Do the best you can until you know better.

Several experiences lay behind this blog. The first was a coming across a Maya Angelou quote, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” All of us have memories of doing things that we wish we could change; this seems particularly true of learned behavior from our family of origin. When we are young (and for this blog, I am stating anyone under 25 years old), we have usually not had the opportunity to “know better.” All life is about learning; even a single cell animal will learn and then shy away from something that, in the past, it has found to be toxic. For humans, most of our learning is first from our families, and then peers, schools, churches, and then finally our workplace. Further, there are two types of education, formal and observed. Formal can be our parents teaching us to not pick our noses due to societal norms or from an instructor in a class or a sport. When children are trying to walk, they typically do so not because someone is actively teaching them to balance and put one foot in front of the other, the child is just imitating what she observes. Do not underestimate the power of observed behaviors, such as unspoken family rules, that are more implicitly learn as opposed to explicitly learned. The most straightforward example is race; humans are not born racist. Place a white two-year old child into a room of two-year

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Healthy Living II

To continue with this three-part series, let us take a minute to revisit my supposition from the last blog, humans in our “civilized” world are not living naturally. Again, it does not matter if you believe humans have been around a few hundred thousand years or God made us 6000 years ago, our human bodies were designed to live a certain way. Also, for the sake of this discussion, we will look at the last 6K years in which humans lived. For 95% those years, humans lived the same when it came to our sleep habits; wake up at dawn and go to bed at dusk. Sure, there were full moons and then fire and candles to extend our being able to function after the sun went down, but those were limited. Unfortunately, we tend to look at our past like Hollywood has shown us. Maybe kings had hundreds of candles available to party hearty late into the night, but no one else did. A fire allowed workers to ply their trade until dusk, and then be able to eat and visit for a while. Candles enabled us to have some “me” time in our corner or possibly our room. But think more in-depth about this privilege. No one went down to the convenience store to get wood for a fire and for most of that time, people did not get candles at the store either; you chopped wood (and a couple of hundred others were competing with you for

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Healthy Living

My health club trainer is giving a multi-week nutrition class, and I popped in the other day to give my 20-minute “two-bits” on how to improve nutrition. My perspective comes from common sense biology, the psychopharmacology class I took, and my personal experience; let’s take a look at the biological section today. When looking at what the body needs, it does not matter if you believe humans have been around a few hundred thousand years or God made us 6000 years ago. Interestingly, for all practical purposes, humans have only really been “civilized” for 6000 years so that is the number we will use. So what does “civilized” mean; it is the demarcation from being only hunter-gatherers to building permanent structures to live in and cultivating food to augment what we found. For 5,800 for those 6K years, our diet did not vary much, and everyone was pretty much a vegetarian, not by choice, but by necessity. Some proteins if you were decent enough at trapping, hunting, or fishing! For all those years, their diet was mainly wheat and barley with some other grains like millet and sorghum, some roots and tubers, and to a lesser degree, berries and fruit when in season. Bottom line, many humans starved to death in winter and, most of the time, lived mainly hand to mouth. Drying food for storage has been around forever. “Canning” has been around for about 3000 years. Food storage in actual cans started just two hundred years ago. If

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There’s a new sheriff in town!

When I was growing up in the 60’s, my best friend was in a blended family; a regular occurrence today but very rare back then. Further, his dad had converted to Catholicism to marry his first wife, and then his second wife and her child converted before their marriage! Their family was very Catholic, the oldest son eventually becoming a priest, and I remember my mother saying folks that convert to Catholicism usually are more devout than those of us raised Roman Catholic. Since then, I have found this to be true of most people in most things. When my mother stopped smoking, she did her best to convert every smoker into quitting. When she began to smoke again, she may not have tried to convert anyone, but she was scathing with anyone that said something to her about her smoking. Most folks that make life-changing decisions, addicts, religious, political, etc., are passionate in their conversion; one of mine is the subconscious. I chuckle now when remembering in my late twenties/early thirties saying to my ex, “If you think my actions are controlled by some hidden part of my brain, you are crazy!” Now, I would postulate that there is very little we do every day that is NOT influenced by our subconscious. Studies show that when meeting someone for the first time, subconsciously our minds have already taken in their posture, shape of their body, and evaluated the position of each of the 43 muscles in their face to

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What’s in your cup?

A few interesting occurrences happened when I last visited my dad in an assisted living facility. I saw something earlier in the day on Facebook about spilling coffee. The vignette talked about if we were walking with the cup full of coffee and we got bumped, would it be coffee spilling? The answer of course is yes, but only because there was coffee in the cup. What if it was tea, soup, flour, or marbles? The point being, we spill whatever’s in the cup, and then the meme likened this cup to ourselves. So if you are inconvenienced, what spills out of you? What are you carrying that will come pouring out when someone inconveniences you? So later, I took dad downstairs to dinner, which is a bit of an arduous task for my father who has emphysema and is on oxygen. With many stops to catch his breath, made worse because he breaths through is mouth when the oxygen goes to his nose, in the past I would have become very impatient at best or angry at worst. I would have been blaming him for smoking and not taking care of his health and now it makes a three-minute journey into 15 minutes. That is what I carried in my cup back then, lots of anger. Now, I just stay in the loving and enjoy be present with him; I like my cup much better now! This metaphor was enhanced twice more when we finally made it to the

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Let’s Talk Hate…

I am always amazed at the way people talk and the way in which they use words. Add in hyperbolized and selective usage and there is an excellent chance the speaker is, at best, negating what they are trying to say or, at worst, being a hypocrite. These days, hate is used quite a bit and, in my opinion, in an incorrect way. Now it is all over the news. First, what is hate? Is it an emotion, a feeling, a thought, or a state of being? It can be all of these, but the one thing they have in common is these descriptions of hate stem from a mental construct. I hate lima beans, insects, bats, negative people, etc.; these express your opinion that you have possibly formed from experience. However, is it true? As Shakespeare stated in Hamlet, “Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” So in the above example, hating lima beans as an adult might be that lima beans interact with your palate in a way that is unpleasant. That is an observation, not a judgment; but do you “hate” lima beans or just find them disagreeable? Also, ask yourself if you have objectively and with full attention evaluated lima beans in the last five years; remember, our palate is always changing. What if you came into contact with lima beans, insects, and bats (or heard stories about them) as a child and determined you disliked then without actually giving them a

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