Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Bloggers Bash Nominations, Winter Warmers, Arizona, Spring Bulbs and all that Jazz


Welcome to the round up of posts you might have missed on Smorgasbord this week.

We are actually enjoying some sunshine despite very cold temperatures and we are hoping it is a sign spring is on its way. I know for many of you in the UK and USA, this has been a very tough couple of weeks with snow and storms, so hopefully you too will have a more settled week ahead.

It is hard to ignore the turmoil going on in the world, especially as the press is having a field day with fake news, assumptions, predictions, fear-mongering, pot-stirring and allegations. There may be a reason that we as yet have not been invaded by an alien species. I suggest that they have popped in from time to time, to the excitement of the UFO buffs, and exited rapidly when they see what they might be getting into.

The actions of those in power are completely at odds with the promises made in their wonderful election speeches, and at the very least they should be prosecuted for false advertising and misrepresentation.

Meanwhile, in the real world, all we can do is keep doing what we are doing and try to stay as positive as possible.

If all else fails………..

My thanks to my regular contributors who continue to spread a positive message and to your for dropping in and liking, commenting and sharing..

And on that note……

I was very honoured to be nominated for the Best Book Blog award, and my thanks to those who put my name forward. Voting begins at the end of March and you still have time to nominate your favourite bloggers in the new categories. The links are in the post.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/04/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-bloggers-bash-awards-2019-nomination-best-book-blog/

This week William Price King shares the life and music of legend Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/05/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-music-column-with-william-price-king-jazz-charlie-bird-parker-saxaphone/

Paul Andruss with some suggestions to bring colour to your garden with early spring bulbs.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/09/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-gardening-column-rewind-light-up-your-life-with-brilliant-bulbs-part-1-early-spring-bulbs/

Carol Taylor shares some recipes that are easy to prepare and that will warm the cockles of your heart…..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/06/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-food-and-cookery-column-with-carol-taylor-winter-warmers-stews-and-casseroles/

Debby Gies is still on vacation in Mexico and busily creating future travel posts about this fantastic vacation spot, but in the meantime, she gives us a guided tour of Jerome, Arizona which is a preserved copper mining town that generated billions for investors.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/04/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-travel-column-jerome-arizona-mining-town-with-d-g-kaye/

Joy Lennick shares two poems that bridge the end of winter and the start of spring.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/08/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-guest-writer-poetry-spring-by-joy-lennick/

Welcome to the blog for the first time to romance author Laura M. Baird who shares her love of country, music and tattoos, as well as one of the craziest and most detailed dream

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/10/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-sunday-interview-getting-to-know-romance-author-laura-m-baird/

I am now participating in is Diana Peach’s monthly speculative fiction challenges and this month she had a delightful photo prompt. My story is called ‘The 1812 Overture”

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/07/smorgasbord-short-stories-diana-wallace-peach-februarys-speculative-fiction-prompt-the-1812-overture-by-sally-cronin/

Another of my weekly challenges is the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/03/smorgasbord-short-story-carrot-ranch-flash-fiction-sea-mist-by-sally-cronin/

It is that time of the week when I get my syllables in lines in response to Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 122.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/06/smorgasbord-poetry-colleens-weekly-poetry-challenge-122-poets-choice-etheree-metamorphosis-by-sally-cronin/

It is February 1986 and we are preparing for my birthday and I get a new car.

 

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/07/smorgasbord-letters-from-america-1986-birthday-party-and-new-car/

Relationships – So far I have covered respect, recognition, relations in Previous Chapters, which leads me very conveniently into relationships. In this first part, I am looking at the socialisation of children before and during school that form the basis of their relationship skills in the wider world.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/06/something-to-think-about-the-rs-of-life-relationships-in-a-modern-world-part-one-childhood-by-sally-cronin/

Author Updates and reviews

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/04/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-bette-a-stevens-fiona-tarr-and-jan-sikes/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/08/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-miriam-hurdle-linda-g-hill-and-mark-d-giglio/

Every year, 4.2million people die worldwide within 30 days of surgery. This is a staggering 1.23million more deaths than HIV, TB and malaria combined makes up 7.7% of all fatalities – with only heart disease and stroke killing more. You can make a difference to this statistic by preparing for elective surgeries in the weeks before the operation.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/05/smorgasbord-health-column-new-statistics-on-surgery-recovery-that-are-shocking-and-preparing-for-an-operation/

The next chapter in my rollercoaster weight gain and loss history, with a pattern emerging that linked a number of physical events in my life, antibiotics, candida albicans and stress together.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/09/smorgasbord-health-column-size-matters-the-sequel-morbid-obesity-a-physical-rollercoaster-anti-biotics-candida-hormones-yo-yo-dieting/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/05/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-some-funnies-and-things-kids-say/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/07/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-guest-comedian-d-g-kaye-and-a-joke-from-my-archives-3/

Thank you for stopping by and I hope you have an amazing week……

Advertisements

Something to Think About – The R’s of Life – Relations – Survival in a Modern Society by Sally Cronin


The title for this series came about as I dipped into a Thesaurus to find some words for a poem I was writing. I noticed that a great many words that reflected (see what I mean) key elements in our lives began with the letter ‘R’. In the original series there was an introduction, but I am skipping that to dive straight into what I believe is becoming extinct in many areas of our world and our own lives…..

Relations

In this chapter I am going to explore our relations, not to be confused with relationships; which is a whole different world of complications.

Over the years, I have talked about family issues with friends, colleagues and those I have counselled and I don’t think that I have met anyone who can honestly say they had a completely idyllic childhood. Some in fact felt that they had a dreadful time and were only too glad to leave home. Others remember the good times and put the challenges down to part of life.

Everyone has their own story about those years between birth and heading out into the world and each of us has to come to terms with those years in one way or another.

Certainly, as I have mentioned before, I do not believe in a perfect relationship of any kind. I do think that relationships should be two-sided and that they take a great deal of work to develop and sustain. Unfortunately, our relationship with our parents is largely one-sided until we reach a certain age and learn to communicate. Even then it can be a case of ‘their house, their rules‘. Whilst we might resent this at the time, especially as we move into our teen years, it is actually part of the socialisation process, preparing us to work within different relationship structures as adults. However, some children grow up in a very different environment which is harsh and restrictive. Not all children survive that experience with a balanced view of the world and that is tragic.

The teen years, from my own personal experience, and I suspect a fair number of you, were punctuated with minor conflicts. In a close knit family, most of these issues are resolved, in a large part down to a solid background of love and trust that has been established over the years. But there is no doubt that once a child reaches puberty things change.

I cannot speak for those who have had appalling childhoods and can only sympathise. I can only speak to mine with any authority and pass comment on the experiences of those I have come into contact with. I know that I was very lucky in that I enjoyed nearly all  of the fundamental needs of a growing child such as security, a roof over my head, plenty of food, a good education and health care. I also recognise that most issues that arose, were because I liked to push boundaries, even as a young child.  What  I do appreciate about coming from a healthy family environment is that when the going got tough, there was always at least one member to turn to for help and support. Although not necessarily the case for everyone; for most of us there is an enduring sense of connection that lasts through our lifetimes.

The Relations.

The family group that comprises our relations falls into a number of categories. There is the relationship with our parents, which is a subject that has filled the bank accounts of psychiatrists for the last hundred years or so! Then there is where we stand in the pecking order of our siblings; which can result in interesting relationship dynamics as we grow up.

