Friday, July 24, 2009

Language is a uniquely human gift, central to our experience of being human. Appreciating its role in constructing our mental lives brings us one step closer to understanding the very nature of humanity.

LERA BORODITSKY is an assistant professor of psychology, neuroscience, and symbolic systems at Stanford University, who looks at how the languages we speak shape the way we think.

Fairy fatality in court

Samantha Turnbull

THE driver accused of killing Tyagarah woman Milli O'Nair has appeared in court just four days after what would have been the dead woman's 42nd birthday.

Mina Nashed, 18, of Hendra, appeared unrepresented in Byron Bay Local Court yesterday charged with dangerous driving occasioning death.

He did not enter a plea and will reappear in Lismore Local Court on September 9.

Police allege Mr Nashed killed Ms O'Nair on the Pacific Highway at Tyagarah on May 10.

He was driving a hire vehicle when he allegedly hit Ms O'Nair, who was riding a bicycle over a narrow, bridged section of the highway.

The impact sent her body hurtling over the bridge and into scrub next to the abandoned Casino to Murwillumbah rail line.

The accident scene was one kilometre from her home.

She was on her way to visit her mother for Mother's Day when she was killed.

A memorial service was held for Ms O'Nair on Monday, her birthday, and her ashes were scattered at Little Wategos Beach in Byron Bay.

Ms O'Nair was well known throughout the Byron Shire, particularly for wearing fairy wings which were often strapped to her back as she cycled around.

She performed as a fairy at children's parties and worked at a fairy-themed stall at the local markets.

Ms O'Nair also worked as a non-violent communication coach.

In an online business profile Ms O'Nair said: "This outer conflict and inner struggle ignited my passion to do it differently.

"There had to be a way to connect with compassion and I set out to expand on what I knew.

"For over 20 years I delved deep to heal and explored far, to have the tools to make a difference in the world."

A website has been set up in her memory where friends have posted comments including: "May the flowers you planted in this world continue to blossom and offer their sweet perfume of love truth and laughter so that you can sing and dance on our hearts with the fairies and angels forever after."

Another reads: "Away with the faeries at last, flying free. Thanks for all you gave to us here on the earth plane."

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Freedom From Our Inner Prisons

by Kathleen MacFerran

Kathleen (at)

Though I frequently walk in and out of WA State prisons, I find myself trapped in my internal prison much more often than I enjoy. It's one I carry around with me and enter easily, but find getting out quite an arduous process. The prison is my mind, specifically the part that spins stories about what other people are thinking, doing, intending or reacting to. I admit I'm crazy to think I have access to that information when I have not heard it directly from the other person or even bothered to check out my assumptions with him/her. I am amazed how frequently my brain can come up with a story and how often a story when checked out, can be way off base.

I find I am not alone. Conversations I hear daily are couched in language that implies wrongness or diagnosis of others. When our stories are about others, we usually feel anger. When our stories are about ourselves, the feelings of shame, guilt and depression arise. The last time I was in the womens prison I found myself on the receiving end of the stories. It was a very stressful weekend for the inmates. Mother's Day events were being held (imagine the stress of parenting from prison or the pain of not having contact with your children anymore), a higher number of fights than normal were breaking out, and most of the women who were trying to focus in the Freedom Project workshop I was co-leading were bundles of nerves. At one point on the second day, one of the women told me I was disrespectful, then another said I was being condescending, yet another one agreed and added I was just like one of "them" (the officers).

They were sure their stories about me were true. Their evaluations were clearly facts in their eyes. I listened with empathy and was trying to find out what they had seen or heard from me that they interpreted as disrespect or lack of caring. One thing was that I had asked two women out into the hall first thing in the morning to create safety when I thought a fight was about to break out. I mediated between them for 45 min. and the two women involved were thankful for the reconnection and learning. Some of the women who remained in the room, however, assumed I was somehow punishing the women I had asked out into the hall.

It took empathy from my colleague and individual empathy from me with the angry participants during the following break to finally have my intentions for support, caring and learning seen by the women. We ended in a place of connection. The remaining hours of the workshop were spent giving empathy to the women for their pain and talking about the self-empathy that allowed me to stay present to myself in a way that let me hear their pain and not take their judgments personally. Judgments are simply tragic expressions of needs.

I spent the next couple of weeks noticing when I didn't stop to pause between something that triggered me (what someone said or did) and my story about it. Some of my stories are well rehearsed as I've practiced them for years. My belief in my stories can be as strong as the inmates' belief in their stories about what they thought was going on in me. The freedom from the internal prison happens in that pause between observation and evaluation. It is finding a way to notice what I'm reacting to (the specific observation of what someone actually said or did), pausing long enough to look under my story (the evaluation) to my feelings and needs, then letting a request naturally arise in relation to the needs I'm aware of. That pause is a place of choice and power.

Separating observation from evaluation is a crucial first step to freedom. I find myself making that inner journey time and time again from my prison to liberation. It's starting to get easier the more I do it. It requires compassion for myself along the way and trust that continuing on that path will lead to greater joy, clarity and connection.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


By Dietrich Fischer

(professor at European Peace University, Austria)

The following are actual signs seen in various places:

- In a New York restaurant: "Customers who consider our waitresses uncivil ought to see the manager."

- At a Santa Fé gas station: "We will sell gasoline to anyone in a glass container."

- In the window of a long-established New Mexico dry cleaners: "38 years on the same spot."

- In a Los Angeles dance hall: "Good clean dancing every night but Sunday."

- In a Florida maternity ward: "No children allowed."

- In a New York drugstore: "We dispense with accuracy."

- In the offices of a loan company: "Ask about our plans for owning your home."

- In a New York medical building: "Mental Health Prevention Center"

- On a Maine shop: "Our motto is to give our customers the lowest possible prices and workmanship."

- At a number of military bases: "Restricted to unauthorized personnel."

- On a display of "I love you only" Valentine cards: "Now available in multi-packs."

- In the window of a Kentucky appliance store: "Don't kill your wife. Let our washing machine do the dirty work."

- In a funeral parlor: "Ask about our layaway plan.”

Victoria News - Reining in the bullies

Victoria News - Reining in the bullies

Shared via AddThis