Emotions, Personal Growth

Pondering Comfort Eating

I never understood the concept of comfort eating — even when I was doing it. I never understood it because I don’t particularly like food that much … so why does eating bring me comfort? Why use eating as a means to distract me from loneliness or heartache? Other than the search for food, but hunting down ice cream is hardly that challenging.

Then I heard Dr. Nina Savelle-Rocklin on Hilary Hendershott’s Profit Boss podcast talking about it. She described it thusly (paraphrasing): our first experiences in life as a baby are of being held as we were fed. On a primal, visceral level, eating brings with it this initial sense of connection to those who cared for us. Eating brings back, even temporarily, that feeling of being connected to others, of being loved, of feeling cared for, of being important.

Well shiiiii. Now I understand it! Absolutely. Plus, I can now see exactly why I was doing it myself. Holy moly! Interestingly, the very next day I’m standing in 7-11 with my Big Gulp refill mug, looking at the Dr. Pepper button and think “Ew, I don’t want that today.” This is my go-to drink for the morning jolt of caffeine and sugar. Even just the day before, this same trip was almost like an addict taking their first drag of the day. Now I’m suddenly emotionally like “nah, don’t want it”. *boggles* Did just being aware of why I am reaching for this comfort drink make that big a difference?? Well, heck, next time I’m thinking about stopping by DQ for a cone, I’m gonna call a friend instead. My wallet and my waist will thank me!

 

About the Featured Image: swiped from a Cooking on the Weekends blog post. Looks nummy, doesn’t it?

 

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Money

Self-Sufficient is Frugal?

I’m in the kitchen blanching my summer squash in preparation for freezing, thinking about all the canning and other related items that I grew up watching the women in my family do every fall. To me, this is normal and isn’t about being frugal or trying to save a few bucks over store-bought ingredients. It’s about using what I have, and making sure I have it when I need it. About not wasting the efforts it took me and those plants to produce the goods. In other words, it’s about self-sufficiency. If I only rely on the store to have what I need, then some part of me is thinking “fail”. Personally I’m hardly over-the-top with it, but it’s still there. Stores provide cheap, plentiful goods. I don’t NEED to make stewed apples. In fact, it’s cheaper if I don’t. But I like to make them, so if you come to my house in the winter you WILL have homemade apple cobbler.

So why do I not consider my gardening to be frugal? Well it certainly can be — if the scale is there. Plus, in my area, the water needed to grow the garden costs more than store veggies anyway. Those folks in areas with lots of water do not have this cost! Lucky ducks. From this experience, when I hear “save $30 a month growing your own veggies” my response is: *scratches head* Really?

Now maybe it is absolutely true for the advice giver, but it’s not my experience. My small garden doesn’t save me that much on a continual basis and I have 3 2×8 raised garden beds with summer and winter rotating crops that provide copiously. I’m about to add more beds next spring. Oh sure maybe one or two months during harvest season I’ll save that much, but if saving money is my goal then I have to can or freeze the bounty my garden is giving me for use beyond the fresh stage. So it’s not the growing the veggies part which saves me money, it’s the other stuff. That means including the apples, lemons and plums from the orchard (and I am using that term very generously). I think next year I’ll try my hand at plum wine and apple cider!

For me, I don’t garden for the savings because there are none after factoring in my time in dollars plus water – and this assumes all the basics like tools, pots, dirt, irrigation equipment and seed are already in place. In my case, the economy of scale flat isn’t there. Now my mom’s acre garden in a water rich climate, however, very likely did. I personally garden because I love to do it and because I love looking at the pantry or freezer full of things that I made or grew. I love saying “made with garden harvested veggies”. This is a weird one, but I also love that I have the know-how to take care of myself if the world falls to shit. I come from a very Appalachian heritage, from the Hollers truly. I was the first generation to literally never set foot on a working farm while growing up. The world has changed a lot since the ’30s when my grandparents came of age, but the values I was instilled with growing up are entirely rural farmer (courtesy of said grandparents) and now I’m having fun with it – because it’s a choice to do so. Frugal comes with the rural-farmer package because depending on money to always get me what I need is a fool’s choice, as my grandfather would say. Make it, grow it, repair it, repurpose it, use it till the wheels fall off.

