Bobbing Around Volume 20 Number 3

This planet is not your rubbish dump, but your cradle.
Dr Bob Rich


To say that you can kill in the name of God is blasphemy.
Pope Francis

Bobbing Around

Volume Twenty, Number Three,
September, 2020

Bob Rich’s rave

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* From me to you
A wonderful lady was gossiping about me…
Carolyn and Carolyn and Bob… a mighty trio
And the 48th

* New stuff *Blog posts during August

Responses
Anna Jacobs

Good news
Small, local self-sufficiency works
Confusion to Big Brother

Compassion
Spiders deserve love, too

Psychology
I enjoy murder and violence, but refuse to do it
Cutting each other off

Reviews
Striking Back from Down Under, reviewed by Nancy Wagaman
From Depression to Contentment, reviewed by Carolyn Wilhelm
Franky The Fearless Flamingo by Wanda Luthman, reviewed by Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Poetry
The Lyrebird


From me to you

A wonderful lady was gossiping about me…
Carolyn and Carolyn and Bob… a mighty trio
And the 48th

A wonderful lady was gossiping about me…

More exactly, she said all sorts of nice things about my writing, work in psychology, environmental activism, and so on.

It is an interesting talk (independently of the subject-matter), and is one of a long list. The lady is Florence Weinberg, who features in a half-hour radio spot every Monday. You can access all her talks at her website and they are well worth listening to.

Or you can specifically find her talk about me at Soundcloud and dozens of other services.

Florence is also a talented writer. I have read all her books of fiction (several as beta reads), and they are all 5 star.


Carolyn and Carolyn and Bob… a mighty trio

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, my fellow conspirator in working for a better world, encouraged her friend Carolyn Wilhelm to apply for my LiFE Award: Literature For Environment. As I reported in my August issue of Bobbing Around, her little book for classroom instruction on climate change is the 47th recipient.

With the insanity ruling this planet, we sane people need to stick together. Please support both Carolyns in their writing endeavours. You can learn about them by clicking on the first link.

Enjoy,
Bob


And the 48th

Carolyn Howard-Johnson is really on the prowl to promote environmental writing, and also recommended the LiFE Award to its 48th recipient, Wanda Luthman’s Franky the Fearless Flamingo. This is an illustrated children’s book with the dual aim of encouraging love of nature, and empathy to replace bullying.


Responses

Anna Jacobs

Followers of Bobbing Around won’t know, but my covering email for subscribers quoted from Desiredata: “Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.” Anna responded to this:

I love that Desiderata, Bob. It’s so sane and gentle.

In this terrible time, I’m so thankful for my story-telling which keeps me nicely occupied. Various public changes have meant the publishers and editors deal with me differently as they’re mainly working from home, ditto my agent. But my main job is the same — to tell the best story I can. I feel blessed to have the capacity.

Emails from readers have given me huge satisfaction too. Many have told me that my stories are helping them get through the isolation. Some are re-reading all 91 books! I always say I have the nicest readers there are! They have formed a lovely community on Facebook ‘Anna Jacobs Books & Other Favourites’ being nice to each other there.

If you want an additional positive story, I’ll tell you about my latest and most successful ever battle with my weight. I’ve struggled all my life to keep it down, due to an underactive thyroid and the family genes, yet I eat less than just about everyone I know and don’t go for junk food at all. Only one very short friend eats less than me and she struggles with weight too! Weight loss theories don’t make sense. I know some people are fat because they overeat but not all of us are guilty.

Anyway, a year ago, in desperation, I started a moderate Keto diet which I haven’t tried before because I’m not very carnivorous, am allergic to fish/seafood, and detest the taste of eggs. To my amazement it worked using mainly cheese and veggies and berries and no direct carbohydrates whatsoever — I’m intolerant of cereals anyway. I checked with my doctor and he chuckled — he’d just lost 10kg on a Keto diet himself!

Result: I feel better than I have done for years, mentally and physically. Over the past year I’ve lost 13kg painlessly and gently, not being ravenously hungry when dieting for the first time in my adult life. I had to buy a new wardrobe on line a few months ago — not easy! The same size is not the same size in different brands. And I’ve just had to have the skirts altered and buy some new smaller stuff because I’ve lost another size. Oh, how sad!!!!

And I had a new three-book contract from my main publisher after I wrote a two-line idea for the next series to get their opinion so that I could let it develop for a while on the back burner of my brain if they liked the sound of it. I’m only just finishing #1 of this current three-book series so their offer for another series came as rather a surprise. They definitely liked the idea!

