On grief

‪It’s common to think that there’s something wrong when we feel pain, but when our life has been deeply entangled with that of another being, the two of us are part of one emotional system — a kind of shared love that flows between us. In that kind of a relationship we’re not, on an emotional level, two entirely separate beings. And so when we lose the other, it feels like a part of us has been ripped out…

‪Grief is an expression of love. Grief is how love feels when the object of our love has been taken away. ‬

– Bodhipaksa

The above excerpt taken from http://www.wildmind.org/blogs/on-practice/buddhism-grief-and-loss

I will try and remember that the next time I grieve. I grieved for the loss of a close friend. She did not die. It was just I realised that the relationship between us was too much work fraught with too many problems with me giving and her taking. I could connect with her but I was wanting to separate and be further apart and away from her because the relationship had become painful. For me.

I also realised I wanted too much for the relationship to work. Because of my kids. And I will always be thankful that it was her son reaching out to mine in the first place that helped my son gain trust in the power of opening up, sharing and participating with others. Yes the friendship seems to have soured between them now. The boy developed a mean bullying streak as time wore on, seemingly alike to his mother, who has the naive full-blown hopefulness of a child when entering into a new friendship, only to become bitter and defensive when they realise that the object of their affections turned out to be less than their initial hopes and dreams. They saw us as, I don’t know, more perfect and more in congruence with themselves at first. Then as they got to know us, they realised we were flawed in their eyes. More flawed than they were willing to accept.

I shouldn’t blame myself. I don’t. But part of me sees the whole picture for what it is and despair that none of mine and my son’s attempts to return contempt for acceptance and love worked. Or maybe it had worked but very slowly. I have no desire to continue with this for years on end with a woman who is troubled mentally and grew up in adverse familial surroundings and who seems never to have gotten over that fact despite marrying well. I cannot continue to act like her therapist. I’m not even getting paid (joke) but really when I made a friend, I was seeking a friend who accepts me on some fundamental beliefs. Not berate me every time I fell short of their expectations.

The last straw was when she called me a coward in front of 2 other people. One of whom was a new acquaintance so didn’t know me. Another is a good friend of mine. She called me a coward simply because I refused to deal with a problem in the way she would like. Her style is to be aggressive. I refused to do it like that. I preferred to deal with it more diplomatically. She takes my approach as a fundamental and serious flaw in me. This I have sensed and observed in her responses to me over time when other situations have cropped up and I chose to resolve things my preferred way. She has never openly criticised me in front of others who didn’t know me well at all, but when she did that, I felt it was the last straw. 

I was done with her. I do not want to continue to invest time and energy into a relationship when the other only treats my most treasured fundamental beliefs as serious and disgusting flaws. That she thinks I am a doormat (a trait which she despises as she has always said she valued honesty above all else, and in her view, honesty is synonymous with aggressive tactics and violent words if need be). I think this can also be the reason why whenever she meets up with me one to one, she would keep talking endlessly about her problems with other people in her life. It never dawned on her that I could be bored with it. And perhaps I could have suggested playing a board game instead to pass the time. Perhaps. But she isn’t a game-playing sort of woman. She is harsh and severe and serious. Perhaps I misread her and perhaps there is another side of her I haven’t discovered.

But at the end of the day, this relationship is too much work for me. 

I am not committed enough to want to work at it. You have no idea how much feeling and baggage I have accumulated through life around the concept of “commitment”. So when I said I am not committed enough for this relationship, I felt at the moment like repressing that thought and then telling myself “No! You must work at it! Wonderful things might befall you after you have made it work!” All projections of grandeur guys… I know because I went through life being too uncommital with work and studies, and human relationships, that all that chopping and changing I did… well I often feel like maybe I wouldn’t be struggling in life so much now if I *did* stick at something back then even if I didn’t want to do it. 

On the other hand I am aware all this self talk of issues, commitments, wants and judgments from myself are all illusory in nature in the grand scheme of things. I think of the universe as a great vast place. A living mega-entity, of which I am a tiny part of, which will always take care of itself, continue doing what it does, regardless of what I say or want or do. I know this is so from my own studies in Biology as well as my own experiences while meditating and from the countless spiritual resources I’ve consulted.

This duality I have in my head… 

Ahh… Am I always going to live like this till the day I die? And I say death as in the death of my physical body.. I am aware that the same cells and particles that make me up will go on to become part of something else in this mega-entity called the Universe. I know my body parts will live on in this world as something else.

Beautiful isn’t it?

So why am I always finding it a challenge to see human flaws as beautiful? Aren’t they also part of this mega-entity we call the Universe? Aren’t they part of this beautiful thing? They do help make it beautiful too. Yet so difficult it is to see them as so.

As I write this, I feel it has been a cathartic exercise. I feel better already. But of course, emotions change constantly, so don’t know what tomorrow brings. I should not be afraid of the challenges to come though, but somehow I feel I am.. 


Would you support the ban of fireworks in the UK?

In Singapore (the country of many bans), fireworks have been banned for decades for public use except for certain events where safety precautions have been taken… and I know many Singaporeans who look to countries in the West for their freedoms and moan about their lack of freedom in Singapore. Singapore after all is a country with a “benevolent dictatorship. Singaporeans grow up knowing there are things the government banned for their own good…. things the government deems too important to allow the public to experiment with and learn by trial and error. Fireworks being one of them. Bubble gum another… and now in the UK there are people calling for this ban. Are they serious? Yes they are. An online petition for the ban of fireworks has been started on the British government’s website that has now amassed just over 5300 signatures. If the number of signatures reaches 10,000, the petition will be debated in parliament. It does look set to get that way. The petition was started on the 10th October and has already generated that many signatures.

