A Sunday Chat with Myself—Responsible Health

Parts of this story were included in an article on this topic that I wrote for our town newspaper on 24 May, 2018.

-o0o-

In Canada we enjoy a healthcare system that guarantees free health and sickness care for every citizen. It’s a pretty good deal—the envy of many countries whose politicians aren’t as concerned about the welfare of their citizens as (some) of ours are. However, it does have drawbacks, because there are times when  free health care is the worst thing our politicians could have done for us.

“Everyone should have health insurance? I say everyone should have health care. I’m not selling insurance.”  —Dennis Kucinich

When I go to pick up our mail I often can’t find a parking spot in front of the post office because most of the stalls are taken up by people visiting the health clinic which is located next to the post office. I go to the back of the post office and look for a parking stall in the public parking lot located there—same thing: most of the “up close” stalls are taken up by clinic patients.

On occasion, when I do have to use a drug store—usually for health supplements, but I have used their dispensary, and often had to stand in line waiting to be served. This wouldn’t be a significant point to ponder, except that, in a town of not much over 3,000 people, plus the Blood Reserve next door, we have four drug stores that serve us! Doesn’t that raise an alarm bell that, maybe, we’re not living as healthily as we should be?

I know that in an advanced society it’s a given—almost a right to have good hospitals, doctors, nurses and drug stores, and we should appreciate, and be very grateful for these fine institutes that we’re blessed with. In war torn countries, to even have a doctor come through on occasion is considered a God-send!

Coming back to our town, I don’t know of a person, including myself, who hasn’t, at one time or another, used all four of these health facilities. One can fall and break a limb, come down with a contagious virus, be in a traffic accident, or have some other physical health issue that is beyond one’s control. That’s pretty well a given as we go through life. And, of course, at such times it is so nice to know with confidence, that our ailment will be professionally taken care of.

But shouldn’t we be taking at least some responsibility for our general, non emergency good health? Many of our ailments can can be prevented, if we but use some common sense in both our behavioral and eating habits.

“The road to health is paved with good intestines!” —Sherry A. Rogers

Pain is usually the first indicator telling our body that there is something wrong. When we experience pain, wouldn’t we be better off if, when visiting a doctor, to inquire of him first, if there is something in our daily life—food, drink, bad habits, lifestyle—that we’re doing that could be causing our pain, rather than immediately demanding a pill to just mask the pain? Our doctors and health workers are well trained in helping us live a healthier life—God bless them for their caring professionalism!, If we but ask, they are quite willing to show us a better, healthier way to live without having to resort to medication.

Our health clinic has a Healthy Living unit, but I have yet to see a lineup at that Nurse’s Station as I do at our drug stores!

It’s up to us to utilize this professional knowledge that our health system provides us, and educate ourselves with all this information that’s so freely available—in fact, speaking of free, it is often said that, what is free is seldom appreciated. Maybe it’s time, again, that we placed a levy on our health services so that we appreciate good health!

Smoking, excess drinking, illegal drug use, improper eating habits are lifestyles well within our personal control. We can do something about those issues. It shouldn’t be up to the doctor to “cure” our bad health habits with a pill—or the taxpayer to fund such a wrong mindset, just because we feel we have a right to live as we please without considering the consequences!

“The individual who says it is not possible should move out of the way of those doing it.”  —Tricia Cunningham

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Me and Mortimer. Chapter two: “Death in the Saddle”

If you’re like me and got kids, you know that proper schoolin’ takes up a good part of their lives. I got a teenage daughter who’s just graduated into high school and she sez she wants to major in journalism after she’s finished with school. I told her she’d be better off if she’d go in for bein’ a doctor. She’d make much more money, bein’ a doctor than a journalist, but, no! She’s as stubborn as her mother. A journalist is what my daughter’s gonna be, and that’s it!

Her teacher keeps givin’ her a bunch of homework assignments. Sez they’re good practice assignments to help her become a better journalist, but I think she’s as wacky as a dodo bird tryin’ a backwards flip!

Back in the days when I went to school we had no homework—or if our teacher was stupid enough to try and force homework on us, I just wouldn’t do it. After school was fer other, more important things, like playin’ ball, or meet the gang at the local pool hall, not homework!

