Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Weekly Round Up – Constantine the Great, a horde of talented authors, canine petty thiefs and some jokes

Welcome to this week’s round up of posts on Smorgasbord that you might have missed.

After the glorious Easter weather the storm fronts came racing in and I am very grateful that the small plants that went into the pots last weekend have survived and thrived. I am amazed as they had such shallow roots and yet most have managed to also flower despite the high winds and torrential rain. Miracles really.

I was in Gorey today to get some food shopping done and on the way into town is a large roundabout which has recently be revamped by its sponsor. They had planted about five mature conifers about 5 foot tall in a circle and whilst my little petunias weathered the storm and bloomed… three of these conifers are now on their sides. Obviously not planted deep enough but a lesson on how the mighty fall and the meek might just inherit the earth.

I am waxing lyrical now so had better get on with business. 

The first thing I want to share is the new series of Posts from Your Archives and if you missed the post this morning here are the details.

Since this series began in January 2018 there have been over 400 Posts from Your Archives where bloggers have taken the opportunity to share posts to a new audience… mine.

The topics have ranged from travel, childhood, recipes, history and the most recent series was on any aspect about family.

Many of the posts were written at the start of a blogger’s experience and perhaps there were not as many followers at the time. Such a shame not to re-share all the hard work that went into the post in the first place.

It is an opportunity to showcase your writing skill to my readers and also to share on my social media. Which combined is around the 40,000 mark. If you are an author your books will be mentioned too, along with their buy links and your other social media contacts.

So what is different about this series?

This time, rather than you send me four links to posts from your archives, all I need you to do is give me permission to dive in myself and find four posts to share here on Smorgasbord.

Rather than a set topic, I will select posts at random across a number of subjects from the time you began blogging up to the present day.

If you are an author I am sure you will have a page on your blog with the details, and an ‘about page’ with your profile and social media links (always a good idea anyway). I will get everything that I need.

Copyright is yours and I will ©Your name on every post… and you will be named as the author in the URL and subject line.

Here are a few examples so you can see how a post will appear.

Darlene Foster shares the devastation caused by wildfires that destroyed old family homesteads in Canada.

Robbie Cheadle shares a wonderful post about her wedding.

Sue Vincent shares the wonderful dogs who have been part of her life since childhood and today.

So do you trust me enough to delve into your archives and select some posts to share here on Smorgasbord?

All I need is your name in the comments here or in the original post and I will do the rest.

Time to share the posts from the week…slightly fewer than usual as I posted last week’s round up on Monday.

I thought over the weekend I would share a two part series from Paul Andruss posted originally in November 2017…As with any legend, there is usually some variations on the origins and plenty of embellishments by later historians, that need to be resolved. Paul takes on the task and unravels the stories to reveal the probable truth behind Constantine the Great, the first Christian Emperor.. and his mother Helena.

Part  One

Part Two

They were not really the good old days, especially for women and children, particularly the babies. Robbie Cheadle shares the truly terrible tale of Amelia Dyer…

Amelia Dyer

Susanne Swanson turned her blog over to her cat Benji who shared an experience with a mouse…


Personal Stuff

This week on The R’s of Life… Reason.. have we lost all of us, or does our education system let millions down by not providing them with the tools to make informed decisions.

This week our friend’s cat goes missing and I grow tomatoes…Houston 1986

My response to This week’s Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills is about ‘exhaustion‘… Tramp’s Heartbreak…

Special Feature – the final contributors to Understanding An Anthology of True and Significant life events.

New Book on the Shelves.

Author Update #Reviews

The truth is you cannot have your cake and eat it and lose weight.  If you want to enjoy a varied and healthy weight loss you need to get moving.. even if it is a walk around the block each day… and flexibility is key.

There are a great many myths about food and one of those foods is salt. The fact is we are taking in far too much sodium in industrially produced foods, 75%… and not enough of the natural salt that we need.

Thank you very much for dropping by and your support…have a great week. Hope to see you here again soon…thanks Sally.


Smorgasbord – Something to Think About – The R’s of Life – Survival in the Modern World – Reason! by Sally Cronin

Welcome to another R’s of life… and this week I have selected the word Reason….and it is a word that has many facets as demonstrated by

Noun –  A basis or cause, as for some belief, action, fact, event, etc.: the reason for declaring war. Or a statement presented in justification or explanation of a belief or action:

Verb- To think or argue in a logical manner. To form conclusions, judgments, or inferences from facts or premises.

Reason as a justification

Surprisingly few of us as part of a global population have the right to worship as we choose: Right to Freedom of Speech and Religion

But unfortunately, just because you have the right to worship your god, does not mean those who worship another, are not going to find a reason persecute you for it.

It has become a tragic fact of our modern world, that a handful of extremists believe that they have the right to commit violence because of differing beliefs. Radicalisation of the young, vulnerable and poorest elements of society goes against any true religious teachings.

The cornerstone of most religions, including those that have a radicalised minority, is peace, mercy and harmony with others.

To that end certain rules or commandments were laid down long ago that attempted to ensure that peace and harmony existed amongst the believers as well as those outside the religion.

For example, the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament were carved in stone and instilled in the faithful are an ancient example of this. The story of how Moses came into possession of these commandments is a Sunday School favourite, but however they were introduced, their intent remains the same.

I am not a religious expert, but I believe that most religions have something similar in their teachings.

‘I also believe if we all obeyed commandments 5 through 10 the world would be a better place!’

  1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
  2. You shall make no idols.
  3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
  4. Keep the Sabbath day holy.
  5. Honor your father and your mother.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet.

The dark side of the commandments….

Apart from the benevolent aspect to these commandments, there is also the element of control it gave leaders of religions over their flocks. It enabled them to wield power and a reason to demonstrate their power if you failed to fall into line.

Let’s face it, if you want to manage thousands of people, what better way than to develop a stick and carrot approach to their devotion.Some high priests even persuaded the members of their gatherings that it was an honour to be chosen to be sacrificed and to go straight to the land of the gods. Something that unfortunately is making a comeback.

There are more subtle but equally effective ways to maintain control, including using an ancient language that nobody understands for all your religious services, maintaining the mystery for hundreds of years!  A congregation had no reason to question the teachings or rituals performed generation after generation.

Certainly those that did question such practices and the breaking of most of the commandments could have dire consequences, usually ending in death. In some countries it still does!

Sometimes just an accusation of breaking the commandments could result in death, and religious courts were not known for mercy, including the  Inquisition which began in 1478 and lasted 350 years.

Even the law has taken these commandments very seriously and has used them as a reason to remove unwanted members of society. Stealing a loaf of bread for your starving family was not seen as an adequate reason, and could find you on a boat to Australia.

Even in our lifetime, these very commandments intended to create a harmonious society we could all live within, have been broken numerous times by governments, including inciting two world wars and genocide.

If somebody does not believe in our rules…. then they must be in the wrong!

We are allegedly the most intelligent species on earth with a capacity to reason. This means resolve issues logically, with knowledge gained or discovered, with awareness of consequences and with a positive outcome in mind.

But that only works if there are not people in power willing to manipulate the truth for their own means. And never easier than today, with the world wide web at their disposal, to disperse their agenda to millions of receptive individuals.

Most of us like to think that we can reason things out for ourselves, but we are being manipulated in most areas of our lives from the food that we buy, the utility company we use, the clothes on our back, who we vote for, whether we vaccinate our children or not, our body image and crucially who we want excluded from our society.

Some examples of how a population can be manipulated.

Brexit and the fear campaign in the press and social media by those in power on both sides of the divide. The leavers managed to get a 52% victory over the remainers at 48% by hitting the voters with the disadvantages and horrors of staying within the EU.

  1. Brussels would continue to control our legal system and force new draconian laws on us as a nation.
  2. Brussels would impose more regulation on our lifestyle from capping the power of vacuum cleaners, the price on beer, to the wattage of our light bulbs.
  3. That the open borders meant that UK jobs were in danger from migrant workers from the EU and a massive increase in unemployment and billions on the welfare bill.
  4. That open borders encouraged more immigration from non-EU countries putting a huge burden on services such as the NHS.
  5. That the UK would be impacted by the financial issues in other EU countries such as Greece.
  6. That the European parliament was a massive black hole that cost billions annually to support.
  7. And most compelling was the argument that the British were losing their identity, something that they had fought hard for during two world wars.
  8. There was already a dislike of the leaders of the EU who were portrayed in the press as treating our own politicians with disrespect.
  9. There was also the fear that Britain would be absorbed into the union and be governed by countries that were traditional enemies.

The Remainers were also busy instilling fear in the voters if we didn’t stay in the EU

  1. The price of holidays in Europe will go up substantially.
  2. Telephone charges when on holiday will go up.
  3. The cost of importing cars, electrical goods, our gas, French wines and cheese would cost £100s more each family per year.
  4. Everything from medicines to toilet paper would run out (people have already started hording). Food would only last a week.
  5. Tourism would drop in the UK as it would become too expensive for visitors.
  6. We would have to pay billions to the EU as part of the divorce package that was money needed to bail out the NHS.
  7. There would be a hard border between Northern and Southern Ireland which could result in damage to the peace process.
  8. There would be a loss of the European cross border co-operation on policing, terrorism etc putting the UK at risk.
  9. The UK would be unable to secure trade deals with non-EU partners to make up the shortfall from current deals.
  10. We would be militarily isolated should there be a need to defend the UK in the future.

Now after three years of shambolic negotiations we seem to be at an impasse!

The British public were not given all the facts to make an informed and reasoned decision before the referendum that was called too early, and they were spoon fed a fear campaign based on their lifestyles and personal pockets.

Britain is not alone in this method of information dispersal and hence the term ‘Fake News’

Now imagine that you are even more at a disadvantage because you only have the verbal communication from those in power to go on! The Globe and Mail

The world is a small place for someone who can’t read. Basic signage, medication labels, job applications: They all become inaccessible, and the chances of a healthy and productive life are slim. Life expectancy increases as a result of literacy and the United Nations considers it a human right.

In 2010, the global rate of adult literacy climbed to 84 per cent. Still, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the agency that monitors literacy around the world, cautions that even as the world celebrates International Literacy Day this Saturday, there are still reasons for concern.

There are 775 million people in the world who are illiterate, with another 152 million children set to follow in their footsteps because they aren’t attending school.

Admittedly the highest rates for illiteracy are in sub-Saharan countries but the USA and the UK have not got a great deal to be proud about.

1. 32 million adults can not read in the United States equal to 14% of the population.
2. 21% of US adults read below the 5th grade level.
3. 19% of high school graduates can not read.
4. 85% of juveniles who interact with the juvenile court system are considered functionally illiterate.
5. 70% of inmates in America’s prisons can not read above the fourth grade level.

and in the UK Literacy Trust

16.4% of adults in England, or 7.1 million people, can be described as having ‘very poor literacy skills.’ They can understand short straightforward texts on familiar topics accurately and independently, and obtain information from everyday sources, but reading information from unfamiliar sources, or on unfamiliar topics, could cause problems.

33.7 million voted in the Brexit referendum with 52% (17.4m) voting to leave and 48% (16.1m) to remain. A close vote. The number of eligible voters in the UK is 46 million which means that 12 million did not vote. We will never know if the 7.1 people in the UK who have poor literacy skills voted or not. But with only 1.3 million disparity, it might have changed the outcome.

Now there are millions who have changed their minds and say that if they had known the facts at the time they would have voted to remain! Hindsight is a wonderful thing but truthful communications from those in power is also a rare commodity these days.

This post was about reason…. as a justification for our actions, our attitude to those who do not believe in the same god as we do, and also as a tool to determine our personal and national futures.

