EDWISE 

EDITOR AND EDUCATION CONSULTANT

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work at home

Posted on May 17, 2020 at 6:03 PM Comments comments (11)
I have been thinking about the perspective of working at home and spending more time at home. For some three centuries, Westerners have gotten used to working mostly outside the home. The distinction between private and public has widened, as a consequence. Even farming has been industrialized and monopolized, so that farm work is often outside of one's home and for someone else. Work has been for somebody else or at least for a business rather than a central activity of the home from an employee or business person's perspective.

This transformation has coincided with the devolution of communities. Aware of the loss of benefits associated with community, some citizens have been making efforts to restore communities or build new ones. This helps local economies, culture, relations and health. 

Of course, the home has remained central for the caregivers, the spouses or hired personnel making the home life and nurturing children, disabled and elders. The roles of caregivers has thus been perceived as in the background of mainstream life and not central to the economy. This, too, has required some reality checking and consciousness-raising.

It is interesting to observe how people recently persuaded or forced to stay at home have received and interpreted the change. Largely, it seems to be have been difficult for many, so difficult their health is in jeopardy. It is a psychologically frustrating and confounding adjustment. Identities have been based so much on the idea of an employee or business person living mostly externally to their home life that people are uncomfortable. 

In tandem with the external work life has been the notion of "going out," socializing and seeking entertainment outside the home. This is hard for the petit-bourgeois and bourgeois mindset who have been used to real or imagined petit-bourgeois or bourgeois budgets. (Actually, acting out the delusion had weighed down many such folks down with huge debt loads before the pandemic.) Either because venues are boarded up or incomes inadequate, this aspect of the lifestyle, with exercise at fitness centers and seminars at institutions and performances at auditoriums, is missed by many of those socio-economic strata. Their identity is apparently bound to such activities. 

For myself, a semi-introverted personality with a set of circumstances causing me lots of time at home while studying, working part-time or being unemployed, remaining at home for much of the time is normal. I have not had much of a budget or desire to do the big shows or fancy programs regularly. Except for all the meetings on the internet by use of the computer, this situation has not been so tough or alienating. 

I wonder how many people feel that way. It seems some may have come to prefer work at home: it must be a financial relief as long as income generating work can be done at home, since the commute adds costs and time. 

13 things to stay positive

Posted on May 12, 2020 at 2:33 PM Comments comments (3)
Good tips for staying positive and on course in life.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SzvtJMrXx0

9:252020-04-06 · 13 THINGS MENTALLY STRONG PEOPLE DON'T DO by Amy Morin 

Bright side

Posted on April 5, 2020 at 6:39 PM Comments comments (16)
I've stayed home almost all the time for a month. I began getting dreary last month, especially because of persistent dark, cold, rainy weather, the kind of which we say most days from October to February. However, I have not been bored, really. 

I have been tutoring a variety of students online, which takes a lot of messaging and prep for each session. Some of my groups have been communicating a lot; we had several meetings over the past two weeks, resulting in the need for more messaging and writing of documents. I've also been taking more phone calls than usual.

Both my mobile phone and laptop showing their age lately, I knew I had to shake it to replace them before they stopped operating altogether. It turned out smoothly. I found a refurbished computer online and it was delivered by post soon after. Today I bought a phone and it is functioning well after a quick switch of SIM cards and a few steps for set-up. I feel accomplished at the success of these purchases and reboots, especially since I have never bought a gadget without getting tech service at the place of purchase. System changes and start-ups seem to be simplified nowadays.

On Thursday, I handled three hours total of teaching and phone calls with an employer, then prepared for and opened up an online meeting. We talked for 90 minutes. 

The weekend is no different in terms of time and energy spent at chores, communications and maintenance. It was necessary to send out some documents I had initiated, discussed and written a few days prior. Although a morning tutoring session was canceled, I had one to give in the early afternoon. Everything seemed to happen at once, during that 1.5-hour tutorial. The computer arrived. I received work-related text messages and phone calls. A parent arrived with a pay-cheque. After the tutorial, I went to deposit the cheque and run a couple of other errands. Queues stretched for about a half a block outside the food stores and bank. People appeared frightened and tense. Medical clinic staff refused my offer of precious N95 masks, which I had been keeping for emergencies at home.

Wanting to hear the latest about the COVID-19 pandemic, I tune into the state briefings and media questioning each morning. However, all the repetitive information and questions, plus all the speculation and alarm, make me feel stressed. I have been turning off these broadcasts earlier and earlier after no further new information is announced.  I can only take so much.

I resigned myself to another food run on Saturday, but vowed to  hike to the supermarket  during "seniors time" early in the day, when there is no line-up and plenty of stock can be found on the shelves. Mission accomplished there, I returned home to push through a load of laundry. Then it was time to turn on the new computer and, fingers crossed, activate it and the servers and other apps I most frequently use. It took nearly three hours, but went remarkably smoothly. I am using the new laptop at this moment; it is faster and more convenient than my older one, and it does not over heat like the older one.

