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Archive for November, 2011|Monthly archive page

Smiles in Pathos & Other Poems – ISBN: 978-1-926906-16-4‏

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Religion, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on November 30, 2011 at 3:00 AM

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Nsemia Inc. Publishers announce the publication of Smiles in Pathos & Other Poems by Khainga O’Okwemba.

This is a collection of selected poems of a poet that stands on the opposite ends of his contemporaries because of his faith and reverence in the traditional forms of poetry. He is intimately Augustan in craft and romantic in idealizing the poetic forms. The poems are written in three models divided into separate books, with each book sub-themed.

In Book One we have the celebratory short poems called Poems of Homage which are inspired by the poet’s admiration of canonical African writers: Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Chris Wanjala, Peter Abrahams, Leopold Sedar Senghor, Ayi Kwei Amah, Denis Brutus, Christopher Okigbo, among others.

The Incidental poems in Book Two called Poems of Known Tradition, adopt identifiable forms; rhyme, rhythm, alliteration, repetition, stanza, terza rima, sonnet, and which take on socio-political themes.

In Book Three, we find the mock epic narrative poetry titled Pearls of Laughter. The narrative poem needs first to be enjoyed as a love story, and as a satire. Every piece has a life of its own. However, the work is well appreciated when the fragmented pieces are united into one, a feat generally admired by the poet.

‘Lord, protect me from my friends; I can take care of my enemies.’ – F. Voltaire, French Philosopher

A Beacon of Hope by Jaspher Rori‏

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, travel, Writing (all kinds) on November 29, 2011 at 3:00 AM

Nsemia Inc. Publishers announce the publication of A Beacon of Hope by Jaspher Rori.

The book starts its story from a village in Manga that had shunned education and stuck to its traditions and customs amidst the changing times. It is a village caught up in a disadvantaged position compared to its neighbours who had earlier embraced education. Education is belatedly seen as a means of escape from their misgivings: the breast milk they had all along denied their children and a breath that will give life to it.
The tale follows the lives of three people in Gusii society and the different paths taken, the encounters faced and their responses to fluid circumstances of a society in transition. Considered “beacons of hope” the three characters’ lives encounter circumstances, interwoven intersections of social change brought about by colonialism, religion and “modern” education. Clearly, no gains happen without cost: colonialism, a new religion, and associated education came at a cost for the people of Africa: loss of their culture. The stories of the characters offer askance whether modern education was worth it at all!

Letting Feelings Flow

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on November 28, 2011 at 3:00 AM

Mikaya Heart is a Minister of Holistic Healing and an author, writing books and articles on subjects as varied as lesbianism, orgasm, politics, and shamanism. My Sweet Wild Dance, which is the story of her personal journey from anger to joy, won a Golden Crown Literary Award. Her latest book is The Ultimate Guide to Orgasm for Women. She is a coach in the art of being fully alive, using shamanic methods to help her clients live in trust and access Universal energy, facilitating positive change in all areas of life. (www.mikayaheart.org)

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By Mikaya Heart

This is the last in a series of articles by Mikaya Heart on how sex can help us to understand the nature of reality, first published on cherrygrrl.com.

In the first article of this series, I mentioned that women tend to have ambivalence about allowing sexual energy to flow freely. I believe it is common for women to have a troubled relationship to sex which they don’t talk about either because they haven’t acknowledged it to themselves or because they think there is something wrong with them. Most commonly, ambivalence is manifested by lack of desire, particularly in a longterm relationship, and it can also be manifested by the inability to have an orgasm (both of which I have personally experienced). Human beings are extraordinarily different, and so what I am about to say may not apply to everyone. However, a great deal of women’s lack of ongoing desire occurs because we are trying to avoid inappropriate feelings coming up. Even if we have not personally suffered from rape or sexual abuse, that fear is deep in our cultural subconscious. So it’s understandable for women to have feelings of anger or antipathy coming up along with sexual arousal, and those who have never had this experience are fortunate. In order not to deal with the anger, we cut ourselves off from arousal; after all, it can be very uncomfortable to find yourself feeling murderous towards your lover in the middle of a love-making session. Yet the ability to feel one’s feelings, which is very much a feminine quality, is a tremendous source of power and wisdom.

Sometimes the feelings that want to come up have nothing to do with sex – but they are stored in that place deep in our psyches where we hide all the inconvenient truths that our body knows and our minds wish to deny. When the energy of orgasm rushes through our body, it reaches down into those deep places and pulls up everything that is hidden there. It may not even be an experience of a particular emotion: it may be simply such a sense of power that it’s alarming and overwhelming. If we want to step into our power on a daily basis, we need to get used to it, and we can get help by talking with our partners beforehand so that they are prepared to handle it and know it isn’t personal. Sadly, that isn’t always possible.

Feelings of any kind, apparently related to sex or not, are another form of energy flowing. The word emotion literally means moving through. Feelings want to flow, and they will flow through us fast if we allow them, but we often block them because we are afraid of them. Yet, when we learn to pay attention to them, they are a glorious source of information, telling us everything we need to know about what is true and right for each of us. This flow of feeling is often called intuition, and when we are a clear vessel (when we are no longer storing and blocking old feelings), it is a physical sensation that never lies.

Feelings are not factual, but they affect people very strongly—usually much more strongly than facts. No feelings (as opposed to expression of feelings) are right or wrong—they just are and need no justification. Trying to rationalize them (“Well, you did blah blah, so I have a right to be angry!”) is pointless, although many people do this in order to justify behaving badly because they have not been able to control the expression of an emotion. However, feelings do always arise from something, and if a negative feeling is overpowering, it’s sometimes worth finding your way back to the place or time where it first arose, in order to help to resolve it. The resolution of a feeling is always about allowing the flow of energy which manifests as the feeling. Frequently it is not even necessary to label a feeling, just let it pass.

The place where those feelings first arose is often our childhood when we were forced to try to ignore them in the process of trying to be an adult. Denying feelings requires tremendous energy in the long run (and many people deny them for many years). Holding our bodies tightly so that the feelings won’t flow is a major source of stress, and trying to block the flow is rarely one hundred percent effective, so unexpressed feelings leak out in unpleasant ways, which usually makes a person unpleasant to be around. The extraordinary thing is that even the most difficult feelings will transform, often very quickly, when they are expressed – allowed to flow, that is—and the sense of freedom that suffuses us when we do that is unparalleled. Learning to express emotions as they arise, without dumping them on others, is an important aspect of what being adult really is about. It is an art, and not an easy one to learn. Yet the importance of learning that skill–of allowing one’s body to express itself, of being demonstrative without being violent–can not be underestimated.

Once we’ve learned to pay attention to our feelings and respond to the feedback they are constantly giving us, we can take charge of our own lives, and we can choose how we react or don’t react to what is going on around us. No one is ever responsible for making anyone else feel anything. One person may facilitate certain feelings in another person, and that can be pleasant or unpleasant. If it’s unpleasant, getting out of the way is a good idea.

If the need to withhold feelings is strong enough, it will prevent us having fulfilling and rewarding sex, because a part of us wants to stop the orgasm that would otherwise open the floodgates. Allowing feelings to flow through us freely, a process that sex can facilitate has enormous repercussions: it is a huge step in the direction of leading a fulfilling and rewarding life. It’s not that sex in itself is the answer to life’s problems (although research has shown that sex can alleviate a great deal of pain and illness), it’s more that it clears away blocks to what is possible. It opens doors to an absolutely different perspective, one that is free from worries and concerns, one where we are simply and fully who we are, and that is all that is necessary. What would happen if we lived from that perspective on a daily basis? The majority of the things that take up our brain space would simply fall away. We would see with very different eyes and hear with very different ears. We would marvel at the taste and texture of a piece of bread and butter. We would spend a lot of time appreciating the beauty around us, and our judgments of what is beautiful would change radically, as we interpreted our reality from the present moment instead of from our cultural conditioning. We would operate from a place that was free of judgmental preconceptions – and that is the ultimate definition of freedom.

The Pros and Cons of Being in a Body

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on November 27, 2011 at 3:00 AM

Mikaya Heart is a Minister of Holistic Healing and an author, writing books and articles on subjects as varied as lesbianism, orgasm, politics, and shamanism. My Sweet Wild Dance, which is the story of her personal journey from anger to joy, won a Golden Crown Literary Award. Her latest book is The Ultimate Guide to Orgasm for Women. She is a coach in the art of being fully alive, using shamanic methods to help her clients live in trust and access Universal energy, facilitating positive change in all areas of life. (www.mikayaheart.org)

 

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By Mikaya Heart

This is the fourth in a series of articles on sex as an aid to understanding reality, first published on cherrygrrl.com.

