Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Everything continues to be interesting. . .

I've had a lot of "bad stuff" happen to me recently. It's been a real pile-up. Yet, in the midst of this, I find joy and enthusiasm. I'm tired, so I'm not going to go into detail about any of it (a rarity for me).

Here's a bit of my day, a day that started with hours and hours of dealing with some very rough stuff, and turned into a pleasure. Read more here.

I have discovered, too, that while knitting may be a pleasure, and a comfort, too, in times of crisis, my problem solving abilities are impaired. See my attempts at solving what turned out to be a fairly simple design dilemma here.

Friday, May 27, 2011

He went, like, you know, "That's the way, you know, I kind of, like, speak."

Recently, I was interviewed, and after the person thanked me, she said I had made her job easier by not inserting a lot of superfluous words into my answers. Huh. I didn't realize that was true, for I tend to think of myself as somewhat incoherent.  I don't say "like" or "you know," and I've been making a conscious effort to say "I" instead of "you" in my speech.* That's a pet peeve of mine. When folks say, for instance, "When you get yelled at, you feel bad, " I think, "Are you saying everyone feels this way, are you referring to me personally, or do you mean that, indeed, you feel bad? If the latter is true, perhaps it would more useful to you if you owned your own feelings by using the correct pronoun." Yes, I do think that, and it comes up a lot. It irks me, and I do think that people distance themselves from their feelings by not using the the word "I' when speaking about themselves. If one is generalizing, the word "one" is correct to use, though I would venture to guess that people think this sounds "elitist," verging on  sounding like the use of the Royal We.

I speak exactly the same way  I write. My writing, as you probably can guess, is merely a transcription of my thoughts. What I didn't realize is that my speaking is the same. Hmmm.

This brings me to actual transcription, which I've been doing a little bit of in recent months. I have to admit I've been appalled by the way highly educated people speak. Folks have made fun of Sarah Palin, but the truth is, at least judging from the transcription I've been doing, most people speak as poorly as she does or worse. The transcriptions of interviews one reads in magazines, newspapers, and, now, on the Web, have been heavily edited.

The only - only - person whom I've transcribed in recent memory who has spoke clearly was a man who was at least seventy years old. He was probably schooled in learning to speak clearly. We seem to no longer do this.

When I was very young, my mother corrected me when I used the word "like." My father told me time and again that slang was a sloppy way of communicating and thinking. Though my parents' admonitions annoyed me, I'm now quite grateful for them.

I'm in the midst of transcribing an interview right now, and I needed a break. Transcribing sentences that have almost no structure is slow going, and I start to become confused, and even a bit ticked off, because most of the people I'm transcribing are authority figures for whom communication is part of their job. When a person inserts "you know" and "like" before and after every third word, it's hard to keep track of the logic of the sentence. Additionally, using the word "you" instead of "I," which seems quite common, is confusing in print. Using the word "go" or "went" instead of of "say" and "said" is even more confusing. Are you confused? Here's an example that I've made up (for clarity, and to protect the guilty and innocent alike):

I was, like, y'know, thinking it over, and I went, "Hey, wait a minute. I, like, didn't know." You know, when we go like "It's hard to understand this stuff," you know, it's like a rough thing. My brother, he said, you know, he like went "I kind of found it hard, too," and like, I sort of found some, you know, like, some sort of kind of comfort in that, you know, idea. My parents were like relieved and my mother went "I'm happy. I'm happy that you know finally like you know found yourself."

That is typical of the people I've been transcribing.

If you had trouble figuring it out, here's what it would look like after it had been edited for clarity:

I was thinking it over and I said to myself, "I don't know." When one thinks "It's hard to understand this stuff," it's rough.  My brother said, "I found it hard, too." I found some comfort in that. My parents were relieved. My mother said, "I'm happy. I'm happy that you found yourself."

That made sense, and the person interviewed sounds intelligent, but that is not what was said. I think it's important to note that. When we listen to a person who speaks in this way, we filter out all the "garbage words," but shouldn't we know how to speak without using them?

