“…I’ve come to believe that there exists in the universe something I call “The Physics of The Quest” – a force of nature governed by laws as real as the laws gravity or momentum. And the rule of Quest Physics maybe goes like this: “If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared – most of all – to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself….then truth will not be withheld from you.” Or so I’ve come to believe.” — Elizabeth Gilbert

You may recognize this as the last line from the movie Eat, Pray, Love. Although I would find it hard to pick up and leave everything behind like that, I see the appeal and I definitely related to her personal journey in a profound way.

Over the last several years I have stripped myself down to the core and taken a long and arduous journey. I have learned so much about myself and those that I love and love me back. Every stop, every person along the way revealing more than the last. I am so grateful for the truths that have presented themselves and very much look forward to all the exciting thing coming in the future.

I have been rather absent this year, but I am excited about what is coming next. Check back soon to see what happens next…

Last year, I really enjoyed sharing my random thoughts as I watched the state of the union speech so I decided to do it again.

I love the state of the union speech.  It is such a time capsule, capturing the political landscape and always full of interesting moments.  I am always curious what the President has to say, whether I agree with some or all or none of it is really irrelevant.  Well, other than the amount of wine I need to consume to keep my blood pressure stabilized.

Please keep in mind that this is my random train of thought.  There are summarizations of what was said as well as my own opinion and commentary and it may not be clear what’s what. There may even be some grammatical and spelling errors, I didn’t do much proofreading.

Take it for what it is and watch the speech yourself. I encourage you to create your own running commentary and share it with the group. That would be really cool.

Oh yeah, I am so not interested in being yelled at for my opinions.  That’s what they are, my opinions.  Feel free to share yours, but disrespect will not be tolerated.

So here we go.  “Mr. Speaker,  The President of The United States ” …

I guess we should first note that many democrats and republicans are sitting intermixed next to each other.  This seems to be in a statement of good will during this time of strife, with the shooting and all.  I think everyone realizes that more civility is needed and that the violent rhetoric was a little out of line.  I would think they would feel this way personally, even if they won’t say it out loud.  Of course, there is a group of republicans that are refusing to participate.

It makes me sad that some people refuse to see the value of working together toward best solutions for the common good.

Let us all take a moment to send good thought out to Sen. Giffords and her family.  Tragedy.

Wow, I teared up just looking at that little girls father.

I always love that the vice president and the speaker have to sit up there and try to keep a straight face the whole time.

Governing is a shared responsibility.  Please please please can we start to work together and stop all this insane fighting.

Funny, all the corporations are making money again, but people and small businesses are suffering and my house just lost another 15%.  Your right Mr. President, I would like you to work together to fix this.

This is a changing world.  Other countries are kicking our butts. It is time to come to terms with the fact that there is no going back. It is time to embrace change and move forward folks.

I am so tired of hearing about how great we are.  Stop fluffing everybody’s feathers and start telling me what you are going to do to fix this and how you are going to get bipartisan support for that.

Out educate, Out innovate and Out build the rest of the world.

Winning the future…

1st step.  Encourage innovation.

It doesn’t just change our lives it is how we make our living.  Invest in research.  biomedical, information technology and green energy.

It’s like a good rock band, we have to constantly reinvent ourselves.

Hmm, I like that.  Take the money we subsidise the oil companies and give that money to people doing research and building clean energy technology. 2035, 80% electricity from clean energy.

What kind doesn’t really matter, let’s work together to get it done.

2nd step.  Education

Over half the jobs require more than a college education, while over a quarter of kids aren’t even graduating from high school.

Calling out to parents to take responsibility for their kids education.  Make sure your child does their homework, give accolades to those who do well in academic ventures, not just sports and entertainment.   Set a good example and instill a love of learning in your kids.  Be encouraging and supportive.

Success in not a function of fame, but of hard work and discipline.

Expectations should be high in school.  Must reform our school systems not throw more money at a bad system.  Here Here!!!!

Get rid of no child left behind and replace it with a better program.  Yay!!!!

Reform is a bottom up process, not a top down.  We must empower each child to acheive.  Tell them that they are smart and can accomplish whatever they put their minds to and guess what?  They will.

