This Just In – Writing Workshop News

ashley image 2019 workshop march.jpg

Ashley Smith has today given me the details about a writing workshop she’s hosting on March 1, 2019 from 9:00-11:00 a.m. in Atlanta, Ga.

I’ve read Ashley’s blog since she first started keeping it anonymously in the early 2000s.

She is based in Atlanta. I wrote the Foreword for her first book. This workshop is not to be missed if you live in the Atlanta area.

Ashley’s blog is worth reading. It will be a real treat should you be able to attend her writing workshop.

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3 Tactics for Achieving Resolutions

I’ve figured out how to make it easier to achieve a resolution.

Three tactics are involved:

1.     Focus on one goal at a time.

Set aside everything else you want to do for now.

The secret to achieving goals and resolutions if you ask me is sequencing each goal in order from easier to achieve to harder to achieve.

Choose as the first goal the one you’re most likely to achieve.

This will give you confidence to tackle other goals and will boost your self-esteem.

Refrain from piling on multiple sub-goals along the way. You’re not an octopus who can reach for multiple items at the same time.

2.     Reward yourself for little victories as well as milestones.

To reinforce the positive behavior of having gone to the gym 2x/per week I bought myself a new doormat. It’s a cheap and cheerful pick-me-up.

3.     State your goals and resolutions publicly to members of your change support team.

In my life I’ve found that by globally recording my resolution in the blog I was able to force myself to go to the gym 2x/per week.

The one week I couldn’t do this was out of my control. Yet more often than not if you ask me a person does have control.

Holding yourself accountable to others is a foolproof way to actually do what you say you’re going to.

Healthful Snacks

pulse chick peas

This photo has been uploaded in a gigantic way. Apparently there’s a new way of saving photos that your iPhone has sent to your email as an attachment.

The chickpea and olive food products shown here do have salt. The Pulse version I prefer is the lemon-and-oregano chickpeas offering.

Either way these and the Gaea olive container are portable healthful snacks for on-the-go eating. I have on hand plastic-coated wire clips to use to close the Pulse container.

You can order these food items from FreshDirect online in New York City.

In the next blog entry I’ll talk about a so-called diet talked about if I remember in Glamour magazine years ago.

While I’m no fan of diets and I’m absolutely against the standard diets books poured out into the marketplace I want to talk about this “diet” because a couple of elements of it make sense to me.

After this I will return to talking about careers. This month–October–is National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

The Myth of Being a Superstar

Surf on over to my Left of the Dial blog to read an entry about the absolutely gorgeous Nike video with Colin Kaepernick. You can view the short film on YouTube.

The video is uplifting and inspiring. In one way I feel like I have a connection to Serena Williams and the others featured in the film. Like the lyrics to the Lorde song “Royals” each of us came from nothing spectacular and rose up to become winners.

When you have a diagnosis of schizophrenia or another mental health issue you’re told that you succeeded “despite having” schizophrenia.

Your achievements have most likely come via your own efforts. Yet minimizing your role in your success discounts how hard you worked.

In keeping with the Nike claim to be “The Greatest Ever” each of us needs to base our identity on who we are as a person not on what our illness is.

What if who you are is a biker, baker, or book lover?

Being defined by your symptoms locks you into what I call an identity straitjacket.

Using your illness as the barometer of your abilities is a mistake.

It’s quite the opposite: people can and do recover every day.

It can seem like it’s out of the ordinary to succeed when you have a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

Yet telling people they have succeeded or thinking people succeed despite having schizophrenia reinforces the myth that this is a rare occurrence.

I’m trying to publish an Op-Ed piece soon timed to October–Disability Employment Awareness Month.

I’ll give the link here if (I hope when) the Op-Ed piece is published online.

I’m confident when I tell you that being The Greatest You is all that counts.

Summer Health Tips

For those of us taking medication the drugs could interfere with temperature regulation. Thus we might not realize how hot it really is.

We could be at greater risk for heat stroke.

Anyone on schizophrenia medication should drink plenty of water in the summer. We should stay out of the sun from 12 noon until 4:00 p.m. These are the hours when the sun is most intense.

Always wear sunscreen. Apply 15 to 20 minutes before going outside.

