Happy Paws Happy Hearts – Pet Power

There are health benefits to your human-animal interactions!  Studies suggest that pets are good for your heart and stress levels in more ways than one.  Caring for an animal has shown to lower blood pressure and cortisol (stress-related hormone) levels, reduce loneliness and boost your mood.

To find out more, we arrived at University of Queensland Healthy Living headquarters in Toowong at one o’clock for an informative talk from Dr Nancy A. Pachana, clinical geropsychologist and neuropsychologist—and cupcake maker—accompanied by the team from Happy Paws Happy Hearts.

As you would have guessed, the highlight was two adorable and bouncy puppies, Timon and Rafiki, who carried out their pats-and-cuddles duty in admirable fashion.  The blurry photos attest to their eagerness.

Happy Paws Happy Hearts foundation offers an Animal Basics Program, Animal Care Program and Animal Handling Program for individuals and groups.  Participants learn to interact with a variety of animals waiting to be adopted from RSPCA by using well-established animal interaction methods to increase confidence in both humans and critters.

Depending on the program and availability, interaction could be with puppies, kittens, dogs, cats, wildlife and farm animals.  Volunteers support attendees to reach their goals while working with these rescue animals within the shelter.

Research supports dogs and other animals assisting with physical, mental and emotional symptoms as well as supplement therapy for PTSD, anxiety and depression plus a range of psychiatric disorders.  They are particularly important for older people.

Over 60% of older community-dwelling adults cited pets as a key source of emotional support, while dog therapy reduced age care residents loneliness and depression as well as improved cognitive impairment in those with dementia.   The presence of animals provided avenues for active behaviour, decision-making and increased socialisation in nursing home residents.

Dr Pachana spoke about greater acknowledgement of the positive impact of animals in other contexts, such as the workplace and courtrooms.  I have seen encouraging signs in classrooms where children have difficulty with peer activities or reading aloud but respond with a calm dog beside them.

Can Do Canines train shelter dogs for therapy purposes and there are organisations like Guide Dogs, Assistance Dogs, Hearing Dogs, Story Dogs, and of course Happy Paws Happy Hearts doing a wonderful job.

We enjoyed our sociable and informative visit and send a special woof to Timon and Rafiki for being good boys.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


IMG_20190504_213404RSPCA, Wacol https://www.rspcaqld.org.au/

Happy Paws Happy Hearts, Wacol https://hphhfoundation.org/

University of Queensland, Toowong https://habs.uq.edu.au/uqhealthyliving

Blogging Pleasure and Pain

I’m reading blog posts which say ‘Posting has become a chore’ or ‘It’s hard to post regularly’ or ‘Feeling the pressure to post’—-stop right there!

Take a break, the earth, the sky and the stars will still be there, the world will still turn.

Conversely there are serious blog posts coercing, er, cajoling the writer into a formula.  Or worse, a winning formula to be the best blogger in the blogosphere.

There’s even a blog ideas generator, how unoriginal can you get!

YOUR WORDS, YOUR WORLD, CREATE YOUR WAY!

Does a technique overcome bloggers block?  Better blogging supposedly comes with strategies, structure, schedules, regularity, planning…bah, humbug I say!  There’s probably enough pressure in your world without adding more via your blog.  If anything, blogging should be

a freedom,

a release from the daily grind,

your little patch of calmness,

a zone of personal creativity,

a focus on what you want,

how you want to say it,

and most of all, don’t worry,

let your originality take over.

The old hippie saying ‘go with the flow’ is appropriate when doing morning pages and you may like writing in the morning or writing in the evening.  Don’t push yourself to write to someone else’s rule, someone else’s timetable.  Free-writing is better than no writing.  You can actually write anywhere, anytime, and I don’t mean social media.

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Self-control up to a point.
Yeah, I know people who have to have a hammer hanging over their heads on a piece of string.  If they stand up, the hammer hits them on the head, they sit back down and do another 500 words of pain.  One famous writer actually tied his body to the chair to write.
Then there’s that annual trial by acronym.
Which does not spell  g-o-o-d  w-o-r-k  to me.

