Category Archives: Behavior

There Is No Secret

This is a piece of motivation. Nadine, if you’re reading this, imagine that I’m an expert and not the goofball you know.

Stress will never disappear from your life. Neither will the obstacles that frequently jump up and surprise you. You’ll always be tired at times and not want to prepare delicious food that feeds your body. You’ll always be tempted to stop at some place quick and delicious on the way home. Given the certainty of those variables, you’ll have to come up with incremental changes. They won’t feel natural at the beginning. Nothing does. Continuity and comfort work for us. But they also work against us when we’re motivated to do something different.

If you want to eat less or eat more healthy so that you’ll look better, embrace it. Anyone who tries to discount the vanity and self-esteem aspect of looking better is fighting human nature. If you think you look better, you will almost always feel better. It will translate to energy and optimism. If you want to eat differently just to be more healthy, that can be amazing too. We all know that the food we eat is the fuel that helps our body protect itself. It’s equally important to know that you can do everything perfectly and still have illnesses and unexpected calamity. As we get older, all of us are forced to confront that.

Everyone who tries something new eventually hits the wall of the reluctance curve. You won’t see as much progress as you would like. Or you will have days where you fail. It will feel like those days of failure far outweigh any progress you’ve made. It’s not true. You have to exercise that muscle of habit. If you do things incrementally, over time, even with days of failure, you’re improving yourself and your habits. There will be days when you will drink an entire bottle of wine and probably eat half a cheesecake too. But over time, you will see that there are simple ways to eat a whole lot of food and be happy with them. It does require you think and plan ahead so that you’re not creating obstacles. Chances are if you’re smart enough and motivated enough to make such a change, you will be able to do it. It will be easy to point the finger at the people around you, because Lord knows they’re going to be eating entire pepperoni pizzas and ice cream while you are choosing better options. At the same time, there are times when you should go crazy and a pizza with them. Because life is short and food is delicious.

Try not to start habits that you cannot do for the rest of your life. Because once you start them and have some success, if those habits fall to the wayside, you’ll start eating unhealthy and put the weight back on. Diet and nutrition is pure mathematics. You have to eat fewer calories than you burn long term. It’s not so much about the individual days as it is the arc of your progress. It’s one of the reasons I advise people to not weigh themselves more than once a week or once a month.

For most of us, if you don’t have underlying medical conditions, no matter how bitter the truth is, most of us can hit an ideal weight simply by changing what we eat. Our bodies have developed over thousands of years to survive. Exercise has its own benefits, ones that overlap into other areas of your life. But you do not have to do any exercise changes to achieve your goal weight. You have to swallow the truth that your weight is nothing more than putting more calories in your body then you are burning. No matter how many calories you burn through exercise, the physical truth is that the overwhelming majority of your weight is diet and daily activity. I can’t stress enough that I am not saying don’t exercise or go to the gym if that benefits you. I am saying that we only have a certain number of hours in a day. If you can achieve your goal without using those precious hours in ways you don’t enjoy, then try to wrap your head around the fact that you can do it without activity that doesn’t bring you joy.

If you don’t have any medical conditions, you can be the way you want to be.

Read the last sentence as many times as it takes to believe it.

Will it be hard for you to eat differently? That depends on how you use your intelligence to learn new ways of eating and stick with them.

Choose your hard.

When we don’t choose, we are pushing the consequences to our future. We still have to deal with them.

You can do it. But everything hinges on you making the decision to invest in yourself.

If you’re happy with the way you look and especially so if you’re mostly healthy, embrace it. Don’t try to lose what you see as extra pounds. You can be happy with that if you have a happy outlook. If it is about your appearance, find someone who loves you. That kind of adoration is transformative for your self-esteem. It becomes easier to see yourself as they do, even if you are plagued by self-doubt.

Whatever your goal is, do not attempt to go from 0 to 60. Incremental changes are best. You can experiment as you go and find the things that work for you and skip the ones you don’t. That is what we’re supposed to do in life. We often skip the second half and forget to remove the things from our life that detracts from it.

