Healthy food will keep us healthy. What is healthy food?

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Those who have no time for healthy eating will sooner or later have to find time for illness. Edward Stanley

My youngest sister called me up yesterday. “What do you think of oatmeal for breakfast?”

“I think it’s great and is one of my go-to breakfasts.”

“Dr. Hyman says oatmeal spikes our blood sugar and makes us hungrier.”

“I uh, well…” I didn’t know what to say to her.

Three and a half years ago my son challenged me to the three-week vegan challenge. He introduced me to the book The Starch Solution by Dr. John McDougall.

I took the challenge not because a vegan diet is healthy. It can be, but just cutting things out of your diet doesn’t mean it is healthy. Following Dr. McDougall’s Starch Solution is healthy. By loosely following The Starch Solution, staying off dairy, eating very little meat, I lost 25 lbs in three years of not dieting.

Dr. McDougall believes all healthy, long-lived populations live on starch as the main ingredient in their diet. This is rice, beans, lentils, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, corn, and grains. He believes we are “starch eaters.”

His starch-based diet differs from a vegan diet and a plant-based diet. We have an enzyme in our saliva which digests starch. We differ from apes and chimpanzees in this regard.

The glycemic index is an index which measures how fast a food spikes our blood sugar. The idea is that foods that spike our blood sugar are bad, and foods that cause less of a spike are good. Sugar which is 50% fructose spikes our blood sugar less than starchy foods.

Dr. McDougall’s table on the glycemic index.

Low Glycemic Index doesn’t necessarily equate with healthy

Junk food with GI less than 40                

Chocolate cake (38)

Nestle Quick Strawberry Drink (35)

No Bake Egg Custard (35)

Sara Lee Premium Ice Cream (37)

Chocolate Mile with Sugar (34)

M&Ms with peanuts (33)

Pizza Supreme (30)

Egg Fettucini (32)

Fructose – a pure sugar (19)

Healthy Foods with GI greater than 80

Nabisco Shredded Wheat (83)

Corn Meal Porridge (109)

Jasmine Rice (109)

Brown Rie – Calrose (87)

Corn Thins (87)

Baked Potato (85)

Boiled Potato (101)

Parsnips (97)

Carrots (92)

Dr. McDougall believes fat, not sugar causes diabetes. From my own experience, it seems weight gain happens when high fat, and high carbohydrates are eaten in the same meal. This is why low fat, high carbohydrate (starch) and high fat, low carbohydrate diets both works for weight loss.

Your diet is a bank account. Good food choices are good investments. Bethenny Frankel

There is a lot of division on which of these two diets are the healthiest. What appears to work for me, makes me feel better, lost weight, etc. is the Starch Solution Dr. McDougall recommends. Starch is satisfying.

After about forty when the weight started to creep on, I started watching what I ate. Food journaling became one of my strategies. Low carb is very hard to stick to. It sounds great in the beginning all the meat, eggs, cheese, and green vegetables you want. This way of eating gets old very fast.

Suzanne Somers has a diet which is a combination diet. A meal can be either a starch/low fat or high fat/protein low carbohydrate. Fruit is eaten separately on an empty stomach. Food combining is not a new concept Harvey and Marilyn Diamond introduced this concept in Fit for Life in 1985. This way of eating did not keep me as slim or healthy as I wanted. One of the reasons is it isn’t necessarily a diet focused on health. Suzanne Somers recommended not eating the starchiest foods. It could be healthier, but often my mindset was, how can I eat “that” and get away with it.

The Starch Solution is focused on health. Dr. McDougall has many articles free on the internet which talk about how changing to a starch-based diet deals with most of the health concerns we have, including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, etc. If you have a health problem and Google Dr. McDougall and that health concern he probably has a video or article on it.

The mistake I made was cutting starch out of my diet as I tried to keep slim and trim. Bringing starch back into my diet has made me slimmer and trimmer. Somehow starch has been equated with bad carbohydrates. Bad carbohydrates are processed foods, high sugar foods, no nutrition foods. Let’s bring back potatoes, oatmeal, grains, rice, beans, lentils, corn, yams, and bananas. Cut out the high sugar no nutrition foods, the processed foods.

Dairy and meat are not recommended by Dr. McDougall. We will not get healthier by not eating something. We will get healthier by eating good nutritious food our body can digest. Can we all digest the same foods? Probably not. Figuring out what works for us is part of our journey.

One of the things mom told me is not to diet. I followed her advice after a few years of trying to diet and not getting what I wanted. When I quit dieting I was slimmer. Then when forty came I got on the roller coaster of dieting. Now, no longer dieting, eating starch, I am healthier. We don’t do well when we are hungry and dieting makes us hungry. Eating starch is satiating, gives us energy, vitamins, minerals, protein, fat, everything our body needs.

We were healthier as a people when we embraced starch. As we’ve gotten away from starch we’ve become less healthy. We don’t need a new way of eating; we need to get back to the old way of eating. If we have a little meat with our starch or don’t, it isn’t a deal breaker.

The answer to my sister’s question is eat more starch, oatmeal is a starch. The glycemic index may have its use, but what it did is make the healthiest food we were eating (starch) into the villain. Those of us who followed those dictates are less healthy because we took the starch out of our diet.

The McDougall challenge is to eat more starch.

To take his challenge, simply add to your diet any one or a mixture daily of the following without taking anything away and see how you feel.

