Posted in Advanced Motherhood, Basic Adulting, mental health, The adult playground

Scarcity: Pursuit of Happiness

My son took this photo while I was at work and he used a silly face filter and shared it.
I laugh at it today, but 2 years ago. I did feel very much like this filter because I was feeling down
and very entangled in the hustle when I really needed a break.

When I get that job, I will be happy.

When I lose 10 pounds I will start dating again

When my boyfriend finally puts that ring on my finger, I can start planning the rest of my life

When I can afford that classic car, I will go on more road trips.

When I can bench press just another 25 pounds, I will feel strong.

When I get my doctorate degree, I will make more money.

When I make more money, I can spend more time with my family

When I get that promotion, I can finally take more time off

If I can eat healthier, I will lose weight

If I get that job, my family will be happier

If I could make just a little more money, I can buy that car

If I can buy that car, I can appear more attractive to women

If I could keep my house cleaner, I could have friends over more often

If I had a bigger house, I would invite people over

I wish I could make art

I wish I was prettier

I wish had had more muscle

I wish I had a better body

I wish I had more money

I wish I was thin

I wish I wasn’t sick

Do you do this: attach your happiness to your goals? Goal setting is a noble act, but the steps to the goal are as well. I will actually make a concept map or lists just feel the accomplishment in small steps so that I am also enjoying the path to the goal. Yet what do we do as soon as we achieve our goals? We make another one. During that space between goals, do you savor it? For how long? After the initial elation, does the feeling start to fade to the sensation of lack because there is something else we want to reach to be better? Why do we continue a cycle of scarcity? Is it a culturally imprinted illusion? We live and many of us born into a hustle environment.

Our culture thrives on insatiable drive and I am still trying to decide if that drive is more of a draining of the soul rather than a purposeful pursuit. I think that there is some space between and I have a tough time being in that space despite that it’s uncomfortable standing on the edge. Thoughts?

I took that break and I feel a lot better. I make jam, listen to music and I am actively looking for meaningful work. In the meantime, I stay productive and I am mostly content with my imperfect life.
Posted in Basic Adulting, mental health

Reconciling Scarcity: “Forces that Shape Health”

When I think about scarcity, I think of the unequal distribution of the words in the image above. Sandro Galea, explains the premise of his book in the World Health Organization Bulletin interview about Galea’s book, Well: what we need to talk about when we talk about health. He talks about a prevention framework that is evidence-based and measurable, yet we don’t choose to invest in the social determinants of health that guide general public decisions about their lives unless there is some money to be made.

Isn’t buying stuff fueling the buzz about self-care? It’s fine to splurge on fun and relaxing experiences, but those are short term. Going to a spa day doesn’t solve fatigue if someone is not getting enough sleep because of work demands…for example.

Anyway, it was a good and short read and you can access it below. I think though that public health professionals can talk and talk about this until they are out of breath. Galea writes this book for general audience and I am grateful for that.

Posted in mental health

Scarcity-Early Starts

For the past 2-3 years, I have thought a lot about scarcity and the mindset it brings. I have learned a lot about how I have allowed scarcity to affect me and I know that I am not alone. Not by a long shot, but that doesn’t help me feel better. Culturally, our collective circumstance of scarcity is alarming.  The scarcity mindset affects us on all levels so it’s no surprise we believe that this suffering is normal. We also believe that “overcoming” scarcity in terms of success (success is often defined within a small box) gets the cultural blue ribbon. I kind of hate this hero’s journey.

See example below. Scarcity content. New Mexico (where I happen to live) ranks last in terms of providing our children a basic need–Food. I mean, really imagine how it must feel to look in your cupboard and see two cans of green beans, tuna fish and maybe a box of cookies. The fridge has less than a half gallon of milk, a pitcher of green Kool-aid, some wilty celery stalks, margarine, browning iceberg lettuce, leftover fried potatoes, a few slices of bologna and a few slices of bread.

