18 Aug '17  — the most atheist thought
A week and a half ago, I started feeling depressed. All my thoughts were surprisingly negative and I didn’t feel like myself. It was as if someone had switched my brain to a different mode.
The change was so sudden that I knew I couldn’t count on my thoughts. They didn’t seem mine. I was feeling very sad for no reason.
The depressing me wasn’t constantly around. One day, it’ll be there the entire day. I’d sigh every few minutes. The next day, it’d be totally be gone. But then the following day, it’d show up in the afternoon. Is depression settling into me?
A week went by and my husband took me to lunch. I was telling him all morning how sad I was. I felt like I fell into a hole in the ground and I needed to find a way to climb up.
We got back from the restaurant. As I sat on the couch, he placed a hat on me and covered my eyes. He told me to rest.
I sat and listened to sounds around. No, I wasn’t planning on napping. But as I continued to listen to things around, I felt relaxed not taking in visual information. I fell asleep.
When I got up, the overwhelming depressing feeling was gone. “What?! All I needed was rest?!”
The depressing mood came when I started feeling under the weather. Eventually I got sick, but the week before, my body showed no sign.
It was difficult to tell that I needed rest. I got up each morning, without much effort. Although I was tired, I didn’t think I needed to sleep more. My body was probably worn out, since I was sick, although I didn’t have obvious symptoms like sneezing or coughing. It wasn’t obvious that I needed rest.
Now that I’m almost recovered, I had a strange thought: “what if all our thoughts were the result of biological processes?”
Can I or anyone be held accountable to our thoughts, the ones that drive our decisions? The only thing we can be held accountable for is how we take care of ourselves, whether we get enough nutrition, exercise or rest. Although even that requires thought. After all, it wasn’t my choice to find the very thing that got me out of depression, to close my eyes and get some rest.
“That person is a jerk!” Maybe he just lacked vitamin D, hugs and some sleep. I started some small exercises and stretches recently. My hips are often too tight after sitting for so long. The last two times, I’m amazing how different I think, new ideas come up after I move in different ways to relax my hips.
What if the choices that really mattered were whether you ate right or whether you got enough rest? Instead of moral questions of whether you were good or bad?
What would this mean for religion? Perhaps someone’s physical body has a propensity to be deficient in something that causes a hormone imbalance…is it their fault that they behave or react a certain way? Is it up to someone whether they do the right thing? Maybe the combination of biological factors allowed for someone to make the ‘good’ choice over the ‘bad’. No one could take credit or blame for anything they do.
17 Aug '17  — Perhaps I'm more receptive now, to changing how I think
A few voices from recent podcasts got me thinking…
“The thing about big companies that we wanted to start with of course is that, they work. They’re not dysfunctional as a very nature. From the outside, everything might look mixed up, people might be complaining, but for the most part, they got to be big”
“kind of looking at the tech world today, Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, as being together about ten times the size in terms of the number of people…than they were 10-12 years ago. And how is it that they ballooned in size and have 10 times the people they used to have not that long ago and yet continue, for all intensive purposes to work well, continue to create great products more or less. How do those companies run?” - via a16z
I’ve had an unchanged idea on corporations for a long time. To consider that they actually work as productive entities–that’s new! Despite generating income, paying thousands of people, I refused to believe they were moving humanity forward. I assumed they somehow accumulated a ton of momentum when they started growing as a business and at one point, became big enough to run without effort.
From friends and acquaintances who work in corporations and often complain, it’s hard not to believe that all large organizations are poorly run. I’m biased because the issues found at large organizations, too many meetings, lack of communication, duplication of work, cause suffering among my friends. I can’t help but take their side–it’s so appealing to believe that large corporations are headed towards their own demise.
Scary to see how brainwashed I’ve been…only paying attention to articles written by disgruntled employees who expose inefficiencies within an organization. Newspapers aren’t able to sell more copies by printing the efficiencies of an organization…they print what we want to hear.
I’m so disappointed that it took me so long to consider the possibility…what I’ve believed for so long could be so wrong.
“The idea of making art is kind of… you have to submit yourself to wasting time, you know, before anything becomes purposeful.” - Jake Chapman via Nowness
Although I try not to believe the idea that I need to be productive all the time, I enjoy being productive more often than not. And when I find myself less productive…I feel terrible.
The quote above gave me perspective…to find the meaningful, perhaps it’s required to immerse oneself in meaninglessness.
16 Aug '17  — Cheap clothing somehow finds a way of providing more value
I change how I feel about the clothing I own. I don’t do much shopping now, but it’s only because I’ve discovered a pattern. Many of the items that have been given to me, or for low cost, have become irreplaceable. While several items, ones that I’ve desired so much that I’ve spent beyond my means to acquire, end up providing negative value.
