So it’s good for my health to write blog posts!

Writing your way to happiness, Tara Parker-Pope [New York Times article]

The scientific research on the benefits of so-called expressive writing is surprisingly vast. Studies have shown that writing about oneself and personal experiences can improve mood disorders, help reduce symptoms among cancer patients, improve a person’s health after a heart attack, reduce doctor visits and even boost memory.

Now researchers are studying whether the power of writing — and then rewriting — your personal story can lead to behavioral changes and improve happiness.

I guess I should keep doing this writing thing then…for the good of my health. =)

~Jen

The feelings you have when your friend nearly dies

My good friend nearly died last night* Thursday. His heart stopped on two separate occasions, and both times CPR and a defibrillator had to be used to restart his heart. So, one could argue the semantics about it and say he actually died twice.

He was coming out of surgery for a relatively routine, low-risk sort of elective procedure for his shoulder. That it turned into one of those medical dramas that you wish to only view on television is terrifying.

Continue reading The feelings you have when your friend nearly dies

Jeneral finds of the week: 2015-01-25

Here are the good/interesting/provoking finds I’ve stumbled across this week: 2015-01-25

  • This post from Mommy Shorts has an honest account of guilt I feel being a momager getting from deadline (start of school) to deadline (extra-curricular, dinner, bedtime), each day craving for the kids to be asleep so I get some Me time. “When they’re awake you wish they were sleeping, and when they’re asleep you’ll want to wake them up to cuddle.”
  • I spent some time last week reading some more of the background into “GamerGate” that erupted in certain parts of the internet world last year, as I had only read the headlines before. It was depressing. The vitriol some gamers out there who heaped such vitriol on anyone, in particular Anita Sarkeesian, who deigned to put together a series of critical analysis on video games’ use of female tropes, is astonishing. The intent of the critical analysis is to challenge the industry to do better. These gamer “opponents” took it as an attack on their core belief system and way of life. More than just rude and shocking misogynist comments, the behaviour displayed by these “opponents” of these critics have ranged from outright bullying, harassment, and cyber assault.  At least it was responses from some prominent voices such as this and this that affirms there is some sanity out there. I just don’t know how it will end well. Sarkeesian’s critical series? Very thought provoking, and well worth the viewing. 
  • Who knew that modern-day archery has veered so far from its original roots? Lars Andersen of Denmark knows. The skill he displays here is truly amazing, regardless of whether there is some film doctoring (he splits an incoming arrow with one of his own!). I wonder if Torontonians will start practicing this technique at this new archery tag centre?

~Jen

<–previous week’s finds

Thank you to my friend F, the Social Glue of our group

This past weekend, we went on a trip to Great Wolf Lodge at Niagara Falls. It’s a big indoor waterpark resort that has lots of different water features, slides and pools to keep us entertained for a couple of hours each day. The place also has an arcade, craft room, and Magic Quest, that my daughter E1 absolutely loves. But it wasn’t just any regular family weekend to this resort. We went as part of a large group of 20 rooms, all organized by our friend F, so that we could take advantage of a great group rate.

Not content with this organizational feat, F also went on to plan a group kids’ birthday party gathering in one of the resort meeting rooms. This pizza and cake party not only celebrated her two children’s birthdays, but all the kids who had birthdays in January and February. She made and brought in decorations for the room, and arts and crafts activities for the kids. F even made up loot bags for each child who was going to attend the birthday party, the thoughtful contents individualized by age and interests. And of course, there is the cleanup afterwards, the unsexy part of any party. It is readily apparent to me (and everyone else) how much planning and work went into this party, while the rest of us just had to show up to enjoy.

