🔥 10 Differences Between an Insufferable Family Life and a Challenging One 🍳

Lately my 4 year old has been pushing back hard, it’s been over two years, but for one year I was pregnant and too tired to mentally fix the problem, then I was guilty that we had a new baby and I was trying to make sure my daughter had a good relationship with her brother by not making changes that made it seem like the baby’s fault. Now I’m shifting towards being available and accepting of her feelings more, trying to hear her out instead of putting her in her room more often, but not being accepting at all of her breaking rules, but dropping as many unneeded rules as possible.

Things weren’t working well the last four years, so I’m trying to adjust them and taking notes about what works. Now I’m trying punishing harder, but less often and more affection during non-punishment times. I hate that being a parent is kind of like playing mind games.

The Ted Talk I watched yesterday that separated like and want is helping me untangle my feelings about parenting. I don’t “like” parenting, but I “want” to do a good job at it. It’s so uncomfortable for me to open my arms to a child throwing a fit over something stupid to come get a hug… but I “want” to give my kids that option to always have a lap and hug available to go to, and I’m the only one here…

My son runs into the floor with his face and the wall and then cries, I give him a choice of getting cuddled or not cuddled, he does both.

I see that he did something stupid and got hurt and I just comfort him.

With my daughter it’s harder, because I expected her to stop doing stupid things, but she hasn’t, so it’s a very unhelpful expectation.

Also she hurts herself emotionally rather than physically.

I was doing a diaper change, I did a bad job, I got poop on the clean diaper, and a blanket, I just admitted it, I knew I was frustrated and didn’t beat myself up for needing to take care of the mess before answering the questions my daughter started asking at the same time.

But that’s physical sh*t.

When I have mental sh*t to deal with, for some reason I beat myself up for needing any time, from five minutes, to one minute, to six seconds, I don’t give myself a break to recover from accidentally being head butted, or with a toy, or insulted ext, I expect that I can power through any kind of mental or emotional problem, or if I can’t I really beat myself up for not being able to.

Yesterday Cyrus said, “if this worked, don’t you think things would be getting better already?”

It wasn’t meant for me, but it struck me like an arrow to the heart.

I’ve always worried that if things don’t work, it’s my fault, that I quit to early, but looking back on many situations I didn’t quit to early, I just followed the wrong recipe for too long.

I have an authority bias, if I see a recommendation on a parenting article or in a book written by a professional, I think they know better than me, even though they have absolutely no way to see my kids.

It’s like a professional race car driver writing a book, that says left turn, and me trying to take a left turn on my street that doesn’t have one, over and over and over.

And part of the problem was in my mind I was not aware of how strong an authority bias (a professional said so, so it’s right!) I had.

I need to adjust that. A professional said so, so maybe it warrens consideration, does not at all mean immediately or irrefutably right for this situation.

I should have known that since there are always experts on both sides of every situation, doctors that say smoking is healthy, ones that say it isn’t… but what color are the lungs? Which people get cancer… the evidence tends not to lie as much as experts.

So, I made a personal note of 10 ways I want to change my real everyday family dynamic and knowing the specifics will change also the reasons behind the specifics.

1. Box up toys that are out of their allowed zone rather than discussing the zone over and over.
2. Discuss disobedience and challenging behaviors openly and immediately, “If you challenge me you will lose every time, because I’m much older.”
3. Teach vocabulary, I say “if your toys are on the floor they will be taken away.” She says “no they won’t.” I say “if you mean “you hope they won’t” learn to say it that way.”
4. Don’t feed bad behavior, if she is being punished for breaking the rules, no treats to help her feel better during that interlude.
5. Do mention she is good and bad, and can make good choices and in what ways she is good when she eats lunch nicely, helpful carrying the laundry, fun to dance with, sweet to let her brother join in her game ext.
6. Play on her identity as “Blue” the good dinosaur.
7. Walk away if I’m not calm, I can come back to the discussion calm in 5, 10 or 15 minutes. My anger scares her and she doesn’t learn, I have to be calm.
8. My daughter learns from pain, like the pain of losing Legos left on the floor, if I try to rush her through that pain or minimize it, she doesn’t learn. Shame and pain teach her. She had an accident at the park in front of her friends and that was the last major one. I didn’t shame her, but the shame of the experience was what taught her to stop bullshitting the universe that she didn’t have to go potty when she really did and was lying to herself to avoid interrupting her play.
9. Get rid of non-essential rules, because each one will be a pain in the ass to enforce and all require enforcement, keep everything that matters, but realize they will all need enforcement.
10. Think of her like an animal, a dog doesn’t come unless trained to come.

There is a pretty new kid’s series Jon Klassen’s Shape Trilogy with a sneaky triangle, a hard working, yet confused square, and a well liked circle. I loved the books. My daughter is very much the triangle, she does bad things because it’s fun, it’s funny, to see what happens, breaking the rules gives her a kleptomaniac glee, and of course many children and weak and sensitive now, but she isn’t, she is trying to game the system almost constantly. I hate that I can’t just ask her kindly and respectfully or explain to her calmly and logically to get her to follow the rules, but I can’t, it hasn’t worked. I’m quite uncomfortable being firm, but I can’t keep trying what doesn’t work anymore.

My new plan:

1. Box up toys that are out of their allowed zone rather than discussing the zone over and over.
2. Discuss disobedience and challenging behaviors openly and immediately, “If you challenge me you will lose every time, because I’m much older.”
3. Teach vocabulary, I say “if your toys are on the floor they will be taken away.” She says “no they won’t.” I say “if you mean “you hope they won’t” learn to say it that way.”
4. Don’t feed bad behavior, if she is being punished for breaking the rules, no treats to help her feel better during that interlude.
5. Do mention she is good and bad, and can make good choices and in what ways she is good when she eats lunch nicely, helpful carrying the laundry, fun to dance with, sweet to let her brother join in her game ext.
6. Play on her identity as “Blue” the good dinosaur.
7. Walk away if I’m not calm, I can come back to the discussion calm in 5, 10 or 15 minutes. My anger scares her and she doesn’t learn, I have to be calm.
8. My daughter learns from pain, like the pain of losing Legos left on the floor, if I try to rush her through that pain or minimize it, she doesn’t learn. Shame and pain teach her. She had an accident at the park in front of her friends and that was the last major one. I didn’t shame her, but the shame of the experience was what taught her to stop bullshitting the universe that she didn’t have to go potty when she really did and was lying to herself to avoid interrupting her play.
9. Get rid of non-essential rules, because each one will be a pain in the ass to enforce and all require enforcement, keep everything that matters, but realize they will all need enforcement.
10. Think of her (but not call her) like an animal, a dog doesn’t come unless trained to come.

Perhaps this is something everyone else knows about dealing with young children, but I didn’t know and it sure wasn’t on baby center articles that really advise a ton of permissive behavior towards children that won’t improve the life quality for the parents or mothers, like if you are getting bit, that’s fine and normal… what? Ok… four years of being bit later, I punish my son very mildly, putting him down a few feet away if he bites me and not feeding him for half a minute and he seems to be biting less… Unfortunately the internet has as much bad advice as word of mouth or even more, but some websites seem very correct with an article written by a doctor or parents with more years of experience than I have. But what no one else has, is a view of what is actually going on here, nor any idea what is tolerable or possible for me.

I tried hugging it out as a punishment, I got kicked a lot and my daughter seemed very uncomfortable having her body hugged against her will… I totally believe it worked for the mom, who said it worked, for that kid. But that kid isn’t this kid.

I think this approach may be helpful for not only my daughter, but also my husband and my dad, the people who hear my politely stated boundary and proceed to step over it as if they didn’t even hear. These are loved ones, they are really helpful, really generous, I want them in my life, but I have no idea why they don’t care to respect a politely stated boundary the way I would.

It seems like for some people the golden rule is non-existent. Not that they are bad people, but they expect their boundaries to be sacred and mine to be adjustable and flexible.

I’m actually not happy with the way some of these things are, but I find that I’ve got to really look at reality the way it is, try something, however imperfect to find a better balance, because I really want to have a family life that isn’t highly stressful. I want to give my kids, a lot of time, love, service, education, but I don’t want to martyr myself for four or five years longer, meaning that I don’t want to endure a status quo of daily boundary testing, which is horribly draining and unpleasant (which is what a lot of articles suggest, the kids being bad is part of normal development ha ha, just enjoy it!). I choose to find a way to tone it down from high stress to medium stress, or at least to try, because I’ve been unhappy with the level of tension, but always kind of one step behind whatever is going on in a way that left me too shell shocked to be a good leader and make a battle plan.

It’s a long-winded way for me to say I’m trying to switch from a calm parent to a firm parent.

I suppose it’s very difficult for me to change because what I wanted more than anything was a calm parent and perhaps I’m stuck trying to give my daughter what I wanted rather than what she needs or wants.

I’m still perhaps trying to create the ideal family, I never had and always wanted, but fate or God didn’t give me the right cast of actors to do that, instead I am a part of a new play that I’m directing poorly due to my lack of accepting what I can do in reality vs what I want to do in my own mental fantasy of a well behaved, calm, harmonious, loving family.

I am watching Ken Burn’s World War 2 documentary by the way, I was inspired by a commander at D-Day, when the Americans were all getting killed in the water by machine guns he suggested “we are dying here in the water, let’s get onto the beach and die there.” That’s what I’m trying to do, imperfectly shift my family out of our less than optimal status quo with the possibility of finding a way out of bad habits between all of us.

“Can’t we do better? At least I can try.”

Anyone have success with those people who hear what your boundary was, understand it, but love nothing more than to either cross it or at least put their toe on the line over and over to watch you squirm? 🧨

📖 Permission to Feel 💖

Yesterday I started a new book, Permission to Feel by Marc Brackett, it’s just what I wanted after reading How Emotions Are Made.

How Emotions Are Made had so much evidence that almost everything we thought we knew about emotions in the general public was dead wrong.

The real evidence supported the real-life occurrences of increased mental health problems with kids, growing suicide, the probably mental health problem underlying the American opium epidemic, but it was also hard to wrap my head around.

Wow, so everything I knew and was taught was wrong… that makes sense, but now what?

The now what is this book, Marc worked with answering the same questions I had for 25 years before people wanted to hear it, now he makes sense of how the same evidence that I am chewing on fits in to a larger new world of your family not being emotionally abusive anymore because it’s status quo.

I’ve always wondered why you can tell your dreams to strangers, who for the most part, won’t tear them down, but in your own family, I’m sure there is one or more people who would tell you things no stranger would ever think of saying to you.

Then you grow your own internal voice of emotional abuse and no one has to say anything to you for you to doubt what you feel is normal or valid.

It’s so common I know very few families that don’t do it (two, I’m so glad I saw it first hand or I wouldn’t know what that feels like).

I hear a lot of verbal abuse of millennial by older generations, and there are many many flaws with us, but one thing that is not a flaw is our speaking out about sexual or emotional abuse and beginning a process of transformation in our society where hopefully if abuse does happen from 0-18 and doesn’t get prosecuted, at least it stops then, at the minimum I hope to live through a period where at least adults have the social and emotional power to say I don’t care what support you gave me and how we are related, if you are going to tear me down, I’m not going to be here. I hope I see the death of the abusive family, much more than the first female US president or the first person on Mars. Not everyone creates a family, but we are mostly part of one, if it’s something we all do, I wonder why we haven’t “got it right yet”?

Perhaps the pain of being “wrong’…

I asked my daughter if she thinks I’m a bad parent, she said “yes”.

I got a bit defensive, but 98% I just agree.

And I’m really hoping this book “Permission to Feel” helps me be a good parent.

We all tell our friends, “you’re not a bad mom” or “you’re bad wife,” but there are bad moms (especially Gabriel’s mom right?) and bad wives out there.

According to this book I’m supposed to be able to:

Understand and read feelings from faces as well as words,
Know why the emotions occurred,
Understand how did the emotion affect the person (myself and my kids),
Label the emotions correctly,
Express emotions well to be a model of how to do it,
Regulate how I feel

I think I do regulate well, but I’m not good at reading other people’s emotional lives, or understanding them. When I label wrong my husband and daughter get frustrated with me and when I model they seem super disinterested with trying out processes that work for me.

I think I’m going to have to support my husband through his journey at learning more about emotions and he will have to work with my daughter, because their mental process is so similar, I just don’t think the same tools that work for me will work for them, at least not in the same way.

I’ve noticed meditation helps me, but I only meditate when I’m already calm or half way calm. When I’m really angry or depressed I don’t even try.

So it doesn’t seem fair to tell my depressed family member or furious family member to meditate. Even if meditation was the #1 best way to master sailing the sea of emotions, if boats are only for sale to calm people… I hope we find a different way for my husband and daughter. Or if not, we at least need a step to move them to calm before they start where I usually start, a transition step.

I’m trying not to read more than I can absorb, today I read so many truths:

1. A 30-minute argument with your significant other slows healing 1 day
2. The stress of anticipating a public speech doubles allergy symptoms
3. Sad moods make illness symptoms more severe and susceptibility to catching them x3.
4. Crying caries stress hormones out of the body.
5. Gratitude increases oxygen in the body speeds healing, boosts the immune system.
6. For 1 year falling in love improves memory via nerve growth factor and restores nerve system.
7. Laughter enhances mood, releases beta-endorphins, stimulates growth hormones, and reduces heart attack risk.
8. Anticipating laughter lowers cortisol and adrenaline.

– Marc Brackett

A quote that I liked:

Emotional sickness is avoiding reality at any cost.
Emotional health is facing reality at any cost.

– M Scott Peck

I kind of believe that the purpose on a whole of our millennial generation is to say, enough emotional sickness. I fully understand the frontier days were about survival, women, children and men as well suffered abuse to survive at all, the first generations of Americans were making life work as best they could, WW2, the great depression, a huge proportional of people has unavoidable PTSD, we wouldn’t be here without their sacrifice and hard work, yet we don’t want to continue broken habits now that the larger world is completely changed, I think it’s time for the world of the family and individual to change as well. I think it’s time for a war on emotional abuse within the family. At least in my family.

And it starts with me, going to war with me.

I knew I wouldn’t want to hit my kids, I didn’t.

This year I didn’t want to yell anymore, I stopped, that was my 2020 resolution.

But I have no idea why I never thought to be nice?

If one end of the spectrum is abuse, then “acceptable” hitting, then yelling, then verbal abuse, rudeness, meanness, talking, acceptance, emotional empowerment, mentoring, support and being nice.

I don’t know why I didn’t even think of being nice, rather then “stop yelling.”

After I did stop, I wondered what the next goal was, I though maybe “stop being rude,” “stop saying mean things,” but I realized that was a void, a lack of a habit, not an actual action, the positive habit. I didn’t even know what I was supposed to be doing instead of yelling…

It’s not just me, I just visited a friend who according to them, had been yelling at their only child all day to clean up…

That’s a horrible day.

It actually wasn’t clean, so the whole day was spent, not disciplining, not cleaning, but just being ignored and unhappy…

That’s been my day too.

Then I really started taking away toys (without drama), and I realized I never needed to have a problem.

Either my daughter cleans up whatever she wants to have, which is fine, or I box it away for someday that she might both want it and also be able to manage it.

Now when I grab something I’m cleaning I decide if I want to be responsible for cleaning it or if I want to put it away and not have to clean it everyday.

If that’s unfair I don’t see how?

No calling her a slob, no throwing it away, no giving back and forth everyday or week or month…

It’s just when you are ready to be responsible for the item you will be able to chose to access it.

I worked for years and when I became a stay at home mom my husband expected (maybe subconsciously) that I would suddenly want to clean up a lot after other people and I actually don’t. So I don’t.

He also hopes that I develop my skills as a writer or programmer to someday make money from home.

I am not willing to hold the pressure and expectations of being someone who is “developing to renter the workforce” and also someone who is “developing to be a better stay at home parent”. Complete refusal.

I would perhaps do what I can of either, but not both.

I’m not already doing a job ie stay at home parent and also preparing to get a job (meaning I don’t have one as a stay at home parent.

I’m really not sure if parenting is or isn’t a job. It’s hard to say, since there is no income, yet there sure are job duties and hours of work completed.

