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How to be less critical

Brené Brown: How To Be Less Critical  (Huffington Post, 28 March 2014)

The author of Daring Greatly, who’s launching Part 2 of the groundbreaking The Gifts of Imperfection e-course, on why we should stop criticizing others.

First, the bad news: If you have a fondness for snarky jabs — and believe me, most of us take pleasure in the occasional barb — this column might ruin your fun. The good news is that understanding how and why we judge others, and trading that judgment for a little empathy and self-compassion, can bring more joy to our lives, families and relationships.

Most of us don’t realize how often we judge: We gossip about our boss’s new boyfriend, we look down on our neighbors’ parenting — the list goes on. One way to become more aware of how we judge is to understand why: We’re often motivated by a need to compare ourselves favorably with the people around us. We tend to judge others in areas where we feel most vulnerable or not good enough. If I’m constantly worried about being a great mother, I might be quicker to look down on another mom who misses the school play. When a colleague recently rescheduled a meeting for the second time, I found myself rolling my eyes; I had no compassion to extend, because I was still beating myself up for flaking on a work event the week before. In these moments, we take unconscious refuge in the thought, “At least I’m better than someone.”

You might be wondering whether a little judginess is always a bad thing. After all, sometimes it’s really satisfying to point out that others are screwing up! But judgment kills empathy. And empathy is what fuels trust and intimacy. How can we walk in others’ shoes when we’re busy judging those shoes?

It starts with showing compassion for ourselves. Only when we feel comfortable with our own choices — and embrace our own imperfections — will we stop feeling the driving need to criticize others.

critic quote

The Dare

Be mindful. Be awake to what you’re thinking, feeling, and saying — and why. It might seem awkward at first, but the next time you feel judgmental, stop and ask yourself, “What’s really going on here?”

Change your inner monologue. When I canceled that work event, I told myself, “You’re a slacker. You’re not dependable.” Had I said, “Life happens, Brené,” I might have been more empathic when my colleague moved our meeting.

Make a pact with a friend or a family member. Declare a judgment-free week — or, if you’re feeling brave, a month. There will be long periods of silence; it’s a shocker when you realize how much “connecting” we do by talking about others. But asking someone you trust to join you will help keep you accountable — and help you change the subject.

– submitted by Leilani

Spotlight on depression

Having been depressed before, I believe I will feel normal again, but in the meantime, it’s bloody rough going

People say Williams 'lost his battle' with mental illness, as though he wasn't trying hard enough. Photo / AP

People say Williams ‘lost his battle’ with mental illness, as though he wasn’t trying hard enough.  Photo / AP
(NOTE: it has since been revealed that Williams was suffering from Lewy Dementia)    

I had last week off because I’m ill. I was going to say mentally ill, but I prefer just ill. It doesn’t sound like I could just think my way out of it.

This is my life now. I get up in the morning and the first thing I do is take my pills. They don’t work yet. It may take a couple of weeks, the doctor says. I hope it’s soon. I’ve torn my fingernails to painful shreds so it even hurts to type this. When did I even do that?

Life has been a bit of a blur, what with the lack of eating and sleeping. I have a thigh gap, for the first time in my life, but it’s not like I care. I no longer wear eye makeup, because well, it is only going to come off, even though I can only have secret cries because I don’t want to upset the children.

The car is good for a cry when I’m driving on my own and I quite like leaning on walls when I am at home alone.

Spotty the dog is dying of cancer, though – I give him his pills before mine, wrapped in a slice of Chesdale cheese – so I tell her that is why I’m sad. And sorry, I’m aware this will be an annoying column to all those readers who think newspapers should only be full of politics, crime and austere facts. You people can look away now, or go and clean your car with a toothbrush. Because although everyone says that there is no longer a stigma about talking about mental illness these days, there is. I feel a bit trepidatious writing this, and you know how much I overshare. But I figure there might be some other people out there, like me, who are also just waiting for the pills to work – thousands of them, actually. And like me, they might be putting on a show of being okay most of the time.

The other thing is that last week, after Robin Williams died, there was a debate online about what depression is. And it seems you have to have depression in the “right” way (can’t get out of bed, totally incapacitated, feeling nothing rather than the second order emotion of feeling sad). If you are managing to still do the online grocery shopping you can’t be depressed; it’s just middle-class brattism or executive sulking.

When someone says people grieve in their own way, it means someone is grieving like a dick. Actually depression comes in different guises. My psychiatrist says I have major depression with a mixed affective state. I have put up what’s called a manic defence, which means instead of lying in bed all day, I am agitated and with hypomania, reduced need for food and sleep; this is a futile attempt not to feel the desolation. If I stop, the darkness closes in.

“Action is the antidote to despair,” Joan Baez said, although she might not have been talking about folding washing. I have given up all the work stuff I used to do – university, being on the school board, all that – but I will keep writing this column with my ragged fingernails, as long as the editor will let me.

I’ve been depressed before and come out of it, so I’m holding on to my belief that I will feel normal again one of these days and won’t wake up every night crying. But the discussion around the death of Robin Williams was framed as if he had “lost his battle” with depression, as if depression was a fight you could win if you just tried hard enough. I sometimes think the opposite is true.

