Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Education is something that happens in your head.....not in the classroom

Save me from my hormones
Anyone who felt that they never achieved their academic potential at school may be heartened to finally understand why they just didn’t match up.

I have alot of thoughts running around in my head
What was your 15 year old brain like? Was it under attack by hormonal gremlins who were pushing your buttons and driving you crazy? Were you a perpetual cause for concern to your parents and teachers? Did you feel that you just couldn’t learn as fast as others ? Had a member of the opposite sex caught your eye? Were you engrossed in sports or art classes? Did you have a stable home life? Were there quiet places to study? Did you feel emotionally safe? Were you surrounded by strong role models? Did you understand what healthy eating was? Were your care-givers inspirational people? Were you just indulging in the irresponsibility of youth? Was the kidult in you in rebellion?

These are questions that no one asks or quite knows the answers to. Although in extreme cases, the onus is on schools and teachers to be aware of the specific reasons for under-achievement. Some students are invisible to their teachers. Some are struggling with a number of issues at home that prevent them from learning. All of us have had obstacles and whilst this is a negative factor, no obstacle is ever insurmountable.

The jigsaw in my mind
Diligent students who attend school regularly aren’t always able to achieve academically. There’s something about being a teenager that prevents you from sitting for long periods in isolation. When the sun’s shining and there are friends to hang out with it’s torture to stay with your books. Sometimes the words of a song  will crowd out all the intellectual thoughts or you’ll be mooning over an actor/singer/writer/artist/boy-next-door as well as the latest fashion and frippery of the day.  Social media has provided endless diversions for the teenage mind.

Schools force students to learn in the same way. There’s no individualised programme and that’s the heart of the matter. What if you can’t learn the in the way that the teacher teaches?  Perhaps your brain is wired a different way. What if you’d rather enjoy being carefree before the responsibilities of adulthood bear down on you?

I remember this from my Geography book

School, in the early part of your life, seems like a conduit for stuffing your head with a lot of useless facts…..most of them you’ll never use or remember! Exam success is the commercial aspect of education and one that seems more important to other people than yourself. Parents get bragging rights when you pass with flying colours and who wouldn’t feel proud of top grades that will open more than a few doors in later life. 

The true purpose of education, however, is for the refinement of your mind and spirit. Too often spirits are crushed under the heavy weight of academic expectation and that can be demoralising. Schools place an academic structure in a young mind to avert the damage that may be caused if left empty. There’s nothing worse than an empty mind….ask the devil; he knows!

When you’re young education is like a complex, jigsaw puzzle that you feel you’ll never complete. As you mature you’ll have many “aha” moments when it finally dawns on you how it fits into your world. A little learning is sometimes considered a dangerous thing but a lot of learning can do you the world of good. 

It's in my head and it got me a top job!
When you’re reminiscing on your school days you won’t recall a thing (except your friends and best teachers) but you know that without it you’d never be as educated as you are. 

The jigsaw in your head may never get finished and if there’s pieces missing perhaps that’s how it should be. 

What you learn in the class room stays in the classroom and if it manages to penetrate your mind it stays with you forever. 

Education is a life long process so always keep your mind and head in a constructive and productive state of motion.


Monday, 26 March 2012

All men are not born equal

When I grow up I'm going to be...equal!
All men are born equal? Not by a long chalk....quite impossible.....there’s no way....if we were all truly equal there’d be no wars, prejudice, famine or government. 

Now you may think that governments help to bring about an egalitarian society combining the principles of liberty and fraternity but, in practice, the very opposite happens. Parliaments rule and divide. Society is placed into the tiers according to your economic inheritance and wealth indicators – Aristocracy, Upper Middle, Middle, Lower, Working, Under class and “Not a hope in hell “class.

When, how and to whom you’re born can make all the difference. Your name, race, religion and parents can either be the making or breaking of you. 

So what’s in a name? Everything. You will never find a Rothschild or Oppenheimer in the job centre though you might find a Pratt  or Peewit in residence at their country estate. The Lottery has made those lower down on the social stratum a little more equal to those at the top; but money doesn't make for a fairer society.

Upon studying the Declaration of Human Rights I’m more convinced than ever that death is the one equaliser – we’re all going to be biting the dust.

