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Thoughts of a Geni

This is the post excerpt.

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I’m tired of hearing about the problems of the world when we are living in a time when people have more than they have ever had before.  We can contact each other all over the world and communicate one on one – yet so many just sit at home listening to the doom and gloom on the news reports. 

I still find it hard to believe that Donald Trump – who has the charisma of a toad could manipulate his way into the White House.  I find it even harder to believe that people in Britain thought separating from Europe was going to make their country a better place.  Our world is tiny in the scheme of the Universe.  We need to work together to solve the world’s problems not argue about everything.  We are all citizens of the world.  The days of isolation and looking at strangers as enemies are long gone (or should be) 

Today I decided to set up an account with WordPress not because I had something to say, but so I could follow my friends who do have things to say….somehow I ended up with a page of my own and here I am twittering…(no not twittering – I tried that but couldn’t really see the point.) 

I think this poem (or part of a poem) – sums up my thoughts –

One second, one minute, one hour, one day,

On gossamer wings the moments fly away,

One week, one month, one year,

Build up to create a life of love and fear.

 

Babies learn to talk and walk with learning and with play,

Their tiny lives with every second expand in every way

Five years fly – then off to school,

Becoming adults –keeping cool….

 

Little bits of cosmic dust floating in the air,

Zillions of seconds passing without a single care,

From single sperm to speck of dust

From lord of all to pile of rust,

In the aeons of eternity of what use is this rhyme?

The only certainty that remains – is time…..

 

 

Thoughts on a winter morning….

Another 800 words

I started my Blog with a hiss and a roar – I promised monthly posts and made them weekly – then the momentum died.  I have been busy with Toastmasters and family commitments, and reading the poems of the people I found on Word Press who write the most thought provoking words, SailorPoet – Steve, and Davy D who takes us inside his very fertile mind, often in haiku.  I have written one or two poems, but I enjoy reading other people’s more.  I want to put more effort into art as well.   It is June already – where do the days go?

A lot of my time this year has been taken up with my involvement with Toastmasters which has been in my life since September, 1999, but it is only in the past couple of years that I have realised just what a family this organisation is.  People from all over the world communicating.  Since I became a Firebird at the end of 2015 I have attended meetings almost every Sunday, and I have friends in countries as far away as Mali, and Mauritius.  I have become the confidante of members from the USA, sympathising with them over the election of their so unsuitable President, and have met the most amazing lady, who was born in Hungary, survived the Holocaust, has since lived in America and Paris, and now living in London became a Stand-Up Comedian at the age of 77!  There are also members in Canada, Germany and the Philippines and we all get together every week.  We travel from various time zones to be there for a very special hour (or two).  My best friend lives in Dubai, and there is another member who tunes in from Iraq.

Toastmasters and Face Book are my links to the world and to my family. Cousins I would have loved to know when I was growing up, but didn’t get the chance to meet because we lived on the other side of the world have become friends.  Now I can watch their children, and grandchildren grow, and share mine with them.  The world is becoming smaller.

The world is becoming smaller, and yet there are still people out there who are afraid of people who look or sound different to them.  People who worship different gods, or who eat different food.  They fear immigrants, yet there is not a country in the world except perhaps in the centre of the Amazon jungle or the highlands of New Guinea who can say they are the same race of people they always have been.  We are all immigrants.  I was born in England, grew up in Australia and have now lived in New Zealand for 50 years.  I know my children have Maori blood, and I have just sent a sample of my DNA to be tested to find out just how mixed up my heritage is.  I think it is brilliant that we are now able to do this. Pure blood is a myth.  I recently watched a program about the Romans who spread across the world making people in the lands they conquered Romans (as a gift) they didn’t have to prove that they could speak the language or prove anything at all – just desire to be good Roman citizens and reap the benefits.   More and more I realise that we are all citizens of the world.

