Posted in audience participation, connections, know better do better, mindset, motivation, parenting, thoughtfulness

Our part in creating sustainability

I hate planned obsolescence.

I hate cheap shit.

I hate the “everything disposable” mindset.

I hate WalMart and the Dollar Store.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to pay tons of money for everything, necessarily, but we need to find a way back to well-made things that can be kept for a long time, repaired, upgraded, etc.

It’s better to pay more for a thing up front that you can keep for a long time than to pay half as much that you’re going to need four of in the same time frame.

(And in the case of handheld technology, it’s neither cheap nor long-lasting.)

In order to do this, we need to

1- Buy less stuff. Especially with average incomes as they are and cost of living expenses continuously on the rise, buying higher-quality but more expensive stuff isn’t going to work at the same volume.

2- Be OK with stuff not being the newest. This example pops into mind. When I was a kid, we had an Atari. It was awesome. And then Nintendo came out, and we wanted one of those. We didn’t get one, because we already had a gaming system. So sometimes friends came over and we played Atari, and sometimes we went to their house and played Nintendo.

3- Share. People seem to do this more out of economic necessity, but there are lots of things that we don’t all need to own our own. We bought a giant umbrella thinger when The Kid was doing track last year. A friend’s daughter was doing swim over the summer. Instead of buying an umbrella, they borrowed ours. It worked perfectly. Unless we needed it at the same time, there’s no reason for us both to own one. Less money outgoing. Less storage space. Less trash later. True for many occasional-use things.

Can we stop going to the Dollar Store and buying lots of junk because we can and it’s cheap? Can we stop buying clothes that we’ll only wear for one season? (Kids excepted, because they grow…)

It’s a big shift. But it will help us mentally (less stuff = less stress about stuff—spoken from a place of privilege), it will help us economically, it will help us environmentally. It will help built community (for sharing, and for playing each other’s games). And maybe it’ll bring work back here from overseas.

You in?

Posted in audience participation, connections, know better do better, mindset, motivation, podcasts

Old dogs, new tricks, and endless possibilities

Schools in this area have an evacuation site. If, for whatever reason the whole school needed to be evacuated, where would we all go?

At my first job in Arizona, the steak house was mentioned.

New to the local area and vegetarian, I couldn’t think of any steak houses nearby … and also thought that was an odd place for a fairly large elementary school to evacuate to. We’re definitely bigger than their maximum capacity.

Turns out, it’s a Mormon thing. (Based on my Wikipedia research before writing this, she was incorrect to call it a stake house, but perhaps the locals differ from Wikipedia in their vernacular.)

The area has a large Mormon population. Nowhere I’d lived up to that point had much if any Mormon population, so these words/buildings/customs were unfamiliar to me.

My brain making connections the way it does, when I thought of this story, it reminded me that on Freakonomics Radio a few months ago, they were talking about trying new things:

…basically if you are not listening to a certain style of music by the time you’re 28 or so, 95 percent chance you’re never going to. By age 35, if you’re not eating sushi, 95 percent chance you never will. In other words, these windows of openness to novelty close.

Honestly … I think we can do better. Clearly, we need to be nudged … or pushed … or dragged against our will sometimes, but we can do it!

35? 28?! That’s less than half of a life trying all sorts of things and more than half a life with the same old same old. No wonder so many old people are cranky.

Seriously. If we’re open to new things, our lives will be richer, our brains will be healthier, and we have a much better chance at forward progress (in our personal lives, in our communities, in our country, in the world).

In the last 10 to 15 years, I’ve tried a lot of new foods and tons of old foods in new combinations. I’ve learned a lot of new stuff. Tried new activities. Befriended new people.

That said, I’m quite happy much of the time to eat the same stuff, read the same stuff, talk to the same people, and so on. Really, I could just stay home a lot of the time and be perfectly content.

How do I get into new stuff?

Well … every now and then, it’s something that I’ve been interested in for a while but never made time for (because you can’t do it all at once) — like photography.

Even more rarely, it’s something that creeps into my life in such a way that I don’t even remember how it got there, and then it grows and I feed it and it grows and I feed it… — like triathlon (currently defunct) and healthy living stuff.

Most of the time? Someone else introduces me to it. Most of the music I listen to; all “ethnic” food that isn’t Italian, Polish, or American Chinese; running; rock climbing; camping; a trove of details about dinosaurs, Saturn V, and Minecraft. These are all things that I would not have come into on my own — someone else introduced me to them.

And my life is richer for it.

Though I would be OK without Minecraft.

If you know my eating habits, you know some of my favorite restaurants are Indian, Thai, Ethiopian, Mediterranean. I never ate any of these before I moved to Arizona. (Thank you to the people who introduced me to these amazing cuisines!)

What have you done or eaten or listened to or read or watched lately that was new? (And what do you love that you can share with me that might be new to me?)

Posted in audience participation, connections, differences, hope, know better do better, mental health, mindset, motivation, parenting, physical health, thoughtfulness, vulnerability

Workplace wellness

Today’s post is full of broad sweeping statements. Of course they are not true for every individual in every category. But I’m not going to make a disclaimer in every paragraph because it’s unwieldy to read.

Many companies are introducing (or have already introduced) wellness incentive plans regarding various biomarkers of their employees (with questionable legality).

But stress is seemingly worse for your health than any of the markers they’re measuring.

How many employers are actively seeking to reduce their employees’ stress levels?

None? Benefit of the doubt and say a few?

