You’re invited: Lunch and Learn with Lori and Aaron – Your Questions about Mental Health

networkoffriendsLunch and Learn with Lori and Aaron – Your Questions about Mental Health

When: 11:30 – 1:30, Friday Dec. 16th

11:30 – 1:30, Friday January 20th

11:30 – 1:30, Friday February 17th

Where: our boardroom at 3231 Kingsway (or our new training space! If it’s ready).

What are we talking about? Whatever people would like to talk about…   some examples of questions people have had:

“There’s so many activities over the holidays how can I manage my anxiety?”

“What is schizophrenia anyway?”

“I don’t want to take medications – what are my alternatives?”

“I support someone who doesn’t want to take medications – what can I do?”

This three month session of lunch and learns are for staff who support folks within Spectrum, staff who have their own questions about themselves or people they care about, the families of folks we support.

We will begin by talking about what confidentiality is and how to have good boundaries: “what we hear here, stays here.”

Lunch will be provided. Please let Judy or the Office Manager know if you are attending so we can make sure we order enough. Some vegetarian options will be available; people who have more particular needs should bring their own lunches and we’ll reimburse you.

If you want to know more about Lori Damon, who works with Reach Community Health Care and also in private practice, check out her website:

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Next Chapter Book Club in Vancouver

nxtchapterbookclubWe are members of the Next Chapter Book Club in Vancouver. We thought you would be interested in hearing about what we are reading and doing these days.

We meet every Thursday evening from 6:30-8pm at the coffee house The Grind in Vancouver. There is a bus stop nearby so it is easy to get to by bus. Spectrum Society for Community Living supports our book club and buys the books we read. When we finish a book we can keep it or donate it.

We work together as a team to read and talk about books. We read out loud to each other. If someone gets stuck on a word we help them out. We stop every once and awhile and talk about what we have been reading. We also look up words and pictures to help us understand what we are reading.


                                                        (members with the author Jenny Story)

When we finish a book we have a celebration. We have

  • watched a movie at a member’s home and eaten popcorn
  • eaten fish and chips while we played the board game Clue
  • created bamboo weavings with an artist
  • eaten at a Greek restaurant (yes we like food!)
  • and had a question and answer session with the author Jenny Story.

Our next book is “Heart of a Champion” by Ellen Schwartz. It is an historical novel about a Japanese baseball team here in Vancouver. The author lives in Burnaby and we hope to have her come and talk to our book club.


We have just started a pen pal project with another book club. We are hoping to get together with them once and awhile.

It’s good to be part of a book club. It gets you out spending time with friends. We all like getting together and have become better friends with each other. It’s good for your imagination!

We are looking for 1 or 2 new members for our book club. If you are interested please contact Judy at our office, 604-323-1433, or

Posted in Books, community, Disability, Innovative Practices, Networks, partnerships, self-advocacy, self-determination, Stories | 1 Comment

Social Media Citizenship “Please leave your cell phone on!” Connected and Included: why it matters

This gallery contains 12 photos.

Originally posted on 101 Ways to Make Friends:
Always one of our favourite presentations and such a pleasure to work with Doug Tennant who brings so much to our field.  Here are some photos of participants creating little models of social…

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Are You Foolish Enough To Use Innovative Methods? by Christina Merkley

“Cause work is hard enough without truly being valued for who you are and what you can offer.” Christian Merkley

Some of us in our loosely knit facilitation network have spent the last year taking various courses with Christina, starting with her SHIFT-IT course and then separately moving onto other courses either online or in person in Victoria. In her courses she does lots of group coaching, which has been great, and some of us have taken advantage of some of the one to one coaching that comes with her courses. With Christina, you get a big whack of new skills, beautifully taught and then you also get introduced to some new ideas about life and connection and how our minds and spirits work. If you’re interested in education, her courses are in themselves exemplary adult education, based on building on what you know and are good at, coming at you in multi-modal layers, allowing you regular chances to share your own growth and knowledge. One of the things that’s interesting has been watching all of us take the courses, then reflect and try to incorporate the ideas. I notice that Shelley and I talk to people differently now, out of a differently belief system that’s not attached to limitations. All of us are doing things now that we were only aspiring to before.

