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Greetings from Lazarus…

Greetings from Lazarus…

photo by Peter Pryharski, unsplash.com

About six years ago, I went from a cocky, exuberant, in-your-face active “senior she-jock” to a physical basket case. Every day became a struggle just to get the simple things like laundry done. I took naps morning, noon, and sometimes in the evening, and still fell into bed exhausted. I woke myself up moaning in pain.

My healthcare team were involved but pretty much useless. All the tests came back normal. “You’re doing really well for someone your age” may have been well intended, but it stung like hell. What seemed so acceptable to them as my new lifestyle was lightyears away from what I had been doing recently. And enjoying immensely. Most of them never grasped that.

Instead, they were firm in trying to make me believe all that was over. “You are just going to have to do less”….”Get used to being less active”….”This is the way your body needs you to live now”…etc. Given as professional advice. Stunningly clueless. And nowhere close to what I needed.

Eventually, the right resources came into the picture. I am grateful for them. But I am also proud of my own dogged persistence in not accepting all the wrong things I was told along the way and continuing to search for the real answers instead.

It’s tempting to go through a litany of the things they decided I had that were not the case, to give you a long list of the tests we did and describe the heavy emptiness that came from not knowing what to do next when each “maybe” came back normal and ended in silence from the doctor who’d ordered it. It was hell, and I won’t pretend it wasn’t. But it was my hell and one I had to walk through it to learn what it was time to learn. My job, so I could get past it, was to get honest about who I am, what’s really important to me, and what it is I’m here to do. That took six long years. It was worth every second of it.

This website and my commitment to living the last third of life on fire and growing went dormant while I did that work. There was a TON of doubt that I would ever again have enough of a life to be able to enjoy living it, much less have anything to offer for others to use in living theirs well.

I don’t need to go into the details of this quest–at least not right now. But I do need to point to what’s different about Mining Silver as of today.

Today we launch a completely revised version of the website, which has been around since 2008. When I started, I was in lock-step with the marketing and online gurus, focused on “what I had to sell”–my books and availability to speak, do seminars, etc. Now the emphasis is on providing information and insights to spark conversation, either by comments posted here or in real life after you read something here.

This is not about making money for me. This isn’t even about creating a following. I want to do what I can to raise awareness about what’s possible, reasonable, and worth pursuing in the last third of a life. That will be a work in progress until I take my last breath and a collaborative effort with anyone willing to be involved. As of this moment, there are new pages (the permanent information that stays in the same place on the site) plus ten years of blog posts about living this stage of life well (a list that gets longer every time I add something new). The site is content rich. That’s ALL it is–content…ideas, information, observations–you get the drift. Please explore. (And comment!)

Getting into Volunteering

Getting into Volunteering

A lot of us enter retirement with a strong desire to give back.  A lot fewer of us have already established how we are going to do that.  The difference in what happens with those two different starting points can be dramatic.  Why?  Because finding a way to “give back” when you are approaching existing organizations who don’t know you is every bit as daunting as finding a new job.

You have to prove yourself.  That comes over time.

That means you will have to make peace with the reality that those who were there before you will have more say in how and what gets done–even if you are an expert with 35 years experience in what the group is trying to accomplish.

You will have to accept that politics can exist and be every bit as lethal in the volunteer setting as in business, academia, education, or whatever arena you just stepped out of.  

And you have to accept that you are a beginner in everyone else’s eyes because they don’t know you (yet). If you’re already smarting from losing the sense of competence the job gave you, that can be a more brutal beating than you’re ready for.

Do it anyway. 

But be ready to be “the new kid” in terms of what you get to do and how you are perceived.  (And be ready to do your happy dance if being seen as “the rookie” when you aren’t turns out not to be the case.)

Find a volunteer gig that relates to something you’re deeply interested in rather than just jumping into what a friend is already doing.  With paid work, you show up anyway if what you’re doing isn’t that interesting.  With volunteering, “ya gotta wanna” to keep at it long enough to achieve the momentum of enjoying being part of the group.  If you quit a lot of things right after you start because they aren’t interesting, you lose interest in volunteering altogether–an unfortunate overreaction.

