Transition 2017-First entry

Posted on December 31, 2016 at 10:24 PM
Introducing the theme of this year's blogging: transition. It designates my personal and career transition put in motion last year and set into full gear as of today, the first day of 2017. I am maintaining my positive thinking perspective, and I intend to occasionally speak in the voice of the Eye of the Optimist, but I am moving forward in line with what is happening in my life and the evolution of my writings on positive thinking over the past 3 years. 

I am not abandoning my positive thinking perspective, but I am switching themes. The "Eye of the Optimist" thread conveyed a focus on positive thinking outlook, methods, examples and and resources, expanding on my project, "A Year of Thinking Positively." I have been working on the positive thinking angle for three years. I now want to switch to a theme of transition. It befits my present circumstances of making a transition from a life of teaching in Korea to a life doing some other work in Canada.

The topic of transition certainly is related to positive thinking and the reasoning and purposes of developing a positive thinking out look. For one thing, a transition could be regarded as a negative development, regarded only with grief, fear and pessimism. By taking control and deciding and planning the transition, however, it can be viewed optimistically and with some positive emotion, even though grief, fear and doubts are bound to surface through the process.

I have reached a point of specific transition regarding occupation, location and cultural-ecological environment. I have resigned my job teaching English at a Korean university, am in the midst of packing up my life in Korea, and about to return to my hometown for a new life. 

With this Transition blog, I want to log my course as I go on, and chart the next phase in my future. I am resettling in Canada and attempting a late life career shift. I will make new stabs at writing projects and networking, while I build a new home and construct a specific retirement plan. I'll discuss the process of transition, and issues and reflections as they arise, for the benefit of readers.

To begin this discussion, let us look at the definition of life transition by referring to a popular online dictionary, dictionary.com. It simply states: "movement, passage, or change from one position,state, stage, subject, concept, etc., to another;change: ( e.g., the transition from adolescence to adulthood)".

A life transition usually involves more than one transition. As one facet of life changes, consequently so do others. For instance, moving to a new home of entails a geographic adjustment to an unfamiliar surrounding with unfamiliar faces; it can mean, moreover, change of employment, friends and co-workers, culture, services, routines, diet, climate, shopping, and more. As another example, when a figure in one's life passes, the absence of that relationship can affect other relationships, habits, routines, and activities. Furthermore, more than one type of change can occur together. Psychology Today's website gives the example of a woman breaking up with her boyfriend who is awarded a job promotion. Such a big change takes a big toll on one's emotions and mindset. 

I, for one, have been experiencing waves of strong and conflicting emotions as the dates of my resignation, final day of duties, and departure from Korea have been approaching. Since I have good reasons for making the change in my life, I have positive feelings about moving on, but those positive feelings about another place and the future can give rise to a negative view of the past and location of the life I am leaving. I thus have felt waves of frustration, resentment and anger with my employer and place of residence as I become more conscious of the benefits of me moving to Canada and trying something different to do in life. At the same time, doubts and fears about the future have crept in to my soul, despite my rational thinking. Meanwhile, wistful and nostalgic feelings about my past in Korea emerge here and there. I am struck by deep sadness each time I take a step to change my life, like giving away personal items I won't take to Canada, ending classes this past semester, talking to the friends I'll leave behind, and finding a new home for my pets. A taut thread of anxiety underlines all such activities, and my stomach is affected by nerves, interrupted by periodic waves of euphoria at taking the leap. As I reach each point in success at rebooting my life, like finding job ads worth replying to and securing some housing in Canada, I feel relief and glee, which are emotions broken by bouts of grief and reluctance. I am riding tumultuous waves of change that take me up and down, again and again. 

One must adjust. It is natural to feel nervousness, fear, doubt and anger at change, especially when it is unexpected, such as a dismissal from employment, a death or an accident. Unfortunately, it may be that some people never completely adjust. To adjust acceptance is necessary, and a positive view of the benefits of the change must be understood for one to eventually feel good about the change and content. Sometimes, change is so profound and the process of change so enveloping and complex, that one could get ill. It is good to get some professional assistance and find someone qualified and equipped to talk to so as to avoid or alleviate the pain and discomfort of change.

It is best to give the process time and expect to experience this roller-coaster of emotions. Aware, one can appreciate the particular emotions as a response to change, and understand where they are coming from. Big emotions cannot be snuffed out quickly and it is best not to sweep them under the rug, while one should not let them take you over. Planning goals to adjust and create a new way in life helps to give balance, and provide reason for optimism. Being conscious and taking control of the change can prevent one from losing sense of direction and ending up in defeat or with a sense of defeat. A change can be good, and it can be ripe with new possibilities to advance yourself or improve your life.

