Tag Archives: health

How an Overachieving Work Monger Learned the Benefit of a Good Nap

staged napping photo

staged napping photo

I’m staying at a friend’s co-op which is unsurprisingly full of long haired hippie types with slow eyed dreams. Despite the fact I’m also pursuing an “alternative” career as opposed to something in office dronery, I’m still skeptical of those who dream of nothing more than working on a farm for six months out of the year and going south to roost with the birds come October.

Where’s the ambition? Where’s the love of early mornings and hard work? Where’s the drive to produce every single moment of the day and have a list of goals hanging from the wall and over your head that you must accomplish or suffer failure?

To me, even travel can and should be considered work, which I love. If I’m successful at the work of travel, I go out and see a great many things, write a good many blog posts and thoughts, draw a picture, talk to a stranger and spend little money. I fail by staying in bed and being lazy. Being lazy must be avoided at all costs.

I’ve always felt righteous about my overbearing work ethic, which has often stressed me out and caused me to spend too much time working on things that didn’t matter as opposed to relaxing with friends. In fact, I hate the very word relax. It offends me. I don’t want to relax. I want to learn, to work, to be productive, to produce, to experience, etc. etc. It’s exhausting.

When one of these hippie types pulled out a book two days ago called “How to be Idle,” by Tom Hodgkinson, I nearly vomited in my quinoa. Could there be anything more disgusting than a book dedicated to laziness and encouraging these kinds of people who needed nothing more than a swift kick in the ass? I scoffed at the very idea of it.

Then, minutes later, I picked it up. I started reading the first chapter “8 a.m.: Waking up is hard to do.” And within a couple more minutes I was hooked. I saw my life and culture in a completely different light. The emphasis on productivity hasn’t served me but my corporate overlords. Busyness is a cult that degrades our quality of life, our freedom, and the ability to reflect on and live contemplative existences.

Though I don’t agree with Hodgkinson completely on everything about the idler lifestyle, I did suddenly realize that my relentless focus on production is not productive. Boom. It’s as simple as that.

I’ve not finished the book, but it has been interesting to hear this man’s thoughts on how our culture of work conspires to keep us chained to our desks, away from home, and most of all, to keep us from thinking.

In honor of my newfound appreciate for idleness, I took a nap and spent five hours today in a cafe merely reflecting. It was certainly time well spent.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book so far: 

On working long hours and doing nothing: 

“After all, aren’t modern companies always saying how much they value creativity and innovation? How much they need ideas? Perhaps the truth is rather sadder, that they actually value steadfastness, application and your bum being on your revolving seat for as many hours in the day as you can stand.”

On the culture that rejects illness and taking any time off for it: 

“Drug companies make vast profits out of magic beans which promise to deliver us from torment and return us to the desk.”

On napping: 

“Don’t think that you will be doing less work because you sleep during the day. That’s a foolish notion held by people who have no imagination. You will be able to accomplish more.” – Winston Churchill

“Employers would rather you put in four hours of sitting and accomplishing nothing than an hour’s nap, clothes or otherwise, followed by three hours of productive toil.”

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Hello Styrofoam. I Think You’re Trying to Kill Me but I’ll Still Drink Coffee Out of You.

Styrofoam

Styrofoam

Before I start, let me be clear that I know nothing about styrofoam and its affect on my health. Everything I know about styrofoam comes from whatever liberal pseudo-science they put in the water in San Francisco and something my babysitter said to me when I was in 5th grade about how microwaving styrofoam can give you cancer. Since then, I’ve researched and learned nothing.

That said, styrofoam was a part of my childhood. I ate school lunches off of it, microwaved leftovers on it, and drank all kinds of beverages from it. I once tore up a styrofoam cup and put it in a shoebox for the famed engineering challenge of creating an egg crate that would protect an egg from a 20 foot drop. Styrofoam did not work, but it sure was staticky.

I moved to San Francisco about two years ago and had kind of forgotten about styrofoam. It’s banned from restaurants in San Francisco and styrofoam cups, plates, and trays are a rarity. Through an assimilation process that’s been going on since my arrival, I’ve gradually learned to associate styrofoam with Bible thumping conservatives, anti-education monsters, and death. At no point was any of this directly said to me. It’s just what happens when you’re in San Francisco long enough and drink enough locally roasted coffee (from ceramic cups of course.)

Now that I’m traveling in areas that are not protected from styrofoam, I’ve started using it again. I drink coffee from it and I want to say that everything’s fine, and that nothing has changed and I’m still the same woman from Oklahoma who doesn’t care about cancer caused by heating up styrofoam but I’m not and I do.

