Keeping It Simple – Never Easy, Always Worth It

chaos1

(Editor’s note: Somehow I mistook today’s daily prompt for “simplicity” when it is actually “solitary”…. will work it in somewhere. And if not, there’s always next time!)

“Nothing worth having comes easy.” — Theodore Roosevelt

Everything as we know it to be in its past or present form has come to be the result of an implemented process. Clean water is made available by filtration. Minimalism is achieved by letting go. Good relationships stem from communication, compromise. Peace is accomplished by war.

I recently wrote on the concept of intuitive eating and about how it is essentially an over thinking of a simple function. I still feel that to be the case, but thought I’d dive a little bit deeper, as I also feel that this applies to much than diet and nutrition.

Eating well, often, and with a clear head can involve reverting to the most basic of mindsets — “I’m hungry. I’m going to eat.” But it also means having the resources, the funds, and the federal regulation that allows good, affordable food to be available, to everyone. But we all know that this is not always the case around the world. 

(As an example: I recently read a U.S. news story about kids at a Florida middle school being allowed to the front of the lunch line if their parents “donated” $100. Instead of teaching impressionable minds that life rewards privilege, couldn’t we perhaps just feed the children?)

Humans are complex beings with, I feel, good intentions. We have a brain that takes up 2% of our total body weight. It receives, filters through, and absorbs massive amounts of information, and responds to internal and external stimuli, including stressors and pleasures. Science has allowed us to know so much about this powerful, complex organ — the very command center of our existence — and yet there is so much more that we don’t know. Overcomplicating things sometimes only makes sense.

Back to the outset, what is perceived as simple usually is the result of some sort of process that involves time, willingness, and resources. What is easy or more feasible for some may be very difficult or less possible for others, but it is also entirely possible.

For all you may know, real progress for our shared pain points — mental/physical, economical, political, to name a few — may merely involve more input from our heart, or gut, than over-input from from our head.

It may never be that easy, but it is almost always that simple.

Photo via Pixabay

The Difference Between Anger and Hate

sadness

“Hatred eats the soul of the hater not the hated.” — Alex Serz-Hommer

Hate is one of those words that seems to be overused to the point that people don’t remember what it really means and entails. I myself have very recently learned that there is a difference between hate and anger.

On Saturday, August 12th, a group of protesters carried out peaceful demonstration in Charlottesville, VA against a gathering of white supremacists. A woman named Heather Heyer was killed when a man reported to be a neo-Nazi allegedly drove a vehicle into these individuals.

Within the past 72 hours, I have observed many heated reactions to Heather Heyer’s death and the circumstances that surround it. Some have referred to this as ‘hate responding to hate’. However, upon close reflection, I have realized that the response is, instead, anger.

Hate and anger may look or sound the same, but there truly is a stark difference between the two. Take hearing versus listening, for example, summarized excellently by the University of Minnesota Duluth:

Hearing is simply the act of perceiving sound by the ear. If you are not hearing-impaired, hearing simply happens. Listening, however, is something you consciously choose to do. Listening requires concentration so that your brain processes meaning from words and sentences.

Likewise, anger is a mental and physiological response that peaks, then eventually tapers off to a middle ground. Anger, like joy or sadness, eventually passes. Hate, on the other hand, is a conscious, self-justified ideology, largely blind to reason. Hate takes on many forms, and often believes itself to be right above all others.

In short, anger can be reasoned with, while hate consumes.

It is important to point out that the majority of people responding on the side of Heather Heyer and the peaceful protesters is anger, and not hate.

The persons protesting that day were standing up against a proven threat to society. Peaceful protest has never been synonymous with rainbows, flowers, and unicorns; it is always brought on by strong counter feeling. But it doesn’t mean that it is fueled by hate.

A person died that day. People are tired and scared. They don’t know what to do anymore, now that threats of mortal and bodily harm have resurfaced as much more than threats on such a public, unchecked level.

This is a terrifying situation that affects all of us. A lot of people feel helpless, but it’s important to remember that hate groups are still very much the minority. It all may seem so much bigger than those who fight against it, and yet it is still being fought.

I am hopeful that the majority will remain angry enough to stand up for what is right, to call out hate for what it is, and more importantly, to make the distinction. 

And in discerning just where one’s motivation lies, I am hopeful that people will be able to spot the difference.

Why Does Everyone Hate Mondays?

monday

There are only 20 Mondays left in 2017.

