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Archive for the ‘Personal Empowerment’ Category

To Ease Climate Anxiety, Reconnect with the Rhythms of the Seasons – Scientific American

Posted: January 7, 2020 at 6:46 pm

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Climate-related anxiety and depression is an increasingly common malady. Reestablishing a conscious awareness and a bodily connection with the ebb and flow of the seasons, by observing and documenting whats happening outside our windows, is a grounding activity that can restore comfort.

Disconnection from natures seasonal cycles, and from nature in general, has become more common in recent decades, and with it has come a certain restlessness. A simple way we can reestablish this crucial connection with the seasons is by regularly taking noteon paperof what is occurring in the plants and animals in our lives over the course of the year. Because events like leaf out, migration and egg hatch are cued by seasonal warmth, rainfall and sun angle, they elegantly reflect the rhythm of the seasons.

Taking the time to observe the changes in an organism over the course of a year can reconnect us to these cycles. And taking the effort to write down what is observed focuses our thoughts, grounds us, and more firmly cements the information in our minds.

The practice of carefully documenting the timing of events like the first arrival of migratory birds in the spring and first hint of leaf color in autumn has existed for millennia. A record of the first cherry blossoms to appear each spring in Kyoto, Japan extends to the ninth century. Members of the Marsham family have tracked flowering time in dozens of plants in Great Britain since the 1700s. These historical records are some of our best resources to determine how much the timing of events like leaf out and egg hatch in certain species have changed in recent years, serving as an invaluable contribution to science.

Taking this form of action is an antidote to the hopelessness that can arise in the face of climate change. Anxiety and depression naturally arise when we perceive we have no power over a situation. Doing something, such as documenting seasonal changes, is a way to restore a modicum of control and a sense of well-being.

To be sure, looking at plants in your backyard wont end the climate crisis. For that, we need major policy and lifestyle changes on a nearly global scale. The value of this form of personal action is in restoring our centers and engendering personal empowerment. This can serve as preparation for tackling the larger issues.

The practice of purposefully reconnecting with whats happening over the course of the year can take the form of journaling, posting observations of seasonal plant or animal status to social media, or making structured contributions to an established program such as Natures Notebook, a national program for documenting seasonal activity in plants and animals.

As a coordinator for the program, Ive been overjoyed to hear from participants that pausing briefly from their daily routines to report on their selected species has led to new discoveries and a deepened appreciation for these plants and animals. And as a Natures Notebook participant, Ive been delighted to witness green lynx spiders, crab spiders and sphinx moth larvae making their homes in the desert willow tree I observe in my backyard. I am certain I would not have noticed these lovely creatures had I not taken the time to briefly but regularly look at my trees leaf and flower status.

The brief moments of focus and connection I experience when Im taking my Natures Notebook observations contrast sharply with the anxiety I experience from exposure to climate crisis headlines. I invite you to join me in the simple routine of documenting the seasonal transitions in plants or animals in your yard. Trade some of your climate anxiety for the sense of calm and empowerment that can result from taking a small, positive action.

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To Ease Climate Anxiety, Reconnect with the Rhythms of the Seasons - Scientific American

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January 7th, 2020 at 6:46 pm

Sex Tech Might Just Be the Biggest New Thing at CES 2020 – TIME

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(LAS VEGAS) Sex tech will grace the CES gadget show in Las Vegas this week after organizers endured scorn for revoking an innovation award to a sex device company led by a female founder.

CES will allow space for sex tech companies as a one-year trial. The companies will be grouped in the health and wellness section of the Sands Expo, an official, but secondary CES location, one geared toward startups.

Lora DiCarlo, a startup that pushed for changes after organizers revoked its award, will showcase its Os robotic personal massager. Its one of a dozen companies at the show focused on vibrators, lube dispensers and other sex tech products. Founders of these startups say their products are about empowerment and wellness for women, something they say has often been overlooked in tech.

The historically male-dominated tech trade show has received criticism in past years for having an all-male lineup of speakers and for previously allowing scantily clad booth babes, fostering a boys club reputation.

Besides allowing sex tech, CES organizers brought in an official equality partner, The Female Quotient, to help ensure gender diversity. The Female Quotient, which trains companies in equality practices, will hold a conference for women during the show, which formally opens Tuesday and runs through Friday.

Its been a process, said Gary Shapiro, the head of the Consumer Technology Association, which puts on CES.

Its been a longer process for many sex tech companies to convince investors that they are part of a growing trend that has enough customers. Much of the push has come from the startups female founders and from younger consumers who talk more openly about sexuality.

Sex tech has existed in some form for decades. But the gates really began to open in 2016, said Andrea Barrica, founder of sex education site That year, several other fem tech companies made progress in areas such as menstruation and menopause. Those paved the way for sex tech to grow and get investors interested.

