Valentines Day

Ah! Valentine’s Day. The only day in the year when long stemmed roses cost an arm and a leg. But then, if Cupid is to fly your special arrow into the heart of the one you love, to heck with the expense.

Valentine’s Day is seen as a day to celebrate romance, love and devotion. It is celebrated in honour of St. Valentine, a third-century Roman saint associated with love and togetherness.

The celebration of Valentine’s Day is often based on the expectations of the one you love.  Maybe, it isn’t necessary to spend lavishly just to impress your partner.

You might just enjoy spending time together and enjoying each other’s company. Being with someone you are in love with and being loved by that someone in return, would be a beautiful way of celebrating together.

My favourite quote for Valentine’s Day comes from Judy Garland. She once said, “For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart.  It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul”.

Perhaps we could consider maintaining our love relationship by just doing little things for each other on a daily basis, without seeking to receive anything in return. This would let you both celebrate Valentine’s Day every day of the year instead of just on the 14th February.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s life.

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The transformation

The old man was prepared to accept that this was it.  This was the end.  He had been laid to rest after years of living in the beautiful garden.

He didn’t mind really.  He had enjoyed his life, even though he had been battered around by storms, survived the heat, the drought, the floods and kids climbing all around him. As he aged, he had folded his bark coat more thickly around himself, giving his aging limbs protection from the elements and attacks from marauding insects.

Although, at the time, he wept a little, he was proud of the heart the young lovers had carved in his bark.  He had offered them privacy from the onlooker’s gaze as they swapped their innermost secrets and committed themselves to each other.

Now, as he lay within the slabs cut from his generous girth, he allowed the breezes to filter between the thick slices of his body.  He whiled the days away thinking of the good times in the past. 

Months passed.  The timber cutter returned to survey the slabs he had cut and stored some time ago. Pondering for a while he then made his decision. The old man was to be born again.  His beauty was revealed once again, as his outer coat was removed and the dirt and mould of his years sanded away.  He was fashioned into a bench seat and placed in the local park, where he was again surrounded by flowers and other trees.

Now the children play around him and lovers whisper sweet nothings to each other while they sit and hold hands.  His gnarled old twisted frame has been transformed and his inner beauty on display for all to see and use.  His life was not wasted.  He is happy and useful again.

And so, it can be with us, if we deliberately seek out ways to use what gifts and skills we have to benefit our community, irrespective of how old we are.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s life.

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It was tough going in the gym as the team members used the facilities to build up their strength. They knew that working out would assist their performance and ability when they took the field to face their opposition.

Sweating and straining the body to build up muscle and improve one’s physique and endurance isn’t the only way to define the word ‘strength’.

When we apply for a job, we list our personal strengths, giving our future employer a better understanding of our qualities.  We can list strengths such as, enthusiasm, trustworthiness, patience, determination and honesty.

An engineer’s understanding of ‘strength’ is based on the capacity of an object, such as a bridge, to withstand great force or pressure.  Strength can also relate to the influence or power possessed by a person or organisation.

The degree of intensity of a person’s feeling or belief is often referred to as a ‘particular strength’. Strength can also come from the support we get from our friends when life sometimes becomes difficult.

Our strength can also come from within us when we find we are required to persevere in the face of adversity. This inner strength helps us develop a determination and allows us to overcome difficult situations.

Overall, it seems strength is the product of struggle. So, while we may not have rippling muscles, we can work on being strong in so many other ways.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s life.

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Minding Leroy

While they were minding him, he lost one of his baby teeth. They did what all grandparents would do – they put the tooth in a glass, placed it above his bed and told him the fairies would come while he was asleep.

They had jumped at the chance to mind little Leroy while their son and his partner had a few days break. Leroy came complete with enough food to feed a tribe of Leroys and there was also a typed sheet detailing his feed, rest and play times.

They complied with all the written instructions and suggestions, but there was one thing different about this ‘holiday with the grandparents.’ Leroy was a five-month-old loveable chocolate labrador.

The directions stated they should take him for a daily walk, so they got the lead out and off they went to introduce him to the neighbourhood. Well, as it turned out, Leroy took them for the walk. They were detoured to every lamp post, tree and even the water meters. Here was a whole new world of smells that needed to be fully examined before moving on to the next one, usually only metres away.

Back at home they soon found that anything left low to the ground that might be edible was chewed, munched and tested for its culinary quality. Included in this category was a straw hat, a travel magazine, the door mat and the leg of a wooden chair.

Minding Leroy was such a wonderful experience for them both. They laughed at his antics, played football with him and enjoyed the fun of having a loveable larrikin around the house. It was a reminder that grandparents still have an important role to play in life, even though it might entail babysitting a pet.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s life.

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The first time he remembered hearing the word milestone used was at his thirteenth birthday celebration.  It seemed he was no longer a kid, he had become a teenager. His next milestone, his twenty-first birthday party would be well remembered. His life progressed, there were things to do, places to go and people to see.

He was pleased they didn’t put fifty candles on the birthday cake when he reached, what was again called a milestone. But, just as the batsman removes his helmet, waves it to the crowd, points his bat to his mates and then settles down to continue his innings, so life continued after fifty.

While milestones may not have meant much to him in the past, the letter he received from Centrelink, along with the attached form, made him very much aware of the significance of his sixty-fifth birthday. An appointment had been made for him to visit his local Centrelink office.