We have rules and we might consider that most of them are archaic or unsustainable but the basic ones were designed to ensure social harmony and it is our responsibility to abide by them.

That being said…. it is those in power who are the most guilty of not abiding by these basic laws as they find it easy to manipulate them for the wrong reasons.

When it comes to determining our own future and that of our countries, we need to be as informed as possible before voting for political parties and participating in referendums that will have critical consequences.

And if we are to demand that people make informed decisions about their own lives and the direction their country is heading, there should be considerably more resources made available for education, not just for children but the millions of our populations who are functionally illiterate.

More education is also required on the necessity to vote in major elections or referendums. I would be very open to it becoming a required action without a justifiable reason for abstaining!

It also means not taking anything we hear or read at face value. Asking questions is part of the reasoning process and we all need to take better advantage of any opportunity to do so.

These views are entirely my own and are not intended to offend anyone’s religion or political preferences.. but I am sure it will result in some discussion… thanks Sally.





Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – Easter Parades, Short Stories, books and guests.

Welcome to the posts you might have missed during the last 8 days… a little later than usual as I have been taking advantage of the wonderful weather over Easter and have been away from the screen for most of each day.

The two Easter parades have been great fun for me to put together and I am thrilled with the wonderful behatted guests who have participated. A little music, dancing, funnies and genuinely lovely people who are all very supportive of me and the blog.

It is not too late to pop in and add the link to your latest post and your Amazon Link.

How many of these guests or their representatives do you recognise?

Easter Parade Saturday.

And here are the other posts from the week.

William Price King shares the life and music of jazz pianist/electric keyboardist and composer Chick Corea.

The House by the Sea  by Paul Andruss – The final three episodes

This week Carol Taylor and I share the foods you need to include in your diet to ensure you do not become deficient in Vitamin B5.

This month Silvia Todesco shares a recipe for a special sugar glazed pie that uses up your fruit that is going squishy…

My review for Survival of the Fittest (Book 1 of The Crossroads Trilogy) by Jacqui Murray

A Haibun – The Circles of Life

This week in the R’s of Life I look at the billions of dollars spent in regulated and non-regulated cosmetic surgeries and procedures in an effort to look young.

Donna Hill shares the retirement process for guide dogs and how they can be absorbed into the family or extended family.

Hunter, Donna's black Lab guide dog, on Hill's Pond-Berm Trail with blooming yellow Birdsfoot Trefoil, Showing his Gray in Summer of 2013: photo by Rich Hill.

Miriam Hurdle shares the story of her brother-in-law and the challenge of waiting for a perfect match.


This week Susanne Swanson introduces us to Benji – the runt of the litter who soars in his dreams.

Patty Fletcher shares a difficult time during her first experience of Seeing Eye Dog training school being away from home at Easter.

I share more of the contributors to this anthology of interviews with fellow authors who have experienced significant life events.

New Book on the Shelves

Author Update – Reviews


Thank you very much for dropping in through the week and today, I hope that you had a peaceful Easter and that the tragic events in Sri Lanka did not touch your lives.  Sally

Smorgasbord – Something to think About – The R’s of Life – Survival in the Modern World – Rejuvenation!

This week a word that has now become a addictive drive to overcome the relentless march of time

Rejuvenation: The desire to recapture the vigour, appearance and lifestyle of youth.

Never before in our history has there been such a drive, and even addiction, to reclaiming all the attributes of youth, from spending massive amounts of money on non-invasive procedures to undertaking serious cosmetic surgeries. We are surrounded by images of those who according to the media are the epitome of beauty and it is not just the more mature who are being influenced.  The young who are still in their prime are being told that they are not attractive enough and lured into enhancing their faces and bodies. With long lasting consequences. Barbara Stanwyck 1907 – 1990

The press and the movie industry have a long history of promoting and celebrating the young and the beautiful, and so many of those who were approaching their 30s and 40s were encouraged by their studios or sponsors to maintain that image of youthfulness by going under the knife. Even the stunning Sophia Loren recalls being pressurised to have cosmetic surgery as a young star to adjust her nose to suit the alleged standards of beauty of the day: Sydney Morning Herald

Current publicity photographs of some of the more mature stars, clearly show the after effects of surgery, and that attitudes towards aging is still the same in Hollywood today.

They have it all don’t they? Fame, wealth, good looks, red carpet junkets, jewellery and designers falling over themselves to dress them and be showcased. Large houses with fabulous pools and people to do everything for them as they swan about in their magnificent luxury cars.

But all that comes with a price. That constant drive to stay young, bankable and in the public eye is responsible for broken marriages, displaced children, addiction, suicide and a private life that is a myth. Especially when the vultures within the paparazzi have your life on speed dial.

Imagine living in a fish bowl?

Even those who are wannabe famous, and who litter the headlines in their attempts to establish themselves, have fractured private lives that belie the external and often enhanced beauty they crave. Those who cannot afford to pay for licensed cosmetic surgery head off to even less regulated countries for cheaper procedures that lead to dangerous health complications. All so that they can whip their tops off and show their new and plastic cleavage to what they hope will be an adoring public.

Apart from high profile stories of celebrities who have had surgery to repair botched procedures, thousands of non-celebrities have become cosmetic surgery tourists in search of the star treatment at a cheap rate. Many have paid the full price as far as their health is concerned when they return home and have to undergo further surgeries to correct the damage.

The message that we are sending our young is that aging is toxic, that we all end up unattractive, on the heap and have no life after the first few wrinkles have etched themselves into our faces.

Above all else, having seen the results of plastic surgery that follows on from multiple procedures, I also have to call into question the ethical nature of some of these cosmetic surgeons who keep taking the money, despite the risks to the patients from the physical and mental consequences.

And I am not immune to the clarion call of the cosmetic industry that promises that a newly found ingredient will either smooth, eradicate or blur the signs of age on face and body. To be honest I have a couple of products that don’t do a half bad job unless I put my reading glasses on.

And we cannot blame this culture on the modern world, as women in particular have been looking for the elixir of youth from the moment they first saw their reflection in a still pond of water! In days when your existence relied on being considered attractive and desirable was not just preferable but essential, anything that enhanced your look was considered, whatever the side-effects.

The ancient Egyptians had some pretty nifty concoctions they added to the daily beauty regime. These included copper, lead and kohl for their eyes made from soot, fat and any scrap metal that was hanging around, including antimony and lead. One of the important factors that these early seekers of youth did not taken into account, is that skin is porous, and allows elements in and out. Absorb enough antimony and you are facing serious physical and mental health issues. This stuff is used industrially in a number of processes including fire retardation of cloth used in cars and in safety equipment, and in batteries.

The symptoms of antimony are numerous and include respiratory and gastrointestinal problems, skin complaints, confusion and certain compounds can cause cancer.

Over the centuries other metals that have serious side effects have been introduced to potions to whiten skin, improve texture and add fullness to lips, including lead in lipstick, mercury in mascara and arsenic in face powder.

The ancient Greeks and Romans swore blind that ‘lead’ in creams and powders was the key to youth, and it was also added to rouge and to hair colour. That fascination with this deadly metal continued well into the 18th and 19th centuries and when you look at the list of side-effects it is no wonder that certain civilisations disappeared and that mad-houses were full: The Mayo Clinic

Lead poisoning occurs when lead builds up in the body, often over months or years. Even small amounts of lead can cause serious health problems. Children younger than 6 years are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning, which can severely affect mental and physical development. At very high levels, lead poisoning can be fatal.

Lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust in older buildings are the most common sources of lead poisoning in children. Other sources include contaminated air, water and soil. Adults who work with batteries, do home renovations or work in auto repair shops also might be exposed to lead.

  • High blood pressure
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Difficulties with memory or concentration
  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Mood disorders
  • Reduced sperm count and abnormal sperm
  • Miscarriage, stillbirth or premature birth in pregnant women

Whilst the cosmetic industry has become more regulated, it is not necessarily completely safe. Red lipstick has had a rocky ride even as recently as 2007 when a percentage of those tested under laboratory conditions were found to contain what was considered to be dangerous levels of lead. And if you think mercury is no longer in the products we buy, it is still used as a preservative.

The FDA has taken pains to reassure those of us who use substantial amounts of eye makeup on a daily basis. Cosmetics Info

There is no basis for concern by the consumer for the presence of mercury in cosmetic and personal care products purchased in the United States that comply with FDA regulations. The FDA limit of 1 part-per-million of mercury allowed in most cosmetics does not present a risk to health. The trace level of mercury that FDA allows for use some eye care preparations is too small to be of concern for health reasons but is sufficient to prevent bacterial contamination of the eye care product and serious eye infections in the users of the eye care product.

This does call for another type of clarion call – don’t just check food labels for ingredients but also cosmetics and toiletries as they both enter the body too..

Apart from the toxicity of metals in cosmetics, more and more in our modern age our drive to regain our youth has resulted in us going under the knife.

There is a temptation to absorb the marketing by cosmetic clinics in women’s magazines, and go for a little enhancement beyond the use of the magic potions we can buy over the counter (the ones without the metal elements). This however does not include the latest trend on the high street, in health and beauty salons, pharmacies and even dental surgeries; Botox and fillers in your lunch hour!

And we women are one of the driving forces behind this booming industry with estimated sales of $445 billion annually. Forbes

It’s never been a better time to be a beauty entrepreneur. Forbes estimates that there are at least 40 prominent beauty startups today founded by women, making the $445 billion (sales) industry one of the most prevalent places for women to self-start their way to big-time success.

Cosmetic Surgery.

Firstly, I do admire the cosmetic surgeons who originally developed their skills to repair the damage done to face and body in war time or accidents. My hero as a teenager and considering a career in nursing was Sir Archie Mcindoe. I read his biography and was hooked. His pioneering work on repairing the damage caused by fire to young pilots was inspirational.

There is no doubt that there are cosmetic surgeons who continue that pioneering work with patients who have suffered life changing damage to their faces and bodies, but there are also those who I feel are breaking one of the fundamental obligations of a doctor. ‘Do no harm’

We have all seen the photographs of those who have taken this obsession with youth too far. Smooth, immovable, characterless faces, puffy lips that now have their own label of ‘trout lips’, and eyes that are so distorted as to result in the label ‘Cat face’.  In this article by Sugar Surgery

Catwoman Plastic Surgery

Catwoman Plastic Surgery is an extreme case of Plastic Surgery gone Wrong. If we talk about an extreme woman, some people will guess we are talking about Jocelyn Wildenstein. She is a very famous woman for her unique and extreme changes. She has changed her appearance into a cat. No wonder she is also known as a the catwoman. Based on a story, the 70-year-old woman decided to change her look because she loved her husband and her husband loved a big cat. She wanted to look like the big cat her husband loves.

Jocelyn Wilderstein had a different obsession, but the result is one that is becoming more and more common and not in the case of women but also men, particularly those in the celluloid industry of Hollywood.

Not surprisingly you would imagine that you would find the most plastic surgeons in Los Angeles, and that was probably the case in the 20th century, but you may be surprised to know that the largest concentration of these particular surgeons is in Miami…Cosmetic Town..Which is where of course you have such a high concentration of…… retirees....

This is where I have a problem with a cosmetic surgery industry that’s sole focus is to prey on the obsession of us all to recapture our youth. USA Today

An American Society of Plastic Surgeons report found Americans spent more than $16 billion on cosmetic plastic surgeries and minimally invasive procedures in 2016, the most the U.S. has ever spent on such operations.

That is just in the United States.. in the UK it is estimated that there are over 1 million procedures each year and growing… However, there are concerns that this is under reported due to the lack of regulation on non-invasive cosmetic procedures, such as botox and fillers by unlicensed operators.

