Transition - Breathing spell

Posted on April 6, 2017 at 12:45 PM Comments comments (113)
After around 10 days of extreme tension here in the house, I felt totally peaceful and content yesterday. There was some relief from a situation with a housemate. However, the atmosphere is a little nervous again this morning.

To recap my situation, I am in temporary digs renting a room in a shared household as I make the transition from life back in Korea to a renewed life here in Vancouver, Canada. It took a lot of searching and inquiries to find some suitable short term accommodations; I signed a rental agreement for this place offered by a landlord's representative without meeting all the housemates. There is a basement suite inhabited by a 4-person family, and three bedroom suite upstairs for renters. My upstairs housemates were two working class, 20-something guys--newcomers to this city, as well, until one guy got a live-in girlfriend all of a sudden. Now we are four living upstairs.

On a few occasions, one of the guys expressed discontent at having me present in the house with him because of gender and age. He is a mid-20s labourer, and probably a frustrated young man. I say that because he has often appeared angry, the reason why I do not interact with him much. He has been friendly and polite, mainly, offering to share stuff and such, but he has moments, such as when a subject related to housekeeping is broached. He is a poor housekeeper, particularly in that he leaves dirty dishes and food waste behind. I often face a putrefying mess in the kitchen in the morning and spot a trail of grease and crumbs into the living where this guy usually eats his meals. Last week, the tension mounted and incidents of rage burst forth. ONe morning, when I smelled something buring in the kitchen, I went to investigate. I was stirring his porridge when he exploded into the room telling me not to touch his stuff. I retreated to my room quickly. Then he went around slamming doors and uttering the word, "cu.." several times. 

I was able to avoid him for the following week because I was busy setting up my business and had errands, classes and appointments. I felt stressed all week. I stayed in my room as much as possible when I was at home. Then came the day to pay the rent, Saturday the first of April. I was awaiting the receipt and talking to the house caretaker when this unknown girl walked in, passed us and entered that guy's (P's) room. The caretaker (C) thought it must have been my friend, but I soon told him she was a stranger to me. C led the way up to check out the situation. He and I asked her some questions. Later that night, P arrived home and immediately pounded on my door and swore at me with the B-word. My door was locked but the lock is feeble and I was afraid. I called C, who called P rather than confronting him in person as C is a small elderly man who also feared P's behaviour. P approached me in the living room the next morning, at first sounding friendly but insulting me and employing more foul language. He said he worked really hard and was too tired every day to do dishes, etc. I was so upset, I called to speak to the police non-emergency staff, and texted C some more. 

The following day, P seemed much cooler. He apologized a couple of times and offered his hand, saying he wanted to start over. He informed me that he had a girlfriend-roommate who had officially moved in. The next day he apologized even more sincerely, explaining that he was in conflict with his employer and therefore late in paying his rent. I tried to sound understanding and supportive, saying that it seemed that the employer was being unfair, and that labour is under-valued despite the important work done for society. P said he had new prospects for employment. Though P has told me that he goes to work every morning now, and I see him leaving with his girlfriend most mornings around 7, he soon returns by around 9:00 a.m. I suspect that he is going down the street to the day-labour office, trying to pick up work every day, which, apparently, he does sometimes as he stays out all day sometimes, and talked about digging at a construction site one time. This morning, he told me his old boss paid everything owing except his tips, and I responded with empathy and suggested he look up the rules and see if he can get his due from that old employer. (It sounds like he may have been released illegally without due notice and just cause.) First, P misinterpreted my response. He said, "What?!" I had to repeat and clarify myself twice. He explained he thought I had said something negative. Is he back in a dark frame of mind, misdirecting anger towards me, construing people around him most negatively? I woke up feeling good but now I am wary and a little on edge again.

Transition-Day against Racism

Posted on March 26, 2017 at 9:13 PM Comments comments (10)
The International Day against Racism is a positive thing. I attended an action to honour this important day and made to responses against bigotry.

