Mind-shifts and Mine-fields.

bright sunrise

 

A new day is dawning in South Africa.

South Africa, amazing, vibrant, diverse and surprising, as usual, has not failed to provide for speculative and spectacular politics over these past few days.   And especially so the last few months of the years of Jacob Zuma’s term in office, from which he was ousted by his own party members  just months before his term ended.   Just as with the previous South African president Thabo Mbeki.  The wheel has indeed turned !

South Africa has a way of going all the way to the edge of demise, before pulling back in resilience and fortitude.   The birth of the new South Africa in 1994 was a tumultuous time when the shadow of a civil war loomed but was narrowly prevented by prayer and skilful peace-keeping interventions that drew us back from the brink.

The Nelson Mandela years were hopeful with the new vision for a country where Oppression was lifted and all people were to be equal.   The working out of that dream was not an easy one as many mind-shifts had to be made.  Slowly the privileged ones had to expand their minds to inclusivity, and perhaps even more slowly, the underprivileged ones has to let go their grip on being a victim of their history.   Both difficult, almost impossible tasks for a very passionate, vibrant and an outspoken society – yet necessary to grow in unity and wholeness to build one nation.   But it would take time.

Thabo Mbeki, a man for an African vision saw a larger picture, and spoke of an African Renaissance.  This might have planted seeds, but for the time being it may well have been a vision for a time to come.  The Government of the day were finding their new power-based feet, as ordinary South Africans were grappling,  with their new-found identities, pressing social issues, the Aids epidemic, and wanted swift and decisive plans and actions.

Thabo Mbeki was unceremoniously recalled by his party, and in his place Jacob Zuma took over the reigns of this fledgling nation.   When a nation and its leaders are in unchartered waters it would be good to have a compass or a plan.   There was no clear announced vision to take the country forward, probably due to the identity crisis in the new governing party.   For years they had been fostering a revolution movement to take over the country, and had perhaps, in hindsight now, not made the mind-shift from political revolution to good political governance.  So political football was played out, to only the delight of the political parties involved, as the rest of society was waiting for  a clear directive to move forward – none came.     But the dissatisfaction of the poorer citizens who saw no economic change whatsoever began to demonstrate their dissatisfaction and very real frustrations with protest marches and the burning of some establishments.
Huge mine-fields for the nation were beginning to appear as greed and corruption had seduced well positioned power people in power structures to take, grab and hold onto  all the resources and wealth that were there for the taking – the looting of the State coffers.     And this happened, without a peep from anyone, until it was almost to late, and another demise glaringly stared us in the face, as foreign looters – (and  calculating foreign  nations with power and nuclear aspirations may well have played a pinnacle role,  perhaps yet to be revealed, when the rotting cancer of corruption in South Africa is finally and fully exposed)  –  and all this went unchecked !
The global markets reacted to the situation in South Africa, and then only did the alarm bells go off.   Of course the president was not equipped to deal with these problems, buried his head in the sand and strategically played delay tactics to squirm out of any responsibility.
But  ordinary South Africans are resilient, and fierce stalwarts of integrity and righteousness.  And so once again, the claw-back from the demise came this time through protest marches, the media, the press, and by God’s grace the Judicial system, that had been waving the constitutional flag of morality and justice to reign supreme for all South Africans.

flying SA flag

Now,  a new day has dawned in South African politics with a new president. Cyril Ramaphosa, who spoke at the State of the Nation address in Cape Town on 16 February 2018.    He breathed hope into our politically fatigued nation,  gave a renewed vision of hope –  a revived Nelson Mandel vision for equality for all South Africans.   But this time, having passed through all the tumultuous times of nation construction and deconstruction,  there is an inclusive economic plan, that means business with the rest of the world to invest into our collective future, even a building stone for a fast developing  African continent.

All South Africans have been invited to take part in this new era that has dawned.  As President Ramaphosa indicated in his speech,  it is for all South Africans who want equality through hard work, integrity, the rooting out of corruption, and to build a new South Africa.
To cap it all a former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel put it this way :
” Ship South Africa has a new captain, and its all hands on deck “

The  one mind-shift that will accelerate the move from poverty to progress to prosperity is this:   Ask not what can I get but rather ask what can I give ! – then go and build and plant wherever you are, and whatever you do, to benefit yourself and others in our community.

The time has indeed come for all South Africans to build and to plant one nation with integrity and with honour, for the benefit of all who live in her, and for the benefit of the country and the continent.

 May God bless South Africa.

