Saturday, January 23, 2016

Donald Trump Has It All Wrong

This is a sort of spoof by Jimmy Kimmel that represents Trump's philosophy. Trump seems to like it.

How things work together: this morning my email held a comment on my Christmas day post and this video from a beloved relative. The comment encouraged me.  The video had me thinking, The world isn't divided into winners and losers.

I see that win-win training is still taught, and seen as a set of negotiation skills. It seemed like more when I first heard about it. It seemed revolutionary. It posited that things go best when everyone's needs are met, that aggression is worse than useless. I agree.

The opposite of winning and losing is feeling that you have enough, and being satisfied. If you are reading this, you have access to a computer and leisure time to fool around on it, and probably have adequate shelter and food as well. That's just about enough, really.

There is a basic unsatisfactoriness built-in to human life, and that is that things change and we know they will. We will grow old, sick, and die, and we know that, or at least fear it. To be satisfied we have to realize that cause and effect are complicated and a lot of things are not in our hands, and relax with that. Winning at anything won't change it. And the fact that you're not striving to win doesn't mean you're a loser.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Let go of the battle

You don't have to whip yourself into joy.
You don't have to take a nice bath surrounded by scented candles,
or enjoy a walk in the snow (no snow here)
or dance till you smile
or watch White Christmas.
You don't have to try to feel any other way.
Just be yourself today.
Be with whatever you experience.
It's okay.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

So you think you know what bipolar disorder is

Have a look at this.

Note that bipolar is a dangerous illness, so painful that 30% of us kill ourselves before getting a correct diagnosis and treatment.  This can be hard to believe when someone is manic.  Mania is disturbing, and can read as arrogance and deliberate recklessness.  Families and friends often judge and discard us.

Note that our depression is not like yours. If you are a normie, you've known depression.  You probably managed to function and get through it. Ours is in a different category. Our relatives read it as not trying, whining, laziness. No one wants to be around it. Parker Palmer writes about a friend who came by every day and massaged his feet in silence.  Do you have a friend like that?  I certainly don't.

Note that something is missing here, and that's okay, a fact sheet can't do everything.  What's missing is that it's very difficult to find a comfortable treatment; side effects can be a bitch, like a lot of weight gain, or a sense of removal from life. Almost never does treatment work to restore a person to a mood-free state.  We are treading water all the time.  Worst, treatment can stifle the wonderful creativity that often accompanies bipolar.

Van Gogh is my favorite fellow sufferer.  His religiosity (seen today as "a symptom") gave him a restless drive to paint the essence in nature.  His family found him a trial and a disappointment.  Thank God he had a good brother who kept him supplied with paint and canvas.  Many of us don't have that relative. It's a difficult life.  Note that.

Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar Disorder Infographic — Healthline

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Making Do With Less

I first heard the term "paperless kitchen" more than ten years ago. My friend, who was in Simple Living, had committed to that. The thing she did was pick up lots and lots of paper napkins anytime she got fast food.  It intrigued me, how she confused "paperless" with "paying for paper." Kind of like when you quit smoking and then borrow cigarettes from everyone else. It's not about not buying paper; it's about not using it.

Recently it occurred to me out of nowhere that going paperless in my kitchen was a good idea, that my paper towels were made from trees, trees which, if let to live would be forests cleaning the air. My daughter is studying forestry; that makes me think about these things.

I had plenty of rags, so I put them in a pretty bowl by the kitchen sink where the paper towels used to sit.  I was surprised how annoying it was at first. It highlighted the fact that any habit change is difficult, the older the habit, the harder.  I'd been grabbing a paper towel for decades. Now I had to pick the right size rag, and discard the yucky ones and hang the other ones to dry before they go down the chute. Eventually I had to wash them in with the other towels. All this is not work, but it was irritating at first. Change is.

There is a fallacy American advertising pounds on in these end times in which a great many women work and then come home and do everything at home.  The fallacy is that you can buy something that will redeem this life by saving "precious seconds," something like one-swipe mascara (I'm not making this up). Every one of these solutions adds to the landfill. Don't believe them. You don't have a life by saving seconds. What people do with extra seconds is watch more TV.

Like everything else I discover, I'm a late adopter. Lots of people are already into this paperless thing. Here's a nice article, for instance. Obviously, if you work at it, your rags can even be pretty. You can even buy rags (a thought that astonishes me) from a website called, you guessed it, Paperless Kitchen. Their rags are sort of sturdier paper towels made from sustainable plant cellulose and, importantly, are new. It seems to me this is not a very ecological solution.  New rags involve growing and harvesting those plants, manufacturing them, transporting them, which wears down the highways and pollutes the air.  Like that.

As we say in Zen, pay attention.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Practicing Compassion


Of all the things I've seen about Syrian refugees, this video made me cry. In the face of all the rejection Syrian refugees are receiving, even here in the country that famously welcomes "the wretched refuse of your teeming shore," these people in Germany massed to hold up welcome signs. A small effort, but think how good it must have felt.

Here in the American dream it's easy to harden to all the suffering far from us. But this one has come close to me. 

My first thought was to give some money. $8 I thought, the price of an inexpensive lunch. As I read about the crisis, the figure went up. I was just about to sign up for one of those cool events the elite institutions of my city offer, an Early Fall Supper, $45. I decided to give that money and cook myself an early fall supper that night. 

But where to give the money? This is where we often get just stopped. Charity is so complicated, even the charity rating people get bad ratings. I decided to give it locally, but got confused. One agency doesn't list an email address I can write to to ask what they do with a donation. I am also put off by their huge staff and the lack of a TO. I've decided to give instead to a local church that I know is hands-on active in helping the needy.

Wait, what can you do besides give someone your lunch money? I found my way to this petition to the President to increase the US resettlement of refugees. Obama started with a small number, 10,000, which activated the conservative media, who see it as "an invasion." I'm not kidding. Those of us who see compassion as our central practice need to be activated too. This wealthy country can easily share with the starving.

It gets harder. Other than writing this, how can I give my body, my time? I have to be careful about taking things on. For one thing, I take immune-suppressants and easily get infections. For another, my energy is limited. One thought I have is submitting something to my own church's Justice Action Ministry. But what? . . . . What I really want to do is be in that crowd at the airport holding up a welcome sign. Maybe I can find out how to do that.