Sunday, August 24, 2014

Part 1: Aftermath of a Brilliant Comic’s Death: Funnyman Robin Williams


Let me start off by saying that some of you may think that 'funnyman' is spelled incorrectly. I thought it was a compound word and checked in case it was two: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/funnyman clearly indicates its correct spelling and meaning: a man who is funny; especially a professional comedian.

There has been a lot of media articles and social media discussion in the aftermath of Robin William's suicidal death which you are most likely familiar with. Yes, I said those words: “death” and “suicide” (and in one sentence!) which generally speaking are words mostly avoided like the black plague (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Death) in today's society, at least in this part of the world in which I live. Why is that?

Some articles and reports have been rather personal from people who have experienced depression or concurrent disorder which is a mental health disability plus a substance abuse problem (namely alcohol and/or drugs). The latter has become known as a commonplace condition, more the norm than formerly believed, which Robin suffered from. See http://www.centralwestcdn.ca/about-concurrent-disorders#A for some examples, and if you scroll down (about 1/4 down the page) you will see varying stats for how common an occurrence this disorder is.

Now, I’m not a fan of labels; however, my purpose here is to inform and/or educate in part about depression and concurrent disorders.

What matters most is this: we – the general public – are talking about it more openly, if not in person, at least in general public behind our technological screens like Facebook since the news of Robin’s tragic demise. If anything, that is the seemingly good that has arisen from this bad event. (Even ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are labels, but I digress here.)

To draw an analogy – I hope you don’t mind – it reminds me of the ALS ice bucket challenge that has stormed America through social media. Anthony Carbajal, a young man who was diagnosed with ALS, a hereditary condition, created a video worth seeing. See below, though here is the link: http://www.upworthy.com/the-last-ice-bucket-challenge-you-need-to-see-and-you-really-should-see-it that I highly recommend viewing:



At the 3:15 to 3:30 time mark, an emotional Anthony remarks,
I hate talking about it. I really hate talking about it. That’s probably why nobody talks about it, because it’s so challenging to watch, it’s so challenging to see, to talk about, nobody wants to see a depressing person that’s dying, that has two to five years to live, they don’t want to talk about it, they don’t want to see their day ruined.”
How true is that of ALS and potentially (can be) with other issues such as depression or concurrent disorders or dementia or cancer or ...the list goes on, i.e., a host of other conditions?

Will he and others like him - with an ill-fated diagnosis - commit or want to commit suicide in the face of pain and/or impending death? See how rampant this issue is and/or can become?

This is why we need to be talking about these issues as everyday matters in everyday conversation like we do with the weather and whatnot.

Would you agree? Why or why not?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Middle Child: You ARE Special! Today's Your Day!



According to http://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/middle-childs-day/, today is a special day, a very special day, at least for the middle child. Today's it's "Middle Child Day!" That’s me!

Some of you dear readers might relate, those of who you were second or later born depending on your family size in terms of siblings. Otherwise, you might have a sibling who is a middle child and here's your opportunity to understand them a bit better.

Dr. Kevin Leman, psychologist, in his book, The Birth Order Book: Why you Are the Way You Are writes “the second born will be most directly influenced by the first born, the third born will be most directly influenced by the second born, and so on.”

He also states, “Second borns will probably be somewhat the opposite of first borns.” And furthermore, he goes on to say, “Because the later-born children 'bounce off' the ones directly above them, there is no way to predict which way they might go or how their personalities might develop. Characteristic charts on middle-born children often sound like an exercise in paradoxical futility. For example, below are two columns with words and phrases that can all be very typical of the middle child. It's not hard to spot the direct contradictions:

loner, quiet, shy
impatient, easily frustrated
very competitive
rebel, family goat
aggressive, a scrapper

sociable, friendly, outgoing
takes life in stride, laid back
easygoing - not competitive
peacemaker, mediator
avoids conflict
"

When I look at these two lists, I’m not necessarily one extreme nor the other. Though I used to lean more “towards the left” (I had to move the list to the top), I have grown to be rather sociable, friendly, and outgoing as well as avoiding conflict – I have always hated conflict – in particular.