So why on earth would F volunteer her time, energy and mental space to do all this work for other people? Continue reading Thank you to my friend F, the Social Glue of our group

Jeneral finds of the week: 2015-01-18

I know I’m a day late, but here are the good/interesting/provoking finds I’ve stumbled across this week: 2015-01-18

  • This  NYT article is written by a woman who decides to test whether this test done by psychologist Arthur Aron twenty years ago is a successful recipe for falling in love with someone. In its essence, there are a series of 36 increasingly personal questions, that the two participants are to answer truthfully with each other. While certainly no magic potion, I can see how this can transform the whole courting period into just a few condensed, powerfully intimate sessions. And in the intimacy, love can bloom.
  • There is a history of mental illness in my family, and while my family discusses the occurrence of it pretty matter-of-factly, there is not so much discussion on the actual challenges of care and agency of the person who is ill. Reading “My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward“, from Pacific Standard Magazine, is food for thought in this regard.
  • This interview in Wired with Ruchi Sanghvi, “Facebook’s First Female Engineer Speaks Out on Tech’s Gender Gap” is great to see, as a high achieving minority woman in the tech sector. A tiny bit of diversity, but big in terms of inspiration and as a role model.

~Jen

<–previous week’s finds

The Mystery of the Blue Hand: Scene from a household

It likely will be the enduring mystery of 2015 for the Toh family: The Mystery of the Blue Hand. Continue reading The Mystery of the Blue Hand: Scene from a household

Jeneral finds of the week: 2015-01-11

Good/interesting/provoking finds I’ve stumbled across this week: 2015-01-11

  • The phenomenon knowns as “Mommy brain” has some science behind it! An overview from The Atlantic. This seems apropos since I just wrote this post.
  • From the beginning of life to the end…this article (via my friend J who works in healthcare) is a good kickoff point to discuss with your loved ones what your views on a DNR for yourself would be, and theirs. I’m at a stage of life where I see my parents visibly aging, and it’s definitely sobering, but important, to discuss with them.
  • Rock climbing is not something I profess to know much about. Even so, this story about the current attempt by two professional climbers to free climb up Yosemite Park’s El Capitan is impressive. One man is arguably the best climber in the world (Tommy Caldwell). Both have been planning the route and training parts of it for the last 2 years. Hand holds are often little more than the thickness of a quarter. Caldwell’s partner Kevin Jorgeson was stuck at this one particular point, known to be the hardest pass on the whole wall, for a week! But while Caldwell could have continued on to ensure he made it to the top to claim the title of the first to complete the feat, he chose to wait for his friend. A great story of perseverance, will, teamwork, human achievement, and hopefully, glory.
  • Furniture Transformers! Living in a small semi-detached house with 4 family members, we’re always challenged in how to maximize our space. This cool murphy bed is one idea for how to combine an upstairs office and guest room. Now to start saving the money for transformable furniture…

~Jen

<–last week’s findings

Some things they don’t tell you about pregnancy, childbirth, or postpartum

Inspired by a conversation I had with some fellow mommy friends on Saturday, I’ve decided to list some things they didn’t tell you about pregnancy, childbirth, or postpartum in those pregnancy/baby books you read before having your first baby.

The size of your feet / hips can permanently change

Continue reading Some things they don’t tell you about pregnancy, childbirth, or postpartum

Falling in love with Eleanor & Park

I fell in love with this book, Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell, quickly and completely. Much like how the title characters do with each other.

Eleanor is the eldest of five children in a family smothered under poverty and the tyranny of an alcoholic, abusive stepfather. With bright red, curly hair, pale skin, Rubenesque body, and strange thrift-shop wardrobe, she stands out in school for all the wrong reasons. Continue reading Falling in love with Eleanor & Park

Into The Woods: Film Review

I’ve been struggling with my review of the movie Into The Woods (2014). On the one hand, as pure entertainment you can bring your family to, (i.e. without containing very many obvious uncomfortable topics needing explanation later to innocent ones) like an ice cream dessert, I’d say it scores a 9 out of 10. Upon deeper scrutiny, on the other hand, if what you are looking for is a main course with an expert blend of taste, aromas, textures, and appearances, I’d have to give it a 7 out of 10. Read on if you want to hear why. Continue reading Into The Woods: Film Review