Give teachers some respect, would you.  And, guess what?  Being a bad teacher isn’t going to cut it any more.

Become a teacher, you country needs you.  But how are you going to make sure that being a teacher doesn’t require having a second job?

Boehner looks annoyed.

The goal.  The highest percentage of college graduates in the world.

Illigal imigration.  Needs adressing.  Difficult debate.  Let’s have it.

Step 3. What is step three? I don’t know but it starts about here.

Infrastructure.   We got a D in the quality of our infrastructure.  Sad really.

Re-double the efforts of the last two years and put americans to work.  Pick projects based on the economy, not the politicians.  Good luck with that.

Hee Hee.  He made a funny.

Oh dude, wake up.  You almost got caught with your finger up your nose.

Rigging the tax code to benefit the few.  Must change it.

It disgusts me that there are so many loop holes that a few corporations pay no taxes while other pay through the nose.

Boehner is not being very successful controlling his grimace.

Regulation is not the problem.  Protecting people is necessary, but I agree that we shouldn’t put undo burden on business.  But no rules is simply not an option.  You can not avoid that some people are greedy and selfish and will exploit people to make a profit.

Is that booing over the health care law?  tacky.

If you have better ideas, bring it.  Let’s here em.

Disagreeing and pointing out flaws is not even close to coming up with solutions.  Help solve the problems and stop you bitching.

Like so many people have stated in the past.  Are you going to be part of the problem or part of solution.  Really it is that simple.  Nothing comes of all this negativity, it just doesn’t.

Finally.  Live within our means.

Freeze domestic annual spending for 5 years?  Let’s cut what we can do without, but not on the back of our most vulnerable citizens.

Let’s stop pretending that cutting annual spending alone will be enough.  It won’t.  Cut excessive spending anywhere we find it.

Did you hear that?  Repealing the health care bill will increase the deficit by more than 250 billion dollars.

Malpractice reform is back on the table.

strenthen Social Security without slashing benefits or putting it at the hands of the stock market.

Say by by to the tax cuts.

Simplify the tax code, best for everyone.  Good plan.  Don’t repeal or extend anything.  Reform the whole damn thing.

I love the scale of his vision.  Go big or go home.  Think bigger

More competent government, imagine that?

Hey, it’s Gary Locke.

Ooh, another funny.  Hee hee.

Wow, re-org the federal government.  Well now, that is a current concept.  I think I was re-orged six times during my five years at a software company.  Can’t say whether it was good strategy or not.

He will veto any bill with earmarks.  Look at the grin on McCains face.

The Iraq war is coming to an end.  Over 100,000 troops home so far.

A little rose colored on the Afghan war, I think.  Gonna start bringing the troops home next year though and that is good.   Enough war please.

Oh god, here comes the stand up sit down portion of our program.  There should be rules about standing ovations and applause.  Let the man speak.

Well hello Patty.  Looks like people are starting to get tired.  Me too.  That can’t be a good sign.

Wow, those old generals look pissed about gay people serving in the military.

Get over yourselves people.  Stop being threatened by things and people you don’t understand.  Different than you does not mean evil or scary, just different.  You might be surprised how much you can learn from someone who feels, speaks, dresses or lives differently than you.

Solar roofing shingles.  Now that’s cool.

We Do Big Things.  We are country of ordinary people who dare to dream.

Well, not left teary eyed with inspiration, but a good speech none the less.  Big ideas, big arguments, big reforms.  I like that.

I agree that the first half of the speech was better than the second half.

Watch the speech now!

Part 1:

Part 2:

So I got this email today touting the benefits of drinking tea. There are many benefits to drinking tea. They are very high in anti-oxidants which can help prevent and even help in fighting existing cancer cells in your body. There are also elements in tea that are reported to increase the fat burning ability of your body by increasing metabolism and helping your body burn fat.

This is all great stuff, but what kind of tea do you choose?

First, you should know that all true teas come from the same plant; Camellia sinensis. The difference in teas is simply in how the tea is processes. There are also herbal teas and others such as rooibos that are made from plants, fruits and flowers and contain no actual tea.

