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September 18, 2013

Hello

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in a word – Iscrm

March 3, 2011

 

This is what my son wrote on the shopping list today when we ran out of, you guessed it, ice cream. Pretty good considering he could not read at all a few weeks ago. I also admired the initiative.

Took quite a few photos today but this one was the winner. Maybe it will turn into a mummy blog after all…

in a word – REFUSE

March 2, 2011

This photo was taken in the carpark of my workplace. I have been working there once a week and driving past this garbage dump for about four weeks. I’m wondering what goes on with the garbage disposal here? Is this what our world will look like in another 100 years?

Are we all going to be living in piles similar to this one? Do we all have to buy bigger houses just to contain all this s**t? Probably.

There is a wonderful children’s book called “The Tip at the End of the Street” about some kids who find things in the dump. They eventually find an old man thrown away at the tip and take him home. They build him a house in the backyard, made of an abandoned railway carriage and furnish it with other thrown away items. The old man eventually dies but only after he has been found and looked after and shared all his songs and stories with the children. It’s a lovely story.

My office building used to be an old fashioned mental institution or asylum. It has a lot of history, from the days when people with mental illnesses were locked away from the world. These places have a bad reputation and many horrific things happened. They were closed largely due to advances in psychiatric treatments, but also due to social and political movements. At their best and most well-intentioned they were places of refuge, where people who were considered “refuse” by the rest of society could have a place.

As I walked to lunch I saw some of the patients from the newer psychiatric wards, who generally stay for short periods before returning home. The lucky ones have family and the rest stay in government housing. They look and smell different to others, and I found myself avoiding their company. I’m sure they are discarded by most of society. It’s a long time since I worked in one of those wards, but I used to be fascinated by the mentally ill. I wonder how they would perceive their life differently in an asylum or whether they would have a greater sense of community.

There will always be people who look bad, smell different and aren’t able to contribute much in a conventional sense. They are considered a burden and a problem to be looked after. I have found that each of them does contribute something to the world around us, often in unexpected ways to those of us who spend time with them. It may be a gift of laughter, creativity or seeing things from a different angle. Or it may be a hard earned gift such as learning patience from someone who is difficult to deal with. Such gifts are not always easy to see but the reward of some perseverance.

 

In a word – LOVE

March 1, 2011

Me: Elijah, it’s homework time.

Silence

Me: Elijah! Come and do your homework!

E: I’m just in your bedroom

I walk into room.

Me: Come on, it’s time to…

E: I was just putting hearts on all your books, so you would be really happy.

Back to blogging month

March 1, 2011

My challenge for this March is to write a blog post every day – yes this is part of International Blog Posting Month. This will be a big month in many ways, just wait and see.

The NaBloPoMo theme for this month is “in a word” which I think goes nicely with photo journalism. I am linked to NaBloPoMo (ie you can see me there also, I believe)

So we bring you one photo a day for a month, the only rule is the photo must be taken on the same day.

Welcome.

 

singing in church

January 19, 2010

Today, the white elephant is going to copy someone’s entire post, because it so accurately and scarily sums up my thoughts about this. Thank you very much to a “net-friend” at John Mark Ministries.

Another Net-friend’s contribution:

1. It will be a sad day when we stop singing in church and instead accept performances from other people. Singing is a way of participating instead of observing. It is a way of affirming our faith. The words and tunes gently slip into our memories and our souls. It is probably the most important source of knowledge of the Christian faith, even in an age of almost universal literacy. I believe it is one of the ways that the Holy Spirit transforms us. Singing – of any sort – is extremely healthy. To sing well, one has to be aware of one’s own body. To sing well with other people, one has to be aware of what other people are doing – their pitch, timing, etc. Singing is also a way of breaking through people’s inhibitions. When people observe performances, they are reduced to being consumers instead of participants. Part of being counter-cultural, and resisting the slide into consumerism and individualism, is to sing in church. If people are uncomfortable, then lets find hymns and tunes that they are comfortable with. Let’s work out whether they are more comfortable sitting or standing. Let’s do lots of other things that people are comfortable with. But let’s not give up singing.

