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Monthly Archives: May 2014

Zen and the Art of Pooping

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I struggle with writing this because there is a lot of distaste and shame around a bodily function that everyone does, and everyone must do, in order to exist. This feels like the most exposed I’ve allowed myself to be in this blog.

I’ve had some difficulty with the evacuation of my bowels as of late. It feels like I tried just about everything I could think of but nothing made a lasting effect on regularity or comfort. More fiber, more water, walking, a squatty potty (look it up, it’s totally worth it). All would start to make a difference but then the same issue would come back.

Well, suffice it to say, I tried the last thing I could think of and it’s made all the difference so far. I stopped pushing… literally.

Somewhere along the line I guess I had stopped trusting my body to do its job. When the need to empty out would arise, if it didn’t just instantly happen, I would get a little panicky and start pushing. It was like this urgency to get it out as fast as possible. God forbid I was under some kind of time constraint or late for something when the need arose. That just made it all the worse.

Compulsions have no rhyme or reason. We all do things that we instinctually know aren’t correct but sometimes we just can’t stop ourselves. There is often a wide gap between what we know and what we do. I think a lot of those compulsions arise when we stop trusting.

We have become beholden to far too many external stimuli these days. Clocks and calendars rule our world even if they put us completely out of balance. Not everyone needs the same amount of sleep during the same hours. Some people get hungry only once or twice a day, while other people feel constantly hungry.

And to keep up in this regimented society, we have to stop trusting ourselves and start relying on other things lest we fall behind. We don’t trust we’ll wake up on time so we have the alarm clock. We don’t trust ourselves with food so we’ve devised so much around that. We don’t trust our natural processes so we supplement and force and control.

I’m not advocating a complete overthrow of civilization but at some point it would probably behoove us to start taking notice of how things actually work rather than focusing on making them work the way we want them to. When your life starts to feel ‘constipated’, perhaps the best thing to do is to stop pushing. Things often have a way of working themselves out if you can just trust the process.

And seriously, get one of these.


Turn And Face The Strain

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I’m not going to address any single topic today.  They are all hot potatoes and my hands feel a little tender right now.  I am just left with the overwhelming feeling of chaos.

Whether you recognize it or not, we are watching the old order going down in flames.  I was looking around for a good illustration and I found this graphic outlining the phases of change.


When we are confronted with a challenge, this is often the way that one moves through it.  It really feels like the “Valley of Despair” up in here.

As long as people benefit from and don’t recognize there are problems for some people, they will ignore or even actively work against fixing those issues.  I don’t believe that heterosexual white men are inherently bad.  I have lots of heterosexual white male friends (I even married one).  But they have been the ones creating and benefiting the most from the current power structure.  If things are going your way, why rock the boat?


I believe that one of the very real fears that heterosexual white men carry within them is that they fear that if they let loose the reigns of power, the rest of the world might treat them exactly the same as they’ve been treating others all this time.  Straight men fear being hit on by a gay man because then he’s put into the role of sex object (i.e., traditionally a female’s role).  “Don’t be such a girl” is an insult.  Really?!?

Race has been used a way of dividing people since time immemorial.  But who puts that division in place?  People aren’t born with it.  Watch toddlers of all kinds interact.  There is nothing inherent causing them to dislike or mistrust each other.  Families, countries, cultures, etc. drill into children that prejudice and fear.

Wealth has a way of insulating people from the reality of the hardships that many people on this planet face.  And once your physical needs are met ten times over, what in you requires the hoarding of resources?  If you don’t believe that people are entitled to food and water and other life enhancing benefits, you must believe that they deserve to die for being poor or born in a shitty place.  What other option is there?

Rich white men may be feeling ganged up on these days but they’ve used wealth, religion and power to have the run of the place for most of written history.  The rest of the planet wants something different and all their money can’t save them from the changes coming.  Lead, follow or get out of the way, right?

Graphic but true.

Graphic but true.

What we are going through is a necessary phase of our growth and development as human beings.  Growing pains, if you will.  And if we can make it through to the other side, the side where we see ourselves as one and all in this together, we just might make a go of this living thing for all creatures great and small.  If not, we’ll have a lot in common with the Dodo.