Anyway, as I was sayin’, the teacher keeps givin’ my daughter all these journalist practice assignments, and so I finally caved in and promised to help her become a good journalist, so this mornin’ I brought some paper and a pencil with me to show my daughter what good journalism is like.

I pour myself my first cup of coffee for the day, read only the headlines in the newspaper so I can sooner get down to writin’ and show my daughter what good journalism is.

So now I’m sitting here at my desk, thinkin’ hard about what would make a good western story. I’m bein’ as quiet as possible and not disturb Mort. So far, he’s in a pretty good mood, and I don’t want him to get angry again and stomp out of here, like he did last week. I write …

Like balls of weightless cotton, the fog drifted down the mountains, covering the Pecos Valley in a thick mist as if it were trying to hide the terrible black secret hidden__

“Nah! That’s no good!” I crumple up the paper and throw it into the garbage and try again.

The sharp crack of three rapid gunshots echoed across the sparse cactus growth of the parched, choking valley floor, shattering the stillness of the growing purple shadows of impending night. At the first crack of the rifle shot, jack rabbits leaped to attention, their ears perked, frozen in fear—

“Eh, even worse!” I try once more.

The full moon hung low over the horizon, like an outrider’s beacon, guiding the lone rider, pushing his horse to the limit, ever westward through the tangled sage—”

“Aw, this just ain’t workin’!” I said out loud, I throw down my pencil and lean back in my chair. I’m gettin’ nowhere—looks like writin’ is harder than I thought!

“What are you trying to write anyway?” I guess I shouldn’ta spoke out loud ‘cause it attracted Mortimer’s curiosity. He stopped rummaging through the old tobacco can full of saved nuts and bolts and looked at me.

“My daughter’s got this western pulp fiction literature assignment for school and I said I’d help her. Sez she might be a journalist some day.”

“Did she ask for your help?”

“Well, nah! You know how kids are. Too independent. Think they know more than their parents, but I thought I’d just show her up by writin’ a good story.”

“So, your daughter is interested in becoming a journalist?”

“She talks all the time about it. I told her that if she’d go ahead with her plans to be a journalist, she’d be as poor as a crop sharer on a flood plain, but you know how kids are. Never listen to their parents.”

“Many journalists make excellent careers out of writing. Good journalism is important to our society. It keeps us accurately informed about world events.”

“You mean, mis-informed! What this country needs is some good old fashioned teachers like we usta have, and some morals like we usta have!”

“Your daughter’s school assignment is to write a western pulp fiction story? That doesn’t sound much like a journalism assignment.”

“Well—that’s not what her teacher wants her to write about. Her teacher wants her to write a research paper on early life of—get this: ‘Early Northern Inuit Life Before Whiteman came.’ How about that fer a stupid title and subject? Hah! In my time they was called Eskimos, not Inuit. And what kinda life did they have anyway—they had no history before we came and gave them guns so that they could hunt better and build wooden houses instead of them igloo things.”

“But, that’s a real journalism assignment—I mean, what the teacher gave your daughter.”

“Yeah, that’s what you and that stupid teacher say. I told my daughter that, if she really wants to get ahead in this world, she better learn how to write good western fiction! I grew up on dime wester pulp fiction, so I know. They’s the backbone of our society!”

“Well, I guess she’s your daughter—” Mortimer just shrugs and turns back to his can of nuts and bolts. I make another attempt to write an opening paragraph.

Vultures circle over the dying cowboy’s horse—”

“Shouldn’t you be filing that backlog of files on your desk instead of working on your personal stuff?”

Mort’s comment makes me see red! That man just ain’t got no sense of good literature! I open my mouth to yell at him, “What’s more important: filin’ some stupid files that someone’s gonna want pulled again later anyway, or teachin’ a child about literature?” But I keep quiet ‘cause it’s almost lunch time … what the heck, why let Mortimer ruin my day? I decided, instead, to go plug in the coffee pot and, while I’m waitin’ for the pot to start boilin,’ I sort through some files.

So far, today’s been a peaceful day workin’ here with Mort, but with his attitude, I don’t know how long that can last!

 

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Amazing intelligence in Animals—Swans

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I think everyone is familiar with how two swans, facing each other, head touching head, and with their long, curved necks, form a perfect heart shape. From that point of view, one could consider them as the symbol for love birds and are often associated with beauty.

