Feature

Christmas survival guide

in Features

Christmas is coming and the excitement is building. Alright, I know it’s early, but twinkling lights are already evident in shopping centres and the sentimental adverts that cajole us into buying lots of Christmas goodies that we don’t really need have started to be shown on television. 

So what is the secret to having a happy and stress free Christmas?  It’s meant to be a time of good cheer, but for some it can be anything but merry!

Mum on the Rock has a few tips that may help. 

Remember

It’s only one day. Why do we all get ourselves so worked up over cooking the Christmas dinner when it’s really not much different to preparing a Sunday roast?

Presents

Present buying can be stressful, especially for those of us on a budget. Teaching children to understand how fortunate they are that they receive lots of gifts is important, so a nice idea can be to also make Christmas about giving to others. Asking them to donate one of their presents to a charity of their choice will help them learn that not everybody is as lucky as they are.

Supermum’is a myth!

 “I did all my Christmas shopping four months ago,” she exclaims. Whilst it can be a good idea to pre-plan and look out for bargains, how many of us realistically buy next year’s Christmas presents in the January sales? 

Make your freezer your friend

Leaving everything until the last minute can be exhausting, so take advantage of your freezer and fridge and take the chaos out of Christmas.  Most all your Christmas dinner dishes can be frozen or put in the fridge beforehand.

Lists

Make a list – and check it twice! Well, maybe don’t do that, but definitely making a list will ensure that you don’t forget to buy a present for Auntie Sue or omit to buy the cranberry sauce. 

Delegate

Nobody can be expected to do everything, so divvy up the jobs. Get someone to lay the table the day before, get someone else to peel the potatoes and make sure that someone else is in charge of buying batteries. Toys without batteries on Christmas Day equals disaster, and nobody wants to make that trip to the garage to buy some. 

Horoscope 2023

in Features

ARIES (Mar 21 – Apr 20)

Your sharp intellect will be called into action in the first part of the year, Aries, when you find yourself solving problems, not just for yourself but for others around you! This will involve looking at your life in a whole new way and you are guided to look at various aspects of your life from a different perspective. So, tap into your creative genius and explore possibilities that you would not have previously considered. This should also help to resolve a financial issue which has been dogging you for some time and as we move towards springtime you will have a clear feeling of relief and liberty. Like a weight has been taken from your shoulders. As summer becomes autumn, you are encouraged to spread your wings further and fly! Have fun, be curious and enjoy the new potential that you are allowing to flow into your life. Be year end you’ll be experiencing a life force and vitality that you had thought was available only to others. 

TAURUS Apr 21 – May 21) 

You’ll be learning lessons in love this year, Taurus. Not the usual lessons but the unconditional love associated with the higher frequencies. You’ll learn to express your love confidently within the social structure of your family, in particular, without the added pressure of expecting some form of reassurance and reciprocation. As the year progresses, you will take this new found confidence and finally be able to acknowledge your own special qualities and rejoice in your uniqueness. The summer months find you ready to bring about change in the dynamics of your family or wider community and a willingness to stand up and be counted. When you know something is right for you the Universe will ensure that it is everyone’s best interests that it unfolds. Self-discipline is the basis for mastery of all things and that included you!

GEMINI (May 22 – Jun 22) 

The year, 2023 promises to put you into the role of teacher, Gemini! However, do not panic as this will manifest more as teaching by example rather than formally. The energies in the Universe are changing rapidly and many people are becoming physically sick or insecure and unhappy as their comfort zones change and even slip away. Your amazing gift of communication was virtually born for this time and you will be flitting here and there throughout the year helping people to feel safe and secure and even excited about what lies in store in the years ahead. The world needs love and people need to feel confident in the ability to share love …. And you will be out there doing just this. By the time the year end is approaching you’ll find yourself on a whole new trajectory which you’d never have imagined possible a few short months ago.  

CANCER (Jun 23 – Jul 22)

This year you’ll be called upon to honour your natural mothering and nurturing qualities, Cancer. These aspects of your nature are going to be indispensable in supporting some close friends or family who need the safe space that you can offer. Spend some time during January centering yourself and creating your own inner balance so that you feel protected enough within yourself to give without being drained. As the year progresses, you’ll be doing more self – healing work as you begin to value yourself more and come to understand that this is the only way to go forward in your chosen path and be an effective healer with other souls. As Autumn gives way to Winter you need to be appraising and re organizing your finances. Our finances always reflect our sense of self – worth so there is much to be learned. from becoming comfortable in working with them. 

LEO (Jul 23 – Aug 23) 

The energy of 2022 is calling upon you to work a little more on understanding others’ needs, Leo, and also improving your listening skills and personal interaction. This will help you to plant seeds of light within your immediate family and social circle. Your professional contacts may a little more difficult as they may not be comfortable with a new, more confident you and you will simply need to be patient. When you feel the need to centre yourself, then work with your breath. Focusing on slowly releasing the outbreath is a wonderful way to centre and ground yourself. There may well be a new addition to the family in springtime and also cause for celebration around the time of your birthday which will mean a double celebration. An opportunity for overseas travel will present itself… Much to your delight. 

