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Personal Directions

The Doctor's Consultation by Dr. Iain Corness

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Mrs. DoLittle’s Corner

Personal Directions:  Often we think ourselves into old age

By Christina Dodd,

Recently I have been reading – or re-reading – a book by Dr Maxwell Maltz on the Magic Power of Self Image Psychology and I thought I might share some thoughts and insights of the author with you. This is valuable reading for anyone but more so for those who are approaching “retirement” and indeed for those of you who have already had it done to them! A while ago one of my articles touched on “goals in retirement” and this adds a little more flavour to the pudding! It is very likely that you have a good grasp of what Maltz says, but it doesn’t hurt to refresh our ideas with other people’s viewpoints. Hope you find it interesting.

“When you ‘retire’, you retire from your true self-image. You destroy a self-image that has taken a lifetime to build; you put yourself in a concentration camp, making an underprivileged inmate of yourself. Faster than George Washington cutting down the cherry tree, you slash your self-image to ribbons. You surround yourself with barbed wire, make yourself the victim of brutal jailers, snuff out your life force in a gas chamber. No secret police come in the middle of the night and enforce this indignity upon you: you do it to yourself.

You’re as young as you feel

You’re 65 now so you’ve arrived at middle age, you’re still in the prime of life; new horizons lie before you and the future is yours.

“What!” you say. “Maybe you didn’t hear me right. I said I was 65, not 35!”

I heard you. You’re 65 and you think you’re old, and lots of people think you’re old, but you’re not. I’m in the same boat as you, and I’m young. I wake up in the morning and I see the sun shining. The sky is blue in my world and the birds sing and people live. I eat a hearty breakfast and I don’t gulp it down absently. I eat it and enjoy it and a planned, constructive, life-filled day.

You, too, can be young and I don’t care what your chronological age is. There are people who are old at 21, because their self-image is dried up. And there are people who are still young in spirit at 80.

Don’t live by the book! Write your own book of life!

Often we think ourselves into old age. Expecting to grow old at a certain age, we prepare ourselves for negative goal images. Tapering off on both physical and mental activities, we lose both the flexibility of our joints and the life force of our minds and spirits. With this type of attitude, one naturally becomes old.

But today a person of 65 is middle-aged. Advances in medicine are increasing life expectancy and diseases which are dread killers today will be curable tomorrow. So if you’re 65 enjoy your middle age. Take part in life and feel young, no matter what your age. Give to life and it will give back to you and you’ll feel that life is good. Naturally there are limits but if you keep your mind fertile and your body fit and useful you’ll feel young all your life!

More living: A prescription for you

I’d like to repeat my prescription for people of retirement age, who suffer from the disease of apathy and lethargy; Take lots and lots of MORE LIFE!

The whole business of living is to remember is that every day is a composite lifetime for the person who is happy. A day must have a beginning, a middle and an end, and the whole must be harmonious.

Those who are happy look forward each day with faith and hope to realizing the goals that they set for themselves. Each day there must be goals related to life and the society in which we live – no matter how simple, they are fundamental. The goals may be something as simple as riding a bicycle through a park or getting some overdue letters out of the way. Don’t laugh at these goals, for whoever has them, if they have their hearts in what they are doing, the activities are important! For example, to someone the bike might be a symbol of living, enjoying movement and emotionally going somewhere, rather than standing still with the possibility of falling down.

It is in doing nothing, in being bored, that people die inside.

Retirement from life is criminal because it is self-inflicted. You become a traitor to yourself when you walk away from your daily goals, denying the life force that God has given you. Age is no excuse at all. When you retire from life you walk away from reality and self-respect, write off your self-image and voluntarily isolate yourself in an inner concentration camp. You put your soul in jail.

Some of you probably think that money represents the solution, but experiments on the problem of living longer have indicated otherwise. Researchers have found that what makes retired people happy are preparation, vitality, interest in the contemporary world, work of any nature, and an ability to take pleasure in others.

