A View from Cedarvale Bridge

A letter to the person(s) who painted graffiti of Swastikas on the Cedarvale Bridge in Toronto, Ontario, October 14, 2014.

Yesterday I was walking my beautiful Bernese Mountain Dog, Liberty, across one of my favourite places in Toronto, the Cedarvale Bridge. I always try to slow my steps over the bridge so I can embrace one of nature’s sanctuaries where everyone is free to meditate, to breathe, to heal, to ponder and to dream. It is an open expansive space where everything seems possible.

bridge1

bridge2

Yesterday, I had a different view. There were Swastikas marked on several of the posts and suddenly my boundless view was restricted by hate, fear, aggression and total disrespect for this beautiful space and the people who live here.

bridge3

I address this letter to you, the Swastika maker. Who are you? Why would you do this? Do you know this Bridge turned 100 years old recently? Do you realize it is a pillar of beauty, of support, of vision, of connecting people from one space to another. It has history. It has survived the war where this symbol became the poster image of anti-semitism, destruction of all people, all beliefs and all practices that weren’t Aryan.

So, Swastika maker, what is your real message? Do you want to spread fear, intimidation and hate? Why? Why do you stand for these things? What happened to you? What do you think gives you the right to tarnish this space for the people who travel across it? I cannot find the origin for this quote but I heard it long ago […]

  • Opinions
    Not All Opinions Are Created Equal Not All Opinions Are Created Equal

    Not All Opinions Are Created Equal

Not All Opinions Are Created Equal

We are living in a very unusual era where through social media, everyone can have a voice and everyone can have an audience. People are using virtual venues as places to tout their beliefs, their ideas, their dreams, their criticisms and their opinions. I love that we live in a country that cherishes free speech and that now people have the opportunity to express their voices through blogs, Twitter, Facebook etc. and can let the world know where they stand on issues and how they feel about matters that are important to them.

This is empowering for people and can create possibilities to impact issues with broader public input than ever existed before. I can simply click a like button or be another viewer of a YouTube video and my behavior is calculated as a valuable statistic representing social interest in a particular matter. This is an incredible social development that has allowed individuals who once may have been considered a hermit or a sufferer of social anxiety to have a safe way of participating in conversations.

Those points reflect just some of the many positive outcomes of this phase of social media. I want to talk about another aspect of it though that troubles me. There is often a lack of filtering, reflection and fact-based knowledge informing the comments of individuals who abuse this great virtual vehicle of communication. I am going to say something that might sound harsh… The fact that you feel something strongly neither makes it true nor is it a sign that what you’re experiencing should be expressed as an opinion.

A gut feeling is not necessarily a sign that what you feel in reaction to something is accurate.

I […]

By |August 11th, 2014|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Not All Opinions Are Created Equal
  • Young man smoking pot
    Marijuana Is NOT Safe Marijuana Is NOT Safe

    Marijuana Is NOT Safe

Marijuana Is NOT Safe

Did you know that marijuana can cause drug-induced psychoses?

I want to talk about the significantly under-publicized dangers of Marijuana use.

Did you know that if you have a predisposition to a condition like Bipolar Disorder you may never experience the severe symptoms of this disorder, but if you use marijuana it can trigger the onset of this illness or Schizophrenia which may then follow you for the rest of your life?

Did you know that if you are a chronic pot user you may be self-medicating a mental illness and actually aggravating the condition to potentially end up with a full blown psychosis?

Joints on schoolbook

It’s more common than people realize.

A 2012 article hosted by the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Project (MCPAP) states: “One systematic review estimated a 40 percent increase in the risk of psychosis among adolescents who had tried cannabis and a 50 to 200 percent increase among more frequent, heavy users. Daily use of cannabis in high school is associated with a six-fold increase in depression and anxiety later in life.”

In my 15 years as a clinical psychologist I have been seeing more and more bright, young, talented people who were leading successful lives experiment with pot and end up having a psychotic break. They attend a music festival, a party or go on a marijuana binge on their own or with friends and the outcome is devastating. It is real and it is serious and the effects are not limited to children and adolescents. When someone has a psychotic break it takes […]

By |August 8th, 2014|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Marijuana Is NOT Safe
  • Take A Stand Against Bullying Take A Stand Against Bullying

    Take A Stand Against Bullying

Take A Stand Against Bullying

Is someone mistreating you in your life and getting away with it?

Everyone can share experiences of being treated poorly or even abused.  From name calling, humiliating moments, intimidation, micromanaging, shunning, control, to bullying, harassment and discrimination…this list could go on forever. In the workplace these behaviours (usually coming from leaders) diminishes productivity, morale, creativity and attitude while increasing stress leave, staff turnover and disability claims.  It is costing workplaces billions of dollars to the bottom line and yet when you look at statistics, 70% of the people who leave or are let go are the individuals who are mistreated!  

In the home environment, the toll of abusive behaviour on self-esteem, self-worth, optimism, trust, safety and security is devastating to the lives of family members who endure this treatment.  Too often people make excuses for these behaviours…”just kidding” “I didn’t mean it” “it was an accident” “you know I love you”.  Really?  The mean thing someone just said or did was a joke?  I have a standard for jokes…if someone can be hurt by them, they are NOT FUNNY!  

This is love?  Love is founded on respect.  There is nothing loving about mistreating another person.  Too often I hear the mistreated person say but”I know he/she loves me”. As soon as I hear that, I know I’m looking at a person who has a long history of not feeling loved, valued and respected.  A person who is not sure where the bar is for what should be tolerated and what is unacceptable. 

When we fear abandonment, separation, job loss and being alone, it becomes […]

By |July 14th, 2014|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Take A Stand Against Bullying
  • Healthy Ambition Healthy Ambition

    Healthy Ambition

Healthy Ambition

Ambition 

What is your reaction to that word?  

Some people see it as a negative word and associate it with other adjectives like ruthless, opportunistic, disingenuous, me first attitude…Some of you may recall the scene in Wall Street where the Gordon Gekko character says “greed is good” and associate that image with ambition.  These descriptives are actually the pitfalls that can be associated with ambition.  

Gordon Gekko’s actions reflect narcissistically driven ambition and can lead to the exploitation of others and sometimes corruption.   Healthy ambition incorporates a balance between advocating for and pursuing one’s own agenda while also keeping in mind and acting on behalf of the greater good and best interests of others (co-workers, team, family, friends, investors etc.). People with healthy ambition demonstrate drive, determination, vision, courage, and discipline to be successful while always being considerate of the impact of their choices and actions that are in the service of that ambition.  

There will always be some casualties of grand pursuits.  While healthy ambition involves understanding the effects of your actions on others, that doesn’t mean you will make everyone happy.  People are often jealous of those who chase their dreams passionately, so its important to keep your head forward and ignore the negativity of others.  Collateral damage is inevitable, but it is your responsibility to prevent as much of it as possible.

Key Thought:

Ambition is not a negative word.  Every good initiative has some ambition behind it to lead it to fruition.