REFLECTIONS: On DOGS, my DAD and the value of THANKFULNESS

DOGS
You may have read my last blog when I wrote about spending the day in my office comforting a dying dog – Sebastian. Well, Stephen did take him to the vet that evening and sad though we were to say good bye we know that, according to our neighbour, Sebastian is better off in the “Big Kennel in the Sky”.

But what about his younger mate he left behind – Wesley? Wesley was utterly distraught and for 24 hours non-stop he searched for Sebastian. We took prompt action. Wesley’s lovely breeder, already on the alert, had a little brother ready for us. So, the week-end after we returned from our trip to South Africa we drove to Loughborough to meet, greet and ferret LOXLEY away with us – a happy match indeed.

Here they are settled in together after the first day.

Wesley and puppy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My DAD and the value of THANKFULNESS
I am in the throes of rounding off my biography on Daddy – Frederick Cope –
ONE MAN THREE LIVES – The man who would never give up

On reflecting on his life I am reminded of Dad’s mantra – TOTT.
“Come on you lot”, he’d say to my mother when life was rough in times of turbulent waters.
“TOTT”.

TOTT was dad’s acronym for “if there be any virtue, anything worthy of praise Think On These Things” – a quote from Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Brilliant! I find it almost impossible to be defeated by fear, hardship or any malady when I am thankful for all the good things in life despite the troubled waters. Try it!

www.toniacopebowley.co.uk

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South African Trip – Never Give Up

It’s been a special trip so far and it was so good to be back in the Van Reenen area where my family farmed until 1963.

I’m now in Mthatha staying at The Whitehouse Guest house and as we walked in through the dining room I saw on each table a small chalk board stand. The first we looked at read “NEVER GIVE UP!”

How appropriate! – My up and coming book, based on my father’s life, is entitled “One Man Three Lives – The man who never gave up.”

We are near Qunu – MANDELA’ s birth and burial place and we had a guided tour of his village and history – Fascinating.

Picture of Mandella

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Reflections

Written (11 January 2016) in the company of Sebastien, my canine companion.

As I write I am confined to my office with a very sick restless, bewildered old dog. I had planned to spend the day editing the South African section of my up and coming book,
One Man Three Lives.

The more immediate important took over – soothing my poor old dog which had ‘lost it’, been out wandering in the garden in seemingly aimless pursuits, in the pouring rain, and soaked to the skin looking like the proverbial shivering, drowned rat. Thankfully both dogs are more or less settled and sleeping in my office beneath my observant, watchful eye. Wesley, the young dog, is highly disturbed by his mate’s distress so he too needs soothing attention.

It’s interesting the way things turn out. With the two dogs snugly ensconced under my desk I have had the pleasure of watching a squirrel run down our gazebo, take a flying leap onto the bird table and leisurely devour nuts meant for the birds. While his back was turned a large black bird sneaked a tit bit off the table. A pair of Red Kites then circled overhead and the alarmed squirrel descended with speed. As soon as the coast was clear he ran up the bird table stem and got stuck into the nuts once more. Waking dogs distracted me… But I was already on a One Man Three Lives epilogue roll.

My mind flitted to the needed epilogue of the book and in the interim I am heading it as REFLECTIONS. Now I am confident that I have hit the right note … More on that another time.

As for Sebastien, he has a vet appointment early this evening and I realise it is unlikely he will be coming home. Meanwhile I am enjoying our probable last hours together fussing him and thankful for all the joy he has brought into our lives.

Sebastien
L to R clockwise: Born Christmas Eve 2004 (middle pup); with mother Lucy; the happy explorer on a hay bale

Puppy Sebastien

SebastienSebastien

www.toniacopebowley.co.uk

 

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Meeting a Milestone

After decades of dreaming I’d do IT; five years of intensive research on IT and three years of writing IT, a milestone is met! The first draft is done and I am about to hibernate on a Greek Island to recharge! So then, what is IT?

IT is the biography on my father’s life:
One Man Three Lives – The man who would never give up
Book Cover
It seems a universal phenomenon that kids grow up taking their parents for granted – the old folks; they ‘don’t understand me…’ While their offspring rarely appreciate just who they are and what it is they have been through and made them who they are. I am no exception. Writing this book is a long, long adventure discovering just who it is who bred me and brought me up.

Frederick Cope was quite a man who’d been through more than quite a lot. Over and over again he’d experienced how quickly things can change.

 

The book spells it out:
Fred, a successful Yorkshire businessman was bankrupt.
He looked for a solution.
Fred, a respected consultant in China was imprisoned.
He focussed on survival.
Fred, a South African Farmer, the farm burnt out.

