I love coffee. I've been drinking coffee since I was 10 years old. I've had anywhere from the very expensive coffees found in high end establishments to burnt, 3 day old, car repair shop coffee. Coffee is rarely so bad I won't drink it.
I like to drink specialty coffees occasionally and then a good everyday coffee. I can drink most cheap grocery store coffees, and have resorted to them when funds were tight. I'm a regular Joe...which means...I don't have the kind of income that would support an exorbitant coffee habit. Like my mom used to say, "Champagne taste on a beer budget."
CREAM, SUGAR, or BLACK
Most coffee lovers like me will drink coffee prepared any way, but we have our preferences. I prefer
cream with just a pinch of sugar to smooth the bitterness without making it sweet.
But still...when in Rome...you know...whatever ya got.
So...I've been back and forth on everyday coffees. For a while, I was hooked on certain flavored coffees, but have found them to be a bit obsessive for everyday.
Recently though, I have returned to a coffee that has been around awhile, is reasonably priced, and is a VERY good everyday coffee. Gevalia.
Now, I'm not a spokesperson for Gevalia Coffee, I'm just telling you...it's really good. I can pick up a 12 ounce bag for about $6. They have light, medium, dark, whatever you like. I'm a medium roast guy.
I have some stomach issues, so I have to steer away from coffee with a high acid content...which most less expensive coffees have...but Gevalia doesn't seem to bother me.
For cream I like to use half and half. I think it makes the coffee taste better and dry or flavored creamers are to sweet for me. The pinch of sugar is usually stevia...it's supposed to be better for you than white granulated sugar I guess.
SO...WHO CARES WHAT COFFEE I LIKE TO DRINK?!!!!
The point here is to get us thinking about what we like and why. And, "I don't know," is NOT a good answer. We should try not to live as robots...programmed to respond without individual thought or opinion.
If we can't even explain what coffee we like and why...how will we learn to ask ourselves what we like and why, what we want out of life and why, and what others care about and why? It's not as far fetched as it may seem. Most people I know...including myself occasionally...indulge in self-gratifying behavior without really even being aware of why it gratifies us.
I think we should choose to live on purpose.
SO...what kinda coffee YOU like?
I have not blogged in over two months now. I have had little to say as a result of illness...both mentally and physically. During that time however...I have found time to observe and occasionally respond to comments made on social media...both negative and positive.
I have tried to be both encouraging and occasionally snarky. I believe it is part of the human condition to do such things...and should NOT be looked upon as distasteful...but more...honest.
We have understood for centuries that words are powerful. Many ancient texts caution us to be careful how they are used, for they carry the power to:
For many...words have become a science...studied to learn how best to use them to get what we want. Manipulation if you will permit me to say. Now...it is MY humble opinion that the manipulation of words does not have to be considered a bad or dishonest thing... if the outcome or is to provide positive results to those in our sphere of influence.
Case and point... read these words...
The author of this statement acknowledges the amazing feeling associated with success and allows us to find common agreement...then twists it at the end by allowing us to think more deeply about the necessary steps it takes to achieve it...namely failure and the pain associated with it...thereby encouraging us during times of hardship to hold fast...lest we miss the opportunity to succeed. Brilliant and encouraging.
But for sometime...many people and companies and news sources have used the art and science of word manipulation for their own gain and it has become so incredible misleading...that we no longer know who to believe...AND we have become OFFENDED when truth is spoken. Here's a few early examples...
This company's slogan used to be..."Get's your teeth their whitest!"
At face value...it sounds legit...but upon further scrutiny, we discover the manipulation. It is found in the word "their."
This company could not say it will whiten your teeth because they knew if it didn't, they would be held liable for false advertising.
So instead...they tell us their toothpaste will get our teeth as white as our teeth can get. But maybe my whitest is...yellow. See what I'm saying?
Here's another gem... Anyone remember the countless, sugar filled....non nutritious cereals we ate as children? They would say, "A tasty part of this nutritious breakfast." It was sold as a tasty part...not the nutritious part. See what I mean?
Over the years, even the military has learned how to win the hearts and minds. Okay...so here the point...for those who wish to be more aware of what your being told...pay attention to the way words are being used and you will quickly discover how awfully we are being manipulated in order to convince us of a certain way to think or behave. Have you heard any of these in the news for instance?
"NEWS SOURCES INDICATE THERE IS A POSSIBILITY..."
"The downward spiral of the..."