Also, we have the extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. If you are lucky many will be close enough to be in touch regularly and form an important support system. However, this is an area of family that has changed greatly in the last 50 years as people began to move out from home towns for work, emigrated or through marriage. We also have some variations in the family structure that bring new challenges and interesting developments. For example our definition of family is also dependent on the method of conception.

So let’s start with our parents.

Throughout the evolution of humans, biologically, conception required a male and female to be present. However, since 1978 this has not been essential.  You can now take sperm and an egg and bring them together in a laboratory before an embryo is implanted into a womb. This of course is a wonderful medical advance for those couples who cannot conceive in the normal way.

This procedure also means that the embryo does not have to be implanted in your own womb, as you can employ the services of a surrogate, who will carry your biological foetus to full term and give birth for you. For example in the case of same sex male partnerships where one of the partners will supply the sperm so that children carry the genes of at least one of the parents.

In some cases single women who wish for a child and are not in a relationship can select a suitable sperm donor from a clinic, and after their donated egg is fertilised, have the embryo implanted into their own womb and give birth themselves.

The other option which has brought family together is through adoption although numbers have dropped considerably in the last few years with only around 5,000 a year in the UK and approximately 110,000 in the USA. One of the reasons is that there are now so many other options for couples who are looking to either conceive naturally or assisted either with egg or sperm donation, or surrogacy.

So, what used to be a fairly straightforward process just fifty years ago now has become a great deal more complex.

Is this important or not?

I don’t think that the process of how and why a child is born is actually critical. In the vast majority of cases, the moment a child, who has just been born or adopted, is placed in its mother’s arms a bond is formed which continues to develop over a lifetime. Sometimes that bond is never formed; but that can happen in any of the circumstances that a child comes into the world or family.

There are some who believe that having a child is ‘a right‘. I disagree with that concept. I certainly see it as a child’s ‘right’ to be born into a loving family that can support, feed, educate and provide security for it until it is able to look after itself. I appreciate the fact that in many countries that is not the case and that children are born into extreme poverty. And,  in far too many cases, into incredibly dangerous environments. But that is usually because culturally there has not been a shift in the education of the parents for generations, and many women still do not have a choice in the matter.

We in the western world, in the majority of cases, do have a choice. However, it would still seem that some women will choose to have children despite them not being able to provide for them adequately without external support. I may well be going to cause some controversy with some at this point, because I do not believe that the welfare state was created to enable people to have children deliberately, without the ability to provide for them. It was created to provide for those who through no fault of their own find themselves in dire straits and require help to provide a decent quality of life for themselves and their families.

Tragically it is not just unplanned or planned pregnancies that create single parents. The death of a parent, or contention about custody following a divorce, can also place men and women in a situation where they find themselves as the sole parent. Whilst in many countries there is a welfare state to step in if needed, it is the practical issues that are daunting. Whilst money helps with some of those issues, it does not necessarily provide a sense of security or provide the extra hours needed in the day to look after a baby or young child alone. It does not provide the back up to provide a safe and loving home should there be an emergency, and it was never intended to take the place of an extended family.

This brings up an issue that I feel is going to be an interesting and possibly difficult parenting issue in just a few years. That is when a single mother has chosen to conceive by sperm donation. Whilst the mother might have an extended family on her own side and a support system in place, the child as it grows, will know nothing of its father’s history or in some cases genetic background.

However, in the UK a law was enacted in 2006, and any child conceived through sperm donation can apply at age 16 to find out certain details about their biological father. In 2022 the children born after 1st April 2005, if they have been informed of their method of conception, can request the background and health information about the sperm donor and also the identity of any other children that they might have fathered.  A letter will be sent to the father and any other children and it is their right to refuse contact, but it does open up a huge and possibly devastating situation. Particularly if a child being contacted did not know that he or she was conceived by sperm donation.

As a result of this removal of right to anonymity, there has been a significant drop in the number of sperm donors in the UK concerned that they might well become liable for child support for several offspring. However, it would seem that women are turning to overseas clinics where anonymity is still guaranteed. This means that children who are born from overseas sperm donation will not know of any genetic problems that might have been passed on or that might impact their own children’s health in generations to come.

Parenting

Whatever the method of reproduction, the moment that baby is born, or enters a family, the real job of parenting begins. Bonding between a child and a parent has been the subject of years of intense research and there are hundreds of books on the subject. There are all sorts of complexes and syndromes associated with this critical relationship, and there is no doubt the long-term effects of a breakdown in that bond can be devastating.

It used to be considered very unacceptable to talk about your parents in a derogatory manner. However, many people of my age group, in their 60s, are now sharing their experiences, and it would seem that for many, childhood years were not happy ones.

What this does illustrate to me, is that modern parenting in its various forms, is probably neither better nor worse than it was 40 years ago, when babies were born into what is referred to as a traditional family.

I have not been a parent and that for some time was a cause of sadness. I lost a child late in pregnancy when I was 21 years old and did not find out until I was 39 that there had been more damage than identified at the time, and I could not have more. By that time we were considered too old to adopt and the other options so readily available today were in not common. So consequently I will not attempt to tell anyone how to be a parent.

What I can do though is draw on my experience of being a child and whilst overall that experience was by no means unhappy, I do wish that I had been able to enjoy the following:

Grandparents.

I envied my friends at school who had grand-parents who looked after them from time to time, took them on holiday or for days out at the seaside and gave them their time without the  constraints faced by parents. As I got older, I wished that I could have found out more about the history of our family from those who had lived it, especially as they had all been born in the 1890s. Sadly both my grand-fathers and one grandmother died before I was born and one grandmother and aunt died in a car accident when I was only three.

A father.

I wish my father who was serving in the Royal Navy had been around more when I was a young child. I don’t really remember him from before the age of five when I discovered him bed with my mother one morning and screamed the house down. I had not seen him for two years and he looked nothing like his photograph at the side of my mother’s bed.

I know that I felt safer when he was home, that my mother was happier and therefore more tolerant of our childish behaviour. I realise now as an adult that she was very lonely when he was away for two years at a time. She was effectively a single mother; with no parents of her own nor supportive in-laws. I now appreciate how tough that must have been. Including during the war years when my father was at sea for most of the time from 1940 to 1946. He was obviously on leave from time to time, so my mother had two small children under three years old by the end of the war. He continued to be absent for extended periods of time until I was about seven years old.  I only really understood the impact that had on their relationship, and mine with my mother. when I was very much older.

I missed not having my father there when he was away for long periods of time. He was quite capable of putting the fear of god into us when he was home, and being a bit of a wild child, I was always getting into trouble. But I needed boundaries and I am not sure how I might have developed without his guiding hand in my life.  Luckily, we did get to travel with him on his later overseas postings and I definitely know the difference in atmosphere, security and level of harmony, when there were two parents to share the parenting rather than just one.

Sisters.

I also wish that I had not taken so much for granted the influence my two elder sisters had on my childhood, and the fact, that in many ways they were my surrogate mothers. When they came home from school in Sri Lanka, where we lived from when I was 18 months old for two years, my amah would hand me over to them and everywhere they went, I went too. This must have been very restrictive on them as they were only eleven and twelve at the time. But they taught me to swim, kept me safe in an environment with dangers including snakes and other jungle wildlife, made me smocked dresses and allowed me to tag along after them.

