I started writing  Pennsylvania Echoes  because I wanted to improve my grammar.  I chose meditation, mindfulness and how they apply to my daily life, as the blog’s subject matter.  Writing about Mental Health Management has received the most appreciation.
My world- view will not cure mental disorder. but I cannot separate my world view entirely from management or my great concerns for Mental Health.  So I must present my thoughts, and tips on “Mental Wellness” in my own way and from my own experience–  if I am to be honest.
Any information you find is meaningful is presented as is.  There is no Warranty. Too bad I can’t cure my bad grammar.

Wisdom Quotes for Easter (a repost)

Its nearly Easter here in Pennsylvania. Easter is the Christian holiday that often focuses on the themes of Redemption, Peace, Meaning, Sacrifice, and Compassion.
I’m not Christian, but I shall list some quotes of wisdom that also pertain to those themes of the holiday. (This is a Repost from Easter 2009 with a couple new quotes)


Forgiveness is the act of admitting we are like other people.
(Christina Bawdwin)
an excellent observation. forgiveness also shows are willingness to stay in the here & now, when we can let go of the past with forgiveness.


Happiness can be defined, in part at least, as the fruit of the desire and ability to sacrifice what we want now for what we want eventually
(Steven R Covey)
I would add that patience, discipline, and sacrifice are intertwined.


He who has a ‘Why’ to live for, can endure any ‘How’.”
(F. Nietzsche)
when we define meaning in our lives, we are better prepared to handle the highs and lows of life. meaning is our drive.


“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets”
(Matthew 7:12)
The Golden Rule


“The beginning of atonement is the sense of its necessity.”
(lord Byron)
Forgiveness starts in the with the act of seeking it out.


Sit quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.”
(zen proverb)
we may find peace when we submit and tune in to the Tao’s “drive”


We must recognize are own demons first …to move past them… toward our angels.”
(–Chris )
yeah..er, me. sorry. I am not very good at making quotes.

Happy Easter.

a couple of these quotes… and thousand of others can be found at Thinkexist.com .

Zone Mapping with Gestalt Perspective

I was on my way to a gardening class this weekend, when I got to thinking about “Zone Maps”.
Zone Mapping is a graphical method in permaculture design that is used to organize and compare systems (most often ecosystems, landscaping, sustainable gardens, and conservatory area regeneration,etc).
After intensive observation of a system, One drafts a zone map with concentric circles. The simplest zone map would start with something like this
Zone 0 – basic necessities of people and dwelling areas.
Zone 1 – areas of ecosystem designated as support of basic necessities
Zone 2 – semi-wild. this is areas with lots of edges.. where system meet (i.e Ecotone)
Zone 3 – the wild. untamed or unknown areas or areas not of use.

Zone maps can be applied to more than just landscape or conservatory projects. A designer can use them to graphically map out communities, business models and just about anythings. This is an application to aid the study and comparison of things and concepts as systems.

Which lead me to thinking about the Gestalt perspective, which includes the study and comparison of “wholes
So I experimented with some zone-mapping with Gestalt:


Gestalt Contact Awareness

o basic necessities basic needs
basic responsibilities
1  support of  basic necessities “nourishment”
cultivation of skills
growth, learning
2  semi-wild
interaction of systems
new interpersonal activity
interacting with environment
3 wild
unused or unknown
expulsion  ideas and activity
that is either “toxic” or
“no longer fits”
letting go


This is what a ‘zone map on gestalt perspective’ might look like:

My zone map is a comparison and between: a simplified organization of a ecological design ;
and an organization of developing awareness from Gestalt therapy perspective. Note these are just my conjectures just for zone mapping practice.
I am starting to learn how to use zone maps, so this one is rough… missing a few components.
I hope to post improved experiments later as I learn.

Swimming between Systems

Today I learned a new word: Ecotone.
An Ecotone is an area where two ecological systems or communities meet, transition and integrate.
That to say: Enough differences between meeting systems or communities to observe a boundary , however resources are constantly exchange enough to to describe any “boundary” as permeable. A simple example would be beach and sea, where minerals and small life are constantly be deposited or eroded.

I cannot help, but to think of my new word “Ecotone”, learned in my permaculture class and compare it withthe word “Contact” from Gestalt Therapy. Contact is the meeting of differences, where resources are exchange between. And so is an Ecotone.

