We are two of a kind, my daughter and I, yet as time flies quietly I discover how different we are. We are like a rose bush growing alongside a grapevine. The rose, blooming all year round in this South African favorable weather, is always giving, sharing joy and quiet smiles. The grapevine takes full advantage of spring, encouraged, a miracle boosting with life from one day to the next. Take your eyes off and you miss its rarity. Time flies quietly.
Our rosebush is the climbing kind, stretching over the vineyard in an attempt to protect it. And the grape shoots reach back towards the rose’s strong branches, garbing it with their green tendrils for support. And they both stretch together towards the sun. And the stars.
I often try to separate them, these two of a kind, the rose and the grapevine, thinking they will suffocate one another. And yet, who am I to stop their friendship? Each one fragile, but stronger together.
We are beautiful through this, through our fragility.
We are live stories that cannot be categorized, a blend of beautiful threads that come from everything that made us bloom and everything that opposed to us in life, difficulties and obstacles. Threads of gentleness and kindness that sprouted from us through the gentleness and kindness we have been shown.
We are stories with chapters telling other’s life tales, those people who have shared theirs with us, taking us by the hand and into their stories, without fear that the light or the darkness in them will drive us away. Because the fragility behind it was what mattered. A fragility that taught us to walk gracefully, to thread softly.
I cannot pinpoint the moment when the rose branch and the grape shoot make contact and hold tight. It happens through sun and wind, rainy afternoons and moonlit nights. Just like the fragility that others choose to share with us, that teaches us to thread softly around a human soul. While educating us about its strength too, through light or darkness, as time flies quietly.
We are two of a kind, my daughter and I, I thought to myself this morning while we drove to school as we did for twelve years, today once more, on her last formal day of high-school.
Two of a Kind, Time Flies Quietly is my contribution to Becky’s October Squares #KindaSquare
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The vast majority write out of a desire to share their experience with other people. Sharing something imparts a feeling of usefulness. Some people say they write for pleasure, others that say they write out of a desire to inform their peers. Others say they write for the sake of competition.
Nothing in this world is done without a reason because in addition to existential needs, people need much more.
But can literature change people, providing that people want to change?
We are rational beings, we socialize and we need to express our feelings and to see them echoed in others. We need to leave a mark behind us, footprints in the sand. So we write. Some of us.
Perhaps all the reasons why people write are based on the simple pleasure of writing.
So, why do people write?
Writing is therapeutic. The white paper listens to you and does not judge you. It accepts everything you want to give, the countless revisions too, without getting upset. It doesn’t matter if you write well or bad, the simple fact of putting your thoughts on paper frees you and gives you clarity and peace of mind. At least during the present moment. When it counts.
Writing clarifies the mind. If you can’t explain something to others, then you don’t understand it very well either. As you write, you reveal the knots in your thinking and force yourself to untangle them. I know I do.
Writing helps you learn. When I research for a book I need information in addition to what I already know. I have to document myself on so many levels, setting, politics, weather, customs, folklore, lifestyle, language, so I write everything down. Doesn’t all research go like this?
Writing helps one become more creative. As I try to express myself better I think of metaphors, comparisons or examples that sometimes link different ideas, feelings or situations. An exercise such as this, done for years, helps creativity, because it becomes easier to make unexpected connections.
Writing improves the memory and sprouts new ideas and thoughts. If I go back to stories I wrote five, ten years ago, I recognize the seed of an idea I developed only recently. But also anxieties I put out of my mind, because I wrote about them. Or events that I remember differently now, in a somehow detached way.
Writing urges you to read. As Stephen King said,’ If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.’ And reading comes with its long list of benefits.
Writing teaches you to receive criticism. From mischievous comments to justified feedback, I got used to digesting everything and taking the essentials. While keeping some thoughts (and a smile) to myself.
Writing helps one become more empathetic. When I write something, anything, I have to put myself in the character’s skin, be it human or a doggo. It’s experiencing a second life while, at the same time, teaching me to take a step back and see things into perspective, while in my own skin.
