2018 and Manhole Covers

I’ve had several ideas for posts to kick off the new year but nothing seemed quite right until I saw this story on the BBC app:

http://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-asia-42685022/japan-s-elaborate-manhole-covers

I share this because I thought it was fascinating and I hope you do too.

There is something really encouraging about taking an everyday object that is disregarded and even despised and turning it into a work of art.

Sneaky Japanese!

And just at the end, we learn that they’ve been doing this for 40 years.

How come nobody else has cottoned on?

It’s a lesson to all of us.

Perhaps we too could take our everyday lives and turn them into works of art in this year of 2018….

Have a great year!

And may your life never become an endurance test!

Love

Richard

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year!

Our 2017 Christmas Card

Here’s wishing you a pleasant hassle- and argument-free Christmas and a 2018 full of good health and positive thoughts.

The above is our Christmas card for this year, painted by my wife, Brigitte. For the last ten years, we’ve sent out cards with one of my photos on, so it’s a break with tradition. She’s a clever girl!

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our readers.

We’ve just broken the 30,000 visitor barrier with almost 40,000 pages consulted in the two years of this site’s existence.

We hope that the posts have stimulated you and helped make your life less of an endurance test.

Apparently, according to marketing experts, the title of the site lends itself to brand confusion.

Is it about exercise?

Is it about getting fit?

Is it about keeping it up for longer?

It doesn’t deliver what people expect, so I’m told.

I’ve been advised to change it.

However, for the moment we’ll go with the flow.

May your life never become an endurance test!

Love,

Richard

P.S. It’s Christmas. If you’ve enjoyed reading any or all of the posts on the site or been helped in any way, and you feel like making a contribution to keep the site running and put a smile on my face, then please by all means make a donation, however small. Just click on the button below:

No pressure!





Many thanks!

Deciding What to Talk About – and Not

Floor mosaïque of gladiators, Kourion, Cyprus, photo: © R. C.Morgan

Families are rarely simple.

And with Christmas fast approaching, we will all have another opportunity very soon to taste the unfortunate truth of this.

Some people – a small minority, I think – have supportive families, but for many of us, this is not the case.

So here’s a small suggestion.

Before you go back to see your parents or your parents-in-law, or your sisters and brothers or your cousins or whoever, take a moment to decide what you are willing to discuss and what you are not willing to discuss.

Sound calculating?

Maybe, but you’ll thank me for it.

It’s a question of survival, of self-care.

You don’t have to tell Mummy everything.

I’ll say it again.

You don’t have to tell Mummy everything.

This might come as a shock to some of you.

Perhaps you’ve always communicated everything with your parents, siblings etc.

This is perfectly ok if said parents are supportive and do not judge you.

If, however, you are secretly dreading another bout of sarcastic and belittling remarks, not to mention more arguments, then you owe yourself protection.

And the best way to do this is to decide what and what not to talk about.

If you are in a couple, then you must spend time with your other half making sure that you are on the same wavelength about this.

It’s no good not talking about that wonderful but expensive holiday you had in October that you haven’t told your parents about because they always complain that you go on holiday too much and anyway where do you get the money? – if your girlfriend blurts out what a wonderful time you both had in Botswana.

Get your stories straight and stick to them.

Believe me, this is a vital step towards self-preservation and if you’ve never tried it, then I urge you to do so.

It’s not a question of lying to people.

It’s a question of setting limits.

Are there things that you’d rather keep to yourself?

Then do so.

For example, perhaps you’ve recently become unemployed and need some time to get things sorted out without having confusing and unwanted careers advice from the whole family.

You don’t need to talk about it if you don’t want to.

Just be very clear about what you are going to say if Daddy asks you about work.

In my experience, many people and unfortunately many parents, take information given to them and use it to hurt you either instantly or later on.

Don’t ask me why.

I don’t have children.

And I can’t understand the point of having them if all you are going to do is judge and belittle them. It doesn’t make sense to me.

Shouldn’t you all be playing on the same team?

Instead, some parents are toxic.

So change the parameters.

Learn to say to yourself,’I don’t want to talk about that and I’m not going to.’

If you just talk about the things you feel reasonably comfortable with, then this Christmas might actually turn out to be the simplest and least fraught with friction for a long long time.

May your life never become an endurance test!

Love,

Richard

Breakfast with a butterfly, Zakynthos.
Breakfast with a butterfly, Zakynthos.

