Monthly Archives: August 2007

i don’t believe in god

yes, i don’t believe in god.

“believing in god” makes no sense to me. i don’t know what it means. and it isn’t because english isn’t my mother tongue. i grew up speaking german, and the equivalent sentence – “ich glaube an gott” – seems equally incomprehensible to me.

perhaps i will understand one day. in the meantime, i’ll say this:

i believe – so much that i’m tempted to say i know with absolutely certainty: that there exists goodness in this world, that goodness is desired by all humans, and that all humans have an immense capacity to create goodness.

what i make of this knowledge, how i wrestle with it, live it, think about its implications, that’s up to me.

one thing i have found out, after contemplating the question for a long time, that it is easier for me to live this goodness and celebrate it if i give it a name. like many others, i often use the shorthand “god” for it, and i deeply treasure the thoughts, experiences and fellowship of others who use this shorthand. but i see no reason why such naming should be necessary.

these thoughts were inspired by an article about mother teresa’s doubts regarding her faith, pointed out by one of my favourite atheists, jan.

is it “believing in god” that created so much heartache for mother teresa? would it have been easier for her had she just believed that goodness can grow in this world?

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver 

why domestic? why abuse?

an excerpt from a newspaper story from the UK:

top doctor who hit his wife 24 times is spared jail

a senior doctor who savagely beat up his wife after they argued about buying a new car has escaped a prison sentence. anaesthetics consultant stuart brown, 37, threw his wife to the floor and punched her at least 24 times as she lay at his feet.

the vicious assault on carol mcewan followed regular verbal and physical abuse during their seven-year marriage.

but brown, 37, who is thought to earn £100,000 a year, walked free from court after being ordered to pay her just £500 in compensation.

presiding magistrate john warne told him: “no punishment this court could enforce could come anywhere near the impact you feel this had on you, your profession and your colleagues.”

the case was heard in the same week a management consultant was fined just £2,000 after branding his wife with an iron because she had not pressed his shirt.

he also slashed her with a knife after she forgot to make his sandwiches.

read was even spared a community punishment because the judge ruled he was unlikely to reoffend and he was “too busy” to complete any order.

this just boggles the mind. but rather than wringing my hands, i’d like to ask these questions:

how can we prevent domestic abuse?
how can we prevent judges from making such enormous mistakes in domestic abuse cases?

these questions are not easy to answer. one idea might be that there is something overly mild about the word “abuse”.

use, abuse. we use all kinds of things, all day long. and then we just stick a little “ab-“ onto this innocent little word. abuse.

translated into relationships, one could be left with the feeling that certain forms of “use” are just fine in a relationship. a little slap, perhaps? a few minutes of in-your-face yelling? (“but let’s not leave any marks, shall we, because that would step over the fine line between use and abuse. ooops, that iron got a little too close.”)

then we have this other comfy word: domestic. home and hearth and slippers. nothing bad can really happen there, can it?

no, gentlemen, let’s not call it domestic abuse. let’s call it violence, assault or battery. or, in all-too-many cases, attempted homicide.

(for reference: “domestic abuse” shows up almost 10 million times in google; domestic violence 2.6 million; domestic assault 255,000 and domestic battery 158,000)

(and another bracket: this post was included in the 31st carnival against sexual violence.  a fantastic resource – please check it out!)

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

flaming vs. appreciative communication

yesterday, thomas from microsoft posted about blog reactions to some of robert scoble’s videos.

to those of you who don’t spend their day swimming around in the blogosphere (perhaps because your online life doesn’t completely consume all your hours?), robert scoble is a prominent speaker, author and blogger, particularly interested in the social aspects of the internet.

so scoble, once again, has the gall to have an opinion. this time he posts a video on his idea that eventually, google will be eclipsed by applications like facebook. the next day, he lets us know about some of the unfriendly reactions to that post.