2. Most of the charismatic and pentecostal churches engage in a lot of singing. It is part of their attraction. As those churches are growing, it is clear that at least some people want churches where people sing.

Here’s an interesting article  about medical writing and social media

antidepressant debate

January 13, 2010

There has been a debate for some time about the effectiveness of antidepressant medications, which are commonly used for anxiety and depression in routine psychiatric practice. A recent study published in the JAMA has reignited this debate, as it seems to indicate that there is little difference between antidepressants and placebo, for mild to moderate depression. In this large-scale randomised controlled trial patients with severe forms of depression benefited greatly from antidepressants when compared to placebo. Patients with mild to moderate depression seemed to respond both to antidepressants and to placebo.

This was discussed in depth at the Carlat Psychiatry Blog (written by a psychiatrist) It has been known for some time that the placebo response is powerful when it comes to depression and anxiety. This may indicate that these conditions naturally resolve with time, or perhaps it means that the power of belief has a very strong effect on mood – something we intuitively know to be true.

For psychiatrists, the question is whether or not we should prescribe antidepressants for the less serious forms of depression, and this is even more pertinent for GP’s who see the majority of such patients. It has been suggested that we should prescribe sugar pills for depression as the placebo response is so strong and this would benefit the patient without causing any side effects.

The majority of newer antidepressants have minimal side effects for the majority of patients. However there is a worrying trend towards increased suicidal thoughts in a small number of people, particularly adolescents. In practice antidepressant-induced suicide is virtually never seen, but this tends to show up in very large research trials.

I think this study also has implications for natural and alternative therapies, which are very popular but generally quite expensive for patients. We know that the placebo response is very strong, and so we can assume that the benefits of natural therapies are at least partly due to placebo response. Natural therapies are beneficial because they encourage healthy living and may assist mood in that way. It may be useful to bear in mind the placebo effect when considering the more costly therapies and may be advisable to seek a cheaper option!

finding the “element”

January 10, 2010

Recently, I was lucky enough to have the luxury of a beach side holiday. It was really rather wonderful being at Australia’s most gorgeous beach, ocean views and great company. We managed to cram about 22 people into 7 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms somehow and no one killed each other. My family of husband, myself and 3 kids were squashed into the “bunker”; one room with cot, double bed and double bunk – and surprisingly we all got a reasonable amount of sleep.

Anyway the point of this post is that while on holidays I discovered “The Element” a new book by Ken Robinson. It was one of those awkward situations – someone in your extended family is reading a book, you spot the book and instantly you want it. All self restraint disappears (not helped by holiday levels of alcohol consumption) This is the one book in the whole world you want to read, the solution to all your problems. You can’t stop thinking about it. Start creeping around rooms when they are out, to see if you can find it. You become one of those annoying people on holidays who steal other people’s books when they are trying to read them – you just can’t help yourself!

This is how I am about books, anyway.

The Element is about finding your passion, something which is a hot issue for me and has been for several years. The Element is defined as the point where your natural talents or gifts meet up with the things you love doing. As far as I can see the element is related to the Zone, and Flow (maybe there will be blog posts to follow on these ones) but is a further development on this concept. For example I might be quite good at say, physics, but I would hate doing it. I might love singing but I would always be quite average as a singer.

Writing could be the Element for me, because I do love writing and I have some evidence that I’m quite good at it. As far as it stands at the moment, my job has relatively little to do with writing, which is probably why I am frustrated. I love ideas and I am passionate about books.