Life is Your

Wine is not good until it is aged; it mellows with the passing of the years. It can be like this for human beings. Young people may be able to race effortlessly around tennis courts and pick up on the latest technology a lot faster, they may live a life of discos and more fun-filled days. But they often lack understanding which comes only through the experience of many years of living. They make tragic mistakes, products of their inexperience. And they often lack compassion and wisdom.

If you’re older, you’ve had many successes and failures – and you will recognize the points I have raised in the preceding paragraph. It must be this way – no life is perfect. Don’t dwell on the failures; picture your proud moments. See yourself at your best and admire your self-image! If you do, you will never shrink from life; it will hold no terrors for you. You will live fully all your life, living each day the best you know how, going to sleep peacefully when the day is done, dreaming pleasant dreams.

You will live fully after 65 and if you can live – with goals, with friends, without self-pity, without resentment, without regret, you will love life. And living life this way you will never retire from it – as long as you live!”

If you would like to contact me about Personal Life Planning or indeed any of our personal or business skills programs, then please email me at [email protected] asia

Until next time, have an invigorating week!

The Doctor's Consultation:  Live to be 100

by Dr. Iain Corness

With the advent of our daughter Arisa, I had to promise my young wife I would live to be 100. This I readily pledged, saying on oath, that I would live to be 100, or die in the attempt! All eminently achievable. (Beat that for a classic get-out!)

However, longevity has been increasing in most countries (even Thailand despite the Songkran road toll!), but for those of you who are looking for eternal youth, I discovered the ingredients of the longevity potion for a gentleman called Gustav of the House Merinita. Gustav is currently only 40, but you may wish to chart his progress. I now present the potion, which you will have to alter as required to suit your position.

Glands from a magical skunk (to reflect the Magus’ foul odor)

Water from the well of Haindorf (the village of Gustav’s birth)

Ashes from the hearth of his childhood hut (reflecting his affinity with Ignem)

Eggshells from a hen laid on May Day (symbolizing birth and sympathetic to his faerie blood)

Footprints of a Sylph in the faerie forest of Bohemerwald (hearkens to a tale in Gustav’s youth)

Snow that hasn’t touched the ground collected under Capricorn (his constellation of birth)

Nails from his father’s coffin

Plus the final magic ingredient - a snake found in a graveyard (signifying his ‘demon-tainted’ flaw).

So there you go. I am so sure of this potion that I am looking for investors with large bank accounts and small intellect to form 50 percent joint ventures with me on this one.

However, there are some factors that will assist you as far as longevity is concerned, none of which will have you raiding the neighbour’s chook pen on May Day.

First off, you are what you eat. If you eat a diet rich in fats, you will be a fat person. Simple. So the answer is to eat a balanced diet, and that doesn’t require a set of kitchen scales either. The easy way is to eat salads one day a week, a European diet two days a week, a Thai diet three days a week and anything you want on Sundays. Try to avoid the well known fatty foods like chips (other than on Sunday). You should also eat when you feel hungry, not when the clock dictates. Your blood sugar levels depend on what and when you eat, not on “three square meals a day” (anyway your plates are round).

Plan for at least one AFD (Alcohol Free Day) per week, and on the other days try to drink sensibly. Getting legless six nights a week is not recommended, but one beer or a glass of wine is. (Moderate drinkers live longer than teetotalers).

Never smoke cigarettes. If you are a smoker, give up today. Right now! In two years your lungs will be clean and in ten years your chances of problems will be about the same as a life-long non-smoker. But give up today.

Get enough sleep. For adults, seven to eight hours a day seems best according to the longevity studies. Rip Van Winkle was a myth, so there’s nothing to be gained by lying in.

Get some exercise every day. Build it into your lifestyle. Walk to the shop. Walk to where you get lunch. Take the dog for a run. As the sportswear manufacturer says, “Just do it!”

Take 100 mgm of aspirin every day. Faithfully.

