I’m guessing that pleasure means many different things to each and every one of us.

Pleasure can be found in an activity such as going for a walk or meeting a friend for a coffee or meal.   It can be in a sound like the chatter of birds in the trees or a baby’s chuckle, perhaps the calling of a loved one — child or adult announcing they’re home after being out or away.

Then again it can be in the act of making something — cooking a meal for another or creating a craftwork to be admired or better still used frequently.

Listening to music or watching a favourite feel-good movie can also invoke pleasure on many different levels.

For me, I’m receiving many daily doses of pleasure from my garden.  When my son and daughter-in-law cleaned out my back garden in readiness for me to plant some vegetables, I could not have imagined that I would derive so much pleasure from a few hours of their time. What an amazing birthday gift — a gift that really does keep on giving.
For a start there was the time gifted to me which ultimately led to a much tidier and pleasing view of the yard.  Then there came the pleasure of anticipating which veggies I could plant, followed by a progressive planting.  There is still room for more, but at present there is enough.   So now every day I look at my veggie garden and see how much growth has been added, now I can anticipate the future harvest and the enjoyment I will gain from picking cooking and eating the fruits — or vegetables of my labours.

A cup of coffee, glass of wine or some special food treat can impart immense pleasure — especially if these are enjoyed with convivial company.

When I stop and think about it, though-out my day I am receiving pleasure in so many ways — too many to list.  But one of the best for me is that first cup of coffee in the morning, sitting on my back deck and watching the veggies growing — exclaiming over the flowers that have bloomed on the tomatoes and the pumpkins and watching the raspberries ripening.  The simple things in life are truly very often the best.

What gives you pleasure ?



The longest river in the world?

There are often jokes made around denial, probably mainly to deflect the reality of the idea.  We go into denial for all kinds of reasons, many of which we have no real clue about — possibly from something quite trivial in our early life that we made mean something of monumental proportions.  Waiting for that lightbulb moment when realisation dawns — or not.

Perhaps it’s the way we are raised in our society, but we seem to be constantly comparing ourselves to others.  Using others as a yardstick of how we should behave, be, not be, or whatever.

Yet the comparisons we make are like comparing apples to pears — a totally unrealistic comparison because unlike a controlled scientific experiment, there really is nothing compare.

Recently — like last week — I uncovered a classic case of denial within myself.   For months I’ve been occasionally wheezing, having uncontrollable coughing fits with no cough or cold associated.  I’d brush them off making comments like “If I didn’t know any better I’d say I had asthma!”  And then go on my merry way doing my everyday stuff and not giving it much thought.

My mother developed asthma in her sixties and was in a constant battle for the remaining twenty odd years of her life with chronic asthma attacks, hospitalisation and loads of medications.  There was no way I was going to be lumped into that category, so I continued on — even carrying an inhaler to make things easier although I didn’t really need to use it much. Truly — it was just a precaution.

Then, last week when I was propped up in the treatment room at the doctors surgery, with the nurse (who is of a similar vintage to me) helping me to use an inhaler (properly) to ease my first acute asthma attack.  I was making — in between panting and puffing — some vague reasons/excuses why I hadn’t done anything about this before.  She looked at me and said very bluntly “Your’e in denial!”

I laughed around my wheezes, politely agreeing and continued my struggle with breathing.

But later it hit home — really resonated with me when I stopped to think about what she’d said.  I’ve had lots of time to think in the past week, not being allowed to do anything much at all.

She was right.  I have been in denial.  I’d been comparing myself to my mother and because I didn’t like what I’d seen, I was attempting to pretend that I couldn’t possibly be anything like her.

However, when I accept that I’d been in denial and that perhaps I really should have done something long before it got to this. I can also see why I did it.  Sometimes it’s much easier to just keep on going and not really pay attention to too many details.  Life gets so busy that we can’t afford to take the time out to navel-gaze and analyse our lives.  Or we are really too afraid to take that step because it might just make sense.

So yes, I can accept that I am like my mother in so many ways — I’m her child after all.  But my life experiences have been vastly different to hers, and because of that my current reality is going to be much different to what hers was.  However, I do have to accept the genetic component which is probably not something I can control.

So now I’ve moved to the opposite end of the scale — to acceptance and I’m searching within to see if there are any other things I might be in denial about.

This navel-gazing is an interesting concept when you’ve got nothing but time on your hands.

Surface stuff

A lot of our lives are really about surface stuff.  We chat away but  generally they are minor  conversations, skimming the surface and never getting too involved.

I work one day a week in retail,and see many people in that time.  Over the course of the day I have a lot of  conversations  but they are usually focused on the weather.  Often by the end of the day I am heartily sick of hearing about how cold, windy, wet, hot, humid etc it is.  So I play along and mention the number of times I’ve turned the heater or cooler on or off.  Smiling and agreeing when I’m advised not to go outside.

Just occasionally I have an in-depth discussion about current news, and sometimes there is an even more personal sharing — but rarely.

So what is it about our society that has us avoid participating in a more deeper way?

I recall during my childhood growing up in a rural farming community and the nearest neighbour was a few miles away — where everyone knew what was happening to the rest of the community.  Hard not to when the telephone was a party-line and anyone could eavesdrop.  But it was more than that — people cared about each other in a much more personal way than they do today.  When incidents and events occurred, then mum would start baking and we would go visiting bearing gifts of food.  Then there was always a shoulder to lean or cry on and there was no suggestion of weakness.  Just a knowing, that if the situation was reversed you’d be on the receiving end of that neighbourly caring too.

When my children were small, we moved to a suburb of Melbourne and not long after a new house was built next door.  I was on good terms with my other neighbour and those across the road, so I prepared to do what I’d grown up with.  I took the three children and knocked on the door.  When the lady answered the door, I introduced us all and welcomed her to the neighbourhood.

Now past experience would have her invite us in, or even make some joke about mess and just moving in but I got nothing.  She didn’t want to know me — didn’t even open the door fully.  So we left.

A few weeks later my four year old went missing so I ran to my friendly neighbours for help.  One got in the car straight away and started searching the streets.  My new next door neighbour was in his driveway washing his car and I called out to ask if he’d seen a little boy, but he didn’t even look at me when he said no.

I was crushed.  My friendly neighbour found my boy, read him the riot act and brought him home.

But how sad it is that we can’t show we care without being thought of as nosy or prying.

Strangely or not, I don’t believe the suicide rate was anywhere near as high as it is today. So perhaps that had something to do with the sense of community we had back then.  Yes, I believe there are pockets of that still surviving today, but very few.

If we could just show a little more caring when we talk to people, then perhaps we might notice if someone is not really coping.  We may see that a person needs a shoulder to either lean or cry on, or just a good listening ear.

One of the highlights of my week is my coffee morning with the ‘girls’.  We chat about whats happening in our lives, but we also share our disappointments and make ourselves available to be of help in any way whenever needed.

Our society has us all rushing to keep appointments, make deadlines but not make time for our neighbours.  often we don’t even know their names.

Ross also goes to a mens coffee group weekly, but most people need to make appointments to meet for coffee and a chat.

So, if we as a community took a smidgen more time to ask a friend how they are, really mean it and be prepared to truly listen then just maybe we would notice a declining mental state.   We might even start to slow the suicide rate down.

People power at its best.