Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Word on the Street is 'literacy'

Outdoor festival lovers are in for a treat this weekend as the third annual The Word on the Street gets underway Sunday at the Lethbridge Public Library.

Held on the streets surrounding the downtown library, the festival celebrates literacy and the power of words in every form — written, sung, spoken and read — through live author readings, musical performances, vendors and street theatre.

“This is the third year that the Library will be hosting the festival; it definitely provides an opportunity for the Library to connect with the community in a fun way,” says library CEO Tony Vanden Heuvel. 

The local festival is part of a national campaign to promote literacy and is held in five cities — Lethbridge, Saskatoon, Kitchener, Toronto and Halifx — on the same weekend across Canada.

It has become one of the world’s largest literary celebrations. In 2012, almost 270,000 visitors attended 440 programmed events featuring 650 authors, workshop presenters and arts performers. 

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Exciting Research into Parkinson's Disease

Local researchers are stepping up their studies into Parkinson’s disease in hopes of improving the safety and quality of life for those afflicted with the incurable illness.
“We’re looking at balance and fall prevention in people at risk, particularly those affected by Parkinson’s disease (PD),” says Dr. Lesley Brown, kinesiology professor and associate vice-president research at the University of Lethbridge.
Brown says her team has been studying how listening to music while walking can benefit people with PD and they are expecting to expand their work to include participants from across the province this fall.

Photo of Dr. Lesley Brown
courtesy of University of Lethbridge

“One of the trademarks of PD can be a slow, shuffling walk, which increases the risk for falling and we hope to be able to reduce some of the dangers associated with that.”

She says her team is undertaking the new study as a follow-up to a five-year project that concluded in 2011. That study was made possible by a five-year research grant from the Canadian Institute for Health Research and involved around 40 participants.

“In the previous study, we had half the participants walk to the beat of music in the genre they enjoyed and where the cadence matched their walking gait,” she explains. They walked for 40 minutes, three times a week for 13 weeks. The researchers monitored their ongoing progress and compared it to the starting gait measurements of the participants, as well as their counterparts in the study that didn’t do the music therapy. They found definite improvements in the step patterns of the participants undergoing music therapy.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Power Mantras for Stress

Change can bring a lot of stress and fear into our lives and learning how to cope positively has been a journey of mine for awhile now.

I found a wonderful article on using power mantras to help with stress. The author, Shannon Kaiser, suggests repeating the following five mantras when those feelings of self doubt begin to overcrowd your purposeful thoughts:

1. "I believe in myself and know that I'm worthy of all that I truly desire. I accept my true self and live it fully."

2. "My playing small does not serve the world. I have the courage to live the life beyond my wildest dreams."

3. "My dreams are important and are coming true."

4. "I have the courage to step into my future gracefully with ease."

5. "I feel excited about the possibilities I am creating."

Kaiser's article describes very well how I've been feeling lately so I thought I'd give this a try and see if it can keep me from reaching for another piece of pie when times get rough.

So far the pie - using my grandmother's pastry recipe and baked with Nanking cherries grown in my own backyard - is winning! 

But I have hope and I'll be sharing some other interesting stress busting strategies soon!

Monday, 2 September 2013

Japanese Garden Seeks National Heritage Designation

The following article appeared in the July 24, 2013 edition of the Lethbridge Sun Times newspaper and website.

By Judy Westcott

The Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden has been providing a sanctuary of inner peace and serenity to visitors from around the world for 46 years and now plans are underway to have it designated a national heritage site by 2017.

Photo by Tom Buchanan

“We have a fiftieth anniversary committee working on plans for 2017,” says Lindy Rollingson, executive director of the Lethbridge and District Japanese Garden Society, which operates the Garden for a fee on behalf of the City of Lethbridge.

“We are also in the process of applying for municipal heritage status, which will lead to applications for provincial and then national heritage designations,” she says.

The heritage designations will be the icing on the cake for Nikka Yuko, which has received numerous awards from Communities in Bloom over the years and has been voted as one of the top 10 Canadian gardens to see by MSN’s Canadian travel website. It is also ranked 21 out of 330 Japanese gardens in North America by Sukiya Living Magazine, a bi-monthly English-language print publication dedicated to the special world of Japanese gardens and Japanese architecture.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Changing Focus of Blog

If there's one thing I've learned about life, it's that nothing ever stays the same and this blog is no exception.

Effective immediately, the Retro Junction blog is changing focus to better showcase those who are involved in my freelance writing and designing business and I will be blogging under my own name.

This all comes about as the result of a decision I made about a year ago to close my vintage shop on Etsy because of the problems arising from shipping. 

It was very frustrating that no matter how well I padded, bubble wrapped and planted boxes inside boxes, it seemed too many of my vintage (sometimes valuable antique) items were arriving crushed and broken at the customer's doorstep. One package even looked like it had been run over by a delivery truck. 

Of course, the only way to keep a happy customer and maintain an impeccable reputation on Etsy is to completely reimburse the entire item cost - plus the charges for shipping. Unfortunately, the mail service doesn't cover breakage, only lost packages.

So you can see where shipping was impacting my bottom line and turning an enjoyable hobby of buying and selling into a losing, stressful enterprise. Items that had survived 30, 40, 50 or more years were being shipped off by me to their quick demise. I felt like an assassin. 

Raising the shipping charges to add insurance coverage was not an option, as customers simply won't pay the rates needed to cover the losses. I decided I'd rather keep the item than have it destroyed. 

But that's okay too. I think I was ready to move from online retailing back to what I was really good at - writing and designing. 

The bonus is now I have a lot of really cool items dispersed throughout my home for my own enjoyment, thanks to my golden rule of collecting only items I would like to get stuck with if they didn't sell. Items that inspire creative thought, bring back wonderful memories or simply make me smile at their whimsy.

And so, while this blog takes on a new life - one thing that won't be changing is my love for vintage!