Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Overcoming inertia: tackling TV time

July 27, 2008

My friends used to think it was quirky but “very Jessica” that I didn’t own a TV in my apartment. I never had one in my dorm room in college, and couldn’t squeeze one into my small city apartment later on, so I’d grown accustomed to life without sitcoms and evening dramas [I suppose if I was really determined I could watch shows on the internet, but by now I’ve completely lost track of the new shows].   I suppose I could also have used YouTube as a handy substitute, but I’ll admit that I didn’t even have internet in my apartment until almost a year into my lease, and that concession came about from the necessity of internet access in the grad school application process.

Now that I’ve moved home with my parents TV has started to become part of my nighttime routine, especially since my parents are both addicted to a nightly Chinese-language soap opera.  This in turn has increased my appreciation for the amount of time TV can potentially consume. Before my days fell into the rhythm of:

7-9:30 run or craft, breakfast, shower, miscellaneous chores

10-6 work

7-10:30 dinner, call boyfriend, craft, catch up with friends household chores, miscellaneous things that need to be taken care of

With the reappearance of television in the landscape I accomplish much less in the evenings. Not that accomplishment for the sake of productivity was ever the ultimate goal, but I enjoy my hobbies. I love making things or writing to friends or reading a good book. And while television would seem a sad excuse not to do the things I enjoy, it is true that actively overcoming the inertia of constant, passive entertainment can take far longer than I’d care to admit. I know I’m not alone in this.  Again, this pervasive theme of overcoming inertia for your ultimate benefit.

I’m not against television per say, but I definitely need to find ways to work around its’ constant draw. I have some projects that require handwork that can be completed in front of the TV so that’s one temporary solution, but I’d like to find a more permanent one that limits the total hours I watch. When I head to school in the fall I won’t be furnishing my place with a TV, but I know that eventually I may get one, so it’s handy to start thinking up solutions now.


Greetings from the farm!

July 23, 2008

Just wanted to pop in and say hello from the farm, where I’m WWOOFing for 2 weeks with a friend.  We arrived Saturday and have been weeding, watering, planting, and picking blueberries to our heart’s content.  It’s beautiful out here and our kind hosts have had many travelers through the years, both international and domestic.  Town is a 45 minute drive away, and we’re situated on 250 acres of private property with a beautiful 2 mile loop in “the back” that winds through meadows and tall trees, by a creek and between young firs.


I’ve long felt the desire to learn more about farming, to feel a stronger connection to the land and the life that it sustains, and in exchange we are able to provide our kind hosts with some assistance around the property to help maintain a way of life and body of knowledge that is slowly slipping from the cultural landscape and national heritage.  And the quiet – oh, the quiet.  Cars are rarely heard on the main road, birds call out between the blueberry rows [and we bark or meow to try to scare them off, but they just hop a couple feet away from us and laugh at the silly WWOOFers who honestly believe that they could be scared off so easily!].  It’s quite peaceful and beautiful.  More soon!

Recipe: Sun Tea

July 16, 2008

Sun tea harnesses the power of the sun to make a cup of tea. This method is particularly handy if you are not near a stove or want to make iced tea, since the tea will not be as hot as that made with boiling water.  In other words, great for conserving electricity!  And, as I discovered while working in the urban gardens, a handy way to make water more appealing to preteens and teenagers – working outside all day may not convince them to give up their sodas and juices, but if you offer no alternative but sun tea or regular water, you’d be surprised at just how much they’ll drink.

Sun tea can work with regular tea bags, but in this instance we took advantage of the bounty of the garden to furnish the tea.


Sliced lemons

A great heaping variety of herbs.

Combine in a glass jar. Allow to steep in the sun [if you are indoors you may have to move the jar through the day]. Can steep for hours, depending on how thick you like your tea. In our case, we slowly sipped it through the day, but I can see this working beautifully at picnics and outdoor parties as well. As you can see no sugar is necessary, and the youth really did go back for seconds and thirds. Also handy if you grow an herb garden for cooking, and are looking for new ways to use up your herbs.

EDIT:  I’ve since read some reports that warn against letting sun tea “brew” for too long, as the water doesn’t get hot enough to kill off bacteria and can even encourage bacterial growth.  The general guidelines (found at this link) recommend 1) not letting the tea sit out for more than a couple hours (which we didn’t in the gardens, as the program was over by then), 2) refrigerate if you’d like it to last longer, 3) don’t drink if it gets thick and gooey.

