Q is for Quotations

April 19, 2014 at 9:10 am | Posted in Family, Family History, Mental Health, Philosophy, Ways of Living | 10 Comments
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A2Z-BADGE-000 [2014]



There are often certain people in one’s family or circle of friends who are known for the things they say or have said. They have often become part of family lore, associated with that person, often with either a laugh or a grimace.

It can be the same with our friends too. For instance, the normal response to discussions about a problem from a woman we know is a sigh and the comment, “But what can you do?” Another always says, “It’s a worry”.

My family has its own little quirky sayings, and many seem to have rather a philosophical bent. It is mainly two people who had sayings they used quite often, sayings that have been passed down through the generations. In many ways, these favourite sayings illustrate aspects of their character, as they express beliefs they adhered to and lived by.


Teddy Thompson 1949, with a grandson & his faithful dog Monty.

Teddy Thompson 1949, with a grandson & his faithful dog Monty.

The adages of my grandfather Teddy Thompson, the poacher and WWI veteran, who died in 1950, have been handed down by his son Ernie, my father. Here are a few:

– “If you see a man walking towards you down the same side of the street and he crosses to the other side, he owes you money. If he crosses from the other side to yours, you owe him money.”

– “Income: one pound; out go: 19 shillings and sixpence– a happy man. Income one pound; out go one pound and sixpence– an unhappy man.”

– “Laws are made fer them as keeps ‘em.”

– When Granddad was in the army, he used to play a betting game called Crown & Anchor. He always made money when others lost theirs. That was because he followed his own advice: “Always be the banker, they’re the only ones who win.”


Ernie Thompson 2007, aged 86

Ernie Thompson 2007, aged 86

Dad had lots of sayings too. Some were his own, but others were ones he heard that reflected his own open and positive attitude to life. In his later years, he quoted them often.

– When asked how he was, he would say: “top of the world”. Everyone in the district identified Dad as the ‘top of the world’ man. He later expanded this to, “top of the world, fighting fit and getting younger every day.”

– When someone said it was a nice day, Dad would reply in one of two ways: 1. “Every day’s a nice day; sometimes the weather’s better than others”; or 2. “If you can get out of bed and walk away from it, it’s a good day.” Then he would add, “ Do you realise how many people couldn’t do that this morning?”

– When someone talked about ‘a problem’, Dad would say, “There are no problems in life, only challenges”.

– If he was a bit late for a meal and you told him it was getting cold, he’d say, “It’s a poor belly that can’t warm up a bit of cold food”.

– When we talked about how hard it was to do anything about the problems of the world, he’d say, “Do what you can, for as many as you can, however you can, wherever you can, for as long as you can”.

– Dad was legally blind (10% decreasing to 3% vision) for the last twenty years of his life. When anyone mentioned it as a problem, he’d say, “No it’s not. I look in the mirror and I don’t see any wrinkles; and every woman looks beautiful to me”.

– When walking through a large shopping mall with his tapping stick, he had enough vision to see the movement of people. He said, “As I walk along, they separate like the bow wave on a battleship”.


Agnes Thompson Eng.1974 (2)

Agnes Thompson on a visit to England 1974

Mum had a few of her own common expressions too.

– About a pushy person: “S/he’s not backward at coming foreward!”

– Two expressions of amazement that came from Oswaldtwistle were: “Well, I’ll go to our house!”; and “Well, I’ll go to t’top o’ t’stairs!”

– When something was done well, she’d say (and so would Dad): “Go to the top of the class and kiss the teacher!”

– When something was done well enough: “It’s as near as makes no never-mind.”

A saying she liked, but which applied to neither her nor Dad was, “Patience is a virtue, possess it if you can. Seldom found in women, and never in a man.”

Well, that’s probably enough!

If you woke up

Do you have sayings in your family that have been passed down, or that identify a certain member of the family?


© Linda Visman 19.04.14  (699 words)


Book Promotion Downsides

October 27, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Posted in Mental Health, Promotion, Psychology, Writing | Leave a comment
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Creativity-Logic conflict

I wish there were not so much time and energy involved in promoting my book. I am not someone who enjoys this type of activity and would rather get back to what I want to do.