Do you really want a target audience?  Do you personally know anyone who is making a decent living from blogging?  They’re the ones in the pressure cooker.  If you are not commercially selling, I say ‘Do your own thing!’ and that’s exciting.

I speak from experience.  You will find your own rhythm if you truly want to write.  And nobody, least of all me, will help you or hinder you.  You’re on your own, kid.

YOUR WORDS, YOUR WORLD, CREATE YOUR WAY!

‘Work hard to create great content’ if it’s too hard it won’t work.

‘Blog often while controlling quality’we all know quality varies.

‘Find your competition and observe them’nothing worse than a lurker.

‘Write to please your readers’first ask yourself ‘Am I pleased with it?’

‘Improve your blog writing formula’your creativity is not a prescription.

‘What is your target market searching for?’don’t pander to the people.

‘What type of content do readers prefer?’write your content and let them Follow.

‘Start internal link building’in other words Liking but not liking.

‘You need to know the right audience for you’ other bloggers will work that out.

‘Make your blog post titles catchy’why get hung up on headings.

‘Don’t have time to write then reblog or hire a ghost-writer’ha ha ha ha ha.

‘Images are important to highlight your post’keep them relevant, naturally.

Good eye-appeal in formats and layouts’beauty is in the eye of the blogger.

‘Learn basic SEO’because it’s basic but not life threatening.

‘Reply to Comments daily’meaning a proper reply or else deactivate Comments.

‘Bill Gates once said Content Is King’well, hey, that’s a given.

‘Keep wordcount down’there are people who can still read lots of words.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

YOUR WORDS, YOUR WORLD, CREATE YOUR WAY!

Typewriter 15
A refreshing nap or agony for hours…

Reading Hour – One Lousy Hour!

How pathetic!  We have 24 glorious hours in a day and only one is chosen!  And it’s not even held simultaneously around the country!  Have you read your one hour today?

Australian Reading Hour Bookshop Logo

This year Australian Reading Hour falls on Thursday 20 September 2018 and the nominal time in the evening is 6pm to 7pm.  But individual reading and group reads will be happening all day to avoid important sporting fixtures, special events and venue opening hours, and to accommodate the different time zones in Australia.

Fair enough, however, it’s still one lousy hour!  What is the Australian Reading Hour committee thinking?  There are 8760 hours in one year, so use some more of them.

If more hours aren’t forthcoming next year, why not (1) disrupt your sporting fixtures (2) put the special event on hold (3) pause during venue opening hours (4) delay that visit to the gym and (5) forget a few things to stop and READ for ONE lousy hour!

Meanwhile, find a really quiet, cosy place and settle down alone.  Betcha read for longer than an hour!

Or gather a group together at school, work, bookshops like Avid Reader, the library, the park or get the family together in your own home and read, read, read for one lousy hour.

One hour isn’t going to kill you, the world won’t crumble around you – but you and the adults and children of Australia will visit another place through the pages of a book.  For one lousy hour…

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Books Book Shelf 18

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Thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Linked to my other post https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2018/09/16/your-reading-hour-countdown/

Earth Hour for the Environment

Are you participating in Earth Hour?  Join the largest global movement for the environment.  On Saturday 24 March 2018 switch off – then do it again every year.  Make an earth-friendly statement towards our planet’s future.  Commit to a sustainable world!

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Have a cosy night in.
Light all the candles you can find.
Turn off all your lights.
Turn off the television.
Turn off the phone.
Turn off all electronic devices.
Sit in your favourite place.
Talk, laugh, eat and relax.
Be aware of the darkness of night.
Gaze into the candle flames.
Feel drowsy, feel peaceful.
One hour goes fast.
Maybe sit there a bit longer…

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


In Australia, Earth Hour will start at 8:30pm.  Join millions of people in over 180 countries who are switching off their lights for Earth Hour as a symbolic gesture to show the need for stronger climate action.  Are you ready to join the movement?  It’s time to switch off and #Connect2Earth.

