Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category


It may be a bit ranty. But as a geek I believe I have a right to be ranty. What the heck folks is up with the vulgar/bullying of “Fandom”? I know fan is short for fanatics (hence the growth of hooliganism in soccer). But geeks we were the place of hanging out and fun discussions? The mainlining of our world has created the hate line of social media.

Y’know what I like? Not worrying if the story is “canon” or how it fits with the last story arc or into the bigger universe. I enjoy good stories of the characters I love, stand alone or intertwined. I am sure if anyone who has followed my pulp writings for the past 32 years could see huge gaping holes in continuity a whole caravan could go through never mind a sub-atomic Ant-Man.

Why am I ranty? Because I love being in the room when my kids are reading a fav book or comic or watching a movie. I love watching them engage with it, whether it is their first or thousandth time. They will let us know if it is a sad part, a happy part, if the villain is being a jerk like villains should be, the jokes (they laugh out loud) and they cheer the heroes on… oh and guess what? Yes they know when watching Star Trek Scotty will figure it out, but my son still cheers the “miracle worker”. My daughter still cheers for the Quidditch matches in Harry Potter. They know who their favourite Doctor is, but still cheer on, or weep the stories/transitions.

Oh, and yes they love action and adventure, super hero movies. My son laughs out loud if Ant-man can escape Thomas the Tank; my daughter loves the “we have a Hulk” line. They laugh loudly re-watching cartoon movies (which even if I didn’t have kids I probably would still own)…and my son declares clearly even with his spastic speech in Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 “Peter’s daddy’s a dick.” Yes son, yes he is.

Oh, and they still gasp in Empire Strikes back when Vader stretches out his hand to Luke and rasps “Luke I am your father.” and Cheer when the Millenium Falcon flies away or the Death Star explodes.  Get a bit weepy over Rory and Amy’s love with Doctor Fezzie’s seasons of Doctor Who (as my kids affectionately call Matt Smith’s Doctor). My son chuckles when Sisko punches Q; and cheers loudly when Rom (who he says is like him, also he claims Groot) finally gets to play Baseball.

The list can go on and on in everything they are in to. How they share their passions and joys with friends and family. How they always wonder, what if this happened with this character.

Y’know, when being a fan of pop culture was fun. Not being a regressive knuckle dragger. My hope is like with their Daddy, the wonder will always stay, and what happens is when a new story is told with their favourite characters they can see the joy in it, or that it was simply a miss and move on to the next (thank you Justice League for bringing back a true Superman– Daddy’s happy dance-).

As you enter the story, yes there is great commentary to be discussed in everything around social justice (as with any good writing), but also take time to simply be immersed in the story and enjoy the ride. You can have something function on two levels, and you don’t have to be a tool towards the creative forces if you disagree with the vision.

Watch or read it with a child’s wonder.

To paraphrase Yoda, “Be one with the story.”

Do or do not. There is no try.

-Yoda

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I always loved having students (regardless of age from grade school up to doctoral students) and bringing up the topic of self-care. Then asking them to brainstorm what it means. I loved it because it allowed for being an iconoclast (shattering of icons).  See, institutes of academia, even those that support human services fields, treat self-care as a per-functionary checklist. That is the goal is that the next day you can arise and provide your piece-Spacely Space Sprocket- in the industrial complex of helping or life.

The checklist to keep the sprocket going is such things as eating healthy, getting enough sleep, taking medications/supplements appropriately and as prescribed, walks, working out, being active and you can imagine the rest or probably can recite it from memory. See though, that is like saying regular oil changes, cleaning air filters, filling tires, and putting gas in are self-care for your car. NOPE, that is simply maintenance to keep the device going. True, you don’t do those things your body will eventually stop working, but self-care is more. And yes, remember basic maintenance can change due to your life experience, holistic health, and life span development. It is never static.

Self-care is like the full tune-up and detailing of your car. It is what removes the negative energy, and rejuvenates the positive within you. It takes your being beyond simply putting in time, to innovating with time left.

Why have we shrunk it down to a per-functionary checklist? Simple, it lowers the base line, but does not address the deep rooted issue. If we just keep maintaining eventually we find escapism that feeds the negative and perpetuates and untenable cycle within our own lives and society.

