SYMI – THE SECRET GEM

SYMI – THE SECRET GEM

Last, but surely not least (of our Greek experiences) – Symi.

This little gem of an island has no reputation as (or desire, for that matter, to become) a cosmopolitan island and does not compete with islands such as Mykonos and Santorini, known for their nightlife and expensive hotels.

It is said that Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones once stepped off their luxurious yacht on Symi island to stretch their sea-legs and  went to one of the many restaurants on the island – and were quite surprised to be able to walk freely there without masses of people and paparazzi tagging along.

Although the island offers several exclusive boutiques, also found  on the more popular, exciting, cosmopolitan islands, Symi comes without the decadence of many of the other ports. Summer is very hot and humid and well-dressed Europeans and other fashion conscious guests temporarily occupy Symi, but there is no jet setting. Visitors are chic but friendly and respectful towards the local environment. Lisandro from Muses once told a journalist, “Princess Caroline of Monaco was here and people thought to themselves: You might be a princess, but you’re not from Symi.”

The harbour welcomes you like a mother welcomes her long lost children – whether you are famous or not. Many famous actors, politicians, ship owners and models have visited the island – Symi is chosen by all who do not want to attract the attention of others and prefer an authentic Greek holiday experience. This is evidenced in the summer by the numerous yachts docking at the port of Symi.

The island oozes Mediterranean charm, as if a stylist has designed it that way and the harbour extends towards crystal clear water where blue chairs and tables are covered with white linen.

It may not be Mykonos or Santorini but it has been a top island for some time – fortunately too small to be noticed by too many people.

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IN RHODES HARBOUR WAITING TO DEPART TO SYMI.

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SYMI, HERE WE COME!

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ARRIVING IN SYMI HARBOUR.

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ARE WE BEING OBSERVED?

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SHUCKS! GROCERY SHOPPING MUST BE A NIGHTMARE (IF YOU ARE NOT FIT)!

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OLIVES

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DATES AND PRICKLY PEARS

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TRYING THE LOCAL CUISINE – SYMI-SHRIMPS (EATEN WITH SHELL AND ALL)

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RHODES – A COLOSSAL EXPERIENCE

RHODES – A COLOSSAL EXPERIENCE

Did you know that there are more than 3000 islands in the Greek archipelago? Three thousand! (Some people say 6000.)

Rhodes Island – affectionately known as the Island of Endless Sunshine –  is one of the larger ones. Rhodes (town), the principle city of the island, is divided into the old town and new town.

Historically, Rhodes was famous worldwide for the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Two statues of deer on top of two columns mark the supposed location of this gigantic statue at the entrance to the Mandraki harbour that is guarded by the charming fort of Saint Nicholas that doubled as a lighthouse.

I absolutely lost myself meandering with my camera through the medieval stone-paved alleyways of the old town. Today, Rhodes old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This time capsule exists within the imposing walls built in the 14th century by the Knights of St. John who used the island as their home.

The modern Rhodes, with stretches of white beaches, cobalt-blue sea and exquisite cuisine, was exactly how I had always imagined a Greek island to be.

Next year, if we still walk the earth, we will go back to Rhodes. This time for my daughter’s wedding!

Antio Rodos! Until next year …

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THE TWO COLUMNS MARK THE SPOT WHERE THE FEET OF THE COLOSSUS OF RHODES SUPPOSEDLY ONCE STOOD

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NEXT YEAR THIS TIME!

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WONDERFUL FRIENDS!

 

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I HAVE NEVER SEEN SO MANY CATS IN ONE PLACE!

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OUZO AND GREEK CUISINE

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THIS LITTLE GIRL JUST MADE MY DAY WITH HER HAPPY SALUTATION AND BRIGHT SMILE

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NOTE TO SELF: Never! NEVER! Never ever climb on top of a heap of building rubble, gravel and soil to take a picture of the magnificent view on the other side wearing FLIP-FLOPS! No scene is worth it, no matter how beautiful.

ACROPOLIS, THE PARTHENON … AND THE CINEMA

ACROPOLIS, THE PARTHENON … AND THE CINEMA

I remember how ready I was for an argument, all those years back, when a friend told us about his visit to to the Pantheon in Rome. I wanted to correct him – the Pantheon is in Athens, Greece.  Luckily I did not exhibit my ignorance then and kept quite. I’ve seen the Pantheon in Rome since, and now I have been to the Acropolis, the citadel in Athens where the majestic Parthenon stands proud (despite all but being demolished).

