Monthly Archives: July 2008

blogathon: post #1000!

this post marks ID#1000 on my site. dear web site, let me take this opportunity to thank you.

  1. you’ve taught me so much! i don’t even know where to begin. just today i learned about a new quirk in wordpress. (if you post lots of posts, some entries can accidentally get stuck in a sort of draft mode limbo that looks like a real post but isn’t)
  2. if i ever had doubts that there was something i couldn’t write – you’ve dispersed them, the way a lieutenant disperses a soldier’s doubts. especially with this crazy blogathon. you just do it. period.
  3. and the people i’ve met. the other day i wanted to put together a list of people who had linked to me in the last six months. after a while i had to give up, the list is just too long. i would have never, never met all these people without you, dear site.
  4. you’ve helped me really move into the internet, which is a world in its own. i don’t “use” the internet. i dwell in it; you have made me a true netizen.
  5. you haven’t helped me make as much money as i hoped. but you are beginning to show me that maybe it’s not about money. maybe i’m part of a bunch of people (a BIG bunch of people) who are starting to work on a moneyless economy
  6. did i mention the people i’ve met?
    1. 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: www.canadahelps.org/CharityProfilePage.aspx?CharityID=d2252. 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!

blogathon: a walk through vancouver’s memorial park

this morning – or i guess by now it’s yesterday morning – i went for a walk, to clear my head. i really like my neighbourhood. i live right by memorial park, a good old south vancouver barrio. walking down our wide, quiet, sunny street, i found our filipino neighbours at the corner getting ready for a wedding on their front lawn. then cross the street, up a tiny but steep hill, and into the woods. it’s not a real forest but almost – a stand of trees dividing the west and east side of the park, running along the cricket field and the park house right to the lacrosse area. i love walking through that little area; in fact, it’s one of the reasons why i moved into our house 16 years ago when i could absolutely not afford it. the trees are big and old and a mix of just about anything you can find in vancouver: chestnut, pine, maple, oak … today i realized that a big old willow tree has a number on it – does that mean it’s special because it’s so old? a heritage tree? is there such a thing?

i walked past the cricket area and the park house, where people practice tai chi early in the morning and where the rest of the day, old east indian guys sit and discuss the matters of the world. on the other side of the park house, the biggest of the baseball fields (there are four), very busy, with well-seasoned men all dressed up going to the “seventh annual vancouver challenge sr. men’s fastpitch tournament”. that’s what the shiny brochure tells me. on my way there, i exchanged a smile and a few shouted words with a man sitting on a park bench who wasn’t quite sober anymore. too bad i didn’t have much time – i would have loved to buy something at the food stand; these old baseball players make breakfasts and hamburgers like no-one else.

a quick cut across the boulevard that leads from 41st to the war memorial monument; after all these years and so, so many times walking there, that short tree-lined stretch between the street and the monument still strikes me with a sort of small-town majesticness (majesty? i’m too tired to figure that out right now). it’s a buffer between the old men and the merciless noise of 41st.

i can’t cut straight through to the pond; there’s a soccer game going on – a bunch of twenty-to-forty year old men just getting ready for a match. over to the pond (hey, what happened to the ducks?) which is unusually full for this time of year, past the big willow first, then the one that got seriously castrated in the big storm two years ago but which is doing well again, and over past yet another soccer game to the other little forest stand, at the south edge of the park, coming right to the back ends of the houses on 45th. it looks really romantic but i’m not sure that i’d want to live there – wouldn’t want my back porch to be a big welcome mat for confused drunks, hungry coyotes and tweaked-out drug dealers. still, i love that area, full of conifers, big trees, and i lean against one to take in its strength and solidity.

on my way home i run into my husband, who is on his way to the neighbourhood massage therapist. we hug and both go on our ways.

it took me – what, 15 minutes? less – and i’m back home, refreshed, ready to take on another 14 hours of blogging.