How will food scarcity affect our future? It’s not usually a hero’s journey.
Posted in Anthology of Adventures

I am passionate about my background. It molded me.

I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico during the 1980s and 1990s when Presidents Reagan and Clinton rolled back social welfare programs helping families through hard financial times, often harming single family households most of all. I lived in a subsidized housing community with my sister and mom, spending unsupervised afternoons and summers playing with other kids for hours going home only to gulp gallons of Kool-aid and to grab a snack and dinner. During summers we had daily picnics eating the free lunches through the summer lunch program. 

During these slim times, I watched my mother make meals out of almost nothing and I ate it up. We lived on pinto beans, chile peppers, canned fruits and vegetables, potatoes and different gravy-type concoctions made from tuna and ground beef served over toast. Salads, fresh vegetables, chicken and other meats were occasional treats. A fried bologna sandwich with mustard, chile dusted potato chips, and hot peppers is still one of my favorites despite that most of my career is in the health field.

Due to my mother’s work schedule, we also spent a lot of time in the small town of Los Lunas  with my aunt and grandparents. I observed food from seed to table every summer. Taking part in some of the processing like helping shell peas and putting red chile marinated pork through a sieve to extract chile pork broth for use in the masa for tamales to sell at Christmas time. I sneakily stole rich, flavorful masa right out of the massive stainless-steel bowl. I learned to can pickles, make preserves and dehydrate fruits just by watching.

Apple Butter Ready to cook down, Summer 2018

I ate it all with gusto.

Food Topics I am passionate about

I write about the American Southwest, specifically New Mexico because I do live there, a frontier border state and a first stop for immigrants from Mexico. As the fifth largest state geographically in the U.S., population is sparse and mostly rural. New Mexico unintentionally competes with Mississippi for last place in topics such as “great place to raise children,” stellar educational outcomes, and percentage of people in poverty. However, its multicultural population, gorgeous landscapes make for a great place to produce films, build gigantic companies like Intel that are warmly welcomed by communities with little to no tax burden only to lay off hundreds of people when their tax-free incentives expire.

El Rio Grande, Albuquerque, NM

I have background in Geographic Information Systems and food supply chains in New Mexico. I also have served on advisory groups to change small school meal programs that use locally grown food. I want to see more health care institutions serve a proactive role in community food security. As a former faculty member at New Mexico State University, I participated in a study to develop a survey to help food pantries devise systems to serve healthier food items in a welcoming environment.

In some of these blogs, I will describe my community health work with SNAP-ed witnessing immigrant exploitation through agriculture and multi-level marketing supplement businesses. I also have a strong concern of supplement industry promoting a culture of being too busy to engage in wellness activities like eating well and getting some movement. The supplement industry offers products as a solution for wellness without robust research or regulation while glorifying busy-ness.

Posted in mental health

Self-Care is a Pain

I don’t know a whole lot of people that claim to love exercise. I didn’t always like it either unless it didn’t feel like exercise or it was a vehicle to a different activity that was efficient. Think about it. Physical activity is hard. It’s painful sometimes during and after (I have witnessed people in High Intensity Interval Training just give up and leave). Have you tried sitting on a toilet after working your legs to death?

I love The Awkward Yeti

I used to run frequently and I would feel that endorphin high. With that high came a clear head, different perspective if I was stressed out or mad, and great ideas for my next assignment during grad school. It was worth the time and pain. Running also really helped me push through a hangover.

Whether we like it or not, we were born to move. As little as 50 years ago, we were nowhere near this sedentary. Our sedentary nature has culminated insecurity, lack of confidence and skill to our perceptions of our interactive space in the world. We don’t want to engage in physical activity the wrong way and in front of others. That’s embarrassing. Sedentary life has depleted our innate sense of essential movement.