Larger institutions are starting to take note, all the way from VC firms to large Fortune 100 companies, said Barrica, who recently published the book Sextech Revolution: The Future of Sexual Wellness. Large institutions like CES had no choice but to look at sex tech, she said.

The journey hasnt been easy. Sex tech founders, many of them women, recount being turned down by dozens of investors. They faced decency arguments and entrenched corporate standards that equated them with porn.

But investors are becoming more receptive, said Cindy Gallop, a former advertising executive turned sex tech entrepreneur and founder of the website MakeLoveNotPorn.

Its entirely because of our refusal to allow the business world to put us down, she said.

Founders insist that their devices ranging from vibrators to lube dispensers to accessories have effects outside the bedroom.

Sexual health and wellness is health and wellness, said Lora DiCarlo, CEO and founder of the company of the same name. It does way more than just pleasure. Its immediately connected to stress relief, to better sleep to empowerment and confidence.

DiCarlos Os $290 device has gotten $3 million worth of advance sales, bolstered in part by the attention it received after CES organizers overturned a decision by an independent panel of judges to give the vibrator a prestigious Innovation Honoree Award in the robotics and drone category. The organizers, CTA, told the company it reserved the right to rescind awards for devices deemed immoral, obscene, indecent, profane or not in keeping with CTAs image.

DiCarlo and other female founders pushed back for banning them but allowing humanoid sex robots meant to serve men the previous year.

Following criticism, CES organizers ultimately reinstated the award and apologized. A few months later, the show announced policy changes such as a dress code to prevent skimpy outfits and new Innovation for All sessions with senior diversity officials.

Os began shipping to customers this month. DiCarlo said the company is planning to new devices, including less expensive options.

Sex tech companies still face major barriers to growth.

Polly Rodriguez, CEO of sexual wellness company Unbound, said the company is profitable and customers are more open about buying products than they once were. But she said she still faces roadblocks advertising on social media, and many traditional investors snub the company.

Things are better, but theres just still this genuine fear of female sexuality more broadly within the institutional side of technology, she said.

And while Gallop offered to speak at CES, conference organizers declined, saying sex tech was not a part of its conference programming.

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Sex Tech Might Just Be the Biggest New Thing at CES 2020 - TIME

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January 7th, 2020 at 6:46 pm

Happiness not the goal but byproduct of life well lived – Otago Daily Times

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Stop trying to be happy and put a smile on your face, writes Kenan Malik.

I just found this fascinating, that people who want to be happy are actually the ones that are not happy.

So observed Julia Vogt, co-author of a new study that found those who valued happiness most highly tended to show greater signs of depression.

Future historians may well look upon todays Western societies and puzzle about the desperation to be happy.

Its not that happiness is not good. Nor is it to deny that mental wellbeing is important. But mental wellbeing is not the same as an obsession with happiness (in fact, the very opposite, as Vogts study shows).

The aim of todays happiness industry is not about allowing people to live a flourishing life. It is, rather, as Will Davies observed in his book The Happiness Industry, partly a means of behaviour management on the part of both governments and private enterprise, to ensure a more pliant society and a more productive and profitable one.

It is partly, also, a means of self-optimisation, by which, as psychologist Paul Bloom observes, small-scale personal empowerment goes hand in hand with large-scale social disempowerment.

Aristotle argued that eudaimonia (which is often translated as happiness, but is probably better thought of as meaning a flourishing life) is the only thing that humans desire for their own sake.

He did not mean by this that it is an end we should set out to seek but, rather, the end we can achieve if we live our life well.

Happiness is not, and cannot be, a goal in itself. It can only be the by-product of other goals.

To seek happiness is a bit like trying to be cool. The more you are desperate for it, the less you will be.

From Guardian News

Kenan Malik is an Observer columnist.

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Happiness not the goal but byproduct of life well lived - Otago Daily Times

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January 7th, 2020 at 6:46 pm

Yara Shahidi Has the Best Beauty Resolution for 2020 – Vogue

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A universal truth: whether you give voice to them or not, a new year demands resolutions. When selecting said goals, a declaration that applies to personal empowerment is one worthy of a new decadea lesson we learned from Yara Shahidi. The actress and activist took to Instagram ahead of New Year's Eve to share a self-facing snap featuring oversize hoops, glossed lips, a mane of brushed-up curls, and a poignant caption. "We (My hair and I) are taking up more space as we enter 2020," wrote Shahidi, adding a duo of siren emojis to drive the statement home.

For her first act of big and bold beauty, Shadidi parted her natural hair to achieve a face-framing triangle of texture, the maneuver punctuated by roseate lips with a matching shade pressed into lids, black eyeliner rimmed along waterlines. Glow-y, unadorned skin and a frank expression teamed with her manewhich, true to her resolution, dominated the framefor a visual deserving of Shahidi's 2020 aspiration. Here's to expansion in all forms this year.

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Yara Shahidi Has the Best Beauty Resolution for 2020 - Vogue

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January 7th, 2020 at 6:46 pm

Self-Defense is the Best Offense – Eugene Weekly

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Rachel Collins (right) runs drills with a student. Photo by Nadia Raza Cooper

What does a more perfect future for you and the young people in your life look like?

I had the pleasure of discussing this question with Rachel Collins, the owner and founder of SheBegins. SheBegins offers empowerment-based self-defense, personal training and violence-prevention workshops. Approaching their work within an empowerment model means educating and supporting others in choosing how they want to defend themselves.

With much of their work focusing on youth-trainings, this translates to cultivating verbal skills, confidence, self-respect, dialogue about consent and boundaries and bystander intervention.

I first met Collins this fall when considering options for our daughters 13th birthday party. As she enters her teenage years, my hope was to incorporate a rite of passage toward a future self-grounded in possibility, confidence and safety.

The stories our daughter shares about school such as a recent lock down, bullying, updates on crushes and questions about consent prompt us to talk about safety a lot. So, a month before her birthday, I began exploring options for a teen self-defense class. A quick search led me to Collins, and we scheduled a 90-minute teen empowerment training for 14 girls.

As we entered the dojo, the girls were excited and a bit unsure of what they were in for.

Collins and her co-trainer, Heather Monero, are masterful facilitators. They started with a discussion about the training and transitioned into team building and a playful icebreaker to create a more comfortable space.

When I returned an hour later, I could hardly believe these were the same girls.

The group was in formation, doing knee to abdomen drills on the co-trainers. I watched in awe at the individual and collective power exhibited. I couldnt help but reflect on how my 13-year-old-self needed access to a space like this.

Following the drill, the girls gathered in a circle to debrief. Collins opened the conversation by reminding the group, There is no one right way to deal with a dangerous situation. People are going to tell you that you are too small and young. You might even be told that there is nothing you can do. But there is always something we can do.

She then asked the group to come up with scenarios and questions they had about a situation in which they might feel vulnerable or unsafe.

Hands shot up with questions ranging from What if you are on the ground? to What if someone grabs you from behind, or has you by your hair or ponytail?

For each scenario, Collins asked the girls to review what they learned. Together they discussed the examples by identifying ways they could leverage tools within their body to respond. Several times they reviewed the slogan: Think, yell, run, fight, tell.

When I asked Collins what surprises her about working with youth, she says, We learn as much from them as they do from us. The eagerness to talk and engage through dialogue inspires her work.

Collins started SheBegins more than a year ago to respond to a demand in the community. With a background in sexual assault support services and as a former educator at Planned Parenthood, Collins observed that what we call prevention is inadequate. This is amplified by the fact that, for vulnerable communities, access to violence prevention is lacking.

Within a year, SheBegins had an array of offerings, including free monthly mini-trainings, a girls empowerment training and an in-depth womens six-week series, which runs Jan. 12 to Feb. 16; co-ed boundaries, and personal safety seminars and school programs.

SheBegins currently offers a 12-week series at Spencer Butte Middle School. Collins hopes to do more work with schools and community organizations. Charges for all the training programs are sliding scale and income-based.

To spread the word in the community, SheBegins has partnered with The Barn Light and The Farmer Union Coffee Roasters for a monthly Empower Hour the last Wednesday of every month. At these events, information about local programs and trainings is available. From 4 pm to closing, $1 from every drink purchased goes to support scholarships funding access to empowerment-based self-defense trainings for those in need.

In addition to their trainings and information sessions, Caitlin OQuinn, SheBegins youth program coordinator, is researching the long-term impact of empowerment-based self-defense.

After one training session, participants report profound lasting effects, our daughter included. A month after her training, I asked her what she learned.

Learning to defend yourself does not have to be heavy and scary. Instead, we learned about different options to defend ourselves and say, No, she says. Before, I would have been more apologetic and worried about saying no.

Beginning to claim her voice, confidence, agency and self-respect are tools our daughter gained from one workshop with SheBegins.

Considering the need for these skills and awareness, Collins says this: In a more perfect future there will be multiple options in every town for empowerment-based self-defense and when that happens it will create cultural change.

To get involved, learn more or request a training session with SheBegins, visit

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Self-Defense is the Best Offense - Eugene Weekly

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January 7th, 2020 at 6:46 pm

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Head to Canada House as Details of Their Vacation Emerge – Vanity Fair

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The country was their sanctuary for the past six weeks, so today the Duke and Duchess of Sussex visited Canada House to thank the Canadian people for their warm hospitality.

In their first public appearance since returning from Canadawhere they spent Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years as part of their extended sabbatical from royal dutiesHarry and Meghan went to personally thank Canadian High Commissioner Janice Charette and her staff for making them feel so welcome.