At the rally of those united against racism that brought together a diverse collection of participants around the same cause, a few neo-nazis turned up to provoke and interfere. In the false name of "democracy", they claimed that the protesters were segregating them and not allowing their voices in. A couple of them got clobbered as they kept making provocative challenges and tried to approach the stage. The police broke up the brawl and handcuffed three such characters. They were released in short order after a lecture and continued agitate, but were met by defenders of social justice. They tried to say we were not being democratic by not allowing their voice, but they were disrupting rather than showing unity. If they thought there was supposed to be debate at the rally, not so. 

I engaged a little in blocking big provocateurs from trying to get to the speakers and spreading their disgusting role-play of victims being attacked who were excluding them. I let the bigger and younger opponents of racism do the heavy work. I responded to one 6' something young white guy who complained to me that we were hassling him and his friends who just came to observe. I said, "We came here to unite for a cause. You came here to provoke. If you want to observe, then observe. Observe respectfully, shut up and mind your manners."

I left the rally early because I had arranged to meet a guy through the online dating service. We were supposed to meet at a nearby cafe. I am leary about candidates who list themselves as Christian, for it can be an ideological sign. He showed up and on time. Right away, though, I could see that he seemed agitated. He complained about the traffic and parking. He kept complaining about this group and the government and worked his way up to attacking refugees and welfare recipients. No need to repeat the trash talk here. I just said, "Okay. Saiyanara," and walked out. I don't stand for that kind of talk and I do not waste time with very negative people.

I sent him a note through the dating service messaging to say that the main reason I left was his deep negativity. I told him I consider that he is likely a deeply unhappy person who needs to work on getting happier. I also defended my position on racist talk.

Transitioning-Memory and aging

Posted on January 6, 2017 at 11:29 PM Comments comments (9)
Memory loss and senility are concerns as one reaches the "senior" years. As there is mental illness in my family, including 2 elders who "cracked up" in their last few years, and my grandmother lived for a couple of decades without short-term memory, these problems are on my mind as I age.

How to prevent or at least reduce the chance or impacts of such afflictions? I found good advice under the heading of "Preventing Alzheimer's" on the helpguide.org website. Here is the link to the article. (Sorry, there is some mechanism preventing me from copying the article and pasting it here.)


Eye of the Optimist-2016 for me

Posted on December 30, 2016 at 10:26 PM Comments comments (1)

This website:  It drew over 1,600 views yesterday, on December 30, 2016. The total number of views of the site reached about 145,000. Most of that viewership arose out of the publishing of my blog, which started near the start of 2014. Prior to the blog-writing, the site had only attracted around 1,500, to the best of my recollection. My blog may not be well known, but starting it certainly was helpful in earning attention to my website. Some of the viewership has been stimulated by my job searches, I am sure.

Technology:  webcam usage; building of my commercial service sales pages;  used Zip files

Health:  made it to 60 years of age; passed the age of my mother at the time of her death in November; continued general exercise; no flu; resolved ankle and shoulder inflammation; my general physical exam results were rated A

Work:  completed and e-published my fourth novel, a third book of poems, and a children's story and continued my positive thinking blog; joined the Canadian Writers' Association; applied for writing and education admin jobs; taught job search, debate and news classes in addition to the regular English classes; resigned teaching in Korea; formally studied editing, completing 4 courses

Social:  extended my collegial relationships with Korean staff (hard to do), including participation in the profs' hiking group; formed deeper connections with some of my students; caught up with Canadian friends over the summer; connected with Canadian activism and joined some World Social Forum activities in the summer; continued arranging socials/ outings for colleagues, especially those in my residence; sought help from Canadian friends with plans for resettling in Canada and got results; had some great birthday parties

Transition-making:  carrying through with my goals for the year and next 5 years, I made some steps to leave my job and move overseas; I have just found a new home for my pet birds, sent some things away by post, given away some office and apartment items and am continuing to pack up my life here; backep up and deleted computer files; applied for housing and work and got housing covered for the next 6 months; broadened the announcement of my resignation and departure from Korea to Canada


Generally, I felt good all year. I enjoyed my work, my small circle of friends and my frolicking finches at home. I relished a few hiking and sightseeing excursions. Though I felt I was growing less and getting a bit stifled, I did grow somewhat, especially through the writing and the contacts back in Canada.