Why do I write?
Writing bought me a cup of coffee, although I traded the security of a medical career for it. But it gives me the satisfaction of creating something with my own two hands (and with my mind and soul). Like baking or carpentry. Like architecture (my first love). Writing has never disappointed me and I have never felt drained, used up in an emotional way after writing. Exhausted, but energized at the same time. Okay, there are moments of despair here and now.
I write about people so as not to forget them, so as not to forget the good vibes they made me feel.
I write about people just to keep those parts of them that have managed to change certain parts of me or that have made me feel more than I thought I could feel.
Do animals experience emotions, do they show this by spontaneous changes in their behavior? And, as a result of the emotions they experience, do they have feelings?
The Incredible Friendship Between a BEAR, a LION and a TIGER
It was the beginning of the 21st century when three cubs were rescued from the home of a drug dealer where they were kept illegally as pets. Severely malnourished and scared, the salvation for an American Black bear cub, an African lion cub and a Bengal tiger cub came through Noah’s Ark Animal sanctuary.
This is when the cubs’ true friendship revealed itself. As the bear required an emergency operation, the lion and tiger cubs became agitated while their friend was gone. They refused food, paced their enclosure, vocalized and only stopped when the bear was safely returned to them. After this, the three cubs spent their entire time close together, clinging to one another for comfort and safety. They were named Baloo, Leo, and Shere Khan.
The bear, the lion and the tiger soon matured, yet they continued sharing the same habitat, playing, eating together and grooming one another. And they did so for 17 years. Sadly, Leo and Shere Khan passed away in 2016 and 2018 respectively, and Baloo was there for them in their final hours.
In the wild, Asian black bears and tigers do share the same territory in the Far East, but when they do meet, one of them is sure to be badly injured.
The Heartwarming Friendship Between a CHIMPANZEE and a DOG
There are quite a few cute chimps that struck lovely friendship with dogs, an undeniable proof that social connections between animals do mimic those between humans and their pets.
Often, when a chimp and a dog became friends it was the puppy who came to the baby chimp’s emotional rescue. Too many chimps are slaves of the illegal pet trade, and when they are finally rescued are found to be orphans.
What would happen, I asked myself, if a dog and a chimp met in the wild? Would they still play? Would they play fetch, perhaps? Pull faces at each other? Share naps?
The Unbelievable Friendship Between a CHEETAH and a DOG
Yes, cats and dogs can be friends. What about a wild cat and a canine? One such incredible pair were Kasi the cheetah and Mtani the Labrador. Mtani means “close friend” in Swahili.
What if the cheetah and the dog would meet in the wild, on the African planes? Would the mama-cheetah allow? Would the dog have human friends who would interfere with their unusual friendship?
The Amazing Friendship Between a LION and a DOG
A cute, brown Dachshund dog called Milo struck a remarkable friendship with a massive lion named Bonedigger when the latter became disabled due to illness. Somehow, the canine made its way to the sad lion’s heart and took the beast under his wing and the two remained the best of friends, even five years later. None of them cared that one weighs 11 pounds, while the other 500 pounds.
Enjoy their beautiful friendship evolving throughout the seasons:
The Loving Friendship Between an ELEPHANT and a SHEEP
Albert the sheep and Themba the elephant live in Shamwari Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in South Africa. Sadly, the elephant calf became an orphan after his mother died falling down a cliff. After a rocky start… the pair’s relationship blossomed, and they became the best of friends and Themba the elephant calf blossomed.
You can follow and enjoy their adventures in this book:
Why Is a Cat Not Like a Dog? ~ a poem from a dog’s perspective from the poetry book for animal and nature lovers ‘As Good as Gold‘.
“A cat has a heart-shaped nose above a mouth with piercing teeth, A cat has paws with soft, pink cushions hiding sharp claws beneath, A cat has pointy whiskers, to catch running drops of milk And a tail to play with, a tail that flicks, made of silk.
