Reflagging a Post: “Mindfulness: The Basics”

Good description of mindfulness practice and it’s benefits. I would add that mindfulness “in action” can be beneficial. Doing activities that you do on a regular basis anyway, such as walking somewhere, doing the dishes, brushing your teeth, or eating a meal and practicing mindfulness is a great way to incorporate this practice in your daily life. Also trying to remember not to multitask and to do one thing at a time and slow down is part of this practice…

Health Psychology Consultancy

Mindfulness: The Basics


Defining Mindfulness

Mindfulness, or present moment awareness, is a mind-body practice derived from Zen Buddhist teachings and meditation techniques. It is both a meditation technique and a way of life, where the practitioner learns to pay deliberate attention to the unfolding present moment, without making judgments about whatever experience comes into awareness. Instead, as a mindfulness practitioner, you learn to cultivate an attitude of openness and acceptance to whatever emerging experience you become aware of.


Besides formal meditation sessions, mindfulness can also be cultivated through partaking regularly in slow ritualised body movements like yoga, tai chi or chi qong. In a mindful state, the mind ceases to operate on habitual auto-pilot, and thinking slows – your brain stops the incessant chatter. Furthermore, the mind also gives up the tendency to dwell on past events – including what happened 5 minutes ago as well as contemplating…

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Interesting Article On Disparity between Genders on Masturbation

This article concerns an almost taboo topic that we therapists need to help women who have shame around masturbation to release their shame and free themselves to love their own body and feel good about giving themselves pleasure: (that may not be a sentence but I’m not sure it matters!)
Women and those who identify as partly or fully women, please pass this on! Unfortunately there is no mention in this article about transgendered individuals and their experiences and views in masturbation. Somebody out there: do a study on that!!!
Here is the link:

Second Post on Fashion’s Strange Naming of Clothing and accessories: The “Wife Beater” theme

Note about this series: I will continue to hazard guesses as to how each term came about before looking it up, so as to see if my associations led me astray or not! As I continue writing about this, I am realizing these terms have very old origins. Watch what happens with the next term!

The “wife beater” is now, I believe, outmoded and not used to describe men’s white undershirts and by association, women’s white undershirt-like tank tops. This term for most people can bring up an instant image of Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowakski in the film, “Streetcar Named Desire”. For sure that must be where this term for such a garment originated:

Woops, wrong again! Here first is the definition: from

“There are three definitions for a “wife beater.” The first, one who harms their spouse with physical force. The second, one who psychologically intimidates or makes scared a person who, in the event of their death, receives half of the current estate. And third — a white, thin t-shirt with no arms, resembling a tank top, which often is easily stained with reheated food items.”

Now see if you know this interesting fact about medieval origins:

” the history of the “wife beater” goes back to the Middle Ages, where knights who lost their armor in battles often had nothing but the chain-mail undergarment to protect them. Now, those chain mail undershirts, if you will, were damn strong — even a sword couldn’t get through. Often, when a knight lost their armor and continued to fight successfully, they were referred to as a waif beater (waif, referring to an abandoned or lost individual). Due to the fact that knights who had been abandoned and continued to fight with only the “shirt off their back” (albeit chain mail), they were given this noble title — an abandoned fighter, beating their way through battle.”

The next part of history was also a long time before Stanley Kowalski:

During 1700′s Europe, of course, the phrase “waif beater” no longer had much meaning due to the fact that there weren’t really knights running around fighting battles in chain-mail undershirts. As a result, the phrase was changed to the similarly sounding “wife beater” and used to refer to husbands who treated their significant others in a less than stellar way.

“The trend changed in 1947 in Detroit, Michigan — when police arrested a local man (James Hartford, Jr.) for beating his wife to death. Local news stations aired the arrest and elements of the case for months after — constantly showing a picture of Hartford, Jr. when he was arrested — wearing a dirty tank top with baked bean stains on it…and constantly referring to him as “the” wife beater.”

Now the next question is, is this truly now an outmoded politically incorrect term? And, did Street Car Named Desire have any connection to its use?

