We’re headed to Europe this June, and I can hardly contain my excitement.
He’s a really fun second half. He likes my cat, though he’d never admit it and most frequently refers to him as “the rodent.”
I’ve been reaching out to the local community a lot over the past few months, and am so inspired and grateful for the connections I’ve made. I’m sure that running my own business will continue down the same bumpy road, but I’m glad for the company. Continue Reading
My January first came with an awesome sense of renewal. I was surprised because I have spent hours convincing myself that the year end is purely arbitrary and that I should treat every day as a fresh start (if one is needed). But I can’t deny the freshness I felt on January 1st and the hope that this year would hold even more awesomeness than those previous.
I am someone who has a lot of projects. I asked a new friend at a party over the holidays, “What are you constantly obsessed with?” Julia pointed out that that is a weird question. Other people may not have constant obsessions, projects dominating their brain. I have to wonder how that feels. Maybe a little calmer. Continue Reading
I heard a tale of a man named Saint-Simon. Every morning his valet would wake him and say, “Arise, sir!! You have great things to do today!”
We can’t all have a valet to wake us with such inspiring words. I created this little reminder of how awesome you are out of little bits of a Soap Opera Digest. The high resolution version is below. Download it, print it out, frame it and look at it every day and smile. Or make it your desktop background!
We all deserve to be reminded of how awesome we are as often as possible. The world will conspire to bring us down– let’s work together to stay afloat!
I’ve had a rocky couple of months, and it’s been hard on my life, my optimistic nature and my relationship. Somewhere along the line I started seeing Geraldine Shute, LAc, over at Deep Healing Acupuncture*.
At first we were just addressing my intense arm pain (due to overambitious work habits), but after a few months we delved into the physical reasons for my mood swings, which, it must be admitted, were starting to rule my life.
She recommended the following changes:
Sunshine in the Morning
Get twenty minutes of sunshine in before 10 a.m.. I chose to do this with a morning walk. It sounds so simple, but for someone who works at home, it was a challenge to leave the house before the work day was over, and now that it’s dark at 5pm, that means greeting a world shrouded in night.
Morning sunshine does more than just create Vitamin D3; it signals your brain to stop producing a sleepy neurochemical, and to start producing serotonin (which makes you feel good!!). Having specialized in brain chemistry in college, I immediately recognized this usefulness. Serotonin is essential to being happy, and is produced by exercise, video games and lots and lots of addictive drugs. Who knew we could stimulate its production just by getting a little morning sunshine??
Omega Supplements with added Vitamin D3
Your brain is comprised of tons and tons of lipids, or fats. Mine is too. We live in a world where it’s hard to get Omega 6’s (an essential form of fat) as I’m sure you’ve heard. Taking Omega supplements will provide your brain with a coating of lipids.
I like to look at it as a little Omega buffer between you and the world. You know how if you have an open wound, and you brush against something, or something pokes it, how much it hurts? You know how little it hurts if you have a band-aid on? That’s what I understand Omega supplements do for you. Without it, your brain reacts more harshly to upsets than need be. Introduce some daily Omega supplements and you’re golden.
It must be noted that it takes two weeks of daily Omega supplements to feel the effects fully. I’m on day 8 and I feel better. For serious.
Not all Omega supplements are created equal. My acupuncturist recommends Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega with D3, which is comprised of fish oil, something your body easily digests and incorporates into the brain. Of course, it does come with some fishy burps on occasion, but it’s a small price (in my opinion) for feeling better and can be avoided by taking them with meals.
An added benefit to choosing Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega with D3 is that they also contain Vitamin D3, mentioned above, and will help replicate some of that sunshiney feeling in you. Can’t argue with that.
GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain; this means that it has a calming effect. For those who are prone to stressing out, a GABA supplement taken as needed can help calm the overworked anxiety systems. Geraldine does warn, however, that there should be some caution taken when introducing GABA to your diet. I know from my history in neurochemistry that introducing any neurotransmitter regularly will effect your brain’s normal production, a delicate balance that we often mess with but needs to be respected. She suggests that you consult a medical practitioner before incorporating GABA supplements, but also notes that you can pick it up at any drugstore (or on Amazon by following my links).
