Is Mindfulness the Answer to Ending Stigma?

Please take a few minutes to make a difference. People with disabilities and their family are encouraged to participate. “Nothing about us, without us!”

Aligaeta's Blog

I’m working on my MA in Disability Studies at CUNY School for Professional Studies. In researching the subject of “stigma” I came across information in scholarly journals which caught my interest in the subject of “mindfulness” and wanted to learn more about the connection of mindfulness to disability studies. What I found was remarkable. I invite you to check out this site

and to then take this survey I’ve developed. Let me say… it brought me some hope for humanity.

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Is Mindfulness the Answer to Ending Stigma?

I’m working on my MA in Disability Studies at CUNY School for Professional Studies. In researching the subject of “stigma” I came across information in scholarly journals which caught my interest in the subject of “mindfulness” and wanted to learn more about the connection of mindfulness to disability studies. What I found was remarkable. I invite you to check out this site

and to then take this survey I’ve developed. Let me say… it brought me some hope for humanity.


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Shame and Letting Go

A friend recently spoke of me as being Low Maintenance, what he considers to be an attribute. I’ve been pondering this for days.

I find myself preferring alone to living with insanity, a respite to those who know me. Should I be counting the days since my retreat like an alcoholic counts the days since the last drink? Is there a twelve-step program I should join to prevent relapse? Lord knows on my own I have fallen. It’s amazing how clear things become as I process my thoughts into concise words. One sentence at a time I will recover. I feel healthy: strong rather than weak. Will that make this time different?

It’s not what happened that last night that brought us to an end. This time I can say it was an accumulation; I am tired of living in fear. Before now I was afraid of being alone and now I am afraid of not being. Fear was my bottom. If he reads this he will say I’m crazy. I have to believe my liberation proves I’m sane.

Low Maintenance… Is that what they call this? Did my face turn red? Should I have smiled? Yes, no one needs to know.

If anyone asks I’ll just say, “The relationship had run it’s coarse.”

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Celebrate Bartleby: The 1st to Occupy Wall Street

Those who occupy Wall Street are no different from the disgruntled Bartleby, the Scrivener of Herman Melville’s 1853 tale, whom sat in protest and was sent to the tombs. And Wall Street is no different from the day of the late John Jacob Astor with its inequal distribution of wealth and power. It is true “History repeats itself.”

Read: Melville, Herman. 1853. Bartleby, the Scrivener

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Occupied in Spirit

While this week, as those occupied have been evicted from camping at Zuccotti Park reassembled to march across the Brooklyn Bridge in protest their weeks of protest are now counted in months. They have grown in number of supporters not only in New York City but in other cities across our great nation and around the world.

Although I have not travelled to their protest sites I feel I am a part of their fight against cooperate greed, consumerism, and social inequality that has led to homelessness and hunger in what is the richest country of the world. A country where one can not even afford health care.

I write this as I apply for family health care benefits through my non-profit employer  at a cost of two hours of my eight hours daily wage. One might argue that my two days off are a health care free ride but on the other side of the coin one must consider the co-pays which make the actual use of health services though insured unaffordable.

I am grateful to have work after twenty months of unemployment a period that afforded me the opportunity to complete my final twenty credits towards my bachelor’s degree. I expected to earn more than before although in this work climate I had to accept so much less. They say it is easier to find a job when you have a job, so I continue to search because although satisfied with my employment situation I have become the working poor and I’d much prefer being back amongst the struggling middle class.

I had an interview this week with a large corporation. I had interviewed with them in the past for a position similar to my last. The interview had went well although no employment opportunity presented as the facility was delayed in opening. Now after reapplying and interviewing once again I learn that the position at the location I am applying at is not available and would I consider driving another thirty miles? This was learned after being asked and answered multiple times: What is your salary requirement?

I’ve been on enough interviews over the recent few years to have noticed human resources has become human manipulation, a strategic game where the applicant is the mere pawn. Prior to meeting with Mr. HR I noticed at least a dozen of those about me moving with great speed, women with painted faces, wearing silk blouses freshly dry cleaned, hair carefully sprayed into place and I believe I had found the corporate Stepford Wives.

After some consideration of a position that I can not even be certain would ever transpire  I thought about the individual that I am and the respect I receive and I conclude no wage is worth the exchange of my autonomy for becoming a robot in corporate society.

As we come to a close of 2011, where is our universal health care? And where has the money gone to provide services to the disadvantaged and adequate pay to those non-profit healthcare workers. That’s right… we bailed out the banks.

In support of the protest I no longer purchase on credit and vow this years holiday purchases will be slashed by the same percentage my earnings have been slashed and then reduced by another 50% in protest of corporate greed and consumerism. I am occupied in spirit.

Who will join me?

Have you made your personal commitment in protest?

Have you become occupied in spirit?

