Wednesday, October 30, 2013

3 New Opportunities to Learn ...

Hi Everyone!

This week, I've been tripping over one learning opportunity after another, each of which has tweaked my interest and made me pause to take a closer look. So, assuming that if you're reading this blog your interests might be similar to mine, (a broad assumption, I know), I want to share a few of these gems with you in today's post. So, here goes:

1. The World Premiere of People Like Us:

People Like Us is a new one-woman play written by Saltspring Island poet and playwright, Sandi Johnson, and starring Sarah Louise Turner. It tells the story of a Canadian military policeman who returns home after the 1991 Gulf War a changed man. Kate, his wife and carepartner, is determined to help her husband heal and in doing so, becomes an advocate for veterans still fighting for the care and support they deserve.

VancouverPlays' preview describes the play this way:

People Like Us is the story of a military policeman's wife, Kate O'Rourke, who becomes an outspoken advocate for veteran's rights while courageously battling the bureaucracy to restore her husband's health and keep her family together. While fighting for a diagnosis for her husband, who she suspects is suffering from Gulf War Syndrome, Kate inadvertently becomes an advocate for people like her family whose collective cry for help continues to fall on deaf ears - the powerless veterans who served their country with honour and now feel helpless facing the minefield of red tape they must navigate - doctors, prescriptions, veterans' affairs, disability pensions, and a system that would prefer to forget them.
At a time when the new Veteran's Charter is changing the benefits soldiers receive, and veterans are raising their voices to contest these changes, this personal story illuminates the larger controversial issue of the government's obligation to the men and women they send off to war and what they do to help them once they return.

Designed to coincide with Remembrance Day and Veteran's Week, the play runs from November 2 - 16 at the Firehall Arts Centre on East Cordova Street in Vancouver and I, for one, will be in the audience. I hope that many of you will be able to be there as well.

Postscript:  I saw a preview performance of this play today and it was wonderful! Sarah Louise Turner's performance was exquisitely nuanced and she deeply embodied the chronic sorrow of family carepartners, particularly military spouses fighting against an intransigent military medical system that demands diagnosis before treatment but will not admit to the longterm effects of the chemical soup that  devastated soldiers during and after the Gulf War.  Go and see this play, then go and see your member of parliament!

2.  Work: How to Find Joy and Meaning in Each Hour of the Day by Thich Nhat Hanh:

I'm not sure how I missed this one of Thich Nhat Hanh's prolific writings but miss it I did. Published in December 2012, this new book offers simple and concrete practices for improving the quality of life in our workplaces.

Written from a Buddhist perspective but accessible to anyone, this small book offers chapters such as Waking Up, Setting Your Intention, Going Out the Door, Arriving At Work, Mindfulness At Work, Eating At Work, Finding A Home At Work, The Island of the Self,  How Your Thoughts, Speech and Actions Bear Your Signature, Meditation Before A Meeting, A New Work Ethic, Co-Responsibility, and many others.  The final one reminds us of 30 specific ways to reduce workplace stress.

Throughout these many short chapters, readers are invited to try practices such as letting the phone ring three times before answering to ensure that we are truly present to whomever is calling, reciting a poem of gratitude every morning to set our minds on a thankful path, and listening to our co-workers with only one purpose in mind - to give them an opportunity to express themselves. Simple practices but essential to peaceful living.

I think this gentle volume would be an excellent addition to any workplace or to any compassion fatigue or burnout library.

3.  CBC Radio presents Financial Expert, Gail Vas-Oxlade:

Friday November 1st's guest host on The Current will be financial expert and reality TV star, Gail Vas -Oxlade.

With a blunt, straight forward style that is both pointed and refreshing, Gail identifies the causes of our financial woes and plots paths to self-regulation and financial security. On Friday's show, part of CBC's season-long project called The Money Project, Gail will answer financial questions from listeners and talk about her new financial literacy tool kit.

It would be great to hear her opinions about the many financial concerns of family carepartners. Anyone feeling brave enough to call in?

So, these are the three sit-up-and-pay-attention learning opportunities that crossed my path this week. I hope you can enjoy at least one of them.

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