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I am responsible for anything I have written. However, where I reproduce contributions from other people, I do not necessarily endorse their opinions. I may or may not agree with them, but give them the courtesy of a forum.
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Please read this
Forest Fighter in Kindle and Nook
If you send me proof of purchase, you have earned a free copy of any of my other titles available in an electronic format. You can make your choice here.
What’s more, I hope you will write a review too, for any book of mine you have enjoyed.
Cycling around Australia
No, I wasn’t the one. Journalist Greg Foyster and his friend Sophie had the adventure. Their project was to interview people committed to environmentally sensitive living. This resulted in a recently published book, Changing Gears: A Pedal-Powered Detour from the Rat Race.
They came to Moora Moora, and I was one of the people Greg interviewed.
Guided imagery CD, reduced price
When I was working, I sold one or two of my guided imagery CDs to my clients each week. That outlet is gone, but I still have maybe 500 CDs left. So, instead of selling them for $20 plus postage, I decided to offer them for sale for $15, postage free within Australia.
An example of insanity
Climate change leads to poor snow at skiing resort.
Responses to past issues
I always love getting Bobbing Round and congratulations on your new book!! This issue was your best ever!! I thank you for finding and printing the truth. I especially liked the article about the scientists who were trapped in Antarctica. I had no idea of the extent of their preparation.
Please continue to do what you do. I look forward to reading everything.
Barbara is a multi-published author with her heart in the right place: profits from one of her books go to cancer research. Having been a teacher, she mostly writes for “young adults.”
I really enjoy your articles. I think I am on the “same wave length”!
We are now on our fifth year of “Painting for the planet and last year we focussed on “Rescuing the Reef.” Each year we have had an end of year Art Exhibition and concert and they are always well attended.
The students (all post graduate Research students) are usually beginner artists but produce amazing work. We sell some of the paintings and give the money to the Koala Foundation. Six of my paintings sold in November!
Thought I would just catch up. I am still working at QUT and running my private practice.
Hope you are well
Here is a student painting from the UN International Year of Forests:
And this photo is of 3 characters from my play “Playto for the Planet.” they are Gaia (in green) Cassandra in drag ( forecasting doom) and Nemesis the Goddess of revenge promising that we would get our come-uppance. It was played out around a ouija board and was a lot of serious fun!
Elizabeth is a comrade in arms from when I was on the National Executive of the College of Counselling Psychologists. She is a marvellous lady with many passions, and, while I don’t know if she still plays basketball, she did so when well over 70.
Climate and vaccine deniers are the same: beyond persuasion by Professor Clive Hamilton
Can we be sued for climate change?
Climate and vaccine deniers are the same: beyond persuasion
by Professor Clive Hamilton
This amusing and incisive essay appeared in The Conversation. According to Clive, an article in Nature debunked the then very vocal anti-immunisation campaign, aimed at discrediting smallpox immunisation. Now, we all know that works, but a small, vocal and irrational group still considers immunisation in general to be ineffective and dangerous, linking it to all sorts of conditions on the basis of anecdotal evidence, ignoring the many controlled studies proving otherwise.
He contrasts general reactions to this with the way people in all walks of life, including those in positions of power, react to evidence on climate change.
Well worth reading.
Can we be sued for climate change?
Chris Huhne, writing in the Guardian, reports that it is more than likely. Poor countries now affected by climate change are gathering evidence to seek compensation from the perpetrators: countries that have long benefited from industrial activities. That means you and me.
4 Hiroshima bombs worth of heat per second
by John Cook
This is the best essay I have seen about the reality and current scope of climate change. It is easy to understand, is illustrated by convincing diagrams, and is based on impeccable evidence.
You owe it to yourself to read it.
Direct, observed evidence that warming now is unprecedented
One kind of climate change denial is “Yes, the planet is warming up, but this is not caused by us humans. It is just part of natural variation.”
This is nonsense. What we are experiencing now is way beyond what is caused by natural variation, and in fact the Sun is currently in a phase of its activity that is usually associated with cooler temperatures.
All the same, it’s great to have direct evidence that Arctic summers now are warmer than at any time in the past 44,000 years.
The ecology knows no borders
a recent study has demonstrated that a considerable part of air pollution on the western states of the USA comes from China. Given the global westerlies, this is not surprising, but nice to have it scientifically validated.
Report from the Philippines
Greetings from the Philippines, where I’ve been working as part of the ActionAid team in the aftermath of the devastating Typhoon Haiyan.
As we begin a new year, I want to let you know what a difference hope has made to people who lost their homes, and in many cases, their friends and families.
Recently I met a 17-year-old girl named Shonalle. She told me of the friends she had lost, the fear that the typhoon brought with it, and of the nights she and her family spend without a roof over their heads.
But the thing she said with the most passion — the thing that affected me the most — was this:
“We have gotten food and clean water and my hope has started to return. We lived through this. We can rise again, but we need support to do this.”