Swans are closely related to geese and ducks. Swans are the largest members of the waterfowl family, Anatidae, and are among the largest flying birds and are generally found in a temperate climate area. A female swan is called a pen, and a male swan is referred to as a cob, and a group of swans is called a herd. Although they may, at times, eat small aquatic animals, they are almost entirely herbivorous.

Much like most human couples, a male and his female partner can form a strong bond that lasts for their lifespan, and the bond can form as early as 20 months of age, and the pair can live together for over 10 years! There are cases of “divorced” swans, but this is rare.

“There’s no need to curse God if you’re an ugly duckling. He chooses those strong enough to endure it so that they can guide others who’ve felt the same.”  —Criss Jami

Stories about swans appear in fairy and folk tales, mythology and legends, the best known fairytale is the Danish Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, “The Ugly Duckling,” in which a baby swan, hatched into a family of ducks—a misfit, but yet grows up to become a beautiful white swan.

In Greek mythology, the story of “Leda and the Swan,” tells of how Helen of Troy was conceived by a union between Zeus, disguised as a swan, and Leda, queen of Sparta. To have used swans in this mythological tale shows the high regard ancient Greeks had for swans.

In Hindu religion, a swan is compared to a saintly person who lives in the world without getting attached to it, just like a swan’s feathers, although in the water, don’t get wet, and the swan is mentioned several times in Vedic writings where the swan is compared to a person who has developed great spiritual capabilities and is referred to a Paramahams—a Supreme Swan.

On the other hand, swans are not as peaceful as often depicted. Swans can be very aggressive, and especially a mated pairs can become a real “fighting machine,” as many humans can attest to who have crossed the path of a swan! Swans do not make good pets. They are friendly up until maturity—about 3 years, then they can, as already mentioned, become quite aggressive and mean.

“Every lake belongs to the quietness desired by the swans.”  —Munia Khan

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A Sunday Chat with Myself—Garbage

“Human society sustains itself by transforming Nature into garbage.” —Mason Cooley

Last garbage day it was my turn to haul our trash to the curb for pickup. Because we foster cats, we usually have to include a couple of heavy bags along with the regular kitchen garbage because of cat litter. If you’re not familiar with cat litter, it’s main component is clay, and clay is not light! Otherwise, there is nothing really out of the ordinary about our garbage. We recycle where possible, flatten boxes to conserve space, and we have a strict policy of never throwing ‘to the wind,’ so to speak, unwanted plastic bags. Sounds very average—which, of course, we are, so where could there possibly be a problem with garbage in the world today?

Well, individually, we may not see a problem with too much garbage, but multiply that garbage by a few million times, and it’s our environment that has a problem! Where do we put it all? Unless we give this problem some serious thought and stop its growth, our ever expanding garbage dumps will have killed all mammalian and reptilian life forms on earth, and there’ll  be nothing left for us but to make our homes on one huge garbage dump—if we can survive living on such an unhealthy environment!

I wouldn’t even want to guess at how much garbage—that’s physical garbage—that the world produces, but according to The Conference Board of Canada, Canadians produce more garbage per capita than any other country on earth, and the Board gave Canada a “C” ranking, and placed it 15th out of 17 on its environmental-efficiency scale.

“Throwing away food is like stealing from the table of those who are poor and hungry.” —Pope Francis

But, looking at the problem from another point of view, is there any living being, be it plant, reptile, insect or mammal, that doesn’t produce waste? In fact, just the other day I was reading an interesting article where too much hippopotamus poop is killing the fish in some African waters! That hippo poop is waste, not only to themselves, but to the fish occupying the same watery living space!

I have two bird feeders in my backyard that attract dozens of birds to them on a daily basis. Problem is, almost on a monthly basis, I have to get my rake, shovel and vacuum cleaner out and clean up the bird poop that collects on the ground beneath the bird feeders!

Wast! No matter where I look, I can’t seem to avoid having to deal with it!

On the other hand, maybe that’s how our Creator very wisely and efficiently designed His creation. To use a  crude expression, “in one end as food, and out the other end as waste!” Another point; it also seems like one species’ waste is another species’ food. A good example of this is the Dung Beetle. Dung beetles are coprophagous insects, meaning they eat excrement of other organisms.