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Time to Write

When I had what seemed to be all the time in the world I spent the day blogging. Lately, life has gotten in the way: returning to work, taking care of family responsibilities, and trying to finish up on those household projects. Although I still have found some leisure time for myself to juggle games of Words With Friends and squeeze in an occasional game of the addicting Macbrickout. It is the solid blocks of time required to write that I need to reestablish.

My new job as a Residential Counselor has been going well. I feel appreciated there by both staff and clients and when reflecting on my start in my last position at a mental health residence: I am relieved not to be a replacement but a new hire therefore avoiding negative reactions from those who have difficulty with change and/or abandonment issues.

I am working a combination of days and evenings, which has both its challenges and its benefits. I am not a morning person so that 5:30 am alarm will take some getting use to. And I am not much of a night person either so arriving home as the clock approaches 1:00 am isn’t much of a joy either. The difficulty is on Wednesday after arriving home late unable to fall asleep, for fear of sleeping through the 5:30 alarm, then having to go the day on 2-3 hours sleep. I know after sometime of adjustment I’ll gain a few more hours sleep and downtime the other mornings and the relaxed atmosphere of 4-12 shifts make it all worth it. I wouldn’t want to work all 8-4’s nor all 4-12’s as I find the flexibility meets both my personal needs and is a reasonable compromise for my family that would prefer my working 8-4 and continuing to cater to all the household duties. Its time everyone learns to contribute and when they have no choice but to fend for themselves or do without I see them becoming more self-sufficient.

It was funny. A few weeks ago I prepared some extra meals and dated them in the fridge and freezer for the days I work 8-4. Matthew asked “Mom why are you making food for the nights your home?” and I told him after I get up at 5:30 and work a full day I want to be able to finish cooking something already prepared. Then he asked, “What about the days you’re not here?” I told him I’ll be eating at work and he’ll have to manage on his own.

I did take out frozen chicken cutlets Tuesday heated one up in the microwave and made myself a sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and mayo before going to work. I figured Fred, my man, would heat up the cutlets, peel and cook some carrots, and boil up some noodles. I held back my laughter when I heard for dinner he had a “frozen chicken cutlet”. Last night with nothing left out he managed to make linguine with clam sauce.

Matthew chose cereal over the pork chops the last two times we ate them I suppose he did the same last night or he joined Fred for dinner or waited for his sister to come home from work at the pizzeria with something, or ate the leftover tuna salad I had for lunch. My point is: at 19 years old I no longer feel responsible.

Now it is my turn to move in Words With Friends. Matthew has finally taken his turn. Yes, we are in the same room playing a game with each other on our personal computers. I am still waiting for Michael and Sarah to take their turns and Melissa has requested I send her a challenge. Fred has not yet responded to the challenge I sent him. Unlike my children and I, he is not a wordy. My friend Beverly from high school now living in Texas has been juggling two games at a time with me and Sue whom I’ve known since birth needs to be reminded that it’s her turn.

So like some of my fellow bloggers I’ve been busy with other thing but this morning, Friday my day off from work I am happy to have taken the time to read other returning blogs:  Hello, My Poor Blog | manofewords and My Blog Hates Me « The Big Sheep Blog and have been so inspired to write a returning blog of my own.

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Reflecting: Unemployment w/o Regret

As my state of unemployment comes to an end, I am filled with feelings of success and failure when looking back at what I’ve accomplish and what I might construe as waisted time.

Education: Returning to college to complete my undergraduate degree was the best decision I made, however, I didn’t need to take all twenty credits in one semester, nor did I need to pursue a degree with two majors. Unfortunately, my educational accomplishment did not give me the edge in the job market I anticipated, but it gave me the personal satisfaction of completing goals I set for myself long ago. When I changed my academic direction to pursue a degree in Sociology I did not want to give up my prior goal but add to it; having already worked so long toward my major in English. Re-entering, I evaluated my transcript and I could have dropped either major to lighten the course load, but I wanted to be recognized for the accomplishment in both areas and not deem myself ‘a quitter’ or to ever perceive my prior course decisions as mere electives.

I had expected soon after graduating to obtain employment and much to my surprise this did not happen. Having not applied to grad school, as August ended and the kids went off to college I felt purposeless and filled with regret.

Career: I had a career in human service specifically in the field of mental health: I was an Activities Director before becoming unemployed. Prior to that I had juggled several part-time and per-diem positions as a support worker with the school district: running a sporting program, tutoring, and as a swimming teaching and coach.  Years before, I was what they now call a mental health tech. And while finding my way I did office work, primarily bookkeeping when I wasn’t waiting tables. Now, with a degree I’m unemployed.