And we’ve been thinking about this idea that she writes about below – how in our field do we move towards innovative practices and find the places that encompass new ideas? How do we welcome each other into collaboration and keep each other “soothed” through the new and hard parts? There are some great ideas in here that we can translate into working in our field, particularly around person centred thinking and goal setting, or which you might want to consider following up on in one of her courses. The skills here are so transferable to working with folks with disabilities and teams of people trying to get on the same page. If you work for Spectrum, remember you’ve got a training allowance and this would be a great thing to use it on.

Thanks, Christina, for allowing people to reblog your articles!

Posted on January 27, 2015 by Christina Merkley

Every week I do Exploratory Calls with people from various places that contact me because they are attracted to things I do and teach. This week I found myself repeating several statements to the folks I chatted with … which made me think “this would be a good eZine article” … so here it is:

I’m Attracted to This Stuff, Am I Nuts?
My work covers quite a swatch of territory … from basic and intermediate instruction in “working visually” to leading edge personal growth and resistance-busting methods. All the stuff I am into could be defined as ‘innovative’. I’m decades into it, so it all seems “normal” to me. So I find it a bit surprising (and even jarring at times) when I encounter folks who live in more conventional worlds. There definitely is an acclimatizing curve involved, dependent on the kinds of environments and belief systems you typically inhabit.

smileyface-questioningSooooooo, to answer the question of whether or not you are foolish or even nuts to be attracted to innovative or creative stuff … No, I can reassure you — you most certainly aren’t foolish, far from it.

You are sane, in good company and part of an evolutionary arc that is happening. You are waking up (further). And getting ready to do your part in making yourself and the world a happier, more fulfilling, more efficient and balanced place. But, here is the rub; sometimes waking up more isn’t a cake walk (i.e. easy). It takes study, effort, and developing stronger belief in yourself, your instincts and your capabilities. And, sometimes you will be ahead of the curve (i.e. the people around you).

Can I Apply This Stuff to My Current Work? Will They Cover It?
Some folks get on a call with me and they want to know if my course(s) are applicable to their current work, and ideally, will their employer pay for it.

visual-groupIf its Visual Skills, and you are in some sort of position where you work with groups and/or individuals … then yes, there are probably immediate aspects of your work where you can start to integrate the visual way of working into. Many of my students inThe Fundamentals of Interactive-Visuals and Magic Marker Retreatshave their enrollment covered by their employers.

To find out what your case is, you’ll need to run the course by your boss, HR Dept or whatever signing authority you have and see how they respond. And, other participants opt to cover the registration themselves (either because they are self employed or because they may want to use what they learn outside of their current position).

If its SHIFT-IT Coaching whether the online class, Home Kit or privately with me or one of our growing legion of Certified Visual Coaches … chances are your work won’t cover it … cause SHIFT-IT is a deep personal strategic planning process where you often end up subtly or drastically shifting your status quo.


Most employers find that a tad threatening (they want you to stay where you are). However that said, I have had some wonderfully progressive bosses cover their employees, often because the boss has done SHIFT-IT themselves and truly values the genuine path of their employee, regardless of whether they stay or shift else where.

Receptive vs Non-Receptive Workplaces:
Some students have very receptive work places (especially organizations that are already familiar with graphic recording and graphic facilitation … which has a 30+ year proven track record by the way). Others students have bosses and/or work environments that aren’t supportive (they don’t get it, they are threatened by it (it is a very transparent method after all), or they just want you to do what your usual is).

Sometimes my students end up transferring to positions and cultures that are receptive. They find places that are a better match to their attributes and values. As it’s not fun doing the round hole and square peg’ thing.

So hidden within the discussion around taking my course is actually a much broader issue of being seen, accepted and valued for who you genuinely are. Not easy for employee or employer alike … but better in the long run for everyone when these issues are eventually made visible and addressed. Cause work is hard enough without truly being valued for who you are and what you can offer.

Might This Be an Alternative Career Path?
sun-lgIt might. Underneath the attraction to my work is sometimes an attraction to a bigger thing that I represent. People project different symbols onto me: freedom, creativity, success, security, rebelliousness, etc. There is the hope and desire for possibly a whole different way of life not just the learning from the course but what you can ultimately do with it.