Whilst we're still alive, here are some of the many freedoms, according to the charter, that we're entitled to:
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood

I beg to differ. The gender and generation gap is ever-widening as the voices of marginalised groups consisting of women, children, the elderly, the disabled and non-heterosexuals go unheard. Dignity is not afforded to vulnerable people.  You only have to look at the state of our world to know that homo sapiens do not have an abundance of reason and conscience. As for brotherhood? Oh brother....have you not watched the news lately?
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Now that we are hotdesking robots – thanks to technological advancements that keeps us glued to spreadhseets or sharing workbooks -  there is very little time that we can call our own that doesn’t belong to the company so there goes liberty!
Security of person? If you’re brave enough to walk the streets at night (or even in the day) who’s going to guarantee your security.
Oh well...we do have a life...those of us who choose not to be couch let’s count that one as a blessing.
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,

Speak to anyone who’s been cyber-stalked or even worse poked on Facebook, bullied at school or in the workplace this rule is utterly worthless. Malicious communications abound in our world. Relationship breakdowns and psychological disorders are usually as a result of the abuse that we’ve experienced in our own homes. Dysfunction prevails – the human model is flawed.

Apples are not the same; some are rotten!

·         All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.

This is true – all too often criminals are protected or are exempt due to diminished responsibility. More often than not victims receive the punishment. The scars of mental cruelty are never erased.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
Don’t even get me started on this one! Ever lived next door to the neighbour from hell or           hoodlums who persist in anti-social behaviour – the police have bigger fish to fry than the ones on your doorstep!
Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

This is the most ludicrous right of all. What happens when two brainless people marry and produce children? The children suffer from neglect both emotionally and educationally. This kind of family becomes a burden on the state in every way you can think of.

You scratch mine and I'll scratch yours - that's equality
Dissolution? Ask at any Women’s Refuge Centre why a woman has to resort to running away from their partners?
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

What happens when a woman of the Islamic faith tries to throw off her purdah? Honour killings are still practised by the lesser men – who do not accept that a woman is also born equal – not just a man! Ask a same sex couple what happens when they walk into a church...holding hands?
Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Quite untrue.  Education is part of the capitalist system whereby where you live and how much you earn dictates the quality of education your children receive.....there’s no choice about it! Even for the education that’s free you’ll have a fight on your hands in getting your child into a half decent  school.
Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
Brain power is not equal!
This is misguided. There are few rights when you’re at the bottom of the social heap. In any event, the strongest survive and the rest have to scavenge for the scraps from the table. Ask anyone who doesn’t have health insurance whether they’ll receive adequate medical care? Life’s tough for those who’s circumstances are beyond their control.

Few things in this world are equal though I know there are philanthropists and activists who are working to change that. We all have to do our bit...and that means me....a blog can sow the seeds of your mind and mine.

Thanks for reading and let’s change this day at a time.


Sunday, 25 March 2012

Some days are like diamonds

Diamond life

When spring arrives after a long winter, it peeks through the curtain and streams  in like a strip of liquid gold.  As you look out of the window, you notice  buds and fresh gossamer leaves on branches waiting to burst into abundant life. The sky is an azure canvas and birds flit along it carried by a soft breeze.  In the tall grasses insects stir and the caterpillar pregnant in his chrysalis awaits metamorphosis.

And so the day is born and it feels good to be alive. I feel my spirits soar and my consciousness expand to reach the tree tops. I feel as if I know what it is to look upon the world from afar. From a distance how exotic it all seems, a kaleidoscope of changing colours and textures, a patchwork of rough terrain, fields interspersed with a highways, train tracks and concrete edifices – man’s co-existence with nature. 

We think life is good if we have a well kept home, four wheel drive, life insurance, pension plan, holiday home, poker straight hair, a toned body, spandex, electronic reader and latest telescopic mascara. These are things and any thing that aids happiness is conditional and prone to decay. We may gain a feeling of comfort but you won't give a damn about any of the above when the chips are down. 

I like to keep an inventory of the simple things: sunshine on my shoulders, the wind in my hair, toes in the sand, a warm smile, a deep hug, kisses on my face, moonlight, fireflies, shadows and silhouettes.
When I think of these sweet things, my cup runneth over. Joy is unleashed into my soul and I  just get happy for no reason as I dwell in that moment. All’s well in my world and I cherish the peace and happiness that that thought alone brings.

Not every day can be the same and not every day sparkles. In fact sometimes the day feels as if its made of fake rubies. It hangs wearily on my shoulders as I carry the burden of an unfulfilled life. It can’t be any other way until I’ve conquered pain and know that it’s a gift. A gift that, most of the time, I’d rather not receive. But who am I to refuse? Why not me?   

