Monday, October 19, 2015

Shame on ME

An opinion piece on New York Times piqued my interest recently. It was titled, "This Column is Gluten Free."

Now, if you followed this blog for any length of time, you would know I was diagnosed with celiac disease years ago and have managed my diet ever since. My diagnosis was pretty graphic as every time I would eat gluten, my overloaded system would respond with some sort of extreme reaction such as angioedema (large hives) that covered the bottom of one foot. So needless to say, I tend to read lots of articles that provide strategies to keep that from happening again.

But this article was different. This highlighted how individuals use food allergies to further
perpetuate the ME culture.

If you are unaware of this phenomenon, the ME culture is something that started tangentially by the baby boomers and has lifted to new heights with millennials thanks to constant social media pandering. Facebook is the number one social media platform for marketing because it is so widely used, you get unprecedented access to people's lives. This is followed closely by Instagram, a platform solely dedicated to the selfie.

Sadly, this isn't just a millennial issue. As a social media manager, I'm required to have three social media accounts of my own to do my job. I chose Facebook, Twitter and Instagram which  call 
the triumpherant.  It's hard not to notice that everyone is obsessed with themselves, including many of my peers. When they aren't photographing their face, it's their kids, their food, their dogs, etc.

Now before you blast me, I have taken a selfie or two. I have even
run a blog for over a decade that chronicles my bathroom habits, terrible things my kid says, my obsession with the Foo Fighters, my divorce and subsequent dating and the time I nicked an nipple.

Those who live in glass houses should not drink whiskey, strip naked and wander around reading trashy magazines... or however that saying goes.

Either way, it still seems as a society we have a problem with ME. We use twitter to bash and revile someone we don't even know because WE must share our opinion. We put a book by a woman with no discernible skills but who can take selifes on the New York Times Bestseller's list. We even
stage Instagram photos to make our life seem way more exciting than it is.

Now the thing that makes us special, highlights the ME, is your raging, possibly fake food allergy.

"...most conspicuously in the most aggressive, competitive, unequal, individualistic, anxiety-ridden and narcissistic societies, where enlightenment about food has been offset by the sort of compulsive anxiety about it that can give rise to imagined intolerances and allergies."

Isn't it about time to stop??

Friday, August 14, 2015

Summer of free play

This summer I conducted a little social experiment. Other than vacations, I scheduled myself and the ball of fire to do nothing! That's right, not one camp, class, sport or volunteer activity. Zero scheduling. 

Things did not go quite as planned.

First some back ground. Since my son was four we have partook in some form of extra activity. Soccer, swimming, lego classes, art classes, volunteering for Harvesters, vision therapy, tutoring and Sylvan. All had their time and purpose to enrich, engage or advance skills. But it also resulted in very little time at home in the evenings, soccer tournaments all weekend on Mother's Day weekend and many late night crying sessions because there was still cleaning, laundry and chores to be done. (Yes, that was me.) 

Everyone of those activities had value. I'm glad we did them. Eventually we will do them all again in some form. But not this summer. 

I was reading a great article recently on overbooked Americans. The author boldly suggested that being "busy" was being a "lazy" person. How is that possible? Busy seems the antonym of lazy. He suggested that it was lazy in the fact that you spent no time developing yourself, meditating, spending time in silence, reading, relaxing. Basically you were on autopilot so often that your brain was becoming lazy. 

This spoke to me. It was exactly the feeling that predicated the summer of free play. We had days and days of summer to do nothing but run in the sprinker (me) or wade in the creek (ball of fire.) 

Now, where we went awry is that we are one of the FEW families on the planet who don't schedule. Many attempts at pool days with friends or sleep overs were thwarted by baseball, swim team, birthday parties or soccer camp. More often than not, it was me and the BOF rambling around the yard or watching movies. Often he would play outside alone, imagining some quest that ended in an epic battle with dragons. 

But I stuck to my guns. No scheduling. He vacationed with me, his dad and spent his customary week on the farm with my parents. He had a schedule, it was just very loose and generous. 

This week I asked him if he had a good summer, as school is looming just a mere three weeks away. He looked at me, smiled and said "Mom, it was one of the best summers yet!"

Maybe this social experiement can be called a success after all. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

I'll be Healthy if it Kills me

Because I eat a gluten free diet, I'm probably a little more aware of the stuff I put in my mouth than most. But I admit I do just enough not to break out in hives and that's about it.

Recently I had a series of health "issues" (i.e. not really scares but more than problems and a few that made me think I should revise my will) that made me rethink the healthy eating plan.

Those same health "issues" also raised my anxiety level from its normal yellow (fine -- organge) to full on RED. 

So I took evasive action. 