 Simple Daily practice: 1) 3 things you are grateful for 2) Something new you learned; 3) something you have done today to re-energize/renew yourself. #selfcare #lifelonglearner #gratitude

Change your thought pattern. When you enter into that which recharges the positive energy and deep cleans out the sludge, be present with it. Let your phone/tech go off line. Be in the moment. What is it that when you are done you feel like “YOU”?

Is it time in spiritual practice? Writing? Reading? Hiking in the mountains? Biking? Being with your family? Enjoying a crappy cup of coffee in a truck stop in a deep conversation with one or two good friends? wood work? Knitting? Crafting? Travel…but travel where you can immerse yourself not just raise around touristy…some say it is volunteering, but remember that too can need a recharge practice.

(Caveat: Remember anything we do to recharge can also if we are not doing proper maintenance cause us to slip into deeper negativity for it can feel like a burden, it is the balance).

Today is a day to celebrate self-care. Know that it is different for each of us. Some will discover what resonates with them through trying different things with friends, some may discover it through support of mentors, life coaches, spiritual directors or clerics in conversations, others may already know.

Regardless, the choice with our time in life, is like our money, sometimes sacrifices need to be made to become a better more present, content you and escape the wheel of life that makes even basic service maintenance a chore. Stop making excuses. Carve out for what is important. That is what self-care is about, creating regular time for that which burns out the energy sludge of our souls, and lets the light shine back in.

Ready to burn some sludge?

What will you do to ensure self-care is part of your life?

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0-10 Scale: 0 at centre, 10 at outer rim. Self rank yourself and see how round/balanced you are. Then challenge what you can do to move up one point towards 10, and set a deadline, tell a friend who you can follow up with and will encourage it to be actualized.

 


A compilation of random thoughts on the political landscape.

First up: Hon. Ricardo Miranda (Min. Tourism & Culture, YYC Cross MLA) and his twitter up with Airdrie UCP MLA Angela Pitt. It started with Ms. Pitt’s tweet as best as I can see pointing out Mr. Miranda calling her out on being at the Women’s Centre after being part of the UCP walk-out on Bill 9 (bubble zone legislation for pregnancy care centres that include those providing abortions).

I can see his point, I can see her point. Where is should’ve stayed is dereliction in duty of the office (not being on record for the vote). But in typical hyper-partisan fashion Mr. Miranda jumped the shark and took it to a whole other level. Where the comparison may have been able to be made about a worker crossing a picket line, then showing up to the Union Office for help to keep their job or even more high road: I hope you had a good experience at the Women’s Centre and learned why Bill 9 was important, or MLA Pitt do you care to share what you learned or heard today?

Nope. Instead it went to from Mr. Miranda:

WTH??? Yes I saw the tweet, yes I was about to respond, but thankfully those from across the political spectrum jumped on it and called it out.  It has since been deleted, and a supposed apology issued. But let’s be honest, we have honest to God Nazi’s still in this country, and a strong history of holocaust deniers (Keegstra in Red Deer anyone? or the Green Party member from Canada on trial in Europe)…where did this jump come from???

It is the dehumanizing falsity of dualistic politics. Keeping up there is only two choices NDP or UCP…we have a multitude in Alberta, and please look beyond party to your local candidate.

Point 2: If Charles Adler calls out the CPC ya know it also jumped the shark. Yes, I will admit my bias against the Conservative Party of Canada since the hostile sell out of McKay to Harper, but the image of a Haitian refugee crossing Trudeau’s tweet as a bridge into Canada with the hyperbole  and falsity of illegal entry was deplorable. Thank you Mr. Adler for holding your party to account, and using your media presence to do so.

I say falsity on the illegal entry, because the processing of refugee, immigrant and irregular entries is part of international agreements Canada has been apart of since the end of World War II to ensure what happened in the Holocaust does not happen again. Yes the system may be refined, but it is working and is simply a hot button issue and as the image projected going for the lowest possible denominator in a multi-cultural country. What I do endorse is the ending of Safe Third Country with the USA (who shares our border) which then allows us to look at a system that does not have a failed caveat within it.

Point 3: Just a fun flashback point, like going to Granddad and Nan’s for dinner. Political parties hope one does not have a historical context or understanding. They hope you have a drive for power or hatred of the “other guy” enough to dodge the tough policy questions, the questions that affect your life and your neighbours. The ability to look beyond your own household, person and context to the whole. It is why I try to look at the person running over the party, and then hope that the person can stand up to their party when needed. Sadly our system has become about leader over member and this is wrong and unconstitutional.

