I Want To Shake Things Up and Get More Active Again

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My back has healed up.  I’m back to essentially a more normal routine.  Because of the colder weather and being housebound for two weeks, I got to do some thinking about changing things in my life.  I have essentially been in a rut for the last couple years where it’s pretty much the same old every day, day in and day out.  I haven’t done any real traveling for almost three years, spending much of my time self educating via youtube and Khan Academy and reading books.  I gained back the weight I lost within two years of my car accident back in 2015.  Now I’m getting more serious about my health again.  I don’t eat fast food anymore.  I’m starting to get out of my apartment more and walk a little every day.  I do arm weights three times a week.  And about the only things I drink anymore are water and coffee.  I feel like I’m beginning to see some results.  I started this new routine shortly after New Year’s.  Because my back slowed me down for two weeks, I just cut back on what I ate.  I’m to where I now eat meat only once a day, usually for breakfast.  The rest of the meals I eat things like spinach leaf salads, soups, peanut butter, and meatless pasta.  I think my routines are starting to work.  I feel like I have more energy.  I feel more mobile.  I’m starting to have fewer aches and pains.  And I am sleeping better too.

I’m also thinking that after I have lost some weight, I’m going to have to get out and about more.  I am in desperate need of shaking up my routines and adding more spice to my life.  A few years ago I said that I would like to do some traveling eventually.  I still have my savings that I built up a few years ago.  I’m thinking I’m going to have to see my old college friends again.  I don’t have a definite time line set just yet as this is still in the dreaming before making plans phase.  I have always wanted to get my passport and travel through Europe and see places like Barcelona, Paris, Berlin, London, etc.  Part of me would, if I get back to the same weight I was in college, love to travel on some of the old Silk Road from eastern Europe to China or vice versa.  When I was in high school I spent a couple weeks in Mexico with my Spanish class.  It was the most enjoyable vacation I had in my entire life.  Now that I am an adult, debt free, committed to getting back into good physical health, and have a little bit of a savings, I’m going to have to do this traveling before I get too old to enjoy it.  Since I am single, have a safety net in my disability pension, and I can do my blog from anywhere that has WiFi internet, I’m starting to hear the faint beckoning call of the open road again.

When I was in my twenties and early thirties, I did a little traveling every year.  My senior year of college, my parents and I went to San Antonio for Christmas.  I got to see The Riverwalk lit up for Christmas, visited the Alamo, got to see one of the Air Force bases my dad was stationed at during the Vietnam War, and got to see my Nebraska Huskers play a post season bowl game.  And an old college friend and I used to go to Denver to see Colorado Rockies baseball games, one of those games being a World Series game.  Spent all winter paying off the cost of that quick weekend trip, and even though the Rockies lost the Series, it was worth the trip.  I visited an old college friend in Minnesota for a week several summers ago.  I was amazed at how beautiful Minnesota is (I wouldn’t care to fight their winters). My friends and I used to go to minor league baseball games every summer.  We were able to get front row seats, a couple hot dogs, and a couple soda pops for less than $25 a person.  Just thinking about these old times while I was house bound for the last two weeks got me to realize just how much I missed travel and seeing different places.

I know that before I can fulfill these dreams of traveling, I have to lose some weight.  I have done it before.  And by God I can do it again.  I know it’s going to take at least a few years before I can get to doing the travel overseas like I dream of doing.  But I have pretty much gotten to where I have played all the computer games and done most of the self study I care to do.  I took a couple years doing that and I have gotten it out of my system.  Now it is time for a different chapter in my life.  It’s time to lose some weight and prepare to hit the road again.

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Pessimism and Optimism

Haven’t been outside of my neighborhood for almost two weeks now, mainly because of the bitter cold, snow, and ice.  I haven’t even gone outside this week because it’s been so cold.  Hopefully it doesn’t stay this bad all winter because I’m beginning to get kind of tired of being housebound all the time.  And I don’t think I’m the only one.  Seems to me that even my family are starting to get short tempered and irritable over the cold weather.  My neighbors are getting short tempered too.  And of course the people on social media have been short tempered and joyless ever since social media was opened to the public at large.  At this point I’m not sure I want to stay in touch with anyone besides family and a few close friends.  It just seems that humans get some kind of sadistic joy out of being angry all the time.  Personally I’m burned out on all the anger and pessimism.  Have been for a long time.