“We’ve got, largely, an unregulated industry that’s exploiting people including children, by promoting often untested and unproven products and procedures. We need better regulation of the quality and safety of these procedures, the people who carry them out, and where they are carried out.” – Jeanette Edwards, Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester, who chaired the enquiry. Royds Withy King

Invasive cosmetic surgery – The Risks.

Every surgery has risks, and they should always be considered when contemplating a procedure which is cosmetic rather than life saving. – Healthline

  1. Hematoma – a pocket of blood that forms after surgery and most common complication after a facelift and may require further operations
  2. Infection that will require anti-biotics and if not treated could be serious and require the removal of implants.
  3. Loss of sensation due to nerve damage, particularly following breast augmentation
  4. Blood Clots
  5. Scarring
  6. Complications due to anaesthesia.
  7. Organ damage during liposuction
  8. Blood Loss

You might well be asking where I am going with all this….

    1. It is no good recapturing your youth on the outside if you neglect the aging process of your body on the inside.
    2. Heart disease is responsible for the most deaths worldwide for both men and women of all races. Healthline
      As of 2016, 28.2 million U.S. adults were diagnosed with heart disease. In 2015, nearly 634,000 people died of heart disease, making it the leading cause of death.According to the American Heart Association, approximately every 40 seconds an American will have a heart attack. The estimated annual incidence of heart attacks in the United States is 720,000 new attacks and 335,000 recurrent attacks.
    3. An estimated 33.9% of U.S. adults aged 18 years or older (84.1 million people) had prediabetes in 2015, based on their fasting glucose or A1C level. Nearly half (48.3%) of adults aged 65 years or older had prediabetes: CDC ( Pre-diabetes can be reversed by diet and lifestyle changes)
    4. About 100 million individuals in the United States are estimated to have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: Liver Foundation Fatty liver disease is a result of obesity, transfats, too many sugars and lifestyle and as with pre-diabetes can be reversed – less alcohol, much less refined sugars, fewer refined carbohydrates, increased vegetables, some fruit, lean protein and good fats
    5. We are more than our bodies and looks. We have a brain which is allegedly the most advanced intelligence in nature (that is debateable). With age and experience, and before our modern lifestyles catch up with us (just kidding), we become wiser and therefore have a great deal still to offer society.
    6. We can still look amazing even with a few wrinkles, silver hair and a little more weight than when we were in our 20s and 30s.
    7. We can regenerate most of our organs and new research has identified that even the brain can do so as well. There is nothing more attractive than a quick mind and a spirited conversation.
    8. Remaining young is about our attitude, energy levels, ability to laugh, make people feel good about themselves and to inspire the younger generation. We need to make them feel valued in this shallow modern world of ours and to see their strengths not their weaknesses.
    9. We need to consider just how far we would go to hang on to our own youthful appearance and what message it sends to our children and grandchildren about what is important in this world. Making them afraid of a few wrinkles that are a badge of honour is doing them a disservice.

Thanks for dropping in today and as always your feedback is very welcome.. Sally.


Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Weekly Round Up – Easter Parade Invite, Bloggers Bash Voting, And all the fun of the fair.

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

One thing that you probably have not missed, since Easter Eggs have been in the stores since January is that next weekend is the religious festival and also a time for families to get together and celebrate the extended holiday weekend.

As you know I do like to throw a party occasionally and this Easter I have decided to hold a traditional parade.. well two to be exact as they will be posted on Saturday and Monday.  To be in the parade you need to send me a photo… several already have so I only have a handful of places left on the floats...All the details are in the post and it is easy to enter…..

The time for the Blogger’s Bash in June has come around very quickly and as part of the event is the annual blog awards. There are some amazing bloggers included in the categories as there are every year. Very honoured to have been nominated along with so many from our community. Now it is your opportunity to vote for your favourites.

As always I am very grateful for your support and delighted to hear from you every week. Also my thanks to Paul Andruss and Carol Taylor this week for their input which is appreciated…

And here are the posts from the week….

With Easter next week I thought that you would enjoy this five part short story over the two weekends from Paul Andruss, first published in January 2018… Set in Ireland in the 1930s it follows the life of a young man with a mysterious past who lives in The House by the Sea.

Part One.

Part Two

Carol Taylor and her sous chef, granddaughter Lily give us two recipes for a cake and biscuits for Easter…

Sally’s Personal Stuff

This week’s One Hit Wonder is the Halloween favourite.. ‘Monster Mash’.

This week a look at Revenge…in the R’s of Life…. and it is never really sweet…

Colleen Chesebro is on hiatus as she house hunts but she asked that we continued to share our poetry.. Here is my weekly contribution… and etheree  ‘Age Defying’

This week’s prompt for the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction was ‘Beggars Can’t Be Choosers’


Two parts this weekend in the updated version of Size Matters… measurements, motivations, portion sizes and good fats.


This week L.T. Garvin shares her memories of her best friend in Junior High School and their aspirations to enter the talent contest with the classic Proud Mary by Ike and Tina Turner….keep on rolling and enjoy.

Welcome to the third post from the archives of Donna W. Hill and this week Donna shares the workings of a canal and the period of transition between water levels as an analogy for the times in our life when we are in limbo between events. In this case the treatment for her guide dog’s chronic disease.

The last in the present series from the archives of Norah Colvin which is actually reflections on learning by her daughter Bec, and written when she was 26 in 2013

Susanne Swanson takes us on their camping trip to Mora and Rialto Beach Olympic National Park in Washington State.

Special Feature

Author Stevie Turner asked 18 authors questions about significant life events that would inform and inspire… and over the week or so I will be featuring the contributors. The anthology’s proceeds are being donated to Cancer Research, and at 99p/99c it is very good value.

You can buy the anthology for only 99c:

And on Amazon UK for 99p:


New book on the shelves.

Author update

Something to Think About – New R’s of Life – Survival in a Modern World – Revenge – Never really sweet – Sally Cronin

We are now into new territory as far as The R’s of Life is concerned, as I only got as far as Retail Therapy in 2017. However, there are plenty more R’s of Life to contemplate and explore and one of them is Revenge.

Revenge is the act of getting your own back for an action that has caused damage (word or deed) to you by another or others.

For as long as there has been a Bible (and other religious texts), five words have been used by governments and individuals to justify taking action against other nations and on a personal level, leading to some pretty appalling atrocities and actions.

“An Eye for An Eye”

There are a number of references to this is the Old Testament and here are just two which seem to have been plagiarised by humans to suit their own ends for centuries….

Exodus 21:22-25 “Suppose two men are fighting and hit a pregnant woman, causing the baby to come out. If there is no further injury, the man who caused the accident must pay money—whatever amount the woman’s husband says and the court allows. But if there is further injury, then the punishment that must be paid is life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, and bruise for bruise.

Leviticus 24:19-22 And whoever causes an injury to a neighbor must receive the same kind of injury in return: Broken bone for broken bone, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. Anyone who injures another person must be injured in the same way in return. Whoever kills another person’s animal must give that person another animal to take its place. But whoever kills another person must be put to death

“Turn the other Cheek”

However in both the Old and the New Testament… including in Leviticus, there are other admonishments to “Turn the other Cheek”. Which does make ancient teachings very confusing.

Matthew 5.39 –But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also”

In our modern world we have adopted another saying that gives the act of vengeance an added incentive...“Revenge is sweet” and if you do not get immediate satisfaction and you want to keep the fire for retribution burning for a very long time: Revenge is a dish best served cold”

First some of the other words that we use to indicate the act of getting even.

Retribution, Payback, retaliation, revenge and reprisal.

Governments love the word “reprisal” and use it to justify crossing borders, issuing sanctions, bombing a city or expelling diplomats. There are levels and they escalate according to the reprisals from the other side! This is one of the reasons for Two World Wars, when diplomacy failed to counteract acts of revenge by individuals or particular countries. The fact that those conducting the diplomatic route, are individuals who prefer the ‘reprisal’ course of action does not help.

Revenge as individuals.

We as individuals have adopted the other words to justify our own actions, and I am being honest when I admit that there have been occasions when I would have loved to get my own back on an individual or organisation that I have been the target of.  Including my recent treatment by Facebook

I don’t tend to take things lying down and whilst I applaud those who ‘turn the other cheek’ and walk away from events that have damaged them, I have discovered that if you do that, those people and organisations keep on doing to others without sanction. However, you have to choose your battles and some are just not worth the time and effort vs. the outcome.

I certainly do not condone violence to get my own back although I must admit to a sneaky love of John Wick and the Equalizer films…..

As an individual that can be a challenge to take on major corporations or even governments who have little regard for the efforts of one person to bring them to heel. Even with social media to air your grievances, it is merely a flea bite on the hide of an elephant. Some people have brought cases against major corporations which have been successful, but cases often taken years and suck up life savings if they don’t win, and the only people who seem to end up in the money are the lawyers. The only possibly successful legal form of revenge, is a class action suit, where a large number of other people join together and make enough noise. That too can take years and there is no guarantee of a positive outcome.

Revenge and retribution take many forms in our modern world, especially in the press and on social media.

One of the most insidious and life-changing forms of retribution is trial and judgement, not by your peers, but by the general public, aided and abetted by established and credible media outlets whose rush to publish a scoop is terrifying if you are on the wrong end of it.

It is mass revenge on steroids. Revenge on people who have risen high in our societies and have allegations made against them and who despite wealth and power are also incredibly vulnerable.

I am all for justice for those who have been found guilty of a crime in a court of law, but many have been found guilty in the court of public opinion long before they come to trial; when in fact they are innocent.

In recent years, with the outing of so many guilty child molesters for their heinous misuse of their power, some have been caught up in the fever to name and shame, and were in fact found to be completely blameless. But, not before their private lives were dissected and trumpeted across every media outlet possible.

A case in point, is of long time respected politician, Lord Brittan, who was accused of multiple sexual assaults in the days following his death, and also D- Day Veteran and former head of the Army, Lord Brammall. Both were accused by a man named as ‘Nick’ who made claims about a high profile ring of molesters. There was a £2.5 million investigation by the police that dragged the names of both these high profile men through the press and mud. At the end of the investigations no charges were brought against any of the accused.

It was discovered that ‘Nick’ was a fantasist and he ended up in court being charged with perverting the course of justice and fraud. The Daily Telegraph ironically reported at the time of his court appearance, that his true identity could not be revealed because of legal reasons. This restriction was lifted in December 2018 and he was committed for trial in February of this year on 12 counts pertaining to those he publicly accused.

It is alleged that ‘nick’ suffered from childhood abuse and that is a tragedy it itself, however his attempt to take revenge on those who were not implicated, had a wide-reaching and devastating impact.

Lady Brittan and Lord Brammall received a paltry £100,000 in compensation that could never take back the anguish, loss of reputation and embarrassment caused. Their names will be forever tainted and that will have a direct impact on their families too.

A similar case to this is that of singer Sir Cliff Richard, who talked about how ‘tarnished’ he felt after 22 months of being falsely accused of assault, and he ended up successfully suing the BBC for their broadcasting of a police raid on his home to the public. BBC News.

Further awards may be made when the loss from cancelled performances and other revenues are identified.The Guardian.

It is also a disturbing fact, that because all the major media outlets carried the allegations and named those being accused, these men were considered ‘guilty’ by millions of people, who were fed the salacious elements of the case, without any form of defensive narrative. It would be many months and sometimes years before those same media outlets would carry the news of their exoneration. Too late for some who died without having their names cleared.

Revenge: Who do they think they are?