I use up the energy I should be using for my writing in trying to get noticed, both locally and on-line. Having to do that distracts me from my writing too. Instead of allowing my creative left brain to come to the fore, my practical right brain has to dominate. Ideas bog down, words have to be forced out, and frustration overcomes me.

Then, frustration leads to a loss of drive and apathy takes over – if apathy can actually DO anything. I suppose it is rather I allow myself to fall into apathy. Then nothing gets done; not the writing and not the promotion activities.

I find myself in this roller-coaster ride of enthusiasm-activity / apathy-inaction much too frequently. Being a sufferer from depression is no fun when there are so many things you want to do. The things that I don’t want to do drive me onto a downward slope that I hope won’t go too deep before I can pull out of it.

It is actually my writing that has helped to get me back on the level many times over the years. Before I began writing stories, poems and novels, I kept a journal. In there, I poured out my feelings, and often worked out how to climb from the pit. Those pits were deep, very deep at times.

I am grateful that the lows are nowhere near what they used to be, and that I can come out of them quite quickly. I use positive action to overcome the apathy, and I have a husband who is very supportive in this, getting me to act when all I feel is negativity.

I still keep a journal, and it still helps. However, the focus is on what I am doing in my writing life now instead of mainly on feelings. I actually wrote this entry in my journal before making it into a blog entry.

I just wish I didn’t have to do all the distracting, energy-sapping work that goes into producing and promoting what was an idea, but is now a physical entity: my book.

Thoughts on Disease and Disability

April 5, 2010 at 8:42 am | Posted in Philosophy | 3 Comments
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I am learning about spina bifida. A few weeks ago, someone close to me told me that their child, due in two months, has been diagnosed, in utero, with spina bifida. I knew in general what the condition is. I have known that for a long time; one of my students had it when I lived in a remote community of the Northern Territory in the 1990s. However, I hadn’t studied the condition in any depth – until now.

It is amazing what a difference it makes when one you care about is affected. Now, I want to know all about it. I want to know what it is (the vertebrae that normally cover and protect the spinal cord do not develop properly; the spinal cord and its covering may protrude through the opening and be damaged). I want to know why it occurs (70% of cases are caused by a lack of folate; 30% by a mix of causes, many unknown). I want to know what the possible effects are (they vary widely, from very little effect to severe disability, depending upon the level of nerve damage and cerebral fluid). And I want to know how I can help and support this young couple when their baby arrives.

Most, if not all families will become familiar with some form of chronic disease or disability at some point. After all, most people don’t have completely healthy lives – and nobody lives forever. My immediate family (parents, self, siblings, children) had, and has its own generous share of afflictions – polio, back problems, aortic aneurysm, Type 1 diabetes, Malabsorption Syndrome, both osteo and rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, liver disease, macular degeneration, breast cancer, coeliac disease, lymphoma – these are a just a quick sample.

How we face and manage our health problems tells a lot about us as individuals and as families. We may be alone, or we may have a family and friends around us. Some do the ‘poor me’ act and wallow in self-pity; others say, “How do I fight this, and what weapons and support do I need?” Those with a positive, can-do attitude will most likely do better in their battle than those who dwell on the negative side of their illness. I have seen many examples of both attitudes, both within and outside of the family circle 

What we must beware of is the temptation to define ourselves by our afflictions, as if they are what make us. I know some people who do this and they are boring as hell! Ask them, “How are you today?”, and you get a run-down of every symptom they’ve suffered in the last ten years. Ask the positive ones and it’s “Great, thanks” or “I’m doing fine”. They focus on the good things they have; they are not their affliction.

Of course, in some cases, it is not the one with the problem who defines them, but those around them, those they meet, society in general. This is so when there are obvious signs of a disability – a wheelchair or a walker, a guide dog or a cane, perhaps a bodily indication, as in Downs syndrome, a stroke or some visible disfigurement. In those cases, the person must deal with other people’s attitudes as well as living with his/her own challenges.

And that brings me back to this unborn child. I wonder how much he will be affected, and what other people’s attitudes will be towards him. I am proud of the soon-to-be parents for taking on what may prove to be a major challenge – they didn’t take the easy out. I know that they have the required strength, and I believe that family and friends will provide the love, help and support they will need to raise a child that knows it is loved, and has a positive attitude towards life.

