Tuesday, 16 September 2014

the shed as thought

In this fast, demanding world our five senses are like five thieves - they rob us of inner experiences such as peace, meditation and tranquillity every day. The shed can be a secure place of refuge from the strident demands of commerce, finance, and social pressures.  A place where the busy mind, stretched like a rubber-band to breaking point, can let go.

It has been said that many of the problems of the world arise due to the inability of most people to sit quietly in a room on their own. The shed can provide a sanctuary where the individual can sit alone and allow the mind to become still.

Quiet times such as this are a tremendous opportunity for allowing creative and healing mind-patterns to develop. Such times are not wasted, fruitless nor unimportant. Rather, they provide fertile ground for the imagination to roam, a setting for connections to be made, a time away from the insistent demands of rampant materialism.

The shed has a role here as healer of the spirit as well as the mind and body. Utilized to its full potential, the shed can enable us to find our way back through the confusing labryinth, back to the light, back to the ground and experience of our true inner being.

The shed can offer us the opportunity of sitting loose to life, with the iPhone and other intrusions left at the door, whilst those mental faculties such as intuition and imagination, which may have been pushed aside, are allowed to creep from their hiding places to nurture and inspire us to greater things than the accumulation of yet more material possessions.

In this state of reviere “information flows more easily between your conscious, subconscious, and unconscious, increasing intuition, insight, and healing abilities...” bringing a sense of “equanimity, balance, self-possession,  self-assurance and presence of mind that brings calmness, peacefullness, and tranquillity.”

One of the most sacred texts of Eastern philosophy (the Dhammapadma, verse 1) succinctly points out: “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. We are compounded of our thoughts, made up of our thoughts.”


Thursday, 11 September 2014

the role of sheds

Here are a few ideas which came to me the other day while I was refurbishing an old wooden plane at the Men's Shed North Shore:

..........the shed as resource, the shed as meditation, the shed as potential, the shed as haven, the shed as peace, the shed as retreat, the shed as sanctuary, the shed as refuge, the shed as stillness, the shed as possibilities, the shed as creative space, the shed as nurturing, the shed as cave, the shed as castle, he shed as opportunity, the shed as workshop, the shed as studio, the shed as dream-space, the shed as healer, the shed as companion, the shed as friend, the shed as problem-solver, the shed as escape, the shed as inspiration, the shed as motivation, the shed as time-out-of-mind, the shed as succor, the shed as solace, the shed as respite, the shed as calming, the shed as happiness, the shed as mucking about, the shed as tinkering, the shed as repairing, the shed as  building, the shed as inventing, the shed as constructing, the shed as reflection, the shed as repository, the shed as musing, the shed as meaning, the shed as connection, the shed as experience, the shed as learning, the shed as discovering, he shed as grounding, the shed as the past, the shed as the present, the shed as the future, the shed as history, the shed as ancestor, the shed as grandfather, the shed as father, the shed as uncle, the shed as son, the shed as healing. the shed as company, the shed as stories, the shed as make-do, the shed as strength, the shed as bonding, the shed as magic, the shed as achieving the impossible, the shed as creation, the shed as day-dream, the shed as time-capsule, the shed as tranquillity, the shed as companion, the shed as stillness, the shed as portal, the shed as eternity.......

Monday, 1 September 2014

three new shed videos

Have a look at my shed youtube channel for three more videos from my 2013 North Island Shed tour: Wainuiomata, Naenae, and Eastbourne.


Sunday, 31 August 2014

depression issues

For many people the experience of retirement is akin to a living nightmare.

People make the mistake of planning for retirement - not for an ongoing life. ‘Retire’ means to ‘remove from view...from society’. Retirees may find that they do not have a single reason to get out of bed in the morning. Their lives have become meaningless and they themselves have become valueless.

Instead of enjoying one long holiday, they find that their life is one of boredom, emptiness, isolation, loneliness, and helplessness. Many loose the sense of purpose which directed their working life. With this comes loss of self-esteem, with those who were previously the most successful being now often the most vunerable. Life appears futile. Despair and depression set in with devastating results.

Depressed men are three times as likely as women to commit suicide. The suicide rate in the general population is 0.01% (10 in 100,000). The rates for depressed people are 10-30  times higher, and for elderly men five times higher.

US studies have found that the risk of people experiencing depression rises six-fold in those experiencing highly stressful events such as financial disaster, bereavement, or loss of a job. The situation is compounded at certain more vunerable stages in life eg in childbirth and menopause for women, and (most importantly here) retirement in men.

 A variety of treatments can be effective in treating or helping people cope with depression: including medical anti-depressants, and self-help modalities (eg. meditation). However, men tend to resist seeking help from doctors, psychologists or psychiatrists - let alone “new age” healers! The negative associations of depression play some part in this reluctance, with depression being linked to madness, failure and weakness. Not only are people ashamed of admitting to such a condition, they may have a dread of being institutionalized in ‘the looney bin” or ‘the mad house’.

In “Depression Explained”, Gwendoline Smith points out that “keeping people occupied is far more useful than allowing them to sit and dwell on how bad they feel...inactivity and social isolation can influence and reinforce depression...men are often less skilled at accessing support, and older married men have often been dependent on their wives for...social contact.”

It can be seen here that Men’s Sheds can play a vital role in reducing social isolation, and hence depression, by providing normal, non-judgemental spaces for men to meet without the negative associations of alcohol or gambling. By keeping busy with community and personal projects, and working shoulder-to-shoulder with others, men can develop a sense of purpose and an experience of belonging which can greatly assist in escaping from a living nightmare to a life of meaning and fulfillment.