Pay attention to the tone of the organization.  Do they appreciate volunteer help?  Are they upbeat with their mission?  Do they treat both those being helped and those doing the helping with respect?  Are they well organized?  Are they using resources wisely?

When you volunteer, you really do get paid–but in emotional benefits.  Being part of a group effort for the greater good can foster a sense of belonging, create the opportunity for new friendships, and make you remember how lucky you are yourself.  But you need to choose the organization wisely to get those things.  “Whatever comes along” might leave you way short of that.

Or, as a good friend used to say “I’ll work for nothing but not any less.”

Online Dating Scam — Field Notes

Online Dating Scam — Field Notes

Okay, this has happened twice. Time to say something. I don’t know if it happens to guys (probably), but here’s what it looked like for an older, heterosexual woman:

OMG. Dreams DO come true! This amazing guy contacts you. He’s beyond your wildest dreams…handsome, cosmopolitan–and European, experienced with the world in ways you aren’t, fun, and very very interested in getting to know you. He’s protective before he’s even met you, worrying that you might be working too hard or that you were at risk with some minor bold thing you mentioned doing.

He gushes about how wonderful you are–ordinary you!–and goes on and on about your beauty (heady balm coming from a guy 7 years younger than you). At his most polished, he transports you to a romantic world that leaves you breathless with delight. He gets me!

When executed by someone less practiced, it comes across a bit more like clunky job interview–lot’s of questions in quick sequence without much chance to reply. But you see that as his earnestness about wanting to know more and still buy in. And you give him the benefit of the doubt with the way he phrases things because “he wasn’t born here”.

He hits all the right notes: He wants a deep, loving, trusting relationship. He wants to make you his queen. He wants to give you the finest things in life–and has the money to do that. He wants to travel all over the world with YOU.

But…. he’s busy with important things. So he can’t meet. He wants your phone number and email so you can “go faster” than with the messaging the dating app provides. He promises you will meet “soon”….when his work situation calms down….when he’s had time to tie up this important deal….when he has this big professional event he’s working on planned.

Before “soon” arrives, there’s an emergency, perhaps due to what he’s attempting with his exotic business. Before “soon”, you will have developed enough of an appetite for his attention that you’re tempted to give him that money. Very tempted, even if you’ve been 60% sure it’s a scam from the very beginning.

This romance is not something online dating can do for you. Online dating is just a way to MEET people you want to date. You have to take it from there to build a relationship. If your dream guy is suddenly there and acting like you two are in fully committed relationship as just an online dating profile, you’re not looking at the real thing.

You have to meet before you know if it’s going to go anywhere. When you get wound up in a 100% online romance, you’ve taken a detour into Fantasyland. IT IS NOT REAL. And don’t think that because he has a business website and/or a LinkedIn profile it confirms what he told that he’s legitimate. ALL of it can be faked.

Don’t blow off discrepancies. First he spouts Bible verses like a devout fundamentalist Christian, then he says he’s a lapsed Catholic who hasn’t been to church since his wife died five years ago. His profile says he’s 6’3 but when you ask him, he says he’s 5’10. He sends you a photo (of someone else) and says he’s making coffee in his office when the kitchen pantry is open right behind him. We all want to give people the benefit of the doubt with little mistakes. But if they keep happening, pay attention. If the person running the scam is part of a big operation, they’re going to have trouble keeping the details straight. If they’re operating in a foreign country, the difference between what we call an “office” and a “kitchen” might not be apparent.

Be wary of a guy whose use of English is off. I’ve communicated online with an “Italian” and a “German” who both turned out to be fake. Neither was good with English, particularly grammar and syntax. I tolerated this, because “he wasn’t born here.” But looking back, that wasn’t justified. Both had mentioned that their last 30 or more years had been spent in English speaking countries and that they ran successful businesses there. You have to speak good English to do that. I’ve also met real online dates, one who left Hungary at age 13 and one who arrived from Kenya about 10 years ago,. Both spoke perfect English. This is not about “spurning immigrants”.  It’s about paying attention to whether his backstory and his performance match.