I am glad that my sisters and I can still have fun when we meet up. It is when we are together that you really notice that we look quite similar, sound alike and have the same mannerisms, reinforced by a lifetime of contact. We can say things to each other that you would not say to even a close friend; you can even disagree from time to time without it becoming a major issue. You also have a shared heritage and memories of events that friends cannot share with you. Much of this also applies to friends of mine who were adopted, even down to the characteristics such as speech and mannerisms.

The extended family.

This brings me onto the importance of having an extended family in a child’s life. Life has challenges and even with loving parents and siblings, there are times when we need additional support and a place to go to, a person we trust to speak to and a feeling of belonging to something much bigger and stronger than the world at large. It can make an enormous difference to a child, and its development to be exposed to the influence of an extended family. That influence is not just evident in childhood but also as we develop adult relationships and become parents ourselves.

Apart from the benefits that I mentioned earlier there is no doubt in my mind that a sense of belonging to a ‘clan’ rather than a small family unit, is such an advantage of a child growing up in today’s world. This is even more important for single parents who are struggling to fulfil the role of both parents.

A large percentage of grandparents are now providing childcare so that their sons and daughters can work. The average cost of childcare per week for children under school age in the UK is £125. That is £6,500 per year multiplied by the number of children that you have under 5 years old.  With more and more grandparents stepping in to take over that care, it is obviously  a huge benefit to a young family. There are other things to consider as well. Grandparents who have been entrusted with the care of a child, are likely to have been good parents themselves and they bring this wealth of experience to the equation.

There is no doubt that both mothers and fathers anticipate the arrival of a new baby with great joy. But it has been, and always will be, a very tough job. It is 24 hours a day, seven days a week for at least eighteen years.  However, according to my mother the concern of a parent goes on for the lifetime of the relationship, even when you child is in her 60s!

Our relations, across the board, are connected in so many ways other than our DNA. As we go through life, a family that is close and has a strong bond can make all the difference as we forge our own path. We should not take that for granted and even if we drift apart at times and lose regular contact, it is one of those bonds that is rarely completely broken.

I am not the poster child for family relations or relationships in general, but I do know that I am one of the lucky ones, and that I was given a childhood that provided me with the more than the fundamental needs that every child has a right to. I also recognise that I am the person I am today, in part to those formative years

As I mentioned earlier in the chapter, we all have our own version of what family means to us. Whatever our experiences, there is a physical and genetic link to all those who went before us, and, if we are lucky, there is also a wonderfully sustaining emotional and mental bond.

©Sally Cronin 2019

Images: Pixabay.com

You can find other posts in the Something to Think About series as well as previous chapters of The R’s of Life: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/something-to-think-about/

As always I love to receive your comments and experiences.. thanks Sally.

Something to Think About – The R’s of Life – Recognition – Our place in a modern society by Sally Cronin


In January 2016 I began a series that I was intending to publish as a book but since it has been languishing… I have decided to re-run since it is three years since it was last posted.

The title came about as I dipped into a Thesaurus to find some words for a poem I was writing. I noticed that a great many words that reflected (see what I mean) key elements in our lives began with the letter ‘R’. In the original series there was an introduction, but I am skipping that to dive straight into what I believe is becoming extinct in many areas of our world and our own lives…..

Simple Definition of recognition http://www.merriam-webster.com

The act of accepting that something is true or important or that it exists

Recognition

As a young manager over forty years ago, I was tasked to manage an established team who were all at least twenty years older than I was. I had already run my own business and also managed good-sized teams in the catering industry, but this was daunting. Thankfully I had been lucky enough to have worked for a wonderful manager, when beginning my career, who had given me a valuable piece of advice. That was to identify as quickly as possible, what motivated an individual member of staff and to develop a relationship based on the recognition of that motivation.

I followed that advice all through my career and discovered that it also applied to working with those who managed me. Outside of my career it has certainly been an important factor in my personal life too.

Certainly as writers we face the challenge to get noticed on a daily basis, as our books or blog posts join the millions of other titles or articles uploaded hopefully to the various platforms.We know how special it feels when someone, likes, comments and shares our posts or buys and reviews our books, and that feeling of recognition is exhilarating and motivating. Along with Respect, recognition is one of the key elements to a person’s sense of worth. And this is irrespective of age, and even more important in my opinion, for children.

This is not to say that I believe telling a child or an adult they are fabulous every five minutes is an effective way to give them self-worth. It needs to be in response to an action or thought that is made by them. That might be small in the case of a child as they take their first steps towards the real world. But each recognition of an achievement builds their self-confidence based on their efforts that will stand them in good stead once they get to school and then in a work environment.

We tend to regard the act of recognition as being associated with the workplace, show business, the military and other public services. We are accustomed to watching award shows such as The Oscars and The Baftas where actors, actresses, directors, cinematographers etc, are recognised for exceptional performances or productions. We also honour the fact that those who serve in the armed forces, or are first responders, are awarded medals for bravery or long service. We are also accustomed to seeing those in public life or who have supported charities, mentioned in annual honours in our individual countries.

However, we sometimes forget how important recognition is for those who are much closer to us. Unfortunately one of the downsides to our technological world, is that it can be difficult to keep our daily lives in perspective and to identify what is the norm.

We have become saturated with the relentless onslaught of visual images presented to us on television, both in the dramas and the ‘reality’ shows. The one common theme is that they are produced to provide ‘dramatic effect’. Even the so called reality shows are edited to accentuate the extreme highs and lows that the human participants experience. That can, after an extended period of time, alter our view of our own lives.

In some cases of course, this is not a bad thing if it inspires us to achieve more, learn more and experience more of life. But there can be a detrimental impact of this in my opinion, and that is the creation of unrealistic expectations. We begin to feel that we are entitled to those extremes of emotion. That we have a right to live at that pace, enjoy the jet set lifestyle, wear the latest designer clothes, meet great looking people and have wildly romantic and passionate love affairs.

Real life is not actually like that. Neither usually are the people that are close to us in our family or amongst our friends. There might be the odd person who seems to be a little ‘out there’ in some respect, but generally we are surrounded by people who live, work and love in an attempt to make a good life for themselves and their families.

However, that does not mean that those around us do not desire recognition. Each day we perform hundreds of tasks, some are specifically for ourselves, but most are for others. It is these seemingly small gestures that are going unnoticed, and can actually result in disastrous outcomes for relationships in all areas of our lives.

I talked about courtesy and respect in the last post, but it is worth repeating, that the simplest and one of the most effective forms of recognition, for those seemingly small and inconsequential gifts of time or effort given to us, is ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Even if it is a family member who you expect to cook, clean up after you, pay the bills, pick you up from school or work and who is always there in the background.

We are all unique when it comes to which form of recognition we enjoy. This is where you need to get to know each person individually, and to be fair, most of us do that. We choose birthday and Christmas gifts specifically for a person according to their interests or passions. We might prepare a favourite meal to give them a break from cooking everyday, take them out for dinner from time to time, buy them tickets for a concert or sporting event, or plan a surprise weekend away.

Some people hate being publicly praised and prefer a quiet word of gratitude, whilst others like nothing more than a public pat on the back. In our personal lives the same applies and I have seen people cringe when their partner thanks them publicly, but glow when they are brought flowers or taken out for a meal.

However, as a relationship settles into its rhythm, it is very easy to slip into a routine and to assume that recognition of your partner’s contribution to your life, is automatically accepted by them, and that less effort is required.

It is actually very easy to take things for granted. I covered some of that lack of awareness in my chapter on respect. It applies to both our own actions and the actions of others.

