Apartheid in South Africa - My Experience as a White South African
    My Experiences as a White South African The death of Nelson Mandela - my hero and the world’s icon - brings to the surface the deep shame I have carried with me for all of my adult life. I was once a typical white South African – privileged and spoiled – who learned by example to treat with disregard the needs and feelings of black people. Having spent 29 years living under the Apartheid regime before immigrating to Canada almost 40 years ago, it is with pain and penetrating regret that I reflect upon my experience and transgressions. In a country once filled with turmoil and hatred, Nelson Mandela’s voice was silenced by 27 years spent as a political prisoner. His historic walk to freedom culminated in his rise to become South African’s first black President, from where he would lead the country into a brighter future, and to the end of Apartheid. The year was 1994. During the last months of Mandela’s life, as he lay gravely ill, his voice was once again silenced – this time by the tubes keeping his lungs clear of fluid. But the words of Nelson Mandela will never be silenced, as his courage, dignity and determination earned him a place in international history. What is Apartheid? Apartheid - an Afrikaans word meaning ‘separateness’.  - was the  name given to the policies that were designed to uphold white supremacy by legislating racial segregation in South Africa - a country in which the  black population greatly exceeded that of white South Africans.  The Apartheid laws were discriminatory to extreme. Learning Discrimination         Our typically South African household employed two servants ...
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I Hate Small Talk!
Why do I hate small talk? I’ll get straight to the point and illustrate  by way of an example. It goes something like this ‘Hello, Ma’am. How are you today?” asks the caller, whose name appears on my call display as “unavailable”.  The hairs at the back of my neck point north as I kick myself for answering, thus defeating the purpose of having call display. How am I? she asks – as if she cares two hoots. Whose bright idea was it to instruct telemarketers to inquire after our well-being? “I’m Fine” I say dismissively, leaving an uncomfortable silence where the  “ … and how are you?”  would normally go.  As she proceeds to recite her telemarketing lines I interrupt with an annoyed “No thank you” and move to replace the receiver … but not before I hear her disembodied voice politely telling me to ‘have a nice day’. How am I?  Have a nice day? When did these phrases seep into our communication with absolute strangers? I’m not good at making small talk. Maybe that’s why I hate it – or is it the other way around?  Either way, it can be a bit of a problem, since it follows us everywhere.  Being out and about in the world requires that we engage in chit-chat with sundry people we encounter along the way   … fleeting exchanges about nothing in particular.  What is Small talk? The definition of small talk says it all:  Small talk involves conversation about matters of unimportance. It is one of society’s ice-breaking techniques ... talk starters ...  fillers of empty pockets of time. And oh! empty pockets of time abound!  ...
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But I Love Him!
Excuses People Make to Stay in Abusive Relationships " … but I love him!” protests the woman whose husband has been knocking her around for the past three years  … “… but I love him!” wails the wife whose philandering spouse continues to profess his innocence, despite her proof to the contrary … “… but I still love him”  bemoans she whose hubby controls her every move -- her decisions, her friendships,  their finances -- and even their sex life … “…  I love him, but sometimes he’s mean to me” laments the lady whose paramour has perfected the art of criticizing, condemning and complaining about her every move – whether alone or in company … “…  but I love him!”   whines the woman whose partner mooches off her, changing jobs like he changes his underpants ... And the list goes on … Helloooo?!!  Wake up, ladies!!  (and gentlemen who see themselves in any one of these scenarios).  You love him?  Excuse me?  You call that love?? I'm tired of hearing people using   “… but I love him!”   as an excuse to avoid growing up. “This isn't love. It's something broken and ugly.I wanted it so badly I didn't care what it looks like" - Amanda  Grace The   “… but I love him!” syndrome has nothing to do with love.  Rather,  It is an expression of insecurity, fear, self-doubt and need.  The capacity for mature love emanates from one’s own inner security,   and the concomitant expectation that respectful treatment is a given …   that anything less is unacceptable. And by the way –  staying together  “ for the sake of the children”  is as much a cop-out as is the   “… ...