I’ve found that happy music, singing in the morning, and punctuating my day with Zumba youtube dance videos (dance along, it’s fun!) and jumping jacks, keeps my spirits up in the face of adversity.
If Geraldine hadn’t asked me to start paying attention to my moods, I wouldn’t have noticed that the days when I walk in the morning I’m happier than the others, or that I am known to go from singing in the rain to bawling at a cell phone commercial within an hour. I always thought that my moods were in charge of me, and that is not an empowering way to view the world. Taking charge of my moods by noticing my triggers and what helps or doesn’t has been a powerful tool in feeling good.
I leave you with Levon Helm’s song, Feelin’ Good. A man who faced throat cancer, recovered, and has released three albums since, I find him a continual inspiration. Though this song may arguably be about using retail therapy to feel good, I like it and it makes me feel good. I would love to hear from you what songs make you feel good!
*It has to be noted that it was with a sorry heart that I didn’t continue seeing Christine Friel, LAc, at Double Happiness Health. The trek to Potrero Hill was more than my weakened state could take twice a month, but I recommend her very highly. For the east bay folks, I also highly recommend Geraldine. Message me for more info!
Yesterday was a bummer of a day for a laundry list of reasons that I’d rather not get into.
I was brought up with the beliefs that one has power over their own mind: when you’re in the depths of despair the shining sun is a curse on the world, when you’re happy as a clam, no amount of rain could pull your spirits down. That’s a bit of an oversimplification, but the ethos is basically, when you’re bummed, try to feel better. If you’re stuck in thoughts that make you feel bad, stretch your mind to find a thought that feels better–even very marginally. Once you get even that millimeter closer to a better feeling thought, you’ll have access to even better feeling thoughts.
My philosophy and cognitive science education proved to strengthen my beliefs in the power of thought. In particular, Heidegger’s philosophy of the mind rings true and supports this. He points out that if you’re thirsty, everywhere you look you will see the possibility of quenching your thirst. Or, if you’re tired and on a long hike, a boulder that otherwise would have blended into the background jumps out at you as a place to finally rest.
I noticed last night that I was stuck in a place where everything looked like failure. I’ve been spinning my wheels on a few projects, and it’s lasted far longer than I ever would have expected or hoped. When it came time to do the dishes and then take off for my evening activity, I knew that I needed something to lift my spirits. The song I chose to facilitate this was “Fill Your Heart” by David Bowie.
He sings, “Fill your heart with love today…things that happened in the past only happened in your mind. Forget your mind and you’ll be free…Lovers never lose because they are free of thoughts unpure and unkind…”
The mind is a powerful organ, one capable of ruminating about failures and embarrassments ad infinitum. I like this notion that if you fill your heart with love (try it! It feels great) you almost are out of room for the brains obsessive ponderings. The feeling left instead makes room for forgiveness of ones self and others, and celebration of your own power.
I’ve been sick this week, and whenever I get sick I question my motives for being self-employed. I remember what it was like to be able to call in sick and not worry about it. Sure, there were responsibilities, and there were often stresses associated with taking a sick day (especially under deadlines!). Ultimately, though, my paycheck would come and the organization would survive if I didn’t show up for a few days.
Even though I didn’t feel well, I did whatever I could over the past few days. Monday I worked, Tuesday I polished a pet portrait, yesterday I cleaned the house. Then, in a fit of exhaustion sat on the couch for the rest of the day–arguably where I should have been the whole time.
As I sat there watching Arrested Development for probably the fifteenth time, I got to thinking about the ladies and gentlemen of Victorian England, whom I know quite well through Jane Austen’s delightful novels. Each morning they choose what to do that day–be it wandering through expansive gardens, playing the piano, a bridge game, or taking a few days and traveling to Bath for a holiday. I thought it was unfair that they should have so few worries, and I said so this morning at breakfast with Will.
Will pointed out that that kind of leisure time has its downsides. Without work to preoccupy this leisure class, they invented problems out of sheer boredom. I remember well that the problem of when (and who) a lady will marry was quite an ordeal in Jane Austen’s account.