VIRGO (Aug 24 – Sep 23)

2023 is a year of major change for you Virgo. Your purpose throughout the year is to nudge people towards enlightenment and to hold their light and inner power as the world energy rollercoasts towards a time of peace and harmony. Difficult though it may be to imagine at the moment, deep down we know this is what is happening and that our role in it is crucial. So, be alert for unexpected change in your social circle, particularly around mid-March and be careful to raise your consciousness to avoid drawing in a negative energy. Set pure intentions so that you attract only good things. You have skills and talents that help you to get around obstacles that others find too challenging and these skills will be called upon as the year progresses. Your creativity and intuitive understanding will lead the way for yourself and others to let go of the old and bring forth the new as you say goodbye at year end. 

LIBRA (Sep 24 – Oct 23) 

Your leadership qualities will be called upon this month, Libra, and in your gentle, practical way, you will rise to the occasion. You have courage, balance and a sense of justice in your soul and you are able to balance these qualities with the more feminine virtues of love, tenderness and wisdom. The world needs you at this time! There are many people feeling vulnerable and afraid as they navigate the huge changes happening on our planet and throughout the year, you’ll be developing a greater confidence in your innate ability to support and nurture many. As the year progresses you may be drawn to working with crystals. This is part of your path and you are guided to follow your intuition and dive into learning just the power of these beautiful tools which you will then be using for your healing work with yourself and others. 

SCORPIO (Oct 24 – Nov 22) 

You may well start the year feeling out of alignment with those around you. Scorpio, however, this will pas as things settle into Springtime. Spring is, as we know, about new life and inspiration and always a beautiful reminder of the seasons of life continually coming around. Thus, you’ll be planting new seeds born of the fruit of your experience earlier in the year and your renewed understanding of believing in yourself and how much you are needed by dear Mother earth to help heal the planet. You can help yourself feel balanced by holding out your right hand and feeling a white dove landing gently. As you listen to it cooing gently in your ear you will tap into your inner peace and share it with who or wherever comes into you mind. As you plant seeds of kindness, love and cooperation you will notice beautiful changes occurring all around you. 

SAGITTARIUS (Nov 23 – Dec 21) 

The energy around you will feel lighter this year, Sagittarius. In many ways you will feel blessed though this may not be obvious initially. There will be blessings and blessings in disguise. You are being guided to practice gratitude, gratitude for those things that have already come your way and thus paving the way for more. As always, our fortunes in life are lessons for not just ourselves but for everyone else we come into contact with. When you become aware of this, there is no need to try, the Universe takes care of the rest. A niggling health issue will need attention around September so have it seen to, be patient and all will be well. A younger relative may need some reassurance or just a shoulder to lean on towards the end of the year. Just be there for them and allow them to unravel the situation in their own time.  

CAPRICORN (Dec 22 – Jan 20) 

This is the year when you learn to truly listen with your heart and soul, Capricorn. This way you will begin to understand what people are really saying. Use all your senses to note what they are truly imparting and what is going on inside them. This is the 5th dimensional way of listening and is the way to discover more than you thought possible. It is listening from soul to soul. As the year progresses you will be drawn to colour. You will be working with colour and seeing colours more brightly than ever before. You will crave more colour in your home and surroundings. Colour allows the angels to radiate their light and share their lessons. You are here on earth to learn everything you can while in a physical body and so you must take every opportunity to hone your gifts and help others on their journeys. 

AQUARIUS (Jan 21 – Feb 19) 

You may find yourself having to co-operate with others and even compromise against your inner feeling, Aquarius, but trust the Universe to guide you and know that it is all part of a plan for the higher good. Structure is important for us all to thrive and sometimes that mean giving way and letting go. Thus, we can each play our best part even if the ego objects. Spend some time during the summer months, making your home more welcoming and harmonious. Those little things that have been irking you because you know they need adjusting and realigning. You can even widen this to your local community. For example, instead of being irritated by litter you could start to pick it up and inspire others to do the same. People, in general need to reclaim respect for our beautiful planet and it begins in small ways and by example. 

PISCES (Feb 20 – Mar 20) 

During this great transition, Pisces, we are all being called upon to act from a deeper place within than we have ever even known about before. Your guidance at this time is to be free and independent within your given community, thus experiencing a sense of space and independence without losing the safety of the group. If, at any time you feel misunderstood (and you will), remember that you have an inner wisdom which will always remind you of your true essence, which may not always be recognised but is always there. Throughout the autumn months you may be called upon to carry out some fairly menial tasks and you will do so with joy as you realise that it is part of your contribution to caring for Mother earth. Continue to develop your sense of self worth and learn to value your uniqueness and many will be drawn to your energy.

`The Ladies that rock The Rock award 2023

in Book Review/Features

As part of the plans for International Women’s Day 2023 events, and following the success of the book “The Ladies That Rock The Rock”, by the author Ayelet Mamo Shay, a new Award program has been launched, called: The Ladies That Rock The Rock Award.

This Award program will give the opportunity for the people of Gibraltar to nominate ladies who have contributed to Gibraltar, from all walks of life, to be recognised and rewarded for their achievements and efforts. A committee comprising of both men and women, from different walks of life, including a representative from the Ministry of Equality, will select the winning nominations. 