4 cups of steamed rice

4 cups of boiled corn

4 mashed potatoes

4 baked sweet potatoes

3 cups of cooked beans, peas, or lentils

4 cups of boiled spaghetti noodles

12 slices of whole grain bread

Finally, someone telling us to eat what we love. Don’t slather it in a lot of fat, because too much fat with your starch will make you fat.

Are we as healthy as we think we should be?  Through experimentation, we can find what works for us. Are we up for the starch challenge?

Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. Michael Pollan

The Starch Solution: Eat the Foods You Love, Regain Your Health, and Lose the Weight for Good! Paperback – Jun 4 2013









Food is medicine, medicine is food. Choose the right food most of the time.

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It is easier to change a man’s religion than to change his diet. Margaret Mead

We don’t know what we don’t know, sometimes we don’t acknowledge what we know and sometimes we pretend what we know isn’t how it really is.

I’ve been doing this lately with dairy. Probiotics are good for us and probiotics are in cheese, so cheese should be good for me, and even though I know I’ve done better while being off dairy, maybe I could bring back cheese.

One of the ways to see if something bothers us is to not eat it for three days and on the fourth day eat quite a lot of it. If the food is something you could go into anaphylactic shock, do not do this! I would like to be the person that can eat anything and it doesn’t bother me. It seems I’m not that person.

If we find we have a nagging or worse pain after an indulgence of some kind. Especially if that indulgence keeps calling its siren call to us we may have a problem. Let’s have more, more, more. It may be one of our favorite foods. We even may say to our self, as long as it doesn’t bother me too much, I can have it once in a while.

If we want to live a happy, healthy, pain-free life as we age, we have to listen to our bodies. We have to figure out what the peculiarities of our system are, what affects us, our mood, soreness, stiffness. Our body is trying to communicate with us, we need to listen.

Our family may think we are crazy but we need to stick with our detective work. Keep a journal of what we eat and how we feel. Don’t accept that we should just take pain pills, instead try and figure out what is causing the pain. When we believe we should feel good, and there is a reason when we don’t, we are half-way to solving our problem.

The more processed foods we eat the more detective work we will have to do. We may even have to do an elimination diet. My mother would only eat cream of wheat porridge while she figured out what bothered her. Cherries are something she hasn’t eaten for years because even one cherry bothers her.

Food has the power to heal us. It is the most potent tool we have to help prevent and treat many of our chronic diseases. Dr. Mark Hyman

When we become overstressed our body releases hormones and other chemicals including histamine, the powerful chemical that leads to allergy symptoms. Stress doesn’t actually cause allergies, but it can make allergic reactions worse. Stress and allergies go hand in hand according to Los Angeles based ear, nose and throat doctor Murray Grossan MD.

It could be when we get flare-ups, we have too much stress in our lives, and we are reaching for those comfort foods that cause us problems. Sugar is also fuel to allergies. Refined sugar causes inflammation and stresses our immune system. It is enticing to reach for a cookie or chocolate but that may only fuel our downward spiral.

Valentine’s Day was just last week. I know sugar is a problem for me. The chocolates were a gift, no one else likes those white chocolates so I finished them off last night. We talk our self into eating things we shouldn’t all the time. Just one won’t hurt, but often it’s never “just one.” It is probably true that “just one” wouldn’t hurt us. Our body could tolerate “just one.”

Many of us tend to “binge.” We will stay away from the things we should until we break down. Then we scour the house looking for a fix. The more we eat of the offending substance the more of it we want. When we find the foods we can’t have just one of, we may have found something we have a problem with.

We may fight with our self. Do we have to give that up too? We tell our self, life isn’t fair. It’s too hard to be healthy, pain-free, or in a good mood. Until we wean our self off the offending substance and enjoy life without pain, moodiness, stiffness, etc. Then we become complacent, we forget how bad we felt when we last indulged. We tell our self yet again, we’ll just have one, and we are back on the roller coaster.

We know we should let food by our medicine, and medicine be our food. Our health is created with our fork and spoon. This is the good news! It is also good news that healthy food is the most economical food. When we get rid of the foods that don’t make us healthier our food bill most likely goes down.

We may not all agree on what the healthiest diet is. Most of us are in agreement on what the unhealthiest things we eat are. We should eat more plants is pretty much agreed with across the board. Beans, rice and potatoes, vegetables and fruits should make up the bulk of what we eat. Most of us know this, yet we succumb to the siren call of foods we know we should stay away from. If we at least acknowledge when we are off-course we can take charge of what we put in our mouth. We can make better choices.

If we don’t take responsibility for what we put in our mouth, who will? Eat better, feel better! The good news is it gets easier the longer we make better choices. We are what we eat, how can we be anything else?

We pay the Doctor to make us better when we should really be paying the Farmer to keep us healthy. Rethink health care. Robyn O’Brien


Working smarter, not harder. We all have 24 hours a day. Are we spending it in the best way?

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Start by doing what is necessary, then what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible. Saint Francis of Assisi

A New Zealand company is encouraging all of New Zealand to try a four day work week. Legal Services trust Perpetual Guardian began a six-week trial in February 2018 in which each employee had an extra day off per week. The founder of the company says he will never go back.

The moral is up, they didn’t cut pay to give the extra day off. Staff retention is up, stress levels have dropped and productivity has gone up. Andrew Barnes the founder of the company feels this is an important issue for New Zealand.

The majority of the workforce is now millennials and they are looking for flexibility. He is worried they will resort to unstable “gig jobs” which he feels will have lasting repercussions for New Zealand.

