How pets help us get ready for parenting

We’re not there yet. But we’re really looking forward to becoming mommies and daddies some day. Past experience as a couple, and previously as single folks, taught us to be patient. We’re also part of the social convention of putting career before starting a family. So, by the time mommy is ready to have her first child, we’ll be ready, and we’ll have all our ducks in a row by that time. Speaking of which, and talking of animals, imagine our surprise when we read this delightful story a few days ago.

It reminded us coherently of our own mock-parenting exercise here. We’ll tell you a bit about that towards the end of this post. But first this beautiful story. It’s a trending story on a leading social media network, and it’s a story about a little boy who inadvertently became a foster mom and dad all rolled into one. Now, this young chap, not yet ten, was extremely concerned about the plight of the endangered white rhino down in Southern Africa.

So, he spoke to his real mom and dad about this issue. Then one weekend, dad took the little boy to a nearby game reserve which was looking after abandoned wildlife kiddies. One of these lost children was a bubbly but tearful little white rhino not more than a year old. But after he met the little boy, his wild spirits were instantly lifted, and like any wild boy his age, all he wanted to do was play. But it got late, and our young protagonist here had to go home.

Later that evening, just before bed, the boy was still deep in thought about the little white rhino. So, before he shut his eyes, dad suggested that he start his own Facebook page to raise awareness about the plight of the white rhino in Africa. The boy’s father explained to him how it could be set up. It was all quite easy, and just so no trolls would come around to crawl under the boy’s bed at night, his father would supervise his page. Within days, awareness was raised and both father and son were really amazed at how much funds they were able to raise in such a short space of time.

Imagine the boy’s pride and the ranger’s gratitude when they went to visit the little white rhino the following weekend. Rhino was now well-fed with formula milk, by the boy, of course, and had lots of other supplies to help him grow into a strong bull. Now, the two ‘boys’ are inseparable. The money keeps rolling in, so much so that funds can now be distributed to other farms where abandoned rhinos are being cared for. This touching story got us thinking about our own foray into pre-planned parenting. Continue reading[..]

We really need to get out more

Did we give you the impression that we love being outdoors? Perhaps we should just let you know then. Yes, we absolutely love being outdoors. Trouble is though, if you were one of those near to us and knew us intimately, then you might just tell us to our faces that we were lying. Because, after all, when last did you see us out and about?  Unfortunately for us, we have a rather sad and sorry explanation of an excuse. And to cap it off, it’s not entirely a new and unique one either. Most folks with similar predicaments have used this excuse at some stage of their lives.

So, let’s all just say this together; sorry to say this but we’re all just too doggone busy to get out right now. And the problem is not so much that we are all so busy, we’ve become more set in our chaotic ways that it causes us to be so disorganized with our time to the point that we run out of time for doing anything worthwhile, outdoors, of course. Ironically, just a ten to twenty minute walk around town already makes a handy contribution towards settling our minds, helping it to focus clearly and relax us more. The problem with us, though, is that through past experience, we let our minds wander off too easily.

And this dreamlike result led to more chaos. Instead of that brisk, twenty minute walk; we ended up staying out, sometimes together, sometimes alone, for hours on end. And by the time we finally got back to our desks, we were just about burned out, not through our physical exertions so much but more to do with new stresses over falling further behind with our work. So, as a result, petrified witless of falling behind with looming deadlines, we played it safe by keeping our noses to the grindstone and working ourselves silly to the bone. We soon realized that this was no good.

It wasn’t helping at all. Yes, work was getting done, on time and quite well, but in the back of our minds lay the thought that, given our talents, we could have done so much better. It frustrates us to no end to this day. So, to make all things valuable to us work in our favor, we finally decided to take action. Sadly, given our past experiences, we had to make sacrifices and install discipline just to go out and basically have a good time. But the sacrifice (and discipline) is starting to reap rewards. The sacrifice entails spending time apart. It’s a sacrifice because we love being together outdoors.