The Parthenon was completed in 432BC and, oh boy, what a sight it must have been – towering above everything else. Unfortunately, a series of hostile events led to the destruction of this magnificent showpiece of architecture and in 1687, the final blow came when a Venetian mortar round blew up the gunpowder magazine inside the Parthenon, and the building was partly destroyed. And then the looting started.

It felt almost sacred, walking where Plato, Hippocrates, Socrates, Archimedes and such people, who left an indelible mark on earth, may have walked.

And that night we ended a perfect day in an open-air cinema lower down the slopes of Acropolis, watching Woody Allen’s (not really my cup of tea) latest film with an illuminated Parthenon casting it’s presence over the area. With a mastika ice-cream, topped with a delicious sour cherry sauce, in hand, I was contented.

Magnificent!

(The majority of these pictures were shot at midday in the hottest and brightest of sun. Sorry for the poor quality.)

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YOU ARE THE MASTER OF YOUR DESTINY

YOU ARE THE MASTER OF YOUR DESTINY

THERE ARE THREE TYPES OF PEOPLE:
THOSE WHO MAKE THINGS HAPPEN,
THOSE WHO WATCH THINGS HAPPEN AND
THOSE WHO WONDER WHAT HAPPENED.
                                                          ANONOMOUS

Believe in yourself. Give yourself a chance. Be daring but not reckless. Listen selectively to other people; ask their advice and opinion and evaluate it with an open mind.

ANOTHER EXCERPT FROM:UNEMPLOYMENT, YOU AND GOD’S RESCUE LADDER

(Advice on how to get back to your feet after life has dealt you a blow. In this case, job loss is used as an example, but the principles can be applied to most setbacks.)

Sometimes a supposed weakness in your make up could be the result of a poor self-esteem or lack of confidence. Perhaps merely a nasty seed that someone planted earlier in your life and now you firmly believe that you have a weakness without ever really putting it to the test.

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If you believe that you are not a good salesperson, then you will definitely not sell anything. But if you decide: Let’s see, if I prepare myself well and I believe in my product and I introduce my own unique style where I focus on honesty, sincerity and excellent service, who knows where I could end up. BUT, then your approach shouldn’t be halfheartedly. No! Go for it, wholeheartedly, enthusiastically and with all the confidence you can muster.  Such an attitude has been the modest start for several contemporary successful people.

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If I know deep in my soul that I’m not a strong swimmer, there is no way that I will dive into the deep end of a swimming pool. But that doesn’t necessarily mean I have to stay clear of swimming pools. I can start at the shallow end and on my own, in my own way, learn to swim. Or I can get professional coaching and before you know it, in no time, I will swim confidently at the deep end of the pool.swem

Be sensible when you tackle something on a larger scale, something that will require knowledge, experience or skills if the task involves one of your so-called weaknesses. Do not necessarily avoid it, but rather strive to get as much information, training and understanding about your endeavour as possible, before you attempt it. Start, perhaps, on a smaller scale, move slightly to the shallower end of the swimming pool. The experience will follow inevitably.

This exercise is a lot of fun, but it will lead you to more serious issues. It will make you think; it will teach you about yourself and stimulate your brain into future directions and resolve many past issues. It is a soul-searching experience that will give answers to who you are and what possibilities there are for you.i-can

Change Yourself

This is also a very good opportunity to look at all those things that you have always been meaning to change about yourself. Every one of us has traits that we want to change. Some wish to stop smoking; others try to lose a bit of weight, eat healthier or get fitter. There are people who would like to change their attitude by, for instance, becoming more self-assertive. Most things you want to change about yourself, only you can do. Decide what you want to change and start today by setting attainable goals for yourself. Find support and help if necessary, but for crying out loud, just start. Why not today?

This, conversely, will be a futile exercise if not engaged in positively. Pessimism at this point is one of your major enemies and the enemy will always strive to destroy you. Be warned: do not let this dreadful monster overwhelm you. Concentrate continuously on staying positive. Oh, you will be exposed to setbacks all the time, real hazards, like rolling waves. The tests of true resilience, though, does not lie in the number of times you have been knocked down by these waves, but in the number of times you stood up again after being flattened. Don’t get discouraged when it happens. Learn from your setbacks and get up!