Butterfly SA

Jeremiah 18 : 9  And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom,
                              to build and to plant it,…..

 

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A MOMENT IN TIME

 

Hour glass

The sands of Time are settling down on 2018.

Time, is a gift to us all.  And how quickly it passes us by.  This I realised as I observed a little old lady having her lunch in a popular restaurant, renowned for its hamburgers and good coffee.   I had popped in after doing my shopping, and felt I needed a “spoil” after the Christmas rush, and to make the new year my own, with a little celebration of my favourite – banana milkshake !

This was quite uneventful, until I saw the little old lady, stricken with age, with a question mark for posture, stand up and begin to reach for her two wheel walker.  This with the help of her, I ‘m assuming, granddaughter.  The scene began to painstakingly unfold as she finally got in the position to begin her shuffle toward the door.   She looked up, and began to move forward.  Then to my amazement she stopped and with confidence, did a little bob-bob-sway-sway dance, with a sweet smile on her face, and a twinkle in her eye  – all this as she caught and held my gaze.  I was delighted,  gave her a big smile, a wave, and a thumbs up sign.  Not a word was spoken, not a word was needed as she expressed her mischief and her sense of humour.
She continued her epic shuffle to the door, but before she got there stopped and did the bob-bob-sway-sway dance again, but this time to the waitresses who were watching her go.  They all waved and clapped their hands in response to her happy presence, and called out to her  “goodbye Granny, come again”   Her smiling granddaughter looked up, caught my eye, and we just beamed at each other.   I thought to myself, I hope I can age as gracefully as this little old lady has shown me today, and that I can retain a sense of humour and playfulness into my ripe old age.

It was a moment in time, …. and it put a smile on my soul as I watched humanity play itself out before me. I got more than a banana milkshake for my new year’s celebration !  I got a lesson on life, and saw how the Aged and Elderly among us are special, and need to be seen and appreciated – and applauded !

So teach us to number our days,  That we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12

three butterflies

 

 

This Christmas Day

 

angel

Luke 2:10-12

Then the angel said to them  “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.
For there is born to you  this day
in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the lord.
And this will be the sign to you : You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger”

 

nativity

May Jesus be born afresh in our hearts this Christmas Day

art-mary-joseph-and-the-baby-in-free-manger-image-information-free-jesus-christmas-clip-art-manger-image-information-images-ix-free

 

red ribbon holly

The Little Green Bow

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“Please take a little green bow, and pin it on your name tag” said the lady at the registration table at the workshop on mental health, that was taking place at a church in the heart of a little village in Durban North.  “What’s the bow for ?” I heard someone say, and realised that not everyone knows that the little green bow has become significant with mental health, and October is the designated month for mental health at the World Health Organisation at the United Nations.

For the past 20 years or so I have been interested in mental health, and have picked up my ears, and availed myself of many occasions to find out all that I can on this very complex subject.   The mind is an incredible place.  That needs to be said again  – The mind is an incredible place !

The time I spent at the workshop, presented by a Methodist minister, who himself has a keen passion for mental health, and the role of the Church’s healing ministry, and of spirituality,  in the condition of the mind – set me afresh to revisit some of the ground I have randomly covered over the last twenty years.
Having been dumped into the arena of mental health, having to either sink or swim awoke in me a leaning toward wholeness, and not succumbing to a defeatist mindset.
But it was going to be a very long slow walk of discovery with no quick-fix answers.  And, as yet, I have not arrived at any clear-cut and final conclusion, after all the mind is a very vast place !!   But along the way, as in any other way of life, it is often good to take a moment, to stop and pause and reflect.  To recap, to summaries, maybe even consolidate some of the ideas that have formed along the way.     This is one such moment.

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When confronted with Schizophrenia in the family, all those years ago, with its vicious onslaught of  psychosis, and the unknown, my first response was to ask the Church for help.   I thought, as the Church, with all its wisdom, knowledge and mystery of the Spiritual Realm, would be the first port of call,  and would be able to help me in my dilemma.   Wisely the Church referred me to take the medical route, and consult a doctor.   Which I did, who referred me to a Psychiatrist, who referred me to a medical clinic with a psychiatric ward.  There began the journey with psychiatry, psychology and pharmacology.