I know I sound, like, old-fashioned. Sloppy speaking habits have been the bugaboo of the older generation for generations. However, I'd venture to guess that for at least one generation, most parents and teachers have stopped correcting, for they don''t know any other way to communicate. This is how language changes. Perhaps it doesn't make any difference if we speak this way or not. That's an interesting question, and I do not know the answer.

*I was also told I didn't say "um," which surprised me. I know I used to say "um" frequently, and mentioned this. I was told that I'm quiet when I'm obviously thinking of what to say. This explained for me why some people get frustrated with me. I've been told to "hurry up," or have had people get angry with me for not being quick enough in my responses. Why does one have to be so fast? Isn't it better to consider what one's answer is? Recently, when I didn't answer a question fast enough, it was perceived that I didn't want to do something. This couldn't have been further from the truth. I realized that the person who had jumped to that conclusion makes all sorts of guesses about what he believes I'm thinking when I'm not fast enough on the draw verbally. Oh my. People do not like silence. They also want everything right now. Sorry, but Julie brand ATM does not work all that quickly.

Image note: I rather liked this image, which I saw on the website for the Artificial Intelligence Applications Institute.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Coming soon. . .

More knitting patterns, crazy beehive and coiled yarns, and new rants about disease, dis-ease, and unease. Yes, that includes The End of the World!

Quit drinking coffee, so I can't stay up to write (or finish) any of it. Just keeping you informed.

The knitting's ripped out. Only the charts and notes remain.
Addendum: My promise (or prediction) didn't pan out, though reading Robert Whitaker's Anatomy of an Epidemic is providing me with a ridiculous amount of potential blog post topics. If you are on psychiatric medication, or know someone who is, read this book, or buy it, read it, and pass it on. I'm guessing that applies to anyone who is reading this, if you live in America. You can read the first chapter here. It is not in my local library, and I had to request it through interlibrary loan. That's fine, but unless one knows about the book, one will not request it. I am planning on asking my library to purchase it for their permanent collection, and if they do not, even though I'm not in a position to be buying books regularly, I will purchase it for them. It is an important book. I wish it was perceived to be as important as Kramer's Listening to Prozac. My local library has two copies of that particular book.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Go here

The words, "go here," have taken on a new meaning on the Web (and in email). We all know "go here" means "click these words so you can view another web page or file." "Go here" is oh so much simpler.

You can go here to see what I've been working on lately. Once there, you will be directed yet again to go somewhere else. It's a treasure hunt of sorts. If you're a knitter, you'll enjoy it. If not, you may enjoy it still.

Since I've now created some mystery, the image at left is all you'll get here. I'd like to insert a smiley face at the end of the last sentence, something I've never done in any blog post, but for the sake of aesthetics, I will refrain.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Wow. A short post.

Check out some of Amy Childs' podcasts.

Also, if you haven't noticed, there are a lot of new links in the sidebar. One of these is to Amy Childs, who calls herself a "happiness consultant."

After listening to one of her podcasts, I realize that my recent blog posts have been manifestations of grief. I am in the "anger stage." That's good. It gives me energy that I didn't have before.

More on this to come. . .

Sunday, May 8, 2011

What do I want to be when I grow up?

We are told that it is the natural order of things that teenagers are brooding, rebellious, confused, or unhappy. It's a "natural stage" of life. There is not a scrap of evidence supporting this idea. It would be more accurate to say that it is not uncommon for an adolescent to be brooding, rebellious, confused, or unhappy in our society

Think about what being a teenager means today. First off, you've hit puberty and have a huge of amount of hormones coursing through your body. We're told that that is essentially what is making kids act badly, but isn't it more sensible to recognize that the combination of having a new-found sex drive and not being able to have sex freely is a crazy-making and frustrating situation? We're not allowed to have real conversations with adolescents about this fact. We can say, "Abstinence is good" or we can disagree with that, and have the "make sure you love the person you're having sex with and don't forget to use protection" discussion that most open-minded mothers have with their daughters. There's nothing inherently wrong with either position, but neither involves a true, honest discussion of what it means to be a sexual being. I suppose having that discussion would be impossible, for most people haven't a clue. We are such a confused society. For the sake of public health, ex-surgeon general Jocelyn Elders suggested teenagers masturbate. For that good suggestion, she was fired. 