I think the styrofoam is probably killing me. I think it makes the coffee taste weird and dissolves into it when the coffee is too hot, and then those styrofoam molecules turn into cancer in my body that can activate at any point. I’m afraid of the styrofoam cup but I’m more afraid of how terrible I’ll feel if I don’t take coffee to go from breakfast. It’s a choice of two evils, and one promises death in the future, and the other promises a nasty headache until dinner.

I think the correct path is clear.

So I’m on to you styrofoam. I know you’re trying to kill me but you won’t get me before I flee back to my Bay Area styrofoam free sanctuary. Until then, I’ll see you for breakfast.

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30 Ways to Measure My Life, and Maybe Yours Too

You might be familiar with the poem, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot. If not, you should read it here or listen to me read it here (yes, this happened.) It’s a beautiful poem, and one that might make you think. This is an excerpt I particularly like:

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.

On a related note, I recently started taking calcium every day in the form of a chocolate chew. I take one every morning, after I drink my coffee so my mouth is warm and it makes the chocolate flavor taste better. Every day a chew, every day a wrapper – a little trace of my life. It got me thinking – what else could I measure my life in? What are the other little traces? So you can read them below, and some are measurable and some are less so. As an added challenge, I drew some of these things.

I have measured out my life with:

  1. Calcium chew wrappers calcium_chew_wrappers
  2. Empty coffee cups 
  3. Used strands of floss
  4. Birthday cards
  5. LinkedIn connections
  6. Pounds gained and lost over the past yearsscale
  7. GPA
  8. Salary
  9. Facebook friends and tagsfacebook_friend
  10. Words written
  11. Email drafts
  12. Journal entries
  13. Ink stains on the bed
  14. Kitkat wrappers found in bed.
  15. Boarding passes
  16. Ticket stubs
  17. Number of pimples popped pimple
  18. Number of emails answered
  19. Protein bar wrappers 
  20. Burned matches
  21. Takeaway boxes
  22. Onion peelsonion_peel
  23. Shopping bags
  24. High fives
  25. Hugs
  26. LaughsIt's laughter, though it looks like vomit
  27. Belly laughs
  28. The kind of laugh where you laugh so hard you cry
  29. Minutes spent living. 
  30. Minutes spent like, actually living. 
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Don’t Judge Me, But This Blog Post Is Literally About Feelings.

Photo credit: Doug88888

Photo credit: Doug88888

God I can’t believe I’m  actually writing about this but I’ll just come out and say it.

I have feelings.

Some of them have names like happy, sad, or hungry. But some don’t. So I wanted to name, share and possibly eventually sell them.

And what I’ve done is this: described a (fictional) situation in which one might feel said feeling, named it and described where it is most often felt in the body.

Cavernbowel – the feeling of being alone and realizing you need to poop, often felt in large, empty, unfamiliar/professional spaces; felt in the bowels

I walk into the Museum of Natural Sciences in Chicago. It’s 3 pm in the afternoon on a Saturday, so the place should be packed. Instead, I find it completely deserted, the lobby’s empty and there is no sound in the atrium at all except for the air conditioner. I don’t know this, but the rapture has just occurred and I am left behind, staring into the glassy eyes of a stuffed wooly mammoth. Suddenly, I realize I need to poop. I feel ______.

Networkunease – a sense of impending social contact through social media, telecommunications or email; felt in the stomach

I’m sitting in bed on a Tuesday night, writing a to-do list in my spiral notebook. But I feel like I’m waiting for something, like I’m expecting a Facebook notification, text, LinkedIn message, tweet or email from some person I’ve met at some point in my life. I check my social sites, email, and phone repeatedly, waiting for something to happen, unsure of what it could be or why I feel that way. I feel ________.

Forbiddenbowel – the feeling of being somewhere you’re not supposed to be; felt in the bowels

The door to the church was unlocked, so I let myself in. I know I’m not supposed to be here, but I did it anyways. Candles are still lit around the altars and I can smell frankincense. I walk down to the front and my footsteps seem incredibly loud. My stomach feels kind of like sandpaper and I don’t want to be caught, even though I don’t have any specific ideas for what would happen if I were. I realize all of the sudden that I need to poop. I feel _______.

Photo credit: Sweet One

Photo credit: Sweet One

Characterdoubt – the feeling of being suddenly and completely unsure of who you are; felt in the stomach/upper abdomen

I did something mean, and I’m not sure why I did. In hindsight, it was completely out of character. I told Shawn’s secret to Rob and she ended up finding out. I was trying to impress him with office gossip, but now Shawn is hurt and in the end, I don’t know why I did it at all. Who am I? Am I the kind of person that just uses other people for dramatic fodder? I kind of want to vomit and forget about everything. I feel _________.