That is a ramble into a funny story from when I ran in 2006. The CPC candidate’s campaign manager attempted to recruit me to run for the party at the candidate’s debate. He pointed to the policy around poverty and was dumbfounded when I said no. He asked why and I bluntly pointed out, it was point one of a 7 pillar approach I aided in creating to alleviate poverty. His gobsmacked face is a fond remembrance.

Hold to history, hold to accountability. Look for change if it has happened.

Now a bit of fun:

First, as endorsed in previous elections, I do think Jeremy Nixon would make a good representative in government. I am unsure if he would break party lines with the UCP, that will be up to those in Calgary-Klein to ask him and press him on the doorsteps. Including things such as Bill 9, not just his stance but also would he have voted, but I could not let this endorsement meme pass without a comment from my comic geek side:

“Where unintentionally the UCP makes themselves Lex Luthor, and the NDP Superman…for Kryptonite was only wielded by the bad guys.

Where unintentionally the UCP makes themselves Lex Luthor and the NDP Superman…for Kryptonite was only wielded by the bad guys.


We do not encourage being present in the moment. No matter the aspect of life we are existing in: personal, professional, membership clubs, etc. We are rushing most of the time. We want the next step, the next big thing. With our children we are constantly pushing them to thrive harder, take on more, what happened to that missing 5% from the 95/100. You have to know what you want to do with your life, you are after all 10 years old. What is your 5, 10, 15 year plan? What is the career path you see laid out before you?

What you can’t help with that now it does not fit the plan laid out. Oh, something came up, well it has to be put off until later, not what we want now.  Ridged. Scheduled. Planned out. No wiggle room. Must achieve what you say and do it exemplary.

Trace Adkins’ You’re Going to Miss this, watch/listen here 

Kenney Chesney’s Don’t Blink. Watch/listen here.

If you are not the person or parent preaching/planning like this there must be something wrong with you. Want to confuse a teacher at at CBE parent-teacher conference, ask about social things in the school, speak of holistic education, talk about the outcome being citizenry and zest for lifelong learning, not just a university entrance GPA. Talk about the child/student discovering who they are, their passions and interests and growing a path from that.

Want to confuse friends? Put out there that University or Technical school is not a must for your child. That your child may only have 1 extra-curricular they are booked into, that they want to just spend time in play with their friends. That the kids want to be kids.

It confuses folks, because it is the antithesis of the world we have created. Yet the world we have created has created an outcome that anyone could see coming– children with mental health issues most (if they experienced) would not see until middle age…yet we are talking those at one point in psychiatric history should not be labelled or diagnosed as such is now normative.

What happened? Listen to the two songs above. We have created a world that cannot be in the moment. Cannot be present to the experience that is now. Cannot find contentment in the now. Yes change happens, yet change needs to come from not wrestling with the current gremlin of felt insufficiency or drive to be seen with esteem.

Change comes from following your own interior compass of who you are.

And you have that interior compass, because you have had the time to discover who you are.

Be honest with yourself. In your rush in life up to this point to stick to the plan, to achieve:

What have you missed?

When you close your eyes and think of life, what was gone in a blink?

You cannot change the past, but you can live into the present which in the future will let you look back and know that you didn’t miss what was most important in the blink of an eye.

For your heart eye was on what mattered in life, not the shiny bauble before the magpie.

Bonus listen: Tim McGraw’s Live like you’re dying


Many have wondered why Star Trek? It has always been a meta-narrative in my life, from the original series in re-runs on CBC that allowed me to stay up late on Tuesday nights, to the animated series to all the 24th century fun. Lately on Netflix, I have been revisiting the prequel series, Enterprise, as regular readers can see. The reason it holds is the wisdom found in good stories that challenge the status quo meta-narrative, allow for conversation and contemplation, but also just for fun.

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Opening to Bennett’s (2014) Star Trek Enterprise Rise of the Federation: Tower of Babel

This brings us to the newest novel I have picked up. Christopher L. Bennett’s (2014) Star Trek Enterprise Rise of the Federation Tower of Babel which has one of the most profound opening statements on intent, action and outcomes I have read in a while.

It speaks to the fear that stopped us from accomplishing. But fear exists in other quotes of our lives and cliches whether we realize it or not. The fear of the other, the fear that to accomplish our goals, the other must exist, there must always be an enemy. It is the metaphor of Babel on Trek, being the planet where the many once divided came together to become one. To move beyond fear, beyond hate, beyond that which separates.