“Gig jobs” don’t have pensions, healthcare, or sick pay. He feels that New Zealand will end up paying that tab. Aren’t gig jobs are just another form of entrepreneurship?

Any kind of contractor has a “gig job” meaning they do work for someone until that project is finished and then they get another project. Painters don’t continue to paint one house. Mechanics don’t only fix one car.

Someone is getting the jobs, and someone is doing the work. In a “gig economy” many entrepreneurs are playing both roles. They get the work, and they do the work.

For some people, this is their idea of freedom. Other people find this lonely and they run out of contacts. Service businesses have a problem in that we can only do what we can do. Is the four hour week the answer for many people who push themselves to get through the day without being really productive for all of the time they spend on the job.

Do we delude our self thinking I’ll get more done, I’ll work evenings and weekends? Instead, do we need to realize there is a limit to the amount of productivity we can get out of our self over the long haul? We can work that weekend, but can we make working weekends the way to handle our workload?

Work expands to fill the time allotted to it. Unknown

A goal is a dream with a deadline. Napoleon Hill

Is the answer working smarter and not harder? What does that look like? It sounds great to say I’m working smarter instead of harder.

Do we need to focus when we are working on work, and when we are not working focus on other things? Are we messing things up by being too focused on work and our productivity is going down? It sounds like an oxymoron, working less gets more done, and working more gets less done. How can this be?

How do we work smarter?

The 80/20 rule suggests a small amount of inputs contributes to a much larger amount of outputs. We need to minimize the time spent on what is unproductive.

Parkinson’s Law states that “work will fill the time available for its completion.” Can we focus on accomplishing the task instead of just filling the hours? If we give ourselves deadlines to finish the project, or at least break it down into chunks we can accomplish in an allotted amount of time we will accomplish more.

Energy management versus time management. We can force ourselves to think of results as a function of energy, not time invested. Working intensely for a short period of time can accomplish more than working for days, tired and distracted.

Work in bursts. Divide yourself between complete rest and complete focus. Switching in-between leave us neither rested nor productive.

Kill projects. Don’t spread tasks that only take a few hours over several days. Sit down and finish them in one sitting. When we kill projects we feel energized, and like we’ve really accomplished something.

Make time for rest, relaxations, exercise, health, fun. Enslaving our self to work can actually accomplish less. We need to master the ability to recharge.

Only use sharp tools. There is a story of two lumberjacks. One grabs his rusty ax and heads for the woods. The second spends a good part of the day sharpening his ax and then heads for the woods. He then fells the biggest tree.

Track your accomplishments. Test out different methods. Figure out if there are better ways of doing things, do A/B tests.

The marginal rule of quality. By putting more time into the project are we really making it better? Would taking more time mean less mistakes, less redo”s? We need to find the most effective way to be the most productive. Are we better if we slow down and do it right the first time, are we better if we speed up and get it out? Are we striving for perfection when good enough is okay?

Canadians spend 300 more hours at work than people in Germany, the Netherlands, and Norway. Are we really more productive? Long hours do not necessarily go hand in hand with increased output.

A study from Stanford shows the productivity per hour declines sharply when the workweek exceeds 50 hours, and productivity declines so much after 55 hours there is no point working anymore. They say the people who work as much as 70 hours per week or more actually get the same amount done as people who work 55 hours.

As little as 30 minutes of planning our upcoming week can yield significant gains in productivity and reduced stress. Many of us think how can I fit that into my schedule? Many productivity experts recommend  30 minutes on Sunday as the time to plan our week.

Designate mornings as “our” time. If we can find a way to engage in an activity we are passionate about first thing in the morning this can pay massive dividends in happiness and cleanliness of mind. Our mind achieves peak performance two-four hours after we wake up. The recommendation is to get up early, do something physical, and then sit down and engage in something mental while our brain is at its peak.

If I didn’t write this blog in the morning before 9:00 it wouldn’t get out most days. At the end of the day, it would be much harder to get done. I don’t think I would have over 200 posts, my output would have been a lot less. By getting it out almost every day, I feel I’ve already accomplished something before I go on with the rest of my day. It’s a boost to the whole day.

Scheduling micro adventures is a way to bring more fun, exercise, and adventure into our lives. Instead of getting on the treadmill we can go for a hike. Studies show that anticipating something good is a significant part of what makes the activity pleasurable. Knowing we have something fun planned for the weekend will not only be fun on the weekend but will also improve our mood all week.

Spend time with our family. We need fifteen hours of uninterrupted time per week with our spouse to create a great marriage. We need to spend time with our kids, parents, siblings to build and maintain strong relationships. Family meals are a great way to fit everyone in, talk, laugh and enjoy each other.

We need to find time to exercise, reflect, and rest. Is building a well-rounded life is worth doing?  Will we reap the benefits in all areas of our life? Can we become more productive, improve our relationships, get the exercise we need, eat well, and pursue our passion? We will not have the same amount of time and energy to give to each of these at different points in our life. We will have to find the balance. Is it worth finding the balance?

We may find it easier to find balance than trying to fix the mess we have by letting things get too unbalanced. If we don’t give our spouse 14 hours of uninterrupted time we may have a hard time fixing that when they ask for a divorce. If we didn’t find time for our children, we may never repair that relationship.

Life is a balancing act. The better we get at finding balance the more we will enjoy our life, the more productive and happy we will be. There may be things in our life we think we have to do that aren’t as important as the things we never find time for.

Is our life in balance? Is there a way we could work smarter instead of harder? Are we focusing on the most important things, or are we spending too much time on what seems urgent, but in the long term unimportant.  Life is all about choice, are we making the best ones?

Working smart is harder than working hard. It’s just less visible, and we care too much about what others see. Unknown

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Life is change. Only death is stagnant. We are changing if we are living.

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For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction. Cynthia Ocee

Life is filled with change. Growth is messy, chaotic and rips everything apart. If we want to live smooth lives we don’t grow in ways that create upheaval and chaos. Many times when life changes it isn’t smooth.

Marriage brings together two disparate human beings. Starting a business is not often an easy seamless process. Moving to a new house is a huge undertaking. Yet people move houses, cities, countries all the time. They take what they can, what is most important and they leave the rest.

I look around at all we’ve gathered while we’ve lived in this house. Some serious editing will have to be done if we move. Life is a series of changes some we don’t acknowledge, some we worry and fret over.

Nature is growth and growth is messy. We are growing into the fullness of life or we are like ripened fruit on the tree. There is no point mourning where we are on the circle of life. It is best to acknowledge where we are, take stock and plan what we want for the next twenty, thirty, or forty years.

No matter what our choice it won’t necessarily be easy as we move from here to there. When we plant seeds in the ground have we ever wondered at the process they must go through to become the shoot that pushes through the ground?

Renewing of life is all around us. Even as the snow covers the ground things are happening down there. Life is getting ready to burst forth. We may think our growth is done, but until we die there is more to learn, do, accomplish and accept.

We may be in a gathering stage, growth stage, or letting go stage. It may seem so slow it is as if it isn’t happening at all.

Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail, is they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death. Anais Nin

Lessons on handling change.

Reduce our expectations. Unmet expectations are one of the biggest challenges we have in life. Pretty good relationships aren’t good enough. Great jobs aren’t what we thought they’d be. Parenthood isn’t that feeling of love and fulfillment we thought. We long for what we’ve read about, and we think moments should last longer. If we are lucky to have great moments, we are disappointed when they don’t encompass the whole of our life.

Our children and our spouse can’t meet these expectations. Where is a relationship to go when it is filled with so much disappointment? When we lower our expectations we can enjoy what is.

Acknowledge change. We may not want the change that is coming, but it doesn’t ask our permission. We will have to deal with what is. We can actively look for ways to bring change to our life. We can bring new people into our life by joining groups. We can learn new things, try new activities. Travel to see another side of life.

Accept change. When circumstances don’t turn out how we want or how we expected it can be disappointing. Change can be our greatest teacher if we will learn from it.

Learn from the experience. There are gifts in all areas of life if we recognize them. Is life trying to teach us something we can’t quite grasp? Do we need bigger, harder lessons, when we could have learned from small quiet lessons?

Recognize we are growing stronger. We can accept, learn from, and embrace change. We will grow stronger, it is inevitable.

Embrace wisdom. The more we change and grow as people the more wisdom we amass and have to share. If we can develop a sense of inner peace and accept change with calmness, peace, and courage, we will look back and see how much we have grown. When change is no longer our enemy, it becomes our teacher.

If change is going to happen anyway, why not embrace it? If we go back over our life we can graph the changes in our life. How would we feel if we had not had those changes? Sometimes one door has to close for another one to open. Change allows us to grow. As we embark on new challenges we are opening our self up to change.

We may feel something negative is happening in our life that is the chaotic unfolding of change. Nothing can change, until something changes. We may long for change, but when we are in the midst of it the mess, the chaos, the destruction seems too much. We must push forward to see what will become of the change we are going through.

We can’t stop something in the midst of change without killing it. The butterfly must struggle to get out of its cocoon. The baby must struggle to get out of the womb. The bud struggles to burst forth in flower. Life is struggle, life is change. Would we really want it to be different?

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. Lao Tzu

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Change: Learn to Love It, Learn to Lead It Paperback – Jan 2 2080

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To sleep perchance to dream. We need the rejuvenation of sleep.

To sleep perchance to dream. We need the rejuvenation of sleep.

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Even a soul submerged in sleep is hard at work and helps make something of the world. Heraclitus

My son’s girlfriend came over on Saturday with a pillow she bought him. A Bamboo memory foam pillow. On the radio, we hear the host  waxing poetic over “My Pillow” which he uses and endorses. After she scrunched it to get it to pop up to its natural shape and popped it in the dryer on low for 15 – 20 minutes, we all touched it and thought we want one too.

A Kitchen Warehouse store has popped up at a mall where they are selling these pillows. My husband and I went there yesterday. All we could find were the King size pillows. We asked an employee do you have these in Queen size? She said, “no.”

I asked, “have you ever had them in Queen size?” She said, “no.” We were going to take the King size pillows even though they would be huge. My husband found the bin with the Queen size pillows. The only ones left were lavender scented. We grabbed two and put the King size pillows back. Why would the staff not have said she didn’t know, instead of lying?

The problem with these stores is they have so many things that are useful you can walk out with more than you went for, and of course, we did. We bought a solar scale. I hate getting on the scale and it no longer works because the battery is dead. These are first world problems, but still irritating. The spring scale worked for years but everyone in the house complained about it. Here’s to hoping this solar powered scale works for years.

Yesterday morning my son reported he liked his new pillow. This morning I can report I like my new pillow as well. We watched a YouTube video comparing the bamboo memory foam pillow to My Pillow and the reviewer didn’t like either. He thought they were too high and would give him a crick neck. He didn’t appear to sleep on either of them, so what kind of a review is that? My neck is fine this morning.