As part of my role as a nutritional counsellor over the years, I have met both men and women whose weight and health issues are the result of a lack of worth. For example; we all laugh when we hear the expression ‘my wife does not understand me‘ but in fact that statement applies equally to husbands as well.

I have had many a discussion with an under-appreciated wife and mother who has dived into comfort eating to find the appreciation due to her. There appears to be a misconception about the role of a mother and a father in a family and their expanded list of tasks from cleaner to taxi-driver and breadwinner to bank. There is also the expectation placed on parents by society and dare I say sometimes their own parents about how they should bring up their children. Very stressful at times and sometimes thankless.

Certainly one of the most effective skills to learn as far as I can identify is delegation. When a child is old enough to participate in chores around the house it provides them with life skills that they will need when they are out in the world on their own. It is also is amazing, how  mutual recognition for the effort that goes into performing everyday tasks, forges stronger relationships.

Sometimes it is difficult to find the words or deed to show your recognition.

On one illuminating occasion a man came into my centre and asked for gift vouchers for my weight loss programme to give his wife for their silver wedding anniversary. I didn’t normally sell gift vouchers, as it is customary for an individual to decide that they needed to lose weight, and come to me of their own accord.

So I asked the guy in and asked him if his wife was aware that he was going to give her weight loss sessions for this very special milestone in their married life. He responded that she did not, but since she was always saying that she felt fat; she would love the gift! He also added that he felt unsure how to respond when his wife did go on about being overweight and was afraid to comment.

I suggested that he spend the money he had planned on spending on the weight loss sessions on a spa day for his wife with the full works from top to toe. Give her an anniversary card with some money to go spend in a clothes shop, and then for their actual anniversary, book a table in their favourite restaurant to show her off. Oh and not to tell her she looked ‘fine’ but ‘fabulous’.

He did come back to me a couple of months later and booked some weight loss appointments for himself, as he said his wife had started swimming three times a week and was looking amazing; he wanted to make sure he did not let her down!

It is not necessary to go overboard all the time with recognition, as it should be something that is regarded as special and heartfelt. Saying ‘I love you’ ten times a day can dilute the meaning behind the emotion, but you can show someone you love them ten times a day in many different ways.

Being invisible.

Earlier I shared the much over used expression “My wife doesn’t understand me!” and there is another you might have heard from someone you are close to “I feel invisible”. Those words or others that have a similar context, are signs that perhaps you need to take a look at how you recognise their contribution to your life. And if you feel that you are not being seen within a relationship, you should consider ways to gently remind those around you that you are very visible and vital to their well-being.

This applies to our extended family and friends too.. They are the ones who are usually there during life’s ups and downs, when we are ill, or when our hearts are broken, lose a job or simply cannot get up in the mornings. They are also there when we celebrate life in all its glory as we get that amazing job, fall in love, have a baby, grow old disgracefully!

What is important is that between those two extremes, when life is sailing along on an even keel for us, that we still recognise their value to us by random acts of kindness that make them feel valued.

Recognition is not always glitz and glamour on the worldwide stage, but is more often a quiet word or simple act of appreciation that will sustain and develop a relationship that will support and delight you for life.

They say that it is much more satisfying to give than to receive. Certainly gifting someone recognition will bring you far more in return.

©Sally Cronin 2019

You can find other posts in the Something to Think About series as well as previous chapters of The R’s of Life: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/something-to-think-about/

As always I love to receive your comments and experiences.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – Good intentions by Grandmas, Bird Watching and Halley’s Comet


Doesn’t time fly when you are having fun. Well I am anyway and I hope you are too… It has been a busy week offline with various projects and also taking advantage of the cold but sunny weather. It is hard to believe that it is January 20th already but it is great that the evenings are growing lighter by a few minutes each day.

My thanks as always to you for dropping in so often and keeping me motivated and here are some of the posts you might have missed..

This week Linda shares the delightful!! coat that her Grandmother managed to find at the charity shop for her..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/17/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-guest-writer-linda-bethea-grandma-and-the-coat-from-hell/

Getting to know you – Sunday Interview with author Denzil Walton.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/20/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-sunday-interview-getting-to-know-you-with-childrens-wildlife-author-denzil-walton/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/15/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-music-column-belgium-ireland-1997-and-barbra-streisand-and-celine-dion/

The first part of our trip from Houston to Carlsbad Caverns and to see Halley’s Comet on its once in a lifetime visit.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/18/smorgasbord-letters-from-america-1986-new-mexico-carlsbad-caverns-and-halleys-comet/

The title of this series came about as I dipped into a Thesaurus to find some words for a poem I was writing. I noticed that a great many words that reflected (see what I mean) key elements in our lives began with the letter ‘R’. In this first post quite a bit about what I think about RESPECT

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/15/something-to-think-about-the-rs-of-life-respect-in-our-modern-world-by-sally-cronin/

Chapter one of the sequel to my first book written 20 years ago which followed my 18 month challenge to lose 150lbs. I am told at 42 that I am unlikely to make 45!

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/19/smorgasbord-health-size-matters-the-sequel-chapter-one-life-or-death-by-sally-cronin/

This week I look at the nutritional elements of Asparagus and Carol Taylor turns this very healthy vegetable into some delicious meals.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/16/smorgasbord-health-cook-from-scratch-with-sally-cronin-and-carol-taylor-asparagus-nutrient-packed-and-delicious-recipes/

Colleen Chesebro’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge.

I have chosen ‘Secret and Draw’ for my key words this week and I am also trying my hand at a Haibun… here is the link  where you will find a description of this form which is a combination of prose and poetry.

Rejuvenation

I have discovered the secret to eternal youth. I stand before the mirror. With eyes almost closed the image blurs. Wrinkles disappear. Hair regains its colour. The extra pounds fall away. I am tall and strong. A reflection of how I used to be. I draw the image towards me absorbing its essence.

Do not be deceived
Challenge the silver backed mirror
Remain young at heart.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/17/smorgasbord-poetry-colleen-chesebros-tuesday-poetry-challenge-haibun-rejuvenation/

New book on the shelves

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/14/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-how-to-craft-a-kickass-protagonist-10-steps-to-hero-by-sacha-black/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/16/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-fancy-meeting-you-here-by-jim-webster/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/17/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-non-fiction-the-universal-mind-by-peter-weisz-dip-psych-hnd-bacp/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/19/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-paranormal-end-of-day-a-hodes-hill-novel-book-2-by-mae-clair/

Author Update -Reviews

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/14/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-judith-barrow-jacquie-biggar-and-daniel-kemp/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/18/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-tony-riches-iain-kelly-and-lizzie-chantree/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/15/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-guest-comedian-d-g-kaye-and-another-a-joke-from-my-archives/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/17/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-guest-comedian-d-g-kaye-and-jokes-from-the-archives-2/

Thanks for dropping by and hope to see you again next week… Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Die Hard, Detox, Resolutions, Food, Music, Humour


Another quietish week for us after a very peaceful New Year’s Eve which we spent watching the final Die Hard movie of our binge session. Seeing them back to back over five days was great, and brought back memories of where we were in the years we saw them the first time around, starting in 1988. It is amazing how you remember the overall plot but forget detail. We are making a start on Mission Impossible and then The Bourne series next. Keep us out of trouble for a bit anyway.

Over the next few weeks there will be some new series beginning that I hope you will find interesting… in the meantime…here are the posts from the week in case you missed any.

A look back at 2018 and a thank you to the regular contributors who write such amazing posts for the blog. Also a look at what is to come in 2019.