Finally I got a chance to relax yesterday afternoon. Avoiding the news programs, I sought documentaries on Youtube. Subsequently, as dinner was heating up, I searched for CBC films. CBC has opened up its "Gem" online streaming channel for use free of charge. I found a gem of a flick, indeed: "The Red Violin", a joint project of Montreal and European film makers with Canadian stars Colm Feore and Sandra Oh among many others, as well as Samuel L. Jackson in a surprising role, and multilingual European actors of whom I have know nothing before. I recommend this movie. It follows the path of a violin from the circumstances of its creation in the 17th century to its purchase at a monastery for musical orphan boys, from its theft by Romas to its transfer to a famous and eccentric soloist in the 18th century, and from the soloist's butler transport to China where he sold it and a wealth family adopted it, through the Mao revolution and, finally, included in a recovery of old, European instruments in China and transported to an auction house in Montreal. The intriguing diversion was most welcome. I felt quite relaxed after viewing it.

I chose today, Sunday, to go for a lengthier bike ride. The weather turned fair and the rich boughs of cherry blossoms beckoned. I set out after breakfast. That's when I collected the N95 masks from a cupboard and slipped them into a backpack to give to a local nursing home. I also planned to shop for a new phone, without intending to make a purchase on this day. The intensive care nursing home and hospice lie on the other side of a school and park, an easy distance from my place. I rang the bell at the door and held out the bag with the box of masks using long tongs. The person who opened the door was very glad to get them. 

At the big box "drug" store, I locked up my bike to a fence, wrapped my face in a silk scarf, and joined the queue inside the mall. I quickly spotted the Britta tap filter cartridges and picked up a couple of food items, then made my way to the electronics department. Gazing around at the fare on display, I did not think I would buy anything today. Despite my reticence at making an immediate purchase, the sight of a friendly service rep eased my trepidation enough to permit me to inquire about the phones on hand. The helpful staff assured me that switching phones would be relatively easy, without necessitating a trip to the phone network service provider; all I'd have to do was put my old SIM card into the new gadget. While I talked to the engaging fellow, a younger staff member dug around and came up with a lowish-priced model of a reliable make. I bought it.

It took under an hour to glance at the manual, plug in the new device, and install the old SIM card. (Gosh! I almost pried open the wrong slot. I started to excavate the on switch but stopped in the nick of time when I realized it was not a card port!) I have made one call and received one call; it is working fine.

The next task was getting back to this blog. I have been receiving many requests to keep writing. Thanks for all your positive comments and encouragement.

When I opened up this blog page, I had envisioned sharing some insights about the significance of this health crisis but got into an account of my last few days in "isolation." I will follow that with some observations and reflections of the crisis next time.

art and mental health

Posted on November 20, 2019 at 6:17 PM Comments comments (4)
So glad I am able to post daily here. My posts were blocked for several months, probably because of some sort of hacking/ cyber-intrusion.

Topic today: art and mental health

I recently visited my former university campus to run an errand there. The visit prompted some reminiscing. One memory that comes up from time to time is my decision not to become an English major. Considering that creative writing and literature feeds mostly off emotions, I was a bit afraid of going in that direction when I was around 20. Coming from a family with some history of mental illness and guarding against becoming a victim of mental illness myself, I wanted to protect myself. Also, the stereotype of the writer or professor in deep, agonizing pain and becoming depressed or alcoholic accompanied the vision of a career in English literature. I did not want to get caught in the vortex.

It is a fact that I later encountered alcoholics and mentally unbalanced instructors and graduate students of the English department at that university in the flesh. I had returned for further study but had opted for social sciences. Employed in our TA and sessional instructor's union addressing cases of employee disputes with the university administration during that period as a grad student, I was struck by the reality that a number of my cases concerned several teaching staff members of the English department who had gotten into trouble. The context of their conflicts included mental health issues, such as depression and alcoholism. In fact, a co-worker organizing for this union who was a student and TA in the English department turned out to be alcoholic. The signs of his malady became obvious after sharing an office with him for a few months.

I still keep asking myself what the relationship is between the immersion in English literary studies, often combined with a budding career in creative writing, and the condition of an addiction or other mental health disorder. That the work in this field does involve exploring emotions and, usually, problems of humanity, often delving into tragic moments of history or family life. Many literature students and authors adopt the method of introspection. Perhaps that approach and the condition of digging through the effects and implications of tragedy puts one at risk of falling into melancholy.

Which comes first? Does the condition of mental illness including addiction tend to draw arts and humanities students into literature? Does the immersion in literature cause melancholy? Is it the institutional process and culture that makes people sick? 

Perhaps some people think that the authentic artist must be sad in the first place. It would seem to be considered a prerequisite. Many great artists have suffered acute tragic episodes in their own life--experiencing war, disappointment in love, disability, faulty parenting, crime, gender differentiation and such. Some are very well known as big drinkers, from Lowry to Hemingway, Margaret Lawrence to D. H. Laurence. Wolf was mentally ill. Some, but not all. The majority, I wonder? Has anyone done a survey of authors along this vein? 


the Meaning of Life

Posted on November 16, 2019 at 6:03 PM Comments comments (20)
I am reading a little book written by Viktor E. Frankl and first published in 1959 (Beacon Press). Small it may be, but it packs a big punch.

