Monthly Archives: July 2008

the intensive journal process

i haven’t written anything about journaling for a while, so i was very pleased when i got an offer to write a paid review for the progoff intensive journal® program. it was a particularly nice surprise because i actually own ira progoff’s at a journal workshop, the basic text and guide for using the intensive journal process.

this process provides active techniques that enable people to draw on their inner resources; it is, indeed, one of the early tools of personal growth.

progoff speaks quite poetically of the “tao of growth”, the intangible inner growth,

evanescent, like smoke going out the chimney. we now it exists, but its shape keeps changing. it has no shape that we can fix in our mind; we cannot contain it in any mold. we know it is real, but soon it as disappeared and is beyond us.

attempting to catch that smoke became like a zen koan to progoff. at this point, he says, he applied a procedure “of taking a problem we are dealing with on the rational level and converting it to the language of imagery. this is twilight imagery,” a technique that was to become part of the intensive journal process.

the benefits of journaling in this way are, according to progoff, not only of an intangible nature. thinking about this led him to recall

the phrase of william james when he describes the inner movement of our minds by saying that it is not a case of “i think it” but rather that “it thinks me.” the inner process works within the mind at the same time that it functions as a separate process and reaches beyond the mind into our actions.

i have never fully engaged with this journaling process; it sounds both intriguing and demanding. however, for a person who is at a stage where it seems necessary and desirable – delightful, even – to apply their time and energy to self-discovery, this is a goldmine.

the intensive journal process is an integrated system of writing exercises and therefore much more than a diary. it helps a person gain insights about personal relationships, career and special interests, body and health, dreams and imagery, and their own personal meaning and purpose of life. it brings fresh approaches to accessing creative capacities and untapped possibilities.

there are also rather inexpensive intensive journal inexpensive workshops available, in canada, the US and internationally. now i’m curious – maybe i should attend one …

carnival of eating disorders – july 2008

welcome to the july 31, 2008 edition of carnival of eating disorders!

i’m doing something today that i’ve never done before: i’m using the “predigested” version put together by the blog carnival.  normally i put a lot of care and effort into my blog carnivals but i have to confess that i’m still a bit “blogged out” from the blogathon.  so this time i’m taking the lazy route, and the only additional work i did was a bit of rearranging and taking out the inappropriate submissions (don’t quite understand why we would need to talk about acne in an article on eating disorders and no, we’re not going to talk about how to take diet pills here).

here you go:

body image

toni graybill presents the secret to better grades is dancing? posted at maximize health and wealth, saying, “dancing can build physical, emotional, and intellectual abilities.”

liz rosenbaum presents love your body posted at liz rosenbaum fitness.

fitnchic presents dress size – just another number :: – get in shape fashionably :: posted at – get in shape, fashionably!, saying, “it’s a really good article for those who obsess over a dress size.”


joshua seth presents individuals fighting obesity posted at joshua seth blog, saying, “if you think it’s hard to lose those last 7 pounds, imagine if you had to lose 700! that’s what manuel urib is attempting to do and he’s well on his way to succeeding.”

joshua seth presents why europeans aren’t fat posted at joshua seth blog, saying, “what we see around us everyday we come to view asnormal. take on a new perspective and all that changes. this is why travel used to be considered an essential
part of education.”


the push up coach presents your pre-gym checklist posted at the 1000 push ups club, saying, “with the proper planning you should be able to eliminate most of the frustration associated with your first few days in the gym.”

murphy s presents saving money on your organic food shopping! posted at all organic blog.

larry w presents weight training safety posted at muscle bound blog, saying.

davexplorer presents what is natural cooking? posted at natural cooking blog.

kenton newby presents a great weight reducing secret | my path to fitness blog posted at my path to fitness blog.

james d. brausch presents meat only week posted at weight loss dude.

aruntheace presents what is there to know about diet pills?? posted at healthybitz.

ed pudol presents becoming a healthy eater posted at healthy life style – health is priority before anything else.

that concludes this edition. submit your blog article to the next edition of carnival of eating disorders using our carnival submission form. past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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i’m more evil than john chow!

i’m more evil than john chow!

people say john chow is evil (if you don’t know him: he’s one of the first bloggers who wasn’t ashamed to make lots of money online). now we know the truth: i’m way more evil than john chow!

you see, there is a test now – very scientific and mathematically precise, i’m sure, and desperately needed, that i know – that measures the worth of your soul. according to that test, my soul is worth $66,055 soul dollars. john chow’s soul, on the other hand – a holy man, apparently, not an evil one – is worth $666,666!