Some folks are content to use the various stuff that I teach within their current roles. If they are internal they roll the skills into the current work they are doing. If they are external, they roll the skills into their existing practices. For others, they want to make the transition from being a paid employee to creating their own independent practice. It’s not just a course per se, what they are really wanting is the bridge to a new lifestyle.

How Long Will It Take to Be Self-Sustaining?
Well, again “it depends”. What do you want to be doing? Where do you live? What is the marketplace around you? Do you want to travel? What does sustaining mean to you? And what do you bring to the table (aptitudes, skills, tech ability, network, contacts, hustle, chutzpah, gumption, etc)? All of these things are extremely important and go into answering that question. Being good at your craft is only half the equation, with being good at Business Essentials being the other half.

Take a Deep Breath and Focus on Just the First Step:
At the end of these kinds of exploratory calls my aim is to soothe the person. To reassure them they don’t have to have it all figured out this red hot minute … in fact, you won’t. You, like any of us who have made this shift, just need to take it one step at a time. Your steps will unfold as you educate yourself.

If you are intrigued with the visuals, then start with the basic skills class. Later you can take the advanced retreat. If you need to get clear about what kind of life you want to build, then do SHIFT-IT. If you know you want to go out on your own (or already have), then The Biz Essentials Kit. If you want to be a Visual Coach, do Certification. For most of the courses I also have Home Study Kits and I can adapt private coaching and private training to meet your needs too.

toolDon’t try to bite them all off at once. Take your time. Build your foundation. Then build on that after you have stabilized. Building anything takes time, dedication and focus.

If there is a will, there is a way. You will get there! And hopefully enjoy the journey while you are at it!

© 2015 Christina L. Merkley


Yes thanks, please do, I just ask that you keep it completely intact (as is) and include this blurb with functional links:

Christina Merkley, “The SHIFT-IT Coach” is a Visioning and Strategic Planning Expert specializing in Visual Thinking and Inner Alignment techniques. Based in charming Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, she works deeply with individuals, partners and conscious businesses to define and manifest what they truly want. And, trains other Process Professionals in her innovative ways of working. For more information visit: and

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Linda Perry talking about individualized supports and funding in our Community Conversations series

LindaPerryEach month we’ve been hosting a speaker on a topic of interest to families, folks we support and our team members and communities that we’re part of. Please feel free to share this invitation with others. This month we have Linda Perry of the Vela Microboard Association talking about individualised funding options available to folks who are interested in having more control over their lives and dollars. We know from friends around the world that this isn’t just a different set of forms to get filled out, but a different way of building supports for those who wish to pursue this.

Linda has spoken across Canada and around the world on individualization, individualized funding and how Vela Microboards has grown over the years to support about 800 folks around British Columbia, with sister organizations in other countries. Spectrum has always loved microboards and were, at one time, proud to be supporting the most microboards in the province! (Now I think that honour goes to the Langley Association and good on you all LACL!).

As with our other community conversations there will be a talk of about 45 minutes, 15 minutes of questions and then time for chat and tea. We hope you will join us for this event. Over the past six months we’ve had talks on the Next Chapter Book Club, family involvement in supported employment, spirituality and person centered planning.

6:30 – 8:30, January 14th, 2015. Spectrum Office, 3231 Kingsway

See you there!

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Danny Harris – Do Talk to Strangers…

Thanks Rebecca, for finding this video and sharing it 🙂


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51 People

every time I re-read this article I enjoy it a little more 🙂 Please take a moment to leave these folks a comment on their good work


The other day, this article on the Huffington Post went viral, at least within my circle of friends.  Candice wrote about it as well here.  There were lots of mothers, especially, imploring people to read it.  And one friend sent it out along with the insightful and challenging question “What are you going to do about changing this reality?”

I thought it was a great question, as it acknowledged the reality of the fact that people with disabilities don’t have many friends, and then threw down that beautifully simple and sadly pathetic gauntlet:  What will you do about it?

I immediately thought of a tool that we’ve adopted to tell this story, the “51 People” research and graph (click this link for a full size version):

This is local research, done by Jack Pealer.  Jack has lived and worked in Ohio for a long time.  He learned about person-centered approaches and SRV in the…

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