It does not surprise me (anymore, that is) to find similar, if not synonymous terms in both Gestalt and Permaculture. Both approaches merge science and holism. Gestalt therapy places weight on one’s awareness of his/her real-time experience ; Permaculture places heavy emphasis on one’s observation and interaction with ecological systems.
What first peaked my interest about permaculture as an approach, is that permaculture may be far better suited to empirically support holism.
Permaculture design is anchored, concretely, in observing ecology.

I have other ambitions and curiosities with permaculture. Besides I am only beginning my course. None the less, I welcome any personal synthesis between the gestalt theory, permaculture, science and holism , as I continue to learn.

On a completely unrelated topic: It’s still cold here in Pennsylvania, It was sleeting when I left my class for home. I feel like I am swimming between seasons, much like the Swans in the picture above.

Adding Infinite- Scroll to Pennsylvania Echoes

As Pennsylvania Echoes has evolved, I have passed on  stuff that I thought it was important for other people to access,  regarding  mental health management and mental disorder;  along with general wellness.   Many who deal with Mental illness are poor .  Many people live in areas with limited broadband around the world.
Because of this, I limit the amount of pictures and embedded graphics that I post, so that pages may load faster and correctly for those who have limited internet connection.

I’m turning  “Infinite -Scroll”  on ,  A wordpress.com  blogging feature,  so that it is easier to to scroll  through posts on my home page.  Previously, I left this feature off – , but I don’t think it will hamper page loading speeds and accessibility.  Leave me comment or a message, tell me what you think… If you think i need to turn  the Infinite Scroll feature  off.


Diversity and Individual freedom

What would be the point of championing personal “freedom” without championing “diversity”?.
How can one talk of how fervently he or she values their own ability to make choices, have control of his world view and life styles, what actions they take today and in the future, without regarding the freedom of choices in others?
If one wish to advocate to others his / her ” personal freedom” : What is in it for his audience if they can’t have this same freedom for themselves?

Please excuse my rhetorical device…. No one actually to told me that they disdain diversity today . I am just entertaining the idea that social diversity and personal freedom go hand and hand.
After all, I expect that a large group of people, a community made up of individuals who enjoy their freedoms , would result in a community made up of individuals who act and think quite differently. — potentially a diverse population. I couldn’t possibly advocate personal freedom, without advocating the freedoms for others, the freedom to be different in some way than others.

You see, in my estimations , We still need to include group ethics in a conversation of freedom of the individual. Freedom is contextual, there would be no need to talk of civil liberties of persons (or other critters) if their was no one else around.

I champion the ethics of reciprocity and dignity , the golden rule : treat others as I would wish to be treated; expect the same in return; expect that all sides are esteemed. Its a cornerstone of individuality and diversity in community.

If I demand others to tolerate my personal freedoms in choices in belief , attitude and action then i must tolerate other’s freedom in choices of the same.
To do so is to expect that another may have a different lifestyle, way of thinking, way of being, then my own. If we are not trampling on each others dignity, well -being, or personal freedoms this should work out fine. To respect one and another, does not mean we have to like every aspect of one and other.  To do so is to respect and expect diversity and personal freedom.

Daily Feeling Chart, Alternate Version

Happy   New Year!http://30daynephalist.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/stuart_smalley.jpg?w=88&h=88
I would like my first post of this year to be another feeling.. or emotion tracking  chart.  Your excited… so am I (photo, right).
I am glad  that the   Daily Emotion Chart  for Special Needs Children has been relatively well received, since I first posted it , years ago.  But I think  emotions charting or tracking can be useful for more than just children.  For adolescent  boys and girls and adults, managing mental disorder or just having trouble expressing their selves confidently, a emotion chart tool can be just as useful.  working on Emotional grammar It can never hurt anyone, of any a age.

The emotion tracking  chart  (the one tagged for children that I have posted previously)  could be used by anyone at any age, or expanded upon… but I had to give it name (for the search engines of the interwebs);  and it was based on a previous Daily-feeling-track,jpgexperience with a friend and her childs needs .   So I am   adding  another example of a chart for emotional vocabulary.

My theory is (and I certainly don’t think I’m alone in this thought) that one can learn to make most of his or her own personal management tools;  by customizing them for his/her own needs; or the needs of themselves with  peers, support,  communicating to their doctors etc.
The creativity and control  that comes with   personalizing and maintaining  one’s   own toolbox only serves to build confidence and command over health management, IMHO.
However this one I made is free to download in several formats.  Use them as is…. or  just make your own charts,

Alternate Daily Feeling Tracker Sheet:

For more Tracking charts please check out the “Charts” tab above.