When I’ve been depressed before, I’ve come out of it only after I have stopped trying to fight it; stopped trying to numb myself with negronis; stopped fighting the aching truth of my circumstances, stopped intellectually trying to understand it. Look into the abyss. Lean in to the pain, welcome the hurt, loss is just change. You cannot make someone love you, cause others to change, expect the world to be fair or control what others say and do. Man, it’s just so bloody painful, though.

Where to get help:

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
CASPER Suicide Prevention
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

Excellent helpful blog Therese Borchard

– by Deborah Cone Hill.  Source ( NZ Herald 18 August 2014.

Mental Health Week 2015 : Give your time, your words, your presence.

Kiwis are one of the highest givers of their time through volunteering and helping others in the OECD. But we also have one of the highest incidences of suicide in the western world, and 20% of us experience a mental health issue at some time in our lives, according to the Mental Health Foundation.

Unfortunately, in this country, there is still quite a lot of negative stigma attached to those suffering a mental health condition, like depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, panic attacks, phobias, post-traumatic stress, eating disorders and more. stigma The push is on to banish the “shame”, shine a light on it, talk about it, and all help each other.

The Mental Health Foundation is promoting the Five Steps to Wellness which incorporates connecting with others, giving your time, taking notice, continuing learning and being active.

Kids can participate in by entering the official Mental Health Awareness Week colouring competition, closing 19 October, with the opportunity to win one of three $50 prezzy cards.  Download at

mhaw colouring

Time to spring clean your self? STOP and restart!

Have you got a habit you wish you didn’t have?  Like too much gaming, internet, television, alcohol, exercise, sugar, chocolate, gossiping, being messy, texting during meetings, nail biting, talking, binge eating – the list is endless really, isn’t it.  No one is perfect after all.

Let’s all support those participating in Stoptober (30 days to quit smoking) and try to give up our own addictions this Spring as well.

One of our most highly recommended books is “Stop smoking with CBT : the most powerful way to beat your addiction / Dr Max Pemberton” by a doctor who cured himself with a new method. There are other books about ceasing smoking  or substance abuse  or breaking habits .  Good luck with your efforts, and remember…


It’s the thing you crave
When it’s all too much
Different for everyone
Their sweet release
Could be a person, place, or thingdon't judge
Makes it all go away
The stress of the day
Weeks, months, years
You never know what’s going on
In people’s hidden lives
They deal in different ways
Who are we to judge? To have a say?

by Kelsey




Bee-autiful facts about bee keeping!

As the finale to Bee Aware Month, all are welcome to free talks by bee keepers in Dannevirke Library or Eketahuna Library!

kintail badgeKintail Honey

Dannevirke Library

Thursday 1 October at 2pm.

A familiar brand now with yellow and green trucks often seen despatching from home base in Takapau,

Dudley Ward established Kintail Honey in Dannevirke in 1947, and it has flourished as a family business ever since.



benz bees talk

Literary goings on

Hello Tararua-ians!   There are some interesting events happening during October, if you feel like crossing the Line southward into Wairarapa District:


Author Reading DINAH HAWKEN Sunday 4 Oct 3pm Carterton Events Centre

A leading NZ writer, she will read from her new book “Ocean and Stone” and discuss her writing process. Plus a short open mic. Publisher: Victoria University Press

Entry by Koha/donation. More about Dinah Hawken:


booktownBOOKTOWN  Fri Oct 16 – Sun Oct 18

Featherston, is transforming into NZ’s first Booktown which is an antique book roadshow plus more. Bookbinding workshops – letterpress – children’s books – literary treasure trail – and more.   Most events are free but all the details are available at



A range of events & performances across Wairarapa music – literary – theatre – comedy – photography exhibitions – dance – book launches & more. Authors appearing include

Patricia Grace – Thurs 22 Oct 7pm, Hedley’s Books

Roger Horrocks – Sat 24 Oct 2pm, Aratoi Museum

Gaye Sutton – Sun 25 Oct 2pm, Almo’s Books

See the whole programme here:

From soldier to oil tycoon?

“Wayfaring Stranger” (2014) by James Lee Burke centres on Weldon Avery Holland and is a welcome addition to Burke’s stable of books, as it fills in some of the family history of his grandchildren, cousins Billy Bob and Hackberry Holland, who each have three and four books in their series respectively – one of whom lives in the same family home.

This is a lively and fascinating look at a different time and place in history, where oil fortunes were made and lost in southern USA. The story begins with a very young Weldon falling in love with Bonnie (of Bonnie and Clyde fame), when they trespass on his grandfather’s farm in an attempt to hide out from the law.

Commissioned as a second lieutenant in World War II, Weldon rescues concentration camp survivor Rosita from beneath a pile of bodies. Invalided home, Weldon is reunited with Sergeant Herschel Pine, who can smell oil in the ground – and who was so impressed with the quality of Nazi welding he saw in the war, he secures funding from oilmen to buy these machines for the pair to start their own oil company. But the sea of money is full of oil sharks, hell-bent on the destruction of little fish such as Weldon and Herschel.