Dr. Viktor E. Frankl was living in Austria when Nazi Germany persecuted Jews and conquered some of Europe. He was a Jew who became a psychiatrist after experiencing the horrors of the Auschwitz prison camp. He reflects on people's responses to extreme suffering, exploring his own experience as a case in point. Endeavouring to find something positive in one of the worst kinds of experiences, he contemplates how a person may be able to rise above severe suffering by discovering meaning.

Dr. Frankl had already begun his career by the second World War, developing a concept of a practice he labeled "logotherapy." He possessed the manuscript and research materials at the time of his capture and detention. 

He could have escaped the Jewish "holocaust" by accepting a visa to emigrate, but he did not want to abandon his parents. That is the first lesson he takes. He got caught up in the terror because of a feeling of love and a sense of filial duty. 

Somehow, Dr. Frankl was not chosen to be executed and tossed into the mass graves once he got to the prison camp. He describes how the Nazi officers used to select prisoners for extermination at random much of the time or as a reaction to some gesture, facial demeanor or word displayed by a captive filing by.

The author does not leave the dreadful conditions of the camps to our imagination so we can avoid exposure to the brutally honest details and guess what kind of suffering the survivors endured. To be precise about how he defines harsh suffering and to lay bear the facts, he details the daily life at the camp excruciatingly. The reader must be prepared for this blunt and jolting reality check.

Dr. Frankl, like some of his prison mates, felt grateful for having survived one day, then another, and another, while others found the conditions too difficult to endure. He along with others noticed, with gratitude, that lack of hygienic care such as teeth brushing, and arduous sleeping arrangements in which nine men were crammed together on one mattress to be chewed on by vermin, they coped better than expected.

Another factor this author highlights, one which many writers pass over, I think, is the competition for survival among inmates. Some prisoners chose aggression against their mates as a tactic of survival, so they complied with the Nazi overseers' orders to strike, humiliate and deprive their peers. They were dubbed the "Capos."

I have heard of Jews among the merchant and business classes living in the USA or other countries who ignored the plight of their compatriots or fellow Jews languishing at the bloody hands of the Nazis. Some refused outright to give aid or make efforts to rescue them, not wishing to disturb their comfortable life and prosperity. I believe that history has figured that more non-Jews than Jews were involved in rescuing Jews in Nazi-held or Nazi-ally held territories.

I digress.

Dr. Frankl quotes Nietzsche. This is interesting since many readers have found Nietzsche to hold fascist views on many questions. Anyway, he cites this: "He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how." The typical response to abject suffering is to lose courage and hope, claims Frankl. A person with such a negative outlook gives up and perishes sooner or decides to join in the terror and, vengeful, lash out at people and life.

Observing the responses of the prisoners around him and his own response, Dr. Frankl came up with a definition of meaning. To him, it is the tasks that daily life requires. Seeing what has to be done to exist, the person who adopts this outlook takes on the responsibility of living. By contrast, the apathetic among them believed he could expect nothing, so he would not give anything himself.

Avoiding apathy is not easy in extreme circumstances ill-health and fatigue caused by poor nutrition and lack of sleep, for example, fogs the brain, dulls the senses and retards body motion. Therefore, it is the assertive mentality that can hang on, maintain control and stay active and in touch with the necessity of living that has the best potential.

We can thus see that Frankl is both an existentialist and a materialist. This bases his philosophy in science. Life is less an abstraction than concrete action and sensations of the body, which exists in motion in the context of things around him.








Just Peace-November

Posted on November 17, 2018 at 11:21 PM Comments comments (16)
November begins the reflective year-end time for me. My birthday in mid-December is approaching and soon after that the conclusion of the calendar year. It is a reflective period for me--a time to assess what I have been doing and where I'm heading. I am gearing up to do that and review and reset my goals.

In this part of the world, the weather gets dark, cold and rainy in November. It can be downright gloomy. Like other people, I usually feel blue in November.

The autumn and winter of this region is not like the rainy seasons of the tropics or deserts; rather, heavy rain commences and goes on and on for weeks. Wind storms may rev up during them, too. Also, the day light shrinks. Sunset begins just after four in the afternoon these days, to give you an idea of the darkness. People turn on the lights inside their homes and workplaces during the day.

No wonder the number of deaths and the rate of illness increase in November in the northern hemisphere far above the Tropic of Cancer. Indeed, the season prompts thoughts of death and the dead. Many countries have special ceremonies and traditions to visit graves, remember and honour the ancestors in North America and Europe. There are many articles, radio discussions and TV programs about them. Moreover, we have Hallowe'en, France its Mummers processions and Mexico has the Day of the Dead. It is the time to honour the victims of war and pay homage to soldiers and civilians killed in wars.

One has to brace oneself and get ready to fight off the gloom. One has to be prepared. One has to take vitamin D supplements, schedule exercise and social activities, plan some fine meals so as not to sink into a mire of despair. It's a time when people here start thinking of flying away to somewhere warm and sunny. Several people I know have already begun winter vacationing, actually.

As for me this autumn, the blues came early and they hit me hard. Seriously. By the start of November, I was steeped in sadness. Tears threatened all day long. I was starting to think I should see a doctor about it.