One of the traits of humans that I always find unacceptable, is the desire to tear down those who have reached a pinnacle in life that they have no chance of achieving themselves. There is a perverse delight in seeing successful men and women denigrated in the press and social media. It is a form of mass revenge on the successful.

A recent case of this is the marriage of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle. An actress who I happened to have enjoyed in the show ‘Suits’, and who quite frankly is a beautiful, successful, wealthy woman in her own right. It is clear that Prince Harry adores her and is very happy, with both of them looking forward to their first baby later this month.

On social media.

Those who consider their own lives lacking in some way, have tried to extract their revenge at what they consider an upstart assuming a position she is not entitled to, by trolling the Duchess of Sussex on social media. You would be forgiven for thinking that it was some ignorant oik, with nothing better to do than post nasty comments about someone they thought was acting above themselves.. But no… fact the five most vitriolic of the trolls were unmasked as middle-aged housewives, who thought they had the right to be nasty from the safety of their living rooms. Those who were exposed as the main instigators of this hate campaign were from not just the UK but Canada and America too. And whilst they were aiming their vitriol at the Duchess of Sussex they also attacked the Duchess of Cambridge too.

In the press

From the beginning of the relationship between Prince Harry and his wife, the press have delighted in sharing the most intimate details of the family dynamics involved. They have deliberately posted articles from members of Meghan Markle’s family who certainly were not shy in sharing their disdain for her, and also making the most of their 15 minutes in the limelight. Quite frankly my heart went out to this princess in waiting, who should have been excitedly planning her fairy tale wedding, but instead was having to remain quiet so as not to fan the flames of jealousy and revenge emanating from her step-brothers and sisters. She was clearly advised to make ‘no comment’ and I would have found that incredibly difficult.

It is one thing to achieve your dream and have strangers try to bring you down, but when your family is out for revenge too, it must be devastating.

The Duchess of Sussex is wealthy in her own right, and is married to a rich prince, and if she wants to pay for a lavish baby shower, and be flown as a guest on a private plane, then good for her. And yet, the press has been posting stories on this and other ‘extravagances’ of the royal couple and how people in her inner circle, and in the royal entourage find her pushy! I think that says more about the people in her inner circle and the royal entourage than the Duchess of Sussex. There is no doubt she is different and a breath of fresh air. I would imagine that those who have been accustomed to a more rigid public profile for their employers must be quaking.  What I do see is that this young couple are determined to also be very much advocates for change, diversity and equality and are a much needed addition to our royal family.

The palace has employed someone to monitor social media and they will be clamping down heavily on those who troll members of the royal family, including reporting them to the police.

Thankfully judging by the reaction of the crowds that gather in their thousands whenever the younger generations of the royal family are out in public, there are far more fans and well-wishers than the press would like us to believe.

As I have said on a few occasions to detractors of both the new Duchesses… if Prince William or Harry had knocked on your door and asked for the hand of your daughter, would you refuse them?

Individual revenge…..

If I am being honest,  I do have regrets that I did not manage to achieve some form of closure over two particular events in my life, but at the time I had no recourse but to walk away. I had neither the strength of the resources to get even. I understand how hard it is to leave some events in the past and ‘get on with your life’. But, I also know that if I had pursued a more focused course of revenge, it would have done me more harm than I probably would have been able to inflict on the other people involved.

I have learnt a few things along the way about revenge.

  1. That it is important to remember your own responsibility for the situation and whilst this does not mean you deserved to be treated badly you do need to consider your actions. Did you walk into a relationship, job, deal or experience having done your research? Did you think at the time… this sounds too good to be true? Should I take advice on the matter? Can I talk to someone who might have experience of this before? Did I listen to those who knew better? Did I see the writing on the wall and still stay? Could I have asked for help?
  2. I do know that from my own experience and of others that I have communicated with, that violence should never be tolerated and if there is an opportunity to bring someone to justice without bringing more harm to yourself, then you need to find the right people to help you achieve that. Domestic Violence support
  3. Most of those, whose behaviour leads us down the path of revenge, are narcissists. Whether it is to do with money, relationships, work or family. If they have treated you badly, they have likely done it before and will do it again. Because, no matter what you say or do to them, they see themselves as always in the right and couldn’t care less. What they do not like, is people walking away and treating them as if they are nothing. Sometimes retreat is the most effective form of retribution.
  4. It is a pointless exercise seeking revenge on others, including strangers for your own shortcomings, just because they are beautiful, have lots of money, buy fabulous clothes, travel the world, marry princes or George Clooney. It doesn’t make any difference how much you might try to bring them down in person by bullying, on social media, or within your own circle of family and friends, if you don’t first take a good look at your own life, and how you might make positive changes to improve your circumstances. It is not this  person’s fault for who you are or where you are in life. You need to take responsibility for that.
  5. Sometimes life will do the job of getting even with someone who has made your life miserable in some way. All you can hope is that when they do get their just desserts they have not ruined too many lives in the meantime. There is nothing like going back to the class reunion happy and successful and finding that the bully who made your life miserable is now desperate to be your friend!
  6. You have one life and spending precious time on trying to get revenge is time lost. It can also be incredibly stressful, health threatening and become obsessive. The best revenge is to be happy and surrounded by people who think you are amazing at whatever you have chosen to do and have your back. Don’t give people who have created such negativity that power.
  7. As a writer my experiences have provided great content for my fiction and non-fiction, and whilst I may not have done a John Wick on those who deserved it… some of my characters have!!

I will leave you with this two quotes which make a lot of sense to me.

“An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”
Mahatma Gandhi

Living well is the best revenge. —George Herbert

This is clearly just my opinion and there are many other areas of revenge and retribution that I have not touched on.  Your feedback is always welcomed.. thanks Sally.

You can find the other chapters in the series in this directory… and your feedback is always welcome:

Something to Think About – The R’s of Life – Survival in a Modern World – Retail Therapy – The True Cost by Sally Cronin

The R’s of Life – Retail Therapy – The Real Cost

In the UK consumers will spend approximately £60 Billion this year on clothing and £960 Billion on groceries.

As you will see from some of the statistics below on both those commodities, there is a massive amount of waste generated in just those two sectors.

I will freely admit that shopping makes me feel better or it used to. As I have got older my need to find fulfillment in a shopping expedition to buy shoes, clothes and handbags has diminished somewhat. One of the reasons being our recent downsizing exercise which resulted in my entire hoarded wardrobe, spanning 30 years or so, being redistributed to thrift and charity shops.

It was not until we packed up our house that I realised the enormity of the money I had spent over the years on stuff. (I preclude my husband in this as he can have a pair of shoes for 20 years and keep the cobbler in business for decades)

I packed up boxes of clothes, all of which no longer fitted or were worn only once or twice, shoes that I wore occasionally to a formal event or the jackets that I wore to work as part of my ‘senior executive uniform’. Everything that had been in the wardrobe, drawer, or even worse a suitcase in the cellar, and had not been worn in the last two years was tried on. I did find some clothes that still fitted that had been in hiding and that was like Christmas!

So why did I buy all these clothes.  Part of it was for the packaging of me as a person, to conform, to look the ‘part’ in whatever role I was fulfilling at the time.  It was also to satisfy some need to celebrate or to console myself, and it certainly looks in hindsight as addictive behaviour.  I realised that I was also prey to the advertising fancy footwork, in as much as I believed them, when they persuaded me there was a new season every six weeks!  In fact in the UK and Ireland there are really only three; warm, wet and winter (often all within the same week)

Also I am female, and I do like to look reasonably attractive so buying new clothes gives the illusion that you are donning plumage, and are therefore noticeable… In fact you will find that many women admit that their boyfriends and husbands rarely notice unless you prance in front of them as you serve dinner wearing your new dress and six inch heels. (Or possibly slightly less).

Don’t get me wrong; I still get a huge kick out of buying new clothes, but I do now have a debate with myself as to whether I need it or not. I have to say regrettably that the answer is usually no. The odd item still finds its way home, but I do try to get some decent wear out of it. My prancing days are over however and it is usually girlfriends who will comment on a new outfit!

Nothing that I own would come under the classification of designer… I might have bought the occasional jacket or skirt from a designer outfit like TKMaxx, but I have never paid full price for anything. These days I would be hard pushed to find anything in my size within the Gucci, Armani and other couture ranges, but when I look at some of the prices I am probably well out of it.

Why else do we buy stuff?

Buying stuff is not just restricted to making ourselves feel better; it is also about making a statement of where we are in the pack. The old expression ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ applies to the items that we surround ourselves with. Perhaps a new suite every couple of years, the latest flat screen television or the latest electronic devices such as telephones and tablets. No self-respecting teenager would be seen dead with my old-fashioned Doro with big numbers!  Each year landfills are expanding as we throw out barely used clothing and household effects.

There are sales yards full of second hand cars that are only a couple of years old. Usually they have been part-exchanged at a fraction of their value for a newer model straight off the production line.

Depreciation straight off the garage forecourt…

Depreciation is simply the difference between the amount you spend when you buy a car and the amount you get back when you sell or trade it in. It’s often overlooked or ignored when buying a new car but for many, depreciation is the single biggest factor affecting running costs adding more to cost per mile than fuel.

Fleet managers talk of forecast future values or residual values – the value a car purchased today is expected to retain by the time it is scheduled for replacement. The average new car will have a residual value of around 40% of its new price after three years (assuming 10,000 miles/year) or in other words will have lost around 60% of its value at an average of 20% per year.


I feel that we have lost the distinction between need and desire to own things and this was reinforced when we first moved into this house last year and managed for several weeks with a suitcase of clothes and two plates, spoons, knives and forks and a microwave…

Later you will see the actual amount of textiles and household goods we throw away annually; and the cost is staggering.

One of the biggest rip off… Children’s shoes and clothes.

Children are as influenced by advertising and peer pressure as much as the rest of us and if someone is wearing £110 Ugg Pink boots or £200 Fendi sneakers, then a child is going to wonder why they cannot too. Of course there are usually cheaper versions on the high street, but those tend to range from £30 to £50 as well. This is very expensive considering, between the ages of 2 to 10 years old, a child will need a new size of shoe two to three times a year!

What irks slightly is that often these shoes are labelled as guaranteed long-lasting; considering they only have to last three to six months that is just a bit over the top.

The same applies to the millions of pounds spent on clothes for babies and children each year in the UK.  How quickly does a child outgrow their everyday clothes, and how often will they wear that special dress or suit bought for an event?  If there are younger family members they usually will get clothes and shoes passed down, but if not, then once a child has outgrown them they are disposed of.

Just a thought. Are we perhaps dressing our children for their needs or for our desire to present them to the world in a certain image rather than being practical?

The difference between men and women.

It is estimated that in our lifetime we girls will spend around £100,000 on our wardrobe (I know, that does not seem near enough!) whereas men only spend around £30,000. Although having visited a men’s clothing department recently, and seen both the ‘must have’ season’s arrivals and the average cost, I think guys may catch up to us at some point.

As you can see from the image, designer clothes can sometimes be a bit on the skimpy side but can set you back thousands of pounds to have that fancy label.

I have noticed, having been married for 39 years and having surveyed my other friends that men know what they want; go out and get it, and leave the shop.  Whereas we go out for a dress and then see shoes and handbag which match! (and a jacket, necklace and earrings!)

Generally we tend to laugh this off and joke about us girls going to get some ‘retail therapy’, but the money we might spend on our trip is not where the buck stops. The aftermath is costing billions and is impacting the environment.

Of course there is the dark side of retail therapy! When used in revenge and involves maxing out a partner’s credit card!