Be on your guard and concentrate not to decline into a pathetic little bundle – filled with self-pity. Think of films that you have seen or even personal experiences with people. You almost get annoyed with those people who feel so sorry for themselves. They seem to feel the world and mankind owe them. This can eventually develop into a serious “illness”. Very soon they don’t want to do or try anything, because “What’s the use?” Everything and everyone is always against them. They have made up their minds beforehand that they will not come up to scratch and the only thing that will make them happy again is when this “everyone and everything” change their attitudes towards them, when the goddess of fortune smiles at them again. Until that happens, they just sit as pathetic little bundles, waiting for some amazing thing to happen.

It is NOT going to happen. YOU will have to make it happen. Let me tell you a secret: the goddess of fortune and the tooth fairy are one and the same. They live with the Sandman and Santa Claus in Never-Never land. Sorry to burst your bubble, but they don’t exist.

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Sometimes we get the impression that some people just have all the luck in the world. This is simply not true. There are two things that we have to realise. One is about perceptions and the other about opportunities.

Let’s have a look at perceptions first.

Suppose your car breaks down. You have had it up to your ears with this heap of scrap. That same day your friend passes you driving a brand new car and the following day you overhear the guy at the coffee table next to you telling his friend about his new entertainment system at home. Immediately you get the impression: How on earth can EVERYBODY afford new things and I have to plod on with my junk-on-wheels? What you don’t know is that this coffee shop-guy has been saving up to buy his entertainment system for years now and that your friend has had an accident, written off his car and compelled by necessity, had no choice but to get a new set of wheels. For the next year or more they will have to tighten their belts to afford the re-payments. What’s more, you have to realise that millions of people will cross your path and from time to time some of those millions of people will buy something new. Not EVERYBODY. Tomorrow your wife will have to buy a new pair of shoes (because by now the old ones are really in shreds) and then the wife of the new-car-friend will envy your wife while thinking: “When last could I buy myself a new pair of shoes?”

Every one of us, therefore, receives the occasional bit of “good fortune”.  You may only have the PERCEPTION that other people have more “good fortunes” than you, but dig a little deeper and decide for yourself if you would swap roles with them and have all their “bad luck” together with all their “good fortunes”.

What about opportunities?

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Every one of us has opportunities. Not necessarily the same opportunities, but opportunities none the less. The supposedly “fortunate, chosen ones” have developed a way of spotting an opportunity when it presents itself and what’s more, they grab these opportunities. How many times have we been in a position to risk something, but then we hesitate and the opportunity vanishes? Sometimes, subsequently, we are relieved that we didn’t take the risk, but often another person takes a similar chance and reaps huge rewards from it. It is a fact that, very often, risks lead to failure. That’s true, but this is where the big difference between “pathetic little bundles” and successful people becomes apparent.  Pathetic little bundles think: “O gosh, not again! I should have known; I don’t know why I even bother any more. I am a washout”. Then they flop down in the dumps, disappointed and angry.

The successful people, after a failure, think: “Oops”.

That’s it. Then they immediately set off on the look-out for a new opportunity. Oh, you know, to compensate for the “slight mishap”.

You will have down times.

You really have to be made of rock or iron not to have the occasional down time. Hey look man, you are human; you do have feelings and a heart. Allow yourself such a blue mood. Cry if you want to. Permit a moment or so to feel a little sorry for yourself, but don’t drag it out; that is when you will sink.

What really helped me when I hit the depths was to break away. It often came about at the very time when I could least afford a break. My conscience was shouting at me: “Hey! What on earth are you thinking? There’s work to be done. The whole place will fall apart if you take a break now!”

Nonetheless I took some time off.

So, what did I do then? I went to the movies during cheap time. Or I went to a tranquil spot, lit a fire and put a sausage on the grill. In the city where I lived there were these glorious botanical gardens. I sometimes went there for a jog or just to spend the afternoon amongst the luscious plants and shady trees. The important thing is to do something that distracts your attention from your heavy heart. Do something therapeutic where you can destroy the vicious circle of your thoughts. As soon as you have achieved that, start putting together new elevating thoughts.