Many of you may hate me saying this, but it must be said: our relationship to our bodies is of fundamental importance in terms of allowing energy to flow. Our bodies are a source of infinite wisdom which we need to learn to listen to. Most religions denigrate the body and look on bodily desires as lowly. Sex, bodies, desire: they are all thrown in the same basket, and any evolved being is supposed to be able to rise above them. But we are not physical beings trying to become beings of spirit. We are beings of spirit who have chosen physical form and are playing around with that experience. The body is the repository of all the wisdom we need in order to function well. When we try to ignore the body’s messages, doing what we think we ‘should’ instead of what the body is telling us, we will not thrive. We may survive, for a while, but we will not grow and thrive. The messages we get through our bodies are messages from life itself, from the vastness that we truly are.

Disliking and ignoring our bodies, and trying to force them to do what our intellect wants them to do instead of what they want to do, is a primary source of internal conflict for enormous numbers of women, who go to great lengths to force their bodies into a so-called acceptable mold. Many women are barely present in their bodies at all. Yet, if we are spiritual beings choosing to be in physical form, surely it is true to say that our most profound spiritual task is to appreciate, love, and enjoy that physical form.

Part of the skill in appreciating the body is in differentiating between the body’s messages and cultural influences, which can give us very limited ideas about (for instance) what is beautiful and what is right. We need to give priority to the messages that come to us through the body. But the belief systems that go along with our culture are deeply inculcated into us and are not easily dismissed. As we grow up, they become embedded into the cells of our bodies. Changing them can’t be done with the mind alone; it isn’t usually effective to think, oh, I see now that belief is very limiting, I’ll believe this instead, and then imagine it’s done. On the other hand, making the decision to change one’s belief systems is a very necessary start, and the cells of the body change all the time. We all can change our beliefs, as long as we really want to do so, and we make the decision to do so with all of ourselves, which includes our bodies.

I don’t believe it is necessary to have any concept of yourself as a spiritual being in order to be happy, but I do believe it is essential to learn to love and appreciate your body in order to be true, lastingly happy. Once again, sex is an arena where we can begin to love our bodies, since sex, whether alone or with a partner, is about being loving towards the body. Like many things in life, this is a two-way street—the more you love your body, the more you will enjoy playing within all kinds of ways, and the more you enjoy playing with your body, the more you will come to love it. Feeling loved makes the body happy, and being in a happy body is a wonderful thing. We need to practice relating to the body and figuring out what it enjoys, listening to the body’s rhythms and needs, relaxing into the body and feeling it fully, being completely present within it. When we have a whole body orgasm, the skin becomes electric, soft, receptive, radiant, vibrant. That is a happy body.

Be grateful for what your body gives you. It is an amazing organism. Start now developing a two-way relationship with your body. Talk to it, out loud if you like, and listen to what it has to say, which will often manifest as a sensation or a knowing. Your body wants to please you, but we have a tendency to give it very mixed messages: “Ooh, I really want that chocolate cookie, it will taste really good! But it’ll make me fat and ugly, and give me indigestion.” Well, now your body is really confused about how to react. If you are going to eat the cookie, don’t tell your body that it’s going to get fat and ugly and sick as a result. Tell it that you are going to enjoy eating the cookie and you want it to pass through your body easily and harmlessly. Perhaps you are allergic to milk or wheat, and the cookie really is not a good idea. So then you may decide not to have it. But truthfully, the cookie will not make you fat and ugly. You perceive yourself as fat and ugly because you are always telling yourself that this, that, and the next thing will make you fat and ugly. You may feel fat and ugly because you’re focusing on fat and ugliness. I can only say that it is essential to learn to perceive outside socially imposed and very limited ideas of beauty. Practice appreciating your body for the joy it brings you: the feel of a silk scarf, the afterglow of an orgasm, the sensuality of skin on skin, whether it be your hand on your arm, or someone else’s hand on your arm, or your hand on someone else’s arm. Appreciate the gifts of sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. You wouldn’t have any of those without your body. Yes, be grateful for what your body gives you. Notice all those things that you only experience because you have a body. And it is through the body that we are able to know truth and wisdom. Many westerners believe that wisdom is a function of the brain, but they are talking about knowledge, or information, which is quite different. Wisdom is a physical sensation of rightness, which is felt in the body. Developing an awareness of what feels right and good, versus what feels wrong and bad, is a very useful practice. Some people feel these sensations in the gut, others in the heart. It may be a sense of constriction in some other part of the body. More on that in the next article.

I am not saying this is easy. I am well aware that having a body entails experiencing pain in various forms. I personally spent a great deal of my life feeling desperately uncomfortable in my body and trying very hard to avoid all the feelings that came up on the rare occasions when I was present in my body. Yet it is the most basic aspect of the art of being human, to learn to listen to the wisdom of the body. Begin now to appreciate the gift of physicality in every small way that you can. It’s the greatest gift you can give to yourself, and a vital step on the way to being fully alive.

Working with Flows of Energy

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on November 26, 2011 at 3:00 AM

Mikaya Heart is a Minister of Holistic Healing and an author, writing books and articles on subjects as varied as lesbianism, orgasm, politics, and shamanism. My Sweet Wild Dance, which is the story of her personal journey from anger to joy, won a Golden Crown Literary Award. Her latest book is The Ultimate Guide to Orgasm for Women. She is a coach in the art of being fully alive, using shamanic methods to help her clients live in trust and access Universal energy, facilitating positive change in all areas of life. (www.mikayaheart.org)

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By Mikaya Heart

This is the third in a series of articles on how sex can help us to understand the nature of reality, first published on cherrygrrl.com

Sex not only teaches us how to allow energy to flow through our own bodies, it also teaches us how to play with and shape the energy that is flowing through another person’s body. When we make love to someone, that is what we are doing. Having sex with someone is about the art of touch, about learning to dance with another person, about learning to play another person’s body as you would a musical instrument. The energy, whether it is flowing through another person’s body or an instrument, is alive, it knows how it wants to flow, and the person who is playing the instrument is the facilitator, who must be in tune with it, in tune with its frequency.

Of course, the energy of a person has the mind of the person through whom it flows to contend with as well as its own “mind!” Human beings tend to be motivated (or paralyzed) by fear of sickness and injury, by fear of rejection by culture, family, and partner, and, in western culture at least, by fear of being a bad person and doing the wrong thing. All of these fears can prevent a woman from allowing energy to flow through her freely if she believes the effect of so doing will be contrary to beliefs she holds about what it means to be a good person. In order to allow that free flow, she must either be motivated by very strong desire which will override her fear (although perhaps leave her ridden with guilt), or she must let go of the fear and move into trusting that the energy will not harm her or anyone else. Indeed, she must believe that allowing the energy to flow will be of benefit, and therefore it is OK to stop trying to control it. In truth, the attempt to control it is always limiting—but very few of us are brought up to believe that.

My own experience is that the energy which flows through me is deeply creative and life-affirming. It apparently comes from a source that is wiser by far than my own personal mind. When I find myself caught in fear, I often think of stepping back into a much broader perspective. I breathe and relax, letting myself fall into the embrace of something much faster than this small self that exists here in physical form. And that vaster awareness never fails me, although I fully acknowledge that the necessary level of trust requires a great deal of ongoing courage because our society and most of the people around us are so deeply rooted in fear. Those influences are not easily shed. We must sometimes be willing to stand alone, adhering to a deeper sense of knowing.

Sex is a way of using the body to go beyond the body, reaching to the source of the energy I’m talking about. What’s needed to do that can’t be calculated by the human brain? It is a sense of knowing that flows through the body from inside, requiring absolute presence. That’s why books about the mechanics of how to have good sex don’t work. They can point the way, but this kind of presence can’t be taught on an intellectual level. It goes far deeper than the intellect. A very good lover can not only facilitate the energy flow of her partner but also magnify it by offering exactly what the energy needs: touching another person in exactly the right way, at exactly the right speed, being completely attuned to what is required, without any interference by the intellect. This is what a good healer does too: when someone is sick and goes to a healer (any kind of healer: a western doctor, a massage therapist, a counselor, a psychic worker) for help, it is that person’s job to free up the flow of energy. Most sickness, discomfort, pain, and disease stem from the attempt to block energy.

This being present is about paying attention and focusing. It is simply committing all of ourselves to bear on the task at hand. When the intellect (the logical mind, the brain, the mental faculties, the thinking process) is in charge and attached to the kind of beliefs I mentioned above, it gets in the way. The intellect is intended to be a tool, and a very useful one, but it is not meant to be in charge. Whereas the energy flow is life force itself, wanting only to be fully alive, the intellect is holding onto externally imposed ideas that make us try to stay in control all the time—be cool, behave appropriately, appear smart. True knowing is much greater than the brain can grasp. During sex, many women mention the need to occupy the brain in one way or another, in order to distract it while the body aligns itself to allow the orgasm. Counting and fantasizing are two common methods of distracting the intellectual mind. We must find some way of sidestepping or moving beyond the limiting effects of this too-much-thinking-about-things before we can get to a place of bliss.