Here’s what typically happens when someone gives me a free sweater, scarf, or I procure an item cheaply from a thrift store:
a. I see the item for the first time. It’s mildly intriguing but if I had to pay above a cheap price for it, I wouldn’t care to get it.
b. I procure the item for free (as a hand me down) or at a very low price, a garage sale/thrift store where I’m having fun rummaging. I didn’t have to spend time or energy to acquire it.
c. I try wearing it. There are low expectations of it working out. I find it works well with many items in my closet.
d. I continue to maintain low expectations. It’s a nice addition. But do I need it? No.
e. It somehow gets misplaced, I retrace my steps and make an effort to retrieve it. Then I realize how important that item is. I can no longer live without it.
A few times, I’ve purchased expensive items. One time I bought a designer bag and an expensive dress. This is what happened:
a. Seeing an expensive item in the shop or magazine, I’m enamored by how unique and special it looks.
b. I talk myself into buying it by finding ‘practical’ reasons as to why I should have it. I don’t feel good about paying for it (that’s why there’s a decrease in value) but overall, I’m convinced it’ll change my life.
c. I start wearing it publicly. People give me compliments and they start responding to me as if I’m the type of person I’m trying to portray. I feel confident.
d. There are a few issues…it isn’t waterproof, or it isn’t as practical. It costs a lot to dryclean. But it still looks good and the compliments keep coming.
e. I finally admit it wasn’t a good idea. But I paid so much I can’t afford to replace it. I can’t throw it out. Having paid so much, I’m locked into using the item for even longer. Totally unhappy.
Based on the graphs, expensive items seem to take, take and take while the free or nearly free clothing just keeps on giving.
I’ve overcome so much self loathing after several expensive purchases. Free/cheap clothing is encouraging of wherever I am in life. I might not be able to afford anything glamorous, but I know ‘it’s going to be alright’.
15 Aug '17  — Bright blue and plastic lights
Churches are usually a collection of random designs
I’m fascinated by the statues, the color combinations that show up in old churches across Europe.
I found a statue of Mary in Rome. She was so glossy, as if made from plastic, but more likely to be made from wood that someone had overly polished. Does one accumulate luck in polishing Mary? What drew me to this particular alter was the halo of lights.
15 Aug '17  — Chicken Soup for the Vegetarian Soul
My latest video includes a story of how I became vegetarian and what it’s like to taste chicken for the first time in 25 years.
I also mentioned a few books I’ve read or I’m in the process of reading, including The Brothers Karamazov, At the Devil’s Table: The Untold Story of the Insider Who Brought Down the Cali Cartel and Taking a Line for a Walk: Assignments in design education.
14 Aug '17  — What hell taught me
Jesse: “You dug out of hell with your hands?”
Eugene: “It’s not that far.”
Watching the Preacher), I’m more aware of the hell I’ve made for myself.
In the show hell is made up of prison cells and each cell replays the prisoner’s worst memories, over and over and over again.
Hitler is a inhabitant of hell, whose worst memory is sitting at a nice cafe receiving critical feedback for his art.
I realized that hell isn’t something to be compared. Critical feedback on one’s art can be so detrimental to one person and mean nothing to another. It’s not what happens but what these events trigger.
I can no longer judge someone for suffering first world problems. They might actually be suffering more, mentally and emotionally, than someone who has a hard time finding something to eat. The show brought to light that suffering isn’t just physical and I no longer want to condemn the suffering of people who have what they need. As the show suggests, it’s an emotional suffering that led to WWII.
Hell also has an ‘extrapolator’, a place where your worst memories are made even worse. The way an idea is made worse is also determined by the person who holds those memories–there’s no blanketed way to make a situation worse for all.
At times I find myself replaying bad memories over and over. I also replay upcoming situations over and over. When I’m a little sick, like I was this weekend, the replay becomes extrapolated based on my mood. There are times where only negative thoughts arise and memories or situations get altered: people become untrustworthy and the world seems to work against me.
‘Don’t waste your time thinking negative thoughts!’ I hear motivational gurus spout such ideas out…as if I had a choice?!
I don’t have a choice because most of the time, I’m not in control of my mind. It goes where it wants and torments me. Meditation has helped me get bit of control. When I do it more regularly, I’m more capable of making choices. Before getting mad, I can pause and decide if I want to go down a route, rather than automatically react and go down a route.
I thought I was okay, but this weekend my mental state really showed me how I’m a victim of circumstances. My happiness was easily switched on and off by external situations. It didn’t feel good knowing that external stimuli had so much control over me.
14 Aug '17  — My husband's signature recipe
We’ve been making Naleśniki, polish pancakes, every weekend. This is one of the few things my husband makes so I get really excited for Sunday mornings.