My husband’s glowing review is, “it’s a pillow”.

Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night. William Blake

Anything that can give us better sleep is likely to improve our health, our mood, our life.

Poor sleep is linked to obesity. I thought it was the chips and ice-cream, and not walking enough. Short sleep duration is associated with a drastically increased risk of weight gain and obesity, in both children and adults.

Good sleepers tend to eat fewer calories. Poor sleep affects hormones that regulate appetite. When we get adequate sleep we tend to eat fewer calories.

Good sleep improves concentration and productivity. It has been shown to improve problem-solving skills and enhance memory performance of both children and adults.

Good sleep can maximize athletic performance.

Poor sleepers have a greater risk of heart disease and stroke. Sleeping less than 7-8 hours per night is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

Sleep affects glucose metabolism and type 2 diabetes risk. Experimental sleep restriction affects blood sugar and reduces insulin sensitivity. In a short study of healthy young men, restricting sleep to four hours per night for six nights in a row caused symptoms of pre-diabetes.

Poor sleep is linked to depression. Mental health issues such as depression, are strongly linked to poor sleep quality and sleep disorders.

Sleep improves our immune function. Even a small loss of sleep has been shown to impair immune function. Too many late nights can make us feel like we are getting sick.

Poor sleep is linked to increased inflammation. Sleep deprivation is known to activate undesirable markers of inflammation and cell damage and is strongly linked to long-term inflammation of the digestive tract. One study researched sleep-deprived people with Crohn’s disease and they were twice as likely to relapse if they were sleep deprived.

Sleep affects emotions and social interactions. Studies have confirmed this using facial recognition tests. Another study found people who had not slept had a reduced ability to recognize expressions of anger and happiness. Poor sleep may make it harder to recognize important social cues and process emotional information.

Looking at recommendations for pillows, Consumers Reports say almost 70 percent of us are side-sleepers. A firm or extra firm pillow is recommended to give us the proper alignment or curve of the neck and head. The most comfortable height is about 10 centimeters, about 4 inches off the mattress.

Sleeping on our back is often associated with snoring or more seriously sleep apnea. Here’s to hoping this pillow keeps me sleeping on my side which may lead to better sleep for both of us. Anything that helps combat the little irritants in our life is worthwhile.

The pillow we bought is firm but very comfortable. Touching it makes one want to lay one’s head on it. It is probably a pillow best suited for side sleepers, which we are.

In the end, it is just a pillow. If it can help us sleep better, with all the benefits that entail, then it is a small thing that can make a big difference. In life, we need to change the things we can, live with the things we can’t, and have the wisdom to know the difference. Finding a better pillow is one of the things we can change.

Do we sleep as well as we could? Would a change to our routine, pillow, mattress, or temperature make a difference? Is lack of sleep keeping us from being all we can be? Are we accepting as normal something we can change? Don’t we long for sleep perchance to dream?

Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. Victor Hugo

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Family is forever. Life is what we make it. Opportunity and choice at every age.

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Family is not an important thing. It’s everything. Michael J. Fox

Family day is tomorrow. Every day should be family day and for most of us, it is. Those who are still in the trenches, where everything they do, think, spend, and work for is their children. Here’s to you! Raising children is the most rewarding, energy-sapping, resource-driven enterprise most of us will take on in this lifetime. We get as much as we give and there are no words for the joy we get from our children.

Sometimes it seems like getting from here to there, no matter where here seems is long and hard. Other times that same journey seems short and sweet. If you are past the heavy lifting of child rearing and now enjoy adult children, you know what I mean.

If you are now Grandpa or Grandma you’ve gotten your earned reward. I’m waiting for this one.

If we are lucky we get old. My mom tells me we don’t have to feel old. If we can stay away from a mirror, or at least don’t put our glasses on when we look in it, we can tell our self we’ve hardly changed.  We think certain things come with aging, but is it true? We need to question the ideas we allow to lodge in our brain. Do we feel old because we act and think old?

If we stay fit, active, and engaged, we can enjoy life at every age. The older I get the younger each age I’m at seems to me. I’ve watched my mom and her attitude. She’s never had a weight issue, so that has never taxed knees, hips, etc. She is a naturally happy person and she is engaged with people. Nieces who have lost their mothers enjoy talking to mine.

When we talk to some people they’re problems weigh us down. Mom is uplifting, she laughs at what she cannot change, she talks about the worst that could happen, and in doing so finds peace. Mom isn’t a worrier, she’s already dealt with some of the worst things that can happen. She survived.

Mom was widowed with two kids and a brand new baby, left destitute because the insurance company wouldn’t pay the insurance her husband had taken out to ensure she would be financially okay if something happened to him.

She survived, kept body and soul together, married my dad, had five more kids and built a life. Many of us worry how would we survive if X happens? We’ll do what we need to do. It will be what it is. We will make the best of it. Most of us won’t even worry about the things that will blindside us. It will come out of the blue, and there we are.

We will handle it well, or badly, whatever we are capable of. It will become our new normal. We will carry on. We can’t possibly know how we’ll react if X happens. We don’t know who will be there for us. We don’t know who will be there with us. We don’t need to know. What we need to know is we have the strength and courage to handle whatever comes our way.

This is family; this is what it stands for. Once we become mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandmas, and grandpa’s we can never, not be them again. We can be good ones, bad ones, hands-on, hands-off, distant, close, engaged or unengaged. This is our choice, we can’t change what is, but we can be a negative or positive force in our families lives.