Why is a cat Like that?
A cat is playful, yet she loves to sleep. A cat drinks milk, but prefers raw meat. A cat will meow and shriek and spit when she’s upset with you, Yet curl and purr so softly, it will lure you into a snooze.
Why does a cat Act like that?
A cat will jump around like she has springs instead of feet, A cat will roam at night, her eyes turn “torches” in a beat. A cat will choose her home and master, it hardly chooses her And if she feels like doing so, you name it, and she’ll do it with a purr.
Why does a cat Act like that?
A cat will watch from high above, and jump upon her prey, She’ll hardly learn a trick or two, yet pantry’s door is play. She’ll never fetch or chew a shoe, She’d rather use her claws To let you know she’s made her mind, A cat will hardly joke.
I guess a cat is just a cat as I’m a dog myself. A cat can’t bark, she’ll spit; She can’t protect a home, like me, she’ll use her claws instead. A cat will lure you off to sleep by purring low and soft, Her body’s reassuring, warm, as I dose off at noon. I guess a cat’s a cat and could be good around the room.
I guess a cat is just like that, She’s different and that Is okay With me.”
The boy broke his run at the entrance to the park and, panting heavily he leaned forward, hands on nobly knees. A trickle of sweat ran down his ripe cheeks; another drop just missed its show, landing in the dirt. The boy watched as his breath stirred the sand at his feet; for an instant, it rolled into tiny balls.
A dog radiating as much heat as the boy, tongue hanging loose, was already there, panting underneath the thick shade on the first tree. The boy’s cheeks were a match for the dog’s exhaustion, hot and red. If one’s shirt was darkened along the middle, at the back, and had dark patches underarms, the other one’s body felt like a well stocked furnace.
“You win again, boy!” the child half croaked, half laughed, stretching to caress his best friend’s head. The fur behind the ears was still soft, like a pups’.
At the water fountain nearby the boy pressed the chrome lever then stepped sideways, allowing his dog to drink first. A red tongue lapped greedily until the dog’s entire head looked like a Christmas tree, a perfect tiny water bauble balancing at the end of each hair. The boy laughed, his lips almost pasted together by the thickness of his saliva. So thirsty! Only when the dog stopped did the boy bent over the cooling spring, yet his eyes remained on the giant fur-ball.
Sparkling and sweet, the water felt like a balm sliding down his burning throat. New life pumped through his body and the boy half closed his eyes, sighing with satisfaction.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw his dog using a front paw, then the other, wiping the water droplets off his fur. In his eagerness he seemed to be dancing. The boy burst in laughter and water splashed all over face and his hair. He laughed further as he drank. And the dog sneezed then surrendered to the shade.
A playful breeze was fanning the leaves overhead. Their rustle had accompanied the two since they woke up that morning. Life was a holiday song. The summer seemed to be stretching endlessly, filled with possibilities. They could do anything they wanted, go any place they wished, and at any time – as long as Mother knew and they returned by supper. After all, it was the first day of summer holiday.
In the shade of the big tree there was a boy, a ball, and, of course, a dog. Quite enough to fill an entire summer with excitement.
The dog’s tail wagged and the boy laughed. Or the boy laughed first, the two were interconnected.
The dog’s eyes followed the boy’s, reading his mind. This was a two way street.
The dog shot up as the boy stepped sideways; the dog’s tail wagged like a helicopter’s blade. The dog’s eyes were focused low, intent on the boy’s foot. The boy’s leg went swinging backwards, then forward, towards the ball. The ball flew off this earth and, at exactly the same time, the dog left the earth too, his body a spring stretching towards the sky.
Ball and dog chased the sun’s rays further and further away. Only one could win this race and both boy and dog knew which one will that be. The boy squinted as a ray of sun forced its way between the thick foliage above.
