Sunday, February 22, 2015

I did the plow pose!

Stock image of plow pose (this is not me)
I'm so excited to have reached a goal I'd had for over a year and a half. Last week I was able to do the plow pose again! It had been years since I could get my body to fold in half like that! I love yoga and my favorite poses are the deep ones that really challenge the muscles and tendons. Since I put on 50 pounds in 2012 and 2013, I could no longer manage the plow pose. It was frustrating to know that my spine and joints still had the necessary flexibility, but my fat was in the way.

But then this past fall a few couple of health problems forced me to cut sugar, grains (including wheat) and dairy from my diet. Well, as much as possible anyway. I didn't reach 100%, but I reduced them enough to bring my blood sugar back under control and this month the other health problem finally improved: the monstrual cramps got better! I'm so relieved because those cramps were nightmarish. In fact, I was starting to wonder why I was depriving myself of cookies and blue cheese if it wasn't making the damn menstrual pain go away. I really needed some hard evidence that that this was all worth it, and I finally got it. My menstrual cramps did not have me moaning on the floor this month! YAY!

This all requires daily meditating and guided visualization to manage my sugar cravings and I use Emotional Freedom Technique to keep myself from emotional eating, but things feel like they're really working right now. Since November, I've learned that hormonal imbalance is hugely affected by what we put in our bodies and stopping the sugar, wheat and dairy has stopped my insulin levels from the roller coaster heights and dips they'd been on for decades. Insulin affects levels of progesterone and other hormones. So this is it: a major way to keep my body in balance means I'll only have occasional desserts and things like macaroni and cheese or buttered toast. I'm learning to indulge my sweet tooth with fruit, nuts, lightly sweetened beverages and small amounts of dark chocolate.

I've found that if I stop flooding my body with sugar for a few weeks, I can break my physical addiction to it. Also, my taste buds adjust so I don't need as much sweetness to satisfy a craving. But the thing that's been hanging me up is my emotional need for sweets. I've been struggling with the belief that a life without frosted layer cakes isn't worth living. That belief isn't caused by my insulin levels or my taste buds; that belief lives in my mind. And, goddamn, the mind is a tough thing to change.

But with meditation (I use Joe Dispenza's recordings), it's possible to re-wire the brain's old patterns and I think I'm finally doing it. After months of daily guided meditation, I'm finally letting go of that old belief that sugar makes life worth living. And it's just in time because after a lifetime of abusing my pancreas with sweetened cereals, cookies, cakes, frostings, candy and sugary pastries, my body needs no more sugar. At the age of 48 and a half, I can't continue those habits without risking blood sugar problems (diabetes runs in my family) and I'm determined to avoid that. The side benefit is that I'm losing the fat that was keeping me from my former yoga routine. I feel like I'm getting back to my true, natural weight. It's also nice to have "new" clothes because things that I hadn't been able to squeeze into for two years now fit again.

So the plow pose represents how much I've accomplished so far and the healthy, menstrual-cramp-free life ahead of me. By my 49th birthday in July, I'm going to be the healthiest I've ever been and my 50's are going to be great. Come to think of it, maybe I'll just start calling myself 50 in July. Why not? Adding a year will only make me look better for my age!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

What will make them vaccinate?

Many of us are baffled by those who won’t vaccinate their children. We can’t believe there are people who can ignore the statistics that show that where children are vaccinated, disease rates go down. We think such people are stupid, selfish and destructive. I know I’ve looked at anti-vaxxers as idiots whose grandparents probably thought the earth was flat. But after communicating with some anti-vaxxers on Facebook, and reading articles on what motivates parents, I’m cutting the anti-vaccine movement some slack. There is a method to their madness.

Vaccines are a difficult topic because few people can discuss the welfare of children without emotion. Parents of babies and school-age children struggle with dozens of decisions a day (how to dress the kid, what to feed it, how much TV to allow, etc.). And the fact is, some children do have a bad reaction to vaccines. Only a small minority react badly, and an even smaller minority have the mitochondrial disorder that can be triggered by vaccination (among other things!), but the anecdotes abound. The numbers show that far more children are at risk of catching a disease than are at risk of having an adverse reaction to a vaccine, but personal stories very effectively raise doubt about the safety of vaccines.