Earth Hour ambassador, Lucas Handley, says “For me, Earth hour isn’t just about saving energy for that one hour – it’s a visual recognition that we are all part of an interconnected community; capable and committed to finding a more sustainable and earth-friendly direction for our society.”  Q&A with Lucas Handley

https://www.earthhour.org.au/
https://maas.museum/event/earth-hour-at-sydney-observatory-2/

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Earth Hour and WWF Logo

‘Work-Life Balance is a Myth’ Review

Integrate by John Drury
Whole-of-life plan

Traditional work-life balance means separate compartments in our lives, but lines can become blurred, pressure can build and conflicts emerge.  Instead of working against each other, integration means all parts can work together to achieve a positive outcome for our lifestyle expectations.  Then realisation that your work-life balance is “out of kilter” will no longer apply.  I wish I had read this book before my divorce!

John Drury is a presenter, trainer, facilitator, and author of new book “Integrate” which challenges busy people to rethink their approach to life and work.  “The demands of work have never been greater.  A balancing act is not the answer.  Work-life integration is the only way forward in a 24/7 world” says Drury, whose painful personal experience with burnout, and subsequent recovery while in a senior leadership role, motivated him to start helping other high achievers create and maintain a realistic lifestyle.

In his book, Drury outlines a way to align all the parts of your life so they work in unison.  He says “This takes effort, but it’s well worth it and the end result will give you a schedule far easier to work with than just a big juggling act which no-one ever seems to make work.”  He believes that you must look after yourself at your very core; respect your health, your wellness, your relationships and your work commitments.

In John Burfitt’s interview, Drury explains that self-care and implementing achievable self-management strategies are essential.  Drury goes on to say that once important areas are defined and outlined, it becomes a matter of making decisions and planning goals “And you must do that, as a goal without a plan is just a wish.”

Integrate by John Drury 02
Image is an edited extract from Chapter 3 of “Integrate: Why work-life balance is a myth and what you need to create a fulfilling lifestyle” by John Drury  John Drury.biz

Further reading: “Integrate” by John Drury

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Love Food Hate Waste Campaign

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Brisbane Queensland Australia

Maybe it’s because I was brought up by post-war parents that I am shocked at the staggering amount of food waste in Brisbane.  I could not understand why our local Government has joined the world-wide campaign Love Food Hate Waste.  Surely you only buy, cook and eat what you need and freeze leftovers?

Apparently for millions of households, it’s not that simple!

The Council brochure states “Love Food Hate Waste was launched in 2007 by Waste and Resources Action Program (WRAP) in the United Kingdom followed by New Zealand, Canada and Australia.  With food waste making up 37% of the average Brisbane rubbish bin, 1 in 5 shopping bags of food ends up in the bin.  That’s 97,000 tonnes of food thrown away every year.   There are simple and practical changes which residents can make in the kitchen to reduce food waste; planning, preparation and storage of food will make a big difference to your wallet and keep Brisbane clean, green and sustainable.”

Scramble over the mat, don’t trip on the dog, here’s a tasty listicle of Council wisdom prepared earlier:

  • Plan meals ahead – create a meal plan based on what is already in your fridge, freezer and pantry.
  • Shop mindfully – stick to your shopping list!
  • Store food correctly – Learn how to store food to ensure it lasts as long as possible and check your refrigerator is functioning at maximum efficiency.
  • Cook with care – Without controlling portions, we tend to waste food when we prepare or cook too much.  Remember fruit and vegetables ripen quickly and are best consumed daily.
  • Love your leftovers – Freeze leftovers to use for lunches, keep for snacks, or add to another main meal.
  • Consider composting – Turn your kitchen scraps into rich nutrients for your garden, get a Bokashi bucket, consider owning pets like chickens or guinea pigs.
  • Join a community garden – Composting hubs operate in selected community gardens.
  • Six-week food waste challenge – Every week the Council will provide step-by-step information on how you can reduce food waste in your home.  Seriously.

Bokashi Bucket Diagram 01

We are over-stocked, over-fed and over-indulgent of our taste buds.  Or as my dear mother would say “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach.”