Middle children do not feel “special” or treated as if they are like the first-born or the “baby” (youngest sibling) of the family: think family photo album. They may get hand-me-downs and the like as I did with my two eldest sisters. I used to refer to myself and still do as a matter of fact as “monkey in the middle” with two older sisters and two younger brothers. (Even though my twin died, I would still be or rather still am a middle child.)

Middle children may also feel like the “lost” child as they have no definitive role and may be overlooked with older and younger siblings and thus feel misunderstood and out of place like a third party – “two’s company, three’s a crowd” kind-of-feeling – or like a fifth wheel. (Three's Company, a TV show in the 1970's-80's.)

Is that why, in part, I felt like I didn’t belong or mattered? I wanted so much to feel special, to be treated differently. Don’t we all though? Is that why I started acting differently perhaps on an unconscious/subconscious level?

The middle child may seek out friendships more than the first-born or youngest through peers their own age to hang out with. Their friends become an integral part of their lives as they help to shape the character of their personality, and in doing so may, as Dr. Leman states, become “a bit of a “free spirit.” I find that fascinating as I have used a similar term to describe myself growing up and still do even to this day: “restless spirit.” Hmm, is there a connection possibly?

One thing I do know that is a bonus for us middle children is that we make good mediators/negotiators/peacemakers. I have been told this by at least one if not two sources; however, as I detest conflict, such an occupation does little for me. This is true for me as I have come to recognize and ‘see’ both points of view when there is a difference of opinion; both people are ‘right’ in their own way. This ability to understand was something that began in my childhood, though I wasn’t aware of it then. In that sense, I sometimes become a bit of a peacekeeper. (Maybe that’s why I like the band, Fleetwood Mac’s “Peacekeeper” song!)



So, being a middle child makes me a great peacekeeper/mediator/negotiator, tough and independent, empathic (i.e., understanding of others’ situations/plights – I have this big time), and the like. Do any of you relate or know someone who is a middle child?

Are you or do you know someone who is a middle child? How did you feel growing up? How do you feel now about your position in the family? Can you find the unique strengths/gifts in being a middle child? Do you or can you like/love/celebrate it?

Posting to be continued...a 'twist' on the middle child...

Monday, August 4, 2014

A Mini-Vacation


My former couch (colour is brighter than shown)

Dear Readers,

For those of you who were or are part of the Ultimate Blog Challenge (http://ultimateblogchallenge.com/), I am taking a much-needed mini-vacation. After hours and hours of researching, reading, downloading, and typing posts daily last month, I am taking some time off to rest. I was quite exhausted towards the end of my 31-day (July) daily postings.

Furthermore, I am enjoying my favourite festival, a 10-day reprieve for me at Harmony Arts Festival in West Vancouver, BC (http://harmonyarts.ca/).

For me, a sensuous love affair savouring the smells, sights, tastes, and sounds of this festival through delectable cuisine (with some local restaurant booths and some food carts in attendance) - a feast for the nose and mouth - admiring the many talented artisans showcasing their homemade fare of arts and crafts - a feast for the eyes - listening (and dancing, though not yet) to great free entertainment, i.e., live outdoor bands - a feast for the ears - all in a picturesque landscape, by the ocean.

I highly recommend one of the featured movies, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Best_Exotic_Marigold_Hotel) - what a hoot! With actors including Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Maggie Smith, and Dev Patel, the latter whom you may know from Slumdog Millionaire an unusual, interestingly twisted plot-wise movie (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slumdog_Millionaire), I laughed so much during that movie! What a delightful treat!

Ok, it's BC Day (that's British Columbia Day)...I wish to go and celebrate...so off (the computer) to get ready and off I go hey ho, hey ho! ;)

How do you rest, relax, and rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul? Do you treat yourself to an occasional mini-vacation?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Last Day: Whew! (July 31st)


Photo credit: Roberto Kaplan, Roberts Creek (Sunshine Coast), BC

WOWWWWWWWWWWWWW! Finally! It's the last day of the Ultimate Blog/ging Challenge (UBC) and I am home free - thank goodness! - at last, in more ways than one! ;) (Imagine me wiping the sweat from my brow due to not only hot weather, but also finishing the UBC of blogging every day this month, for 31 days: WOW! I can't believe I did it!)

