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.

Posted in audience participation, know better do better, mindset, parenting, thoughtfulness, vulnerability

Boys will be boys

If we spent as much energy teaching our sons as we do worrying about our daughters, we wouldn’t need to worry so much about our daughters.

“Boys will be boys” is a cop-out. It does a disservice to all people. To girls and women, obviously, because it leads to a society where we live in perpetual legitimate fear of violence. But also to boys and men, because it dismisses them as unable to be civilized.

While we’re here… I hate the “dad’s at home with a shotgun” mentality to girls dating. Instead of being a threatening jerk to everyone, teach your daughter how to stand up for herself.

And again, teach your boys about boundaries.

Actually, let’s teach everyone about boundaries. And consent.

There are sex ed programs that go in depth into consent. Did yours? Mine sure didn’t. (Of course, my teacher also couldn’t say “masturbate” without blushing.) At least it wasn’t abstinence only.

I’m on a tangent.

Teach your children how to respect boundaries and how to take care of themselves. Model behaviors you want them to emulate. “Do as I say, not as I do” doesn’t get the results you want most of the time.

Expect better of your boys. Talk to them at least as much as you do to your girls. We’ll all be better for it.

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

Why it’s hard

We have too much physical stuff, too much emotional stuff, too much junk to eat, not enough exercise or sleep or meaningful connections with people.

Because—

Society values and promotes

  • being busy
  • being stressed
  • being underslept
  • fast food
  • large portions
  • cheap everything
  • convenient (to accommodate busy)
  • sitting
  • reactive medicine over preventative
  • pills over natural
  • social isolation

But we are society. It’s not an “other” thing. It is us.

We can push back. We can vote with our dollars (and with our votes). We can choose to swim upstream. We can choose what we buy and what we eat and how we spend time and with whom we spend time. We can choose what we say yes to and what we reject.

Our current path is not sustainable.

Who’s in?

Posted in audience participation, parenting, thoughtfulness

Worse than losing a child

I taught a hip hop class second semester last year.

Damien was one of the kids in it. He was a neat kid.

At the end of the year, 6th grade promoted, and he moved on to junior high.

Except he only went to two days (and that’s only because my district started already).

As the result of a medical condition I was unfamiliar with, last week Damien seized, hemorrhaged, and had a stroke. He underwent emergency surgery to relieve swelling on his brain and, as of Thursday night, he is brain dead.

I can’t imagine what his mom is going through right now.

In addition to dealing with that, she has two other children whose daily needs persist, as well as their new emotional needs as a result of this trauma to their family.

What could be worse?

Well, because it’s the United States, the injury is compounded by medical bills. Damien was treated at two local children’s hospitals (once as where they chose to go, once to the closest available), so they’ll bill her separately.

This post isn’t because they’re friends of mine (I’ve never met his mom and haven’t yet taught either of his siblings). It’s because I’m angry, and because my heart weeps for this woman.

Another. Fucking. GoFundMe. For medical bills.

What is wrong with us that this is OK?

I know four people quickly off the top of my head who had these to help with their cancer expenses. Those are just people I know personally.

I’ve seen countless others in my virtual path.

I could rant for a long time about this, but I’m not sure that waving my tiny fist online makes a difference. But I add my name to petitions. I add my support to people in and out of government who are working to change this system. And I encourage you to do the same.

Before you need a GoFundMe.

Before your illness or death in your family is exponentially worsened by medical bills.

(Or just because you have empathy.)

If you have a few bucks burning a hole in your pocket and would like to share them with Damien’s mom, click here to go to her GoFundMe. You can also learn there what the unfamiliar-to-me medical condition was.

Posted in audience participation, connections, ebb & flow, know better do better, mindset, motivation, parenting, physical health, thoughtfulness

Know better, do better: your dollars

The short version: my goal is to help people be educated so they can make decisions in an informed way.

I am not trying to scare people or to be a downer, though I acknowledge that these days, most of the news is bad news.

The fact is that in a capitalistic society, the main goal is to make money. The people who produce food, who create processed foods, who make cosmetics, soaps, detergents, toys, furniture, clothes are all in it to make money.

Making money is not inherently bad. We need to make money to function in society as it exists. 

But making money has become The Most Important Thing. More important than families. More important than our own or others’ health. More important than honesty or integrity.

As a result, it’s all gone to hell.

Problems in the food supply are real. Problems with the water supply are real. Problems with the chemicals in our personal care products are real. Problems with the chemicals in toys are real. Problems with the chemicals in our household goods are real.

Most of the time, the exposures are low. (Corn, soy, sweeteners including but not limited to sugar are exceptions—exposures to these are off the charts.) But when you put them all together, they’re not low at all.

Is this reality scary? Yes. Does it mean you need to live in constant paranoia? No. Does it mean you need to throw away everything and start over right now? No.

But if we all keep on living as if nothing was wrong, they’re going to keep manufacturing as if it’s OK. We pay the price with our health, our children’s health, and all aspects of the environment.

One step back from that—we can’t decide if we want to make changes or take a stand if we don’t know what’s going on.

So we need to be educated. (That’s my job! To help educate.)

Then we need to speak out with our voices. (If nothing else, online petitions take almost no time to sign.)

But even more than that, we need to speak with our dollars. Because in America, dollars speak louder than anything else.