But I’m not going both be a better maid, since I’m “not doing anything” and also try to develop job skills…

It’s so weird to me that my husband and I have these problems of ping ponging expectations, because I’ve always been clearly not that lady who would cook, clean, take care of the kids and pick up part time work at the same time. I will cook and take care the kids, if he cooks I would clean and take care of the kids, if I didn’t have kids I would pick up work. I will basically do any two with a smile, but not all of them and he has always wanted me to do all of them with a smile (like his mom). So I’ve never been his mom, never said I would be, never been willing to, but he just can’t stop wanting me to be. I’ve wanted to, but I can’t, I can get type A productivity from myself, I wasn’t born to be that way. It kills me to try and when I was able to and saw him contributing so little of the overall duties, it made me hate him, so either I don’t do everything or I do, but I will be a single mother, rather than a married-single mother.

We’ve talked about it many times, it’s not something he wants to do, something he feels stuck doing, like when I used to yell at my daughter, while I was pregnant.

I’m not trying to shame him, I’m just trying to voice a problem in marriage that either people could watch out for developing or tell me how they solved…

One thing is shoes, I picked glass off the carpet yesterday, my husband works with machines, he tracks in glass, I ask him to take off his shoes before he walks on the carpet, he won’t.

I can’t even ask anymore. I vacuum the glass, I hope I get it before my 1 year old eats it or steps on it. I find it sad that I’m too sick of the cycle to even bring it up again.

I’m Asian, we don’t wear our shoes in the house, my husband is Mexican, his particular family doesn’t not wear shoes in the house… I’ve told him how I feel about it, that it increases the amount of debris that gets into our kids area, that I don’t enjoy spending the time vacuuming as often due to him bring the shoes in, that I have tripped carrying the baby once at night when his shoes were in the middle of the hall, I don’t know if he doesn’t care, but he doesn’t change. I have a boundary, I express it, my spouse doesn’t respect it, I discuss it, from there I don’t know where to go?

I can imagine hiding his shoes, but um, it seems disrespectful to treat an adult like that. What I want is a spouse who will respect my boundaries, but I don’t have that, I’m not ready for a divorce over it, but nor do I want to adjust to it, I don’t know what to do about that yet. On paper, the next step to having boundaries is defending my boundaries, but how to do that in a respectful way I have no idea, so I live with these little things that build one millimeter of resentment up every day and it slowly becomes a mountain of distance between us.

The book made these claims that I have directly experienced, it’s difficult to discuss these things in a way that isn’t complaining, in a way that is sharing observations of life without being a victim, but I do want to say to people reading the book, these things do match my anecdotal evidence, this is not just a story, it’s something that happens to people and can happen to you, something to be mindful of from both the perspective of the person who distressed by arguing with a significant other, who doesn’t like arguing, that it isn’t right or fair to scapegoat a stressful day at work onto someone who isn’t fine with it (common yes, possible yes, just no, decent no).

I discus my husband because he plays this huge role in my reality, it would be hard to explore our interaction leaving his half blank, but it’s not that I don’t appreciate him. I wouldn’t be with him if I didn’t love him. I just think we could do better, both of us, and it takes me a lot of anger to be able to uncover where my boundaries are or should be, since they are a bit like a reef in the dark to me.

1. A 30-minute argument with your significant other slows healing 1 day.

I had this really bad digestive problem during the time my husband and I had our first apartment and I really think it healed slower than it needed to because it happened at the same time as we were fighting like cats and dogs trying to match his family’s version of normal living and my family’s version of normal living together (it couldn’t be done, we just had to find a new version together). It started on a trip, a very happy trip, I don’t think it happened because of stress, I think it happened because of Giardia or some other traveler’s diarrhea, but I do think it lasted years because it coincided with a time of stupid constant arguments. I wish I was better at communicating, stupid constant arguments take two people to have them, I could have been the person to be more respectful and less reactive in hindsight, but the point of me talking about it is to say, I really think it’s true. Rather than say “all couple’s argue” as an excuse, I hope I and everyone starts to understand that engaging in obviously too much argument is doing damage on some level, maybe small, but real to the person you love’s health and it’s really an excuse for not learning how to communicate well.

An alternative to arguing is talking, it has a higher rate of results for me 70% instead of 0%. When I don’t get what I want through talking, arguing hasn’t made it work either. If arguing does work for you, what’s the cost to the other person? Is that fine? Maybe it is. But if arguing doesn’t even get you what you want, maybe consider quitting?

2. The stress of anticipating a public speech doubles allergy symptoms.

I had allergies (verified by blood tests) for years, I didn’t give public speeches, but knowing I would have to be on call worsened it when my phone broke after I accidentally washed it, I didn’t replace it and my well being increased so much. It’s not for everybody, but it’s not impossible to live without a phone, for some people (like Stephen King and myself) it’s a better life either not having a phone or having one with extreme limitation. I don’t know how much being on call for work or for arguments by whatever family member wanted to start one affected my allergies, but I could see that when the stress improved (not to perfection) I got better. I had all the allergies on the blood test in the past, now I have none. The body can heal quite well if whatever is harming it is removed well.

3. Sad moods make illness symptoms more severe and susceptibility to catching them x3.

This is not me, I’m not too sad (I’m more angry or calm), but it’s my sister. She averages three times the flus and colds as everyone else in the family, year after year after year, I’ve always wanted to be able to help her turn off her depression, but I think I’ve ever been able to help at all, not sure if it’s just me or if it’s something that needs to be done from the inside out, or if it’s just a bad gut biome, which will have a cure in the future, I don’t know, but we care for her. She went to the psychiatrist, she tried the meds for months, no improvement, she went through the recommended hoops, but they didn’t help for her.

4. Crying caries stress hormones out of the body.

This is a horrible point of marital conflict between my spouse and I. His family says “no llores” don’t cry and I completely support a baby having the option to cry. An older child can be encouraged to find emotional copping, but I’m just 100% against the biggest component of his mom’s child-raising philosophy so it’s defiantly cost us peace in our marriage for me to try to support my children’s right to emotions and I hope I was not wrong because it was not without a cost. One thing people who don’t want crying are trying to get is sleep, that I agree with, I try to soothe the baby during sleep hours, but not by saying don’t cry and not with the attitude of “shut up now” more like “how can I get you more comfortable so we can all rest”. Another thing they want is emotional resilience, but having people care about you and be willing to hear you out is what creates that, so it’s unfortunate that they prevent the goal they are seeking with a method that has no evidence to work because of the logical fallacy if it’s commonplace it’s right. Instead of strong men and women, it creates people who refuse to report being weak, while they are often weak as hell. My husband’s father left his family with three kids when he was 1 year old, supposedly because he was impatient with how long my husband’s diarrhea bought was lasting. Wow, what a strong man that isn’t… My mom left because she fell in love with a guy who she felt attracted to, who didn’t want to commit to her, couldn’t support her and she didn’t care so much about providing a stable environment for her two kids. Is it a win for gender equality? It didn’t feel like it at the moment…

5. Gratitude increases oxygen in the body speeds healing, boosts the immune system.

This is the most important one for me to talk about because the others were commonly spoken about, perhaps not believed, but spoken about much at all. Being sad can potentially kill you, but it’s also part of who we are, our experience, gratitude can potentially save your life and it’s free and encouraged. I’m not saying don’t be sad, I’m saying do be grateful. Perhaps the death of a loved one is a good example of chasing sadness with gratitude. When we remember the good, it doesn’t mean we don’t wish there was more, but without doing that seemingly simple thing we go through a greater pain than we need to. Which reminds me of when my son was born. I delivered him naturally at home, no pain killers, and then had a headache and took an Advil. It was kind of funny to go through the larger pain without medicine and take the medicine for the smaller one, but the reason is I’m not sure pain medicine was safe for the baby during delivery and I felt sure it was for the headache. So for me, there was no reason not to take an Advil for a headache and there was a reason for me not to take medicine for the delivery (that I’m not sure is right or not). I was told that the increase in pain killers for delivery corresponded to an increase in drug addicts possibly not coincidently and it worried me, totally not saying it’s for sure or trying to shame other people, but it worried me and affected my choice. Anyways. Living without gratitude is like living without pain medication, it’s your choice, you can, but why? For many people it seems out of reach, like either you are or are not “that person” but I know it’s not true now, it’s possible to find your own way to be grateful and it’s so wonderful a feeling once it stops being awkwardly hard. Kind of like rolling an R, but better. I think when cats purr or dogs lie in the sun they get the kind of feeling gratitude gifts me and it’s really a beautiful, very understated life skill that is available for anyone.

6. For 1 year falling in love improves memory via nerve growth factor and restores nerve system.

It’s funny, I used to talk with my husband about our favorite times and we would remember everything from our first year, a bit of our second and almost nothing after… but that’s consistent with this evidence about nerve growth factor. I also felt like I was healing as a human being, and perhaps to some extent, I was since I was so inspired to be the best person I could and I also was able to actually restore my brain. It felt like I was healing from a lifetime of being unloved and unwanted by parents, and maybe my brain was actually growing some new social skills. When I fell in love with my husband it was, the feeling of being loved for the first time, a feeling of this is what human life is supposed to be like, someone cares about me, I have someone to care about. It was as if the world was constantly covered with golden dust, I didn’t see it, but it felt that way. It felt like no one died of poverty or disease like no one got trafficked, no wars were going on… it wasn’t true, but it created a feeling of world peace in my heart for many years and I never forget that. Even though today, we have such a typical “I Love Lucy” kind of status quo dissatisfaction, I never forget the beginning. The first smile, the look in his eye, that I was the most interesting and beautiful wonder of this universe (that I haven’t seen in years…) I remember it completely – thank you never growth factor for saving me that memento.

7. Laughter enhances mood, releases beta-endorphins, stimulates growth hormones, and reduces heart attack risk.

Laughter is the best medicine, maybe not just a saying, but true? I don’t know how far it goes, but lately that I can’t exercise, because I’m kind of nursing myself back to health still I naturally turned to comedy to look for a healthy substitute to the dopamine.

Dopamine isn’t bad, it’s necessary.

I worry that by misunderstanding addiction we are missing our chance to have productive conversations and find solutions that really work.

-Cyrus McCandless

I was going to say I’m grateful that I don’t have anyone addicted in my family, and it’s true, but then I remembered my mom. We are now, so distant, there is a gap, a hesitation of my brain to even remember her… At the end of that TED Talk Cyrus says that addiction isn’t a moral failing, it’s a biological one and I felt guilty without knowing why.

I’ve always judged my mother harshly, for her abuse of myself, even more of siblings and even more of non-related victims as if abuse “should occur” with family only, not strangers!… but I judged her also for being a drug addict, like she chose it over us, quite possibly she didn’t “choose it”.

My mother, the bipolar, anorexic, drug-addict, pedophile… wherever you are I no longer blame for being a drug addict. Actually, I hope you find peace, though I value the safety of children so very much higher than your freedom.

When I watched the TedTalk today the quote “I worry that by misunderstanding addiction we are missing our chance to have productive conversations and find solutions that really work,” really struck me as the feeling I have about talking about my family problems, my marriage problems. I’m trying to either have a productive conversation or at least be a part of a world where those conversations can be open conversations so much more than I want to “complain”.

I think it’s a fine line between “this happened” (discussion) and “this happened to me” (complaint-victim-hood).

There is also a fine line between “this isn’t the time and place for this discussion” and “shh! We don’t talk about that ever.

So perhaps laughter can save your life from a heart attack? Maybe. I know calcium supplements can kill you from a heart attack, that was surprising. Germany studied it and did not see it coming. The study is attacked, it only studied  23,980 men and women… seems like a lot to me. The authors reported that users of mixed calcium supplements had an 86% increased risk, well that’s just… um, a lot. But that’s the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study (EPIC-Heidelberg), most places are still trying to sell calcium supplements… but I’ve been really suspicious about them since college where my largest project was to search for the largest probably osteoporosis culprit and it really seemed to be “excess calcium.”

8. Anticipating laughter lowers cortisol and adrenaline.

This was cool, I try to make my son laugh everyday at least once, but even if I don’t, if I even make him expect to laugh I’ve created a slightly better life for him. For about a week I’ve been trying and failing to watch comedy every day, it seems not that hard, but all new habits are hard, and even thought I didn’t, my life has been improved by thinking I was going to watch comedy for the past few days.

I think I’m very often like, “this book is life changing,” this is going to be the book for me, that lets me “really start to live” to suck the marrow out of life like Henry David Thoreau did, just sit there by the lake sucking away, not giving a damn about what haters think, this is going to be “that book”…

But really, I think is the book for me, to fill the gaping hole in my life skills that nice people tell is already just fine, but that still stinks.

That reminds me of getting my wisdom teeth removed, it left me with a gaping hole, food would get in, be trapped by the bowl shape of the healing wound, and stink… I had to flush the trapped food out with water, I’m hoping this book is the “curved tip irrigation syringe” I need to flush the rotten part out of myself.

Because I do suck as a parent, at least at a part of it, and I think by denying or misunderstanding the ways I am a bad wife and mom, I am missing my chance to have productive conversations and find solutions that really work.

74,000 drug deaths in the U.S. in 2017, it’s getting worse, but we continue to take the same punitive approach under the presumption that if we are just hard enough on addicts, they’ll stop, and we’ve servery limited the kinds of treatments that are available and the availability of those treatments and we’ve been very slow to adopt new approaches from the science of addiction where we’ve made huge progress in the last 30 years if our current approach worked don’t you think things would be getting better instead of worse?

Marketers and journalists have perpetuated a huge misunderstanding that what feels like your addiction to your phone is the same thing as addictive drugs.

-Cyrus McCandless

Yes that matters to me, but what matters more is seeing how true it is of my family life.

It’s getting worse (the distance between my husband and I, the closeness between my daughter and I), but we (my husband and I) continue to take the same punitive approach (putting my daughter in her room, taking away toys and games) under the presumption that if we are just hard enough on addicts our daughter, they’ll stop, and we’ve servery limited the kinds of treatments that are available for feeling frustrated (getting outside, seeing friends) and the availability of those treatments and we’ve been very slow to adopt new approaches from the science of addiction learning and emotional intelligence, where we’ve made huge progress in the last 30 years if our current approach worked don’t you think things would be getting better instead of worse?

Marketers and journalists have perpetuated a huge misunderstanding that “want” and “like” are married

We don’t have to want what we like.

We don’t have to like what we want.

Dopamine doesn’t make us feel good or be happy, it doesn’t tell us how much we like things, it teaches us how and where to get the things we need or like.

Can ≠ Should

Like ≠ Want

Dopamine responds to the signs I have learned that predicts the appearance of what surprised me in the past, not what actually happens.

That’s why very young kids probably love Christmas, and older one’s not, it was a nice surprise at a point, then it became a routine without surprise, then possibly a routine that wasn’t even rewarding at all.

That’s why falling in love was so great, I completely didn’t expect it to happen to me. Then it did, someone loved me, it was amazing. Now perhaps my husband does me love me, that’s not surprising at all, it’s kind of expected. Our marriage became routine and isn’t very rewarding at all at this current point in time. But when he does tiny things like buying me two fries without asking, it’s magic! I guess I do love surprises and never knew it before.

I recommend you check out Cyrus McCandless’ TedTalk, it deals with real addiction, but also your brain, because your brain works based on dopamine too and I think it’s the main culprit of hedonistic adaptation that turned the wonder of going to the moon the first time, into the boredom and criticism of the second time. It explains a lot.

I’ve been singing “I love you, I love you, I love you, just the way you are,” to my kids (ripped off from Daniel Tiger’s neighborhood) instead of calling them pretty or handsome, and they love it, even the 1 year old… it’s kind of “cheesy” perhaps for me to say this, but let me say it to you guys too, maybe for someone, it’s the first time…

Readers, I love you, I love you, I love you, just the way you are.

If it’s silly or cheesy, that’s fine, I’ll be silly and cheesy, instead of just being mean all the time. 💞

🎨 Stem Cells 🖼️

Once it was believed every cell was different, almond shaped muscle cells, plate shaped skin cells, balloon shaped fat cells, cup shaped goblet cells, pyramid shaped bladder cells.

But now it’s known all blood cells come from a stem cell which makes blood cells, white blood cells to attack germs, red ones to carry oxygen and waste.

There are a few varieties of those stem cells, which make many types of cells each.

But there is the embryonic stem cell that can make those few types of stem cells.

And the process can be reversed, from a skin cell to a cell that can become anything including egg or sperm cells.

A person can be made of a skin cell now, hasn’t been done that I know of, but can be cloned that way (the Stem Cell Revolutions documentary explains it very well for a non-science background person who cares to learn).