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: www.canadahelps.org/CharityProfilePage.aspx?CharityID=d2252. 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!

blogathon: my ideal writing weekend, part 4

a street in sardiniaoh boy, i thought i was going to write much more here in my report on my ideal writing weekend, but i was just so absorbed in what happened that i never got around to it. so this will be my last entry. it’s monday evening, and we’ve had an abso-friggin-lutely unforgettable 3 ½ days. we’ll leave for rome tomorrow afternoon.

what were the highlights? i’ve talked so much about the surroundings and the people and the food, let me tell you something about the writing.

we did some great exercises. one was where we were supposed to write a poem in the dust behind the big house. that was very touching. we birthed a poem, saw it come alive – and then disappear again. we each took a bit of the dust with us in a tiny little pouch.

we listened to an old woman tell a story in sardinian. no-one among us spoke sardinian, only a few some italian. we were invited to take notes of what she said and then turn it into a piece of writing. there were twelve of us, and each took a different approach. one turned it into an interview. of course there were short stories and poems of all sorts (one long sonnet stands out) but there was also a recipe, a brochure and a song, complete with music.

every morning we wrote at least one paragraph from our morning entry out loud. we did that in a circle, and the person to our left then took one idea from that paragraph and spun it out further. this was a very gentle and constructive approach to helping us deal with feedback and critiques.

best of all, we formed a strong support group for each other and made some pacts that will make it very difficult for us not to follow up with each other and help each other at least for the next three months. we each made a firm promise to carry out certain actions, and i am absolutely certain we will.

i’m about to go to bed, again, right by that wonderful window with the salty-sweet breeze drifting in from the sea. i am happy.

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: www.canadahelps.org/CharityProfilePage.aspx?CharityID=d2252. 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!

(image by oanababy)

blogathon: wise words

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: www.canadahelps.org/CharityProfilePage.aspx?CharityID=d2252. 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!

***

here are some words i’ve heard and thought in the last few months that really spoke to me:

a morbid obsession with what people think about me

success is not saying at night, “i have failed”

the size of my body or the brand of my car is not the problem. how i feel and think is the problem.

the deepest need of man is to overcome his separateness.

i always wanted someone to care because i didn’t care.

i want to be special but i want to be treated as equal – how is THAT supposed to work?

i always want to do things that produce a certain feeling

i am not the centre of the universe but i am the apple of god’s eye.

i already know there are a lot of things that don’t work. i don’t need to focus on that all day long.

gratitude starts a circle – the opposite of a vicious circle.

too much of a good thing is wonderful.

i’m not always right anymore. i’m so relieved.

understanding myself is not bad. being myself is better. expressing myself is even better.

nobody deserves the prison of sin.

i’m on the same ground with my fellow beings, at all times.

i still feel guilt and shame but the core is different. i used to feel nothing but empty.

the sicker i was inside, the more i needed people to see how successful i was.

procrastination is about hiding

“i, i, i” and “should, should, should” are words i’d like to lose.

i don’t want to do it, whatever it is – exercise, clean my house, write that paper – but i’ll do it because it’s the right thing to do.

it’s possible to not constantly think about myself.

there’s gotta be more to life than lunch.

my true self is always in flux.

cockiness comes from the ego, and so does low self esteem.

low self esteem is a sign, i sign to check in with myself

my ego needs to be in the service of my soul

anger means i’m afraid. i’m afraid someone will harm me, will neglect me, will make fun of me.

blogathon: about the church, again

this is an interview with m. a bit more serious. you just never know.

i: now i will interview you, m.

m: now i’m in trouble!

i: (looks at m)

m: what are you interviewing me about?

j: men.

m: men? oh, heavens!

g: religion! there’s a good one!

i: what shall it be? men or religion?

m: religious men!

i: what about religious men?

m: well, i’ve always found them kind of interesting and crazy.

(there’s a side conversation about men in kilts going up ladders. isabella isn’t quick enough to catch the whole thing)

m: alright. mh. so. as a child, i was a catholic. we were told that the priests were very special and holy men. quite the surprise to find out that most of them were perverts, later in my life. well, maybe not most. many.