Talk to God, talk to Him out loud. Tell Him how you feel, what you are experiencing. Tell Him also how you would like it to be and what you are doing to accomplish that. Before long you will find that, between you and God, you set off to sort things out. Life will begin to fall into place and solutions for many problems will start to emerge. If you trust God with your problems and ambitions, He sows seeds that will grow in your thoughts and bear all sorts of clever solutions. It is not as if you are asking Him to solve the problem for you and you don’t try and solve it on your own. You do it together. Go ahead, try it.

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When I got back home or to the office again after such a session, nothing had really disintegrated. Everything was still there. I could, after all, afford to take a break. Then I tackled the challenges with renewed eagerness.

So, if you take a bit of a dip, when dark clouds start to gather, don’t give up. Just take a break. Go down on your knees (just as far as your knees, not on your stomach, curled up in that pathetic little bundle that people make doormats from) and hand all your troubles over to God. person-under-doormatStay on your knees so that it is easier for you to stand up straight when you have regained your strength.

During such a break you get to learn a lot about yourself. It gives you the opportunity to distance yourself somehow from the problem; to view the problem rather as an outsider. From a distance, subsequently, the problem doesn’t appear that big at all.

Ultimately, you have the chance of a moment alone – with yourself, to sort yourself out.

IF YOU WANT TO READ MORE, THIS E-BOOK CAN BE ORDERED FROM:

1. UNEMPLOYMENT, YOU AND GOD’S RESCUE LADDER

2. UNEMPLOYMENT, YOU, AND …

3. UNEMPLOYMENT, YOU AND …

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YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARDS LIFE

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YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARDS LIFE

WHEN IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO CHANGE OUR CIRCUMSTANCES, IT IS WELL WITHIN OUR POWER TO CHANGE OUR ATTITUDE TOWARDS OUR CIRCUMSTANCES.
Hennie Zeelie. Translated from Deur ‘n ander bril. Lux Verbi

My attitude to my circumstances very often dictates my actions as well as the end result.

At some stage or another in our lives, we have all been touched by astonishing accounts of people who have risen above their circumstances. When I find myself in such a position, though, it is not always that easy to be objective about it.

(THIS IS AN EXTRACT FROM MY E-BOOK, UNEMPLOYMENT, YOU AND GOD’S RESCUE LADDER )

I remember one occasion while I was in the army during the bush war in Angola. We were on a grueling, lengthy patrol and after nine stressed days filled with intense concentration, surviving on ration packs and carrying heavy kit, drenched after a heavy thunderstorm, we decided to set up camp for the night. Most of us, whacked and fed-up, slouched down onto the driest wet spot, propped up against our backpacks. One chap cynically-sarcastic remarked:

“Here I am, plodding along like a wet dog in the mud while some lucky blighter” – not his actual choice of words – “is making out with my girlfriend under a warm duvet – stuffed to his eyeballs with pancakes and hot coffee!”patrollie

A grunt, loosely translated into, “We hear you…” came from the squad. One of the guys who was on guard, sitting on a huge boulder a couple of yards away, sardonically replied:

“They can make out all they want, but they don’t have the view that I’ve got here.”

We all got up to have a look. Where he was positioned on that boulder, he had a panoramic view of a gorge framed by the most stunning rainbow. It was so breathtakingly beautiful that the whole incident has remained with me till this day.rainbow

While the rest of us immersed ourselves in our own miserable thoughts, one man – who was in the same boat as the rest of us – drew inspiration from the most spectacular view.

In the original musical, Time, by Dave Clarke the character, Akash – brilliantly played by the late Sir Laurence Olivier, delivers the following verdict:

Throughout the universe there is order
In the movement of the planets, in nature
and in the functioning of the human mind.
A mind that, in its natural state of order,
is in harmony with the universe
and such a mind is timeless.

 Your life is an expression of your mind.
You are the creator of your own Universe –
For as a human being, you are free to will whatever
state of being you desire through the use of your
thoughts and words.
There is great power there.
It can be a blessing or a curse –
It’s entirely up to you.
For the quality of your life is brought about
by the quality of your thinking –
think about that.