People here hold onto hope with a determination that has to be experienced to be believed. In the town of Ormoc, I spotted a sign that had been painted onto a building. It said: “Roofless, homeless but not hopeless. Bangon [rise] Ormoc!”
ActionAid supporters have helped over 32,000 typhoon survivors like Shonalle to get essential supplies and to organise themselves in the wake of the typhoon. There’s still so much more to do, but I know that with this amazing spirit of hope, we will be able to help these communities rise again.
With my very best wishes for the New Year,
PS: By reading and sharing this email, you’re helping ActionAid to provide vital, life saving supplies and services and give people like Shonalle hope in the wake of a terrible disaster. Thank you!
Norway divesting from coal
Norway’s $US817 billion sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, has halved its exposure to coal producers, with most of its remaining interest in the sector in Chinese companies, its chief executive said on Tuesday.
Read the Reuters report at The Business Spectator.
It seems that the divestment would be more thorough except for political considerations, not wanting to tread on Chinese toes too heavily.
Eco crime punished
Dear friends of the rainforests,
We received some good news from Indonesia: A court has sentenced a palm oil company to pay a high penalty. The trial was also made possible by 10,000 Euros in donations from Rainforest Rescue as well as 50,000 protest mails.
The court in Aceh in northern Sumatra sentenced the palm oil company PT Kallista Alam to a pay about 9.4 million US dollars due to the illegal slashing and burning of 1,000 hectares of swamp forest, as well as 21 million US dollars for reforestation of the destroyed ecosystem. This is also good news for the last remaining Sumatran orangutans: the affected swamp forest of Tripa is the habitat of a large population of these now rare apes.
Meet the World’s Largest Rooftop Farm
Care2.com has reported on a New York project that should be copied everywhere.
The Brooklyn Grange Farm covers 2.5 acres of rooftops, and expanding. The range of excellent projects is astonishing. If all cities were like this, they would become livable spaces.
GMO can be torture in the name of efficiency
These poor birds are genetically modified to be without feathers. Saves so much money, not having to pluck them…
Neuroscience as a basis of philosophy
Narrating the Brain: Investigating Contrasting Portrayals of the Embodiment of Mental DisorderHess, J. Z., Gantt, E. E., Lacasse, J. R., & Vierling-Claassen, N. (in press – 2015). Narrating the brain: Investigating Contrasting Portrayals of the Embodiment of Mental Disorder. Journal of Phenomenological Psychology, Volume 46, Issue 2
If you don’t mind reading scholarly writing, you will find this PDF document informative and enjoyable:
It is a discussion of the plasticity of the brain and even the genome, the complex way biological and environmental influences interact, and the implications of this for mental illness, and behaviour generally.
“Once the body and brain are seen as dynamic entities that change over time and in concert with an individual’s choices, social relationships, and physical environment, the nature and meaning of the physiological in mental disorder can be seen to be much more complex and nuanced than has usually been assumed. Rather than being simply the source of isolated and fixed causes, the physiological comes to be seen as a companion to the environmental, to matters of lifestyle, cognition, and social relationship — without any one direction of necessary or superior influence presupposed.”
Do You Think Like a Bee or a Fly?
by Michael Michalko
If you place in a bottle half a dozen bees and the same number of flies, and lay the bottle down horizontally, with its base to the window, you will find that the bees will persist, until they die of exhaustion or hunger, in their endeavor to discover an issue through the glass; while the flies, in less than two minutes, will all have sallied forth through the neck on the opposite side.
Scientists believe that it is the bees’ knowledge of light; it is their very intelligence that is their undoing in this experiment. They evidently imagine that the escape from every prison must be there when the light shines clearest; and they act in accordance, and persist in what seems to be a logical action. To them glass is a supernatural mystery they never have met in nature; they have had no experience of this suddenly impenetrable atmosphere; and the greater their intelligence, the more inadmissible, more incomprehensible, will the strange obstacle appear and the greater will be their persistence to penetrate the bottom of the bottle.
Whereas the feather-brained flies, careless of logic, disregarding the call of the light, flutter wildly, hither and thither, hitting the bottom and walls of the glass through trial and error until they find the opening to freedom. It is by pursuing every imaginable alternative that the flies escape while the bees perish because they believe the light is the only way out because, after all, generations of bees were successful following the light. Here, the good fortune that often waits on the simple, who find salvation where the wiser will perish because they feel there is only the one way they know.
The bees in the experiment remind me of the paradox of expertise. It seems that the more expert one becomes in an area of specialization, the less creative and innovative that person becomes. The paradox is that people who know more, see less; and the people who know less, see more. Apple Computer Inc. founder, Steve Jobs, attempted without success to get Atari and Hewlett-Packard interested in his and Steve Wozniak’s personal computer. As Steve recounts, “So we went to Atari and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we’ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary; we’ll come work for you.’ And their experts laughed and said, ‘No.’ So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, ‘Hey, we don’t need you. You haven’t gotten through college yet.”