Thomas the Rhymer

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/12/31/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-happy-new-year/

Paul Andruss gave us a New Year’s Gift of a four part story The Legend of the Golden Flower, set in ancient Japan and filled with wonderfully researched detail. You can read the complete story and also follow the link to a follow up post on the background to the tale.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-legend-of-the-golden-flower-by-paul-andruss/

I was delighted to welcome Annette Rochelle Aben to the team with the first of her monthly Numerology posts. The first looking at our universal energy for 2019 and the month of January.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/01/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-numerology-with-annette-rochelle-aben-your-monthly-universal-energy-january-2019/

Linda Bethea with more tales of her extended family – life in Houston has its ups and downs. The Pink Cupcake, the Hussy and the Promise..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/03/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-guest-writer-linda-bethea-the-pink-cupcake-the-hussy-and-the-promise/

The new season of the Sunday Interview – Getting to Know You.

Delighted to welcome new interviewees to the interview series, and if you have participated before.. no worries, just pick a different five questions to answer..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/06/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-sunday-interview-getting-to-know-you-2019/

I want to share this post again for any authors who are new to the blog – The Cafe and Bookstore is a FREE promotional opportunity to showcase your work on a regular basis here on the blog and across my social media. 

The first step is a ‘New Book on the Shelves‘ promotion, followed by regular updates in the twice weekly posts. Any new releases will also have their own individual post.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/12/27/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-2019-free-book-promotion/

I did a tongue-in-cheek look at New Year’s Resolutions… with some suggestions how you might get them achieved!!

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/05/something-to-think-about-so-how-are-those-new-year-resolutions-going-for-you/

Another trip down memory lane to 1995 – mechanical bull riding (or destruction) and Annie Lennox.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/04/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-music-column-1995-east-anglia-and-annie-lennox/

To get the New Year off to a good start (for your body anyway) I began a short series – The Gentle Detox.

I don’t approve of starving a body into submission, especially after a period of indulgence. I especially do not recommend ‘crash diets’ as this can cause a great deal of stress physically and mentally.  Here are the posts so far….

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/03/smorgasbord-health-column-the-gentle-detox-introduction-and-phase-one-before-you-begin-your-weight-loss-programme/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/05/smorgasbord-health-column-the-gentle-detox-part-two-eat-food-your-body-recognises-and-can-work-with/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/06/smorgasbord-health-column-the-gentle-detox-part-three-willpower/

A series that is worth repeating for the benefit of those who missed the first time around – Cook from Scratch.

In this post I share an alternative breakfast that I ate several time a week in the 17 years I lived in Madrid… Spanish style tomato cocktail on toast..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/02/smorgasbord-health-column-cook-from-scratch-tomatoes-for-breakfast-spanish-style/

I try my hand at a new format that Colleen Chesebro has introduced us to in the first of her Tuesday Poetry challenge No. 117 – Poets choice.   A Shadorma… if you have not participated in this challenge, I do recommend as it stretches both our poetic muscles and your creativity.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/03/smorgasbord-poetry-colleen-chesebros-poetry-challenge-117-poets-choice/

The first of the Cafe updates for 2019 – a place to share recent reviews and new releases.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/04/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-mary-adler-rachele-baker-dvm-marina-osipova-and-terry-tyler/

D.G. Kaye.. Debby Gies shares some of the funnies from around the web… and I find a joke from my archives.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/01/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-guest-comedian-d-g-kaye-and-a-joke-from-my-archives/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/03/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-some-new-material-the-cornier-the-better/

Thank you for starting the New Year with me and I hope that you have enjoyed the show so far. Look forward to seeing you again soon.. thanks Sally.

Something to think about! – Google + shutting down and your blog connection.


I am sure that you  have seen a number of reports on the shutting down of Google+ social network following its cover up of a breach in March this year, resulting in the exposure of the personal data of up to 500,000 internet users. They say that no sensitive data such as bank details or other private information was at risk, but any exposure of private information such as name, address, date of birth, past employment history, photographs or current activities, lends itself to identity theft and fraud.

However, this process according to the tech reports is going to take ten months, and from my perspective the rot has already set in.

In the last couple of months I have noticed an increase in spam on any posts that have been connected from my blog automatically and I have blocked and reported those spammers immediately. However, since the announcement last week, things have deteriorated further. This morning I went in to respond to comments to find that on the posts that were connected in the last few days there were a lot of comments, at least 25% of which were either sexual or derogatory in nature.

Being that is going to take ten months to fully close the site there is clearly going to be an increase in this activity, especially if your account is marked public.

It is disappointing as most of us have several hundred followers or thousands on Google +, but if you take a look at those followers, you will probably find that you are also connected on either Facebook or Twitter, or other sites you use. It was the case with my following there so I have taken decision to stop using the account completely.

One of the problems is that Google has a hand in most things you do online… such as Gmail, Youtube and other services we routinely use everyday. I don’t want to compromise those so here is what you might like to think about doing to protect your privacy and to minimise the spam activity.

You can limit the use of your account by going to settings where you will find a number of options regarding sharing you data on Google +.

  • Go into your profile and click on the pencil to edit the various blocks of information.
  • Delete all non essential data from your profile including birthdate, location, past work history, links to your other sites, an email addresses other than Gmail.
  • If you continue to post on Google + you might want to change who can comment or share by marking it as private rather than public.

On your blog

  • Disconnect Google + from your publicize settings. – you can find these on the side of your current posts.
  • Click on Edit and remove the Google + on any posts you have already scheduled. And click update.

  • To remove Google + from automatic sharing in the future you need to go to your Settings – then click on sharing. You will see a note at the top Publicize and click on the visit WordPress.com sharing page.

  • And click the button to the right of Google + and it will come up with a blue connect button.

 

  • Going forward your post will no longer be automatically posted to Google +

To disconnect the sharing button from the bottom of your post go to the same settings, sharing.

  • Click on the Google + button in the enabled services and drag and drop up into the available services. This will no longer allow readers to share your post to Google +.

I appreciate that this sounds drastic, especially if you have become dependent on using Google + to promote your work. However, things are not going to improve over the next ten months as they go through the closure of the site and you might like to take action sooner rather than later.

I now focus on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to share my posts, and if you are not already a member of LinkedIn then you might consider it. I first joined when I was working many years ago, and in those days, it was a job site basically, where you could showcase your skills and experience.

These days you will find that those authors who consider their writing as a business (as we all should) are populating the site and they are keen to connect.

There are some excellent tutorials on how to tailor your profile and here is a link to one that is quite comprehensive.

https://www.opencolleges.edu.au/blog/2016/11/07/ca-beginners-guide-to-linkedin/

If you are already on LinkedIn then would be very happy to connect: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sallycronin1/

I hope you have found useful and I am sure if we were connected on Google + we are also connected elsewhere.. so we won’t lose touch. Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Something to Think About Rewind – Putting restrictions on your happiness


 

Whilst I am off house and dog sitting (and reading) I am sharing some posts from the last few years as I celebrate my fifth blogging birthday this month. This post is one that I read from time to time, as I can utter the words ‘I will be happy when’ without thinking on occasion. For those who have read this post before… I hope you don’t mind….

I have been a nutritional and life coach for the last 20 years.  Having given myself a severe kick up the backside at age 43 to make the necessary changes in my own life.

I had mindlessly eaten for most of my adult life, and either starved myself or binged, depending on whims rather than well thought out decisions.  It was only when I was studying nutrition, that the light went on, that the food on my plate had more purpose, beneficial qualities, and determination to thrive than I did.