I took the route of Psychiatry, and followed the names recommended to me, I sought out psychologist who would take a spiritual approach to mental illness.  Visited  a clinical  psychologist who recommended another psychiatric clinic.   Eventually was told by a very good psychiatrist that a behavioural cognitive approach was needed – and an authoritarian regime implemented.  And I had to apply this approach, which was beyond me because, although I can at times be firm and adamant, am not an authoritarian.
Then, rather desperately, it was decided to try a Christian Rehab Centre in the middle of nowhere, where  periods of strict routine, work ethic, counselling and spiritual input would be a recommended therapy to look for better results.   There were many tears,  but also a slight breakthrough, when responsibility was taken on to some degree.  A key to the healing process –  responsibility !

The crisis in the family, became my dilemma and this in turn set me on a quest, with no road map.  I visited support groups, joined support groups and read all that I could lay my hands on to get to know my enemy !  But with good psychiatry which oversaw the essential medication, and compliance aspects, a plateau was reached where I went on cruise control.   Still curious and asking my questions of God, I latched onto the scriptures in the Bible,  held on tightly, and kept my ears and eyes open to any ministry that spoke of healing and deliverance from mental illness.

Psychology, and psychologists became a growing interest, and were visited until  the subject was mined, but not fully sufficient to answer my questions.
Slowly the tide turned my mind from mental illness to mental health  –  and so too my approach to life in general. A change of perspective can open a whole new spectrum on life,  going from negative to positive is quite a transforming leap.   And I was strengthened !

The foundation of my search was, and still is to this day, God’s Word the Bible, with its richness toward human development,  for our growth and attainment, our comfort in the hard places of life, our guidance when the way forward is blurred and most precious of all, the  unfathomable wisdom and knowledge pertaining to God Himself, and to my life.

The Neural Route.
Dr Caroline Leaf’s books brought an interesting insight to my mind, with her research of the Brain – the domain of the mind.   She writes with such simplicity that I could grasp some of the concepts, and was astounded at the application of the Word of God to the fundamentals of these concepts.  Just re-iterating that God is a good God, and that we are made in His image, and that is a good thing !  We are wired for love and for goodness, that is how our brain has been designed – and how it works.   But it is what we choose to think and feel, whether the positive – the truth, or the negative – the lie that determines our behaviour, that determines our lives.  She describes in biological terms how the thought life operates – from impulse, to protein to thought structure, to memory.  And how important it is to be aware of our thought life, to embrace good thoughts and dismiss the bad ones.  So important!
Her recent book  The Perfect You, describes the “finger-print” of the mind, and how the seven pillars of thought, which for me,  lines up with the seven intelligences of Intrapersonal –  introspection,    Interpersonal – relational,  Mathematical – logic analytical,  Linguistic – words, language,  Music,   Kinetic – movement  and Visual/spacial – organisational, perception and colour. – all these in one of her first books  Who Switched off my Brain.  How we operate in the seven pillars, or seven zones in our brain make us unique, like our own finger print !  It also reflects our gifts and our strengths, and how we should capitalise, and focus our education on these, and not always have academia imposed upon us.  Simply put that is what I gleaned from her books, and can’t help but to marvel when I look at the Brain, through her eyes, and see how fearfully and wonderfully we have been made !  The Psalms also declares this in Psalm 130:14

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;  Marvelous are Your works.

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Always keeping an eye open for new information on schizophrenia I came across some recent blogs that offer more exploration on the subject.  Refer :   venitism.wordpress.com/2017/10/21/inside-schizophrenia/

I quote some snippets from the article.

“Wiring is frayed in more than just one region, according to a new international study – the largest analysis ever of white matter among people with a psychiatric disorder.”

” Some 40 years since CT scans first revealed abnormalities in the brains of schizophrenia patients, international scientists say the disorder is a systemic disruption to the brain’s entire communication system.
The study sets the stage for future research on the debilitating mental illness that, according to the World Health Organisation, affects more than 21 million people worldwide.”

“The researches found that poorly insulated brain wiring was most evident in the corpus callosum, which allows for communication between the brain hemispheres, and in the frontal portion of the corona radiata, a key structure for information processing. “

and further on…

 “Scientists analyzed the data of 1,963 people with schizophrenia and compared them to 2,359 similar healthy people from Australia, Asia, Europe, South Africa an North America.  Earlier studies typically included up to 100 people with schizophrenia, Jahanshad said.
The big data project was integrated from 29 different international studies by the ENIGMA (Enhancing Neuro Imaging Genetics through Meta Analysis) network, a global consortium headed by Paul Thompson at the Keck School of Medicine.

ENIGMA has published the largest neuroimaging studies of autism, major depression and bipolar disorder using brain scans of more than 20,000 people, said Thompson, associate director of Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute.