Then this morning I hear that there has been another attack on London.  A car driving into pedestrians on the London Bridge. Men getting out and stabbing random passers-by.  This is pure evil manifest in the minds of very sick people.  How can the rest of the world combat such madness?  We can try to stay positive and to be friends with one another – condemning other religions is not the answer. The perpetrators of this horrendous crimes are not religious they are simply maniacs linking their warped minds to a cause which they feel justifies their madness. 

I can only believe that in the end good will win – we must unite not to fight with guns, but with positive energy.  I know that sounds ineffectual, but the police (and anyone who suspects that people they know might be heading in that direction) need to be more vigilant to stop these people before they commit the crimes – we know they often know who they are.  We must stop shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. We must stop thinking that more violence is the only way to stop evil.  People in America are joining together to ignore the bigoted ignorance of their so called leader.  It will work to combat climate change.

I might be a dreamer, but dreamers have brought about change in so many ways….please, never give up the dream.

A Week of Toastmasters – Another 800 words

I have attended four Toastmasters meetings this week.  Toastmasters does seem to be addictive.  Having been a member since September, 1999 you would think I would be over it by now, but in the last few years I have spread my wings and am now a member of three clubs, Taupo, Geyser Gourmet, and Firebirds.  This week I attended meetings at all of these clubs and also went to Tokoroa where the club has fallen over and we are trying to put it back together.  I hope we will have more success than the King’s Men who tried to put Humpty back together again.

My first meeting for the week was the Geyser Gourmet meeting.  This club is based in Rotorua and is an Advanced Club for members who have completed their first ten speeches in the Competent Communicator Manual.  Members come from other clubs in Rotorua and also from Taupo and Tauranga and as the Toastmaster for this meeting, Kevin, comes from Taupo we held the meeting here.  The Taupo Golf Club is an ideal place for a meeting.  They have a long table that holds us all and on a Sunday lunch time when there isn’t a Tournament on not too many noisy patrons.  Kevin’s surname is Ball and his nickname, Beach Ball, so he used this theme for the meeting even decorating the table with a collection of balls that he encouraged the members to take away with them.  As Table Topics Master I had questions that were ball related.  I tried to avoid any innuendos but I think a few snuck in anyway and there was much laughter!

My next meeting was the Firebirds Online meeting that evening.  As Daylight Saving has started in some countries, but the clocks hadn’t gone back in New Zealand it started an hour earlier than I expected.  Fortunately I found out in time as I was the time keeper!  A late time keeper is not a good look.  We were celebrating our first year since becoming a Chartered Club (the second online Club to charter).  Meeting online is amazing.  We have members from all over the world, England, America, Canada, and Germany, but also the smaller more out of the way places like Mali, Mauritius and the Philippines.  Members are of all ages, races, and religions, but we all have one thing in common – our desire to teach confidence and leadership skills to all who need them.  The main reason I am still a Toastmaster is the joy I get from seeing new members grow in confidence at each meeting, and I am learning so many new skills from the members I meet at the advanced clubs.

On Tuesday evening I was the Toastmaster at my local club Taupo Toastmasters, and we were delighted to hear Ice Breaker speeches from two new members, and a special guest speaker, Laura who is an ambassador for the Special Olympics.  Laura competes in the swimming, but she also attends Riding for Disabled and I have been watching her progress for quite a few years. She has a few problems, but she has become a very self-assured young lady.  Special Olympics, like Toastmasters encourages people to find the things that they can do, and overcome the things that they might find difficult.  We also had a visit from out Area D4 Director, Edward, who explained to us the new Pathways and other exciting changes that are coming for Toastmasters.

Then on Thursday we went to Tokoroa.  For many years the Forestland Club in Tokoroa taught people of all ages how to build confidence as communicators and leaders, but a few years ago the club went into a decline and had to close due to lack of membership.  The town is in the centre of the pine forest, and most people who live there are involved with either the planting or harvesting of the pine trees.  There is also a paper factory, but the population is transient, and many young people leave town to further their education.  At the meeting we had four Taupo members, two from Rotorua, and three from Hamilton who organised the meeting.  One young man came all the way from Morrinsville, but there were only about three original Tokoroa members.  Despite this we still ran our meeting as planned, got to know one another, and we are planning another meeting in a couple of weeks in another venue which will be better publicized.  I was the Grammarian for this one and the word I gave them “Perseverance” was well used, and I know we will persevere!