Sex teaches us how to move towards a sensation of pleasure, how to turn away from distractions and focus totally on aligning our bodies so that the energy is able to flow. We can learn how to utilize that ability in many situations. The key is desire, although it is often experienced more as a determination, a sense of purpose, a drive, a feeling of rightness. Just as sexual desire makes us throw caution to the winds and give ourselves over completely, so can any kind of desire, enabling an experience of ecstasy that is not associated with the genitals at all. We often call it creativity. Any great creator (and I am talking here about many manifestations of the ability to create: writer, mother, artist, dancer, singer, athlete, builder, etc,) will tell you that it is an orgasmic experience to be able to create freely (unless, as is often true, she doesn’t want her experience to be associated with sex). Yet creativity, not something we do – it’s something that flows through us and produces a certain outcome. We lose ourselves in the process, becoming absorbed to the exclusion of all else. While this feeling doesn’t usually surge through us in an intense and all-consuming manner like an orgasm, it can still be very powerful. It becomes more of a life habit, a way of being in the world, and less of an isolated event that we seek in order to distract ourselves from the awareness that it is missing from our daily lives.

The Meaning of That Word, Love

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on November 25, 2011 at 3:00 AM

Mikaya Heart is a Minister of Holistic Healing and an author, writing books and articles on subjects as varied as lesbianism, orgasm, politics, and shamanism. My Sweet Wild Dance, which is the story of her personal journey from anger to joy, won a Golden Crown Literary Award. Her latest book is The Ultimate Guide to Orgasm for Women. She is a coach in the art of being fully alive, using shamanic methods to help her clients live in trust and access Universal energy, facilitating positive change in all areas of life. (www.mikayaheart.org)

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By Mikaya Heart

Many of us, women especially, believe that sex is primarily about another person, and that really good sex is about an experience of oneness, which might also be called love, with that other person. We tend to believe that the experience of one-ness is inextricably tied up with our partner. That can get us into a lot of trouble, since assigning the power of creating such a sensation to another person is always false. Any and every perception of reality is to do with the person who is doing the perceiving. You may be able to tune into a completely different experience of reality than the person you are standing or lying next to, and the fact that you feel a great deal of love (or one-ness) is a tribute to you. Love always flows from inside.

Love has little or nothing to do with finding a partner, whether we are married or otherwise. Many of us are terrified of living out our lives alone; we equate feeling loved with having a partner, who, of course, loves us. Yet, what are we talking about when we use this word? Don’t we more often mean compatibility and companionship? Those things are what make a relationship work on a daily basis; love does not. In fact, sometimes we really love someone and need to stay well away from that person because she or he is abusive. No amount of loving will change an abusive person until he or she is ready to change.

Love, when experienced as one-ness, is quite different from compatibility and companionship, and it has nothing to do with any other single person except insofar as someone else’s presence may facilitate our feeling it. But the presence of another person is never required in order to feel love; another person (whether a guru, a lover, a relative, a teacher, a therapist, or a complete stranger) may simply help to open doors, or rather, point to doors that are already open. The ability to recognize an open door and then have the courage to walk through it is your own qualities. Such gifts may feel that they are out of your control because the depth and breadth of awareness necessary in order to feel love is far beyond the capacity of the ordinary brain. When you are in love, you are in touch with some far deeper wisdom than anything the brain can match. And so, it feels greater than the you that is used to feeling small. We, humans, know ourselves to be very tiny and very vulnerable. Without the greater, or vaster, self – sometimes referred to as the soul – we are indeed tiny and vulnerable. We develop an unhealthy ego in order to bolster ourselves out of that place, but when we are in touch with the vaster self that we really are, the ego falls away. It has no place anymore. And then we understand what tremendous strength there is invulnerability.

The greater self, that which we truly are, makes everything possible, and when we are really in touch with it – that is, when we allow that greater energy to flow through us – then we are vast, and we really know love. That energy, that life-force, which we call love, exists outside of time and space and is therefore vast beyond our wildest imaginings. It is impossible for our brains to grasp the reality of existence outside of time and space since they dictate everything about our daily lives.

This is a world of duality: peace and war, summer and winter, good and bad, night and day. Seeing through the limits of the physical eyes and intellectual understanding, we always perceive a thing in relation to its opposite. Through that perception, love cannot occur unless there is also hatred, and good cannot occur unless it is also bad. Within what I am referring to as ‘one-ness,’ these opposites don’t occur. Within one-ness or unity, it is possible to have an experience of love that has nothing to do with hatred. The following words come close to describing it: joy, delight, beauty, peace, bliss, ecstasy. There are a number of ways to get to that place, and an orgasm is one of them. Our tendency to fixate on the person we are with when we have that orgasm is not useful. If we can have that sensation with one person, we can have it with another, and we can have it when we are alone, and we can have it without touching our genitals – although the fact remains that many of us most easily experience it through an orgasm that is sexually induced. Caught up in our daily lives, we find those blissful moments very hard to recapture. Very few of us dwell in that place for more than a few moments or think about it much at all. It would be very beneficial to practice allowing the feeling to last longer.

Clearly, sex can be a very powerful healing force: restorative, clearing, expansive, profound. Because we live within duality, sex can be used to do the opposite of healing: to alienate, destroy, pervert, and hurt people. It is a very powerful force. Many women, especially those who have grown up in cultures where fear of rape is a daily reality, are very aware of this other side of sex. Although society may tell them it’s something they are supposed to enjoy, they are understandably uncertain whether they want to get too involved with it. For some women, sex is a way of getting pregnant, and something they do because they are with someone who wants it. If they don’t enjoy it, they are very unlikely to talk about it because they think there is something wrong with them, and because there is so little support for anyone who has conflicting feelings around sex. A supportive partner can make a huge difference, as the feeling of being loved can enable a woman to be honest about what is going on. It is this feeling of being loved, and not judged, that so many of us are looking for. Genuine love is always unjudgmental and undemanding, and truthfully it is around us all the time. We need to learn how to be in a place where we can embrace that instead of being suspicious and anxious, which creates an atmosphere where the presence of love cannot be felt. We can extend that unconditional love to people we don’t know, and we can receive it from them. We don’t have to be intimate partners. We only have to be willing to offer what we want to receive.

Intimacy with another human being is a very wonderful thing, and if it includes having wonderful sex, then that is doubly wonderful. I find, for myself, that it is very easy to love someone I am intimate with – but that doesn’t mean I feel attached to that person, or have expectations of her, or make commitments to her. As we all know, it is very hard to get involved over time without having expectations. A relationship that lasts is one where there those expectations unfold easily: in other words, where there is companionship and compatibility. How long a relationship lasts, however, is never a measure of its quality. I would measure its quality by how real and honest we can both be, how deeply we can share. In one of my books, I wrote the following: “I want those three little words, I love you, to mean, ‘I see the wholeness of all that you are at this moment, and I accept you without judgment, honoring your unique infinite beauty. In this moment, my heart is joined with yours and I know that we are not separate beings. I support you absolutely in being fully who you are, even if that means that you will go away and I will never see you again.’ “

Sex and Spirit

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on November 24, 2011 at 3:00 AM

Mikaya Heart is a Minister of Holistic Healing and an author, writing books and articles on subjects as varied as lesbianism, orgasm, politics, and shamanism. My Sweet Wild Dance, which is the story of her personal journey from anger to joy, won a Golden Crown Literary Award. Her latest book is The Ultimate Guide to Orgasm for Women. She is a coach in the art of being fully alive, using shamanic methods to help her clients live in trust and access Universal energy, facilitating positive change in all areas of life. (www.mikayaheart.org)

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By Mikaya Heart

This is the first in a series of articles on how sex can help us to understand the nature of reality, first published on cherrygrrl.com

I dislike that word spirituality because it is so greatly misunderstood and unpleasantly loaded for many people. But there are things I need to say in this article that require its use, so – in the hope that I have not already lost a number of readers — let me start by defining it.

I do not mean religion; all experiences of spirituality, whether experienced in a group or not, are deeply personal, whereas religions are institutions with a certain amount of dogma. While dogma can be interesting, it rarely facilitates a deep individual understanding of truth, and it sometimes discourages the seeking of truth.

Although spirituality is based on the belief that there is much more to reality than meets the eye, it is akin to philosophy. If philosophy is a study of the nature of reality, then spirituality is a study of the nature of reality based on the premise that there is some force at work that is much greater than the physical laws we constantly see in action around us. However, that understanding varies enormously from individual to individual because the nature of reality encompasses such vastness that there are a million different paths and angles from which to view it. Very few people manage to investigate very many in one lifetime, and besides, our physical brains are not equipped to encompass and grasp the true vastness. Indeed, it might be a prescription for a person who is “spiritually advanced” that she has grasped a method of understanding that is far beyond the abilities of the brain. More on that in another article!