what is it that drives people to be rude online? of course, i’m not exactly the first person to wonder that, so i’ll give it over to john suler and his “psychology of cyberspace” site. here are some of the reasons why people forget their manners:

you don’t know me (dissociative anonymity)
you can’t see me (invisibility)
see you later (asynchronicity)
it’s all in my head (solipsistic introjection)
it’s just a game (dissociative imagination)
we’re equals (minimizing authority))
personality variables
true self?
self constellations across media
altering self boundary

one thing i’d like to add is that this is not a new phenomenon. can some of you older folks reach back way in your memory now please … yes … there it is: there used to be a thing called “letters” (now sneeringly-endearingly referred to as snail mail).

people have always felt more disinhibited when it comes to writing. i guess that would play to the invisibility, asynchronicity and solipsism alluded to above. benny temkin and niza yanay made a study of this in ‘i shoot them with words’: an analysis of political hate-letters.

what to do about these rude emails? the people from humiliationstudies.org have an interesting suggestion: appreciative emailing. here is their pledge:

i pledge that in all my online communications, whether by way of email, posting to message boards, blogs or completion of any online form or wiki or editing of any website statement, that i will, at all times, honour the following rules:
• communicate online with respect
• listen carefully to others in order to understand their perspectives
• take responsibility for their words and actions
• keep criticism constructive
• respect diversity and be tolerant of differences

yes, i can pledge that.

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

(this post was featured in the carnival of better blogging)

fractals, rorschach, tarot and meaning making

fract-feb-14-harlequin.pnga few weeks ago, i posted some musings about how fractals might be used in psychological research. how could we use fractals to literally illustrate – turn into a picture – some of our mental and emotional patterns?

some of the commenters interpreted this as a type of rorschach test. that was actually not what i had intended – but i completely understand why it was interpreted that way, and always like goinMRI (magnetic resonance imaging)g with what my readers suggest anyway, so let’s look at this for a moment.

using a fractal to illustrate mental and emotional patterns would be similar to taking an MRI – or girl in motionperhaps to taking a snapshot of someone in motion. it’s an image of an already existing, intrinsically meaningful process. we preserve it for posterity – to record, to remember, to instruct, to illustrate, and perhaps simply to provide enjoyment through the beauty of it.

the purpose of a rorschach test is different. in a rorschach test, someone is presented with a meaningless blotch of something – an inkblot – inkblot (rorschach)and is then invited to talk about what this inkblot might be about. the image is not intrinsically meaningful. the meaning is added by the person who views it. the purpose of using these inkblots is to gain insight into the mental and emotional processes of the person looking at it – how they perceive “the world” (which is typically a reflection of their inner world).

these types of tests are called projective tests and are somewhat controversial. thehouse-tree-person drawingre are quite a few of them. i personally quite like the house-tree-person test, which involves a person taking a short period of time to make a simple drawing of a house, a tree and a person. this drawing is then interpreted; in my preferred version it is interpreted by the person drawing it, perhaps with a bit of assistance by the therapist who suggested the test.

some people, and i include myself here, would even say that using tarot cards is often a type of projectarot-strength-ancestral.jpgtive measure. the image on the card inspires us to reflect on the image of our life as we carry it inside of us.

of course the word “test” in connection with this is a bit ambiguous. using projective tools such as the rorschach, house-tree-person, the tarot or the TAT (thematic apperception test) to actually determine someone’s mental and emotional state would be irresponsible in my opinion.

one of the reasons is that just like a fractal, it really is just a snapshot. a snapshot can be suggestive of someone’s true nature but there is absolutely no assurance that it actually does reflect that nature. (insofar that there is even a thing such as “true nature” – but that’s material for another post).

(image acknowledgements: MRI by hotcactuspepper, girl in motion by TwistedHalo, house-tree-person by alexandre van de sande

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

guffs and schlopps: a bit of seutherapy

dr. seuss never ceases to amaze me. maybe we should start “seutherapy” – aaah, the sound alone of the word already conjures up something great. soothing, subversive, seuss-y and let’s not forget suess – the german word for sweet.

if you think that dr. seuss is all about nonsense, you are, with due respect, way off the mark. this is pretty profound stuff:

you can
think up
some birds.
that’s what you can do.
you can think about yellow
or think about blue . . .

you can think about red.
you can think about pink.
you can think up a horse.
oh, the thinks you can think!