I hope this whets your appetite for Toastmasters. If you are interested, check out a group in your area.  Google Toastmasters. There will be a club near you.  But you could join also join online!

 

Another 800 words

 

I used to think that my parents immunised me against religion by christening me in the Church of England when I was a baby, sending me to a variety of Sunday Schools when I was growing up. They let me read lots of information about various different religions such as the Spiritualists and the Radio Church of God – set up by Herbert Armstrong which I think evolved into Scientology.  But that just immunised me against Christianity. Although we did read the odd article about various other religions as well. When I was growing up I was saved by the Church of Christ and even tossed around the idea of becoming a missionary (or maybe a nun) when I was about 16.

This has lead my thoughts it quite a different direction. Although I am not longer a Christian I do believe that Jesus was a good man, and it makes me very sad to think that his teachings have been used by so many to cause so much mayhem in the world.  So many variations on a simple theme.  The basic premise of Christianity is to do to others what you would have them do to you.  Jesus did not build huge temples, he did not wage war against unbelievers, and he did not expect any one to do anything that he did not do himself.  He preached loved and understanding for all and was crucified for it!

I believe (and it is only my belief, I have no wish to convert anyone, just hopefully provoke some serious thought) is that human beings create gods in their own image and they use those gods to wield power over those who are taken in by their convincing arguments.  Human beings who don’t understand the life-death cycle are afraid of death and they are always looking for a safety net.  Selling tickets to heaven has always been a safe bet for anyone who has the confidence to try to convince others that they know the way.  After all even the Spiritualists can’t prove that they have had word from people on the other side.  If the founder of any particular sect lives in luxury while the followers live in poverty surely that is a sign that there is something not quite right about that sect? I heard it said once that most people who hear voices are locked up in mental asylums, but if you say you are psychic and hear voices from the other side you can charge people a lot of money to hear what the voices are telling you.  It is all in the perception of the listener.   Having said that I am not here to argue against any religion.  I believe that if your personal faith convinces you that you have the answers and that your God is on your side, helping you to get through your life – that is entirely your choice.  What I am saying that if you believe your God is telling you to go and kill people in his name, please don’t listen.  Seek help from your nearest doctor.

The senseless killing in London this week is not a sign that any one religion is more prone to terrorism than another.  It is a sign that human beings, gripped in the thralls of madness, do horrible things.  One man – and he only used a vehicle and a knife, killed and was killed.  This was not a religious act. By labelling it an act of terrorism gives a voice to those who want us all to live in fear. ISIS have claimed him to promote fear of all Muslims. This is not another example of Muslim extremity – it was just one mad man! True Muslims, like true Christians, and other religion you might like to name want exactly what we all want. They want a safe happy life.

I believe Eternity is a Circle – no beginning and no end because whether you believe that God created the earth, or we began in a BIG BANG – nothing comes from nothing.  Who or what created God? Where did the chemicals come from that caused the BIG BANG?  No matter how clever we get I don’t think we will ever know.  Does it really matter?  All we have is one day at a time.  Every morning if we wake up we can get on with our lives and do with it the best that we can.  If we don’t wake up there is no way can do anything about it, and if perchance heaven is there – fantastic! I think reincarnation makes more sense, and I think I have lived before and I will live again with each life building on the experiences of the past, but that is only my opinion, and you are welcome to yours.

800 words….

 

This is an experiment to see how much needs to be written to use exactly 800 words. On the Television programme George writes about his week so I guess that is a good place to start.