A recent NPR article (Psychological Biases Play A Part In Vaccination Decisions) reveals part of what influences parents’ opinions about vaccines. When making decisions about their children, a parent’s goal is to make a decision they won’t regret. When researchers presented parents with two risks (to their children) to choose between, many people chose the path that didn’t require them to do anything. The researchers theorize that lack of action relieves some of the remorse parents might feel later if their child suffers from their decision. For example, if a woman has her child vaccinated against the flu and complications arise from that injection, she might feel worse than if she hadn’t had her child vaccinated and the child caught a serious case of the flu. It’s as if we associate action with guilt, and inaction with freedom from guilt. The article uses the phrase "doing harm versus merely allowing harm."

The article theorizes that we might increase vaccination rates if we change things so that not vaccinating a child requires more action than vaccinating. If it takes lengthy paperwork and focused effort to get an exemption from vaccination, then keeping your child unvaccinated would become the path of action, opening yourself up to more regret if that decision leads to a negative outcome. (We might already be heading in that direction as more schools make vaccination a requirement for attendance.)

Given all the uncertainty that anti-vaxxers have created about vaccines, it makes sense that many parents lean towards not vaccinating, which feels like not taking a direct action that might harm their child. It’s an emotional decision driven by parents’ need to not do anything they’ll later feel guilty about. This bias also explains how people can ignore the scientific evidence showing that vaccines don’t cause autism. It no longer matters that Andrew Wakefield -- the person who said he’d found a possible link between vaccines and autism -- falsified his data. Anti-vaxxers have heard enough stories about children with suspicious reactions to vaccines to make Wakefield’s debunked research irrelevant.

No one wants to do anything that might hurt their child. Many people would rather do nothing and take their chances with those consequences. What we pro-vaxxers are battling is parents' emotional need to believe they have not taken any action that could damage their child. That's an extremely powerful emotional need that won't be touched by statistics and scientific facts, so let's stop yelling and put down the bar graphs and scientific studies because they're not going to get us anywhere. One of my dad's favorite sayings is "If you can't make them see the light, make them feel the heat." What we need to do is make those exemptions much harder to get so that keeping your kid unvaccinated requires deliberate action that you can't pretend you're not taking. I imagine a future in which you either get your children vaccinated or home school them through the post-graduate level. At any rate, we're not going to convince anti-vaxxers of the importance of vaccination, so we might as well stop trying. The best path is to allow them their fears and anxieties while we change the environment until not vaccinating becomes too uncomfortable a position to maintain.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Share me

A friend asked about sharing my posts on Facebook, so I want to point this out to anyone who might not have noticed: in the bottom left corner of each post is a row of icons for Gmail, Blogger, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and GooglePlus. Click on any one of those to share a post on one of your social media pages.

Below that are options for you to indicate what you think of the post: funny, interesting or cool. Click on one of those, too. Thanks!

Monday, February 09, 2015

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Are you an empathic person who tries to put herself in someone else's shoes and really understand them? Are you baffled by people who won't vaccinate their children because they don't trust the government or the pharmecuetical companies to be working in the best interests of the public? Would you like a little insight into that level of distrust? I like to try to understand people who seem completely wrong to me.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks describes how an African American tobacco farmer who went to the doctor for cancer treatment had her cells used in medical research for decades without her family knowing. Author Rebecca Skloot spent years researching how the global research community used "HeLa" cells, and how Lacks' family was impacted (or not). Lacks herself died young from a strain of cancer that was so aggressive that it served as the perfect lab sample because it was almost impossible to kill it. Her cells were critical in the development of the polio vaccine and countless other medical breakthroughs. In the meantime, her descendents struggled financially and, ironically, went without health coverage for decades. Skloot's book includes interviews with the Lacks family that took place after they learned of Henrietta's eternal place in medical history.