oh, the thinks
you can think up
if only you try!

if you try
you can think up
a guff going by.

and you don’t have to stop.
you can think about schlopp.
schlopp. schlopp. beautiful schlopp.
beautiful schlopp
with a cherry on top.

let’s look at this:

the good doctor starts easy, suggesting you can think about everyday things like animals and colours. let’s note, though, that he uses the word “can”. not should or could but can. that implies a no-pressure open invitation (you can do this but you don’t have to), opens up possibilities and also suggests that you are capable of doing this. all that in one little word.

then he steps it up a bit, quite harmlessly-seeming. for the longest time, i didn’t even notice that he doesn’t say, “oh the things you can think” but “oh the thinks you can think”.

that sort of subtlety is the trademark of many a great artist, partly because it keeps the enjoyment fresh (if i’ve overlooked this, what else might i find?) as he says “thinks” instead of “things” he feeds us a bit of playfulness and creativity – and he hints that we can change our thoughts.

dr. seuss also steps up the encouragement. from his list of things/thinks you can think – birds, yellow, horses, etc. – he goes on to underline, with an “oh” and an exclamation mark, that all sorts of things/thinks are possible, “if only you try!”

he could leave it at that and then the encouragement might feel a bit ambiguous. “if only you try” – a sensitive person might feel criticism there: “i haven’t thought of much more than animals and other boring things, maybe i haven’t tried hard enough?”

but this great poet knows what he’s doing. by giving another example of what you can try, and leaving out the “only”, he makes it easier to image what you can think about (could we say he helps us to allow new thinks?). like a guff going by.

now why would you want to think up a guff? and what’s a guff??

guffs and schlopps are precisely the thinks we want to think up (think UP, not down, not about, but UP – lifting up our minds and ideas). we’ve already done all the other stuff – yes, we can do the horses and the pretty colours. and, let’s be honest, often they’re not horses but monsters and the colours can get pretty ugly.

that’s where seutherapy comes in. gentleness, no pressure, encouragement, playfulness and creativity can transform us, so that we don’t only have new thoughts but maybe even new ways of thinking.

there’s a slogan in recovery speak that says, “my best thinking got me here” – here being the misery, the suffering, the heartache that is so often created by deep ruts of thinking and feeling in the same way, over and over again.

let’s allow dr. seuss to inspire us to think ourselves UP out of those ruts, into new thinks.

schlopp, schlopp, guff, guff – can you hear the wings of your new thinks?

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

my blogging heroines: women who go beyond

i’m honoured that pamm from my secret spiritual dance included me in a list of outstanding women bloggers that’s going around right now. it was started by valeria maltoni of conversation agent.

do you want to know who my blogging heroines are?

quite a few, actually, but i’ll be brutal and limit them to seven. one of the criteria i used was that they had to have been blogging for at least six months, otherwise i would have also included … oh, never mind, i did say i’d be brutal.

so without further kazoo, here they are:

  • glenda from do it myself blog. i already mentioned her yesterday. she cruises america in her red car promoting her book – oh, and she has cerebral palsy. (looks like someone beat me to it – she’s already on the list)
  • vivien from inspirationbit. this woman has real depth and goes far beyond geekery. look, now she’s added a weekly book review
  • how about nickie from nickie’s nook? this amazing young woman is studying to be a social worker. she’s just written a book. her dog julio helps her write her blog. she is blind and has RSD, an agonizing chronic pain condition. never mind. she write good blog.
  • nancy writes about social media with a real social conscience and a real brain. she’s engaged, fun, inventive, and knows what she’s talking about.
  • captain lifecruiser – just met this woman. hats off to her for her very creative ways of making her blog work
  • belledame222 of fetch me my axe. she talks politics and LGBT stuff (“LGBTIQSGLGQ RUQT?” among other things) and declares her interests as “ruminating, speculating, pontificating, luxuriating, eviscerating. and cheese”
  • and then finally there is kathy sierra, the ultimate wise geek. yes, i know she doesn’t blog right now. i hope she’s recovered from the trauma created by the online death threats against her. whatever the case may be – the fact that she hasn’t been blogging for half a year or so doesn’t take away from the profound insights she has on anything from customer service to neuroscience.

hmmm … the common thread here seems to be women who go beyond: beyond disability, beyond geek, beyond blogging, beyond gender.

vivien, glenda, nickie, nancy, captain lifecruiser, belledame222 and, i guess, also kathy (can you hear me?) – if you know anyone who in your eyes deserves to be called an “outstanding woman blogger” – please feel free to continue this discussion.

and, my gentle reader, if you know anyone who deserves this moniker, let me know!