You see, even though I enjoy, actually love creative writing and reading and researching affiliated with it, I think it highly impractical, at least for me, to blog on a daily basis.

For one, it's challenging on my body. My body is meant to move, not sit or stand while typing, reading/researching online for hours on end at times. It's also not a great idea for the eyes: my eyes seem to dry out even though I attempt to blink consciously, never seemingly enough. And my body. I have been avoiding eating decent meals or eating late sometimes due to this...am I crazy or what? Don't answer that: that's a rhetorical question!

And secondly, it's summer! What am I doing spending time indoors (except keeping cool on hot days)?

Am I or was I rather crazy then to participate in this? Yes for the reasons above and no.

No 'cause I challenged my mind, my writing, and in the process, met and gained some wonderful international bloggers and friendships, not to mention read a lot of great blog posts. There are a lot of good bloggers out there! :)

Now, question is: what will I (or you if you are a UBC blogger) do with all that free time? You know, the time you used to spend reading/researching/typing/looking for and downloading pictures? I know what I will be doing based in part on my blogging and that of my fellow UBC bloggers:

*enjoy summer what's left of it(!) including in no particular order:
*attend my favourite Harmony Arts Festival by the ocean
*finish reading a fascinating (spiritually-based) book, Michael Jackson: Man Behind the Mirror by a man I know named Raamayan Ananda
*"catch up" (st least some) on reading blogs including UBC bloggers with honourable mentions to some of my newfound friends in India: Vinodini Iyer who deserves an award for her compelling and brilliant story writing/telling - love it! - and sweet Asma Ferdoes (aka Asiya)with her sensitivity shining through brilliantly in her delicate stories and poems (that I can so relate to it seems)
*listen to free live bands outside in the sun
*dance outdoors including salsa lessons

*go for walks and hug trees in the process
*attend free community events and festivals
*watch beautiful sunsets
*hoola hoop with my sturdy portable (and foldable) hoop
*sing and sun doing a vision therapy exercise
*look at the supermoon (maybe practicing trataka (something I learned while blogging)
*learn Zentangle (thanks to bloggers Minette Riordan and Laura Regan)
*clean my pile of dishes and cooking/preparing meals which I neglected most of this month (oops!)
*tidy/clean what has become my messy home (also neglected after so many days)
*hang out with my friends over iced tea or iced espresso drinks
*visit farmers markets and listen to the free outdoor entertainment
*AND hang out more on my patio whether eating, reading, zero gravity chairing! (now, that's poetic license!) ;)
*read and write my blog posts at my leisure (usually about every two weeks with my busy schedule, thank you very much)

Thank you to the organizers including Michelle Shaeffer and Kathy Hadley as well as all of you UBC members and readers. Know that I appreciate you whether I have (had the time to) read your blog or not. I hope to read more of your posts next month in between everything else! ;)

I look forward to keeping in touch with some of you through your blogs and/or social media. I already have some ideas brewing for future posts such as performance poetry, and a tribute to a woman who healed herself of cancer. ;)

How will you dear reader spend/enjoy your summer or free time (depending when you read this!)>

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Poetic License


Cast of Full House, television (TV) sitcom (1987-1995)

Poetic license refers to "the freedom to depart from the facts of a matter or from the conventional rules of language when speaking or writing in order to create an effect." (definition by Google)

This is what I was referring to in yesterday's post in terms of my thinking of a one-liner being called a 'poem.' Furthermore, I implied this in my responses to people who commented on that particular posting. Thank you, by the way, to those of you who did so and those of you who do! (I truly appreciate that as sometimes it feels like a lonely iceberg I'm sitting on!)

Now to continue on today's topic, referring to the above towards the end of this post -

In follow-up to yesterday's theme, there are also other forms of poetry which I am not as familiar with, having never written them:

Sonnets originated in Italy, though were popular in England with William Shakespeare having penned quite a number of them. Shakespearean sonnets are characterized by 14 lines in iambic pentameter, with the pattern of ABAB CDCD EFEF GG: Watch this short video (from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0aAWuUX5jU) to understand what this means before you read the sonnet below. It is rather intriguing and hope you find it the same:



Here is an example of a popular Shakespeare's sonnet: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonnet
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.- Shakespeare
Check this out for a better understanding according to one source: http://www.shakespeare-online.com/sonnets/18detail.html.