Be sure he’s still on the dating site. If you suddenly can’t find his profile when you go to remind yourself of something in it, get suspicious. He might have taken it down so you can’t check details or the dating site may have recognized it wasn’t a legitimate profile. If his (her) profile disappears, back away! Also be wary if he wants to jump to texting or email right away instead of using the messaging site for your initial interaction. Messaging on the site it safer.

Don’t buy excuses for not meeting in person. He may claim he wants to wait so that meeting to be special (and then wax eloquent about how he will treat you when the time comes). He may say he’s swamped with work and just doesn’t have time right now. He may claim he’s stuck in a foreign country. (This one is a great set-up for the pitch–“I need money to get home because….” .) When you push him to meet, he (she) will accuse you of not trusting him as a deep relationship demands–to make you think you are wrong. Real date material wants to meet you. Neither of you have anything to gain by doing the pen pal routine any longer than it takes to decide if you are interested in meeting each other.

The first time this happened to me, I was too curious to walk away quickly. I sensed it was very likely a scam, but I wanted to know how it worked. Was it a group doing it or just one sociopathic romeo? Does a scammer request photos from his marks (which both did) so he can use them to create personas for new cons? Was a woman or man the mastermind? (I’m guessing women write the scripts. They are uncanny in saying what women deeply want to hear.) Was it a foreign operation or a homegrown version of despicable?

When it happened again a few days ago, I only had one question: Am I being romanced to finance a Russian troll farm? Are some “troll farmers” spending their entire shifts cooing sweet nothings in the electronic ears of well-heeled older Americans looking for love online and vulnerable in their generosity. (Yeah….repulsive.)

I don’t have answers to any of these questions, and it’s wiser to leave it at that. The more important thing is sound the alarm so you don’t get caught up in it in the first place.

If the situation is a full blown romance before you’ve even met–and the other person keeps postponing meeting, shut it down and move on. The longer you let it go on, the more tempted you’ll be to give him (her) that money when the inevitable pitch comes. JUST STOP!

Do YOU celebrate?

Do YOU celebrate?

Night before last, I went to a funny, holiday-themed play at a community theater with a group of friends.  On the way home, I learned that two of the women with us were turning 80 within a few days of each other at the end/beginning of the year.  They are both vibrant, engaged, and living real lives.  I had to admit I was surprised.  (We have the stereotypes on this so wrong as a society!)

What was more interesting though was how they were seeing the milestone.  The difference between the two of them could not have been more dramatic.  One was going to San Diego (from the Seattle area) for two weeks of assorted celebrating.  She was excited about the coming decade and ready for it to be her “best decade” just as her grandmother had admitted of her 70’s a generation before.

The other was dreading it.

They are both virtually the same age.  Are they going to have the same quality of life?

The “dreader” saw the need to redirect herself as we finished the ride, which is the great news in this.  But what about the ones who don’t get the innoculation of someone else’s happier approach?

You’re gonna turn 80 either way (at least if you are lucky enough to get that far).  Seeing the pluses is a whole lot more fun.  And ignoring the ridiculously inaccurate set of expectations we are bombarded with from the culture is critical.

I always make a big deal over the “zero” birthdays.  It’s my excuse to do something particularly grand and/or self-loving when they are mine.  I also love to mark 75 for women friends.  Party, fresh flower crown, BIG deal fun.

But celebrating doesn’t have to be reserved for certain birthdays.   There are unique milestones that also warrant some festivity.  (At the moment, I am looking forward to the last day of my online dating subscription….)

What does celebrating accomplish?  At its very core, a celebration says “There are things going on in  my life.  I have completed something important.  And I am happy about that.”

It also says “Life is good!”

But the most important thing it says is “I am not done yet!”  Oh yeah.  I will celebrate that again and again and again.

What We’re Trying to Do Here

What We’re Trying to Do Here

PLEASE JOIN THE CONVERSATION!!

