Literacy reduces stigma

Literacy against mental illness stigma

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI- “Where are my men?”

Screams a war veteran with a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as he storms into a Battle Creek restaurant thinking it’s a battlefield somewhere in Afghanistan.

The guests call police on him rather than perform CPR. The guy ends up in jail.

Fiction?

No, true.

Annie's Ghosts, a journey into mental illness
Annie’s Ghosts, a journey into mental illness

But what is CPR for mental illnesses?

“Literacy and awareness,” says Robert Lathers, director of Ionia County Community Mental Health. “Mental health literacy.”

Lathers extensively spoke about an important societal issue, which is reducing the stigma of mental illness. He also compared the issue to the fight against racism.

“Let’s understand mental illness first,” he said.

Lathers teaches classes on cultural competency or diversity for mental health workers.

“Nobody else wants to do it or come to them,” he said. “Now, I have a full classroom.”

Diversity and cultural competency including acceptance is a mindset based on personal beliefs. That can be changed, according to Lathers.

ICCMH director Bob Lathers
ICCMH director Bob Lathers

“We need to experience humanity,” he said, “and understand the culture of how we grew up.”

We can experience humanity by talking about what we had for dinner on Sundays as well, laughed Lathers.

Lathers along with the Michigan Humanities Council suggest educating oneself about mental illness by reading a book by Steve Luxenberg “Annie’s Ghosts.”

Luxenberg is an editor and writer for Washington Post who grew up in Detroit.

The reviews include the following statement by Deborah Tannen:

“…a riveting detective story, a moving family saga, an enlightening if heartbreaking chapter in the history of America’s treatment of people born with what we now call special needs.”

Copyright © 2014 story and photo by Emma Palova

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Writing journey

Writing; a wild journey into the unknown

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI- Three things prompted me to think about the writing business: 101 Challenge by WordPress, 100 Posts & beyond that I have achieved in a year and my worsening eyesight.

Sometimes people ask me what would  I be if I wasn’t a writer.

“I’d be a queen,” I answer laughing. “The queen of hearts.”

First of all writing is a business and it should be approached as such. I never quite got the idea of some of the Internet writers’ magazines screaming out loud on Facebook:

“Writers, do you want to get paid for writing?”

How is writing any different than going to get your groceries and paying for them? Or gas at the local station? Air ticket?

I love to blog
I love to blog

Actually it should be paid higher than your average retail position because the fact of the matter remains that minority entertains the majority.

“People would die of boredom if it wasn’t for writers and artists,” I always say. “What would you do without us?”

But, there does come a time when you feel like giving up after all the ups and downs, the encouragements and the discouragements.

It is that time when you’re bombarded by self-publishing houses that want your credit card number for your book on demand; by your spouses who want you to make money rather than use it on print cartridges, your aging parents who want to hold that long dreamt about book.

Then, kicks in the thing about driving traffic to your Internet sites and likes, which somehow magically will transfer into sales.

Not to forget about traditional publishers who want everything by snail mail, and 10 months later they still haven’t responded to you.

I don’t know how to change things to get different results or more likes and followers.

I like to encourage others to keep on trying doing the things they want along with the wanted outcomes.

100 Posts on WordPress
100 Posts on WordPress

My wanted outcomes are the publishing of my memoir and a book, but I seem to be lost in a sea of unexpected results on winding paths. This is not always bad, it’s just something else than you wanted.

It’s like going into the woods to get morels, and instead you bring back blackberries.

“It leads to new discoveries,” I say.

Like in this typical example of having a blog to increase your online presence and publishing capabilities while writing your memoir.

Well, accidentally you pick out WordPress, the best of the bunch. You are a perfect match, and you’re on your way.

“I love doing the blog more than writing my memoir,” I told my husband the other day.

There’s better and instant feedback, the constant challenge of maintaining the blog and coming up with new things, new challenges.

Then in turn you get picked up by other Internet giants and you’re headed into the unknown, like on a spaceship.