A smiling clerk called his name and he walked with him to his cubicle at the rear of the office. He found himself being congratulated. It was official, he was now an ‘Old Age Pensioner’.  It seems that at 75 he was to reach another milestone and be required to obtain a doctor’s certificate just to keep driving his car.

So, what! he thought. How about a century – now that would be a real milestone. One he felt which would definitely be worth jumping in the air and waving the bat to the crowd.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s life.

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Let’s talk texting

Not so many years ago we only had the telephone to contact our friends.  Today, we can keep in constant communication with our so-called friends using modern technology. This doesn’t necessarily mean we have to talk to our friends at all.

For some, answering the phone is considered a stressful operation, especially when there is no indication as to who is making the call. This can cause a panic situation where we could worry about what we might be required to say or decisions we may be required to make.

Today’s technology enables us to type as we talk using a text message, email and other apps such as Facebook messenger or Wots App, to name just a couple. If we wish, this allows us to edit what we write so we get the message sent in a perfect form. When it is received, an immediate response is expected. All this without any face or voice contact.

With our head down constantly writing and replying to messages on our mobile phone with people, who may be perhaps in the same room, we allow life to pass us by and we can become oblivious to what is happening in the world around us.

When we verbally communicate there is so much we can learn about each other. Our voice can be a window to our emotions, and this can determine the depth of our responses. The best texting can do in this regard is to offer us emojis that may or may not be a suitable emotive gesture.

Obviously, a text reminding us of a future appointment can be beneficial but when we make eye contact with a friend and speak together, surely this is a more practical way of using the voice we have been gifted with.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s life.

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How easy it is for us to be caught up in the social whirlwind surrounding discrimination against an individual or a group of people. We don’t always find it easy to disagree, particularly when we are in a group of people whose thought processes are all leaning in the same direction.

Discriminating against someone’s colour, beliefs or preferences is sometimes based on an ingrained prejudice that restricts one’s objective understanding. These prejudices are often inherent in our individuality from a young age and tend to stick within our thinking and beliefs into our adulthood.

While it is easy to say we should have an open mind on life matters, this can sometimes be difficult to accomplish. However, to be fair in our assessment and understanding of others, we need to at least be prepared to listen without prejudice, to views which differ from our own.

Let’s try not to be judgemental and consider people’s achievements and the positive things they have done, or are doing, for humanity and our country and community. We need to accept people for who they are and not their beliefs.  And at the same time try and not be swayed by the bias and prejudicial thoughts of others trying to influence us.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s life.

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The economy

The daily doom and gloom sheets, and those people supposedly in the know, keep telling us about the weakening of the country’s economy and how pandemic viruses can be the cause of a world depression.

We often hear of small businesses, ‘going up the wall’ and large companies being placed, ‘in the hands of the receivers’.

While the so-called experts keep scratching their heads and searching for solutions, families, pensioners and the little Aussie battlers are the ones getting hurt.

It is generally accepted that many of the world’s financial problems have resulted from greed and over-ambitious individuals seeking power and personal wealth.  But sadly, there are also some among us who deliberately shy away from having to work. If they are forced into a job, they believe in performing a minimum amount of work for a maximum financial return.

It is time we all realised our responsibility toward each other.  This is the ‘Lucky Country’ and we should do the best we can to ensure it stays that way.

Let’s start by changing any short-sighted gloomy attitudes we might have and look with hope to our country’s future. In the meantime, let’s become a nation of optimistic doers, rather than one of pessimistic thinkers and knockers.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s life.

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Celebrating Christmas

It seems for many of us, Christmas is nothing more than a major buying spree.  We agonise over what type of present to buy for family members. We are exhorted to shop early, buy at never-to-be-repeated special prices and fill up our family’s stockings with everything from items in the junk mail catalogues to the latest electronic gadgetry.

For some, Christmas is a religious feast. For others it is just a chance to have some time off from work and enjoy the festivities of the season. Many in our world are not as fortunate as we are.  During this Christmas period some are exposed to hunger, war, death and having to flee from their homeland. Hopefully, in the midst of all our merriment, we can find time to perhaps offer some support to many of the local charities trying to make Christmas special for others. The homeless and people living alone can easily be forgotten.

It is this time of the year when natural and human caused disasters can strike even our lucky country. Road accidents, bushfires, cyclones, droughts and floods can exact their toll on our families and friends and make us more aware of how vulnerable we can be when we least expect it.

After the shopping, feasting and drinking are over, then come the holidays.  As the Christmas bells are drowned out by the hooters and fireworks of the New Year celebrations, Christmas gets forgotten for another year and hot cross buns appear on the supermarket shelves preparing us for Easter.

Let us use this Christmas to strengthen our family ties, to tell our kids and our partners we love them and even though, sometimes it can be difficult, enjoy being together as family.

The love we give one another is far more precious than all the gifts we can buy.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s life.

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Towards the end of each year it is a task, but always a good idea, to note on the next year’s calendar those family and friend’s special days. This allows us to make contact on that day which, in turn, makes the family member or friend feel special that you have remembered them.

It can also be helpful to include a number beside each entry. For example, the age that person will be on that date. If you were part of a couple’s special event, remembering it each year also helps maintain your friendship.

One event which tends to be forgotten, is the anniversary of the passing of a close family member or friend.  Contact on that anniversary not only shows your caring nature, but offers support, especially at a time when grieving might still be progressing.

Remembering and caring is important if we are to reach out with love to each other.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s life.

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