No, this book doesn't comment on current ideas about government medical guidelines or requirements. I simply offer it as a piece of evidence for the distrust that many feel towards the medical establishment and how it can treat individuals. It's also just a good story. Right now the Kindle version of this book is just $1.99 on Amazon.com. I read it when it came out in 2010 and plan to read it again.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Animals


In former vegan Tovar Cerulli's 2012 article in The Atlantic, Hunters Are People Too, Cerulli makes the point that humans' impact on the welfare of animals isn't just about what we eat, but how we eat it. He writes: In great part, our difficulty with hunting stems from the simple fact that we are disturbed by the killing of animals. Most burger-wolfing Americans don't want to know what happens in slaughterhouses. Most yogurt-scooping vegetarians don't want to know that dairy farming depends on the constant butchering of male calves for veal. As a salad-munching vegan, I didn't want to know about the impacts of agriculture.

He describes being a vegan who gradually became aware of the full impact of industrialized food on animals (even the way birds and other wildlife that are killed by grain harvesting technology). He began prioritizing how he was engaging with the food industry, beyond what foods he chose to eat, and his decision to start hunting was motivated by his desire to disconnect from the destructive practices of agribusiness (as well as health concerns he doesn't describe).

I find Cerulli's reasoning very consistent and sound. He prioritizes the welfare of animals and found a way to not participate in the destructive practices of the meat industry. He kills only what he consumes, doesn't turn away from the slaughtering process, and prepares and eats animals with his eyes wide open. This all makes sense because his primary motivation is to minimize the harm he does to animals.

We don't all share Cerulli's motivation.

I think we can all agree that Americans are basically self-serving and whenever we find a moral contradiction, we do a great job of ignoring it. Do you want to point out the hypocrisy of loving our dogs and eating our pigs? We'll tune it out as easily as turning up the volume of our Katy Perry download. Failure to realize the granite wall of our disinterest in animal welfare is the problem of most vegans who try to convince Americans to go vegan. I'm regularly stunned by the tone-deaf pitch of vegans who think showing me photos of murdered cows and bleeding pig corpses will make me stop eating those animals.

As little as I can abide cruelty to anyone or anything (even Ann Coulter), the person who comes first in my life is me. I notice that my health is better and my energy steadier when I regularly eat animals (for the purposes of this piece, I define "animals" as poultry, red meat/ruminants, pork, fish and eggs). No amount of reading about the state of our slaughterhouses or the conditions of chicken farms is going to change my physical body so that it thrives on plants alone, so those arguments aren't going to get me to stop eating animals.

But there is an argument that would convince me to stop eating animals: show me that eating animals is more destructive to my body than not eating them. This is a hard one because I, of course, have 48 years of experiential evidence that has taught me that my body does better with animal flesh than without it. However, there is one person who has given me the evidence I needed to get me to make a big change in the way I eat animals: Dr. Emily Lindner who specializes in hormonal imbalances.

Dr. Lindner identified hormonal imbalances as the cause of my horrific menstrual cramps. Under her guidance, I've cut sugars, grains, caffeine, dairy products and alcohol and it's made a difference. My monthly cramps are still upsettingly strong and disruptive, but they aren't as bad as they were and as I continue to detoxify from all the hormone-disrupting foods, they'll get better and better.

Realizing that focusing on hormones is key to my health, I've done more reading on them and how many hormones are pumped into our meat supply. This has finally convinced me to cut back on the amount of regularly processed eggs, red meat and chicken I consume. My health is too delicate at this point for me to not take every bit of good advice I come across. Hormone and antibiotic tainted animal foods? I'm done buying them at the grocery store. (This leaves the problem of what to eat in restaurants, but one thing at a time.)

I wish I could hunt my own food like Cerulli, but I dislike the outdoors, so hunting is out for me. Instead, I've started buying only organic, antibiotic-free eggs and organic animal flesh. That stuff is expensive, so I've also cut down on how much of it I eat and now have more vegetables, beans and potatoes on my plate. I'm making these changes for my benefit, not to benefit animals or the environment or the whales. It's just for me, even though I know that sounds selfish. I realize vegans and environmentalists are more altruistic and I'll be the first to admit that they're better people than I can hope to be. But the reality is that most Americans think the way I do: we want what's good for the health of our own bodies, with animals occupying a distant second priority (or third or thirtieth).

Vegans, if you want to encourage meat eaters to consider veganism, you have to go where we live: serving the best interests of our own individual little lives. Appealing to people's higher morals is slow, slow work.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

The Nightly Show - watch it!

Holly Phillips, Judy Gold, Larry Wilmore, Zooey O'Toole and Mike Yard discuss vaccination.
Hey, looky here: it's a BLACK MAN WITH HIS OWN LATE NIGHT SHOW. This hasn't happened since Arsenio Hall, only this time the man is hilarious and I can't get enough!

Larry Wilmore started out as The Daily Show's Senior Black Correspondent, but he's even funnier sitting at his own news desk. Everyone, watch The Nightly Show! You can watch full episodes on the Comedy Central website and on Hulu.com.

Unlike Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert who review(ed) recent news stories and interview(ed) people, Wilmore's show parodies morning round table shows like Meet the Press. He introduces only one topic per show, gives background and comments, and then discusses it with four guests. The wonderful running bit that he uses is a segment called "Keeping it 100." That means keeping your statements one hundred percent truthful. After the discussion, Wilmore asks each guest a question that he asks them to answer with complete, gut honesty. If they do, they get a "Keep It 100" sticker. If they give a weak response, he tosses them a teabag.

Who hasn't wished those talking heads would give just one straight, unqualified answer? Wilmore has tapped into that desire and he does it brilliantly. At the very end of the show, he keeps it 100 by answering a question that he doesn't see until the moment he's on camera answering it. Where does his question come from? His Twitter followers!

Watch The Nightly Show. Wilmore has some excellent writers that finally broadcast opinions and responses that people of color have been shouting at our TV sets for decades. Start with the very first show which just happened to air on January 19th, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Wilmore has covered topics such as the president's State of the Union address, Cuba relations, vaccines and he introduced the topic of Bill Cosby by saying, "Tonight we answer the question: did he do it? And the answer will be 'yes.'"

Plus Wilmore is just funny. One of my favorite moments (so far) was this one from his vaccine show: "We're all familiar with the term first world problem, right? It's when rich Americans complain about something that people in other parts of the world might consider a byproduct of luxury. You know, like when I have to turn on the subtitles on Netflix because I'm eating Doritos too loudly."

Watch The Nightly Show. In over ten years of keeping this blog, I don't think I've ever commanded people to watch a tv show, but this is it. The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore is one of the best things I've seen in decades and is the perfect palate cleanser for anyone who has a bad taste in their mouth from Black-ish.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

BLOWING OFF STEAM!!!

We fucked up. We Americans are so damn smart and so driven to make a buck and create new ways to earn money off each other that we tampered with natural ingredients until -- over the past five decades -- we replaced traditional foods with dead, chemical-based crap because the cheap stuff turns a bigger profit. The American food industry took the natural human preference for sweetness and fat and exploited it, using increasing amounts of chemicals and innovation to make many foods that are just as addictive -- and just as useless -- as opioid drugs. And now look at us! Because of our horrible Standard American Diet (SAD), we’re abusing our bodies with  junk that causes heart disease, diabetes, brain disorders and other health problems, often fatal. We Americans have created a culture of selling ourselves death. We pay money to poison ourselves.

The too-smart-for-our-own-good American food industry developed ingenious formulae to make people want to eat more of certain items whether or not we're feeling actual hunger. For example, Doritos, Oreos, Cinnabon, Big Macs and the entire menus of places like Applebee's and TGIFriday's have been scientifically engineered to mix with our saliva in a way that forms a delicious paste in our mouths with just the right amount of staying power and fade-out. Not only do these foods taste good, but many have been chemically orchestrated to leave an aftertaste that triggers the desire to eat more. Some foods are even engineered to have an aftertaste that's more appealing than the actual taste of the food in your mouth. This irresistible aftertaste, keeps us returning to the bag of chips or sleeve of cookies or refrigerator. [See David A. Kessler's book on this subject.]

God damn it! We Americans did this in our obsessive need to make money, make money, make more money. How can we get people to spend more money on our product? How do we make people unable to get through the day without our food item or drink? By manipulating the ingredients until people's
brains are hard-wired to respond to those substances like heroin.