Thoughts produce actions –
look at what you’re thinking.
See the pettiness and the envy and the greed and the
fear and all the other attitudes that cause
you pain and discomfort.
Realize that the one thing you have absolute
control over is your attitude.
See the effect that it has on those around you
for each life is linked to all life
and your words carry with them chain reactions
like a stone that is thrown into a pond.

If your thinking is in order,
your words will flow directly from the heart
creating ripples of love.
If you truly want to change your world, my friends,
you must change your thinking.
Reason is your greatest tool,
it creates an atmosphere of understanding,
which leads to caring which is love

Choose your words with care.
Go forth … with love.

Thoughts, all our actions (except reflexes) originate in our minds. Consider for a moment that action can also be to do nothing. You actively decide to do nothing about a situation. Our attitude towards other people too, or even particular issues, is being controlled by our thoughts. If you don’t feel like facing someone today, it is your mind duping you into believing that you have some grudge, dislike or perhaps envy against that person. Or if you keep shunning a specific task, it is your mind preventing you from getting on with it. Your mind tells you that you can’t do it or you wouldn’t like it or it’s much better to take a nap or something. No-one else. And who controls your mind? You! It can indeed be manipulated by external factors – if you allow it – but ultimately you are in control of your mind.

In a restaurant, on a napkin, I once read the following striking words:

In each of us, two natures are at war – the good and the evil. All our lives the fight goes on between them and one of them must conquer. But in our hands lies the power to choose – what we want most to be, we are”.

How do you feel about your current situation, what does your mind tell you? If you think you are crestfallen then you will feel depressed. If you think you are in high spirits, you will be motivated.mind-maze

Thoughts should not, however, be confused with dreams, day dreaming. If I dream of how I will be a successful businessman, then I am not one yet.

Dreams are good. They provoke thoughts. But only real thoughts set actions in motion. It changes your attitude, your mind set, your approach and your actions.

A lot of us don’t know what or where we want to be. We do know what we do not want to be. I do not want to be in jail. I do not want to be a failure. That is a fact.

So what do I want to be?

Content? Happy?

When will I be happy? Ah, now we are getting somewhere.

What will have to change, what will have to take place, before I declare:

Now I have reached the pinnacle of happiness”?

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I can now dream on…

Or I can start thinking, putting thoughts in motion, plan, and act.

I think – and this is merely a personal view – people are at their happiest when they are successful. A successful marriage, a successful career, a successful relationship with your Creator, in short, we will be happy when we have a successful, well-balanced life. Is this an illusion? I don’t think so.

It all depends on how you measure success. If success has a material basis, it will always be a dream because everything with a material basis is transient, it is insatiable. I have never come across someone who has got enough money. I still have to meet a lady who is pleased with her appearance (her eyes are too small, her hips are too wide, too many wrinkles, too much of this or too few of that). I also haven’t met a man yet who is happy with his car (for more than a week). As soon as the new model is unveiled, he starts itching.

Do not read into this that a man should not have a new car or that a lady should not try and look her best and that you should not have a healthy bank balance. Have it, work for it, and go for it. But do not measure your success against it. All of these are side-issues. Soon it’s yesterday’s news and then all of a sudden you don’t feel successful any longer. Oh, other people, your neighbours and friends, could still perceive you as successful, but deep inside you will feel discontented, hungry for more.

One often sees this in the glitter and glamour world of super rich so-called celebrities. They undergo expensive procedures to change their appearance; they buy the most expensive houses and jewellery, top of the range yachts and cars and marry the most beautiful people. How long does it last? Marriages are over before the third kiss. Very soon the car is too old and the house across the street has a swimming pool installed that is bigger than theirs. It is then when those people, in their quest for happiness, very often find comfort in something else like drugs and alcohol and subsequently find themselves being rejected by society as failures or depart this life, lost and lonesome.

So, what is success, in other words, when will you be happy?

The starting point for judging success is, first of all, peace with yourself. When you have forgiven yourself for all the mistakes of the past and left them there – in the past. When you have asked God to forgive you for all the wrongdoings in the past and then accepted His mercy. When you have put right all the injustice you have done to other people. Then you can move forward. Forget about the past! Focus on today and the road ahead.

You will be at peace with yourself when you, in all conviction, can pronounce that at this moment you are giving it your everything. No matter what you are doing, you are giving it your best, whether it’s your marriage, your relationship with your children, your work, or your leisure time – nothing less than your best.