Has Weldon’s grandfather raised him well enough so that his moral fortitude can withstand the onslaught, including the destruction of the woman he loves? It’s a great book, full of Burke’s wonderful poetry of the soul and the action fast-paced to keep you reading long into the wee small hours of the night.   4.5/5 (only because I get lost in the flowery prose sometimes)

James Lee BurkeNow for some interesting facts about James Lee Burke. Burke had his first book ‘The Neon Rain’ published in 1987, after much trial and error. Perseverance paid off as he won the Mystery Writers of the Year society’s ‘Edgar Allan Poe’ award for Best Novel of the Year in 1990 for ‘Black Cherry Blues’.

However, and continuing in the vein of Belinda Diepenheim encouraging other poets to get published, take heart when you learn that Burke, the best-selling author of 36 books, took five years to get his first novel, ‘Half of Paradise’, published. Then his second novel, unnamed, remains unpublished! Burke’s second published novel, ‘To the Bright and Shining Sun’ was first rejected by 14 publishing houses. But that’s not all: His fourth novel, and one I particularly enjoyed, ‘The Lost Get-Back Boogie’ was rejected 111 times and took nine years to be published.

Interested to know more about James Lee Burke? Link to an interview by John Connolly, also a best-selling novelist.


Poetry competition: Lemon Bitters

And the final publication for the 2015 poetry competition,  a poem by one of our two winners, Karen Rees, whose entry ‘Icy Cold Homes’ won.most popular

PS: this poem received the most hits on our blog, from all the poems published this year!


Lemon Bitters


Curled in timeless fluff of sodden stink the woman, too old for comfort,

Lies like a lemon, bitter and yellow, with sweet flesh rotting.

Smiles. ‘The flowers are nice, put them there’ –

No more for me stinks the old woman bitter in her dreams.old woman face

‘I want a bottle’ she whines whimpering in her age.

The son sits shining red, his face a mortal glow.

The lemon lady lies again ‘Do you know – what it’s like –

This stark sanitary box of white washer women and fever?’

Alarums. Rushing rivers of stink. The son sinks lower

In his redness. A bottle to fill, a mouth to scratch,

A tear to cool the red; a lemon to bitter her soul.


© Karen Rees (2015)



Poetry competition: Autumn I

Autumn I

 ‘As the autumn leaves begin to fall I recall the summer of our innocence.

We laughed a little you & I;  drinking up the superfluity of our youth.

I’d catch your eye & you’d smile at me.

We’d walk and talk as the sun went down.

Yet now with winter soon approaching; I find myself wondering where you are. 

Near or far you remain close to this heart.

I guess we’ll meet again… in the summertime.’

© Michael J Maasch (2015)

summer sunset


Poetry competition: Anzac Day



Row on row, lines of men and verses

Standing up straightanzac crowd

Stiff and solemn

Intoning and reflecting.


Solemnity stealing away the present

And putting us all back in the past

Communing with the ghosts

Of past battles and the pain of strangers.


Aeternam habeas requiem

May you have eternal rest.


A day for prayer and God

Even for non-believers

For this day is not for soldiers

But for us and our own judgement day.


© Paula McCool (2015)


Poetry competition: Lamenting Tree

Lamenting Tree


‘When the last vestiges of life

have all but disappeared… what then?

When the last tree

has shed the last of its leaves… what then?

The last tree? I am that tree.

Under a cold dawn sky I cry.sole_tree_by_v511

The last to witness the sun rise.

Yet who is there left to hear me?

Now that we’ve parted ways you & I.

Who is there left to lament these words?

Now that I remain… the last of my kind.’   


copyright Mike Maasch


Poetry competition: Sorry


I broke your


The one


gave you.

I wore it to

the dance.

You couldn’t goBetrayal-in-love

that night.

It looked so


against my skin.

That’s what

Mike said.



© Kerry August


Poetry competition: A Glimpse

Wash me in sunset colours

Of gold and burnt orange

Lilace blues and grandeur hues.


A twirl inside my mind

Of love

And the promise of you


Lie down with mewoman lying in grass

Amongst nature’s pillow

And breathe in the intoxication

Of yellow and purple petals

That surround my hair

Like garlands to excite

The aroma of you.


I’m in heaven.


© Oriana Walker


Poetry competition: Wishful Thinking



Life is such a mystery

In frustration one tries to find the key

to unlock the mystery

I throw a stone at the fruit tree

It throws back fruit to me.

I axe the trunk of the great Sandalwood

A fragrance sweet is wafted backlove is the key

I did it harm not good.

I tread on the Camomile

It doesn’t complain or talk

Crushed and bruised it too

gives soothing perfume

To calm my stressful walk.

What lesson do I learn from this?

That life is not all bliss but love and love alone

Will cover a multitude of wrongful deeds

Ah! surely that must be the key.


©  Nancy Bryne (2015)


Poetry competition: Gossip



they know more than you do

they talk more than you do

they fear nothing than you doGossip hurts (1)

they respect nothing than you do


they are every where

they are every one


they are

death of society


© Pat Green


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