I almost never heard anything good about my fellow man or the world in general from my teachers and elders while in school or even in college.  I had one teacher in junior high who seemed to get joy out of ranting about how the “cold cruel world” was going to kick our thirteen year old butts.  And of course I rarely heard anything good about people in general from the news stations or even church service.  After observing these happenings until I was in my mid twenties, I started taking notice of what was actually happening compared to what I was being told by my elders and bosses.  After the economic crisis of 2008 and hearing that civilization was fixing to collapse any day, I payed attention and took notes.  Of course it didn’t happen and the people who stayed in the stock market and didn’t panic are now making major money.  That is when I came to the conclusion that the crowd is usually wrong. The whole ‘wisdom of crowds’ usually comes to nothing or mob mentality.  The world didn’t end with Y2K, or 9/11, or the housing bust of 2008, or the Mayan calendar of 2012, or when the conservatives were in power, or when the liberals were in power, or when social media became a festering cesspool for people to gladly wallow in negativity and pessimism.  After years of hearing that the world was going to end any day now and that younger people (or older people depending on who you ask) would be the death of us all, that’s when I had enough.  Enough is enough.  I have had it with fear mongering and pessimism about things that never come to pass or turn out to me more manageable than we previously thought.

Many worries are much to do about nothing and come to nothing.  And everything else seems to be more manageable than previously thought.  If our species can survive world wars, crippling famines, plagues that kill off millions of people, ice ages, tyrants, incompetent leaders, and even science used for evil purposes, some people can survive just about anything barring a comet hitting our planet or the sun going out.  I probably wouldn’t survive most major events, primarily because of my mental illness and declining physical health as I age.  But it’s okay as far as I’m concerned.

I can say that I have lived a pretty good life considering the circumstances of having a mental illness my entire adulthood.  I have a good relationship with all my family members, I got to know my nephews and niece, I got to know quite a bit of my family history, and preserve it, before my grandparents died, I have cool friends who are willing to at least put up with my eccentric behavior and mental breakdowns, I haven’t been to jail or homeless, the longest I spent in a mental hospital was one week (and I have been working with a mental illness since age seventeen), and until recently was in good physical health in spite of fighting weight problems.  When I was a teenager I was able to go scuba diving and climb an Aztec pyramid when I visited Mexico.  In my early thirties I could walk five miles a day easily in spite weighing over 300 pounds.  I got to hike and camp in the mountains of Colorado.  I got to see B.B. King preform live a couple years before he died.  I got to see country music acts like Brad Paisley, Reba Macintyre, Sarah Evans, etc. preform live before they became big stars.  I have been able to live on my own with a mental illness for almost fifteen years.  And I got to learn about some of the cool things that science and tech are doing that will be coming to fruition within the next ten to twenty years.  My only true regret is that I might not live long enough to see some of the really cool things coming, like colonies on the moon or the first people on Mars or life extension tech or nuclear fusion plants.  But I am convinced that such things are coming in most people’s lifetimes.  And I am not an optimist by nature.  I had to force myself to become this way until eventually it became second nature.

Optimism for The Future in the Face of Constant Pessimism

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I haven’t posted regularly on my facebook or twitter accounts since September.  I just got tired of all the fighting and negativity.  But the thing that bothers me the most about social media is how much of what I try to communicate gets lost in just text.  Most times I don’t wish to come across as snarky or combative, but that’s how so many people interpret what I write.  Maybe facebook, twitter, instagram, etc. wouldn’t be so negative if people had to post video and audio rather than just text.  Put a voice and face to the comments and let the world know they aren’t talking to a machine or subhuman entity.

I gave up on using social media for anything than shamelessly promoting my blog three months ago when I came to the painful conclusion that most people were never going to share my optimism or joyful outlook.  And the weird thing is I am more optimistic than ever even though I almost never convince anyone of reasons to be optimistic.  I am definitely not an optimist by nature or upbringing.  I almost never heard anything positive about the world or the future from my parents, teachers, bosses, or elders while growing up in the 1980s and 1990s.  For quite sometime I was wondering why if most people were so pessimist about the future, then why were they having kids.  I could never figure those kinds of contradictions out.  I know very few people even in December 2017 who don’t have kids because they are worried about the kind of future these kids would have.  Most people that don’t have kids that I know can’t biologically have kids.