We also believe that these are facts, and that "facing the facts" is one thing that makes  growing up so painful:
We will lose our idealism, if we have any.
Our dreams will likely be shattered.
Our innocence will be lost.
There will be no more play time.

I'm not saying that adolescence isn't a time of transition. It is. Indigenous cultures have always had rites of passage for those going through or entering this period of life. What are our rites of passage? Hmmm. Losing one's virginity (in secret). Going to the prom. Taking an SAT test. Getting drunk for the first time (see "losing one's virginity"). Learning to drive. Throwing one's graduating hat into the air! 

Phew. These things are all invested with a lot of meaning. 

Here's some questions that adolescents might be asking themselves or others:*

Does life have meaning?
What is my purpose in life?
Can I ever feel loved or be able to love?
Do I want children?
Will I be ever be able to fit in (or why do I fit in but other seem unable to)?
Can I pursue my dreams, or do I have to give them up?
Is giving up my dreams a prerequisite for becoming an adult?
Is it mandatory to give up my youthful optimism?
If I don't have youthful optimism, am I depressed? 
Why am I  afraid? 
Is there a God?

I could go on. That's my quick list. Oops. I forgot both"What do I want to be?" and "What do I want to do for a living?"**

What if we honored these kinds of questions instead of dismissing them as the stuff of adolescence? When we dismiss them, we are saying that asking the essential questions of life is silly. These are the imperative questions of being a human being. What if instead of sending kids who ask these questions off to a college where they are continued to be told to stop asking these questions (unless they're philosophy majors), we allowed kids to go on a healthy retreat, spirit quest, or just spend a couple of years thinking, and being, and trying stuff out.***

No, we only say this: It is good that you stop asking meaningful questions. You must become like a machine. Machines don't question their function. 

Anyone who says the above risks sounding paranoid. No, I don't think there's some conspiracy to turn us into machines. It's a metaphor. 

We are indeed being forced to live in a mechanized fashion. If we break down, we must and can be fixed. Everything we use and live with is a standard size, no matter what size we are. Our educations are standardized, as if we were all machines who can be programmed in the same manner. A friend recently said her "operating system was different than the standard." Oh, that was apt! It would be considered just plain stupid to try programming a Mac with the same code as for Windows, but we think that all children can be taught in the same way. If not, they have something wrong with them. Isn't it odd that we take a less nuanced view of programming children than we do of computers?

*These are crucial questions, and, by definition, asking them constitutes a crisis. Yet, we minimize this, for instance, when in middle-age, often people who are transitioning once again have a "mid-life crisis." A mid-life crisis is the stuff of comedy. Any crisis worth the name, such as a "crisis of faith," is one we move through, and hopefully come out on the other side a little bit wiser.

**What do I want to do for a living? The fact that I hadn't even put that on this list until I spell checked this is telling. I'd venture to guess that these are the two questions most people have, but the questions that are usually posed are "What can I do?" and, sadly, "What can I tolerate?"

***Those of previous generations when life wasn't so expensive got the opportunity to do this, if they wanted. So have the children of those with wealth. This makes me want to segue into my next blog entry, which is imagining a utopian future, but I'll hold off. . .

Afterward: My last entry was about minimizing, and I see that this one, too, is essentially about the same thing. We minimize the transitions in life. I paused for a moment and thought, "Well, there's weddings, and. . .", but no, even weddings have been minimized. If we took these as seriously as what marriage is meant to be - the vows we make, "I take you to be my husband, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, for richer and poorer, until death do us part. . ." How many people really believe this, and understand what taking a vow means? We give more thought to what gown we'll wear, what food will be served to the guests, and where we'll honeymoon. Of course we do. We are not encouraged to seriously think about anything. All our rituals have become rather like a trip to Disneyland. It's not a real place. It's a fantasy facsimile of a place. Why aren't kids jumping up and down at the idea of going to Paris or seeing the pyramids?