The reasons calling for the ban in the UK are a bit more multifaceted than the reason behind the Singaporean ban though. Singapore’s fireworks ban was started due to the government’s perception of its dangers to human beings alone. It stems from a Chinese tradition of lighting firecrackers during festivities, which caused quite a lot of property damage, deaths and injuries. The UK’s ban – because the British love their animals so much – is deemed necessary by some because it not only causes deaths and injuries to people, but also animals. 

Of course there are Singaporeans unhappy with the many bans imposed on the by the government. They write articles such as this.

 Some Singaporeans might call this regression. 

But frankly, I don’t really care much for fireworks myself so if the ban goes ahead, it wouldn’t bother me.

If you’re interested in signing the petition for the ban on fireworks in the UK, go tohttps://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/168663

Kids’ tablets recommendations

I give my kids “old” technology to play with. “Old” but quite reliable workhorses like the Nexus series of tablets and phones. So when I ditched my Nexus 4 phone (which was still zippy and fast) a few months back, I passed it to my son. It works really well as a iPod Touch type thing (an Android version of the iPod Touch of course… ) It is fast, capable of handling most gaming apps, and has a somewhat decent camera and videocamera. It can basically do everything he wants – play Minecraft? Check. Roblox? Check. YouTube? Check. Even Spotify. Check. I’m sure it could handle other games too, but for now that’s all he wants to play with. And at 16GB storage, it would be fine with the one or two large game files… It would struggle to cope if social media apps like Facebook and Twitter were installed. Luckily my son is too young for all this anyway. This beats the price of an iPod Touch surely. For all the iPod Touch features he needs, this can do just as well. When I looked on Ebay, I saw iPod Touches easily going for 150 quid and over. There is no way I am spending that kind of money on a small handheld phone-size device for a young child. And I do not wish to encourage more gaming time by buying the latest and most appealing slick devices on the market. I’m quite happy with the black low-profile looks of the Nexus 4, and it does what it needs to do.

I got a Nexus 7 tablet off Ebay for around 50 quid. It is the 2012 1st Gen 32GB model. Excellent almost new condition. Has around the same speed of processor as my Nexus 4 phone… with double the storage and a larger screen. Perfect..  Only problem is that at first we installed all of the Android updates so the tablet was at Android version 5, and the tablet got super sluggish. I tried researching everywhere on the internet and found out it could just be that this old thing needed an older version of Android OS to work smoothly, so I tried to unenviable task of rooting the phone and reinstalling an older Android OS on it. Specifically Android 4.4.4 KitKat… as that would be just over the minimum OS requirements for the games my kids play today. At first I really bugged up the tablet big time by following a website’s advice. The tablet couldn’t even boot up. I guess I am too much of a newbie at this sort of thing to really be able to follow the instructions properly. There were steps not described, perhaps presuming I would know… No I didn’t. I finally stumbled upon this page here http://www.wugfresh.com/nrt/ which actually provides an installer that I simply download and install onto my computer. Select the right options, and then click go, and it does everything for me. It’s really easy. I will include instructions on how I did this in a following post to this one. It is basically information I have distilled over reading several websites. This is the thing. No single website was able to give me all the answers I needed to fix my tablet up properly.

We do have an iPad Air at home now and it’s a 2nd hand one bought directly from the Apple Refurbished store. It is cheaper than new, and looks and acts like new. Perfect…

My verdict? Apple iPads are nice. They are visually stunning and run very smoothly. That is not to say they never crash. Oh yes they do. But it still gives the illusion of running smooth and fast. I think it is in the way the apps are programmed to transition from one process to another. It just looks and feels buttery smooth… even though it can malfunction at times. Some aspects I found annoying, for example the ease at editing chunks of words and paragraphs when typing on Android devices… they are trickier to do on an Apple thingy. Also difficulty in copying and pasting web page addresses from a browser to say, Facebook Messaging messages that I’m typing out to friends and family. I don’t know why it is impossible to do this on Apple things but so easy on Android… There are loads more niggly things… but I’ll just say now that if you’re looking for a budget tablet device for a child, go on the market and look for 2nd hand Nexus tablet or phone (for a smaller device size). You can’t go wrong with that.

The grammar school system can be improved, not scrapped

I was asked recently by a campaign organisation if I want them to do any campaigning for or against grammar schools. Well this is not a simple decision to make and I have my own thoughts on it.

To give a bit of an intro to my background, I currently home educate my 3 children. 1 or 2 of them may never go to Uni or be academic material, due to their mild learning difficulties and special needs profile. 1 of them has aspirations to work with animals but we’re all happy for her to do whatever helps to materialise this dream. Thus we won’t be necessarily aiming for vet school (which would entail possibly applying to grammar or selective schools when she is 10) but we’d also consider either schooling or home educating and doing exams as a private candidate in local exam centres for GCSEs and A levels so she can apply to Uni to study Zoology, or helping her gain experience working with animals locally.

​I think grammar schools are good for certain children (I benefitted from a similar system in a former Commonwealth country -prior to grammar I went to a state primary where I was bullied for being booksmart and not stretched in my abilities). I also think the existence of such schools ensures a better educated population and this will drive progress for the nation. I also think that it is important to remember most of us are not naturally talented at academics and comprehensives and sec moderns should not be focusing on making their students do well in academics but rather teach from a more holistic mindset, helping each child in their schools find their natural talents (which should not be focused on academics in the main, unless the child requests for it or shows a strong interest or ability in it). I think it is a complete waste of time and money for the government to make all comprehensive and sec moderns focus on pushing academics on their students, who may not have an academic bent and may grow to loathe school altogether and not do well in exams simply because the schools are pushing them in  directions they are not naturally inclined to nor interested in. I support the existence of a more child-led approach to children who are in state comps and sec moderns. Allow them to focus on their interests, support their focus, and not force them to do better in academics especially when they don’t want to do academics.