Monday, 25 August 2014

henley men's shed (masterton) video

After visiting Kapiti Coast & Wellington Sheds, I crossed over the Rimutakas and spent a week at the Greytown campground from where I travelled to Masterton several days in a row to visit the Henley Shed. Coordinator John Bush &  the crew made me very welcome, and I enjoyed yet another Xmas BBQ!



Sunday, 24 August 2014

retirement writings

Over the past few months I have been talking with many members of Men’s Sheds throughout the North Island of New Zealand, as well as reading extensively on issues relating to retirement.
The key themes apparent in my study of retirement issues are that a loss of purpose upon retirement after decades of responding to the manifold demands of work and family can make life appear to be meaningless. Faced with a loss of purpose and a lack of meaning can lead people to give up hope.
A sense of hopelessness is often what precipitates a rapid decline in physical and mental health in retired people, and it may be noted that the loss of hope can be the final straw which drives people to commit suicide.
In discussions at the Shed about retirement, Shed members often refer to the fact that their fathers and other older male relatives were often dead within eighteen month of retirement. Studies have shown that eighteen months of feeling “blue” (not even mildly depressed) can have a severely negative effect upon the body’s immune system and general functioning to the point where severe illness sets in, leading to a rapid decline and death.
This is the first in a series of notes (which I intend to turn into articles for publications) in which I will explore the issues men face upon retirement - issues they are ill-prepared to face, and which comprise the most difficult problems many of us have ever encountered.
My main themes will be addressing loss of purpose, meaning and hope as discussed above, how planning and adapting to changing circumstances can help overcome these problems; and, of course, the invaluable role Men’s Sheds can play in developing strategies and providing opportunities to help us successfully cope with these and other complex retirement issues.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

More NZ Shed videos

I have finally edited the last videos I took on my November/December tour of NZ North Island Men's Sheds between Auckland and Wellington.
See videos of the Levin and Kapiti Sheds:



Men's Shed North Shore August video

This month has been a busy one at our Shed.
See what we have been up to:



Sunday, 3 August 2014

shed bbq

Last week we held the first of our monthly BBQ’s at the Men’s Shed North Shore. Over 30 members and supporters turned up. The next BBQ will be on Weds 13 August @ noon, then we will hold one on the first Weds of each month - starting on Weds 1st September. All welcome - including non-males!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

I have been busy at the Shed refurbishing some old tools, which I will take up to the Pacific Islands next year. The boys at the Shed have been helping with woodturning and sharpening tips, as well as bringing in donations of old tools - many  thanks guys...



One of the boys at the Shed suggested that reading glasses would be welcome in Tonga and Shed members have generously donated over 20 pair for me to take to Niuatoputapu in December. If Shed supporters can help with unwanted spectacles any donations will be much appreciated - please drop them into the Shed, or call me on 479 1808 and I will collect them.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Laurie has almost finished a pull-along toy - the baby ducks are cleverly mounted on cams so they bob up and down when the piece is pulled along!

Thursday, 8 May 2014

free steel for the shed

Eric from the Shed and I went onto the demolition site of the old Woolworths building around the corner and were allowed to take some scrap metal for the Shed. There's lots of stuff around - all you have to do is ask!

Monday, 5 May 2014

shed members help with aid project

My Pacific neighbours project is going well, with donations coming in every day. The boys at the Shed have been helping me repair and sharpen tools:
dave cleans up an axe..
...which geoff sharpened

eric repairing a cracked shovel

Monday, 14 April 2014

say cheese!

Below -
Len shares out the cheese-cake donated to the Shed from the Kaipatiki Community Trust:

aeronautical buffs needed

Men's Shed North Shore member Craig is building a Wittman Tailwind aeroplane here in Auckland. There are lots of jobs of varied nature to be done (skilled & unskilled) anyone interested in helping out can contact Craig on 0272 331 234.

Friday, 11 April 2014

flight simiulator

Mens Shed  North Shore member William is building a new addition to his flight simulator network:

Thursday, 3 April 2014

handy first aid tip

Here's a great tip from a 1960's copy of "Women's Weekly": keep a packet of gelatine in your first aid kit - when someone cuts themself pour sterile gelatine onto the cut, it will rapidly seal the wound by congealing the blood.....

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

new shed project

 As an environmental artist I see a lot of perfectly good materials being disposed of in landfill. Having lived in Fiji and visited several Pacific islands I am aware that much of our waste would be very welcome to our neighbours - particularly after disasters such as tsunamis and hurricanes. The remoteness and often poverty of these islands makes recovery from disaster extremely difficult and very expensive.
I have previously organised assistance to Bali after the bombing ("Byron Loves Bali" in 2003), and to Niuatoputapu in Tonga after the tsunami (2010). Currently I am continuing to collect tools, knives, nails, and pots and pans for Niua as many of the people have by no means recovered from the damage of the tsunami.

 See details on my new blog: http://www.pacificneighbours.blogspot.co.nz/

I am learning to restore and sharpen tools at the Shed, and members have been most generous in donating tools as well as hardware (nails/screws/etc) - many thanks guys....

this ain't easy!
salvaged from a hardware skip!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

january newsletter

The Mens Shed North Shore newsletter for January is now available on their website

Below - the boys from ezitools present MSNS Chairman Ross McEwan with a brand new Mig welder:

Thursday, 6 February 2014

shed reopens

Men's Shed North Shore reopened for business on Monday 20th January. Members have been busy working on community projects and their own jobs. Lots of people are coming in to have a look at we are doing, and joining up!
Tez with his hand-made guitar