Well, it's safer to go to Disneyland. There, one can see fake pyramids, which are just as good as the real thing, and not have to figure out how to negotiate being in a Foreign Place, where people speak a Foreign Language, and maybe eat Real Foreign Food, not an Americanized version thereof. Oh, I forget - you can meet a cartoon character! Who on earth would want to travel to a place to meet real people?

Oh, yes, I'm having a good rant!

What on earth was I talking about?


I suppose that traveling to sanitized versions of real places is part of minimizing. We minimize all of life's possible experiences. 

Well, I've run out of steam. This is the kind of post I usually stick in the drafts folder and forget about. Instead, I'm posting it. If there's at least one sentence here that resonates with you, then it's fine. I'm never going to be a coherent writer, and yet I'm still going to keep writing. If I was a great writer, and a great thinker, I'd have an editor. Since I'm just whatever I am (a verbose ranter, I suppose), this is what you get. 

After the afterward: I once went to a writing workshop where the topic turned out to be "How to Turn Off Your Internal Editor." We were encouraged to write as quickly as possible. I realized that I had no internal editor. I remember writing, "Help! Please, somebody, get me an internal editor!" I wrote pages and pages of nonsense. One thought leads to another, down the garden path, out the door, into another neighborhood, around a corner, around the bend, and to the great beyond. . .

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A little bit nuts

A few days ago, I heard an interview with  ex-psychotherapist, Daniel Mackler, on Madness Radio. I was intrigued by him, so I looked at his website. It's fascinating. He espouses some truly radical ideas, some of which I find have a lot of truth in them - hard truths that the majority of us just do not want to hear.

He certainly takes some unusual and what most would call extreme views. He advocates celibacy, for one. I happen to think that celibacy is a darned good idea, at least for me, so it was fascinating to see anyone write about it outside the context of talking about Catholic priests.

Still, I disagreed, or was put off, by a lot of what this fellow has written. How did I dismiss it? With this, "Well, he's a little bits nuts, or maybe just plain crazy."

First of all, as they say, that's just the pot calling the kettle black. People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

Besides that, why should I dismiss anyone because they're mad? All the greatest creative people are crazy in some way, or at least considered so.

The truth tellers have always been dismissed. They're mad. They're disruptive. They challenge the status quo. They are simply challenging.

Easier to dismiss them.

We dismiss other people's ideas and opinions in all sorts of ways. They're crazy, or they're inconsistent, or they have or have had one wrong idea, or done something wrong.

The other thing (since I'm ranting), is that passion is seen as craziness or fanaticism, unless it's the passion of love. Folks who feel passionately about anything else are suspect. I know I've dismissed many people in my lifetime because they were a little too passionate about things.

I've spent too much of my life dismissing myself, my talents, and those of other people. And once again, I'm done. At least I hope so.

Image note:  John Nash (pixelated), whom the movie A Beautiful Mind is about. I was fascinated to just read the Wikipedia entry about him (a good Wikipedia entry is a marvel in of itself!) Nash said,  "I wouldn't have had good scientific ideas if I had thought more normally." He also posited to a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association  in 2007 that mental illness exists in nature as a consequence of the diversification of species, and that it may serve the needs of adaptation by its not infrequent association with genius.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Standardized exercise and pain

Yesterday I went to a T'ai Chi class. I'm very glad I went because it woke me up to how I haven't been moving. I've been in a lot of pain lately, and had gotten out of some very good habits I used to have.

The class was fine (I presume). I have trouble following movement directions. I also was in too much pain to do some things I was directed to do, but instead of doing nothing, I did my own thing. I left feeling good, and today I did three hours of movement. So, I'm most glad I went, even if I never do T'ai Chi again.