The problem is that eating healthy, taking the right supplements, getting a minimum of 30 minutes a day of exercise, sleeping 8 hours a night, drinking five bazillion gallons of water while giving up sugar and caffeine makes me feel like shit. Mega shit.

Let's start with the supplements: 

  • Magnisium must be taken two full teaspoons but preferably at night and with Vitamin C which is better taken on a full stomach in the morning with breakfast when you take 900 milligrams of fish oil, a probiotic for colon health, and B12 which helps with energy efficiency at the cellular level.
  • Vitamin D helps with anxiety and is best taken at night but also get plenty of natural viatmin D (sunshine) but wear sunscreen to protect from skin cancer but oh by the way, that blocks the vitamins.
  • Olive oil when taken a spoonful at a time will ease digestion but too much will give you an "active" bowl. 
  • Three teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in a full glass of water at room temperature will help balance your stomach acid and make your vagina smell like roses but too much will upset your delicate PH and cause yeast overgrowth. 

On to diet:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables but not the ones that are too large or too perfect because they are likely from genetically modified seeds which could or could not cause cancer but no one really knows because there is no proof one way or another. 
  • Meats, mostly lean white althought you need some red meat for iron but not too much because it will cause fat to build up around your heart and did I mention the antibiotics in the meat so free range or grass fed is best and yes it's more expensive but it's YOUR HEALTH. 
What about excercise:
  • Cardio is good but don't run because it will cause saddle bags if you have the wrong shoes, which let's face it, you do, unless you were specially fitted with the RIGHT shoes with orthotics that cost as much as you spent on college. 
  • Weight lifting is better but make sure you have proper form because one twist in the wrong direction and that knee that bothers you sometimes will pop and that's a minimum surgery with six week recovery in your future. 
  • Too much excercise and the wrong balance of calories will lead your body to starvation mode in which it STORES fat in your ass and stomach just in case. Or you will lose weight but not in the right places which will cause other places (and why the stomach always??) to bulge. 
  • Excercise helps anxiety but meditation is better. Meditation is hard. And I suck at it. 
There is one solution to all these ills that seems to fit. Whiskey: 
  • Alcohol in moderation is beneficial. I can't hold my liquor so I am forced to moderate. 
  • It makes me sleep. Sleep is good. 
  • Whiskey chills me out. Anxiety abated. 
  • I can run when I drink, but it's funny. Laughter is the best medicine. 
I think we have our winner. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Social Offensive

I always say that real life is much more interesting than fiction. You can't make this stuff up. 

So it's only logical that we could live in a world where we debate whether a woman punched in the head so hard it knocks her unconscious "deserved it," and still throw a temper tantrum about a work of fiction that shows a female abuse victim exacting revenge. 

But I digress. This post isn't about the continued imbalance in the battle of the sexes. It's about the rise of "social media me." 

At what point did your opinion become something I have to care about? Or mine to you for that matter? 

As someone who operates in the social media realm daily for work, I am often overwhelmed by opinions. Facebook, twitter, instagram have become platforms to spew hate for politics, parenting, television, movies, novels and ESPECIALLY, the actions of others. 

Thanks in no small part to social media, society has become so self-obsessed with sharing their every thought that it's become a constant noise of negative complaint and criticism for every single thing. 

It's amazing how often someone tweets or messages my company to outline all the ways in which we are clearly morons. Thanks to this dear soul who is obviously superior and willing to take the time to outline our many offenses and idiocy. Oh praise be and bless you for fixing our errant ways. (Is there a sarcasm font, I wonder?)

It has become so pervasive, it's now a regular skit on late-night television to have actors or athletes read aloud the tweets of the horrible things people say about them. Inane. (And secretly funny.)

Now I pause to recognize the irony of the fact that I'm blogging my negative opinion. But as this IS my blog, I
let my rant stand.

Obviously there is really only one solution for this. Leave social media behind. So began my slow retreat earlier this year. 

Again, as this is my business, I have to stay somewhat involved, but I have stripped away those that leave that negative swirl in their wake. Re-tooled my twitter to become a news RSS feed. Unfollowed most people on Facebook, picked up more food, drinks, art and fashion. 

I'm happy to say my experiment in social media regression has been more positive. I imagine the refinement will be more extreme during election year but for now I get guitars, and Pink Floyd and Mary Cassatt. I can live with that. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Life’s little listy

I’ve been a list maker all my life. Grocery list, honey-do list, what-to-pack-on-my-trip list, birthday-party list, hell I even make errands-to-run lists. A former partner called them my “little listies.”

My list is purposeful, meant to keep me on track. It delivers a clear outline of what I need
and what to do, with a glance. It is NOT a primer for journalism.

