November 23, 2015

Vitamin D and Light: Take The SAD Out Of Winter And Get Your Life Back!

Please note that I am NOT a doctor and all the information here is based on my own experience and research. Always check with your own doctor before making any changes to your overall health routine!

Every year, I dread the winter because I have a love/hate relationship with it.

I love the endless cozy days where all you want to do is curl up next to a fire while reading a good book…

…but I hate the sluggishness, fatigue, inability to concentrate, and melancholy that come with the darker, shorter winter days!
Turn that frown upside down!

Scientists call this condition “Seasonal Affective Disorder” (SAD). I think people generally think of SAD as a disorder or a defect. We think of it as something that is wrong with us that we must fix.

However - I believe the real root of SAD is the conflict between the requirements of our society versus our innate biological programming.

Our society requires us to work 40 hours a week and maintain a relatively high level of activity all year long. This is at odds with our biological programming which causes us to slow down as the days get shorter in winter. Traditionally in winter, people on the farm would stay indoors more, and their activity levels and working hours would reduce after the harvest in parallel with the reduced daylight hours.

Today though, we are required to maintain our full-time work hours all year long along with staying fit and keeping an active social life! It’s a lot, and we can often end up depressed and feeling like failures because we’re told that we should be able to be just as productive in the winter as we are in the summer - but the reality is that we aren’t naturally wired to live this way in winter.

Since you’re likely not independently wealthy and have to work full-time for the whole year, you need some adaptations to get through the winter months while keeping your activity levels and productivity the same. I’ve tried many, many different things over the past 15 years to combat my own SAD. And I believe I’ve finally been successful in finding what works for me. So I want to share my method with you in the hopes that you can start enjoying life again, too!

November 17, 2015

Stop Shaming People In Their Sorrow.

With the tragedy in Paris and the outpouring of grief from the West has unfolded this standard pattern of discourse:
  1. Westerners are shocked at what has happened in a sister Western country.
  2. Westerners express their grief and sadness at what has happened.
  3. Other people shame them for expressing their grief because there are so many other tragedies for which there have not been  equal outpourings of grief and sadness.
There are three main reasons why Westerners react with visceral sorrow for Paris, but less so for the other recent tragedies:
  1. Violence in many parts of the world, such as Beirut, is normal. We hear about acts of terrorism and violence every day in places like Beirut and Israel, and have been for decades now. Our brain circuitry is hard-wired to be shocked by new stimuli and information, but then to develop a tolerance to it so that repeated exposure doesn’t elicit the same intense reaction. This is a basic survival mechanism. If for every stimulus we experienced, we experienced the same intense reaction at every exposure that we did at our first, we would not survive because the simple act of daily living would overwhelm us.

    The type of shooting in Paris is shocking precisely because it is new. 



    From my own perspective, I’m not at all content with violence being the norm in places like Beirut. But I’ve sadly become numb to it now. It seems like it will never end. So years ago, I stopped getting emotionally invested in the violence there because it was too much. I am only human, after all.



November 14, 2015

How To Beat The Terrorists.

Important note: When I use the term "terrorist", I mean ANYONE who commits acts of mass murder or violence to instil fear in people. To me, the college shooter at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, USA is just as much a terrorist as the ISIS men who went on a shooting spree in Paris, France.

As I read about the horrific Paris terrorist shootings last night, I felt a small part of me that has lived  in willful and blissful ignorance die. I now no longer believe that by living in a Western country, I am somehow immune to terrorism. I know it seems obvious that none of us are immune to terrorism. But a small part of me has, since 9/11, fought against the idea that it could happen to me - to us.

The Paris shootings have forced me to accept that terrorists are among us always - and they can spring into action at any time. 

My knee-jerk reaction is to react in fear, to think, "What can I do to protect myself and those whom I love?" To want to buy a gun. To let the fear fill me and take over my life. 

But I won't do this. I refuse to do this.

Instead, for every bullet the terrorists fire, I will dive into my life harder. I will love harder. I will feel my feelings harder. I will enjoy my time with my fiancé more. I will value my friendships more. I will enjoy books and drinking chocolate on rainy Saturday mornings. I will call my parents more often. I will savour every moment I get to drive in my Mustang with the top down more. I will take more risks in my life to spend my creative energy and to be happy.

And I will do this so that even if my life ends with a terrorist's bullet piercing my heart, I will know that I have beaten the terrorist.

Because while he will have lived his life in fear, anger, paranoia, and hatred, I will have lived my life from a place of love, freedom, and creation. They can't take that away from me, not if I live these things with my last dying breath.

It is horrific what has happened in France. So take some time to go to a café, to have a croissant, and to say a prayer for Paris. They need this from us right now.