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Like I said, I am not an optimist by nature.  I had to make myself into one.  And I did it with little help from mass media, popular culture, or my elders.  Most of what I learned about what was going right in modern civilization I had to actively seek out through secondary sources and rigorous research.  I learned more science, technology, psychology, history, philosophy, literature, and economics on my own with an internet connection and five years of daily youtube viewing than I ever thought possible after spending eighteen years in traditional education.  Then again, it should be noted that is simply impossible for any kind of formal education system to teach everything a person needs to know for living just within the system itself.  With life expectancies going into the eighties in some countries (and even the sixties in some of the poorer developing nations), it is simply impossible to be able to say “You know what you need to know for the next fifty to sixty years once you’re turned out into the world at age eighteen.”  No, the best thing an education system can do in this day and age of long life span and ever changing tech and social norms is to foster the never stop learning attitudes and mentalities.

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In the mid to late 2000s when I was struggling to adapt to my mental illness and working low wage remedial jobs I could have done as a high school dropout, I was quite angry about my time in formal education.  For several years I was convinced that doing well in high school and college was wasted effort if all I was going to do with my life was push a mop in a courthouse or sell carpet for a billion dollar company.  After a few more years of maturity and seasoning, I found out to my pleasant surprise that my years of working hard in school and loving learning weren’t misspent.  The biggest thing my years in formal education did was awaken in me a love for learning and a desire to continue doing so.

Sadly, many people don’t have a love for learning.  Tragically most of those people are going to get left behind in the waves of science, technology, geopolitical, and social changes that have only recently begun to gain momentum.  The old ideas of graduating high school at age eighteen, getting a union membership, getting a job in a factory, getting married at age twenty two to someone from your hometown or college, etc. aren’t feasible anymore.  And sadly, many people can’t or won’t adapt.  But we’ve had changes in the past eras.  I imagine many people didn’t adapt during the Renaissance or Industrial revolutions and got painfully displaced.  Same things are happening now as we move to a more connected, digitalized, fast paced, and informed world.  National borders don’t mean as much now as they did even when I was a child back in the 1980s.

Sure it’s a chaotic time for many people, especially for people and institutions that aren’t adapting to the new realities.  Politicians in my home nation are talking about building walls to keep out illegal immigrants and refugees and bringing back traditional manufacturing jobs to this country.  To which I reply “planes can fly over walls” and “3D printing”.  Sadly, many people want to deny such changes are already here and will resist to the point of being left so far behind they’ll never catch up.  I see it every day just in my own community and circles of friends and family.  I decided that I was going to adapt and welcome the changes regardless of what my friends, family, and neighbors were going to do.  Some cool things are happening and I don’t want to get left behind or wallow in fear and anxiety for the rest of my life.  I deal with fear and anxiety enough in my own mental illness.  I won’t allow external forces to add to these.

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Making and Losing Friends and Mental Illness

Keeping friends over the years while having schizophrenia has always been tough.  Even before I became mentally ill I had a hard time making friends.  But I am convinced that much of this was probably due to the environment I grew up in.  Most people in my hometown were farmers or cowboys.  I never did want to farm and the cowboy life never appealed to me.  So I guess by the time I went to college I was already behind my peers in terms of social skills.  Having schizophrenia hurt my social skills in that the illness could make me standoffish and not understanding normal people humor and activities.  I have always preferred reading and science pursuits over talking about sports, campus gossip, or whatever tv shows were trendy that season.  I am still this way.

As a result of my mental illness and the environment I grew up in, I never really did learn how to make friends easily.  I never did have normal interests so most of the friends I did make wouldn’t be considered normal either.  My best friend from college is a high school history teacher who is an avid sports fan.  He is also an avid reader of history, philosophy, economics, and classic literature.  Even though we haven’t been in college for over a dozen years, I still talk to him about once a week.  It’s not uncommon for our conversations to involve talking about baseball statistics, Austrian economics, medieval battle tactics, and the philosophy of Nietchze all in the same phone call.  He has never made an issue of me having a mental illness or not having traditional employment.  I don’t know if he regularly reads my blogs but he does think I’m doing a good thing with these writings.  He’s even suggested that it’s possible that if I keep writing, some big online blog service like Huffington Post or Breitbart might hire me.  A man can dream, right?  In short, friends like this don’t come along everyday and are worth holding onto.  My best friend from high school, she’s pretty much the same way.  Both of these people I may not get to see very often but I do keep in contact with.