The researches examined data from diffusion tensor imaging, a form of MRI that measures the movement of water molecules in the white matter of the brain.  These scans allow scientists to locate problem areas in the brain’s normally insulated communication system.

The study paves the path for more focused scientific inquiry.   A next step could be to seek what causes these abnormalities in white matter.   Schizophrenia is partly hereditary, so perhaps specific genes promote the disorder via slight alterations in brain wiring, Kelly said ”

USC has researches across disciplines seeking to prevent or treat neurological and psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy.”  “

 

In another blog :  discovermagazine.com/2017/janfeb/55-schizophrenia-genetic-spark

” A team led by  geneticist  Steven McCarroll of the Broad Institute, based in Cambridge, Mass; combed through genetic info from about 29,000 schizophrenia cases,  36,000 controls and 700 brain samples from deceased patients.
McCarroll found that patients who had a certain C4 gene were more likely to inherit the disease.   In healthy brains, the gene helps prune unnecessary connections between cells.  But when it runs amok, as it does in schizophrenia, the process destroys healthy brain tissue.
C4’s involvement might also explain why schizophrenia arise during the late teens into the 20’s.   It’s a period in human development in which brain circuits change and re-organise and … vulnerabilities to many neuropsychiatric illnesses emerge”

It is comforting for me to know that there is indeed further research been done on psychiatric disorders, and that scientific curiosity and continued inquiry is being made into this very complex disease.

Well,  this all popped up before the Mental health workshop at the Methodist Church, so I went well fired up to learn more.  Being Church, of course brings one to the brink of the Spiritual dimension of healing and deliverance from mental illness. A whole new field of seeking and finding.    And that door has yet to be knocked on to open up wider to the mysteries of the mind.
However, in this sphere of inquiry there are no formulas or equations or quotas or logical answers.  It is a question of trust, faith and patience, to allow God to do His work as He sees fit.  He is in control, knows all things, and He has a purpose in all that happens …..  and He works in mysterious ways.   One day His purposes will be revealed to those who are seeking answers, understanding and healing.
Because the Word of God says in Matthew 7:8
For everyone who asks will receive, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 

So, perhaps this side of Heaven, I will not know all there is to  know about mental illness,
its madness, its reasons and its cures.   Until then I will continue to apply the Scripture of  Romans  12:2
 And do not be conformed to this world, but  be  transformed  by  the  renewing  of  your  mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. 

But…., one day when I enter the Pearly Gates I’m heading straight for the Hall of Inquiries and when I find the writings on schizophrenia, maybe even this little blog post will be there too, who knows?   Then I will give it a wrap, ….. and put a little green bow on it !!
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Happy thoughts for good mental health  People !

three butterflies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Art of Art

 

“What is Art ?  –  or what, would you say, is the definition of Art,” I asked my daughter who has her own little Art school for pre-schoolers.   It is quite a question and I suspect that there is no correct answer, as Art plays such a part in the human condition.   It did however put me on a track of thought that wanted to explore the subject of Art, just a little.

These are some of the colourful artworks of  the pupils at the Sticky Fingers Art School .

You can see more Kids Art and happy faces at the Sticky-Fingers Art School at
Facebook : Sticky-Fingers.

Kids Art is important.  I learnt that the practise of Art can be fundamental to a child’s development, and exposing them to Art can help them in various ways.  But apart from that it will undeniably bring  smiles to their faces, as you can see from these photos.

The Writer on this Blog :  proverbs31woman.org/2016/09/06/watercolor-painting–toddler/#more-2524
says :
Afterall, Art is simply the meeting of all our senses at that point when it was being done”

She goes on and gives insight to the benefits of teaching kids in watercolours :
“Introduce them to the world of colour;  gives more concrete ideas about blending (primary) colours in order to produce a new (secondary) colour.  Can teach a toddler about emotions and the colour associated with them.   We can better understand the toddler’s feelings just by looking at their artwork.  Enhances parts of their brains that handle creativity;  may also enhance their problem solving skills;  and Art can build a child’s confidence.”

So Kids Art is important – and it makes them happy !

I have been surfing the blogosphere at WordPress, dropping in on Art blogs, and been amazed at some of the Art out there.  I found the Brandon Knoll  blog with his interesting creative work, linked with modern technology.    You may want to visit his blog and see his work on   https://chaoticshapes.com/portfolio-2/     Just imagine the diligence and patience he must exercise to do his kind of artwork.  And he takes his blog audience with him in the colouring-in process, as he encourages his followers to use their imagination and guess what’s coming out of his drawings.