What is it that freezes the expert’s thought and makes it difficult to consider new things that deviate from their theories? Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., thought the idea of a personal computer absurd, as he said, “there is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” Robert Goddard, the father of modern rocketry, was ridiculed by every scientist for his revolutionary liquid-fueled rockets. Even the New York Times chimed in with an editorial in 1921 by scientists who claimed that Goddard lacked even the basic knowledge ladled out daily in high school science classes. Pierrre Pachet, a renowned physiology professor and expert, declared, “Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.”
It seems that if an expert experiences any strain in imagining a possibility, they quickly conclude it’s impossible. This principle also helps explain why evolutionary change often goes unnoticed by the expert. The greater the commitment of the expert to their established view, the more difficult it is for the expert to do anything more than to continue repeating their established view. It also explains the phenomenon of a beginner who comes up with the breakthrough insight or idea that was overlooked by the experts who worked on the same problem for years. Think, for a moment, about Philo Farnsworth who invented television when he was twelve years old while he was working on his father’s farm.
We are educated to think reproductively like the bees in the experiment. Whenever we are confronted with a problem, we fixate on something in our past that has worked before and we apply it to the problem. If it does not work, we conclude it’s not possible to solve. The flies resemble productive thinkers as they fly hither and thither exploring every possibility and, through trial and error, find the way to safety. The lesson to us is to always approach a problem on its own terms and to consider all alternatives including the least obvious ones.
Michael Michalko produces an endless stream of these wonderful essays on creativity.
IVF failed… oh good!
Please read Claudia Connell’s account of her expensive journey along the IVF route, and how she came to realise that she actually doesn’t want to have a baby. I’ve had clients with similar experiences.
There are a great many good reasons for choosing to be childfree. Some of them are “selfish,” in that the different path of having no kids of your own can have many material and practical benefits. Environmentally, the best thing you can contribute to humanity, and to the other life forms of this planet, is to refuse to contribute to the cancer of overpopulation. You can still give love to children if you want to — those born to others, existing in unfortunate circumstances.
However, adopting a child from a poor country is environmentally as bad as producing one of your own. The main damage is being done by people in the over-developed parts of the world, not by the starving millions.
OK, enough of my commercial. Go and read Claudia’s story.
Call to reverse the greed that’s killing us
Daily Kos has reported a call by Oxfam to start correcting the gross inequality of wealth. I doubt that the billionaires will listen, but this project deserves your support.
As any regular reader of Bobbing Around will know, my mantra is culture change, from greed and conflict to compassion and cooperation. It is our only chance for survival.
The evidence for needing 20 sessions of therapy
from Dr Ben Mullings
When Medicare for psychological services was established in Australia in 2006, it provided funding for 12 sessions, with 6 more “in exceptional circumstances.” Unfortunately, this has been cut to a wholly inadequate 10-session maximum. In the essay below, Ben presents the evidence for reinstating the original, if not a couple more. It would be highly cost-effective to do so.
There are many reasons to re-establish better Medicare support for mental health care at around the 20 session mark (rather than just 10 visits as it is now).
First, we need to recognise the need for Medicare support in the first place. Here are a few facts in point form that show the great need for affordable mental health care including psychological therapy:
- Mental health conditions are ranked as one of the highest causes of disability and premature death worldwide. Meta-analytic research conducted here in Australia [PDF] has shown that mental and substance use disorders were the leading cause of non-fatal illness worldwide in 2010. Depression accounts for the majority of the burden of disease in mental health (40.5%) followed by anxiety disorders (14.6%).
- The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reports from 2012 highlight that “there is a high rate of comorbidity between different mental disorders and between mental and physical conditions — about 1 in 9 Australians aged 16–85 have a mental disorder and a physical condition concurrently” (page 273). That is, many people who struggle with depression, anxiety, and other common mental health conditions also struggle to cope with other health problems that require medical care.
- The Australian Bureau of Statistics calculates that the cost to our economy from lost productivity and labour force participation is $20 billion each year due to mental health disorders. The financial impact of living with a common mental health condition often results in a person being less able to work and therefore more in need of support from Medicare, for both medical and psychological care.
Second, the research has repeatedly shown now that psychological care is effective. There are two main levels of evidence which directly come to bear on this point. The main body of research most people are familiar with are randomised clinical trials (RCTs), which are studies where we test whether a specific form of treatment can significantly reduce the target symptoms of a specific disorder. These types of study have been replicated worldwide with remarkable consistency, showing that for the vast majority of mental health disorders it is recommended to provide people with access to at least 15 to 20 appointments. I have summarised these studies for the most common mental health conditions. Note that this webpage contains hyperlinks which allow you to check our sources.