That is just one example of how we can drift through life. 

Great at some things, particularly those we enjoy, good at other skills that we have learned along the way and applied to keep us fed, watered and under a roof. But perhaps a bit slapdash when it comes to things that we neither enjoy or feel apply to us, even when they might be essential to our health and survival, such as deciding what food to eat.

The reality is that when we refer to happiness we tend to put the word ‘when’ in front of it.

When I have 10,000 in the bank I will be happy!

When I have lost a stone I will be happy!

When I meet the perfect man I will be happy!

When I have a bestselling novel!

Trouble is that we often find that when we reach what we consider to be that ‘happy’ moment it is not quite as fulfilling as we expected.

Which brings me onto expectations.  We are encouraged today to think big.  Naturally our parents will usually have some plan in place for what they perceive is the right path in life, and their expectations are usually the first that we will succeed or fail to meet or surpass.

This develops a tendency in us to expect certain events and experiences to happen in our lives with quite rigid targets attached.

Great job by 21

Married by 25

Children by 30 

Retired by 40 

Living in paradise by 50!

Apart from those types of targets slipping past very quickly, because our eyes are on the big and triumphant completion dates, we sometimes fail to recognise and celebrate smaller but just as significant milestones along the way.

Don’t get me wrong, having goals and dreams and the commitment to make them happen is terrific.  But you have to insert the smaller steps within your life plan and acknowledge their importance on getting to where you want to be. 

Also be prepared to deviate from the plan when an opportunity presents itself or to leave the plan, and come back to it when circumstances dictate.

I also know from my own experience, and from family, friends and those I have worked with that there can be dreadful times.  Sickness, loss, depression, and a feeling of being out of control. Realistically it can take a huge effort to come back from life’s interventions.

But you have to hold onto as many of the good things in your life as possible, and building a strong support team is essential for those times.  In real terms with family and friends, but also now with the Internet. The relationships you form with like-minded positive people, who might be experiencing the same setbacks, but who can positively guide you through it.

I noticed this during the last few weeks as three hurricanes battered islands in the Caribbean and the Florida and eastern coast of America. People reached out on Facebook to voice concern for the safety of the friends they had never met, shared experiences and offered practical advice, and were there to commiserate and to comfort when those affected returned online.

Putting off happiness

Rather than put off happiness until some distant pre-determined date or event, try making a balance sheet of your life at the moment.

On one side place all the benefits in your life including family, loved ones, friends, health, activities, jobs, money etc.  On the other side put the less beneficial – where you think things could be improved – however small.

Then you decide that what you have on the beneficial side makes you ‘happy’ already.

Happiness is not stuck in a rut – in can be increased through several levels until you are ecstatic.  Take the items on your list for improvement, one at a time, decide how you are going to achieve them, make a plan with incremental steps and celebrate each one that you take.

I know it sounds simplistic but over the years I have found that my clients have lost weight much more happily, have viewed their relationships with less expectation and more delight.

They have also discovered that life can surprise you with its ability to help you achieve your dreams in ways that you had not even considered.

Be happy today and enjoy your life and the journey you are on already.  If you live to 90 or 100, you have plenty of time to adjust your plan or take a detour and still achieve your dreams.

 

Thanks for dropping by today and look forward to your feedback…….. thanks Sally

 

Smorgasbord Something to Think About – Wills and Probate – Read the small print!.


A year ago I posted about making a will and ensuring that your assets were distributed in the way you wished.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/08/21/something-to-think-about-peace-of-mind-talking-about-death-and-wills/

A will or its legal equivalent is an essential document that we all need, especially once we have bought  a home or have children. It is not just about the distribution of your assets, but also about who will take responsibility for your living dependents, such as young children and also any pets your might have.

This week I saw a newspaper article which follows on from this previous post, regarding the opportunity for banks and solicitors to benefit from your will and from those of your loved ones, leaving you possibly out of pocket for thousands of pounds.

Obviously there are different probate rules in effect and you will need to check those. But it is worth it. For example if an estate falls under the established tax threshold, £325,000 in the UK for an individual and £650,000 for a couple, then you can enjoy that sum without penalty. However, if you hand over responsibility to a solicitor or other probate service they will charge you between 3% to 5% (sometimes more with other charges). So on an estate of £650,000 this would be between £21,500 to £32,000.

I appreciate that it seems very complicated and daunting to do your own probate, but in fact it can be done online, particularly if the will is very straightforward without trusts or complicated terms.

We did my mother’s will online and instead of paying £13,000 in fees it cost around £250 in the end.

Back to the newspaper article that prompted this post. It would seem that there was a period in time when the banks were offering to compile your wills very cheaply and to store them. However, in the small print, they made themselves executors of the will and their charges were outlined, even when a will was under the taxable amount and simple in its terms.

I am sharing a short extract from the post where several people have shared their experiences.

  • Why that cheap will from the bank could cost your family £30k: As victims of yet another scandal speak out, what to do if you were taken in too…
  • Some wills sold by banks include onerous T&Cs that leave grieving families thousands out of pocket
  • We revealed up to 1.5m people have been sold rip-off wills by banks
  • Families have begun trawling through small print of their contracts and say they have discovered huge charges they knew nothing about

In the small print, NatWest had reserved the right to act as executor of the will when Barbara died.

That means NatWest and its solicitors, rather than Debbie or another family member or trusted friend, will be responsible for wrapping up her estate and dealing with everything from property sales to inheritance tax.

In return for this service, the bank states it will charge a £1,500 administration fee and a whopping 2.5 per cent of her mum’s total estate (plus VAT).

The estate is currently worth around £220,000 – so this works out at £7,000 plus VAT.

The bank claims that Barbara chose to appoint NatWest as executor and that it was clear about its fees.”

Head over and read the whole of the post to find out more and think carefully about your will and those of your close family: Cheap wills may have hidden charges

I do suggest that if you have designated a bank or solicitor to be your executor, that you carefully read the small print. It is important that your will is legal and that the person you have chosen as your executor is someone that you trust and is capable of carrying out your wishes. In this day and age, it would be a good idea to choose someone who is technologically savvy as many countries now have a direct online probate service which is fine for simple and clear cut wills.

However, if you decide to appoint a solicitor or other service to probate your will, you should shop around to find not just the most efficient and most recommended service but also negotiate the best deal, since it could mean the difference of thousands of pounds or dollars being diverted from the ones you love.

Here are some useful links for the UK and the US.

https://www.gov.uk/wills-probate-inheritance

https://www.thebalance.com/how-much-does-probate-cost-3505268

I hope that this has given you something to think about. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Something to Think About – Summer holidays – Who is watching your house?


This is not the first time that I have posted this but it is perhaps time for a reminder. The summer holidays where people are away for a couple of weeks at a time is the busiest time of the year for criminals. Especially when so many of us kindly leave the door open in the virtual world, by announcing our departure and then posting photographs of our fun in the sun!

We assume that it will only be the rich and famous who are posting on Instagram and have a house full of expensive items John Terry Footballer – but there are plenty of opportunistic petty thieves who are happy with some electronics and any jewelery lying around.

These days in our capital cities, even hanging your arm out of the window of your car with a half-way decent watch on your wrist is asking for some thug on a moped to relieve you of it!

Party, Party Party!!