In the past, allowing comments on these blog posts turned into a marathon effort at removing unwanted stuff that had nothing to do with the good conversation I was trying to encourage, placed by spambots because “they could.”  So my web guy and I reluctantly closed comments to stay ahead of all that.  Now, there ‘s a better way to deal with that scourge, but it involves a small step from you.

  • The intent of these posts is to encourage sincere conversation about the challenges of living this stage of life well and to problem solve regarding that.  That’s all.

  • Comments will be reviewed before publication.  The focus is on providing a full range of opionions and ideas, but we do not tolerate fake stuff, incendiary garbage that’s hurtful, harmful, or just plain mean, and useless ranting.  This needs to be a civil conversation. (True all the time, but insisted upon here….) Differing opinions are great, but no sniping or snarkiness.

  • If you just want to “lurk” (not provide a comment) that’s okay, but it’s more satisfying to have a voice.

  • This site is not focused on making money or “building a platform.”  It’s to get us talking about what this stage of life is like and what we’ve learned collectively about doing it well.

  • If, in the future, there are other ways to be involved in wherever this goes, you’ll be invited via posts here to do that when the time comes.

  • Please do comment.  We all have different experiences, perspectives, and issues.  We can learn so much by talking with each other.

Thanksgiving 2018

Thanksgiving 2018

This is a repost of what I said on Nov. 21, 2012.  It’s still on target, and I could see no reason to rewrite it.  Happy Thanksgiving to those of you who celebrate it.

**********

And thanks for the not so sunny things in life….

And now, for a non-political, non-denominational nod to the value of gratitude…

Thanksgiving Day is upon us–at least for those of us who live in the United States.  What Mom or Dad or Grandma used to say is true.  We do have a lot to be thankful for. Even when things aren’t going so very well at all, a lot of stuff is going right that we often don’t take the time to acknowledge.

This year I’m being thankful for the very act of being thankful.  It’s like a wonder drug.  When I take the time to look at all the good things in my life and utter a prayer of gratitude, I raise my happiness index into the ozone.  Yep.  Be thankful; be happy.

So what am I thankful for this soggy Wednesday-before-Thanksgiving?

I’m thankful for where I live–in a warm house in a place that hasn’t been ravaged by hurricanes or wildfires or horrendous snow storms.  But I’m also thankful that I live in a culture that helps when those bad things happen.  And that gets itself up, dusts itself off, and gets on with getting back on its collective feet when it does.  Generosity and grit build a pretty solid community, and I am lucky indeed to be in a country like that.

I am thankful for what I get to do with my time.  I love what I do.  It doesn’t always go the way I want, but it’s the right path and I can feel that to the bottom of my soul.  But I’m also thankful for the years (yes, years!) that I’ve spent wandering around in the emotional dark trying to figure it out.  That painful time was an important step in assuring that where I walk so happily now is solid ground.  I’m also thankful that I already know I will likely circle back around through that trying territory again at some point in the future.  That is okay–because the trip will come with reconfirmation of all I value and how to best use my time in this life.

I’m thankful for family and friends.    Loving and being loved is the glue of a good life.  But I’m also thankful for the times I’ve been in that space of “alone.”  Connection keeps my world warm, but sometimes, I need a splash of solitary “cold water” to help me get back on track with how I am treating the people in my life–and myself.

I am thankful for sunshine, blue skies, lovely warm weather, and the chance to hike high in the mountains of this beautiful place I’m blessed to live when the weather allows.  But I am also grateful for these truncated days of late fall when it’s dark before dinner and the rain just keeps coming.  The short days remind me that one of the greatest gifts of being human is the need to believe when things are dark and slow.  We live “not knowing” and have to learn to trust that the sun will bring the long days back, that all is well, and that we can get through the hard times if we just keep going.

Yes, I am thankful.  And that makes me happier than anything else I can think of to do.  An attitude of gratitude cuts a clear path to enjoying life–regardless of whether what’s coming down at the moment is wonderful or not-so-grand.

As you prep the turkey or sit down to the feast, wind your way to Grandmother’s house in bumper to bumper traffic or wait in line for TSA at the airport, give thanks.  And be thankful most especially for the times and things in your life that don’t seem like pluses.  They’re there for a reason, and the reason is good.  You  just have to understand it.