What also upsets the whole system in the current situation is that richer parents are “buying” their children a way into grammar schools by private tutoring or such. A lot of revision books for 11+ can be found in bookshops and the like. Any child can be drilled to do better at that kind of questions. This, coupled with private tutoring, can help a more mediocre child get in and deprive someone who is naturally talented a place. So I propose that firstly, grammar schools use exam questions that children cannot be drilled for at home or with private tutors. If Oxbridge unis can set entrance exam questions or interviews that applicants cannot be easily drilled for, surely grammar schools can come up with something along the same vein?

Secondly, the way the 11+ is administered in this country (or at least in the parts of the country I’ve lived in) is currently an “opt in” type arrangement where children are only entered to do the 11+ exam if their parent/carer applies to the grammar school or council for them to do the exam, when they are beginning year 6. This is disadvantageous to parents in poorer households who may not be knowledgeable of, or know how to access advice pertaining to 11+ exam applications and such, these affected parents may miss out on helping their children obtain a place in the 11+ exam. So these children won’t even get a shot at these exams. I propose that all state primaries ensure all children in their schools are entered automatically for the 11+. In fact, I think the 11+ could be done in place of KS2 SATS or perhaps it might be possible to come up with a Year 6 exam paper for all children that combines KS2 SATS and 11+ questions so average and higher academic abilities of children can be measured and then children who perform very well in these exams should automatically be offered a place at the local grammar.

That’s what I think at the moment about the situation. 

There are many iniquities in life. In fact life itself isn’t “fair”. Perhaps my vision is short-sighted or would still in some way perpetuate those iniquities in society, but I don’t think iniquities can ever be eliminated nor are they better if we changed all schools to comprehensives and made all children focus on whatever those in charge deem worthy of their attention. 

In fact as a home educator who has read up a lot about unschooling and John Holt and Gatto, I feel a lot of modern compulsory education today is not ideal. I’m more in favour of schools that encourage autonomy (like the Sudbury school which, if not for its prohibitive fees, might be better for many children than any of the state or private alternatives). 

However I do think that there are a lot of forces in society outside of my control. That no matter what my personal preferences are, there are a whole lot more people out there who disagree. I know I am quite unconventional, and I do find that in daily life I have to make certain adjustments to accommodate conventionality so I can still mingle with most people I meet on a daily basis whether for work or pleasure, like dressing in a more conventional manner to compensate for my unconventional thoughts or keeping up with general trends. Otherwise I’m afraid my personal interests would bore a lot of people to death and most people don’t want to enter into conversations about them!

State schooling is a way of learning conventional ways of the majority, and it would be difficult to argue against it. Going private or going to grammar will allow the less conventional people to learn convention (though not in as large a degree as going to a state comprehensive) whilst being free to express or practice their natural inclinations towards academics without being ridiculed or bullied for it would benefit them. I think those poorer children who are less conventional in certain areas (and I am arguing that having a naturally high intellectual IQ and natural inclination for academic subjects sufficient to cope well with grammar school curricula is a form of unconventionality especially when one comes from a working class background) would certainly benefit from assistance with grammar school entry, in ways that I’ve stated above. 

Ideally our state schooling system would have adequate schools to cater for those who are grammar school material, those who are autonomous learners, and anyone in between. However for now the system is very limited, very one-size-fits-all (even when it is evident it doesn’t). The overhaul of such a system would be a mammoth task and I don’t even think it is a realistic goal what with the current situation in politics and societal expectations and culture as a rule.

But grammar school reform and improvements can certainly be a step forward. Academics can do a lot for the country’s progress in terms of upper level management in all sectors of society as well as research and development, which will improve the country’s export potential and expertise, so it makes sense to start with encouraging those who are naturally more able (but due to poorer family backgrounds aren’t given adequate access to grammar schools to fulfill their talents) to go to grammars, rather than allowing mostly the children of parents wealthy enough to buy in tutors and revision books to drill their children into such schools. 

Inevitably this ability gap will be evident and these drilled children won’t be as ingenious as the naturally talented in tertiary education level for a start. We need the best talent to lead the country forward. Not a pool of rich mediocre people who could not have gotten to high places without their parents’ help.

Johnson & Johnson just lost another talcum powder cancer lawsuit

Alright this news report just hit my Facebook newsfeed because my friend posted it.
I immediately felt drawn to this because Johnson’s talcum powder was quite the ubiquitous product in households when I was growing up in the 80s. In fact I remember my mother used to dust my baby siblings’ privates with talcum powder when they were wearing cloth nappies, as a way to prevent nappy rash from forming on wet skin – cloth nappies just weren’t as absorbent as your modern day Pampers nappies. I have no doubt she did the same to me when I was a baby too.

A closer look at the actual documentation in the court case explained what the issue was about. It has been shown in past research (quite a lot of research done too) that talc is heavily associated with ovarian cancer WHEN DUSTED ON WOMEN’S PRIVATES OVER AN EXTENDED PERIOD. Although the American Cancer Society says it is not clear if products containing talcum powder increase cancer risk and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization, classifies talc as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”, the research done so far has been conclusive enough for companies such as condom manufacturers to stop dusting manufactured condoms with talc. The skin on women’s privates is thinner than the skin on other parts of the body, hence perhaps facilitating easier absorption of carcinogenic compounds into the body, causing cancer. That’s my understanding of it anyway.. Does freak me out a little knowing that my mum used to use talc on her babies’ privates to prevent nappy rash! Will keep me thinking about it years down the road, wondering if it could cause me to develop ovarian cancer in later years.

