Monday, March 31, 2014

The spirit of a boy or the wisdom of a man






You can watch a better-quality version of the video right on the website of the Foundation for A Better Life, which produced it and other great materials. Plus, the lyrics of the accompanying song are included in that version.

Another video -- titled Dishes -- that points out something easily taken for granted in relationships is here


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Let's get 'graphic'






















And some "women's advocates" in my country are stubbornly pushing for a law that ignores all these.

I sure hope my faith -- and that of many others -- in the Supreme Court of the Philippines to do the right thing and uphold the Constitution will be justified. April 8 -- the crucial date.


Monday, March 24, 2014

It's really not about dos and don'ts


Sometimes it takes a while to see the big picture. But basically this is what this virtue is anchored on:








Seeing this reminded me of a fascinating video called "The economics of sex" which, apart from pointing out some ideas about relationships and sex worth considering, features awesome artwork (to me it looks like doodling because the artist makes it look so easy). Check it out in this previous post.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Beyond the costume






Who's your favorite "superhero" among the crime-fighting crusaders that pop culture has entrenched into the consciousness of pop culture-watchers? You know, among those who fly, don form-fitting costumes (usually caped and usually made of spandex), and have super-strength? Mine isn't Ironman, though I do find the character's wit funny. I suppose it's because my idea of a superhero since being a child involves clearer demonstrations of virtue than what this Marvel hero normally shows in the movies.

But in the short video below, I don't see Ironman in the actor who plays him. Witty he definitely continues to be, but Robert Downey, Jr. does much, much more here than spice up a speech with his humor. The event happened several years ago and, thanks to a friend who posted the video on Facebook, I got to see it and thus acquired a new perspective on the actor, on the other actor (the subject of his words), and on the twists and turns that life puts us through.

Below the video is another piece of material that I found myself reading voraciously till the end. Yet another source of points and discoveries to ponder.







Here's an excerpt from the article A Journalist's Plea on the 10th Anniversary of 'The Passion of the Christ': Hollywood, Take Mel Gibson Off Your Blacklist --

It might sound na├»ve after 20 years writing about celebrities, but my friendship with Gibson made me reconsider other celebrities whose public images became tarnished by the media’s rush to judge and marginalize the rich and famous. Whether it’s Gibson, Tom Cruise or Alec Baldwin, the descent from media darling to pariah can happen quickly after they do something dumb. I was part of that pack of journalists paid to pounce, so I know. I consider myself intelligent, someone who makes up her own mind, but just like readers do, I have accepted some reports at face value. The press said that based on Gibson’s statements, he was a homophobe, a misogynist, a bully, an ant-Semite, so he must be. What he was, I discovered, was an alcoholic whose first outburst was captured after he fell off the wagon. What the later release of audiotapes showed was a man with a frightening temper, capable of saying whatever will most offend the target of his anger.


* Illustration by Andy Fairhurst

Summer is upon us in the tropics once again...



... and even my dog finds the temperature too much to handle without a hat.






Good thing dogs don't need topical sunscreen. But we could use some of it everyday, particularly if our days have us going out in the sun even for just minutes at a time (unless you're an infant getting your daily dose of vitamin D in the early morning sun).  Concern about sun exposure goes beyond skin-deep, after all.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Hope and healing for the cancer patient's family







The diagnosis of cancer is too often equated with a dead-end sign on a road. It may feel that way both for the patient and his family, especially upon being told the news by the doctor. But the fact is, while there are indeed some dead-end signs on the road of life, cancer is not one of them because life goes on amid the treatment sessions, physical pains, expressions of concern from relatives and friends, and the regular day-to-day tasks, which all cancer patients go through. Life remains a journey headed for the same destination, and a terminal illness – like any other significant condition or incident one experiences – simply means making adjustments and preparations accordingly. Call them “detours” or “bumpy roads” but as with any challenge a family member faces, the rest of the family ought to be there to guide him towards the destination, accompanying and supporting him through rough roads, bleak stretches, and serene moments.

A serious illness affects the entire family, and cancer is normally a remarkable source of stress for everyone involved – after all, no one relishes seeing a loved one suffer. The expenses incurred, too, can put considerable pressure on the family. But as with any challenge, it is outlook and practical measures which determine the way the situation progresses and, inadvertently, how both patient and family will handle all that comes with a terminal illness.