This greater force I have referred to above is often called “God.” I don’t use this word as it is far too loaded. If I had to define it, I would say that everything and everyone is God; it is the energy of life-force itself. Energy is everything, everything is energy, which can be more or less intense, more or less concentrated. Now let’s define spirituality as the study of the nature of reality with the basic premise that everything is manifested from energy; everything is energy in one form or another. Most of us will find that to be a concept that has been made acceptable through the study of physics. People assume that spirituality is about the study of spirit, which could be defined as that energetic part of ourselves that has not coalesced in physical form, or that is left after the physical form has died. Philosophy could be defined as questioning why energy takes a particular form in a particular situation, whereas many forms of spirituality (shamanism, for instance) are about learning how to consciously work with energy. My interest in spirituality stems from my belief that understanding our place in the cosmos and learning how to work with energy – which encompasses a huge range of activities — can make us much happier beings.

Now: sexuality. I consider sex to be a very shamanic activity because it is about working, or rather, playing with energy. It’s fair to define sex as concentrated energy which, when it flows through us, gives rise to very pleasant sensations – that might by some people be called ecstasy or bliss. You’d think from this description, that we would all want to be having sex all the time. Yet many people, women especially, have placed a lot of restrictions (conscious and unconscious) on allowing sexual energy to move freely. Is it simply socially imposed conditioning, or does it go deeper? Do we have the same ambivalence about allowing other kinds of energy to flow? I would say we do, and that is a problem we need to address, because if we want to shape energy into forms of our own choice (that’s what manifestation is) then we first need to allow it to flow. Perhaps allowing a flow of energy is not as simple as it sounds – and perhaps there is something very profound to look at there.

Ultimately, given that everything is energy before (and after) it coalesces into a physical form, the art of being in physical form is about allowing energy to flow through us and manifest in the ways we choose – coalesce into the kind of form we want, that is, whether a physical thing or an event or a particular state of mind (such as happiness). In other words, when we are really accomplished at allowing energy to flow, we choose something, and it happens. Most humans have become very adept at blocking energy flows because it can be a very alarming sensation, so intense that we are afraid of being overwhelmed and out of control. An intense orgasm, especially when we are not used to it, can be quite shocking, taking over our bodies, and shaking us from the inside out, bringing up feelings that we would prefer to ignore. All powerful flows of energy, whether sexual or not, can have this effect, and so most of us become very accustomed to blocking them. Even when the attempt to block the flow is producing very uncomfortable pains and illnesses that western medicine struggles to diagnose, we still do it because it is familiar. We don’t know how to do otherwise. Ever remember being told, “Now, don’t get carried away!” by your parents or friends? Yet that is exactly what a powerful energy flow does. Like sexual desire, it carries us away out of our staid, limited, rational personas, into a reality which – once we’re used to it and have stopped trying to resist it — is blissful, delightful, and very much removed from the average daily life.

This is what sex can teach us. In circumstances that aren’t sexual at all, allowing a flow of energy can produce sensations very similar to orgasm. When we transpose that letting go, based on a foundation of trust, into our daily lives, we can learn to let energy flow through us freely and manifest in whatever ways we choose, rather than letting it take form by default. It is our fear of the flow, not the flow itself, which causes discomfort. Sex is a metaphor for life. Learning to be an adept in the art of being human is about allowing a flow of energy, learning to remain relaxed, trusting that the outcome will be beneficial. This kind of allowing cannot be forced. It cannot be artificially induced in any way. It cannot exist in an atmosphere of lies. It is absolutely real, and we must be willing to be absolutely authentic to allow it to happen. That means, being exactly who we are, nothing less and nothing more.

[TPS] – Etobicoke Lakeshore Chistmas Parade, Saturday, December 3, 2011, Road closures‏

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Music, Pets, Religion, Technology, travel, Video Work, Writing (all kinds) on November 23, 2011 at 3:00 AM

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Toronto Police Service
News Release

Etobicoke Lakeshore Christmas Parade, Saturday, December 3, 2011, Road Closures

Friday, November 18, 2011 – 1:55 PM
Special Events
416-808-5050

On Saturday, December 3, 2011, the Lakeshore BIA will hold their annual Christmas Parade on Lakeshore Boulevard West. At 8 a.m. the parade will assemble on Birmingham Street, between Dwight Avenue to Islington Avenue, on Dwight Avenue, between Birmingham Street to Lakeshore Boulevard West, and First Street, between Lakeshore Boulevard to Birmingham Street.

At 10 a.m. the parade will proceed as follows:

Formation: Birmingham Street & Dwight Avenue, East on Birmingham Street, South on Dwight Avenue, West on Lakeshore Boulevard West and Dispersal at 3620 Lakeshore Boulevard West.

The T.T.C. streetcars on Lakeshore Boulevard West will be replaced at 9 a.m., with bus services, which will utilize the following diversion route until the parade is finished at noon:

Northbound on Royal York Road, Westbound on Struthers Street; Westbound on New Toronto Street, Northbound on Kipling Avenue, Westbound on Horner Avenue and Southbound on Brown’s Line. It will then return in the opposite direction.

The 44 Kipling South bus will return north at the Old Kipling Loop north of Lakeshore Boulevard West.

The Islington 110 Service will run the following route:

Southbound on Islington Avenue, Westbound on Birmingham Avenue, Southbound on Ninth Street, Westbound to Tenth Street, Northbound on Coin Street, Eastbound on Garnett Janes Road and return in the opposite direction.

The event will take place regardless of weather conditions. Members of the public should anticipate traffic disruptions, with local impact on Toronto Transit Commission routes.

Constable Tony Vella, Corporate Communications, for Constable Laurie McCann, Special Events Planning Office

There are no files attached to this release.

You and a Best Friend are Invited to:

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Music, Technology, travel, Writing (all kinds) on November 22, 2011 at 3:00 AM

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Making Pretend:
A Celebration of Best Friends, New Voices and the Paprika Festival
Making Pretend is something shared only between the best of friends, it is a game we play to help us grow and to help us cope with the best and worst of times. On November 27th, The Paprika Festival is bringing best friends together for a landmark occasion in a play reading of The End of Pretending to be read by over twenty female artists.

Some of the artists on stage during the night are:
Martha Ross & Leah Cherniak
Morgan Norwich & Bethany Jillard
Marjorie Chan & Leanna Brodie
Ruth Madoc-Jones & Sarah Dodd
Kanika Ambrose & Virgilia Griffith
Rosamund Small & Britta Johnson

The End of Pretending
More than ten years ago, during the trials of teenage-hood, together with Charlotte Corbeil-Coleman and Emily Sugerman wrote this unique play. Today it remains timeless for its honest depiction of young imaginations and the human ability to overcome the loss. At the Paprika Festival, it will resonate with the next generation of new voices.

Join us for some food, drink and a play reading unlike any we have devised before. This night will be an experience far beyond the low price of admission!

Sunday, November 27
Making Pretend: A Celebration of Best Friends, New Voices and the Paprika Festival
Hosted by this year’s Leading Supporter Charlotte Corbeil Coleman
Tarragon Theatre Mainspace
30 Bridgman Ave. Toronto
Reception begins at 7pm
Performance begins at 8pm
Tickets: $15 in advance or $20 at the door
TICKETS ARE NOW ON SALE
416.531.1827
http://www.paprikafestival.com

Ontario Coalition supports action on smoking in youth-rated movies

In book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Disability, Education, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Technology, Video Work, Writing (all kinds) on November 19, 2011 at 3:00 AM

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“The more YOUTH see SMOKING in movies, the more likely they are to start smoking”

May 31, 2011 @ 10:30AM

Toronto, Ontario – The Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies presented compelling new public survey results on World No Tobacco Day and cited the growing body of evidence and support from leading health organizations which include: the U.S. Centres for Disease Control, the U.S. National Cancer Institute, and the World Health Organization. According to the survey, nearly three out of four (73 percent) Ontarians said they would support a policy initiative to get smoking out of youth-rated movies.

“Research shows the more youth see smoking in movies, the more likely they are to start,” said Dr. Rosana Pellizzari, medical officer of health, Peterborough County-City Health Unit, one of the many organizations endorsing policy recommendations to remove smoking from youth-rated movies. “The public agrees that smoking in movies is a serious public health issue, especially as it relates to youth. As tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Ontario, this issue needs to be addressed.”

The survey was commissioned by the Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies, a group of significant health organizations from across the province that has come together to counter the harmful impact of smoking in movies, particularly as it targets and influences Ontario’s youth. The March 2011 survey was conducted by Ipsos Reid and is based on online interviews with a stratified random sampling of 812 Ontarians, 18 years of age or older.

Ontarians were asked, “To what extent would you support the following policy initiative aimed to reduce the impact of smoking in movies?” – Not allowing smoking in movies that are rated G, PG or 14A. Their responses:

Strongly support

45%

Somewhat support

28%

Somewhat oppose

16%

Strongly oppose

11%

“It is clear that the majority of Ontarians support getting tobacco out of films rated for youth audiences,” said Andrea Kita, co-chair, Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies and project manager, Central West Tobacco Control Area Network. “We need a change in Ontario to reflect what the public wants – no tobacco use or product placement in movies rated G, PG or 14A.”