Anyway, that’s my tale of what’s keeping my spirits up. I feel very lucky and I hope you’re having some good things happen as well as coping with the pandemic. If so, do share your stories.

Hugs to you all and stay safe.

Anna

Anna Jacobs is my wife’s favourite author, and she is not alone. Anna’s books are very popular in Britain and Australia. You might want to check them out, wherever you live.

I first met Anna in the 1980s when I attended a course she ran, and we’ve been friends since.


Good news

Small, local self-sufficiency works
Confusion to Big Brother

Small, local self-sufficiency works

Six years ago, it was my privilege to edit a book written (in English) mostly by Thai authors, but combined into a powerful whole by my friends Gayle Avery and Harry Bergsteiner. The title is Sufficiency Thinking: Thailand’s gift to an unsustainable world. It reports on the late (and missed) Thai King Bhumibol’s “Sufficiency Economy Philosophy,” with a great many examples of its spectacular success when applied in a variety of fields.

King Bhumibol’s first application was to agriculture: he demonstrated how very small landholders could become self-sufficient. Given that Thailand is monsoonal, with months without rain, part of the prescription was the introduction of small dams. This provides for irrigation in the dry periods, and also aquaculture.

Without ever having heard of Sufficiency Economy Philosophy, a group of women in Zimbabwe have implemented it. In 2014, they built a small dam, and in a land of worsening drought and starvation, have been feeding their families.

Read their inspiring story in Climate Change News.

Photo by the author, Chris Muronzi.


Confusion to Big Brother

“Big Brother is watching you” was part of the nightmare in the novel, 1984. It has come to pass in many places, with facial recognition software.

The COVID19 crisis has a silver lining: face masks confuse the computers.

As we say in Australia, “Bloody beauty!”


Compassion

Spiders deserve love, too

A young woman in Townsville, Australia rescued a poor spider who had lost 6 of her legs (very careless of her, but still…).

Do read this lovely little story.


Psychology

I enjoy murder and violence, but refuse to do it
Cutting each other off

I enjoy murder and violence, but refuse to do it

This is the summary of quite a long message from a young man. He doesn’t hurt people or animals, and says he feels empathy and is in love with a young woman, but he enjoys watching suffering. He wants to understand this, and wishes it would stop.

Mark, the first thing I get out of your call for help is that you are a good person. You seem to have been born with this unfortunate tendency, but you have refused to give in to it. Well done.

I get lots of cries for help from people who feel a strong urge to hurt or kill people (or animals). Some have actually acted on these urges in the past, but all those asking for help now refuse to do so.

Please read my webpage devoted to this issue. You will find my various answers to be helpful.

Why do you have these patterns of thought? As you say, it is not lack of empathy.

Living in a western culture, you may not realize that there is convincing evidence for reincarnation. We are born, die, are born again, die, on and on. While we can go backward, overall we advance in spiritual development. You can read my summary of the evidence here.

Before being born, your spirit chooses the lessons to learn in the next life. No one can know someone else’s chosen lessons, but my guess is that this unfortunate pattern is a tool you have chosen for spiritual growth.

Look, suppose two boys go into a store with poor security. Both notice that it would be easy to steal something. One is not at all tempted. The other one is. He may actually pick up an object to steal… then puts it back, or pays for it, regardless of how difficult that was.

Is the second boy dishonest for having been tempted?

Which one has shown more strength?

In the same way, you are not cruel, or unfeeling, or a sociopath, or a monster. Precisely because you have this repeating preoccupation with inflicting hurt, and you refuse to do it, you are a better person. Thank you.

All the same, having learned this lesson, you can now get rid of the lifelong habit. One useful tool is a special kind of diary. Every time you notice yourself having these thoughts or urges, record:

date/time
situation (a relevant selection of where, who with, previous activity, etc.)
what triggered the thought
and what you did about it.

When you keep this kind of record, whatever you are monitoring becomes less frequent. It works like magic.

You will find many other useful tools described in my book, From Depression to Contentment: A self-therapy guide.

You are welcome to get back to me so we can discuss how else you can improve your life.


Cutting each other off

My partner and I have been together since freshman year in high school. Our relationship is very good and we rarely have “fights”. We will disagree and maybe hit a nerve from time to time, but nothing we can’t talk over and find a solution to. However, interruptions have been a slight problem. Not the interruptions themselves but how we respond to them. For me it is very frustrating. Knowing I am the more sensitive, I tend to try to not take things to heart and differentiate what are things I’m assuming and what he actually meant. Yet he tends to be the more defensive one and if I say something he doesn’t like he doesn’t just get upset but reacts by justifying or defending himself. It can make me frustrated because I feel like he isn’t listening, he’s just hearing the words come out of my mouth but not the context of it.