This is where accumulative retail therapy goes wrong…

The average American throws away about 65 pounds of clothing per year, and along with other textiles that get tossed, like sheets and bedding, the total comes out to 14.3 million tons of textile waste per year. That’s almost 6 percent of all municipal waste. While some of those textiles get recovered, most of it remains in the landfill, posing a variety of problems.

Today almost 50% of the textiles that are destined for the trash could actually be recycled, which means we as consumers simply need to get better about recycling our clothing and textiles.

There’s an economic benefit to reducing textile waste. For example, if all of the textile waste we normally generate in a year didn’t end up at the landfill, we would be looking at a savings of $375 million in fees alone.


In an age of “fast fashion”, (the Primark Effect) 1.5 million tons of clothes and textiles go straight into landfill sites in Britain every year.

Oxfam said that 9,513 garments were thrown into landfill every five minutes, totalling one billion items per year and the equivalent of one in four garments sold. While every other type of landfill waste is reducing; textiles has risen.


What is our responsibility for all of this waste?

I am certainly not going to be preaching on this (being a former smoker I know how welcome that is). However, I know that all the clothes that I recently disposed of, went to a thrift shop, and if not sold then onto the local charity shops. We also disposed of all our excess to requirements electrical and household items. There can be a problem with furniture that does not have a fire resistant label, and also mattresses, but you will be surprised at how many people will still take them off your hands. Charity clothes bins are in car parks of major supermarkets and for baby and children’s clothes you will usually find sites on social media to sell them or to donate them.

I take some comfort from my years of spending money on clothes, that somewhere someone else is getting pleasure from owning them now.

This brings me to the other major area of waste of money in our modern households which is food.

Key facts on food loss and waste you should know!

  • Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted.
  • Food losses and waste amounts to roughly US$ 680 billion in industrialized countries and US$ 310 billion in developing countries.
  • Industrialized and developing countries dissipate roughly the same quantities of food — respectively 670 and 630 million tonnes.
  • Fruits and vegetables, plus roots and tubers have the highest wastage rates of any food.
  • Global quantitative food losses and waste per year are roughly 30% for cereals, 40-50% for root crops, fruits and vegetables, 20% for oil seeds, meat and dairy plus 35% for fish.
  • Every year, consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food (222 million tonnes) as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tonnes).
  • The amount of food lost or wasted every year is equivalent to more than half of the world’s annual cereals crop (2.3 billion tonnes in 2009/2010).
  • Per capita waste by consumers is between 95-115 kg a year in Europe and North America, while consumers in sub-Saharan Africa, south and south-eastern Asia, each throw away only 6-11 kg a year.


One of my bug bears when watching television dramas and films is the number of times people get up from a table having spent five minutes on dialogue, and no time actually eating the food in front of them. The plates are left laden with food or picked at minimally and unfortunately that is played out in reality too. Someone took me to task when I mentioned this on social media and said if was not real food. Well that maybe, but to the millions watching the programmes, it still says it is okay to have a plate of food in front of you and walk away from it, leaving it to be tossed away.

We as women are quite good at showing our love through feeding our families. After all the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach so I hear!  Our plate sizes have increased and there is instinctive urge to fill them, because a little mound of food in the middle of the plate would look stupid.  Children in particular are always hungry and they can eat six smaller meals during the day, but will run out of steam when faced with an adult’s portion of meat and two veg.

I also blame the trend in supermarkets to package fruit and vegetables in kilo or two kilo bags. They went from lb bags to double the size with glee!  If you are going shopping twice a week, and depending on your family size, you are better off buying the loose produce, sufficient for three or four days. Buy what you need rather than what is so conveniently packaged for you, and you will also benefit from buying better produce than that chosen to go into the packets. And if you are happy to eat misshapen vegetables and fruit, you get all the taste for a fraction of the cost!

Recently supermarkets have begun to offer wonky vegetables for a fraction of the cost.. let’s face it by the time you have peeled and chopped it doesn’t matter what it looks like.

What is our responsibility towards food waste?

  1. Shop sensibly for what you need rather than what the supermarket wants you to buy.
  2. Avoid pre-prepared packs of cut vegetables and salads as they have not only lost up to 50% of their nutritional value as soon as they are cut; they lose more in the plastic bag and go off faster once you have opened them.
  3. It might make sense to buy ‘two for one’ for goods that are not perishable, but for fresh produce, meats and fish just buy what you will use or make sure it is suitable for freezing. Be wary of offers for multiple buys on dairy items such as yogurts that can go off quickly.  This applies to some salad items such as tomatoes that are already many days old by the time you buy them. Buy loose produce and work out in advance the amount you are going to use during the days between shops. A meal planner can help with that.
  4. Make leftovers into soups and again these can be frozen for later use.
  5. Use a food recycle bin or your own compost heap in the garden.
  6. Change the size of your plate and those of your family. Unless the adults are working at very active jobs then they do not require a pile of carbohydrates on the plate. Moderate the size of the portions according to age. The young and the elderly are more likely to eat healthily if they are given six small to moderate meals a day rather than three large ones.
  7. Make sure that you store opened jars, oils, packets of cereals and bread efficiently so that they last longer. This is particularly true in the summer.
  8. For the next month keep a record of what you are throwing out and make a note to buy less of that item next time.
  9. Check the reduced meats and other fresh produce for bargains. You can freeze the meat, fish and poultry and use later and you can cook the vegetables and freeze too.
  10. Sell by dates are a guideline, and whilst I do not suggest that you eat food that has gone off; a day or two is not going to be drastic. Use your nose and that is usually a good indicator of freshness.

This is just two areas where ‘retail therapy’ not only impacts our pockets but the environment as well. There are many other ways to feel good about yourself and if you feel that you do indulge a little too much in retail… then find a different reward system that keeps the money in your pocket. Perhaps what you save, will pay for that holiday in the sunshine once a year or go towards a car or major purchase.  Certainly having the money in your pocket rather than the retailer’s account, (not to mention the government that take their percentage of everything you buy in the form of VAT or sales tax), is really rather satisfying.

If you are a regular to the blog you will have seen posts from our resident cookery and food expert Carol Taylor. Carol has a war ongoing on waste and also shares conservation efforts.

One of our most important buying decisions in the present and future is to stop purchasing items made of plastic, and using single use plastic bags. Our oceans are piled up with this stuff that is not biodegradable and will out live not just us but our planet if not dealt with.

If you make some changes to your shopping each week and to your own personal contribution to the waste mountains… it will make a difference. Although all of you reading this, I am sure, are already very environmentally aware, there are millions of people who are not being educated and do not see the necessity of taking part. For me that has to be where this gathers momentum. A comprehensive multi-language visual campaign to get people on board…

Please check out Carol’s blog post and those in her archives:

You can find the other chapters in the series in this directory… and your feedback is always welcome:

Starting next week.. all new R’s of Life, including Revenge and Retribution, Rejuvenation and Regeneration, Reason and Resolution…


Something to Think About – The R’s of Live – Survival in a Modern World – Rejection – A fact of Life by Sally Cronin

The R’s of Life – Chapter Twelve – Rejection – A Fact of Life

One of life’s certainties is that at some point you are going to be rejected personally or professionally. It can happen at any age and because it is a certainty, it does pay to prepare for it, or if unexpected have some strategies to cope with it.

Rejection is when you are denied something you want, love, need, desire or expect.

Real life is seldom as cut and dried, and certainly less kind when it comes to rejection. This is why you have to boost your mental immune system, the one that keeps depression, despair, low self-esteem and unhappiness at bay. We are bombarded with messages about boosting our physical immune system, by eating our five a day and by avoiding antibiotics, but if you look at the headlines in the magazines and newspapers, you would be forgiven in thinking there was a conspiracy to make you emotionally and mentally deficient.

Because being made to feel that we are not slim enough, beautiful enough, rich enough, cool enough is a form of rejection. It puts us outside a relatively small segment of our society who are considered to be the ‘It’ people.

Most of us bounce back eventually from most of life’s rejections because they happen to everyone at some point. We learn hopefully that often rejection is followed by something better at least for us.. As they say.. one door closes and another door opens!

But what about the rejections that make a much deeper impact on us at the time or throughout our lives.  The rejections that can often take place before we are born resulting in a decision that leaves a child always wondering what they did wrong!

One of the first rejections a child has to face is one that  cannot be prepared for and which can effect you for the rest of your life.

The one form of acceptance we should all have a right to expect is that our birth mother is not going to reject us. Unfortunately, not every birth is planned or welcomed especially if the mother is very young or in desperate circumstances. This leads to babies being put up for adoption into families who are ready and prepared for the responsibility of parenthood. Believe it or not, adoptions for that reason are way down on where they were in the 1970s and 1980s, when there was little family planning advice or available contraceptives such as the pill.

If a young woman became pregnant up until fairly recently, it was considered shameful. Many were sent off to maternity homes where their babies were taken from them immediately as the only option open to them if they wished to remain part of society. I can remember at 16 being told in no uncertain terms, that if I became pregnant, I would be shown the door and left to my own devices.. Best contraceptive known to man.

Today there are a number of options available to someone who finds themselves pregnant and in most of our western countries, a welfare state to support the mother.

However, it takes two to conceive, but if the man is not willing to accept responsibility, he is the first to reject the child even before it is born. I have very strong feelings about this, as I believe that even if a couple are not together, the father should bear some of the burden of caring for the baby. It should not be a case of sow your seed and scatter!

Of course there are occasions when the mother may be uncertain of the identity of the father and that is extremely sad.

Although newborn adoption rates are way down, the number of children taken into foster care is increasing. The sad fact is that not every mother and father, single or otherwise, is prepared or able to bring up a child or children. Whilst the majority of children in the state’s care have been removed from a parent for one reason or another, their time within the system is still a form of rejection. By a society who feels that they are not worthy of adopting, mainly because it is newborn and toddlers who are the preferred age group.

“The number of children in care has reached a record high, with 90 young people entering the care system each day, figures show.

Amid ongoing cuts to children’s centres and local family support services, the number of looked-after children in England and Wales reached 72,670 in the 12 months to March 2017 – marking the biggest annual surge of children in care in seven years.

Campaigners said the figures highlight the urgent need for the Chancellor to use his Autumn Budget next month to address the £2bn funding gap facing children’s services by 2020, or place a growing number of children at risk”  The Guardian

And thank goodness for the thousands of wonderful foster parents out there who devote their lives to taking children in and giving them love and a sense of family. Of course there are the occasional negative story about life in a foster family, but in reality they are few and far between. However, a child in foster care often faces a lifetime of doubt and a sense of disconnection from others who grew up with birth parents.

The situation in the United States.

Many of America’s child welfare systems are badly broken — and children can suffer serious harm as a result. Some will be separated from their siblings. Others will be bounced from one foster care placement to another, never knowing when their lives will be uprooted next. Too many will be further abused in systems that are supposed to protect them. And instead of being safely reunified with their families — or moved quickly into adoptive homes — many will languish for years in foster homes or institutions.

On any given day, there are nearly 438,000 children in foster care in the United States.

In 2016, over 687,000 children spent time in U.S. foster care.

On average, children remain in state care for nearly two years and six percent of children in foster care have languished there for five or more years.

Despite the common perception that the majority of children in foster care are very young, the average age of kids entering care is 7.

In 2016, more than half of children entering U.S. foster care were young people of color.

While most children in foster care live in family settings, a substantial minority — 12 percent — live in institutions or group homes.

In 2016, more than 65,000 children – whose mothers’ and fathers’ parental rights had been legally terminated – were waiting to be adopted.

In 2016, more than 20,000 young people aged out of foster care without permanent families. Research has shown that those who leave care without being linked to forever families have a higher likelihood than youth in the general population to experience homelessness, unemployment and incarceration as adults.

