Tag: health

What to do. Where to begin. How to move on from here. 

Like many of you, I’m feeling squeezed. I feel like something is choking me. I feel like gasping for air even though I’m breathing. I have been trying to take breathing breaks in part to stay calm and in part to remind myself I am still alive. Still kicking. And if I’m still kicking, I can act. I can do something. I can make some difference. Somewhere. Somehow.

Today, I will work to keep educating kids. Today, I will look to science before it becomes a four-letter word. Today, I will practice other languages so I can maintain my ability to see, hear, and interact with people who come from different places. Today, I will ignore the faux extravaganza that will take place in my nation’s capital. Today, I will make music – some in protest, some to remind myself that beauty and art still exist and will continue to exist. Today, I will take care of myself in preparation for what is to come.
And that brings me to tomorrow.
To those marching, stay safe, stay strong, stay vigilant. Say what you mean but say it to those who will not reuse it to mangle your words, vision, or beliefs. Tomorrow will remind those in power that there is opposition to their methods – that millions of people disagree and will continue to hold these public servants accountable. Take pictures and video tomorrow. Share them widely so we all know how many people raised their voices because frankly, the numbers and the message will be misrepresented in the mainstream media. I have taken part in many marches and protests. Almost never have the numbers reported been the numbers we saw on the ground. Almost never has the message reported been the message expressed. This will be the first major protest where phones and cameras can readily report the actual event. We the people will need to see the multitude gathering in peaceful protest of what is to come. 
There are many reasons this man is being sworn into office today. I could discuss Russia, gerrymandering, voter suppression, and manipulation of the media. But I will not. In addition to the above, so much of this happened because there is a great divide between certain sectors of the populace. On some level, we on the coasts of this great nation, have zero idea of what is going on in the interior of the country. Yes, there are pockets of people in urban areas that think like those on the coast, but for the most part, I have no illusions that I know what someone in rural Nebraska is going through, what their needs and fears are, and what they feel might best address those needs and fears. In order to make a difference in two years or four years, I believe we will need to reach out to the people who think differently, meet them, get to know them and their needs and fears, and work together to come up with a solution that works for more of us simultaneously. I say this because I believe this Presidential election should not have been anywhere near this close. The fact that it was (and even though Clinton won the popular vote) just means that we needed to do a better job of reaching out to those who were undecided and those who chose to stay away from the polls in droves. Next time, we must be better prepared to help pull back the curtain and show truth to power.
As for the incoming President, I could call him a sexist, narcissistic, misoginist, megalomaniacal monster who has no idea what he signed up for, but I won’t do that. I won’t do it because I believe he will be loud and jarring. And to use performance language, I believe he will be there to pull focus. His antics, his bullying tactics, his dramatic and maniacal clamor is a huge performance of misdirection. It is sleight of hand. It is designed to keep us reacting to what he is doing and saying instead of paying attention to what is going on behind the show in front. What concerns me is that if we just pay attention to the sound and fury and shenanigans of the man who sits as President, we will miss the essence of what else is happening. And that will be crucial.
To get through this, we will need to divide our focus in multiple directions. To get through this, we will need to be strong and we will need to be smart. I caution us all to react to focus-pulling in front of us with only as much attention as is warranted. We must not let the shenanigans pull our focus away from what is really going on because let us not kid ourselves, stuff is going on behind closed doors. Decisions are being made and actions are being taken, and if we don’t pay attention to that as well as to the smoke and mirrors going on in front of our faces, it will be to our detriment. 
So, in addition to paying attention to the needs of those who live in different parts of this country from us and to the wheeling and dealing going on behind closed doors, we will also need to pay attention to what takes place in our own backyards. We will need to become stewards and caretakers for those who need help. Yes, we will need to hold the politicians’ feet to the fire, but we will also need to build and sustain awareness of who needs help in our vicinity. Kindness and tolerance are great buzzwords, but they will take on more poignant meaning in these next four years. They, in addition to vigilance, awareness, and action, will need to be the banner under which we march into this uncertain future.
I am not kidding myself into thinking things are going to be fine. I do not believe they will be. This will be a harrowing four years and dare I say it, possibly eight years. I know that, and I have a feeling many who are celebrating today’s inauguration will be singing a different tune in just a couple of years. However, I do believe that with kindness, tolerance, vigilance, awareness, and action we can prevail. We can usher in change.
In thinking of it, I would add one last word to this list. I would add education. We need to educate ourselves and each other about what is happening. We need to foster curiosity about what is really going on so we can make better-informed decisions. This goes for all of us on all sides of this tumultuous landscape.
I will be honest. On November 6th, I had no idea this might occur. “No way,” I thought. “No way will this country elect someone as unqualified and frankly revolting as this man who couldn’t keep a job on a reality tv show.” But, to many, he was a viable choice because he was marketed as representing change, any change. Again, I have a feeling that many will realize this “change” is not the kind they thought they wanted. But, like climate change, those kinds of “Oh, this actually *is* horrible,” realizations don’t come as “ah-HA,” moments, especially if the marketing keeps telling us “Don’t worry. It’s ok.” Those changes come gradually and by the time we realize they have arrived, they have already taken up residence, and it will be a major job to rid ourselves of them.
So, moving forward, we need to watch for the marketing and the spin. We need to call out every dirty trick and every bit of sleight of hand. Each time we see the wool being pulled over the population’s eyes, we will need to shine a spotlight on it and keep educating and keep speaking the truth. That is how we will pull ourselves back from this precipice, because let’s not kid ourselves. We are in unchartered territory here. Never has such an inexperienced man had such power in such a dangerous time. He has access to mind-boggling destructive power and the ego to want to wield it. And never have we had such changes taking place on a planetary scale while the person who sits in the Oval Office shows no desire to address those changes. And in fact, his choices for EPA and Education leads show us that he actively doesn’t care about them. And because he doesn’t care about the health of this planet, we have to care. And because he doesn’t care about the health of the people, we have to care. And because he doesn’t care about anyone but himself and those like him, we have to care.
We have to care, and we have to do something about it every single day until he is gone. T minus 1382 days and counting.