Youth exposure to smoking by youth-rated movies is actually far more prevalent in Canada than in the United States because Canadian film review boards give movies a youth rating more often. For example, between June and December 2010, the Ontario Film Review Board granted youth ratings to 90 percent of top-grossing films, compared to just 69 percent of films receiving similar ratings from the Motion Picture Association of America.

These movies, rated G, PG or 14A in Ontario, delivered 293 million impressions to theatre audiences across the province, accounting for 87 percent of all in-theatre tobacco impressions. In theatres across the United States, youth-rated movies accounted for only 51 percent of tobacco impressions.

“There are more than 300,000 teen smokers in Canada today, and their unnecessary exposure to smoking on screen does influence their decision to smoke,” said George Habib, president and chief executive officer, Ontario Lung Association. “Preventing youth uptake of smoking is one of the most important things that we need to do for our young people and it is clear that removing on-screen smoking in youth-rated movies is a key way to do so.”

Throughout Ontario, youth groups are educating peers about how the tobacco industry has been targeting them through smoking in youth-rated movies.

“When Vince Vaughn or Keira Knightly smoke, it influences youth to do the same,” said Jordan Alexander, a 17-year-old youth ambassador for smoke-free movies. “These are our role models. The tobacco industry has had a history of paying actors to smoke and paying to place its products in movies. Whether we like it or not, this type of marketing is effective and we’re here to ensure youth aren’t recruited through the movies to be the next generation of smokers.”

For more information and access to tools to help Ontarians voice concerns about tobacco in youth-rated movies, visit http://www.smokefreemovies.ca.

Survey Results: These are the findings of an Ipsos Reid survey conducted on behalf of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, a member of the Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies. A total of n=812 Ontarians 18+ were interviewed using Ipsos’ online omnibus March 25-30, 2011. Data were weighted by region, age, and gender to ensure the sample matched the actual adult population of Ontario. The margin of error for this study is +/-3.1%, 19 times out of 20.

Boilerplate

About the Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies
The Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies is a group of leading health organizations taking collective action to counter the harmful impact of smoking in youth-rated movies. Members of the coalition include the Canadian Cancer Society Ontario Division, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, Non-Smokers’ Rights Association / Smoking and Health Action Foundation, Ontario Lung Association, Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada and the Ontario Tobacco Control Networks of Public Health Units. For more information, please visit http://www.smokefreemovies.ca.

Women Writing Letters Event-Half Available Tickets Already Reserved and Information on Donations

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Writing (all kinds) on November 18, 2011 at 3:00 AM

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Dear Friends of Gailey Road Productions:

Thanks so much for your interest in our first fundraiser Women Writing Letters! I’m happy to report that half the tickets to the event have already been reserved. If you’re interested in joining us, reserve soon at:

gaileyroad@gmail.com

Some of you have written to say that you can’t make it but would like to make a donation to the fundraiser. Your generosity is very, very much appreciated.

You can send a cheque to:

Gailey Road Productions
2181 Yonge Street
Unit 503
Toronto, Ontario
M4S 3H7

If you let me know it’s coming and I’ll keep an eye out for it.

Thanks so much for your support!

All the best,
Tara

_______________________

Join Gailey Road for an afternoon of letter reading to raise funds for Gailey Road’s next production: Ana’s Shadow.

A panel of established and up-and-coming women artists and writers will be reading their letters to “The Night I’d Rather Forget!”

NISHA AHUJA, Theatre artist, creator of Cycle of a Sari and The Besetting of Reena Virk
JULIA GRAY, Playwright, author of After the Crash
MARCIA JOHNSON, Playwright, actor, author of Courting Joanna
HOLLY LUHNING, Novelist, author of Quiver
MELISSA MAJOR, Theatre artist, creator of Infinitim

Date: Sunday, October 30, 2011
Time: 2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Place: MAJORspace @ The Art Triangle Lofts
30 Abell Street (south of Queen, west of Dovercourt on Abell)

Admission: $10.00

Reservations: gaileyroad@gmail.com Space is limited, reservations are a must!

Toronto Men’s Choir

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Music, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on November 15, 2011 at 3:00 AM

AllCalmAllBrightPoster

Media Lock-Up – CRTC to announce its decision on wholesale high-speed access services‏

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Movie Reviews, Music, Radio Podcasts, Technology, Video Work, Writing (all kinds) on November 14, 2011 at 3:00 AM

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Media Lock-Up – CRTC to announce its decision on wholesale high-speed
access services

WHEN: November 15, 2011
Lock-up: 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

WHERE: CRTC Central Office
1 Promenade du Portage, Les Terrasses de la Chaudière
Central Building, Gatineau, Quebec

OTTAWA-GATINEAU – On November 15, 2011, a media lock-up will be held from
2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Canadian Radio-television and
Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to announce the CRTC’s decision on
wholesale high-speed access services.

Any parties interested in attending the lock-up are asked to contact
Mireille Dion at mireille.dion@crtc.gc.ca by noon on November 14.
Reporters will be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement upon
arrival.

No one will be permitted to leave the lock-up before 4:00 p.m. Cell
phones, wireless handheld devices (e.g. Blackberries), pagers, etc. must
be left with the CRTC staff in the room. Laptop owners must disable
wireless capabilities prior to arriving at the CRTC. Telephone lines and
Internet will be available at the CRTC at 4 p.m.

The decision will be posted on the CRTC website at 4:00 p.m. at
http://www.crtc.gc.ca

The CRTC

The CRTC is an independent, public authority that regulates and supervises
broadcasting and telecommunications in Canada.

Reference documents:

Role of CRTC in Internet Pricing? http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/INFO_SHT/t1042.htm
[PDF] http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/INFO_SHT/t1042.PDF
Internet services at a glance http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/com100/2011/r110603a.pdf
Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2011-77 http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2011/2011-77.htm
Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2011-77-1 http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2011/2011-77-1.htm
Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2011-77-2 http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2011/2011-77-2.htm

– 30 –

Media Relations:
http://support.crtc.gc.ca/CRTCSubmissionMU/forms/Mediarelations.aspx?lang=e

Tel: 819-997-9403, Fax: 819-997-4245

General Inquiries:
Tel: 819-997-0313, TDD: 819-994-0423, Fax: 819-994-0218
Toll-free # 1-877-249-CRTC (2782)
http://www.crtc.gc.ca/rapidsccm/register.asp?lang=e

Making a Difference in Uganda

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Disability, Education, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on November 13, 2011 at 3:00 AM

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Helping Women At Risk Of Abuse McGuinty Government Increases Support For Newcomers – April 29, 2011

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Disability, Education, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Writing (all kinds) on November 12, 2011 at 3:00 AM

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News

Ontario will help more women in abusive relationships or who are at risk of abuse through an expanded public education campaign, targeting supports to newcomers.

The Neighbours, Friends and Families campaign will raise awareness about woman abuse to new Canadians by providing culturally and linguistically sensitive training. The campaign helps people recognize the signs of violence against women, and know what actions to take in response.

Six Toronto organizations will receive support to better reach immigrant and refugee populations: Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, KCWA Family and Social Services, Rexdale Women’s Centre, COSTI Immigrant Services, Centre for Information and Community Services of Ontario, and the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic.

Neighbours, Friends, and Families is part of Ontario’s Domestic Violence Action Plan, which focuses on prevention and better community supports for abused women and their children.

QUOTES

“The Neighbours, Friends and Families campaign is an important part of our government’s Domestic Violence Action Plan to prevent violence against women. All women have the right to feel and are safe in their homes, communities, and workplaces.”
– Laurel Broten, Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues

“The Neighbours, Friends and Families campaign empowers people in our community to take action against domestic violence. We need to work together to stop woman abuse.”
– Shafiq Qaadri, MPP, Etobicoke North

“This campaign will help to break down language barriers so we can effectively reach our immigrant and refugee communities to prevent domestic violence.”
– Fatima Filippi, Executive Director, Rexdale Women’s Centre

QUICK FACTS

The government is investing more than $668,000 to expand the Neighbours, Friends and Families campaign into immigrant and refugee communities across Ontario.
Neighbours, Friends, and Families is delivered in over 200 communities across the province.
Released in March 2011, Ontario’s Sexual Violence Action Plan builds on the 2004 Domestic Violence Action Plan. It puts in place supports for education, prevention, training and awareness programs, and was created based on input from survivors, service providers, and experts.

LEARN MORE

Learn more about Neighbours, Friends, and Families.
Read Ontario’s Domestic Violence Action Plan and Sexual Violence Action Plan.