Whilst being in foster care may not be the perfect answer, there are countries where even that basic care is not on offer.

The estimated number Of Orphans In The World

Some countries have far more orphans per capita than others, but each nation contributes to the worldwide total estimated by UNICEF. The estimated number of orphans in the world is 153 million, or almost 11 percent of children in the world. While the reasons and locations vary, these children share common needs that are most often met through donations.

Alarming Statistics Related to the High Number of Orphans

263 million children are not currently in school
66 million school-age children go to class feeling hungry each day
Half of all deaths of children under 5 involve malnutrition
Each minute, 20 people are forced to flee their homes due to violence
25% of the world’s children live in violent or disaster zones

However a child is separated from its mother, there is going to be a sense of rejection and abandonment. There can be acceptance as a child that you are with a loving adoptive family or part of a group in a foster home, but it also brings questions that may never be answered. Who was my mother? Who was my father?  What are my origins? Where did I come from? Do I have brothers and sisters? Why did my mother give me up?

In many countries it is now possible for both birth parents and adopted children to petition for details of each other. Many children from the 1960s and 1970s have been reunited successfully, but others have often been rejected for the second time for a number of reasons; leaving the adopted child still without answers about their past and families. Unfortunately, many thousands will never know their birth families and live with doubts and a sense of rejection all their lives. In the last few years with DNA testing sites opening the door to finding familial matches for genealogy purposes, the job of finding long lost relatives has become more of a reality.

Rejection by society

Another reason that children are abandoned is because they are disabled and in China for example, this is now the primary reason for a child to end up in the care system. Finding adoptive parents under these circumstances is even more challenging and many countries are not equipped to deal with long-term care of children who have to remain in the system. This leads to appalling conditions and very high mortality rates.

There have been some amazing stories recently about school children working together to support disabled classmates, especially during sporting events. These are terrific to hear about, but generally a disabled child is likely to feel outside of the group both in the classroom and playground. I produced a documentary for a Cerebral Palsy unit and visited schools where some of the centre’s children attended. The saddest thing that I saw was a ten year old boy watching from the sidelines as all his classmates played football. Not an intentional rejection but just young children being children and getting on with their lives.

Rejection within the birth family

Most women develop into being great mothers but some do not. Even those who plan on having a child, realise once they are mothers, that it is simply not in their make-up and behave appallingly as they resent the 24/7 job they have taken on. This is particularly so for single mothers who have made the decision to bring up their child by themselves without a strong support system in place. A young woman who finds herself isolated and with little chance of realising her expectations, and little assistance to do so. Resentment is the bedfellow of regret.

Even if a child is part of a family group they can still face rejection as they fall short of their parent’s expectations, and that rejection is very painful. It manifests itself in many ways both verbally and sometimes physically. That can undermine and determine a child’s future just as surely as if they had been dumped on the doorstep of an orphanage. In some respects even though it is not ideal, a child who is adopted is going to parents who actually want a child and accept the responsibility and give that child a loving home. There are millions of children who live with their birth families and never know that kind of security.

So there are some examples of rejection where a child has very little choice about the matter.

The use of the a very important word in our vocabulary growing up.

When I was growing up I was accustomed to the word NO from a very early age. I learnt that there were certain things that I couldn’t do, say or attempt because they were either too dangerous or beyond my abilities. I was not always happy about this and it was not unknown for me to get into difficulties because I did not believe that NO meant NO.  I would often find a work around that obtained the same objective.  At age seven, it nearly cost me my life as I nearly drowned having defied my mother about playing on seaweed covered rocks. A good lesson that tempered my rebellious spirit somewhat.

A child pushes boundaries and it is a natural instinct. Children need to understand their limitations at a very early age otherwise it can be dangerous for them and for others. No to sticking their fingers into electric sockets, touching hot liquids, not running into the road and it would seem an endless list of life threatening hazards.

Our family were not known for throwing around compliments, and back in the 1960s and 1970s there was not the money for lots of toys and to buy the latest fashions. Most clothes were home made and I also benefited from having two older sisters. I went out to work part-time at 14 and from that time on I was responsible for buying my own clothes and paying for my recreation. But at that time, apart from envying Lulu and Twiggy their freedom to wear mini-skirts,  there was little in the way of advertising on television or even in the magazines; so we were simply not exposed to the media in the same way. Consequently our expectations about our future were much simpler and usually attainable.

Today it is very different and it is a nightmare for parents who have children who are bombarded daily with messages about the latest phones, sneakers, music, video games and other must haves. It must be very difficult to keep saying NO when it would seem that proving your love for a child comes with a price tag. If a child keeps getting what it wants without too much effort except a little emotional blackmail and nagging it becomes embedded in their nature.

Get into their teens and there is an expectation that they can have everything they want. They watch the reality shows like the X-Factor and see kids of their own age getting the attention and possible fast track to fame, and they expect that short-cut as well. YES is the word that they want to hear and because they do not understand the concept of NO.. they are totally unprepared for the rejection that happens to us all.

You only have to listen to a seventeen year old who is in tears because they have been rejected by the judges and worse still by the public… ‘I’ve wanted this all my life, I don’t know what I am going to do now.’ You only have to read about the twenty-five year olds who did get through, who are now burnt out and finding it impossible to deal with their moment of fame that is now fading.

Building a robust emotional and mental immune system.

To build a strong physical immune system we have to be exposed to the world and its grime and germs from an early age. Nature intended that we would scrape our knees and get dirt in the wound, get stung by a bee, catch a cold and be exposed to pollen and other allergens. Germs lived liberally on the surfaces in the kitchen and in the bathroom and as we grew, our developing immune system would learn how to fight off the less dangerous varieties so that we could battle the fatal ones such as measles.

Today we have a spray cleaner that can eradicate up to 99% of all known germs…many children do not even have access to an outside environment, where they can damage themselves a little to teach their body how to fight serious disease.

And in today’s world of materialism and media advertising, combined with peer pressure, it is very hard to build a strong and resilient mental and emotional immunity.

We are encouraged to tell our children how beautiful they are, how talented and how they can have anything they want in the world. It is only since the increase in the reality shows such as X-Factor, The Voice, Pop Idol and such, that we get to see, not just those that actually have talent, but those who have been told they have it and don’t.

Which is more damaging? To tell a child that they are a great singer repeatedly and then to have those expectations dashed so publicly on live television.. And let’s be honest; who has not laughed at the selection of no-hopers paraded before us during the auditions as ‘entertainment’ value. For a young person that initial humiliation is compounded when the episode is aired. You would have to be very thick skinned to face your school or work mates the next day.

Of course many children do have a natural talent such as singing, dancing, art, but it rarely develops into a career without dedicated training and endless practice.  An overnight success is a rare phenomenon and most successful artists have spent years honing their talent. Usually they have had supportive parents or mentors who have ensured that they have the opportunity to develop a skill or talent.  It is a tough road for a child without this level of intervention.

But what about preparing children for life’s realities?

The truth that they will fall in and out of love and that is going to hurt. They will be turned down for the school football team or fail to get the part in the school play. They might not get A + on all their exams despite doing the best that they can. The fact is that some of us are not academically minded, however clever our parents tell us we are. And we are not told that being great at working with our hands is actually brilliant, or that all of us have strengths that can be developed so that our weaknesses are not as apparent.

I know that there are many of you reading this who have great kids who are well adjusted and who understand that life is not always fair. Kids who understand that overnight success is very rare and that most genuine and successful artists, business people, doctors and other professionals have studied and worked very hard to get to that point. Including facing numerous rejections on the way.

But, as I read yet more headlines on the role models that millions of kids follow, I am not surprised that those children and young adults have such a confused expectation of life. They see families such as the Kardashians who do nothing for their wealth and fame except show up and behave badly for the cameras. Most kids do not see that these so called perfect bodies and faces have been ‘enhanced’ by surgery and therefore unattainable for the majority of us. They also do not comprehend the price to be paid for that fame, in the form of rejection by much of society, and a breakdown of their relationships that are under such intense media scrutiny.

It is not all down to their parents not preparing them for rejection, nor the media which forces its way into our homes 24/7. Our current education system is also compounding the problem by treating every child as a future academic. Grooming them to apply and be accepted by  colleges that have been re-titled ‘Universities’ to take degrees in subjects that will never provide them with a job in the real world.

I have interviewed hundreds of applicants during my career in industry, at all entry levels, and in the last forty years there has been an epidemic of young people who might be clever enough to take a degree, but have little to offer in the workplace. Many assume that a degree qualifies them to enter an organisation in a mid-level position in a managerial role that actually requires a completely different set of vital skills.

It is actually summed up in the following article.

According to an article in The Daily Telegraph, a third of working graduates took jobs as cleaners, office juniors and road sweepers six months after leaving university!

That is thousands of young people that have been sold a false and potentially devastating expectation.

To me this is one of the most calculated and deplorable forms of rejection that is perpetrated over an extended period from the age of four when a child enters school and then for the next twenty years depending on secondary education and further education attendance. All children deserve the opportunity to do well and learn, but if they do not fit into the rigid limits of the state designated curriculum, then they are not offered viable opportunities to thrive and go onto be able to find work they can excel at.

For those graduates who are in sectors that actually require a degree such as the law, medicine, engineering and other sciences there is still the uncertainty of finding employment within those sectors, but if they are lucky, they will find entry level positions that pay in the region of £30,000. After three years that is likely to increase to an average of £35,000 depending on their specialisation or increased demand for their services.

But a degree is not the only way to achieve a fulfilling and successful career. A qualified plumber after his apprenticeship can expect a salary of £35,000 a year and that can increase dependent on specialised skills and increasing demand for their services.

There are some essential trades that are crying out for young people to train for. But where are the apprenticeships such as the one my father completed 80 years ago that led to a highly successful career in the Royal Navy? Where are the trade schools and technical colleges such as the one I attended to get my diploma and enabled me to walk into a good job and progress up the ladder to senior management?

What we have done is set thousands of young people up for rejection as they flood the market with qualifications that will never get them jobs they have been led to expect would be waiting for them. Not only that, the average student will leave university with a student loan to be repaid, and thousands of pounds in debt.

This chapter is about rejection and as I have already stated, there is no getting away from it any age. Those of us who have spent years having our expectations challenged, occasionally met and sometimes exceeded, can roll with the punches.

My concern for the future is that we are doing our young a great disservice. We are failing to provide them with the life skills they need to be self-sufficient and responsible, not just for their own futures but of the families they will have one day. Whilst we are focused on getting students through to higher education we are leaving a trail of rejected young people who are not being given the necessary education in the basic skills that might get them into work. They face repeated rejections when they do attempt to find work and then find themselves rejected by society when they are reliant on welfare.

Of course there is an argument that there are manual labour jobs that anyone can do. But, is that really true? You still have to get through the interview process and anyone who applies who has the basic ability to read and write, is going to get the job ahead of someone who is functionally illiterate. Because there are still forms to complete and possibly written elements to the interview and required in the position. How many applicants who cannot read or write are going to be brave enough to apply when it may identify this basic lack of education?

16.4% of adults in England, or 7.1 million people, can be described as having ‘very poor literacy skills.’ They can understand short straightforward texts on familiar topics accurately and independently, and obtain information from everyday sources, but reading information from unfamiliar sources, or on unfamiliar topics, could cause problems.

There needs to be a concentrated focus on reading and writing in the early years at primary school. A child at that age has a brain like a sponge and can absorb huge amounts of information. We need more dedicated teachers and smaller classes and money spent on education that is now spent in areas such as defense and in some cases overseas aid. Charity begins at home and 7.2 million people leaving the school system without basic literacy qualifies in my book. Incidentally the figure quoted when I first posted this series was 5.6million. An increase in 1.6 million functionally illiterate adults in a country the size of the UK has to be setting off alarms…SURELY.