Am I Doing What I Want To Be Doing?

file-sep-06-11-26-52-amI have set up a new lock screen on my phone. It asks me a question every time I turn the phone on. “Are you doing what you want to be doing?” And here’s the thing. I have to answer the question.

There are of course many answers to the question. First, I could be doing something I adore (writing, reading for someone, petting a cat, putting my toes in the ocean, making music, spending time with loved ones, traveling, etc.), so of course, I am doing what I want to be doing.

Next, I could be doing something I “have” to be doing or “need” to be doing. That might also be something fabulous (like washing my hair, which I need to do every day, or else, but which also gives me great pleasure).

I could also be doing something I dislike. This morning, I wasn’t the Earth Lady. I was the Poop Lady. Between Pyro’s health issues that result in poop wherever he happens to be standing when the need overtakes him, scooping the general litter box contents, and picking up after Hatha, I spent more than I truly wanted to on poop patrol.

And then of course, comes the more serious stuff I dislike like accounting, filing, business admin stuff. That stuff challenges me like crazy. I struggle with it, and I taking steps to improve on it with software, books, articles, and other guidance.

But, I still keep coming back to, am I doing what I want to be doing? I could have asked the question differently. I could have asked, “Do you want to be doing what you are doing?” Perhaps, that might have made what I am about to write easier for me to swallow. What I am talking about here is the first part more than the second part. Because, if I don’t want to be doing what I am doing, why the heck am I doing it? Because I have to? Partly. But also because some of the stuff that I have to do is because of habit. If I take all the stuff I have to do or need to do and transform it into stuff I want to do or get to do, how does it change? How does my life change?

What I’m talking about here is a modification of my perspective. Can I switch all the need to and have to into want to and get to?

When I am scooping poop, I am taking care of my critters. I am ensuring they have their needs met and that my house doesn’t become a sty. I can also incorporate my love for them into the action? How would that change it?

When I am doing accounting or sending out contracts, I am ensuring that I get to be compensated to keep doing work I love and work I feel is important (reading for people, teaching kids how to save the Earth, or helping people be more creative, or exposing them to cool music, etc.). So, don’t I owe to myself to take care of those other parts of that business so that I can keep doing what I want and love to be doing? Doesn’t that change things? (I have done it with exercise. In my late teens, I hated it. I didn’t want any part of it. In my 20s, I did it because I had to. In my 30s, it began to transform because certain forms of exercise were necessary to manage my hypothyroidism. Nowadays, I do it because I adore it. I work on the standing bag. I do Zumba. I dance. I practice yoga or Tai Chi, and I swim. I love using my body and have a great time with it. The best part? I always always feel better afterward. Working out has become like brushing my teeth. It is part of my daily activities, and it is one I enjoy, like crazy.)

So that brings me back to the question. Am I doing what I want to be doing? Or rather, do I want to be doing what I am doing? Implied in the question is, “And if not, why not?” And more to the point, can I change my perspective? And even further, can I do it right now so that the very act of doing something I don’t want to do transforms in front of my eyes into something fabulous.

Yes! I get so scoop poops. Yes! I get to do accounting. Yes! The two are equivalent in my mind because of my resistance to doing them (no offense to the accountants and bookkeepers I know; it’s not you, it’s me).

So, I release my resistance, I start getting to live my life from a place of acceptance rather than resistance. And that is a much better locale for me.

Our Bodies: How about we celebrate instead of shaming.