On the other end, when we begin to notice that our waistlines are getting too wide, a subset of the food industry is there for us with different chemically manipulated food-like substances to give us hope for losing weight. We couldn't have come up with a more lucrative racket if we'd had the financial industry to try to come up with one. The American food industry got us hooked on cheap, destructive products, one effect of which is to make us fat. And then it created another useless industry of cheap crap for those who want to lose weight. Fuck.

And the really damnable part is that those so-called weight loss products are part of the problem. Because Ancel [Asshole] Keyes asserted that natural saturated fats are bad for us and the burgeoning vegetable and cotton oil manufacturers wanted to create a market for margarine, Americans have been operating on the false belief that fat causes fatness and lowfat starches and sugars are the way to lose weight. In fact, sugars and starches cause weight gain, as we can see by how much fatter Americans have become since the birth of the lowfat food industry and the U.S. government's recommendation that we all eat five or more servings of starches a day. Since 1980 Americans have put away tons of breads, pastas, grains and desserts, many of them with reduced fat ingredients. And look at how healthy we are as a result!

Driven by greed and not giving a damn about actual humans, Americans have made money by getting ourselves hooked on non-foods (and chemical beverages) that cause health problems and then selling ourselves more non-foods (and chemical beverages) to remedy those health problems. But those "helpful" products really make things worse, so we need more and more and never-ending more stupid products that we're fooled into believing will help us become healthy. We are fucking idiots! I hate us! We're selling each other DEATH and we're selling it to the rest of the world! Americans suck.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Cooling the stimulus


My battle against my lifelong sugar addiction is having a surge of success these days. In the past couple of months I've changed my diet for health reasons, but it hasn't been easy. Drastically reducing my consumption of grains, dairy and sugars, even fruit, has taken a huge commitment, and managing my sugar cravings has required lots of guided meditation and EFT tapping. While my main goals are to avoid diabetes and achieve hormonal balance, another is to get rid of my desire to binge on sweets while leaving the desire to eat healthy food. (And weight loss is a convenient side effect of all this improved eating.) I'm basically talking about addiction treatment that requires re-wiring the brain's old pathways of stimulus and release (for me, sugar is the biggest stimulus). How do you re-wire the brain? Meditation and tapping are how I'm doing it.

I meditate every morning and am always surprised by how much confidence it gives me. I've been using guided meditations by Joe Dispenza since October 2013 and they have really helped with my food issues. The amount of time I can go without being seriously tempted by cookies (or donut shops or bakeries) is getting longer. Pastries used to mesmerize me no matter what, even if I'd just eaten. Now they might or might not interest me. This shows huge progress for me. I'm developing indifference to dessert! I've dreamed of being this way.

The other day I had a setback that turned into success. I really needed cookies and no amount of tapping would make the craving go away. Finally I gave in to it and started eating cookies. I ended up eating...three of them. I ate three cookies and then just stopped. I paused between eating the third cookie and getting up for another one, and in that space of time I drank some water and then felt satisfied. The sugar binge was over! And it hadn't even turned into a full binge. It stunned me. It still stuns me.

Sugar just doesn't have the same power over me any more. I've cooled the stimulus. Will I backslide? Will anxiety and stress overtake me so that I inhale an entire layer cake next weekend? That's always possible, but right now it doesn't feel extremely likely. I'm excited to feel like there's hope for me. I'm excited about continuing the meditating and tapping and eventually leaving my old sugar-obsessed ways behind!

Life is good.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Why not blog?

Dec. 26, 2014
Fortunately, I don't let not having a blogging topic stop me from posting. This makes hitting my ten-posts-a-month goal easier. Maybe one day I'll raise the bar to ten interesting posts a month. But probably not.

This is a photo from about a month ago, of me holding a gingerbread man I had just decorated. My aunt had brought one of those kits to a party and I decided to crack it open. The cookie was already baked and ready to go. All you had to do was massage the plastic envelope of icing, cut a small hole in one corner and get going. The M&M-type candies were included.