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

oh, and here are the 124 blogs on this list so far:

45 Things by Anita Bruzzese
A Look at Art & Design: Lisa Mikulski
angiemckaig.com: still a great pair of legs Angie McKaig
AnjaMerret.com by Anja Merret
Ask Dr. Kirk The Artsy Asylum by Susan Reynolds
Back in Skinny Jeans by Stephanie Quilao
Balanced Life Center-Spirituality applied to Life by Nneka
be Conscious now by Kara-Leah Masina
BlogWrite for CEOs Debbie Weil
Biz Growth News by Krishna De
Brain Based Biz by Dr. Robyn McMaster
Brain Based Business by Dr. Ellen Weber
Brand Sizzle Anne Simons
Branding & Marketing Chris Brown
Brazen Careerist by Penelope Trunk
Build a Solo Practice, LLC by Susan Cartier Liebel
Change Therapy by Isabella Mori
Christine Kane by Christine Kane
CK’s Blog CK (Christina Kerley)
Colloquium by JHSEsq
Cocktail Party Physics by Jennifer Ouiellette
Communication Overtones Kami Huyse
Confessions of a Pioneer Woman by Ree
Confident Writing by Joanna Young
Conscious Business by Anne Libby
Conversation Agent Valeria Maltoni
Corporate PR Elizabeth Albrycht
Creating Passionate Users
by Kathy Sierra
Customers Are Always by Maria Palma
Customers Rock! Becky Carroll
CustServ by Meikah David
Creative Curio by Lauren Marie
Debbie Millman by Debbie Millman
Deborah Schultz by Deborah Schultz
Defining Spiritual Presence by Greenwoman
Designers Who Blog by Cat Morley
Design Your Life Ellen and Julia Lupton, identical twins
Design Your Writing Life by Lisa Gates
Diary of Claudine Hellmuth Claudine Hellmuth
Diva Marketing Blog Toby Bloomberg
Do It Myself Blog by Glenda Watson Hyatt
Dooce by Heather B. Armstrong
EdithYeung.com by Edith Yeung
Email Marketing Best Practices Tamara Gielen
Emily Chang – Strategic Designer Emily Chang
Emily in France Emily
Enter the Laughter by Marti Lawrence
Escape Blog by Melissa Petri
Escape from Cubicle Nation by Pamela Slim
eSoup by Sharon Sarmiento
Essential Keystrokes by Char
Every Dot Connects by Connie Reece
Fetch Me My Axe
Fish Creek House
by GP
Flooring The Consumer CB Whittemore
Forrester’s Marketing Blog Shar, Charlene, Chloe, Christine Elana, Laura and Lisa
Forward Steps by Thea Westra
Franke James by Franke James
Onfac Blog by Nancy of Full Circle Associates
Get Fresh Minds by Katie Konrath
GGs Swedish WOTD by GG
Giardino del Piacere by Ceeci
Great Presentations Mean Business by Laura Athavale Fitton
Hey Marci by Marci Alboher
Get Shouty by Katie Chatfield
Goodness Gracious by Jennifer
Holly’s Corner Blog by Holly Schwendiman
ifelse by Phu Ly
Illustration Friday Penelope Dullaghan
Inspirationbit by Vivien
Inspired Business Growth by Wendy Piersall
J.T. O’Donnell Career Insights by J.T. O’Donnell
Joyful, Jubilant Learning by Rosa Say
Kinetic Ideas Wendy Maynard
Learned on Women by Andrea Learned
Lifecruiser
Lindsay Pollak by Lindsay Polla
Live the Power by Karen Lynch
Liz Strauss at Successful Blog by Liz Strauss
Lorelle on WordPress by Lorelle VanFossen
Making Life Work for You by April Groves
Manage to Change by Ann Michael
Management Craft by Lisa Haneberg
Mandarin Design Daily:The MEG Blog Michelle Goodrich
Marketing Roadmaps Susan Getgood
Moda di Magno by Lori Magno
Modite by Rebecca Thorman
molly.com Molly E. Holzschlag
My Secret Spiritual Dance by Pamm
Narrat Assets Karen Hegman
Netdiver Carole Guevin
Nickie’s Nook by Nickie
On My Desk Linzie Hunter
one coloured world Anjolie
Pass the Torch by Kelly Curtis
Peace Love Harmony by Kirsten Harrell
Presto Vivace Blog Alice Marshall
Priscilla Palmer: Personal Development Demands Success by Priscilla Palmer
Productivity Goal by Carolyn Manning
Purse Lip Square Jaw Anne Galloway
Small Biz Survival by Becky McCray
Small Failures: Sustainability for the Rest of Us Jess Sand
swissmiss Tina Roth Eisenberg
The Brand Dame by Lyn Chamberlin
this is rachelandrew.co.uk Rachel Andrew
Sheriar Designs Mani Sheriar
Spare Change Nedra Kline Weinreich
Talk It Up Heidi Miller
Tech Kitten by Trisha Miller
The copy Writing Maven Roberta Rosenberg
The Blog Angel by Claire Raikes
The Engaging Brand by Anna Farmery
The Floozy Blog by Kate Coote
The Kiss Business Too by Karin H.
The Origin of Brands Laura Ries
The Parody by Sasha Manuel
The Podcast Sisters by Krishna De, Anna Farmery and Heather Gorringe
Veerle’s blog 2.0 VeerleVersa Creations by Vivienne
Water Cooler Wisdom by Alexandra Levit
Wealth Strategy Secrets by Nicola Cairncross
What’s Next Blog B L Ochman
That’s What She Said by Julie Elgar
Ypulse by Anastasia Goodstein
Zenslaw by KT

