“We are told about the pain of chasing after pleasure and futility of running from pain. We hear about the joy of awakening, of realizing our interconnectedness, of trusting the openness of our hearts and minds. But we are not told all that much about this state of being in-between, no longer able to get our old comfort from outside but not yet dwelling in a continual sense of equanimity and warmth. Anxiety, heartbreak and tenderness mark the in-between state. It is the kind of place we usually want to avoid. The challenge is to stay in the middle rather than buy into struggle and complaint. The challenge is to let it soften us rather than make us more rigid and afraid. Becoming intimate with the queasy feeling of being in the middle of nowhere only makes our hearts more tender. When we are brave enough to stay in the middle, compassion arises spontaneously. By not knowing, not hoping to know, and not acting like we know what is happening, we begin to access our inner strength.”
Pema ChödrönThe Places that Scare You

 

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Totally excellent article by Byron Vincent about spending his youth “in and around “sink” estates.  He argues that corralling the poorest people perpetuates criminality.”

BBC News – Viewpoint: Escape from the ‘sink’ estate

I totally agree. Along the same lines I’ve often thought that corralling a bunch of youth together in school (eg: high school) leads to many of the same sorts of issues. Why on earth would we throw a whole bunch of youth together in a highly artificial and oftentimes stressful (or boring) environment and expect good things. I say mix kids into the rest of the world (along with supervision and the influence of other age groups with more fully developed brains) and  watch many of the problems disappear… dilution.

In any case, read the article. I found it heartbreaking and spot on and very well written.

Of course, the ultimate answer is alleviation of poverty altogether but as the author suggests that would require the “architects of the issues” to do their part… ha, good luck on that one. Ditto with scrapping the school system.

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Preteens who changed schools frequently when they were children are at increased risk of developing psychotic symptoms, a new study suggests.

via Frequent School Moves May Harm Kids’ Mental Health – US News.

As a preteen who experienced a rather unsettling (though pretty run of the mill) move at age 14, I read this article with some interest. I believe I have also read similar studies  in a past psych course about frequent moves being associated with schizophrenia (along with other interesting factors like urbanicity at birth – this is interesting too because there seems to be an association between risk of developing psychosis based on living in urban vs. rural environments.)

So, frequent changing of schools as a preteen seems correlated with later psychotic symptoms and greater exposures to the urban environment are associated with greater rates of later psychosis. Not necessarily a direct cause and effect of course… for instance if you were to look at why the family is moving so much in the first place? Perhaps the moves are because of employment or social instability and that may account for some of the risk… either as a “marker” for other issues and not just as a result of the stress of moving and all the social and other disruption… this may factor into the urbanicity correlations as well… Interesting though… I could think about this sort of thing all day… fascinating.

But as a parent the idea that moving may in some way add some risk to the mental health of my children is worth keeping in mind. Moving at age 14 was one of those experiences in my life that caused me a lot of stress… perhaps it shouldn’t have… my brother and sister seemed to roll with it without issue, but for me I lost a lot of my mojo and I’m not sure I ever truly got it back… which of course is not nearly as devastating as psychosis but still… some of us are orchids and do better without abrupt changes in environment, at least at certain points in their life… some of us are a little more sensitive and ever so slightly less resilient to change.  Or maybe the move made no difference at all but I simply attributed some adolescence angst to this factor when in fact I would have experienced it regardless. Who knows…

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I just watched a moving short documentary about a hairdressing competition for prisoners in Scotland…  http://aeon.co/film/cutting-loose/

It was very well done and so helps us see the prisoners as the human beings they are.

Everyone needs something to do… some way to contribute… some way to make a living… some way not to fall back down the hole… or better yet not to start out in the hole to begin with…

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I came across this quote by Harold Innis (apparently “Canadian scholar of world renown”) in an essay by Rick Salutin (Canadian writer/journalist/playwright and other stuff that makes me really want at least ONE blasted title of my own) and have been mulling it over. (Warning: You will not be interested in this post… this is just me having a study session with myself… as a distance online student I don’t get to discuss my lessons with anyone so I’ve chosen to use my blog for that…. if I had any readers that weren’t related to me I’d feel bad about this but as it is…)

Innis came to the conclusion that “creative thought” was “dependent on the oral tradition.” Writing is too fast, it is too unnuanced compared to the complexity of speech. What it means to be human is to speak and listen, to interact with others—and wisdom and insight emerge in that social context. Writing and individual scholarship are a dilution and “dumbing down” of basic human function; they may seem more efficient, in some respects, in creating intellectual “product,” but at a cost to the human and mental processes involved. (1997, 247)

Harold and I part ways on this. Heh.  I do think that there is a significant difference between writing and speech… between reading and listening… between broadcasting and conversing… but I don’t believe writing is necessarily less nuanced. I’ve always felt that when I read someone’s writings I am hearing their thoughts… the voice inside their head… which is different than the voice they would let me hear if I was face to face with them… I don’t think there is a dumbing down of basic human functions in writing (necessarily)–unless we are talking about most things we read in the mass media or shit that business people write. Heh. I do agree with Innis that there is a lot of nuance in face to face communication that gets missed in writing… non verbal expression and what isn’t said is more readily apparent face to face… the reading between the lines can be easier in person… but in face to face interactions there is a guarding that doesn’t necessarily occur in writing… people are less inhibited in writing and less affected by the emotions of the other person on the receiving end… this is can be bad in some contexts (eg: the sort of meanness we see online)… but it can be good in that that same inhibition is dropped and we may hear more truth… reading someone’s writing can be much more intimate. I’ve often thought my writing voice is most like the voice inside my head. (Or one of the voices… LOL).