The other level of research evidence that comes to bear on the efficacy and effectiveness of psychological care are dose-response studies. In a dose-response study, we look at how many doses of a treatment are required to reach a point where a person recovers. In such studies, the participants must fill out symptom severity tests every session, to track the improvement of the sample with a view of a significant majority showing positive change. As with RCTs, the dose-response studies also reach similar findings across the various research groups worldwide, pointing to the need for us to offer 20 sessions in order for 85% of people to show a clinically significant improvement. Here is a summary of these studies in a PDF document.
Third, it is important to consider the value of investing mental health funding in the Medicare system, rather than directing that funding to other services. The most critical factor here is that Medicare reaches more people than any other service by a very large margin. To give you a sense of the scale, each year Medicare delivers psychological care to over 500,000 people, which is 10 times as many people in real human terms as the ATAPS program. At the start of 2013 when Medicare sessions were cut from 18 down to 10 visits, the rationale was that the funding would be rediverted to ATAPS to meet the need. Despite attempts to target ATAPS to disadvantaged groups, the reach of Medicare is so vast by comparison that it still reaches over 8 times as many people who are identified as living in the most disadvantaged areas. As a case in point, across the first 6 months of 2013, Medicare provided psychological care to more men than ATAPS has reached in an entire decade.
Part of the problem is the cost of ATAPS to run. Reports completed by the Australian National Audit Office show a routine loss of 25% of all funding to ATAPS being spent on administration rather than psychological care, resulting in some cases where each session costs over $500 to provide. The most recent figures cited by the Department of Health and Ageing show that even after the funding boost to Medicare Locals offices, the cost of psychological care was $469 per appointment under the ATAPS system in the 2013 financial year. By comparison, to provide the same services in Medicare costs between $85 and $125 per appointment. We should also spare a thought for the fact that it costs us approximately $1000 per day for a single night of mental health care in a hospital setting.
There are other important reasons to support Medicare as the main system to deliver psychological care. Where other programs such as ATAPS differ from region to region, the Medicare system is nationally consistent. That means the public can expect a basic level of care from Medicare wherever they live in Australia. The implications are that people in the general community can assist each other to get help when they need it and GPs can more easily understand how to refer people to psychological care. As it currently stands, there is confusion from the public about where to get help and many GPs have given up referring to other programs due to inconsistencies, exclusion criteria, and long waiting lists for other programs. You can read about some of these reports.
Ben is a psychologist with an interest in mental health care policy and a long time campaigner for better access to psychotherapy in Australia. He is a strong advocate for Counselling Psychology, and even more for the rights of those who need the services of a psychologist.
Interview on mental health
My friend Alfredo Zotti has interviewed me on matters dear to his heart: the welfare of people with so-called mental disorders. If you have any interest in such issues, you’ll want to visit his blog.
Never there father
When I was a baby my father and mother had my brother when they were still teenagers. Two years later they decided to have me. A year after my birth my mother finds out my father was cheating so they separated.
For as long as I can remember my father has been in and out of my life. Mostly out. He was in prison for a good part of my childhood. And when he was released, he tried to maintain a relationship with me and my brother. He always told me I was his favorite, and truth be told he was mine. Me and him got along so well and he made so happy.
I didn’t realize how bad of a father he was until I was older because I was blinded by false lies. He was in an out of our lives until the age of 9. Then me and my brother would go and visit him every weekend. That continued for a year, until he decided he’d rather move far out of state to live elsewhere. And of course he left us behind. A year later we went and visited him, we went back a year after that, both times, horrible experiences for both me and my brother.
The third time, my 15 year old brother had given up on him as a father and I went by myself. He was terrible. Considering I was his only daughter, I figured me and him would be spending a lot of time together that summer. But it turns out he had gotten a girlfriend and had grown fond of her kids. After two weeks he sent me home. Because I was tired of being left out and at that house by myself.
After he sent me back all communication was cut. No phone calls. Nothing. He tried a few times to regain a relationship by making fake promises. But like always he stopped talking to me. I sometimes wonder if it’s because he feels embarrassed. Or ashamed. But he hasn’t talked to me in over a year. And it has hurt me so much. Sometimes I creep on his Facebook because I miss him. And all I see is him with photos of his better step daughter. Saying all this wonderful stuff about her. And I just end up getting hurt worse. It has gotten to a point where it’s hard for me to show my true emotions to people. I feel like a rock. How can I let go of this pain?Dear Agnes,
Of course you feel hurt. Who wouldn’t, in this situation? What I pick up at the end of your message, though, is that you feel no good, putting yourself down because your father seems to give this other girl the love he has never really given you.
I don’t think that his choice says anything bad about you at all, for two reasons.
First, through your description I see a stupid sort of a guy. Why did he go jail? Because he broke the law, then got caught. Why did your parents’ marriage break down? Because he made a promise to your mother when they got married, and didn’t keep his word. Why did your brother reject him? Because he didn’t know how to be a father. So, are you going to bash yourself up on the basis of the behavior of a person like that?