"The (something or other of importance) has been OVERSHADOWED by..."
These are NOT news comments...these are commentaries to get us to believe or think about something from a less objective point of view!
We are told it is wrong to hurt people's feelings...so we should be extra careful how we say things. I agree to a point...But then these "Experts" tell us which words are less offensive.
Now...I grew up in Michigan...and for a long time...there was an understanding that truth is the most important way to speak. Your integrity would be found in your ability to be trusted when you speak what you mean. And I seem to recall...less people being offended as harshly as they are today...even if it stung a little...we appreciated the honesty.
I recall these type of conversations in our neighborhood...
"How do you like my new haircut?"
"I think I liked it better the other way" (They stayed friends and no one cried.)
"I don't mean to butt in...but I think you're wrong here...and you should probably tell her you're sorry."
(And no one got punched.)
We kept each other honest...we held each other accountable...we were happier and less hurt. What happened?
I believe we would benefit from getting back to basics and not allowing others to judge our honesty as cruelty just because they didn't like the truth.
We have not come too far to change...have hope my friends...it all starts with us.
So here I sit...my last blog of the year 2016. Like most of you, I have hopes and dreams for 2017. I hope my business is successful, I hope my children are successful...I hope our country is successful...but should I think in terms of success? Now I can already see the wheels spinning in our minds..."It depends on how you define success." we tell ourselves. But does it depend on the definition? Really?
I mean... doesn't the idea of success come with preconceived notions and expectations? Success is basically defined as "acheiving a desired aim," which could be just about anything...however...individually we may place value on different things...but as a society, we tend to lump things in order of importance in general.
So in other words... There was a time when success for women was defined this way by society...
Nowadays though, we tend to frown on these images and consider them prehistoric...women can do anything they want! But...what if they still want what we see in the above photo? Should they be degraded? Is she not considered successful if this is her aim? Of course! But because we have attached a "success" label to it...it becomes acceptable or not...to society. Do you see what I mean? Let me use another example...
If it is a person's goal to do this...and they are successful...we as a society understand the difficulty in such a feat and congratulate the victor! But then...the next time we see this...
We will pass judgement that is based on our own ideals of a "successful" (or acceptable) body type. We may not say it out loud...but many of us think it. Then we attach indictment...
"This person is lazy, this person has no self control, this person looks gross, this person obviously eats too much." All the while, not considering that..."this person may be on steroids for a medical problem...this person might be taking psychotropic medications which cause weight gain, this person may have been deprived of food as a child and struggles with an eating disorder."
The point isn't to defend...but to expose the ugly side of a society accepting that our goal should ALWAYS be... success. And some of us will do ANYTHING to acheive it!
So... it seems to me that...if we focussed more on the journey...we would see others as a part of our journey...rather than an adversary to our success. We would see people as welcome friends...instead of people with their own agenda for which we must be on alert.
It seems to me that SUCCESS ...is only an OUTCOME of a well-traveled journey. Maybe we should focus on the journey...and journey well...success will inevidabley follow. Maybe we shouldn't strive to BE successful...maybe we should strive to BE better...just better. Journey well this year my friends.
The new year is upon us! Let the resolutions begin!
We all tend to enter a new year with great hopes for one that proves to be better than the year before. We reflect on triumphs and mistakes...and figure out who to blame for the latter. We tend to be reactionary in our thoughts. "I hope 2017 is better than 2016," we might say...as if we are complete products of our environment, only hoping circumstances prove to be in our favor so we don't become victims.
But the truth is...WE have the power...this year and every year...to determine the OUTCOME of our experiences. All we need is a good foundation. And that foundation should be built on two things...wisdom and knowledge.
Now, it would be uncharacteristic of me to begin without providing a definition of each from which to expound...
The ability to think and act using knowledge, understanding, experience, and common sense.
The facts, feelings, and experiences known by a person or group of people.
"Be as you wish to seem." ~Socrates~
Now please understand... I'm not writing this blog to PROVIDE wisdom and knowledge. I'm writing this blog to help us understand what they are so that THIS year...we can take advatage of both to increase the chances of happiness and contentment in our lives. Fair enough? Let's begin...
If I told you I graduated from an Ivy League school, would you consider me knowledgable or wise?
If I told you my wife and I raised 5 children, all with a love for those who are less fortunate, would you consider my wife and I knowledgable or wise?