That’s my two cents anyway. Back to the books. (Well, back to the digital online materials… see what I did there? That was a little online student humour…. if we were face to face you would get that… so maybe Harold was on to something after all… but then again if we were face to face I might say nothing at all.)

onlinestudent

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Things are against us

December 20, 2013 · 1 comment

‘Resistentialism‘ offers a theory as to why my children and I felt our truck was trying to kill us one winter day. (Stephen King might also have something to do with it.)

eviltruck

Sounds hilarious, except if you almost freeze to death in your own driveway and only manage to unsuperlock yourself by pressing the right buttons on a key fob in a panic while your daughter chants “we’re going to die, we’re going to die” with a background chorus by your son of “nah, we have sandwiches”. I believe I was keening while repeatedly trying to unlock the door over and over and over in  utter claustrophobic bewilderment at our sudden imprisonment.

Okay, so I guess we weren’t that close to freezing to death as I did manage to reverse the super lock feature I didn’t even know existed. But had that scenario unfolded while on the side of some dark road during a snow storm or worse, on a hot afternoon when car temperatures can rapidly climb… say with a dead FOB key thingy (which disables the feature) and perhaps nothing to break to the glass and get out, it could have been grim… or at least really, really, boring and stupid, interspersed with terrifying and claustrophobic… and it’s not as easy to break car glass as you might think… my daughter repeatedly threw her lunch bag at the window in an effort to “get out”… unsurprisingly that didn’t work.)

It turned out that we unknowingly had a feature in this truck called “super lock” which essentially deadbolts the car and disables the engine (in some misguided attempt to prevent theft of the vehicle… yes, you might die trapped in this damn car if you happen to activate while inside of it but NO ONE will steal it… the idea being if someone breaks the window the car then activates the super lock feature which disables the engine and essentially locks down the car to prevent it from being driven away… wouldn’t you think the thief, if of the foul tempered variety that probably characterizes many thieves, might then beat the shit of the car out of a sense of frustration?)

The “living shit out of it” part being of interest here, because  ‘resistentialism‘ is the funny sort of belief that inanimate things can be “out to get us”. Cars don’t have “living shit”. Or at least not yet.  I illogically felt our truck was trying to kill us that day, and to be honest, I still dislike “it” and can’t seem to shake the uneasy feeling I have each time I have to risk my life drive it. Which is absurd… I know, but still…

And a couple of months back I mentioned in another post that my laptop battery also tried to kill our whole family exploded.

So the whole concept of technological autonomy (which I’m learning about through coursework) is really hitting home. (Other than that, I find the whole concept reallyyyyyy boring and is why I’ve taken a much needed break to do this blog post to wake up.)

So, yeah. Look out for those machines.

beware of the toaster

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Children’s drawings

December 16, 2013 · 1 comment

I noticed that a recent picture that my daughter drew of my husband and I seemed to portray us as rather glum looking. I then was attempting to organize some papers and came across a prior drawing she did from a couple of years back and I was struck by the difference. In the 2011 picture we seemed happy and carefree, and in the 2013 picture we both look a bit down in the mouth, no?  (On the positive side our arms have evened out some.)

evolvingviewpoint

Stern looking in 2013… like the sort of parents who would say “pick up your damn clothes off the floor and do your homework” and the 2011 parents look like the type to say “forget your homework, let’s go get an ice cream… or anything really that doesn’t require us to have symmetrical arm lengths.”

I wonder it is means anything? Are we less happy, or it is merely that she now (at 11) sees us more accurately? Yikes, I guess she’ll soon realize we have no idea what we are doing. (Though I suspect she and her brother already figured that out a while back.)

Or maybe none of it means anything, because it seems that while drawing conclusions from children’s drawings are a popular pastime that generally “there is little evidence for the reliability and validity of such assessments.”

But just the same… I’ve  noted our glum faces and will make a point to reflect on whether it means we might need to lighten it up a bit or something. Go for an ice cream or whatever.  (A vacation would be even better.)

And while we are on the subject of children’s drawings,  I recently came across this picture I drew as a young girl. As a mass media student I had to chuckle about the naivete of my grade two self in thinking that the newspaper would bring “good news.” (Apparently I wasn’t up on the “if it bleeds it leads” approach.) Also, my grade two self would be very unhappy to know that Canada Post is phasing out home mail delivery so it looks like the mail man is a thing of the past. Interesting that I drew this picture… mail and newspapers… I was an email administrator for many years and now I’m pursuing a mass media degree (and have realized that journalism is in fact a much stronger interest for me than communications… but then it isn’t supposed to mean anything, right?)

046_edited-1

Not for long…

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