Friday, April 18, 2014

"Are You Really Hungry"
I, who have no authority nor any credentials to back up such a claim, have come up with a theory about hunger in this day and age. I think it is mostly false. In the same way that "false labor" is not actually labor, I think that most of our hunger pains are misdirected urges caused by years of habitual rewiring of the brain. Like Pavlov's dogs, we have so often redirected our urges--thirst, boredom, anxiety--toward food that our brains have decided, "What the hell, I'll make it easy and just call it hunger!" How hungry can I really be when I have been sitting on a plane for five hours doing absolutely nothing physical since the last time I ate? How digested can that food really be? What I really am, midway through the transatlantic staring contest, is bored. But since I have redirected this nagging dullness so many times toward food my whole system actually calls it hunger now and sometimes my stomach will even growl. I can actually go all day when I am truly jazzed by life without eating anything past breakfast, no pangs or grumbles or any sign that my body thinks it needs food, because sedentary as our lives have become, the chances are I actually don't need any. I once saw my mother almost hit by a car and then proclaim moments later, "I could eat an entire cow right now!" Guess what reflex she has been redirecting toward food. But probably the most insidious and life altering of these errant urges is the redirection away from thirst. I truly think that if every time we thought we were hungry we downed a glass of water, we would cut our food consumption in half and double our energy.

So this is what I'm trying: since I'm a "bored eater" each time I think I'm hungry I'm going to drink a glass of water and then go do an activity, anything from sweeping the floor to watching a show to checking off one of my many assignments for my master's program. If at any point later I feel another hunger pang I can eat. But the funny thing is how often that point is hours later or not at all until the next meal. I've lost six pounds already and hopefully am well on my way to some significant rewiring. Pavlov would be proud.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Forgive me for not having written in a hundred million years, but well, I'm back. Am having a fake sick day and since my friend Carolyn recently said that she thought some of the weird things I do might be of interest (notice her strategic use of the word "might") to others, I'm writing about this. So I am here doing everything that one does when one is sick. I am drinking lots of fluids, laying in bed, putting a hot water bottle on my stomach (why does that feel so good?) reading (alternating between "Wherever You Go There You Are by Kabat Zinn and the Doomsday Book by Connie Willis), and lazing my way through a stack of DVD's from the library (most of which I've never heard of but they looked curiously like ones I would love and my teenage daughters and husband would hate- Like Wallis and Edward: the Love affair that changed history). Why (other than the obvious reason that it is so damn fun) would anyone take a fake sick day? First, I would like to note the historic precedent for such seemingly odd behavior. Women through out the ages have taken days out from the ordinary to replenish the spirit. I'm thinking of the Red Tent here in particular, but one does not have to be "flowing" so to speak to need a respite. "Taking to one's bed" seemed a popular escape for women of Jane Austen's time and I'm sure it was called by many others names in other eras (if anyone knows some of these please enlighten us). We of the digital list era seem to have forgotten this, or maybe we just need a little nudge. Nudge. Nudge. Secondly, it is astounding how good it feels to do all these things when one is NOT sick. Really being sick is only good because it forces us to stop and relax, but how fun is relaxing when one feels crappy? How much better to have a whole glorious day stretched out in front of you when you feel increasingly amazing (rehydration alone works wonders). And if that isn't enough reason alone, I have noticed since I've been taking these (about ten years) I am actually sick so very rarely. It's as if this prevents the body from going over the edge. It is true that you might meet some resistance from family and friends, but when they see how much nicer/happier/healthier you are I'm sure they'll come on board. My husband now calls this "taking to my couch" and my friend Kami actually brought me a sick care package one day with chicken noodle soup and chocolate bars. What if we did this for each other often?? Encouraged our loved ones to just stop- and relax and recuperate even before the body sent up flares? Wow. You may note the irony that in fact I am doing some writing on my sick day (work is strictly prohibited!) but I just had to take a few minutes out to say how good it feels. If you try it let me know!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Great Resources to Inspire a Change in our Consumption amazing (and short) video on the cycle and impact of things. Good for kids too.