So I say grow veggies! Put a potted tomato on your balcony or grow peppers in a stacked container. Have garden plots and grow your own herbs. Have fun! Enjoy. Learn. Feel connected to the Earth and its rhythms. But don’t do it solely because it’s supposed to save you money. If you got really real with it, that’s quite likely a very expensive tomato.

 

About the Featured Image: from my first California garden. Hubby was super sweet and decided to support my desire for a small garden so got me Roma tomato plants. 27 of them… having no idea just how many tomatoes that truly was. This image is just one trip to the garden and it filled a sink. I took about 8 hours to blanch, peel, cut (resharpen knife repeatedly), grind and boil these down to make tomato paste. Talk about expensive tomato paste!!

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Hall of Mirrors, Personal Growth

All (gender) are Stupid.

“Of course I can have deep, meaningful conversations with impact. Let’s talk about … my hair!”

I stumbled across a post written by a fellow with … well … hatred, distain and contempt for women in general. He espoused the same concepts that I see throughout history from the ancient Greeks on up to today. He had nothing new to add, just more vitriol and “proof” for his position. That position being that the female gender is entirely a vapid, unreasoning, narcissistic, short-sighted, small-minded creature who is incapable of bringing anything of value to the adult table.

*sigh*

In my journey through life, I have noticed that people, men AND women, tend to live up to what is expected of them. Culturally, women are indeed expected to be this shallow, self-centered, unreasonable, intellectually unchallenging creature just as described. I have been told repeatedly not to speak of anything with meaning or impact because men find it “unattractive” or “intimidating” or “threatening.” Indeed, the joke is “most women would rather have beauty than brains, because most men can see better than they can think.” I personally prefer brains – beauty fades, and because hair and shoes are perhaps the most eye-crossingly stupid conversation I can IMAGINE, and yet I know women who will discuss these things literally all night long. And yes, I’ve known plenty of women who are beyond unreasonable to the point of inanity and those women, I want to choke. They exist sure, but so do unreasonable men!! Holy mother, do they exist too. So I ask a better question in response:

Do women (people) merely live up to the “ideal” they are permitted/expected to adhere to or is this behavior truly native and therefore uninfluenced by culture? The flip side of this question would be: are men as they are because this is what was expected of them?

To further explore a bit, Are the male and female brain literally so radically different that it is only the exceptional female who is capable of thinking, as Stoker put it, “with a man’s mind?” I would posit that the answer is “no, they are not that different” and what one gender is capable of, so too is the other. I do recognize that the focus is often inherently different, so it’s easy to use a yard stick instead of a meter and not realize they are different systems of measure entirely. That requires perspective and curiosity to discover this one.

Suffice to say, I’ve known waaaaaay more stupid, vapid men who want to discuss nothing more impactful then their cars or sports than I’ve known men who ask any form of philosophically probing question. I married the guy who asked and continues to ask those questions! I would analogize cars and sports with fashion and makeup. Each gender stereotypically has their own niche for banal, mind-numbing, insignificant conversations. Neither gender has cornered the market on that particular aspect of what is means to be an average human being. Of course, I don’t generally hang out with unthinking, unreasoning people – male OR female – and so I have relatively few friends, mainly because MOST people simply don’t like to think. It’s sad to be told “You make my brain hurt”.

Back to the concept of “people living up to your expectations”. I have seen the exact same person have completely different responses to a situation based solely on who is present and what is expected of them in that situation. So if the people you come into contact with keep REAFFIRMING an idea you already have, perhaps this is not actually a reflection of them… but rather you looking into the Hall of Mirrors and failing to recognize the true reflection being seen.

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Emotions, Hall of Mirrors, Personal Growth

Evaluating The Source

My BA is in History. While there is a great deal that this degree taught me, one of the biggest ones was the ability to evaulate the source of the information. The first round of evaulation breaks the sources down into tiers of evidence, from most to least reliable. Notice, it’s “reliable” … not “accurate”.