Other people who I have friended over the years haven’t turned out so well.  I had one friend that I’ve been having a falling out with for months over aspects of my mental illness.  This former friend doesn’t seem to respect the fact that I don’t want to date.  I’ve dated before while working through a mental illness.  It sucks.  Dating is supposed to be enjoyable.  What I went through wasn’t.  As far as love goes, that’s what family is for.  As far as sex goes, well I’m not a dog in that I can’t live without sex.  Surprise, surprise; there are men who aren’t interested in having sex all the time.  And the older I get the less interest I have in sex.

This person also doesn’t respect the fact that I don’t hold a regular job.  First of all, when I did work a regular job, there were days I would have panic attacks while on the job and even before I went to work.  Many days these panic attacks were so bad I would vomit from the anxiety.  I would also get physically ill from the stress and anxiety I would feel at work with schizophrenia.  And dealing with office politics, well that was super stressful in itself.  In short, I never want to hold a regular job again considering all the problems it caused me.  I’ll go to prison before I go back to work.

So for any person to even infer that I’m wasting my life not being at some minimum wage drudgery that’s going to get automated in a few years anyway, well that’s not the kind of respect friends show for each other.  I can’t be friends with anyone who doesn’t respect me or my decisions.  And I especially can’t respect anyone who thinks I’m not “doing my part” or not “being a productive member of society” just because I don’t hold some nonsense job that a machine can do hundreds of times better.  Let the machines have all the damned jobs as far as I’m concerned.  I spent most of my life listening to people gripe and moan about how much they hated their jobs, as if it was an honor to hate your job, hate your boss, hate your coworkers, and hate your customers.  Any wonder why millions of American jobs got outsourced overseas?  After spending years fighting a mental illness and years trying to work in spite a mental illness, I don’t want to go back into the toxic work environment.  It wrecks havoc on my mental stability.  And if anyone can’t respect my decision, then screw them.  I don’t want people like that in my life.

 

Random Thoughts on Holidays, Family, and Younger Generations

Been feeling quite stable the last several days.  I still have my flare ups of anxiety and irritability but fortunately they are not as intense as they once were.  I’m beginning to reduce some of the doses of my medications as I tend to do well mentally in the late fall and winter months.  I’m even not as irritable about Christmas this year.  I see people are already putting up their decorations.  I haven’t decorated for holidays in years.  I just don’t see the need to.  I will no doubt continue to avoid the mall and the big box stores during the holidays as I can now do all my shopping online.  Thank God for amazon and the postal service.

I did a little Christmas shopping for myself already in the way of a couple new books and a couple computer games.  I don’t usually go all out for the holidays being on a limited budget.  I don’t buy a lot of gifts for people for Christmas simply because I usually don’t have that much money.  But then again, even Jesus hasn’t gotten Christmas gifts in 2000 years.  Must be rough that everybody but you gets gifts on your designated birthday.  No wonder practitioners of other faiths think Christians are odd 🙂

I have found myself eating less over the last week or so.  I usually eat two meals a day and drink lots of water and caffeine between meals.  Even though caffeine can make me irritable in large doses, it does act as an appetite reducer for me.  It’s not necessarily a bad deal as I haven’t had to buy groceries in three weeks.  I’m eating less, sleeping less than usual (but I don’t feel tired or sluggish), getting outside more often in spite the colder weather, and genuinely feeling better than I did this summer and early fall.

As of right now I don’t have any plans for Thanksgiving.  My cousins already had theirs and my aunts are going to their kids’ places.  It may be just myself this year again.  I opted out of Thanksgiving last year as I wasn’t feeling mentally stable and didn’t want to have problems around my brother’s kids.  I probably should volunteer at one of the community Thanksgiving dinners that groups like the Knights of Columbus or the local food pantry puts on.  One year my entire extended family and I volunteered at a community dinner in my hometown.  Found out there were more shut ins and family less people than I thought.  But if it is just me I just may go to the KFC and buy one of their large family meals the night before and live off that for a day or two.  A friend of mine traditionally has lobster instead of turkey.

Even though I may not be doing anything really special for the holidays I can always call or video conference with family and friends.  Thanks to the internet and social media platforms if you don’t stay in contact with friends and family it’s your own doing.  I’ve been getting back on Facebook more now that the hoopla of the election has finally died down.  Regardless of whether I go to my mother’s place or not I’ll definitely make a point of keeping in touch with my parents.  I talk to my parents usually twice a week even though I’m in my mid thirties.  I talk to them more now than when I was in my late teens and twenties.  I don’t know what it is but they seem more interesting now and less domineering now then when I was in high school.  But I suppose since I don’t live in the same town and have proven I can be on my own for a dozen years it’s like they’re more old and wise friends rather than the authority figures they were when they were when I still lived in their house.