The emotional side of making plans to leave my current life and plan a new one has gotten progressively more emotional. I have been flipping from glee to grief and back. Finalizing my activities in Korea one by one has brought up feelings of irritability and sadness again and again. 

When some messages of concerns about grades were forwarded to me at the last moment before the end of grade changing, which was a couple of days before Christmas, and it was the Director who passed them along, it was really upsetting and drastically affected my mood over Christmas. In a troubling coincidence, these messages were sent to me immediately after I handed in my grading paperwork and delivered my letter of resignation. The Director was reluctant to decide on the issues and continued to convey some lack of confidence even after I responded with explanations for a couple of cases where students got very low grades. I was angry and hurt; nice way to handle someone's leaving. I thought the matter might be a situation of retaliation on the part of the Director and, in fact, I asked her about the timing. The grades were available for students to correct before; they had all been so since December 15. It is normal for students to check the record from exam week on and raise concerns and questions well before the end of the grade change period, so this situation was very odd. Also, is normal for a mediating or authority figure in the department to stand up for a professor after hearing the grievances of the students and the responses of that professor. When I suggested that my director could defend me and my work, she was irrational in that she blamed me for "trying to blame" her and threatened me. She doesn't understand her role or the instances which I had described in detail. In sum, glad I am party company from this particular director. (They are appointed in cycles of 1 to 2 years in rotation.)

Getting detailed information about arrangements related to my resignation and preparing the paper work for the processing of my leaving, along with packing up with and giving away more of my stuff, and parting company with my lovely birdies, had filled me with anxiety and some bouts of grief. Still, it has been alleviating and uplifting to be keeping an eye on my goals and simultaneously make new plans for my new life that is just around the corner.

Eye of the Optimist-New 5 year plan

Posted on December 18, 2016 at 2:32 AM Comments comments (18)
I set a 5-year plan three years ago. It's time to review and rebuild it to cover the next 5 years.

In accordance with the original plan drawn up three years ago, I am preparing to abide by one of two pledges, namely to stop teaching in Korea and move back to Canada. Just a few days ago, I began listing my personal belongings that I want to sell or give away, for which I took and uploaded photos of my stuff, and have already given away a few items. I have already transferred most of my savings from Korea to Canada. Having recently sent two small boxes of things I want to keep off to Canada, I just need to pack one more and take it to the post office some time in the next couple of weeks. I have announced an "open house" sale and invited local expats and colleagues to come and pick over stuff just before Christmas day.

I have addressed a  pledge to develop a profile as a professional writer by joining the Canadian Authors' Association, applying for professional writer status, creating an online writing and editing service, applying for jobs as a writer, and completing some courses. Actually, I'll have completed four editing courses this year once I submit my exam in a few days. I have applied for a variety of jobs posted for writers, such as in-house writing and editing of marketing materials, and positions related to journalism and publishing firms. Through two platforms, I have set up profiles as an expert offering writing services for fees, though I do not expect much from them yet until I do some promotion. I will address promotions of my business after I land in Canada in January. 

As I have more experience in the education field, work in education is a good back-up if I cannot secure a decent position in publishing or writing. I have been applying for non-teaching jobs, aiming for some kind of program management position, perhaps in international education, and shooting for a good salary. I just applied to be an international admissions officer or program adviser at a few institutions, and an education officer in the provincial government.

As for the exercise pledge. I have been teetering on the edge of the exercise wagon, though I have not completely fallen off. Since I could not stand to go to the campus gym any more, and did not have much time for workouts given my heavy teaching schedule last semester, I have just hiked mountains around town, or done an outdoor exercise routine with a jog in my neighbourhood once or twice a week since October. It's been a bit too cold in the mornings for that, though, so this type of routine is best done in the milder afternoon temperatures, but I cannot always devote time to it. I want to sort out a new routine in the new year.

I have mostly been eating well according to my own standards of healthy food, though I have been indulging a little in sweets since the cold weather started in November. Anyway, I always do in December when it is my birthday and Christmas.

With the above assessment of honouring the pledges of my original five-year plan over the past 12 months, I now want to outline a renewed short-term (1- and 5-year) plans.