You will absolutely give it your best when you do it sincerely, in honour and glorification of His name. When you do it as if He is sitting in front of you or accompanying you, witnessing every move you make. You wouldn’t dare skimp your work while the boss is keeping an eye on you, would you? Well, God is with you, every moment of your life. He sees and hears everything you are doing.

You will, in addition, be at peace with yourself if, after giving a challenge your best shot, you acknowledge the result; even if it is not the result you anticipated. The result is achieved, end of story. Nothing can be done to change it. It belongs to the past and not all the tears in the world will bring about another outcome. Try again; go back to the drawing board. Start afresh.

Success is furthermore not measured by the number of people you have passed and how many people you have beaten, but by the number of people you have brought with you. That is the test of real success. When, one day, you arrive in front of the gates of heaven, puffing and sweating in your snazzy car, rather smug because you have beaten so many people, God will not look at your car and your clothes and your wallet with appreciation and congratulate you. No, He will ask: “Why are you alone? Where are the other people, your children, your friends, your business partners?”people-in-a-car

You perform several roles during your lifetime. Child, parent, employee, employer, friend – maybe you are chairperson or captain or in charge of some group or another. During your lifetime you will, through your many roles, touch the lives of thousands of people. Your touch will bring sad or happy memories. How will people remember you? If you look back on the footprints you have left over the years, how many people have followed you and where have you lead them.

You don’t necessarily have to be a born leader with an awe-inspiring personality. You can take the lead by just taking someone’s hand, by being there to share in joys but also in the agony of people. You can lead by example. Don’t tell people what to do, show them by setting an example through your values and principles. Start with your family, then your workplace and widen your circle to reach friends, extended family and your surroundings. Be an asset to all those you come into contact with. Spread the love of Jesus which you have been blessed with in abundance.mother-theresa

My dear mom hasn’t got the personality of an Oprah Winfrey or Hillary Clinton. In fact, she soon gets in a flurry if it just looks as if the spotlight is aiming in her direction. She neither has strings of qualifications and titles behind her name, nor safes full of money. I believe, however, that when one day she arrives in heaven, our heavenly Father will be waiting for her with a big smile and say: “Welcome home, precious child, you utterly deserve what awaits you here in my house.” As a devoted mother she gives her utmost and as wife (when my dad was still alive) she gave nothing less. The love she puts in cooking and baking can almost be tasted. Her principles and values are being met with the greatest admiration by everyone she interacts with. People follow in her footsteps. As mother, grandmother, wife, friend – in all her roles, she spreads love. Her life is successful.

Success depends very little, if at all, on luck. Success is earned; you have to work for it. Opportunities present themselves from time to time to all of us. Successful people like the rest, experience lucky shots but also disappointments. The difference with them, however, lies in their persistent and devoted pursuing of a pre-determined goal. They forge opportunities into good fortune. Success does not come overnight. It takes time and is usually the result of sustained hard work. The legendary golfer, Gary Player, once remarked: “The harder I practice, the luckier I get.”

Ask yourself: “What can I do that is different? How can you bring about change?”

I once read somewhere, I’m not sure where, that successful people do what other people hate to do and they do it fervently. Success is something that you have to achieve yourself. It is to work while other people rest; carry on even though you are disheartened; hold on in the midst of setbacks, ever reaching for that beckoning winning-post. Success starts with a dream, an ambition… seeing something different and better in the everyday drudgery, and ultimately realising your dream through endurance and perseverance.

A last thought on success and successful people. Learn from the mistakes of others. Successful people make countless mistakes and go through tough times as well, but it is during times like these where character is formed and becomes apparent.  At one stage or another you will suffer a loss or endure a terrible knock, but it is then that the men are separated from the boys.

Work according to predetermined work or business ethics based on your Christian values and standards. In the long run there is only one road to follow: the honest, straight way. Be truthful with your bank manager, your suppliers, your employees, your customers, with everybody. Yes, and also with yourself!

You will have to deal with so many problems that will automatically cross your path anyway – why multiply them unnecessarily? Poor or inadequate service and work result in problems. Something that has been dealt with efficiently and properly the first time round brings satisfaction – to you and the customer.

