Sunday, August 2, 2020

PICTURE THIS! (BECAUSE I CAN'T)



"I tasted it in reality, and that was all I got. A one time deal. I can’t taste it again in my imagination." -Brian Leibold


I discovered that I have aphantasia. Discovered in 1880, and coined it  in 2015 by  cognitive and behavioral  neurology scientists, Adam Zeman in the UK.  


I found out I had it quite accidentally, during a conversation. What this means for me,  is that I don't see images in my head.  Crazy.  It means that I have a condition that only 1 to 3 per cent of the world's population has. It never occurred to me even to investigate this phenomenon. I never knew that other people have a superpower of generating pictures just using their mind! Who would have thought?

 

Prior to a few days ago, I never gave it a second thought. Incidentally during a conversation with my daughter, I discovered I could not visualize what she was saying. Whenever I shut my eyes all I get is black with a bright/ light spot - I can't picture anything in my head at all.

 

There was an aha! moment for me, and I suddenly understood why I am geographically challenged. I cannot envision lakes, rivers on a map. And further it now made perfect sense that when I was talking to designers who were designing either my layout of the kitchen, bathroom, or landscaping I could not envision what they were creating until it was completed.  

Until today I always thought that when people said they saw images it was more like a metaphor ... or like remembering.  It is interesting thing to find out because I never knew what it meant to imagine something visually. I always thought that it was an intellectual process and not a situation of conjuring up a visual image with the mind. This knowledge does not change anything, although it does help me understand to some extent how my brain works.

 

For me, I connect through my feelings. My memory works by connecting events that have taken place directly to how I felt about it. When I tried to remember somebody, I don't get an image of them in my head; instead I get a feeling of them. Oliver Sacks, a neurologist and author, wrote a book titled The Man Who Thought his Wife was a Hat.

 

It is difficult to explain.  I think it is like all the data is stored in my brain like on a hard drive and can be reassembled when needed. But it is not stored as a picture.

 

That is pretty freaky because if – like most people - you can see in pictures it must be hard to believe that others can’t do that because it seems so natural to you.  Another insight into that amazing organ, the human brain!



Monday, June 22, 2020

Ten little Indian boys



Yesterday  was Father’s Day

A typical day growing up in a house full of siblings...


My dad, Isidor Deranger was a man of few words. But he revelled in telling stories.  He always made  them sound so fascinating. I wish I had his talent for making a simple hunting story sound like an amazing adventure.

I grew up in a large Dene family. Indeed we had a humble beginning. But what we lacked in material stuff, my father made up for by his  exciting  stories, and visions of the future.

I grew up in a house with ten brothers who all enjoyed reading, so there were always plenty of books around.

I remember picking up one of my brothers’ books when I was 11 and read it. The story was so  captivating. As I read it, it unfolded much like a movie in my mind.  Instantly I fell in love with books. It was the gateway to escape from the chaos in the home.  in the evening when it got dark we used a homemade   candle  was called " bitch light, which is  a makeshift candle made with oil and a cotton rag. 

 My brother's book was John Stienbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. perhaps this is why I like blogging, chronicling bits and pieces of my life. Possibly my childhood might be boring to most but I am cognizant that it definitely is  unique and special.

First, I am Indigenous. Secondly, I had 10 brothers. That in itself is crazy. Not the Indigenous part, but the ten brothers part.

How many people grew up with 10 brothers, in a small log cabin that did not have electricity or plumbing? 

But most importantly my mom was a force to be reckoned with and her OCD about cleanliness, that kept my sisters and I constantly occupied with cleaning is a separate story in itself.

When I pick a subject to blog, I am careful to not portray myself as a victim, at the same time, I don’t over exaggerate my blessings. I like things to be simple and straightforward and if you read it to the end and have felt entertained, or learned something new then I am satisfied.

 as I mentioned,In my formative years we lived in a small log cabin that my father built.  We had a wood stove in the middle of the living room. The woody fragrance coming from the burning logs in the stove and constant flurry of activity around, comforts me as I got older. We slept four or five to a bed. And we had three bedrooms. The boys had their own room.

 In the dog days of summer, my Dad would put the wood stove outside so, when my mom baked bread it would not make the house uncomfortably hot. There was no television.  We created our own amusement. Music coming from a small transistor radio which my brothers hooked a ground wire to was our entertainment. It gave us access to  630 CHED, a local radio station 24/7. my brothers  enjoyed reading comic books, and with trade the neighborhood children. 