One-year plan:

1. Put in my resignation to the university by this Thursday.
2. Pack up my life in Korea. Finish distributing the personal things I do not intend to hang on to, and pack up what I do want. Cash in whatever else I can, close my accounts, get one last dental hygiene appointment, and make arrangements for the pension contributions refund over the next three weeks.
3. Take time to say good-bye to certain people before leaving, such as inviting friends to the open house, and setting up appointments.
3. Keep applying for work in writing/editing, publishing, and education and take something by early March, while taking some short-term employment int he meantime.
4. Find temporary rental housing by the first day of March.
5. By temporary health insurance by the end of January.
6. Relocate as per the demands of the best job I can get.
7. Make new friends, keep in touch with old ones.
8. Keep to a small budget and save what I can all year.
9. Keep writing and publishing my own stuff.
10.Find new pastimes like recreational activities, including a new exercise routine.
11. Re-establish Canadian residence status by June, 2017, then renew my driver's license and provincial medicare plan.
12. Decide whether to take more editing courses by May, 2017.

Five-year plan:

1. Land a decent job by March, 2017.
2. Save money, and make a decision about cashing out some assets and buying new property in the fall of 2018.
3. Buy a vehicle by summer 2018.
4. Keep fit and healthy.
5. Make a decision about retirement in November, 2021, just before my 65th birthday.
6. Start traveling again by 2019.
7. Keep making new friends.
8. Look for some appropriate involvement that includes political writing/ education as an activist by 2019.

Of course, one should also keep in mind the long term. Here is a sketch of a 10-year plan.

1. Start taking retirement benefits between the age of 65 and 67.
2. Keep healthy.
3. Own a home by 2020.
4. As of 2022, consider volunteer work that involves travel, perhaps as a shortish term (6 to 12 months) teaching gig.
5. Keep up political action and writing.

Eye of the Optimist-Parting ways

Posted on December 7, 2016 at 6:03 AM Comments comments (1)
I am well into a life transition. I am packing some things and discarding others. I am closing up my life here in Korea in increments, according to a calendar. 

As I have taught my students, life transitions are processes with their typical stages of emotions. It can be a roller coaster ride. As the end of my present contract has been getting nearer and nearer, the more often I go through ups and downs: fear, anxiety, butterflies, joy, excitement and grief. Since I have been planning my escape for over a year, I have already come to terms with the fact of separation and the anticipation  and perils of change. I have been experiencing waves of loss, sadness, anger, spite, wistfulness, and jubilance. It seems to happen in cycles of excitement and happiness followed by fear and sadness. The point at which I said "Yes" to the winter house-sitting gig brought home the reality of saying good-bye to this life. I procrastinated at booking my flight for several weeks, but was forced to go through with the booking so as to satisfy my host abroad and coordinate things with her. I knew that buying the ticket would initiate a process of relocation, and it was therefore a dramatic moment.

The calendar of my planning hinges on two dates: my December pay day, which is Christmas, and the date on which my departing flight for Vancouver is booked. I feel it will be safe to put in my notice and announce it after Christmas. To give notice too soon might result in an premature closing of my employee file and cost me a final month or two of salary, even though the expiration of my contract is dated February 28, 2017, January is normally time for winter work, and February for vacation travel. The employer likes to be told 4 months in advance, but they have been known to pay out two months later and deny severance pay and return airfare when they have gotten such an early notice. We have learned to delay giving notice until about two months before the end of the contract so as to get our due.

I suppose many are not expecting my decision. They just ask what I'm doing this winter. I have therefore merely told the curious that I intend to fly back to Vancouver mid-January because a friend wants me to house-and pet-sit at that time, which is the truth. I just don't inform them that I do not intend to return. When loving students say they will look me up next semester, I say something like, "Good and have a good winter break." Well, I know it is not a promise and the reality is that only occasionally does any student look me up the following semester, and only occasionally do students manage to enroll in one of my classes for the consecutive time because of conflicting schedules and program restraints. I don't feel bad about being discreet. They're young; though they may retain some memory of their teachers, they move on quickly and the teacher is soon out of mind. I prefer to think that anyway, and I prefer to be businesslike about it all. I do not want big farewells, anyway. I would rather be discreet and avoid the drama. I can get way to emotional, and have been known to start sobbing at times, which probably comes across as exaggerated or inappropriate, but I cannot help it. I just start gushing tears. 