Apart from being able to read and write some of the courses at school that I consider to be essential are rarely on the curriculum.  One of these is domestic science and when I left school 47 years ago, I knew how to prepare three square meals a day and a basic knowledge of nutrition.  Something that both girls and boys would benefit from as they head out into the world. Perhaps the fast food industry would veto a return to this as part of a child’s education!

In my opinion…selected ‘universities’ should be reverted back to technical colleges, and they should be offering a wide range of courses for girls and boys that provide diplomas for essential jobs. Certain degrees such as nursing should also revert back to a diploma to encourage those with lower level entry requirements to enter what is a brilliant career. A degree can always be studied for if a nurse wishes to advance to a higher grade.

We need to give those kids who have been rejected, because of a lack of academic skills, their chance to make a mark in life and become productive citizens of the future.

Finally on the subject of rejection. Not only are we on the receiving end of rejection but we also hand it out, often thoughtlessly.

Letting down someone gently is not always possible depending on the circumstances but wherever possible a rejection should be honest and couched in terms that leaves the recipient with some dignity and a way to move forward.

And if you are rejected.. What have you learned? …. What are the positive things you will take from the experience? What changes do you need to make to your behaviour or skills to reduce the chances of being rejected next time? Because there will be a next time.. and a next time until you succeed.

©sallycronin The R’s of Life 2016

You can find all the other posts in the this series in this directory:

Something to Think About – The R’s of Life – Survival in a Modern World – Our Right to Freedom of Speech and Religion by Sally Cronin

According to the Bill of Human Rights we are all entitled to Freedom of Speech and to follow a Religion of our choice. As I have highlighted in previous chapters, these rights come with  certain obligations that we need to fulfil to enjoy them to the fullest.

This last week in particular has seen the most dreadful breach of that right to freedom of speech and worship according to our religion, with the massacre in New Zealand. In our multicultural modern societies, this is a tragedy that is happening far too often despite billions of people around the world respecting that right and appalled by the actions of the minority. The community in Christchurch has been changed forever, and one can only hope that it will bring them together, united against such hatred and make them stronger than ever.

Freedom of Speech and Religion

We are all free to speak our minds in private, but that does not necessarily mean we will get away with it in public!  It depends on what your government has deemed as a subject you can voice your opinion about outside your own four walls!

For example in the UK:Any communication which is threatening or abusive, and is intended to harass, alarm, or distress someone is forbidden. The penalties for hate speech include fines, imprisonment, or both’.

In some countries freedom of speech is completely denied to a population and any infractions dealt with severely; in some cases with death. Religion too is not exempt from rigorous penalties rained down on individuals as well as groups of worshipers as we have seen recently.

I am sure that like me, you would never condone any speech or piece of writing that incited hatred to any group or individuals, whether it is racially offensive or is going to cause distress. However, it is becoming more of a minefield, as there are a great many subjects that have been added to the list of offensive topics all coming under the term ‘Politically Correct’.

In some schools for example, traditional activities such as nativity plays and Christmas carol services have been suspended so as not to offend those in the school who are not Christian. I don’t understand why we cannot be grown up about this and have a celebration with elements of all the religions represented by the pupils! Perhaps a celebration of spirituality and winter…… or would that be considered pagan?

I think we are all aware that most of the world’s conflicts since the dawn of time, have been primarily down to two main contributory factors. Politics and Religion. There is a good reason they are usually banned from the dinner table.  Nothing sparks off a heated debate than everyone expressing their freedom of speech on those two subjects between courses.

Many millions around the world do not have freedom of speech, and men and women are effectively gagged from talking about politics or practicing religion. It is unimaginable to me, how terrifying it must be to have to guard every word that you say and to keep your family safe in that environment.

However it is a sad fact that some of us who enjoy the right to speak our minds frequently misuse its power. Both on a personal level  and now, courtesy of the Internet, on a much wider scale.

Of course some members of our communities take their right to freedom of speech to extremes. The paparazzi for example, who feel that they have the right to intrude into people’s lives and dish the dirt even when they do not have the facts.. Sometimes they exercise their right by simply publishing a photograph with an ambiguous headline and let our imagination do the rest.  Even alleged mainstream media lean to left or right according to their financial and political affiliations rather than editorial responsibility, and there is a definitely a manipulation of facts and statistics when it comes to the political and financial institutions that govern our day to day life.

But is it not just the major media organisations who manipulate the truth to cause dissent or to stir up friction between communities. It is easy to for us as individuals to create barriers before we even begin communicating with others online.

We seem to be fixated with creating labels for ourselves and others. Certainly on official paperwork we have to define ourselves as White, Black, Asian Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Mormon, Quaker, Catholic, Irish, English, Scottish, disabled, Gay, married, single, divorced, widowed, retired or all of the above!

But we seem to be doing this in our personal lives too. I look at the profiles of some people that approach me to connect and they appear to want to belong to as many groups as possible. Even if I was meeting them for the first time face to face, I wouldn’t have an interest in their colour, religion, sexuality, political affiliations or that they are a feminist or manist! These terms do not describe a person, only the labels they have adopted that they feel defines them. There are some things that I deem as private and don’t believe belong in a personal Facebook or blog profile.

Personally I would like to know more about what makes them a human being. What areas would we both be interested in sharing such as books, writing, the cinema, love of animals, sport, meeting new people and learning more about others. I don’t want to know about the groups or labels that might highlight our differences before we get into some form of relationship to establish how much we have in common.

What happened to the joy of belonging to the human race?

A lack of tolerance and respect for others probably raised its ugly head as humans and Neanderthals began to inhabit the same terrain around 45,000 years ago. There is some evidence that the two groups did co-exist for around 5,000 years and very probably did cohabit too. There are genetic links to a tiny proportion of modern day man that supports that theory. However, the investigation into the mystery as to why Neanderthals became extinct is still ongoing. One theory is that the modern humans migrated in as the earth warmed up and pushed the Neanderthals out over time.

Chances are that modern man wanted nice cozy caves, rich hunting grounds near to flowing rivers and established plants and fruits. It may have taken them 5000 years but in the end they got what they wanted. Including the freedom to live, worship and survive without the complication of a group with a different perspective and needs making life difficult. That was just two groups working against each other.. We now have thousands of factions all shouting about their needs and beliefs; it is no wonder that the world is in chaos.

Then of course there were the gods who have maintained their presence in our lives throughout the history of man in many guises. One group would worship the moon and others the sun and fall out over it. Some believed that their gods lived on mountains and were omnipotent.. Others felt that throwing some poor individual, preferably a virgin, into a fiery volcano would appease these legendary beings. Wars have been fought, some cultures wiped out and many of these early religions disappeared completely. However, after thousands of years, we are still following this tried and tested method to get people to join our gang or suffer the consequences.

Thankfully most people agree to differ, respect each other’s beliefs and live and let live. Yet there is an element of every society, who have defined themselves by their interpretation of a religion, and take the moral high ground, expecting everyone else to convert. There have been extremists in every religion on earth and it will always be so.

There are some individuals who assume that freedom of speech entitles them to say whatever they like, whenever they like and to whomever they like. Because of course, their political, personal or religious views are the one true path. And despite all the laws enacted against hate crimes or inflammatory language, we do not seem to be becoming any more tolerant.

You don’t even have to get up close and personal. The Internet provides a wonderful platform for free speech despite the new legislation. Which is why cyber-bullying is such a popular sport and that the main casualties are young people. Words can be brutal and young people in particular of both sexes have not concept of how devastating their comments can be to someone of their own age.

  • Over the recent years there has been an 87 % increase in the number of Childline’s counselling sessions about online bullying.
  • 40% of 7 to11 year old respondents know someone who has been cyber-bullied .
  • 7 in 10 young people aged between 13 and 22 have been a victim of cyber-bullying .
  • An estimated 5.43 million young people in the UK have experienced cyber-bullying, with 1.26 million subjected to extreme cyber-bullying on a daily basis

The statistics for bullying of gay students is even more concerning.

  • Over two in five gay pupils who experience homophobic bullying attempt or think about taking their own life as a direct consequence  Three in five young people say that bullying has a direct impact on their school work and straight-A students have told us it makes them want to leave education entirely
  • More than half (55 per cent) of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people experience homophobic bullying in Britain’s schools
  • Ninety six per cent of gay pupils hear homophobic remarks such as ‘poof’ or ‘lezza’ used in school. Almost all (99 per cent) hear phrases such as ‘that’s so gay’ or ‘you’re so gay’ in school

Of course bullying is not the only misuse of the freedom of speech. Many suicides of young people are because they do not wear the right label. They do not belong to the accepted in crowd, and because they are different, they are ostracized and isolated.

Added to this is the continuous bombardment by the media, across all communication devices, of the devastating results of human intolerance. The young of today face a climate of fear and uncertainty for the future that has never been experienced before in human history on this scale.  Is this really the world we want our young to inherit from us?

Youth Suicide Statistics In the USA

  • Suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death for ages 10-24. (2016 CDC WISQARS)
    Suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death for college-age youth and ages 12-18. (2016 CDC WISQARS)
  • More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease, COMBINED.
  • Each day in our nation, there are an average of over 3,041 attempts by young people grades 9-12. If these percentages are additionally applied to grades 7 & 8, the numbers would be higher.
  • Four out of Five teens who attempt suicide have given clear warning signs

It is tough to imagine that we as an individual can make a difference to the world and its chaos. But we can certainly make sure that we, and those close to us, understand that freedom of speech is a ‘right’ to be treasured. A right that when exercised with thoughtfulness, can positively change things that are broken, instil trust and understanding with others. We can set an example and be role models for our children and those we meet that have a different view of life and religion that we do.

We are too far down the road for this to change overnight. Some of the conflicts that are currently fueled by hatred and intolerance may not be resolved without more violence but we have to start somewhere and that is right here and right now.  We need to choose the words that we speak and write more carefully and treasure the right we have to use them in the first place.

At the end of the day there is only one true fact and that is we belong to just one group and the label reads:

Next time – Rejection – A Fact of Life

©sallycronin The R’s of Life 2019

Thank you for dropping in and your comments are always gratefully received.  Sally


Something to think About – The R’s of Life – Survival in a Modern World – Our Rights to Personal Freedom

In the last post I took a look at the United Nations Bill of Rights with regard to our legal entitlements under the charter. As with all the rights in the bill there is a great deal of variation between nations, and also internally within cultures who settle in new countries.

This week I am going to cover the personal freedoms and rights that are included in the 30 elements of the bill. Many of these freedoms we take for granted and there are some of us who also exploit them. They all come with some form of obligation from us to ensure that we are worthy of these rights.

 Rights and our Personal Freedoms.

Everyone is entitled to protection from interference in their privacy, family, home or correspondence or from attacks on honour and reputation.

Good luck with this one in the day and age of invasive press reporting and social media. On a governmental level this one is a very grey area. Your emails and telephone calls are not as private as you imagine, and that is without you telling all and sundry your personal business via Facebook and blogging.

As someone who has shared my personal memories from 1962 year by year, I have to be very careful that I remember that there are certain things off limits. Other family members being one of those. They have a right to privacy. You only have to browse through your Facebook timeline to find that some people have forgotten that everything that they share is reaching a much wider audience than their friends. Of course those we interact with frequently with are also friends, but there is still a need for caution.

Some of those friends may not be a middle-aged author from Idaho with three cats and a love of shrimp gumbo. And after months of lovely two way conversations and personal DMs back and forth, and they suddenly ask for help with a vet’s bill for Fluffy, do you wonder if perhaps you are talking to a slightly different character than you supposed?