Leopard
Leopard

 

Macaw
Macaw

Of course we get to the fine arts students who, to my mind do the “real” art stuff.  Those finely trained professionals who make a living out of their creativity.   This may well be the heart of Art.   Yet some of the master artists of their times, who painted with their very souls, seemingly only received recognition many years after they had gone.  Some even died paupers, and yet now their art works fetch astronomical prices.

Taking a glimpse over the history of Art, it reveals that Artists influence the times that they live in, their history-spaces so to speak, which may lead one to think that they are the subliminal influencers of their times, expressed through their artwork.

The Renaissance Period with  Leonardo da Vinci and others;  setting the way of Western art.

Mona Lisa
Leonardo da Vinci’s   Mona Lisa

 

Last Supper

Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper

The Impressionists with Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh and others;   painting their perceptions before nature.

Claude Monet
Claude Monet’s  Sunrise

 

Van Gogh's Tulip fields
Van Gogh’s  Bulb Fields

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Realism with Millet and others, celebrating the  working-class and peasants.

Millet Painting the Gleaners
Millet’s  The Gleaners

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

picasso.jpg

Surrealism :  Pablo Picasso – ridiculous art, painting dreams and exploring the unconscious mind.

And so on.

Apart from its expression and beauty Art can also be functional.
Art and Science :
 In an article on Longreads Sept 2016   on Space Art….      … “Bill Hartman, a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in  Tucson,… sees his artistic role as that of a synthesizer, blending a  mass of disparate and highly specialised astronomical data into a more complete whole.     This is often necessary in a field that wallows in minutiae at the expense of the big picture.

Art has long been used to clarify science, and vice versa

He says, ” Leonardo da Vinci sketched waves to learn about wave motion, but dissected bodies so he could paint better portraits.
Space Art, for all the ostensible benefits of art and science working together, artists have found themselves being squeezed out of the field of astronomy, just as they had out of the life sciences in the 19th century. “

Indeed, a picture paints a thousand words !

Art and Psychology :
This quoted from a blog called Everyone Means  Something
https://phulme.wordpress.com/2014/08/18/genius-22-as-inspiration

“Surrealism…challenged fundamental premise about Art and creativity, shifting the focus from the conscious to unconscious processes introducing the role of chance in the role of the creative process, and treating that process as not merely aesthetic but political social and metaphysical”

Surrealism is crazy art, but is not our world a little crazy ?   And for those artists who have become a little ‘unhinged and unhooked’, may well be the ones who have something to show those who live in the normal world.

Starry Night

And as October is Mental Health Month, let us take a moment and salute Vincent van Gogh, who painted his famous Starry Night from an asylum room.

Well, Art, in one way or another, must have an important part to play in the forming of our personalities.  Therapists often use art to understand what is going on in the minds of their patients – perhaps because art is an expression of what we feel deep on the inside,  – even reflects what is going on outside of us, –  and often in our natural environment.            Perhaps Art is the view from the room on the inside of us.

God's hand

Art and God:
I quote from Alan Webster’s QT 24.11.16

“When we tap into God’s creative power, like in an artesian well, there is then a rush of creativity that we can draw from to express our own creativity.”

 

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This is my Art, now keep the words of  Leonardo da Vinci  in mind, when he said :  “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” !!  It’s the closest I can get to painting a straight line, (chuckle !) …. and its called “Distance”

Classifying Art is of course the right way to go to get the most from Art and for that we do need to appreciate the history of art.  And there is that, but, what about the little Kids Art, what about the new tech artist, and the daring dabblers with paints and brushes who do art for the fun of Art ?

For what is Art ?
Is it merely a fun exploration of our creativity, or the technique we apply, or does it become good art when emotion is expressed through colours, shapes and forms, creating a thing of beauty for others to see and appreciate.  I’d say all of these.
For the narcissist Art may merely be an expression of oneself, an extension of oneself, a recognition of oneself, a determination even a demand to be oneself.
But at heart Art is a soul thing – an artistic enquiring soul reaching deep into the creative processes to express some kind of truth or beauty, and done in the right spirit will want to share that beauty for others to see and appreciate too.

To my mind the art of Art is Art when it becomes an expression that releases the emotions, to both the artist  and  to the viewer.  To express and reflect the perceptions the intuitions and the imagination into an explosion of visual creativity.

Art is Art when it gives and takes to become a thing of beauty,  –  and,   “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” 

Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God will shine forth.
Psalm 50:2

three butterflies