Probably, the recent news of the death of a friend overseas affected me. Also, November is a time when both my parents, in different years, passed away. Perhaps a recent family gathering evoked sadness related to them and other family tragedies. Plus, this Remembrance Day, on the anniversary of the World War One Armistice, was a much bigger deal because it was the 100th anniversary and I was involved in an activity recalling it.

But the dark clouds lifted from my life and light shone through after a couple of weeks. I feel fine now, despite the rains and darkness outside. 

When I think back over the past year, I am amazed at how peaceful I have felt most of the time, despite a couple of big setbacks. I remember moments when I was home and waves of serenity engulfed me. I felt perfectly in tune and content on several occasions. 

It is good to have reached a point in life when many issues have been resolved and a person knows what is going on inside them, who they are and what they want. That in itself is a great accomplishment, I think. 

There are signs that I am on the right path, despite moments of doubt and confusion and times when things do not appear to be working out. Look at my work situation, for instance. Employment teaching has not worked out recently, but I am engaged in some self-employment and I have some income support. One of my income-generating activities is a bit of paid writing. The company contract writers to research and write short assignments for clients. From the lists of jobs I've seen, I have chosen a couple of projects writing about psychology lately. I thus find myself writing about narcissistic mothers and their daughters this week. I have become more conscious of my own mother's symptoms of narcissism and the effects on me while writing this work. It was serendipitous. Interesting that I ended up writing about this topic on the anniversary of her death, November 16! When I realized the connection with my life, I thought it might get me down to be writing on this subject, but it has not. I feel fine and I am able to write about it and reflect on my own experiences calmly. I am at peace with all the stuff around my experience with my mother. 

I feel there is a lesson in this situation. I am supposed to be thinking about these things, perhaps.

I will say more about my progress and begin the year's assessment soon. Stay tuned.

By the way, I have booked my own little sunny holiday for Christmas. Trying to let myself enjoy it. Fending off guilt and second thoughts.


Just Peace -late transformation

Posted on September 3, 2018 at 3:39 PM Comments comments (6)
My brother and his wife were dinner guests at my place last night. We had a nice time. My sister-in-law can get quite negative and be difficult to please but the dinner went well. Actually, her attitude and disposition has changed for the better lately.

They are a little older than I. They have both been officially labeled as mentally disabled for most of their lives, and therefore unemployed and on low income.. It's a shame because they are very sociable and have generally good character. My brother was ambitious and into many things, working hard to save money and accomplish a lot. She was a daycare worker and had a family as a young woman. They both eventually accepted their situations and understood their diseases, but have maintained some bad eating habits and never excerised, so they also endure some physical ailments now. My brother has had diabetes for a long time but he is not careful about his sugar intake and his blood sugar count is often too high sometimes these days. Also, he tends to eat too much.

They both experience intense fear and anxiety every day; is expressed more as outright fear but she has often displayed intense anger when anxious, but she has been improving greatly in recent times. Her demeanour is brighter, anxiety reduced and willingness to engage in life increased. It is a relief to all. 

I think the turning point was a near-death experience about three years ago. A dedicated hypochondriac before, she visited hospitals so frequently that she caught a super-bug, which was very debilitating. She had good reason to get to the emergency ward in that period. She had a close call one week but came out of it. I wonder if she had some opportunity for counseling during that time because she began to turn herself around. Anyway, she evidently reflected a lot and vocalized questions about various causes for mental illness and her life's circumstances. She does not want to hang around hospitals. Feigning or exaggerating illness used to be a way to seek attention; she doesn't seem to need as much attention. I think that, besides better appreciating some vulnerabilities and disadvantages in her early life that were factors, she realizes that her behavior and outlook have been self-defeating. Now it appears that she is regretful she squandered so much potential and time in life before and held herself back.

It is simultaneously wonderful and sad that someone should experience an awakening like that. It's great that she has more energy and will to take life on and is more open to living and trying new activities. It is heartening to see someone growing and feeling better. However, it is sad that she and her husband are so constrained by low income and have little means. Of course, their learning has been hampered by the illness, problematic responses by family and associates and the kind of emotional baggage that accompanies someone with long term disability. The illness still defines them and gets in the way. Both of them, she especially, are more aware of how it gets in the way.

Dependent on a housing subsidy, financial assistance and supportive services, they are trapped in a bureaucracy. There is always tension between their view of themselves and their wishes and those of the state's institutions. Also, they are always reminded that they are lacking something or not as well equipped as most other people apparently are. (The incidence of mental health issues is very high in the US and Canada.) In fact, funding and services for the mentally ill has dwindled over the past two decades.

However, the present regional government has been increasing social funding and raising rates for social benefits, which my brother and his partner have been enjoying. Just a couple of hundred of dollars more each month can make a huge difference to the very poor. 

Also, we can happily report that federal government pension benefit rates have gone up and the calculating of benefits owing has been improved, resulting in a higher monthly disability cheque for my brother. 

It takes strength to face society and get out there for someone in their kind of situation. Fortunately, there are lots of caring people who offer ideas and material support. The family pitches in if they are aware of something lacking that they can supply or something damaged that they can fix. However, they cover up some problems.