Not wishing my employer to learn of my decision to leave too soon, I am being discreet about giving up the possessions I don't wish to cart off to Canada, which is inhibiting. I have as yet refrained from posting a list of things I wish to sell or give away, and have instead chosen, for the time being, to pick away at my belongings and carry away small amounts of items in innocuous looking shopping bags to the charitable collection bins or garbage bins, or pass along the odd item to a friend or neighbour. I have invited colleagues and members of social network groups to take or buy a few odd items, explaining that I am just housekeeping and getting rid of things that I no longer use. It is true that the first items I parted ways with were things that had been lying around unused for some time, and responders were hot to grab free offers such as a bike, a folding table, Korean language study materials and hand weights. The priced items are still with me; everyone tries to hold out to get freebies, I guess. It is amazing the amount of communication it can take to coordinate a simple pick-up. There is only so much labour I am willing to do to unload some item without payment, so I have gotten impatient with the procrastinators. I can hold out, too; there is time. I'll announce open houses at my apartment and my office between Dec. 25 and Jan. 1, when I hope to dispense with the bulk of the stuff up for grabs, and I hope to get some cash in exchange for it.

I have made inquiries to airline cargo services and shipping agents. The airlines charge too much and the agents deal with container-sized shipments. As I am only thinking of including a couple of suitcases and a few boxes in a shipment, my order is too small. Unfortunate, because I might be able to have my TV and printer moved by that means. However, I am in university paid and furnished housing, so I only have small articles. I will have to give up the TV and the printer, and make do by using the government postal service in order to keep a minimum quantity of my stuff. I have already sent off to shoe-boxes with documents and odd articles like sewing notions and stationery stuff, and a cost of almost $40. I have an extra piece of luggage that would cost $200 to check in on the day of the flight, so I am thinking of doing without it and instead filling one largish box with mostly mixed clothing and linens to be delivered as parcel post, and risking the extra weight baggage fee by trying to stuff all remaining excess materials into the two bags I will check in. That method seems to be my best and most cost efficient option with respect to moving my possessions.  

The only thing is the birds. I must broaden my search for a good new home for them right away. I took pictures for a posting today; I can post the information to a network of animal rescuers and pet lovers where I would have the best chance of finding a suitable stranger to take them on. So far, my word by mouth among a few acquaintances has not produced any serious interest. I need to resolve the problem soon so that I can assist with the move and transition of my little friends' lives. 

I really must start to put out the call for a new home for my little flock tomorrow morning. It pains me, though. I will miss them. They have brightened up my life in this small dull apartment. They have been very amusing. I have loved taking care of them and getting to know them, but the long voyage would be too risky and certainly very stressful. Their health and skills at flight and play have come along well and I don't want to trigger a setback. The newest to the family, the tiny mottled Society finch, has turned out to be the most adventurous and playful. He sure can sing, too! Parting with them is a big step and just the thought of it has been affecting me already. They will have a better chance at adjusting to a new home around hear than taking that epic and uncomfortable lengthy journey abroad, especially as I would have no place to keep them until I get settled.

Actually, I realised how emotional I have been getting about the move as I taped up the parcels in the post office and requested documents from my medical file after my last medical appointment. I found myself getting quite annoyed, then felt almost teary afterward. "Ah-hah!" I thought. It was apparent that the difficulty of making this change is getting to me. Around the time I was taking care of these matters, I was also going through the last week of classes for the semester, which is the last week of classes I'll teach in Korea. Some days I think this is the last time I'm seeing this person, or buy this item or use this service. It can verge on morbidity. Each time I even think about closing my bank accounts, or canceling my internet service and whatnot, I experience emotional twinges. I have also circulated an invitation to celebrations of my birthday, my "big fat" 60ieth, in fact. That is another milestone, isn't it?--the biggest reason why I feel I should get out of Korea and make a change now in my life. I guess this event is at the root of my conflict over the departure, as well as the act of departure itself. The transition would only get harder and harder the longer and longer I waited. It is nonetheless quite an emotional time to make the move now.

