Category Archives: Community Mental Health

Finding Gold At The Conversation Café


Conversation Café – Sunday March 11 at 2pm at Hesperus – Tickets here

treasure-chest-ftrThe first guest this Sunday will be Jane Haque.  Jane’s recent book Freeing The Pieces is not just a memoir – she gets behind all the photos and mementos of the the happy moments, and explores the underlying meaning and lessons of her experiences.  Finding Gold is the central themeand it strikes me that this is also the theme of the Conversation Café.  The  guests are

giving us a picture of what they are learning in the Third Age of life – their memories are simply the raw material.

Actress Marianne McIsaac is another featured guest.  It is not widely known that Marianne had roles in feature films such as Citizen Gangster and War Of The Worlds.  We know her better for her work as an inspiring theatre teacher at Ryerson, and for her tireless efforts to redirect adolescent hormones on the stage at the Toronto Waldorf School.  On Sunday she will be offering a dramatic reading from the one-woman show she adapted and toured.  It is based on the (rather dramatic) life of Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Shishir Lakhani (see earlier post) and a fourth “mystery” guest will round out the program.


Autism – Opening New Doors

Autism continues to be a serious problem in many families.  Parents are being told, there’s nothing you can do – all your loving concern and attention simply won’t make any difference.  The only solution, it seems, is a one-way ticket to an institution.  Good-bye, loved ones.

Every now and then, however, a story comes along that gives hope.  (See link below.)  Like many other examples posted on this blog, the secret seems to be in re-imagining relationships – meeting people who are different, and learning and growing together.  There is no “silver bullet,” but patient interest – and attention to what is actually happening in the moment – can make all the difference.



Aging With Fire In Your Belly

unnamedThere is a widespread belief that aging is a process of decline, a disease, a bad thing.  Participants in the Shadowpath Conversation Café at Hesperus are having a different experience.  They are learning about creative elders who are saving the best for last.

For example, Shishir Lakhani will be in the hotseat on March 11.  Details and registration here. (He was originally scheduled to appear on an earlier date.)  Shishir is a retired entrepreneur who has spent the last ten years being a tireless advocate for the Heart And Stroke Foundation (see earlier post.)  At a meeting of the Richmond Hill Historical Society, he described how the single-minded focus that is often necessary for success in a business career can have adverse effects on personal health and well-being.

Shishir’s discussion of spiritual opportunity cost really caught my attention.  The relentless attention paid to external goals can undermine personal health and inner development.  The business mission is etched into a person’s very being, and obscures any signals that call for a course adjustment.

In his book Phases, Dutch physician Bernard Lievegoed makes a similar case.  He explains why aging is nothing to be feared, particularly if you have been spiritually active in the earlier phases of life.  He describes the existential crisis that hits people who have done nothing else but chase personal success, pushing aside everything that might interfere with his career… Such people are less able to cope with the biological symptoms of aging, and are prone to much suffering as they get older.

So we’re very grateful that Shadowpath is hosting the Conversation Cafés at Hesperus.  Much more than fireside chats – they are kindling new fires!



The Harp and Healing


We just learned that Rita Costanzi will be giving another concert at Hesperus this Sunday, March 4 at 4pm.  (Program here.)  Not only is Rita a remarkable musician – she is always challenging the boundaries of her art , exploring modalities of theatre, healing and personal transformation.

Of particular interest to Hesperus friends is her loving interest in healing and palliative care.  She has collected some related material on her web page: Harp and Healing.

If you’re free Sunday afternoon, I encourage you to come and experience Rita and the harp in person!


Conversation Café – The Sauce Thickens!

The purpose of life is to have a purpose. – Shishir Lakhani

27867385_1210870115713328_4595741080636446194_nIn my previous post, I wrote about the Conversation Café at Hesperus Village.  The Shadowpath team is doing a great job of bringing together creative elders from around the community and stirring the pot.

The first ingredient at the next event on Sunday February 18 is Shishir Lakhani, B.Sc. PQS DTM:

Actively retired and gratefully giving back, Shishir believes that the purpose of life is to have a life of purpose. Born in Africa (of Indian heritage), educated in England, Shishir has made a fulfilling life in Canada. Shishir has an extensive business background of over 30 years.

I’m sure that Shishir will bring lots of spice to the conversation, so come along and taste it!

Register here

Bringing Theatre To Life

profile_alexkarolyi_mainI met Alex Karolyi several years ago, and was really inspired by her energy and enthusiasm.  Her mission of bringing theatre into everyday settings is so relevant and needed!

Her group has produced several programs at Hesperus Village (where I live,) and each time, folks discover new horizons in their lives.  In other words, we’re not just having a good time at an event, but discovering new possibilities for the future.

At the first edition of the Conversation Cafe last month, Alex interviewed Peter Dennis and Mary Warkentin (with her dog.) We often hear older people interviewing younger people, and it’s really refreshing to have it the other way around.  We do have alot to learn from each other!

Oh, and by the way, Alex will have me in the hotseat this Sunday February 11, along with a female guest… Click the link below to register, and to find the dates for future Conversation Cafes:


A Human Psychiatrist

Tirovolos obit picPsychiatrists are highly trained specialists who play an important role in our healthcare system.  Unfortunately, they sometimes hyper-focus on the technical aspects of their art, and lose touch with the human side.

Costas Tirovolas was a psychiatrist who understood this.  His wife recently wrote a short piece in the Globe, describing how he always brought a human touch to his work.  Although not a patient man, he learned to slow down and listen.  A diverse range of interests – from Bach and Greek language studies thorough to fast cars – ensured that his life was not only about work.  

In other words, by taking care of his own mental health, he was able to help others.