I used to hate Mondays, so much so that the foreboding feeling would start to take hold on Sundays. It became so much of an issue that my significant other at the time thought it was hilarious, until he realized I wasn’t joking.

After some reflection, I realized that I hated Mondays so much because I hated my job. I didn’t hate the people, or the location or commute, or even what I did, but it just wasn’t working for me where I was in my life.

So ‘fess up. You hate your job just like everyone else in the world, and that’s the main (if not sole) reason why you hate Mondays.

So what are you going to do about it? Post a meme that adequately expresses your frustration, then grumble some more once you get to work? What good is that going to do, besides get you a few likes on Instagram?

I hate to break it to you, but there’s nothing more unattractive and uninspiring than someone who constantly complains about a situation and then does nothing to change it.

I wouldn’t go so far to say that Mondays and I are besties, but I have made an effort to not hate them anymore. This is largely because I stick to the following points as closely as possible:

1. Sleep in. If you can afford the time, give this to yourself on Monday mornings. Do you workout in the morning? A fair amount of workout programs schedule rest days on Sundays — just schedule them for Mondays and sleep in the extra hour. It feels almost as indulgent as dessert.

2. Start the day off with water. Before coffee, green tea, or apple cider vinegar shot, start with water. Sometimes the weekend  = overindulgence = not feeling too good the next day. If the damage is already done, water first. Keeping things simple often yields the best results. 

3. Balance work with play (and everything else). My natural social rhythm (and that of my friends) seems to beat from Friday night to early Sunday afternoon, giving me some wind-down time to set things up for Monday. I’ve decided to apply this to the week as well, balancing a night of laundry or practicing yoga poses with going out for dinner or a movie. Having a flexible work/play balance ends up bringing calm to the daily chaos that comes all too easily. 

On that note…

4. Take a minute for you. There are only 24 hours in the day, but five minutes here, two minutes there can really add up to something. Use whatever time you have to pause, to check in with family, or to further personal dreams and goals. Never underestimate the power of a spark.

5. Realize that everyone is feeling it. Even if you can’t see or sense it, everyone feels some variation of Monday blues. It’s just all about making it work somehow. Who wants to be known as one of “those people”, anyway — not only as someone who hates their job, but seemingly does nothing to change it? Do you really want to be that person? 

If it’s really that bad and none of the above points apply, maybe it is time to look for a new job. 

And if its not that bad, then c’mon, figure it out already. 

There are only 20 Mondays left in 2017. What are you waiting for?

Taking the Weekend Off!

On the heels of what has been a busy and ultra-productive week, I am taking the weekend off to go camping in Big Bear. It actually couldn’t be better timing, considering that the Perseid meteor shower is about to show us what it’s got. 

Will you be watching? The moon will be really bright in its first phase, but I’ve read that numerous stars should still be visible, upwards of 150 or so per hour! 

Before heading off the radar, I wanted to say thanks for sharing in the scribblings of my mind in this little corner of the internet. I’m looking forward to working these thoughts into other creative outlets soon! 

I’ll be on Twitter today before venturing off into the wilderness, but feel free to check out any recent posts while you’re here (I’d love to hear your feedback).

Have a fantastic weekend! See you on Monday.

Intuitive Eating is Eating — Period

food

The idea of “intuitive eating” has helped many recovering from eating disorders by putting a purposeful label on a naturally-occurring function of survival. However, it has also earned its place within the health and fitness world as a way to eat, usually after a fitness competition, event, or photo shoot. In fact, it has such a gimmicky sheen on it that it’s pretty much begging for clarification.

So here we go: intuitive eating is not a diet, and it is not a program. At its core, it is a well-intentioned philosophy to listen to your body’s cues, eating when it’s hungry, and not eating when it’s not.

Also known as EATING.

Therefore, in the case of the everyday individual, I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing the phrase “intuitive eating” completely eliminated from public use. Here’s why:

1. The act of eating is really not that complicated. Eating is (a) putting food into your mouth, (2) chewing or slurping it, then (3) swallowing it. Without interference, the brain and body knows what hunger means. It knows how to eat and process food — it is designed to do so. While the act of eating requires that one not ignore the signals to do so, putting the word “intuitive” in front of it is insulting to people’s intelligence. Please, let’s call a spade a spade.

2. Marketability (“shut up and take my money”). People like to feel included, and generally will do whatever it takes to rise above something weighing them down. That’s why I wasn’t shocked with “zendoodling” i.e. adult coloring books became popular within the last year. I have a coloring book myself, with some truly beautiful designs. However, I (and hopefully others) refer to it as a coloring book.

zendoodle
                                       Zendoodle pattern.