Here is an example of someone who didn’t dig deep enough and traced it to the 1970s and the movie Raging Bull andRocky are called to mind. In addition a real celebrity and real wife beater, Ike Turner is mentioned.

This answer dies mention something else, the term “guinea tea” which was also terribly offensive, and does give the reaction to the term and the shutting down of it by NAtional Orgsnization for Women

Here’s something else the term refers to a beer:
“it is a very common nickname for Stella Artois, due to it’s slightly higher than usual alcohol strength (5.2% ABV, compared to the usual 5% ABV). Strong Spanish lagers are often known similarly as “Senorita beater”. These aren’t related to the use for a vest/tank top/singlet/”

That was from Wikipedia. The correct term is now the A shirt, presumably to distinguish it from the t-shirt which was called so due to its T letter shape. It seems that clothes. An either be defined in neutral terms by the way they look, as in, T Shirt, Crop Top, A Line Dress, shorts, skirt, skort (the skirt mixed with shorts having shorts attached to it, jacket or in questionsl cultural symbolic terms.

As I tried to look up neutral seeming terms in an online catalogue I found myself questioning even the word skirt and blazer and saw “romper” which is on style now and conjured up dressing women like children to “romp” around in this garment. We will see if this one is also questionable, ie. could be offensive to a group or groups of weateres…

Why Are Women’s Clothing Descriptions Not Neutral? The Weirdness of Our Culture

I have not posted something I have written in a while, and I was thinking about this topic about a month ago and filed it in the back of my mind as something I wanted to write a post about. Maybe another type of series of blog posts, like my other cultures’ interesting rituals series, but I guess this would be: American Culture and its Strange Phenomenons, Some Pleasant, and Some Not So Pleasant. I would file this under Not So Pleasant. An example of pleasant would be “The Twilight Zone”- the TV Series and American’s beliefs about the Supernatural… I am biased, as I love the TV Series.

Fashion in our country is inherently gendered; in fact, what you wear is a very big indication of how you view gender, whether you have a narrow view or broad view of gender. Young women with long hair who wear men’s ties or suspenders with various types of outfits would be an example of a broader view of gender or simply an individual who enjoys using their sense of fashion style to make a statement about gender. 

Anyway, we still have “catalogues” to order clothes from, though I don’t know how long they will last. They may last longer if there is not a new invention of digital easily acceptable info for toilet reading and other type uses. People still enjoy magazines even though they will probably go out of business, sadly. I of course like them for their art therapy collage uses. Anyway, whether you go to a store to buy your clothes, order from a magazine catalogue, or from the internet, the description of the clothing is not something most people pay much attention to, but it really is a big marker of how we still view the “female” body and its’ decoration from a strange and sometimes slightly presumptuous if not insulting point of view. This is less obvious in stores, but also occurs in fashion game apps for even children, when the customer asks the budding fashion designer to make her a “baby doll” dress, for example.

So we could start with the “baby doll” dress, which I think was brought back from whenever before in the nineties as part of the  “grunge” look. What is a “baby doll” dress: it is to my mind a short dress that has no natural waist. It is defined at the bust and then goes out. I assume the shortness of the length combined with their being no definition of the body makes it like a kind of “doll” look, even though most dolls do not wear such dresses. These dresses lend themselves to maternity wear for some women, usually small short women, though probably tall women wear them too. The “empire” waist and lack of tightness below the bust is what defines such dresses and makes them ideal for a summer pregnancy if you don’t mind short dresses.

Here is a dictionary explanation from

“A usually sleeveless or short-sleeved dress having a waistline that is just below the bust and a loose, gathered skirt that ends above the knee.

 Origin of babydoll dress

After the film Baby Doll(1956), in which American actress Carroll Baker wore a loose, short-sleeved dress with a high hemline.”

