Just Peace - self-exploration

Posted on January 25, 2018 at 10:51 PM
I wrote some advice for my nephew. Recently leaving secondary school, he is flummoxed about what to do with his life. He had some sketchy idea about pursuing one of the sciences, probably pushed a little by his parents, but backed out, taking a retail sales job instead. He does not know what to do.

I think he is hiding things on/ in his mind but not telling his parents. Sometimes I think he is just saying something to provided an expected answer, and sometimes maybe what he thinks others think he should be saying.

Whatever my nephew's situation, I always recommend committing time for reflection. In the case of making appropriate and satisfactory career and life path choices, self-exploration is paramount. So many people follow some occupational or industrial trend, perhaps pursuing what seems prestigious and lucrative at the time, without looking at their own identity, assessing their own best skills and aptitudes, tallying up their accomplishments and experiences, translating experiences and abilities into skills and qualifications, and making a conscious choice for something fitting. Taking the time and making the effort to search one's soul and assess oneself can save a lot of grief and stress in life. For the sake of one's own peace of mind, I strongly suggest the following steps, as I laid out for my nephew a couple of weeks ago.

Just working on a resume and searching the job postings, even with a little research into career and industry profiles, is not adequate. Maybe reflecting on oneself seems a scary proposition to some people, at first, yet it can be fun and uplifting to explore likes and dislikes, become more aware of one's own leanings, and know well your best attributes and abilities. It can be a relief to go through the process. One comes out not only with a better sense of one's identity in terms of career, but identity as a person, and with clear goals. This is also a motivating process.

My notes to my nephew:

The self-exploration phase is about making some basic decisions about the life you want and who you want to be. To make the decisions, a person needs to learn more about himself and build self-awareness. That way, he'll have more control over his life, have clear goals, be confident about who he is, and remove a lot of anxiety about life choices and purpose, etc. It also means becoming more true to oneself (being real, authentic) instead of trying to be someone else, and having a solid self-identity, which in turn means being with people and living a way that are better for you .

I'll describe the process and tell you about some online resources in the next message.
main steps of the process:
a. Find out more about yourself. (Keep these lists and re-do them a few months later)      1.brainstorming: a) write down all the dreams that appeal to you, no matter how crazy or impossible they seem                                 
 b) write down some adjectives to describe yourself                               
  c)write down all your favourite things                                 
d)write down what your goals are at this time
      2.Get more clarity on who you are. Use several online questionnaires about               a)your interests and preferences   (Out of lists of stuff, what seems the most interesting to you and what do you like the most?                   b)what can you do? 
               1.Use online tools to find out more about names of skills                                    2.write a list of your experiences: activities at home, at school, travels, work (paid or unpaid)...                                        
             3.write a list of all the things you think you can do  "I can (verb)."                      4.From all the above, put names to the things you have done and can do

      3.What kind of person are you? Use online tools to help you discover it. With this information, and summing up your dreams, skills and interests, decide who you are. (This will change over time, so it is good to review and re-do the process once in a while over the years.) 
       4. What kind of lifestyle do you want? This includes income, household, schedules and more. Use online tools to explore the kind of life styles that are possible. Read, talk to people, look around to find out. Then try to create a picture of how you wish to live your life. Reading or watching  biographies of or interviews with various people will help. Reading or watching personal testimonies and life achievements or transformations will also help.

Now that you are more aware of yourself, re-write your goals. Write 3 sets: short term (this year) and long term (5 and 10-year goals), and life goals (where do you wish to end up in life? What do you want to achieve?)

c.While you are doing this, try different experiences such as making things, traveling, hobbies/ pastimes, meeting different people, listening to /watching speakers or documentaries on different topics. As you know, there is a wide range of pastimes and hobbies available to most people these days. Examples are collections, music, body movement (exercise, dance...), writing, stand-up comedy, getting out in nature somehow, study, volunteering in community or social services or fundraising for some cause, public speaking, ....
Keep a journal. I cannot over-emphasize the value and usefulness of keeping a private journal to write down observations and thoughts as you are going through this, and generally through your life. Write daily or weekly.
Travel. This is an excellent way to give yourself time and space to get inspiration, talk to a variety of people and think.
Read. Make use of the local library, which has lots of career and self-improvement/ development resources, as well as books on industries, careers, biographies,..

d.Research industries, economic trends, change and career profiles. Don't start out with this, or you could end up in the wrong situation for you. As a youth in Canada, in your situation, you have a lot of opportunities and choices, and the luxury of time to figure things out. 

THERE ARE NO SHORT-CUTS  to this process. It is good to repeat this process a few times during your life time.

Categories: communication, living, positive thinking, journal writing, late career development, transition

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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