All posts by jjeffest

Positive Vibes Only

I don’t care for that saying, positive vibes only. We’re humans and should be allowed and even encouraged to bring our whole selves to the table. There will be times in life when things are rough. Look at 2020. This has been a very challenging year for the majority of us. Even people that are doing well and surviving are still going through the mental stress of our new way of living. Whenever I find myself complaining and spiraling into a negative conversation with someone, I try to bring of something I am grateful for. I also try and do this when I’m alone and catch myself in a string of negative thoughts. Listing off several things that I am grateful for even if they are experiences that I have had previously in life, like places I traveled to or my beloved pet who passed a few years ago. Being grateful for the experience counts.

I first learned about the technique of using gratitude from where I work. My employer implemented an entire program by Senn Delaney which included in part a book by Larry E. Senn called  The Mood Elevator. The premise is that we all ride a mood elevator every day of our lives. There is a whole list of emotions from top to bottom with the middle being ‘curious’. It’s so interesting to me that curious is in the middle. I really love that he uses that emotion to be the one to reach up to when you are feeling irritated, judgmental, angry, stressed, worried. Moving from any one of those feelings to curious isn’t as much of a stretch as it would be to jump all the way up to flexible, hopeful, patient or grateful. Curious is doable.

The next time you are irritable or stressed try thinking of a few things you are grateful for and then look back to your current situation and try and get curious about it. Instead of thinking that coworker is denying my request to do their normal task to intentionally piss me off. Try assuming positive intent that your coworker isn’t out to get you intentionally and is doing the best they can from where they are in life. Then get curious about why they did what they did. Why could they possibly have denied your request.

There will be days that are easier than others I’ve found. Sometimes you just have to feel like a grouch all day and get it out. But every day is a fresh start and you can have a fresh start any time if you wish. Never judge a day by its morning someone once told me. Using the tool of the mood elevator and incorporating gratitude into my day when needed has made life more manageable and me happier.

Hey babe what’s your sign?

Humankind has always had a fascination with the stars. Astrology has been dated back to 2nd millennium BCE. It is a pseudoscience so in layman’s terms it means it should be taken with a grain of salt. When most people read about their ‘sign’ they are reading about their Sun Sign. There are twelve months in a year twelve zodiac signs along with twelve houses each with their own emphasis and 9 planets. Each zodiac sign is ruled by a planet and some signs share planets. When you read only your sun sign you are only reading about that part of your personality that you present to the world. When you are born the planets are set in the sky in a very specific pattern, each one in a specific house and there are different aspects, squares, conjunctions, oppositions etc. It gets very detailed. On the Wikipedia page for astrology there are 169 different reference points.

I’ve been reading about astrology and interested in it ever since I was in middle school. I’m not the kind of person that won’t get out of bed if my horoscope says not to that day, but I am the kind of person that will not buy anything electronic or sign a very important contract during Mercury retrograde. I think astrology is a guideline. It won’t tell you everything you need to know about a person. It doesn’t factor in nature vs nurture, class, education level, life experience. But I use it to get a rough idea of the kind of person I’m getting to know. Once someone tells me their birthday and I figure out their sun sign I never forget it. I know most of my partners chart and have his, mine, and several friends saved on my phone. I think what I love about it is the mix of science and art.

Most cultures since the dawn of time attached significance to astrological events Greek, Roman, Hindu, Chinese, Maya. Today on Twitter the astrological community was analyzing the presidential debates based off the time and place they were held and comparing Biden and Trumps chart with each other’s and the current astrological ‘weather’. A fun place to get started learning more about yourself is https://www.astrotheme.com/ where you can plug in your exact birth time and date along with place of birth. Who knows, maybe you will learn a little bit more about yourself.

Food for Thought

A few years ago, I took a World Religions class where we studied most of the world’s religions in depth. We started off with Islam moved into Judaism then onto Christianity and forward to Hinduism among several others. When we were reading about Hinduism, we read a little about Mahatma Gandhi. While reading about more about Gandhi I remember reading something about him saying that the world is full of suffering and if we can have a meal that will sustain us without adding more suffering into the world why wouldn’t we. While writing this I searched desperately to find the exact quote but could not. Now I’m wondering if I made part of it up and added some into it, I don’t know. But the point is the same. Humans do not need to eat meat to survive. We can have very full and flavorful meals any time of the day that are nutritious and just as delicious as meals containing meat.

I love this article by Abigail Geer 5 Reasons Why We Shouldn’t Slaughter Animals for Food. I would love to convince everyone to become a vegan but not only would I be a hypocrite if I advocated that I also think that is a very large ask of someone who still eats meat. I drive a car with leather seats, I eat yogurt and use butter so I am not vegan myself. What I don’t do is eat meat, chicken, fish, or anything that was once alive.

My manager and I got on the subject of me not eating meat because where I work, they give out turkeys to all the employees for Thanksgiving every year (ugh). And she asked me if I didn’t eat animals for political reasons. I laughed because I thought it was such an odd reason for anyone to not eat animals but it also opened my eyes to the fact that there are many reasons people come up with for not eating meat. Mine has always been out of concern for the animals first. I’ve enjoyed the clear conscious and added environmental benefits that come along with it but I adore sentient beings and know they have a soul and if nothing else it’s been proven that they have feelings. So, if I can get full from a delicious meal and not kill anything in the process of doing it why wouldn’t I? Why shouldn’t I?

Most of the time it is the spices people add to meat that they enjoy. There are so many delicious meat alternatives, even local ones that are incredible like Herbivorous Butcher. Our teeth are made for grinding food not tearing flesh. There are numerous health benefits that are too long for me to even list when reducing meat intake. I guess the bottom line for me is, you don’t have to give up meat entirely if you don’t want to just enjoy it as a ‘treat’ for special occasions maybe not at every single meal.