And then... Go out into the world and eat, drink, be merry, and make love - because all these things are the only way as individuals to fight terrorists without becoming them.

Vive la France!



September 18, 2015

Giving The Finger To Getting Jacked: It's YOUR Body, Not Theirs.

A friend of mine posted a link on Facebook about the “Spornification” of male beauty standards:

Spornosexual:
A man who works to have the body of “modern porn-stars, sports heroes and of course, movie stars… the lean-yet-jacked look has become the [ultimate display] of masculinity”.


A stock photo of the Spornosexual.
This is the male body type our culture is now pressuring men to conform to. It’s an entirely artificial, completely unnatural “designer” body type. To maintain the spornosexual body, a man has to work out obsessively and stick to a diet that borders on religious doctrine.

Now, before I continue, one important clarification…

If you actually enjoy the military-style life that getting jacked requires, if to you building such a body is a passion, an interest, something that makes you happy in your heart of hearts… If body-building for you is a fun, enjoyable pastime… You can stop reading now. Good day, sir, and happy [kettlebell] snatch to you!

But if you are stuck on the gym treadmill, if when you look at yourself in the mirror, you feel nothing but contempt and disappointment at your apparent failure to get “fit” or “jacked”, keep on reading. If you’ve ever let out a wan sigh, and bemoaned your “gaining 10 pounds” and “feeling hideous and fat” as a result, keep on reading.

I see guys who work hard to maintain this jacked-spornosexual body type. From what I can tell, it’s a full-time job. Hours at the gym. Endless plates of greens and boneless-skinless chicken breasts. Self-flagellation publicly shared if they eat a piece of cheese cake. I see updates on their lowered body-fat percentages, their trimmer waists, their bench press gains, and so on. Photos of 6-packs, legs, arms, and more. It seems to me they’ve commoditized themselves into a collection of body parts that they, and others, rate in value.

I wonder, “Has this man placed the foundation of his self-esteem onto his physical body? What is going to happen to him as he ages, or if he has an injury? Will he feel unworthy as a man, and undeserving of love if this happens?"

"Will the people who profess to love him, but only began to love him when he became ‘jacked’… Will these people abandon him?”

September 4, 2015

So A Gay Guy Walks Into A Redneck Bar…

I’d been in Minnesota for the past week for work, and I decided to stay through the weekend to hike and hang out at a lake. Friday rolled around, and after a dip in the quarry near the office, I was sitting in my car deciding how to spend my evening.

My client had told me about a country/western bar out on the east end of town. She said it was very “authentic”. I popped onto the bar’s website, and it turned out that there was a country band playing that night. I decided to go because I like a good bit of country music now and again.

I got in my car and headed east of town, where the bar was.

When I first saw the bar as I pulled up to it, I thought for just a moment, “Maybe I should turn around and go back into town…”

I was about to go full-on redneck.

You see, my client was NOT kidding when she said it was authentic. So authentic in fact, that the bar had the word “Redneck” in its sign out front. And a GIGANTIC “Budweiser” sign on the side. And a “Harley-Davidson” sign in bright neon lights. The parking lot was filling up with massive, loud pickup trucks. 

I parked and steeled myself in my car for a minute. Perhaps my fear was a irrational. But perhaps not. I've read about, heard about, and experienced the obstinate, irrational hate in redneck communities and so walking into a place like this wasn’t necessarily an easy thing to do.

I took in a deep breath and got out of the car. As I walked towards the bar, an older guy smiled at me.

“Nice car!” he said as he gestured towards my Camaro.

“Thanks! They’re pretty great cars,” I said. The short exchange calmed me down a bit.

I walked through a set of double doors, into the bar. And then saw a sign right there, proudly displayed for everyone to see as they walked in. I wish I’d taken a photo of the sign - but it said things like:
“Warning! This is an All-American bar.”
“There are going to be guns in here.”

There were Confederate flags peppered throughout the space. Good ol’ General Lee was on the wall.

I felt really, really out of place. I did not belong here, and boy, did I feel it! I didn’t feel out of place because people were throwing weird glances my way or anything like that, though. It was because as I looked around…

...I realized this was the straightest space I’d been in in a long, long time.


August 27, 2015

"AM I BACKWARDS FOR THINKING GAY MARRIAGE SHOULD NOT BE LEGALIZED?"

A couple of months ago, before SCOTUS made its ruling I posted a response on Quora.com to the question, "Am I backwards for thinking gay marriage should not be legalized?" The post, as far as I could tell, was taken down by Quora's admins because it violated their "nice" policy.


Gay marriage YAAASSS!!
Funny coincidence, but I had already decided on posting this on my blog yesterday, when a slip in Facebook privacy settings made an announcement that I am, indeed, engaged to be gay-married. So I suppose it's fitting to re-post this here today!

Yes, you are backwards.