The ballad which is actually a story accompanied by music (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballad). I find it amusing that initially I couldn't think of any, and then all of a sudden I hear a tad of music in my head. I vaguely remembered the word "Fitzgerald" which led to this video featuring a well-known ballad, at least in my part of the world:



And saving the best for last, at least in my opinion. Drum roll please...

The next type of poem is one I was considering taking a workshop on earlier this year and wished I had. The night I pondered this thought, slam poetry streamed through my consciousness, though only in my brain. No written words, no spoken words, not even a microphone to record: DARN!

Slam poetry came on the scene in the 1980's and became popular in the late 1990's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poetry_slam). This next video is a pleasant surprise as I didn't know that this person performed slam poetry. Here is a delightful and funny rendition by Tom Hanks, an American actor, on the TV sitcom series, Full House:



And next, I just found this, Shane Koyczan, featured during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games - We Are More - in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia:



According to Wikipedia, there are certain genres of poetry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poetry); however, another side has identified even more genres (especially if you click on the links): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Genres_of_poetry.. Take a peek if you dare: you may be surprised to find quite a number of them.

In terms of the types of poems I mentioned today and yesterday, are you (more of) a romantic at heart who appreciates the rhythm and rhyme of sonnets? A singer who loves a good story? A rapper who has a lot to say and get off their chest? Do you identify more with the left- and right-brain challenge of a short haiku or a slightly longer limerick? Or do you prefer the spiritual soothing words in mystic poetry? Maybe you're even undecided and thus enjoy writing in combination with both prose and poetry?

So, using what we learned about styles and definitions of poetry yesterday and today, what poetic license - definition on top of this posting - can you create with the form of poetry that most tugs at your heart strings, calling you to style your own poem, whether by ink or not. ;)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Poet in You, Yes YOU!


Yesterday, I shared some spontaneous, albeit not my best poetry, and was starting to analyze and/or define it. I thought that I would save for this blog as there are variations of poems as there are poets.

Here are some I am familiar with: 'mystic poetry' (not sure the exact name though I assume this is the closest to describing poetry) from the likes of Rumi and Hafiz, former 'Middle Eastern' poets (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_East):
A poet is someone
Who can pour Light into a cup
and raise it to nourish your
beautiful parched holy mouth

- Hafiz
Tender words we spoke
to one another
are sealed
in the secret vaults of heaven.
One day like rain,
they will fall to earth
and grow green
all over the world

- Rumi
Haiku, a short and unique style of poetry that changed over time was born in Japan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haiku_in_English). I prefer this simpler interpretation better (http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Haiku-Poem). It features three lines, the first with five syllables, the second with seven, and the third with five. It is often on the theme of nature.

I have attempted haiku though it is a challenge for me. Here is one I just wrote:
First cherry blossoms
Delights both my nose and eyes
No going back now
Or how about this one I also wrote as part of this posting:
a feast for my eyes
pink petals dropping like rain
- ballerina show
There's that word "delights" again! Must like it as I also used it in yesterday's spontaneous poem.

Limericks originated in England - I thought Ireland! - with five lines: Lines 1, 2, and 5 have eight syllables and rhyme, and Lines 3 and 4 have five syllables rhyme (as in A, A, B, B, A). They are usually nonsensical and silly. The following limerick, a great example of its structure, won an Irish 'Listowel Writers Week' prize in 1998 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limerick_%28poetry%29):
Writing a Limerick's absurd,
Line one and line five rhyme in word,
And just as you've reckoned
They rhyme with the second;
The fourth line must rhyme with the third
.
And then the prose poem was birthed in 19th century France and Germany; a combination of both prose and poem (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poem.) Rainer Maria Rilke is a prose writer as well as Hans Christian Andersen, even Edgar Allan Poe!