Contacts

Ryan Bird, Minister Broten’s Office, 416-212-7433
Michel Payen-Dumont, Communications Branch, 416-314-7010

Life Rattle Radio Update #35

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Music, Radio Podcasts, Technology, travel, Writing (all kinds) on November 11, 2011 at 1:12 PM

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by Laurie Kallis

Life Rattle Radio Update #35

Hello Life Rattle listeners,

This Sunday, November 13, at 9 p.m., we present a new podcast with stories by two Life Rattle writers:

Vic Gaysheyongai and Donna Kakonge

“Buckeroo Bez and the Escape from the City of Lost Cause,” by Gaysheyongai, and “Superwomon,” by Kakonge, share more than a reference to the fantastic; they also share hopeful determination.

Both writers’ masterful use of subtle detail creates a dull, uncertain “here and nows” full of quiet desperation. In these bleak settings, we meet central characters who display incredible optimism and humour, and a degree of naive innocence, in their quest for a brighter future, with love and security and an ideal home.

Visit the Life Rattle website, this Sunday at 9, for stories you won’t hear anywhere else.

Life Rattle Radio
at
http://www.Liferattle.ca

New stories posted every Sunday Night at 9:00

Laurie Kallis

Protest on Bloor Street

In Culture, Events, Uncategorized, Video Work on November 11, 2011 at 3:00 AM

On my way to drop off a rented car…there was a protest on Bloor Street. Watch to see.

Montreal: Quelle Ville!

In Business, cars, travel, Writing (all kinds) on November 10, 2011 at 3:00 AM

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What a great city Montreal is – quelle ville! If you buy your bus ticket in advance like I did from Toronto to Montreal for $89 with the tax, you can pay very little for your travel. There are other cheap ways to travel, but please see my Free Ride article for more information on your options.

The subway system is one of the best ways to get around once you’re in the city. I bought six bus tickets for approx. $11, one costs $1.87 CDN. That’s less than Toronto and you can still get the very same world-class feel as T.O. in Montreal.

If you’re lucky enough to have a good friend there like I do, then you can always crash on her coach and show your thanks in the most inexpensive ways you can think of. Such as, I paid for some of her necessary shopping as we walked and scooted around the city to run her errands. I bought her gummy bears and paid for a green tea drink from a health food store at Berri-Uquam Metro – which is one of the central stations close to where the bus is. Shopping with Anna was fun and educational (I learned a lot about good things to buy at health food stores like fresh almonds). This was lots of fun because it reminded what life is like for busy Montrealers and daily living with juggling work and home life.

We mainly shopped around the Mile End, Outremont and Plateau neighbourhoods. These neighbourhoods are French areas, but many people do speak English. Outremont is a rich area and for free you can walk around and see how the other half lives. I don’t think I’ve seen so many Saabs parked in one place in my life.

Anna is a great cook and made fantastic egg noodle pasta (a traditional Italian dish) with parmesan cheese. The trip was so exciting that I didn’t feel like I needed coffee and the sun shines so bright in Montreal that I chose to go with decaffeinated coffee instead. Anna also introduced me to something known as chicory, which is a coffee alternative. I know from experience that West Indians have something like this known as Milo that is also a coffee alternative. I bought the chicory from a health food store on St.Laurent which is also known as the Main (it kind of divides the more English part of Montreal to the west and the more French part of Montreal to the east). The chicory costs only $4.79 for quite a decent size jar and I can get a lot of coffee-tasting flavour out of it. Compare this to spending about that much on a specialty drink at Starbucks.

My main purpose going to Montreal was to help to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Concordia University communications program where I did my graduate studies. It was terrific bumping into old friends and finding out what they’re up to. I even bumped into a notable grad Scott Laurie who is an anchor for CTV in Canada who I didn’t know was a Concordia grad. It helped me reaffirm my feeling that I did go to a good school. Plus, Columbia University is too expensive anyway ;-).

Montreal is a wonderful city when it comes to higher learning. The city has four universities, two English-speaking (Concordia and McGill) and two French-speaking (Université du Montreal and Université du Quebec à Montreal). Just experiencing the campus environment is a big part of taking in life for many people in Montreal.

What wasn’t expensive were the 10K gold earrings I bought at a jewelry store in the Plateau called Bijouterie Zenith. I got a great deal on them – they were practically a steal at $60 CDN without the tax. They’re from Portugal and they’re beautiful as the people from there.

I can’t rave about the nightlife in Montreal, but I do know what it’s like from past experience. There is a lot to do, but often it comes at a price. Clubs come and go, but if you’re into movies – a must-be-there place is Ex-Centris close to St.Laurent and St.Catherine. This movie theatre shows some terrific stuff and has a video imagining to look at when you go to the booth to buy your tickets.

I had some good old-fashioned entertainment on the television with rabbit ears (because the reception in Montreal without cable is good) and watched a modern show like Niptuck on CTV. It’s a show about the lives of plastic surgeons and it was my first time watching it. I found it quite interesting.

The ride back home wasn’t too bad at all. I even got two seats for one because there wasn’t a lot of body traffic on the bus for most of the ride. Montreal in September is a great time to go and you will enjoy it. My trip was short but sweet – and if you’re looking for a power vacation – Montreal is the place to go. Don’t forget a Metro map while you’re there.

First “Paint Colours for Men” Collection Launched in Canada – CIL Paints’ new “Ultimate Man Caves” collection is designed to get men more excited about painting projects

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Health, Living, Media Writing, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on November 9, 2011 at 3:00 AM

CIL is betting that paint names such as Mo Money instead of Fairytale Green, Sargeant Major instead of Acadia Gem, and Dirty Socks instead of Lexington Park – all featured in this games room – will better appeal to men.

Pool Table in Game Room

Pool Table in Game Room — Image by © Ted Dayton Photography/Beateworks/Corbis

“Ultimate Man Caves” brochure features paint names like“Iced Vodka” instead

of “Cloud Nine” to get men more interested in paint decision-making process;

November 7, 2011 – Studies show that men are key in making decisions about home painting projects, so leading Canadian paint brand CIL Paints has launched a paint colour collection designed to appeal to their masculine side.

Think paint names like Iced Vodka instead of Cloud Nine, Maverick instead of Moonlight Drive, Mo Money instead of Fairytale Green, Five-O’Clock Shadow instead of Plateau Grey, and Beer Time instead of Butterscotch.

Called Ultimate Man Caves, the new CIL Paints colour collection for men – introduced to get males more enthusiastic about the painting process – has been created with the help of the public. In August, CIL Paints launched a Facebook contest calling on Canadians to rename existing CIL paint colours for a more masculine audience and more than 15,000 respondents rose to challenge from coast to coast.

Featuring new CIL paint colour names for men such as Midlife Crisis, Brute Force, and Deathstar, the walls of this bathroom have “masculine” written all over them.

CIL, Paint Colours for Men, Bathroom

The new CIL Paints brochure – featuring 20 of the most popular paint colours for men, as determined by both Canadian men and women – is now being featured in-store alongside CIL’s existing display of more than 1,200 colours. The original paint names will continue to be part of the present CIL collection of colours.

“When it comes to painting names, it’s all about the emotional connection and our research shows that men and women tend to relate to paint names differently,” says Alison Goldman, Marketing Communications Manager for CIL Paints. “CIL Paints is excited to take the lead in launching a colour collection designed specifically for men, especially since studies show that while a larger percentage of women tend to choose paint colours for their home, it’s often men who give the colours a final nod.”

For more information, or to view CIL’s new Ultimate Man Caves brochure online, visit http://www.cil.ca .

[TPS] – Media advisory, Thursday, November 10, 2011, 6:30 p.m., 430 Burnhamthorpe Road, Community Domestic Violence Awareness Seminar‏

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Disability, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Pets, Writing (all kinds) on November 8, 2011 at 3:00 AM

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Toronto Police Service
News Release

Media advisory, Thursday, November 10, 2011, 6:30 p.m., 430 Burnhamthorpe Road, Community Domestic Violence Awareness Seminar

Monday, November 7, 2011 – 5:11 PM
22 Division
416-808-2200

On Thursday, November 10, 2011, at 6:30 p.m., at The Eatonville Public Library, 430 Burnhamthorpe Road, 22 Division community partners are hosting a Community Domestic Violence Awareness Seminar.

The focus of the seminar is to dispel any myths and have an open discussion on domestic violence. Let’s talk about the prevention of Domestic Violence and together. “Stop the Cycle of Violence.”

Topics and different aspects of domestic violence will be presented from guest speakers from Lamp Community Health Centre, TPS Community Mobilization Unit, Victim Services, 22 Division Domestic Violence Unit and the Crown Attorney’s office from 2201 Finch Avenue West.

Members of the public and media are encouraged to attend and discuss this serious issue that affects our community.

For more information, contact Constable Mitch LeBlanc at 416-808-2208 or michel.leblanc@torontopolice.on.ca

Constable Tony Vella, Corporate Communications, for Constable Mitch LeBlanc, 22 Division

There are no files attached to this release.