$66,055 Soul Dollars

Quiz brought to you by

the questions and answers are evil in and of themselves, for example:

you have a fistfull of useless change, what are you going to do with it?
. throw it into a fountain. making sure people are playing there, first.
. climb to the top of a very tall building and drop the coins, just to see if the rumour about them hitting someone is true.
. shake it in the face of a homeless person.
. spend it. that’s my cigarette money.
. glue it to the ground and laugh as people hopelessly try to pick it up. like

do you help old ladies across the street, or kick them when they fall over?
. i help them across the street all the time. i also make sure to steal their welfare checks from their purse.
. neither. they should be able to help themselves.
. i suppose i kick them. more than once.
. i’m usually the reason they fell down in the first place.

what i found amusing about this exercise is that, as you can see, many of the questions have answers that i wouldn’t normally choose. so what’s the second best answer? and why? and why didn’t i turn away from it in disgust?

now we know: because i’m evil. to the tune of a measly $66,055 bucks.


during the blogathon, one of the entries was about about a woman leaving a cult. coincidentally, just a few days later, one of my stumbleupon friends pointed me to steven hassan’s work. interestingly enough, this also led me to another article relevant to a blogathon post about guru shopping.

from what i’ve seen so far, i quite like steven hassan’s approach, which is informed by his own experience in the moonie cult. his organization is

dedicated to respect for human rights, spirituality, and consumer awareness. we endeavor to be a safe and responsible place where you can turn to for resources, news and information about destructive cults, and mind control techniques, as well as learn how to help yourself and others. steven alan hassan is a nationally certified counselor (ncc) and also a licensed mental health counselor (lmhc) in the commonwealth of massachusetts and is an expert on destructive mind control issues. he offers a unique method of specialized counseling, called the strategic interaction approach.

here is some information on this approach, which again sounds good to me – it is respectful of the whole individual; i.e. it looks like it does not replace one form of brainwashing with another:

the strategic interaction is a customized approach that encourages everyone to develop positive, constructive patterns of communication. … the goal is to restore the creative, flexible, interdependent adult. we want the cult member to understand what happened to him by helping him fully digest and integrate the cult experience. …

the strategic interaction approach liberates and then integrates the parts of the pre-cult identity that were co-opted by the cult identity. in addition, we draw out the individual’s “authentic,” or higher, self and enlist its help to make new associations with the cult self. for example, we recognize that idealism is an integral part of our loved one’s authentic identity. by pointing out discrepancies between cult doctrine and hypocritical cult policies, the idealistic component of the cult identity can be encouraged to begin the questioning process.

by taking an oppositional, “i’m right, you’re wrong” approach, deprogrammers and exit-counselors often unwittingly create a win-lose mentality. strategic interaction encourages adaptability and creativity by widening one’s experiential base, which results in a win-win environment. for instance, if family members have never meditated and their loved one is in a meditation cult, then i encourage them to experience meditation. …

i urge you to scrutinize the beliefs and affiliations of people who offer to rescue your loved one from a destructive cult. many of these people will seek to impose their own ideological perspective. the ethical approach is to avoid imposing any ideological or theological viewpoint on a mind control subject.

if you’re interested in getting a closer look at steven hassan, watch this video:

blogathon: blogging for the canadian mental health association

bill* started participating with CMHA’s recreation program in 1999. his first event was a four-day camping trip with four staff and twenty-three other participants who he had never met before. bill made an instant impression though – he wore a big black cowboy hat and bermuda shorts, and displayed a genuine appreciation for the opportunity to be out of the city and surrounded by nature. he joked with staff, and entertained the night owls who encircled the campfire until the wee hours. ever since that first camping trip, bill has been a regular participant with recreation services.

to this day he still exhibits the enthusiasm that was so apparent back on the first event he attended. over the years bill has shared much of his personal story, and it has become apparent why he has such a love for life.he has overcome many obstacles to be where he is today. from his teenage years forward, he was in trouble. he was kicked out of several high schools and did over twenty stints in jail before he was 21 years old.

bill was stealing to buy drugs that he now realizes he used to ‘self-medicate’ his mental illness. bill beat the odds though. he credits a stint in riverview hospital with helping him kick his addictions and begin his recovery from mental illness. he was properly supported in the community when transitioning out of the hospital with group housing and ongoing one-to-on rehabilitation.he overcame all of his addictions – today he doesn’t even smoke. he recently converted to a low fat diet after being informed that he has high cholesterol levels.

compared to the lifestyle changes he has made in the past, giving up burgers and fries was a snap. the recreation program is an important component to bill’s recovery, and continues to be a part of his life to this day. whether it’s a bc lions’ football game, a movie, or a barbecue in the park, bill gets everything he can from life – although now he usually opts for the veggie dog!