Coming back to the topic here, the reason why Johnson’s lost the court case is because they knew about the research linking talc with ovarian cancer, plus they knew there were  alternatives to talc such as cornstarch (see point 73 below in the court document), yet they  still used talc in their powder products anyway, and did not put a disclaimer label on their talcum products to warn consumers of the link between use of the products and ovarian cancer.

Anyway, if you’re reading this and you’re interested, here’s the relevant portion of the court document that explains the link between talc and ovarian cancer :

71. Talc is a magnesium trisilicate and is mined from the earth. Talc is an inorganic mineral. The Defendant, Imerys Talc America, Inc., f/k/a Luzenac America, Inc., mined the talc contained in the PRODUCTS.

72. Talc is the main substance in talcum powders. The Johnson & Johnson Defendants manufactured the PRODUCTS. The PRODUCTS are composed almost entirely of talc.

73. At all pertinent times, a feasible alternative to the PRODUCTS has existed. Cornstarch is an organic carbohydrate that is quickly broken down by the body with no known health effects. Cornstarch powders have been sold and marketed for the same uses with nearly the same effectiveness.

74. Imerys Talc has continually advertised and marketed talc as safe for human use.

75. Imerys Talc supplies customers with material safety data sheets for talc. These material safety data sheets are supposed to convey adequate health and warning information to its customers.

76. Historically, “Johnson’s Baby Powder” has been a symbol of freshness, cleanliness, and purity. During the time in question, the Johnson & Johnson Defendants advertised and marketed this product as the beacon of “freshness” and “comfort”, eliminating friction on the skin, absorbing “excess wetness” helping keep skin feeling dry and comfortable, and “clinically proven gentle and mild”. The Johnson & Johnson Defendants compelled women through advertisements to dust themselves with this product to mask odors. The bottle of “Johnson’s Baby Powder” specifically targets women by stating, “For you, use every day to help feel soft, fresh, and comfortable.”

77. During the time in question, the Johnson & Johnson Defendants advertised and marketed the product “Shower to Shower” as safe for use by women as evidenced in its slogan “A sprinkle a day keeps odor away”, and through advertisements such as “Your body perspires in more places than just under your arms. Use SHOWER to SHOWER to feel dry, fresh, and comfortable throughout the day.” And “SHOWER to SHOWER can be used all over your body.”

78. The Plaintiffs used the PRODUCTS to dust their perineum for feminine hygiene purposes. This was an intended and foreseeable use of the PRODUCTS based on the advertising, marketing, and labeling of the PRODUCTS.

79. In 1971, the first study was conducted that suggested an association between talc and ovarian cancer. This study was conducted by Dr. WJ Henderson and others in Cardiff, Wales.

80. In 1982, the first epidemiologic study was performed on talc powder use in the female genital area. This study was conducted by Dr. Daniel Cramer and others. This study found a 92% increased risk in ovarian cancer with women who reported genital talc use. Shortly after this study was published, Dr. Bruce Semple of Johnson & Johnson came and visited Dr. Cramer about his study. Dr. Cramer advised Dr. Semple that Johnson & Jonhson should place a warning on its talcum powders about the ovarian cancer risks so that women can make an informed decision about their health.

81. Since 1982, there have been approximately twenty-two (22) additional epidemiologic studies providing data regarding the association of talc and ovarian cancer. Nearly
all of these studies have reported an elevated risk for ovarian cancer associated with genital talc use in women.

82. In 1993, the United States National Toxicology Program published a study on the toxicity of non-asbestiform talc and found clear evidence of carcinogenic activity. Talc was found to be a carcinogen, with or without the presence of asbestos-like fibers.

83. In response to the United States National Toxicology Program’s study, the Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrance Association (CTFA) formed the Talc Interested Party Task Force (TIPTF). Johnson & Johnson, Inc., Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc. and Luzenac were members of the CTFA and were the primary actors and contributors of the TIPTF. The stated purpose of the TIPTF was to pool financial resources of these companies in an effort to collectively defend talc use at all costs and to prevent regulation of any type over this industry. The TIPTF hired scientists to perform biased research regarding the safety of talc, members of the TIPTF edited scientific reports of the scientists hired by this group prior the submission of these scientific reports to governmental agencies, members of the TIPTF knowingly released false information about the safety of talc to the consuming public, and used political and economic influence on regulatory bodies regarding talc. All of these activities have been well coordinated and planned by these companies and organizations over the past four (4) decades in an effort to prevent regulation of talc and to create confusion to the consuming public about the true hazards of talc relative to ovarian cancer.

84. On November 10, 1994, the Cancer Prevention Coalition mailed a letter to then Johnson & Johnson C.E.O, Ralph Larson, informing his company that studies as far back as 1960’s “. . . show[ ] conclusively that the frequent use of talcum powder in the genital area pose[ ] a serious health risk of ovarian cancer.” The letter cited a recent study by Dr. Bernard Harlow from Harvard Medical School confirming this fact and quoted a portion of the study where Dr. Harlow and his colleagues discouraged the use of talc in the female genital area. The letter further stated that 14,000 women per year die from ovarian cancer and that this type of cancer is very difficult to detect and has a low survival rate. The letter concluded by requesting that Johnson & Johnson withdraw talc products from the market because of the alternative of cornstarch powders, or at a minimum, place warning information on its talc-based body powders about ovarian cancer risk they pose.

