Tag Archives: community

rethinking mental health

the robert wood johnson foundation has joined forces with ashoka’s changemakers to launch “rethinking mental health: improving community wellbeing”, a competition for new ideas and practices that challenge the status quo in terms of how we think about and address mental health care needs.

the foundation invites you to join this important conversation and put forward your ideas on how individuals, families, and communities can move past narrow perceptions of mental health and expand their involvement in finding solutions. 10 ideas will be selected by a panel of expert judges and put forward for a community vote. the three ideas with the most votes will each receive a cash prize of $5,000.

you can join the effort by:

1.      visiting the website and commenting on entries from others like you who are deeply concerned about this very important issue and want to get involved;
2.      entering the competition and sharing your ideas for improving mental health with the world;
3.      helping spread the word about the competition through blogging or social media;
4.      nominate an inspired idea or project.

entries and comments can be submitted until october 14th.  a panel of judges will then select 10 ideas that the changemakers community will vote on to select the top three. the changemakers collaborative competition winners – the three finalists that receive the most votes – will be announced on december 16, 2009 and will each receive a cash prize of usd $5,000. as important as the three winners, however, is the dialogue that occurs about mental health and that as many great minds as possible come to the table with fresh thinking and new solutions.

(the information on this was passed on to me by my blogging friend alison bergblum-johnson, who helps people write about mental health)

chinese love peas

it’s friday: frozen pea day.

what’s that?

two months ago, susan reynolds found out she had breast cancer, and she started posting about it on twitter. all the twitterers flocked around her in a beautiful show of friendship and support.

what about the peas? susan discovered that frozen peas were ideal in helping keep the post-surgery pain down. so she twittered about it. and thus, the humble pea started on its way to becoming a symbol of people fighting cancer online, together.

so a little while ago, frozen pea friday was started. you can donate the price of one, two or more packs of frozen peas to the frozen pea fund, a fund for breast cancer research – but it’s more than that: it’s a show of support, a real YES! to community.

and since it’s chinese new years and i know that my readers enjoy chinese love poetry, here’s a chinese pea love poem by poet, musician and painter wang wei of the tang dynasty:

in southern lands, love peas grow,
sprouting sprigs in time of spring.
pick the peas, i implore you,
seeds of romance they are so.

let me offer you peas of love and support, dear sister susan; may abundant health sprout for you this spring.

(painting by yan li)

loving kindness for our unknown neighbours

our meditation meetup meeting on wednesday was at the buddhist peace fellowship here in vancouver. a great big thanks to my friend jennifer for arranging this!

at the end, we did a bit of metta practice. metta is a buddhist loving kindness practice directed literally at everyone in this world, starting with oneself.

i was astonished and pleased to hear that something similar to what i have been practicing on and off was also recommended there as metta practice. you see, part of the magic of metta is that one extends good will to people one does not really know. however, there can be a bit of a difficulty with this because opening one’s heart to someone who you don’t know can feel a little flat and academic.

so here’s something that i’ve been doing that helps to overcome that. i usually do it at the end of the day. i go through my day and look for feelings, events and thoughts that catch my attention. the other day i was riveted by an image of chocolate, for example! today i am thinking of the people in gaza whose power has been cut off. and a little while ago i was browsing through some research on shyness, so that’s been on my mind a bit.

chocolate, gaza, shyness: things that have held my attention today, things that are emotionally charged for me today.

for metta, then, i might do something like this:

i might imagine someone in my neighbourhood who is struggling with chocolate addiction. i conjure up an image. perhaps a woman sitting in the kitchen, the table littered with chocolate bar wrappers.

may this neighbour of mine who is struggling with her food addiction be healthy, happy, peaceful and free.

then i think, there’s probably someone not too far from here who has relatives in the gaza strip. they must be worried. i imagine them sitting in front of the TV, sighing.

may this brother of mine who is worried about his relatives, may he and his relatives be happy, healthy, peaceful and free.

i can also imagine that someone not too far from here, probably even somewhere in my block, is painfully shy. i imagine that person – you know what, i’ll even give her a name: cindy – sitting in front of her computer, surfing the net, trying to distract herself from the terrifying thought of the meeting she has to attend tomorrow.

may cindy be happy, healthy, peaceful and free.

compassion and social media

the three wise men the three monks are inviting us to write about compassion.