Here's an example. Though another sibling had bought them a great new bed they liked, I got the sense that they were not using it. After several months, it finally dawned on me that it was probably too high to climb onto. I surprised them by getting step stools for each side of the bed and now they sleep in it. 

Sometimes their solution to an issue is not really the most practical. For instance, they were not opening the patio sliding glass door because it was loose and they worried that the pet cats would escape through it. They did mention this problem frequently, appealing to the building management and another sibling. No remedy for years. They endured an enclosed, small apartment on the hottest of days, trying to get relief from fans. (The ceiling fan has not been working for a long time, and the management is taking a very lonnngg time to fix or replace it.) Finally, I ordered a local company to custom make a pet-proof screen and it was installed a few weeks ago. BIG RELIEF, of course!

There are magic moments. They are expresions of sensitivity and compassion from concerns people who notice a difficult situation. For example, the screen company never charged me! Without pronouncing that they did not intend to charge me, they simply never got my payment information and never sent my brother a bill. Amazing! It was a job valued at about $270 CD plus tax!




Just Peace - health maintenance

Posted on June 22, 2018 at 9:48 PM Comments comments (3)
Health maintenance is necessary for a person to be an effective and productive citizen. It is necessary to be able to maximize one's potential while alive. It is necessary to take care of oneself well in order to help others, be active in the community and contribute to society.

I see comrades, family members, co-workers and friends who ignore common knowledge about health and nutrition and let their bodies deteriorate. I shake my head. Most people are aware that fresh fruit and vegetables are healthier than processed foods and that exercize optimizes the body's ability to fend off disease and run well for them. I know these are habits rooted in culture and culture defies logic, but there is a lot of education on this topic and people have choices.

I don't tell these people in my life what I think they should do. I just share what I am doing and hope that presenting myself as an example will have some influence.

Everyone is vulnerable to health problems. It does take time, money and effort to keep up good health practices. Slacking off is easy to do. 

I know I was not getting the all-round exercise that I should have and could have gotten last year. Given that situation and the fact that I qualify as a senior citizen now, several symptoms of aging caught up to me last fall: inflamed and sore joints, hemorrhoids, increased susceptibility to minor infections and chills, weight gain, defective balance, dehydration, muscle cramps... I was most worried about my knee, which was collecting fluid, swelling and being sore frequently. I faced the possibility of having mobility issues in the near future.

After reviewing x-rays of my knees, the doctor had positive news: she said exercise was the solution to reduce the knee aggravation and generally sore joints. I made an appointment with a physical trainer immediately after leaving the doctor's office. I am now seeing a trainer twice a week and going to the gym four times a week. He first made an assessment, something the doctor did not do, I might add; verdict? --weight a bit high, bp a little high and dehydration, potassium deficiency but body fat proportionately okay. We started on the arms, then moved into steps and leg raises and are now doing steps together with weighted arm raises. I also do 15 minutes on the stationary cycling machine. After eight sessions, my joints hurt less, my muscles don't cramp so much, and I am basically stronger. 

The regime includes adjustments to my diet: I drink coconut water for the potassium and electrolytes; I eat bananas for the energy and potassium; I drink less coffee and black tea but more plain water; I drink diluted fruit vinegar, which deters the hemorrhoids and little infections. 

A prescribed nasal spray has been effective, and I thank the doctor for that. I have no more headaches and there is much less congestion.

Regarding my health, in sum my outlook is much brighter now. I feel more confident about my body. I have regained some energy. I am able to lead a busy and productive life as a peace and social justice activist, a teacher, a woman, a family member and a community member.



Transitions-reactivating

Posted on November 23, 2017 at 11:31 PM Comments comments (6)
I'm trying to get a little more physically and mentally active again. I fell into a lull as summer and summer employment ended, which resulted in a short period of lethargy and consequential weight gain. Now I am doing a bit of exercise again and walking more.

I have always been mindful of getting exercise, but effusion of the knee (water knee) started happening last summer while I was still hiking, paddling and cycling. Not that it has been painful, but it is a precursor to arthritis, which I do not wish to encourage. Therefore, I slowed down, quitting the paddling by October when the team was planning one more competition. Now I can walk short walks for 20 to 30 minutes throughout the week without problematic symptoms.

Seasons changed, getting into a frame of mind to be satisfied with life indoors, especially writing. (I even started a book project.) Without as many hours of work, which reduced the income as well as the motion, I am afraid I was becoming a couch potato--until my clothes got a little too tight for comfort and I saw unflattering pictures of myself and my flabby middle. So its back to watching the diet and getting myself moving.

I am working regularly again, up to 28 hours. The work entails more use of transit, which has gotten me walking at least to and from bus stops. Motivated to speed things up and cut weight down, I am deliberately taking more inconvenient routes that require more walking, and I sometimes even get on and off the bus a few more blocks farther from my place. In fact, I have walked the 25-minute trek from the LRT station up the ridge to my place instead of taking a connecting bus, even in the rain. 