It is easy telling someone to stay positive, but in reality it is much different. Yet, we can at least try to have a positive outlook. Two very well-known songs always soothed my wounds and aching heart during times of pain and distress:

Smile when your heart is aching, smile even though it’s breaking…SMILE”.

When you are down in the dumps and your heart really aches, try putting on a brave face with a smile to wipe that frown away. Smile through those pressed lips. Even look at yourself in the mirror when you smile. See how long you can keep the smile. When people enquire about your welfare, make an effort to tell them, with a smile on your face: “I am very well, thank you”. Always very well. It is ever so painful, for you as well as those around you, to be reminded of all your problems. People tend to steer clear of those who are always complaining and moaning.smile

When I feel like exploding from bottled up distress and pain and desperately need to share it with someone, I share it with my Heavenly Father and tell it to my dear better half (as I will explain in the next chapter) and/or I go to my best friend or confidant and get it out of my system. I do not share it with everyone-and-his-friend. It is neither good for me, nor for my relationship with other people.

Another song that inspires me during low periods is the familiar elevating rhythm of…

 When upon life’s billows
You are tempest tossed
When you are discouraged
Thinking all is lost
Count your many blessings
Name them one by one
And it will surprise you
What the Lord has done

Choir:
Count your blessing
Name them one by one
Count your blessings
See what God has done
Count your blessings
Name them one by one
Count your many blessings
See what God has done

 Are you ever burdened
With a load of care
Does the cross seem heavy
You are called to bear
Count your many blessings
Every doubt will fly
And you will be singing
As the days go by

Choir:

 When you look at others
With their lands and gold
Think that Christ has promised
You His wealth untold
Count your many blessings
Money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven
Nor your home on high

Choir:

 So, amid the conflict
whether great or small
do not be discouraged
God is over all
Count your many blessings
Angels will attend
Help and comfort give you
To your journey’s end

Choir:

Words by Johnson Oatman, 1897

I hum it, I whistle it and I put it into practice. I make a mental list of each and everything I can be grateful for today: health, full belly, friends and family who care for me…

Go on, make your own lengthy list. Show gratitude towards God for all the blessings with which he is showering you in abundance despite the fact that we don’t deserve a single one of them.

Try these ideas to stay positive. Think of ways to keep your positivity alive. Nurture the flame of hope and faith.

Something that will often impact upon your outlook on life is when things are not going your way and you start to ask: Why? Why are things going wrong? Why me? I am trying so hard…

I answered my own query this way:

My whole life I have always been up for a challenge. I thrive on challenges.

I have realised very early in my life that, academically, I am not the world’s best student. In fact, I think after all these years some of my teachers – those who are still alive – probably wake up in the middle of the night screaming in cold sweat when they have flash-backs of me in their classrooms. Despite my academic record, I decided to go to university, part-time. And with grace from Above, I even finished a post-graduate degree.

Ever since I was in primary school my physique was such that no-one would ever confuse me with Mr Universe. This motivated me during my compulsory military training to put myself to the test in the Parachute Battalion, known to be one of the most gruelling training courses in the army.valskermbataljon

What am I trying to tell you? How smart I am? Absolutely not!

I want to tell you that I was – and still am – willing to commit myself to challenges despite knowing my shortcomings. I acknowledged the fact that I would have to sacrifice a lot and that I would endure some rather tough times (when I completed my studies it felt as if I had been released from prison!). I realised that it would require exceptional effort from me, but I was nevertheless prepared to do it… in reaching my own, personal goals.

When I, therefore, go through a demanding period in life or crisis situation, I put it down as just another training course that God has put me on – a demanding one; even more demanding than my part-time studies or my training at Parachute Battalion. God has selected me personally for this challenge because He knows I like challenges. Wasn’t I willing to make huge sacrifices for the sake of my own goals? Will I not therefore be willing to make even bigger sacrifices when God’s goals are at stake? For that reason God puts me on a course, to train me, to prepare me, to give me knowledge and muscle, first-hand experience and understanding for a very important mission that He has installed for me at a later stage. But if I am not qualified and equipped, I will not be able to do it.

Wow! God must have seen something in me, for today I admit that I truly feel honoured because on more than one occasion God considered me the ideal person for a job he wanted accomplished. He reckoned that I would be strong enough to complete the demanding course. And, boy, did I go on many courses!