I applied for many positions in many fields as my background and education is vast. At times I found exciting job possibilities in education and health care that I felt were a good fit. Many positions I found were asking for extensive experience and a Bachelor’s degree or higher with pay that didn’t compensate. I’ve been considered as the candidate for positions that funding grants weren’t paid, employees changed their minds deciding to stay, and where someone with a Master’s degree snatched up that underpaying job. I have applied to agencies for multiple positions over the twenty-one months I’ve been looking figuring eventually they will hire me. That it will finally be my turn, all the while lowering my salary requirement. Instead of looking for the optimal job I changed my search to an acceptable position with possibility or a mere stepping stone with pay.

As the months passed, closing in on one-year unemployed we were entering another cold winter in the Northeast and taking the advice of family and friends I began to do something that I had control over. I began to write this blog.

Writing: I’ve been told I have a way with words. Some have said they laughed so much they cried. A fellow blogger once replied my story could be a book. I love to write and this blogging community has been great encouragement and company for me in my state of solitude. I even thought: I should learn about being a freelance writer taking an advanced writing course, subscribing to a writer’s magazine, and buying books on the subject of publishing before quickly becoming discouraged. I even expanded one of my posts into the start of my memoir only to be overwhelmed by the volume and jumbled in direction at each turning point. My love for writing like my love for babies has to be more than dirty diapers and insecurities, I need the giggles.

A writer needs a subject and for a while my subject was “The Freshie” my youngest going off in her own direction and the mother grappling for control. Much had changed when I let go not only in my writing but in trying to parent a run-a-way and I am happy to say The Freshie is gone and my sweet Melissa is home making good choices. I am looking forward to resuming my blog on a regular basis now that my despair of being alone amongst the many unemployed has lifted.

Last year, during the holidays I felt unsettled that I hadn’t given enough gifts to the children and began crocheting scarfs. I loved creating each one of them differently to each of their preferences. I kept busy between my job search and then my writing to keep my spirits lifted, I even thought: perhaps next year I’ll sell scarfs on Etsy.

Crocheting: Like writing, I crochet for love. I don’t know if I’ll be selling scarfs on Etsy, an ideal I came up with as a means of survival should I still be unemployed. I even made a beautiful afghan for the sofa and have another one in the works waiting to return to on a cool autumn day. Lately, when I think of crocheting I am planning a baby blanket. Fred’s son’s fiance Ashley is expecting. I am so excited. I think they will be excellent parents.

I kept myself busy during that long winter and in early spring I began planning an extensive garden. With my funds limited, land plentiful, and unlimited time on my hands I invested in seeds.

Gardening: By the time Hurricane Irene crashed into New York and the flooding that came after, my garden was long ago harvested. I sowed an early crop: potatoes, lettuce, spinach, peas, green beans, beets, carrots, and then cucumber, basil, cilantro, and a few pumpkins before giving up in the early August heat. I had grown so exhausted chasing the weeds and fighting the beetles that I gave up the prospect of a later season crop. In stopping there, I called my garden a huge success with plenty to share. I even sold some produce to my friend to sell at his farm stand making back some of my initial investment and I happily ate the rest.

It is suggested that the garden be rotated from year to year. If I learned anything sowing such a large garden it would be to plant the center of the garden with its full sun earliest in the spring and then in the hotter weather plant in the partly shaded area. The way I had the garden planted it seemed everything was ready to harvest at the same time instead of gradually as I had planned. If I am still here next spring I have learned how to make better use of the land.

Home Renovations: Everything that was done we did ourselves. Fred and I are pretty handy and determined once we get going on a project. Being stuck here at home the way it was had become unbearable and a great motivator. There was periods of frustration when we couldn’t move forward because we had to wait for a truck to pick up sheet rock or waiting for the layers of wall compound to dry to sand or having to clean up to live in a construction space only to mess it up all over again. Then Fred got upset when we were trying to prepare the walls and ceiling in the kitchen and I surprised him with a dishwasher that I insisted immediately got installed not realizing plumbing and electricity would be a factor. I bought the dishwasher because things weren’t moving along fast enough and there I was slowing things down adding this project to the long list of others.

We have two houses between us. We live in mine and when there is money we renovate his. When there is no money we go back to renovating mine. My hope is that when we move into his house it will be finished and when we move out of mine it will be finished also. I don’t know if I will sell or rent my home but I plan to be living in the larger house without the expense of a second house.

At the end of the month I start my new job. Before then, I will have the inside of my house all painted. That is the plan. Then I will think about the long over-due roof.

When looking back at it all I am satisfied with my accomplishments. I took care of what I could and I did the best with what I had. I let go of unrealistic goals and achieved some beyond my expectations. I believe I will be happy in my new job. Sometimes we have to step back in order to move forward. I could have done this all differently, with a blanket thrown over my head but I did not. I came out the other side to a new day, to a new beginning. Another period of hardship has come to a close and I’d like to think I am a stronger person having 1500 words to write about it when I could have just said…




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