“I like being its captain,” I say.

This is part of the 100 Posts & beyond series.

Copyright © 2014 story and photos by Emma Palova

A day in the country

A day in the country, a true American story

By EMMA PALOVA

EW Emma’s Writings

Keene Township- Smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, butt rub, jalapeno sausages and maple syrup, all in one place.

I stood in a line for one hour to get my share of the country goodies at the Jones Farm Market deep in the fields of the Midwest.

It was a chilly May morning with wind blowing from the west that also hauled in the smell from cows and pigs.

The line stayed the same all along due to the steady stream of visitors. Right in front of me there were three big blue striped tents and a band playing Stevie Wonder songs underneath. You would expect a country band.

Phil Jones during customer appreciation day last Saturday
Phil Jones during customer appreciation day last Saturday

The Jones Customer Appreciation Day takes place once a year always on the third Saturday in May. Speaking about killer timing: the event takes place between Mother’s Day and Memorial Day. Who doesn’t want to grill?

Moreover, four generations of owners, are right there on hand to chat in spite of the overall frenzy.

The younger ones were sporting black t-shirts that on the front read, “Where’s the beef?” With the answer on the back, “Next to pork.”

Pork is big here. It’s sold by the tons.

“We probably sell more than a ton of pork strips and steaks,” said the owner jovial Phil Jones. “Three thousand pounds of bacon and 9,000 pounds of ground beef.”

“I bet, I saw the commercial on TV,” I said referring to Jones son Lee talking about meat on the camera.

“Yes, Lee wants to be a movie star,” Phil laughed.

Great finds butt rub
Great finds butt rub

This down-to-earth man has led the meat business for the last 40 years, 20 of which he served as the Keene Township supervisor.

“You know you can do only so much in church,” Phil said in our previous interview.

“Now it seems like I am going to retire for the 25th time,” he laughed.

The last time I was at the market for a story, Phil’s wife Janet was watching their great grandchild who slept in a large meat box.

“That’s how we raise them right here at the market,” said Phil.

Most customers know the Joneses on a first name basis.

Metal Emu by Jamee
Metal Emu by Jamee

The Customer Appreciation Day has grown over the years from a small picnic to an annual event worth waiting for.

The younger son Karl was in charge of grilling. And what a meal for one dollar. One dollar here buys you, the Jones signature sausage, potato salad, sauerkraut, baked beans, and a cookie.

I browsed the booths in search of a treasure and I found a metal artist. I started taking photos of his metal welded Emu. The Emu had a belly with a pot of flowers and his tail was made from license plates.

“That will cost you $5,” he said.

“But I am a writer,” I said.

“Then, you can take all the pictures you want,” he said.

I have his business card. It states boldly, Jamee’s Repurposed metal art.

I have a knack for finding these special treats at country festivals. They range from great men to great women, and whatever they make.

Sometimes they’re weavers, soap makers and bird house makers. Artists and artisans who want to make it big, just like the metal guy Jamee and his nurse girl friend who supports him.

And of course there’s a whole different chapter to this great American story: the old car collectors with a Ford 1915 convertible on display at the grounds of the farm market. The vehicle was sort of reminiscent of a tractor.

We came here for meat and sausage & we found a special bond, something that we all have in common: love for the big country.

 

Copyright © 2014 story and photos by Emma Palova

Dr. Verdier

Waiting for Dr.Verdier

By EMMA PALOVA

EW Emma’s Writings

 In the spirit of 101 Challenge: The Commons I wanted to write about finding your feature niche II for your blog yesterday. I wanted to thank everybody for participating in the challenge yesterday. I wanted to write about the month of May being the mental health awareness month and my friend CEO of Ionia County Community Mental Health (ICCMH). I wanted to do everything yesterday.

Writing with a magnifying glass
Writing with a magnifying glass

But destiny wanted something else.

I can hardly see the screen. Yesterday, I couldn’t see at all. I couldn’t write. The screen was dipped in a faraway 3=D mist. Google was floating somewhere in a distance.