Think positive. Do all the above and believe in yourself. I’ll have a drink for you when you reach your century!

Agony Column

Dear Hillary,
I notice that you have become more and more critical of the accuracy of letters sent in of late when I’m sure that the readers are looking for a response to the content. How petty! Tully, for example, has “less than excellent punctuation, syntax and spelling.” Well, I’m sure I’m not the first to point out that the accuracy of your written English is far from perfect. You make punctuation mistakes on a regular basis, particularly by using commas when semi-colons or full stops are required. You’ve even apostrophized ‘its’ when it is intended to be a possessive pronoun. Your use of ‘however’ in reply to Roger’s letter in today’s column was the sort of mistake I get from my Grade 6 ESL students. And don’t start slagging me off for being an under-paid English teacher because I’m not. What do they say about people in glass houses? Or should that be ebony towers?
Prof Red

Dear Prof Red,
I would certainly not even think of “slagging” you off, as you so nicely put it. After all, as you have written, you are not an under-paid English teacher (by the way, Petal, you don’t need a hyphen between under and paid), so I presume you are then an overpaid one. Who employs you? Several of the readers would like to teach there too. I notice that you have sprung to the defense of Tully. It was he who wrote, “My message was impeccable in it’s (sic) syntax, parallel structure, punctuation, spelling, etc., which evidenced a solid degree of tertuary (sic) education.” Unfortunately, it was none of those things, as even he acknowledged a week later, writing, “In reviewing the message I found a few typos that I would like to correct on the off-chance it finds it way into print. They are as follows;
1.) first letter in Pseudonym should be lower case.
2.) In aiming for the “i” in “tertiary” I missed and hit the “u” instead.
3.) In typing the word “transgression” I came up one “s” short.
4.) Eliminate unnecessary comma after “name” in the phrase “and the use of my name in what appears to be”.
I believe that should be an adequate response to your content. Please correct me if I am wrong, Ajarn.
Dear Hillary,
Your chocs and bubbly have now been transferred to a submersible tuk-tuk (Seagoon i/c). This is a precautionary measure to avoid young ladies with sweet teeth, floating around on lilos (eg. Ying, sister same Nit). You should now be prepared to slip into your rubber suit and scuba kit to recover your water-cooled goodies. Seagoon has a red bath mat on board to make you feel at home. I hope this finds you all excited.

Dear Mistersingha,
You are sadly mistaken, young boy. Hillary does certainly not don scuba gear, snorkels or anything similar to attempt to recover sunken treasure, especially when you are the one who has placed the X on the treasure map. At best the bubbly bottles would be empty. You have reneged too often, Mistersingha.

Dear Hillary,
We are often in Thailand and I would like to think that we are generous kinds of people, but one thing that does completely confuse me is the subject of tipping - when and how much? I have got smart recently and look down at the bottom of the menu to see if “service” charges are mentioned, but then if the establishment charges a “service” fee, should you tip as well? What do you do? I am led to believe that the wages are not high for some of the people in bars and restaurants and they share the tips, but I do not want to throw money away either? What’s your tip about tipping?
Confusion reigns supreme

Confusion reigns supreme,
Don’t be confused, Petal, help from Hillary is at hand. Here are the tips on how to pick your way through the terrors of tipping. There are two situations here - Service Charge or no Service Charge. If the establishment adds on 10 percent (the usual amount), then as far as Hillary is concerned - that’s the tip. You have just paid an extra 10 percent of the bill to cover ‘service’ (whether you got it or otherwise). There are some places that no doubt pocket the Service Charge, but that’s not anything of our or your doing, nor can we change it. That is something between the employees and the owners to work out. However, if Hillary feels that the waiter or service provider has gone well beyond that which could be expected, then I reward with a little extra something for that person, irrespective. You know the sort of things I like - a little fawning, grovelling and lots of compliments. In an establishment that has no standard add-on Service Charge, then it really is up to you. Small change left over or up to 10 percent is quite normal. The Thai people are grateful for anything you leave them. It all adds up by the end of the day. A small tip - in most bars, if you leave a tip from the change, this goes into the communal tip box, but if you wish to tip your service person (and not the whole bar), then give the tip directly to her or him.