* stories are based on actual individuals but names and identifying information have been altered to protect the anonymity of our service users.

each year, the canadian mental health association (vancouver/burnaby branch) supports over 1000 people in their recovery from mental illness, while promoting understanding and knowledge throughout the community to literally thousands more.

mental illness affects people from all walks of life, at every income and age level. mental illness has a significant impact not only on the person directly affected, but also on family members, friends, employers, and the public at large. more often than not, people with a mental illness find their opportunities limited and their recovery impaired by a lack of support, information, and understanding.

CMHA’s response to the crisis of mental illness in our community is uniquely wide-ranging, from prevention, education, and information services, right through to rehabilitation and community support to those recovering from illness. We have a track record of developing many of the most innovative and effective new approaches available in the community today.

through varied services the CMHA addresses key challenges surrounding mental illness:

  1. preventing illness & distress: by supporting healthy lifestyles of those at risk
  2. tackling stigma & ignorance: by providing the confidence to recognize and respond
  3. reducing isolation: by developing the skills and opportunities to meet personal goals
  4. creating independence: by supporting employment and entrepreneurial aspirations

and this, ladies and gentlemen, is why i just spent 24 hours blogging. i am proud to be part of this organization, as a member of CMHA vancouver/burnaby’s board of directors.

if you haven’t done so yet, please take a moment – no, not 24 hours, just a moment – to learn a bit more about the canadian mental health association (vancouver/burnaby branch), and please consider a donation .

(here i am, blogging away)

i would also once again like to acknowledge and thank, thank, thank my fellow bloggers who blogged for their own charities – from union gospel mission the to david suzuki foundation. it’s been a blast!

in vancouver, pulled together by the marvelous miss604:

and, thanks to the efforts of day of blogs, people all over the internet:

animal rights
trish is blogging for bay state equine rescue .
is blogging for the aspca .
kristin is blogging for the aspca .
the kapp pack
is blogging for mapaw siberian husky rescue .
erica is blogging for the aspca .
ellie is blogging for the aspca .
miss raye is blogging for wild horse rescue .
steve, kat, & wilbur are blogging for save our siberians siberspace rescue fund .
amie is blogging for world wildlife federation .
clairity is blogging for the aspca .
melissa is blogging for vital ground .
rachel is blogging for paws atlanta .

human rights
twyla is blogging for not for sale .
malagasy bloggers are blogging for zaza-vavy .
hilary is blogging for amnesty international .
brittany is blogging for invisible children .
starbase karma sci fi fan club is blogging for us campaign for burma .

poverty relief
jessica is blogging for sera je food fund .
linda is blogging for the christian children’s fund .

khouria jen is blogging for first book .
lindsey is blogging for first book .
lindsey is blogging for children’s literacy initiative .
shadarus is blogging for first book.

children/youth advocacy
karrie is blogging for the home for little wanderers .
nicki is blogging for camp to belong .
jeff is blogging for the tim horton children’s foundation .
tara is blogging for victory junction gang camp .
penni is blogging for the kasey kahne foundation .
jenny is blogging for the american society for deaf children .
crc is blogging for children’s hospice & palliative care coalition .

medical research
nikki is blogging for band of parents .
stephen is blogging for the autism clinic at montreal children’s hospital .
[title of group] is blogging for avert .
jen is blogging for st. jude children’s research hospital .
jessi is blogging for autism speaks .
jen is blogging for the american cancer society .
jl is blogging for aicr .
stefanie is blogging for st. jude’s children’s research hospital .
jennifer is blogging for amyloidosis research foundation .
aurora lamour is blogging for the national fibromyalgia association .
adam is blogging for the american cancer society .
bunni is blogging for band of parents.

renee is blogging for the depression and bipolar support alliance .
jennifer is blogging for jenny’s light .
scheherazade in blue jeans is blogging for the boston area rape crisis center .
marika is blogging for the national fibromyalgia association .
ellen is blogging for the american foundation for suicide prevention .
josie is blogging for guide dogs for the blind .
l-squared is blogging for leader dogs for the blind .
jenna is blogging for texas scottish rite hospital .
mj is blogging for helping uplift grieving survivors (hugs) .
clutterbug jen is blogging for the american cancer society .
reixe dyri is blogging for alzheimer’s association .
heather is blogging for national alliance on mental illness .
hope is blogging for rainn .
elizabeth is blogging for rainn .
gina is blogging for rainn .
moira is blogging for teenage cancer trust .
becky is blogging for rainn .
anna is blogging for planned parenthood mohawk hudson .
letterblade is blogging for planned parenthood .
isabella is blogging for canadian mental health association (vancouver/burnaby branch) .
cara is blogging for rainn .
melissa is blogging for kristen brooks hope center .
erin is blogging for rainn .