Hold on, what? Yes, journalism. 

Lately I’m overwhelmed but the number of articles I read that are actually a regurgitated, or worse, opinion-based list. 

Even my beloved NPR has fallen into the pseudo list category, theirs with a fancy video and infographic, of course.

When I discuss with my journalist friends the state of the current media (abysmal!) we tend to agree that the 24/7 news cycle may be one of the worst thing that has ever happened to news. We simply cannot fill the need to consume. So the industry has resorted to the most base, useless writing tactic: the little listy.

Gone is research, investigation, interviewing, craft and editing. Instead you have a list that when put into practical use means you spend most of your day making a list, exercising, getting good sleep, meditating, shopping at the farmers market, clipping coupons, surrounding yourself with POSITIVE people ONLY and staring deeply in your children’s eyes so they can see you hear their needs.

Another triumph for shitty journalism.

That’s not to say that I don’t read anything meaningful any more. I do. The interview with Gary Oldman in Playboy magazine was great! But it was because of Gary Oldman, not the interviewer.

And I continue my love affair with Pope Francis.

Oh and yes, there is a list for him also. “10 Things to Remember When Pope Francis Upsets You.” 

I’ve dedicated to two things in my life recently: less social media and more personal engagement. I’m adding to that list, "don’t read stories that are just lists."

I’ve read that one of the habits of highly successful people is that they make lists. Know where I read that? Yep, on a list. 

Here’s a list of some of the traits of successful people, just in case you were wondering.

Or just in case, try this one.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Love’s Labor is Not Lost

It’s been two years since my granny passed away. It’s funny how time moves so fast while we seem to trudge through it. Two years gone. How many years before that lost to Alzheimers? Too many.

I had a particularly close relationship with my grandparents. I practically lived with them as a child, then I did live with them my first year in college. After my granddad passed away, I again lived with granny until I was married.

After she was gone, I started thinking about the things I wish I had of hers. When she was alive, I felt it was grotesque to take her things. Like she would somehow snap out of dementia and need them all again. Now I wish I had just a few.
One in particular was an old metal glider that sat on the back patio. She and grandpa would drink coffee, smoke cigarettes and glide every morning. After he passed away, she could be found there often – sitting on his side – smoking, drinking coffee and gliding.

She sat there while grandbabies played in the small pool at her feet. She sat there in the evenings a few times when she had wine. I joined her there for her afternoon smoke in the summer when I came home from class before I zipped off to work.
And always, we would glide.

For my 40th birthday, I asked my mom for one present, this rusty old glider. It was not granny’s, but it is reminiscent enough to fill my needs.

It was a weekend’s labor to sand, strip, paint and finish it. (That whole "lead-based paint thing".. yeah.)

My goal was not only to have a reminder, but a place holder for the next generation. I want my family to sit next to me and glide while I drink my coffee every morning, talk about my tomatoes or read my book in the sunshine.

I need my son to find his spot on the glider. And maybe when I'm gone, he will take this piece of me to his house for his children and grandchildren to remember. 

It was a labor of love, but it was worth it to replace a small piece of her that was lost. 

Friday, April 04, 2014

Lyrical Note Poetry

When I was in high school, then later college, I learned the lost art of shorthand. It’s a skill I used to take notes in class, during my time as a reporter and has followed me to every communications job thereafter.

While I rarely use the technique any more, I’m a still a prodigious note taker. All meetings, events, training, parent-teach conferences -- even church – will find me with a notebook, back of a flyer or spare grocery receipt taking my notes.

I also listen to music when I write, which is pretty much all day long. Combine those two and I will regularly jot down song lyrics as they strike me.

This week I went through my notebook sorting notes and adding them to the various project folders. As I went I transcribed every song lyric. The result is a very loving, pseudo-stalker-but-with-loving-intentions poem.
Love, love is something I believe in
I’ve seen her walking home alone,
Get back temptation
Do you know who you really are, are you sure it’s really you?
Come away little lamb come away to the slaughter,
To the ones appointed to see this through.
Lay me down, let me go
I'm feeling heavy, the ground is cold
Pardon me for being so cruel,
But the general consensus, you see, is that I fucking rule
I’m looking right at the other half of me
The vacancy that sat in my heart
Is a space that now you hold
She got that good love, she give it just to me
Oh what a lovely day, breaking the chains of love
Hoping you won’t find a new love
Cause I know baby, you’re mine

In addition I also found some very unprofessional comments I made to myself. I’m sure myself agreed with them all.
  • “This looks really basic and a waste of time for us."
  •  “Why no water on the table? Lame!”
  •  “I hate her.”
  • “Why does she wear so much make up?”