The program will culminate with a Gala Dinner to be held on 8th March 2023 (International Women’s Day) at the Sunborn Hotel, where the Award Ceremony will take place, with one of the awards to be presented by the Minister of Equality, Samantha Sacramento.

There are seven Awards to be won as part of this program, for the following categories:

• Business Leader Award

• Diversity & Inclusion Award

• Influencer Award

• Health & Wellness Award

• Women in Media Award 

• Social Impact Award

• Lifetime Achievement Award 

Commenting on the Award program, Ayelet Mamo Shay said: ” The book The Ladies That Rock The Rock has triumphed the success of 22 inspirational ladies in Gibraltar, and last year we celebrated that with a gala dinner, an exhibition and a ladies delegation to Morocco. However I feel that there are many incredible ladies out there that have done so much for Gibraltar and deserve the recognition. We are inviting individuals and companies across Gibraltar to participate in the Award program, submit their nominations, champion Equality and celebrate International Women’s Day with us”. 

Mamo Shay added: “Last year 10% of the proceeds of the Gala Dinner and the book launch were donated to Jane Wink foundation(families in need). This year our focus is on the youth and we will be donating hundreds of copies of the book to local schools to inspire the young generations”.

The Nomination form can be obtained by email by sending a request to: TheLadiesThatRock@gmail.com 

Deadline to submit nominations is 7pm on 31 December 2022.

Immunity and seasonal Excesses

in Health & Beauty

The season of excess is upon us! We all know the old adage “everything in moderation,” meaning that it’s good to avoid extremes, so don’t overindulge in festive food and drink but also don’t abstain. You can eat and drink in moderation and still enjoy the festivities.

There is nothing worse than waking up the day after a party with a hangover, but did you realise that this is caused by ethanol, a substance found in alcohol which is a toxic chemical which, among other uses, is used as an industrial solvent added to gasoline for vehicle fuel!

It’s no surprise therefore that ethanol is responsible for some nasty effects in the human body, including dehydration, disrupted sleep, electrolyte imbalance and an upset stomach. With this in mind it is a good idea to focus on healthy drinks as a substitute for alcohol and to keep your body hydrated. 

Drinks that Support your Immune System

There are drinks that you can make yourself to support your immune system. 

Hot lemon and ginger tea – lemon and ginger are both full of antioxidants and vitamins, so drinking a cup every day can be good for your immune system.

Berry smoothie – berries are really good for you as they’re full of the vitamins your body needs.

Orange or grapefruit juice – a glass of your favourite citrus juice every morning with your breakfast will give your body some much-needed vitamin C

Alternatively, Captain Kombucha Original Bio-Organic Drink from Holland & Barrett is a delicious naturally bubbly drink with unique nutritional benefits. Every bottle is created and fermented with Captain Kombucha culture and only the highest quality certified BIO ingredients.

Vitamins

Keeping your immune system healthy and functioning is essential and one of the best ways to support your natural immunity is to nourish your body with the essential vitamins and minerals it needs to thrive (the ones your body can’t make by itself).

There isn’t just one vitamin that helps to support the immune system, there are a few! Here are some of the best vitamins to keep topped up if you want a healthy functioning immune system:

Vitamin A is essential for the normal functioning of the immune system. Some sources of vitamin A include eggs, cod liver oil, and dark green leafy vegetables.

Vitamin C helps support the cellular functions needed for a healthy immune system. Oranges, orange juice, kiwi fruit, tomatoes, strawberries broccoli, and red/green peppers are some of the best sources.

Vitamin B6 (also known as pyridoxine) helps support our immune systems, as well as nervous system function, protein metabolism, and red blood cell formation. It’s usually found in animal products like pork, fish and eggs and plant foods like chickpeas, wholegrains, bananas, squash and more.

Vitamin B9 (Folic acid). Also known as folate, vitamin B9 plays an essential role in chemical reactions in the body that affect our immune system. Good sources of folic acid include broccoli, leafy green vegetables, and Brussels sprouts.

Vitamin B12 helps make nucleic acid and cell proteins associated with our immune system. You can find it in meat, fish, dairy, eggs, enriched nutritional yeast, fortified milks and mock meats.

Vitamin D helps to keep your immune system functioning normally. We make most vitamin D by exposing our unprotected skin to direct sunlight. 

Taking vitamins such as milk thistle in the form of Holland & Barrett Over Indulgence Milk Thistle Capsules or Overhang Revitalising Drink With Milk Thistle can help with recovery from excessive food and drink intake. Alternatively, take a multi-vitamin and multi-mineral formula tablet such as Holland & Barret Radiance Multi Vitamins & Minerals One a Day which provides all round nutritional support for adults.

Superfoods

One of the biggest ways you can support your immunity is to eat a healthy diet. Superfoods, which are so-called as they are believed to be nutritionally dense, contain a variety of nutrients such as vitamins, fibre and antioxidants that can benefit your overall health. These tips can help you get more superfoods into your diet:

Look at the colours on your plate. Is all of your food brown or beige? Then it is likely that antioxidant levels are low. Add in foods with rich colour – choose the veg you like!

Add shredded greens to soups and stir fries.