Maxed Out- 2006 documentary on the debt problem in America (by the creator of Fast Food Nation)

Affluenza: The All Consuming Epidemic book depicting the plight of consumerism by David Wann

Affluenza and Escape from Affluenza: two documentaries produced by PBS which were based on the book

Your Money or Your Life- book by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin on how to realign your spending with your values

The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don’t Need- sociology book by Juliet Schor exploring over-consumption in the U.S.

Voluntary Simplicity- book by Duane Elgin which was at the forefront of the simplicity movement of the 80’s and 90’s.

Living Simply with Children: A Voluntary Simplicity Guide for Moms, Dads, and Kids, Who Want to Reclaim the Bliss of Childhood and the Joy of Parenting, by Marie Sherlock.

Ten Insights from Our Year without Buying:

1. When we shop less, we free up time, energy, and money we didn't even know were available. Our former “Gotta find it!” lifestyle would fill our afternoons with exhausting quests to make our home look picture perfect. Our lived-in living room shows the signs of our redirected enthusiasm with our cat-frayed rug, threadbare pillow-fight cushions, and handmade curtains.

2. Fixing items we already possess is not only frugal but creative and empowering. Now when the handle falls of a mug, our jeans rip, or the futon collapses, the first question we ask ourselves is “what should we use to fix it?” Some of our patched-together projects are more Frankenstein than fashionable but somehow we are always proud of what we have accomplished.

3. If we don't fill all our own wants, things often come to us in surprising and fun ways. Some of the items which have magically materialized from our silent wishing are garden decorations, diamond earrings, patio benches, chocolate chip cookies and cotton balls. Friends of ours who engaged in shortened versions of our no-buying experiment were delighted by the same magnetic attraction and would regale us with stories of “Guess what came my way!”

4. Envisioning our home as a free-store allows us to discover the potential in what we already own. During our yearlong shopping hiatus my husband and I vowed to read every book in our house, which even our steady bedtime reading failed to accomplish. Five years since the end of the experiment, the Complete Short Stories of Mark Twain, West with the Night, Angels and Demons, and numerous other unread treasures await us in the ready bookstore which is our den.
5. Our desires often disappear when they are not fulfilled right away. When I find myself really wanting something, I right it down on a piece of paper and tuck it away for a month or so, just to see what happens. Most recently I read that I had desperately wanted couches for our basement playroom, though now our restructured futon seems to fit the bill just fine, and I don’t mind the kids jumping on it!

6. We can promote connections with others by the borrowing, bartering, and lending of goods. The lawn mower that we share with our neighbors, Joan and John, is a constant source of bonding as the passing from hand to hand often results in impromptu conversations and get-togethers.

7. Cleaning out our things and donating them lightens the burden of our possessions while helping others. My friend, Kami, felt so inspired by our de-cluttering agenda that she cleaned out her whole house and found needy sources for all her items. An old friend bumped into her and commented, “You look great! Have you lost weight?” “Uh, I don’t think so,” Kami replied, “But I lost a bunch of stuff!”

8. By refraining from filling all our children's desires, we learn how creative and resourceful they can be. Recently our thirteen-year-old daughter, Sage, transformed a long black skirt worn by my grandmother into a cute mini. When I asked her where she learned to alter clothes, she replied, “Nowhere. I just did it.”

9. Refocusing our attention on purchase-free places, allows us to see libraries, museums, and parks anew. On a school holiday, my youngest daughter, Laugan, and I acquired a free pass from our local library to visit the Chinese Gardens, where she discovered “giant goldfish,” Mandarin symbols carved in stone, and tea buds that opened like a flower.

10. De-emphasizing shopping lets the true spirit of holidays, birthdays, and special occasions shine brighter. Instead of presents, family birthdays are celebrated by giving each other a “special day” in which the “Queen” or “King” can dictate the day’s activities from wake-up to midnight. Some of the more popular “commands” are donuts for breakfast, double feature movies, go-carting, being chauffeured (without complaint!) to random destinations, and ice cream for dinner.

Always remember to ask yourself: "Is the way I'm acquiring things contributing to my profound happiness?" You deserve to feel joyful, invigorated, and fulfilled and changing how you buy can help!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Promising more to come!

For now, here is a link to my latest article on this topic: