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My kids Pumpkin masterpieces

Halloween is here again. Ah, the best time of the year!

Out come the witches, the dead rise from their graves, and Jamie Lee Curtis is plucked from the DVD shelf and dusted down to go yet another round with Michael Myers.

Last night my kids carved their pumpkins (or Jack-O-Lantern’s as my American friends like to call them). Nice, traditional faces – a little different to the pictures I’ve been emailed of late.

So, where does the Halloween pumpkin originate from?

Well, it dates back to the ancient Celtic religion, when 31st October was the Pagan holiday of Samhain and the official end of summer.

The Celts believed that during this time, the realms between the living and the dead were are their weakest, and that the dead were able to rise; appearing as apparitions or in the form of animals including the black cat.

The Celts lit bonfires and disguised themselves in costumes hoping to confuse spirits and hence stop them from re-entering.

Over the years, this legend has evolved.

An Irish myth about a man called ‘Stingy Jack’ who invited the Devil for a drink then refused to pay. He then tricked the Devil into climbing a tree for some fruit. While the Devil was up the tree, Jack carved a ‘cross’ into its bark and thus prevented the Devil from getting down. Jack only let the Devil down after he’d promised not to bother Jack for ten more years. A year or two later, Jack died but God would not allow someone so devious into Heaven. As the Devil was still angry at Jack’s deceit, he too would not take Jack’s soul. So Jack was forced to walk between heaven and hell with only a burning coal inside a carved turnip for light.

In the mid-nineteenth century, Irish immigrants fled to America, taking the ‘Stingy Jack’ fable with them.

The Americans loved it, and as pumpkins were cheaper than turnips, they soon became the carved tradition we know and love today.

Well, almost…..

So, do you like the Halloween tradition? Do you carve pumpkins? If so, what do your pumpkins look like this year? Add some pictures to my FB page. I’d love to see them! What are the best photos you’ve seen so far?

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I want to play a game.

I’m going to say a word and I want to know the first image that comes to mind. Ready?

Sociopath.

What was the first thing you thought of? No cheating. Can I hazard a guess and say you probably thought of a deranged psychopathic killer, probably from one of your favourite horror films?

Now, what if I said you probably already knew a sociopath. Would you believe me? No? Okay, what if I said there was a high probability you may already work with one, live next door to one or even be friends with one. (God forbid you live with one.) Does that scare you?

Academics calculate that sociopaths account for around 5% of the population. So what exactly is a sociopath?

Forget for a moment that you are a nice person and imagine this: You have two friends who, for some unknown reason, have stopped talking to each other. They both confide to you of their sadness at the situation and that each is going to contact the other to make amends. Now, being the nice person you really are, you would eagerly share this information – after all, it’s the morally right thing to do and you want your friends back as, well, friends. But I want you to imagine deceiving and lying to them, convincing them that each is still expressing their dislike for the other. Then I want you to feel very smug and happy in the knowledge that you have singlehandedly kept them from being the good friends they once were.

Are you horrified? Could you ever see yourself acting in this way? Of course not, but that is probably because you have a little thing called a conscious. You cannot act in a bad way because you would feel appalled and guilty. A sociopath does not have this luxury. They feel nothing. They are crafty and deceitful, selfish, and manipulative. They will take what they want and do as they please and not experience the slightest ounce of remorse or regret for any of their actions. They will hurt a ‘friend’ just as easily as they would hurt a stranger and they will do it with a smile on their face and a song in their heart.

A staggering 1 in 20 people are sociopathic which means that 5% of the population lacks any shred of a conscious, and worse still, these people can be very difficult to spot. Contrary to the belief that all sociopaths look like the Yorkshire Ripper, they do in fact, look just like you and me. They will charm you on first introduction and the majority of people will be blinded by their manipulation. But these people are cold. Maybe they are rapists, or domestic abusers. Maybe they are not violet at all but will think nothing of scamming or stealing from you. Unfortunately, the majority of people find out when it’s too late. Sociopaths are excellent at spotting your vulnerability and will use it against you to get what they want, using every trick in the book to succeed. But sociopaths are very jealous people and if you dare disagree or go against one then watch out; they will happily bring down upon you a reign of misery.

The only way to deal with a sociopath is to dissolve all contact and remove them from your life. Do not try to argue with them, or attempt to out smart them. Remember, they are sociopaths and do not ‘feel’ like the other 95% of the population. You have to protect yourself and you are not doing this if your time is consumed with making them pay.

Protect yourself and live your life. As Dr Martha Stout says, “Living well is the best revenge.”

So, now I will ask…..Do you know a sociopath?

For more on this I recommend reading ‘The Sociopath Next Door’ by Clinical psychologist Dr Martha Stout, Ph.D.

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