Try replacing your beef or poultry with tofu or another meat alternative.

Add berries to oatmeal, cereal, salads or baked goods. Start your day with a tasty bowl of porridge made from Prewetts Coarse Oatmeal which is available from Holland & Barrett and is high in natural fibre 

Make sure you have a fruit or a vegetable every time you eat, including meals and snacks.

Have a daily green or matcha tea. Try Heath & Heather Organic Imperial Matcha Tea Bags from Holland & Barrett. 

Make turmeric, cumin, oregano, ginger, clove, and cinnamon your go-to spices to ramp up the antioxidant content of your meals.

Snack on nuts, seeds (especially Brazil nuts and sunflower seeds) and dried fruit (with no sugar or salt added). Holland & Barrett Nut Mix contains Brazils, Cashews, Walnuts, Almonds and Pecans, all rich in vitamins, fibre and protein. 

Advisory Information:

Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, taking any medications or are under medical supervision, please consult a doctor or healthcare professional and always read the label before use.

Mental health and the Holidays

in Health & Beauty

Some of us can struggle with our mental health and wellbeing during the colder months and in the run up to Christmas and New Year. It is genuinely ok to feel like you are struggling. 

Throughout the winter months there are positive strategies we can adopt to help us enjoy this time of year:

Monitor your News Intake

If you feel negatively impacted by the news, limit your exposure. Some people spend hours in front of the television watching cable news and getting fired up by the political drama. Try limiting your news exposure to 15 minutes, then shifting your attention to something more uplifting, like a TV show or film you enjoy. The same applies to scrolling through social media apps. Limit your time and move on to a more rewarding activity.

Stay connected

Staying connected may seem easy with social media and new technology, but some ways of connecting are better than others. While a simple text can make a difference to someone who is struggling as it lets them know you’re thinking about them, reaching out in other ways can be better. Try to make it a phone or video call rather than email or text, or meet up with that friend you haven’t seen in a while if it’s safe to do so. You’ll share a lot more than you would over social media and talking can be a good way to tackle a problem you’ve been carrying around.

And if you know someone who might be lonely or on their own over Christmas, why not spend some time with them?    

Try to stay active

The shorter days, colder weather and darker nights can put many of us getting outside as much. You also may find that you’re not able to do some of things you used to due to the pandemic. But finding ways to exercise and get outside can help protect your mental wellbeing. Why not take up an online exercise class, or go out on a daily walk during your lunch break?

Take Notice

With so much going on it is important we appreciate what’s happening now, and not dwell on the past or worry about the future. Why not put a mindfulness book on your Christmas list? It can be a great way to de-stress and train our brain to be in the moment.

Learn

Learning can be fun, and also increase our confidence. So take time out to read a book, learn how to use a new gadget or take up a new hobby.

Volunteer

It feels rewarding to give so why not use some of your time off to volunteer for a cause you feel passionate about. It’s been proven that an act of kindness boosts your mood and increases your wellbeing.

Start a Gratitude Journal

Though it only takes five minutes a day, keeping a gratitude journal can significantly elevate your mood and mental outlook. At the end of each day, write down at least one thing that you are grateful for that day. It can be as minor as, “I enjoyed the sandwich I ate for lunch.” What tends to happen is the nature of your thoughts will change. As you go about your day and consider what you are going to write down later, you’ll start paying more attention to the happier moments, shifting your narrative from negative to positive.

Get enough sleep

Most adults should aim for around seven to nine hours of sleep per night. In the winter time, it can be tempting to turn up the heater and pile on the blankets, but research shows sleeping in cooler temperatures is better for you. It can help with insomnia, reduce stress, and decrease depression. Try keeping your thermostat in between 60 and 68 degrees, but make sure you’re still comfy and not cold.

Dawn Baxter, is the founder of Beyond the Dawn Digital and is a marketing expert & certified positive psychology coach.

Dawn states ‘A great hack for missing the sunshine and coping with the winter months can be to use youtube as your fake window friend. Luckily on youtube some wonderful humans have created some videos of scenes that include sunshine and beautiful scenery. This will not fix the feeling but can be comforting on the darker days. 

The darker nights can make us feel as though our days are a lot shorter. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a bird’s eye view of what is necessary and pick only the really important areas to tackle first. Consider your needs in the emotional, mental, and physical states as you do so and make it non-negotiable that you are considering your needs vs what needs to “get done” at the same level of priority. If you are a list maker, so many of us are, add realistic timescales to it and make the lists actually achievable otherwise all you are doing is creating another tool of emotional torture when you inevitably do not complete everything you set out to achieve. Take care of you, truly and the rest gets easier.

Using mind-mapping or journaling is an excellent way to lighten the mental load. This is a technique used to remove thoughts or worries that would otherwise have you ruminating and preventing you from focusing on different elements of your day. This might include important decisions you have to make, stresses from your day; anything that blocks you finding the level of relaxation and focus needed. Similarly a lovely technique to implement at the end of the day is to journal out some gratitudes; to lay out your final thoughts for the day. This acts as a visualisation to take off the weight of everything that has happened that day, as well as everything you might be planning for tomorrow or the rest of the week.’