Types of teas include white, yellow, black, green, oolong and post-fermented. In China what we know as black tea is referred to as red tea, which is what rooibos tea is commonly called here. Post-fermented tea is what is called black tea in China. It’s all very confusing, right?

Anyway, let’s refer to things in the US vernacular for simplicity.

Black tea has the most caffeine of all the teas, but it is still about 40% of a regular cup of coffee. Drink it as dark as I do and maybe it’s even a greater difference. Black tea is high in polyphenols, a common antioxidant. There has also been research completed stating that consumption of black tea can have positive effects on cardiovascular health.

Green tea has earned quite a reputation for it’s health benefits and some even claim that you can lose weight by drinking green tea. There is really no scientific proof of these weight loss benefits, although I imagine (with no authority) that some people, given their personal circumstances, may lose a little weight by increasing their water intake and/or balancing some internal chemical imbalance due to the beneficial elements of the tea.

Green tea is very high in antioxidants and scientifically associated with (not proof) with many health benefits including hear health and fighting cancer and glucose stabilization as well as an increase in fat oxidation during exercise. Guess I might have a cup of tea before my next workout :)

The newcomer on the weight-loss hype scene is “Wu-Long Tea”. Let’s be very clear here. There is no difference between Wu-long and Oolong tea.

Do not be fooled and do not pay the unreal prices that companies are asking for this “special” tea. You can pick up a good quality organic oolong tea as a high quality grocery store or health food store for the same price as any other type of tea.

Oolong tea is the same at wu-long tea. don't be fooled or cheated.

Oolong tea has many of the same health benefits as green tea. Preliminary research is stating that oolong tea may have a more significant effect on weight loss by increasing metabolism, burning fat and blocking dietary fat absorption. Oolong tea has been showed to have be a less effective antioxidant than green tea.

Overall tea is great for you and green or oolong may be a good supplement during your weight loss efforts, but don’t for a minute think you can drink tea or even take tea extract pills and lose weight without diet and exercise. Let’s be real folks. And for god’s sake don’t spend a bunch of money on the marketing hype of “Wu-long” Tea. Just try out a couple of varieties of widely available and reasonably priced Oolong Tea.

As always, thank you for following my personal journey and good luck with your own.

References:
http://www.amazing-green-tea.com/oolong-tea-health-benefits.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea – and links deeper

About a year ago, I ditched the sponge and started using dish cloths.  I bought them in bulk and then used a new one every day and threw the old one in the wash.  This has been working pretty well and I have been very happy to rid myself of stinky gross sponges.

A couple of weeks ago, we were at our amazing new local hardware store and, like usual, we were wandering around looking at all the things we would like to buy.  I swear, hardware stores are like toy stores for kids.

Anyway, I happened across the dish cloths and since they have a lifespan of about six months and mine are getting kinda grimy I took a look at what they had.  Well, I came across a very interesting product that claimed to be the perfect mix between paper town and dishtowel.   That looked interesting and so I picked up a pack.

Well, let me tell you.  These things are the bomb.  They actually are the perfect mix between dishcloth and paper towel.  They clean up like a paper towel with the re-usability of a dish towel.    They are washable in both the washing machine and the dishwasher and you can microwave it to sanitize it.  I put one through the dishwasher the other day and it came through beautifully.

We will see how long they last, but for now they get a big thumbs up from me.

Skoy Cloth – The perfect stocking stuffer!

This deal that Obama has made with the republicans just rubs me the wrong way. I get that he did what he felt he had to do for those American’s struggling the most right now. That is understandable and by itself even admirable. And, if I felt that the republicans had even the slightest good intention, I would feel that the cooperation across the aisle would even be a good sign.

But, I don’t trust the republicans and I know that they will do everything they can to block any legislation that doesn’t benefit corporate America in the future so these efforts are really meaningless.

I have had something in my craw lately about social security.  It is one of the most important fundamental things we provide for our citizens.  Without it, the overwhelming majority of Americans would work their entire lives only to end up unable to keep their homes, take care of themselves or even slightly enjoy their well earned retirement.  And this is the best case, much more likely is that millions of people would be forced into poverty, destitution or worse.