Determination

Determination

I never wanted to disappoint God, so I really gave it my utmost under testing circumstances.

God will never expect more from you than you are capable of. You will be surprised to discover what you and He together really can accomplish. Give it a go. Your Coach will go with you, all the way. Trust Him. He knows what you are going through. Remember, He also went through excruciating suffering.

Get your thoughts in order. Focus on God.

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VRYSTAAT KUNSTEFEES

Vandag ‘n jaar gelede het ek die gedenkwaardige voorreg gehad om twee baie besondere mense aan my sy te gehad het tydens die bekendstelling en bespreking van my boek op die Vrystaat Kunstefees in Bloemfontein. Maretha Maartens en Nico Luwes, julle was my Aäron en Hur.

Monochroom Reënboog is steeds beskikbaar. Kliek hier vir meer inligtingMONOCHROOM REËNBOOG TE KOOP

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Nico Luwes, Maretha Maartens en die uwe

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Martinique en Clariece laat die geld inrol

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Twee jong boekwurms – Samantha Hurst en Andrew Candiotes

ARTIKEL IN GET IT (1)ARTIKEL IN GET IT (2)

LEES GERUS MEER OOR DIE BOEK IN… TYDSKRIFARTIKEL OOR MONOCHROOM REENBOOG

LEES OOK HIER MEER OOR DIE OORSPRONG VAN DIE BOEK IN “Tien vrae: André Fourie oor Monochroom reënboog Litnet

LETSELS VAN OORLOG

LETSELS VAN OORLOG

(KLIEK OP DIE FOTO’S OM DIT GROTER TE MAAK EN BYSKRIFTE TE SIEN)

OP PATROLLIE

Op patrollie

In die vliegtuig terug Bloemfontein toe, drie dae later, skyn die son helder deur die klein venstertjies. Ek kyk na die ander passasiers. Mans met aktetasse, kinders saam met hulle ma’s, studente, almal so… so ongekompliseerd. Sonder bagasie.

Ek beny hulle. Wie is ek met al my bagasie? Ek wat verlede week nog terrs geskiet het. Ek wat nou, net soos die ander passasiers, skynbaar ongestoord op die vliegtuig sit. Ek wat volgende week met ‘n glimlag agter die toonbank by die bank gaan staan – “Môre Mevrou, waarmee help ek vandag? Het u geweet ek het verlede week ‘n man geskiet? En anderdag het ek ‘n vrou in die kop geskiet. Ja Mevrou, haar lippe en borste was afgesny…”

BUFFEL IN DIE BOS

Buffel in die bos

My belewenis van die werklikheid het byna skisofrenies geword: ’n Rasionele ervaring wat presies verstaan wat gebeur het en waarom. En ’n emosionele ervaring wat dit moeilik maak om dit hier, ver van waar dit gebeur het, te hanteer.

Op die grens het die oumanne hieroor gepraat. Van die nagte waar jy depressief rondrol, sleg slaap, sweet en angsaanvalle kry wat in drome begin waar jy in ‘n bos vol landmyne verdwaal en mense hoor skreeu en huil.

En dan skrik jy telkens vervaard wakker. Gillend, natgesweet.

BESOEK AAN 'N KRAAL

Besoek aan ‘n kraal

Heel dikwels klou ons vas aan herinneringe uit “die goeie ou dae”. Maar dan is daar ook herinneringe wat ons diep wegpak en huiwerig oopmaak.

Of vir altyd probeer toehou. Herinneringe wat met niemand gedeel word nie.

Ek het ‘n plekkie wat ek koester, ‘n stil plekkie waar ek min mense toelaat. Ek treur en lag daar tussen herinneringe deur wat nooit uitgewis sal word nie. Herinneringe aan vriendskap, liefde en omgee vir broers saam met wie ek geskerts, gehuil en gesweet het. Broers saam met wie ek met laaste lig ‘n sigaret of pakkie Super C gedeel het. Broers wie se verminkte liggame ek vasgehou het terwyl die lewe, rooi gevlek, in die wit sand weggesyfer het – saam met my jeug.

Daardie dae raak weg in gister, maar bly vlak in my wese.

LEES GERUS VERDER IN MONOCHROOM REËNBOOG

Poster (foto)