Sunday, April 28, 2013

Celebrating Art

I’ve just come home from the Moonbeam Art Festival and feel inspired!  What a beautiful display of local talent: photography, drawing, painting, sculpture, soap stone, wood….  This is the 11th year for the festival honouring one of its founders, the late Mary Weymark Goss. 

Mary, and other co-artists have been instrumental in the lives of local youth, including both of my children.  Many “older” artists say how difficult it is to “come out” and display their art.  One of the goals of the Moonbeam festival is to encourage children to display and take pride in their creativity.  This is part of giving children a healthy start in life.  There were many drawings and paintings proudly displayed by child artists this week.
Much scientific research speaks of the effectiveness of using art to help children express inner feelings.   When words loose their meaning, new studies are examining the positive effect of art on  people with Alzheimer’s .  Young and old, art has a positive effect.  It creates therapeutic feelings in the right hemisphere of our minds and eases the effects of depression. 

 I took a drawing class last winter given by a local artist.  Having been publicly displayed in high school for my lack of artistic ability ( the teacher made fun of my elk drawing in a science class)  it was a real challenge to believe I could produce something worth looking at. The greatest gift Josee gave me in the drawing class was the confidence and the ability to relax and feel positive about drawing.

How wonderful it was to see art commemorated this week, and to remember how art influences our right mind.  It re-minded me that I need to take more time to keep myself healthy, and who knows, perhaps I’ll even display next year?  Maybe I should even try to draw another elk?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Justin Trudeau's Roots

The attacks and subsequent deaths at the Boston Marathon this week are truly alarming.   As with any other horrendous event, comment is always sought from our government.
Harper quickly responded condemning the acts.  He assured Canadians that such events on our soil would be treated as harshly as possible. As the newly elected Liberal leader, Trudeau’s comments and nuances were clear that a culture of fear and mistrust and terrorism cannot be tolerated. 
In response, Harper took the opportunity to condemn Trudeau’s comment which further suggested that “root causes” should be examined.Two different reactions, neither, in my opinion condoning terrorism.
Harper is swift to punish that is clear.  However, he missed a huge opportunity which appears not to have even occurred to him; however, I’m not surprised.  While he’s too politically savvy to not openly condemn persons with mental illness. However, Bill C 54  (to prevent  what he considers to be the early releases of individuals that were deemed mentally ill at the time of violent crimes) in my opinion discloses his prejudice to those who have mental illness.
What Harper missed was the opportunity in Trudeau’s comment:  "We don't know if it was terrorism, or a single crazy, or a domestic issue or a foreign issue…”
”A single crazy”….what does this mean?  Versus multiple crazies?
Really Justin.   Did you mean that it might have been a person with mental illness?   Do you not know that people with mental illness are no more aggressive than people without mental illness?  Do you not know that “crazy” is a verbal stigma used regularly to describe people with mental illness?
 I am amazed that, having a mother who has Bipolar disorder and who is such a keen activist in promoting understanding about mental illness, you could be so ignorant.  So ignorant, in fact, that you could rationalize an active of terrorism in such a way with such a root cause.
Justin, have your forgotten your roots?


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Our children: an International report card

What a week it has been.  It seems that only days ago we heard of Amanda Todd, a young teenager from B.C. who died by suicide.  This week, in Nova Scotia, Rehtaeh Parsons has also died by suicide.  From coast to coast our youth are dying due to bullying, which in both cases involved sexual assaults and abuse through the internet.
On Wednesday, UNICEF announced Canada’s ranking on the quality of lives of Canadian children when measured against the lives of children in other rich countries. Of 29 countries, Canadian children placed 24th when reporting overall life satisfaction. Rates of bullying placed our children 21st.
Our children ranked 16th in behaviours and risks   Our older Ontario “youth” are being linked to terror investigations including Mujahid Enderi, who goes by the more common name of  “Ryan”.
It is so easy to get discouraged looking at these stats, and while the public’s concern to have Rehtah’s case reopened creates some hope, what can we do on a day to day basis to help our children?
We know that praising our children is a key to positive child development.  However, a recent study; suggests that how we give praise can have a major impact.
At the University of Chicago and Stanford University, 53 children were followed for 5 years.  They learned that a key to success is to encourage the child’s efforts rather than just the child.   We should be telling our children that they tried really hard vs. the fact that the child is so smart.
 It’s easy to get discouraged considering this week’s news.  Obviously in regards to raising our children we are not so smart but we can encourage each other’s efforts to make improvements in our children’s lives. Let’s try really hard!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Flower Power

My daughter surprised me with a beautiful bouquet of burgundy coloured freesias, which she delivered to me at work this week, along with a kiss. I have been surprised and spoilt with fresh flowers, either handpicked in the wild or purchased, from the time my children were little.  Each bouquet has been equally important to me. As  I enjoy the  flowers and her thoughtfulness, it got me to thinking about the effect flowers have. Activists during the 1960’s wore flowers and chanted “flower power” to promote peace.  Do flowers really have that power?

Park and Mattson in 2008 confirmed that hospital patients recover better with flowers.   They need less pain medication, have better blood pressure and pulse rates, and have a better sense of wellbeing than patients who do not have flowers.
In the flower country of Holland, Wagengen University researchers have also proven that people eating in restaurants having tables with fresh flowers are in better moods.
But is it important to have flowers at home or work?  A fresh study done by Dr. Nancy Etcoff, Harvard University, says that flowers in the home or office create long lasting feelings:
Being in the presence of flowers creates a feeling of compassion towards others.  Putting flowers in your home encourages feelings of wellbeing and chases away worries…and these feelings carry over into our mood at work!
I routinely carry my watering can from the office kitchen down the hall to my desk and I sometimes sense that my coworkers feel my obsession with plants is a little “over the top”.   However, researchers Raanaas, Evensen, Rich, Sjostrom, and Patil determined that the brain power of employees is better in workplaces that have plants (regardless of whether they are flowering). 
Who knew, other than perhaps florists, that they are so good for business!  Now I also feel some satisfaction in knowing that flowers are good for the body, soul and mind.  There really is truth to “flower power”.  Enjoy, it really is simple.