This is what I love about blogging about strange phenomena, especially the more cultural psychological kind. I had no idea this dress was named after a film, and though I love old films, I have never heard of this one, probably because I like older films and films from the sixties and  seventies. So what was this film about and what does “Baby Doll” mean? I’m guessing there will be some kind of call girl or prostitute like things in the movie, but I may be totally off base. Back to the internet:



Tennessee Williams‘ 27 Wagons Full of Cotton was the basis for this steamy sex seriocomedy. Karl Malden stars as the doltish owner of a Southern cotton gin. He is married to luscious teenager Carroll Baker, who steadfastly refuses to sleep with her husband until she reaches the age of 20. Her nickname is “Baby Doll”, a cognomen she does her best to live up to by lying in a crib-like bed and sucking her thumb. Enter crafty Sicilian Eli Wallach (who, like supporting actor Rip Torn, makes his film debut herein), who covets both Malden‘s wife and business.Malden‘s jealously sets fire to Wallach‘s business, compelling Wallach to try to claim Baby Doll as “compensation.” Heavily admonished for its supposed filthiness in 1956 (it was condemned by the Legion of Decency, which did more harm to the Legion than to the film), Baby Doll seems a model of decorum today–so much so that it is regularly shown on the straight-laced American Movie Classics cable service. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

So the character did wear such a “frock” in this film, and it seems that it was a style of lingerie, slips, and also may be the connection between some of these dresses looking like they were inspired by lingerie: it seems that originally this dress was actually used on babies and did make the diaper easy to change, implying I guess, that such dresses would be easy for a women to, well, have sex in it…

“The original babydoll dress was short enough that the child’s diaper could be easily changed; that style was translated for adult women in the 1956 film “Baby Doll,” when Carroll Baker’s character wore a short, A-line frock.”

A lot of these dresses do have little hints of lingerie or nods to children’s clothes in their make up; I confess I own quite a few myself and I like them; I just am not so happy about the origin of the term and the term itself. At the same time, the part of me that doesn’t care about feminism or strange allusions to women being babies or whatever, well part of me likes the term and I think it has stuck because it really captures the “naughty” subversive aspects of clothing and of this particular garment. Part of the point of this post is that fashion would be a lot less fun without such weird ways we have of describing clothes. I also love that finding out about a catalogue term for a dress can send you down an interesting rabbit hole.

Some links to such dresses:

Here is one that gives a nod to lingerie:

This one is more modest and hip: 

Here’s a mixed historical reference one with a nod to grunge plaid and also an interpretation of the bow tie:

That last one was very appealing to me, as I happen to be obsessed with plaid clothing and plaid in general.

Here’s an obvious one that is ubiquitous: “the skinny” jeans

A pair of skinny jeans is a pair of denim jeans type pants, usually low waisted, that is tight everywhere. If you’ve ever worn them you’ve had to take them off by kind of peeling them off you. I guess they could have called them “tight” jeans and that would be it. Or “ultra tight” (don’t wear them if you like very comfortable garments). I’m not sure when they came into style as they didn’t have the term when I was growing up in the era of “Nothing comes between me and my Calvins” when really tight jeans got very trendy back in the 80s.

Wonders never cease. Not only did these come from a long time ago and were applied a lot for men, there is a whole blog devoted to the topic of skinny jeans. And one important element of them is that they are made from stretchy denim, which I thought did not come around until the end of the nineties, but I’m not a good history person.:

So it also appears that there are two terms of skinny jeans, the style mentioned above that continues to evolve and be trendy for any gender, and then the “skinny jeans” which refers to a pair of jeans a woman may keep in her closet or buried somewhere, a pair of jeans that fit her maybe a few to ten or more years ago, which she keeps with the hope of fitting into them again one day. A woman who has this pair of jeans usually knows exactly where they are, even though she doesn’t often look at them unless she wants to obsess about her shape and size.

Like “baby doll”, the word “skinny” has so many implications in our culture that books have been written about them. 

That’s all for now. Future posts will try to investigate such terms as ” the boyfriend sweater”, “boyfriend jeans”, 


, the “wife-beater”, the “poodle skirt”, “peep” toe shoes, and various other ones…

Broken Light Collective Announcements!

Great news about Briken Lught Collective Gallery Exhibition! See below. Contribute to the cause or participate with your own photos!!!