It was to avoid using embryonic cells for research that cells were reversed and thus the ethical problem of using embryos was solved by perhaps a bigger potential ethical problem. It doesn’t have to be a problem, but it depends on how the future decided to use the technology.

I think this truth of our body is also mirrored in minds.

About two days ago I found myself in a deep way mentally and emotionally in the phlegmatic temperament.

The temperament system has choleric (fiery), melancholy (sensitive), phlegmatic (calm), and sanguine (joyful) people. The system is ancient, some things are wrong like that the amount of blood or water in the body is the cause of the temperaments, but I find a large truth common to all groups of people I have been reflected in the system.

I wondered who am I? What is my purpose? Why am I different than my family members? What can I do in this world, what is the way I can use my talents to help?

A few days ago I found answers to my questions, that had I a mentor or wise family member, perhaps I would have learned at a much younger age… but nonetheless I just learned about two days ago (at least at to a level one kind degree).

Who am a I? A calm person, human, but kind of even keeled. I’m was inspired by Scott Carpenter, I’m not as rebellious and good at piloting as that, but I’m that calm.

It drives my husband nuts when he is furious and I’m serine, but that’s just the only way I can be most the time, and I’m kind of over apologizing for the way I was built by now.

Once upon a time I was different, a very long time ago I was a happy baby. Before my parents began to fight and split, when I had a dog, when life was good.

My husband has a half sister who tends to be melancholy, thinking of her I wondered what she was like before, he remembers her as a happy baby, her dad was old when she was born and died while she was young, I have no idea what else, but that would be enough to change someone.

Not the event, but the beliefs picked up during the event.

I know four people who lost their parents early, two are melancholy, one sanguine and one phlegmatic. It’s not primarily the events that happen to you that change you, it’s your mind that changes/interprets the events.

My sister was pretty melancholy as a baby and most her life, but in college she became more outspoken and choleric and upon entering the work force became more and more choleric then melancholy.

So we are in a way flavored by our beliefs, but not stuck in them. We start capable of most things, life goes on, we begin to soak in the seasoning of our thoughts, but we can always rinse off and resason.

We are like stem cells, we can go forward in the way we choose, we can go backwards towards a new fate, but I find I don’t want to change my core.

Sure I may enjoy a sad song and melancholy moment, I do have a choleric moment when my computer breaks (but I sigh and find a different way rather than hitting my computer), I do have sanguine moments smiling back at my joyful 1 year old son grinning at me or kissing my cheek, but my core is phlegmatic.

It doesn’t matter to me the exact amount of each type, I know all four pieces are part of the recipe of being human, I have them all, I will use them all, but knowing which is my core is extremely emotionally grounding, mentally empowering and enlightening as to in what ways I can shine.

Knowing myself was needed for me to love and accept myself, now I have a peaceful, easy feeling I’ve been lacking for many years (I think since age 12).

I finally know who I am at my core. Kind of like Pete Nelson, the tree house builder, kind of Scott Carpenter the astronaut concerned with the human experience of space, kind of Henry David Thoreau the writer.

Knowing myself better feels a little bit like coming home to the Tahoe woods I grew up in.

If someday I’m different, I will accept it as it comes, it seems people can change, but do so at a slow rate absent major cataclysms.

What I learned, to find yourself you have to let go of what others expect, for at least an instant, and be willing to accept the truth of who you are in the present (which prevents an perfectionist from ever knowing themselves, as we humans are very imperfect, but very pluripotent).

Call it Level 0 or Level 1, Either Way It’s Progress for Me!
Free Test if you’re interested.

I did at times hate myself instead of being content, but I think that was when I was trying to fill sanguine shoes far beyond what I could.

I don’t like purple for phlegmatic, I like green for us and yellow for the sanguine.

Thank you for reading interested in knowing how you identify if you care to share? 💚

🌎Quiet Desperation🌙

This Sunday I finished a particularly long post, but there is some kind of error preventing publishing. I tried to fix it, the error is WordPress “1 file failed to upload”… I couldn’t fix it by removing videos or pictures, which was puzzling.

I was lucky to get an ultrasound for a weird medical issue, but the ultrasound came back “unremarkable” which I disagree with, I think my kidneys are remarkable (joke). So good as far as my kidney function, which is awesome 50,000 people die a year in this country (US) from kidney issues. But it’s also unwanted news in that I still have a minor mystery on my hands, when I don’t want any. I got the results Sunday, so I discussed it with my husband, who is pretty tired of supporting me through illness. He is always impatient by nature and even more so with medical stuff.

As a woman, society has tried to groom me to turn to men or authority or others to support me, but no one really wants to, in my life I have received help support from many people, friends, mentors, but my immediate family is pretty quick to abandon me. It sounds dramatic, but it does fit the evidence. My sister called me less than three times the years she was in college. My father kicked me out at 13 and didn’t call for my birthday. My mother kicked me out when I was 14 and I don’t even know how many years ago she told me she would never call me again, but it’s been many for sure, long before I got married or had kids. My husband wants to send me away, not to end the marriage, but to look for our new house and move without me and our kids in the state. When I’m sick he always want me to be well quickly, more than he wants to help me get through the time I am sick. I don’t know if I’m alone in this experience, everything social, the dictates saying a woman needs a community, a spouse, a village, and actual reality telling her “do it yourself”?

There is a beauty and freedom to only relying on yourself. But so much limitation.

I just taught the lesson of mankind going to the moon in our school today.

It makes me realize that there are many worlds in our world.

A world where people can work together well enough to go to the moon together, Russia and the US were rivals, but without that rivalry, maybe we wouldn’t be there yet. Rivalry is interesting. Like T-rex and triceratops, growing from 25 lbs to 16,000 lbs through competition. But then entering extinction together.

It seems to not only me, but the people who made the “Moon Shot” video about the space program in 1994, absurd that a race of humans that can go to the moon, was at the same time, punching one another in the face, throwing bleach into each other’s eyes ext over skin color variation and the oppression resulting from it.

So one group of people transcends our world through team work of a nation, another rips it apart due to stupidity, and a third is caught somewhere in between.

I suppose I am also like the true U.S., corrupt, stupid, transcendent, creative, evolving, violent.

There is the best of me, the desire to know more, to teach my children the best of our world, genetics, art, music, language, reading, writing, pro-activity, cause and effect, ethics, there is the worst of me, I was quite impatient at music time when my daughter wouldn’t pay attention today, and there is the in between, the me who does the laundry, does the dishes, does things that need to be done, but things that won’t necessarily have a special lifelong impact on my children or what they do.

I think it’s impossible to function at your best level without forgiving yourself your worst, but somehow it’s hard to extend that courtesy to my family.

Being stuck at home together for a month has amplified everything we hate about each other. Our governor has vowed to keep us in another month and thus it’s the probable midway through a crabby patch of our lives.

Yesterday we tried to walk within the rules, in our neighborhood, apart from others (my husband, my daughter, my son and myself), where we live is very close to a college and nothing else, we caught a lady bug for my daughter and she was quite happy, but then security let us know we had to leave and the college will closed until August. So, we have no where to go. We hadn’t even been that far (a quarter of a block)… in over a month.

My favorite fun activity when I have the time is a computer game called Rimworld, my sister got me interested in it as something to do together to keep in touch. The creator keeps updating the game to make it better, but it almost always breaks when he does that, so that was also broken yesterday.

Having my writing platform, wordpress broken, my only entertainment Rimworld broken, my health still a bit broken in an annoyingly mysterious way, all at the same time, was difficult. I remember a superstition that bad things come in threes, I don’t really believe that, but I do notice I can handle any two things better than three.

Which makes me happy that I stopped at two children.

My son is just starting to throw fits of anger. He can open markers now, he sucks on the ink, so I take the marker away and put it out of reach and he gets mad (but I’m not going to leave him the marker).

My daughter is just growing out of throwing fits of anger. She still makes demands that aren’t within our family rules, like when she already has food served she wants to be served on an apple plate, even though we won’t switch her plate if she asks after she is served, in the past that would have been a fit, but now she just moves on without even commenting or with a nasty face. She still throws some fits, but at least she is skipping through others.

I really liked watching the Moon Shot, it shows a lot about human nature. The seemingly pointless competition between Russia and the US, but also the team work of the whole US to work together to get to the moon the first time.

It was interesting how amazed people were to see the Earth rise for the first time, to get to the moon, and how apathetic they were the second time, what a silly waste of money they thought it was.

It’s a lot like our family. My husband and I were very much in love, 10/10. Not it’s possible for weeks to pass without a smile between us. Once I was the world to him, now I’m the wallpaper.

There’s some good to that, I stopped evaluating my self worth based on what my husband thought and when I got married I stopped caring what other men thought, so that my self worth is not based on what any man thinks about me. I have a lot of space for intellectual growth. Socrates had a nagging wife, supposedly, and thus had more time for philosophy while he avoided going home. Yesterday I started learning to code with Python, because my marriage lacks warmth, I would have preferred to cuddle on the sofa, but my husband wouldn’t so know I know a bit of Python that maybe someday I can make an app with… I would prefer to be happily married, really happily, with smiles and warmth and teamwork and open communication, but it’s not something I can force upon another person, regardless of what I want. We have more of a neutral marriage, it’s a lot better than a negative one, but watching the US work together to go to the moon rekindled a spark of hope in my heart to actually do better than just living out the status quo one day after another comfortably until I someday die.

But the hope breeds quiet desperation.

How can we get to another level as a family? How can we become a team that together does things, which would be impossible alone? I don’t know.

Most of the best things I do are things I can do alone, I don’t really have good team work skills. But a collection of individuals doesn’t work as well as a team.

We had a small family meeting yesterday, we usually do Sundays, my daughter gives a presentation, which goes well, on whatever she wants and then we talk about updates with education or trips ext. My husband didn’t stop watching videos to see my daughter’s 1 minute presentation and I didn’t bring it up then, usually I do. The stay at home order has brought out the worst in my family, it didn’t create our worst, but it brought it out more clearly.

My daughter selfish, poorly behaved, myself rigid, unable to fix problems we have in our daily life, my husband very detached from supporting his wife and children emotionally.

On Moon Shot PBS documentary (1:46 min) Apollo 1 caught on fire while on the launchpad and killed 3 astronauts. They said “it was an enormous set back and everybody felt it,” “we were really shocked because we had just left the guys and come back,” “it sent a wave of pain…” “everybody was asking what could I have done, what could we have done?” Gus Grissom responded with the response that I would want from my country:

I think the American public is mature enough to recognize that it’s an important program, and a program that must go on, and if something should happen, why um, it happened, we still have to go on living everyday and we go on and continue the program.

– Gus Grissom Astronaut

But it’s not my right to say how other people choose to respond to their grief.

In my last post (the one I couldn’t post due to technical issues) I discussed the four temperaments (with myself I guess).

The sanguine (appearing happy), the choleric (angry temperamental fit throwers), the melancholy (easily thrown into depression) and the phlegmatic (me, human inside but calm on the surface).

I’m sure all types experience all emotions, joy, rage, desperation, and calm, but perhaps what we repress defines what other see.

For example, perhaps the positive attitude sanguine people repress everything except joy and stay in bad situations for an unhealthy amount of time?

Perhaps the choleric are uncomfortable with joy and sorrow, perhaps they feel undeserving of joy and too strong to grieve?

Perhaps the melancholy grieve because life does have legitimate pain and sorrow, but are uncomfortable being joyful and unable take ownership of their life enough to be angry?

Perhaps the phlegmatic are calm under fire, not because they are more rational, but instead all their emotions have been repressed so that they are out of touch with the good and bad of being human like living on a dim world, neither dark nor bright?

Like different light bulbs plugged into the same light source, we input the same events, but output different responses.

I learned about the five elements of music today, melody, pitch, rhythm, harmony and timbre.

I had known melody (the tune), pitch (low and high), rhythm (beat), harmony (clashing or complimenting other notes), but I didn’t ever know timbre (tam-ber), the color of the music.

The Five Elements of Music

It was wonderful learning about the color of music today. I’m so grateful to Robert Young and his wife Samantha who put out free children’s music lessons on Youtube so that I can teach my kids music and music theory at home on a daily basis. I knew basic piano and grew up reading music, but without Prodigy Playground I wouldn’t be able to replace a “real” music teacher, because my background is mostly science and medicine without much music theory.

Yesterday I found myself a bit more than ever before as a phlegmatic, “calm person” and over the past year I wondered what is the purpose for nature or God putting every family together with such high contrast?

Every family seems to have a “crazy” person, more traditional people, pacifists, warriors, ext…

I think it’s not an accident that we can barely stand our family members, I think it’s a survival mechanism and a challenge. My husband is focused on money, but it’s the money that feeds the rest of us in the present. I am focused on teaching, but the way we educate our children, ethically to not shoot the other kids, is our families only lasting legacy to the future. Perhaps not all families are as full of clashing personalities as ours, but I find them more common than uncommon.

I find getting along with your family, coworkers, spouse, children is probably the hardest thing in the world. It was harder for America than going to the moon, and is still our biggest challenge.

Our species is millions of years old, you would think we had figured out getting along well with one another a long time ago if it was easy, but wars, divorce, murder, prove that it hasn’t been done on a large scale.

Perhaps some people know, just as some people know genetics or astronomy, but the public doesn’t know. Politics is good evidence of a lack of people with conflicting views being mature and working as a team for the overarching well being of everyone.

So if there are three waves of knowledge, perhaps the first wave of understanding has happened, but the next two are far behind… if…

So we can go to the moon, but not get along with our own families. That’s why getting along with coworkers is the biggest career advantage, and perhaps getting along with other people is the most difficult and also most important challenge of a human being.

I am finding myself the past two days, and what I find is that I’m already doing what I was meant to do, but that I’m not done allowing it to “feel like enough”.

According to the phlegmatic chart the way I can best be a part of the human race is as a diplomat, an accountant, a teacher, and a technician. Right now I am a poor and reluctant diplomat between my father and sister, between my daughter and husband, between myself and the world. I handed my husband the job of accountant since he makes the decisions, I’d rather not watch his decisions in action. I am a teacher, very much so. A lot of people home school, but I do it with a very high amount of my heart and soul. I think of myself as a “real teacher” of a “real school,” even though I just have my own kids.

Be careful to leave your sons well instructed rather than rich, for the hopes of the instructed are better than the wealth of the ignorant.


I think the lasting input of me on the world will be mainly through the decency and or kindness of my two children. I write because it helps me think, it helps me grow, it helps me live better, be better, but I don’t think it will be my legacy to the world, I believe in my children that they are agents of change for a better world (I believe that of all children, but I have access or capacity to them, so mostly mine are burdened and or gifted by the education we do at home from birth until they escape).

I perhaps am noticing for the first time how that sounds, like I’m putting too much pressure on my kids to live for me or be what I could not, but it is also the actual truth.

They will literally live on when I am actually dead, the pressure is from nature and reality, it’s a real pressure, not an invented one.

I’m not in a rush to beat the other kids by 1 year or 2 years or stress out the kids, but there is a real pressure that they will replace me on this world. Like in “Men in Black” when the main character tells the supporting character, “I haven’t been training a partner, I’ve been training a replacement.”

I don’t put a sense of urgency in learning, I feel like that actually impedes things like math learning, but there is a gravitas that I’m not sure should be absent.

When I die, a normal lady, the only people who willing likely remember me are my children, possibly my husband, the larger impact I will have made is whatever life lessons I was able to impart of my children that were helpful, valid and spoke to their hearts loud enough to drown out competing messages from society.

It’s kind of a strong pressure, the pressure to choose what to teach, in a world with so much.

There are ethics, there is culture, there is art, there are life skills, job skills, technical skills, so many sciences, everything chosen is something excluded.

What must never be excluded? How to get along with different people… how to know yourself… moderation between doing nothing for others and burn out.

But those are things I’m just learning myself.

So, I teach as I go, staying either one step ahead or sometimes with humility at the same step as my children.

I’m learning music everyday and finding my lost soul there, in the children’s songs, in the clapping, the silly baby shark song that I once hated.

I had no idea where I would find myself when I was lost.

I had no idea where my life would go when I was asked to pick a major in college.

I had no idea what my purpose was most of my life.

But now I’m finding that the place I needed to go, was where I already was anyways, just with an attitude adjustment.