Arriving to a crowd of fans and Canada House employees Harry joked that their holiday had been wet. He was saying it had rained throughout but that they had a great time, employee Jamie Weare, who greeted the couple outside Canada House told Vanity Fair. The couple had been enjoying downtime on Vancouver Island in British Columbia for the past six weeks, and spent Christmas there with Meghans mother Doria Ragland, as well as the new year.

Vanity Fair has also been told that the couple also spent Thanksgiving in Canada, not the United States, where Doria lives.. The Sussexes have been staying at a mystery friends waterfront mansion worth about $14 million on Vancouver Island. The Instagram-friendly royals had given a clue as to their whereabouts when they posted the Canadian flag at the end of one of their festive Instragram posts; however, they kept a low profile until they were spotted out hiking by locals. Meghan even offered to take a picture of a couple who were trying to take a selfie while out walking, and on New Year's Eve they posted a picture on Instagram of Harry cuddling Archie.

Buckingham Palace had declined to say where the couple were spending their vacation but the Daily Mail revealed their holiday location last month, prompting the palace to confirm: They are enjoying sharing the warmth of the Canadian people and the beauty of the landscape with their young son.

The Sussexes are understood to have returned to the UK over the weekend with baby Archie who according to one source close to them is doing well and is so cute. Todays surprise engagement which was announced Monday night marks the couples official return to work and aides have said there will be more engagements announced over the coming days.

Ahead of their visit to Canada House the couple made a private visit to the Hubb Community kitchen which supports the Grenfell community. Meghan has forged close friendships with many women at the Hubb and helped them to compile the Together cookbook. A palace aide said she and Harry wanted to check in on the community to see how they are. The focus of the day, however, was their visit to Canada House where they viewed an art exhibition by Canadian artist Skawennati.

Janice Charette told Vanity Fair they discussed a number of issues close to the couple. It was a pleasure as always to welcome the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to Canada House, for their second visit in less than a year, she said. We are delighted Their Royal Highnesses were able to enjoy warm Canadian hospitality during their recent stay in Canada. Today's visit provided an opportunity to discuss some of the common priorities and values shared by Canada and Their Royal Highnesses, such as a commitment to conservation and fighting the challenges of climate change, supporting the economic and democratic empowerment of women and girls, and encouraging young people and youth leaders in Canada and across the Commonwealth to actively engage in the social, economic, and environmental challenges of their generation.

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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Head to Canada House as Details of Their Vacation Emerge - Vanity Fair

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January 7th, 2020 at 6:46 pm

Does an Increase in Personal Power Lead to Better Cognitive Functioning? – Qrius

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Life is filled with distractions. Information floods in. Situations change. To successfully navigate these challenges, individuals need to use a set of fundamental mental processes known as executive functions to regulate their thoughts and behaviours. Those with weak executive functions get distracted by temptations and overwhelmed by information; those with strong executive functions stay focused on their goals, and adjust their behaviours when situations demand so. What affects a persons ability to regulate their behaviours and thoughts? A large body of research suggests that having power improves a persons executive functions relative to lacking power.

There are three core executive functions: inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility. These form the backbone for higher-order processes such as planning, problem solving, and decision making. Having power improves these three core functions, which are all important for optimal performance in the workplace.

Inhibitory control is overriding impulses and controlling ones attention, thoughts, and behaviours to do what one chooses. For example, to focus their attention on the task at hand in a noisy work environment, individuals need to inhibit their automatic impulse to listen to what other people are saying. High-power individuals are better at directing their attention to things relevant to their goals and inhibiting attention to other, irrelevant things than low-power individuals.

Working memory is holding information in memory and mentally processing the information. For example, in negotiations, new information comes in constantly. To decide whether to reject or accept an offer, individuals need to integrate new information with existing information and make a decision quickly. High-power individuals perform better in tasks with a high demand for working memory than low-power individuals.

Cognitive flexibility is changing perspectives or ways of thinking flexibly. In creativity tasks, in order to come up with something new, individuals need to change their usual way of thinking. High-power individuals are more creative and better at adjusting their attention, thoughts, and behaviours in accordance with situational demands. This flexibility is likely related to their greater ability to inhibit previous situational demands and update them with new demands in working memory.

How to improve low-power individuals executive functions

Why do high-power individuals have better executive functions? It is likely a result of feeling more independent from others and facing less constraint in the environment. Thus, one way to improve low-power individuals executive functions is to give them power. Leaders can achieve this through delegation. Subordinates who have access to more resources and assume more responsibilities should feel a sense of efficacy and independence.