We struggle to find a way to respond to each other’s interruptions. I tend to have a hard time in particular since he usually responds with “let me finish” with an annoyed intonation and despite having talked about over and over again he keeps doing it. I have come to terms that he might just be like that and it’s not a big deal. What gets me is that when I happen to interrupt him or when we are talking over the phone and it cuts off and I talk thinking he’s done (which is what usually ends up happening the most) he says “wait wait , let me finish” and I bite my tongue, but it gets tiring. Especially, because he interrupts a lot and I let him speak and then resume what I was mentioning. I don’t halt him. With accidental interruptions over the phone due to bad connection or just normal interruptions what are good ways to respond without saying “let me finish”? Or is his intonation the problem? What can I do to deal with it more peacefully?

Lilian, first, the two of you should both read my relationships page, where I summarize the evidence on how to have a good relationship.

Here is one trick that often works: each of you should decide on changing one very specific habit, and ask the other to be your helper. This converts a source of conflict into one of cooperation, and will give you regular laughs.

It is important not to request the habit to be changed, but for it to be an offer from the heart.

So, pick a habit that he finds annoying. Say, “When I do x, please give me a gentle reminder that I am not doing this anymore.” And when that happens, you thank him for the reminder.

He picks a habit he knows you find annoying, and the same in reverse. The two habits need not be related. Suppose you choose reacting with annoyance to his “let me finish.” His choice of a habit may be something entirely different, or it can be reacting with annoyance when he feels you have cut him off.

Either way, if one of you notices the other reacting in the new way, show your appreciation. When you notice a slip-back to the old way, simply give your prepared loving, helpful response.

Give this a good go for a few weeks, then let me know how it went.

Your new grandfather,
Bob


Reviews

Striking Back from Down Under, reviewed by Nancy Wagaman
From Depression to Contentment, reviewed by Carolyn Wilhelm
Franky The Fearless Flamingo by Wanda Luthman, reviewed by Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Striking Back from Down Under, reviewed by Nancy Wagaman

A collection of gems offering brilliant insights into victim empowerment: justice, revenge, or compassion?

There’s nothing like a story in which the underdog wins. But these stories wind their way more deeply into the mind of the reader, leading them to new insights about the dynamics of bullying and the choice a victim must make in order to reclaim their power: justice, revenge, or compassion? As the author explains in the two prefaces, these stories were written during an earlier era of the author’s life. This book is a time capsule from a previous era in the timeline of the author’s life, revealing shadows of emotions that are likely now long dissipated and vestiges of wounds now healed. Each story is a gem with its own hue and spark, each a colorful variation on a theme.

Victimization is a thread that runs through all of our lives, although affecting some of us more intimately than others. Dr. Rich approaches this theme from so many different angles and using such a wide range of literary language that no matter who you are, at least some of these stories will resonate with you — and the others will enlighten you as to the various ways people experience and respond to victimization. Likewise, these stories also provide clear insights into what may go on inside the minds of victimizers and bullies as they inflict their wrath.

Whether relating the story of a gruesome crime or a less extreme misdeed, Dr. Rich reminds us through these tales how much our help is needed when we witness wrongs, how important it is to step in when someone is helplessly at the mercy of another who would inflict themselves heartlessly. He also reminds us how each of us has the potential to be the bully and to be the victim. If you “squint” while you’re reading (and if you’re honest with yourself), you might recognize parts of yourself that have been tempted to bully others (a realization that’s a gift, since it points to an area within that is available for healing — and we all have some of those areas). Most importantly, in my opinion, he reminds us of what ultimately saves us all from being that victimizer: our humanity, our compassion, our heart. Compassion is what saves us, and it’s what will ultimately save us all on this planet.


From Depression to Contentment, reviewed by Carolyn Wilhelm

This user’s guide begins with the thought, “You need to be crazy to stay sane in a crazy world,” the author immediately begins explaining his self-help information. He lists ways to help yourself that are mostly free. He also describes what people think will bring them happiness that do not necessarily help, such as material objects. The author is a universal world citizen, citing how major religions view depression.

The first part of the book is short, clear, and concise. A more philosophical discussion follows later in the book detailing the specific aspects of depression, examples of people who exhibited them, and how the people became better. The stories are easy to relate to as the writing is conversational and kind.
Facts about sleep are detailed, as sleep can be a problem in depression. Dr. Rich says too much or too little sleep can both be a problem. Relaxation, meditation, mindfulness, and flow theory are also covered.