To those of you with an official holiday for giving thanks in the offing, Happy Thanksgiving!  To those of you who don’t have it on your calendar, give thanks anyway.  It will make you happy.  (And then you have one more thing to give thanks for.)

 

Giving Up versus Letting Go

Giving Up versus Letting Go

I lost a dear friend last week.  She’d gotten weaker and weaker after undergoing one planned then one emergency open-heart surgery in a matter of days.  Her friends are stunned.  Her family is in shock.  This was not the way it was supposed to go.  She was intrepid.  She was stubborn.  She was the one who seemed like she could go on forever.  At 80, she could still rise from a full squat to her feet without touching anything, for god’s sake.

And yet, there came a time when all that she was wasn’t enough.  A time to admit she was too tired to keep fighting to get her life back.

Assessing “what went wrong” is useless.  But this big decision has me looking at all the little decisions we make, where we decide that whatever we have been fighting for is not going to happen. And that made me ask “Is there a difference between letting go and giving up?”

It seems there is.  Letting go is about surrendering control.  Giving up is about surrendering everything.  And there is a time for each.

Letting go clears the way for what’s next.  By no longer focusing on the job you had to have or trying to force real love into a romance that doesn’t come close, you clear the space you need for something much better to come into your life.  Accepting that the real answer is beyond something you can make happen opens up possibilities you can’t even imagine.  You’re betting on a future that’s better than you can create on your own. If you’re authentic with it, what comes next will serve you far better than whatever it is you let go of.

Giving up stops at now.  Giving up says “No more.  I am done with this.”

Eventually we will all get to “giving up.”  But let’s not do it prematurely–when we’re going to go on living despite what we are relinquishing.  When things seem hopeless, it’s the time to surrender, yes.  To wait in the deep velvet fog of  uncertainty for “what’s coming next.”  To trust that it will be what you need.  To open yourself to going beyond your own fences so you can recognize it when it arrives.  It is the time to let go.

But don’t give up when letting go is an option.  Don’t give up on ever having a happy life just because today was close to unbearable.  Accept that what you need may simply be beyond your own thinking–not absent entirely.  Let go and wait for what comes next.

Surrender is part of living life to the max. It resonates with hope and potential. Giving up is the very last resort. Save that for the authentic end.

Thanks for the lesson, Linda.

The Gun Control “Debate”

The Gun Control “Debate”

I’m usually apolitical and believe strongly in letting people be who they are.  Of live and let live.  Of you do your thing, and I’ll do mine.  I believe in the Constitution.  That’s not enough on this.

The United States of America has become a dangerous place to live.  Yesterday, my not-so-big-town paper reported the death of a grandmother who was killed in her bathroom—the victim of a drive-by shooting where the bullets were meant for someone else.  I wish I could say this was an unusual article.  It’s not—for my town, for the country in general.

Teenage gang members shoot each other over being “disrespected.”  Spurned lovers shoot their former girlfriends.  Preschoolers shoot each other because they think they are playing with a toy.  Veterans facing the difficult task of picking up a “normal” life after the horrors of war use a gun as a quick way to end their pain.  And then, of course, there are the mass shootings where “motive” is elusive but the death toll is very real.

A recent online article by Business Insider claimed that the likelihood of dying from gun violence is 1 in 315, and that’s not counting the suicides and accidents.  In 2015, nearly 14,000 people were killed by firearms assaults in this country.  That would be the whole population of the town I grew up in.

In the US, more people die from being shot by others than die riding in a van, truck, or car. And the mass shootings?  “In 2015, some 333 mass shootings left 367 people dead and 1,328 injured. The statistics rose in 2016 to 383 mass shootings, 456 deaths, and 1,537 injuries. In 2017, there were 346 mass shootings that led to 437 deaths and 1,802 injuries.” (From the same article.)

We have to do better.

