Posted in know better do better, mental health, mindset, motivation, podcasts, thoughtfulness

Podcast re: addiction

There’s not a bite or a sound clip or a quote for me to pull from this podcast—there was just too much—so I’m just going to recommend listening to the whole thing.

Dax Shepard (Armchair Expert) talks with Johann Hari about his research and books exploring addiction.

Much of the information was not new to me. I already knew that the American system of shame and punishment doesn’t work (and don’t understand how that’s not obvious to everyone, honestly). I already knew other countries had put systems in place for controlled legalization and rehabilitation with stunning effects. I already knew that addicts are largely survivors of trauma and that healing the trauma is how to get rid of the addiction in those people.

I didn’t know that we knew all of that well before Nancy Reagan’s campaign.

Larger than that, I didn’t know where the War on Drugs started, despite some familiarity with jazz history. That story—fairly early in the podcast—is worth the listen, even if you don’t listen any farther. It’s horrifying.

I also found validation in some of his information. Again, not information that was new to me, but it’s always affirming to hear it from someone else.

Go listen, then come back and let’s have a conversation, shall we?

(Also, some of Dax’s arguments made me crazy, especially given some arguments he’s made on previous episodes. But that doesn’t change the fantastic content from Johann.)



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Posted in about me, know better do better, mental health, mindset, motivation


Tomorrow’s post is a recommendation for a podcast episode I’ve been listening to.

(I still have about half an hour left, and I’m not going to post about it until I’ve heard the whole thing, even though you could listen to half of what I’ve completed so far and it would be worthwhile.)

They’re talking about drug addiction, how we have the “solution” wrong, root causes, biological causes, and on and on. It’s interesting, and if Nancy Reagan was the last person you got information from about drugs, you’ll learn a lot.

I have never liked the taste of alcohol, so social drinking was never my thing. (Drinking something that tastes bad until it doesn’t taste bad any more was never a strategy that made any sense to me.)

I had straight-laced friends in high school and was either completely oblivious (which is 100% possible) or wasn’t around drugs in college (just ample liquor). The only time I recall being with someone smoking weed, I asked very hesitantly for some (because “good kid” was my badge and breaking that always involved hesitation) and was denied (because I was hesitant? saving me from myself? or saving it all for himself?).

I have often been grateful for that combination of traits, because I’m sure I’d be an alcoholic or a drug addict or both. Textbook case of addiction.

I’m super-curious about being high. But honestly, I’m afraid of liking it. Managing a food addiction is enough; I don’t need more.

(I tried getting drunk once, just to see what it was like, and didn’t enjoy it at all. I have way too much need to be in control of myself. At this point, in addition to that, loosening or removing filters would definitely not be a good thing. Especially in the contexts that friends have recommended drinking-as-survival.)

So either I’d get high and like it, which would not be good (see: addict), or I wouldn’t like it, which would scratch the itch but otherwise, meh.  (And, at this point, it’s a potential career-ender.)

So, at least for the foreseeable future, I’m out. What’s your experience?



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Posted in about me, ebb & flow, exercise, follow-up, food, know better do better, mental health, mindset, motivation, physical health, thoughtfulness

Update: accountability to self

In January, I wrote about a chart I’d made to track behaviors of health and self-care.

I had thought—or, more accurately, hoped—that seeing holes in the list would spur me to do some of the things that simply haven’t been getting done, even if the increase was to once a week, or once every other week.

It did not.

The things that were already getting done are still getting done. The things that weren’t getting done still aren’t getting done.

So now, after two-and-a-half months of using it, I need to decide: should I somehow incentivize it? (Not with things that are counterproductive!) Or let it go? Because right now, it’s not really doing anything. I mean, I’m marking things off as they get done, but I’m affirming things I already knew. No new data, no behavior change.

I haven’t decided yet. Either way, as-is, it’s not working.

Did anyone else make one? (I got a lot of messages from people who were going to.) How’s it going?


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Posted in about me, hope, know better do better, mindset, motivation, physical health

I don’t know what happens to healthy people

I have no role model in my family to show me what life looks like as an aging healthy person. I don’t know what life expectancy is.

I know one of my great-grandmothers lived to somewhere around 100 (she edited her birth certificate when she immigrated here so she could get work, so we’re not totally sure of her actual age).