What doesn’t make sense to me is that it has been said over and over again that removing the cap would completely eliminate the problem and instead they are talking about cutting benefits or raising the retirement age.  And in this new tax deal cutting funding to it by an extraordinary amount.  I just don’t get it.

I am so frustrated that people don’t seem to see the importance in taking care of each other, that in doing so we would lift the whole country up and build a solid foundation that will support us all and build a more prosperous country in the future.  I am tired of politics on both sides getting in the way of working together to find solutions to our growing problems.  It is time for them all to get their heads out of their asses and get to work.

Alright, enough ranting for one day.  I received the following email this morning and thought I would share.  Feel free to pass it on.

Top 5 Problems with the Tax Deal

Everyone knows that the “deal” that President Obama agreed to with Republicans will extend George W. Bush’s reckless millionaire tax bailout–but what a lot of folks don’t realize is that there are lots of other terrible parts of it, too.

Unemployed Americans desperately need their benefits extended to get by in this economy—so Republicans held them hostage to force through a slew of horrible economic policies in this deal.

Problem #1: The deal is a stealth attack on Social Security.

The deal will lower the payroll tax—the tax that funds the Social Security trust. This is a trap for Democrats. Republicans have been coming after Social Security for years and this cut is the biggest threat to the vital program in decades. It will cut one-third of Social Security’s funding this year alone and when we need to restore the payroll tax back to its current level, Republicans will cry “tax increases” and could gut it permanently. 1

Problem #2: For nearly one in three workers, it’s a tax increase.

Nearly 50 million working Americans—including all workers making less than $20,000 per year—and millions of federal, state, and municipal workers will see their taxes go up because of the deal.2

Problem #3: The deal has not one but TWO millionaire bailouts.

In addition to extending all the Bush income tax breaks for the top 2%, the deal will slash the estate tax. If Congress did nothing, next year the estate tax would be 55% and apply to everyone inheriting $1 million or more. But the deal reduces it to 35% and only people who inherit more than $5 million will have to pay. This second bailout will give a gigantic tax giveaway to a few thousand of the richest families in the country and add hundreds of billions to the national debt.3

Problem #4: Unemployment help is insufficient and inadequate.

While the deal extends unemployment benefits for another 13 months for people currently receiving it, millions of unemployed workers who’ve struggled the most and been out of work more than 99 weeks—since the giant Wall Street banks wrecked the economy—will get no help at all under the deal.4 It’s a gamble that there will be jobs in the next 13 months when the insurance runs out, but the tax cuts will go well beyond that. Better to just pass a stand-alone unemployment extension to help all struggling Americans.

Problem #5: Tax giveaways to the rich are a terrible way to create jobs.

Tax breaks for the rich are the least efficient way to create jobs and help the economy grow. In fact the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says extending all tax cuts would lower unemployment only 0.1% to 0.3% over the next year5 and that the cost of the tax deal would be $900 billion over the next five years.6

Sources:

1.”Tax Cut Deal A Hidden Threat To Social Security” The Huffington Post, December 8, 2010
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/08/tax-cut-deal-a-hidden-thr_n_793983.html

2. “Obama-Republican Deal Could Mean Tax Hike For One In Three Workers” The Huffington Post, December 10, 2010
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/10/obamarepublican-deal-coul_n_795187.html

3. “Estate tax deal: worst part of a bad tax compromise” The Christian Science Monitor, December 7, 2010
http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Tax-VOX/2010/1207/Estate-tax-deal-worst-part-of-a-bad-tax-compromise

4. “Unemployment benefits: Extension won’t help ’99ers'” The Christian Science Monitor, December 7, 2010
http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Latest-News-Wires/2010/1207/Unemployment-benefits-Extension-won-t-help-99ers

5. “The Deal” Paul Krugman, The New York Times, December 7, 2010
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/07/the-deal/

6. “CBO score shows tax plan ups deficit $900 billion in 5 years” CNN.com, December 10, 2010
http://articles.cnn.com/2010-12-10/politics/tax.plan_1_tax-cuts-tax-plan-bush-era-tax?_s=PM:POLITICS

Because I am one of the bare all – no holds barred bloggers who believes that sharing my life honestly is the right thing to do for both me and my readers, I feel it is very important to applaud others who do the same.