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Love Food Hate Waste BCC Campaign

Don’t Thrash Around

Highs and Lows Graph 01
A short story about life’s ups and downs…

My friend and fellow writer Maud Fitch tilted her head at me and said “Everything is fine for the first three months then the rot sets in and the wheels fall off.  Or, for a modern analogy, your reception drops out.”  She checked to see if I was listening.  “You are left high and dry and feeling cheated, let down, out of sorts, tired, jaded or basically unmotivated.  The first three months of anything are the best, then comes the worst three months.”  As she took a breath, I gave her a querying look.  “Why?” she responded, “Well, who knows?  This is my take on human nature.”

I was perched on a wooden stool while Maud had settled herself down in an easy chair, cardigan wrapped tightly and slippers wedged firmly on her small feet.  She coughed delicately and adjusted her spectacles before continuing.  “A new career, a new car, exercise workout, bonsai class, creative writing, artistic pursuit, second marriage, an extended holiday, all seemingly wonderful for those crucial three months.  Then, bam, a total train wreck.  Worse, it’s a total bore!  Then you wish you had never started.”  I opened my mouth to protest but she ploughed ahead.  “Of course, this phenomenon can work in reverse.  The first three months of a new baby, the first three months of post-operative surgery, or worse, the first three months of giving up smoking. Two words – mindset.”  I stifled a laugh.  “Okay, one word.  But keep an open mind because nothing stays the same for long.”

Uncomfortable, I stretched my shoulders.  “Don’t thrash around,” Maud shouted, startling me.  She waved her arm dangerously close to her favourite cat figurine.  “Look up, look ahead, search for those footholds and handholds to help move you forward again.  Work your way out of the slump, not by changing direction (although you might, she hissed in an aside) but by forging through the undergrowth on that overgrown path until you reach a reasonable destination where you can relax, regroup and start again – when you are good and ready!  It may not be the perfect spot to wait, nevertheless, it will do until you reinvigorate.”

Maud slumped back.  “Do you think that’s too strong for them?”  I laughed.  “Maud, I am sure the ladies luncheon committee has heard stronger things than that.”  She eyed me dubiously, unsmiling, the inference being that she knew them better than I ever could.  I was sure her delivery would win them over and if it didn’t, just like seasonal change, there was always another one.

After some shuffling, Maud pulled out a crumpled sheet of paper from down the side of her chair.  “I was going to reference motivationalist Julia Cameron when she says ‘Sometimes these U-turns are best viewed as recycling times’ but I’m going to read this genuine job advertisement first and say ‘Ladies, be thankful you are relaxing here today’ then launch straight into my talk.”  Maud cleared her throat and read loudly:

“About you – Highly motivated, you possess excellent listening and strong customer service skills. You have proven ability to build rapport with customers, key partners and management. You possess strong problem solving and resolution capabilities. Resilient, flexible, literate, you have the ability to work under pressure, deal with rapid change and work to strict time frames. Self-motivated, available at short notice, you are currently looking to embark on your next career challenge and add value to a growing organisation. If this sounds like you APPLY today! Previous exposure dealing with print/sales/retail is desirable however not essential.”

With a snap of fingers on paper, Maud whooped “Burnout dead ahead” which I thought was a bit unfair.  “Oh, Maudie” I said, a nickname she disliked, “you make me want to grab a coffee and start scrolling endless, mindless amusements across my screen.”  I picked up my phone.  I don’t think that was quite the incentive she had in mind and may have misinterpreted my gesture.  She frowned and started flipping through the pages of her speech, obviously keen to memorise more text.  “Look.”  I offered her the phone.  On the screen was an old Gary Larson “The Far Side” cartoon.  Now, that really did make her laugh.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Primative Resumes
Pressure put on us from the dawn of time…

Official Launch

Hi there!

Today billions of things will happen to billions of people, birth, life, death, which just about says it all.  On this day, Tuesday 1st August 2017, I have officially launched my blog.  For me, going from Private to Public is a momentous occasion but one which will hardly make a teeny tiny blip in the history of the universe.  It is a pleasure to be part of the WordPress world, to write in such a creative environment.  As my home page says, my thoughts and words can fly!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

 

Blogging Girl
Blogger

Inequality

“Until we get equality in education, we won’t have an equal society” – Sonia Sotomayor.

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