There are stories every week of people being scammed out of substantial amounts of money having been groomed for months. It would seem that the favourite persona adopted by these shysters is of the top US Army generals who have public profiles!  They prey on the lonely and the vulnerable and are the lowest of the low.

Of course genuine people populate all the social media sites, but if they are real people they will have left a substantial footprint trail that you can follow to find out more about them. Under no circumstances give money to anyone who you have met on any platform without doing your homework.

Trolls and the like.

There are people who are bullies and now see social media as their opportunity to continue that practice from behind the safety of their computer screen.  It is a desire for recognition for their wit, sarcasm and power and they thrive on the responses they receive. Some trolls have literally hounded people to their deaths, particularly amongst young people. There are some sobering statistics in this report and deeply concerning that so many young people are affected by cyberbullying to this extent. 4,400 young lives a year is a very high price to pay and whilst not all related to cyber bullying there is an element of this in every case. Young people can be very callous at times and really do not consider the impact their words can have on others.

This site is very useful for parents who have young children who might be faced with the quite frankly terrifying Momo Challenge and for advice on safety online.

Convictions for crimes under a law used to prosecute internet “trolls” have increased ten-fold in a decade with five a day, official figures reveal.

In the most recent figures that I could find in the UK, 1,209 people were found guilty of offences under Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 – equivalent to three every day – and latest reports say that has risen to five a day.. which takes the figure annually to 1825.

And it is not made easier to separate the real from the fiction when you consider that it is estimated that spam accounts for 45% of all emails sent!!  If you would like to know more about how this has become an epidemic of global proportions…check this out from Propeller CRM

And if you want to know about the billions being spent on Cyber Crime, the statistics and how easy it is for individuals, small businesses, hospitals and industries to be hacked and held to ransom… then check out Cyber Security Statistics 2018

Insurance companies in on the act

There was a headline recently that identified that our online presence is already being scrutinised by insurance companies. For example, you make a claim for a burglary while you are on holiday, and then find it is rejected because you have plastered your Facebook page with photos of you on a sandy beach on an exotic island for two weeks. Saying ‘Hi, look at me in my bikini today on Bora Bora’ is a message that may reach more than your friends.

We have an obligation to ensure that what we want to remain private stays that way. Be very careful about what you share online as your obligation is to ensure you do not leave yourself open to abuse.

Everyone has the right to move and reside within the borders of his country and has the right to leave any country, including his own and to return to his country of origin.

I think this right is one that most of us take for granted. There are still some countries that prohibit movement within their borders and certainly make it difficult to leave. I would say that living in North Korea for example, must be very difficult, when a thin line drawn in a map has separated families for generations. Occasionally the right is given for families to meet for a few hours in a government facility, but it must be devastatingly difficult to live under those kind of restrictions. I have lived all over the UK and abroad and always been able to walk straight back in when I have chosen to. This right if we have it, is something to cherish.

Everyone has the right to seek asylum from persecution in other countries except in the case of prosecutions for acts that go against the rights detailed by the United Nations.

This right is of course one that should be given to those whose lives are in danger from a regime that is likely to imprison or kill you if you do not agree with them. Unfortunately, this is the reason given by virtually all those who are leaving war-torn countries such as Syria and seeking safety and a future for themselves and their families. Part of the problem is that it is very difficult to prove and the process is long and protracted. Especially when trying to verify the facts with the opposing government whose records are not as detailed as our own.

Officially there were 26,457 Applications for Asylum in the UK in 2018 which is a slight decrease of 8% on the previous year.. More than half of the applications in any one year are refused. Whilst awaiting the appeal A refugee is housed for free, has access to education, health and each person is given £37.75 per week for food. It is very basic but in most cases much more preferable than living in fear in their own countries.

However, it would appear that many of those that are refused asylum simply disappear into the population anyway according to this recent report on Sky News

Less than half of failed asylum seekers are removed from the UK and abuse of the system is rife, according to a new study.

Tens of thousands of people remained in the country as illegal immigrants despite their applications having been rejected or withdrawn, according to analysis by a former Home Office chief.

It shows how, of the 80,813 applications that were refused or withdrawn between 2010 and 2016, only 29,659 individuals were removed, leaving 51,154 failed asylum seekers in the country from that seven-year period.

The press and the public are very quick to attack the border control organisations and the Home Office for this lack of oversight. However with the asylum seekers already living within the British community, experiencing the wonders of freedom, and a much higher standard of living, is it any surprise that they are going to make every effort to stay.

In addition, as I mentioned earlier, it is very difficult to verify the truth of the persecution. In some cases, such as those fleeing from Syria, the state of terror is quite clear but there are likely to be very few records to back up an asylum seeker’s story unless they are a high profile case. But of course there will be those who will want to take advantage of the situation, and use it as an entry into the UK and then join the other 50,000 who simply drift away out of official view. Most living within their own national communities and hiding in plain sight but sheltered from scrutiny.

There is no doubt that our own requirements for entry into the country need to be tighter but perhaps the problem will only be resolved when the cause for the massive crisis we face today is dealt with at source. Certainly the terror of daily life in places such as Syria is a leading reason for this influx of immigrants into Europe, and as long as that remains unresolved little is going to change at the receiving end of these mostly genuine refugees.

Everyone has the right to a nationality and should not be deprived of it or be denied to change his nationality.

This would seem a fundamental right. But even in the UK we see an anomaly. The Scottish, Welsh and Irish have a very proud history and used to be separate nations with their own kings and queens and culture. Over the centuries, usually through brute force, those nations have been brought under the one flag. We are now the United Kingdom and everyone is British.

However, many feel that this amounts to the loss of their own national identity. With devolvement to assemblies in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland there has been some re-positioning of this nationality. However, there are moves a foot to move away from calling the United Kingdom the British Isles, to something more nationality sensitive. We shall have to see which alternatives are put forward.  I heard recently during a conversation with someone with their ear to the ground that it might be along the lines of The Atlantic Isles.

It is equally difficult for those who come to live amongst us who also have a proud heritage and culture that they wish to maintain. To a large extent this is possible and there is no doubt in my mind that enriching our own culture with a great many new and diverse customs is a good thing. Of course there are a number of areas where we clash and I looked at some of those in the last post.

Men and women of full age regardless of race, nationality or religion have the right to marry and have a family. They are entitled to equal right in marriage if it is dissolved. Marriage must be entered into with the full consent of both parties.

We tend to get very vocal about countries where arranged marriages and even child marriages are still culturally accepted, but forget that in our own countries this was also the custom for hundreds of years. Including marrying ten and eleven year old princesses to 50 and 60 year old Kings! Certain families increased their wealth and holdings by making advantageous marriages with another elite family, and certainly it is only in recent generations that our own royalty has been able to marry for love rather than political expediency.

Laws have changed and you have to be 16 years old to legally marry in the UK. However, there are cultures that still believe in arranged marriages and having spoken to women who entered into a relationship in this way, many speak very positively about the experience. However, it would seem that second generation and third generation couples are far more likely to find love on their own.

With this right in relation to marriage, comes the usual obligation. If you have the freedom to marry then it should not be entered into lightly, particularly if children are then born and become your responsibility. I touched on this when looking at relationships and our relations in an earlier chapter. The statistics are very clear as revealed in this recent article.

The proportion of children born to unmarried mothers hit a record 47.5 per cent last year, according to the Office for National Statistics. The figure has risen from 25 per cent in 1988 and just 11 per cent in 1979.

If the trend continues at the current rate, the majority of children will be born to parents who are not married by 2016.

And the latest statistics would bear that forecast

  • 2017 saw 19 million families living in the UK, which shows an increase of 8% from 2007:
  • 12.9 million families (68%) featured a couple who were either married or in a civil partnership
  • 3.3 million families (17%) featured a cohabiting couple (the fastest-growing family type)
  • 2.8 million families (15%) featured a lone parent with at least one dependent or non-dependent child

That is 6.1 million families that need to make sure that they have legally established what should happen to their estate and their children and other dependents should they die.

I am not suggesting for a moment that two people cannot choose to have children without being married, but there are some legal ramifications. Without the legal and binding agreement, should the relationship fail; one of the partners can leave and abandon responsibility for maintenance, care and provision for the other partner and the children.

To safeguard the future of any children there should be legal registering of the partnership and binding contracts drawn up, including wills, so that all children are supported and protected until they are 18 years old. A concerning statistic is that in the UK currently, 60% of adults have not made a will. That is an estimated 36 million adults who have not made provisions for the disposal of their estates. Granted many believe that they do not have anything to leave so why bother. But, making a will is not just about money!

  1. Who do you wish to arrange your funeral and deal with your personal effects. A stranger or someone who you know and trust?
  2. Half the homes in the UK own a pet with an estimated 8.5 million dogs and 7.4 million cats.. not to mention budgies, rabbits and pet rats bringing the total of pets to 27 million. Who do you want to take care of your beloved companion? Have you arranged a new home for your pet if something happens to you?
  3. And last but not least. Who will look after your children if something happens to you? This is particularly important if you are a single parent without a partner who is still supporting you. You must make arrangements and make it legal by leaving a will or another document that has been drawn up by a solicitor. Who do you want to bring your children up? Is there a family member who could give them a loving home or perhaps a very good friend? Do you want the authorities to decide what happens to your children?

Dying intestate means dying without leaving a valid will. If this happens the ‘intestate person’ will have their property shared out according to the ‘rules of intestacy’.

So If your estate is worth more than your debts and the cost of your funeral then it will be shared out with your registered legal partner (wife, husband or civil partner) getting the first £250,000, your personal possessions, and half of what remains after that, is split with any children you have once they reach the age of 18.

There are frequent headlines about single mothers who have a number of children with different partners who are being given benefits of £40,000 or more. The truth is that the majority of single parents find themselves in this situation because of a breakdown in a relationship or a bereavement. All families receive some form of benefits such as child allowance, but even with a single parent working it is hard to make ends meet. But it is not just the financial aspect as parenting is a also a physical, mental and emotional commitment. Being a single parent can impact health and also time spent with children and is very challenging.

What is sobering is the facts surrounding poverty with regard to single families.

  • Only 9% of single parents are men, the onus is usually on the mother.
  • 44 per cent of children in single parent families live in relative poverty, around twice the risk of relative poverty faced by children in couple families (24 per cent).
  • Single parents’ risk of poverty has fallen over the past decade, yet those in single parent families are still nearly twice as likely to be in poverty as those in couple parent families.

So we have the right to marry who we wish, we can dissolve that marriage but it is stated that each partner is entitled to equal rights. However it would seem that is not the case in all families that split. Even if there is some financial settlement, there is still likely to be the onus on one parent, usually the mother for the care and well-being of the children. This is particularly the case when there is no legal and binding contract between the partners.

Everyone has the right to own property and cannot arbitrarily deprived of that property.

This  right is  personal favourite of mine. With a nomadic childhood and 18 homes since we married 39 years ago, I have come to realise how important it is to be able to close the door to you apartment, house, cabin in the woods and call it home. Even when we have rented accommodation it has been our home because we were together and surrounded by four walls and safety. This right is extremely precious and you only have to look at the statistics on homelessness to appreciate how lucky we are to have a roof over our heads to call our own.

In the UK there are approx 3,500 homeless sleeping rough each night. In the USA and estimated 500,000 and in India 1.8 million people who do not have the luxury of sleeping under their own roof or shelter of some kind.

Next time Freedom of speech and  religion.

©sallycronin The R’s of Life 2019

Thank you for dropping in and your comments are always gratefully received.  Sally