Electric Bikes are cheating. An argument that misses the point.

In his article Five reasons riding an ebike isn’t cheating Justin Duckman explains why riding an ebike isn’t cheating. He explains the physical benefits citing to research done by Bringham Young University explaining that riders with pedal assist had heart rates around 145bpm which was just 10 beats less than conventional riders.

I found this blog article on www.radpowerbikes.com. I believe that the author is incredibly biased in his writing and I know it for a fact because I too am biased on the subject. In April of 2020 just after the pandemic I was already in the market for a high-quality bike. I had tried out an ebike back in the summer of 2019 and was in love but the price tag threw me at 3k. I waited, researched and found much more reasonable rad power bikes. I bought one and have been riding it since June of 2020. I also talked my partner into using his Trumpcheck into buying one. I’m in sales so I laid it on pretty thick in convincing him. One month after owning it he said to me as we were riding “I’m really glad we bought these bikes.” With the pandemic and not being able to travel which is our first passion I knew we were going to have to find something to do around where we live to occupy our summer and riding bikes has been it.

Our friends laugh when we tell them we have electric bikes and some say we are cheating and that it isn’t really riding. We also get looks from people on the trails when we pass them going 20mph up steep hills. At least I think we get looks from them, it’s hard to tell from our rear-view mirrors we installed. All joking aside I think the point of owning a bike is so that you can travel further and see more and be outside longer. In September I got up to 1k miles on my bike after just owning it since June. If I would have bought a traditional bike there is no way I would have ridden it this much.

I’ve been able to see some gorgeous trails in Minnesota this year. Is it cheating? It depends on what your goal is in riding a bike in the first place. Yes, a traditional bike may have given me a better workout but working out was never my goal.

Keep Trying That’s Why It’s Called a Practice

Keep Trying That’s Why It’s Called a Practice

Background

I have been meditating off and on for almost 10 years now. I love meditating. It’s one of the most difficult and most rewarding things I do for myself. It’s funny because whenever I talk about meditating, I usually go on and on about how much I love it and the benefits I receive from it and then end usually somewhere around ‘that’s why I rarely do it.’ I say that to make people laugh which I love to do, but it’s also a little true. I don’t meditate nearly as much as I would like.

A Beginner’s Guide

When one is first beginning a meditation practice it helps to have someone guide you through it or have something to focus on either the breath, counting from 100 backwards and starting over if your mind wanders or even a body scan practice. In an article by Tara Healey found here: https://www.mindful.org/a-10-minute-body-scan-practice/. She not only describes how to do a meditative body scan but links to an audio version you can listen to and practice along right at home.

Vipassana – Silent Meditation

After you have practiced meditating several times or if you want to explore other methods of meditation another option is Vipassana or silent meditation. I used to go to the Zen Center in Minneapolis and I have also attended many sessions at Dharma Field in South Minneapolis. Both places offer meditation where essentially there is a group of people in a room, someone leading the meditation clangs a metal bowl or bell three times and then it’s quiet for 20 minutes. There is something about meditating with a group of people that is much more powerful than doing it alone and I don’t know why. John Mac explains that one can meditate anywhere. One of his favorite places is in the forest.

Walking in the forest can be meditative and very effective.

It’s called a meditation practice for a reason.

Whichever way you decide to practice meditating is up to you. Any advice I could give on it would be the same advice I would give myself. Your mind is going to race and it’s going to wander because that is what the mind does. Clearing your mind for 30 seconds or 10 minutes or 30 minutes is a gift. I like to think of it as a vacation from my thoughts. All the lists I create in my head and all the future plans I absolutely adore making will be there waiting and ready to be picked back up again once I’m done meditating. But for just those few moments I’m allowing myself a break, a pause from the constant go go go of life. Even if you think you could never meditate you probably already have without even knowing it. Have you ever caught yourself ‘zoning out’ staring off into space while waiting in line or looking out the window? That’s meditating. You’ve already done it. Look at you already practicing!

Conspiracy theories; the great equalizer.

I was comforted to know that I wasn’t the only one who believed conspiracy theories to be true. Let me clarify that a little. I like to think of myself as open minded and with that open mindedness comes my belief that just about anything is possible. Do I believe in ufo’s; yes. Do I believe that fluoride is bad for you and shouldn’t be in our water supply; yes. Do I believe that the earth is flat; no. I’d like to think I have some common sense and can’t be fooled into thinking the absurd is true, but the truth is I am no different than anyone else. In fact, “No single demographic is most prone to conspiracy theories. “I’ve seen plenty of representation from white, Black, Asian, Hispanic, and Indigenous people,” one Redditor, ihatedogs2, told me. “Plenty of women, LGBTQ+ people, and people with all kinds of careers. Many different countries, too. In terms of political leanings there is also a great variety, with liberals, conservatives, socialists, libertarians, communists, fascists, and more.”

In the article How to talk to conspiracy theorists and still be kind Tanya Basu shares with us 10 different steps on how to figure out if confronting a conspiracy theorist is even worth it. Some of the things to factor in are: is this a family member and if so how important is the relationship? Can you let this subject slide and step around it in order to keep the peace? Another part she talks about is being kind about it. When you read someone write something on social media or share a meme and you think to yourself that is a complete crock! I can’t believe he/she/they would share that! Sometimes you want to comment on it and dispute it or bring facts to the ‘fight’ so to speak. But if you really care about the person and the friendship/relationship kindness has to play a part. Talking to that person privately or ‘off line’ is key in order to save face.

You also have to realize that some people don’t want to change their minds about some of the things they believe. For me personally no matter how many times my dentist tells me about fluoride treatments for sensitivity I’m not hearing it. I’ve made decision on that and I’m comfortable with the truth, as I see it.