Dawn Baxter, Founder of Beyond the Dawn Digital, 

Keeping well this Christmas

in Health & Beauty

Christmas is a hectic time of year for most. The stress of Christmas preparations coupled with the cold winter weather leaves many feeling tired and sluggish; lack of sunlight (which disrupts our sleep / waking cycles) often adds to it all.  This year, the Covid-19 pandemic has seen a number of additional challenges weigh on our minds: how to protect our most vulnerable, how to ensure we stay in touch despite restrictions in social “bubble” numbers, whether or not to take vaccines we may not have had before… 

Recommended tips to promote physical health, mental health and overall well-being include: 

  • Keeping a regular routine by starting your day at roughly the same time. Although it is tempting to stay in pyjamas all day, a regular routine is essential for motivation, self-confidence and sense of purpose.
  • Spending time outdoors in natural daylight on a regular basis. Make sure to wear a mask if you cannot maintain a reasonable physical distance from those outside your network.
  • Switching off in your free time – avoid engagement in any work or information that is not conducive to your mental health; ensure you have screen-free time at least an hour before bedtime.
  • De-stressing with exercise or meditation or other activities that can be carried out as a family. Regular exercise helps to control weight and boost your immune system along with, improving posture, sleep quality, bone health and concentration. Family activities are also a great way to break the tension that can build if the family is constantly cooped up inside the house.
  • Staying in touch with those you love is vital. Social connections are invaluable for providing support and easing anxiety; call by telephone, face time, fill out a festive card or write a letter.
  • Eating healthy and avoiding the temptation to reach for unhealthy comfort food is especially important. Try to meet your your 5 A Day target of fruit and veg a day, opting for multiple colours to get the best intake of vitamins and minerals. Should you find yourself craving sugary treats, try a juicy piece of fruit instead!


A warm bowlful of breakfast on a cold morning is a delicious way to start the day.


Try some porridge or Weetabix with a sliced banana, some berries or other fruit to add flavour.

  • Keeping hydrated – opt for water as opposed to several juice drinks that inevitably increase your sugar intake. Avoiding excess consumption of alcohol; if you do decide to drink keep to recommended units spaced out over several days. 
  • Refraining from smoking and ensuring that you, your children or pets stay away from exposure to second-hand smoke.
  • Asking your local pharmacist for advice on how to treat symptoms for coughs, colds, sore throats, aches and pain; remembering that if you have any Covid symptoms it is important to stay home, isolate and call 111 for guidance.
  • Making sure your medicine cabinet is adequately stocked and all supplies are not past their ‘sell by’ dates. 
  • Strongly considering vaccination if you have been advised to do so; ensure you get your information from the right sources before making your decision. Your GP/ Nurse Practitioner will likely provide the relevant reasoning at the time. The flu vaccine prevents several strains of the influenza virus, it also reduces the risk of flu related illnesses and decreases primary care visits by more than 40% [CDC,2020].

Self compassion… What is it?

in Features

In the difficult days and times in which we are living I feel it is very important for us to about, understand and begin to practice self compassion.  But what exactly is self compassion?

We all know about compassion… compassions for others , compassion for animals… but, for the most part, we stop short of even thinking of having compassion for ourselves. The most likely reason before this being that we grew up in a society in which we were taught to put others first and put our own needs last. Many of us were taught to ‘just roll uo your sleeves and get on with it!’  or ‘who do you think you are?’ ‘pride comes before a fall’ .. and so on. Children in the current times are more encouraged to put themselves first in an increasingly narcissistic society but that too, is devoid of self compassion. Self-centredness and self-compassion are two very different things. 

“Self-compassion is simply the process of turning compassion inward.  We are kind and understanding rather than harshly self-critical when we fail, make mistakes or feel inadequate. We give ourselves support and encouragement rather than being cold and judgmental when challenges and difficulty arise in our lives. Research indicates that self-compassion is one of the most powerful sources of coping and resilience we have available to us, radically improving our mental and physical wellbeing. It motivates us to make changes and reach our goals not because we’re inadequate, but because we care and want to be happy”. Kristin Neff

Self compassion is about treating ourselves with the same kindness and acknowledgement with which we treat others. Our expectations of ourselves are always harsher than our expectations of others. When we are dealing with life’s challenges it is essential that we learn to give ourselves the time and the kindness to take stock of just what we are dealing with and recognise that it is in the best interests of everyone that we do so. 

It is not easy to change ingrained habits or to silence the little voice which is so diligent in reminding us how flawed we are. But, as Kristin Neff points out so well, it is one of our most powerful sources of coping …. Radically improving our mental and physical well being.”

I find so often that when I choose a subject to research and write about that life gives me the opportunity to walk my talk! So, it is hardly surprising that I am now being given the opportunity to walk my talk of self compassion. And, I can tell you first hand, it is not easy.