People who have chronic pain generally have trouble in classes. We mimic what the instructor does, and try to be "good students" by following directions carefully. Unfortunately, when it comes to the body, most of us leave our innate wisdom about our own conditions at the door, which is not good for our health.

Before I educated myself, I had terrible experiences with yoga. I would go to a class and leave in more pain than went I got there. I'm quite flexible, so I could do most of the postures, but were they appropriate for my body? Not always.

The one yoga DVD that I've practically worn out from use is Paul Grilley's "Yin Yoga: The Foundations of a Quiet Practice." Grilley also put out a DVD about anatomy for yoga, and he talks (sometimes too much for people's tastes) about how we all have different bones, and people trying to force themselves into postures that their bodies can't do can be harmful. Yes, we are unique!

Sadly, people who need physical movement the most may not do any because they go to a class, can't follow the directions, or can't do some of what's done, and aren't told it's okay. It's okay to hold back, to do it one's own way, and to be the unique individuals we are.

Indeed, embracing our inherent (but suppressed) ability to know what we need and how we're feeling is very, very good for us. I highly recommend Don Stapleton's "Self Awakening Yoga." The name rather says it all. I took an advanced teacher training class with Don, and discovered this old in-pain body can do amazing things. I was high as a kite during that week of training. I never felt so good in my life!

I wish I could afford the training to obtain a "real" yoga teacher certification. Unfortunately, the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation would not approve of what is still considered an alternative therapy.

Image note: You can look at Vesalius' book,  De Humani Corporis Fabrica (On the Fabric of the Human Body) here, on the National Library of Medicine's site, "Turning the Pages." It's a fantastic site. Check it out!

Y'know, when we look at anatomical drawings of bones (or anything), we are seeing a standardized image. It's just like a field guide. Here's  Gray's Anatomy's introductory passage on the femur (thigh) bone:

"The femur, the longest and strongest bone in the skeleton, is almost perfectly cylindrical in the greater part of its extent. In the erect posture it is not vertical, being separated above from its fellow by a considerable interval, which corresponds to the breadth of the pelvis, but inclining gradually downward and medialward, so as to approach its fellow toward its lower part, for the purpose of bringing the knee-joint near the line of gravity of the body. The degree of this inclination varies in different persons, and is greater in the female than in the male, on account of the greater breadth of the pelvis. The femur, like other long bones, is divisible into a body and two extremities."

Did you need all that information? Probably not!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bad drugs and good drugs

I think I'm constantly pointing out the obvious, but as most good ideas are so simple as to be ridiculous, I'm going to continue.

Isn't it time to stop our hypocritical "war on drugs"? Our society loves drugs! We want a drug, or are told we should want a drug for everything. We think we can live any way we want - indeed, it is our right - and then take a drug that'll make the effects of living in ways that aren't good for us a-okay. If our drugs have unwanted ("side") effects, we take another drug to take care of the side effects.

If we have a grueling schedule and are sleepy, we drink coffee. Hey, "America Runs on Dunkin'!" Are you anxious because you drink too much caffeine? Then you're probably taking an anti-anxiety medication, and if not. . .um, maybe you should ask your doctor about it. Coffee isn't illegal, and neither is an anti-anxiety medication.  Most employers would prefer that one drinks coffee. Who wants a sleepy employee? There's nary a workplace in America that doesn't have free flowing coffee. The coffee pot, coffee mug, and thermos are all icons of the American workplace.

We used to get smoke breaks during the workday. We still do, but less of us smoke. How come those of us who don't smoke don't get breaks? When I worked at a stressful job, I started smoking again just to get a break. If a person wants a five minute stretch and some fresh air, it's seen as slacking. Isn't it simply healthy?

Oh dear. I've gotten off topic. Do you think I might have Attention Deficit Disorder?