If I told you I never make a huge decision without first talking it over with my wife, would you consider me smart or wise? (Or trained well? lol)
And here's a great question...what makes a manager a great manager...is it the volume of knowledge the individual has attained through extensive training? The useful individual who knows every aspect of running a store?
Or is it the manager who understands the value of the people who work there? The manager that understands who has what skills? The manager who understands fairness and empathy, but also understands the traps made by employees who do less than their share...but knows how to motivate them?
As I ponder this myself...I have to admit...in each instance...I think it takes a little of both knowledge AND wisdom. (And maybe a little money for the first one.)
But it's AMAZING to me, how many of us would choose one over the other. People whose main goal in life is to go to school, get a good job, make lots of money and live comfortably. I don't judge the goal...that's the American Dream and there's nothing wrong with it if that is what you want...but I believe the problem lies in how we attempt to attain the goal.
We must gain the knowledge necessary to have the skills to work the job and make the money. But we must also have the wisdom to know how best to use the money to our advantage in order to have what we want. Additionally...it takes wisdom to know when something is no longer beneficial and when to let go.
Maybe in the New Year, each of us should look within ourselves and ask ourselves these questions...
As I stated at the outset...it would be foolish for me to pretend what knowledge is useful to you and what wisdom is useful for you. We are each unique. My goal is simply to encourage each of us to see ourselves as PARTICIPANTS on the Big Blue Marble...and not just spectators...as victors not victims. I want us to be knowledgeable enough to recognize what we need to know... but wise enough to understand it's significance in the grand scheme of things.
My hope for each of us this year is that we dig a little deeper to understand...not only ourselves...but how we relate and affect the world around us...I think that MIGHT be where peace and love can be found. Just don't expect it to "happen" to you...because happeniness is based on what happens...but joy is based on how we choose to interpret what happens. We must work to attain it....but don't things mean more when we work for them? My wish for you this year is that you will have hopes for a better year than the last... and that you will consider what you need to DO to get what you hope for.
In my last blog, we discussed the importance of understanding how PTSD is defined, looks, and effects those who suffer. In today's blog, we will discuss PTSD recovery methods that people will find helpful in the same way these methods have been proven to help others.
I will however, premise the conversation by saying, there is NO one size fits all recovery method for ANY mental illness. So let us not grow weary of searching for what works for ourselves...and be brave enough to shed the things that don't work. Right?
So let's first start by agreeing on a definition of recovery...
Recovery- “restoration or return to any former and better state or condition.”
Experience and evidence-based approaches to wellness have shown that recovery is not necessarily about getting RID of PTSD, as much as it may be about a person being restored to a better state or condition. Recovery.
METHOD #1 Reach Out!
We at PITacademy believe this to be the most important thing we can do for ourselves. If we know one thing about mental illness...we know isolation is one of the most counter-productive approaches to recovery. Now, let us understand however, that there is a difference between being a person who likes to be away from crouds and enjoys alone time...the traits of a person with an introvert personality.
ISOLATION is more about a person cutting themselves off from all connections. When we who suffer get to our breaking point, we will sometimes isolate to prevent any other outside influences from having a negative or positive impact on our lives.
Having one or two people we can trust to listen when we need to get some of that stuff out and express how we are feeling, is very beneficial. Sometimes we don't need to have another prescription...sometimes we don't need more advice...sometimes...sometimes we just want to be heard with no judgment attached. A pressure valve if you will. This is amazingly helpful and has been shown to aid in reducing relapse.
METHOD #2 Keep Your Power!
WE get to determine how much power we will allow an event to have over us and our other thoughts and feelings.
We may not have control over the events that take place in our lives...but we DO get to process our beliefs about the event and determine the size of impact we will allow it. But how do we do that?
There are many methods used for training our brains to think differently. PITacademy believes one of the most effective ways to take back power from such negative beliefs is to change the meaning by changing the words used to describe it.
This is called "Neuro-Linguistic Programming." It's a real fancy word which basically teaches that when we change the words or meaning of words to better represent the truth of an event, it changes our perception and gives us back the power to better cope.
Here's what that might look like...
"I'll never lose this weight!"
"This is hard, but not impossible."
"After that tragedy, I will never be the same."
"I learned alot about myself as a result of the tragedy."
Notice the sentence changes the perception. And...this does not mean we must think the OPPOSITE of what we think now, but that we can think DIFFERENTLY...in a way that benefits us rather than tearing ourselves down. And 9 times out of 10, we will find the reconstruction is closer to the truth.