While one stays at home, continues with his or her work, the other heads off for the walk, up to an hour even. By the time, he or she has returned, feeling wholly refreshed, he or she can return to the workstation to do another hour or two of work. And while the work is going on, the significant other is busy in the kitchen, getting dinner ready for later. Time does, however, allow for both parties to get out on the same day, just not at the same time, unfortunately. So, while she’s taking her afternoon walk, he’s working. She’s a morning person, while he usually does his best work in the afternoon.

Of course, there’s always room for variation, as the wind blows and as the job priorities dictate. We’re so excited now that we’re both on the right track. Speaking of which, we really can’t wait for weekends. Then, if it’s been a successful week, we have more time to ourselves and to do the things that we absolutely love. Like going for those long walks through our favorite botanical garden. And variety being the spice of life, we head off out of town on some weekends to take in a different route. We live fairly close to the coast, so not only do we get to enjoy walks through forests and hiking trails, we also get to hold hands and let our toes tingle while our bare feet touches base, one step at a time, through the beach sand. Continue reading[..]

How we met each other

Well, we didn’t exactly meet each other in the great outdoors, strictly speaking, but when we met we were on similar excursions. That we cemented our future together under the roof – we’re not saying whose – is purely a technicality. As far as we can remember, we were both in the middle of a personal crisis. He was having problems with his work and family situation. She was working just fine then, but was making a slow recovery from a rather abusive relationship of long standing.

There was an immediate physical attraction, so thankfully that dating hurdle was scaled fairly quickly. He wasn’t the type one would call rugged and athletic, or even physically handsome, something she would normally go for anyhow. But he wasn’t bad looking either. Women, as you know, are not that fussy, really. Nevertheless, she was stunning on the night in question. It comes down to her usual habit of always looking her best no matter where she’s heading off to.

She dresses so well even on the most average of occasions. He, on the other hand, likes to keep things practically casual, well, he was dressed for the great outdoors anyway, in what would be his trademark tee, faded jeans and hiking boots.  Curiously, though, she was dressed for an elegant night out, as though she was preparing herself for magnificent possibilities later on. Her penchant for high fashion, not impractical as it turned out on the evening in question, remained stubborn to the core.

At this point, we may as well bring up one quirk we have as a couple today. These days, particularly when we’re pressed for time, he casually takes care of the groceries, even if it means bringing back things that weren’t originally on the shopping list. Because, boy, does she still like to take her time getting ready, even if just going downtown to the store. And did you know, she’s actually quite beautiful, she really doesn’t need all that fussing about.

Anyway, we were both around friends that particular evening. His plan for later that evening was to head off for a longish walk. It was an uncharacteristically balmy evening for autumn then. As we said earlier, she had a come what may attitude about her, but was still prepared for something special. Being a Friday evening, the plan for the next evening, or afternoon rather, was to group together once more for the big ball game. Coincidentally, and this seems to be the case when matches are made in heaven, we were both soccer fans, and we supported the same team too.

Both of us are naturally shy creatures, he more of the reserved type, while she, mainly due to past traumas, would normally keep her cards close to her chest. But not this time. It was amazing to see just how comfortable we were talking to each other, completely oblivious of what was happening around us. And do you want to know how the conversation got started? Well, it was the all-time favorite dating cliché that got us started. Only it was she who got to ask him what the time was. Continue reading[..]

No matter how much or little we have of it, we’re always having trouble with money

Here, we can honestly say we speak from experience, because when it comes to dealing with money, boy have we had loads of experience. True to say, we also had loads of the money too. This post, themed on the upsetting subject of money, by the way is not written by registered, qualified and certified financial planners who are legally allowed to give you expert advice on how to handle your income, but by two good writers who have only now come to terms with the harsh realities of not listening to wise counsel.

As a money-related blog post, it also raises the bar a little because without raising excuses for our ineptitude in dealing with money up to now, there are serious emotional issues which led to our financial downfall. This harrowing story is based on our true lives. We say this only because we don’t want to let slip anything truly personal, so aspects of what really happened are only adjusted to protect us while still putting our message across to you.