In the afternoon my Dad would take my brothers  and walk down to the lake to get water, while mom and the girls prepared dinner. Dad fashioned an apparatus out of wood that allowed him to carry two large pails of water, one on each side.  the board rested on his shoulders. We could hear their  chatter getting fainter and fainter as they walked further away from the house and  all that was left was silence.

Their phantom laughter often hung in the air until we would hear them again in the distance upon their return as their laughter penetrated the silence.

Summers were enjoyable. Our neighbour would have tea dances, lively music would emanate  from their home. We were never invited because we were too young. The  dancing fiddle music would last into the wee hours of the morning.

We often would make up stories in the dark about what we thought our neighbours were up to and when we got tired of them, we would make up ghost stories until we were more sleepy than scared,  and then fell asleep.

Angelina in front of an  earlier log cabin. 
 picture of my dad in the Chip  Museum. 


Tuesday, June 16, 2020

FINAL GOODBYE 1937-2020



Elizabeth Goodwin (Deranger) 10/31/1937-06/20/20





GOODBYE DEAREST SISTER



First born of sixteen



forever in our heart


right from the start



We wish

you’d stay like a precious memory






loving you forever is not hard


with all your might you fought


time stopped  


minutes slowly float



A strong force binds your love to  us
 your beauty

  lives on in our heart




You are home


 you're free


Liz (Deranger) King/Goodwin/ 















  


Friday, June 12, 2020

RCMP GONE WILD IN CANADA

SOCIETY IN CHAOS


Chief Allan Adam 2020


We all have opinions. And sometimes we will express them without the full story being revealed. Our biases and our prejudices fill in the blanks.  We believe that our opinions hold the truth. We become indignant if we are contradicted. Even judgmental. You only have to read the comments to see this  unfolding. Even when we don’t have all the facts.

This a story which has got a lot of traction on social media. It involves a high profile  chief. I watched a short video this morning and read the comments. It was recorded by the dash camera on a police cruiser. It is the story about an Indigenous Chief, beaten by the RCMP. The video does  show the beating.

FACTS

·      He is an Indigenous Chief
·      His license plate was expired.
·      His vehicle was stopped by RCMP outside a casino.
·      He was not driving.
·      He was in the passenger seat
·      Officer manhandled his wife. This put the chief over the edge. 
·      He swore at the officer.
·      He took his jacket off and assumed a fighting stance.
·      A policeman jumped on him and they fall to the ground.
·      The policeman punched him in the head with a closed fist.
·      Police called for backup.
·      Six additional police arrived.

The  incident occurred in Fort McMurray, Alberta.  and not on the reserve.   Many after seeing the casino in the background assumed it was on the reserve.  That in itself is a racist assumption.  


Was there excessive force? Could the police have de-escalate the situation?

Did the Chief need to be beaten by two police officers to contain him?

The Chief in the story is Chief Allan Adam, a Dene from my community, the Athabasca Dene First Nation.  Honestly, Chief Adam is a bit of a hothead. In spite of the fact I felt a sickening in the pit of my stomach watching the video, and knowing what kind of comments it would generate from people who have a low tolerance of indigenous peoples.  that said, he is a strong advocate for our community. He has been anti-oil which has gotten him some negative publicity, and he has attracted enemies from the oil industry.

Indeed, he has a strong personality. In the community, he has encouraged self-sufficiency and independence, helped build a grocery store to compete against the high costs of groceries in the community with one only other store, the Northern Store (formerly the Hudson’s Bay Company). He is an activist protecting the environment.

But none of that has any bearing on why the RCMP felt they had the right to beat him up. The only explanation is that the officer believed that the Chief’s life does not matter. He could have, either impounded the vehicle, or given the Chief a ticket for driving without proper stickers.  He could have given him a warning. But he did not.

In today's climate of police brutality with overstepping people's rights, it is even more important to continue the pressure to keep their actions accountable and humane.

More importantly, we also must critically look at these stories, without jumping to conclusions or making assumptions. Because whether we admit it or not, our biases and prejudice will colour our judgment.

This story it is clear because we have the recording. What would have been the story had there been no video?  Interestingly, the officers knew they were being videoed, and that did not stop the excessive force. What does that say about them?  About our society?

I have read some of the comments of the released video of the incident on social media. Are people proud of what they write? Fortunately, the camera footage had a direct view of chief Adam.