Romancevomit – a feeling of dread while waiting to see an old flame; felt in the upper chest/hands

I haven’t seen him for a while but we’re going to coffee in 30 minutes. The last time we talked we were romantically involved. I broke it off, and he wanted to keep it going. I think he was the only man I’ve ever really loved, but I don’t feel anything towards him now and when I read what we wrote each other, I can’t relate to the person I was then. The past and future are melting together and my head feels a little light. I have the urge to drink a lot of caffeine. I feel _________.

Zephyrnostalgia – the feeling of being in several memories at once, often triggered by the senses; felt in the head and the sides of the body

I’m walking on Folsom street, heading back to work from the Embarcadero. I pass by the restaurants and office complexes and walk underneath some trees of the variety that are popular for sidewalk trees. A cool breeze comes down over the hill and strikes my face and somehow reminds me of every place I’ve ever been where I felt that kind of breeze before – Bunny Lane, CO; The Esplanade, MA; Squirrel Lane, OK; And it’s like I’m in all those places again at once. I feel _______.

Photo credit:  cbowns

Photo credit: cbowns

Wonderminded – the feeling of having your conception of reality shaken; experienced as a hollow feeling in the entire body

I’m walking to Powell BART station after class. It’s Monday night and I do this almost every week. 5th street can be kind of sketchy, but I usually walk this way alone anyways and it’s not too bad – it’s only one block after all. I reach Market street and am only 15 feet or so away from the BART station entrance and I hear three gunshots from across the street in front of the Forever 21.

I’m paralyzed. I think maybe I should drop to the ground, but instead I half jog to the entrance and start going down the stairs as quickly as I can. My heart is pounding and I feel like my insides are made of electricity. I’m about half-way through the hallway when three men sprint around the corner and come right at me. I’m against the wall, imagining them taking out a gun and just ending me right there. They pass by and sprint up the steps. I don’t think they even saw me. Three police officers chase after them, and I’m left alone in the hallway. Something I thought could never happen has just happened. I feel ______.

Joyexpansion – a feeling of utter joy that everything is right in the world and very beautiful; felt in the face and chest

I’m at Duboce park and it’s November 16th. The sky is perfectly clear, dogs are running around the park with their owners who are laughing and there are leaves on the ground. The air feels like an apple would feel if it were in air form. It seems that life truly is beautiful beyond description. I feel ________.

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The Flossing Jar

The flossing jar

The flossing jar is less a jar and more a cream dispenser, but who cares about formalities?

I read an interesting quote in my paperback vampire novel two weeks ago. The vampire Pandora spoke to her victim before sucking the blood from his body, telling him,  “You should do something every day simply because you would rather not do it.” It was solid advice, and something that’s stuck with me.*

Since I’ve read the quote, I’ve gone to the dentist and purchased protein powder. These events are relevant to this story.

For the past two months, my diet consisted of a daily gallon of salad and some oatmeal. Note the lack of protein.

At my first physical in seven years, the doctor told me that I should eat lean protein in the morning to boost my metabolism and make my hair grow long like Tarzan and to make my muscles bulge from my slacks and Christmas sweaters.

I was ready for this to be a huge hassle. The idea of having to plan to eat protein seemed so unnatural to me that I hated myself for even thinking about it. Nevertheless, I figured I should follow the doc’s orders, so I bought Musclez protein powder, 2 dozen eggs, 5 cans of beans, and 6 cans of tuna and prepared for the lean protein haul. As it turns out, garbanzo beans taste incredible prepared can-to-microwave, but this was only a minor consolation for the protein nuisance.

In order to motivate myself to become a protein-eater, and thinking of that vampire quote,** I said that this was going to be the one thing that I do every day, the thing I do in order to build character and become famous and successful.

Shortly after my trip to the doctor, I went to the dentist, who peeled my gums off and sandblasted my teeth before removing the shards one by one. In the midst of removing a tooth splinter, he asked, “How often do you floss?” “Never,” I said. “You should floss,” he said.

I hate flossing. It takes time and it isn’t rewarding. So I thought to myself, this could be my thing, the thing I do everyday even though I don’t want to. Almost as soon as I’d resolved that conflict, I came across a glaring contradiction. I already had the one thing: the protein! And then they came like a flood, the millions of things I do every day that I’d rather not do, like shaking hands with all the invisible people in my room every morning, sleeping in occasionally, going to work, and getting my hair cut.

My day was filled with things I do even though I’d rather not. True, most of these activities are things I have to do and don’t do just for the heck of it, but still – 75% of my day is built out of necessity.

So I thought, maybe something equally important is finding an activity I love doing so much that I’d rather die than not do it. That’s why I do improv, and make time every day to eat calcium chews and sing loudly to myself in public.

And I solved the flossing problem by putting a quarter in a jar every time I floss; one day that jar is going to buy me a Carnival cruise ticket.

*****

*This story isn’t true. The quote is from somewhere else, but I couldn’t remember where.

**Again, not actually from a vampire.

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