know it- gives me much to be happy about. Every tiny joy helps…Look for them- they make you feel safe and help to stave off the anxiety and fear.
Oddly, chemo has also reminded me how much I love my work. I’ve been able to work two or three days a week, throughout chemo. I found that focusing on thinking and working, surrounded by busy people doing interesting things has helped me to avoid the pitfalls of the ‘poor-me-illness-behaviour mode’, which I might be prone to without the focus! I’m lucky I can choose when I go to work and if I feel too bad I crash and burn, but usually I get some days in each week. I’m also fortunate I love my work. And having a supportive and loving family and partner has helped too of course. I’ve loved having old friends call up out of the blue, and have been overwhelmed by the incredible generosity and thoughtfulness of people around me. Totally unexpected and humbling.
On grumbling about chemo prior to treatment starting, a surgeon reminded me that I am very lucky to be offered chemo- a treatment that may help keep me alive. For some things there is no such treatment and for that reason I knew I’d just have to go with it, knowing that every 2 weeks, just as I’m beginning to feel a bit ‘normal’ again, another bus will run me over.
Jules is a perceptive observer and an irrepressible, positive force as well as director and publisher for the Neuro Orthopaedic Institute, Adelaide, SA. And here is the Chemo Fashionista post of the fabulous Jules at WOMAD, Adelaide.
We Sibyls are concerned with the impact negative attitudes to aging have on our health. Toxic stereotypes of ‘the little old lady’ are prevalent in the medical world, At my age doctor John Glen was an astronaut, in the media, If you think you are old guess what? You are aging fast and in our own conversations, Why you should avoid geriatric talk.
Sometimes, however, we don’t realise just how ingrained these attitudes are in the culture. In this fascinating lecture Sheila Roher, founder of Radical Age Lab, University of Columbia, asks the audience ‘how many of you were told when you were a child or a teenager that these are the best years of your life?’. ‘That’s a terrifiying statement!’ exclaims Roher. ‘Like I peaked at nine … middle school is it?’
Watch the video for some profound philosophical thinking on aging.
You will find more discussion on this topic at Radical Age Movement Blog.
by Kerry Cue
We are the generations, who roamed free. We rode our bikes unsupervised. Explored the neighbourhood. Played in the street. Our grandchildren live indoors. (See The Last Child in the Woods book review) This is cause for great concern. Sibyl Helen Elliott writes about the joys of taking grandchildren into nature. There is another side to this story. Childhood is diminished if children do not experience nature. Now the research confirms our fears.
Results from the Australian State of Play Report, 2012, comprising 8 – 12 year old children, their parents and grandparents published in Primary Focus, the SAPPA (South Australia Primary Principals) Magazine include:
*Indoors: 9 out of 10 kids spend more time playing inside than out.
*A lack of inspiration: 37% of kids run out of ideas for play.
*A lack of time: Afterschool activities limit the time children have to play outdoors.
*A lack of opportunity: 37% of kids report they don’t have anyone to play with outside as almost half the kids they might play with are indoors plugged into technology.
“A growing body of research shows us that outdoor play leads to better physical and mental health, has positive effects on cognitive function and learning, and reduces the incidence of behavioural problems.” Maria Zotti, Nature Play, SA.
Peter Dunstan, Principal Kilkenny PS, SA, writes in Primary Focus that outdoor play fosters “wonderment, independence and freedom” as well as “social skills, imagination, creativity and problem solving”.
So concerned are the South Australian Primary School Principals they have combined with Nature Play, SA (A NFP organisation) to promote outdoor play. Nature Play, SA has produced this poster: 51 Things to Do before you’re 12. Pass it on!!!!!!!
By Helen Elliott
Easter was sublime here in the country. It was cold at night and the days remained crisp. The family were staying for a few days and because there were babies and toddlers the house needed to be kept warm, mostly by the open fire that astonished the children. They all live in centrally heated houses.
Outside the garden was modestly, quietly preparing itself for winter. The golden ash no longer dazzled along the drive but it’s leaves made a russet eiderdown for the bright shoots of bulbs beneath. The huge maple by the creek still flies banners of crimson and orange and the children gasp at the size of the leaves. And the shapes. They hold them out against the palms of their hands and make us look. They have seen leaves in books but not like this, scattered across the grass, tumbling in the water.
Two of the children are old enough for an Easter egg hunt, and on Easter Sunday with the mist still blooming above the tallest gums, bundled into their coats, their crazy pink gumboots and cherry- red hats they waited by the kitchen door holding their new buckets. Their parents each hold a swaddled, rosy-checked baby and everyone is wondering where a rabbit might leave eggs. Had I glimpsed him that very morning? Fat? Silver fur? Tall brown ears and a great puff of a tail? I had a few suggestions about where he might have been.
I was right. Over by the fence where the climbing rose is finishing the season with a few tawny buds amongst the crowd of rosehips two perfect golden eggs are lying. The little girl’s joyful screams pierce the morning air startling two birds out of hedge. They flap vertically into the sky. Where else would that rabbit go, the children wonder? Under the Irish strawberry? Or maybe if they bent down and lifted the tips of the branches of the Chinese elm where it sweeps the earth and crept into that glade they’d find something? Again their screams of delight, again their sparkling faces.
Olivia rushed to the first of the jelly bushes, certain that the rabbit would have been there. She was enraptured by the jelly bushes because when you shook them, or polished them they wobbled like jelly! To us they are common English box bushes but they’re shaped like small urns and are just the right height for a three year old to shake. Alas, not one golden egg wobbled from the deep green urns.
And nothing was found in the old fountain except an upturned pot. Nothing? Well, there was a tiny striped frog. Half lime and half olive. The girls wondered if he had a name. And shouldn’t he live in the pond? Continue reading article here: Frogs, Thornbills, Crimson Leaves and Cycla-Men- The Many Enchantments of the Natural World
Helen Elliott is a thoughtful and analytical reader, informed and soulful writer and unyielding literary critic for many Australian newspapers. She is also a dedicated gardener. After down downsizing the family home and moving into an apartment Helen longed for her garden. You will find her insightful thoughts on this experience here.
Photo Source: Stairs marksinthemargin blog.
by Ruth McIntosh
I have just spent two hours staring at an eye I’m painting. What happened? Where did the time go?…and I still haven’t done the other one!
Being an artist is a lonely business but wonderfully transporting at the same time. Transporting where though? Well, transporting away from everything except those colours and that purpose in front of me to achieve Charlottes’ eye and all that it conveys.
One of the most important and difficult things I have come to terms with in painting is that most of the art I produce is simply practice and therapy, not some end product. The image is usually being wiped off, or painted over.
However the therapy is blissful. Putting on the music, singing at the top of my voice intermittently after making some strokes, having moments of immense energy accompanied by beautiful quiet interludes. Not thinking about dinner, children or any domesticities. Ahhh, bliss!
My studio is full of visual evidence of my whimsical thoughts. Sometimes it’s a bit depressing and sometimes it’s very comforting. My visual diaries document my life with amazing accuracy even without words.
Well, that’s enough of this little interlude and its back to Charlotte and the other eye and the smell of paint, turps and the heavy decision of which music to play. I’ll see the world in another two hours!
Ruth McIntosh is an extraordinary and passionate artist, who has been involved in art and art education for many years. She has held various solo exhibitions and has been involved in group shows. Ruth specializes in portraiture using both traditional methods of oil on canvas/linen and incorporating experimental use of media. Ruth is committed to extending her art to enjoy the riches of traditional workmanship alongside the excitement of contemporary application.
Her website is: Ruth McIntosh