Just a drawing in a book.

Just a drawing in a book.

When we ask for change, let’s make sure we actually get it too.  There have been many revolutions and overhauls in the course of human history but for the most part all we’ve gotten is this line from The Who’s song ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.  Let’s really not be fools this time around.  You don’t need a boss any longer.  You can be the boss of you.


Happy Towel Day!

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I originally read The Hitchhiker’s Guide the Galaxy back in high school and little did I know then how valuable the phrase “Don’t Panic!” would be.  I agree with Arthur C. Clarke who once said, “Douglas Adams’ use of ‘don’t panic’ was perhaps the best advice that could be given to humanity.”

don't panic

There have been many times in my life when things have gone haywire and the phrase, Don’t Panic, floods my mind.  It reminds me that this is just another thing happening and panicking will only prolong and make it worse.  Keep Calm is all well and good but it’s not as powerful a phrase as Don’t Panic.

Panic is an immediate reaction.  We all do it when things aren’t going the way we would expect.  Life has a way of not doing what we think it should, and just telling someone to keep calm negates what is actually occurring.  Calm may not be what is required in every situation but not panicking is all-purpose.

If I think about it, this was an early introduction to Zen.  Allowing a situation to be without dwelling on my emotional reaction to it is how to move through life effortlessly.  We cannot necessarily control emotions but we can choose not to attach any meaning or importance to them.

Emotions are much like a barometer.  What we’ve called positive emotions occur when a situation is to our liking, something we want to happen and prolong.  Negative emotions are like physical pain – I don’t like this and it might eventually harm me.  Using emotions like a gauge rather than some truth about a situation is much more useful.

And you won’t have to be reminded to Keep Calm.  It will just be your natural state of being.


Much love to Douglas Adams wherever you are.


I’ve Gone Sideways

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I have become a wine snob.  I just realized it this week.  I have gone Sideways.

I opened a bottle of Merlot that someone brought to a party I was hosting.  It wasn’t drank at the party so it ended up on my shelf.  I’ve been drifting away from Merlot for some time now and I realized this week why.  It’s boring.

Merlot is the Bud Light of wine.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great first wine.  It’s probably the first red that most people say they like when they begin drinking wine.  However, as you try more wines and expand your palette, you realize why you liked it in the first place and why you can never go back to it.

It’s a simple, uncomplicated taste.  But it has no character.  It’s pleasant, almost sweet but soon, it starts to taste like an alcoholic grape juice.  It’s the wine you move on to when you’ve had your fill of White Zinfandel and want to start drinking reds.  It’s the gateway wine.

My taste buds have become too sophisticated for Merlot and this is a good thing.  I can now appreciate the nuances of Malbec and Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc.  I can handle a Cabernet Sauvignon and Burgundy.  If I want something lighter, a nice Grenache fits the bill.  And don’t get me started on Rosé.  A nice, dry Rosé made from the Malbec grape.  C’est magnifique!

Trying to get every last drop.

Trying to get every last drop.

A couple of years back, I realized I was on the road to wine snobbery when I went wine tasting in Walla Walla, Washington with my brother and his wife.  We were sampling a 2006 Meritage and when the smell hit my nostrils, I suddenly understood what the big deal was about wine.  I’ll never forget that scent.  That was what it was all about.  I have that bottle on my shelf.

I can dream, can't I?

I can dream, can’t I?


One more, for the road.

The Tipping Point

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As frustrated as I get with all of the conflict in the world, it occurred to me recently that this is actually a good thing.  As I watch another video about why something is racist or why we need body positivity or highlighting the issues of human trafficking (I could literally go on with issues but I’ll stop here), I realize that this stuff is no longer being swept under the rug.  It’s being hung out to dry in the bright light of exposure.

“To cure injustices, you must expose them before the light of human conscience and the bar of public opinion.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

That is what’s happening now.  The band-aid is being ripped off of our wound(s) so that we can heal properly.  The world is full of suffering, hate, racism, sexism, homophobia, prejudice, injustice, et al.  The only cure for any of it is to deal with it instead of pretending it’ll just go away on its own.