Not only is Tasha a brave and amazing blogger, she speaks to a topic that is close to my heart and a message that I think it is important for you, my readers, to hear as well. She learned to listen to her body and do what was best for her, even when it bumped up against everything she believed in and thought was right and true in the world.

Read Her Story

Life is not black and white and you can not and should not believe everything you read and hear. I am always amazed how we can suspend the use of our perfectly healthy and functioning brains to feed our belief systems. One thing I have learned over the last couple of years of struggling with my own battle with depression, anxiety and a bunch of familial bullshit is that no matter how much you believe something to be true that is not always the case.

It is so important that we learn to trust ourselves. Our minds and bodies yearn to speak to us, to tell us what is right and true for us, but so often we ignore them. We ignore that we are tired or sad or not feeling well and all the little ailments that we attribute to our lives or getting older or whatever our excuses might be.  We push aside our uneasy feelings and that little nagging tug that something here is hinky.  In reality all these little things are our bodies ways of speaking to us, of telling us that something isn’t right and that we should take a good look at how we are living and what changes our hearts know we need to make.

Instead of listening to these warnings, more times than not we ignore them until they turn into monsters that come back and bite us, sometimes with devastating consequences.  My mind and body were screaming and I just blatently ignored it, shoved it down until my whole world exploded.  Not necessarly the best way to go about it.

Read how Tasha learned this very same lesson

Learning this important lesson comes to each of us in it’s own way.  For Tasha it was her Vegan-ism, as much a doctrine as a lifestyle choice in her mind.  For each of us it will always be something personal and most likely painful.  Facing our personal truth is certainly not an easy task, but one that faced with bravery and an open heart will forever make us and everyone we touch better for it.

There are many things that I could say about being vegan or how I feel about the importance of quality natural animal protein sources, but I think the bigger lesson here is that if you listen, your mind and body will tell you what you need.  And if you refuse to listen, it will just yell louder, believe me.

And just one more little rant.  Be very careful how you judge others and what you believe from so-called experts.  We each have our own beliefs and our own reasons for them.  Do your own research, and I mean real research – not just asking your friend or your favorite talk show host, and listen to your gut.  If someone seems all over the top about stuff, there is probably a reason for it that has absolutely nothing to do with you.   And if you disagree about something with someone, no matter how vehemently, remember to have some respect.  Being an asshole only hurts you in the long run.

This is a pretty cool thing our local high school students are doing. Students have agreed to go tech-free for a week and will compete with documentaries they produce about the “social experiment”.

I love how he refers to the experiment as living as they did in the mid 90s. Yeah, I remember back in the olden days. How did we ever survive without facebook and texting? :p

Get the Full Story

Training for this triathlon has been a labor of discovery for me.

First of all, I’m not very organized.  I even had the date wrong.  It is a whole week earlier than I thought.  Gheesh!

But, you know what?  I am really proud of myself.

I started small and worked at it piece by piece and now I am five weeks out and I really think I am going to make it.

I had such a powerful week last week.  I ran my first 5k without walking and swam just under a mile without stopping.   It was such a huge confidence boost for me that I laid down the money for the rest of the equipment I needed.

My bike arrived yesterday (I had to order it as every REI in the area was out of my bike in my size – of course) and I felt like a little kid on Christmas walking out of there with my new bike, my helmet under my arm and a bag full of biking goodies.   I swear the smile on my face must have been a mile wide.  Some young cute guy even commented on how nice my bike was as I was walking it to my car.  Hee Hee!

I even splurged on a swim suit and a brand new nuu-muu.

In buying all this gear I have been surprised at how girly I am.  Anyone who knows me knows that girly is not a word that describes me.  Even my daughter told me the helmet with the flowers on it was too girly for me —  she later changed her mind and we agreed that it was the cutest one and in the bag it went.  I also got a purple bell and will be completing my tri in a bubbly dress.   Wow, how far I have come.