Also another efficient ‘reuser‘ of Nature’s waste is our common housefly. Flies can’t eat solid waste, only liquid, so they have to saturate their ‘food’ with their saliva, which liquefies it, then they suck it up. Unfortunately, flies can also transmit over 65 different diseases to us and to other animals, so we consider them as a pest.

“A food waste reduction hierarchy-feeding people first, then animals, then recycling, then composting-serves to show how productive use can be made of much of the excess food that is currently contributing to leachate and methane formation in landfills.” —Carol Browner

Although we’re latecomers to the world’s  reuse/recycle practice, we are making some impressive strides in the right direction. We hear on the evening news how terribly we’re polluting our planet, but the news fails to report the many industries that recycling has created to manage our waste, and the giant steps forward in reducing our waste footprint. China, of course, was the world’s main importer of recyclables from us, but since they’ve tightened their rules as to what they’ll accept, more emphasis is now placed on individual countries like Canada, who used to ship to China, and now have to deal with their own waste.

According to ReportLinker, “The Bureau of International Recycling estimates that the recycling sector employs more than 1.5 million people in the processing of million tons of commodities, with industry revenue topping in excess of $200 billion every year.” That’s impressive! And it also shows that we can be quite ingenious in managing our waste, so looks like, contrary to doom and gloom news reports, we’ll survive for another millennium or two—or three, or ten, or maybe as long as our earth can sustain itself and us.

“Without a doubt, the most ingenious plan I could ever hope to devise would be to trade my plans for God’s.”  —Craig D. Lounsbrough

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Me and Mortimer—Chapter One—Introduction

This is the introduction to a series of short, humorous stories in the life of a middle-aged man whom, you might say, is a square peg trying to fit into a round hole – an Andy Capp sort of a guy who’s opinionated, who claims to know it all—or thinks he does and doesn’t mind sharing his version of what’s right with his co-workers, and especially with Mortimer, the company Maintenance Man, with whom he is forced to be closely associated with. Not that it was Mortimer’s idea for the two to share space but, well, as you read the story you’ll get to know how this all came about.

—–o0o—–

This is “Me” talkin’. I do most of the talkin’ and explainin’ around here now ‘cause Mortimer don’t say much anymore. When I first came here we used to talk with each other more, but I guess he just couldn’t stand my correctin’ the way he was always doin’ things wrong, so he mostly avoids me now.

First, I gotta tell you how come I got my office moved down here in the maintenance tool shed with Mortimer. Mortimer is the company’s Maintenance Man—sort of a general fixer-upper who thinks he knows a lot of stuff about a lot of things Well I think he knows something about a lot of things, but I say he ain’t no specialist in any one thing, if you know what I mean.

I joined the company about three years ago. I was hired to work on the second floor in the main Administrative Office back up there on the hill as a File Clerk. It wasn’t a bad job. The pay is good and it didn’t require much work, but my boss was one of those guys who sure didn’t know nothin’ about filing! At the time, I tried over and over again to show him how the filing system should be set up, but he didn’t seem to appreciate my help. Some boss, if you ask me; can’t take any correction!

At first, he just ignored me and just went about doin’ things his own way anyway, but later, he started gettin’ mad at me fer insistin’ he should try and do things the right way—my way. Then, one day, he just exploded.

“That’s enough! I’ve had it with you,” I can still remember him yellin’ at me. “I’m moving you out of my sight!”

An’, that’s how I got to have my office and the filing cabinets moved into the Company’s Maintenance Shed here where Mortimer works. They had to clean out a section of the shed just for me and my filing cabinets, and I don’t think ol’ Mortimer liked that ‘cause it took some space away from all his fixer-upper junk that he uses in his work. You’d think that he’d complain about havin’ less space now, but, no sir! Not ol Mort! Mort’s one of those ‘yes-men’ that the company likes to keep around. Not like me. If I see somethin’s done the way it ain’t supposed to be done, I speak out!

I’m still in charge of filing, though. The boss didn’t take that important job from me. Good thing, too, ‘cause if he’da threatened to fire me one more time, I’da just turned around and quit!

Of course, Mortimer was quick to mark off his space in the tool shed from mine. My space is over here—see, over here in the north-east corner. Problem is, I got no window to look out of, nor do I get any sunshine comin’ in, and it can get a bit cool here, so I always gotta wear a jacket.

