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Showing posts from December, 2011

A New Year, Wild Birds, Manners and Good Wishes....

The galahs, following a pecking order for feeding at the clam shell (photo the author) Another year is about to begin.  I am glad to be leaving this one behind. Despite some wonderful opportunities and experiences in the earlier part of the year, such as travel through the North Cook Islands in the South Pacific, even on the ghastly SV Discovery South Pacific Expedition ; and a lovely trip to France where I could practice my French language skills and indulge in the wonder of the markets, little towns and the landscapes of Brittany, the last quarter was one of sadness. "Is it your turn or mine to eat now?" (photo the author) But my own situation was rendered insignificant by the terrible suffering of people throughout the world this year; the violent impact of Mother Nature when she is angry; the fear of the persecuted; the anxiety about economic meltdown around the globe;  in Australia the devastation of bushfires and floods; and for two of my acquaintances th

The True Spirit of Christmas...via the Cocos (Keeling) Islands....

Direction Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands (photo the author) I received this email yesterday It is self explanatory, and to me shows the true spirit of Christmas,  kind communication and consideration...Merry Christmas to you all.... "Good morning Louise,   I met you in the early 2000’s on West Island, (Cocos (Keeling) Islands) at your father’s home.   I heard you on the radio yesterday talking about Christmas cards. My wife (Michelle) and I are still traditionalists in this regard and together managed about 60 this year – although my contribution was a fraction of this. I was on my way to collect rocks for a stone wall I’m building on our property when you came on the radio .I changed out of my work clothes into some more appropriate attire I had put in the car that morning and  it just so happened that I had put a Cocos Island North Park t-shirt which I haven’t worn for years – so my rock collecting outing turned into a trip down memory lane.   I thought a

Christmas and Manners…Happening or not?

Christmas Tree for 2011 (photo the author) Recently I read an interesting article quoting a  psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside (Sonja Lyubomirsky).  It stated that "Academics have long theorised that expressions of thanks promote health and happiness and give optimism and energy.  Now, the study of gratitude has become a surprisingly burgeoning field and research indicates being thankful might help people feel better.  However, there is a catch:  you have to say thanks more than once a year..." After a week in which I encountered rude airline passengers and staff I thought about this concept.  Why is it that people having the opportunity  to "fly", which was so seldom offered to people 30 years ago, and even then when it was it was a "luxury", believe it is appropriate to be rude to each other?  How lucky are they compared to those for whom travel is merely a dream? So many of us will be travelling over the Fest

Corporate Manners...and Christmas and birthdays....

I recently received the following request for information from a woman who has settled in Australia from Asia. It particularly interested me as it was as much about cultural differences as it was about modern manners. “I have question in my head about etiquette that bothering my mind. This is about birthdays. Would you please be able to help me? 1. A member of our Board of Directors who is also the founder of our company and father of our CEO has birthday on 24th Dec. What is the proper business etiquette, do we send flowers to him or hamper on his birthday? We did not do anything on the last time but I would like to correct this in the future. My husband said that in Western society, birthday are usually only for relatives. So, I would appreciate any explanation or suggestion from you. 2. Secondly my CEO’s birthday will be this Saturday, would it be appropriate to send text to him on Saturday? I don’t really want to give wrong impression. 3. On Christmas day or New Year’s Ev

Internet Infidelities...Manners, or not?

Adele, singing Someone Like You After my recent post  Manners, Pen Pals...and Internet Friends  I have been inundated with emails from people with similar stories about negative internet influences on their personal lives with devastatingly painful effects.  Partners, be they personal or professional, deceiving, through a virtual life. I have explored with a psychologist how such duplicity can exist in otherwise quite reasonable  people. The condition is referred to as “internet psychosis”, brought on by the self absorbed behaviour in those who live, via the writing of blogs and chat forums, in a virtual reality. They are able to reinvent themselves to a certain extent. And with blog writers, the quality of the written word, true or not, becomes paramount, and in the most severe cases, becomes delusional.   It is increasingly becoming a psychosis seen by mental health professionals. Any breakup is painful.  But when the internet is involved, a new paradigm of manners is

Manners... and generations... compatible or not?...