Gun rights advocates rally around the Second Amendment as if it were the only thing written in the Constitution.  Let’s put it in perspective.  The first written statement in our birth as a nation is the Declaration of Independence.  It does not mention the right to own guns, but it does state that all have a right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  The very first words in the Constitution itself state its purpose is to “… to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure the domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence,  promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”  The Constitution was ratified in 1788.  The Second Amendment was not added until 1791 as part of a cluster of ten clarifications.  Clearly, the right to own guns was not the most important thing.  The right to live in peace is far more central.  Losing this many Americans to gun violence every year is NOT peaceful.

What’s even more absurd is that gun control isn’t about deleting the Second Amendment itself.  The push if for sensible gun control.  How can any sane person argue with that idea?

Arming teachers will not solve this problem.  Who do you arm to prevent a suicide that was too easy because there was a gun on the premises?  Who do you arm to keep the four-year old from shooting his six year old sister when he finds a loaded gun under the seat of the car?  Who do you arm to help that grandmother killed in her bathroom?  Getting more guns out there isn’t the answer.

There will always be resistance to changes needed for the common good from those who are going to lose something.  The farmers who benefitted from DDT…  The smokers who now have to go out of the building (and stand in the rain or snow) to pollute their lungs…  But the “rights” of a few should not override the legitimate needs of the many.  If the NRA and all gun advocates were really intent on the good of the country–as they want us to believe they are, they would be at the table trying to solve the problem, not in trenches lobbing grenades at those who recognize the need to do it.  (And to those who despicably altered photos to make “news” about the kids who’ve had the courage to stand up and start these dominoes falling, there are no words to describe how low you have stooped.)

Cowardice is cumulative and compounds.  When our elected officials were cowed by the gun rights lobby and let the ban on assault weapons expire in 2004, it started a downward spiral that has expanded for 15 years.  Now those same leaders are too timid to object when the President of the United States refuses to call out an international thug.  They turn a blind eye to that same President’s cyberbullying and moral turpitude. They can’t find a way to get work done on any front because cowards are afraid of anyone who is not just like them.  They hide in their bunkers and pretend to be strong by yelling at each other instead of having the courage to approach those who are different to work together.

We are far more than this as a nation.  And we have been given the chance to start over–by kids.  We don’t have to accept “it’s complicated” as an excuse for inaction.  So what if it’s complicated.  It still needs to be fixed.  Gun ownership is just like owning anything else.  You can’t do whatever you want if you own a house. You’re subject to requirements and restrictions if you own a car.  Such limits are for the greater good.  Common sense gun control is no different.

Every one of us needs to stand up now and insist that this be done.  Yes, we can vote differently next fall, but we can also speak up now.  Insist that your elected officials come around on this–not all of them are going to be up for reelection.  It’s time to fix this.  Way past time.

Note:  The Business Insider article can be found at

http://www.businessinsider.com/mass-shooting-gun-statistics-2018-2.

And if you’re wondering, Business Insider is rated as politically “center” by AllSides.

 

As We Change Presidents…..

As We Change Presidents…..

It’s just a new President.  Really.  The Constitution is still in place.  The Congress is still there.  (I was going to say “functioning”, but that would be a new development of late.)  The Judiciary branch is still doing its thing.  We have just changed one piece of this amazing puzzle of a democracy that has worked so well for over 200 years.  The sky is not falling.  Really.  It may be rattling a bit with the change in how the wind is blowing, but it’s not falling.

The angst with this particular election outcome is unique.  It’s as if the whole country has forgotten that one party wins and the other loses every time we do this.  To the “victors” each time comes the hopes that they are going to get things exactly as they want.  To the “defeated” comes the frustrating truth that they will have to wait.  And that’s never the way it turns out.  Neither party ever gets  things exactly as they wanted!  Because we are all part of this.  Not just the “winners.”

It’s as if people are assuming the President is an absolute ruler who does whatever he wants and has the right and the role to change whatever he chooses.  Donald Trump may even believe that.  It doesn’t matter.  That’s not the way we roll as the United States of America.

This is about ALL of us doing what we can to make this country a place we can all live together–fairly and at peace with each other.