In my opinion, this story has no gray area. The RCMP were in the wrong here.  They were never in danger of their life. Nor was  the public was  in danger. Excessive force was not required. Ego and non-discipline officers got in the way of handling the incident with appropriateness.

It is time for the police to show up for the community as mature thinking adults, not as hotheaded, emotionally immature thugs. The Chief is a human being.  A father, a husband, brother, a son.  He is a leader in his community. They showed him no respect.

The RCMP has a huge image problem. While I understand that an apology could not be considered in an active court case, due to liability, or some such nonsense.  Still, one must be issued.

An apology that includes action steps to repair the relationship between Indigenous communities and the RCMP. Furthermore, it should come with a promise that identifies clear steps of accountability to ensure that this type of incident will never occur again. The thing to consider is what kind of payoff is there to not issuing an apology?  Or will they wait until someone dies?

We don’t need a George Floyd in Canada, and Certainly not  have it be my chief. CHARGES DROPPED 

Please donate to his legal fees  

Sunday, May 24, 2020

THE GIFT

The Gift of the pandemic of 2020

At this point in the pandemic the last thing we want to think about is the gift it is presenting to us. We have pandemic fatigue. However, we might want to consider the possibility it has provided us a gift. Absolutely we are frustrated by the uncertainty and of being told what we cannot do. To some it might even seem to be limiting our innate rights to freely move about in society, and many feel that the government has no right to tell us to stop.



There has to be something in it for us it seems. 

We are social creatures and we need our community to thrive.  The frustration we are feeling during the pandemic is our basic need to be social, for human contact. Being forced to shelter in place is difficult and goes against our human instinct to socialize.  

But it is also teaching us life lessons, and forcing us to be creative, to prioritize what is important. People are learning new skills. Friends of mine are baking sourdough bread, experimenting with new recipes, gardening.  I have been reading and listening to podcasts in my quest for learning.  I have germinated seeds, something I have never done before. 
seeds


Ultimately, these restrictions on our freedom means that we will have a healthy life at the end of the lockdown. That is, if we stick to the rules of safe distancing. We get that, yet there is still some resistance, and justifications promoted by conspiracy theories, that the government is trying to control the human population. or that the virus was created in a lab and released to the population to control them. That perspective is not helpful, and misses the lessons we should be learning. 

The point for me is not that the government is trying to control its people, but rather how we as humans are responding to our responsibility of keeping the people we love safe.   The resistance to being told to do something even if it is for our own good will be an uphill battle. If we feel deep down our quality of life is reduced, there will always be resistance.

Have you considered why the front-line workers continue to do their job in the face of this danger?Because they are fulfilling a noble cause. And it is for the greater good they are willing to put themselves in danger in spite of their fear they are experiencing daily. It is not because they are fearless, they do it for the good of all daily. 


When I was in recovery from my stroke, I understood that my condition was dangerous, and that I shouldn't drive.  I voluntarily did not to not drive for over a year until, finally, my doctor sent the letter to Ontario Ministry of Transportation, and my license was revoked. For a whole year it didn't bother me that I didn't drive but I hated that now I was told I couldn’t. I was angry even as I rationally knew that it was for my own good, and God forbid if I injured somebody. Feeling this resistance is also normal. While the decision was in my hands it was my decision. Now that decision was taken away.

So, here we are in a pandemic we are told for our own good we should not be going into public, and many nonessential services are closed.  I get it. There are many unknowns about this virus. It is natural to feel fear. Have you thought about why frontline workers, such as nurses, doctors and police continue to do their job in the face of danger? It is not because they are fearless, it is because they believe what they are doing is for the greater good. It is a noble cause. 

What I find helpful is a change in my perspective anytime I am faced with the challenge, and this is no different.  I don’t view my limited freedom due to the virus as a sacrifice.

My niece
I viewed it as a noble cause. I am doing it to prevent the spread of the virus to those I love and others I don't even know, because they deserve to be safe and have a healthy life too.   It is an action of love, particularly to those with compromised immune system. And this is the gift, and the lesson pandemic is giving me. It is showing us we are not separate; we are interconnected.

We must collectively adopt new behaviours in order to stop the spread the virus by our behavior. For example, washing our hands, staying home, keeping a safe distance when we are out. Viewing my actions as a noble cause created a space where I could comfortably lean into staying at home without resentment towards the government. In the same way I viewed my license being revoked.