My younger brother has had a stroke and I am his next of kin, his big sister and therefore his surrogate mother. It doesn’t matter that he is 60 years old or that he is a youthful, fit, active, healthy 60 year old, he is my little brother and my heart is breaking. He had a brain bleed three months ago and was making excellent progress, had come to stay with me while we worked on him regaining full health. He felt a bit odd one day last week and before we knew it, he had had another, … this time an aneurysm – a massive brain bleed – and given two hours to live. That was nine days ago and he has come through four separate medical procedures and basically defied all odds to stay alive. He opened his eyes two days ago and is focusing, letting us know that he is in there, still with us and not ready to drift over to the other side just yet. I am effectively carrying this myself, though I have a very supportive partner who keeps reminding me to be gentle with myself and to acknowledge the enormity of what I am dealing with. My brother’s life in its entirety, is balanced in my hands to a large extent. I am his source of communication and I am acutely aware of the gift that I have been given and therefore that I have the inner strength and capacity to help this man on his journey wherever it may go. And to do it with grace and dignity. For me to do this I absolutely must practice self-compassion. 

Do not wait till something so extreme happen in your life before you consciously begin to allow yourself some self-compassion. I have been teaching these practices for many, many years and yet still I am caught unawares. But this is my opportunity to share with you, my readers, the essential value of taking care of ourselves with love and compassion.

We can only give to others what we have enough of within ourselves and we only ever have one real relationship and that is the one with ourselves. The others are all reflections

Remember this ……   First is God.  Second is Self.  Third is Others.

Kate Mchardy  MA(Hons)  PGCE MSPH

Spiritual coach, teacher and healer.

katemch@gmail.com

The University of Light Group

www.thehealingretreat.net

Tel:   +44 7712889534

Valerga Brothers release ‘Soundtrack of My Teens an album for Calpe House

in Features

Three years ago I found myself announcing an album from the Valerga Brothers when they were inducted to the Hall Of Fame Class of 2019. Covid delayed that album and forced into isolation, the brothers put to good use the extra time available and started to add songs to it with a view to making it a double album. Recordings went on until they had thirty three songs for the final project – that’s nearly a triple album’s worth of memorable classic songs!  

The Valergas reached out across our musical community and secured stellar collaborations from musicians of all genres and the expanded project is now presented as a beautiful CD/USB package finally on sale at Khubchand’s, who have sponsored the album so that the entire proceeds from the album sales will go entirely to Calpe House. The launch of the album took place recently at the City Hall hosted by Mayor Christian Santos, with Sir Joe Bossano and Minister John Cortes also present. Pre sales of the album had already clocked up over thirteen hundred pounds which were presented to Calpe House representative Albert Poggio during the launch. 

“The ‘Soundtrack of My Teens’ by The Valerga Bothers is our ‘opus magnum’ ” says Henry Valerga.  It’s a snapshot of our early years in music, pictures and biography, packaged with the soundtrack of the 60’s and 70’s music which shaped our teens. This bumper musical offering includes great covers of big hits from many legendary artists and we have also brought in local artists to the album in the hope that Calpe House, a charity really close to all our hearts, will benefit greatly from the entire proceeds of this thirty three track album.”

In his opening address Mayor Christian Santos welcomed the many collaborators present and praised the great collection of ‘songs from another time.’ He encouraged those present to spread the word and help to bolster the sales of the album so that Calpe House would benefit greatly from this noble project. Henry Valerga spoke of the brothers’ involvement in music from a tender age and the social history of their growing up in Red sands Road. He alluded to the content of the album as a ‘time capsule of years passing’ and being marked by great songs which made up the soundtrack of their lives and our lives too. “These footprints of nostalgia have been raised to another level with the collaborations giving the music a new lease of life with a special local significance always respecting the original versions.” Henry gave detailed thanks and mentioned by name many who were involved in the project from the start and then invited a close friend to say a few words.

Barrister Levy Attias, a published poet and great friend of the Valerga Brothers entreated those gathered for the launch to ‘consider for a moment a life without music’. Where the ‘soundtrack’ of these songs recorded here have served us as a backdrop for romances or even break ups, as most of us remember specific times in our lives when music of bygone days jogs our memories and tugs at our heart strings. He paraphrased the great Abba hit ‘Thank you for the music’ and raised the chorus of agreement to a warm applause.

At that point Sir Joe Bossano was invited to the microphone and he spoke warmly about Calpe House and how it belongs to all of us and how it’s now considered a home from home to many recovering patients before returning home after UK treatments. The presentation of a cheque to  Albert Poggio of Calpe House followed on and Albert highlighted by way of a statistic that as many as a quarter of our population has benefitted from shelter at Calpe House during times of treatments. A sobering thought that underpins the many charitable endeavours that our community undertakes to raise money for the charity.

The guests were then invited to purchase their copies of ‘Soundtrack of my Teens’ and the gathering then mingled to the backdrop of some songs from the new album in a video presentation by Eddie Adambery. My own thoughts after hearing the album are that as Christmas is just around the corner, there is no better way to give music this Christmas and help a really worthy cause, but more than that, this great collection of songs of our youth will take pride of place in many musical collections across Gibraltar. 

What do you get for £20? A great album which is guaranteed to raise many smiles and evoke musical memories as we remember those bygone days when many great songs from great artists marked our youth. Big value with plenty of photographs and well researched historical comments on the tracks, why they were chosen, who collaborates on them from our local artists and compelling pointers as to why the music of the 60’s and 70’s was so successful  and has remained etched in the memory of so many from that generation. There are many interesting stories behind many of the featured songs which were new to me and these little gems of information are always entertaining to read and to know. It’s a big listening experience and very well produced indeed.

