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Briefly: See Her

This morning, a new TV ad came on showing a woman bursting into the (female) President’s meeting room, filled with advisers. She exclaimed, “It wasn’t an attack, just a failure in the mainframe; don’t worry – I fixed it!” She holds a microchip in her hand, and the scene fades to a student holding the same microchip, smiling as she envisions the future and where her knowledge might take her. The tagline of this commercial, of course, is “We believe that if you can see her, you can be her™.” #SeeHer

https://www.seeher.com/

Independence Day evolved

I don’t have PTSD from combat, and I still felt like I was in a war zone last night, with bombs exploding all around. I understand that the Star-Spangled Banner was inspired by and written during the overnight defense of Fort McHenry, but why do we celebrate our post-war freedom by simulating the violence of combat all over again?

To counter the risks of wildfires, people have developed drone-based LED light shows to replace firework shows, and this is an excellent development. Even a buzzing hum that may sound like a swarm of bees is replicating a natural phenomenon, and the lights are visible from a distance and can be used to make incredibly elaborate figures. These spectacular displays are vivid, harmless, and all electric, not even generating exhaust, much less the concussive noise and air pollution that result from explosive powder and burning paper over an area.

I know how much US citizens love their guns, and with the ferocious defense of the right to bear arms, I doubt that fireworks will be outlawed in this country anytime soon. However, for the physical safety of humans, animals, and plant life in the area, banning handheld packages of gunpowder just makes sense. Moreover, out of respect for veterans who have served their nation in active duty, we should refrain from allowing even private citizens to detonate these items for days before and after every holiday.

Humans and our technology are constantly evolving. Embrace the present and the future. Love life, be kind to nature, and love your neighbors, especially our armed forces, whether active, reserve, or retired.

Briefly: Morning Stretch

It feels good to stretch your body out in the morning, but avoid anything too aggressive. Health and wellness coach Jeffrey Siegel says that the spinal discs naturally absorb fluid as your body restores its hydration balance during sleep. He cautions that while the discs expand, sometimes making you a bit taller in the morning, this natural process also limits movement of the vertebrae and causes the spine to stiffen. As a result, flexing and bending too deeply when you first wake up is not only harder, but potentially dangerous. Move gently right when you wake up to avoid any injuries.

Reflect more, but maybe not the way you expect

Want to do better? Check yourself out at different times!

A new study suggests that for many people, seeing one’s own reflection more often helps you to be the best version of yourself. The simple idea behind this theory is that when we physically see ourselves, we subconsciously compare who we perceive with who we want to be, making us aspire to be better people.

While everyone is obviously quite different, any insight can help you help yourself, right? Try it and see how it makes you feel, at least once the change settles into normalcy. Comment below and let me know what you learn about yourself!

Carpe Diem

This morning I heard “Chasing the Sun” by Sara Bareilles, one of my favorite musicians ever. In case you haven’t heard it yet, the song reminds us that life can be rich though fleeting, and that honoring those no longer with us should reinforce the value of our continuing lives. A universal message to be sure, but one too easy to overlook in the hustle of daily life. I’m not doing the song justice, of course. Find it here and listen for yourself: https://www.amazon.com/Chasing-The-Sun/dp/B00DRDSLNU

“Life’s a Song” by Mindy Braasch is another worthwhile listen, available (at least right now) as a free download from her website here: http://mindybraasch.com/

Take a moment to reflect on what you do each day that really matters. If you have trouble finding these answers, that’s okay, but you need this reflection even more. Life is far too short and too fragile to let it slip away without a fight. We’re not all taught that, but it is still true. Step up, step out, and live today as if it is all that matters. Tomorrow will come for most of us, if we’re lucky, but today is really all we have. It’s the most important day, and it means everything. Be grateful, and more than that, be aware. Look, listen, pay attention, and live.

Why Not Try?

I’m sure you noticed that this blog is new.

Until recently, I spent most of my life thinking of reasons NOT to do things, and boy, are there an endless supply of those, once you start looking! I don’t know why I did that, other than simple fear of failure or of success. Yes, success! (“What would I do if I failed at this? Admit I’m worthless? Never try anything new again?”) If you HAVE these conversations with yourself, it can be so much easier to get around the unspoken fears that hold you back from the shadows of your mind; put a name to them, and you remove their teeth (another blog post will focus entirely on this subject). Or, might I simply say, “That didn’t go as well as I hoped, but I liked trying, or didn’t. Maybe I’ll try again, or try something different next time.”

Also ask yourself, “What if I try something and it works well? What if I succeed? Will people look to me for guidance or inspiration or even just with admiration? What is wrong with that? What if I don’t like the attention? And do I have to keep doing this forever once I find I’m good at it or I like it today?” Of course not! Start these conversations with yourself and remove the fear of uncertainty. Then you’re simply trying something new, and new experiences can turn out good, bad, or everywhere in between. You literally never know until you actually try it.

Think about it. Read about it. Plan something. Try something. Risk a little or risk nothing, learn how it goes, and learn how you feel. Once you know better, do better. Or move on if you don’t want to do better at that. But either way, be honest with yourself and open to whatever you are trying. Join me in starting something of your own. What do you want to try next?

Thoughts on Friday the 13th

I have long considered this date to be irrelevant in the grand scheme of life, but that doesn’t keep me from recognizing it.

Like so many people who believe themselves to be intelligent and discerning, I am keenly aware that just because I may feel a certain way, that does not put me into the majority by any means. If most people in this country believe that Friday the 13th is an unlucky day, then it bears paying attention. In the same way, if most people think that there is something in the road along which I am driving, whether I think so or not, I would be wise to pay attention to their behavior in case they swerve around the spot, obstacle or no!

It is interesting that there is no consensus of any particular origin of the superstition, though several theories have sprung up over the past couple of centuries. Christians say that Jesus was crucified on a Friday, and history suggests that the Romans conducted all executions on Friday; they also add that Judas was the 13th guest at the Last Supper. The Norse god Loki was said to be the 13th (unwanted) guest at a meal in Valhalla attended by 12 other gods; Loki, god of mischief, tricked one of Odin’s sons into destroying his brother during the visit, and the mourning over such a great loss fueled the superstition for ages to come.

Curiously as well, people in the United States view Friday the 13th as unlucky, but Italians see Friday the 17th in the same light, while Greek people and Spanish-speaking cultures hold Tuesday the 13th to be the unluckiest day in general. Some literature backs up many of these modern ideas, but the histories have a pretty wide range of origins, too. The Dutch have even noted that fires, theft, and traffic accidents in the Netherlands tend to be lower on Friday the 13th, since people tend to be more careful on this day; some even stay home as a precaution. And Finland promotes the National Accident Day to raise awareness of automotive safety. The scheduled date for this each year? Always on a Friday the 13th (which does occur at least once and often more in every calendar year).

Looking around at traditions and group psychology, it is easy to see why millions of people believe that there is an unlucky day like this, whether the proof is there or not. But my favorite perspective is one that a colleague told me just this morning: how can it be unlucky when you’re about to enjoy a weekend off of work? So have a nice weekend, everyone, whatever your plans. And if you have to work on Saturday, remember that everyone else will be grateful to have made it past Friday the 13th, and share a few smiles with them over that.