Mar. 8th, 2017

shanmonster: (Purple mohawk)
I learned recently that I've created my own personal Pavlovian response. I've been using asthma inhalers for over twenty years, now. In case you've never used one, it goes kinda like this:

1. Shake inhaler.
2. Exhale fully.
3. Raise it to your mouth.
4. Spray it in your mouth as you simultaneously inhale.

I also have been using a steroidal spray to help counter post-nasal drip, which is a big trigger for asthma. It goes like this:

1. Shake bottle.
2. Exhale fully.
3. Raise it to your nose.
4. Spray it in your nose as you simultaneously inhale.

I've recently started taking Vitamin B12 supplements in the form of an oral spray. Whenever I go to use it, I do the first two steps every time. There's no need to exhale. I drink the stuff; I don't breathe the stuff. Yet it takes a major conscious effort to avoid exhaling. Not that exhaling makes a difference, one way or the other. It's just fascinating to me how I've formed this habit.

Conditioning is "a behavioral process whereby a response becomes more frequent or more predictable in a given environment as a result of reinforcement, with reinforcement typically being a stimulus or reward for a desired response" (Encyclopedia Britannica). I'm not even getting a reward for my reinforcement. Well, not an immediate, perceivable reward, at least. So I guess it isn't conditioning, after all, but ritual, instead: "A ritual is...any act done regularly, usually without thinking about it" (Cambridge English Dictionary).

What are your rituals and conditioning?

(Elder Squirrel Demon Ritual Summoning Circle)

shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
I have worked on writing the following over the past couple of days when I've had spare time. It's part of my application to be part of an ocean expedition. The theme is reconciliation, and how it affects me personally.

Critiques and comments are encouraged. I still have another short write-up to create before the deadline, but what do you think of this bit?


I am part of a lost generation, the child of an indigenous parent who did not know he was indigenous himself. I grew up in a gatherer/hunter family, living off the land using a lot of traditional ways. I gathered mushrooms, berries, and fruit. I picked Labrador Tea for medicinal use, and smeared black alder mud on bee stings and scrapes to bring down swelling. I helped harness the dog team to haul in the winter’s firewood. I ate bannock by the campfire, smacked my lips over moose meat, and I helped with butchering and with cleaning and gutting fish. I delighted in tales of Glooscap, and although I turned my nose up at seal meat, I enjoyed throat singing and playing in little igloos. I experienced so many trappings of a culture I had no name for, yet spoke none of the languages of my ancestors. I was raised to think of “Indians” as other people

My ancestors were people of sea and snow, tundra and forest. I am Innu; I am Mi’kmaq; I am Lnu. And yet, through no fault of my own, I was far removed from this.

I am working at reclaiming my lost heritage. I wrote a play about Inuit folklore. I attend powwows. I consider getting an Inuit women’s tattoo. I share what I learn with other people through my blog and through conversation. I need to know more, learn more, share more, and experience more. I want to embrace a tradition which has been all but lost due to generations of cultural genocide.

Last year, I downloaded the Truth and Reconciliation report. Reading it helped me understand why my grandmother never spoke to me about her history and upbringing. So many of my family were taught to be ashamed of their traditions. So many hid who they were. The only thing I know of my grandmother’s younger days is this: she was so light and swift of foot that she appeared to fly when leaping from ice floe to ice floe across the sea’s frozen skin. My grandmother walked on water.

I yearn to visit the sea again. I will see it through her eyes as well as mine, and then I will share what I have seen. I will reclaim what was taken from us and be a part of setting things right.

April 2017

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