For some people finding their way means exploring another culture, lifestyle, country, or planet, for me it means singing a silly song with my kids at home, without being ashamed.

I was already who I was supposed to be, I just didn’t know it, own it or appreciate it yet.

In the chart I’m supposed to be relaxed, quiet and calm, content with myself, kind, consistent, a steady and faithful friend, accepting, affectionate, diplomatic, peacemaking, rational, curious, observant and an easy friend maker.

I was that person as a child, but I’ve gotten away from letting myself be as relaxed as I like to be, I’ve picked up nasty habits of not being kind to those I love (that I both regret and struggle to change), I’ve been less consistent that I want, I’ve been a steady and faithful friend without question, I’ve gotten decently good at acceptance, better affection, I lack diplomacy, but have never lost my rational, curious and observant nature. I don’t really believe in “making friends” I believe friends are wonderful gifts.

Making goals to return to myself based on this list feels more important than any of the goals I’ve set, such as loose 4 lbs, read 100 books, write 100 articles.

New goals: relax, be content with myself, remember to be kind, train consistency, learn diplomacy, make time to explore curiosity, make time to be mindful/observant.

Now looking at my weaknesses from the phlegmatic chart: sometimes shy, fearful of change, prone to laziness, stubborn, passive-aggressive, indecisive, permissive, not goal oriented, unenthusiastic, too compromising, undisciplined, sarcastic, discouraging, non-participate.

I’m not sarcastic, but everything else is fair game.

I prefer to focus on the goals and strengths rather than the weaknesses, but when I look at my actual failure to achieve the things that I have set out to finish, some or all of the weakness here make sense as reasons why, as evidence.

Particularly I think I fear change, I don’t fell lazy, I have been permissive out of love, yet in negative ways, I have compromised myself very quickly in the name of others, when perhaps a compromise wasn’t the only solution, I have been afraid to dream anything at all to avoid the pain of failure, thus a non-participant in life I think those three stand out for me in particular.

So maybe if I don’t meet my goals I’ll scan the list and check if I compromised, if I didn’t participate, if I let fear of change keep me stagnant.

I think the greatest gift of human kind going to the moon, was watching the Earth for the first time.

Perhaps it is fair to say the same of parenthood, that it allows (but does not guarantees) you to see yourself as a unique individual for the first time. As you see them, if you look closely in their eyes, there you are also, a person too.

As you wonder what their life will hold, your life is there too… noticed or unoticed…

To me the parent child relationship is very like the moon and the Earth, they are forced to go where you go, but they are not you, they affect you and you them, but they are pulled to where you are headed, and where you are headed is out of your control to some degree (to a large degree), but one thing is certain about where they are headed (when they are young) it is with you. You are the only temporary constant in a fast paced world.

In terms of planets, I’m Mars, because I have two moons. That was enough for me. My sister is Venus, with no moons, that was enough for her. Plus she has a choleric (hot) temperament.

I wonder how many of my family and friends knew who I was before I did?

I wonder how people really know themselves?

I think what prevent most of us from knowing who we are is wanting to be the person someone else wanted us to be (out of love).

I think most parents want the “happy baby,” how can I hate on that as a mom that got the sanguine “happy baby.”

It’s wonderful having that baby, seeing him smile and the smile feels like a sunrise after a winter of complete darkness. His kiss that feels like it heals all the pain of not only the present, but the past and future.

It’s really nice having that happy baby.

But not all of us were meant to be sanguine.

Not all tools can be wrenches, some are hammers.

Not all instruments were meant to be violins, some are guitars or pianos or drums.

Yeah, the four temperaments are an over simplification of a unique individual, but I think it says a lot of the timbre, the color of a person’s soul, and when you don’t know anything about a subject, a simplified version can be a very appropriate place to begin.

I’m glad that I found my temperament, not all personality systems are valid or helpful, but I find this is both for me in this time. Yes we all have all the types, but red with a splash of yellow is different than yellow with a splash of red.

Thank you for reading, not being able to publish the last article I wrote, really lets me know the value that sharing my words and ideas with you brings into my life, sometimes you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.

Without you an article is just a journal, without you a discussion is just a thought, without you a conversation is just an idea, you readers are the Earth to my moon. 💞

⛅ Silver Linings ⛅

What I want more of in my life:


I’m a parent, my son turned 1 recently, he became a boy.

A month later I noticed he became a boy.

There’s a lag behind when things happen, when I notice them and when I can accept that they happened.

It wasn’t that easy for me to notice my son grew up, because it happens in small shades, then when it did, it took a day or two to feel and accept the pain that my last baby has grown up.

I see him now, so stable on his feet, so curious about grabbing the curtains and engaging with the world in every way he can. I love him so much, I kind of wish I had wrote more of the times that are gone now. But I did my best, it wasn’t easy to raise a three year old and a baby at the same time.

I felt so guilty to give my first child less time together that I gave her more than was fair, my second child got so much less (but maybe enough), my husband got almost no attention and I got much less self-care than is at all healthy.

Maybe all I can do is remember going forward to write just a little at least, about what it’s like with my kids.

My son, is learning to talk, he says “da” for yes, he says “da-da” for his dad, he says full sentences sometimes “I work out,” “I don’t go out a lot,” that stuff happens with all kids, but what is unique for me, in this relationship is being amazingly proud every time I hear it.

I’m not counting words, I’m not comparing the age chart to see if my son is on track or not, and it feels so good.

With my daughter my husband always asked me if our daughter was normal. Not because she wasn’t, but because his niece wasn’t and he was probably afraid our child would be “different”/autistic because of his genes.

I hated it from day 1, but I wasn’t assertive enough to say “if you have a concern, you research it, I’m going to enjoy our daughter as she is.” If I could go back I would, maybe I would be more polite than that, but it really ruined the experience of raising my daughter almost always being tense that I had to report back with the number of syllables my daughter was either ahead or behind at all times… it really did, it added stress to an already insanely stressful time and now I can’t go back. But going forward it’s important for me to notice I have gaping hole in my assertiveness the size of my husband (not saying it’s his fault). Hmm.

My son says anything, and it catches my heart, it warms me like a fire on a cold winter night.

My daughter, when she was very young, caught me eye and I paused and really paid attention, she told me “I love you,” it was heart wrenching, because she was so young she sounded like a dog saying it… there is a dog that can kind of say that, but it’s unclear. The effort of the vocalization was so obviously great, that it meant so much to me, that it meant so much for her to get through saying it. She is difficult, but she has always been loving, so much so I wouldn’t believe the stories I have lived through, had I not been there.

But then I started checking online to make sure my child was doing what she was supposed to, exactly on time, and I stopped appreciating the miracles that are normal, because they are normal.

Every newborn baby is a miracle to me, but at some point we forget.

Knowing that doesn’t restore the connection.

I’m trying, I didn’t give up on my girl, I haven’t lost my boy, but I know there is distance between my daughter and I.

Yesterday my daughter sat on my lap and told me “my life has always been so hard.” I asked her why, she couldn’t put words to it.

It was not to say “no your life wasn’t hard at all,” but I didn’t. Because I don’t really know that. I don’t really know what my daughter’s life was like for her.

She is an animal lover, she has never been allowed a pet, that does sound hard.

It’s hard for me to see her life as hard because she had so much more than me, but I did have so little that more than me still leaves room to suck.

I’m grateful that we had money, but since my mother was a drug addict, money in her hands didn’t mean food on the table. The worst years we ate about every three days, compared to my daughter gets three meals a day, pretty good stuff (not as good as someone with chef parents) and if she is good ice cream Saturday and treats like caramels or chocolates.

It’s hard for me to give her real sympathy and I can’t give her empathy, because even if we ate every three days, we were so grateful to eat that day, I don’t know how to connect to her grandiose entitlement.

I know it’s normal for all kids to be self-centered, narcissistic, not have perspective and gratitude is something that is difficult for everybody, but I feel so unqualified, unskilled, unable to pull my head out of my own a** and be there for my daughter. At least I don’t tell her she is wrong, at least I don’t negate her experience, but it seems like I’m failing to be a good mother for her.

Yes I’m doing better than my mom, but that bar is um.. low. I’m doing my best too, but sometimes I wish my best was better.

It’s hard not knowing what to do. I’m not too busy, I’m not to tired, I don’t even keep a phone, I don’t watch TV, I don’t have an excuse why I don’t do better, but even 5 years into being a parent I feel like someone who walked into the wrong classroom. I feel largely clueless despite having read book after book, because it seems like the most important things go unsaid, like everyone knows them, but me, so there isn’t a reason to write the obvious things down.

I feel like someone who can’t add being asked to multiply, sometimes I get the right answer, but there is very little understanding on part about how this whole “healthy” parenting thing works.

Still I try everyday.

Anyways. My kids are playing, they are happy, they are safe. With my daughter four and my son one, they give me a few hours I can read or write without feeling guilty, because we are doing music time from breakfast to lunch. After lunch my daughter needs a break from learning, she just won’t take in any more information since music contains math and following the rules ext. My son is a whole different species. I think my daughter needs to be nudged past the uncomfortable beginner phase of reading and math and then down the line she will be able to flourish and set her own curriculum, where as my son learns more than I would make him, with no pushing, so why push?

This day, having no more babies, I think it’s the right time to restore my individuality (that maybe I shouldn’t have let die, but really I didn’t have the childcare help to prevent it).

It’s funny, but I think enjoying life is important to a life of value. Not going over board, no cocaine off prostitutes in this house hopefully… but maybe a cup of herbal tea (to each their own).

It’s silly that I have to justify having down time to myself, but I really do, I’m that person.

So, I want my daughter to know when she has kids, she can take a break, I want my kids to know that they are capable of playing without me holding their hands and hovering, I want to not go crazy from too much childcare, I want to have a space between when I am with my kids (mentally) and when I’m not with my kids (mentally, physically we are stuck in a very small area) so that being with them doesn’t taste stale, it’s not like hearing the same great song on a loop for 4 years straight, so I don’t become blinded by the light.

Anyways, with my free-time, which I feel is both right for me to take as a parent and also healthy for my kids to experience on their end of it, I want more comedy, music, reading, balance and peace in 2020.

As far as comedy, I’ve been enjoying stand up comedy on YouTube and Netflix and Amazon video, maybe I’ll try make my top 10 comedians list as an excuse to watch more. Lately I’ve enjoyed Ronny Chieng (who’s coming to my town, but the show date was during quarantine time, kind of ironic for a Chinese comedian), Bill Burr (who shares me religious views more than anyone else I’m aware of), I’ve always liked Dave Chapel, sometimes Keen and Peel, used to be Monty Python, but perhaps too times watching burns it out…

As far as music, I can’t believe how much it makes me feel better in this time that I’m not exercising due to health concerns, it’s provided me so much sanity and fun. I get into the flow, even though I’m a total amateur. It provides me fun right now.

As far as reading, it provides me a little freedom, I can kind of imagine I’m somewhere else as I metaphorically enter other people’s worlds of imagination or life stories.

As far as balance, today is the very first day in at least five years that I breathed a breath that wasn’t rushed. I’ve been talking about it, writing about it, today is the beginning of DOING it. I don’t think my parents made me live in fourth gear out of hate, but they did, and then I turned 18 and didn’t know anything else was out there. Then I found out, but it wasn’t immediately possible to downshift to first gear.

As far as peace, this is the most peace I’ve ever had with my family, since my daughter was born. At first we were afraid to discipline her (it’s a four letter word in popular culture), then we didn’t know how, then we did know, but were inconsistent, finally we started both being consistent with quite reasonable discipline which is kind of “No Drama Discipline” but is a bit more ghetto to be honest, because my daughter benefits from straight up talk a bit more than “gentle talk,” but the real important part isn’t the words at all, it’s the actions. So, she is old enough to know what we expect and do it, and we have finally grown the balls to put our child in their room for being a jerk and she is responding to being deprived of treats and luxuries much more than endless talk or consequences a bit too paltry to quell the strong rebellious quality of my daughter. My daughter is a Joan of Arch, strong, smart, illiterate, opinionated, makes unsafe choices… I love as she is, but punish her so that the family can live in a fair way (not just her way), so that she will be literate someday, so that she will be safe. And finally, finally, at last, at long last, she is starting to crack, meaning she will stop screaming to be able to watch a video about an Eagle she likes instead of screaming for an hour like an idiot, because we turned off her video, because she broke our family rule about not jumping off the sofa.

Her favorite movie right now is Brothers of the Wind, which is wonderful. Great HD footage about an eagle growing up in the mountains, amazingly beautiful, but a luxury, not a right…

🇨🇳 As a mixed Chinese, I’m apologizing for my people, we do a lot of stupid things. We murdered so many babies they can’t even be counted (50,000-60,000 babies per just one midwife… from 1979 to 2015) of our own babies! Some left some in the trash, some on the roadside dying, rotting in the markets… We forced women to be sterilized against their will, check out the movie “One Child Nation” if you don’t believe me, so although I’m embarrassed about some of the civil injustice going on in China right now, I’m not surprised we did it, because um, if we can kill our own babies en mass, it’s not surprising to me, that we can be incredibly stupid about who to blame right now. Please don’t think all Chinese people are okay with what’s going on, it’s 100% shameful to target innocent refuges, victim blaming in a disgusting way. My Celebrate Asian Heritage featured image is a satirical celebrate Asian Heritage picture for the first time today as a small measure of apology to the world.

Living a Different Life

I can’t live my normal life right now, it makes me angry to think I have to live a worse one, so I’m trying the best I can to live a “different” one.

My favorite ice cream is home made melon, but I also like black cherry, mint, and guanabana.

I’m been having severe abdominal pain in what I guessed is my kidneys, but honestly don’t know yet. The combination of confinement cancelling my return to my summer home, the mystery pain, and increased stress level of my loved ones draining me has showed me I’m a weaker person than I thought.

I saw my doctor, had a blood and urine test, scheduled an ultrasound for the soonest, which is far, so far there isn’t anything indicating clearly what is wrong with me, but that’s not because there isn’t anything.

As a child I had severe allergies that very surprisingly went away last year, asthma, and was generally more unwell than well.

As an adult I had a horrible IBS string of years that runs in my family from my father’s side.

I really struggle to take myself to the doctors at all because they have never helped me get better. I know they help others. But it hasn’t been me, ever before.

My grandmother died on the operating table trying to remove a brain tumor, I was born to be her first grandchild, so she could have her wish come true. My mom was 18 during the pregnancy and 19 when I was born. In my opinion, 19 going on 5 in maturity…

My grandfather payed a lot to the surgeon for the attempt and the resentment seemed to be an additional member of the family the rest of his life.

I had migraines starting at 5 years old, the doctors indicated I was lying for attention, I had stomach aches and hives most my life (from food allergies), the doctors thought I was lying or that I was stressed. I had two doctors treat me as if I was a reasonable human being that had no reason to spend my day lying about symptoms and that was wonderful. But now I have a new doctor because mine retired.

She has done a fine job as far as getting the standard treatment ordered, but she doesn’t suggest what could be wrong while denying what I think may be wrong. It’s hard to seek treatment in the first place, dealing with someone who doesn’t believe you is harder. I think when this is over I’ll find another doctor. I miss my doctor who retired so much because he gave my unconditional professional regard. He couldn’t do a damn thing to treat my allergies, but he read them all, it was the first time anyone had done that. He marveled at the way I would have to live my life with the amount of allergies I had, no one else had ever done that for me. I should take his example more often in dealing with others.

My goal today is to incorporate two really good lists into my new normal.

Tips starting from Nomz’s article include:

1. Protect Your Energy.

2. Don’t Apologize For Who You Are.

3. Take Care of Yourself.

4. Be Patient With Yourself.

5. Your Body Is Not A Reflection of Your Worth.

Thus the backstory about my sickly childhood and the feeling of going to the doctors and not only not getting effective treatment, but being called a liar, being scorned for “wasting” my parents money and the doctor’s time.

Protect Your Energy.
We are often concerned with what other people think of us that we frequently go out of our way not to offend or hurt others at the expense of ourselves. We will speak quitter, shrink ourselves, act submissively, or overly cheerful in order to gain approval we think we need or to avoid conflict.

Don’t feel guilty about wanting to remove yourself from a situation or the company of people who are draining your energy or putting a strain on you.