Second, he has a new woman. He wants her favors, wants to be in her good books. I reckon that falling all over himself saying nice things about her kids is just his attempt to butter her up.
Besides, you only know what he writes in places like Facebook. Maybe it’s a pack of lies. After all, he’s been caught in lies before. You actually don’t know what goes on in their home.
And he is likely to act true to pattern. Give him a few years more, and his new lady will catch him out cheating on her, then the whole nasty tragedy will repeat.
Every cloud can be given a silver lining. However much this rejection hurts, you can use it to shape your life into decency and contentment.
When you choose a boyfriend, and perhaps a partner, judge him by comparison to your father. Before you commit to a guy, ensure he is the opposite of dad in every important way: decent, honest, loving, truthful, reliable. Look in the mirror each and every morning, and tell yourself that you deserve a good life, and will make choices to bring it about.
Also, you and your brother can use your father as a negative role model: how not to be. Talk this over, and design the way you will live and act for the rest of your lives. Then, instead of spreading hurt and pain, you can spread love and kindness.
That’s what the world needs: workers for the light. Be one.
I can’t support them all any more
I’m 15 yrs old and I’m having too much pressure on me to make people happy. My dad has bad multiple sclerosis and my mum has had an operation on her arms so I’m his main carer. Also my mum said she wants to divorce him, my sister has just gone to uni really far away. My neighbour who doesn’t have any family or friends just me told me he might have cancer again, my best friend cuts and another is anorexic and they haven’t told anyone else but me and I have all my gcses coming up and I can’t cope with it anymore. I’m watching my dad get worse every day in front of my eyes and I can’t do anything about it. I’m tempted to just kill myself so everything will just go away I don’t know what’s wrong with me.
I don’t know what to do?Ricki my dear, you are carrying the whole world on your shoulders, aren’t you? Even most adults would be overwhelmed in your situation, and you’re only 15, and need to study for your exams…
At the same time, I see a strong positive. Why do those two suffering friends turn to you and no one else? Why does your neighbour use you for support? I suspect, you are one of those rare people called natural healers. When you have got through this period in your life, when you are choosing a career, I hope you opt for a caring profession: psychologist, doctor, nurse, child support worker, something like that. Because you have a natural talent, and a gift.
Why are you surrounded by all these suffering people who lean on you?
Maybe it’s not an accident. Here is a bit from my latest book, “Ascending Spiral:”
“You see, a person is like a diamond. Put some coal into a place of great pressure and heat, and it becomes the hardest jewel known. A person is like steel. Put iron in red-hot coke and blast it with oxygen for nine hours, then drop it, red hot, into cold liquid, then heat it again, and you have hardened and tempered steel.”
Maybe, like me, like the person in my novel, you are being shaped into the strong person who will have the power to heal hurt, to change the hopelessness of others into inner strength. How else can you do that except by experiencing hopelessness yourself?
So, please live. You have a future, a role, a wonderful potential for doing good.
All the same, this time in your life is overwhelming. Let me share with you my most useful tools for coping with anything, even the worst things that can happen, even with a situation like yours. I did not invent these tools, and they took me a long time to learn, but even knowing about them can be helpful.
The first tool I learned during nurse training. A nurse is told, “It’s not your pain. You’re not there to share it, but to relieve it.” I have extended this for myself: “It’s not my pain. I am not there to share it. I am not even there to relieve it, but to empower my client to relieve it.” Think about how you can apply this logic to your various “clients.” For example, the girl who cuts and the one who is anorexic can make changes in their lives beyond leaning on you for support. They could seek therapy, which by the way has a good chance of success. In Britain, access to a psychologist is free. With your neighbour, you can continue to be a support, but also encourage him to seek other sources. Cancer is partly due to a state of mind (and many other things), so, if he can apply the next tool I am about to describe, he might surprise himself. Even with your father: his pain is not your pain. You are there to help him to live the best possible life, for as long as it goes on. It is possible for him to experience bad multiple sclerosis, and yet to have peace in his heart and contentment and even joy. Maybe you can lead him to this.
The second tool is the most powerful way of thinking in the world. It is a message from all the great religions, although you can use it without believing in any religion. This is acceptance.
Some people have terminal cancer, and they experience a “spontaneous remission:” the cancer mysteriously goes away. One such person is a wonderful lady called Petrea King. She has written several books, any one of which will be an inspiration for you, and a great help to your neighbour, father and mother. At 32 years of age, a doctor told her she wouldn’t see the next Christmas. She is now 70, still going strong, and has helped tens of thousands of people like your father and neighbour.
The secret is to do both sides of a paradox. First, I do the best I can do improve my problem. At the same time, this effort will not have immediate success, and may fail altogether. In the meantime, I can simply accept the problem.