The second lesson of this pandemic is that we know we must adapt our previous way of doing business. To some it might even be a welcome change. The realization that we can conduct the majority of our business on Zoom, perhaps reducing time traveling, being away from home and not facing the lineups at the airport, staying in hotels etc. The question I asked myself is how do I want this change to look like? How will I adapt to post pandemic 2020? I won't go into it in this blog post, however, it is definitely a subject matter I would love to explore in a future blog.

The natural world order is impermanence.  Things never stay the same.  Change happens. At the end of the day the virus has a lifecycle and will die, in large part if we don’t resist the calls for safe distancing, frequent washing hands to protect the vulnerable. Ultimately it is up to us individually and collectively.

Also, the prediction is it will likely resurface in the fall.  And then the post pandemic measures in place will have to be extended.   The question for me becomes how many souls am I willing to see die because I resisted safe measures being asked of me.  What if it was somebody I loved?

My answer naturally is I am not willing to allow any human die because of my recklessness. I have a moral, ethical responsibility to do my part in not spreading the virus. More importantly to do it within the framework of a noble cause, with love and caring for all beings. I know, I am not being na├»ve when I say that the majority of the population also has this view. 

Some actions to help change your perspective while staying home during the pandemic:

1.     Know that you are not alone. What you’re feeling is normal.  
2.     Create new spaces in your home, for reading, meditation and, relaxation, ritual, ceremony.
3.     Spend time out in nature. Take a long mindful walk.
4.     Be playful, childlike, with a sense of wonder and newness.  Be curious, but safe.  
5.     Spend time with people who inspire you to see anew.
6.     Dare to dream big of the future, in high definition. Imagine how you want your world to look like post pandemic. How will you change the inequalities, where the most impacted were the underprivileged?
7.     Contact your peers by phone, on social media, or text.
8.     Take a moment to pause.  
9.     Slow down.
10.  Think.
    
I know that we are all dealing with different realities.  I am lucky to have a supportive family, a large house and beautiful surroundings by the Ottawa River.  But I might trade a lot of that to have my sight back and for my body to be strong again.  Others may be physically healthy but have other challenges.  Our lives are in a way a lottery.  But I leave you with this: what we can control, and maybe all we can control, is our reaction to what life throws at us.  Especially in a time of crisis.
  

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Goodbye


Yesterday morning, my brother, Patrick David Deranger (born 10-02,1951) passed away.

I still see him in my mind's eye a strong confident man. Interestingly, my mind goes back to our house in Fort Chip when I was a child. It is a sunny afternoon. Our house feels warm light and full of happiness. I remember one Christmas, he received a guitar, and taught himself to play.


My last few conversations with him were wonderful, tender, and caring. The last thing he said to me was: “You are so compassionate little sis; I know you really care for our family.” He was right. He saw my commitment to family.


I am really conflicted about his passing. On one hand, I know he is no longer suffering. In his later years he was not very healthy. Physically he had difficulty with his respiratory system, and mentally and emotionally he was in a struggling relationship. And though it all he remained true to his nature.

However, I still feel the pain of his passing. And I am happy he was in a peaceful and safe place before his death.


Days before his passing he was content. In text messages he stated that where he was living is peaceful. He was focusing on his recovery and gathering and picking up his scattered authentic self, his identity, and his self-worth.  I believe none of his siblings knew how much assistance he needed day to day.   he was a proud man, and gave everyone the impression he was doing better than he was.


He wrote to me: “I look forward to eventually independent living with a place of my own. I am single now.” He added: “Good thoughts go a long way. You love unconditionally, keep it up.”


It is satisfying to think that his last weeks were with people he felt were good people: “I am with people who have a lot of compassion and unconditional love. I am very positive and hopeful dreaming many possible things to do for the future.”


If things were different, he would still have many good years ahead. But it is not so.

He impacted many people with his positive energy, and his solemn advice, his laughter and good humour.


He was a man who could identify with “bush” life, but while he also tried to walk in the white man's world, it was conflicting for him. He questioned whether he was worthy or if he measured up. He was more than that, he was Dene. It is an amazing acknowledgement to be able to speak your language, to identify with nature, and animals. He was a very special and thoughtful man.


Towards the end of his life he reconciled those feelings knowing that he was special to be born an Indigenous person. He felt that his life had meaning and purpose, and he used those teachings for others who were struggling with their own worth. Residential schools caused many strong Indigenous people to question their worth and their significance as Indigenous people.