Don’t bother with spending money on supplements or anything you have to pay for. It can all be done with delicious food that you like. In this modern age, we have more variety than we ever have. Take advantage of it and use your intelligence.

People ask me what the secret is. The secret is… There is no secret. Simplicity in your life and simplicity in your diet. Eat fewer calories than you burn and live a good life.

It doesn’t matter how old you are or where you’re starting. No one changes until they do. No matter how you got to where you are or the way you are, it took a lot of years of habits to get there. If we thought things could not be changed, it would be a horrible cynical world.

Love, X
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empty space

I’ve learned that people who isolate invariably have an addiction or a trauma. Quite often, it’s one they bury; like the ghosts of a cemetery, they emerge and travel capriciously in that person’s mind. Loop after endless loop. No one else bears witness. And because angst or depth wildly varies between different people, no one really understands the profundity of what afflicts them. Some people relentlessly look ahead, leaving behind the most heinous offenses. Others get trapped in the vortex over things we judge as minor. Though the loop may be nascent and small in circumference, each cycle takes the person closer and closer to calamity. We all see it coming and are mostly powerless to stall its progress.

Cognition seldom helps. You’re not rationalizing with the individual. You’re attempting to overpower something that is both tenuous and tentacled inside someone’s kidnapped mind.

You can try to get close out of love or concern. They often rebuff you. Isolation becomes its own self-fulfilling reward. The phantom loop constantly whispers to the person trapped in a behavior; its voice is not only proximal but deafening.

Don’t fault yourself if you’ve tried to pierce that bubble and can’t. It does not mean you shouldn’t try, even if it’s futile. Because the uncaring alternative is much worse. Even if the story ends badly. Most of us will return to that wall and vainly attempt to chisel away at it, even though we fluctuate between helplessness, anger, or realization.

This is the thesis of my Bystander’s Prayer.

And despite our varying cynicism, our hope for a dramatic change sometimes happens. The alchemy of why or how is beyond calculation. If this were never the case, our behavior would automatically adjust to just accept the unacceptable before we even tried. When it does come, the change, it brings joy. Everyone loves an underdog or someone who has overcome.

If it does end badly, we promise to try something different the next time. Likely, we won’t. There will always be a next time, as this world is full of trauma and unseen damage. Most of us believe that love or some fruitful variation will be enough to convince someone that it’s time to pull up into the high clouds instead of plummeting.

When one person plummets, we all do because that person carries a piece of us with them, even if they are blind to it. It’s how friends, family, and tribe work.

If you can, keep your hammer in hand, your chisel sharp, and your optimism high. If life gets you down, you might be in the hotseat. You’ll need us to pull up, just as we need you when we’re in the loop. The horseshoe finds its way onto every hoof, no matter who you are.

X
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Bona Fide

I’ve written that the worst feeling in the world is knowing you are the villain. Or at least the one who has hurt someone, regardless of one’s intentions. In one’s head, you don’t think or plan in a straight line. The water starts out warm and then begins to boil. It’s easy to get into that mindset wherein you begin to believe that there is no resolution; hopelessness is often the result. Emotion, doubt, and undesired consequences merge into a mass of something that seems infinite.

“On a long enough timeline, everyone is going to be an asshole.” – X

I’ve learned again and again that my intentions are meaningless when compared to the consequences, much in the way that love is diluted when you observe behavior versus intentions. If love is indeed a verb, then it follows that consequences are the fruit of intentions.

I tapered off Lexapro by going through three reduced cycles and finally just tossing the remainder. This website might sanction me again for discussing it. (Which I still shake my head about, though it was a year ago.) It was a huge help for months; now, it lies on me to practice what I supposedly learned. For run-of-the-mill idiots like me, such medications don’t add value after an indeterminate time. My doctor’s office helped my decision along by being profit-oriented rather than patient-focused. I’m used to it. And maybe, in this case, it is for the best. Everything seems inevitable after the fact precisely because it happened that way. But as adults, we know that isn’t true, even if we cling to the comfortable idea of inevitability.

