May God help you as you endeavor to fulfill all your obligations plus find that precious spare time to release your mind and do something completely different.

Val Smetheram, British born, is a naturalized Australian living in Queensland, Australia. Passionate about the environment, justice, and all growing things, she is an amateur writer and poet with over a hundred pieces published. She has been a minister's wife for over 18 years. Her ambitions are to become superfit, learn (or swim and write a book, not necessarily in that order. Her motto: Life begins at 60!


Stress. A much talked about topic these days. Certainly it causes a lot of angst for many of us, particularly in the work area.

I listened recently, with interest, to a radio interview with Dr. Lennart Levi, Emeritus Professor of Psychosocial Medicine at the Karolinska Instituw in Sweden. He has been studying the problem, worldwide, specifically stress in the workplace, for many years. He says that employers, globally, across all sectors, as economic rationalism gains momentum, have increasingly tended to pressure their employees to the point of collapse, which, in short term brings increased productivity, but in the long run leads to destruction of the work force in pursuit of gain. That got me thinking about our own work hours. We're all very busy, of course, especially so if you work in the ministerial area (and that's not to denigrate anyone working in other sectors). While we all know that overworrking is neither good nor sensible, how often do any of us stretch our workday far too long? It can be difficult when you're pressured from several different directions at once but truly the employee has to take some responsibility for limiting, to a realistic degree, their length of work time, It also made me think seriously about happenings or activities in our own experience that had released stress. I recalled things that broke, however briefly, the stress cycle.

When I thought about it, I realized that one of the greatest stress-busters for ourselves had been laughter. It truly is the best medicine. Many of these interludes happened when our boys were still at home and involved our greedy golden Labrador who was somewhat of a `Klepto K9' (where food was concerned anyway), As I scanned my memory many moments came to mind ... The time when our youngest (about 7 at the time) was happily tucking into his breakfast toast. His mind elsewhere as usual, he lowered his toast hand slightly. This was too much for the canine thief. She zoomed in like a jet plane, fleeing outside with her prize. (Pardon me while I dissolve into laughter) I can still see our young son's wounded face at being robbed.

Another time we'd just sat down for our meal after shutting the dog outside. I sat with my back to the glass doors which led onto the patio. My partner faced me. "Disgusting!" he said with feeling. Did he mean the food