It is also possible to elevate low-power individuals sense of power without giving them actual control over others. For example, recent research found that low-power individuals who had a chance to affirm the self, such as by writing about an important personal value, felt more efficacious, and thus no longer showed decrements in inhibitory control. Another possible way to increase low-power individuals sense of power is to give them more choices about what to do in their daily life. Choices, like power, fulfil peoples need for control. As such, giving low-power individuals control over things like how to decorate their workspace may elevate their sense of agency and power, and as a consequence improve their executive functioning.

When having power does not lead to better performance

High-power individuals do not always process information more thoroughly than low-power individuals. Powerful people pay less attention to tasks or individuals that are not relevant for their goals because they are better at controlling their attention to do what they choose. Thus, organisations need to ensure that their leaders goals are in line with the organisations aims.

A group of high-power individuals does not necessarily perform better than a group of low-power individuals. Such high-power teams tend to have more in-group conflict due to heightened concerns about the distribution of power. In fact, unless the task involves working alone or little group coordination, groups of high-power individuals tend to perform worse than groups of low-power individuals. Hence, for an organisation to capitalise on high-power individuals enhanced executive functions during group decisions, these individuals need to see the task at hand as relevant, and the distribution of power in the group needs to be handled transparently.

Additionally, high-power individuals may experience increased cognitive load due to their heightened responsibilities and the number of subordinates they must supervise. In this case, the cognitive benefits that accompany having power may be balanced out by the increased load. In fact, these cognitive benefits may be what keep leaders above water when stress and demands are high.

Power perpetuates itself through improved executive functions: Power differences lead to performance differences, which in turn increase the legitimacy of those power differences. This means that sometimes low-power individuals underperform not because they lack the ability, but because they lack the power to function optimally. Delegation may create a win-win situation, by reducing the cognitive load of high-power individuals and improving the executive functions of low-power individuals.

Yidan Yinis a PhD candidate at the Rady School of Management, UC San Diego. Through her research, she seeks to provide guidance for individuals who want to be more effective at work and identify barriers to empowerment. She studies what individuals can do to be more influential, trustworthy, and competent at their work, and how power changes a persons behaviours and cognitions, particularly those that may have a negative impact on the person willingness to empower others.

Pamela K. Smithis an associate professor in management at the Rady School of Management, UC San Diego. She has a PhD in social psychology from New York University. Her research interests include power, status, influence, and other sources of hierarchical differences, both how they affect an individuals thinking, motivation, and behaviour, and the signals people use to determine where they and others fit within hierarchies.

This article was originally published in LSE Business Review

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Does an Increase in Personal Power Lead to Better Cognitive Functioning? - Qrius

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January 7th, 2020 at 6:46 pm

Jamie Lee Curtis and Lin Shaye in ‘The Grudge’ are redefining, and empowering, scream queens – NBC News

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Jan. 4, 2020, 9:30 AM UTC

Scream queens have been a staple of the horror genre for the last 40 years. They are also a dated cliche. Thankfully, they seem to be transitioning into a new phase due in particular to two veteran actresses, Lin Shaye and Jamie Lee Curtis, who are bringing the scary stories of older woman to the screen including two new films this year. First up is The Grudge, which opened Friday. Shaye and Curtis are strong, fierce and have compelling experiences to share. At times they can scream, but they can also make us scream.

When the term scream queen became popularized in the 1980s, it generally denoted beautiful young damsels in distress in horror films, mainly of the demonic or slasher variety, who would scream their heads off in key moments of panic.

This led to the rise of the final girl: a smart, usually virginal young lady who did not drink, take drugs or indulge in premarital sex, and who became the sole, often resourceful survivor of a vicious murder spree, often taking out the villain herself. But neither terms were particularly complimentary, nor something many female actors aspired to. At their heart, slasher movies were thinly disguised Christian morality tales: Commit a sin, pay the price.

Over the years, the phrase scream queen has been broadened to apply to any actress who appears regularly in horror movies or the female leads in various fear films, though even then, the stories gravitated mostly toward younger women. But finally, the times have begun to change and multifaceted middle-aged and older women are being represented.

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In 2018, Hereditary focused on a middle-aged mother (Toni Collette) who, in the wake of her secretive mothers death, grapples with how mental illness runs in her family and may affect her. As far back as 2014, The Babadook showed a widowed mother fending off her and her young sons fear of the titular storybook monster. Vera Farmiga (albeit younger at 46) has portrayed real-life supernatural sleuth Lorraine Warren in two Conjuring movies (a third is coming), The Nun and one Annabelle prequel. And Jamie Lee Curtis returned as an older Laurie Strode to battle Michael Myers in 2018s Halloween sequel, which takes place 40 years after the original debuted. (And it broke multiple box office records.)

What these women share, in addition to more lived experience and wisdom, is a tough independence, a reinvention rooted in empowerment rather than victimhood, even when facing seemingly insurmountable situations. These are not women who are easily preyed upon. Pick on them at your own peril.