Primary evidence is the most trustworthy because it means the information came from someone who truly knows first hand what the information is. They participated in the events described. A first-person account of a battle or even the genealogy written into the family Bible are considered primary sources. This doesn’t mean the evidence is fool proof or free from bias; that has to be assessed next but first-person accounts always have the most weight. Government records are typically considered primary because usually the information was supplied by the individual being recorded. Secondary sources are those written after the event but not by those who actually participated in the event. Memoirs written decades after a battle are still first-person and so primary, but “grandpa told me this is what happened” sorts of reports are secondary. Reported by a second person from first person accounts. Often, well done scholary books are secondary sources because they reference and interpret mostly primary sources. Tertiary sources are the least reliable. The “my friend’s friend told my sister’s cousin that her grandpa said this is what happened” type of situation. Tertiary sources should never be used for anything of merit, though sometimes they are quite colorful.

The second round of evaluation means assessing the information contained within the source. Do we know who wrote it? If so, does that person have an agenda they are pushing or are they educated enough to actually understand the tactics behind the events they lived through? If it’s a translation of a first-person account, how accurate is the translation? How far removed from the events was this recorded? Etc.

Understanding the logical fallacies is a helpful addition to this evaluation process, but it wasn’t part of my training and was an idea I came across years later. I still include them though.

Why am I bringing this up? I’m listening to a bunch of different podcasts by financial educators and I’m hearing some things which are pinging my “secondary source” or “agenda/bias” warnings. Then I started thinking of news events and commercials and personal interactions with people.

Is being able to evaluate the sources of information provided an important skill to cultivate? HELL YES.

Why? It’s so much easier to see through the manipulation of commercials if you can say “Red Herring fallacy” when you hear the ad. It’s easier to unveil the lies of politicians if you recognize “Strawman Argument”. It’s much harder for a manipulative person or news article to get their hooks into you if you can see the biases or agenda which drive them. If I’m listening to a Congressional hearing and their evidence is all tertiary, there’s some bullshittery going on. Etc.

Unfortunately, this type of thing falls into the Critical Thinking category. It seems Critical Thinking has tragically become anathema, right along side education and intellectual pursuits. I also think that common sense and critical thought go together – so it’s little wonder common sense is not particularly common.

In truth, it doesn’t matter where the information is coming from – there’s always personal bias and perspective at play. The job of the evaluator is to determine the level of reliability any information has. See if you can evaluate the next few commercials you hear, or new articles you read. Most ESPECIALLY, put on your evaluator hat when you hear one person bitching about another behind their back.

 

About the Featured Image: It’s the Simpsons, in the episode where Lisa is objecting to the meat being served in the cafeteria. The lunch lady pushes this button to alert authorities that a child is thinking critically and needs to be stopped.

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Personal Growth, Rant

An ignorant population is an enslaved population

An ignorant population is an enslaved population. Attacks on education are a demand for enslavement, for disempowerment, for abdication of personal responsibility … for sheeple who go where they are told, when they are told, how they are told. It’s the perfect way to control a populace – because a free mind is the most dangerous mind to those who seek to control others. Without the ability to think something, the ability to do something is limited.

Every boom in prosperity and growth is accompanied by the rise and proliferation of quality education, and every decline and “dark age” is accompanied by the rise of ignorance.  Most rulers who were ever called The Great (ie Alexander the Great) or had the biggest impact on succeeding generations (ie Charlemagne) included a focus on education.

<tangent>I hear the specious argument that women don’t need to be educated and my first thought is “only slaves are deliberately not educated because educating them means they might not think you are worth serving. Clearly, you want slaves but aren’t big enough to actually say this out loud.”</tangent>

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Archetypes

Owning my Outcast

I always considered myself an Outcast. I’m an unusual Outcast in that I’m not an orphan, my parents are still happily married, I do have a sibling, bath regularly, am fine in social settings, have no serious health issues, no major fears or neuroses, etc. Every person I’ve ever encountered who uses this term is an Outcast more by circumstance. I feel like an oddball because I’m an Outcast by choice. Perhaps Loner is a better word, but I like Outcast.