Back to the War on Drugs.  I've been trying to find statistics about the drug Suboxone for weeks. I can not find any. When I search for information about Suboxone on the Web, all I can find is:
  • Suboxone treatment doctors and facilties
  • Pro-suboxone information from drug companies
  • Where to get Suboxone illegally
  • How to get Suboxone cheaply
  • Forums for people on Suboxone
If I do a Google search on "anti-Suboxone," all I can find is folks who are upset that someone might have the temerity to suggest they not take this drug, or folks who want some, can't afford it, or are upset about the long waiting lists  for those dealers who are otherwise known as Suboxone Doctors.

For those of you not familiar with Suboxone, it's the new methadone. It's a drug replacement for illegal opoid drugs. It is expensive, physically addicting, and bad for your health, a drug company's dream. Heroin may be an addictive drug, but it's not that bad for one's health, at least compared to either replacement drug, both of which are far harder to get off of. For those of you who don't know, both methadone and suboxone do get people high, can be, and are abused.

If said drug company was not a corporation, it would be called a "drug cartel," and we would be at war with it, but no, they are the "good guys." They just want to help us, right?

Just say no to certain drugs.

Let me be clear: I am not advocating drug use. Not in the least. What I am advocating is an end to our societal insanity. Why shouldn't people self-medicate in a society where they are miserable and are told on a daily basis that the best way to deal with a problem is to take a drug?

If you can't get an erection, if you have an unhappy marriage, if you have a lousy job or no job at all, if you have high blood pressure because you're stressed, if you are stressed, if you have high cholesterol because you eat too much junk food, if you can't sleep, if you sleep too much, if you can't hold in your urine long enough between rest stops. . .just ask your doctor about what pill you can take. There's gotta be something for it, right? In most cases, there is, and if not, it's either too obscure a problem or folks are working hard to find "a solution."

Prescribing your own medication? Bad. Very, very bad.

Folks who live miserable lives want drugs. They'll get them, but only if they have a diagnosis, so they'll get one. It's usually called "depression." If they don't, and they self-medicate, they're addicts. They just may be, but so are the folks on prescription medication.

People who go back to their doctor and say the drugs aren't working are "medication resistant." The medications that will indeed make their miserable lives feel better are illegal and considered immoral to (mis)use. You all know what those drugs are called. You might have been D.A.R.E.'d not to take them. If you do take one of these immoral drugs, you may wind up in prison.*

I dare you to not take the doctor's drugs.

What if everyone who is miserable in America went off their medication? We might start asking for healthy breaks at work, or affordable housing, or seeing that what we really need is community, or start questioning the status quo of any sort. That would be a disaster for capitalism, so we can't let that happen.

It just might be that going off one's medication is a revolutionary act.

Addendum: I just spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to find out who owns the website MedHelp. This information is even more impossible to find than anything "anti-Suboxone." MedHelp is one of the many websites giving what appears to be objective, scientific information about health. The number one purpose of websites such as this one is to make a profit. If you are feeling blue, this website will first, determine if you are feeling suicidal for liability reasons, informing you to go to an emergency room ASAP, and not suggest that you do anything that is free, such as talk to a friend, get some fresh air, or engage in any community building and empowering activity. Folks, everything is designed to have you be dependent on corporations and spend the money you have, and borrow money you don't.

Once upon a time I would have looked upon someone who is writing something like the above and accuse that person of being a conspiracy theorist. I would have dismissed them pretty much out of hand. I do not think there is a conspiracy. Conspiracies are secret. What's going on is not a secret. As I've written, it's called capitalism. The "conspiracy" is to make the most profit possible. Profit is amoral. The profit motive doesn't care if you are an addict, for instance, but for the sake of profit, it is preferable that you take the most expensive and addicting drugs possible. Any drug dealer will tell you the best customer is one who is addicted, and well, alive. Heck, any person owning a business, if they were honest, would say that their best customers are ones who appear to be "addicted" to whatever they're selling, whether it's shoes, tattoos, video games, or knickknacks for the home.

Cartoon note: Emma Hollister,  cartoonist and "health freedom activist."

*According to the Justice Department, 59.6% of the 1.5 million people in prison are there for drug offenses. This does not include people who were committing another crime because of their addiction. What's most interesting to me about this number is that no other single "offense" even approaches the double digit range.