When life gives you lemons...add vodka!
Every day teaches something new. The 365 days that come and go have hidden problems, puzzles, quirks, quandaries, rhymes and reason. When we miss the bus, lose an earring, bang our heads and  burn the dinner,  it’s a disaster….or feels like it….but there’s nothing that’s thrown at us in a day that we can’t get over.

It’s helpful not to take life too seriously then we’ll breathe easier and laugh in the face of our challenges. Laughter is contagious and a fit of  giggles is like a fountain of diamonds poring forth.

Happy for the sake of it
There’s nothing so precious as a light heart. Throw your troubles away sometimes and watch them float down the glistening river.

When the dark days come remember the light and summery bliss. Hold on to it in your head and heart. Diamond days are for sharing so pass on the sunshine.


Saturday, 10 March 2012

Religion is a Class A drug

Religion has long being known as an intoxicant, a veritable “opiate of the people” and church attendance is diminishing. Not surprising given the lack of connection people feel to pyramid style religious institutions.   It’s not that I don’t support the idea of God or believe in a higher power but I don’t think God would approve of being organised according to human directives.

Churches are led by people who have supposedly dedicated their lives to following God’s words and keeping his laws. They lead others to God or do they? People come to believe in their leaders even when these people appear misguided and hypocritical. In fact, when they start to eschew the vows that they made at ordination and misinform their congregation you begin to understand the potency of religion.

Gandhi is quoted as saying that “in heaven there are no religions” and he’s right. Instead of creating heaven on earth we have created  religious mess.

Below are a few of the “rules” according to God’s holy law and you’ll note God’s responses in italics:  
  •   wear a cloth wrapped around your head (turban) from birth and never cut your hair – God is not unhygienic or impractical;

·      -  cover the female head and body in a long piece of cloth so that nothing except her eyes are visible – God is a feminist and naturist so he’d never expect women or men to be clothed in this way
g - go to church every Sunday dressed in your Sunday best – God wants you to do what you do on Sundays if its productive and loving to yourself and your neighbour – seven days a week. Dress your soul not your body.
   - abstain for Lent – this is surely for die-hard Catholics who think that by giving up something for 6 weeks (meat, alcohol, chocolate) they’re getting just a little bit nearer to purity. God prefers that you give up bad habits like being harsh, angry, unkind and downright unpleasant.
h- have your head bare in the synagogue – God doesn’t give a flying fig what’s on your head just what you put into it like clean, wholesome thoughts
r  - remove your footwear before entering the temple – God knows that there are more unclean hearts than shoes!
  - offerings must be made to God in the form of food- God has no need for food or water; if you have more then share it with your neighbour
F  - for one month you should fast during daylight and eat by sunset – God would never prescribe a diet so unhealthy and injurious
- - you should worship priests by sinking to your knees and lowering your head – that is a man-made law born of the ego; God doesn’t want anyone bowing and scraping.

When you get hooked on the whole “sackcloth and ashes” religious gravy train you may find yourself influenced to meet the criteria.

Religion is no doubt a comfort and provides a sense of community. Drugs and alcohol offer similar solace. The difference being that drink and drugs take a physical toll though overdosing on religion takes a mental toll.

Religion can distort thinking and give you a superiority complex, as if you’ve gained membership to an exclusive country club. You can quote chapter and verse of the constitution and follow its dictates to the letter.

Religious people “love their neighbour” but can’t love their own family. I know church-goers who would give a stone rather than a piece of bread to their son/daughter if they were in want.
Some are cruel and miserly people yet they never miss Mass on Sunday as if God doesn't really know who they are!

Shepherd and his flock
For some, money is their God so they’ve erased him from the bigger picture though they’ll wax lyrical about what God (read money) has done for them.

Religious people are hard to live with as they are far removed from independent thinking so they can’t always see that they’re part of the problem.

Religious people are mostly followers and never leaders. They get taken to hell back and still don’t realise it!

Religious people are martyrs. They believe that suffering is noble and to suffer is to be closer to God. They believe that they have no right to any happiness but they do seem happy when misfortune befalls their fellow man.

Religious people believe that lips that pray are better than hands that help. If you need some work done don’t look to them.
I used to be religious. Then I found out that God is not. If I’m striving to be a little more God-like then I’m aiming for spirituality. What does that mean exactly?