First off, let us explain, not excuse, our poor behavior in regard to managing our financial affairs until quite recently. Also be reminded that we will continue to use the personal pronoun where it is deemed relevant to do so. Financial disciplinarians, those who have managed to save and budget well throughout their lives, may or may not fully appreciate or understand our behavior. Some will, particularly some of the qualified experts who have experience in dealing with folks like us.

Due to the clinical stress, anxiety and depression suffered over the years, impulsive spending habits, in spite of good financial advice and the warnings, as well as the lack of resources to do this, led us to spend far more than we could afford. In the wake of the financial crisis of a few years ago, we cannot say that we are entirely victims of the so-called credit boom, because we knew full well what we were getting ourselves into. So, we spent on credit, recklessly we must add.

And not only that, we spent cash and credit on things we really had no need for or any business buying. She would spend everything she had to spare on new clothes, boots and jewelry. He would indulge his impulses by purchasing books and DVD’s. When we moved in together a few years ago, he had so much of these tangible objects there was barely enough room to move. Then the bedroom cupboards were filled to the hilt as well. So, inevitably, things had to go, one way or another, many of the items not worn, read or watched.

It was around that time that we began to take note of our deviant behavior. Try as we might, we sought out help, but lacked the motivation and discipline to conform with well-tailored and realistic savings and investment goals. And we were never able to follow the household budget, as advised. No matter how hard we tried, we just couldn’t get it right. We forgot to mention this in an earlier post, but one of the things we enjoy doing together is dining out.

And although we lacked the financial resources to do this, we still went out regularly every Friday night, sometimes on more than one occasion during the week. The sad irony of this is that by the time we realized just how serious our shortcomings were, we would spend hours discussing them, right under the candle at our dinner table. Now those reading this might understandably be exclaiming how crazy all of this is. And as we fell further back, we watched sadly, not jealously, how others made progress in their lives. Continue reading[..]

Our strong and critical views on treatment without cures

Today we’d thought we’d share some of our strong and critical views on treatment for the whole gamut of mental illnesses, from the smallest hint of a panic attack to the direst form of clinical depression. Let’s begin with clinical depression. Make a note of this if you’ve been told otherwise. Note that there is no cure for clinical depression.

If you’ve been diagnosed with clinical depression then the disease is going to be with you for the rest of your life. Sorry to be putting it so bluntly and seemingly so harshly, but it had to be said. The sooner you come to this realization; the better off you will be in the future. If we scared you, we did not mean to. But have heart, because while there is no cure, like many other incurable diseases, proper treatment and care is readily available to help you to cope with life as though you were a normal, healthy human being.

So, if you pardon the pun taken from a movie with a similar name, there’s always a silver lining. We’ve taken a hard line on psychiatrists. Those of you who have been through similar ordeals should be able to relate. Now, these doctors keep you in their ‘care’ for years. Their deal is that this is necessary. You must allow them to doze off in their comfortable leather armchairs for the rest of your natural lives while you get everything off your chest.

Over and above this is the question of regular prescriptions of rather strong and addictive medications. Firstly, it takes months for your brain cells to become accustomed to the chemical effects. Once you’ve become used to its effects, you could become dependent on these drugs and a slave for life. We argue that this is not healthy at all.

Granted, talking to someone while he or she listens attentively is part of the healing process. But it’s hardly helpful when there’s no sincerity on the side of the receiver and some of the sparse words he offers is the familiar refrain of; right, our time’s up for today. And it wasn’t even an hour to begin with. There are far healthier alternatives which also spare you the costly expense.

Initially, it’s a bit challenging to find the right support group. This takes time. But once you’re part of a group, it doesn’t take long to see and feel positive results. And, ironically, you’ll be spending a lot more time doing the listening and occasionally, when this becomes relevant, be offering a little counseling yourself. Here’s a quick reminder for those suffering from the worst forms of depression that, in more ways than one and without any further explanation, endangers lives. Continue reading[..]

How we are coping, and how you can cope too

In an earlier post centered on healthy living, we ended up emphasizing the state of our own mental health. We, as professional writers, the pair of us, were tasked to speak from personal experience. Although this is not always easy for us to do, mainly because we both value our private lives, we’ve managed well so far. Strictly speaking, as you are reading this, we may as well be anonymous. That’s the funny thing about human nature; we only seem ready and able to reveal our deepest thoughts this way.