I wasn't eating a lot in terms of volume, but things like cheese and peanut butter had worked their way into my routine, and I was permitting myself to have a little chocolate and fast-food with fries a couple of times a week. I don't know about others, but that kind of stuff clings to my waistline in no time. I do have a slower than usual metabolism, as I am affected by hypothyroidism, and I probably have an efficient system anyway.

 (I must remember to take the pill for the hypothyroidism right away in the morning, before I eat anything. I often take it after I've started eating, which means the medication gets swept through my system faster and less of the hormone is absorbed. That practice keeps my body rate down below normal.)

Other than picking up the physical pace, I am also fighting against the habit of sitting down to the TV or computer immediately after dinner. I find little tasks to do. I try to find little errands to run after work to keep me busier, too. For example, I head to a library or store, or get cash and add value to my bus card, even when those tasks could be done more efficiently at another place and time because I want to be active both mentally and physically. I am planning a birthday gathering and a New Year's Eve's Eve open house.

Well, I was coordinating the event to mark the anniversary of the October Revolution, a project comrades of the ILPS committee I am a member of, which did get me out postering and leafleting before the day of the event on Nov. 10. (The event well, and I enjoyed the sudden absence of activity once it finished for a day-and-a-half.) 

We had a break from the usual work day today because a pro video crew was present in order to film a commercial to promote the school. The manager told us teachers to expect a crew to be around and enter our classrooms. Maybe he didn't know what was being hatched up. The crew had personnel and some recruited university students act out scenes to tell the typical story of how an student at an institute lacks confidence in the beginning, then winds up getting accepted into an ivy league university. Ha-ha! The usual fantasy that these kind of outfits run by Chinese or Koreans want to spread. But it was a fun day. They singled me out to do a lot of scenes, telling me I was the star teacher. Hey--there are only two of us, and the other is kind of introverted who does not wear what is normally called "professional dress." So they are selling my image all over. I signed the release form without protest because it is in my interest to do a good job and contribute to the efforts to promote the school so that it successfuly recruits more students and secures me a job for the long term. I just decided to go with the flow and play along.

The prospect of developing arthritis is a bummer. Just when I was getting motivated to do some craft and cooking projects like quilt work, seasonal fruit cakes and painting. (I created some crafts for the above event.) Actually, I find my thumb joints are occasionally sore, so I have avoided some keyboard use or produce chopping somewhat. It comes and goes. My brother recommended glucosomine. He surprised me the other day during a phone conversation when he told me he has been taking it for 15 years because he was experiencing painful arthritis in the hands back then. Says he's fine nowadays. I will buy glucosomine this weekend. I hope to stave off this hound for a few years. 


Transitions - optimism rising

Posted on November 16, 2017 at 11:54 PM Comments comments (4)
Despite the gloom and rain of November in Vancouver, a time when Canada sees its highest number of deaths, I am once again feeling my optimism rise as my birthday (mid-December) approaches. It can feel sad in November when we remember the dead, and some of my relatives, friends and colleagues including my parents have passed during November. Nevertheless, my energy is on the rise.

As I said at the start of this blog, while I was introducing my blog project called "A Year of Living Positively" in December, 2013, the year's end is a natural time for reflection and planning. I am already getting excited about the prospects of my 62nd year in this world.

Good things continue to happen for me in my universe this year. After returning from a decade of teaching in January, I have carried through with my plan of resettlement. I have been transitioning well from life abroad to a resettled Canadian in British Columbia. Lately, I finally secured more regular work in teaching English.

My new work schedule entails 24 hours of work with 10 hours of class time. It is in a new English Academic Preparation program with prospective university students from China. It is just getting under way, so there is only one other teacher for the handful of students we have so far.

I still hang on to one shift at the children's after school academy. That gives me at least 27 hours of paid work a week. What do you know! It is a livable income (though barely). 

Actually, it seems the academy was surprised when I notified them I would only be available for the one shift. I was working only two shifts, though, so I don't know what they were thinking. They suddenly realised what an asset I am to their operation, so they offered me a guarantee of 4 shifts weekly and begged me not to reduce my time with them. Four shifts there would be between 12 and 16 hours a week, far below a livable income. In fact, I resent this offer after having endured the hardship of working only 2 shifts a week as my sole employment for the past two months, although it turns out they could have had me working more hours. They knew it was my only job for that period! I do not want to show my discontent, though, because this job would be a life-line should the new gig not work out.

We, my co-worker and I at the EAP program, were giving things a try before the offer came through. I got a mere text message confirming the offer after attending a meeting last Monday. The boss said there would be a contract with temporary conditions spelled out for a three-month period and he said he was consulting a lawyer about details, but I have not seen any contract. I am a little leary if nothing is in writing. I know they'll start paying us by around the end of November, but would prefer a probationary three-month deal. In his message, the boss stated the starting pay rate I agreed to, but said a review and salary adjustment would happen after a year. Hmmm I took a cut in the hourly rate I am used to because it is a new business, and because I thought I was being hired for a trial period.