The tires screeched like a teacher’s chalk on the blackboard, leaving a question in the air – one you did not study for. The noise was out of place in this holiday with a ball, a boy, and a dog. The boy opened his mouth to call, yet he could not remember what words to use so he chocked on air. His legs were moving like they had a mind on their own, sprinting towards the road. All the boy wished for was to have wings to reach it faster.
There was no movement, just a light shadow against the black tar. And the contrast didn’t made sense, light on dark.
The scorching tar smelled of petroleum with a hinge of burned tires.
The dog, his dog, his best friend, lay under the scorching heat. There is shade under the tree, went through the boy’s mind as he circled the area.
First thing he notices were his friend’s eyes, closed. But the chest was moving! Lifting and dropping in sudden jerks. Yet the tail didn’t move when the boy collapsed nearby, senseless to the rough road scraping his bare knees.
No bleeding because his heart is so strong, thought the boy, his hands hovering over the fur, not daring to touch.
It was the first time ever, in eight months since the two were together, that the dog’s tail didn’t wag at the sound of his master’s footsteps. Only a triangle-shaped nose stretched towards the boy’s hand. It was dry and hot against the boy’s wet fingers. The dog licked them, his tongue raspy.
A trickle of sound reached as far as the boy’s ears.
The vet was whispering and his mother was sighing, her eyes red, yet the boy felt no fear of the big words being used: paralytic, quality of life, euthanasia. He knew what he had to do next. He had damaged his dog and somehow he was going to fix him.
All that mattered right now was that his dog was alive. The rest, he’ll figure out, make a plan, like his dad always did. The man with a plan. as his friends called him and always relied on him.
Yes, he’ll make a plan. His dog relied on him.
It’s been an accident, his mother had said. Yet she wouldn’t stop crying, trying to explain to him why his dog, his best friend, had to be put to sleep. Whatever being put to sleep meant.
And why was it that grownups only could decide on behalf of a dog?
Just because his dog couldn’t use his hind legs anymore? Put to sleep? You don’t do that to humans, do you?! You buy them wheels. The mailman had one set with a seat on them and, boy was he fast, delivering newspapers quicker than before his crash. Also a car, an “accident”.
And his grandma had a set of wheels too, with a seat and a frame, for when she went shopping.
People always got things when they got injured.
So he carried his dog home that night, the boy did. He laid him gently on his bed, arranged pillows around so that he won’t roll over and fall, not that his dog could move at all, then he fell asleep in the armchair, next to the bed.
And the next day, while his parents were at work, he carried his dog
into the garage, carefully laying him down on a blanket taken from his
He’d broken his dog and now he was going to fix him.
He always thought of his dad’s garage as of Aladdin’s treasure cave. You were sure to find just what you were looking for – if you only dug deep enough.
So he dug and he thought, all the time talking to his dog, like he always used to. Asking him questions, waiting for a bark in reply, acknowledging his dog’s point of view.
At one stage he stopped and listened. He thought he’d heard his dog’s tail thumping, like it always did when… before… So he popped his head from behind a pile of boxes, the shape of a smile on his face.
Nothing. The tail was as still as it’s been since the dire incident.
Yet the dog’s head cocked to one side, question in his eyes. The boy blinked away a tear.
“So much dust here, boy, it gets in your eyes, you know.”
He knew his first bicycle was still there, somewhere. Found it underneath a pile of old bags. He carried it slowly to where his dog was laying, for a good sniff all over, especially the training wheels.
“We want these, boy! Good boy!” he exclaimed. The tail didn’t wag, but he knew his dog was excited; he could see it in the bright eyes and the tip of those fury ears pointed at the bicycle.
The training wheels, a couple of old copper pipes, some scraps of cloth to cover them with and a wide piece of leather for a comfy seat lay beside the dog. The boy’s heart thumped, pumped up with hope. He’d planned this all last night.
He’ll build his dog a set of wheels. For his hind body and legs, to support them when they will go for walks and, maybe, even runs again.
The summer was not even half way through, it’s end still far out of sight. The days were long and full of exciting, endless possibilities for a dog on wheels and his boy.