85. In 1996, the condom industry stopped dusting condoms with talc due to the health concerns of ovarian cancer.

86. In February of 2006, the International Association for the Research of Cancer (IARC) part of the World Health Organization published a paper whereby they classified perineal use of talc based body powder as a “Group 2B” human carcinogen. IARC which is universally accepted as the international authority on cancer issues, concluded that studies from around the world consistently found an increased risk of ovarian cancer in women from perineal use of talc. IARC found that between 16-52% of women in the world were using talc to dust their perineum and found an increased risk of ovarian cancer in women talc users ranging from 30-60%. IARC concluded with this “Evaluation”: “There is limited evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of perineal use of talc-based body powder.” By definition “Limited evidence of carcinogenicity” means “a positive association has been observed between exposure to the agent and cancer for which a causal interpretation is considered by the Working Group to be credible, but chance, bias or confounding could not be ruled out with reasonable confidence.”

87. In approximately 2006, the Canadian government under The Hazardous Products Act and associated Controlled Products Regulations classified talc as a “D2A” , “very toxic”,
“cancer causing” substance under its Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS). Asbestos is also classified as “D2A”.

88. In 2006, Imerys Talc began placing a warning on its Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) it provided to the Johnson & Johnson Defendants regarding the talc it sold to them to be used in the PRODUCTS. These MSDSs not only provided the warning information about the IARC classification but also included warning information regarding “States Rights to Know” and warning information about the Canadian Government’s “D2A” classification of talc as well.

89. The Defendants had a duty to know and warn about the hazards associated with the use of the PRODUCTS.

90. The Defendants failed to inform its customers and end users of the PRODUCTS of a known catastrophic health hazard associated with the use of its products.

91. In addition, the Defendants procured and disseminated false, misleading, and biased information regarding the safety of the PRODUCTS to the public and used influence over governmental and regulatory bodies regarding talc.

92. As a direct and proximate result of the Defendants’ calculated and reprehensible conduct, Plaintiffs were injured and suffered damages, namely ovarian cancer, which required surgeries and treatments.


Working with NVC

I am so happy to have received my GROK cards. It would help me improve the way I use NVC, I am sure. Already, I have seen some major insights from using it tonight. I was quite affected by S’s comment to me about a parenting post I made on FB tonight. I meditated and worked on my feelings and needs about that incident.

So I picked out and narrowed down to 5 or 6 Feelings cards first. I had Resentful, Irritated, Shocked, Anxious, Furious and Embarrassed.

Then I picked out Needs cards to illustrate the Needs I felt were applicable to the situation. I felt loads.

Then after working through the Needs, I started to see a pattern to how they produced certain Feelings in me when they are not met. Tonight as it was my first use and I was using it to meditate on an upsetting experience, all the Needs I picked were Needs that I wished I had more of when it happened…

So I tried to rearrange the Needs cards with the Feelings cards in a way that best showed, to me, how which of my Needs, when they are not presently met, could produce which of my Feelings. This was how it looked :


It might differ for each individual but to me, this was it. I compared it to the Needs inventory here to try and see which major categories of Needs when not presently met, trigger which Feelings.

So very interesting… I seem to see a bit of a pattern there:

– I seem to feel Resentful when my needs regarding Connection with others are not presently met. I guess I get too tangled in my need to Connect with others, I start to hate it when they don’t meet those needs. Which isn’t really what I’d like to continue… I want to free others and myself from the expectation that they are somehow “supposed” to meet my needs and I, theirs’.

– I seem to feel Irritated when I feel like my time is wasted or I didn’t do things as well as I would like (Efficiency); when I feel like I am not satisfying my intense need to learn, grow and be inspired (Learning & Growth + Inspiration); when I am not feeling well (Ease & Comfort). I like to be on form and constantly learning and improving.

– I feel Shocked when my need for Love and Compassion aren’t met presently. Wonder what I can say about this? Do I expect love and compassion so much that I am Shocked when it doesn’t happen? Erm. Yes. I guess so. Which again, I want to work towards NOT expecting others to do for me. I need to love and be compassionate to myself. Not expect others to meet those needs so I could have them met. This could be done by parts work and developing a strong True Self.

– I get Anxious when my needs for Connection with others (especially to do with harmony or getting along) are not met. And I know the reason for this very well.. Because in my primitive fight-or-flight part of the brain, it has been hardwired into me in childhood that disharmony or disagreement could lead to violence. It might seem odd to someone reading this, that I might feel like there is a threat of violence whenever I don’t feel like I’m getting along with someone. The reason for this is because I grew up with a mother who would sometimes hit me if I expressed any disagreement with her. Such things stay with you. Sad to say, as an adult for so many years, I’m still working through these feelings, hence the anxiety. Also if my needs for Security, Trust and Hope are not met, I get Anxious too. Hope is a big driver of my motivations to live. Without hope, I would rather be dead. Because I am an out-and-out INFP Idealist. I even paid to be MBTI-tested at CAPT so I know the INFP “diagnosis” is true.

– I get Embarassed when my needs for Connection with Others (wrt Acceptance, Respect, Understanding, I.e. basic respect and dignity) are not met. I think I could have picked the Dignity card too, really, now I think about it. I want to work towards not expecting others to meet my needs for Acceptance, Dignity, Self Respect. I can do that for myself via parts work once again, via developing a strong True Self.