© Linda Visman 5th April, 2010

What is Happiness?

March 28, 2010 at 6:20 am | Posted in Philosophy | 1 Comment
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What is Happiness? I know, it has been a topic of thought and discussion for as long as the human race has been capable of thinking and of putting those thoughts into words. Perhaps it was the females who began this as a topic of conversation. After all, we know the stereotypical representation: the women gather to talk feelings, while the men talk hunting and sport (of all kinds), or work.

But what do you think? Is happiness the acquisition or ownership of things? As in “I’ll be happy when I have the lovely big house with a BMW and a Mercedes in the garage (or any other status symbol)”. Perhaps, to you, it is beating the opposition – the other candidate or party in politics; the opposing player or team in sport; the rival in any other field of combat.

Do you think happiness is having the person of your dreams, having other dreams come true; being beautiful or handsome, clever or witty, healthy and active; being accepted by the group you need to belong to; achieving wellbeing, peace and harmony? In other words,  feeling good when things go well in life, when you get what you want. In fact, practically every dictionary and many other references refer to good feelings, such as contentment and satisfaction, brought on by good fortune. Happiness appears to be an emotion, one that is dependent on, or bestowed by, pleasant external conditions.

But life isn’t like that. At times – too often, we believe – things do not go as planned. Something happens to bring you crashing to earth with a thud – a financial loss, a heart attack, losing a child or a spouse. Or you may suddenly realise that the happiness you initially felt over your acquisitions and achievements has faded, and you must try for a higher level, the next pot of gold. I have seen many people who seem to have everything – wealth, a lovely home and family, friends, possessions – and yet they are unhappy. An emotion dependent on external factors does not ensure the achievement of lasting happiness.

Sometimes, though, we meet a person who appears to be happy in spite of setbacks or loss, ill-health or poverty. Most of us look askance at the person who claims to be happy under adverse conditions, who accepts whatever life throws at them and cheerfully carries on. They are just too good to be true. But the evidence of their lives shows they are real. They may be knocked for six at first but, before too long, they come back and face life again with a positive outlook and a smile. How can they do that?

I know such a person, and he has shown me, through his example, how to achieve happiness. Contrary to popular understanding, he claims that happiness is not an emotion dependent on external conditions, but an internal choice. Happiness comes from a person deciding to cultivate a positive view of life, rather than a negative one. This can be achieved, to a large extent, by embracing what some call an “attitude of gratitude”.

Changing how we think can lead to amazing changes. How many people read and were changed by putting into practice the concepts in Norman Vincent Peale’s “The Power of Positive Thinking”? Gratitude is an emotion common to all races, a thankful and positive response to receiving a gift. It is more than appreciation, and the focus is on the gift and the giver, rather than on the self. Although it is an emotion, gratitude can also be a choice. We can harness this powerful and positive emotion by choosing to practise it; to be thankful in all situations.

Practising gratitude changes one’s entire outlook on life. In being grateful for any small thing, we begin to see how much we really have. We look at our families, friends, or workmates, our homes and possessions – no matter how small they may be, at our surroundings and at the natural world. When we look, we make a choice to see the positives. In focusing on these, we do not let in the negatives – or we at least minimise them and become less affected by them.

While the phrase “attitude of gratitude” is often used in a Christian context, it is not limited to that or to any other belief system. Whether you believe in God, or any other spiritual being, or whether you have no religious beliefs at all, you can practice gratitude.

In practising this positive attitude, you begin to radiate happiness. You attract others to you. Scientific studies show that being grateful can lead to a happier, healthier, more active and longer life, and even to prosperity. Grateful people are more peaceful, more optimistic and have better relationships. I know, because I have seen it. Now, I try to practise the attitude of gratitude in all situations. I have found that it works. I am happy with where I am and what I have, in spite of setbacks and problems.

Thoughts–just mere thoughts–are as powerful as electric batteries–as good for one as sunlight is, or as bad for one as poison. ~Frances Hodgson Burnett

 © Linda Visman, March, 2010.

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