Anyone for Tennis?

I share one thing in common with my mother at least. (Well, probably a few others….)

I enjoy watching tennis.

At least for the moment.

As the game evolves though, that may change.

It used to be a rather civilized game, but it’s starting to become as barbaric as any other professional sport.

Those announcements of players.

Aren’t they confusing tennis players with boxers?

Why all this building up of players into super heroes? Why is being human no longer enough?

As super heroes, the players are something of a disappointment.

For one thing a super hero should set an example and not behave like a three year old.

Is the behaviour of players on court now an example to youngsters?

Tantrums, racquet smashing, invectives against umpire and linesmen.

The undisguised shouting of foul language.

The absurd clenching of fists after each and every point. Where did this come from? It looks completely stupid.

Even demanding more applause from the crowd when the player feels he’s played particularly well.

Interesting that you don’t see the women demand more applause from the crowd.

Something I’ve never understood though.

Why do the spectators applaud after each point?

It seems ridiculous to me.

Does a secretary receive applause after each letter typed?

Does a teacher get a pat on the back after every lesson?

Then why applaud tennis players for simply doing their job for a few seconds? Crazy.

I can understand applause for an exceptional point.

But as things stand, there’s nowhere to go when the exceptional occurs. Apart from more noise.

But don’t get me started on the behaviour of the crowd, which sometimes borders on the intolerable (2017 Australian Open for example).

Yes, we’re a long way away from cucumber sandwiches and the importance of participation.

But that, as they say, is progress.

May your life never become an endurance test.

Love

Richard

TTAC Live Symposium

Just a last quick reminder that the Truth About Cancer Live Symposium will start in a few hours (8.30am EST, 1.30pm BST, 2.30pm CEST) and goes on from 5th to 7th October 2017:

These are pretty good events which you can watch for free.

You’ll pick up all sorts of helpful information about improving your health.

The link again:

Health Symposium

Love

Richard

P.S. Affiliate links.

Health Symposium

Just a heads up that the Truth About Cancer team are putting on another symposium from 5th to 7th October 2017 with some interesting participants:

These are pretty good events which you can watch for free.

You’ll pick up all sorts of helpful information about improving your health.

The link again:

Health Symposium

Love

Richard

P.S. Affiliate links.

The Bottom 100

As you probably know, Forbes issues a list every year of the richest 100 people on the planet.

Now someone has produced a list of the poorest 100 on the planet.

Interesting idea.

The address:

Bottom 100

Each person is photographed against a simple blue backdrop.

If you click on a picture, you can read the story of the person.

Suddenly, poverty and misery are no longer abstract.

They have a face, a personality, a history.

Sobering stuff.

You can even type in your revenue and find out where you are in relation to the rest of the planet in percentage terms.

Think you need more money?

Look at your percentage and think again.

Think you’re between a rock and a hard place?

Read some of these stories.

If you’ve been reading these posts for any length of time, you’ll know I’m a great believer in the necessity of being thankful.

Of consciously being thankful.

I defy you to visit this site and not feel thankful for what you have.

I hear a lot of people complaining about their daily lot and filled with incredible negativity.

Jealous over trivia.

It’s time to stop pretending that you’re a victim and get a life.

Reading these stories might just help you do that.

May your life never become an endurance test!

Love

Richard

Conversations with Butterflies

Breakfast with a butterfly, Zakynthos.
Breakfast with a butterfly, Zakynthos. Photo: B. Morgan

I’ve had some wonderful conversations with butterflies.

There was the time we took the tele-cabin from Grimentz to Bendolla and went for a walk in the mountains on a hot summer’s day.

A butterfly alighted on my hand and stayed for at least five minutes, exploring and obviously finding something of interest to consume.

Bendolla, 2008
Bendolla, 2008. Photo: B. Morgan

There was the time on the Greek island of Zakynthos when we went for an early swim and walked along the sandy beach.

As we reached the end, a beautiful swallowtail butterfly danced around us and then alighted on my collar, where it seemed perfectly happy to stay.

We ate breakfast on the terrace of a taverna just above the beach and during the whole time, the butterfly didn’t budge.

Eventually, about an hour later and well after we’d finished eating, it took off again as if refreshed after a snooze.

* * * * *

This week, I was at the lake for a swim and when I came out, an orange comma alighted on my purple backpack and seemed to fall in love with it.