Camera Class:  What to shoot in the Wat

by Harry Flashman

Thailand is a photographer’s paradise. None of those cold grey days here. The ambient light levels are strong, shadows are strong and images are also strong if you use light and shadow to your advantage. The ideal venue to use all these aspects is in your local Wat (temple). You can certainly describe it with words, but as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

As you are aware, Thailand has thousands of Wats. Unfortunately the sheer number of them can blind you to the fact that they have a unique quality. Wats are not commonplace “back home” and so a definitive “Wat” photograph will have a wonderful impact.

So here is how to take that great Wat shot - only it isn’t one shot. It is impossible to show a Wat with one snap. It requires a series. One of the reasons for this is the fact that a Wat is a microcosm of Thai society. People eat there, live there, learn there and go there after they die. So really you are trying to show not only the grandeur of the architecture, but the fact that the Wat has its own life going on within its boundaries.

Here is how I would approach the subject, and remember we are looking for production quality shots here. The preparation is to go there the day before your shooting day to see how the sun shines on the buildings. To get the textures and colours you need the sun striking the walls at an angle. Full shade or full sun is not the way. It’s back to using light and shadow to show form. You will have to note what are the best times of day to record the various architectural details. Also be prepared to use a close up shot or two to highlight some of the small details. By the way, always remember that a Wat is a place of religious worship and significance, so do take your shoes off and be respectful.

Wats are inhabited by much more than the saffron robed monks. There are teachers, nuns, novitiates, school children, street vendors and tourists. A very mixed bag. Try to take shots to show just why these people are there in the Wat and its compound. This is where a “long lens” (135 mm upwards) can be a help. You can get the image you want without having to intrude into the person’s personal space. However, remember that if there is any doubt as to whether your subject would really want that photo taken - then ask permission first. It is my experience that the vast majority of people will happily respond positively to your request. Even when there is no common language, a smile and a wave of the camera in their direction and an “OK?” is generally all that is necessary.

Taking pictures inside a Wat is not as easy as the exterior shots. The light levels are very low and there is often the feeling that you are intruding in someone else’s religious practices. Taking a flash photograph really is an intrusion in my view. This is where the tripod is great. Set the camera up on the tripod, compose the shot, set it on Time Exposure and quietly get that shot of a lifetime. You will probably need around 5-10 seconds at f5.6, but that is just a guide and you should experiment. If you set the camera on Auto mode and turn off the flash you will get better results.

By now you should have taken almost one complete roll of film on your local Wat. Verticals, horizontals, close-ups and wide-angle shots. Do not be afraid to shoot film. It is the only way to improve and the only way to get great shots. Film is the cheapest thing in photography, always remember that. Just avoid taking the ‘same’ shot four times - one vertical and one horizontal for each subject, but that is all.

Mrs. DoLittle’s Corner: Gone to the dogs - a “ruff” place to be!

In the Chinese horoscope it says that the only animal that can defeat the tiger is the monkey because it jumps out of a tree and grabs the tiger by the tail. Mrs. DoLittle being born in the Year of the Tiger, can assure you, there is some truth in this. On February 4th, just as the monkey leaped in, the tiger had her tail pulled, although it felt more like being grabbed by the hair and given a good shaking up, to say the least.

Jodie was Mrs. DoLittle’s very first dog. A terrier mix picked up off a dirty street in Singapore 1974, she died in Bangkok 1989. She came to Thailand along with her own pets, Daffy the duck and Smokey the rabbit. Jodie was a bright girl, constantly alert and interactive with humans. For several years she ‘mothered’ a duck which she found somewhere in the middle of the night. Daffy followed her everywhere; Jodie protected it from everyone and everything. In the evening both Daffy and Smokey were rounded up at bedtime by Jodie, licked all over and put into their boxes. Then she slept next to them. If there were people in the house, she’d be there like the sheriff, checking everyone out, but would keep going back in to check if her ‘babies’ were still in their boxes. All three came to Bangkok together in 1988.