Here are some realities to consider about healing, family life, and terminal illness which may empower a family to be just what is needed at a time like this – an ally, together with the doctors, in truly accompanying and supporting the loved one with cancer.

Caregiver burnout 
Caring for a person with cancer may mean light tasks like preparing meals and driving him to and from the hospital for treatments, or more demanding ones such as giving baths, helping him deal with the medication’s side effects, or delegating some work-related duties at the spouse’s office when he can no longer carry out the tasks himself. One common source of stress is when providing care for the beloved consumes a lot of time and energy on the part of the primary caregiver – often the husband or wife, or the closest relative in the absence of a spouse, says palliative care specialist Liza Manalo, M.D. of the Cancer Center at The Medical City.

“Even the nurses have shifting in taking care of patients, so family members should also have some kind of shifting, taking turns. Schedule the caregiving… not just one person caring for the patient 24/7 because that’s what makes him prone to caregiver fatigue,” Dr. Manalo explains.

“Can you imagine the backache you’ll have due to lifting the patient if he is immobile? That’s so painful, and that aggravates the stress. Because of the pain you can’t sleep, or some family members can’t eat because they’re at the beck and call of the patient. Be realistic -- if you’re not sleeping well or eating well, you’ll get sick,” she adds.

In other words, no single family member should take on the responsibilities of caring for the cancer patient, everyone pitches in according to what he can give, and hiring a part-time caregiver is recommended should the need arise.

Imagined guilt 
Closely related to the matter of caregiver burnout is the tendency of some family members to stop engaging in hobbies and other regular activities to devote all their time to their sick beloved. This can take a toll on the person’s health, according to Dr. Manalo, and even put a strain on relationships. If you may be in such a situation, the physician points out that rest and recreation are fine even when a loved one is serious ill. She encounters quite a few who experience such feelings of guilt and recalls a counseling session she had with a patient’s wife.

“I told her ‘think of things you enjoy. Don’t stop doing them. What about hiring a caregiver for two hours a day or a few days of the week then you do that?’ It could be anything -- reading, knitting, playing mahjong, taking a warm bath, going out with friends. It depends on what you enjoy, what will make you relax,” she says. 

The doctor explains some may feel guilt-ridden and end up having unrealistic expectations of themselves. But devoting all of one’s energy to the care of the sick family member is unhealthy. She recalls gently teasing the lady in one instance: “’You’re going to die sooner than your spouse because you’re so stressed that you’re going to have a heart attack,’ I teased her. ‘O, ingat tayo para di ka mag-develop ng stress-related cancer. You don’t want to be my patient…’ to which the cancer patient’s wife agreed.

Proper closure
As mentioned earlier, receiving a diagnosis of cancer does not mean a dead end. What it has actually been to many is an eye opener – one that has led them to re-evaluate their life, sort out and determine their priorities, and prepare well for whatever will come. The possibility that the time one spends in this life will be shortened has a way of jolting anyone into taking another perspective on life. Fortunately, such a shift in perspective – with the guidance of those around him – can help the cancer patient achieve proper closure by the time he breathes his last. And what family does not want this for their beloved? Knowing that he was able to settle personal, professional and family matters, and is prepared for whatever will come after he dies, expectedly gives the family peace of mind, too.

Dr. Manalo emphasizes that the family has a significant role to play in the patient’s achieving proper closure, and points to the results of local and foreign studies concerning end-of-life issues – specifically, what patients consider a good death.

“According to studies and to the testimonies of my former patients, a good death is always equal to good closure, and good closure is defined as you closing all the spheres of your life,” she says.

“Personal closure refers to your dreams and ambitions – you put a closure to these. Professional closure…in your work, has your work been turned over to the person who will take on your job after you’re gone?”

“Family closure, meaning you put things right that had gone wrong in family relationships,” Dr. Manalo continues. “It’s time to say sorry or it’s time to receive the apologies of the people who may have offended you.”

The doctor added that palliative care includes assisting the patient and the family even in achieving financial closure, from reminding them of bank policies regarding deceased account holders and the bereaved family, to broaching the need for a written will if there is none, to even helping them make decisions concerning interment details.

“It’s an unpleasant topic to talk about but once they have accepted the reality that the patient is dying, we move on to that,” Dr. Manalo says, adding that in many cases, the patient has already talked about such details with the family because communication lines were open.