I was hearing on the radio that children without father’s in their lives in higher socioeconomic areas, don’t do better than children in lower socio-economic areas with fathers. I’m not sure I like everything being judged by money. There is an amount of money we need to keep body and soul together.

Neither man nor woman is perfect, or complete without the other. Thus, no marriage or family, no ward or stake is likely to reach its full potential until husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, men and women work together in unity of purpose, respecting and relying upon each other’s strengths. Sheri L. Dew

That amount of money depends on where we live, the cost of housing, etc. They give the amount most of us need to be happy at about $75,000.00 per year. Above that our happiness doesn’t really increase. Does the outcome for our children increase?

Getting on the treadmill of more, more, more, may actually only work for those who profit from us working harder. It may hardly profit our selves. As we work harder we have less time to enjoy the fruits of our labor and our families. When people drop out of the labor market and live on what they’ve accumulated or investments they’ve made, they may live more simply but more richly in the things that matter to them.

Life is about choice, we want more choice; does more choice make us happy? Does accepting our lot in life and making the best of it give us the most happiness?

There are always challenges; we can only make the best decision with the choices presented to us. Are we looking at all our choices? Are there choices we need to excavate and examine? There is only so much we can do in this life, but often it is more than we think.

Do we have dreams we haven’t achieved yet, that are still achievable if we have guts, determination, and luck on our side? Is it time to go after a new or old dream? Is it time to stay the course until the children are raised and then pursue something else? Is it time to start smelling the roses, or planting them?

To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him. Buddha

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What is truth? Do lies tell truth and does the truth tell lies?

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We are instinctively blind to what is not relative. We are not cameras. We select. Robert Henri

What is the truth? Is it the quality or state of being true? Is it that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality? Is it a fact or belief that is accepted as true?

Jesus said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”Henry David Thoreau said, “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.”

Today we hear about “alternative facts.” Fake news is not new. Mark Antony heard the rumor that Cleopatra had committed suicide, and then stabbed himself in the abdomen – only to discover that Cleopatra herself had been responsible for spreading the rumor. He later died in her arms.

Psychology Today says: The mind does not perceive reality as it is, but only as it can, filtering, distorting and interpreting it. In modern times it has been argued that truth is largely constructed by social and cultural processes, to say nothing of individual desires and dispositions. There are categories and constructs regarding, for example, race and sexuality which may not reflect biological let alone metaphysical realities.

Some people feel if something works, it may well be true; if it doesn’t, it most probably isn’t. Some things work for me, but not for you. Is it possible there is no “truth” only “perspective”?

The greatest thing a human soul can ever do in this world is to see something and tell what he saw in a plain way. Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, and thousands can think for one who can see. To see clearly is poetry, prophecy, and religion all in one. John Ruskin

How can we know if we are lying to our self? Of course, self-deception is hard to distinguish from the truth. If it wasn’t we would never deceive our self. We usually don’t believe we are lying to our self, deceiving our self or in any way not dealing with what is. It is so easy to take credit for the good and find someone else to blame for what goes wrong in our life. We can do our best to bring radical honesty into our lives. If we will unflinchingly look at the reality of our life, our relationships, finances, and all other areas of our life and take 100% responsibility for the situation we find our self in. We can then look outside our selves and see the truth residing there as well.

If we can tell the truth, or at least don’t lie. We can try to look at the many sides of something to determine the truth of it. It is a good exercise and the more we practice the better at it we will become.

Psychology Today says, “truth is constructive and adaptive, while lies are destructive and self-defeating. So how useful is a self-deceptive thought or reaction going to be to you? Are you just covering up an irrational fear, or helping to create a solid foundation for the future? Are you empowering yourself to fulfill your highest potential, or depriving yourself of opportunities for growth and creating further problems down the line? Is the cycle simply going to repeat itself, or will the truth, at last, make you free?

Truth is something I question as a writer. At my Writers group, we were discussing true stories versus fiction. My belief is there are no “true stories”, that are absolutely nothing but the truth. There are always three sides to a story and only one is told by whoever is doing the telling. History was written by the victors. It wasn’t the truth; it is “his story”.

At least fiction doesn’t pretend to be the truth as it gives us the motivations behind the actions. It is in fiction we learn about ourselves. As the author not constrained by facts can delve into the heart of who we are, what motivates us, how we think, how our biases cloud our thoughts and actions. It is in fiction where the real truth of who we are is told. Not facts, not deeds as they happened, but the truth of who we are as people. It is in fiction we find ourselves. Fiction can go deeper into the heart of situations because it is not constrained by facts. Most of us do not know and understand ourselves and our deepest motivations; reading about characters and their motivations helps us see our self.

Is fiction the lie that tells the truth? Isn’t it through fiction we get to the motivations behind the actions and realize the motivation behind what is bad, isn’t always bad, and the motivation behind what is good, isn’t always good? Don’t we get to know characters better than we know real people? Isn’t it through those characters, we begin to understand our self and others better?

I believe in not quite knowing. A writer needs to be doubtful, questioning. “I write out of curiosity and bewilderment…I’ve learned a lot I could not have if I were not a writer”. William Trevor

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Our thinking makes it so. Cognitive biases and truth.