Broken Light: A Photography Collective

Just for today, we are straying from our format a bit to share some exciting news!!!

Our first live exhibit is coming up in just a few weeks! “FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT: Photography by Broken Light Collective” is going to be a seven-week exhibit at the amazing non-profit Fountain Gallery in NYC (48th and 9th). The opening reception will be held on June 26th from 6-8 pm. We would love to see you there!

We are also excited to announce that we are now a NON-PROFIT organization! The money we raise will go directly towards improving this site, creating more live exhibits and photo sales opportunities for you the contributors, and starting up free and low-cost photography workshops for people who are struggling.

In this time of growth, you will notice a few new features on the site, including a new logo, a “press” section with interviews, as well as…

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“Kindness is magic.” The Wonderulness of the TV Show Derek

I discovered the TV show Derek on Netflix last season, and they just came out with the next 6 episodes of the second season.

“Positive Psychology” is very trendy right now, but if you just watch this show, it’s a simple, funny and direct communication about the goodness in people being what makes us happy, the little things in life.

Without getting into long descriptions, the show takes place at a nursing home, and Derek works there. As the main character, he is very concrete, direct, endearing and sweet. He loves animals and old people, and he believes he is most happy just being at the nursing home.

Here’s what he said about one of the elderly residents, whom he misses: “She’d tap me on the head and it’d make me feel better straight away. Like magic. And she said, ‘Kindness is magic, Derek. It’s more important to be kind than clever, or good-looking.’ I’m not clever or good-looking, but I’m kind.”

That quote sums up the cleverness of this TV show. Among all the big popular TV shows, this is the only one that takes ingredients such as nice people, thoughtfulness, daily living, old people, a nursing home and makes it into pure gold. Normally you’re given terrorism, violence, drugs, evil, sex, death, trauma, drama, blackmail, affairs and you can put any of these together and get a hit tv show if the writing is good. But who is able to make a good TV show with non of the usual soap opera ingredients, where the big signature line is “Kindness is magic.”? It is a much greater challenge to come up with a show based on the simple idea that when you are kind to someone or they are kind to you, you feel better. There are many complicated studies proving why altruism survives in basic human nature, and that doing kind acts increases certain parts of brain chemistry that make you feel good. People read the Dalai Lama saying all kinds of things about why it is good to be good to others, but this show very cleverly demonstrates all this without much complexity of message. And at the same time, it manages to be incredibly laugh your ass off funny. I watched the first episode of Season 2 last night and was laughing every few minutes of the short episode.

Ever since my first experience of art therapy in action with various populations, it has been obvious to me that there could be a great TV show just of the daily weird and funny things that happened at my internship or job. So for therapists who have worked in places like this nursing home, this show is very familiar. We go to places like this on a daily basis, and if we are lucky we have some of the experiences that are depicted in the show.

The show would not work without Derek’s character, created by and acted by Ricky Gervais, who I think wrote the whole show. It’s filmed like a documentary, so you hear different characters talk about working there and working with Derek.

One great scene that illustrates the brilliance of this show involves Derek talking to the grandson of one of the new residents about what he does. He tells Derek he works at an important bank. So Derek asks a lot of questions, like, doing what, “helping rich people with their money”, why, to help them take their money and make more money out of it, why, so they have more money to spend, what for, so they can eventually retire early so they don’t have to work, what for, so they can do whatever they want. Derek is mystified by this and says that he is doing exactly what he wants right now and has little money. The whole dialogue has the feeling of a Buddhist “lesson”, where the young monk talks to the old monk and the old monk seems to make no sense and in the end the young monk is made to feel foolish as the old monk’s simplicity is suddenly clever and truthful and “aha” moment like. In this case, Derek, the seeming “fool” is the old monk and the man in the suit and tie with the big job is the young monk who is thinking inside the box, with old logic.

Derek is the epitome of a certain kind of simple Buddhist mentality, that the key to getting out of the circle of suffering in life is to be a compassionate person and to live in the here and now…