Fair warning: Rant imminent.
“You would be so pretty if only you would lose some weight.”
“You have such a gorgeous face. You would be stunning if you lost some weight.”
“Being so heavy is unhealthy for you.”
“You are a fat cow,” (this last was said to me by my parents, many times).
I’ve heard these so many times. I still hear them periodically only now I say things like, “Wow, you need help. Here is the name of a good therapist and an excellent etiquette counselor.”
Being fat/overweight/obese/a person of size/a BBW/a BBM is a bastion of shaming that is still hanging on. The body positive movement, led in part by people like Ashley Graham, is gaining some traction, but the trolls are still out there and spewing their muck. And what really ties my knickers into a bunch is that they are couching it in terms of being concerned for these women’s health. On her instagram feed, Ashley Graham posted a collection of shots of women wearing her swimsuit line. Most people are doing the “Queen” “Gorgeous” “Stunning” comment thing. A few are doing the “this is unhealthy.” “These women are too big. It will lead to diabetes, heart attacks, etc.” Now, please remember, they don’t know these women. They don’t know their medical history, their current BP, their current sugar numbers or anything. They only know what they see, and they feel like they can call them unhealthy and tell them that the only way they will get healthy is if they lose weight. (Not true, by the way. You can be a very healthy person who carries more weight and you can be a very unhealthy person who carries very little weight. We. Are. All. Different. Weight and shape must be addressed individually in order for a clear path to form.)
Why do people feel like they have the right to criticize your size and simultaneously couch it in terms of a concern for your health? It makes no sense to me at all. I get it that our size isn’t something we can hide. It’s right out there. But the question plaguing me this morning is how and why people feel like they have the right to talk to you about it. In a job interview, the interviewer doesn’t have the right to ask you about your gender, your sexual orientation, whether or not you have kids or are planning on having kids, etc. To obey the law, she or he must not talk about your personal life at all. Yet, I have had interviewers for jobs ask me about my exercise regimen. How about none of your freakin’ business? The fact that I have one has nothing to do with whether or not I will kick ass in this job.
And yet, it happens, all the time. I’ve had complete strangers come up to me in the street and tell me how beautiful I would be if I would only lose a few pounds. NEWSFLASH: I *am* beautiful. Am I the most gorgeous thing you will ever see? No. I am not. I am at peace with that. But I’ll be damned if I will let anyone tell me I am less than pretty because of how much I weigh or how beautiful I would be if only I lost a few pounds. Another newsflash: If we are all too busy trying to fit into a certain mold of “pretty” or “hot” we likely aren’t paying enough attention to being “kick-ass” or “talented” or “ambitious” or “kind” or “creative.” The important thing is to be healthy to try and make that the priority. If our bodies work, we can do anything! If they don’t, life becomes about managing what isn’t working instead of pushing our personal limits in other ways. So, yeah, health=good.
For my health if not for my weight, I work out every single day. I try my hardest to do weight training, swimming, yoga, boxing, zumba or something every day. I eat a vegan diet. I eat no sugar. I hardly ever drink. I’ve never smoked. I use sunscreen. And yet I have the metabolism of a three-toed sloth because of hypothyroidism. No matter what I do, I will never have a faster metabolic rate unless I am willing to go on meds for the rest of my life. I am unwilling to do that (since those were either tested on animals or the thyroid hormone comes directly from cows and I don’t use animal products if I can at all help it) so I have to make my peace with my weight and my energy levels.
I know so many people (women mostly though men have this issue as well [and non-gender specific folks too, of course]) who try super hard to be in shape and be healthy and who due to various reasons carry more weight than society deems “healthy” or “attractive.” (this doesn’t mean that those people are unhealthy, btw. It means they are carrying more weight than someone else says they should be because as the research shows, weight/size don’t correlate with health. You can be “overweight” and be super healthy. You can be “skinny” and be super unhealthy.).
How about this? Unless you are that person’s doctor or other medical professional, it’s none of your freakin’ business! And even doctors don’t know the whole story. New research is coming out all the time that says that size and health are not necessarily related. And size might be a genetic issue that the person can do nothing about. And that dieting or exercise might be useless to address size because each individual has a specific method that will work for them.
So, here’s my thought. Let’s try to boost each other up rather than tearing each other down. Let’s work together. Let’s play together. Let’s appreciate each other (and just as importantly ourselves) for who we are, for what kindnesses we do, for our sense of play and adventure, for our contributions to the world rather than what number it says on the label of our clothing or the tape measure or the scale.
That is just a number.
We can be better. We can do better. We can love each other harder. We can support each other more.
We can lift ourselves and each other out of this bizarre judgmental competition and instead usher in a new era joy and celebration of each other and more importantly ourselves.
Isn’t that how it ought to be?
I believe it is.
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From Ashley Graham’s Instagram Feed.