It’s That Time of the Year

A Timely Tale – as told by “Uncle” Norman

“Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes. How do you measure, measure a year? In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee, in inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife?”. By all accounts a befitting snippet from Tuks Senganga’s song 525 600 Minutes.

Don’t worry if you are not familiar with the song or even the artist. Fact is, it is admittedly a better selection for the proudly multilingual South African audience, from what would have been the alternative choice: “Otro año ya se ha ido. Cuantas cosas han pasado. Algo hemos aprendido. Y algo hemos olvidado” an equally suitable verse from Marco Antonio Solis’ Navidad sin ti.

It would seem, as they say, that the year 2020 Too is upon us. For many, this is a time to step back and reflect on the year gone by – for those who are not afraid of their past, and a time to march on or lay out a new path into the future – for those who still believe in a better tomorrow. Either way, we have all come to accept that time waits for Norman. (Yes, we already did the spellcheck)

In the event that you find yourself struggling and could do with a little more time to live up to at least one of your new year’s resolutions or a personal life goal, here is a little reprieve for you or an alternative way to go about pursuing your future plans. Remember, “Life is what happens while you are planning other things”. Try something amazing (no not Debonair’s pizza… well, not yet anyway). Try choose a different path or foreign lane to run on. Your own “Get Out of Jail Free” card (obviously it won’t get you out of Estcourt prison).

Here it is: Change when you celebrate your new year.

If that’s confusing, worry not, there are many other people around the world who for legitimate and alternative reasons celebrate the new year on different dates, other than 31st December/1st January.

(Urgent disclaimer: it is not our intention to persuade or ask you to abandon your current way of life or belief system. You are just being invited to be kinder to and more patient with yourself).

If while reading this, you somehow feel the sudden urge and the temptation to object or reject this alternative way of realigning your habits/goals/targets (so as to distress and disconnect yourself from the regular year end/new year social pressures), solely based on divergent identity, cultural or any other differentiators; please note that as a consequence of living in a globalised world, you are probably already guilty of many cultural assimilations.

In fact, rumour has it that some amongst us already partake in more than one new year’s celebrations, look forward to Black Friday sales, celebrate Halloween, take or teach salsa classes, have a black belt in some martial art form. What is more telling, is that some of the superior and celebrated human beings/talented athletes amongst us have and will continue to participate in the summer Olympic Games, (slap bang!) in the middle of the South African winter. How ludicrous. Right?

In the event that you find all this overwhelming, then relax, take a minute (you still have 525 599 to spare) and appreciate the fact that you are blessed with the incredible privilege of choice and have limitless options.

Tackle life one breath at a time – with or without your mask, one step at a time and one day at a time. Just take your time.

Remember you have your (whole) lifetime to live and make choices.

“Move and Play Your Part”

A moving tale – as told by “Uncle” Norman It goes without saying that the Roman poet, Decimus Junius Juvenalis, meant well and obviously had other preoccupations when he coined the famous phrase “Orandum est ut sit mens sana in corpore sano” – meaning that “you should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body”. Nonetheless, it would serve our narrative well if you were to interpret this motto in keeping with John Hulley’s distortion thereof: that physical activity/exercise is an important and essential part of mental and psychological well-being. Young or old, Olympian or not, we should all be enjoying the benefits of physical activity/exercise. Whether you are involved in exercise programmes as a means to an end or an end in itself, is neither here nor there. What matters is that we should all be engaging in some form of structured or intentional physical activity. The chosen/prescribed activities can be performed at a variety of intensity levels, ranging between light, moderate and high/vigorous levels. How hard you push yourself really depends on your goals, experience, motivation or fitness level. (Or just listen to your body. It will tell you…immediately or the morning after). What is known, is that physical activity/exercise creates a self-reinforcing cycle of extraordinary benefits for the wellbeing of those who dare to try it – and even more so for children. Active children’s brains work better, making it easier for them to learn. At the same time, they develop better attitudes about school and the improvements in their psychosocial health creates a better mind-set for learning. By the way, the research has already been done. When children are given the opportunity to be regularly active in school, behaviour, attention, attendance and academic performance often improve. What's more is that in the future, these children are more likely to have better income prospects, improved physical and mental health and higher productivity. So MOVE, and play your part.

A moving tale – as told by “Uncle” Norman

It goes without saying that the Roman poet, Decimus Junius Juvenalis, meant well and obviously had other preoccupations when he coined the famous phrase “Orandum est ut sit mens sana in corpore sano” – meaning that “you should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body”. Nonetheless, it would serve our narrative well if you were to interpret this motto in keeping with John Hulley’s distortion thereof: that physical activity/exercise is an important and essential part of mental and psychological well-being.

Young or old, Olympian or not, we should all be enjoying the benefits of physical activity/exercise. Whether you are involved in exercise programmes as a means to an end or an end in itself, is neither here nor there. What matters is that we should all be engaging in some form of structured or intentional physical activity. The chosen/prescribed activities can be performed at a variety of intensity levels, ranging between light, moderate and high/vigorous levels. How hard you push yourself really depends on your goals, experience, motivation or fitness level. (Or just listen to your body. It will tell you…immediately or the morning after).

What is known, is that physical activity/exercise creates a self-reinforcing cycle of extraordinary benefits for the wellbeing of those who dare to try it – and even more so for children. Active children’s brains work better, making it easier for them to learn. At the same time, they develop better attitudes about school and the improvements in their psychosocial health creates a better mind-set for learning.

By the way, the research has already been done. When children are given the opportunity to be regularly active in school, behaviour, attention, attendance and academic performance often improve. What’s more is that in the future, these children are more likely to have better income prospects, improved physical and mental health and higher productivity.

So MOVE, and play your part.

Prevention is better than cure

An introspective story – as told by Uncle Norman.

Fair is foul, and foul is fair: a befitting prelude to a diagnostic report of a health system seemingly designed to treat sickness rather than to prevent disease. 

Today I implore you to familiarise yourself with the South African Child Gauge 2020 – Food and nutrition security, themed: The Slow Violence of Malnutrition. The Child Gauge is published annually by the Children’s Institute at the University of Cape Town to review the status of children in South Africa and inform evidence-based policy and programming.

Once you have read or glanced through the publication, and with due consideration of the group of conditions and factors that exist, ask yourself – Have we as a society reliably demonstrated the desire to meet our problems in time, rather than to seek remedies after the damage is done?

In the illustrious closing words (and voice) of Judge Dennis Davis: “You be the judge”.