The Grudge, a reimagining of the 2004 American remake of the Japanese original, features an elderly woman with dementia (played by Shaye) and the performance is both sad and creepy. Shaye was attracted to the role because of how real it felt. She is not a creepy villain; she is waging a battle with her own sanity as manipulated by an outside force.

Though a young woman is the star of The Grudge who visits a haunted Japanese home and unwittingly imports rageful supernatural energy back home, Shaynes supporting turn as Faith Matheson adds nuance and empathy to the production. Tragic instead of heroic, she plays a woman with dementia who is infected by the Grudge curse she kills and also maims herself and whose husband is contemplating assisted suicide for her.

A veteran actor with a diverse resume, 76-year-old Shaye has become famous for her work in the four supernatural Insidious films (cumulative global gross: $555 million) and other genre pictures. (With a resume equally as diverse, 61-year-old Curtis became famous through Halloween and a few early 80s slasher pictures.)

Im a woman with dementia who is basically sick, explained Shaye of her role as Faith. The Grudge is about infection, which is a different kind of fear.

Shaye has also been a major part of the Insidious film franchise, the fifth installment of which is rumored to be on the way. Her character of Elise Rainier, a supernatural investigator and psychic who played a supporting role in the first two movies, became the star of the next two installments. While the third one was the least scary of the bunch, her endearing portrayal of Rainier, and the origins of how she became united with her younger male demonologist accomplices Specs and Tucker, showed us how she faced her own literal demon to aid others; the fourth film showed us how her own childhood possession scarred her.

A new Halloween movie, Halloween Kills, is due out in October. In the last installment, which was a direct sequel to the original, Curtis reprised her role as Strode, the once-beleaguered babysitter who has since become a grandmother struggling with long-term post-traumatic stress disorder and has warned her daughter and granddaughter of the danger of killer Michael Myers escaping and coming for them. They write her off as nuts until that actually happens, then they all band together to fight off the evil. It is like a multigenerational feminist manifesto of battling the patriarchy.

Strode is no longer a squeamish victim finding her inner strength. Now she is an older warrior who turns the table on her seemingly inhuman attacker. Many moments near the end of the sequel mimic those of the original, except this time Strode takes control, and the predator becomes the prey. Its funny, obviously Im way happy that women over 50 can get a job, and have a job that has depth, Curtis told Collider in 2018. The thing that I took away from the movie was depth, emotion and emotional complexity.

Indeed, both Shaye and Curtis have moved beyond the final girl paradigm to become horror warriors. While Curtis lampooned her scream queen roots in the tongue-in-cheek Scream Queens television series by playing a promiscuous pot-smoking college dean, her older Strode, like Ranier, is more serious and layered. In the past, older women in horror films were often exploited as sinister, manipulative, and/or wicked. This led to the ugly genre term hagsploitation and its psycho-biddy antagonists, referring to 1960s and 70s movies like Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? and Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte.

They usually starred aging actresses in less-than-flattering roles. Some would argue that recent films like Greta and the Suspiria remake still demonize aging women. But the roles portrayed by Shaye, Curtis and Farmiga are heroes where their age is their strength. Even when they are terrified themselves, they show resolve, and their own lives likely influence how they play their roles.

Perhaps the best part of seeing women like Shaye, Farmiga and Curtis onscreen in horror roles is that they can move between victim and heroine, that they can portray scared, strong and scary.

Sometimes you inject your point of view I don't mean politics, I'm talking about life experience, said Shaye. What it means to love somebody, what it means to leave someone, what it means to hurt yourself. As I get older, I try to bring my personal truth to what I do. That's a given no matter what I do.

Perhaps the best part of seeing women like Shaye, Farmiga and Curtis onscreen in horror roles is that they can move between victim and heroine, that they can portray scared, strong and scary. They are at their best when they face down their demons. Watching Curtis lurk in the shadows waiting to turn the tables on Myers at the climax of the recent Halloween is thrilling. Seeing Farmiga and Shaye fend off demonic forces in the Conjuring and Insidious franchises, then have the latter freak us out in The Grudge, is chilling. Now thats something to scream about.

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Jamie Lee Curtis and Lin Shaye in 'The Grudge' are redefining, and empowering, scream queens - NBC News

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January 7th, 2020 at 6:46 pm

Event addresses Mental Health and seeks to promote Resilience, Empowerment and Positive Mindset – Love Belfast

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Mental health is the subject of the upcoming Your Mind Matters Event on 22nd January 2020. The Event is being spearheaded by HN Consultants Ltd and it is hoped that each person will be able to take something away that will help to improve their mindset and ignite positivity and empowerment.

The Event will hear from Julie Crawford who has worked within the field of addiction for over 11 years, Doreen Ritchie an Experienced Life Coach and Author and Guest Speak Gary Doherty of the THINK Network.