Say I have a bad headache. I can take some painkillers, and they may reduce the pain in 20 minutes. Or maybe they won’t. In the meantime, I can improve the quality of life by simply accepting that there is an uncomfortable sensation in my forehead. It’s there, so what. It probably won’t kill me, and if it does that’s all right too (this usually makes me and others laugh). Pain = discomfort + emotion, and if I stop the emotion, then I am not suffering, not in pain, just have an uncomfortable sensation. As long as I accept it, I can have a headache, and also peace in my heart.
Sometimes I can’t manage this. Then yes, I am hurting. Fine. Then I accept that, for now, I am hurting. It’s OK to be hurting, so what. That means that I am in pain and simply accept it, so there is no need for despair.
And sometimes I can’t manage that (nowadays this level doesn’t happen for me, but it used to, lots of times). Then, I am in despair: the tone of your letter. I can’t stand it, what’s the point of living like this, I’d be better off dead. Then, if I remember, I can simply accept that, for now, I am in despair. It’s OK to feel like that. And when I accept it, I can carry on.
This pair of attitudes: doing my best to improve the problem, while at the same time completely accepting it, can lead to wonderful changes, although there are never any guarantees. People who do both have a chance of reversing incurable cancer. They have a chance of halting the progression of a disease like MS. And even if the disease eventually wins, in the meantime they can live in contentment and even joy.
The third tool is meditation. If your father and your neighbour engaged in regular, extended meditation of any kind, they would find themselves living a lot better a life. Same for you.
My dear, your problems are serious and you have been at collapse point. From now on, you can look at your life in the new way I am suggesting, and watch your world improve — even if nothing in it changes.
You are welcome to write back to me.
Love from your new grandfather,
I am a lonely high school dropout. I feel like I have nothing of not only worth but nothing to look forward to. I have never been in a relationship before and haven’t had sex either. I feel like there isn’t anything in my life to strive for, I find it impossible to get motivated for anything cause it feels like it would be a waste.
I have been trying to feel better about myself but I seem to be incapable of doing so. Is there anything I can do to help?Dear Ed,
The category you chose for your question at Queendom was “self-esteem,” and this shows wisdom. From your brief note, I cannot tell why you are “a high school dropout.” Such things are not always a result of low ability. Kids who are bullied at school over an extended time often stop being able to learn. Lots of conflict and trouble at home can do the same. You may have developed negative attitudes to school and learning, or got into the habit of using alcohol or other drugs.
If anything like this happened, then it’s not too late. Now that you are older and more mature, you can return to study, and catch up. Many others have done it. You can too.
Also, there is a wonderful saying: “There are many mountains to God, and many paths up each mountain. You haven’t so far climbed the school learning mountain, although as I said you can give it another go, but there are other mountains. You can look for something you enjoy, or can learn to enjoy, and become good at that. I know nothing about you, but examples are fixing machines, growing plants, playing a musical instrument, traveling around to see new places. All of these can be combined with earning some money, or eventually lead to a livelihood.
I don’t know if you feel upset about the way humanity is treating other animals. If I were a young man now, with no responsibilities for other people, I would offer to be a volunteer for Sea Shepherd or Greenpeace. If your interests are in other directions, fine. But find something where you can make a difference.
Part of your feeling of helplessness may be because you have been so hurt by your isolation that you don’t have any energy for anyone else. But a rule of the universe is: THE MORE YOU GIVE, THE MORE YOU GET. Strangely, by doing things that benefit others (including but not limited to humans), you will feel better about yourself.
Now for your other issue: no girlfriend, no love. It’s really the same thing: while you don’t like yourself, you will behave in ways that put others off. So, you need to ACT as if you liked yourself. Practice how to smile, look confident and strong. If you can, learn one of the eastern martial arts like judo, karate or tai kwan do, and this will give you confidence, inner strength and physical gracefulness.
When I was your age, I found girls terrifying. I decided this was a matter of lacking the skills of how to talk with them. So, once a week, I had a chat with some stranger. I tried to make it last 5 minutes, and afterward thought about it: what did I do right, what did I do wrong, how can I do it better next time.
You can also engage in such skill learning. The aim is not to get a girlfriend at first, but to become comfortable in being with them, learning to be amusing and pleasant so they will find you good to have around.
I have set you a lot of “homework,” haven’t I? Give these things a go, then you are welcome to email me.
You can do it.
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Check out your medicines
DrugNews is a medical drug information site. It currently details several dangerous drugs and will be constantly updated to provide current information about potential side effects, recalls, and more.
DDT implicated in Alzheimer’s
DDT has been banned in many countries since 1972, but people who copped it then are probably affected by it now. Also, it is still used in some places, and agricultural produce from there could bring it to you now.
My question is: what other, perfectly legal and approved substances are doing the same?
YUK: our chemical world
Climate change is only one symptom of a sick culture. Earth Focus exposes the effects of the thousands of chemicals in common use on health. This is obligatory reading, especially if you have children.
What you don’t know about uranium may kill you
Chris Busby is the Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk.