Overall, I feel good about doing it now. I know that there are a lot of options for me now, and opportunities opening up now that could be missed by waiting too long. I feel happy about what could happen for me at this turning point. I am hot to get into new work and other activities back in Canada. I am happy to be embarking upon a renewed life in a phase of positive upswing, at least personally (though certainly not in terms of the world situation! Characteristically, I have waited way to long to move on before. I have learned that lesson well. I intend to save myself time and grief in the future by getting out while things are going well. This way, I have far more control of my life and can get a grip on far more choices.

Eye of the Optimist-Outliving a Parent

Posted on November 18, 2016 at 11:18 PM Comments comments (1)
My mother suddenly and very unexpectedly dropped dead on the morning of November 16, 1985. The question as to whether I would live beyond her age at death has been on the back of my mind for the past couple of years. I could say I've outlived her as of November 17 this year.

I found the occasion worthy of a Facebook posting. Here is what I wrote last Thursday.
"As of today, I've lived longer than my mother. Exercise and enlightened attitude keep the heart strong, blood pressure down, and mind growing."
This posting has had a good response from the family and closest friends connected to me on Facebook.

What caused my mother's fatal collapse has been a mystery to her doctor and other family members. As for me, I suspected that she had had a thyroid condition for a long time that went undetected and that is because her mother and two of her children (including me) have thyroid conditions. I am familiar with the symptoms of either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, and I estimated that she was experiencing some. Another obvious factor would have been lack of exercise and maybe a problematic diet. In any case, I also observed that she was unhappy, so I have also suspected that emotional distress played havoc with her heart rate and blood pressure.

Often being in a position of emotional security, and having experienced acute financial insecurity in an earlier period with a couple of extremely upsetting relationships thrown in, I have come to realize more and more clearly what kind of physical affects can arise just out of stress or anxiety. One of my biggest reasons for writing this positive thinking blog is to keep myself emotionally stable and healthy. This writing must be complemented with regular exercise, especially aerobic, as well as healthy eating in order to to keep on a physically and mentally positive path.

Optimism to keep going forward and feeling good about one's place in life as well as direction certainly has positive physical consequences. Such an outlook can help keep perspective, too, so that disappointments and conflicts do not rule the mind.

Eye of the Optimist-Vacations are beneficial

Posted on August 22, 2016 at 2:08 AM Comments comments (1)
It has been about seven weeks since my last blog entry. That is because I went on vacation overseas for about a month. Though I am still in vacation mode and feeling somewhat lazy, I thought it was about time to get back into the blogging. Thanks for your patience; and, thanks for those of you who have continued to follow this blog. I notice that the visits to this blog and my website have been steady despite my absence. I must be doing something right.

What to write about today? I have been thinking about the benefits of taking time for vacations.

This summer vacation did me good. It was distracting, interesting, eventful, and refreshing. 

It was busy. I caught up with a few friends, which required traveling around my home province and across Canada. I got some errands and shopping done. I joined some activists and attended important and timely discussions on major issues by going to some events of the World Social Forum.

Though I was busy and took in a lot of information from friends, the news in Canada, public issues and updates on progressive organizations and campaigns, it was a break from my job and daily working life routine and so offered respite.

It was healthy. I got some sun and exercise. For example, I went swimming in rivers and lakes and hiking along nature trails. I had picnics and enjoyed a variety of restaurants. I ate well most of the time. Also, I slept well.

It was entertaining. I went to a country music festival, art galleries and saw street performers. 

It boosted my positive outlook. I gave time to considering how well my life is going.

It was socially redeeming. I got caught up with good friends and family members and learned more about their lives, the good, bad, sad and ugly. Also, the trip and these conversations helped me  to reflect on my life journey and goals. 

I found an article that speaks to scientifically validates the benefits of taking vacations. Too, it recommends that every working person take time out for a vacation.