– Nomz (Messages From Alison Rachel)

One way I’m not doing this is by staying with my new primary doctor who is most likely a great doctor, but not for me. The way she talks makes me feel ridiculed when she doesn’t need my business, it’s a huge area, and I don’t need to choose to see her because there have been doctors in my area that I did click with who are respectful enough to bypass the internal trauma to seeking treatment that I still have. We both don’t need each other, but I didn’t think of stepping on any toes by changing unless I had a “real reason”… Maybe my comfort is a real reason? Maybe I won’t switch, but it’s interesting that I thought I couldn’t, because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. If I stay it should be because it’s working out well for me.

Don’t Apologize For Who You Are.
You are not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but it does not matter. There will be others in this world that you will connect with so deeply it will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
Don’t change yourself in order to get other people’s approval and don’t feel the need to apologize for who you are. The right one’s will love and appreciate you just as you are.

– Nomz (Messages From Alison Rachel)

One way I haven’t been doing this is because I’ve been sick. When I’m sick I need to do less, but I have an insane drive to do more. My husband has been complaining about my clutter on a desk which should be for art. It’s been very difficult serving 3 meals for our two kids (4 & 1), washing the baby, supervising the shower of the older one, washing diapers, towels and clothes, trying to impart life values into the rules and routines we have, feeding the baby, picking up toys because the eldest will help, but not clean alone, but then I see the table and imagine getting it done too, to show my husband I’m a good mother… but 1. that would be like apologizing for who I am (sick) and 2. he always finds one more thing I haven’t done (ironing the baby’s clothes ext). It would be nice to tell him the ironing isn’t done because he hasn’t done it yet. Yesterday night I threw up all my food undigested in the shower ext and it was as much evidence as I needed to understand why I was tired that day, it’s common the extent others would doubt me, but sad the extent I’ve internalized doubting myself.

Take Care of Yourself.
Self-care comes in many different forms and looks different to all of us. Some care for themselves by being physically active while others care for themselves by doing the opposite and spending the day in bed with a book or a movie. Whether it is eating a nutritious meal or a delicious piece of cake, going for a long run or having a long introspective session of self-assessment, whatever you need to do to take care of yourself… do it.

– Nomz (Messages From Alison Rachel)

At this moment I’m having a pain flare up and I have to decide between three anti-inflammatory options ibuprofen which works well, a prescription anti-inflammatory or a tea. It’s hard to stop writing, I’m holding my sleeping baby (or toddler? he passed one year last month) and I don’t like breaking the writing flow… but I should. There a water and an ibuprofen. Just googled it, my son is a toddler now, it’s just a bit sad to me, but if I don’t stop calling him baby I won’t see him for what he is. My babies are gone, lost to aging.

Be Patient With Yourself.
We are all out here just trying to do our best and be our best, but it is impossible not to be scathed by the ups and downs of life. These knocks often leave bruises and scars and make us scared to try again or move forward. It is normal and natural to be cautious and want to protect yourself from pain. However, this self-protection can hold us back from living life fully. To be happy and whole, you need to be patient with yourself.

I would like to add to this that, I know most of us feel like our lives are stuck because of the Virus but I want to reassure myself and you that this too shall pass and our lives will move forward again.

– Nomz (Messages From Alison Rachel)

I can do this today, my blood work is all normal, so despite pain I know I’m not getting kidney scaring that I had been afraid of at first. I saw Warren Buffet giving a classroom speech to high school students asking them to imagine they were going to be given a car that day, any car they wanted, but it would be the only one they ever get. He asked them how would they take care of it knowing if they messed it up they would be stuck with it. So, yes
I had a fear that the pain I’ve had this last month was damaging my body and I still don’t know for sure, but I’m glad that it doesn’t seem that way now. Our bodies are so complicated and complex, I have a high pain tolerance to most pain, but also very sensitive internal organs, so maybe whatever is happening isn’t the biggest crisis, but maybe it’s fine to be patient with myself if I’m in pain, wither or not it’s the worst condition or a mild one. I’m not even asking others to accommodate me, I’m just asking myself, but still it’s hard. There is so much time between when something goes wrong with health and when it is 100% verified and labeled to know if it does of does not warrant social or self pity… I wonder why the hesitation to just be kind to myself without any verification, just on the honor system at least with myself.

Your Body Is Not A Reflection of Your Worth.
We live in a world that highly esteems good looks. The more a person adheres to beauty standards, the more society values them. Since “beauty” is a social construct that varies according to time period and location, it seems bizarre to apply such a standard in the first place, not to mention assigning worth to people based on this ridiculous criteria. This value system disproportionally affects women and trans-feminine people, and although men are also judged based on how they look, they can still easily become highly successful people socially, economically, and politically despite not being considered conventionally good-looking. It is a lot more difficult for everyone else to navigate their way through the world if they do not have “pretty privilege.”

– Nomz (Messages From Alison Rachel)

I read a book that explains this further, The Science of Attraction: Flirting, Sex, and How to Engineer Chemistry and Love by Patrick King. I would not have picked out this book, but it was super enlightening as to WHY is it like this (Ie objectification of woman as the status quo standard practice)? Your body shouldn’t be a reflection of your worth, in my opinion, but it totally is a reflection of your social worth. A healthy body is attractive for choosing a life partner who has a good immune system, we are too much physical beings for that to not matter at all, so if it isn’t ethical it goes underground to subconscious thought. Orchestras hired different people when they could see the musician and when they couldn’t, it may be a conscious bias of some, but I think it’s perhaps worse that it’s a subconscious bias of all of us. Even though I think it’s wrong, I objectify my son. He is super handsome, I used to call him handsome all day and all night. Now I try to say “I love you, just the way you are,” or notice something else to say… Also to some extent you care for your body with mindfulness and self love so at least being groomed is something that is your body looking well, but is perhaps a valid standard. When I say groomed I mean as opposed to the mental health cases who have clearly let go of that… I don’t mean a new hair cut, but lack of lice, large tangles, nails growing inwards ext. But having said all that, even if you love your body in a holistic way, it should always be second to or equal to the driver of the car, a car shouldn’t be above it’s driver.

What I can take away from this right now is that even if my physical body is holding me back from greater productivity it doesn’t make me less of a person, Stephen Hawkins will always symbolize that to me.

The next 4 tips are from Thomas’s article: 4 Life Hacks to Thrive during the Covid-19 Pandemic

#1: Now is not the time to fix your relationships.

#2: Now is the best time to start meditating.

#3: Don’t try to be productive.

#4: Be grateful.

#1: Now is not the time to fix your relationships

… but protect and savor them. I know it’s tempting to finally have that talk you’ve been postponing to the time when you both would finally have nothing else to do, but don’t go there. It’s a crisis, life is even harder than usual, and, therefore, we should practice even more (self-)compassion than usual. Like during a zombie apocalypse, we should be grateful for every survivor in our party and just try to get through this alive.

– Thomas 4 Life Hacks to Thrive during the Covid-19 Pandemic

100% agree. At the beginning I fantasized about having popcorn with my husband and kids on the sofa in the rain we have been having, watching movies, discussing values. Taking time to do some slow cooking. Turns out my husband is “essential” so he isn’t even home, at all. So… my daughter who is 4 loves going out more than anything in the world, she has already cracked and is mentally throwing make believe birthday parties everyday to try to cope with the lack of parties… When my husband is home, my daughter is horribly behaved (probably from the stress) and I out of anxiety or good parenting am protecting my daughter from my husband (probably from his stress). I’m trying to not judge anyone for this period of our lives and bury any idea of enjoying this time to reconnect six feet under in the back yard.

#2: Now is the best time to start meditating

… because of so many reasons: Can’t leave the house, bored, stressed, anxious, and tired of content and screens? Meditation helps with all of these! You can do it anywhere, it is genuinely interesting, it helps with negative emotions, and it cleans your mental palate. From my own experience, the journey inward is often more fascinating than a journey to a foreign country. Because it’s a land you haven’t even heard of and you don’t know what to expect. I recommend the Waking Up app by Sam Harris. It has great free content and you can unlock all the premium content for free if you just write Sam and tell him you can’t afford a subscription (please don’t abuse this option, though).

– Thomas 4 Life Hacks to Thrive during the Covid-19 Pandemic

I’m going to try that meditation app, but I’ll also recommend some meditation I like humorous guided meditation, kid’s guided meditation (I am the pond and loving kindness), ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy) meditation with Russ Harris, and radical acceptance meditation. There are also kazien, self leadership, and stoic meditation, so just be aware there are many flavors if you don’t like the first one you try it doesn’t necessarily reflect on the other types, it’s like shoes, meaning best fit varies.

#3: Don’t try to be productive

… because nobody really is in times like these. We all have to adapt to this new situation and we should grant ourselves the time it takes to do that. What’s up with the obsession with productivity anyways? Don’t get me wrong: If you have a job, do it and do it the best you reasonably can. But life is about so much more than work and productivity. Actually enjoy your free time! You don’t gain anything by being instagrammably “productive” or “awesome” in your free time – now more than ever. We’re all going to die and nobody will remember the seemingly enviable projects or activities we pursued (which were pretty petty in the bigger picture anyways). This might sound morbid and depressing, but I think it can be quite liberating and fulfilling. If today was your last day on this earth, how would you enjoy and savor it? A sip of cool, fresh water, a genuine conversation with a friend, a walk in nature (if that’s possible in your area right now). It doesn’t take more than this, if you’re fully there (#2 helps with that, btw).

– Thomas 4 Life Hacks to Thrive during the Covid-19 Pandemic

I love this, I felt so guilty for being thrown off at all. Today I unplugged my google home screen so my dad can’t call and it felt amazing. Nothing against him, I just need some time to not have to feel like I have to answer and be polite.

#4: Be grateful

… because no matter who you are: You can. And it’s one of the most sure-fire ways to happiness. The pandemic has taken a lot from us. For many, the best case is that they “only” have to self-quarantine, which already means temporarily being stripped of important freedoms. Others have lost their jobs and may fear for their existence. Again others have lost loved ones and probably couldn’t say good bye or attend their funerals. Once more, we must be especially self-compassionate in times of loss like these. Yet, all of us have so much more to be grateful for than to mourn after. That our bodies work as well as they do. Even with (chronic) illness: It could be so much worse. That we know the people we do. That we have one more breath in this miraculous and deeply fascinating existence of ours. As Epicurus has put so perfectly in one of my favorite quotes of all time: “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not.”

– Thomas 4 Life Hacks to Thrive during the Covid-19 Pandemic

This is the only thing I’ve been doing to cope, being grateful, and it’s been doing a lot for me. It doesn’t give me the mental flexibility of exercise, but it gives my hope and well being and perspective and joy and that’s a lot. I’ve found that happiness doesn’t equal what you have, it equals:

Happiness = (What you Have – What you Want) Multiplied by Gratitude

The Great Depression - US History 2
This was hard times, right now is a strange, but good time.

Really this year has been the best year of my life and I’m grateful for it and for the wonderful authors I can read at any time, the music I can listen to at any time, having enough enough food, being able to access the health care system that usually doesn’t help me, knowing history so I know how good things are right now in comparison, and especially not needing to sell my two kids, because in some places it still happens and where I live it used to happen… today is wonderful, weird, but wonderful.

🌷The Hardest Life Lesson💀

“There is nothing the busy man is less busied with than living; there is nothing harder to learn.”



A few years ago I started casually reading a “stoic quote of the day,” I’ve done a lot of things like that. Self improvement binges, eight glasses of water ext ext. But this never stopped. It never got old. It never stopped being helpful.

Some days I don’t make the time to do this self leadership, it doesn’t take long, but it takes “a lot”. A lot of mana, a lot of hope…

It always cheers me up, to read the stoic quotes, but I forget to turn to them. It takes some strength to open the computer, go to the coach.me website, and read the quote of the day, not a lot, but sometimes more than I have.

But I always go back.

I don’t think it’s a failing (at least in a negative way), I think it’s part of the process. I think self growth is impossibly steep, that if there were not breaks I wouldn’t be able to go on. That my best isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty normal to need breaks.

For almost a year I’ve been writing, but I haven’t ever felt comfortable writing about the stoic quotes directly. It’s a project I’ve always intended to do later.

Maybe today. In this unwanted corono-free time.

The first stoic quote is number 10 out of 50, but it’s where I am today in my sequence so it will be the first.

Seneca was a senator in Rome, he wrote a lot about time management, compared to the other famous three (Seneca, Marcus Aurelius the Emperor and Epictetus the slave) he is the closest to me in class (middle class) yet the furthest from me in personality and values. Still I try to learn from Seneca as much as the others, because maybe he is strong where I am weakest.

“There is nothing the busy man is less busied with than living; there is nothing harder to learn.”


I’m always struck by how much the Romans lived like modern Americans, they based a lot of their society on the Greeks and so have we.

We tend to think cell phones made us busier, televisions made us busier, email made us busier ext ext. That’s very un-proactive. Those are excuses. I’ve made them, but that doesn’t mean I can’t recognize the truth that the hand behind the button is in my control.

I have been ordered to stay at home, many people have willingly stayed at home but I didn’t, I obligingly am staying at home not by choice.

I have become a prisoner, in a comfortable prison.

In my mind, my logical mind I would love to have a positive attitude, I would love to enjoy this time.

But I’m finding it hard. Very hard.

Because I don’t want to panic my kids and some of my family members have panicked, so I feel like a break water getting hit by the ocean of other people’s emotions, but refusing to let the bay of my home become turbulent.

Some would say I’m panicked, that my feelings are mirrored by the ones I don’t like, but I don’t think so, because I feel more angry and they feel more afraid. Some say anger is a secondary emotion, not real, just a coated fear. I don’t agree and neither does the data behind the book “How Emotions Are Made.”

I really hate this.

Moving on, this is the project I’ve been waiting to start from 2017:


This is my response to trying to live by the stoic quote about being busy over the last 4 years, comments from the present are marked with italics.

“There is nothing the busy man is less busied with than living; there is nothing harder to learn.”


Entry 1 August 17th, 2017:

I was working full time, newly married, raising our first child who was almost 2 (still feeling like a new parent). I hated the way I was rushing through every moment of life from commuting at 7 AM for an hour with a baby screaming the whole drive through traffic five days a week, two hours a day ext.

🤔 STOIC QUOTE 10 APPLIED 🤔 (My Main Mental Exercise Activity)

Wow, presence was an issue way back then (4BC-65AD), I wonder if it has been so in all of human history. It seems like we are able to keep busy with inventing ways to keep busy, but the ways to relax stay the same.

Hands Free Life: Nine Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More” by Rachel Macy Stafford was the first book I remember reading that directly addressed that problem (of being mindlessly and unproductively busy) and although I keep trying to implement the habits, they are very slippery ones.

The idea of letting go of trying to control the uncontrollable (Hands Free Lesson Four – Take the Pressure Off: Don’t Try to Be Perfect or Ask Others to Be Perfect) from yesterday was also one of the nine Hands Free Habits that seems in complete alignment with these stoic quotes.

I wonder how many of them are stoic habits?

I spun the wheel of habits (a free colorful online wheel that can be customized with choices) and today I rolled Lesson Nine: Change Someone’s Story. I thought of my child first, but thinking about yesterday’s lesson, I realize I need to change my own story first.

The Nine Habits on a Digital Spinning Wheel (Exercise in Trying to Love)

When I think of changing my own story, the first thing I think of is the past.

Making sense out of my childhood… but then I think of the present.

Today I woke up at 4:30 AM, to have time alone, to not feel rushed, and everyday I do that I rewrite the story that I tell myself “that I can’t wake up at that time,” “that I don’t have time to draw or write,” “that I can’t have time for myself as a mother,” “that I can’t get enough work time for meaningful work with my day job and parenting responsibilities.”

I know what Seneca is said is true for me (that constant busyness is not the life I want), but waking up early is one tool I can use, because from 4:30-6:30 AM nothing has to get done.

“You are too concerned about what was and what will be. There is a saying: yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.”

🐢 Elanor Roosevelt via Kung Fu Panda

☕ ASCRIBING DAILY MEANING ☕ (An Exercise in Inspiration)

Today I realized I have some power in my own life, waking up early gives me time alone and I believe that it will help me be patient and change my own story to slow down and not rush throughout life without having lived it.

🍃 MENTAL AGILITY NOTEBOOK 🍃 (An Exercise in Mental Flexibility)

Today’s Opportunities for Improvement:

…Falling they are given wings.