I have recently had some interesting experiences relating to generational differences with regard to manners;  the way the young see the elderly and their more “traditional” manners, and the way the elderly see the youth of today with their “lack of manners and respect”. It all began a few weeks ago, while I was taking a quiet walk along a nearby street with my dogs.  An older gentleman  (I think he would have been late 70s)went past me on a bike, and then stopped suddenly to look at a new “McMansion” being built on the other side of the road.  I acknowledged him with a smile and a “good morning”, and he said: “I grew up in the house that used to be there”.  I remembered the previous house as being quite elegant,  on a large block, filled with beautiful trees. He said: “I lived there for the whole of my childhood”...and then commenced to tell me about the suburb in those days and what he remembered of the area at that time. Fathers and daughters (photo the author) After we had finis

Christmas Cards…Old Fashioned…or not?

Villard Sur Chamby, Switzerland  As the Christmas season approaches I have been thinking about the fabulous tradition of Christmas cards. I remember as a child racing to beat my sister to the mailbox to collect the dozens of cards which arrived each week from the beginning of December. We would hang the cards on string around the lounge room, making space for the artificial Christmas tree which was such a symbol of the 60s Now in the 21st century, where our concentration is very much on the environment, the silver tree has long been buried in land fill and replaced with a “real” one. And the numbers of Christmas cards received has slowed to a trickle. Is this demise of the Christmas card tradition only because of the environmentally conscious among us who are concerned about the destruction of forests? Or is it because many of us are so “busy” that we don’t have the time to sit down and handwrite a quick greeting to friends and family, near and far? Email particularly has encour

Christmas…and the Spirit of Giving….

The welcoming wreath for this year I have been approaching the Christmas season this year with mixed emotions.  I am still suffering the grief of a recent personal loss. But today the true meaning of Christmas occurred to me while I was decorating the Christmas tree to welcome my daughter and her partner here this weekend for an early Christmas celebration. New Christmas decorations for the tree from my visit to Samoa May 2011 I cast my mind back a few years to when I used to deliver Meals on Wheels to the elderly in my neighbourhood; the service of hot, daily meals allowed these people to live relatively independent lives in their homes.  One of my favourite women was named Joan.  She was a woman of over 80 years, very lined in her face, rarely changing from her nightclothes, despite the most fervent efforts of her visiting daily nurse . She appeared to be distrustful and cynical in her attitude towards other people. She lived in her family’s home, in the little annex bedroom, a vera

Suwarrow National Park, the North Cook Islands...and Intrepid Travellers with Marvellous Manners...

The intrepid travellers. May 2011. (Photo courtesy our crew member) I have reposted this post (initially written in June 2011)  as I was contacted yesterday by a concerned previous client of the cruise operator who advised that my TripAdvisor comment on Suwarrow National Park and the cruise operator had been removed... It is a good story...reminding us all to be aware of internet descriptions...and deceptions. Our "cruiser"  sitting low in the water May 2011 (photo the author) The minute we saw the boat at the dock in Rarotonga, Cook Islands,  we knew that things were not as we had envisaged by reading about and booking our voyage  at the ship's owners website. When I introduced myself to the person I had been told was the captain he acknowledged me, didn’t give his name and pointed towards a young woman who was inventoring freight at it was put abroad the

Grief…Manners and Communication

 The sky over the South Pacific 2010  I have been sympathising lately with an acquaintance who is suffering a profound sense of grief.  I actually met her at the funeral for her cousin the day after I returned from my recent trip to France. She had also buried her eldest daughter 6 weeks earlier, a young woman who had not yet reached 30 years of age. I had been in Europe when her daughter died and I had not heard the news until my return.  What to do?  Her friends advised that she was coping as best she could; that she wasn’t receiving visitors but that mail was being collected from her mailbox. Her Facebook page was filled with condolences.  But for me, the loss of a daughter required a personal, handwritten message of sympathy and support.  Old fashioned perhaps, but still that personal touch seemed to resonate even with the younger friends, who surprisingly also chose to write to the bereaved