7 benefits of taking vacation time

Vacation is today’s big bad wolf for Americans.That’s right. Americans are frightened of taking time off work for vacation. A survey by the U.S. Travel Association found that four out of 10 Americans aren’t going to take all of their vacation days. Why? Because they’re not exactly enthusiastic about the work they’ll find on their desk when they return, the survey found.“They dread the pile of work awaiting them when they return, and no one else can do what they do at the office,” according to the survey. “These people suffer from what the researchers called a ‘martyr’ complex, believing that they’re the only ones who can do their jobs.”It’s not just fear, though. Americans are taking less vacations overall, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The data showed that more than 9 million people took a vacation in July 1976, but now that number is closer to 7 million for 2014. In fact, a 2012 survey by Harris Interactive Inc. found Americans leave 9.2 days of vacation unused.Still, companies are encouraging their workers to take time off. Some have said that this is a bad idea and that there needs to be more balance between work and life instead of just vacation time.But vacation days are something many Americans have and, in some cases, are willing to use.

Here are seven ways vacation can be beneficial for you:
Better physical healthThe New York Times reported that a vacation can help your physical health — the stress of working can take a serious toll on your heart. For both men and women, taking a vacation every two years compared to every six will lessen the risk of coronary heart disease or heart attacks, The Times reported."It shows how the body reacts to a lifestyle of stress," said Elaine Eaker, author of a study by the Framingham Heart Study, to The Times. "This is real evidence that vacations are important to your physical health."

More productivityCount on being more productive if you’re taking vacations. Upon returning from vacation, workers are likely to put more emphasis on the work they have to make up,according to The New York Times. Research says that a lot of that has to do with the way humans are made.“The importance of restoration is rooted in our physiology. Human beings aren’t designed to expend energy continuously,” The Times reported. “Rather, we’re meant to pulse between spending and recovering energy.”

Closer family relationshipsPsychology expert Susan Krauss Whitbourne said one of the biggest benefits of taking vacation is how much it affects familial relationships. Family vacations increase family bonding, especially when a lot of the activities have to do with talking about memories or even sharing stressful moments together.“Shared family memories and time spent together isolated from ordinary everyday activities (school, work and so on) help to promote these positive ties,” Whitbourne wrote. “Though family vacations can have their own share of stress, the benefits outweigh the risks, even in families that are not particularly close.”

Newer perspectivesStep away from work for awhile and enjoy the summer sun. When you come back to work, you’ll have a totally new outlook on life. CNN reported that when you step away from the problems and stresses you’re facing, you’re bound to get a better perspective and come out with a more satisfying answer. An example of this, according to CNN, would be when you ask your friend for advice on a situation. The friend is removed from the scenario, and thus can offer advice more easily.

Increased mental powerWorking all the time and getting things done might make you think you’re the king of the world. But your brain is feeling something completely different. Research by the University of California Irvine’s Gregory Hickok found that our brains don’t have a reserve pool to gather energy and power from. Vacations can help reset your mind.“If we had a huge amount of brain power in reserve, we might not need vacations,” the Tribune reported. “We could just tap those beach-lolling brain cells. But we don't. Time off tunes up a well-functioning brain.”

Lower chance of burn outStarting to feel a little burned out? Guess that’s a perfect reason to take a vacation — especially because the time away will actually keep you from letting the fire inside of you die. According to about.com, one of the key benefits of taking time off work is that you won’t feel all the pressures and discouragement that arise once you begin showingsymptoms of a burnout.“Workers who take regular time to relax are less likely to experience burnout, making them more creative and productive than their overworked, under-rested counterparts,” according to about.com.

Improved mental healthU.S. News and World report spoke to experts who noted that one of the main benefits of vacation time is that it can improve your mental health. Feelings of calm arise and relieve the stress, which allow the body and mind to heal in ways that it couldn’t if it were still under pressure.Email: [[email protected]](mailto: [email protected] ), Twitter:@herbscribner

Eye of the Optimist-nature walk

Posted on June 17, 2016 at 2:29 AM Comments comments (0)
A day after a thunderstorm passed through, the sky was a clear blue and there was a fresh breeze this morning. So appealing was it that I took off on a mountain ramble by 8:30 a.m. It felt glorious to be out there. The sunlight was brilliant and the air felt alive. Do you get those days when the atmosphere is full of anticipation and power? 