– Rumi

1. Didn’t make potty a priority after car ride… enjoyed a cold beverage and cleaning hot pee. 2. Scrubbing poop off the patio in the lovely summer sun. Outdoor play happens after the bowel is already empty from now on… 3. I wanted to see when toddler would “choose” a nap or if she needed one, no and yes. Toddler doesn’t do the schedule anymore, the only one with worse time management for naps than me is a toddler… Reading this takes me right back to potty training, I don’t regret it, but I don’t miss it one bit, if I could go back in time, that would not be the time I chose to revisit.

⛰️ MENTAL MODELS ⛰️ (Reviewing Beliefs I Found Motivational)

1. Discard conventional fixed ideas.

2. Think of how to do it.

3. Start by questioning current practices.

4. Do it right away imperfectly.

5. Correct mistakes right away.

6. Do not just spend money use wisdom.

7. Wisdom is brought out during hardship.

8. Ask “Why?” five times to seek root causes.

9. Seek the wisdom of ten people rather than the knowledge of one.

10. Kaizen ideas are infinite.

11. Seiri Tidying/Sorting

12. Seiton Putting Away

13. Seiso Cleaning

14. Seiketsu Clean/Standards

15. Shitsuke Training/Belief in Order

🐟 FREQUENT WORRIES 🐟 (An Anxiety Reduction Activity)

1. I worry about seeing productivity happen right away and it doesn’t.

2. THEN I worry about controlling my child even though I shouldn’t and can’t in the way I worry over.

NOW I now feel opposite (anti-permissive), that it is my duty to control many parts of my child, health, safety, perhaps manners, education somewhat, until my child is mentally competent, (none of those things mean crushing their soul or micromanaging their personal body or style) and I no longer feel I can’t control my child, because I set the environment that for sure affects my child, and there is a lot of indirect controls available in the routine and environment I allow as well as directly yet non-violent grabbing my child should she run into traffic (as she really has done). There is much I cannot control, like death, but much I can, like screen time and it’s certainly my job as the primary parent – no one else is going to step in and help guide my children on an average day, it’s usually me or no one.

3. I worry about letting life go by without “tasting the food.” That is still what I worry the most about, it’s a founded worry, if things don’t change, I will have died without ever fully having lived, perhaps no one else will ever know or care, but I will certainly know that.

🌳 LEARNING HUMILITY MONTH 🍃 (An Activity in Learning Humility)

Next August I can go right to checking myself against Hands Free Life: Nine Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More and spend the month adding some of the habits back into my life if needed.

Today I am working on listening to the beliefs that are black absences of stars in my mental sky, and seeing where I need to change my own story to stop rushing. Not much I do during a given day is something that needs to be, or should be rushed, I’ve got to look into why I am rushing to do anything about it. 🤺

Looking back on that phase of life, working full time bring my child to work, outside of the home, not sleeping at night, working early, it wasn’t entirely that I didn’t manage time well, it was a bad life, a bad patch of life in a potentially good life. I was really squeezing blood out of stones to try to be perfect in an imperfect world.

Entry 2 October 26th, 2017:

About 40 Days PassedLife was a little better.


THEN Yesterday was my daughter’s second birthday, we had a great day, maybe the best day of our lives for my dad, my sister, me and maybe my baby and my husband. It was small, but my daughter had a lot of attention, which she loves at an indoor playground that closed down the next year, a small cake and a few presents at home and the a trip to the beach at night. But I didn’t enjoy the whole day. When I was busy setting up, busy cleaning during, busy trying to get photos arranged… During those times and after I didn’t enjoy the day. I guess being busy isn’t wrong, but it’s so hard to get back into life. Maybe I could arrange the day with cues to slow down, with large break times, with more open blocks. Still schedule, but just have more flexibility time, more break time… 🐢

NOW I’ve gotten less entitled to thinking that I can or should be able to enjoy every moment of life, but I still know what I was talking about, being in such a rush to clear the dishes that I never enjoyed a meal, being in such a rush to load my kids in the car that I was completely tense over saving half a minute of commute time. I was hurrying up to wait my whole life, long before and long after I worked in an ambulance.


Try to take a break from (X:45)-(X+1) each hour when possible.


You may notice I dropped a lot of activities between the first and second entry, the one I kept the stoic quote and tiny action to use the stoic quote in my life was 10x more helpful to me in my life so that’s what I use. Some people use guided meditation or yoga or both, using the stoic quotes is a form of rational meditation that works so effectively for me, nothing else has come close, no disrespect towards other things, this is just the prescription for sanity that works with my mind and body and I wanted to share it with the world, because it took me so many years to find and it’s so simple and accessible to anyone who read regardless of age, income, gender ext.

Entry 3 December 27th, 2017:

About 60 Days Passed Life was a lot better.

🏔️ STOIC QUOTE 10 🏔️ 🏆🏆

🐍 INPUT: “There is nothing the busy man is less busied with than living; there is nothing harder to learn.” (Since Seneca was born year of the snake, I represent him as a snake affectionately.)

💡 THOUGHT: I totally agree with Seneca. I’ve never been overwhelmed with awesome fun, nor amazing meaningful projects, I’ve only ever been busy with 💩 I really didn’t need to do, or at least didn’t need to try to do at the same time.

I really had no (or not enough) prioritization skills, or boundaries, and the word is full of people who will take advantage of that if you let them.

🥊 ACTION: Make my kid stay in her room until 7 AM, meow!

🎉 CELEBRATION: . Waking up at 5:30 instead of 4:30 for the same amount of free time, woo!!

🐢 LEARNING: It took 4 days to sleep train at night, and 6 months to sleep train the last hour of the morning, but it’s not to late, it seems like learning happens in an upward sinus curve. There is fast progress, regression, progress, regression, and then the final progress to the goal…

People who are against sleep training, please realize I had to drive to work everyday early in the morning and I did sleep training after hitting a car, if you don’t want to be hit by sleepy drivers, please stop sleep training bashing until moms are not forced to work in the morning – thank you. My daughter is still properly attached FYI.

Entry 4 December 13th, 2018:

Just under a year passed. My daughter was three years old now, life was very difficult, although I had stopped working outside the home, I was pregnant and very ill (not every pregnant woman is ill or weak or moody, but I was all three).

🏔️ STOIC QUOTE 10 🏔️

🐍 “There is nothing the busy man is less busied with than living; there is nothing harder to learn.”

💡 This quote reminds me of being a college student, or just a student in general, I had horrible life balance. I believed that the better I did in school the more money I would make (ha ha) and everything else would just fall into place as a result.

I didn’t sleep sometimes to get ahead in reading text books, I took optional summer school, I opted out of every social event I possibly could and brought flash cards and text books to parties to study there… and in the end I got good grades and a degree, but have never made more than $13.75/hour while my uneducated husband makes double that without knowing long division.

It’s funny that I was so wrong, I can’t go back, but if I could I would not have worried so much about grades, I would not have sacrificed social and networking skills to read books that I could have read still, at a slower pace.

I would not have sacrificed having some free time to enjoy life, even as a student, to get good grades that in my personal circumstances, led nowhere (in hindsight perhaps not nowhere, but nowhere I needed to rush towards in such an imbalanced way, I had heard “work until exhaustion while young,” now I think “work smart” would have been better”).

Okay grades would have taken me just as far as good ones, that’s not true for everyone, but it’s true for me.

Now as a mom, I think I know where the “dangers (of loosing awareness to mindless rushing) are,” I think cleaning up and doing activities with my daughter are the trap.

They are what I have to do, but if I did either too much, they could individually or jointly drain the life (the joie de vivre ie zest for life) out of me in a month.

There has to be some messes not cleaned, and some teaching or enrichment opportunities not taken, or I won’t make it the next five years alive and sane.

🥊 I’m going to try not to use my daughter’s nap times for productivity, because it’s the only for sure “living time” that I have in a normal day.

I’m going to try to have tea and read and do everything else, sometime else.

🎉 I’m celebrating that I have a routine that leaves me the evenings to settle down.

🐢 I learned that I’m a “morning lark” from reading John Medina’s Brain Rules, and since learning that, I don’t hate myself for being no good for work past noon, and no good for even being awake after 8PM.

Learning to accept my limits has made me more productive, than trying to work around them to be like my friends or other people who can do a lot more than I can…

Following Immanuel Kant’s schedule for the past few weeks has been wonderful for me, it’s let me change the way I manage my time in a way that works for me without making me so busy that I don’t even feel alive anymore.

Looking back on the past, I know that I lost something to gain something, I lost the respect and harmony of my husband and marriage when I stopped trying to be the woman he wanted me to be, his mom, who worked full time, cooked chef quality meals and took 100% care of the kids all the time, which is possible when your dad 100% abandons your family of four. I don’t regret being who I am, not because I don’t love my husband, but because I was only ever a failure at impersonating who he wanted me to be and only ever a success at being myself. I hope someday he loves me for me, but I can’t even be who he wanted, so the question of if I should is one I don’t have to find an answer to, though I suspect the correct answer would be that I shouldn’t have to do everything a single mom can do as a married one and that someone who really loved me would find the strength to help me, rather than resent it.

Entry 5 March 20th, 2019

Although just 3 months passed, life was irreparably different, because I had someone new in my life, someone who loved and supported me unconditionally, my second and last child, a son.

🗻 Stoic Quote 10 🗻

🐍 “There is nothing the busy man is less busied with than living; there is nothing harder to learn.”

💡 Intellection: I spent the first 4 years of my life enjoying life, than the next 28 years of life too busy.

For me school was the problem, if you do all the homework – it eats away at your family life, your creativity, your enjoyment of life.

Most people probably just didn’t do all of it, or skimmed it, but I took it way too seriously that I follow all the instructions and read the chapters that wouldn’t get me points anyways.

It was a mistake, because it cost me a lot of other things like enjoying my life.

I wish I had never gone to public school. I learned math at home working on problems. I couldn’t even see the board, because I needed glasses and didn’t have them.

School was a total waste of time for me, I learned from books.

If I had to go to school, I wished I would have taken it way less seriously.

Everyone (my parents, my teachers, family, strangers) lied about how important school was, it may be important and good, but it is not as important and good as it is portrayed to be (Hitler did go to school and Joan of Arch didn’t).

It’s a part of life and should be, but it shouldn’t be all to life…

because it ends.

If school is your whole life and your whole skill set, you are crippled to the rest of life, and lost when it ends.

I failed to enjoy most of my life thus far, but only by honestly seeing that can I stop doing that. (Positive attitude serves in many amazing ways, but not in every way and not in place of the truth. You would use a positive attitude to get through a concentration camp, not to leave a review of one, positive thinking is the left hand to the right hand of honesty, not it’s replacement.)

I’ve enjoyed life the past few weeks, the birth of my son reset my mind in a way my daughter didn’t.

With her, life was a struggle, I didn’t sleep and my mental capacity was so low, just drinking water and getting meals on the table was a huge struggle for me (with no back ground in cooking or raising kids).

I failed to enjoy my daughter as a baby, or my life during that time, it’s kind of sad, but I think it was a failure I needed to own to even allow myself to start enjoying my son’s childhood and my life.

The pain of that failure, is the catalyst that allowed me to change.

“Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater, than the pain of change.”

– Tony Robbins 

I really need the pain of staying the same to be greater than the pain of changing, in order to have the strength to face the unknowns of changing.

I’m not brave.

🛠️ Responsibility: Serenity or proactivity?

It’s proactivity to own the fact that you are the slave master (of yourself) who makes you work too much, or rush, or say yes to more activities or engagements than you enjoy (I hope anyways, I know slavery is still out there ie human trafficking, I read Not for Sale, I’m sorry for that being the case).

Other people invite you, but no one pressures you as much as you.

It’s serenity to know everything has an opportunity cost.

If I am doing a stoic journal right now, it costs me doing a gratitude journal, I don’t have this time for both.

If I used other time for a gratitude journal, that would cost me something else I like to do.

There are more beneficial things to do in a day than free time in which to do it.

🎉 Resolution: I’m celebrating that I’m having a golden period of inner peace and happiness in my life right now. Most of my life I would worry in good times, that the good times wouldn’t last (storms over blossoms was the idiom behind that belief).

This time, I am just taking every second of happiness and peace as it comes, without worrying about the future.

Because this time, I am at peace knowing that this will not last.

I will not last forever, and this time will not last forever, bad times will come, but this time I am at peace with that enough to enjoy this.

🐢 Learning: Life is very seasonal, every pain and every amusement comes and goes. We don’t all have the same things, but we all have things we like and don’t like happen to us, that is the same.

People make fun of “first world problems,” but I find it freeing that we all have problems.

I find myself less guilty for having an easy life, knowing that my emotional life – isn’t really any easier than anyone else’s (in general).

The richer countries, often are not happier, there is no reason to feel guilty for what I have, or to want more than what I have.

I’m blessed to be able to feed my kids or get them medical care easily, but the pain of my pregnancy was the same as any woman with a hard pregnancy, rich or poor.

The pain of having a husband who doesn’t make time for me is the same as any other spouse going through that, rich or poor.

The happiness of seeing my son smile is the same as any other parent who had the healthy, live child they had wanted to have, rich or poor.

I’m learning that it is the empty space in life that gives me happiness.

Not having as much as possible, but having enough down time, enough empty space in our living space, having enough unplanned time in our week, having enough silence in our living room, so people can start to talk, having enough lack of clutter so we can buy a new toy here and there (without being choked with items everywhere), having enough tolerance for non-productivity to be able to live with myself without hating myself, having enough non-educational time for my kids that they can even process what they did learn, without being overwhelmed, having enough lack of tech that we can “just be” without engaging constantly with the digital world.

Life is like a song that can get overplayed, excess in anything really gives a negative return, and being constantly busy is like having an excess of life itself.

Entry 6 August 21st, 2019

About 5 Months Passed – I am legally/physically 34 years old, but much of who I am now mentally/emotionally/spiritually was reforged with the birth of my son March 10th, 2019, much of who I am now, is new to me. Part of me is a baby, in a good way, a way of potential, growth, learning, self-awareness, discovery of the world and discovery of myself, having a child doesn’t guarantee that, but it may happen, it didn’t the first time, I wasn’t mature enough to grow up a second time, when I hadn’t grown up once.

🍂 Stoic Quote 10 🍂

📘 Input: “There is nothing the busy man is less busied with than living; there is nothing harder to learn.” 🐍

💡 Intellection: It’s a little funny, that i’m still failing at this.

Not all the quotes are hard for me, this one is.

I know life is finite, I want to make it count, so I try to fit as much in as I can.

It’s not good when it becomes too much, that I don’t have time to notice and enjoy life, but it keeps happening in cycles.

🛠️ Responsibility: Serenity or proactivity?

Serenity to know it’s how I am to work hard and try to do a lot.

Proactivity to schedule rest and breaks.

🎉 Resolution: I’m celebrating that I’m not judging myself for getting busy, just noticing.

🐢 Learning: Being busy isn’t bad, a great life has balanced leisure, work and family time.

Entry 7 November 2nd, 2019

About 2 Months Passed – this year having been the happiest of my life, not the easiest, they never went together for me (ease and joy).

🍁 Stoic Quote 10 🍁

📘 Input: “There is nothing the busy man is less busied with than living; there is nothing harder to learn.” 🐍

💡 Intellection: I think (excessive) busyness is essentially a way of saying living with no awareness of what is going on… (like a zombie) it may or may not be related to time-wasting or productivity, it’s like feeling like life goes faster than you can understand and/or cope with.

🛠️ Responsibility: Serenity or proactivity?

Proactivity to recognize when I rush, and slow down, to do what matters, instead of doing what doesn’t matter faster.

“Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least.”

-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Real life is the things that matter least do take over, but they shouldn’t always be left that way, ie sometimes you have to hold on the phone to register with insurance or things like that even though you would rather hug your kids…

🎉 Resolution: I’m celebrating that I’m not as (mindlessly) busy as before.

🐢 Learning: I’m learning the cost of losing a stay at home parent is so high, whether a mom, dad or grandparent, without someone to be grounded, the whole family is almost spiritually homeless in a way I have trouble putting words to, the family becomes beads, instead of a necklace, it loses solidarity. That’s true at least in our family. Perhaps it’s a leader that is needed rather than a “stay at home” person, but it seems like the risk of running around like a chicken with your head cut off is higher if everyone is working constantly.

Entry 8 April 9th, 2020

About 5 Months Have Passed – This is martial law, stay at home against your will – orders of the governor – due to risk (real or imagined) of significant (or normal) death by germs to a either typical or atypical amount of people that is either part of life or a horrible tragedy depending on the lens of the individual.

