Monthly Archives: March 2009

carried through the year by the we’moon calendar

we'moon calendar imagei am a huge fan of the we’moon daytimer. to this day, i see as one of the perks of quitting my job as chief cook and bottlewasher at the skills connection the fact that i didn’t need a huge appointment calendar anymore and could go back to using the we’moon daytimer.

we’moon is a work of love, put together by the we’moon collective, who have created this bestselling daybook for 28 years now. it brings poetry, art and magic into my day, every day. each page is graced with poems, colourful images, information on activism, and interesting names for the days of the week.

i haven’t quite figured out the system yet but what i do know is that every year, they cycle through four languages. for example, this week is spanish, the next swahili, then quechua and hawaiian. there is also detailed astrological information – right now, the moon is in gemini, if i’m not mistaken. astrology is not something i’m very interested in but this book brings me closer to it.

we’moon also puts the year in the context of the pagan calendar. each festival gets a page. the next one, of course, is beltane or may day, one of the two major pagan holidays.

beltane is a feast of flowers, affirming with erotic scents of honeysuckle and rose that summertime is near … in ancient times, humanity made offerings and expressed appreciation for this natural beauty in rituals of sexual ecstacy and joyful abandon.

if you have to go to work, at least take flowers to your co-workers and tell them ahout the real meanings of may day!

aaah, after this harsh winter, i can’t wait for the scent of honeysuckle … and i’m looking forward to bringing flowers to my friends!

this is one of the things that this calendar does for me. it not only helps me organize my time, it also focuses me a bit on the deeper meanings of the wheel of the year.

every little detail in this book is lovingly put together. another thing i like is that the year is divided into the thirteen weeks that make up the 365 days, and each one of these sections has a theme. each one of these cycles is in tune with the topic for the whole year (“at the crossroads” for 2009). right now, we are in cycle 4, entitled “women taking power”. on the page for april 4 and 5, we read

women carry the ancient knowledge of the divine feminine deep within the cells of their being, the grandmothers say … we must be strong and walk in our innate knowledge and power under the protection of the four directions. with the world on the brink of destruction, women must wake up this great force they possess and bring the world back to peace and harmony. when women and men set in motion this enormously transformative feminine force of unconditional love they carry within, great healing and change will come about.

emily dickinson for sunday tea

emily dickinsonfor a leisurely sunday delight, please visit my friend ashok’s blog and a looong discussion of an emily dickinson poem – this one:

i could suffice for him, i knew –
he – could suffice for me –
yet hesitating fractions – both
surveyed infinity –

“would i be whole” he sudden broached –
my syllable rebelled –
’twas face to face with nature – forced –
’twas face to face with god –

withdrew the sun – to other wests –
withdrew the furthest star
before decision – stooped to speech –
and then – be audibler

the answer of the sea unto
the motion of the moon –
herself adjust her tides – unto –
could i – do else – with mine?

image by wpwend42

self esteem: the thread in the quilt of recovery

a quilt in the makinghere is another interview with someone recovering from an eating disorder. this person used to eat too much, and has been and still is dealing with it by going to overeaters anonymous.

isabella: “you’ve come a long way, baby” – how long HAVE you come? what’s changed?

OA person: how long have i come? i would say the longest i have come is out of isolation. i am very aware of the benefits of talking/writing/meeting with others to discuss what is a core weakness in my life with people who understand. i carried the burden alone in my childhood. i am no longer a silent-suffering victim. i am an active participant in my recovery. so i am greatly empowered.

isabella: what’s the most important thing in your recovery?

OA person: the most important thing in my recovery is: hmm…self love

isabella: how would you characterize your relationship with your body?

OA person: my relationship with my body is greatly healed but there is still some ‘disconnect’ and i still need to ‘care more’ for self (especially losing weight). i am grateful for my body. it is relatively healthy. again, it is an improved relationship, big time.

isabella: self esteem – how does it fit into the quilt of your recovery?

OA person: self esteem is like the threads in the quilt of my recovery. i have to think i am worthy of a better life before i can embark on one. the more i use and grow the threads, the bigger and stronger the quilt!

isabella: any other comments or suggestions for someone with a story similar to yours?

OA person: just keep coming back. don’t give up. try something new in recovery. allow yourself to feel like crap if you do. but then move on. feel the feelings and then let them go. break out of isolation and start talking to people, sharing at meetings, phoning or emailing or whatever you can do today to get out of yourself. my biggest ‘trap’ is self.


a note from isabella: “keep coming back” is a phrase often used in 12-step meetings. it means don’t give up, keep trying. it can also carry the meaning of “keep remembering who you truly are, in all your beauty and health.”

image by open threads

is tweeting about omid reza misayafi a negative thing?

the other day, an interesting discussion took place on twitter. i tweeted a link to the death in prison of omid reza misayafi, the iranian blogger who had been sentenced to three years in prison for blogging in ways that the iranian government found threatening.

one of my fellow tweeters found that this was a negative tweet.

“do you think unpleasant events that you can’t do anything about is worthy of your attention and thought process?”

the way i understand it, this tweeter feels that i can be of best service by using social media in ways that are encouraging and bring positive news.

let me get some of my objections out of the way before i turn to how this discussion was helpful.