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A Heart of Gould
  I Met My Husband Through a Personal Ad Feigning an air of confidence to conceal the raging disquiet inside, I scanned the restaurant and headed for a table near the back, where I could observe him searching for the 40-something woman with whom he had shared a few words on the telephone. He had neither met me nor seen a photograph. The year was 1986, long before online dating.  I  wanted to know what life after divorce was going to look like,  and didn't like the bar scene, so - in an act of impulse -  I put a personal ad in the local newspaper. I had purposely arrived early to give myself time to acquire that elusive veneer of tranquility. The dating game was indeed uncharted territory. As a bride of only 18, I was ill prepared for the complexities of marriage. Here I was, 21 years and five children later, newly separated, on a date with a man who answered an ad I had placed in the personal column of the local newspaper. “What was I thinking?” I muttered to myself. “This man could be an axe murderer!” I took a few deep breaths. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a tall, attractive, bearded man heading in my direction. Feeling both fearful and a little excited, I stood to shake his hand and exchange “glad-to-meet-you” pleasantries. We quickly busied ourselves with menus and meal choices, a diversion that eased us into the discovery of similarities and the sharing of histories. "Life after divorce? So far so good,” I thought to myself as I asked the obvious question: “So, what led to your separation?” “We ...
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Stuck in Slow Motion
Stuck in Slow Motion:  Finding Joy Behind  the Mask of Parkinson's Disease? What is Parkinsons Disease? Parkinsons disease is a degenerative neurological disorder  for which there is currently no cure, and at  this time the progression of the disease cannot be slowed down. At best the symptoms can be managed . I have been living with Parkinsons disease for ten years. What Are the Symptoms of Parkinsons disease? Parkinsons Diisease is classified as a Movement Disorder because it affects the muscles  that control our  movements. A lack of dopamine causes a kind of 'broken link' between the brain and the muscles  The disease is characterized by  muscle rigidity, hand tremors and slowing of movement. Many people with Parkinsons disease  in its more advanced stages also have impaired balance, a stiff facial expression, shuffling gait, muffled speech, and small, cramped handwriting. Some experience memory loss, others struggle with disease-induced depression Diagnosis My memories of D-Day (“Diagnosis Day”) remain vivid.  “You have garden-variety Parkinson’s Disease,” announced the neurologist casually, leaving me fighting back tears as I tried to maintain a dignified front.  “Garden variety Parkinson’s disease?” I repeated to myself and "What is  Parkinsons disease?"  For months after, as I tried in vain to deny my new reality,   I devoured copious bits of information  on disease progression, impact and management and in the hope that knowledge would empower me. Instead, it filled my mind with images of a future truncated by rapidly-spiraling physical and mental deterioration.   I was utterly devastated. Fighting the Good Fight As the initial shock began to wear off I resolved to fight this strong adversary with every fibre of my being, and to uphold my joyful disposition, despite the ...
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Confessions of a Cat Burglar
"My husband said it was him or the cat ...  I miss him sometimes".   Unknown Cat Flushing Toilet?? Is That Possible This is a story about my  'cat flushing toilet'  discovery.  So -  there I was, alone at home, quietly reading the newspaper and minding my own business, when I thought I heard the sound of someone flushing a toilet . I froze on the spot, terrified. "Can a toilet flush by itself? Is there a stranger in my apartment?"  I wondered, and  "How on earth did anyone get in?" I could see the front door from my chair in the living room, and it was impossible that someone could have come in while I was sitting there, unless perhaps I had dozed off for a minute or two – but I was pretty sure I had not. Trembling, I picked up the phone to call 911, but then replaced the receiver. "Perhaps I drifted off momentarily and woke up in the middle of a dream?" "That must be what happened" I told myself, breathing a sigh of relief, and refocusing my attention on the article I had been reading before I was so rudely interrupted. But just a few minutes later I heard it again. I was NOT imagining it! Wondering where I could hide, I tiptoed stealthily towards the spare bedroom, hiding behind the door, from where I could see into the bathroom. Lo and behold – and with utter disbelief  -  I saw my cat flushing the toilet!! I could hardly believe my eyes and ears, but indeed, with much relief I realized that the mystery prowler was – beyond ...
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