I just find there to be something inherently wrong in making a buck off of another’s desire to improve their lives. Zendoodling is just coloring, and intuitive eating is just eating. There’s no need for crutch words. Call it what it is.

And the final reason I have issue with this concept…

3. It’s yet another thing to obsess over. Clean eating. Carb cycling. Fitting macros. All green everything. Buzzwords galore and now — intuitive eating. With obsession comes wasted energy, and I find it very unfair that people who want to enjoy life on such a basic human level look up to influencers that irresponsibly spread this so-called style of eating.

I will say it again, one more time: intuitive eating is not a style or trend. It’s not even new. It is eating when you’re hungry, stopping when you’re full, and hell, maybe eating a few more bites.

Intuitive eating is eating. Enough is enough.

Just eat.

Social Media Makes the World Small. It’s Not That Deep

worldMy good friend belongs to the same dance troupe as the now-wife of my first lover, and has been for a year or so now. I know this thanks to some photos my friend has shared on Instagram. (C’est la vie.)

This past weekend, I went to a bar downtown and friended a guy who runs in the same musical circle as the childhood neighbor I’d play four-handed piano with on Tuesday nights after Bible study. (Just a happy coincidence.)

Just this afternoon at my day job, I came across the portfolio of someone whose name I immediately recognized from work I follow on social and creative media platforms. (Well, all right, then.)

I realize that these interactions pack a little less punch than, say, going to the deli or car wash and bumping into someone who just happens to be a friend of a friend of someone you used to know. However, these instances were just intimate enough that I’d be lying if I claimed that I wasn’t the least bit affected. But due to the modern web of social media, it only makes sense that these worlds would collide directly, and at times violently, into mine.

A few years ago, I might have viewed the above occurrences as chance, or maybe even a sign of the past being manifested as a present branching-off of a celestial event. I wouldn’t be the only one, either — perhaps you would feel similarly. With the wealth of exciting activity occurring in the universe this month that will continue to be observed from our vantage point on Earth, it’s only understandable. 

But let’s really think about it: Anyone can be found on the internet. As of March 2017, statistics suggest that at least half of the world’s population has access to the internet. Interactions such as the ones above are really not that random. It’s just that individually-drawn, personal associations are powerful enough in convincing people otherwise.

As for me, right now, I subscribe to the fact that the world is small as a result of the internet’s far reach — nothing more, or less. 

It’s kind of fun, fascinating, maybe even thrilling. But it’s also really not that deep.

Yoga in a Time of Zombies, Pt. 1

Cat Yoga HeadstandThere are so many obvious benefits that come from partaking in regular yoga practice — immediate (centeredness, mental clarity, improved breathing) and eventual (muscle development, flexibility and stability). From vinayasa to restorative, yoga is clearly one of the best things that a person can incorporate into their workout routines.

When thinking of yoga, though, I immediately fall victim to the Pinterest-perfect ideal  — the long, lithe figure, chill demeanor, and apartment completely free from pet dander. (You’ve seen the pins. You know what I’m talking about). More than eucalyptus or lavender aromatherapy, that particular idea of yoga instantly calms me down. I realize that this is a well-marketed image and not necessarily reality. Still, I can’t help but be sold on the idea.

This is usually where I start asking myself just how many asanas and savasanas I plan on doing in the zombie apocalypse, because the answer is probably not many. Gyms and studios will turn into sanctuaries and fitness equipment of all kinds will turn into weapons. Namaste what? All that we know now will be replaced by the need to survive.

That said, I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve tricked myself into thinking that partaking in mostly functional exercise is a most efficient way to prepare for the coming of the undead. I am more than aware that cross-training ups the ante on not just the physical, but largely the mental aspect of a workout. In either case, I’d really like my thighs to stop jiggling before civilization as we know it ceases to exist, and I’ve heard there’s a few flows for that.

What’s your favorite style of yoga? I’ve already a few options to explore and am looking forward to documenting them in this series. Topping my list is mastering pigeon pose, warrior series (especially the flow into warrior 3), and honestly just making and keeping the time to devote to practice.

Let the adventure begin, for as much time as we have left this side of turning.

Be sure to check out my zombie-tinged strength training series here:

Episode 5
Episode 4
Episode 3
Episode 2
Episode 1