Initial Les Mills Training Tuscon, Az 8.2.18

It’s the same with food and nutrition. We want food to be easy and comforting. Getting extra physical activity and good nutrition into an already demanding and busy day is just added work with more planning, shopping and preparing meals for yourself and others. Some of us really don’t feel like we have the time or energy. Lucky me, I enjoyed cooking and it was my creative and relaxing outlet that also led to lots of wine or beer drinking. I still have a Pavlov dog association with drinking while I cook so cooking is definitely not as enjoyable as it used to be. Sometimes I wish that my family would just stop being hungry.

We are physiologically programmed to take the easy route because at one time it was essential to our survival and still is to some degree. When we were not constantly working to maintain a food supply, which is physically demanding, then rest was essential. I don’t know about you, but my mind wants to move much more than my body. I mean, my mind is a powerful freight train full of information that thinks it must keep moving. Why would we add one more thing to learn and busy up our minds even more? Is that opportunity worth the cost of time and vulnerability? (Remember the insecurity part I mentioned above?)

So we engage in mindless activity (or is it?) through social media, Netflix or Hulu. Screen time. Not all of it is mindless or horrible. I am definitely looking forward to new episodes of Stranger Things, but screen time is not so great when it’s for hours and gets worse if you are pondering all night about your always super happy friend on Instagram and why can’t you be that happy too. You lose sleep. So much for mindless activity.

I think the last time I was in this good physical shape, I was about 10 and now I am 42. I am in a good mood most of the time. I don’t make mountains out of molehills with life’s little annoyances. I am solution oriented. Building muscle has been a fountain of youth for me and I drink it up. I have a twenty-something year old metabolism. I am 122 pounds and I don’t feel deprived of food. I feel this life buzz and I can’t figure out why more muscle creates that. Fitness is definitely a feeling. And I love it. My point is that life got easier when I invested in my self-care.

Physical activity is a way for my mind to stop. I have a high tendency towards depression and I had some crushing events about two years ago so exercise is necessary and my family knows it. Not only I am I witness to it, but the mental wellness/physical activity correlation is evidence-based. My physical fitness became a mindful activity for me and I have reaped some huge rewards.

However, we live in a culture that projects a collective perception that we feel rewarded for being chronically busy. It feels like everything we do has to be “work” if we are going to feel good about it. God forbid that we actually have fun or “play” while we exercise because if we have fun, we don’t earn our constructed reward for “hard grueling work” even if it is actually work. I think physical activity is work, but if it turns out fun, we feel guilty although it’s necessary self-discipline.

To this day, my husband and I often feel like we were burdening the other with more chores if one of us goes to the gym. When Zumba first hit the gym we went to, I fell in love with it, but felt guilty about it because it was fun. Isn’t that dumb? Dumb or not, it is totally how I felt. In college, I took Physical Education classes just so I could exercise while at the same time earn a grade. Earning the grade was the work part that justified my self-care and just plain enjoying myself. I am overcoming guilt for having fun exercising and partly because I make money teaching classes, but I have spent a lot too for those certifications. More guilt.

We have the perception that we don’t have grasp or control of our future health (fatalism, prevention).

Ask yourself the following questions:

What is perception of your current health? Are you overweight, overtired, stressed out? What do you do to cope with current health status? Is it working? What’s working and what isn’t?

If and when you have been in great physical and/or emotional shape, what was different about your life? What did you value doing? Was it healthy?

What is your definition of self-care?

What keeps you sitting?

What situations, people and environment in your life prevents you from making healthier choices? What small steps can you make to change the situation?

Posted in Uncategorized

My Response to Fear

Fear has to have a place and will demand my attention, so these homework assignments gives fear a voice, embrace that voice and make a plan, but without allowing fear to control the plan. It’s my life.

Petticoat Junkshun

Last week, fear wrote me a letter with it’s list of possible catastrophes and that list really only took about three minutes to write. Even after sleeping on it, fear couldn’t add to the list. That was a relief.

When I posted on social media, (and I was scared to do that too, but it’s done!) I got some great response, but I failed to mention a really important detail to this exercise that Gilbert explains. Fear is part of me. Fear is going to go on every journey. It is going to be a part of every decision in my life. It’s time I stop being afraid of fear and just embrace it. Maybe then, it won’t control me. At least I am going to approach this with curiosity.