My week started with my flight home from Australia.  A week with my mother preceded by three days with my son and his family in Raumati, followed by another two days in Raumati.  Tony, Pip and the girls moved into their house a few doors down from the Kapiti College at the end of 2015 and this was the first chance I had to see it.  I was very impressed.  It is a six bedroomed house on three levels with the living room, kitchen and main bedroom on the top level which has a view out to the sea with a glimpse of the south island.  The bedrooms are on the ground floor, one is used for a games room and another a music room (and also Ruby, the Labrador’s bedroom with its own dog door.)

I love travelling with Tony.  He is such a seasoned traveller (after all he did take his first flight to Australia when he was only six weeks old, and now his work involves a lot of flying around New Zealand with occasional trips across the Tasman).  He has access to the Koru Club – food and drink on tap comfortable seating and even free wi-fi and power points to charge your devices while you wait.  I could get used to this.

My week in Australia with Mum was a success.  I still feel guilty about leaving home when I did, but that is a whole other story, and I don’t think it will fit into this 800 words.  We went out to lunch every day and took her for drives, and even managed to take her for a walk along the path at Surfers Paradise.  With her walker she walks well considering she is 93.  I even managed to surprise her on Sunday by inviting my cousin Peter his wife Janelle,  and my friend Daphne who I have known since I was eight, and her husband Dick to join us.  She had only expected my cousin Patricia.  If I had told her ahead of time she would have agonised about the logistics of getting them all together.  As it was we had a lovely lunch, and I was able to catch up for a little while with people I would love to see more of.

But this is supposed to be about this week.  I was expecting it to be cold after the higher temperatures over the ditch, but it was quite pleasant.  I flew home with Sounds Air which was the same price as the flight to Australia, but as Mum had insisted on paying us the money we had spent on fares I felt I was still on a win.  It was raining when I left Wellington and I was expecting cold in Taupo, but although it was overcast it wasn’t raining and not cold at all. I could feel my face breaking into a huge smile when I saw the lake beneath me and realised we had arrived.  Despite the cloud it was a smooth and uneventful flight.

The weekend was spent unpacking and getting back into home mode, but my real life started on Sunday evening when I had my Firebirds meeting and went back into overdrive with another Toastmasters meeting on Tuesday night.  I used my Super Hero Poem as the basis for a speech which went down very well, and as always the night was filled with laughter.  Jos told us about his experience on the Spirit of New Zealand, and Toni had us rolling on the floor as she told us about the men she works with describing them in hilarious (if not very complimentary) detail.  The fourth speaker was Alex who gave us the history of the domestication of dogs all the while assuring us he was not getting a puppy.  He concluded with the information that their new puppy, Alfie, was coming home tomorrow.

The rest of the week included planning for the Division D4 Contests which are being held in Taupo this Saturday, and catching up with emails as well as Face Time chats with Mum (not always successful as she is still having problems coming to terms with the iPad), and spending time with Rico, my little dog who I missed most of all when I was away.  Yesterday we took him for a lovely long walk at Five Mile Bay (much longer for him than for Tracy and me), and he tried to race a man on a bike.  It is amazing how those little legs can fly.

Saturday again. Time to get ready for more Toastmasters.

The Plastic Problem

This is something I lose sleep over – how can we solve this problem.  I was planning to write an article – but it evolved into a poem….

 

The Plastic Problem

 

When we first started using plastic bags they were considered such a brilliant invention.

They could be rinsed out and used – again, and again, and again.

They could be scrunched into a drawer and didn’t take up much room.

They were treasured.

 

Now the plastic bag is a ubiquitous nuisance,

No longer treasure – just trash.

We use them and we throw them away,

We use them to wrap up other rubbish

They fester for years, but never decay.

 

The ocean is filled with a collection of plastic

Not just bags, boxes, cups, wrapping of every kind,

Sneakily pretending to be jelly fish

To kill unsuspecting turtles and fish,

Creating big nasty islands,

Where will it end?

 

They say plastic is recyclable,

So why isn’t it?

It can be reused

So why isn’t it?

 

Is the world going to slowly die?

Locked under a suffocating layer of plastic?

What an ignominious way to go.

 

Our lovely green planet deserves better than this.

