When the big things are too much…

 Today I read a very interesting article which among other things explains why women tend to shop or eat when faced with crisis.


What started this research was an article in my Oprah magazine on how to manage a spending diet. I have a tendency when anyone mentions a fact (such as how hormonal secretions effect behavior differently in men and women) that is way outside the particular writer’s field to verify it with my own research.   That way I am not propagating a myth if I repeat the fact. One of the ironies of this modern age of information is how easily facts can be checked and how rarely they are. But that is for another blog, another time. What I really wanted to talk about today was my favorite theme, doing small things to cope with the big things that are beyond our grasp.

I am a faithful NPR listener and NYTimes, BBC, and Christian Science Monitor (now all web available) reader. When I am interested in a story, either because of its effect on me and my immediate world or because of its impact on the global picture I am also part of, I try to get the story from more than one source; whether it’s "Truth" or a stool to sit upon, three supports are the minimum requirement for stability. I also check in at times on the other sources whose use of inflammatory rhetoric allows me the chance to practice my Ghandi techniques such as FoxNews, The Arizona Republic, etc. It is always good to know how those most unlike you in process also view the events. All this to say, that there comes a point when the enormity of the events I cannot change shuts me down and I find myself facing my own powerlessness.

How I respond to this is apparently decided by my female hormones. (Because we secrete "nurture" more than "flee" or "fight", especially postmenopausally. ) Usually when this happens I eat or shop. These days however as I work to practice the belief that what I change or do on small scale eddies out to the big scale, but otherwise its not in my control, I do neither acts of consumption.

What I did today? I hung my clothes on a drying rack instead of using my dryer. I will carpool with two friends to our social gathering tonight. I will buy my books, groceries and necessaries locally. I rinsed and placed my empty containers in the recycling bin that I will drive to the pick up point tomorrow, and I made a list of all the things I was grateful for, letting my little hunter, gatherer heart relish how well taken care of I truly am by this universe.

I cannot stop the insanity that is this worlds, and especially western culture’s, own auto-immune insanity, nor can I mitigate the effect of my own all consuming appetites by sinking into helplessness and depression.  The news today is sad and horrifying as the pot of human intolerance, heated by Peak Oil being now a reality instead of theory, boils over onto the masses in the middle east. In other news, natural disasters accumulate, and crime against the labor force, the working poor and thereby human rights is committed in the name of budget balancing by those who make more in a month than most make in a year.

Its that whole raising the level of the ocean by peeing in it story all over again, so today I will remember to focus on the fact that I can warm my little circle and focus on what I CAN do. To help me I am re-reading "Coming to Our Senses" by Jon-Kabat Zinn. I missed so much in it the first time.

Here is my question dear readers, what little things do you do, can you suggest, to help us average Janes be part of the solution as we all come to our senses?

Good Friends and Good Food….

You, my Friends 

Are the leaven in my bread
the cream in my coffee
 the salt on my rice

You raise my up when I have been pounded flat and lifeless by constant need
and make me stretch myself
only with with you, can I rise above the boundaries of  this clay container I am placed in
You lighten the blackness
Make smooth the bitter taste
Transforming to delicious awakening
the dark and unpalatable cup I would deign pass

You are the crystal and savory stimulation
That makes this most common and basic life, delicious. 

I am so lucky to have the friends I do,
i do not deserve you
But I am grateful for the gift

A funny thing happened on my way to this forum….

So I have come to my blog to prattle. Ego is an amusing thing, as are words.  Whenever I start wondering why i have chosen this small life of service over the other possibilities life offered something happens to remind me. This began innocently enough with me suggesting local over Barnes and Noble (now Borders is closing a large percentage of its store fronts). These were my comments to someone elses note.

"Better than Amazon, buy local! Anybody who does have a local "Mom and Pop" bookstore do something for literacy this week and buy yourself a book. One of James (if you don’t own them all already) would be nice, if not maybe something else intelligent like Jasper Fforde or Charles de Lint"

The conversation went on and later I added… 

"See, I would rather not own books than shop B&N. I am all about old fashioned stuff, like quality, community, loyalty, etc, hence my buy Local stumping. Like this real wise man we know says, "Never trade what you really want, for what you want now." or something like that so if I can, I buy first from the producer of the object (food, book, etc); then next local sources; and when (rarely) they can’t provide it I go national, has been Borders for decaded, never BN. I have a warm place in my heart for Borders and many friends who will be affected by these closures."