There are more methods such as these...methods that allow US to take control. Simple tools that WE use OURSELVES in order to take control of our illness...instead of the other way around. Right?
If you click on the picture, it will take you to Amazon where you can view my guide on the subject... thanks for listening and continue to:
Schizophrenia is known in the psychiatric world as a Mental Cancer. I believe there is another mental cancer in our midst...and its name is PTSD. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental condition whereby, an individual is rendered mentally wounded by a traumatic event which has taken place. The person may be directly connected to the trauma or...psychiatrists are finding interesting...indirectly. An "Empathy Injury" if you will. The study of what is now referred to as PTSD goes as far back as the Civil War, where alterations in mood and personality became apparent.
Scads of research has been done on the origins, diagnosis, and effects of PTSD, and the prescription for recovery. The effort to minimize so many catastrophic endings as a result of the condition trudges on. As a sufferer myself, I feel an obligation to become as aware as possible about the effects of the condition on me, and the experiences I have, and then to find ways of getting that information out in order to educate and spark conversations that can lead to strong solutions . BLAH! BLAH! BLAH! (What's the point!? The image below is for my wife...ha!)
Okay...so...I've recently had an innappropriate response during a crisis. Often I will reflect on an event, evaluate my response and find ways to improve...(kinda wonky I know...but it works for me) In order to protect the innocent, I will spare the details, but I now see, I could have responded better. And it bothered me that I hadn't. Then I thought, "Why...even with all the wellness tools at my arsonal, does this little monster called PTSD still seem to get the best of me?" And then it dawned on me. PTSD is cancerous. It is developed through a traumatic event and is brought back up by events called, "TRIGGERS." These are current events which remind a person of the past, traumatic events, causing anxiety and often, and innappropriate reaction.
From my own experience, I am beginning to recognize that...now get this...the "TRIGGERS" sometimes become part of the TRAUMA. The trauma I experience today, whether large or small, ATTACHES itself to the original trauma like a malignant tumor and grows. I have read and learned about ways to help minimize the negative effects of future traumatic events, but have not seen research which indicates this possible connection. If there is, I am not aware of it, but I think it is significant enough to pursue and here's why...
The nucleus of this mental cancer is the original traumatic event. EVERYONE experiences trauma in their lives...even small set backs take place throughout our journey here on Earth. But as a PTSD sufferer, ALL of them become connected to the nucleus of the problem...the original event. You follow me so far?
So these events become ALL connected... a current, small, seemingly insignificant...issue can increase in significance when it becomes attached through similarities a person draws between what IS happening...and what HAS happened and eventually...in the mind of the sufferer it begins to look like an IMPOSSIBLE disease of which to ever rid themselves. It also becomes attached to other diagnosis such as "Survivor Guilt." And for many...the pain and suffering becomes too much and they lose the ability to cope.
This sounds very grim...but please understand my friends...we will never find better ways to recover from this until we are honest about the way it looks...even if it makes us a bit uncomfortable.
HOWEVER... HOPE is increasing, as we are discovering new and useful ways of changing the way we approach recovery. In my next blog we will discuss some awesome ways of coping with PTSD. Stay with me my suffering friends...their are some different solutions that help. Until then...Be Well...
For the majority of people, Christmas is a time of celebration. It is a time of giving and caring and carols and sleigh rides and Santa and church choirs and nativity scenes...but for a small percentage of the population, there is what I call Christmas Dread. What is Christmas Dread you ask?
Well...Christmas Dread is an extreme apprehension or reluctance over the Christmas season. For some of us...Christmas was NOT a magical time filled with joy...for some, it brings back memories of tragedy that may have struck during what was supposed to be a festive time of year. Some have experienced the loss of someone very close during the holidays, for others, they may have been serving our country in a forward area overseas and met with traumatic conditions. Still others endured growing up poor and never having a home in which to celebrate the holiday, or no presents, or abuse of many kinds, or the loss a sense of security...maybe over a traumatic home robbery.
Yes, for some...Christmas is anything but celebratory. Anything but...magical. Many have good reason to dread its arrival. But the holiday none the less, will arrive. It will come complete with all the memories attached to it, good or bad...but it WILL arrive. So what can one do to ease the stress and lesson the dread of such an event?
Well...first...one must recognize that our experiences are only given place in our mindspace...by us. It would serve us well in other words, to limit the amount of space we allow these dreadful memories to take up. They steal away from us, the time we have now to make new, better memories.