[TPS] – Crime Prevention Week kick-off event, Monday, November 7, 2011, 10 a.m., Police headquarters, lobby‏

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, cars, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Technology, travel, Writing (all kinds) on November 7, 2011 at 6:00 AM

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Toronto Police Service
News Release

Crime Prevention Week kick-off event, Monday, November 7, 2011, 10 a.m., Police headquarters, lobby

Monday, November 7, 2011 – 5:00 AM
Community Mobilization
416-808-7295

The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services has designated Sunday, November 6, 2011, to Saturday, November 12, 2011, as Crime Prevention Week in Ontario. This year’s focus is on innovation and the use of technology in crime prevention.

The Toronto Police Service, in collaboration with the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, and the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, will be hosting the kick-off for Crime Prevention Week in the lobby of police headquarters on Monday, November 7, 2011, at 10 a.m.

Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Madeleine Meilleur, Toronto Police Services Board Chair Dr. Alok Mukherjee, Chief William Blair, Halton Regional Police Service Deputy Chief Andrew Fletcher (Chair of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police Crime Prevention Committee), along with other special guests and community members will be participating in the event.

Immediately following the event, an informal reception with light refreshments will be held in the Grenville lobby.

For further information, please contact Constable Diana Korn-Hassani at 416-808-7295.

Constable Victor Kwong, Corporate Communications, for Constable Diana Korn-Hassani, Community Mobilization

There are no files attached to this release.

Does Online Education Pack on the Freshman 30?

In Education, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on November 7, 2011 at 3:00 AM

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Distance education can be seen as quite a sedentary act. If you are sitting at the computer for hours on end, without any exercise…this could be something that could help someone put on weight.

Even for people who go to a school that is not online, reports have shown that many young people are gaining 15 pounds from eating cafeteria food in their first year at college or university. What happens if you are studying by correspondence? Does online education pack on the freshman 30?

Many students who are young people and older people who chose to sit at their computer to take their courses lead busy lives. Many times their reasons for not physically going to college or university is because it is simply more convenient for them to study and to take classes from home. They have the advantage of being part of a social network with education at its focus. It is easier to squeeze in the time to do the lessons.

Many of us also know that as we spend a lot of time at home in front of the computer, it is much easier to reach the refrigerator, order a meal or take time to cook a meal. The urge to get hungry could happen often and there may be no one around to manage our eating habits. A student who studies from home could be eating just as badly as some of the food in the cafeterias on the campuses of colleges and universities all over North America. The virtual campus is accessible by a computer, plus a bag of Doritos to munch on while you are doing your homework. Doritos added with too many servings of Kraft Dinner, plus some french fries ordered at Swiss Chalet could end up doing more damage – if coupled with inactivity. At least the freshman student on a college or university campus gets the opportunity to walk around.

The question still remains unanswered though. Does online education pack on the freshman 30? At the end of the day and at the end of your semesters, that may be more a question of how active virtual students are in their lives when they are off the computer. Are they making time to go to the gym? Are they taking time to have broken so they can go on walks? Do they have children that are helping them keep fit by having to chase after them? Do they work in physically strenuous employment? Are they meeting with other online students to study the course material? Is the act of typing alone an exercise more physical than it is mental?

With these questions answered by each student who is studying over the Internet, it would be easier to determine if online students would actually gain more weight than students who actually have to get up and go to classes. I will attempt to use my own experience as an example.

When I was doing my undergraduate education, I lived a fair distance from the school. It would take about 40 minutes to walk there one way. Due to the fact that I did not have a lot of money when I was in school, I would walk to school to save on bus transportation costs. So I did receive exercise walking to and from school. This was different from when I was in my first year of university when I lived on campus. At this time, I avoided eating the cafeteria food and lived on Hickory Sticks and Skor bars in fear of gaining weight. I would walk through the tunnel system and spend as much time walking as I could. I also spent a lot of time in the first semester going out dancing at clubs in a city not far from the school.

In my second year though, and subsequent years, I would walk 80 minutes a day, plus work out at the school gym. This kept my weight down low. As well, when I was in graduate school, my weight was higher than it was in my first experience with higher education, however, I would still take time to exercise.

Studying online is similar to working many desk type jobs. Once I got into the world of work, I would spend a lot of time at the computer and exercise became less important to me. I have found over the years that a lack of exercise is one reason why I am not even close to the weight I was at during my school days. I would imagine that the same would happen to a student who was studying through distance education and lived a nonactive lifestyle. Perhaps it would be possible to gain more weight through the experience of a virtual classroom compared to studying on a campus.

OK, now it is time to discuss solutions to the potential of packing on the freshman 30 through a web course or program. Now that the problem has been presented, it would be important for anyone who is studying in a virtual classroom to also make sure they are doing physical exercise. It would also be important to make sure your food choices are healthy ones because everyone has to eat – at least most of us. Choosing fresh fruits and vegetables, versus a bag of Doritos or Lays would be the first and obvious choice. Reducing one’s amount of coffee intake to a maximum of one a day would be ideal for your health. Coffee is known to stimulate all kinds of things such as diabetes. If you cannot dream of living without coffee, try tea instead. There are so many varieties out there, I am sure whether it is herbal tea or black tea, you would be sure to find one you like. As well, it is important to minimize the amount of meat you eat. It is always better in general and as a rule for even ruling out illnesses such as cancer that you try to choose fish and chicken over beef and pork.

I know these things are hard to do. I am hardly saying I am perfect at it myself even though I know what are the right things to do. Truly the key is exercise. If you can at least get a half hour walk in every day, and I mean on the weekends too, this would really help you to be healthier. If you do not enjoy walking, you can always choose an exercise that truly suits the kind of person you are. As long as you are keeping active…this is the key. This way you can prevent putting on the freshman 30 and continue to have the convenience of studying online.

My Story of Transportation

In book reviews, cars, travel, Uncategorized on November 6, 2011 at 3:00 AM
A memoir of transportation

A memoir of transportation

My Story of Transportation

If you love the sound of planes, trains, and automobiles…you will love my personal memoir of transportation called My Story of Transportation. It can be bought at http://stores.lulu.com/kakonged. Click on the link below.

my-story-of-transportation

How to buy food cheap (orginally published on The Shoestring.com)

In Business, Health, Writing (all kinds) on November 5, 2011 at 3:00 AM

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How to Buy Food Cheap

Food, as you all know, is something that we need to survive. Whether you eat too much, too little or the right amount for your body type, here are some tips on how to cut down on your grocery expenses without starving.

If you are on a really tight budget, food banks are a great way to get free food. Some people volunteer there to stock on groceries. This could definitely be a great way to meet some interesting people with fascinating life stories as well. One new friend of mine named Greg who I met on my way to meet an old friend Simone, told me about his experience volunteering at a food bank not too far away from where we both live. He said that the people he met there were great and he also got a lot of free food.

Speaking of free food, Greg is a cook and gets a lot of free stuff from the restaurant he works at. If you are looking for a job and need to make ends meet, looking for something in the food industry may be a good way to earn an honest living and stock those empty shelves in your kitchen.

Also, a lot of restaurants and grocery stores throw away food at the end of the night. The Loblaws, close to where I live, have their sandwiches with healthy stuff in it like tuna, egg, cold meats and different kind of cheeses that are half price at the closing time. You can get a $4 CDN sandwich for half the price and have all your meals set for the day.

If you are like me and you are a breakfast person who enjoys eggs, bacon and some home fries – check out governmental cafeterias. They often have food at discount prices that do not compare to the food you will find in other restaurants for the same price. Remember, it is public property.

For dining out, there is always the failsafe “all you can eat buffet.” If you allow yourself to starve enough in the morning and go at a time when you know you will not need to eat again for the day, you can visit one of these places (the ones in Chinatown and Indian villages are especially good). Actually, you cannot go wrong checking out the food of the world wherever you may be located.

Now for the traditional grocery shopping – flyers and coupons are your friends. Plus, if you can stand the attitude at times (with the exception of local grocers) try going to places where you can bring your own bags or they may provide boxes for you to take your stuff. I was with a girlfriend Joan of mine and we saw a man riding his bike carrying another bicycle. If that could be done, imagine the strength you could build up carrying your groceries with your bike.

If you are blessed to have a car, you need to work out if it is worth it to drive to a supermarket with great deals, or just walk to the nearest one and save on gas. Let us hope the exercise will not kill you.

You can also take advantage of the fact the weather is still good and enjoy an old-fashioned farmer’s market. If you avoid the ones in the ritzy neighbourhoods, you can get great deals on everything from jams to corn. Sometimes these farmer’s markets have such amazing deals that it’s worth it to take your car, or rent one, to get out of town and do some shopping in a place a bit out of the way.