It means being peaceful in the face of my struggles to be a good citizen, parent, friend and family member. Being confident, calm and full of joy for the gift of life. Knowing that each day some truth is revealed that brings you closer to making a heaven out of this earth. 

Doing the work that I’m born to do and looking for diamonds in the dust…..they are there if you look hard enough. It means understanding that there’s nothing to understand. 
Life is a paradox; change, growth are optional but don’t be surprised when its lack lustre if you choose to do neither.

God's cathedral
Spirituality cannot be organised; its personal – between you and your higher self. 
It’s  quiet and gentle…you never need to shout about it.

Can you have too much of it? Not really…having more of it means that you live, see and know that God is in everyone and everything. 

Religion needs to be handled with care.  Stay within your limit and don’t get stoned. Remain in control and dip into it in small doses. Religion is your daily life so make it good!


Sunday, 4 March 2012

Back to black through the eye of a needle

One sexy solvent

When you’re in the red it’s a long, slow crawl into the black. 
Spending less that you earn is the simple strategy for maintaining solvency and sanity. So why is simplicity so complicated for the human mind?

Many people are not wired for simplicity. Their mental circuitry can make even the most straightforward recipe turn out a disaster. For example, if you gave a hundred people the same key ingredients: sugar, butter, flour and eggs and asked them to bake a cake; I promise you that you’d end up with quite a few variations of the finished product.

are you dreaming what I'm dreaming?
 It might be that some people would use a little less or a little more of each of the ingredients, particularly the anti-sucrose militants! The way each person folds the mixture introducing air into the fine blend also plays a significant role. Cooking time is also another factor since people will miscalculate the length of baking  and end up with some burnt offerings. No two people can produce exactly the same results. If we believe each person is unique then that is the source of the anomaly.

When it comes to managing money brain function is often de-railed by emotional and psychological malnutrition. When you’ve been starved of love – the right kind – you’ll be suffering from a number of chronic ailments. Low self-esteem is the essence that’s missing from a financially healthy psyche. When people have been subjected to a whole host of abuses either by self or some other they become weak willed and depressed. If money has been a difficult issue in their families then it will continue to be so.

Riding to financial freedom
The biggest problem around money is that we’ve heard too much about the wrong things like – there isn’t enough of it, the evil taxman is trying to take it away from me, the phone company is robbing us blind, it grows on trees, it speculates and accumulates, it’s not a bottomless pit, its fun, its misery, other people have more than us and the greatest reason ever : a camel can pass through the eye of a needle easier than a jet setting millionaire!?
And anyone laden with debts will have to leave them at the pearly gates!

Living on the edge (of money)as I do I feel I’ve been following some bad examples. I understand the golden rule of spending less than I earn but I never seemed to be able to share that with my family and significant other. I’ve come to realise that being in harmony with family, friends, husbands and boyfriends means to have common goals. That includes common financial goals and that’s where it gets tricky!

How do we find/attract/get born to financially savvy people? That’s an answer that eludes me.
I guess you might say that if there’s love in a relationship then there’s a degree of commonality, so much so that personal goals are aligned. Not so in my experience. Since opposites attract you can bet your bottom dollar that a frugalite is going to get together with a spendthrift. When two worlds collide its a financial car crash. The biggest casualities are your future plans and dreams all wrecked like a ten car pile-up on life’s highway.

Shark's starter and main course
Maybe you were dreaming of paying your mortgage off in two years, travelling coast to coast, hiking around the Pyrenees, scuba-diving in the Great Barrier Reef, starting up a little cafe or buying a log cabin for weekend escapes.  Sometimes you can dream different dreams even though you might be both in the same relationship. Eventually those dreams will either unify or destroy what you have created together.

In any case the dreams we have cost money, time and shredded nerves. For the first, we can make dollars by working two jobs or investing wisely, time is precious and we’ll do the necessary to make it, as for our fragile feelings, we’ll probably go spending and sabotage the first two.

The financial merry-go-round has us all in a spin. The emotionally whole will know how to control it and even get off  but many of us stay on for the, spend, borrow,!

Kiss that debt frog
I’m still up for getting back to black and it’s good to know that, at this time of my life, the credits outweigh the debits. A simple strategy...apart from “spending less than you earn” is to meet a Prince Financially-Charming and..... if I kiss or kick a few debt frogs who knows? 

A man may have cost me solvency for a part of my life but I know I’m on my way up....riding that camel.....through the eye of the needle...returning to black.