compassion: literally, to suffer (passion) with (com-) another. in latin, this suffering did not only refer to the suffering that occurs in pain, it also generally refers to things that we don’t actively instigate – things that happen to us, things that we let happen (for example, as in “suffer the children”).

so in a sense, compassion means to experience together.

i want to talk a little about how compassion happens in social media. right now, for example, artist, blogger, second lifer and social media activist susan reynolds is going through cancer surgery. she found out she has cancer a few weeks ago and the twittosphere has been rallying around her in an amazing show of support.

frankly, i wish i could show my support a bit more but there’s this part of me that’s quite taken up by thinking of my “own” cancer story – my soul sister h., who has been battling this beast for years and it’s very, very hard.

i’ve thought a bit lately about the idea of giving of what we don’t have, how that is a truly walking on the path of goodness (partly inspired by one of the three monks, i think, but i forgot which post it was). there isn’t much thinking-about-breast-cancer energy left in me – but writing this right now makes me wonder … can i give that little bit away, too? am i doing that right now?

back to compassion in social media. a few weeks ago, ZDNet’s marc orchant suffered a massive heart attack and then passed away. an early death. the twittosphere and the blogosphere were there to send good thoughts and wishes while marc was struggling to stay around, and they were there when he passed.

my own experience with this was in the spring, when my grandson took such a long time to make his appearance. it was lovely to have my social media friends accompany us on that journey. many of them were my friends from the vancouver bloggers meetup – social media friends in a very rich sense. we are social together through media, and we commune/communicate both via social media (twitter, blogs, facebook, stumbleupon) and face to face.

we experience together in community. compassion.


this is part of a group writing project. it was good for me to write this post, regardless of the fact that this is a meme. but just in case you’re curious or would like to participate, here is the background, which i’ve simply copied and pasted from albert’s blog:

write something on compassion. it could be anything you want,for example your definition of compassion. still, in the spirit of christmas, extra points will be awarded if there is a personal touch – because we want to connect in compassion.

some ideas could be what you have done or will do for someone. or perhaps the best kindness anyone has ever shown you.

with thanks to the now watch, we’re able to give some christmas gifts to the best story and reaction. we’ve got a total of 6 watches to give away, so the top 6 stories will each be sent a watch, as our thanks for sharing.

why the now watch?
this is one of the most important lessons one could ever learn, one that we are glad is going spreading across the planet. the vast majority of our unhappiness is caused by dwelling in the past, or trying to anticipate the future.

most of our mental suffering is caused by thoughts such as:
the past: “i wish this never happened / they never did that.”
the future: “i hope that doesn’t happen.” “when i get this, then i will be at peace.”

this is absurd, because the only time is now. when the future gets here, it will be now.

the past only exists as memory. being in the now – that is the path towards the end of suffering.

this watch is a tool towards being in the now – every time you check the time, you’ll realise that the present moment is all we have. and our painful mental habits begin to unravel.

the rules of the game
this is a joint effort by the three monks – wade of the middle way, kenton of zen-inspired self development, and albert of urban monk.net. the watches are kindly provided by the coolest timepiece company ever – the now watch.

to participate –
1) write a post as described above. you’re encouraged, although not required, to link to all three of the judges.
2) contact any one of us, either by emailing, or leaving a comment in one of the judge’s posts.
3) you’re encouraged also to spread the word, tag your friends, and ask them to participate.
4) on 5 january 2008, the three judges will look at all the entries, pick the winners, and publish a list, so we can all share the links and traffic.
5) the results will be posted on 10 january 2008 on all three judge’s blogs. winners will be contacted for mailing address details so we can send them to you!

so i guess i should tag someone. i think i’ll just be lazy and copy from my best of the list post:

6 steps to take writing ideas from wordpress themes by karen zara

ten things i didn’t know until last week by blaiq

to do to make tomorrow better by bob

40 ways to make your mind your playground by fier

best 101 lists by pearl

list of classes by priscilla palmer

100 sites i seek inspiration from by iain hamp

7 tricks you need to fight procrastination by samir bharadwaj

the quitter’s checklist by em dy

150 funniest resume mistakes, bloopers and blunders ever by jacob share

100 resources to improve your career, relationships and money by lawrence cheok

(this post can be found in the resource for bloggers, 5th edition)


creating community

helping handsresearching for an article, i came across a number of interesting resources on building community, and i thought i’d share them with you. at the beginning of next year i’ll tell you what this is all about …

(image courtesy of whatnot)