blogathon: therapy, and then … ? a short story

canadian mental health association

this is an entry for my participation in the 2008 blogathon, a 24-hour marathon of blogging. please support the cause and donate – however much, however little – to the canadian mental health association (vancouver/burnaby branch). to donate, email me or use this URL: you should be able to get there by clicking the link; if not, just copy and paste the link into your browser. it will take you to the appropriate location at canada helps.

thank you for visiting, reading, commenting and, if you can, donating!

i wrote this short story a few years ago, during a writers workshop. perhaps it can be seen as a sort of continuation of my last post.

“there’s too many … too many …….. tinsel in my head”

her face is all wrinkled in the effort to find the words. the words are there, she knows, she just can’t reach them or see them. it’s like being on the ferry back to the island for the umpteenth time – she knows it’s there, but in the dense fog she can’t see it and is still disoriented. but it’s a familiar disorientation, softened by the knowledge that eventually she’ll arrive. in the meantime, all you can do is sit there and do your best.

across from her, facing the garden beyond the big french windows, barbara has installed herself in the rocking chair. relaxed, as always, she holds finny on her lap – the most comfortable cat you can imagine. she jumps on your lap when you’re good and ready, stays soft and still there (none of that frantic kneading that other cats like to get into), and hardly ever holds it against you when you get up.

so barbara just sits there and listens. she has time.

eva’s face lights up: “no, not tinsel! thoughts! too many thoughts! they all bump into each other and i can’t tell which is which and then i … then i …”

“it gets a bit chaotic in there, doesn’t it?” barbara strokes finny. “maybe it feels a bit more chaotic than it used to but don’t forget, there’s chaos in everyone’s head. lots of it.”

a smile. eva’s smile is still so sweet, so delightful – maybe more so now after the stroke. something shiny must have crept into her that night when she just keeled over, in the middle of the dinner party. there’s something different about her since then. “it’s not the stroke, it’s not that she can’t talk so well anymore, or that her face looks a little, how should i say – well, you know, with her eyebrow drooping – no, it’s not that!” eva had tried to explain that to len a number of times, and after a while, she had gotten a little frustrated. “it’s like a halo – no, that sounds wrong; it’s – geez, see, eva’s not the only one who can’t find the words!”

eva’s smile rests on barbara. like the cat on her lap. it justs sits there, soft and loving. receptive.

barbara looks down at the cat. “there’s lots of chaos in my head, i can tell you that. should i take this teaching gig in the summer or not? what if i do? how will len react? why should i care about what he thinks? and what about the book, i only have one more chapter to write, can you believe it, and i haven’t touched it for six months. what’s all that about? and len’s wheelchair, it needs fixing, and frankly, i don’t want to do it, he’s old enough to look after himself, and – oh, i hate it. i wish i was like finny.” she sighs. finny doesn’t mind. she’s used to humans getting all wonky and worried about things, it’s just like the weather, nothing to fret over.

and eva sits there, too, opens her mouth: “balloons!”

barbara looks at her, her head a little to the side: “balloons!”

eva nods.

“hmmm …. balloons … oh! like all these things and thoughts, they’re all balloons?”

eva laughs.

“yes! it’s just the words that came out of my mouth, but yes, that’s it! just let them be balloons, going up in the, in the … you know?”

a sentence or two, and the words disappear again. but the smile is still there, a big grin now –

and tears run down barbara’s face. once again, here she is, barbara, the brilliant therapist, all being a good listener, all doing the sitting-relaxed-in-the-chair thing, all showing herself off as the woman who has her life together – and here she is, across from old eva, her client, who is probably never going to fully recover from her stroke – and old eva is the one who shows her the way.


ah, maybe it could all be so easy – maybe … but then there is len, barbara’s stepson, who came into her life only three years ago, after he reconnected with his father, barbara’s second husband, fred. then fred died only six months later, a merciful death after a short battle with cancer. barbara offered len that he could stay with her in the big house, and somehow she’d slid into becoming his mother. that was strange and often trying enough but then it turned out that len was buddy-buddy with eva’s favourite niece, clara. eva had been barbara’s client for years. now, after the stroke, somehow barbara’s relationship with len had become entangled with her relationship with eva. she’d go and visit eva and bump into clara and len as they’d come out of eva’s little apartment in the extended care home.

what was she thinking, talking about len to eva? barbara’s opens her eyes wide at this huge faux pas and she sits up in the chair.

eva leans forward, “what – what’s the ladder?”