The photography and design throughout are excellent and bring to life the story in pictures of this established sibling duo that have been with us for 57 years and counting. In a two CD pack you would normally get 24 tracks but in this one the USB increases the capacity so you get a CD with 19 songs and the USB has 33 songs (which I’m told is the format most convenient to use in your car stereo). When you add all the aforementioned pictures and information to this great musical package you will agree that it’s an excellent gift to give music this Christmas. Especially for the Calpe House  

The album which has been financed by Kamlesh Krishna Khubchand, consists of a beautiful front cover painting of brothers Henry and Denis by artist Leslie Gaduzo. Stephen Perera has done the graphic design and produced the twelve page libretto which includes many photos from the era in montage using vintage cameras and layout. The local artists collaborating are Chris Montegriffo on harmonica, guitarist Paul Patrick Cano, Trevor Guilliano of ‘After Hours’ (recording assistance), singers Corrine Cooper and Seila Pavon, tenor Nathan Payas and soprano Claire Hawkins, veteran Rocker Giles Ramirez and veteran Rock guitarist Harry Chichon. 

A more recent contribution was made by Eddie Adambery who is a long time friend of the brothers and now lives locally after he retired from a UK career in song writing producing and recording. The Gibraltar National Youth Choir conducted by Christian Santos also took part in the project, with spoken words by Krisna Gulraj and Michael Cortes, which were recorded with Brian Torres and Nicky Gonzalez assisting. That represents a wide cross section of local talent who have rallied round to embellish the project with their selfless contributions. There are more contributors not mentioned here for brevity.

“The songs we have chosen are legendary classics, evergreens from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Kinks, Simon and Garfunkel, Procol Harum, The Righteous Brothers, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Donovan, The Everly Brothers and  many more. Our versions of their songs are backed by rich instrumentation and versatile vocal arrangements which we and the other contributing local artists have poured their hearts into. I think that we have achieved a recording milestone in the way that our covers of these classics have turned out. It’s the biggest project that we have ever attempted and we are immensely proud of everyone with the results that we have achieved.”

I have selected a few songs  to mention as a trailer and ‘The Boxer’ immediately stands out as does ‘You’ve lost that loving feeling’ both great productions. ‘Grocer Jack’ features the GNY Choir on it and has all the tenderness of the original.  Henry’s vocal in Donovan’s ‘Catch the wind’ gives you goose pimples and ‘Universal Soldier’ is a truly epic production. Denis Valerga sings ‘Blackberry Way’ and he has orchestrated a ‘Penny Lane’ type of trumpet solo at the end which is a masterpiece. ‘Ruby Tuesday’ is given a sensitive treatment which evokes all the magic of the early Rolling Stones at their acoustic best and Don Maclean’s ‘Vincent’ is also a truly standout track which captures the beauty and fragility of the original. 

I can vouch that you will be in for a feast of classics which will make you feel proud of the local talent on display in these collaborations. They really do stand out as special musical treats and I can see many copies of this album from the Valerga Brothers selling really well in support of Calpe House. 

On sale at Khubchands, The ‘Soundtrack of my teens’ will gladden many hearts with the nostalgia and the musical journey of two brothers who have captured our hearts and still endure with their music. 

Don’t get overloaded this Christmas

in Features

Yes it’s that time again, Christmas – time to dig out your lights and decorations, spend hours getting them set out just right and finding a spare socket or two to plug them in. No easy task.

Let’s start with those lights:

Firstly always buy lights that have a CE mark and a BS-EN number.

Make sure that they’re suitable for where you want to put them. Any mains voltage lights that you want to put outside must have an IP (Ingress Protection) rating of at least IP44. Fortunately nowadays most Christmas lights are low voltage LEDs and are therefore intrinsically much safer, they’ll have a transformer to take the voltage down to as little as 5v, so if the light string will be OK outside, they’ll be safe. Remember that the plug will usually need to be inside the house though.

Now with the lights chosen and fixed where you want, you’ll need to get them powered up….

If you have European two pin plugs fitted to the lights you MUST NOT plug them directly in to a UK style socket – this is not safe and it will damage the socket, making it unsafe to use even with a UK plug.

Always use the correct type of fused adaptor (with the correct size fuse fitted) or better still change the plug if possible. Earthed Schuko plugs MUST have an earthed adaptor, if not or if you decide to put these in a UK socket without an adaptor, your lights or appliance will not be earthed and it is extremely dangerous.

Now with plugs and adaptors in hand and no socket where you need one, let’s break out the extension leads.

It’s absolutely fine to use extension leads as a temporary solution to get power where you need it, you just have to be sensible about things.

As with your lights only buy extension leads that are CE marked and get one that is long enough rather than plugging several together to get where you need to.

In general, extensions are not waterproof though enclosures are available to put them in that will keep them dry. DO NOT rely on a plastic bag!

While it’s unlikely that even several sets of LED fairy lights will overload a 13A extension lead you must pay attention to the load you’re connecting to it. The most frequent problem is not having enough space on the extension for those bulky transformers to sit properly, or they’re too close together, which can cause them to overheat and fail or even worse!