OK. I have many reasons for not liking Barnes and (Ig)Noble and none are personal, they have to do with the Corporate "profit over people" philosophy. If you don’t know how corrupt Barnes and Noble and Czar Riggio is, try entering a few search words in Google. Try "Barnes & Noble" with "lawsuit", then add "Ingram", "Nook", "One click", or "Retirement account". But I am not so much anti Barnes & Noble as I am pro local. And if you don’t know about that go here www.sustainabletable.org.

Then came this response (just excerpts cause his responsese are really long)

"I just "love" seeing folks prattle on about B&N and how they’re just not as community oriented, loyal, or concerned with quality, etc as store X and how they’d rather never read anything ever again than shop at B&N"…….*then a full really long paragraph about writer’s knowledge, prowess  and unselfish hard work at B&N*…….then said writer continues with an attitude which seems way out of sinc with aforementioned  dedication to customer service and not at all related to anything I thought I said  "You’re right. We B&N folk are the crap of the earth.Of course over those 10 years I’ve seen more than a few customers who think they’re better than everyone else; even better than the other customer waiting in line. And of course they are deserving of the treatment bestowed upon kings of old, and if they don’t get it, well, it’s hissy fit time……." 

So I apologized for hurting his feelings. Even though I still believe that a store that advertises price, price , price is not focusing on quality. I, for one like my McSweeneys, and my small press artist comics and chapbook poetry and unabridged classics. As for community and loyalty, at my local bookstore they remember my name, they point out new stuff in my own special areas of geekiness, and they all care about the local economy right down to the owner because they are part of this community, not multimillionaires living many states away. I totally believe good customer service can happen at any size store….its just this other stuff that can’t.

‎"@Steve I am sorry if you were personally offended by my stumping for buying local. My argument with Barnes and (Ig)Noble is purely with their corporate philosophy. I am certain that just like WalMart they have hundreds of incredibly amazing employees. I shall now prattle on somewhere else. LOL (But for the record if you reread my posts and then yours, you are the only one attacking people, just for the record.)"

He responded with a much longer rant (of which Glen Beck would be proud) in which he himself admits to not feeling supported by corporate or even his own management, but concludes from all this that my stumping for local values is a slap to good book sellers everywhere. I think this rates right up there with the giant goose step stride of many recent political debates, and I quote again.

"But when you make comments about those old fashioned ideals you threw out there, you take a pot shot at every one of us who report for work every day and who bust our humps, sometimes without the proper support from corporate, and in some cases without even the proper support from our own management staffs, to put that book in the customer’s hand and provide the service they would expect that would get them to come back." 

And that Virginia is why I prefer to hide away and just use my heart to provide palliative nursing care. At least when my patients are hysterical, angry and illogical it is actually about life and death matters not just bruised ego. And I applaud all the authors ( Owen, Scalzi, Wheaton, Gaiman) who not only still write professionally, but also blog and fearlessly put words an ideas out into these ignorance invaded waters. Y’all rock. I, on the other hand am a chicken. It may look like passive resistance, but I haven’t gone all Ghandi, I am just too flumoxed by all the ego and rage flamed around in the blogosphere to even speak.

Why, back in my day, of mimeographed sheets and manual typewriters….

anyway that’s the funny thing that happened to me on the way to this forum…I was just fiddling around, and went down in flames. So now I will roam off and get some sleep.

“I asked God for strength that I might achieve. I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey. I asked for health that I might do greater things. I was given infirmity that I might do better things. I asked for riches that I might be happy. I was given poverty that I might be wise. I asked for power that I might have the praise of men. I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God. I asked for all things that I might enjoy life. I was given life that I might enjoy all things. I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for. Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered. I am, among all men, most richly blessed.”

Four Horseman Series hits my “read it” list


Jackie Morse Kessler has a new series. Book one "Hunger" is out and book two "Rage" is due to hit in April. Basic premise is that adolescents are recruited to be the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. (Anyone who has been or raised a teenager will not have any difficulty with the premise)

Now this is NOT the first time someone has drawn the parallel between the Horseman of Famine and anorexia, nor the first time this horseman and modern gluttony have found them selves co-stars, But it is the first time I thought of her as a hero and the story is told in a unique and thoroughly enthralling voice. Read the author before and thought her a good writer and wished she would write something I wanted to read. I have less appetite for junk food in any form than many, she must have heard my wish.