This embodies so many facets of America.

1. We’re unhealthy. We eat badly; we move insufficiently; we’re overweight and underslept; we lack meaningful community; we view vulnerability—necessary for connection—as a weakness; we prioritize work over play, over rest, over family; in addition to all of the -isms that culturally define us.

2. We don’t believe in health care as a right. Which, on a tangent, is mostly sick care. (For more details on that, see point #1.) Only people who work the right jobs for the right people for the right number of hours get to have health insurance. And even then, many of those people still have to pay for it. Sometimes a lot. And pay even more for their families to be covered. Which doesn’t even cover all of what’s potentially needed.

3. Companies are not interested in their people. They are interested in money. So they do whatever they can to siphon more money to the top people. (Because, despite current mindset, companies are not actually in themselves people. They’re just run by people. So we could more accurately say that the people at the top of companies are disinterested in everyone else in the company, so long as they continue to live large.)

Whether that’s hiring fewer salaried employees and expecting them to work more (sometimes way more) than 40 hours per week, or hiring more hourly employees part time so they don’t have to pay for benefits, or paying as little as possible, or countless other possibilities, the money needs to pour up.

It’s a giant mindset problem. A cultural problem. A mental health problem. A shaming problem. A physical health problem. An economic problem.

I don’t know how to fix it.

But I do know that I can contact people in charge of stuff (whether it’s government officials or company leaders), and I can vote. (Are you registered? If not, open another browser window and go do it now! People taking it all for themselves depend on your apathy to maintain or advance their position.)

And I can do my best to be the change I want to see, live my life out loud, and hope others join me. (And they do. They always do.)

Be the change. Be self-aware, even (especially) when it sucks. Be open. Be vulnerable. But be fierce.

(Except on the days that you just need to lay on the couch. Then just lay.)

Posted in audience participation, connections, gratitude, thoughtfulness, vulnerability

Love your people

The summer before I left for college, one of my aunts took me out for lunch. Part of her message to me that day was: things don’t always go according to plan. Plan accordingly.

Somewhere in her early 20s, a year-ish after she was first married, her husband died. Brain tumor, maybe? I don’t remember the whole story, except that it was medical, unavoidable, unexpected, and had to do with his brain. Oh, and his family blamed his death on her. Because being a young newlywed who is suddenly a widow isn’t bad enough.

An acquaintance from college married shortly after graduation. On a trip celebrating their first anniversary, he fell off a cliff and died.

A friend lost her husband to cancer in their early 30s.

I can think of four people off the top of my head who have lost a close friend or family member to suicide.

I’ve lost friends to cancer.

Earlier this week, a colleague unexpectedly lost her husband.

All of these stories of loss come flooding back.

Your spouse still around? What about your kids? Friends?

Give them all a hug. Tell them you love them. Show them you love them. Put down your defenses and just love the shit out of them. Because we never know when they won’t be here to show love to any more. And who wants to be loved only at their services?

 

 

Posted in audience participation, ebb & flow, know better do better, marriage, mental health, mindset, parenting, thoughtfulness

Can you go a month without complaining?

A while back, I read a few articles about complaining and how it rewires your brain. Not in a good way.

Also a while back, I used to run 30-day challenges on Facebook.

Two of those challenges have been “life-changing” as per feedback from people in the group.

One was no added sugars (which we ended up doing for 45 days, because we started mid-month) and the other was no complaining.

The no complaining challenge was inspired by a meme challenging the reader to go 24 hours without complaining and “see how your life changes.”

Why not expand 24 hours into a month?

It made us all aware of how much we complain. Several people over the course of the month said it significantly improved their marriages, whether because they had a habit of complaining to or about their spouses.

We had interesting conversations about the differences between talking about negative things and complaining. (How would you distinguish between the two?)

I wrote a bit about my experience at the mid-month mark:

Talking about my no-complaining challenge last night, I was asked if I genuinely feel good, or if I’m just stuffing all the bad stuff. Thought about it, and 95% of the time, I genuinely feel good. The rest of the time, the feeling good does come later. I don’t, after two weeks, feel like I’m accumulating crappiness and am at some point going to explode.

I was thinking about this more, and I think it’s a simple shift in what gets attention. (Simple does not necessarily equal easy, though it’s not been as difficult as I expected. Especially because it positively reinforces itself constantly.)

For example, yesterday, I felt like crap. I’ve been fighting off a cold, and the cold was slowly starting to win. I was slightly stuffy and had absolutely no energy. Something I’d eaten or drunk made my stomach hurt every time I ate or drank (severely bloated), and I just felt miserable.

Any time prior to these two weeks, yesterday, I would have complained to people about not feeling well. I would have complained to myself about not feeling well. Instead, I just did what I needed to do and just didn’t talk about how my body felt. (Not lying, just not bringing it up.)

And you know what? I had a good day. It wasn’t a great day—I felt like crap—but it was definitely a good day. And I don’t think it would have been if I’d been complain-y all day. (I did slip twice, but both short-lived.)

Today? I feel better. Energy is back. Most congestion is gone. Tummy feels better (and I don’t look like I swallowed a balloon).

Happy Friday, everyone!

Recently, I’ve made this adjustment again. Not avoiding complaining altogether, necessarily, but minimizing.

I don’t run the 30-day challenges any more, but I am going to take this opportunity to challenge you to eliminate complaining today. And tomorrow. Maybe the whole weekend? Then see how long you can go.

See what differences you notice.

Report back.