Actually, when I saw how things was turnin’ out, I was ready to accept the boss’s offer and just quit, but I needed the job, so I agreed to the move. What the heck, I thought, I can still exert my expertise on the company’s filing system from here in the shed.

These days, Mort mostly speaks to me only when I asked him something, or if he needs something from me. You’ll see later on why he acts so funny. I’ll explain more about him and why I think he’s screwier than a backwards-threaded nut, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

I’ll give you an example of what I mean about the guy.  I just got to work this mornin’ and barely had a chance to finish readin’ my newspaper and finish my second cup of coffee when I’m disturbed by Mort makin’ all kinds of banging and rattling noise while rooting through his tool box. I can see he’s getting’ sort of frustrated and muttering to hisself. He usually comes in to work early: sometimes about half hour before he’s supposed to be here. The nerd! Tryin’ to suck up to the boss, I guess. Anyway, that’s his business. I don’t come in to work a minute before I’m supposed to. I ain’t no suck-hole!

“What’s buggin’ your butt this mornin’?” I finally ask Mort. The noise of his rootin’ around was interfering with me trying to solve the morning paper’s crossword puzzle.

“You seen my hammer?”

“What hammer?”

“The one that I normally leave here in my tool box.”

I had to think for a moment. “Oh, you mean the one with the red painted wooden handle? I used it to pound a nail into the wall so I could hang his girly calendar of mine. That gal’s really stacked, eh?”

“Well, where did you leave it?”

“Where did I leave what?”

“The hammer! I need it!”

Sheesh! That guy’s temper-fuse is about as short as a bull who just discovered an intruder in his pasture! “Hey, cool it, man! Who’re you yellin’ at? Here’s your dumb hammer, right where I left it … let’s see – yeah, here it is, in my bottom desk drawer.”

Mort grabs the hammer, tosses it into his tool box and stomps out without so much as a thank you to me fer handing him his hammer.

Sheesh! You’d think I was responsible for his tools! But, anyway, now you see what I mean about me tryin’ to get along with folks in this Company. As I already said, if I didn’t need this job so bad, I’d tell them where to shove it.

Until next time, hope you’re havin’ a better day than I am!

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Amazing Intelligence in Animals—Dolphins

“[The] World is a multi-dimensional reality. At lower levels it is full with unconsciousness and competitiveness. At higher levels it is full with beauty, bliss and divinity. Focus on higher dimensions.” —Amit Ray

I’ve come to understand that all creation can be divided into three categories:

(1) Unconsciousness. This would include the four elements: earth, air, fire and water. Dictionary.com defines unconsciousness as: “not conscious; without awareness, sensation or cognition.” None of these elements can experience pain—at least not that, as a human, I am aware of, nor any of the emotions, nor can they be influenced by ‘reason.’

(2) Consciousness. This would include all plant life, including trees, grass, seeds and flowers. This is a step up from unconsciousness, because plant life can be influenced by natural forces around them. For example, the life force can be extracted from grass through lack of moisture, burning, or severe cold. Some research has demonstrated that plants can be influenced by emotion.

(3) Self-consciousness, or self-awareness. All human, animal, reptile, birds and insects fall into this category, and this is where life gets interesting, because, as humans with a fairly high degree of self-awareness, we can understand the different stages to  self-consciousness—at least as far as human research has shown. Human research believes that humans have more self-awareness than, let’s say, a frog would have—although that point can be debated, because here is where knowledge and intelligence enter into the equation; since we like to separate ourselves from the rest of Creation, we only see the human side of everything, and it’s so easy to think of ourselves as more intelligent than a frog, therefore, we must also be more self-conscious.

Universally, is this seeming really true; are we the most self-conscious—intelligent—creature on this planet, or is it just our ego speaking?

There was a time when, on the scale of intelligence—thus self-consciousness—we placed all sea life near the bottom of the scale. We had no problem in recreational fishing: hook a fish through its mouth, draw it out of its habitat—water—into the boat, watch it wiggles and struggles, gasping for air until it finally dies. We simply thought that fish—sea life—has no feelings, no emotions, no sense of survival like we have, so what did it matter if a fish seemed to struggle? Enter our friends, the dolphins to teach us differently!