  • the vast majority of societal improvements, from the end to slavery to gandhi’s salt walk to the 5-day weekend, happened because people got really loud about what was wrong
  • bad things that are ignored have a tendency to fester
  • “bad”, “negative” and “wrong” can be moral judgments, and as such may or may not be helpful; but they can also be descriptions of undesirable, unhealthy or unhelpful aspects of situations or people (e.g. george bush is not a bad man but his tolerance of waterboarding is wrong). in that approach, so-called negativity loses much of its toxicity
  • the criticism of paying attention to negative news stems, i believe, from the idea in the law of attraction of “what you focus on expands”. there is a lot of truth to that but a) it’s not a straightforward line (there is no law that states that as you focus on X to the power of 3, it expands – whatever that means – to the power of 3) and b) the quality and type of focus also plays a role
  • i think it’s useful to give more “positive” messages than “negative” ones – but 100% positive and 0% negative seems a bit unbalanced
  • and jung says “ignore the shadow at your own risk!”

ok. now. here’s what i found helpful in the discussion.

i do want to be encouraging and uplifting, and i do want my messages to bring good news. if that’s what i want, i need to continuously hone my language and my message.

the buddhist concept of right speech is important to me, and my twitter friend’s comments made me think of that. does what i tweet improve on silence?  alas, i believe that often it does not. it is just idle chatter. now some part of idle chatter is probably important for greasing human interactions. but it’s easy for it to become too idle and too chattery. this is especially true for “negative” tweets.

i do find it useful to muse on the question: what if i/we/the world focused only on what’s good, kind, healing? or, to make it a bit more manageable, i feel encouraged by this conversation to try again to follow what i believe is a suggestion by napoleon hill: see what happens if i work for a stretch of time – an hour? a day? a week?- to “cancel out” every negative thought i encounter. (eg, “oh, isabella, what a dumb thing to do” cancelled out by “oops, that came out differently than you expected isabella. thanks for trying. move on.”)

beating ANA – one relationship at a time

women singingrelationships replace eating disorders. period. the end.”

this is the central message of beating ANA – how to outsmart year eating disorder and take your life back by shannon cutts. it’s a book i’d recommend to anyone who wants to work their way out of an eating disorder.

the more loving, supportive, therapeutic relationships that exist in your life, the more the odds of recovery shift in favour of a return to health.

what kind of relationships are these? for shannon cutts, these are mostly mentoring relationships.

a mentor is a trusted guide who has knowledge and experience in a certain area, and is willing and able to share it.

a mentee is a person in need of guidance and instruction, and is willing to receive it.

shannon describes how being mentored made a huge difference in her life, helping her turn away from anorexia and bulimia to a place where she says

i sing again
and i speak
i speak out against some
but mostly towards all of us
who have splintered off our hearts and souls
from our minds and bodies …
who have forgotten that we are all whole by design
and that whole is the only way.

whole is beautiful.
whole is worth living
and loving.
whole is exquisite – utterly unique.
whole is believable – the only believable you and me.

and most of all, whole is the only thing worth dying,
living and fighting for … do we ever really realize –

you are the only you who ever was, is, or ever will be.
and i am the only me.


more at her web site, key to life.

this is a great book, and i’m hoping to speak more about it in the coming months.

image by thomas hawk

mental health hopes

i just came back from an invigorating time with raul raul and cathy, talking about MentalHealthCamp. poor cathy had to listen to me being stubborn about not “massaging” the message about MentalHealthCamp too much – i like the raw greassroots approach.

what’s funny is that on my way back on the bus i read made to stick – a (very good) book about, guess what, making ideas stick. (it harkens back to gladwell’s stickiness concept in his book the tipping point).

because i’d definitely like the idea of MentalHealthCamp to stick.

but what is this idea?

let me think out loud – and please, chime in, tell me what your hopes and ideas about MentalHealthCamp are.

MentalHealthCamp, of course, is our vancouver conference about mental health and social media. the quick tag line we came up with was:

erasing stigma and exploring possibilities with social media.

is that sticky? does it get you excited?

as cathy pointed out, maybe we could focus on our hopes for MentalHealthCamp? what’s the best thing that could happen at the conclusion of MentalHealthCamp? maybe …

  • people with mental health challenges who haven’t explored the tool of writing and blogging yet will be excited to try and use it, and it will help them
    • organize their thoughts
    • shed light on their inner life
    • connect with others who share similar experiences
  • mainstream media will see living proof that people with mental health issues are “normal” – they wear jeans, drink latte and watch TV just like anyone else
  • participants’ tongues will be loosened to talk about mental health with the same ease they talk about runny noses, strange bosses and heart-stopping hockey games
  • at the same time, we’ll realize that while stigma is not totally erased yet – and we’ll point out effective, honest and comfortable ways to protect vulnerabilities
  • bloggers who write about mental health will network and get support – and perhaps even make a new friend or two
  • this will be the start of a strong movement all over the world of social media to erase the stigma of mental health and explore new ways of turning mental illness to mental health

what dreams and hopes would YOU add?  and how would all these ideas be sticky for YOU?