This account of the full blown optimist who would never be defeated holds messages of expectation, reality and hope. I trust readers will be captivated, motivated and presented with hope and meaning when life is tough

There are a few more milestones ahead but hopefully publication will be later this year – to be announced on my website:
www.toniacopebowley.co.uk

 

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Beyond my vision!

As I said in my last blog … I was sitting in my study reading Out of the Black Shadows. I put it aside momentarily and my eyes fell on this verse in the Old Testament:
Joel 1:3: Tell this to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. That settled it! I took to my computer and wrote to Stephen Lungu …

Some years later I received this email from my friend Juliet Calcott of the Vaalwater, Limpopo region in South Africa:

After distributing 450 copies of your book, we are now embarking on a mission in Vaalwater involving 5 churches, 5 schools, two orphanages, and a welfare society. It is really exciting as nothing like this has ever happened in our area before.
Juliet”

And so it was that Stephen Lungu was invited and spoke to some thousands of children in the region as in this photograph. Way beyond my vision!

Kids listening to Stephen Lungu

To read more on From a Street Kid go to www.toniacopebowley.co.uk/books/in-print/from-a-street-kid/

 

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Dream your dreams and follow your vision…

Some years ago I sat in my study transfixed as I read Out of the Black Shadows – Stephen Lungu’s autobiography. This amazing story is full of suspense, and solutions to apparently intractable problems, page after page. The more I read the more I wished my teenage kids would read it too but the younger one would find it too wordy.

Suddenly there was a clear vision … if Lungu agreed I could write a simplified and illustrated version. And, African Enterprise, the organisation he works though, could benefit financially towards their meagre pension fund.

Nine years on from that vision and From a Street Kid is published in the UK and South Africa, widely available in print and on Kindle, and selling way beyond my hopes and dreams. Recently I sent a few copies to Cross Over a mentoring project in Zimbabwe that my husband, Stephen, and I visited in February. Cross Over helps vulnerable children in a strong nurturing environment who have fallen through the gaps. This is the response from Debbie, the founder of Cross Over:                                                                       Cross Over Building

Your books arrived safely and we are using them as read alouds in 3 of the study groups this term. Your story is such a hit with our kids! They are totally engrossed in the life of Stephen Lungu and when we stop at the end of read aloud time each day there is much complaining and asking if we can’t just read one more page!!…

I can’t wait to see how the children will
respond as this remarkable story continues
to
Children readingunfold!! When we finish doing it as a read aloud, I will let them re-read it as an individual reader. Thank you for this wonderful story and how you have captured it for our children!”

The Cross Over project is one of projects currently supported by The Thembisa
Trust
.
www.thembisatrust.org/projectcrossover.htm

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Need help with avoiding or curing RSI? Exclusive RSIGuard discount

Following my last blog here are few words about RSIGuard – the first-rate desktop prevention software by an American company, Remedy Interactive.
RSIGuard, award-winning ergonomic software, reduces the likelihood of suffering from Repetitive Strain Injury if you use a computer or modern technology. I used RSIGuard as part of my recovery plan when I was suffering from chronic Repetitive Strain Injury and I still use it as a preventative measure as I write today. I wouldn’t be without it.

The current Stretch Edition can help you take better care of yourself whilst working long hours at a computer. For example RSIGuard prompts you to take rest breaks and provides video stretches you can do as part of your breaks. This keeps you active and more productive while you work. Also RSIGuard monitors how you work and prompts you to STOP and think about how you are using the computer.

If you have RSI symptoms, or wish to avoid RSI, do try the RSIGuard FREE 45 day trial by clicking here. At the end of the trial, if you decide to buy a copy, Remedy Interactive are offering to give readers of my blog an Exclusive 30% Discount off online purchases. You need to use this special code: AVOIDRSI at the checkout. Click here to get your 30% off. This generous offer is valid until the end of 2015.

For more about RSIGuard click here.  Also, my book “RSI – How to avoid it and what to do if you’ve got ithas comprehensive coverage on RSI, case studies, scientific findings on RSI, helpful tips and resources to aid your recovery, and more. There is a link on my website to make it easy for you to buy a copy.

Strive to be healthy,
Tonia
www.toniacopebowley.co.uk

RSI Book Cover

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Tonia talks in London at the 8th AGM for RSI Action

I was a long term chronic sufferer of Repetitive Strain Injury. After struggling with this debilitating condition for some 5 years I was given medical retirement – a scary step. Fortunately, with being removed from the main cause (overuse of computers and associated technologies) – working towards understanding the causes and possible solutions, together with medical help, exercises and the Alexander Technique I gradually recovered. Today although virtually totally recovered I work with cautious awareness of good practice when using technology.