My favourite prose poem or one of them is The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer. I am only listing the link http://www.oriahmountaindreamer.com/ for brevity's sake: see left-hand side of her website. (You may need to use control plus the button on your mouse pad to enlarge it!)

Here is my take on prose poetry, an excerpt of one I wrote in Grade 9. Yep, I'm proud of that piece of writing as I received an A+ on it!
"...The leaves murmur among themselves, bravely preparing for the coming of winter..." And a little further on I continue, "The melancholy trees moan and mourn for the loss of their leaves ... The trees shiver from the cold as they are unprotected ..."
But what is the definition of a "poem" in the first place. According to google - where else would you suggest I go? Please tell me and I'm serious about that - this is their definition: "a piece of writing that partakes of the nature of both speech and song that is nearly always rhythmical, usually metaphorical, and often exhibits such formal elements as meter, rhyme, and stanzaic structure. Synonyms: verse, rhyme, piece of poetry, song ... something that arouses strong emotions because of its beauty."

I wonder about that I have come across some - hopefully not mine - that do not necessarily evoke strong emotions or rhymes or is rhythmic for that matter.

According to wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poetry), "Poetry is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language - such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre - to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, the prosaic ostensible meaning." Well, that's a poetic mouthful. I'll let you figure out that in plain English! ;)

To be continued, with some unusual videos. ;)

What is your take on poetry? If you were a poet, would you wear any of the above-mentioned styles on your sleeve or heartstrings? If not, what is your style?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Poetry: Healing AND Delicious!


WOW! An explosion of monolithic proportions!

Those are the exact words I got intuitively as I took my first bite out of a creamy (ganache?) brownie that a work colleague made and brought in last week.

As soon as I received those words, I thought that it was a great line for a poem. I very often only get snippets, literally a line or two, sometimes even a few words that I sense is a poem or is the beginning (line) of a poem.

For example, after drafting this posting and washing my three-or-four-day pile of dishes (due to this daily blog challenge, ahem), I got these lines out of the blue: "disdain of dishes" while washing them, and "elixir of life." (And I wouldn't normally use the words "disdain" nor "elixir." By the way, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elixir_of_life as you may find it a rather interesting read.

And synchronistically amusing to me, a day or two later, someone used those exact words, "elixir of life." I forget the conversation, but it was like a "doo doo doo doo, doo doo doo doo..."" moment! Think of that in terms of the opening theme music from Twilight Zone by Rod Serling:



Hey, wait a minute?! Who said a poem can't be one line, I mean one verse? I've read a few poems by Rumi and Hafiz for instance that were one-liners if I understand correctly: "O wondrous creatures, by what strange miracle do you so often not smile?" Supposedly this is considered a quote by Hafiz. I say, why can't it be a poem: a one-liner poem?

There are types of poems that are only a few lines in length. And besides, I read a few blog posts recently where a story is told in only five sentences, imagine that! So why not a poem that is only one verse? I am a 'rebel' after all preferring to colour outside the lines. No, not in a rebelliously, angry, war-like, disastrous kind of way. That is not me at all, well, except for certain issues in the world that push my buttons.

Oh wait, that's another story or rather blog post! Ah, see where inspiration can come from? It can come as I think and/or type words on this page, I mean computer.

So here goes everything or nothing ... sometimes I like to challenge myself as I prefer to write poems when they come to me, not 'forced' out of me (similar to how I feel about writing by the way!)
WOW! An explosion of monolithic proportions
this orgasmic sensation on my tongue
delights my lips, my mouth, my throat, my tummy
hmmmmmmmm, yum, yum, yum
Ok, that was a short poem of whatever kind. My on-the-spot version.

Then a little later, I changed it slightly to read as follows:
WOW! An explosion of monolithic proportions
this orgasmic sensation on my tongue,
my lips, my mouth, my throat, my tummy
delights me
hmmmmmmmm, yum, yum, yum
Do you like to read and/or write poetry? What do you like to read and/or write about? Do you have a favourite poem and/or a favourite poet? If you write them, do you have a particular style? How do you get inspired or where do you get your inspiration from? I know, I know...so many questions! I'm a curious lot, what can I say. I like to learn, even from you the reader! ;)