We have all read the stories in the press of teenagers planning a get together whilst parents are away for the night and five thousand turn up on the doorstep and then trash the house.. Every parent’s nightmare.. Yet we adults also have to be careful about what we post on Facebook that might invite unwanted guests into our home. We also have to be savvy about what we post while we are away as this too might end up costing you thousands.

We are going on holiday……yeah!

As we head towards the summer holidays and millions of us board planes and ships to travel around the world, the first thing that we want to do is share our wonderful experiences. With the world-wide web you can post your images to Facebook and other sites every day as you glow in the bask of the sunset with a cocktail in hand.

First and foremost of course is the little matter of telling the world that you are on holiday and that your house is more than likely empty except for all your worldly possessions. Not only that, in your ‘farewell and be back in touch in two weeks’ final message to all your ‘friends’ on social media you have also given potential thieves the time scales so that they can schedule you in to their calendar.

These days you only have to pay a small amount to a site that provides addresses such as 192.com or even the online telephone directory to track your house down and then criminals have all they need to go on their own little spree.

My house has been robbed….here is my insurance claim!!!!

Your home insurer will probably check your social media and if they discover that you have announced to everyone that you are going to be leaving your house vacant they are likely to quibble over your claim.

What do you mean you won’t pay for my stay in hospital???

Secondly, travel and medical insurance is a large expense today and the natural inclination is to get the basic and hope for the best.  With ski holidays you have to be fairly specific about your risk factors which is understandable, but what about your lovely two weeks in the sun where you might lose your luggage or your wallet but not your health or even life.

We have all had that moment when that last cocktail has provided the courage to sky-dive, para-glide, wind surf, scuba dive, swim with dolphins or sharks, jump off the high board or any other activity that we thought we would never attempt….After all we are only young once and life is for living!

Here are a few who won’t be able to claim….. all recorded on a lovely smart phone! Does not seem they got much sympathy either!

And you can be sure that if you have a pre-existing condition that this will be taken into consideration when your claim is assessed. And if you have thrown yourself out of a plane and have a history of angina which results in an episode requiring medical treatment you will find yourself paying the cost of it.

Recently, there have been a number of prosecutions of people claiming that they suffered food poisoning when staying in hotels abroad. Trouble is when allegedly incapacitated, they were pictured at the swimming pool or eating heartily in other restaurants or even in the hotel!  I am sure that the fines and the prison food will be a little less palatable!

Many insurance companies have a No John, No John, No John No  policy where they will refuse three times as a matter of course.  They will also be taking a keen look at your social media and those photographs of you enjoying a few cocktails by the pool with your family and friends and they may be used against you.

This is particularly important if you have teenagers heading off on holiday with a bunch of friends. They are far more likely to post photographs of everything that they do on holiday and not just on Facebook but across the board. They are at greater risk of doing themselves harm and also of having problems with their insurance.

So, if you are going on holiday, do not tell the world on Facebook or on any other blog or social media site, unless it is absolutely clear that you have left people in charge in your absence.  Post your holiday photographs when you return safe and sound and no longer have need of your medical insurance and then you can share that amazing moment you threw yourself out of a plane at 15,000 feet.

Some signs that your house may be targeted year round.

On the subject of housebreaking. Be careful of putting death and funeral notices in the paper. If you live in the house you may find yourself getting late night or early morning calls that are hang-ups. Someone is trying to find out if after a bereavement the house is empty and vulnerable. Also check outside for anything out of place in the front garden or any strange marks on garden walls, gates or even on the walls of the house, probably in chalk.  These are signs left to indicate that the house is empty. My advice is to leave someone at the house during a funeral and after a bereavement for a couple of weeks at least. The same applies when you are on holiday.

When we had Sam we had a wonderful house/pet sitter and if we are both away at the same time we always have someone in the house. You may find that a family member would love a bit of a break themselves and move in for your time away and it saves a fortune if you have pets rather than put them in kennels.

Here are a couple of sites you might find useful. Established sitters come with references and in some cases are bonded. Many are people who have retired and want to see the world will cover their travel expenses and in most cases do not charge as they are happy not to pay accommodation costs.

https://www.housesittersinternational.com/

https://www.trustedhousesitters.com/us/

https://www.housesittersuk.co.uk/

The key is to be safe on holiday and make sure that all your activities are covered by your insurance.. Look at the small print and only post your party shots and extreme sports when you get home safely!

©Sally Cronin 2018

Smorgasbord Something to think about – The Windrush Scandal and Immigration, the backbone of our success as nations


 

Whether you live in the UK or in the United States, there are stories in the press regarding the deportation of long term residents, allegedly because they have no official citizenship status, having arrived as children of immigrant parents.

Currently the UK must hang its head in shame as it watches the attempt to redact huge swathes of history, distort generations of family and social history, to follow what they consider to be the letter of the law. All to create the illusion that they are addressing a problem, the various political parties promised to tackle, as part of their election manifestos in the last twenty years. Neither the Tories or Labour party are blameless in this.

In 1948, 948 British passengers (and two stowaways), arrived from Jamaica aboard the ‘Empire Windrush’. The ship by the way was not British, it was originally German and was originally the ‘MV Monte Rosa’ a cruise ship launched in 1930. During the Second World War she acted as a troop carrier, and in 1945 was passed to the British as a prize of war and renamed. Empire Windrush

In fact, Jamaica was also a prize of war, when the British conquered the Island in 1655 from the Spanish, and assumed responsibility for its population. The British did amazingly well during its governance of the island, and fortunes were made by those in power from the sugar plantations, and for nearly 200 years from the slave trade, until it was abolished in the 1840s. I am pretty sure too, that there are many who live in Jamaica who share both Anglo Saxon and their native Arawak and Taino bloodlines following on from these years of British rule!

In 1948 the island won its independence from the United Kingdom, but by then generations of Jamaicans considered themselves British, had worked hard, paid their taxes and many dreamed of coming to their mother nation to start new lives. As did the 948 Windrush passengers (and the two stowaways).

Now the children of those Windrush passengers, and of many thousands of other Commonwealth residents including Canada, who arrived in the UK to begin new lives, are being told that despite working and contributing to the British economy for decades, they will be deported to their country of origin.

The stories are chilling, but especially as quite a number refer to those who require expensive medical treatment or are on disability.

Here is an extract from an article.

A growing number of cases of Home Office mistreatment of non-Caribbean Commonwealth-born citizens are emerging, indicating that the problem is likely to spread beyond the Windrush group. Immigration charities and MPs reported that numerous new cases had been reported this week of individuals from countries including Kenya, Cyprus and Canada.

‘I felt like dirt’: disabled Canadian woman told to leave UK after 44 years

Echoing the hidden nature of the Windrush cases the scale of the problems experienced by those from non-Windrush nations appears to be only gradually emerging.

A spokesperson at the Canadian high commission said: “To the best of our knowledge, the High Commission of Canada has not been contacted by any Canadians seeking assistance in matters related to Windrush.”

But Margaret O’Brien, 69, who moved to the UK from Canada in 1971, described battling over two years to persuade the Home Office to believe that she was here legitimately. She was threatened with removal to Canada, where she has no surviving relatives; her disability benefits were suspended, leaving her impoverished.

Source:Windrush Scandal due to spread to other groups

It would seem the fact, that over 57,000 residents, have worked and paid for taxes for decades, means very little, particularly when it involves their need for medical support as they get older.

In regard to the ‘Windrush’ scandal, and the assertion that all the landing cards, proving the identity of all the passengers, adults and children alike had been shredded, there has been a public apology issued by the Home Secretary and Prime Minister.