Ms Crawford has provided services to agencies including Addiction NI, Nexus and Ascert a charity that helps people address the impact of alcohol and drugs in their lives, as well as delivering training initiatives for the academic sector including Belfast MET.

Ms Crawford will share her insight to possible causes mental health issues and coping mechanisms.

She will be joined by academic and life coach Doreen Ritchie from Queens University. Doreen is an Executive Life Coach and shares her skills by public speaking and mentoring. Her accolades include contributing as an Author to the book Activate Your Life Vol 2.

Doreen will talk about changing your mindset and share techniques to help do this. Doreen currently works with many professionals helping them to reassess their current mindset and adapt to ensure a healthy work life balance.

Guest Speak, Gary Doherty founder of the THINK Network. Gary is on a crusade to elevate others through empowerment hosting empowering speaking events throughout Northern Ireland with plans to scale up Nationally and Globally, changing the World one event at a time. He will share his own personal experiences.

Heather Macartney director of HN Consultants said mental health issues are particularly acute in Northern Ireland, there are steps we can all can take to help combat the issues of stress, anxiety and depression and sharing these techniques is so important.

Ms Macartney said:

We provide consultancy services to businesses, but we also come into contact with individuals who may be experiencing life changing events or financial difficulties. By launching this initiative, we hope to engage with the public and employers to provide them with the opportunity to hear from professionals in Counselling and Life Coaching who they may not otherwise have access to.

Many Business owners who operate initiatives inhouse to support their staff see the benefits of reduced time off for sick leave and an appreciation from their staff who can see further value of their place within the business.

The event is taking place on Wednesday 22nd January 2020 from 6.00pm to 8.30pm at Malone Lodge Hotel, Belfast. Tickets are priced at just 29.50 each (booking fees may apply) and be purchased by emailing or by visiting Eventbrite.

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Event addresses Mental Health and seeks to promote Resilience, Empowerment and Positive Mindset - Love Belfast

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January 7th, 2020 at 6:46 pm

Don’t wait for the future of mindfulness it’s already here – Open Democracy

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A lot has been written recently about how mindfulness can serve the social reproduction of capitalism. CEOs list meditation as a daily practice that helps them stay mentally agile in their pursuit of profit maximisation. Commentators like Slavok Zizek, tell us that, by allowing us to uncouple and retain some inner peace, such practices actually function as the perfect ideological supplement [to capitalism].

In his recent article for Transformation, The Future of Mindfulness, Ron Purser reiterates the fact that mindfulness can be used for nefarious purposes when divorced from a larger ethical framework. If used purely as a method to relieve individualized stress or enhance personal performance, it can compound individualistic self-preoccupation, distract us from the structural causes of injustice, and deflect our efforts away from projects aimed at building collective agency for systemic change. Like most things, mindfulness is susceptible to co-option in a world where capitalism seamlessly occupies the horizon of the thinkable, as Mark Fisher once put it.

And yet, thats not the whole story. Purser finishes his article by saying that we need a new language and praxis of spiritual and political liberation that isnt muted by the weak balm of self-improvement. Many of us who are integrating mindfulness into activist training couldnt agree more, but for us this isnt the future of mindfulness, because the language and praxis we need are already here. In our work at the Ulex Project with people committed to struggles of solidarity, mindfulness has proven itself a powerful resource for radical transformation and a vital tool for dismantling oppressive structures, both within and around us.

Weve been developing programmes that embed mindfulness in activist education for the last decade, helping activists to become more sustainable and effective. Our journey started amidst the failure and repression that surrounded the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009. The burnout, frustration, and disintegration of grassroots groups afterwards seriously undermined our movements through the hemorrhaging of talent and experience. This highlighted the importance of integrating practices that strengthen self-awareness, emotional literacy and resilience within activist cultures. Seeing burnout as a political issue, we began to develop sustainable activism trainings with mindfulness and related approaches as their cornerstone from 2010.

Hundreds of activists have attended these trainings and the majority report that mindfulness and meditation have been key in helping them to address burnout, feel more equipped to face challenging circumstances, collaborate better, and balance action with reflection in ways that enhance organizational learning. We added a specific course dedicated to training secular and social mindfulness in 2015. By helping activists to stay in the struggle for the long haul, mindfulness becomes anything but an ideological supplement to capitalism.

For example, Melanie Strickland, one of the Stansted 15 campaigners who grounded a charter flight in 2017 to confront the UK deportation system, drew on these skills to navigate difficult times and a long legal battle. Becoming aware of how my own mental processes weren't always helpful, especially when I'm already stressed and burnt out, was vital, she told us. Mindfulness also helped me start to learn how to work better with really big, overwhelming feelings like grief - which are healthy and necessary responses to the crisis of these times.