One of my fondest memories growing up was my Dad taking me and my siblings out to do apple-picking outside of Toronto. They say apples keep the doctors away, so stock up. It would be hard to live on apples alone, but at many of the orchards, you can get a number of fruits dirt cheap and in large quantities.

If you are ever really starving and there is just nothing in the fridge and in the cupboards, there is a Chinese proverb that says “one can go without eating for many days, but needs green tea.” Mind you I received this proverb from my friend Steve and I do not know about its scientific basis. I would advise you not to try this at home, but green tea (which you can find inexpensively in China Town) is a great way to suppress your appetite, thus keeping your food costs down.

If you have a large family, buying in bulk is always an option. Places like Costco can be a good way to support an army. If you just basically need to support yourself, good advice I got from my friend Joan was to not stock on food. You can end up finding your shelves filled with things you will never eat. Buy what you need and then maybe the rest of the world will have more too.

I hope that helps since $100 can go pretty fast on food. I have seen it happen in the blink of an eye and not really understood what the woman in front of me in the grocery line was buying. Always check the prices of the food, remember flyers and coupons can be your friends if you are into that sort of thing and think cheap and be cheap.

Donna Kakonge is a freelance writer/communicator/professor in Toronto. Her books can be bought at http://stores.lulu.com/kakonged. She is working on another book she is hoping will be published in 2008.

Lizard in the Backyard on Life Rattle Radio

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Disability, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Music, Opinion, Radio Podcasts, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on November 4, 2011 at 3:00 AM

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http://www.liferattle.ca/radio/show1175.html

Sico 2012-2013 Paint Colour Trends Paint Palette for Year Ahead Reflects Growing Trend of Self Expression

In Writing (all kinds) on November 3, 2011 at 3:00 AM

Living Scrapbook The 2012-13 Living Scrapbook theme celebrates self-expression and a culture that has learned to share “who I am” through social media like Facebook, MySpace and blogs. This palette includes colours that reflect the uniqueness of highly-personal tastes such as Sico’s Ming Red (6052-65) and Pinto Bean (6078-31) featured in this room.

Longueuil, Quebec – October 24, 2011 – From social media networks to environmental issues, people today are more comfortable expressing themselves than ever before. In the year ahead, this growing trend of self-expression will make its way into home decor as Canadians increasingly choose to surround themselves with colours that reflect their personal style, says leading Canadian paint brand Sico.

“The 2012-2013 paint colour palette is full of take-charge optimism,” explains Mylène Gévry, Marketing Communications Manager for Sico. “From full-bodied hues with strong character to hushed pastels, the coming year’s palette represents people’s growing need for and interest in expressing concepts, viewpoints, and approaches.”

Delicate Mix In today’s uncertain world, the Delicate Mix theme delivers subtle, calming neutrals that soothe the soul and promote a sense of quiet, harmony and balance. Shown in this bedroom are Sico’s White Goose Down (6183-11), used for the circles, and Mourning Dove (6183-31) on the walls.

What’s more, in today’s complex, highly-networked world where lines blur between cultures, people are often overwhelmed by the quick pace and excessive amount of information accessible to them, Gévry says. As a result, “when it comes to home décor, colour influences for 2012-2013 are all about making selections that remind us of our more intimate activities and interests, and the important role we play in the bigger picture.”

Our need to take charge – influenced by our public sharing of personal information through social media, being more aware of our impact on the environment, or taking time out from our busy lives for quiet meditation – is reflected in a paint palette dominated by reds, greens and neutrals, from charming corals, garden greens and dark soil browns to nude pinks, pastel blues and subtle mauves, Gévry explains.

According to research conducted by Sico’s international team of colour experts, there are three prevailing colour themes for the year ahead, each reflecting our over-arching need to make – and celebrate – personal connections: Living Scrapbook, One Small Seed and Delicate Mix.

Living Scrapbook: With Facebook, MySpace and blogs have created a giant wave of creativity and fresh thought, this theme represents how a culture of showcasing “Who I am” in the digital space has crossed over into the physical world of home decor. Reflecting the quirkiness of personal tastes, Living Scrapbook presents a balanced, warm and charming palette featuring contemporary corals like Sico’s Ming Red (6052-65), sky blues such as Santorini (6005-31), olive greens like Olive Chartreuse (6102-54) and luminous yellows such as Star Coral (6099-42). Modern, yet slightly degraded and non-mainstream, the colours of this theme remind us that self-expression is more than just sharing our hobbies and interests — it’s about daring to be different and inviting the rest of the world in for a visit.

One Small Seed Nature will take a step indoors in 2012-13 as consumers embrace the One Small Seed theme. Recognizing that we may not be able to change the world on our own, but as individuals we can take steps to make a difference, this colour grouping is inspired by the process of photosynthesis and features water, clay and earth tones such as Sico’s Inscrutable Sky (6176-83), Marjoram (6141-31) and Cotton Ball (6186-21), pictured in this eating area.

One Small Seed: We may not be able to change the world on our own but we can take small steps, like planting a seed in a pot and helping it to grow. This theme highlights a personal connection to an awareness of how our actions affect the world around us. The need to care for our environment isn’t new, but what is growing is our desire to personally relate to nature by inviting it into our homes – even on a small scale. Inspired by the process of photosynthesis, popular colours in this group include garden greens like Sico’s Namibian Desert (6142-74), dark soil browns like Pen and Ink (6206-73) and pastel blues like Lunar Month (6009-21). By surrounding ourselves with colours that remind us of earth, water and clay, we are comforted by the notion that nature will help us if we help it.

Delicate Mix: In a time of recurring economic and political turbulence, triggering an overwhelming, continuous flow of information all around us, we are drawn to decor that allows us to pause, reflect and enjoy the quiet. The colours in this palette exude subtlety, silence and visual stillness while promoting harmony, modesty and perfect balance. They offer simplicity with a hint of refinement and elegance, a new type of luxury that is more about appreciating the time and effort spent creating a piece of art or furniture as opposed to expressing wealth through glitz and excess. Highlighting this palette are elegant neutrals, nude pinks and subtle mauves such as Sico’s Grey Drizzle (6207-21), Satie White (6172-11), Frangipani (6178-31) and Furtive Mauve (6175-21). These colours, which celebrate the mind while soothing the soul, pair well with nuances of forged iron, steel, aluminum, polished concrete, wood, copper and oiled leathers.

“Everything about the 2012-2013 colour palette reflects personal connections that open the door to new possibilities,” notes Gévry. “The result will be the use of colours and other decor elements in unsuspected and very satisfying ways in the year ahead.”

For more information about Sico’s colour trends for 2012-2013, or to view the new colour palette online, visit http://www.sico.ca

About Sico (www.sico.ca)

Sico is a brand of AkzoNobel, the Canadian leader in decorative paints serving the consumer, professional renovation and construction markets. AkzoNobel produces and supplies a wide range of paints, coatings and specialty chemicals, including the leading Sico brand. The company employs nearly 2,000 people in three manufacturing plants, four distribution centres and more than 225 corporate stores across Canada. Dedicated to delivering high-performance solutions and quality products, AkzoNobel has unrivaled technical expertise that meets the current and future needs of its customers.

Buy one pair of shoes & get 25% OFF another!!‏

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on November 2, 2011 at 3:00 AM

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Tranquil Prisons: Chemical Incarceration Under Community Treatment Orders

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Disability, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Writing (all kinds) on November 1, 2011 at 3:00 AM

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Book release:

Tues Nov. 1, 2011, 7 pm, The Gladstone Hotel Gallery,
1214 Queen Street West @ Dufferin,
Toronto, Canada.

Featuring: Drs. Rachel Gorman and Geoffrey Reaume (Associate Professor in Critical Disability Studies, York University, Toronto, Canada), and, appearing on skype, Tina Minkowitz, Esq. (founder of the Center for the Human Rights of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry).

Free and wheelchair accessible.
See more reading dates: http://www.erickfabris.com/tp.html

About the book:

“A brave and innovative book, Tranquil Prisons is a rare academic study of psychiatric treatment written by a former mental patient. Erick Fabris’ original, multidisciplinary research demonstrates how clients are pre-emptively put on chemical agents despite the possibility of alternatives. Putting forth calls for professional accountability and more therapy choices for patients, Fabris’ narrative is both accessible and eye-opening.” – Erica Burman, Research Institute of Health and Social Change, Manchester Metropolitan University

Tranquil Prisons is a unique and accessible study of psychiatric treatments used as restraints. Medications assumed to be safe and effective are imposed on many patients who are neither violent nor resistant. A psychiatric drug intervention can be indefinitely prescribed through legal constraints like Ontario’s Community Treatment Orders. As choicely is healthy in any medical arrangement, the author calls for an abandonment of pre-emptive toxic bio-psychological interventions, which he argues to be cruel forms of restraint and detention. Fabris is himself a former psychiatric patient and his ethnographic narrative also describes patient resistance to contemporary psychiatric practices and theories.

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