“what’s the matter? i just remembered something. i should – i shouldn’t …”

eva smiles. barbara can tell, she just knows that eva understands. she understands what it’s like not to know the words – or wait, that’s not it. that’s not barbara’s problem. she knows the words but she doesn’t want to say them. this is not something she should discuss with eva. no. chaos in her head. or wait – does eva understand more? more than that barbara doesn’t seem to be able to find the words?

“it’s different now, you know?” she hears eva saying.

what’s different?

for a moment barbara finds her way out of her jungle of thoughts. her eyes meet eva’s.

and then there is a while when they don’t say anything. their eyes meet in a soft place, and a connection is made between them, a band of weightless love that carries them both, as they walk together, side by side, through a small yet infinite measure of time. the hummingbirds outside the french windows whirr, a breeze lifts a few bamboo branches out of their droopy sleep and makes them swish, and little shadows from the poplars dance on the roof of the pagoda, framed so lovely by the big old gilded windows. far, far away, it seems, the sound of nursing students chatting (just really down the hallway but – yes, far away …)

slowly, eva leans forward and pats barbara’s hand.

“the … the man …. the man in the, the coach …”

barbara looks at her, “the coach? you mean …?”




that smile again. a big, open, friendly, reassuring grin now: “don’t worry about him. it’s all different now. we can’t be, we can’t be, we can’t be – strangers? strangers anymore? you and i. don’t worry. it’s all easy now.”

barbara slides back into the jungle.

strangers? they are not strangers! years and years of therapy together –

and back out again. held by the weightless band.

together. oh. they were doing therapy together? not therapist and client, but therapy together?

barbara smiles too, now. together. side by side. no-one guides the other. side by side. indeed; they are together now.

the bamboo leaves keep swishing. finny gets up and stretches. eva and barbara sit there, without words, smiling together.

blogathon: compassionate curiosity, knowledge and objectification

posed in a tone of compassionate curiosity, “why?” is transformed from rigid accusation to an open-minded, even scientific question. instead of hurling an accusatory brick at your own head (e.g., “i’m so stupid, when will i ever learn,” etc.), the question “why did i do this again, knowing full well the consequences?” can become the subject of a fruitful inquiry, a gentle investigation.

this is a quote from the chapter entitled “the power of compassionate curiosity” in gabor mate’s in the realm of hungry ghosts: close encounters with addiction

the idea of therapy as a research project has always intrigued me, and it’s something i’m still working towards. it’s a very delicate thing; where is the fine line between such compassionate curiosity and the wild power that comes with acquiring knowledge? knowledge is intimately connected with power, and knowledge-about is very similar to power-over. it objectifies. in both, there is a sense of grasping. i “have” power. i “have” knowledge.

by the very nature of things, the therapist always knows more about the client than the client does about the therapist. even in a situation where both parties strive for as egalitarian a relationship as possible, an equalization of that knowledge would end the therapist-client relationship.

talking about the nature of that knowledge, the nature and amount of knowledge about one another, can help. bringing difficult relationship dynamics out in the open always helps.

transforming the nature of that knowledge can be even better: turning knowledge about into knowledge with. knowledge about is a one-way affair. in “i have knowledge about you”, one is the subject, the other is the object, and that’s it.

in knowledge with, knowledge changes from a one-way street to an open and shared field. this is where curiosity comes in and is so important. curiosity is about openness, about allowing possibilities. curiosity is not linear, it is not one-way. it is 360-degree.

“hmmm, i wonder what happened there?” as opposed to “why did you forget again?” “let’s see what we can try to do differently next time” as opposed to “you better learn this once and for all!”

compassionate. curious.

canadian mental health association

this is an entry for my participation in the 2008 blogathon, a 24-hour marathon of blogging. please support the cause and donate – however much, however little – to the canadian mental health association (vancouver/burnaby branch). to donate, email me or use this URL: you should be able to get there by clicking the link; if not, just copy and paste the link into your browser. it will take you to the appropriate location at canada helps.

thank you for visiting, reading, commenting and, if you can, donating!