He is also the author of Uranium and Health – The Health Effects of Exposure to Uranium and Uranium Weapons Fallout. Documents of the ECRR 2010 No 2, Brussels, 2010.
His essay in The Ecologist describes its dangers if it gets into the body. It naturally attaches to DNA, then blasts it when triggered by incoming radiation. Its own radioactivity is secondary to this.
How to write a story
An English educational site offers excellent advice on how to write a short story. Clearly, it’s aimed at students required to compose an entire story during an exam, but the points offered by Steve Campsall, the author of the advice, will benefit any fiction writing, from flash fiction to the weightiest tome.
Second edition of Frugal Editor
Carolyn Howard-Johnson has sent me an invaluable resource: the revised, updated The Frugal Editor: Do-it-yourself editing secrets for authors; From your query letter to final manuscript to the marketing of your new bestseller.
One of the marketing tricks in this digital age is the elephant-size subtitle. Carolyn explains that it contains all sorts of keywords that will direct internet searches to her book.
The conventions of grammar, punctuation, clear writing and similar topics are not most people’s idea of light reading. Carolyn’s chatty style and clarity help to make such stodgy stuff more palatable.
This is not a book to read, but a reference book to study. It should be an essential part of any writer’s armoury.
A survey of readers of historical fiction
If you write and/or enjoy reading historical fiction, you will find this very competent analysis of a survey of nearly 2500 respondents to be of interest.
Self-Publishing Basics: An Unabridged List of the Parts of a Book
Mind you, I was amused to pick up a typo in this article. See if you can find it too.
Kids Like E-Books, Parents Not So Much
A report in the Huffington Post by Hillel Italie will be of interest to all those who write for young people.
“The 2010 Kids and Family Reading Report, released Wednesday and commissioned by Scholastic Inc., offers a mixed portrait of e-books and families. Around 6 out of 10 of those between ages 9 and 17 say they’re interested in reading on an electronic device such as the Kindle or the iPad. Around one out of three from the same age group say they’d read more ‘for fun’ if more books were available on a digital reader.”
What my friends want you to know
Unravelled by M.K. Tod
Two wars, two affairs, one marriage.
In October 1935, Edward Jamieson’s memories of war and a passionate love affair resurface when an invitation to a WWI memorial ceremony arrives. Though reluctant to visit the scenes of horror he has spent years trying to forget, Edward succumbs to the unlikely possibility of discovering what happened to Helene Noisette, the woman he once pledged to marry. Travelling through the French countryside with his wife Ann, Edward sees nothing but reminders of war. After a chance encounter with Helene at the dedication ceremony, Edward’s past puts his present life in jeopardy.
When WWII erupts a few years later, Edward is quickly caught up in the world of training espionage agents, while Ann counsels grieving women and copes with the daily threats facing those she loves. And once again, secrets and war threaten the bonds of marriage.
“Mary Tod’s skilful debut novel spanning two world wars deftly illuminates the subtle stirrings of the human heart as movingly as it depicts the horrors of battle. Poignant and generous, Unravelled gives us Edward, scarred by war, and Ann, alive with longing, two people bound by the heartbreaking bonds of a marriage forged in the crucible of secrets and war.” — Barbara Kyle, author of Blood Between Queens.
“Immersive, authentic and absorbing, Unravelled is a great read. Mary Tod gives us meticulously researched insights into Great War and the far-reaching effects such conflicts have on the men and women touched by them.” — Jane Johnson, author of The Sultan’s Wife.
Moreland Monthly Newsletter
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Jessica Moreland is an award-winning freelance writer, editor, designer, and public speaker. When Jessica isn’t reading, writing, editing, or designing book covers, she enjoys traveling, salsa dancing, and taking more photographs on her iphone, Nikon, and Cannon than is reasonably healthy. She lives in Vermont with her husband and two little girls.
Ned Kelly’s Son, by Trevor Tucker
Four years of research and writing have resulted in this Australian historical saga, which has uncovered a previously unknown woman, and her child to the famous bushranger.
You are unlikely to read about either of these people anywhere else: all traces of their existence seem to have disappeared. The woman was beautiful, headstrong, tough, and a visionary: indeed an unheralded heroine… and definitely not someone to ignore whenever loved ones dear to her were threatened.
Perhaps also your respect for Australia’s wonderful indigenous folk and of the brave, resourceful Chinese of this period will forever change after reading this book.
And, what do you know about the Waler horse, a magnificent, though almost forgotten breed unique to Australia?
Collins Booksellers will soon be stocking the book.
Pleasant Voyage Discovering the Invisible World by Rinaldo Lampis
Read the most advanced, practical book explaining how spirituality and invisible energies work. This book demonstrates that mind and consciousness can be present without the support of the physical brain.
Find it at Amazon.
A window on human evolution and co-creation. You can freely browse through its pages.