Throughout the book, links to further explanation are provided which are usually on Dr. Bob Rich’s website. In the Kindle version, a person can just click the links to easily find more discussion on the topics. He also recommends several books that will help most people. He suggests some people might benefit from short-term person counseling, as well.


Franky The Fearless Flamingo by Wanda Luthman, reviewed by Carolyn Howard-Johnson

How lovely to have a children’s author who also has a counseling background. Though I think of this Franky book (and Wanda Luthman’s others) as little lessons in saving the planet, this one is the story of a crab who decides not to live up to his name. He learns about compassion from Franky to whom he owes gratitude but ends up being anything but mean and crabby.

Young children will love the rhyme, the relatable expressions of the animals he or she meets, but my hope is that they will remember the lines:

“Herman (the Crab) had learned to use his strength for good
To help someone in need just because he could.”

It seems this Franky story also shines as an anti-bullying story.

I have given my grandsons a copy of all of Luthman’s books for the empathetic stories, for environmental lessons, but also for the beautiful illustrations by Mara Reitsma, who, as it happens, almost always includes one of my favorite animals — a turtle — in her Florida-influenced artwork. It’s the Ocean! It’s the Color. It’s the variety of animals!

Carolyn Howard-Johnson is a mother, grandmother and former teacher. She is the author of multi award-winning fiction and poetry and the HowToDoItFrugally Series of books — one series for writers and one for retailers. Learn more at http://HowToDoItFrugally.com, or tweet with her @FrugalBookPromo


Poetry

The Lyrebird

Once upon a time, I wrote 105 poems (well, doggerel really) as The Young Greenie’s Alphabet. I thought to include one, in the hope it cheers you up.

            • The lyrebird with the lyre tail is a wonderful kind of bird.
            • His feet are big, his voice is loud, with the funniest song you’ve heard:
            • He imitates all other birds who live around his home,
            • and while he sings, he dances around like a funny little gnome.
            • And all this while, his ladylove walks unconcernedly by,
            • scratching for a grub or two, or looking at the sky.
            • But, if she likes the performance, an egg she’ll contribute.
          • She’ll hatch the egg and raised the chick. The male bird thinks that’s beaut.



Posts during August

ENVIRONMENT

Mont Blanc is a dangerous place

Japanese town cut waste by 80%, but…

The story of plastic

Compassion

You can visit the city of the kindness revolution

PSYCHOLOGY

Inside view of abuse

How to deal with anxiety

HEALTH

A problem with painkillers

LOOK OVER A WRITER’S SHOULDER

Elementary, my dear Rhobin is, perhaps not surprisingly, my August contribution to Rhobin’s Rounds. If it doesn’t give you a laugh, then GO AWAY!

How to write third-person narrative

I APPROVE OF THESE ANNOUNCEMENTS

You may have missed the freebie: Rich McLean has offered 20 gifts of his art.

Thought-provoking, informative and educational: the 48 free books by John Scales Avery

STORIES

Before you can care for others, you need to care for the carer first A chapter from one of my books, by David Hooper

Eulogy for Paul: a brand new short story illustrating the same point.


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It is a FALSE RUMOUR that you need to buy one of my books before your submission is accepted. Not that I cry when someone does so.

Above all, contributions should be brief. I may shorten them if necessary.

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About Dr Bob Rich

I am a professional grandfather. My main motivation is to transform society to create a sustainable world in which my grandchildren and their grandchildren in perpetuity can have a life, and a life worth living. This means reversing environmental idiocy that's now threatening us with extinction, and replacing culture of greed and conflict with one of compassion and cooperation.
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3 Responses to Bobbing Around Volume 20 Number 3

  1. Carolyn Howard-Johnson says:

    I have been very busy this week, but saved your letter just because I always find something inspiring. The Saving of a Spider was one of my faves of all times. Lucky that spider had eight legs to start with.
    Of course, I must thank you for using my review of @WandaLu64 ‘s newest Frankie book and it is always fun to see a friend like “Sweet Carol-yn” Wilhelm in your letter. Did you know you can find her at @wiseowlfactory. Yes, I’m trying to entice you to use Twitter more frequently!

    Hugs, CHJ

    Like

    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      Thank you, Carolyn. Yes, 8 legs are much better than 2. In one of the stories I am writing, the people have 12 legs each.
      However, right now I am in the 19th century with bipeds, some of whom behave quite awfully.
      🙂
      Bob

      Like

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