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Dominica weekly is a personal weblog about the nature island of Dominica.


Game of football

Recently I asked by a married couple, who were looking for ways they can incorporate fun exercise into their daily life schedule. Here’s their question:

What advice would you give us when we know we should exercise, but we just don’t feel up for it?

My answer to them is what I’d tell anyone, whether you a child or adult:

Don’t look at it as exercise – instead play games and sports and have a ton of fun doing it! The main thing is just to get outside every day and do something you think is fun. You can play sports like soccer, basketball, cricket, or volleyball. You can go on family/group hikes or make a special effort to go swimming every weekend.

Do lots of different things, and again, focus on having fun, and doing it often. If you go out, have fun, enjoy the activity, it won’t feel like “exercise” … but you’ll be getting fit and healthy in the meantime.

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girls_dan

Editor’s note:I’m not a complainer. Really, I’m not. But having lived my first 68 years in the USA, I find that things being different take me some getting used to. Understand, please, I’m not asserting that “different” is wrong. It’s probably right for here; only I’m unused to it.

So, I’m sucking it up and learning to accept those different things. Still, I think it may amuse Dominicans reading this and help inform and prepare Americans, and Europeans and other “1st-worlders” wishing to settle here as well.

I’ll write about those differences – big and small – from time to time, and will preface it with this paragraph so that you know I’m not complaining.

Difference # 3: Sand at the beach.

This one is silly and trivial, and there’s certainly no right or wrong, but it’s something I’ve noticed. Americans (grown-ups anyhow) tend to avoid getting sand on their bodies at the beach. Sometimes they’ll allow their children to bury them with toy shovels, but that’s a game and also keeps the sun off one’s body. But immediately afterward the person buried will go into the water and wash the sand off. But generally Americans have an aversion to getting sand on their bodies. Perhaps it’s because most of us use a protective sun-block, which feels greasy and sticky enough, thank you, without sand on it too. But I’ve noticed that Black Americans have the same attitude towards beach sand as the Whites.

Here in Dominica I observe people of all ages rolling in the sand, even in wet clothes. It’s just a Dominican “thing”, I suppose.

Difference #4: Interacting with dogs.

I’ve had miniature schnauzers since the mid-1960s. And as a boy I always had a dog. Among other things, I love training them. I train them using reward, repetition and patience. No dog of mine has ever been hit. Ranger (the gray dog jumping the cane is 9½ years old and has performed his 18-trick repertoire for the Calibishie school twice and also for the Paix Bouche school. Lyla, the black one that is with my wife Ruth is 5½ and knows about 14 tricks.

I could say a lot, but I don’t want to offend anyone. I just want to make this point: Love works. There is no need to hit a dog or throw stones at it, etc when training it. I will give one example: Someone needed to train a small dog no to jump onto chairs, sofas and the bed. The person thought that hitting the dog when caught in the forbidden places was the way to do that. I explained that the dog would simply learn to go up when nobody is watching and would listen and jump down when it heard someone coming.

My method involves no punishment, and it works: Simply place a newspaper with a set mousetrap on the furniture. The dog will jump up once; the trap will go off and make a loud noise striking the paper (but not hurting the dog). The dog will think that there is something scary about the place it jumped to and won’t do it again.

Use love, patience, repetition and reward, never punishment, to train your dog. If you have a question, send it to me.

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kids playingPhoto by Diego Cupolo

There are times on the weekends, when I just lounge lazily on the bed with my nephews and just abandon all my daily concerns, and just play.Or I’ll sit and just watch them play, pretending they’re superheros or shooting each other with stick guns.

It never fails to leave me with a sense of wonder, of pure joy, of a return to innocence and a simpler time. As grown ups, we’ve lost this childlike sense of life. And that’s actually a sad thing. As grown ups here in the nature isle, we’ve lost this childlike sense of life. And that’s actually a sad thing.

Being more childlike is not just about happiness and innocence, it helps us to be more creative, more imaginative, more innovative and open to worlds of possibilities. These are some of the qualities we need instilled in many of our Dominican leaders today.

We could learn a lot from children. Sure, they have qualities we might not want, but in my eyes, they are already perfect. We don’t need to mold them into people, nor shouldn’t we abandon our responsibilities as parents, but we can learn a lot from children and be more like them in some ways.

How to be more childlike

We must first acknowledge that no change is immediate, that any change worth keeping takes time. Start by deciding to ditch caution and to give this a try. Start by identifying the qualities of children you’d like to emulate: curiosity, play, living in the moment, abandoning worries, imagination, creativity, pure joy.

Q:Could it be that going back to innocent child like perception could once again make our leaders intelligent, honest and solution focused human beings instead of mindless fearful lemmings?

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