I was going for some kind of gingerbread corpse, but my aunt saw a referee shirt, so maybe it's a dead referee. It didn't taste good, so I abandoned it on the table after the party, with one "hand" missing. To all you bloggers out there (are there any bloggers left in 2015?), yes, this counts as a post. By my definition, a post is organized, well-punctuated and spelled correctly. Ideally it has paragraphs. But it doesn't have to be interesting.

I recently visited the archived blog (that means the person stopped posting) of someone who blogged about a particular three-year experience. Once the experience ended, she figured she no longer had a blog topic, so she stopped blogging. This seems completely unreasonable to me. Why would the end of a particular part of your life mean you no longer have anything to blog about? If the writing is interesting enough to keep an audience, it doesn't matter what you're going through.

At least that's been my operating belief with my blog. I'm convinced that I'm interesting even when I write about nothing interesting at all, like right now. This entire blog, started in 2004, has been nothing but a catalog of my responses to my life, and that's a life that's been empty of international travel, child-bearing or expertise in an obscure yet impressive area. And yet I keep going, so thank you very much for reading.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Eighth post of the month

It's January 29th and I'm facing my personal blog crunch time: my goal is ten posts a month and this is just the eighth. That means it's time for me to post when I'm not feeling very passionate about any particular subject, but so it goes. It's time to post.

I realize that no one on the planet gives a damn about whether I post or not. One of my favorite Onion articles (actually I guess this is a Clickhole article) is called 'I Let Everyone Down': A Blogger Apologizes for Not Posting In A While. It makes the point that no one cares about blogs and any blogger who thinks that anyone will miss his or her posts is delusional. Well, I like to think of myself as only slightly delusional, but even I know that my ten-posts-per-month goal doesn't effect anything or anyone but myself. The article also makes fun of the minutia that usually make up the subject matter of blog posts. Again, I know this describes my blog. (I can't even remember why I named it Chicana on the Edge.)

Still, there is value in consistency. One theory of expertise is that the people who are the best at what they do, have done it a lot. The figure was that it takes 10,000 hours of doing something to get really, really good at it. The story I heard discussed the 10,000 hours Bill Gates spent programming and the 10,000 hours any top athlete has spent on their activity. For me, keeping this blog is part of my 10,000 hours as a writer. I have no idea how long it takes to hit 10,000 hours and it's possible that, at the age of 48 and a half, I hit my 10,000 hours years ago. In fact, I'm sure I did because I've spent huge amounts of time writing since I was 11 years old.

So thank you for visiting me here as I practice my art. I appreciate every click this blog gets. Watch this space for two more posts in the next two days.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Donating your voice can change a life

You know how Stephen Hawking talks through a machine with a synthesized voice? Millions of people around the world rely on similar technology, but that means that women, little girls and millions of others use the same masculine, adult, American-accented voice (I think there's also a female one, but still). Recently a company called VocaliD developed a way to pair an individual with a voice that closely matches their natural one. It requires a sample of the recipient's voice and the voice recordings of a donor who matches the recipient's age, size and vocal quality. VocaliD is currently building a voice bank for the millions of people who need individualized, synthesized voices, which means they need millions of voice donors from all over the world, people of different ages, sizes, voice pitches, languages and accents. Will you help?

VocaliD is facing an incredible task and it's doing it with:
  • Voice-blending technology
  • Donors who submit samples of their voices for the voice bank (for free, there's no payment involved)
  • Scientists and designers who blend a donor's and a recipient's voices until they have a completely unique voice that will be used only by the person for whom it was created (no one will be walking around with your voice, it doesn't work that way)
  • A website that makes it easy to submit samples of your voice.
It's a way to help others without having to give anything but a few hours of time, and you don't even have to leave your home! Plus it's a way to live forever because your voice can be used to help countless people.

I signed up and spent an hour and a half reading sentences into the microphone on my laptop computer. It's best to give three to four hours of speaking time, but you don't have to do it all at once. You need a computer with a microphone and the website says the Chrome browser works best, but I managed to do it with Firefox.