However, weve also found that the benefits of mindfulness practices are determined by the key motivations and framing that are brought to them. Working with people who are already committed to action for social change or ecological defence and who are engaged in collaborative projects or organisations helps to mitigate the risks of mindfulness becoming co-opted.

At the same time, to avoid individualisation, we place it in a framework that shows how effective strategies for transformation need to pay attention to three mutually interdependent spheres: the personal and psychological, the interpersonal and organisational, and the wider social movement and socio-political. Neglecting any one of these spheres, or failing to recognise their interplay, can undermine our struggles.

Unfortunately, for many activists, recognising the structural nature of oppression and the pitfalls of individualism all too often leads to the feeling that any attention to the personal or psychological sphere is inherently narcissistic. This often guilt-driven simplification props up behaviours and group cultures that are ultimately self-sabotaging.

In reality, acknowledging the strategic and political importance of practices for increased self-awareness and care is a crucial source of collective empowerment. As the civil rights activist and writer Audre Lorde once pointed out, from the position of someone subject to oppression, caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare. To support this change, shifting the balance of activist cultures to include personal contemplation and psychological inquiry is essential.

In developing these skills with activists we explore mindfulness-like practices across three dimensions: Mindful Awareness, Skilful Emotion, and Ways of Seeing. Skills in mindful awareness help activists to make choices about where they direct their attention. This builds up defences against the onslaught of the attention hijacking economy which seeks to steal and dissipate our focus across surveillance capitalisms digital drag nets. It helps us nurture continuity of experience, cultivate greater mental clarity, and break free of debilitating habits. When its all going arse up around me, as a common refrain puts it among the activists we work with, these skills really help me to stay grounded and open.

Mindful awareness can help us to push back against the tendency to react to constant demands for urgent action, and to see the strategic value of opening up spaces for deeper reflection and learning. Fire-fighting is sometimes inevitable, but, as Adrienne Maree Brown puts it, the author of Pleasure Activism, there is such urgency in the multitude of crises we face, it can make it hard to remember that in fact it is urgency thinking (urgent constant unsustainable growth) that got us to this point, and that our potential success lies in doing deep, slow, intentional work.

Skilful emotion rests on building greater emotional literacy, which helps us to channel difficult feelings like rage and grief in ways that bring vitality and passion to our struggles. Without these skills, powerful emotions can play havoc on our bodies, wearing us down and slowly leading us into despondency or cynicism. Skilful emotion enables us to nourish our capacity for empathy and solidarity, as well as being a necessary foundation for more effective communication and the ability to work creatively with inevitable conflicts. These emotional skills are crucial to the relationship- and trust-building that healthy activist organisations need to cultivate.

Exploring ways of seeing helps us to acknowledge the provisional and partial nature of our views and to recognise how they can empower or undermine our struggles. Complemented by anti-oppression perspectives that direct mindful attention towards deeply-rooted mental paradigms of competition and productivity, as well as patriarchy, racism, sexism and classism, this enables activists to gain the depth, humility and compassion they need to create transformative change, and it can help us to collectively embody the liberatory social relations we are fighting for.

Developing the ability to recognize the constructed nature of our views enables us to recognize when our political identities are truly empowering - and where they can imprison us. This can help us to work with diversity within our groups and movements more effectively, replacing unproductive and entrenched antagonisms with open-minded inquiry and recognition of the creative potential in our differences.

All three facets of mindfulness work require both personal practice and a supportive interpersonal context. Deep self-awareness doesnt just come from introverted contemplation; it also needs the feedback, challenge and support that working with others provides. Emotional literacy can be enhanced by training in techniques like somatic awareness, but it also needs spaces where we can express and honour the whole range of our emotional experiences with each other.

Uncovering our assumptions and mindsets, and learning to hold our views less rigidly, does require inner reflection, but equally it depends on dialogue and collective inquiry. With this in mind, our trainings integrate tools and skills that are both individual and collective. Change in people goes hand in hand with transformation in the activist and organisational cultures we create together.

The methods we share arent intended to provide a universal set of practices. Diverse socio-economic conditions require diverse methods. Neuro-diversity makes some practices more or less useful to different people. Historical and cultural differences will make some approaches a better fit than others. Consequently we take a very open source approach, honouring some basic principles but assuming specific practices will always be adapted.

Echoing Pursers call for the future of mindfulness, Roberto Mangabeira Unger, in his book The Religion of the Future, conjures a vision for a new religio-political praxis which should convince us to exchange serenity for searching. In much the same way, our integration of mindfulness within activist training is not so much about developing calm and serene minds as it is about effectively empowering our struggles.

And yet, unless activists are prepared to turn their attention inwards as well as outwards our struggles will continue to be undermined by our own mental habits. If so, the potential we have for truly liberatory collective action is unlikely to be realized.

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Don't wait for the future of mindfulness it's already here - Open Democracy

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January 7th, 2020 at 6:46 pm

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