I take Ziprasidone the generic for Geodon.

So I don’t stay outside in direct heat for more than 10 minutes in the summer.

Alas, at the gym it always seems like the air conditioner ISN’T blowing when I’m doing a routine there in the summer.

This mystifies me as I’ve been a gym member for 15 years. Ever since joining I’ve had to lift weights with barely any air conditioning blowing for every summer so far.

You might not want to do this yet I do this: I shorten how long I work out at the gym in the summer. This is because yes it can be entirely too hot in a gym during the hot weather.

A number of public libraries in New York City are designated cooling centers because they have air conditioning. Signs in front of these branches list them as Cooling Centers.

Dial 311 in New York City to locate a Cooling Center near you.

Check where you live elsewhere to see whether you have any locations listed as cooling centers.

Staying in your own home when you have air conditioning can also be okay in the summer.

Either way it’s imperative to drink plenty of water.

Everyone Hurts

We shouldn’t forget that ordinary nameless individuals–people walking on the street or waiting in line at the supermarket– are facing pain and living in agony just like Kate Spade was.

Unlike NAMI New York State I’m not going to criticize people who are shocked and in mourning because a famous person committed suicide.

Strip away Kate Spade’s status, take her name off pocketbooks, and she’s a person who despaired of finding relief just like a lot of us despair.

The truth is that external success doesn’t always inoculate a person from hardship or from being in pain or thinking they’re suffering alone in what they go through.

Too many people obtain external markers of success–the house, the car, whatever–and yet still feel empty inside.

I wrote about this in one of the blogs when I quoted Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper TV show fame: if you’re not happy now wherever you are in life today how can you be confident you’ll be happy in the future as long as a certain condition is met?

Happiness shouldn’t be linked to “having all your ducks in a row” or be predicated on achieving some kind of goal.

Waiting for the perfect condition in life to happen before you’ll be happy–or before thinking you’ve been a success–is a mistake.

The takeaway from Kate Spade’s death is that even great success isn’t enough to give a person joy.

For mental health peers it should come as a relief the idea that we can be happy even if our lives are ordinary and unremarkable.

We don’t have to win a Nobel Prize or otherwise become a “household name” like Kate Spade to be happy and feel worthy.

What I want to tell readers:

You are a success regardless of the number on the scale, the figure in your bank account, your status in society or anything else traditionally used to measure a person.

You are a success because you are your Self.

No Judgments At This Blog

This is what I think about something that happened in response to Kate Spade’s death.

NAMI New York State violated one of its own peer support guidelines: “We judge no one else’s pain as any less than our own.”

In an electronic newsletter NAMI New York State dared write:

“The heartbreak that many of Ms. Spade and Mr. Bourdain’s legions of admirers are experiencing is a fraction of the emotions felt when losing a friend or a loved one.”

The audacity! NAMI New York State feels its members are more deserving than others to feel grief about a loss. NAMI New York State dares assume that other people’s pain is less than yours or mine.

This stance will only alienate people who might have sought help.

I for one have been devastated by Kate Spade’s death at her own hands. As a person with ambition who is driven to excel I acutely understand that the fashion designer might have struggled even though she was at the top of her game.

After the death-from-illness of my mentor I have been thinking often about this dichotomy exactly: Why do some people when faced with hardship keep moving along and think things can get better? While others think things are hopeless and see no way out of their pain?

Is it partly a question of being given hope when you’re at the end of your rope? Is it mostly a question of feeling rapport with your treatment providers who can give you this hope? What is the solution to despair?

In New York City The Rita Project offers hope and healing for survivors of suicide attempts via art therapy endeavors. It seems they don’t have a website (or at least I haven’t found it via the cursory Google search hits).

I offer a disclaimer header in the menu bar at the top of the blogs. What I’m really trying to do here is to offer a haven in prose where people can be uplifted and inspired.

When people are hurting the last thing they need is to have a mental health organization discount the pain they’re in.

For the record, I was distraught when a guy I had known took his own life.

I’ve thought of a way to honor friends and loved ones who have committed suicide. I want to run this by an attorney to see about the viability of doing this. It might not be possible.

Yet hey–if you’re experiencing a hardship you deserve compassion.