(as we’re saying this, my husband walks around the kitchen, wearing a t-shirt that says “utterly perverted”)

m: that’s probably what trigged me into this topic. g’s t-shirt. so then later i had a friend who went off to join a monastery. he was bisexual or confused, one or the other, and thought this would be a good way to sort out his sexuality, by going to a monastery. he returned a year later because he found out all the guys in the monastery were having sex with each other. no confusion there! he was pretty disappointed. that didn’t help him at all.

m: you have to ask a question! come on, interviewer!

i: so then what happened? (note the intelligent question!)

m: i just found that i was exceedingly disillusioned about religious men and the whole religious establishment. the church has a lot to answer for.

i: but this was all a little while ago. have they changed, perhaps?

m: not likely. been reading the papers lately? no, not likely. no.

i: is there anything that can save the church?

j: pure anarchy.

m: yeah! women!

i: what about the nuns?

m: oh, please! not the nuns i knew! no, i’m talking about laywomen. any organization that eliminates women from certain positions is doomed to failure. don’t your agree? (she asks the interviewer)

i: (the interviewer just types and types) (then scratches her head)

i: i have a question!

m: yay!

i: i posted something about a woman who started a church support group for people with mental health issues. did you read that?

m: sorry, i didn’t.

j: i read it!

i: does this contribute something to our conversation?

j: yes. it showed women being given the opportunity to grow in leadership and being supported in that. she was an inexperienced facilitator and was a co-facilitator to work with and it was extremely successful.

m: was that within the church?

j: yes! it was supported by a minister.

m: what church?

j: i remember her being nervous about it, then through trying it out finding it was the best she could have done.

i: it was an evangelical church in burnaby.

m: most of my experience has been with the catholic church and although they are evangelical catholics – maybe they’re better, i don’t know.

i: but the ones that you know … ?

m: they’re stuck. they’re totally stuck.

this is hardly a comprehensive discussion but it might open up comments for people who have had similar, or maybe completely different, experiences.

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: www.canadahelps.org/CharityProfilePage.aspx?CharityID=d2252. 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!

blogathon: isabella’s amazing interview powers

my friends J and M just came over (at 12:00 at night!) to keep me company as i brave the last few hours of the blogathon. so we did two interviews. here is the first one. i’m “i”. please observe my stellar interview skills.

i: what should i interview you about?

j: fun!

i: what’s the most fun thing you’ve done in the last 24 hours

j: i cleaned my bathroom. it was really great because i had flylady inspiration.

i: flylady! tell me more about flylady!

j: flylady is all about encouraging good habits without guilt or pressure. and the mechanism is a web site and email list.

i: without guilt or pressure. tell me more about that.

m: that’s quite the interview technique you have. tell me more about it, tell me more about it!

j: there are inspirational stories from people who have felt overwhelmed by housekeeping.

i: oh, it must have my stories, too!

j: possibly. a lot about feeling overwhelmed and then baby steps to get out from under it.

i: hm.

m: hm.

j: ask me for an example! (she’s prompting the interviewer)

i: okay, tell me more about, uh, give me an example!

j: well, there’s the swish ‘n’ swipe. 30 seconds once a day in the bathroom and it never gets disgusting. and then “polish your kitchen sink” and “dress to your shoes”. when you get up in the morning you dress for work and you make sure you wear your shoes. that way you’re serious about yourself at home, too.

i: so you like being serious?

pause.

deep sigh.

j: when it gets the job done? yes.

i: but we started talking about fun. i’m confused.

j: i did other fun things.

i: like what? tell me more …

j giggles.

j: i got dippity doo for my stepson. he just got his hair done fancy for camp.

i: hair done fancy for camp???

j: dyed black with teal highlights and a mohawk. (apparently mohawk is not spelled moWhawk. no mowing going on here)

j and m: and the dippity doo is for the mohawk.

i: and that was fun?

j: thinking about my stepson going off to camp powerful is a lot of fun.

m: camp powerful? what a great name for a camp for kids.

j: he’s going off to camp powerful. feeling empowered.

m: camp powerful would be a great name for a camp.

i: and a fun name!

that concludes this interview. wasn’t it fun?