– I get Furious when my need for Space (inner peace) and Consideration (from others) isn’t met. Because I always try to do this to others wherever possible and I get angry when others don’t treat me the same way… But I guess this is coming down to feeling like a victim if I think this way. If someone isn’t meeting my need for Space and Consideration, I find others who do to meet those needs.
Also I have merged the Needs cards for Embarrassing Feelings together with Furious Feelings cards because I do notice that when I am embarrassed because others are not showing me respect, acceptance dignity, etc.. I get Furious too! And Embarrassed! Because I tend to act out rather than let it stew inside. It’s part of the Blame game though if I act out… It is something I am actively working to change in me. A very jackal part of me. To expect that others “should” do certain things or to try and control /change them to please me. It is not giraffe and stimulates in me a lot of inner pain (feelings of Embarrassment merged with Furiousness). I want to work on developing my ability to let things be and to look at the expanse and wonder of the universe and its possibilities and not to be so narrow/one-track-minded/dual-solution-minded/my-way-or-the-highway-minded.

I guess it all comes down to also doing parts work, learning to develop a strong True Self with self-belief in the way the universe always works things out in its own mysterious ways – too big and powerful for me to fully understand. But I can appreciate the vastness of what I cannot comprehend and what I can only put faith in.

A big realisation I had tonight though, was how ambiguous S’s reply to my post was. It could mean so many things, but I reacted to the negative interpretation. After I’d had time to meditate on it, I realised she could have also meant her comment as meeting a sort of need for Self Expression (Autonomy) or “To be Heard” or “To be Seen” (Connection with others)… And if that was indeed the case, then there would be no reason for me to be upset over it.

Basically, I think I saw what she did as a desire to meet a need for Autonomy and Connection, but purposefully doing it so that my needs for Consideration and Respect (and the rest of it above) weren’t met. But… She doesn’t know me that well. How would she had known her response could do that? And even if she did, she was still only doing it out of a need to meet her Needs for Autonomy and Connection. Something which she is clearly still reeling from not having met due to very difficult circumstances in her life.

And I have the ability to recognise that I am only 100% responsible for meeting my own needs. And I will try to meet my Needs for Connection with her but I absolutely cannot start to think I am responsible for meeting her Needs. Not even 50%, or 20% of them. Nada. It saddens me to see how hurt and angry she is as a person, how she sees this world as a cold, heartless place. I wish her all the best but I simply must try to focus on the fact I cannot be responsible for her and she alone has to learn to take responsibility for meeting her own Needs and not blaming the world or expecting the world to do that for her.

Sadly but empathically, I will leave this issue to rest now, and I also thank my lucky stars I can actually get my hands on these GROK cards to work things out… Truly working things out requires a lot of effort and some good techniques. I know I am getting to the root source of things through this process because I am feeling waves of mild anxiety as I know I am actually touching on the right stuff – it really really matters to me, and it concerns me a lot, all my life, which is why working through these emotions take so much out of me. My journey… Onwards and up..

Address internalized racism

by Donna K. Bivens 

It is important to be aware of
three major things:

1. As people of color are victimized by racism, we internalize it. That is, we
develop ideas, beliefs, actions and behaviors that support or collude with
racism. This internalized racism has its own systemic reality and its own
negative consequences in the lives and communities of people of color. More
than just a consequence of racism, then, internalized racism is a systemic
oppression in reaction to racism that has a life of its own. In other words,
just as there is a system in place that reinforces the power and expands the
privilege of white people, there is a system in place that actively discourages
and undermines the power of people and communities of color and mires us
in our own oppression.
Individuals, institutions and communities of color are often unconsciously and
habitually rewarded for supporting white privilege and power and punished
and excluded when we do not. This system of oppression often coerces us
to let go of or compromise our own better judgment, thus diminishing
everyone as the diversity of human experience and wisdom is excluded.
Equally harmfully, the system can trap people and communities of color in an
oppositional stance that can undermine creativity as situations are seen
through a limited victim/perpetrator lens that cuts us off from the breadth of

2. Because internalized racism is a systemic oppression, it must be distinguished
from human wounds like self-hatred or “low self esteem,” to which all people
are vulnerable. It is important to understand it as systemic because that
makes it clear that it is not a problem simply of individuals. It is structural.

3. Internalized racism negatively impacts people of color intra-culturally and
cross-culturally. Because race is a social and political construct that comes
out of particular histories of domination and exploitation between Peoples,
people of colors’ internalized racism often leads to great conflict among and
between them as other concepts of power — such as ethnicity, culture,
nationality and class — are collapsed in misunderstanding. Especially when race
is confused with nationality and ethnicity,internalized racism often manifests in different cultural and ethnic groups being pitted against each other for the scarce resources that racism leaves for people who do not have white
privilege. This can create a hierarchy based on closeness to the white norm.
At the same time it cripples all of us in our attempt to create a society that
works for all of us.

Click here for more resources related to this topic

On Risk

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool

To weep is to risk appearing weak or sentimental

To reach out to another is to risk involvement or rejection

To show your feelings is to risk exposing yourtrue self

To place your ideas and dreams before the crowd

Is to risk their loss

To love is to risk not being loved in return

To live is to risk dying

To hope is to risk despair

To try is to risk failure


But risks must be taken – because

The greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing:

The person who risks nothing

Does nothing, has nothing, and is nothing;

S/He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but

S/He simply cannot learn, feel, change, love, or live

Chained by personal certitudes, s/he is a slave;

S/He has forfeited freedom.

Only a person who risks

Is free

                    – Author unknown

A woman who loved


, , ,

Every now and then, I come across a news story that attracts my attention. I would think a lot about the main protagonist of the story and wonder why they did what they did…

A 36 year old mother and her 17 year old daughter committed suicide in June of this year by jumping in front of the train at London’s Ealing station, surrounded by shocked bystanders.