The choice, then, is whether to suffer daily from boredom, or suffer daily from the stresses and challenges associated with a working life. The choice, that is, in a theoretical sense; as I was not born to wealthy family in the era of Victorian England, I am left to only daydream about how it might feel to be so thoroughly without responsibility.
Preoccupied as I am with my cold and daydreams of Victorian England, I have spent the day humming the song “That Lucky Old Sun”, which wonderfully captures the essence of this envy for leisure. I am hardly the first, and I won’t be the last, to spend an afternoon coveting the lifestyle of those whose days and nights are idle.
The BP oil spill fiasco seems to have fallen off our radar a bit, though the disaster is far from over. Will tells me spills of that magnitude have happened before on other, not so affluent off-shore eco-systems. Our Earth seems to have handled it; indeed if the last one was in the seventies, we ought to know if it hadn’t.
I can’t imagine seeing in the past those sickening images of pelicans and dolphins covered in oil, and having to see them again thirty years later. Those images are forever burned in my memory, and I imagine in yours too. I toyed with the idea of doing a Van Gogh My Pet series of oil slicked creatures, but I have never enjoyed portraying sadness and despair. It’s hard to imagine that our world would recover, and it’s rather sickening to me how little we hear about the continued fallout. I (perhaps conveniently) blame the media for our short attention span.
For the past few months, I’ve been obsessed with David Bowie. OBSESSED. Initially it was one of his earliest albums, Hunky Dory, on continual repeat, which was replaced after an appropriate amount of time with his subsequent album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars. This album is a rock and roll opera, which Bowie intended to form the backbone of a stage show or television production (and it still should be).
The first track, Five Years, relates the devastating news that Earth’s days are numbered. Finitely numbered, in fact, with only five years to go. We’ve used up all our natural resources. Adults have given up; kids are left to plunder and ravage what’s left of the Earth.
The reality in their world seemed so hauntingly similar to our current situation, and so many other environmental situations I’ve worried and fretted about. This oil spill debacle seemed to me so much bigger than anything else. People close to me suggested that this spill would ruin the Southern portion of the United States, forcing a mass migration. The oil could be displaced via hurricanes and wind up poisoning our entire water supply. Crops could fail and even the salmon swimming happily in the Klamath River would sport a shiny black coat. Even without employing my overactive imagination, people were (are) out of work, and animals are dying (still!).
My favorite of the album is the fourth track, Starman. We learn of a being, “waiting in the sky; he’d like to come and meet us but he thinks he’d blow our minds.” He knows how to help us, but is afraid we might be be unwilling to accept him or his knowledge–a valid concern. I’ve heard so many rumors of BP executives ignoring advice; as humans, we think, we feel, and we are stubborn.
Opening our ears, the Starman tells us “not to blow it cause he knows it’s all worthwhile.” A glimmer of hope! No matter how dark our reality might be, it is still worthwhile–life is still worthwhile. We still love, we can still laugh.
The Starman continues, “let the children lose it, let the children use it.” And it is so true; we are merely the stewards of our home. It is our children who will inherit it when we are gone. They have the freedom to do with it what they will, just as we have the freedom to do to it what we will. If we consider how it affects those following in our footsteps, perhaps we would take different paths.
As a Girl Scout, I have always been taught to take care of my surroundings. When I leave a camp site, I pick up as many pieces of trash as I can find–far more, indeed than I have left there. I know that the people who are camping there next will probably destroy it again, but I can only do what I can do. I think Starman would want it that way.
To honor this ambassador of hope I created this work:
I started with EJ DiMira’s body, which I cut out of Soap Opera Digest (quite an inspiration for me of late), added some images from Wikimedia Commons, and Photoshop flares to create his body. I had it printed on this crazy metallic paper that adds just the faintest glimmer to finish the piece.
Will wants me to send one to David Bowie. Julia challenged me to find his address, which ten seconds on google yielded (though I will probably only reach his publicist).
I’ve taken this as a challenge to create a triad of David Bowie inspired art, that will likely include elements from Soap Opera Digest. Once the triad is finished, and only then, will I send them to David Bowie. He has a habit of supporting unknown and budding artists. I have a daydream that perhaps one day he will have to phone someone and he will pick on me.