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: www.canadahelps.org/CharityProfilePage.aspx?CharityID=d2252. 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!

blogathon: psychology on stumbleupon

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: www.canadahelps.org/CharityProfilePage.aspx?CharityID=d2252. 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!

the two social media sites i like the most are twitter and stumbleupon. i just realized that it’s relatively easy to post excerpts from my stumbleupon site. here are some internet gems i’ve found recently that i tagged “psychology”

why play a losing game? study uncovers why low-income people buy lottery tickets
“some poor people see playing the lottery as their best opportunity for improving their financial situations, albeit wrongly so,”

lord of the dark side
a great story about my good friends, resistance and procrastination

we are a gentle, road rage people – at making chutney
a new study shows that a penchant for bumper stickers, no matter how peaceful and progressive, indicates a tendency to road rage.

gifted, talented, addicted
a well-researched article on the connection between addiction and creativity. among others, a little foray into how coca-cola came about and what happened to its inventor.

humor, sex and verbal jousting
a very thoughtful look at humour and gender differences

educational psychology interactive: internet resources
great list of links re education, psychology and research

a drug treatment for chronic pain and erasing its memory
the reason why chronic pain is chronic appears to be linked to its persistent memory in the prefrontal cortex.


faces give away giveaways – psych profs amazing claim

“we may be subtly aware of other people’s attitudes to sex,” says dr lynda boothroyd of durham uni, lead author of the groundbreaking slapper-spotting research. “what is far more interesting is that despite the subtlety of the explicit awareness… there is a very strong tendency for women to be attracted to… men who are less interested in casual sex.”

new thoughts on language acquisition: toddlers as data miners
… studying a ground-breaking theory that young children are able to learn large groups of words rapidly by data-mining.”

blogathon: volunteering

this post about volunteering 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 canadian mental health associationor use this URL: www.canadahelps.org/CharityProfilePage.aspx?CharityID=d2252. 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!

merrill, the president of our board of directors at the CMHA, made a comment a little while ago about volunteering.

when i lived in germany, the UK and south america, i didn’t have much of a sense of volunteering. it’s just not as important as here. on the other hand, in north america, the non-profit sector, which rests mostly on volunteering, is one of the top ten biggest sectors.

this changed dramatically once i came to canada and particularly when i came to vancouver. i’ve volunteered for the carnegie centre, for an extended care society, for a large internet support group, etc. i also had the great joy of hiring and co-ordinating volunteers, and co-ordinated a participatory action research project on volunteering in the downtown eastside.

the latter was quite fascinating. here are some of the findings:

what motivates persons on low income to volunteer? clearly, the most frequent answer to this was straight forward: a desire to help. that this is tied in to volunteers’ self worth is very likely. directly, this is shown by the high frequency of the theme of self esteem/self worth in one round of interviews (“makes me feel good about myself”). indirectly, the surprisingly high number of responses to the question “what would it take for you to volunteer?” that indicated that prospective volunteers would simply like to be asked to volunteer points into the same direction – they want to feel needed and worthy of contributing. when volunteers are concerned about feeling equal to staff, we are confronted with the same issue: that volunteers want to see evidence that they are seen as human beings, equal to anyone else in worth and value, regardless of their socio-economic status, education, ethnic background, or any such characteristics. a further corroborating fact is that volunteers are seeking ongoing validation much more than formal appreciation.

two other important factors in terms of motivation were: to make a connection with the community at large, and to form personal relationships. this makes sense in light of the fact that the population in the area is relatively transient and that there is a very high percentage of single persons in the area. for many single persons, the community can become similar to a family. this community/family aspect of volunteering also came up with modest frequency when prospective volunteers were interviewed. in the advisory group discussions, the social aspect of volunteering was also mentioned.

taken together, the volunteer motivators of wanting to help, wanting to feel worthy, wanting to be part of the community and wanting to form relationships all point into one direction: the “people” or interactional aspect of volunteering is of tantamount importance, overshadowing by far all other reasons for volunteering.

here is the full report on volunteering in vancouver’s downtown eastside.