“Once I have helped the patient and the family achieve closure, most of the patients who have been under our care die very peacefully – I’m very happy to say that.”

Hence, it is no surprise that families that keep the patient in the dark about the seriousness of his condition experience additional stress. How then is the terminally ill patient to go about fixing his affairs and preparing for a good death when in the first place he is unaware that he has little time left?

“Keeping the truth from the ill patient always creates barriers because you’ll always be acting out a farce, because the reality is the patient is terminally ill. So it creates an unnecessary barrier and the lines of communication are not open,” the palliative care specialist laments. “And this is the time when the lines of communication should be really open.”

Faith and optimism
“There will always be that aspect of uncertainty in our life,” she continues, “so the best is to take each day as it comes, to think of each day as a gift. And a gift is freely given by someone else – God.”
                                                            
While most people think only of the physical and medical aspect of care, specialists in palliative care, are trained in psycho-social support and spiritual care, which end up boosting the faith and optimism of patients.

“Even this idea of going back to the sacraments, fostering spiritual life, a life of prayer, having devotions…this is part of the care given to patients,” Dr. Manalo says.

Overcoming fears
After talking with patients’ families, through which concerns are threshed out, the doctor learns that what keeps them from disclosing the truth to their loved one is often the fear that the patient will sink into depression upon being told of the diagnosis. But when Dr. Manalo assures them that she can prevent depression and that she will be there for the patient, “most of the time they get convinced,” she says.
                                 
Apparently, psycho-social counseling – which palliative care is all about – goes a long way in enabling cancer patients to face their journey resolutely and peacefully and in helping families truly accompany their loved one the whole way. When the family is able to see past the dead-end sign, the more they can support their loved one through the bumpy roads and bleak stretches expected in the journey of every cancer patient. 


Health.Care magazine
First Quarter 2014 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

On testosterone, romance, and "supply & demand"

What a novel way to explore the topic of sex, relationships, and how the lopsided picture which is currently in favor of men can be set right. And here are a few lines from the fascinating video below that should make us consider what's going on --

"For a woman to know what she wants in a relationship and to signal it clearly especially if it's different than what most men want, this is her power in the economy. But none of these things seem to be occurring -- not now, at least. Today the economics of contemporary sexual relationships clearly favor men and what they want, even while what they are offering in exchange has diminished."







Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Letting purple set your (heart) beat


Do you need courage? Ask for it. Do you need humility? Ask for it. Do you need to be pure in a world filled with temptation? Ask for it. Are you trying to overcome an explosive temper? Ask for patience. If you don’t ask, you won’t receive— it’s that simple.
Our Lent will be completely wasted if we aren’t praying. Fasting and almsgiving will simply become sources of pride if we aren’t approaching them prayerfully. No matter what else you are planning to do for Lent, prayer should be first on the list.






For those who value spiritual nourishment and let the living God lead the way, these days are an apt time to intensify this cultivation of the spiritual life. Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of the season of repentance and renewal. The excerpt up there is from an article someone posted on Facebook and you can read it in full here.

I just realized that a blog can come in handy for storing status messages one posts, since these messages tend to go way down one's timeline particularly when one is an "enthusiastic poster". And one can only do so much scrolling down to look for a post from days/weeks before! So because I need reminders like the one below (which I posted on my timeline not long ago) time and again, let me put it here as well:

Thanks to a friend's status message, I realized that a sincere desire to live Lent meaningfully would probably include a conscious effort to refrain from gossiping -- whether starting it or participating in it. Maybe some folks will go nuts over this, but if that's the case then it sounds like a great workout for the soul! And the prospect of a "toned soul" is a more worthwhile goal to aim for than a "flabby" one, I suppose.

Thinking of your own ways of putting more meaning into Lent instead of merely watching the season come and go? Figuring out if it's going to be "giving up something" or "doing more of something"? Or maybe a little of both? Suggestions worth considering on what things to give up are in this article. A sample:


14.  Your pillow.  Oh shut up, yes you can.
16.  Checking your email every five minutes.  Read a paragraph of Evangelii Gaudium instead.

20.  Satire.  It’s just sooo not funny.

22.  The car radio.  It’s okay to talk to yourself.

25.  Sarcasm.  Also not funny.

35.  The closest parking spot.  Think of your long walk into Walmart as a miniature Appalachian Trail.




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