A Childhood Song

As a child in primary school after lunch was song time.  We sang all kinds of songs.  One of my favorites was Waltzing Matilda.   I have always been intrigued by this song but I had no idea what the words meant. “Once a jolly swagman walked into a billabong.  Under the shade of a coolibah tree. ” Who or what was a swagman?  what on earth was a billabong or a coolibah tree?   Living on a Caribbean island, I had no clue what the song was talking about.   Here was this man  singing and waiting for his billy to boil – you come -a waltzing-Matilda with me.  I loved the tune.   It was jumpy.

I checked my Miriam-Webster dictionary, but could not find those terms. Then hooray for the internet and Google.  So let me share it with you.  I learned that it is an Australian Bush Ballad that was written in 1895.  The song is about a tramp who wanders from place to place looking for work.  One day he found a sheep that belonged to a rich cattle rancher. He killed it, ate some of it and put the rest in his bag.  Unfortunately, the rancher came by and he had three policemen with him.  The swagman did not want to be arrested so he jumped into the water hole and drowned.  After his death people said that they could hear him singing the chorus waltzing Matilda as they passed by.

Now, my favorite song makes a lot of sense.

By Unknown – New South Wales Government Printer, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1221739





Positive Thinking and Aging-Harriette Barker, Ph. D, RN

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Have you ever been accused of not thinking positively about a situation?  It hurt when someone says, “you are always thinking negatively.”  Your first reaction is to defend yourself and try to convince the person that you are positive in your outlook and approach.  As we age, remaining positive may become stressful.   Many years ago, as a young staff nurse working in a geriatric facility, one of my patients said to me, “growing older is a bitch.”  At that time bouncing with youth and fairy dreams, I could not relate to her sentiment.

Positive thinking (feel good approach) is promoted as being healthy for aging hearts.  It helps to reduce the risk of inflammation and heart disease.  It can also boost your self-esteem, increase your ability to make decisions, and improve personal relationships.  Focusing on the positive and minimizing negatives thoughts and attitudes add years to life, increases resiliency, decreases stress levels and gives you greater insight.

Positive thinking is a healthy behavior that can help add years to our lives. We are encouraged to let go of negativity.  To view the older years as opportunities and challenges, that keep us engaged and in touch with the world around us.

Positive thinking from a religious perspective was healthy, and necessary for spiritual development according to the late Rev. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, and Rev. Dr. Robert Schuller.  Their ideas that focusing on the positive eliminated the negative, has been the hallmark of their books, sermons, and letters. Such thinking is very beneficial to older persons as they explore and enhance their spirituality.

However, there are some newer thoughts on positive thinking that reinforce the idea that positivity alone does not necessarily result in successful outcomes.  The Obama Presidential campaign touted the positive slogan of “Yes, we can.”  It was a message of optimism and hope that energized the nation and moved it forward.   Although his message was one of hope, in hindsight we can see the obstacles that presented every step of the way.

 Oettingen, a psychologist, agrees that positive thinking is a strategy that enables persons to take a positive approach on striving for goals.  However, she acknowledges that positive thinking alone does not eliminate obstacles that may get in the way.  Assessing these and developing a plan to overcome them in a realistic way is important if you want to achieve your goals.

 Oettingen, developed a four-step, wish, outcome, obstacles,  plan (WOOP). This strategy helps you  put your old dreams into action or develop new ones.  The steps to this program are:

Wish: Be specific

Outcome: Think about the results

Obstacles: Identify anything that may set you back

Plan:  determine where or when setbacks may occur and how to overcome them.


Banned: Freedom to Read

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Every year the college where I teach celebrate Banned Books week.  Students and faculty are encouraged to participate by reading a passage from a book that has been banned or challenged.  Although I have never participated,I reviewed a few of the books that were banned years ago and noted that some of them were still on the banned list today.  To me it was amusing that the Bible is one of those books, because of its religious content.  Yet we have a religious theme on the one dollar bill.  How about the swearing in of the President?

Then I wondered about the banning of religious books of other religions.  Yet we have freedom of speech.  We can say whatever  we want within certain limits.  Why then are we banning certain books, based on what a particular group may think or feel about their content?  We should also have the freedom to choose what we want to read.

Daily Prompt: Transformation

Last Friday began like any other day, without a hint of what was to come.  My routine of bible reading, prayer, posting a daily bible verse and playing my praise choruses on the piano went off without a hitch.  Later in the day, my brother called me, and I got an instant headache.  A young, beloved cousin had been transformed from this environment to the next.

I wondered about his transition and the fact that I had no idea that he had moved on.  Each morning I prayed for him because he had a  health challenge and was hoping for an intervention to add years to his life.  He had his plans, to meet with his friend that Sunday, and was also preparing to travel for a vacation.

The movement from this existence to another can happen suddenly, with no awareness on the part of the one who is transforming.  Why? we ask ourselves over and over, but there are no answers to our question.  We just know that someone we love and care for is no longer available to us.  We experience tears, sorrow, heartbreak, laughter and finally joy , as we think about our own transforming.