Expanding comfort zones

July 15, 2008

What is it about leaving our comfortable cocoon that makes us so resistant to trying new things, even when we know we’ll ultimately benefit from or enjoy the experience?  Even for temporary change or changes that are relatively small, it can be difficult to find the motivation and discipline to go out and pursue them. This week I’m volunteering with a friend’s organization that introduces youth to urban gardening. I could list out all the advantages – a chance to work with youth again, a week in the garden, time with a good friend before I leave for the East Coast (she’s one of the staff in charge of the program).

And yet this past weekend as I was packing and preparing, all I could think about was how much I just wanted to laze about in my comfortable lifestyle. No new youth to meet and cajole and tease and prod into gardening, no energetic week of crafting and cooking and chatting with my friend, no long hours in the garden in sun and wind. So much energy required for new and fun experiences … I don’t want to! It takes too much effort to have fun, don’t make me (even though I’ll be so glad I did)!

Of course, now that I’m here I absolutely love it. When else could I watch middle school students milk a goat for the first time, and go from “Ew! No way!” to slowly inching their way closer and closer to the udder, eventually sitting down and squeezing out great streams of milk with pleased hands and delighted eyes.

Something in their reactions struck a chord. I recognize that pattern. The same reluctance eventually overcome, in their case by curiosity and in mine partly because of personal obligations to my friend (it’s horrible but true! Establishing that personal relationship is a great way to push people into action) And ultimately novelty is good for us. It stimulates. It expands our comfort zone and challenges us to acquire new skills and experiences. Of course, the difficulty is overcoming the initial inertia caused by fear, uncertainty and yes, sheer laziness as well, but it is a skill well worth learning. I hope to explore some ways to overcome inertia in the weeks to come, particularly as they relate to wellness activities but also for life in general.  After all, wouldn’t it be a shame to miss out on so many wonderful opportunities?

Why Wellness?

July 7, 2008

When you think “Wellness,” what comes to mind?  For better or worse, that phrase gets dragged into all sorts of ventures nowadays, ranging from alternative medicine to spas to corporate programs designed to cut rising employer health care costs.  Wellness is a hot new field, and everybody wants a piece of the pie.

Which runs the risk of diluting the meaning of the word into nothing but jargon and buzzword, a way of co-opting the latest hot phrase into myriad causes that results only in the complete butchering of the intended meaning of the word “wellness” and rendering it meaningless.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m all for increasing the well-being of humans all over the world, and for moving beyond the idea that if we just bandaid over individual and societal ills, we’re somehow living in a good place.  I just think we need to be sure we’re all talking about the same thing, and to not stretch words until they no longer hold any meaning whatsoever.

Health is not just the absence of disease.  For me, health is more than that.  It means achieving a basic standard of living, expressed through physical, mental, emotional and often spiritual means.  The concept of wellness helps pull the idea of health beyond the concept of deficit of pathology, and into the arena of enhancing the positive forces that strengthen and enrich our lives.

Thus wellness might be contentment.  The ability to pursue passion and knowledge, to be inspired and to be creative.  A sense of communion with family.  Friends.  Community.  Your environment.  Wellness as peace of mind.  Wellness as an intentional way of life.

So for me, wellness spans all aspects of life.  The physical: nutrition, exercise.  The mental: stress management, financial management, personal development and personal productivity.  The emotional: developing and strengthening important relationships in your life, increasing a sense of community, taking care of the environment, seeking and following through on inspiration, creativity as a means of self-expression.  The ways these are interrelated and their subtle [and not so subtle] effects on our lives.

The idea is to both create a solid foundation on which to ensure a basic level of health and well being, and then to grow and develop from that foundation into the best possible version of ourselves.  Think of wellness as a springboard to inspire improvements in all aspects of life, and through multiple venues as well.  We live in an age of overwhelming volume of information that it’s hard to sort fact from fiction, plan priorities and pack it all into the 24 hours we are given in each day.  But wellness doesn’t have to be difficult to fit into daily life, and I hope to explore these themes in the coming posts.  Not to neglect any of the areas mentioned above, this blog covers a wide range of topics. Feel free to pick and choose the ones that are relevant to you. Of course, as you start down the road towards a well you, you may develop a budding interest in an increased number of interests, and that is what this blog is here for as well.

As a former health coach, I have a lot of experience with a lot of these topics, particularly nutrition, exercise, weight management, and stress management.  On a personal level, I have a longstanding interest in food, creativity and making things, being outdoors, the environment, personal finance and personal productivity.  I’ll be starting grad school in the Fall to learn more about the systems and institutions that affect and serve our health and wellness needs, the latest research and methods to proactively deal with them.  I hope for this blog to be a meeting point between all these areas, and an ongoing conversation with the world at large.

Wellness as honoring yourself: honoring your basic needs, and honoring your fullest potential.