My biggest surprise is how much I am enjoying it all.  I look forward to going out for a run and can’t wait to jump in the pool.  I am making progress and reaching my goals.  Two days ago I only had a few minutes so squeezed in a short jog to the park and back.  I was barely winded and when I mapped it on google maps it was two miles.  Two miles.  I couldn’t believe it.  a few months ago I couldn’t run a few hundred yards without keeling over.  And last night I took my new bike out for a spin and went 8 miles without even blinking.

I can do this.  I have been procrastinating and giving myself outs and making excuses for months because I was terrified of failing at this and now I know I can do this.

“We believe in strong girls and women. We believe in real people, real bodies and real friends. We believe in trying really hard. We believe that moments of truth can be extended to lifetimes of truth. We believe in having fun along the way. We believe that you can too.”  — Nuu-Muu’s Girl Power Philosophy

Thanks for the inspiration ladies!

With all the research and methodologies I have tried over the last year I have become quite the nutrition aficionado and although my style of eating has changed dramatically, I still have not made the true lifestyle changes that will support real and lasting weight loss.  I do find it frustrating though that even when I am really strict about what I eat and exercise regularly I have trouble losing more than a few pounds and the minute I let up in the least it pops right back up again, like overnight.

Something is amiss, but I also accept that finding out what that is may be nearly impossible and that my only option is to buckle down and do what it takes, but that all seems so overwhelming.  So,   I am currently taking a break from trying to solve the weight loss problem and am just concentrating on one thing at a time.  See, I have a tendency to look too far into the future or see the picture as too big.  Then I get overwhelmed and end up saying “fuck it” and giving up on the whole thing.

So, for now I am concentrating on the triathlon that I am running on September 25th.  One step at a time.  I started with the swimming by taking swim lessons two nights a week.  When I was pretty sure that I could swim the half mile I needed to and had built some swimming confidence I added the running piece and last night I ran a full 5k without stopping.  I’m not setting any records but I didn’t stop or feel that I needed to.

Now, onto the bike.  This weekend I will be purchasing my first bike and adding that into the mix.  One small step at a time.

I am trying to take this approach with more things in my life as this state of ineffectiveness infects almost everything I do.

Set small attainable goals and accomplish the task.

Today I am writing this blog post.   I am not transferring this into expectations that I will write a post every day or any time in the future.  Right now I am writing this and that is good enough for now.

Never in my life did I think that I would become so paralyzed in my own skin, but I am working on it (and working on it and working on it).  I was expressing my frustration at my continuing struggles at therapy the other day.  I have licked the depression and anxiety, poof… gone.   I have battled old demons, healed old wounds and gained unforeseen perspective.  I have finally grown up and faced the real world.  So why is everything still so hard?

She had a couple of words of wisdom.  First, I need to acknowledge how far I have come and accept that change is hard and doesn’t take place over night.  She also explained that not being depressed is different from being happy and not being anxious is different than being calm and centered.  These things take work too and small steps is the only way to get there.  There is always more work to do.

So, I take small steps and am thankful each day for those that love me and allow me to love them back.

Now if only I could get Ian to stop shitting his pants.  ;)

Let the anticipation begin…

Sara Bareilles has recently released the first single off her sophomore album.  The album will be named “Kaleidoscope Heart” and will be released sometime late this summer.

I am so fucking stoked is all I can really say.  It has been three years since “Little Voice” came out and I have just about played out the cd.  It is not very often that an album comes along that every song is great.  The album is so good that I hate to split the songs up by putting them on my mp3 player or a mix tape.

“Little Voice” was influential and changing in my life and has earned its place on my top 10 albums of all time list.  Can not wait to hear what she has for us next.

OK, enough gushing.

The new single is called “King of Anything” and it has me very excited to hear the rest of the album.  It is a bit of a Fuck You song, which is always great but it also has the driving piano melody, pointed lyrics, sing-a-long, dance in your car with it blaring out the windows thing that makes Sara so phenomenal.

Check it out and enjoy!

Get more info on the upcoming record and make sure to check out the “Making of…” webisodes