So I have to take it with me. Fear has to have a place and will demand my attention, so…

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Posted in Basic Adulting, The adult playground

Fear’s Letter

I think the most intangible reason why we quit, don’t start or put off resolutions, intentions and goals is because of our fear. I know that has certainly been my culprit. I just want to stop being so scared. It’s debilitating and I am in my 40s, so I don’t have much time left.

Petticoat Junkshun

I think the most intangible reason why we quit, don’t start or put off resolutions, intentions and goals is because of our fear. I know that has certainly been my culprit. I just want to stop being so scared. It’s debilitating and I am in my 40s, so I don’t have much time left.

I have read Elizabeth Gilbert. That famous book of hers, Eat, Pray, Love.I admit that I also read it during my 30s and had so much disdain for it because of my own self-esteem. I enjoyed the book, but I wasn’t mature enough to really get it. I may have to do a reread.

However, I listen to her commentary more on podcasts and a TED talk. I follow her on Instagram and Twitter and find a lot of inspirational truth in what she says about creativity.

I subscribe to a phone app called Calm…

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Posted in Uncategorized

Forgiveness Challenge Day 11

When that anger and hurt overtakes us. Just breathe. After you breathe, call it what it is. Hurt. Frustration. Anger. Despair. Repeat it until you feel its power fade a little.

Petticoat Junkshun

I blew my top. I really should keep up with writing practice because it really helps. It’s my creative way to manage stress. Earlier in this series, I talked about Megan Bettencourt’s process of “noticing.”  Noticing when that old hurt comes up and the emotions attached to it. Today’s meditation also recommended noticing and labeling the feeling or activity to eliminate its power. 

Like these trees in a recent storm, imagine your roots growing deep and broad during emotional *storms*

I guess I have some lessons to learn.  Blowing up isn’t the best way to communicate my boundaries.

After everyone calmed down, I did finally find the words. The words to communicate my worries, my grievances and my boundaries. Our power dynamic is uneven because one of the people happens to be my son and I feel like I have the upper hand although I don’t. At least not if…

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Posted in Uncategorized

Forgiveness Challenge Day 10:

I need to confront is be able to communicate my boundaries effectively and honestly. Leave out the spite.

Petticoat Junkshun

I am starting this post with what I left from the last post.

“Give up expecting things from your life or from other people that they do not choose to give you. Remind yourself that you can hope for health, love, friendship, and prosperity, and work hard to get them. However, these are “unenforceable rules”: You will suffer when you demand that these things occur, since you do not have the power to make them happen.”

There is a lot of peace to this quote, but I think there is a lot of loneliness too. I realize that we are going through life alone. Not one person can really feel what I feel. They can only feel how they feel towards my situation or feelings and I think that is what keeps us from feeling lonely. That intention is worth more than if we were able to control what other…

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Posted in Uncategorized

Forgiveness Challenge: Day 9

“Give up expecting things from your life or from other people that they do not choose to give you. Remind yourself that you can hope for health, love, friendship, and prosperity, and work hard to get them. However, these are “unenforceable rules”: You will suffer when you demand that these things occur, since you do not have the power to make them happen.”

Petticoat Junkshun

Compassion overflows.  I enjoy how much strength being kind, gentle and tenderhearted provides me. During a time that I have stress about finances because I am looking for more work, I feel this inner strength that decreases the panic and instills hope, even when situations and people are shitty.

Now if I can stay strong as I continue to look for work, a humbling and downright defeating occupation. My habit is to blame extrinsic forces. I engage in bad self-talk and anxiety again. I imagine how unskilled potential employers must view me, leading me to anger again about what I am trying to forgive in a couple of people.


screenshot_20181006-061838_calm Is this what it is about?

I am pondering if forgiveness is a cyclical process of re-evaluation or if I just keep ruminating.

The next lesson: Forgiveness Challenge Day 9

A really difficult, yet necessary challenge for me is something…

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