Last weekend we filled ours with peaches and blueberries. This weekend I cooked bananas and blueberries. Although apple is the traditional filling, I think I’m in love with the cooked bananas and blueberries. It’s mushy and light.
I try to keep the fillings sugar-free because I hate the sugar high and drop off. When my husband started making these, we’d get store-bought applesauce or apple compote. It usually comes with sugar and preservatives. I’m at the age where the sugar dropoff becomes increasingly unpleasant so I’m always looking for ways to avoid it.
My husband’s recipe:
1 cup of flour
1 cup of milk
3⁄4 cup sparkling water
1 tbsp of melted butter
a dash of salt
Mix and leave in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Spread on a heated pan and wait for it to change to a different shade before flipping. Flip to the other side, only for a bit.
Serve with fruit.
13 Aug '17  — pretty in photos vs reality
Objects can be photogenic like people. I’m always surprised by people who look beautiful in person but don’t have a single photo that looks good of themselves. It seems film is incapable of capturing certain aspects, even if it is physical.
I recently got rid of a knockoff Eames plastic chair. It was the most uncomfortable chair I’ve ever sat in. The seat was a cushion made of pleather and it was the most disgusting surface to sit upon. I also had to sit in the chair fully with my back glued to the back rest. It hurt my back if I shifted slightly out of place.
I posted the chair onto a Facebook Group dedicated to selling furniture locally. 10 Euros. It’s a piece of shit but the chair legs are made of oak. There’s some value in that, isn’t there?
One minute later, a woman replied saying that she wanted it. I was so happy someone was willing to take this awful chair and pay me money for it.
Two minutes later, I received several requests from people who also wanted the chair. I ended up with twenty five requests to purchase the chair.
There are so many things that look pretty online, but their photogenic capacity is uncorrelated with how they appear in real life. There’s a type of beauty that lives within the confines of the photographic medium. It was nice to be reminded–nothing is as aspirational as it seems.
12 Aug '17  — The paint color, the tiles, the furniture...it's not important
I’m reached the age where designing my home is important. I’m often on Pinterest convinced that homemaking is about design. But a home is more than color, tiles, and walls.
I’ve only recently realized this.
“I started to define the word ‘home’ as an environment in which one grows and learns, rather than just a refuge. Think about where you started out as a little kid and you learned to walk. Sometimes there were things you tripped over. There were people who loved you but also made demands on you.”
“In Dr. Bateson’s parlance, homemaking is not so much about decoration and renovation. Rather, it’s a metaphor for community, for the design of an environment — professional or domestic or societal — that challenges and supports its inhabitants…”
These quotes from Mary Catherine Bateson prompted me to take homemaking more seriously. It’s people, the community, who truly make a place home. How did I miss that?
Why had I been persuaded to think floor tile patterns matter?
My ideal home is a place where I feel safe and comfortable. Safe enough for me to try new things, where I’m not afraid to fail. That involves encouragement from my husband, and more importantly from myself. I get a lot of that encouragement already. There are a few kinks that I feel would help, more natural lighting, outdoor space to exercise in and to be located in surroundings that are more green.
I’ll have to remember before stressing out on paint color…the relationships between the people who inhabit a space are what makes or breaks a home.
11 Aug '17  — Quenching the fire inside
I woke up really early today. It was as if someone had turned up the heat inside my body. My skin felt comfortable but my internal organs were burning. I stretched my limbs in awkward positions, trying to get some relief.
I was tired yesterday because I woke up in the same condition. Today I was determined to get rest. My heart pounded heavily as I tried to fall asleep. So many stressful thoughts, anxieties and fears all crept up as I fought to relax.
I did get more sleep. But when I got up, my organs continued to burn. Am I inflamed inside? I've heard of these new diets that focus on anti-inflammation. Perhaps I'm inflamed. I wouldn't have thought so if I hadn't come across the concept.
Determined to distinguish the fire inside, I went to the store, bought a thyme plant and raspberries. I wanted to get some bread so I stopped by the Italian bakery. While I usually grab the ciabatta, I decided to go for the sourdough spelt bread.
Are eggs inflammatory? I recall hearing dairy causes inflammation. Are eggs dairy?
"Eggs help offset inflammation because they contain the potent carotenoids zeaxanthin and lutein (both good for vision), as well as choline (good for brain and heart function)." - prevention.com
Googling is the best I can do. I've tried to go to the doctor but a three hour wait (since everyone has insurance in Germany) to hear advice that might not work...there's nothing else I can do.
Maybe we're just more sensitive these days. I can imagine back a century ago, doctors were called for life threatening situations. Now so many of us are interested in curing less severe ailments, but there's not enough doctors to look into that.