It’s a far cry from having to bear your soul to your closest relative and the one you love most. Today, we’d like to continue chatting about the issue of mental health, but this time in a more positive frame of mind. Because we’re not medical practitioners or professional care givers per se, we urge you to do your own, extensive research in terms of seeking help, should you need it and read up on healthy ways of living. We’re not suggesting that everything we say here is bosh, we’re just mentioning this as a precaution; call it a disclaimer, if you will.

Before focusing our minds on the positive side of mental health, solutions, problem solving and suggestions mainly, we’d like to continue sharing our thoughts with you on how we came to take hands in dealing with the problems of stress and anxiety and clinical depression. In the first few months of our relationship, we were still getting to know one another through thoughtful conversations and new discoveries, most of them pleasant, in relation to common areas of interest.

But, unpleasantly, we discovered that we had similar issues in regard to poor mental health. Interestingly, within a year of our relationship and shortly after she made her first declaration of love (he had surprisingly done this much sooner), we became very supportive of each other. In our turn, we would be very caring and good listeners, never forgetting a word of what the other said. While we didn’t necessarily take everything to heart (this has something to do with stubbornly holding onto our independence as individuals), we honestly tried our best to make the other feel better.

For instance, she knew well that he loved his mother dearly. He would always reminisce about his mother’s unique disciplinary skills and remark admiringly that he saw a lot of his mother in her. She responded well in practice, and her home cooked curries, stews and roasts were fairly close to those prepared by his mother. He tried his best to respond in kind too, although this proved to be a bit more difficult. One way she could release all her frustrations in a healthy sort of way was to hit the dance floor.

Living near the city, we would occasionally head off on an outing together. She was happy as a lark and made the most of her dancing excursion. Not so much that he didn’t like dancing, he simply never enjoyed, still doesn’t, being around crowds. It’s not quite a phobia, but its close enough. He gets very nervous at times. And she is not always able to relax him in the middle of a busy throng. Now, while we’re still learning about all of this, let’s share our thoughts on the importance of healthy living.

In order to improve mental health, particularly if there’s been a negative clinical diagnosis as is the case with us, healthy living, over all, is non-negotiable. Because the longer you persist with the unhealthy alternatives, something which many of us are still familiar with today, the greater the potential is of your mental health declining. Healthy living, in our analogy, covers everything, from the moment you get up in the morning, to the things you do and say during the day, right up to the time you put your head down to sleep again. Continue reading[..]

Let the games begin

Ok, granted, marriage is not a game. Those of you who have been married for many years may even argue that it’s more than a pain sometimes. Those of you who are newly-weds may still have vivid recollections of all the stress and work that went into planning the wedding reception and then finally getting hitched. We understand that.

So, mainly because of our past experience where even the most basic of managing life’s daily tasks seemed to cause us to panic and procrastinate, we’ve decided to relax. Fortunately, we’ve been together for a number of years, so our living arrangements are all but done and dusted. No prizes for guessing who is still doing most of the housework, by the way. Still.

So, it seems that some things don’t ever change. Or do they? That’s part of the plan, going forward. Once hitched, things are going to change around the house for, how did you all say it, better or for worse. To begin with, we came up with a workable and practical plan. Where household chores were concerned we created a list focusing on our individual strengths.

So, for instance, she would still continue to do the washing and ironing, something he’s quite hopeless at. He, on the other hand, has gained a knack for vigorous cleaning. He’s also started to enjoy the gardening, so he spends a lot more time out there. Still too overwhelmed by shopping malls, she sits down to compile the grocery list, while he heads off down town to do the shopping.

This is great for us because it gives us yet another opportunity to enjoy a little time and space apart from each other. The wonderful thing about this is that we are never out of each other’s thoughts anyway. Given our past, harrowing experiences with money, we’ve set in motion our long-term savings objectives and deployed all the correct tools to pull this off. Continue reading[..]