Real villains and narcissists don’t worry about whether they are villains or narcissists. But just because I’m not bona fide does not mean that I am not quite often an asshole.

I yield to the truth when I’m able to recognize it.

Discomfort. Doubt.

Ignoring it doesn’t erase it.

I yield.

PS I’m okay! I just like to write and share what’s in my head. Attempting to control how it’s interpreted is a fool’s errand.

Love, X
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It’s The Faces, Not The Places, That Matter

“I’m so hungry I could eat a horse and chase the rider.” -Old Saying

“A hungry stomach cannot hear.” -Jean de La Fontaine

“Breaking bread together” is an old phrase, but its simplicity is the message.

If you are hungry, any food will suffice. “Hunger is the best sauce,” someone smarter than me quipped. Hungry people don’t moan about what and where to eat; if they do, it’s kept short and grouchily pronounced. 

If you’re happy, bread with wine or dipped in oil is enough to fill you. And if you’re not, no amount of food will create a smile. 

If you are lonely, companionship will overfill your plate. People are the food of our souls. 

I love great food. Who doesn’t?

But I love simple food, made without stress and shared. 

And if I meet with someone or a group to eat, the presence of others is supposed to be the essential element. 

X’s Rule On Group Dining: You will dislike eating with at least one person in any group of more than four people. 

I’m not opposed to opulent multi-course meals. 

Who would be?

But if they require effort not joyfully given, they take away someone’s time and life to prepare. 

It’s one of the principal problems with holiday meals or get-togethers.

Traditions inevitably beget obligation. 

Often, what was once freely done becomes taxing and vexation. 

Complexity and expectations detract from someone’s enjoyment. 

It should always be about the presence of faces on one’s couch or around the table, no matter how luxurious it might be. Everyone’s house is lived in, messy, and full of life’s surprises that no one has the time or interest in rectifying. Unless you are eating off the mantle, leave the dust for later. 

Break bread.

Eat.

And be merry inasmuch as your circumstances permit. 

Because, well, you know. 

Tomorrow ye may die. 

Whether you’ve eaten like a gourmand or like a ravenous teenager with his hand in the bottom of a bag, it will not be what you remember as the wrinkles accumulate across your face. 

Humble food is the joy. And if someone wishes to make a feast joyfully, even better.

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relatives.” 

– Oscar Wilde

“Almost all happy people I know decide where and what to eat easily, graciously, and without complaint. And if they find themselves in the home of another with friends, family, or loved ones, they make do. Unless they are visiting cannibals, vegans, or Presbyterians.” – X

“It is the faces, not the places, that matter.” – X

Love, X

PS “Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.” -Mark Twain

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The Little Pieces of Glass

I took a walk when the sun became hidden behind the dense summer clouds. My wobbly legs protested but the pavement called. Exertion has replaced chemistry in my quest for peace.

After a few minutes, I felt the bite of an incautious step. A little piece of glass upended and pierced the inside of my foot. It reminded me of being young when shoes were a nuisance and terrain was mine for the taking. I was walking barefoot, a modern savage for removing my shoes and walking the streets. Fifty-five-year-old men aren’t supposed to walk barefoot. It’s dangerous and an invitation to pain.

I walked several dozen steps and turned to look behind me. Little red swashes colored the sidewalk, my blood blotting the concrete with an irregular pattern.

Because there was no remedy, I walked until I left no such further trace.

I traversed the same arc after it rained. My little swashes were erased.

Life is like that if we are lucky.

A sharp, momentary pain, even if it lasts an undetermined time. All is momentary in the swath of one’s life.

The rain will come, or time will fade the bite of what harmed us.

We can take measures and cover our bare feet with shoes, yet pain will return, often from a surprising source.

Or, we can walk barefoot again, knowing that proverbial glass can lie anywhere, unseen. We can enjoy the rough textures, the literal touch of our world on our feet.