“There is nothing the busy man is less busied with than living; there is nothing harder to learn.”


I don’t know if it is imagined, but it feels like, there was never a time I needed this quote more than today.

Though I’m not panicked, I am thrown off, though my life isn’t desperate, they are strange, though I am extremely grateful to have 100% of what I need I did loose my composure under the strain of the pressure I put on myself.

A few weeks ago, my husband kicked my daughter’s lovie, a yellow stuffed dog, in anger, ending our family meeting, in which he refused to set a goal for his week or hear ours.

I’m glad for the people who are doing amazing things with this time, it hasn’t been us.

I felt the need to put on a smile to keep my kids calm, and it wore me down.

Being someone I’m not always does wear me down.

Not that I am panicked, but I’m not happy.

I’m not the wonderful caring people, like Rachel Stafford, who would opt to save lives by staying in.

I am the kind of person who doesn’t see keeping other people from catching ill as my job, as I see it as theirs.

I don’t agree with the stay at home measures. I am following them, I understand them, but I don’t agree with them.

When it’s your time, it’s your time. That’s a belief I have, this public health measure violates my belief, it violates my freedom, possibly my civil rights (not legal)…

I’m following it, I am not disagreeing with quarantine of the sick, but I am disagreeing with quarantine of the healthy.

Behind plastic sheets, the immune compromised are relegated to be safe, the world has turned upside down, the healthy must not be allowed normal life in the name of possibly getting sick to possibly get at risk people sick who will possibly die.

I don’t wish death on anyone, I know we all don’t really know how bad this will get, but as of now despite the hype, the death count hasn’t exceed the typical flu in my area. Will my area shut down whenever something contagious becomes a large problem somewhere? Will it shut down for a large death count, or just a large scare? Cancer and heart disease still kill more, traffic accidents still kill more? Will we start caring about any of those? Or stop caring about this when it isn’t new?

It’s interesting that being stuck at home has thrown me off my normal routine, which was very largely at home to such a great extent. I resisted, but today I gave in.

I don’t want this, but it is here.

I don’t want my husband to be stressed, but he is.

I don’t want myself to be caught in between his stress and a bubble of calm I try to give the kids, but I am.

I am not going to waste the time, but I’m not going to pretend this is a nice time for us, it isn’t cozy, it is comfortable, but martial law isn’t a stay at home vacation and I resent that suggestion even from the people I otherwise really respect.

Perhaps descending from a racial group who was interned during world war 2 makes me very unhappy to be legally confined against my will.

For someone who doesn’t go out much it’s hard to understand why it feels like my civil rights are being violated, but it is a restriction of freedom, it’s a house arrest, it’s imprisonment for an undefined duration.

So, not happy, not going to treasure every moment, but also not wasting the time either.

I’m going to do a two hour music lesson in the mornings between breakfast and lunch, because it’s less draining then reading lessons and possibly equally educational. I don’t want to do nothing, but I have noticed I have less patience to do something difficult while not being horribly grouchy at enduring a situation I don’t want to endure for an unknown duration.

On the surface I don’t think anyone knows how deeply I resent this situation. It might seem too much, but it’s very much a common process where I meet something I don’t like with a smile day after day for weeks or months until the distilled resin of bitterness within me doesn’t seem justified by what is seemingly a small adjustment in my outward life.

The tension has been horrible. The wide diversity of opinion not based on face has divided my immediate and extended family. My family meeting habit has been ruptured. I felt the need to break up my husband and daughter twice to prevent reasonable discipline from becoming abuse. I’m sure others have suffered more, but that doesn’t negate the negative changes to my life. It’s not that I need to complain, but I need to honor or at least acknowledge my frustration at least to myself and I didn’t for so long.

Other people having more pain makes me feel like I shouldn’t speak about mine, which is okay, but what isn’t that helpful is that I don’t even internally acknowledge it to myself. How can I diffuse stress I lie to myself about? I can’t, and then everything gets out of proportion.

“There is nothing the busy man is less busied with than living; there is nothing harder to learn.”

– Seneca

Now I am at home, stuck at home, doubly as a stay at home parent and as a stay in place citizen, now that I can not go anywhere I find it triply hard to do any of the things I said I would want to do if I had time at home (organize, cook more, paint). I find it hard to do my normal school routine, because life isn’t normal, it’s similar to normal, but oh so not normal.

It’s like the twilight zone, a bit off in so many ways, but not in any major way.

I’ve been to plenty of countries that don’t have toilet paper, but this one usually does, it’s a bit off.

I’ve heard of people dying of illness, but never seen people panic about it, that is a bit off.

Nothing is horrible in my life to the extent that it logically describes the bitterness I feel about my life being suddenly very slightly off, but there is a loss of control for an unknown amount of time, there is a negative face of the world as one world and one family to match the positive face of the world as one world and one family that I so recently experienced this past year.

I have gotten so much love and support from readers all over the world, so much wisdom and enjoyment from writers all over the world and for the first time in my life (not the first time), some illness (and some panic) from all over the world is able to shut my side of the world down. A certain percentage of virus and a certain percentage of hysteria has reached my doorstep and as much as I don’t like to, I have to recognize it as the uglier twin of the wisdom, wonder and beauty of having the world at my doorstop.

With the internet, global trade and global travel, I have love and germs from every continent, but seeing it that way, for me, it has been 100% worthwhile.

“There is nothing the busy man is less busied with than living; there is nothing harder to learn.”

– Seneca

The current stay at home situation x2 (stay at home parent and stay at home citizen) has been a larger dose of questioning the normal routines of life than is comfortable for me, but perhaps it will allow me to become a better teacher.

I’ve been feeling life half a person with my husband so distanced from me emotionally, I let him know he wouldn’t be using his kids as scapegoats for frustration of the unknown, he respected it, but withdrew emotionally, which is what it is.

I’ve had a kidney area pain so bad I couldn’t sleep one night three weeks ago, tomorrow I am getting a blood test and urine test to see that it is or is not damaging my kidney. Maybe I just pulled a muscle with child care, but I don’t think so. The first night I couldn’t sleep, was the beginning of a weird rush to get supplies that wiped the stores out in our area. My husband asked me to wait until this was over to see a doctor and I did. But it hasn’t got better and when I took my son for his scheduled vaccines his doctor recommended that I go. The doctor saw me on the computer and sent me to the lab. I’m sure people have been lost, that’s natural, it’s hard, but natural. But it’s not without cost to put every area on stay at home orders.

Does the cost make sense? Honestly, it’s impossible to know before the data is in. But what makes more sense to me is to support the at risk of death ie elderly or sickly people to isolate rather than the entire population. Drop them off food, create a fund to replace income such as unemployment tax.

I hope we all learn from this, what supplies are needed that were not in good supply.

The value of being healthy. That it isn’t a given.

The value of life. That it isn’t forever.

The value of lifting up poverty conditions everywhere on Earth. That sickness born of squalid conditions doesn’t kill your grandparents before they are ready to go.

For me, I’ve been stumbling through my duties as a wife, a mother, a home school teacher, but doing them with such little energy has surprised me in many ways. It’s actually been easier to watch myself from a second point of view and notice the effort I usually put into life doesn’t give me much greater returns than this half effort does.

Perhaps I start a new life today. A life born of necessity to work smarter not harder. To find enjoyment during part of every day, rather than the weekend. To stop driving myself in third gear when first gear will do.

I guess I find it annoying to admit the truth that these past weeks that I have no excuse to have done nothing worthwhile with the extra time, I nonetheless could not or didn’t.

Sometimes I want to be stronger than what I am, but in my weakness and failure I see my humanity.

I have every sympathy for the sick or ill, I don’t want to present that I don’t. I just don’t agree with the idea that confinement is painless and trivial nor the separation of the pain and suffering of all the sick or ill who are non-corono sick vs cornon sick. A influenza death doesn’t get a different ranking in my book, an obesity death, a suicide death.

I didn’t want to talk about it, because I don’t want to make light of anyone’s suffering. But I found it hard to deal with it without talking about it, I found it hard to cope with what I felt without writing and it’s simply become a habit to share whatever truth I have, even knowing what I have to say will probably be misunderstood in writing, saying it is a freedom I have to uplift my soul in a dark and weary time.

“There is nothing the busy man is less busied with than living; there is nothing harder to learn.”

– Seneca

Now that there is no excuse for me not to live, now that there is 0% busyness, 0 flights, 0 play dates, 0 museum trips, 0 visits from family, 0 trips to the swapmeets, 0 walks to the park, 0 walks to the market, 0 nature hikes, 0 trips to the beach, 0 trips to visit friends, 0 dinners out at restaurants, I face my naked half developed proactivity/ownership of my own choices and don’t exactly love what I see.

I feel barely strong enough to change, but tomorrow I will do music from breakfast to lunch if I can (might come home late due to the blood test) and something tells me it’s going to change my life, not only for this weird period of time, but forever. It’s melodramatic sounding, but it feels so true tonight. I’ve always been a bit scatterbrained as a teacher, deciding what will be the spine of my school and what will be the accent will be life changing if it sticks.

I have no excuses, but also not much motivation or inspiration. It’s a dark period for me, a typically cheery person. I’ve been silent not wanting to offend anyone, not wanting to disrespect anyone, not wanting to disagree with people I respect, but the trouble with that, is that when I stopped speaking my truth to others, I somehow stopped processing my own truth internally as well and stayed mired in built up resentment and bitterness that daily gratitude helped me survive, but I haven’t been crafting a beautiful sculpture out of each day lately.

Everyday is a blessing, what I have is more than enough, but my world has been shifted in a way that although is embarrassingly small has been too rapid for an inflexible person like me to catch up with.

Seneca was a senator in Rome, he dealt with low lives at work (people that hurt children, like the emperor of the time), because he had to, he died when the revolutionaries just in overthrowing an insane abusive emperor he worked with came to his house and ordered him to commit suicide. He did it calmly. I don’t like Seneca the best, but I know for his imperfections, he wasn’t someone who said things he didn’t mean. When he said “there is nothing harder to learn,” I agree, not that this is hard, but that there is actually nothing harder to learn.

I think the root of the disease that I and many people feel of being stuck at home is that so very much of our everyday life doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t align with our values, we may regret it on our death bed, but it’s so tiring to change that the idea of thinking of everything we do to the extent that is possible by being cut off from our normal is completely overwhelming. It’s easier to be mad, it’s easier to be afraid, than it is to look at your naked life from the outside in and judge it.

Being cut off is an opportunity to choose, evaluate, decide what to return to, but it’s so overwhelming that without a lifeline it’s an ocean of possibilities that can drown you, or paralyze you.

Not having freedom, not having social connection shows their real value of sanity, inspiration, motivation, well being.

Not having the excuse of busyness shatters the illusion that it was a lock holding us in prison, we stand in an unlocked prison of our own design by choice. It’s an ugly truth. It’s a painful sobriety to wake up to so sharply.

My prior busyness was not important, my current failure to live how I want to is no ones fault but my own, whatever holds me back from the life I want is within me for sure, there is no body else here to blame.

Thank you readers for joining me over the most turbulent years of my life in one article. I would rather you hate me for who I am than love me for who I am not. You have all helped me so much find my voice, I don’t know why I can’t form an opinion to stay silent, when I stay silent I don’t even complete my thoughts, I leave them as unsculpted clay. When I know I have to share, only then do I fully form my thoughts and get to know a bit more of myself as I tell me story.

Much love and peace, not just now, but always for your part in my life. My body is isolated now, but my voice was isolated my whole life until I began sharing my story with you. 💞

P.S. These songs remind me of the idea of Seneca’s quote, any songs that kind of have that theme are extremely welcome, I would love to have a playlist for every time I cycle into stoic meditation on this quote.

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When the music hit’s you, you feel no less pain.

Time Crunch Meal Plan 🍜

“We are noodle folk, broth runs through our viens.” – 🦆
We give you noodles, mean parenting, silk and gun powder. You’re welcome world.
(# Please Stop Mean Asian Parenting)

My Time Crunch Meal Plan

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I’m not much of a cook, but I’m not a slave to fast food.

My total cooking time: 11 minutes, 40 seconds.

Total cost: $5.13. This saves for eating out once a week, where I usually do eat more meat, I enjoy a plant-based diet, but not a meat-free or vegan diet.

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As a family, food cost is our number 1 expense, more than rent by $200-400. Keeping my cost low lets me get whatever I want for my kids, blueberries, strawberries ext.

Health effect: good. I’m not catching sick more than anyone else and have an average recovery time when the family does catch sick. I feel well and have energy for the day. I’m not getting any bloating or digestive trouble. I’m enjoying the meals, not living for them, but these things are things I don’t have to force myself to eat.

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Sometimes what seems healthy isn’t and what seems unhealthy may be; the truth can be complicated, individual, and nuanced.

Weight effect: loss, so that I’m five pounds under target right now and can eat anything on the weekend. But this is a diet that compensates for 30 minutes of high-intensity exercise, not my diet for a non-exercise day.

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Sometimes I do enjoy fresh produce from my garden or farmer’s market.

I don’t intend to be on this diet forever, and I sometimes do frozen fruit + spinach, flaxseed oil from the spoon for omega 3 and nutrition. Still, this diet is surprisingly healthy for being so fast and cheap. I would enjoy cooking more if I didn’t have to feed the baby and clean the table and floor after the two kids eat. Hence, it’s a diet I wouldn’t choose if I wasn’t exercising or if I wanted to spend more time cooking. Someday I will cook more soulfully (actually today I helped my daughter cook waffles and chicken for her lunch), but I don’t want to wait to eat until I’m done cooking with a four-year-old… I want something fast so I’m full and then we can take our time cooking her food as slowly as it takes to cook with a child.

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I cook my daughter different lunch and dinner than I eat, because she has different needs (more fat, less protein) and different tastes than me (she like chicken, I don’t, I like tofu, she doesn’t).

For a long time, I didn’t eat processed food, and my health was worse, not better. It really depends “what” processed food you are or are not eating more than just the “processed” scare tactic.

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Processed food, ahh! Um, well milling oatmeal is processing, washing veggies and cutting them is processing, boiling soy beans into tofu is processing, drying grapes into rasins is processing, maybe processing isn’t black and white, but more of a gray area.

For a long time, I didn’t eat noodles or many carbs, but when I noticed Bruce Lee was a huge fan of carbs I decided to rethink my ideas about it. Sure, if I am losing weight, I don’t do a lot of carbs, but if I am maintaining or gaining and exercising, I need the carbs (in balance).

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Time for a little more carbs.

I was really inspired by Lovie Price’s food tips, which are much more “real world” than most online food tips. I was going to ask what her weekday meal plan looks like meal by meal (because I know people who would love to eat bread in moderation while losing weight), but instead, I decided to make a note of my diet. Not really so people can go on this diet, but more to shatter the illusion that it’s impossible to eat at home, eat within a budget or cook in a time efficient way with a focus on health.

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Maybe real-world information can help some else meal plan more manageable.

If you have more time to cook something better, that’s great, I hope that is me in a few months. But I found something that works for me, and I thought I would note it, I have had a lot of other good daily diet plans, for allergies, for weight loss, for work with no refrigerator, but I didn’t keep the notes of what they were and I kind of wish I would have, so here’s this one now.

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I did the kale, squash, organic diet for the first kids, the second one is as healthy eating a more typical variety of some fruits, some veggies, and some “processed” foods.

I know I’m producing breast milk without any digestion problems or supply problems, that’s sometimes helpful for other moms to know. My baby is probably lactose and gluten tolerant (I know the average baby in the world is not going to be as lactose tolerant).

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No milk problems with these foods (for us).

Beef Flavor Ramen Noodle Nutrition

  • Calories 380 Kcal “22%”
  • Total Fat 14 g “22%”
  • Trans Fat 0 g 0%
  • Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
  • Sodium 1.460 g “64%”
  • Total Carbohydrate 54 g “22%”
  • Dietary Fiber 2g “8%”
  • Sugars 2g “2%”
  • Protein 8g “16%”
  • Iron 1.3 mg “14%”

When I read the nutrition facts, I was surprised there are fiber and protein in noodles, as well as iron which is very important for babies brain health for memory formation, as well as my health as a female especially, with a family history of anemia.