Remember to switch off and unplug any extension lead when it’s not being used.

If you’re unsure about anything regarding the suitability of your lights, plugs, adaptors, extension leads or how much load you have connected to an extension, you should speak to a competent electrician or your local specialist store who should be able to give you advice.

Different Faiths Different Traditions

in Features

Although Christians and non-Christians alike celebrate Christmas, Christians mostly see Christmas as a religious holiday occasion, while most non-Christians mark it as a cultural time of year.

With over 4,200 religions around the world, some of which celebrate Christmas and some of which don’t, we take a look at a few of the different celebrations and traditions that are celebrated by other faiths. 

Hanukkah 

Hanukkah meaning ‘dedication’ is an eight day event and commemorates when the Jews were able to reclaim their land from the Seleucids around 200 BC. It typically takes place between late November and late December, beginning on the 25th day of Kislev, which is the ninth month of the Jewish calendar.

Christmas sometimes overlaps with the Jewish Holiday of Hanukkah where the customs are similar to that of Christmas and apart from sending cards to loved ones, and decorating the Christmas tree, you will find them lighting candles on the menorah (candelabra) and frying latkes (pan-fried potato pancakes). Although there are only eight nights of Hanukkah, there are nine branches on a menorah because the one at the centre is intended to hold the Shamash, a candle used to light the others. During each night of the festival, the family gathers around the menorah. On the first night the head of the family lights one candle with the Shamash and on the second night two candles are lit, and so on, until all eight candles are lit on the eighth night. Each night, gifts are given. In some families, children play a spinning game with a small four-sided wooden top called a dreidel. On each side of the top is one letter of NGHS, or Nes Godol Hoyoh Shom, which means “A great miracle happened there.”

Diwali

Diwali, the five-day Festival of Lights, is celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world and depending on the Lunar Calendar it is held in either October or November. It is widely associated by Hindus with the goddess Lakshmi, who symbolises three virtues: wealth and prosperity, fertility and abundant crops, as well as good fortune.  

The festival celebrates new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. Festivities reach their peak on the third day, Diwali itself, when the occasion is marked with candles and lights in homes, businesses and temples and people dress up in brightly coloured new clothes and beautiful saris, shiny gold and silver jewellery and paint their skin with henna designs. 

Ramadan

Muslims around the world celebrate Ramadan, which marks the month the prophet Mohammed is believed to have had their holy book, the Koran, revealed to him by God. Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic lunar calendar, being 11 to 12 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar. The celebration starts at the first sighting of the moon in Ramadan. 

Muslims cannot eat and drink at all in the daytime during this period, breaking their fast, called sawm, only when the sun sets and again before the sun rises. During the fast, no food or drink is consumed, and thoughts must be kept pure. Followers of Islam believe that fasting teaches patience, modesty, and spirituality.

Meals served before sunrise are called Suhoor, and after sunset they are called Iftar, and these meals are eaten with family or with the local community. Many Muslims observe Iftar by eating three dates, just as the prophet Mohammed did when he broke his own fast.

Suhoor and Iftar meals typically contain fresh fruits, vegetables, halal meats, breads, cheeses, and sweets. The days are spent in prayer and reflection and it is also a time when Muslims are encouraged to give to charity, strengthen their relationship with God and show kindness and patience

Eid

The fast ends with the celebration of Eid al-Fitr, meaning ‘Festival of Breaking the Fast’, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. The three day feast, often referred to as ‘Eid’, is a time when family and friends give thanks to God and usually begins with morning communal prayers with people congregating in mosques and at community centres where Muslims wearing their finest clothes greet each other by saying ‘Eid Mubarak’, which is Arabic for “Blessed Eid”. Prayers are traditionally followed by a big meal where gifts are shared.

Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is an annual celebration of African-American culture that takes place from 26th December to the 1st January, culminating in a communal feast called Karamu, usually on the sixth day.

Families celebrating Kwanzaa decorate their homes with colourful objects and wear brightly coloured kaftans made from African cloth called kente, primarily in three colors: green (a symbol of Africa’s rich land and hope for the future), black (representing people of African descent), and red (which stands for their struggle).

At the centre of the celebration is the lighting of candles on the Kinara (a seven-stick candleholder) which is placed on a straw mat (mkeka), alongside a basket filled with fruits and vegetables (mazao), a communal cup (kikombe), and gifts (zawadi). Ears of corn (muhindi), one for every child in the family, are placed beneath the kinara. Kwanzaa celebrations often feature African drumming, dancing, and storytelling and, of course, a feast that may include black eyed peas and collard greens which are a type of large, leafy green vegetable

Buddhism

Buddhists do celebrate Christmas, but in a non-Christian way, focusing on helping the needy and giving back to others. On the 8th December Buddhists celebrate Bodhi Day, which is when Buddha achieved enlightenment beneath a bodhi (fig) tree. In many Buddhist homes a fig tree is decorated with lights to commemorate this event and a traditional meal of sweet, sticky rice will be eaten and heart shaped cookies are baked to symbolise and match the leaves of the fig tree. 

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