We can guard against anything, but we lose a dose of carefree disregard for the things that might happen.

There is no ‘might’ in this place we call home.

Everything is eventual, a muse once uttered. Good and bad, storm and calm, hunger and satiation. Ecclesiastes, distilled to its essence, reminds me of that frequently.

Rain will come, disguised as seconds, hours and minutes; it will surely wash us all away.

It boils down to whether you will walk barefoot despite the risk.

My feet uncovered, I decide to do it again.

If glass finds my feet again, I will once again watch in fascination as I leave traces of my stupidity behind me. But at least there are traces.

Cautious and incautious alike often lead to the same path.

I don’t want to find the glass, but I know it will find me, no matter its literal form or how confidently or carefully I walk.

Whether I keep walking is the measure of whether I’ve been stupid or wise.

My bare toes touch the bottom of the landing at the stairs. And so, I walk.

Love, X
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Sprint

“Are you willing to sprint when you don’t know the distance?”

My manager had me watch a short sports clip. The rest of the clip was good but that pithy last quote resonated. I liked it even though it was sports oriented.

Sprinting is running but not all running is sprinting. It is a commitment to go as fast as you can physically, as much as it is to focus your mind or go blank mentally and let your body do what it needs to.

There’s a lesson in there somewhere. It makes me think in multiple directions.

Just sharing it in case it causes someone else the same introspection.

X
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Smiles

I will write a happy, fun moment in time. Lord knows we all need one. Some moments are especially sweet precisely because of the bittersweet swirling around us.

I pulled into the convenience store near the interstate. Two boys were wheeling around on bicycles, happy and carefree as young boys often are, when they have freedom and mobility. You don’t see boys like that galavanting like you once did, especially on bikes.

I went in to get a soda and watched as the boys excitedly decided what to buy with their precious dollars. When I went to pay they were behind me.

I received my change and turned and handed one of the boys a $5 bill. “Don’t take money from strangers!” I said. All of us laughed, even the clerk. The boys’ faces lit up as they realized they could buy additional unexpected bounty.

It cost me $5 to make us all smile.

I waited outside in my car to watch as the boys exited.

Smiles.

Everywhere!

Love, X
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Firefly Tuesday

If you climb a tree way before the sun rises, sometimes a magical moment happens. The dormant fireflies that believed their night of intermittent luminescence was finished… they will take flight as the jostling and vibration startles them into motion – especially if you shake your cell phone to cause it to flash. For anyone who has never thought of this or carefully ascended a tree in the dark, it’s one of those childhood moments that never fails to delight. And if it does ever fail to cause my lips to curl upward in a smile, I will climb to the very top with abandon and launch myself to the bottom.

The images from yesterday, the ones that reached back billions of years, they were beautiful. But there are things hidden in plain sight all around you. Sometimes you just have to look or be willing to do something different to see them. Close your eyes for a moment and then open them. There will be something fascinating around you. If you want there to be.

PS It’s pointless to caution me to be careful. Such advice is practical, but at my age I’ve learned that even the most cautious and careful people don’t have to look far to be besieged with calamity. The universe is not a fair place.

Love, X

The Tip Of The Dickberg

Cliché Reimagined
Potentially NSFW

Educational Portion Of Post: the unseen portion of an iceberg is called a bummock, while the visible portion is called a hummock. This is true, as preposterous as the words are.

“The tip of the iceberg” denotes that much is unseen, unmeasured, and unobservable.

I came up with a tangent phrase, one which denotes the same arc, except that it refers to some people: the tip of the dickberg. (“Dickberg” is now in my dictionary. 🙂 )

Whether it’s true or not, I think it’s clever.

“Geez, Steve is really a jerk,” Susan said.

“What he just did is the tip of the dickberg,” Susan.

On a meta-level, I would use it to express the fact that if there’s a little smoke, there’s probably a basement filled with fire.

And not the smores kind.

Stay tuned for more insights and lunacy.

Love, X