Some of the key points in this book are:

– it’s never too late to find the Element – he even mentions neuroplasticity which is currently a hot area in neuroscience research – the brain is capable of changing over a lifetime depending on what you do with it

– finding mentors: it can be pretty hard to find the Element alone, much easier if we have others to help and guide us

– creativity vs imagination: imagination is having ideas and is essential for creativity, however creativity requires action as well as imagination

– the failure of education system – he talks a lot about how our education systems work against people finding their Element because of the hierarchical IQ and grade point systems which focus on scores rather than individual strengths or talents

– multiple intelligences – related to the above, there are many, many kinds of intelligence and the challenge is actually working out what specific strengths you have

– finding your “tribe” – it can be useful to find people who share your passions to discuss them with – he makes a distinction between a “domain” = type of work, and “field” which is the people who practice this work

– “what will they think?” – overcoming disapproval of others, or one’s own fear of disapproval

– he also talks about Flow and the Zone, which are related

Basically Flow is a term described by psychologist with a very long name, to describe a state of mind where you are absorbed and engaged in an activity to the point where you lose track of time. It is an energised state where you lose self-consciousness. Flow tends to happen to people like athletes, musicians, craftsmen or anyone who is very involved in an activity they love, in which they are talented. The Zone is a similar concept.

The next book I have about this topic is Barbara Sher “I could do anything, if only I knew what it was” review to follow.

So it’s day 4 of January and I have just remembered that the theme for the month is “best”. I’m not sure what happened in the last 2 days posts (especially yesterday) but now I’m thinking it’s probably “best” to stick to the theme.

So in light of the season I am doing the 10 best things about Christmas (memories, themes) that I can think of: –

1.  The birth of Jesus. OK yes I had to tediously put this one first, and yes I am one of those dreadful Christians that have hijacked Christmas from the pagan / consumerists.

2. Christmas day 2009 carol service at C5 church. These guys were amazing with a great choir and band, fantastic solo voices, lovely arrangements and harmonies, accapella numbers and rocking rhythms. I am generally quite ho hum about Christmas carols but this was right up my cup of tea (so to speak).

2. Margarita Christmas – this is a memory of my brother serving up the most fabulous margaritas to the whole family when I catered Christmas in my parents home. The margarita somehow created the most lovely festive mood, we all ate in the garden and the food was yummy. I can’t believe this was almost 20 years ago now.

3. My twin 4 year old boys dancing with glow in the dark tubes on Christmas night. These boys are generally not that interested in music or dancing but give them some disco tunes and a glo stick and they were somehow transformed.

4. The Secret Santa. This year I was lucky enough to be involved in 3 different secret santa events and thoroughly enjoyed all of them. For our family Christmas this year, each adult was assigned to one other to buy a present. Children of course received presents from every adult. This was great because it gave us the opportunity to put a lot of thought into a present for one person rather than buying for many. I also had secret santa events, coincidentally for my 2 jobs, which was heaps of fun and allowed us all to get to know each other.

5. Finding the perfect Christmas present. This is related to the above, and does not happen very often. When I was younger I used to strive for this every time and spend hours in the shops agonising over choices. These days I am a lot more flippant and time poor.

6. People coming together. Spending the day with relatives you wouldn’t normally keep in touch with, inviting strays and ring-ins or watching your children learn inappropriate jokes from older cousins.

7. My boys jumping up and down, literally, with excitement at the thought of Santa coming. It’s so easy to generate excitement in this age group. I know, I know, people that there are very convincing ethical and rational arguments against the practice of deceiving children in this way. My friends who choose not to have a Santa tradition are probably “right”, but to see their little faces alight with wonder and joy I for one do not resist.

8. Brandy butter.

9. In another vein, the non-Christmas, Christmas. Going to India, for example, one year to experience a refreshing lack of hype, decorations, shopping, carols, turkey or any of that stuff.

10. Christmas lights on houses.

4 out of 10 of these points relate to this year’s Christmas. I have to say that this year I discovered some Christmas spirit, something that has really been lacking for me before. I guess there are several reasons: having a spiritual & musical aspect to the day was really uplifting for me and made it about more than just food and presents. This year my boys came to an age (4) when they are fully aware and excited by the whole concept, and also having a fairly stressful year made being on holidays a huge relief!