I barely made it back home from town with my medication as I couldn’t see the oncoming cars.

I went to see the eye doctor this morning. Eyes are the second most precious asset that I have.

“What brings you here on a Friday,” asks the eye doc.

“I couldn’t see yesterday, it was creepy,” I said.

The eye doc conducts a thorough exam and says:

“Putting something in front of the foggy lens is not going to solve your problem,” he said. “You have cataracts in both eyes at a young age. It’s very progressive.”

“Does it run in the family?”

“Most definitely,” he said.

“I need to see Dr.Verdier,” I said.

“You know him,” asks the eye doc looking at me through his spectacles.

“I wrote about him,” I said. “He travels around the world fixing eyes.”

“Did you write that article about him on the Orbitz plane,”asks the eye doc.

“I did.”

“Then you know he’s worth waiting for,” says the eye doc.

The first consult appointment with Dr. Verdier is on Aug. 22. I still have to write. I have a book deal in the making, but I need to see.

 

Copyright © story and photo by Emma Palova

Mom Ella & aunt Anna

Two sisters still at war

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Writer’s note:

This is part of the 100 Posts & beyond series

Today is a big day. As I write to the rhythm of the rain, morning chirping of the birds and to the frantic panting of my dog and husband, I still have my feet wet from the patio. I had to move the phlox and the moss roses from the garage out into the rain.

It’s May 9th, it’s my birthday. I was born on the national holiday in former Czechoslovakia. On that day, the nation’s capital Prague, the mother of all cities, was freed from the Nazi occupation by the Soviet Army. That was the end of World War II.

Many years later, I was born in the wee hours at 4 a.m. to parents Ella & Vaclav Konecny. My mom woke up to the cracking noises of fireworks announcing the anniversary of the victory.

“I thought it was war again, but then I realized those were fireworks celebrating your birth,” she said to me this morning as she wished me a happy birthday. “The whole nation celebrated.”

Czech Capital Prague
Czech Capital Prague

Mom says that to me every year, as the nature too celebrates the awakening after long winter.

“The nature blossoms on your birthday,” she says. “You always had the day off and a parade.”

Birthday blossom
Birthday blossom

 

The above note is one of the many reasons why I dedicated the memoir “Greenwich Meridian where East meets west” to my mother.

 100 Posts & beyond

This post is inspired by Anton Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” and the constant friction that I have witnessed between sisters in this world.

Mom Ella & I
Mom Ella & I

 

Mom Ella and aunt Anna

As I watch people drop like flies around me, I realize how time is going by fast. I like the inscription on the clock in the living room, “Tempus fugit.” That’s why I bought that pendulum clock as one of the first things when I arrived on this continent in 1989 for $110. Not that I had that kind of money. I just wanted the clock so bad, that I probably borrowed money for it. It announces the time by boldly striking every full and half hour. My husband Ludek still has to wind it by hand much like the clock that the in-laws had at home in the old country.

“They probably wouldn’t even let us know if she’s dead,” mom said. “You write the wedding invite. She’s your aunt and godmother.”

We bought the card that had written “Sisters” in the sand on it in Venice, Florida.

“I’ll pay for her air ticket, but not for him,” Mom said angrily. “Anyna won’t be able to translate that. She’s not going to come anyway.” Anyna is a slanderous nickname for the pretty name Anna.

Mom was referring to my uncle whom we once fancied as “Jean” rather the ordinary Czech John. We took that from the French movies that we had devoured like crazy in old Czechoslovakia.

That was more than quarter of a century ago before the big family dispute.

“But we don’t even know if he’s alive,” I argued. “I’ll just write it and we’ll see.”

Unintentionally, we sent the invite off without any contact numbers or addresses. Subconscious at its best.

“Write it again,” mom said last week. “This is her last chance to make up with me.”

To be continued as part of the ongoing series 100 Posts & beyond

Copyright © 2014 story and photos by Emma Palova

EW This WordPress.com site is about Emma's Writings.