Against this background I was pleased to be asked to talk at the RSI Action AGM. My title: “Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) – A Contemporary Crisis – How to escape it or cure it”. My main aim was to provide HOPE to sufferers – HOPE that there are routes to recovery. So I set out to equip and encourage those attending to understand more of our complex bodies and strive towards healing. I ended my presentation with a summary of the main points (which could be useful to you):

TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR RSI PREVENTION

1. DON’T THINK “it will never happen to me”
It could if you don’t adopt preventative measures!

2. BALANCE – aim to balance work, play; rest, exercise and static activities

3. PLAN your work so that one activity isn’t performed for extended periods

4. DEVELOP a ‘free’ posture including balance and movement!
our bodies are not designed to remain static for long periods of time.

5. WORK in a healthy environment – ergonomic chair, desk, mouse, keyboard, screen

6. KEEP FIT and supple – stretch to balance  repetitive movements. RSI is caused    primarily by working in a static position.Mouse with stop sign

7. BREAKS Don’t skip lunch breaks!
Install break monitoring software  (RSIGUARD) for breaks and exercises

8. SPEECH RECOGNITION SOFTWARE – use if you are a frequent computer user and especially if your hands, arms or neck are painful.

9. KEYBOARD SHORTCUTS – use these to minimise mouse use

10. STOP ON AMBER – before pain stops you.

There’s a lot more information in my book “RSI – How to avoid it and what to do if you’ve got it”.

Strive to be healthy,

Tonia

www.toniacopebowley.co.uk

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A holiday with a romantic quest

Earlier this year my husband and I set out to holiday in South Africa – the land of my birth and youth. One important reason was to verify aspects of my parent’s lives – notably the romantic beginning of Fred and Ethel Cope as a couple.

Let me tell you a little of their story. In August 1942 the fifty two year old bachelor, Fred, had bordered a Japanese ship, the Tatuta Maru, in Shanghai. He had spent 2 years as a prisoner of the Japanese in Canton (Guangzhou) South China. For 9 months he had been held in solitary confinement. Then Britain and Japan decided to exchange prisoners. Fred was one of those chosen to travel on the very first exchange ship bound for England.

Cathedral Peak Hotel

How Fred came to be in South Africa instead of England is a story for another day. For now I’ll pick up the story at the Cathedral Peak Hotel in the magnificent Eastern Drakensberg Mountains. Fred had secured a job in Johannesburg but first he was sent to the mountains to regain his strength after a punishing voyage. This was the hotel where he stayed. The peak on the right is Cathedral.

Cathedral PeakTwo months of gentle recuperation rendered Fred fit to climb Cathedral. Soon after this Ethel Glaister, acting matron of Harrismith Hospital, arrived and soon noticed Fred. Once she discovered his history her interest moved up a scale.
It was on 1 December 1942 that they first met. They hit it off from the start despite their twenty year age difference. Neither had been married before. Soon Fred felt out of control. He had fallen head over heals in love with a South African nurse who had turned up when he was feeling human again. Always decisive, once he had weighed the options, Fred couldn’t hold back. So, on 12 December 1942 he popped the question.
Ethel was bowled over by the unexpected proposal. Within a few days she was due back at Harrismith hospital and Fred to Johannesburg and then to England. It was ‘now or never’. She had to make up her mind fast. She did! “I just can’t say no was her reasoning! Things sped up. They were married in Johannesburg 9 days later on 21 December 1942. Despite some bumps and scrapes along the way they did live happily ever after!

This story is a peephole into my father’s life – biography currently ‘under construction’:
ONE MAN THREE LIVES – The Man who would never give up.
Publication will be announced on my website www.toniacopebowley.co.uk

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Stephen’s message for you

“I often wonder about you kids out there who may be under a bridge, or under someone’s veranda, or sleeping in an old car, with no blankets to keep you warm. Perhaps you are saying: “I wish I had a dad and a mother. I wish I had food to eat”.

I also think about you kids in the western world. Perhaps you have lots of things but no love in your life. Perhaps you are from a broken home. Perhaps your parents are not there for you, or treat you badly. Is your best friend the TV or computer games? Are you feeling lonely and lost and don’t know why you are here? Do you sometimes think that life is not worth living?

I understand. I’ve been there, and I want to tell you this: I found hope, in a hopeless situation. I found help, when all seemed helpless. I found life, laughter and love when I discovered I was loved by the man called Jesus.

As you read From a Street Kid remember, you have a friend who understands and is praying for you.”

Stephen Lungu

S Lungu holding Chicken up img_0308

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