Upon registration I entered my gender, age, height and weight. After I read a few sentences, I was prompted to answer questions such as where I live (Chicago), where else I've lived (California) and what kind of accent people tell me I have (none). A question asked for one word that I'd use to describe my voice (I chose "soothing"). Then it was back to reading sentences. They started out very simple like Thank you and This is my new voice and I love you. They got more complicated as it went on, including statements like Food Network is crushing it with the kid chef shows. Then the sentences began to form little stories. The statement I enjoyed enunciating the most was I owe you a yo-yo.

Eventually it became clear that the sentences had been lifted from works of literature and at one point they alternated between novels. I think a Louisa May Alcott/Jack London mashup produced this sequence (earlier some of the sentences had included wolves and the names "Jo" and "Meg"):

A lady is always known by her neat boots.
He touched her with his muzzle.

Don't shake hands if you are introduced to anyone.
He ran with his head even.
She could not move about and amuse herself.

The pack formation would have been broken up.

And the sentence I said with the most relish and force: Kids don't belong.

I'm grateful that the hours of recording don't have to all be done at once because my voice gave out after an hour and a half. The website states that even one hour of recording helps, but I'll go back in and do more. I enjoyed it.

Does the idea of donating blood make you squeamish? Do you never have any money to give to good causes? Do mobility or transportation issues make you unable to volunteer outside of your home? Do you nevertheless want to make a difference in the life of a stranger? Donate your voice. The video below shows how big a difference you can make (it's just a minute and a half long). After you watch it, go to VocaliD and become immortal!


Sunday, January 18, 2015

"I don't have time"

When a woman who's working full-time, has children to raise and runs a household tells me she doesn't have time for one more thing, I believe her. But I suspect there are many people who say they don't have time for stuff, who aren't telling the truth.

As an undergraduate at U.C. Berkeley and then a graduate student at Cornell, I made time for what was important to me and didn't make time for what wasn't. One thing I did a lot was sleep, about eight hours a night. I've always prioritized basic needs like sleep over everything else, even grades. But since grades were also critical to me, that meant I spent most of my eight years at UCB and Cornell sleeping and studying. I never studied past 10 p.m, which meant I had to get all my essays written, math problems solved and texts read in the rest of the hours of the day. That was possible because I cut out almost all other activities during that time of my life. When someone invited me on a weekend trip or an afternoon swim, I might have said I didn't have time, but that wasn't strictly true. I had the time, but it would have meant losing time for the things I considered more important. I would have had to finish assignments by rushing through them, possibly sleep deprived, and that just wasn't in my nature.

We all have time for what's important to us. Recently a friend told me why he had waited so long to get back to me about something. He listed the home projects he'd needed to do and his preparation for an event. His explanation petered out with, "...and I procrastinated."

Yes. I procrastinate all the time. I'm procrastinating now. If someone asks me tomorrow why I didn't get a certain thing done today, it wouldn't be truthful to say, "I didn't have time." The truth would be that I didn't feel like doing that other thing, so I occupied myself with blogging and watching Twilight Zone episodes until I looked at the clock and said, "Oh, it's too late to do that now." And if I were very honest, I'd say, "I didn't do it because I was afraid that X might happen if I did it, and I'm just not ready for that yet."

It feels better to say, "I don't have time" than to say "I don't think I'm smart enough" or "I'm afraid to find out that answer" or "I'd have to change who I am" or "I don't want to fail." And when we truly don't have time to squeeze in one more thing, that's because our lives are full of the things that are important to us and that other thing just doesn't rank. It's much more polite to say, "I don't have time" than "I just don't like you" or "I don't want to" or "Why would I want to spend time with those people?"

So we say we don't have time and it's easy to believe because Americans are some of the busiest damn people on the planet. We almost shun sleep and tend to overfill our schedules, so when one American says to another "I don't have time" no one challenges it. But I say that such a statement isn't honest. It lets us get by without opening ourselves up, but it's not the true reason that people don't prioritize whatever they're saying they don't have time for.

Maybe I'm setting myself up for some awkward moments by posting this. I can imagine my friends no longer letting me get away with saying I don't have time (but at least that would tell me which friends read my blog). I guess that would serve me right and keep me honest. Of course, if you press me, I'm usually happy to tell you what's really going on in my head. So feel free to stop me the next time I say I don't have time. Ask me for the real reason, but be careful: I'll tell you.