The home secretary’s announcement on Monday was titled “Windrush Migrants” and she paid repeated, effusive respects to that specific group, lamenting the “hardship they had endured” as a result of her department’s policies. “It is only right that the significant contribution the Windrush generation have made to the UK is recognised,” Amber Rudd said. There was little focus on non-Caribbean nations.

Source: Windrush Scandal due to spread to other groups

However, that still leaves the thousands of non-Caribbean descendants who have never formalised their citizenship, believing that having been allowed into the country as a child, gave them right to stay.

We are not alone in this mis-management of hugely contributive members of our societies, who arrived from British protectorates with their families in the last 70 + years. The USA is also deporting men and women who have contributed to their countries economy for decades, back to countries where they have no living relatives and no other ties.

My opinion, for what it is worth, is that the governments are going after easy targets in order to fulfill their election promises to reduce their net immigration figures.

They are easy targets because they are registered for social security, tax, NHS, council tax and state pensions. This last one is important, because the majority of these law abiding citizens, are now at the age where they are drawing a pension, and possibly requiring more health care. They have gone from contributing to the coffers from withdrawing some of that back.

They are certainly a lot softer targets than the estimated 1.1 million illegal migrants who live under the radar!

Britain is home to more than a million illegal migrants, a former Home Office chief admitted yesterday.

After years of denial across government, a senior official finally acknowledged that huge numbers of foreigners are living here ‘under the radar’.

David Wood, who was head of immigration enforcement until 2015, told MPs few of the illegals were ever likely to be sent home. They include visa overstayers, criminals who have escaped deportation, failed asylum seekers and those who have sneaked into the UK.

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4967690/Million-illegal-immigrants-not-removed-UK.html

This is not just my indignation at the treatment of all of those who have contributed to our culture and economy as train drivers, nurses, doctors, teachers, shop owners and across all of the services we tend to take for granted. It is about my concern of where it goes next!

And whilst this might sound a little far fetched, as after all as the Prime Minister, Mrs. May has reiterated, the UK has a special relationship with Southern Ireland. I am a British Citizen, born in the UK of British parents, but many Irish have crossed that short stretch of water over the last couple of hundred years. Many of whom born after Independence, and who have lived and worked in Britain without obtaining citizenship.

With Brexit negotiations centering around the issue of the Irish Border… where might that lead those who have made their homes in the UK?

I am sure that the sheer numbers of Irish living in the UK who contribute billions to the economy each year will make sure that ‘special’ relationship stays intact.  But for arguments sake, I would like to take a look at the contributions that not just the Irish but also are other Commonwealth countries and Dominions have made to our nation’s standing in the world.

Today, millions of residents of Great Britain are either from Ireland or have Irish ancestry. It is estimated that as many as six million people living in the UK have at least one Irish grandparent (around 10% of the UK population).

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_migration_to_Great_Britain

That includes me. My grandfather was Irish, fought in the First World War and died on November 2nd 1918 in action. As did 45,000 other Irish soldiers and sailors. My great grand-father enlisted in the Royal Navy at age 16 in 1868 and lived out his live until 1924 in the UK.

There is no agreement on the total number of Irish soldiers who served in the British Army and Navy in the First World War. Professor Keith Jeffery gives a figure of 210,000. There appears to be a consensus that at least 35,000 died though the figure on the National War Memorial is 49,400.

About 140,000 enlisted in Ireland during the war. The increase in 1918 is worth noting.

Full history of the Irish army involvement in World War 1: Irish enlistments WW1

This leads me to the 3.5 million British Empire and Dominions whose men and women fought side by side with British troops in all major theatres of WW2.

During the war the British Empire and Dominions raised a total of 8,586,000 men for military service. More than 5 million came from the British Isles, 1,440,500 from India, 629,000 from Canada, 413,000 from Australia, 136,000 from South Africa, 128,500 from New Zealand and more than 134,000 from other colonies.

Troops from the Dominions fought in all theatres where British troops were engaged. Canada was the site of the first British Commonwealth Air Training Scheme flying school, where many pilots from the Empire and Dominions were trained. Men from the Dominion air forces – Australian, Canadian, New Zealand and South African – were incorporated into the RAF. The Royal Australian Navy served in the Mediterranean and in the Far East, as did the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy. The Royal Canadian Navy made a significant contribution to Allied victory in the Battle of the Atlantic, providing escorts for convoys crossing between Canada and Britain.

Over two and a half million Indian men volunteered for service, producing the largest volunteer army in history. Many fought against the Japanese in Burma, but Indian soldiers also served in North and East Africa, Italy and Greece. The Royal Indian Air Force (RIAF) fought against the Japanese, while Royal Indian Navy ships fought in the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean. There were around 40,000 Indian servicemen in the British Merchant Navy.

In the West Indies, thousands of men joined the local home guard and the British Army. They were eventually sent to Europe for training, but few were allowed to fight on the front line. Approximately 5,500 West Indian RAF personnel came to Britain in 1944-5. From 1944, West Indian women served in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) and the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) in Britain. Over 40,000 workers volunteered to live and work as agricultural labourers in the USA.

Source: BBC – People’s War

I have no issue with ensuring that there is a right to enter the country, to register for work, contribute to social security and tax. We should welcome those who will support the economy by paying for their own housing, food, clothing and other necessities (amounting to around £20,000 £30,000 per annum per person).

This brings me to something that I do believe we should consider when looking at the immigration issue.

Our own diverse ethnicity.

Certainly in the UK, Europe and North America, there are few of us who can claim that we are indigenous or true native to the region.

Lands have been simply moved into, as the ice receded or invaded as part of a land grab. Over many thousands of years there were no borders, and it was only when geographically borders appeared such as seas, and when power plays created territories,  that we drew up the map we have today.  Suddenly become labelled as belonging to that territory and no longer were we just classified as a human being.

My own diverse ethnicity

As an example of this I would like to share my origins going back 20,000 years.

I was born in the UK and I wanted to trace my origins whilst completing my family tree. And I found that I was diverse as they come.

This is my basic breakdown based on my DNA Ancestry test. My ancestral journey and I am a little bit Viking

This is a map of showing how far my ancestors travelled to where I ended up being born in the south of England.

Going back even further, based on my DNA results from Oxford Ancestry twenty years ago… I am descended from a woman, whose bones were found in the Southern France, Northern Spain region 20,000 years ago. Meet my great grandmother x 8 Helena

This diverse ethnicity of mine is mirrored in billions across the world, particularly in developed countries, whose economy, infrastructure and interracial melding, has benefited by creating a stronger, more resilient human population.

Our wealth and privilege today was largely built on the backs of our immigrant populations, and the sacrifice they made side by side with their new compatriots in the conflicts across the world.

Governments are very keen to quote amendments of constitutionsm and laws enacted over 250 years ago, but are only too keen to rewrite history, and bend the rights of minorities when it suits them. Unfortunately, it is not only leaders of nations and political parties who should be held accountable, but those they charge with enacting their pronouncements and promises.

The Civil Service is an institution that does not change with elections, or with the times, and it is there that I would suggest that the leaders now apologising for this current debacle, should focus their attentions.

Certainly, it is the Home Office who is responsible for managing our immigration policy and borders. With 1.1. million illegal immigrants to find and to review in regard to their status, I would think they have more than enough to be getting on with.

The Windrush Generation and all those who have contributed to making our various countries great deserve to be treated better.

Thank you for dropping in and reading my thoughts on this subject. Sally