In the past, we routed out the blatant forms of the aforementioned.  That’s why the Civil Rights movement was so brutal.  Some people thought they had the right to bodily harm other people based solely on skin color.  Now, we’re digging in deeper to the more pervasive but hidden forms of prejudice and power.  We talk about privilege and the power structure and how it colludes to keep people in their desired place (poor people poor, women submissive, gays hidden) by more covert and subtle means.

Language can be a powerful tool to warp people’s minds.  Just by setting the standard as male and the non-standard as female, you set up a certain point of view.  Just the words male and female are sexist.  Male is the root word of both and by adding “fe” to male, you almost make a word that visually looks like you’re saying male/not male.  Same with man and woman.

It’s not a small matter either.  We are shaped by the world we inhabit.  If you tell a child s/he is stupid or inferior or worthless enough, he or she will begin to believe it.  When your entire society is telling you that you are less than, you have to be almost insane to stand up against that.

Thankfully, people are finally starting to lose their minds.

And no matter how frustrated I get by all of the fighting, I am comforted by the Gandhi quote:

when i despair

The Burning Stupid, or forgetting how the internet works

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No one is safe from “the internets”.  No one is above rebuke, mocking or harassment.  No one.

Beyonce is a pretty well liked celebrity but they still did this.


So imagine if you are a reviled human being who does something in poor taste, like Ann Coulter, how fast the internets will respond to your attention-whoring antics.


This was one of the tamer ones.

As hateful and scary as some of the stuff coming out of the internet can be, it’s a perfect reflection of the concept of free speech.  I may completely disagree with you, despise your point of view and find it to be offensive and repulsive, but as long as you are not inciting people to do harm to one another, I will support your right to say what you please.  You will not be placed in jail for it.  That’s free speech.

However, free speech is not free of consequences.  And that is what the internet doles out the best.

Jenny McCarthy was a vocal opponent of vaccination at one point (although she has back-pedaled on that recently) so she kind of deserved this Twitter flame war.


BIC learned a valuable lesson when they tried to make a pen for the ladies.  The internet agreed it was sexist and tore it to shreds in the funniest possible way — Amazon reviews.  Who knew product reviews could be so entertaining?

I could go on with examples for days.

But sometimes, the internet is a magical place and for all the shit it spews out, it rewards us with something like this.


The internets say You’re Welcome!



Bored No More

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Oh the things you will see on any given day on the internet.  I found this little video amusing but also quite thought provoking.

I almost can’t remember reacting like that to anything.  Our brains are amazing things but once they have too much stored in them, the first thing to go is wonderment.

Brains are a sophisticated predicting machine of sorts.  Pattern-recognition and stored experiences made so many things we take for granted possible.  I know when I see an open flame not to stick my hand in it.  I didn’t know that the first time but I learned it quickly enough and now it’s not likely I could ever voluntarily check to see if fire is hot.  My brain predicts that it will be and I believe it.

I can be taken by surprise now and again and that’s why I can relate to the kid’s experience.  Nothing quite beats a ‘Holy fucking shit that was awesome!’ moment.  I think we seek them out when we take something to the extreme (with sports, drugs, sex, even religious or spiritual seeking).  I was looking for a quote to go along with this inquiry and I found this:

Isn’t history ultimately the result of our fear of boredom? — Emile M. Cioran

These days people equate contentment with boredom.  Doing the same old thing over and over becomes rote.  There are times when I get completely bored with the mundane tasks of house cleaning and personal hygiene.  Why can’t things just stay clean?  Ugh!  This again?

I imagine, on a deep subconscious level, we look forward to and even create conflict because we fear boredom.  Wars are pretty exciting, no?  Not only do we engage in them, we make movies and TV shows and write books and articles about them long after they’ve ended.  There is always some confrontation occurring somewhere on the planet at all times.

Perhaps it’s not that we can’t get along.  Perhaps it’s because we don’t really want to.  That would eventually get boring.  Whether we want to admit it or not, we might have the thought that Peace is dull.  We even joke about Heaven (the ultimate place of peace and bliss) being one long snoozefest.  Who wants to sit around playing harps all day?


Maybe if we ever outgrow our fear of boredom then we’ll finally give peace a chance.  But not until we truly get bored of all the fighting.  Then the calm will the the most exciting thing ever.