If you want a great country, add some effort of your own.  Little easy things can help a lot.  Donald Trump may say he is going to Make America Great Again.  But that ain’t gonna happen if it’s just him trying to pull it off.  Particularly if what he thinks would be “great” isn’t what the rest of us have in mind.

If you refuse to do anything to improve the situation because you hate Donald Trump, you’re missing the point:  It’s not his country!  It belongs to all of us.  Refusing to make things better because he is part of the picture makes about as much sense as refusing to plant a garden because you don’t want to eat the peas you spouse always plants.  SAVOR THE REST!

Martha Beck once wrote: “The happier you are, the more joyful the whole world becomes.”  At a minimum, do something to generate joy.  In  your loved ones.  In  yourself.  In the people you meet while waiting in line for your coffee.  We can start to turn this around just by being nice to people every time we can.

We do not need to let this become a war.  If we become happy enough, Donald Trump will be superfluous.  If he truly is about “making America great again” even he would be happy with that.

Come on!  Smile at somebody!

 

The ONE THING None of Us Should Eat

The ONE THING None of Us Should Eat

Okay, okay, you’re tired of all the do’s and don’ts about what to eat.  One week coffee is bad for you, the next “they” are saying two cups a day will help avoid dementia.  Red wine is good…but not too much…or maybe only on Sundays.  And what’s the deal with kale? Or whatever. All this advice leads us to consume large quantities of the one thing we really do not need to be eating: FEAR.

There’s a lot of “information” out there about how eating this will stave off some awful illness and about how eating that other thing will trigger something terrible. Such advice is everywhere and often in contradiction to other advice.  So you can’t do all of it (and who in the world really wants to?)  Still, “they” say this is important.  We want to be safe, to avoid the horrible “maybe” mentioned.  So instead of acting on our own behalf, we worry.  Worry is just another word for being afraid (passively).  Have another helping of fear, my dear!

Our current culture is very good at fretting about damn near everything. What if I take that job, and then there’s a lay-off?  What if I say the wrong thing, and I get a reputation for being policially incorrect?  What if the incoming Presidential adminstration is as terrible as my favorite news site says it will be?  Oh so much can go wrong.

And it may.  But that’s not the biggest problem here.  When we take this stuff in and let it define how we live, life becomes a prison cell.  There will always be something dangerous that might hurt us.  Trying to avoid all of it is like trying to avoid breathing nitrogen–which is a normal and major component of air–but not what we need to live on.  We don’t use the nitrogen but it doesn’t harm us if we are doing the natural thing–breathing it back out.  Same deal with fear.  It’s out there, and we need to notice it. Then the natural thing is to let it go. When we worry instead, we hold it.  And it shackles and weakens us.

Life is dangerous.  Standing there paralyzed with fear is not going to change that. All it does is remove the chance to live happy and free.

It’s not just the nutrition experts  force-feeding us this bad stuff.  We get far more information about the “dangers” inherent in being alive than has ever been the case before.  We have access to massive amounts of information from a wide array of sources on devices we can use 24/7.  The message of “Be afraid” comes through loud and clear–and often.

Even worse, those who want us as potential customers–for them or their advertisers– will hype that “news” so it becomes even more terrifying.  This is NOT good for any one of us.  (It may, however, be very good for business.)

And it’s not the natural way for us to feel fear either.  When there is a real and present danger, fear is an ally.  Fight or flight–DO something.  All this “informational fear” isn’t like that.  When we are encouraged to be afraid of things that might happen, we move to a situation that denies any chance to effectively eliminate the fear by acting on it.  The possible terrible thing has not happened.  All you can do is worry that it might. We take the fear in and hold it.  Some day we may learn that doing that is the leading cause of heart attacks…  Fear generates stress.  We know stress messes us up a lot physically.

So, instead of actually eating and holding all that fear, we might be better off with something like the following:

  • Avoid clicking on all the sensationalized headlines about whatever thing to avoid, remove, etc.
  • Ask yourself if whatever advice you just read feels right to you.  Intuition is one of the best fear interceptors going.
  • Can you reasonably mitigate what they have said might go wrong?  If so, do that. If not, FORGET ABOUT IT.

Repeat after me: I will not eat fear.