“When you gain higher consciousness, your consciousness becomes universal and you become ageless, endless, and universal.” —Debasish Mridha

The dolphin was one of the first sea creatures to teach us that sea life wasn’t necessarily low-life! First, dolphins are not fish: in fact, their diet is fish! They’re mammals just like we are. We seem to have a certain attraction to the dolphin and they are featured attractions in many marine centers throughout the world. Dolphins love to play with us, and are fascinated by us, just like we love to play and are fascinated, by them.

Dolphins are even camouflaged. Their countershading is a type of camouflage found in many marine species. By having a dark back and a light belly, they blend into the sunlit surface waters as well as the dark ocean depths. They can reach speeds up to 25 feet per second. They analyse their environment by sending out echos—soundwaves—into the water, then analyse them as they bounce back off objects in the water, much like we use radar  in locating objects both in the water and in the air.

Just like humans, dolphins live in pods and are social animals and take excellent care of their sick or wounded. With brains that work much like our brains work, dolphins have adapted human language (commands?) more than any other animal in Nature.

There are cases where dolphins have intervened between human and sharks, and saved humans from shark attacks.

Dolphins have a very advanced system of communication, and have even been known to give each other names.

Rather than considering ourselves as a most advanced species on earth—God’s special creation our Holy Books tell us, it would be wiser to considered ourselves part of Nature and live in harmony with Creation. Think of how much more we could learn that way!

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A Sunday Chat with Myself—the importance of Music in My life

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”  —Friedrich Nietzsche

Here’s my (added) version of Genesis: sometime after the “Sixth Day,” when God saw that all His creation was good, He did note that mankind easily fell into negative states of being. Man could become frustrated and make himself sick from worrying. Man could procrastinate and not mind some of the necessary chores in life. Man could also experience fits of disgruntlement, impatience and have just an every day lackluster day that didn’t let him enjoy the wonderful creation around him.

So, in order to let man enjoy his life again, God gave man the ability to appreciate music!

***************

Music has always played a big role in my life. If I had a rather difficult day and need to escape  for a a while, I put on my headphones, escape to my bedroom and spend an hour listening to such favorites as Mozart’s Requiem. It’s deep, it’s heavy, and requires full concentration to appreciate it. That’s what I need to forget my worldly cares!

On the other hand, if I feel more like just letting my mind relax a bit and re energize myself, I might try Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.

But, classical music isn’t my only like in music. When I exercise, there’s nothing as fitting as Indi Pop music, or a Latin beat to get me moving energetically . In other words, I’m quite eclectic in my music taste and I like that because, in my life, there’s music for every state of mind I’m in.

“Without music, life would be a mistake.” —Friedrich Nietzsche

Music can also feed my nostalgia. As I’ve said in some of my previous posts, when I was a kid living on a Saskatchewan farm, my only ambition was to be a cowboy, and I was completely—without reservation—involved in cowboy music. Even today, nothing can make me stop working and turn me into a nostalgic dreamer faster than listening to some scratchy old vinyl records by Wilf Carter,  like, “There’s a Bluebird on Your Windowsill,” or “Red River Valley Blues.”

Music can also be healing. It is a known  fact that some ‘out-of-sorts‘ feelings can be made to completely vanish by listening to appropriate music. With so much quality—and free—music available on the Internet—Youtube comes to mind as a good source of free music. It is so easy to chose some quiet, healing music—Reiki music is my favorite, put on my headphones, get comfortable in my recliner or lay on my bed, and wake up an hour later feeling much refreshed.

There are other benefits that music can provide. For example,

  • music can ease pain. Music can distract me from my pain and let my body naturally heal itself and keep me from getting too negatively attached to my pain.
  • It can motivate me. A bit of lively jazz can get me up and out of my lethargy and free me to do  some of the things I’ve meant to do all morning, but was just procrastinating.
  • Improve sleep quality. When I’ve had a busy or frustrating day I really look forward to getting into my pajamas and relaxing in my easychair for a bit, turn on some classical piece of music and before long, my frustrations are history, and I’m ready for a sound sleep.
  • Music is also great for relieving depression. A lively bit of jazz or pop and I’m feeling much better.

“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”  —Maya Angelou

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