A 17 year old girl is usually capable of making her own decisions about her life. And a 17 year old has her whole life ahead of her. From all accounts it appeared that they linked arms and ran out from the waiting room of the station to the platform’s edge and jumped. What could have been the reason for this decision for mother and daughter to want to die this way? The mother isn’t even old. At 36 she is younger than me. She had her daughter at 19. What else could I find about her?

Her name is not very common. Searching only produced a handful of social media accounts. Only one Celise Mclean I found was based in London until the day she died. The other Celise Mcleans were white women in Australia and America. As a result of my own findings, which I’ll detail below, I conclude that the Celise Mclean in the news article is a British black woman, possibly of Jamaican origin, who was a long term resident of Havelock Estate in London.

There was a news article dated the 24th December 2008 here which mentioned her here :






In this article, the writer reprinted Celise’s poem, which he spotted as he walked past a Black/Afro hair salon in Hounslow, London. Addressing her poem to black males, she makes a sincere plea for them to consider switching from a life of violent crime to pursuing the beauty of the spoken word. To be a real man, she implies, requires dropping the knives.

Celise was quite the poet. Googling found me more of her self-penned poetry. I find her poems raw and full of sincerity, honesty and emotion.

Here is a short eBook of 2 of her poems published in June 2008 that that can be downloaded here :





The first poem being of a romantic sexual nature. The second, a tribute to women of colour, praising them for their strength in overcoming the adversity they were up against from the moment they were born. She also describes quite bittersweetly how many black women go through a pattern of relationship failures with black men, who went on to substitute them with “white Barbie doll” partners.

Through this website, I found that Celise had an active account there around 2008. I’ve never been a big poetry fan and I never knew there were websites like this enabling amateur poets to showcase and publish their poems online. It even has a medal system to encourage active participation amongst its member poets! Well at least Celise had published some of her poems on there and they will always be in her name.

On another poet’s page on that poem site, Celise commented on and praised a poem composed by Melvina Germain :





Dedicated to black baby boys, Melvina reminds mothers about the importance of nurturing their (God-given) black baby boys so as to enable them to counter the negative social pressures, stereotypes and oppression they will face in life.

It appeared that all was not well with Celise perhaps, by the end of the year 2009, about a year after she had published her first 2 poems.

From her main profile page at poemhunter.com here :

there were 2 comments left by a friend of her’s on the site – someone by the name of Edwin Empestan (alba) – who seemed to be concerned about Celise’s well-being. On the 22nd of November 2009, at 2.43 PM, Edwin wrote “Where are you Celise?”, followed a minute later by “Are you okay? I been looking for your poems.”



It seems as though Edwin knew something about Celise’s problems. Edwin is a Filipino poet, from what I surmised from his profile page on the site. He worked in the healthcare field so naturally this points to the fact he is a “helping” sort of person. Perhaps Edwin had been privy to her problems. Perhaps they chatted at some point.

I also found information on the electoral roll about Celise here, which sounds about right and seems to fit :


Both addresses she was registered to on the electoral roll were in a similar area, with Uxbridge postcodes. Now that sounds about right too, as the news reports of her train suicide also say she is from Uxbridge.

Here’s something I tried to find out about the area where Celise used to live, according to her electoral roll records. It says that she lived at 50 Hillary Road, Southall, UB2 4PX. That area was part of one huge housing estate called Havelock Estate, plagued with drugs, homelessness and crime (and poverty).

Then I found this from the local council of the estate which says that the estate is scheduled for regeneration starting from 2013, and thus will be demolished. Many residents in the estate will be told to move out in phases. Where Celise used to live, according to electoral roll records, was 50 Hillary Road. Says there on the local council link that residents living in house numbers 18 – 64 (even numbers) on Hillary Road will have to move out by January 2015. That’s Celise’s house in there then, meaning she’d have moved out by Jan 2015. This matches up with electoral records showing she was a registered voter at 15 Brentford Close in UB4 for the year of 2014 to 2015.

It also says at the bottom of the council page’s Q&A section regarding the demolition and regeneration of Havelock Estate :

Will there be a ballot of residents before the regeneration goes ahead?

No. The decision to proceed with the regeneration was taken by the council’s cabinet in April 2012. It is not a requirement for councils to ballot residents on proposals to demolish and redevelop estates. A ballot is only required if there is a change of landlord for an existing home.

I don’t know about you but I always found it shocking that housing estates can be demolished and residents forced to move at the drop of a hat.

Celise would have been one of those forced by the council to move out, even if she didn’t wish to. She could have been upset at having to move from a home in which she had lived for a very long time, and grown attached to. She moved to Hayes, Middlesex, about 3 miles away from her old home. Not too far away. However who knows how much the move had affected her? What if she had made some close friends whilst living in Havelock Estate for so long, and due to the regeneration, she and her friends were thus separated? Perhaps her friends moved far away from her as a result? What effect would that have had on her?

And if she had mental health issues, she would likely have been failed by the services meant to protect her. The mental health services in UK especially fail people from BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) backgrounds. In fact, she could have been even more troubled by a forced move from a home she had grown attached to, if she had mental health issues, which would further destabilise her mental health.