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One of the biggest things we have to be able to do is handle conflict and handle it correctly. We’re able to look at our biases, look at our frustration, look at our sin in this area, our pride and our selfishness. It allows us to move forward. Benjamin Watson

Hamlet’s truth, that we don’t know what is good news and what is bad news shapes our life. Only going forward do we see what unfolds. Some people are better at seeing the potential in situations both the good and the bad. Some people can read other people, but that can be good and bad. We may not give people who deserve the chance a chance, because we thought we could see something coming that wasn’t coming. We take chances the other way, we give people chances and ignore the signs of what is coming.

Our choices shape our lives, but we don’t always know what the best choices are. We had an amber alert in my area last night. My son in law just filled me in. An eleven-year-old girl was with her father and there was concern for her safety. She was found too late.

How do we process information like this? How does someone in their own mind justify this action? In a Psychology Today, article the author writes. Devoid of empathy, and pathologically self-obsessed, he allegedly blames the mother for fueling his revenge. The only victim that matters is him. Sure, his daughter is dead, but look how cruel this woman has been to him. From his perspective, the blood is on the wife’s hands. He’s just a poor, forlorn guy, who in Othello’s words, “loved not wisely but too well.”

It is scary to think someone can think this way. Yet, it is the only kind of thinking that makes sense. The fact it happened on Valentine’s Day is probably not an unimportant fact. This would be a case of the very worst happening from unmet expectations, and someone not being able to deal with how their life unfolded.

How do we navigate and process painful biases and conflicting emotions and press on to be sacrificial and suffer in the struggle? And what do we do with images and depictions that, known or unknown to those perpetuating them, may contribute to the impediment of human progress? Bernice King

Is there a lesson for us in how far down we let our thoughts take us? We like to think we are rational and logical, the sad fact is we are constantly under the influence of cognitive biases that distort our thinking, influence our beliefs, and sway the decisions and judgments we make each and every day.

The confirmation bias. Through this bias, we tend to favor information that confirms what we already believe. We don’t stop to question our beliefs.

The hindsight bias. We tend to see events, even random ones as more predictable than they are.

The anchoring bias. We tend to be influenced by the first piece of information that we hear.

The misinformation effect. Our memories of particular events tend to be heavily influenced by things that happened after the actual event itself. We may think our memory of a certain event is crystal clear, but researchers found that memory is surprisingly susceptible to influences.

The actor-observer bias. The way we perceive others and how we attribute their actions hinges on a variety of variables, and this can be heavily influenced by whether we are the actor of the observer of a situation.

The false-consensus effect. We have a surprising tendency to overestimate how much other people agree with our beliefs, behaviors, attitudes, and values. We don’t question our own thoughts.

The halo effect. Good looking people are often rated better than less attractive people. They are thought of as smarter, kinder, funnier, more qualified and of higher moral character. They are given more chances and more excuses are made for them when they fail at something.

The self-serving bias. We tend to give ourselves credit for successes, but lay the blame for failure on someone else.

The availability heuristic. We tend to base the probability of something happening to us based on how many examples readily come to mind.

The optimism bias. We believe because we are involved things will go better for us than they have for others. They were stupid, not hardworking enough, didn’t do enough research. We won’t make the same mistakes they made.

This goes to show that in our own mind we justify what we are thinking, our actions, our beliefs, prejudices, fears, and judgments. It all makes sense in our own mind. That we can somehow make it make sense in our own minds is the scary part. That we don’t see it as wrong thinking is even scarier.

How can we identify and deal with our cognitive biases that distort our thinking?

We’re all biased, right, in many different ways – politically, religiously, ideologically, the way our family raised us – and that’s find. Nobody wants to live in a world where everybody thinks exactly the same. The key, though, is to try to figure out where your biases are holding you back from solving problems. Stephen J. Dubner

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Loving and living. Love with your whole heart.

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Love is the expansion of two natures in such fashion that each includes the other, each is enriched by the other. Felix Adler

If you woke up beside your great love, give thanks. If you’ve ever had a great love, give thanks. If we can smile because it happened, even while we cry because it’s over, that’s a step.

Valentine’s day isn’t a happy day for everyone. It punctuates what we may no longer have, may never have had, or recently lost. We are somewhere in the circle of life. A new beginning may be around the corner.

Today is another day where unmet expectations rear their head. It may be better to focus on what we can give, than what someone gives us. Chef Gordon Ramsay says, “If you are going out for a romantic weekend and they offer you the Bridal Suite, don’t take it.” You are just setting yourself up for more unmet expectations and you probably have enough of those to deal with on a “romantic weekend.” Especially if you haven’t decided beforehand what a romantic weekend means to you. Does one of you want to stay in? Does one of you want to go out?

At one time I thought women have more unmet expectations in the romance department than men. I don’t think that anymore. We long for great love affairs, we deserve them, and we are told everyone else gets them. We don’t always see through the laundry, paying the bills, and keeping body and soul together that this is part of “our great love.” We thought it would look different. We grew up in families where real life was lived, yet when it’s our turn we think it will be different.

Love isn’t cards, chocolates, roses, champagne, or nights in fancy hotel suites. Those are tokens of love. Love is looking at each other over your sleeping baby, that kept you up all night. Love is getting to the hospital and having loving arms enfold you. Love is looking up from your bills and realizing they pay for your life, the life you love, the life you’ve provided to give those you love security amid peace and plenty. Love is painting your home and looking at each other’s paint splotched faces and hair, knowing you would do it all again. Love is being in the puddle, trench, or whatever we may call it, facing the same challenges, and seeing their point of view, not just our own. Love is making choices that don’t only put our own interests forward. We make sacrifices for those we love. What hurts them hurts us, what makes them happy, makes us happy. We are part of a team, we become us.