I am glad he was able to see his own worth before he passed.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Together Alone



The World  looks the same, but it is not 

We have technology that connects us, like the various social network platforms.  As a result, we can often feel less alone. But this is an illusion. It is a paradox that we feel more connected but in reality, we are not. I say this because we have developed habits brought on by reacting to social media on a superficial level, “liking”, “thumbs-up” posts as we mindlessly scroll through our newsfeed.

Last year, I decided to mitigate this by creating an online community. It began as a social experiment as I encouraged the members of the community to interact on a deeper level. I have seen some success, a small percentage, maybe 1.5%.  I have found that it is challenging to break people's habits by and large because of their belief in a lack of time to respond sensibly.  The result often is not paying attention to the source, and without giving a second thought to what the person posting might be experiencing. If a post requires too much reading, often it is skipped completely.  This behaviour can lead to an increase sense of isolation. It is the kind of lack of thinking that distresses me, especially in these challenging times when we need to depend on each other to get through it. 

Early in March 2020, when the Covid19 shutdown started, and people were directed to “socially distance” themselves to protect those they loved and to stop the virus spreading that was consuming the world, they over-reacted. Hysteria was all-consuming.

Fear and panic swept many countries. Ordinarily well-behaved folks began a frenzy buying spree. Toilet paper disappeared off shelves in stores globally like people’s life depended on it.  When that first happened, I – like many others - didn't know what the significance of toilet paper was.  They didn't stop there; they began hoarding food too. The world had gone mad.

Others acted in disbelief, rationalizing this was some kind of conspiracy hoax perpetrated by the government to control people. Still others ramped up their religious rhetoric, saying that God will save certain people if only they believed. And, that when your time is up there is nothing you can do about it. These types of messages encourage hopelessness.

Those beliefs made some people behave recklessly and irresponsibly and they refused to isolate, refused to stop shaking hands. They actually reveled in their rebellion, like teenagers. Co-opting others to also disobey guidelines to reduce spreading the virus.  I admit, it was frightening. it seemed surreal.  This is our shared experience. Like 9/11. I kept hearing the phrase “a new normal”.

When hubby returned from a business trip that week, I immediately sent him down to the lower level of the house to self-quarantine. The following couple of weeks I disinfected after him, anything he touched I wiped down clean. If he came close and looked like he was going to hug or kiss me, I'd say quickly don't kiss me get away from me. He handled this very well, to him the welfare of his family was paramount. I appreciate how well he took it. My son was home from University this semester, which gave me a level of comfort and reduced my stress, knowing he was safe here with us. 

At the beginning, I was consumed with the news on CNN, as the death toll began rising in China, and then Italy, US, and now Canada.  I could not stop watching, it’s like rubbernecking when you see a car accident.  My stress level was high.  I began noticing a correlation between watching this unfold on the news in real time, and my anxiety level. And I decided to limit watching CNN. It worked.

I then realized that I am not the only one feeling this way, and began checking on people to ensure they knew I was willing to listen if they needed to speak to someone about how crazy and unreal the world was becoming. The uncertainty was escalating every day, as the number of deaths were being reported, and the economic sector responded like the masses, and people began panicking and selling off shares, the stock market fell, oil prices hit rock bottom.  A recession was on the horizon. As people began self-isolating, businesses without their workers had to close leaving customers wondering if and when they will reopen. Schools cancelled classes. It was chaos. Hospitals were pleading with the government for essential emergency kits, like ventilators and protective gear.   Even the 2020 Olympics in Japan got postponed.  

All this uncertainty began to simultaneously weigh on people as the death toll continued to climb, and their confidence collapsed. We are just weeks into this “new normal” no one can predict how it will end.  I have been keeping to my regular schedule of exercise, meditation, and journaling, keeping note of what I am grateful for, the only control I have is my response to this pandemic, is my own behaviour.

In this unusual crazy world more than ever, we realize how interconnected we are, and what we do affects others.  In that realization we must strive for balance between doing no harm or harming others, while protecting our families.  Even knowing we could kill others by unintentionally transmitting the virus to them with reckless behavior.  it is an individual choice how you decide to behave. The choice is in our hands, as individuals we have to be responsible for our actions for the greater good.

Just like after 9/11, it becomes apparent that the human spirit is amazing, and our innate compassion comes out in times of catastrophe. Many do show up for others, helping and comforting. While it may seem like we are alone, we are all together in the same boat. We are not isolated. How this will end is completely up to us individually and as a society as a whole. 

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