Here is some advice from the Psychology Today website about handling life transitions. 

Keys to Handling Life's Transitions
Within the angst lie opportunities for change.

Posted Jul 31, 2013 (www.psychologytoday.com)

Ready or not, we all go through numerous transitions in our lives – living high school to go to college or work, changing jobs, getting married, having children. These become those weeks or months or longer of awkward emotional spaces where we have cut ties with what we know and have not quite settled into what is new. Some, like Sara’s, are by choice, by opportunity; others come from natural ends – the graduating from college – and still others are unwillingly imposed on us – sudden layoff from a job, unwanted and uninitiated breakups in relationships. Whatever the circumstances, navigating this gray zone of transitions can be difficult, presenting us with new problems and demanding us to respond in new ways. 

Here are some tips for surviving and thriving through these difficult and uncertain times: 

Expect to feel depressed and anxious. Even though Sara’s relationship with her boyfriend ended relatively well, a loss is still a loss, a major change in her life. Even though her job is a promotion, she is still going to leave behind both colleagues that she has grown close to and a job that has become comfortable and familiar. Whenever we move forward we leave something behind, and this creates a psychological state of grief, however small. And if the change is unexpected and unwanted– the sudden job layoff or relationship breakup – the shock and depression are greater. And with such turmoil comes anxiety. We are out of our comfort zone; our imaginations run wild; we worry about an unknown future.

Realize that this is a new / old chapter in your life. While you need to acknowledge your loss, you don’t want to get stuck in the past. Acknowledging that a door is closed is psychologically healthy; spending your time staring at it is not. 

While it sounds like a cliché, the next step after an end is a new beginning, a new chapter, and keeping this in mind can give you a sense of a fresh start. And while the particular circumstances are new, the process itself is familiar. You have, after all, made transitions before – changing schools, neighborhoods, relationships, jobs. You know the terrain, you’ve acquired experience and skills along the way. You can do this again, and this time even better. 

Think positive, think opportunity.

In the movie Up In the Air George Clooney played a character whose job is to fire people for companies that were downsizing. He always began his termination speech with “ I’m here to talk to you about new opportunities.” Is it a bit of spin, a bit forced – sure – but it is also true. 

I remember going through a period many years ago where I had moved to a new town with my wife and 2 children and was unable to find a job. Though I was initially depressed (loss and grief), I eventually used my time to begin to write. By the time I finally landed a job, a year and a half later, my writing, even if somewhat fragile, was under way, and my outlook on work and family life had changed. Looking back on that time now, I realize that if I had quickly found a job I would have gone on auto-pilot, marched ahead into the same workaholic work I had before, and probably never had the time to develop this other aspect of me nor made my family as much of a priority. Though it was certainly a difficult time, it ultimately was a pivotal one, reshaping the direction of my future and the next 30 years. 

During times of transition, when everything seems to be in flux, when your old patterns have collapsed, you may feel unsteady but are also most malleable to change. Now is the time to explore, brainstorm, consider the make-over before your life begins to naturally solidify into new patterns. Sara now has the unique opportunity to begin her new life in a new way. Starting new relationships from scratch, she has the opportunity to experiment with being more bold, more assertive, more honest than she may have been before. This is the time to think outside the box. 

Hit the ground running. And don’t take too long to get started. We are creatures of habit and routine, and those routines can congeal quickly. If Sara lets her anxiety take over once she moves, she may easily find herself in 6 months coming home from work, eating a frozen dinner and watching TV night after night. The momentum is lost and it will feel harder to break out. As soon as those boxes are unpacked, or before, she needs to have a plan and get moving on it.

Get support. It’s tough to do this all on your own. Sara will probably be calling her old friends at the old job for a few months until she develops new ones; she will need to be leaning on her supervisor as she tackles the learning curve of the new assignment. Others will need to rely on family for moral support, still others on counselors. When you are feeling a bit ungrounded, support from others can help you keep perspective and moving ahead.

Have a realistic timeframes and expectations. There are going to be difficult days when Sara is going to think that she never should have taken the new job or even broken up with her boyfriend, all natural reflections of her up-and-down state of mind. She needs to be patient, realize that it may take her a year to feel confident in her job, months to begin to make new friends. Anything less and she is only adding pressure and stress.

Transitions are those unique times when we toss off the old but have not yet stepped into the new. While the circumstances are always different, the skills and attitudes needed to successfully move ahead are always the same, namely being positive, patient, and proactive. 

A new journey awaits.

Categories: communication, living, positive thinking, late career development, relationships, transition

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3:34 AM on March 26, 2019 
You are definitely one of the best educational consultants and I am pretty much impressed with you. You choose a theme according to the recent standards of education. You are doing an impressive work. I have learnt a lot about you.

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