A loving heart is the truest wisdom. Charles Dickens

Love is looking at the stars, and being grateful for someone to share your life with. Love is making plans for the future. Love is in the doing, creating, embracing each other through the fun and funny, the sweet and the bitter, the ups and the downs, the happy and the sad. If we can find romance in the ordinary, enjoy the fleeting moments that add up to a well-lived, well-loved life. Then we too can say we’ve had a great love and may it long continue.

We need to get in the trenches with our beloved. We need to feel what they are feeling, we need to be there for them and know they’ll be there for us. We need to know they won’t be perfect, they won’t get it right every time, and nor will we. We need to love each other through the worst to enjoy our love at its best. Nobody just gets the good times, we are all in, or we aren’t in at all.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

The leader of my writer’s group asked us to write a poem about love.

              Living and Loving

Love softly came and called my name.

I gaily laughed, it was a game.

But soon I realized no game I played.

This was a love that came and stayed.


We laughed and loved in our twenties

Lots of love and parties plenty

We said our vows and settled down

Looked about and said, “What now?”


Thoughts of babies came to mind

And soon reality was kind

A little boy came to be

We were overjoyed at being three.


It wasn’t long and we were blessed

 A little girl joined our nest.

Our life filled with laughter was complete

It took the patter of tiny feet.


When our daughter was six we got a dog

We felt blessed sleeping like a log.

Work, school, and soccer was our life

Life was full, there was no strife.


Our daughter got married this August past

We hope she has a love that lasts

What happened between then and here?

We were young, now retirements near.


Life sped by in a blink

Forty years go by faster than you’d think

We’ve had a love affair for thirty-eight years

Celebrated with champagne and beers.


We’ve weathered storms

Lived through changing norms.

We pray we’ll have many more years

Filled with laughter and a few tears.


We never know what life has in store.

We are always reaching out for more

Enjoy what you have because you never know

When winter comes and cold winds blow.


You never lose by loving. You always lose by holding back. Barbara De Angelis

Rumi: The Big Red Book: The Great Masterpiece Celebrating Mystical Love and Friendship by [Barks, Coleman]
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We may be alone but is it loneliness or solitude, is this our choice?

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Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone. Paul Tillich

Last night I watched identical twins marry identical twins on TV. This was their dream, to all live in one house and have their twin-ship be understood and supported. The two women are both lawyers and the only time they say they understood loneliness was when they went to separate Law Schools.

Loneliness is a problem for many people, it makes us irritable, depressed, self-centered, and is associated with a 26% risk of premature mortality. In industrialized countries, one-third of people are affected by this condition, with one in 12 affected severely by it.

There are many types of loneliness caused by different situations.

We can be lonely because we’ve moved to a new city, country, job, or school.

We can be lonely because we don’t fit in. We don’t share the same faith, background, are socially awkward, or have different interests.

We can be lonely because we have no love interest in our life. We are single at the family wedding. We are newly divorced, separated, or widowed.

We may be lonely because we don’t have an animal in our life and without one we feel deep loneliness.

We may be surrounded by people who don’t have time for us. They are friendly “enough” for them, but not for us. We want a deeper connection. Maybe their life situation has changed and we wish it could be how it was when they had lots of time for us. Maybe our best friend just got married or had a baby and her life revolves around her new life, we feel stuck in the old one.

Sometimes we are hurt by those we trusted the most. A friend may have hurt us deeply. We have not replaced that friendship yet. Sometimes we never do.

We can feel lonely because our family has grown up and we miss the boisterousness that used to be our home as children go off to build their own life.

We are all born alone and die alone. The loneliness is definitely part of the journey of life. Jenova Chen

It is important to understand why we are lonely. If we can name it, we can change it. We go through stages in our life that when they are over, they are over. Sometimes parts of our life we didn’t know how we’d get through we miss when the busyness of that time is gone.  Are we are adrift with time we don’t know what to do with?

Can we be in a relationship and still be lonely if we don’t spend time with each other and create intimacy? Do we need to make the effort to connect with people, our spouse, grown children, friends, groups of people with similar interests, or would a cat or dog fit into our life and mitigate a degree of loneliness?

Maybe having roommates is a better fit for some people than living on their own? It was for me. I’ve never lived on my own. I never even thought of getting an apartment on my own. I went for shared accommodation and I stayed with shared accommodation. I’ve even thought for widowed and single women that shared accommodation may be the answer in later years.

Is living in an apartment building or Condo’s more social than living in a single family home, alone?

Many people will say they are alone, but not lonely. Others will say they are lonely but not alone. This is an issue we will have to deal with for our self. It won’t be something others can do for us. We need to learn to make new friends, fit into groups, or find groups we fit into. We need to make the effort.

All the lonely people need to get together. The lonely hearts club should become a real thing. It takes courage to reach out to people. They may break our heart. If we don’t reach out we live lonely lives. We never know what could have been if we’d made the first move toward friendship, or love.

Is there someone we’d like to reach out to or get to know on a deeper level? What is holding us back? Are we lonely, or enjoying solitude?

Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty. Mother Teresa

Too much self-centered attitude, you see, brings, you see, isolation. Result: loneliness, fear, anger. The extreme self-centered attitude is the source of suffering. Dalai Lama

Dealing with Loneliness: Learn How to Deal With and Overcome Loneliness to Never Feel Alone Again by [Perruso, Mary Jane]
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