The ends justify the means.

or

By any means necessary.

Beyond the assumption  that as long as the outcome is in our own good or what we perceive as warranted it does not matter how we go there. The stripping away of fear if you will. But it is not. It shows where true intent lies. Is the intent for own glory and prestige? Is the intent destructive for neighbour (community) and/or the interior castle in the long run? Essentially the how and why of what we want, matter just as much as the achievement.

It is like the myth mentioned here, the intent behind the tower was not communal health. It was about proving power over others (Read the original myth here).

As you enter into any journey, alone or communally. Ask yourself:

What is the intent?

What are the action steps?

Do they maintain the heart of the intent?

What is the primary/true outcome?

Will your tower crumble under fear? Or rise in true interdependent love?

Does it show true concern and positive intent for self, and through self, neighbour?

What is your Babel narrative?


What follows below is the latest letter I have written to Hon. David Eggen, the Minister of Education in Alberta. It is in regards to the casting aside of compassion towards the disabilities community within the education system. It is about families that mourn, staff that mourn, and the inability of the system to step outside of their own prejudices to respond as they would to any school community in mourning. It is solution focused. I encourage all to write the Hon. Eggen (education.minister@gov.ab.ca ) to call out and begin to work to eliminate the last acceptable passive/active hate within our educational community. My words follow, mine only, but I am sure others have their own stories, solutions (or best practices that may exist that are working for true belonging) to share with a rather responsive education minister, unlike previous years and administrations where I have heard nothing. I will keep you dear reader, up to date as possible on this struggle for belonging that should not need to be, because it is 2018.

Today’s e-mail:

Dear Hon. Eggen,

I write you today as a weary parent. Weary of the battle for my child, and his education community of supports to receive equity in care and compassion by the educational system.  I was encouraged to write you once more due to the systematic Ableism (used to be called Eugenics, that is persons with disabilities and those in their lives had less value in inherent personhood, and we should just accept their demise). This came about, as there is a practice when a child with disabilities passes away within the education system that appropriate grief and mental health supports are not brought in for the staff and the other children. The response given is that “they do not comprehend” for the child, and to the staff “it is part of the job, they die” (probably nicer words used for staff, but having served in various non-profits I can see it being that blunt). The attitude is that death is to be expected, and not taken in as deeply as when a “typical child” passes away.

What is missed is that children no matter what professionals say are empathetic, and feel deeper than we ever will. They are more accepting of belonging, and know long before we do when their friend’s spot in the class will be empty. I cannot count the number of friends my son has lost in his short 6 years (grade 1 to 6) within the public-school system in Calgary, but I know the depth of his sorrow, he has soaked through many shirts of mine with his tears, and beaten on my chest in his anger.

The standard practice we have long fought against is the form letter. We worked with the local school to at least personalize the letter to share whom the child was in community, and supposed to receive a phone call if they are in the classroom from the principal (though it can appear favouritism by family on whom is contacted is played). But it leaves the families receiving notification, and then with very little extra-funding helping their child wrestle through loss and complexity, knowing  the staff are wrestling through their own grief with little administrative support, plus wrestling through our own fear and loss within the community of medically complex children.

I write with a four-fold practice for Alberta Education to remedy ableism that has been accepted down the line:

1)      Training and equipping of administration, trustees and school staff outside of those providing services (and those who provide) to ensure the erasure of passive ableism, and generationally held eugenic beliefs towards the community. We have practice for this with TRC and GSA’s. Time to break the last hate group down and expose it.

2)      The families of the student who passes needs to be provided (and have readily available within schools, like medical clinics) resources for the loss. I do not care what anyone says, it is not normal for a child to pre-decease their parent.

3)      When a child passes, staff need to be cared for. This is Principals, Maintenance, Administration, Teaching, Aides and volunteers within the school. It is not acceptable to say death distance is professionalism, when you build a community of belonging- the loss is felt and help needs to be brought in within best practice principles of debrief within the first 24 hrs, 72 hrs, and follow up protocols for staff that continue to struggle.

4)      Information for grief support to the families of friends needs to be distributed with notification, and I would say the school needs to host a form of celebration for the community member, so the children know that their friend belonged in the world and is not some coded statistic. Also along with this celebration, the same debrief needs to be used to provide grief support for the children, no matter how complex their communication or medical conditions are. They are aware of loss.