The Making of a Forest Fighter
reviewed by Max Overton
I have read and enjoyed other Ehvelen stories by Bob Rich, but The Making of a Forest Fighter was something different for me. Not that I didn’t enjoy it — I did, very much — but it presented me with a whole new point of view. For one thing, most of the story was seen through the eyes of Ribtol, a Doshi warrior and mortal enemy of the diminutive Ehvelen. For another, I was unprepared for the complexity of a story that combines history with fantasy in such a seamless way.
The Doshi are nomadic horsemen from the steppes of Asia, who live for fighting and conquest, and the Ehvelen are peaceable elf-like beings who inhabit the forests bordering these open grasslands. But this is no simple story of tribes of warlike thugs meeting gentle civilised people, for both societies have a complex hierarchy, set of customs, patterns of speech and religious beliefs, and both peoples display courage, humour and compassion as well as a range of human weaknesses. They are real people, well-rounded and believable.
It is to Bob’s credit that he presents both sides of the conflict in a realistic way, so one feels sympathy for the Ehvelen desperately defending their territory and way of life, and also for young Ribtol, wrestling with his insights and feelings as he accompanies his warlike brethren into battle. We encounter many things we find distasteful in Doshi society — slavery, cruelty, the oppression of women — but in the context of the times and people involved, these horrors are more than just gratuitous shocks to the system. Rather, they display the realism of life within a strongly patriarchal society. One may not like the Doshi as a people, but by the end of The Making of a Forest Fighter one has at least enjoyed the company of one young warrior as he learns to transcend the savagery of his people and become fully human.
Bob supplies a lot of explanatory detail in notes at the end, and I found myself reading this after I finished the story, and then re-reading parts to gain a better understanding of this complex and fascinating tale.
Max Overton writes in a variety of genres, including excellent historical fiction in times as varies as that of Alexander the Great, Ancient Egypt, and the Second World War.
Ascension, by Max Overton
I’ve just read the Prologue and I’m caught. This is Writing.
I’ve never thought I could have liking and sympathy for a Nazi, a member of the SS who was involved in rounding up and killing Jews during the Holocaust. Max Overton has managed to achieve this miracle. He has told the story of a good, decent man caught in the evil web of Nazi Germany, forced to do his work as a police officer in a thoroughly immoral way, gradually sucked into horrific crimes in the name of the State.
This book is not for everyone: you need a strong stomach to read the unvarnished truth of the crimes of the Second World War. However, a valuable lesson is that ordinary, decent people can be subverted by the lies of those in authority, in the way this is happening right now, in our times.
In 1971, Zimbardo published “The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil,” based on the famous Stanford prison experiment. Like his student participant “prison guards,” Max’s hero Konrad slipped into the demands of his situation. Eventually, through suffering himself, he surmounted this and chose honesty and dignity even in the face of torture and death.
So, the story ends with the triumph of good over evil, and this makes it worthwhile to read through the terrible parts. With the warning I’ve given, I can thoroughly recommend this wonderfully written book.
Dunnottar, by Janet Elaine Smith
The underlying theme, the connecting thread, of Dunnotar is the power of love, decency, loyalty.
Dunnotar is a fortress, the home of the Keith clan in Scotland. The times are tumultuous: the rule and fall of Charles 1, and at the end of the book, the return of Charles 2.
The first part of Dunnotar is based on an ethical dilemma: how do you react to feeling deep loyalty to both sides of a bitter disagreement? Members of the house of Keith feel friendship, loyalty and sympathy for King Charles, but equally, they completely reject his intention of imposing the Roman Catholic faith on Scotland. Once they have committed themselves to one side, they are loyal to the bitter end.
Most of the book is actually about the lives and loves of the three Keith men: William, his brother John and son Robert. The historical events are more a framing for this than a focus. Janet Elaine Smith hones in on the personal, the emotional, the yearnings and fears of people rather than on the action.
I found it disappointing that the last part of the story, from 1644 on, departs from this pattern, and instead we rapidly race through a series of little vignettes that report events without giving the reader the chance to be involved in the reactions of the people of the story. However, if you like history, and if you are a romantic at heart, you will enjoy this book.
A bit of fun
Have a laugh at this
The cartoon is copyright, so I’ll just post the link:
Placing an ad
The first intimation that my marriage was over came in the form of an email from Willard:
I am not coming home. Need to reveal to you, I have found true love, and am happily escaping your sour nagging and endless demands.
The children are all coping well by themselves, and I intend to be generous to you. You may have the house and contents. All I want as my part of the settlement is the three cars. Please sell them on my behalf, and I’ll send you bank account details for the money.
Wishing you a good life,
I was torn between “good riddance to bad rubbish,” and reeling from a slap in the face. On reflection, the second was closer to the truth. And he had the temerity to blame me. Of course, he found some floozy only because of my sour nagging and endless demands.
Yes, my demands were endless, because they were never met.
Willard had often bragged that the Lamborghini was worth twice as much as the house. That gave me a little idea.
You can sell anything on Gumtree. I placed the following ad:
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