I chose a less travelled path, which was so quiet that the deer were around. After I stopped to enjoy the pleasant forest sounds, I saw a deer bounding across the trail ahead of me. That was the first time since I've seen a deer in this area of this mountain. 

My emotional state was such a stark contrast from the previous two days when the storm was gathering and passing through. I was in an inexplicable anxious and blue state. I even started entering into nightmares while falling asleep, though I remember no bad dreams while sleeping. Today was quite different, however.

I guess I was also lifted by some good news yesterday. Although I'd received some negative news that the summer session class was canceled, my ego was boosted by the report of my grades for the online editing class: 100%. I feel very confident about my ability to edit professionally. The grades for the two courses I've taken so far ascertain that ability. My future looks bright.

Instead of feeling prepared and competent to manage my life going into my sixties, I now feel like a new career path is opening up. I can envision new adventures and successes ahead of me. I have come across such success stories of the 60+, even cases in which people have embarked upon a new career in the arts or business or education at an advanced age. Why not? Today there are new opportunities for seniors, and attitudes are changing. I might turn out to be one such positive case. I might even be living on a decent salary for quiet awhile yet. It is exciting.

I am looking forward to  moving up some more, so to speak. I'll be able to grow. I'll be able to find better working and living conditions, and more and more suitable company.

Eye of the Optimist -16 tips for success

Posted on May 27, 2016 at 8:44 AM Comments comments (6)
Dr. Phil McGraw shares part of his formula for success with "The Sweet 16," featured in his new book, Life Code: The New Rules for Winning in the Real World . (This list was copied from http://www.thedoctorstv.com/articles/784-dr-phil-s-sweet-16-tips-for-success, May 27, 2016.)

“I have studied success all of my life and I found that success leaves clues,” Dr. Phil says. “There is a formula for success and I’ve boiled it down to what I call The Sweet 16."

1. Have a defined “image” and never go out of character. 
• You must know both yourself and how to present yourself.
2. Create a perception of uniqueness. 
• Choose to define your image so that you distinguish yourself from anyone else in the world.
3. Play “big,” not just long. 
• Playing big is different than playing long because even reliable and competent people that play long seldom win big, if at all.
4. Learn to claim and accept praise, and acknowledge it in a gracious way, but do accept it. 
• The goal is to get noticed and acknowledged for who you are and what you do.
5. Become “essential.” 
• If you want to succeed in any situation, it is important to be needed and good to be relied upon.
6. Know your real currency. 
• Don’t waste time working for what you don’t want.
7. Always, always have a plan. 
• If you want to achieve a sustained measure of success in any area of your life, you need a specific plan that begins with identifying what you want.
8. Keep things “close to the vest.” 
• To be interesting you have to maintain a certain degree of mystery, because it gives you a degree of mastery.
9. Always be in investigatory mode. 
• You have to constantly be gathering relevant information that may empower you to do and achieve what you desire.
10. Must “stretch” and behave your way to success, even if it feels like “fake it until you make it.” 
• Have confidence and be bold enough to stretch yourself, scramble to close the gap if one exists, and grow into new opportunities.
11. Always keep your options open. 
• It is important to always leave yourself a face-saving way out.
12. Always master the system and figure a way to make it work for you. 
• You can gain distinct advantage if you know the game better than anybody else.
13. Create a passionate nucleus of supporters. 
• Surround yourself with people who share your passion and vision, and support your pursuit of your goals.
14. Deal only with the truth. 
• You must resolve to never fail to acknowledge if you have a problem or are in some kind of toxic situation that is draining your life energy.
15. Recognize and use the ego and greed of others to create a path to success. 
• If you want acceptance and to be heard and well-regarded, you can create receptivity by being sensitive to your listener’s ego.
16. Pick your battles and never let your opponent have control. 
• Never put yourself in an untenable position by picking a battle that you don’t need to fight and don’t know with great certainty that you can win.

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


15 January 2020