Celise seemed mentally troubled. No one in their right mind would commit suicide the way she did. Her friend Edwin’s remarks on her profile page too relate to mental problems or at least problems in life of some kind. Perhaps quite serious ones as it seemed she was a very active poet on there and all of a sudden she wiped out all her poems so they cannot be seen by anyone. From her spelling, I think she may have been dyslexic. It’s just my guess of course and I am happy to be corrected. If she really was dyslexic, then she could have found it hard to succeed in academics. This could have limited the career options available to her, especially if she wanted to pursue some sort of literary career – like poetry? And she was an aspiring poet.

What about the Heathrow comment she made before she died? In the news article, a witness said she asked him for directions on how to take a train to Heathrow airport. It sounds like her wish to go to Heathrow airport was related to travel abroad. And she mentioned she wanted to stop some people in Heathrow airport from doing something. Perhaps she wanted to stop them from leaving the country? I don’t know. That was the strongest gut feeling I had when I read her last words. It sounded like people she loved or was close to were leaving her and she wanted to stop them from doing so.

What adds to this fact is that Celise was possibly an immigrant herself. I was unable to find a birth record of her in the UK, so chances were she moved to England as a young child.

This is bolstered by the fact that I’ve found quite a few people online whom I believe are her relatives – many of them black musicians or artists of Caribbean descent – with the surname Mclean. I don’t want to name names here because it appears that they wish to remain private. If the leads that I’ve found so far are correct, then many of her relatives are currently living in London and America (particularly New York), tracing their ancestry from Jamaica.

One male I found in my searches who may be her relative is about the same age as her and was listed as having moved from London to New York in the 80s. Now that made me think that perhaps a branch of her close family had moved abroad in the 80s (when she was still a little girl, as she must have been born in 1979 if she was 36 this year). Perhaps all her life, she always wished that hadn’t happened, for some reason or another. She chose to jump in front of the train because she knew getting to Heathrow airport by then was a pointless exercise – perhaps her family had already left a long time ago and nothing could change that fact. Perhaps the thought tortured her so, she chose to die jumping in front of the train, hoping that if she focused on going to stop “them” at Heathrow when the train hit her, she would be able to go back in time or be teleported to the place and time in order to alter destiny! If that is the reason, then my suspicion is she could be schizophrenic or suffer from delusions. Also seems likely as she certainly was a creative individual, as well as her artist/musician family members (if the leads I found were correct). Creative minds mimic “schizophrenia”.

Hey but we live in a mysterious universe. And scientists say that that time exists in dimensions. Is time travel/teleporting possible? Very Dr. Who-ish I know, but it is a possibility just not technologically feasible at this stage of human civilisation… Having so very few facts to go on, with quite a bizarre set of circumstances leading up to her death, it is easy to let our imaginations run wild. No wonder this news article was so popular – it was reported in at least several UK and US media outlets.

Alternatively, the actual reason for her actions might be less fanciful than I imagine. Perhaps all that talk she made about Heathrow was just to fool the bystanders around her so they wouldn’t predict she was going to jump, and thus no one would try to stop her from doing it.

From what I’ve gathered, there seemed to be a somewhat dreamy, imaginative quality to Celise when she was alive, so it is not impossible that she might well have planned her suicide in the hopes of it leading to something greater than death… as if she was trying to transcend death itself and move on to another plane of existence. It is very easy to imagine a whole string of possible reasons why she could have wanted to jump in front of the train really.

The sad facts are that Celise’s death was the total result of so many very deep and interconnected issues – institutional racism, prejudice and poverty seemed to feature poignantly in her life. When all these factors are present, there is a higher chance of developing mental illness and the illness not being treated correctly because she was black. It is sad to see that someone would ever think of wanting to die the way she did. I tossed and turned in bed and could not stop thinking of this, and I felt this would never be appeased until I write about it in my blog. Despite never having met or known Celise nor her family – I did live in London many years ago for a short period and I do wonder if we’ve ever bumped into each other, even once. I am now writing this as a sort of tribute to this lady whose story had affected me.

Celise was a strong black woman. A kind mother who tried very hard to do right by her kids. I refuse to judge her based on the way she chose to kill herself. Neither will I judge her decision to commit suicide, or to leave her son behind. I will never be able to understand what she went through, but I can try. Walk a mile in her shoes before you judge somebody, as the saying goes. Without knowing her state of mind at the time, or her exact worries at the time, it is impossible. And no one can ever know that about a person. No one can ever truly know someone inside out.

As for her daughter Leia, I can’t find anything online about her other than what could be her Twitter account @McLeanLeia – very inactive, or at least, there were no posts/photos so she could have posted but deleted everything, or she never used it after setting it up, or perhaps it has been locked down by Twitter following her death. I looked on her friends list in the Twitter account and found out some of them are Londonders so this gave me some reassurance that this Twitter account was indeed her’s. Of course, none of this explains why she chose to die with her mum. I think she may have been very close to her mother – perhaps they even had a codependent relationship – and she couldn’t envision life without her mum. So perhaps one day her mum expressed a wish to die, and she decided to die with her mum as well? Who knows? Did Leia have any special needs or mental health issues which made her vulnerable to being persuaded to do something easily? Who knows?

I feel sorry for her son, Devon, whom she left behind, but I hope he will find solace in the fact that she did love him and wanted him to do well. That she would not have killed herself if she could see a better way out of her situation at the time.

Devon, she wanted you to be strong and wise, and to do the right thing. Forgive her if it might seem as if she had made the worst decision. Whatever it was, she was clearly not able to see hope in staying alive in this world. She did what she did because it was the best way she knew how. She is now at peace and forever able to be at your side. No longer hindered by material hindrances, her eternal consciousness will watch over you lovingly from above, as long as you live on this Earth. Remember her hopes and dreams for you. She believes you can make them come true.

Rest in peace Celise and Leia.