I knew, to some extent, all four of my great-grandmothers, though three of them died when I was young. I don’t know how old they were. Their lives were so much different than ours, but at least I know there’s a bit of longevity in the gene pool somewhere.

And then you get into the people I knew.

There are no people in my parents’ or grandparents’ generations who kept themselves healthy.

“Vegetables” usually meant potatoes, corn, sometimes succotash. I don’t remember ever eating a salad unless it came with a meal in a restaurant.

Limited vegetables, but unlimited refined carbs (bread, cereal, pasta, white rice) and multiple servings of sugar daily (cereal, dessert with lunch, snacks, dessert with dinner, soda, other sweetened drinks).

Both grandfathers and one aunt smoked. Both grandfathers died of smoking-related cancers; my aunt died of a heart attack in her sleep in her 40s.

Everyone was relatively sedentary. One grandma never learned to drive and so did a lot of walking. When her vision started to go, she got rides to do her errands and didn’t walk any more. Her heart stopped before she was 80.

My dad played basketball and softball when I was a kid but stopped before I got to high school. We took family bike rides when I was a kid but those ended, too. He occasionally rides his bike in the summer and often takes the dog for a daily walk but that’s all.

Everyone was/is obese.

My dad’s side has the heart problems. Meds, stents, death.

My mom’s side has the auto-immune disorders and lifestyle-related health problems. Lupus, MS, Type 2 diabetes. Breast and ovarian cancers thrown in for good measure.

No one is healthy. No one has good energy. No one can go out and do stuff. And the ones who are alive aren’t that old. None have lived to be 80 (though my grandma’s twin sister is well into her 90s).

So I don’t know what happens in my gene pool when someone takes care of themselves.

Now … I’ve had cancer and treatment for it, which is a huge detriment. More than that, I’ve had chronic stress (like so many of us) and had depression on some level most of the time since adolescence. I grew up overweight and sedentary, eating Pop Tarts and Apple Jacks for breakfast, having ice cream or cookies or both for dessert after lunch and dinner. A diet of meat, bread, and sugar.

While I’ve substantially changed that, my formative years were unhealthy. That takes a toll.

So I know I’m not going to be the model for good health. But I hope I can still do better than the paths I see forged ahead of me.

According to my mom, diet has nothing to do with weight—weight gain comes from not having enough time to exercise.

My dad didn’t get a fire lit under his butt by his sister’s death, his mom’s death, his stent put in.

I’m fortunate to be an apple that did roll from the tree. I recognize that I have a huge part in how well my body works, and whether that gives me extra years or “just” lets me be active in the years I’ve got, it’s worth it.

Spending the time and energy to eat well, spending the time and energy to exercise regularly, to get enough sleep (I’m still not the best at this, but improving), to manage stress (I’m still terrible at this but working on it) are worth it.

Because I see my path without it, and I choose to Robert Frost it and take the path less travelled by.


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Posted in gratitude, motivation, thoughtfulness, vulnerability

Better than kind words at a funeral

I wrote this three years ago:

Last weekend, my high school band teacher passed away. Since then, a group formed where tons of people who knew him (mostly former students) have posted memories. A [high school] band reunion is in the planning stages.

I can’t help but think how much impact it would have had for all of these tributes to be said to him. Or how much more fun a reunion would have been with him there.

My message tonight is: if there’s someone who has influenced you and you haven’t told them yet, do it! Bonus points if you get others to do it with you. (What would be better than an unexpected influx of thank yous??)

And if a reunion of sorts is in order, arrange it while the members are around to participate. You just don’t know when it will be too late.

The reunion did happen. It wasn’t at a time or place I could go (or wasn’t a high enough priority for me to go).

Even within the constraints of time and money, a group “thank you” could be organized for a person who isn’t dead. Cards, letters, pictures sent to one collector who could organize them into a binder or scrapbook or something. (I did this for The Tall Daddy’s birthday a couple of years ago; he loved it.) Electronic would be better than nothing, but something tangible is better than that. Added points for handwritten, and for photos.

Who do you know has touched many lives? Whose funeral would draw hundreds (or more) of people? Why not honor them now, while they’re still here? Do it, then report back on how it went.


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