The film, "American Drug War: The Last White Hope," is a scathing and eye-opening look at the prison system and drugs. Though I don't agree with it's pro-marijuana stance, it's a fascinating (and harrowing) film. Ira Glass, on This American Life, just recently did a show about the "drug courts," something I had not known about. Listen to "Very Tough Love" here

Monday, May 2, 2011

No end to old age and death (stating the obvious once again)

There has been an uptick in suicide amongst middle-aged women in recent years. Studies are being conducted. . .sigh. I think the answers to "why?" are so obvious as to be ridiculous. Hmmm. . .let's think for a second and come up with a few:

Not being young is seen by this society as a pathology, not a fact of life. This pathology can be fixed with plastic surgery, injections, and by "miracle creams."If we do not fix it (being old and looking old) we should be unhappy.

Menopause. How come nobody talks about this? Menopause obviates the fact that we are, in fact, dying. Yet, we do not discuss this fact of life. We do not openly discuss the realities of what menopause does to our bodies nor how it makes our bodies feel. It is a private matter, not fit for public discussion. Sadly, this cultural secret keeping causes a lot of personal suffering, and I'd venture to say that many women who are going through menopause feel scared, uncomfortable, sad, and wouldn't mind talking about their feelings. The treatment is usually hormone replacement therapy, and if one has any feelings about the experience,  it will be suggested you see a mental health professional. Our minds and bodies are treated as if they are separate entities, having little to do with one another. At the same time, we are being told that mental health issues are now diseases. Is this all a bit crazy making? Yes.

Positive role models for women of experience and wisdom are few and far between, the exception, not the rule.

Too many women wind up alone at middle age. The amount of women I know and have known who have partners who are now with women significantly younger than they are is noticeable. What message does this give us? I don't have to spell it out.

I don't want to make it seem as if aging is not an issue for men. It is. Facing the realities of aging, the aches and pains, illnesses, our bodies not being able to do what they once did as well or as easily or as quickly (or not at all), and finally realizing, that yes, we are going to die, well, at some point we come face-to-face with that, all of us.

Though a painful reality of being a human being, we are becoming so removed from death that it has become increasingly terrifying for people, in my estimation. Our health care model is one where where everything is done to extend life for as long as possible, instead of helping people come to terms with change.

We accept it as a fact that aging is a bad thing. It is not. The wisdom that can come with experience is invaluable, but we have devalued it. There is nothing inherently disgusting, horrible, or ugly about having wrinkles, or saggier skin. We have been told that it is indeed a fact that the signs of age should be abhorrent, for they are signs of impending death, and the loss of virility and fecundity. As we are both body and mind, believing that being miserable, horrified, repulsed (etc.) is simply logical is simply not logical.

As I write this, I know that I, too, have been brainwashed into believing all of this. The logical part of me says, "No!" to all the negative messages this society has ingrained in me, but another part of me indeed does agree as I step into the shower each morning, or reach for that bottle of hair dye. I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror by accident and shudder inside.

I see beautiful middle-aged and older women every day. I want to ask them how they feel, but it is a private matter. What  a shame.

Image note: Hans Memling "Portrait of an Old Woman" c. 1470-72

I originally posted a photograph of Joan Rivers, but she's too easy a target. Women like her are not the problem; they have a problem, as she says, “Plastic surgery has everything to do with how a person feels about him or herself. There is no such thing as too much." Sadly, tabloids show photographs of folks like Joan Rivers, and compare them to people who use plastic surgery in in "appropriate" moderate ways. A little Botox, one facelift, a nose job. . .that's okay.

My mother had a facelift a year before she died. I can imagine that in ten year's time, if she had lived, she would have wanted or needed another, if she hadn't started to come to terms with the fact that she had "lost her looks", as we say. Could she have become comfortable with not having her looks be as important as she thought they were? Yes, her looks were very important to her, but if she had had a role in life where her insides were as important as her outside, this may not have been the case.