I am still grateful because I am paid for a lot of non-teaching time, including the lunch break, for now. I also know the advantages of being the first hired--more potential for a leadership role down the road. The manager is interviewing a lot of prospective students, but we don't know how many will sign up. On the other hand, this easy schedule could change drastically soon, before we have established a bank of materials and lesson plans. We are creating materials and developing a process at this stage. That is another thing: it is an interesting time to enter a job. I enjoy working downtown in a more professional role, to boot. The favourable conditions outweigh the less favourable.

With employment stabilizing, I can get into more socializing. My life has been pretty constrained with a net income of about $600 a month for the past 8 weeks, a period in which I had to dip into my savings a little to cover the bills. I finally have a hair appointment and a couple of dinners scheduled. In truth, I went to a couple of bars recently to celebrate and let myself feel some relief at having a decent offer. I drank whisky! (only a few ounces)







Thinking and Doing It Positively

Household Treasures

11 January 2021

I heard an interviewee speaking over the radio talk about cherishing items in the home. It is one way to explore and enjoy surroundings without traveling, he said​I'll try it.


A lot of objects on display in my apartment are artifacts from my travels, ironically. They refresh my most poignant memories of precious and mind-opening explorations.


Sitting atop the filing cabinet next to my desk are to souvenirs from South Korea, where I worked and resided for 10 years. After such a lengthy stay, I have loads of memories prompted by numerous artifacts of my experiences in that country. These two are among the best reflections of cultural and historical particularities of South Korea. They are a framed photo of a hero central to the labour and national democratic struggles and an ornament from folk culture in the countryside of the southern part of South Korea.


Jun Tae-Il was a courageous student activist leading actions against the last dictatorship in his country. He represents the heart of the movement and the victory for democracy. He became a martyr when the police fatally shot him while he was demonstrating in the street in Seoul, the capitol. The ornament is an ceramic fertility fetish, an image of a penis from one of several such parks in the southern region where I used to live. This part of the country remained tribal longer than other parts, so folk traditions such as shamanism and superstitions have endured. Fertility monuments were erected (pun intended), of course, bring about more healthy children. The foreigner exploring such parks giggle at the sights. 


Next to the filing cabinet is a bookshelf. One of the most noticeable objects near the top of this piece of furniture is a tacky, plastic, white alarm clock. It is significant because I bought it to ensure I woke up on time on my last morning living in South Korea. I had an early flight. As a small travel alarm clock had recently failed, and I was not sure my phone alarm would wake me fully, I picked up a cheap clock at a local general store. I don't use it as its ticking is noisy, but I have not thought to give it away. It remains perched on the shelf, deprived of a battery, as a reminder of my departure from the ex-pat life and return to Canada. 


I also have items saved from two trips to Cuba, one in 2003 and one in 2019. Both trips were organized political events. The first took me there with a political choral group to meet Cuban choirs, learn some of their songs, perform with Cubans, attend the May 1st rally, meet labour associations and tour the island for two weeks. I am looking at a typical replication of a sketch of Che Gevarra which one can find easily in street markets. Our choir, supportive of the Cuban revolution, valued the Cuban revolutionary democracy, social arrangements and political principals which that image, the most famous in all the world, represents to millions of people. It inspires and gives hope. I remember strolling through the streets, visiting markets and restaurants, chatting with locals and attending all the meetings on our hectic schedule. I have other little treasures such as a ceramic, hand painted ashtray, photos of our Cuban comrades, and an African-Cuban, wooden statuette.


Above my desk hang a pair of water colour paintings in wood frames. They portray sites in southern Manitoba in the general area where my grandparents met, married and bore my mother. They feature two views of the banks of the Red River, a river highly important to Canadian history. There were battles against invading Americans launched there and a key struggle of the Métis nation. The city of Winnipeg lies nearby, which used to be the industrial hub of Canada until the Panama Canal opened up and undermined the Canadian railway system. I have only passed through Winnipeg by car. This area is not one I remember, for I have never visited it. 


On the floor near my desk lies a wicker hamper. I have mixed feelings about it, but it has been very useful, so I have kept it. You see, it belonged to my father's second wife. My father remarried this odd, older person rather quickly after my mother passed, which denied her children necessary time to adjust. I carried resentment about her, but chose to avoid them rather than say anything or show my negative feelings. As I said, it is a practical item for it holds linens and Christmas stuff and allows aeration through the woven stems.


I originally bought the filing cabinet to organize research, not academic information but information found in the course of activism and stabs at political journalism. It therefore stores records of several international and regional conferences. Though I purge it once in awhile, there are still clippings, leaflets and pamphlets. They cover issues such as Canadian mining firms abroad, human rights cases, privacy rights, student concerns and transportation. I have been replacing old articles and folders with my own writing pieces. Among them are also old, self-published newsletters addressing local and international issues, some of my published articles and unpublished poems. 




Conversational News

10 January 2021

It is so good to be able to express myself and have contact with readers through this blog again. The loss of the access to my blog along with other aspects of confinement and restrictions really affected me. There were added unsettling restrictions due to circumstances, even including access to my games when Adobe Flash Player was removed. I was feeling the mounting stress of rising COVID cases and the awareness of the damages inflicted by this disease as well as the damage inflicted by states that remain focused on helping profitable enterprises more than addressing the disease and health care and financial interventions fully and equitably. Most such as Canada are handing the responsibility of pandemic management to individuals. Very unjust!