Why is this important? We are a scrapper family when it comes to rights, I am on multiple records for many battles to ensure full dignity and human rights for all citizens. To have to fight within a system to prove my son is cognitive enough so he can “earn” a spot to be on a wait-list for grief support if his behaviours around grieving become unmanageable is inhumane. It says to the family, the community, and most importantly to my son: YOU ARE NOT HUMAN ENOUGH for us to care about.

That is quite frankly wrong, and disregards so much of our human, charter and constitutional rights. Many good changes are happening to put students and frontline staff first within our education system of Alberta finally. I implore you to remember all children and staff/volunteers deserve the same care when a classmate/student passes, regardless of what society and professionals deem. All staff in the system also deserve the same level of care. Public Education is community, and as community we learn, grow and celebrate together, we also mourn together. Let us remember that.

Sincerely,

 

Dr. Ty Ragan

To close, my Facebook post from late June 6, 2018 when I was informed by an Ableist I had no right to anger at another white envelope:

Parents imagine at least once a month being informed that your child has had a friend pass away in their class. Then imagine there being no grief supports sent in for the kids or staff for coping, and the only communications is a letter home… when you ask why I am angry about people not seeing my boy as fully person–this is his reality. He cries on me. Screams why God takes his friends. Talks about how his buddy’s mummas, daddy,s and sibs can keep going…the emptiness. Our children belong, the world says they don’t because the world doesn’t want to have to explain how to heal from a once full chair, now being empty. The world, doesn’t know what to do with a child who asks where’s my buddy? Why do all my friends die on me. Instead they tell me that I have to prove my son comprehends life and death, and then they will think of aid. Is this the world we want? Where compassion and healing is an earned right? So yes I am angry. And yes we need to discuss Ableism (what used to be called Eugenics) openly, and call it out. To my religious friends, if you are not then you have failed. To my other friends, I am tired of a world that says earn your spot. I am tired of a world that says a child’s tears are okay because they don’t understand. I am tired of a world that tells those that walk with them, to accept it as part of the job. NO! We grieve, as we live, in community. I am weary, but I will be damned if I will accept this world as it is. Our children deserve better

 


Thankfully there has been a shift within professional training and scope that understands self-care matters. It is something that has been understood in the vocations that our caring professions (human services) sprung from, but both have missed the boat if you will on what it truly means. It can be a piece of a course, or even a whole course (in-service, training, etc) that skims the surface with cutesy acronyms, broad sweeps, some activities that may or may not be found to be beneficial by the participant. For you see, the course has to be designed with an outcome in mind, that outcome needs to be measurable, and repeatable, and gradable. Unfortunately what is lost in the issuance of the credit or certificate for participation- the epitome of a check box on a degree, diploma, certificate or staff checklist is the true essence of what self-care is about.

 Caring for you.

or to be clearer:

Renewing the intrinsic piece the powers you.

That’s right. There is no text book answer that will work for everyone. There is a very buffet of techniques, processes, hobbies and interests for everyone to sample and try and literally, discover what fills them back up. That is what self-care does, it renews you. The challenge is that even if we get that, we plan our self-care based on a moment in time. Then we leave the plan static. Something to reflect on as an exercise in training, bits and pieces may become part of our life but rarely do we try to make time for it.

Then “life” as we call it takes over.

But if we do self-care right. If the veterans in the fields of human services do our journeymanship right for our apprentices then self-care gets down right messy. For it is about those learning and growing in the field discovering who they truly are. Knowing that in that moment and time of their life, this is what renews them.

BUT, and this is a big BUT!

Knowing as we model that our self-care changes in life as life changes. As age, experience, family and other things carry through and we re-examine who we are. Core values. Intrinsic worth. And what renews us.

Some things may remain the same, for example writing has always been a healing time for me regardless of the topic. But the breadth and depth of what draws me to the page. Just like journaling as I have experimented with different types. Prayer/meditation has taken many forms. There is also being with my family, watching my children discover new things that renew me. Time with my wife. Simple things like a good cup of coffee and discussions of politics, religion and life with good friends. The thrill of seeing someone over come that which has kept them from belonging. All these things bring meaning, some have remained, many have changed, or the definition of those I spend the time with has changed.

This is self-care. It is messy. It is messy, because like the work with the people we serve, there are multitudes of theories and practices, it is what resonates and renews the person before us…

In self-care it is taking the person before us in the mirror.

Knowing what renews us to be the best us possible.