Grief , the Empty Chair and Journaling

As I see it, the people in our lives, both present or past, become part of us. More, concretely… our experiences with others and the memories gathered, affect our Being or perhaps, become part of our Being. So what’s really going on when we grieving when we lose someone we care about?

I have been intrigued by the gestalt therapies “empty chair” or open chair, since I participated in the exercise. The technique, best learned with a trained Gestalt therapist as coach, allows one to explorer “parts” of one self . one can adapt empty chair to other methods of therapy such as therapeutic journaling.

Journaling-Empty-Chair ExampleHere is how I have done it   in the past:

  • First I need a pen and paper for journaling, (A tape or video recorder can be used, alternately).
  • I also need some sort of alarm clock or timer.
  • This exercise works best when I thinking of the person. For this example, I use my Grandmother who passed away over 5 years ago…
  • I set a timer for 5-10 minutes and write what I  want to say to  her, at this moment.  I write what I want to say and what I would have  liked her to have heard from me.
    If I’m stuck.. and I don’t know  what to write… then I write “I don’t know what to write”.  Keeping in the moment.
  • When the timer stops me at 5-10 minutes I stop and take a breath.
    then set the timer for five minutes..
  • I write again, but this time its different. I write what I would like to hear my grandmother say back to me.
  • again if I don’t know what to write.. pen to paper ” I don’t know what write” -(this is just to get me started writing if I’m stuck)
  •  After the timer stops… I am done.

You see, If my grandmother and  these people who I’ve  known have affected  my Being and are now part of me, then I must also give “them” a voice too. in this exercise. To grieve as a whole person, I am giving that part of me a voice, that might be otherwise silent ,or alienated and denied in  grieving.

journalingThis Empty chair journaling session can  end at this point.   If I want, I can continue this exercise further, writing:
Me giving -a -voice- to-what I-want-to say-my-grandmother and then what-I-would-have-like-to- have-heard-her-say-to-me. alternating sides of the correspondence  every 5 minutes or so. In the Gestalt jargon, I am creating a dialogue between to parts of me that maybe polarized. This polarization is common with grief.
I usually destroy my journaling after I am done… this act is some what of a cathartic ritual in its self (no attachments), But one could save it to review with a therapist or for themselves later if they wished.

Happy Holidays to you, your loved ones and the rest of you.

Simple Daily Emotions Chart for Children (revised)

This is a  quick revision   of    post:  “Daily Emotion Chart for special needs kids.” the chart is deliberately  simple following the K.I.S.S  method.  Although it was inspired to help  a  child with special needs,   anyone could use it modify it or make their own.  The next post will feature a new simple feeling chart or tracker that is better suited for adolescents or adults.
Now, I have to go shovel Snow,  have a great day!

I have a friend with a special needs child. She told me  that, she was upset. She  unable to communicate what she saw in her child’s behaviour at home to her sons teachers at school. Her son’s teachers were having a very difficult time managing him at school. Because the child was diagnosed with a mood disorder (as well as some serious behaviour problems and patterns)
I suggested having him fill out  a mood chart to aid in comparing his behaviour with affect over time. Somewhere I found an hourly mood chart on the WEB, downloaded it, and made some copied her.
I found out a couple months later, That the teachers at the school were actually sitting down and filling out the chart with her son. My friend was filling it out the chart at home as well and sharing with case workers and her child’s psychiatrist.
It was the  simplest tool that helped aid  a child to communicate what he was feeling to his teachers, his mother and his professionals. A simple aid to help people get on the same page.
Sadly I cannot find the mood chart I downloaded back then, so i thought I’d take the time to create a simple new one.

Not only does a feeling chart give the support people to  a special needs child a better understanding of what the child is thinking…

It gives a child a chance to do something many are just afraid to do…Voice what they are feeling. Express themselves confidently.

emotions-chart-picture  There many kinds of charts, colorful ones…
but since i make no money for making charts, well my chart is simple.

You can download a PDF copy (readable with Adobe, Foxit Open office, etc) Clicking Here:


A download is also available on the Charts Tab of Pennsylvania Echoes Blog.


Since the the original post  I have offered the  Daily Simple Feeling Chart for  children in a couple other formats:

 Available in  Doc(Ms Word) and Odt formats (Open Office / LibreOffice  Writer Formats)


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