It’s sort of like energetically I’m used to being the town witch who lives out in the woods, that everyone openly reviles when others are nearby but they all secretly come see me to help them solve their problems. Heh. Apart from being a bit lonely (ok, a LOT lonely sometimes), I’ve come to terms with it.

I was talking to my mom the other day and mentioned that I always considered myself an outcast. Of course she started to object and I cut in “But that means peer pressure largely has no effect on me.” She asked what I meant.

I gave her just one example – going to Frat parties. I went to a few Frat parties during my tenure in college. Since I can’t stand the taste of beer, I don’t drink it. Period. If you’ve never attended any kind of gathering where the alcohol is flowing freely yet don’t actually drink it, you’ll never really understand just how much pressure there is to drink. Even if you have a cup in your hand to help allay that, it doesn’t. Then you’ll get demands to drink while they watch. Nope. I drank my water at every party, happily partaking of games and jokes and dancing etc but drank my water instead of beer or the jello shots. The number of “are you sure you’re having fun??” comments was staggering. I imagined those actually meant “you’re harshing my mellow by being stone cold sober and making sure all the friends that you came with are safe from me and my buddies. You have to drink so I can freakin’ relax.” Hahaha. Still, no. Not drinking. Not even tempted to. Even if you get every single guy in here to try to coerce me into consuming it, no.

That’s my Outcast. The part of me that is perfectly content to follow my own path, regardless of what others are doing. Some people get really belligerent about it too. I generally just stare at these people, confused as to why my not following along like a good little sheeple is so threatening to them. I think it’s because other sheeple don’t like being shown they don’t HAVE to follow the crowd, but they are choosing to because it’s easier.

Part of me wonders “Is it really an Outcast, or a Narcissist?” Ha!

 

About the Featured Image: This GORGEOUS picture is from Jinterwas.

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Personal Growth, Spirituality

Sometimes the obvious is hardest to see

Last spring I joined a magickal order. The lodge was 3 hours away. I had misgivings about joining because of a particular member. Despite that, I joined but I only made it to 1 other meeting since then. While this one person was a big influence on my not going, they were not the only reason.

I was debating recently about whether or not to demit membership or suck it up and go. Typical for me, I posed this question in the car on my way to work and then talked out loud the answer. As I rambled on about this or that, finally I blurted out “Why am I even considering going? I already found what I was looking for.”

That brought me up short. What did I mean that I already found it? The answer immediately unveiled itself. I found the answers that I sought in my spiritual explorations in my Junior year in college, with the help of a couple of amazing friends. We explored all KINDS of things, pretty much living and breathing spiritual work in various forms for almost a year. In that time, I experienced some truly stellar things and opened inner doorways to even more. Since then, I had thought those doors were closed and I have spent years attempting to re-open them … with no success.

In looking back on my many and sundry attempts, I can tell now that they were all purely intellectual attempts. Nothing was heart-driven. As Castenada said, the path without a heart is a dead path. So while I’m intellectually curious and hoping to unveil more ‘secrets of the universe’, my heart is actually pretty dang content with what it found way back when I was 20 – and I was just refusing to even see it.

To say this revelation was stunning is an understatement. It put me on my butt for a few days as I absorbed the truth of it and was finally able to see just how much energy I’ve wasted in these superficial intellectual pursuits. My heart is still very interested in spirituality, just not in the way my conscious brain has been ingrained to think. I’m discovering that I’m turning more and more toward personal development as an expression of spirituality. After all, isn’t exploring myself and how I experience this world and my relationships within it why I’m here? I already remember where I came from and know what happens after this life. That’s not my concern. My concern is being the best me that I can be … and letting go of insecurities, superficial fears, and other people’s judgments while learning to accept who I genuinely am then finding the strength to actually express that is the next set of major challenges.

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