I had been handling the conditions of the pandemic fairly well, but emotions were catching up to me in December as I personally began to feel tired and stressed. I started to feel irritable and alarmed. I looked forward to two weekends at home over Christmas and New Years, but the employer wanted me to work on the Saturdays. Saturday being the heaviest work day for me with five hours straight teaching and two hours travel, I had been wanting relief to get a chance to rest and calm down. I ended up taking the Saturday following NY Day off, which certainly helped. I am much better now.


I did not carry through with my usual practice of personal assessment and planning in December as is my habit. I was too agitated. I did not want to reflect on this past year, actually. Not then.


Anyway, there is not any change in my goals. I generally carried through with financial, livelihood, social, family, health and growth goals. However, the social and family goals were frustrated by Covid-19 rules. However, there are elder relatives with multiple health problems whose mental health was being upset by the situation, so I have been visiting with them in cafes and such. They are better now. I have also been aiding an elderly neighbour whose health, already in decline this year, was getting worse partially because of Covid-related restraints. (Her degrading sight and hearing, as well as shaking and loss of balance, caused her to stop driving permanently, and skeletal issues caused her to stop regular exercise. She is worried she will be forced to consider entering a facility while many care homes are in crisis!) My exercise regime was also compromised. The local fitness center remains open but I perceive it as risky, so I do not go there. Aside from some hiking and walking to accomplish transit and errands, I haven't been exercising much until recently. Now I do some yoga, lunging, stretching and weighted arm raises sometimes. I am prevented this week because of an inflammation (hemorrhoid caused by lengthy sitting!).


 One big factor affecting stress and anxiety levels is news reportage. State and private corporate news services, like most enterprises today, try to streamline by relying more on tech and web browsing to find news topics. There are fewer reporters and there is less extended, investigative reporting. For the past decade at least, such services have resorted to "conversational journalism." It is an adjustment to distrust of news and official authorities during a trend of democratization, I feel. However, it tends to keep popularity and viewer or reader stats in mind. Topics can be sensationalized by rehashing events and speculation. Commentators are brought in to discuss as are senior reporters, but the discussion is not very productive in that it does not lead to increased knowledge. Rather, it keeps generating more questions. Conversations often entertain unanswerable questions, particularly because there can be no resolution. They just push the topic and stimulate possible answers to stir up controversy and alarm in order to improve ratings. Pertinent information might be omitted if it actually answers a question. Once audiences abandon a thread, they turn to some other topic and start over. It is really unconscionable because of the innuendo, speculation, rumour, omission, lack of investigation, assumptions and biases.


The COVID coverage is a clear case in point. Partial information is supplied, such as a medical official's announcement that is partly based in some truth. The announcement is questioned. Opponents are recruited to present the false arguments. Sideline topics are raised to create more friction. Proper sources are ignored. Questions are recycled and spin round and round with no conclusion. The affect is understandable: alarm, anxiety, fear, stress, accusations, complaints, etc.


I follow a couple of doctors who produce daily videos to update viewers on scientific developments and explore reasoning behind government and medical decisions regarding the pandemic. I rely on Dr. John Campble and Doctor Moran. Find them on Youtube. Campbell is the most digestable, for he uses plain English, which Moran is more technical. The latter seems to be addressing people in the medical field. By following Campbell, in particular, I can see the gaps in the regional and national news reporting. I can see that they are lagging behind the news by ignoring or failing to search for reliable information.

We're Back

07 January 2021

Apologies to my followers and viewers. You have been very supportive and encouraging for many years. I might have disappointed some of you who were looking for new entries from me. 


Let me explain. VISTAPRINT changed its platform last year. When they did that, the method for making blog entries changed. I had no information from them about what to do. It simply appeared that I know longer had any blogging service. 


However, I just spoke to a VISTAPRINT rep who guided me. I can now write blog entries, as you can see.


It was a strange year all the way around. Things seemed kind of more chaotic than usual. I felt agitated and stressed last month for no definite reason. I had trouble sleeping. I felt exhausted.


My general astrology reading asserted that the pulling away of Jupiter, one of my planets and a very powerful one, from Saturn would make Sagitarians feel exhausted by the end of December. Despite the restrictions imposed because of the pandemic, it does indeed feel like I worked and accomplished a lot (activism, teaching, writing). Things are supposed to get easier for us Sagges. 


There was added stress because of the effects of the pandemic. Not only that but worse, state aggression seemed to increased around the world, causing civilian mass responses. Though I had handled it pretty well until the end of 2020, I guess it finally got to me and I started soaking up some of the stress and anxiety emitting from my region and beyond.


2021 is starting out a bit weird, too. Just look at yesterday's events. U.S. Whitehouse invasion. Solar flare sending rays that caused several storms, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. More lockdowns. 


I wish all my readers well. I will resume entering focused pieces when I have more time. Please stick with me. Thank you for your comments to date.


Ed Wise

TEST

15 January 2020

THIS IS A TEST OF THE NEW PLATFORM FORMAT AND BLOG ENTRY SYSTEM.