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More info on Effect of Pets on Immune Systems:
Does having a pet, or pets, in the home environment as a baby increase the strength of a high-school student’s immune system?
Pets can supply a constant low-dose exposure to microbes that can induce illnesses and therefore increases the strength of a child’s immune system, thus their immune system as a high-school student is stronger than high-school students who did not have pets in their home as children.
To determine whether or not having pets around as a baby increases a high-school student’s immune system.
“In a journal Pediatrics, researchers concluded that exposure to pet dander and microbes that pets carry inside from outdoors can help better develop babies’ immune systems. The immune systems learn from a young age how to protect the body from common allergens, bacteria and viruses.”
I just gotten used to writing 2019 and, in a flash, it already flew by, taking with it milestones and achievements, forgotten plans and stolen moments with my family. Life is faster, we work harder, have more plans, higher goals, yet we are busier than ever before. I grasp at the meaning of calmness through the chaos that my present day translates to. My heart knows it before my mind, achieving some state of calm through all this chaos is a must. Deep breath now…
Some say we are addicted to stress, that our neural pathways thrive on it, on back to back meetings and the adrenaline rushing through our bodies. But is pushing ourselves actually making us more productive?
Is more, always better?
Perhaps spreading us thinner through juggling numerous projects at a time – ours, a co-workers, the kids’ – is not a measure of how much we can achieve. Perhaps doing less, resisting the urge to focus on other’s business, focusing more on our needs, on what really matters, is the true way forward. Being able to say ‘no’.
Asking ourselves: do I really have time for this? Do I need to add this to my schedule? Am I the one that has to do it? – is just as important as the skill needed to solve that extra issue.
Achieving Calm through all the Chaos in 5 Steps
Prioritize: life before work
Ask yourself, which are the most important people in your life? To me is my family. What manners next? Perhaps work, a hobby. And then? Friends, sport, social life?
These are aspect of your life you need to prioritize at the beginning of each year. Put them in your calendar first: birthdays, anniversaries, school holidays, family gatherings, dates.
Do not worry to leave the leftover time for work – it will still be plenty available!
Create a path through all that clutter
I am not talking about desk clutter, but all the bullet points on your daily ‘to do’ list. For some, an Excel spreadsheet works well, for others, a daily planning stuck on the fridge door will do. Start with that.
There you go, now you know in what order to prioritize your daily tasks. Focus on only one task at a time.
Plan, prioritize, but also make time to breathe – every day.
Know your personal and your career goals
If you make them clear to yourself at the beginning of each year, you would have reduced most of the clutter from your daily planner. They say, if you know your yes’s, then your no’s are easier.
Keeping your goals in mind makes it easier to prioritize on a day to day basis and it makes your decisions a lot easier.
And family time? Sharing daily, joyful moment with your family keeps you connected, thus making it easier to keep your personal goals in sight.
Face it, head-on
Often, solving the top issues, the most stressful ones, and reshuffling the rest can remove most of the daily stress our minds deal with.
Next assess these issues that seem to be constantly moved from one day to the next and ask yourself: will I feel a sense of accomplishment if I finish them? Are they important? If you think yes, then schedule one a day, prioritize it and finish it. If no, then they were just cluttering your daily schedule.
Meditate and Sleep
Maybe not for everyone, and I am the first to admit that I have a problem with both – I find them equally time-consuming. But when I do meditate – I realize that my objectives are clearer, what was a conundrum is clarified, I know how to approach a problem and, in conclusion, I feel less stressed.
Sleeping is a whole other issue. Beneficial for all and it does improve the immune system. And, yes, a good night’s sleep does give us a performance-edge and increases our mind’s agility.
It is easy to allow small worries to become big issues, but achieving that sense of calm through all the daily chaos is doable and can be a positive aspect of your 2020. I hope it will!
And read on. Poetry, in particular, calms the mind. Poetry is as good as gold 🙂