The Silent Treatment – Harriette Barker, Ph. D, RN

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Domestic violence is often subtle and hard to detect.  It consists of a wide range of behaviors, which may be physical, emotional, financial and sexual.  Most attention is paid to physical abuse because evidence such as bruises, cuts, scratches and in a worst-case scenario, even death may occur.

Emotional abuse is subtle and is seldom reported.  Very few women or men would call 911 if their partner is talking down to or ignoring them.  Going into a shelter seems trivial because for many people emotional abuse is not the same as physical abuse.  There are no scars.  However, shelters do accept victims of emotional abuse.

Although an emotionally abusive relationship lacks physical scars, it damages the person’s psychological health, resulting in depression, anxiety, diminished self-esteem and self-worth.  Many victims do not know when they are being emotionally abused.  Some signs of emotional abuse are:  silent treatment, Jekyll and Hyde behavior, false accusations, sexual manipulation, constant conflict, emotional coldness, unsupportive, controlling behaviors, humiliation, isolation, encouraging dependency, lying and jealousy.

The Silent Treatment (cold shoulder) is a form of emotional abuse.  Although they may share the same living space, one partner ignores the other for days, weeks, months or even years.  He /she is excluded from any social interaction.  Life becomes an internal hell while a public pretense of normality is maintained.  The perpetrator of this controlling behavior is demonstrating his/her power to humiliate and attack his/her partner’s self-esteem and self-worth.

The Silent Treatment is a form of punishment.  Approval is withdrawn, and anger, resentment, hostility and fear may be generated.  Emotional distancing is designed to give your partner the message that he/she is not deserving of your love, companionship, intimacy, sharing or caring.

The cold shoulder has been described as the worst form of emotional abuse.  This passive-aggressive behavior is designed to hurt the other person by making him/her invisible.  It is It is disrespectful humiliating, stressful and devaluating in nature.  It may result in feelings of anxiety, depression, and issues with low self-esteem.   This treatment often comes out of the blue, the partner has no idea what will trigger this type of response.  One minute there is light and laughter the next cold, harsh, grating silence.

The Silent Treatment is not the best way to handle any kind of disagreements in a relationship.  One partner should not be trying to punish the other.  Initially, the person may try very hard to please and keep the relationship on stable ground.  However, repeated cycles of this treatment result in the relationship becoming toxic and disintegrating over time.   The victim becomes tired of the constant manipulation and stress that he/she experiences.

Reactions to this behavior vary.  The victim may respond with soul searching, feelings of loneliness, guilt, abandonment, headaches, fear, anger and resentment.  When this happens, it means that you are allowing the perpetrator to have control over you. The silent treatment is working.  But you can resist this by loving yourself.  Do not make excuses for your partner’s behavior.

How do you cope with this form of emotional abuse?

  • Do not become frustrated, angry or depressed.
  • Do not blame yourself.
  • Do not accept responsibility for your partner’s behavior.
  • Try to respond positively.
  • Express your concerns about the situation.
  • Encourage your partner to discuss the problem.
  • If there is resistance, try to focus on your needs.
  • Consider professional counseling individually or with your partner if he/she is willing.
  • Finally, you may have to save yourself by terminating the relationship if the behavior is repetitive.


October is Domestic Violence month.  If you or someone you know is being abused, encouraged him/her to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233

The Art of Saying No

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Sometimes we find ourselves agreeing to do something, only to spend days worrying about our decision.  Are their times when the “nooooo” word is on the tip of your tongue but you cannot release it?  Why do we have difficulty with this simple word? Could it be that this word projects us as being selfish, uncooperative, unloving, or uncaring?

Boomers were taught that their word is their bond.  Once you have agreed to do something wriggling out of it is not easy.  There are many slogans for “NO,” that warns our children and young people of actions that are dangerous or unsociable.

Some people believe that lack of self-confidence may be the underlying cause of our inability to say no.  I agree that this may be true in some cases, but there are exceptions.  Sometimes we are not listening well and respond to a request before processing it properly.

I am a very confident person, but a few days ago I was caught in a position where I hastily agreed to do something.  On reflection, I realized that just saying no was the perfect answer, but it slipped me.

Boomer women may find that saying no to family, friends, neighbors or coworkers is hard.  Some people expect that we become sweeter, kinder, more loving.with age.  Saying no is not easy, it is not a part of our nature.

Church women often find it hard to say no.  Think about the groups, committees, and auxiliaries that we join.  If you check on all of these, there is a small group of women who are a member of everything.  How many tickets for different events are you selling?  How many of these activities are you roped into because you are unable to say no?

How about good things?  We do not want to say no when it is a good thing.  It may never come again.  We need to use this opportunity to prove our worth, but in doing so, we become overwhelmed, overstressed and yes, burnt out.

Here are a few Tips to help you say NO:

  • Be firm, be polite, and be direct.
  • Be clear in your refusal.  Do not give the impression that you will give in at a later date.
  • Look for a compromise – make sure that the request is something that you might want to acknowledge at a later date.
  • Never feel guilty – even with your kids do not become overwhelm with guilt when you have to say no.  They have to learn that they cannot have everything.
  • Make sure that your refusal is not mistaken as rejection.
  • Self-honesty is still the best policy.