I just hope I never catch myself complaining about the younger generations when I get older.  I’m seeing my friends in my age bracket complaining about teenagers and college students and I’m thinking “Dude, that was us twenty years ago.  We didn’t know anything back then and we still turned out alright.  Ease off.”  If I ever find myself complaining about the “kids” and/or talking about how much better it was in the past, I hope someone comes along and slaps some sense back into me.  I remember what it was like being a kid and listening to the elders complain about me and my cohorts.  And back then I promised myself I would never voluntarily put anyone younger than I am through that.  It sucks not being taken serious because of your youth.  It sucks not being taken serious because of my mental illness.  But that is a topic for another place and time.

Amazing Advances In Science, Medicine, Technology, and Humanitarian Efforts in 2016

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I’m compiling a series of lists, and providing links, to show what we as humans have accomplished in this the year 2016.  If you are anything like me, you are probably tired of hearing only politics in your news feeds.  Who decided that politics were the only bits of news that were fit to print?  That must have been yet another memo I missed while growing up.  This is meant to only be for illustrating purposes and by no means meant to be a complete and definitive list.  As of this writing, we still have two and a half months left in this year.

A few items that caught my attention from an article on listverse.com, 1) SpaceX vertically landed several rockets, 2) brain implants have allowed a quadriplegic to move his fingers, 3) stem cell therapies have allowed stroke victims to walk again,  4)scientists have discovered how to turn captured carbon dioxide emissions into stone, and  5) extremely long term data storage methods have been discovered.

6) Heat resistant ceramics can now be 3 D printed, 7) an enzyme that prevents sugar being stored as fat was discovered by scientists at the University of Montreal, 8) light activated nanoparticles at are able to kill anti biotic resistant bacteria was demonstrated at the University of Colorado, 9) scientists have shown that graphene can be safely used on neurons, which could lead to better brain implants, 10), scientists have proven T-cells can be used to treat cancer.  This short list was provided courtesy of hrl.com, eurekalert.org, colorado.edu, phys.org, and sciencealert.com.

11)  Scientists in United Kingdom have been given approval by regulators to modify human embryos using techniques such as CRISPR-Cas9, 12) Scientists in Germany have made breakthroughs in fusion energy generation, 13) Stem cell therapy reverses age related osteoporosis in mice, 14) scientists in Germany have determined certain mutated genes can safeguard against heart attacks, 15) Renewable energy surges to record levels around the world.

I’m trying to cut this list short.  I plan on making several entries to this blog like this between now and the end of the year.  Unlike some of my previous blog entries, I am providing links to the articles announcing these breakthroughs. What I have wrote has been made possible by google searches and wikipedia links to original articles.

 

 

 

It Pays To Stay Silent Sometimes

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I’ve been having problems with trolls on my personal accounts the last few days.  I don’t understand why complete strangers act as if it’s their God given responsibility to harass and torment people they don’t agree with.  It got especially bad last night when I was talking with an old friend of mine and I was getting trolled by one of her friends just because we didn’t agree on some things.  Can’t even have a conversation with a friend without being harassed it seems.

Anyway last night, mainly out of frustration and depression, I wrote an anger laced blog entry but fortunately thought better of posting it.  Once I got that depression out of my system I decided I wouldn’t post the entry.  I learned about this strategy years ago from an old Dale Carnegie book.  I was angry and hurt but posting that entry probably would have made things worse.  I got my words out of my system, spoke until I had peace, and then trashed the entry so I couldn’t post it.

With a mental illness feelings of anger, sadness, and anxiety are going to be stronger than the general population.  I have to remind myself of this on a daily basis.  Some things that other people may forget about after a few minutes I’ll agonize over sometimes for hours.  I have also been known to remember slights and hold grudges for years.  I’m sorry for this.  It is one of the curses of having a good mind and a mental illness at the same time.

In short, having feelings of frustration and depression is part of having a mental illness.  Sometimes a person needs to vent.  One of those ways is to write it down long handed and then trash the notes.  Another is through counseling where you vent to the counselor.  They are trained to deal with strong and unpleasant emotions, far more so than average people.  By writing down your feelings and fears or talking about them with a professional counselor is a safety valve way of expressing your feelings with as little damage as possible.  Harsh and unkind words cannot be unspoken and anything written on the internet is practically irreversible.