Memory….

I have just read

Choosing to Break

by S Francis

and it reminded me of the last time I went on a Roller Coaster….

 

The Roller Coaster at Dreamworld (1995)                                  © Geni Johnston

 

My apprehension is tinged with desire

As I watch the cars swoop the loops

Hear the screams

Convince myself that this is fun!

I crave danger….age is no barrier ….

I WILL ride the Roller coaster ….later……

We watch the fairy penguins feed …Dolphins display…ride the train…

Explore the Bermuda triangle ….under the volcano … in the dark …..

 

But    is the ultimate challenge ….defying gravity ..

 

 

I WILL ride the Roller Coaster ……later!!

The day is nearly over …..  I’m walking down the ramp ……

Two children want the front seat ….youthful bravado !!!

 

We are strapped in – firmly –

We are moving

down…

down…

down …..

 

Then…

slowly         ..slowly..                        the view is spectacular !

..The

World

Drops                …

 

 

 

Speed……..rush ……TERROR…..PANIC !!!     FUN?

 The children in front are screaming with pleasure

We coast  s l o w l y  into the station….

It’s over ….In less than a minute …..        Maybe I’ll do it again …..Later !!

To be a Super Hero

I have been a Toastmaster since 1999 – it has been a wonderful challenge, and as the years go by I learn more and meet more fantastic people.  I love helping others grow in confidence and take up challenges.  At every meeting we have a Table Topics session where members are asked to give a 1-2 minute speech off the cuff on a random topic and a few meetings ago the topic was “If you were a Super Hero what would your power be? What would your name be?  How would you use your power?”  I wasn’t chosen to rise to that challenge on the day, but it did make me think.

This is where my thoughts lead me ….

 

Most Super Heroes are on the side of right,

But still they usually catch villains by putting up a fight,

I would like to change that theme,

So I am hoping for a different scheme….

No fighting wars, or shooting a gun,

I’d like my super power to generate some fun.

 

If I could be a super hero

I think it would be great

To be able to speak all languages

To understand all people

To really communicate!

 
Maybe with my super powers I could get the heads of state together

And make them understand that we are all like one another

We all want the same things from life

Food, and shelter and freedom from strife.

Communication to set us free,

What a super power that would be.

 

To spread empathy across the earth

So people would laugh with cheerful mirth

Stop worrying about power and greed

Making sure enough food was grown

For everyone to feed.

 

Less waste and  less pollution

If only my super hero power could come up with the solution

Communication and empathy to make all people share,

To look after one another.to really care!

 

The only super hero that I would want to be

Would fill the minds of all with a passion to be free

To take away the fear and lust,

And create an attitude of trust,

To make a wish in every mind

To be loving…to be kind.

 

I know to some this seems a futile dream

In a world where many like to scheme,

Who worship at the Fount of greed,

And interpret want for need.

But if I could teach the world a song,

It would be a love for right, a hate for wrong.

 

Creating empathy for all.

 

This Super Hero would have a name

Simple that explains her game,

She would of course always be seen

As the ultimate Communication Queen.

 

But wait I think I’ve found a way

This super hero to create today

Toastmasters meeting around the world,

A rising banner, a flag unfurled

Connecting people near and far

Without a plane … a bike…or car

Connecting on the Internet

Making friends they’ll never forget

 

Creating empathy for all.

 

First the Firebirds lit the flame

Then other groups joined in the game,

Toastmasters Without Borders will charter soon

Their membership is over the moon

 

Based in London are the Witty Storytellers

They really all are funny fellers

Their president is from Uzbekistan,

I love to join them when I can.

 

English is the language of choice

Giving to all a single voice,

But if my super powers came in to play

We would understand each other’s language anyway!

 

Creating empathy for all.

 

Yes…..

 

The only super hero that I would want to be

Would fill the minds of all with a passion to be free

To take away the fear and lust,

And create an attitude of trust,

To make a wish in every mind

To be loving…to be kind.

 

Creating empathy for all.