When Mrs. DoLittle saw the light of day again, there was a whole lot of pain to be felt, not only in the head, but also in the knuckles and the bones. And speaking of bones, on last New Year’s Day, Year of the Monkey, there were an awful lot of bones to be distributed. Mrs. DoLittle was faced with the grueling task of having to clean and feed over a hundred animals, 26 of which were distressed dogs.

Not one person in sight, or hearing range, who could help! With no room for hesitation, it was time for autarky! Just had to knuckle down to the fact that the animals were one hundred percent reliant on Mrs. DoLittle to provide them with everything they needed! That day and the next, and for however long it would take to get help with the chores. Phew!

Let me tell you, dogs are the most demanding creatures on this planet! I will testify to that in court. Dogs being so close to people and considered as man’s best friend have grown to be so much like mankind, that they reflect human behavior. When they are kept in a group, they become extremely selfish. Their whole world is geared around what they can get from their master.

Apart from food, what they want most is somebody to look at them adoringly, preferably 24 hours a day and to respond to every need and want. Mrs. DoLittle found herself with a big bill at the “dog chew shop”. Although they would rather have hugs and kisses, those arms weren’t long enough and the body just not wide enough to reach them all when they wanted it, which was ALL AT ONCE.

The other animals in the sanctuary seemed to be content to wait their turn for food and belly rubs. But the dogs would fight for attention even while they were getting it. Dogs with full bellies become the most arrogant of beasts; will even attack a friend over an old sock. Dogs in packs offer a good reflection of today’s humanity. If people don’t have space, or freedom to be who they are, they will fight for it and in extreme cases even terrorize each other’s neighborhoods.

But, have dogs become like us, or have we become like them? What came first, the chicken or the egg? Perhaps it doesn’t really matter; if we evolved together we’ve rubbed off on each other. We’ve “grown together” so to speak, excuse the pun. The fact remains; dogs and people like each other’s company very much and probably arrived here on the same spaceship before the year dot. Hey that’s a good name for a dog! Sirius that is!

Dogs, much like people, become nicer when you know get to know them on an individual basis. First the sunny side shines. Neither can do enough to make a good impression, try to control bad habits and sit neatly with legs folded, just so.

Later, when getting tired of sitting still and behaving, then the real personality stands up. Some go play ball, others rip up the whole neighborhood. Whether you are a chicken killer or a “meow-meow terrorist”, seems to have something to do with heritage and life experience. People and dogs come in multi-colored packages shaped by those who control them. Whether you are choosing a partner or a dog, you don’t really know what you’re in for.

That’s why it’s a good idea to stick to one and get more personal. Focus on being a loving, caring companion constantly and you will automatically become a better person. Plus, no more begging at the table, you know the tidbits are coming for dessert. Contentment becomes a comfy sofa.

Discipline is important in both species. The one with the loudest bark calls the shots. No sticks needed.

That’s why Mrs. DoLittle has been a bit hoarse answering the phone lately. The shelter now has two dogs suitable for adoption, both young sterilized females, looking for love (in all the wrong places). If you are in the mood for a devoted relationship, for at least the next 10 years, then call 053-301192 after 5 p.m. to arrange for visit to meet Dee Dee or Snukki. Or email: thai tur keytalk

Having dealt intimately with hundreds of dogs over the past 20 years, there has not been even one that has not responded to loving kindness. This is where dogs and some tormented people seem to differ. But perhaps the reason for this is that there are still millions of people (and other beings) in this world who have not yet experienced unconditional love. It’s time to get everyone together and there will be ‘no love lost’ (no pun intended), no homeless and no strays!

The morale of this story is: Humanity has gone to the dogs!