I sat down beside it so I could study it more closely.

I was even able to encourage it on to my finger a couple of times as I wanted to get at something in the backpack.

It’s pretty amusing when they wander over your hand and arm producing a gently tickling sensation as they explore the new territory and even seem to find food on it.

And while I sat there another small blue butterfly arrived and stopped on the sand at my feet.

But what struck me as I played with this very beautiful creature for over half an hour is that really there is nothing more valuable in life than this.

Being in the moment.

Contemplating and conversing with a thing of beauty and wonderment.

A small angel.

What more could one want?

And it’s completely free.

Money has nothing to do with it.

A moment of complete pleasure where the ego has no place.

A moment to be thankful for.

May your life never become an endurance test!

Love

Richard

About Cake

Brigitte, Cake and Kimono (not sure why).

“You can’t have your cake and eat it.”

I heard this a lot growing up.

For Brigitte, who is Swiss, and probably for other non-native speakers of the language of Shakespeare, this is actually a very confusing statement.

“I can’t understand it at all,” Brigitte has said on many occasions.

Which is understandable.

Because we English often use the verb “have” to mean “eat,” as in “have breakfast” or “have a sandwich.”

So for her, it’s like saying, ” You can’t eat your cake and eat it.”

Which doesn’t make much sense.

If we choose another verb, such as “keep” then the idea behind this little gem of popular wisdom becomes clearer.

Now we have, “You can’t keep your cake and eat it.”

But it’s still nonsense.

After all, what are memories but things we have consumed that we keep?

* * * * *

On a visit to England last year, I had lunch with a friend and his mother, who is now well into her eighties.

“You can’t have everything,” she said.

And then she said it again.

And throughout the conversation, it came back again and again, like a kind of limiting mantra.

Eventually, I couldn’t let it pass.

“You can’t have everything,” she said.

“I don’t see why not,” I replied.

And later, when she said it again, I said, “I don’t see why not.”

It became quite funny.

We all chuckled.

* * * * *

These are the kind of limiting beliefs which make up our education and sometimes our lives.

But we can de-mask them.

Of course, if we say, “You can’t have everything,” or “You can’t have your cake and eat it,” enough, then it becomes a kind of truth for us and it’s very unlikely that we will have everything.

It’s important to keep the door open.

It might be difficult to “have everything,” which of course means different things to different people anyway, but it’s not impossible.

There is no objective reason why we shouldn’t have everything.

So what happens if we start to challenge all those unhelpful comments which surround and inhabit us.

“It’s normal that you do less as you get older,” a favourite of my mother’s.

Is it?

“You’ll never be a star.”

Why not?

“I’ll never be rich.”

Why not?

And so on.

I think we can push back the barriers at any age and our world will be brighter for it.

And if our world is brighter, then it will be brighter also for those around us.

May your life never become an endurance test!

Love

Richard

Long Hours and Life or Death

I was talking to my mother on the phone this morning.

She’s just returned from a two night stay in hospital after collapsing in town.

She’s 91.

Fortunately, after undergoing a barrage of tests, there doesn’t seem to be any serious fundamental problem.

But she was talking about the hospital staff and how she couldn’t fault them and what long shifts they have and this has prompted me to write this post.

Because there’s something I can never understand about healthcare.

I think we can all agree that healthcare is one of the most important services available, if not the most important.

If you can think of a more important service, let me know.

So explain to me why, when it’s vital for workers in this field to be at their sharpest, as they are often making life or death decisions, and at their physical best in order to guarantee precision in surgery for example, do doctors and nurses often work ten hour shifts?

Your garagist doesn’t work a ten hour shift, so does that mean that repairing cars is more taxing than repairing humans?

In no other profession are there such long shifts, and yet in none of these professions is it so important not to make a mistake.

This is something I’ve never understood.

It’s an indication of the absurdity and mixed-up values of our modern world.

It seems to me that doctors’ and nurses’ hours ought to be shorter than other people’s in order to ensure that they can provide the best service possible, not longer than for anyone else.

After all, if you have to go to hospital, wouldn’t you like to know that the people overseeing your health are properly rested and in a fit mental and physical state to look after you properly?

I know I would.

But then, as Bob Dylan put it, “People are crazy and times are strange.”

May your life never become an endurance test!

Love

Richard