being differently abled: the good news

yesterday, we discussed the tragic difficulties some people have with interacting with people who have bipolar disorder, are deaf, or have other so-called disabilities.

today for some good news regarding people with different abilities.

the other day i came across glenda from do it yourself. wow! this woman is amazing! she’s in a fancy car, she blogs, is an author – oh, and she also has cerebral palsy. she writes her blog with her left thumb.

talk about abilities! what an inspiring woman! (thanks to susan for introducing me to her).

then we have my friend tina, who shushes me every time i use the word “learning disability”. have a taste of it:

i have an extreme dislike for the word dyslexic because it is not true for me and because it describes me as a person with a disability. i can read but i do it in a different way so i prefer to be called “a person with an alternative learning style”.

saying that “i am a person with an alternative learning style” changes the way i see myself and that affects the way others see me.

tina, who left high school hardly being able to read or write, is in the process of finishing a book.

and then i found this little piece in entertainment weekly of all places. it’s about ryan gosling’s new movie, lars and the real girl, to come out on october 12. lars/gosling is in love with a sex doll, bianca.

“he’s really mentally unstable,” says gillespie [the director] … still, gosling doesn’t try to explain away the actions of his troubled character: “his love for bianca is as real as someone else’s love for another person.”

the film’s true heart lies in lars’ support system, including his brother, sister-in-law, psychiatrist and co-worker. “we had discussions like, do they believe in bianca? do they not?” eventually, gillespie decided to have them accept the doll out of devotion to lars. if only we could all have such understanding friends and family.

such a beautiful example of what can happen when we open our hearts, minds, eyes and ears to the “other”, to that which at first glance appears disruptingly different. when we do that, we expand our horizons.

in accepting bianca, this family does more than just humour one of its members. it jumps out of the box and opens the door to saying, “why not?” to life – life that is much bigger and wilder and more beautiful than in those regimented little ruts that we inhabit all to often.

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

(this post was part of the carnival of motivation and inspiration)