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I can’t believe noodles have protein and iron. What if I’ve been avoiding something I like for years because of a rumor it’s unhealthy, that isn’t even true for me?
Keep in mind this data is for 1 serving, which is half a noodle block, I always eat 1 block, so everything is doubled in my reality. I don’t limit my salt, I have very low blood pressure and no reason to limit my salt, but if I did, I would simply leave the seasoning packet out or reduced when I cook the noodle portion. Salt is high in traditional Japanese diets, which are actually some of the healthiest in the world, so I wholeheartedly disagree with limiting salt without a specific reason to do so, such as medicine or health conditions, which indicate it should be limited.
I probably don’t get enough zinc or copper, so it’s helpful getting some in the noodles.
I eat all my vitamins and minerals as foods rather than supliments because they have natural cofactors and are in an easier to digest form as food.

Usually, my yellow flags are over 10g of sugar or over 30g of carbohydrates per meal, but I noticed I needed more energy on a daily basis before I added this high carb meal into my exercise days and found that it helped provide a lot of energy to replace what I lose exercising. I know exercise is supposed to create energy, but haven’t noticed it actually doing that yet this year, what it does is help my mood, my health, my mental outlook, my physical strength, and tone, so I am committed to doing it despite that it hasn’t provided any extra energy lately.

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I don’t enjoy cooking, so although I will cook with a positive attitude as much as needed, I enjoy reducing the time spend doing that, in order to spend more time doing things I either do enjoy, have to get done or think are worthwhile.

“There is nothing the busy man is less busied with than living; there is nothing harder to learn.”

– Seneca

It’s mostly about time.

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There is time for one thing or another but not “everything,” I choose relaxation and outside time over fancy meals that may be a must-have for someone else.
Quick Meals Give Me Time for What I Enjoy Doing

I do enjoy going outside for about an hour every day. I think my two kids really benefit from outdoor play. According to John Medina’s “Brain Rules,” the human mind evolved over most of human history and before, to solve problems in an outdoor environment on the go.

true story
Brain Rules by John Medina is both great at explaining our brains and scary in how much it disagrees with our modern lives and schools as mostly unhealthy for us.

Meaning sitting down isn’t good for the brain.

Being inside isn’t good for the brain.

Routine living, which doesn’t involve dynamic problem-solving aren’t good for the brain.

So much of modern life is made of one or all of those three components that isn’t good for the brain, the one hour outside isn’t a compulsion, I don’t do it every day, but it feels the most worthwhile out of all the enrichment routines I do for my children and also for myself.

Outside Play Habit

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How does it really get done?

My cue, routine, reward is:

Cue: after lunch.

Routine: sunscreen inside, put away the dog to chill (in a safe, shady small gated dog run), put out water play toys for the kids (cups, buckets, ext) with one big kid section and one enclosed baby section, take the kids outside, leaving the baby in the gated area until the end, then following the baby to explore safely for a bit, then cleaning up and freeing the dog.

Reward: I feel so peaceful after being outside.

Cost: It cost $30 for the outdoor pen used, it cost $8 for the toys we use outside, it cost an hour of the day I get back from doing a quick, simple lunches and dinners, it costs a bit of sunscreen, it costs the cost of kid proofing the indoor spaces $75 so that I can leave the kids inside while I do outdoor set up for 4 minutes and put the dog away.

Beliefs: I had to let go of the belief it was “more work”, it’s not really more work than watching the kids inside (for me), it may be draining to be in the heat or sun, but getting wet and providing shade areas helps both issues. It would be more work if I had to train my older child what is safe or unsafe outside, she is already trained and behaves well because she enjoys being allowed to play outside so much she doesn’t want to lose the privilege. It would be more work if I didn’t have a safe place for the baby via the playpen. Using the playpen as a safe zone, I could rescue the older one if I needed to or go for a quick bathroom break without having a safety hazard. The playpen seems like it doesn’t matter “if I am watching them,” but it really does matter. Safe zones make parenting so much easier and more enjoyable.

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Simply being alive may be the purpose of being alive sometimes, attending to the everyday needs of life doesn’t need to be looked down on, it makes everything else possible.

I was thinking a few weeks ago that the mundane parts of life were something to “get through” to the more lofty parts of life, but I no longer believe that, now I think they are interwoven, like a quilt. The everyday habits, they are the backbone that creates a base for the masterpieces, masterpieces of music and art don’t exist alone, they are a part of a life long journey of creativity, which is part of a journey of being human and alive. So the matters of life, of being human, of everyday duties, everyday choices, they are a part of holistic health that builds the more lauded human endeavors.

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What’s cooking?

Thank you, any good home recipes are welcome! When I start “really” cooking again, it would be nice to try some new things, it would be amazing to try some secret family recepies from other families, one day I’ll post my dad’s beef stew or my grandmother’s tofu pie.

Eudamonia 💐

We talk about love and happiness, but what we mean, can vary.

Love can be an act, the process of tapping someone with kindness, smiling to say everything that needs to be said, or it can be simply not hitting someone who just bit you.

For me separating love into “connection” and “care” helps. My father cared for me so much but didn’t connect with me ever. I am grateful for the care. I remember him brushing a huge knott out of the hair hidden behind my other back of the head hair (that looking back probably should have always been thinned or cut), I remember him stroking my painful stomach all night as I lay in pain one night, even though he had to go to work the next day. He picked up dinner on the way home, and it was great, he made sure I had everything I needed most of my life and that was great, but it wasn’t connection. He gave me everything he could, I understand, I’m okay with that. But I had to learn connection, these past few years, to give my kids, what I feel is right to give them. Connection means knowing someone else’s hopes and dreams, fears, and preferences a little bit, keeping it current instead of just substituting outdated information… It means more, but I just wanted to distinguish between connection love and duty love.

I believe it isn’t an either-or, but a gradient, meaning too much in, either way, is worse than a mix.

I believe imagination and sanity are like that too. I define sanity as being able to recognize and accept the world as it is. If you stick your hand in a fire, it burns, no matter if you are attracting positive or negative ideas in your mind. The power of attitude and the power of the mind are amazing, they have some control over life, I don’t know how much, maybe 30%, maybe 99%, but I don’t believe it’s 100%.

If you 100% don’t believe in AIDS, and get HIV, please don’t test that on other people. If you 100% think you can drive drunk, please don’t. A positive attitude is no substitute for contraceptive or food or a healthy living situation. But on the other hand, it can change the world, the key is balance.

Without imagination, we would live in the world the same way each day, or as close as we could. We wouldn’t be able to be a better person over time before we improve it takes some sanity to see our flaws honestly and heal from that pain, but it also takes some imagination to dream of something that isn’t yet in existence, then make it so.

I have stayed away from existentialism, the idea we make ourselves with our own minds, because I am a stoic. I believe in things outside and inside our control, but there is a value to being able to imagine a better future than the one in which we were or are living.

I’ve been thinking about what makes a good life, lately I’ve also been living it and I decided to share because I know I didn’t find my own formula very easily.

Some people said service (duty), others said love (connection), others that everything was in your head (imagination), but what I have found from my life so far is that there is excess possible for anything good.

Eating is super esential to life, but the excess is obviously harmful in extremes. Another excess is caring for children alone, we weren’t meant to do it, it is possible, but it’s extreme an extreme I live through, but I remember being raised with my grandmother able to help my parents and my aunts as well, and even spending the summer with my grandfather.

I was lucky in that my grandfather never molested me or did anything wrong to me, he had molested his children very often, so looking back, I find it surprising my mom sent me to live with him in the summers, even though I did enjoy the forest. It was strange, he was a good cook and helped me with algebra (previous NASA engineer), but my mother and her siblings were so damaged by his abuse that I had heard about hundreds of times. In general, I don’t choose to associate with any people who abuse children, but as a child, I didn’t get to choose where my mother took me or where I lived. The courts gave her full custody, so if my dad wanted to see me at all, he had to stay on my mother’s better side. But it was weird having such a mixed picture of my grandfather, someone who was fine financially and intellectually but so broken mentally. I think it was the beginning of me knowing that you can fail at life with every outward appearance being “normal”. That only you really know how you are doing, short or long term.

I kind of idealized my father’s family, because “no pedophiles” was like “the perfect family” compared to a family with pretty much all pedophiles. I still love my father’s family more (actually, my mother’s family doesn’t even exist anymore, a small family that fragmented even further and dissolved). But my father’s family isn’t perfect, we were multigenerational hoarders (at least 3, but maybe more).

So, I’m from a comically messed up family, as many people are, and finding out how to live the good life I promised myself I would find when I left my mother took longer than I thought it would.

I have it now, I’m very lucky and very grateful, it was part opportunity, part work and a large part mental.

It wasn’t only mental, but it was very mental.

I wouldn’t have expected my mom, being raped often, starting at age 5, to use her mental power to enjoy her life then or find balance despite the hard circumstances. Whatever she someday is able to do is probably a good job considering her opportunities, but I refuse to set the bar low for myself because of what she believed the bar was for her.

Often people tell you what you want or are isn’t possible, because it isn’t possible for them. They may want you to fail or may want you not to get hurt trying.

I got a cup cover I love, it says “don’t be afraid to fail, the moments I spend with you are the best moments in my life.”

Sure, it would be nice to hear from a spouse, but I’ll take it from a plastic cup cover.

If we want things in life and they come, it’s best to take them from where they come (of course not immorally).

I always find the chakra system interesting, but I think just like Traditional Chinese Medicine (eating human flesh and pangolins), there are thousands of years of bad ideas mixed into thousands of years of truths.

The Chakra system is a life balance system though, it says your life and body/mind can be divided into 7 areas to make it easier to understand life and life balance. The idea a chakra, like love – the heart chakra – can be too open or too closed is not new, but what I find true for me is that the over balances directly affect another “axis”, meaning that being over imaginative doesn’t happen at the same time as being overly sane, being overly concerned for getting the check list done doesn’t happen at the same time as being open to a heart to heart conversation.

I propose a mind and heart axis that when they meet in moderation, produce a very fine life quality.

Right now I’m living in that balance and it feels great, it may not be anything new to you the reader, but for me it was new and if it isn’t your life balance formula, perhaps it’s a tool to help you discover yours.

Thank you for entertaining the ideas, I’m sorry if the past of my family disturbs your day I appologize for the vulgarity of it, it’s the past of a lot of families and even disturbing as it is, if the world changes to a place it can be talked about, 1. victims won’t need to be ashamed and 2. victimizers will think just a bit more about not doing what they already should be as to not be publicly shamed.

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Eudamonia Flourishing: Not a life without struggle, but a life with all the essentials, which also allows for the finer parts of life, balance, purpose, impact, love, in a sense the opposite of holistic poverty. Not over abundance, not under abundance, life in balance.

Habit Change 🍎

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“Are you a sleep walking murderer?” Charles Duhigg asks at the end of The Power of Habit, I kind of was… but to some extend I said “No I am not.” It depends if you count animals and microbes…

When I read The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg, he explained how science shows habits are made, even by people with brain damage due to surgery.

It’s different than what public perseption leads us to imagine. Willpower is something that gets depleated from the actions of the day, it’s not infinate, some people do have more, but it is trainable.

The book describes, 1. Cue, 2. Routine, 3. Reward, but in the appendix describes a process for how to check if the habit process needs to be adjusted.

I’ve tried the method described by the book of noting how the habit is going, and tweaking any of those three ingredients.

Later I came across another habit change system from Coach.Me:

1. Start with Assessment. What is the person’s larger goal and why? What do they expect from their coach? You need this assessment in order to identify and initial practice and to be able to personalize your coaching. 

2. Use the assessment to move on to Habituation. Find a regular practice that will support your client’s larger goal. Then focus on building consistency. 

3. Once there is consistency, you can work on Growth. This where you can expand the difficulty of the practice, build skills, identify and solve challenges, and introduce optimizations.

4. You and your client should look for Graduation milestones where you can re-assess and either end the coaching relationship or restart the momentum cycle based on what you and your client learned the first time through. It’s much better to do multiple trips through the Momentum Cycle than it is to be bogged down in one phase.

“Momentum Habit Change”

I also learned there were some internal, kind of “invisible steps” that happened along the way.

My process has become the combination of cue-routine-reward and the momentum framework with some other mindfullness steps. I don’t like to make it longer, but I feel like I’d rather have it have as many steps that it needs to work.

). Evalutaion, when I think about something for the first time in a deeper way, there are millions of thoughts everyday so it would be too hard to question everything and still get survival needs accomplished, but sometimes something calls the mind towards a habit or part of a life style or thought process, without that the whole thing can’t start. It’s the seed that has the potential to bloom, but not all seeds need to be planted in a given season of life, sometimes it’s not the right time to allocate resources towards the project.

1. Decide, it can be hard to decide, because sometimes the wanted data can’t be given to prove the choice will be safe or productive, so some choices are a leap of faith, not neccisarily 100% leap, but some kind of leap, ultimately the decision making is done on a best guess.

2. Plan, let’s say you want to live by cue, routine, reward, but they have to be picked in the planning step. Also thinking ahead of roadblocks and metrics for success may help. I like to make sure I align one of my values with the goal so that I don’t run out of meaning, the growth of the value can go a long way to make the drudgery seem like it has impact or value to me.

3. Cue, this can be a time like 8AM, or an alarm or a sequence of events like “when we are done with dinner”.

4. Routine, the is steps of what has to be done, “both my kids and I brush our teeth to the song “Eye of the Tiger” and we give my toddler a 1-10 point score so she can have fun with the game of “Tooth Brushing Competition”, we floss after brushing and then move on.

5. Reward, for my daughter it is “winning”, for my son it is “dancing to the song together as we brush” for me it is “not having to brush the kids teeth when I am already exausted right before sleep”.

6. Graduation, this is when the habit is solid, that means the reward doesn’t affect the habit anymore. It takes longer depending on how new the habit is, how natural it is, how aligned with the habit your nature is. Right now I am writing with no cookie, I didn’t take away my cookie for a month, because I prefer to leave the reward for longer than I feel it is needed rather than to have to redo the habit loop. It doesn’t need to be a cookie, but food works the best, it can be healthy food, but after about four years of making habit loops on myself and others I have noticed food is the strongest because it connects the body and mind to the goal rather than just the mind. Sometimes, like with brushing teeth, it’s not a good option. The reward is strongest closest to the activity so giving food the next day for teeth brushing today doesn’t work as well as a reward tonight.

7. Observe, this is “is it worth it?” “is it for me?” “what’s the next step?” Usually I like getting up at 5AM to write, but right now I wake up at 7AM, because when I get up my son wakes up and I would rather he get enough sleep. My husband comes home late, because his job lets him out late, my son loves playing with his dad. Sleep books say my son should be sleeping more than he is, so I don’t want to kill myself to make him sleep what a book says he should, but I also don’t want him to sleep less. So for me it isn’t worth it waking up early, because it wakes up my son, he gets less sleep, I get less sleep that way also, but I find I have an easier time falling asleep and sleep better if I wake up on my natural early cycle, so the main issue right now is my son’s sleep, which is pretty temporary I think.

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Waking up was my first habit, not waking up early, but waking up mentally positive.

A summary of my habit change system:

). Evalutaion, is this my best life? What do I have the resources and desire to change right now?

1. Decide, I usually want to do too many things, the least amount of changes the odds are they will have resources to succeed.

2. Plan, decide on a way to have a new cue, routine, reward that is possible today and upgrade it as possible, possibly plan a Plan A and Plan B and use Plan A until items for Plan B arrive.

3. Cue, usually just a hour for me like 7AM, 8AM, but alarms can work well too.

4. Routine, the more detailed the steps means no decisions have to be made on a “bad day” so it’s helpful to decide everything before hand and have it noted.

5. Reward, it really matters what you like, when habits don’t work this is usually the key issue.

6. Graduation, the good part of habits is yes you fall off, but each time you go through the cycle some of the past makes it easier, getting in shape the first time tends to be harder and the second time, a bit less ext.

7. Observe, this is “is it worth it?” “is it for me?” “what’s the next step?” Some time just doing all the things that sound good make your life worse if it costs you something like family harmony or your own well being, sometimes a habit that is good at one time is not at another, it’s important to check if it’s worth it. Not just putting a latter on a building, but putting it on “the burning building” this is the difference between management and leadership.

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I’m still thinking about this, but this is everything I know so far, concentrated down. If something is missing or doubled please let me know, something seems off still, but this and life are both works in progress. 🌸