Life is good (and other points)

1. Time is even more precious than usual these days as my ‘practice’ at the military hots up. Even with all the public holidays last month, I still had 51 scheduled sessions with 35 people and it felt that my attention was spread very thinly at times. Quite a few of those were no-shows (all too common here) but I still block off the time and then work half-heartedly in case they arrive late.

2. Winter has arrived, which means howling wind and rain and cold temperatures. This happens every year and so you would think that I would manage to keep an umbrella from one year to the next.

3. It’s been “Men at Work” at my house for the past two weeks and I’m sick of it. First it was the window guys (replacing wooden windows with powdered aluminium). I’m happy with the windows but less happy that the burglar bars have now gone. So of course the alarm people came to put in contact points. And then there were the painters. Mr D has been painting for my parents for 20 years and he is a dear but I still rush home from work in a state of mild anxiety to check whether the workmen are OK and are managing to do their work without destroying anything they shouldn’t be destroying. This week the builders are putting in the world’s smallest deck outside the dining room and putting up trellises and laying paving along the side of the house. In the driving rain, nogal! Not pleasant.

4. In preparation for my talk on ‘Positive Psychology’ tomorrow I’ve been watching a clip on YouTube which features Bette Midler and Bing Crosby singing ‘You’ve got to ac-cent-tchuate the positive’. It’s a cute song but it got stuck in my brain and started annoying me with the lyrics about eliminating the negative and not messing with Mr In-Between. Of course you must mess with Mr In-between. The middle-ground is what it’s all about. But I was also fascinated by the body language between the two – Midler young and flirtatious and Crosby slick and charming but a little intimidated by Midler’s flirtatiousness. At one point she punches him in the stomach and I wasn’t sure how to analyse that!

5. L is attending a laparoscopy course in Germany for two weeks and I got a text message yesterday to say she had just done a laparoscopic hysterectomy on a pig. I’m happy for her that she’s getting the training but I feel sorry for the poor pig. Who asked her whether she wanted to have a hysterectomy? And what kind of after-care do they get after their ops? I know the reality of Science is that animals get operated on for the greater good of humanity. I just don’t like it.

6. I’m feeling anxious but also a little excited about my talk tomorrow. I’m basically presenting it as a “Journey through Positive Psychology”. I became interested in PP as a result of my blog-reading. Lilian mentioned it first and then Dorothy got me interested in reading Barbara Fredrickson’s book ‘Positivity’. From there the reading just mushroomed.

7. For example I’ve learned a lot about positive and negative emotions in the last few days. I will share these thoughts here in due course, once I’ve managed to formulate them properly. But it’s interesting how intertwined and yet how different the two sets of emotions can be. The negative emotions are more important to understand but the positive emotions are what we aim for.

8. I finished Kate Atkinson’s When will there be good news? which I found riveting. She has a very refreshing narrative voice and I loved the way she subverts gender stereotypes. In this book Jackson Brodie spends much of the story injured and basically a bit on the ropes while 16-year old Reggie Chase (Famous Girl Detective) does most of the sleuth work. And as for the ending, well that just wasn’t terribly realistic was it? But does it matter? I doubt it.

9. My latest book order arrived from the internet book suppliers and I was very happy. To add to the growing TBR pile we have: The Boat by Nam Le; Touched with Fire by Kay Redfield-Jamison; Writing through the Darkness (on writing as a healing process for depression); Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson; and a textbook on Psychology and Law. Life is good, right?

10. And while we’re on the subject of life being good, on Saturday we celebrated my older brother’s birthday at Delaire restaurant in the Stellenbosch winelands. The weather was perfect, the view was exquisite and the food was sublime. I will start sounding like a Western Cape Tourism public relations officer with these adjectives but they’re definitely justified. The autumn light on the vines across the valley, the soft blue haze of the mountains in the distance, the succulent roast beef (yes I did feel guilty) with whatever fancy vegetable stuff they added to it, the red wine from Rupert and Rothschild, the melt-in-your-mouth chocolate dessert and the sinful coffee to end off. Not the kind of restaurant that I can afford to go to regularly on my salary, which makes it doubly good I suppose.


7 Responses to Life is good (and other points)

  1. natalian says:

    The seemingly endless rainy, windy cold days of the Western Cape are not missed since moving to the East Coast! However, enjoying lovely lunches, quaffing Rupert and Rothschild in the beautiful winelands most certainly is! Good luck with your talk tomorrow!

  2. Grad says:

    Now, don’t go messin’ with Johnny Mercer lyrics Pete. He was born and bred right here in Savannah – and is a favorite son. The “Mr In Between” part means don’t get stuck in old negative thinking, or indecisiveness. If you do, you won’t move forward. In other words, “get out of your own way.” The song also goes on to say, “You’ve got to spread joy up to the maximum, Bring gloom down to the minimum, Have faith or pandemonium’s, Liable to walk upon the scene.” Or, take control of your own life and try to make the best of it. Gotta love it!

    • Pete says:

      Grad – Thanks for the true Savannah explanation. The psychology profs have taken “Mr In-Between” to mean that area between positive and negative, the so-called gray area. But I’m happy to have it explained as indecisiveness. I find that song very catchy and I’ve been humming it off and on for the past week. I like the part about spreading joy to the maximum and bringing gloom down to the minimum. Johnny Mercer is fine with me – he must just not eliminate the negative!

  3. That was an interesting video. Bette Midler and Bing Crosby–what a combination. They manage it, but they’re so different in style and temperament.

  4. doctordi says:

    Laughing at Grad’s loyal and in-depth exposition of Mercer’s lyrics – those Savannah types sure do look out for their own… Now, Pete, the talk went ‘well enough’? I think someone’s not accentuating the positive!!

    Ooh, I do hope you enjoy The Boat by Nam Le. And the restaurant in the vineyards sounds DIVINE.

    Our filthy weather has not yet arrived (she whispers, knocking on wood) and I am ecstatic about the delay. Anyone would think it was still summer in Sydney, except of course for the sun’s setting at a thoroughly insulting hour each day.

  5. Hey, glad I stumbled here…I am going to look up some of those books you recommend. Thank you,

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