I don't say this lightly and without heartfelt concern for those who struggle. For I know first hand. As a person who grew up in an abusive home, I can tell you of horrible experiences that took place during the Christmas Season. But I have chosen a different path. I have chosen to find ways to reintroduce the Christmas holiday and REPLACE those dreadful memories with new ones which contain the things that bring ME happiness and joy. Here are a few suggestions to help you reignite the spirit of the holidays and make it the best ever...for you...
SEND A CHRISTMAS CARD...TO YOURSELF! It may sound a little goofy...but send yourself a Christmas card! Write something in it that will wish you well and inspire you to find better ways to interpret the holidays!
Write something like..."I know this is a difficult time of year for you because of (fill in the blank), but this holiday, I hope you can do (fill in the blank) to make new memories."
WRITE SOMEONE A LETTER... Maybe you don't have money...maybe you have no family around,but you can always find a way to write a letter. You could write it to a military person overseas...maybe to a shut-in with whom you are familiar.
VOLUNTEER... Find ways to give. I'm telling you...nothing can help get rid of those yucky feelings better than trying to find a way to make someone else's Christmas better. As a person who understands the sadness of the holidays...who better to help others through theirs...than you...who knows...you may end up helping each other!
If you are able... go out...if you are NOT able to go out...invite someone in. Getting outdoors and spending a little time in the sun each day raises your Vitamin D levels which increases your serotonin levels. This makes you less depressed AND...lowers your blood pressure! Besides...from one person with depression and anxiety to another...I can tell you...I always feel a little better when I've FORCED myself to spend at least a half an our in the fresh air.
Understand...I am not suggesting any of this is just...easy peasy. But what is the alternative? Will you continue to allow past dreadful memories to steal away opportunities to replace them with good ones? Or will you reach out...and help yourself? A person can ALWAYS find a reason to smile during the Holidays. The past is the past and it isn't easy to think differently about it...but it is NOT impossible. I am LIVING PROOF that one can find new ways to replace old dread. I hope this helps...just look at the picture below and tell me there's no place to find joy at Christmas! You get to choose how to respond and how to feel. Choose to be happy and find a reason.
A children's story...for adults
We remember, don't we? We remember getting up early and running downstairs to see if the biggest, happiest, jolliest old elf had paid our homes a visit. We stayed up half the night to see if we could catch a glimpse of this magical figure...and we always ran over to the little empty plate where cookies used to sit and the half-filled glass of milk PROVED that he had been there! What excitement surrounded us as children at Christmas!
I also remember the year I found out the truth. Like most of us, even before the truth was revealed, we kinda already knew, right? It wasn't quite adding up...although my father could be quite persuasive...for a while.
ME: "So dad, let me get this straight...if Santa brings the presents...then why are there presents under the tree right now?
DAD: "They're empty."
ME: "But why did you wrap them and how will Santa fill them?"
DAD: He's magic! Now go to bed!"
Can't argue with... magic.
But I intimate that the TRUTH...is nothing of the sort...there IS a SANTA! As sure as I am sitting here writing this...there is a Santa Claus! Let me explain...
What is belief? According to the dictionary, belief is...
"...Confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof"
In other words, putting trust in things which require little or no proof. It is the same concept used by those who choose to follow a certain religious ideology.
Something does not have to "materialize" to be true. Some things are true, even if they are not tangible. As an atheist, I can tell you that, although I may not believe in a god, I DO believe in the power of belief...and further understand that...believing makes many things real to us individually.
Those who believe in the power of religion have seen lives changed for the better. They have seen men who spent there entire paychecks on alcohol...after their religious experience...now spending that money on milk for their children.
Apart from religion, we have seen belief operate through the sacrifice of men and women on the battlefield...because they dared to believe that ALL men are created equal...and ALL men should be free. Freedom became real...not because it already existed...but because men and women DARED to believe in it!
These things can't be proven with the five senses, but none the less...they are very real. We may disagree on implementation, we may disagree about the proper way to believe, we may even disagree about whether Santa should be the focus this time of year.
But one thing is certain...when we were little...Santa was as real as the falling snow on Christmas morning. So...after we find out otherwise...that Santa is...less than physical...why do we step away with such disdain? Our dreams have not been broken. He WAS real...in those moments as a child...he was VERY real...and no one could tell us otherwise...he was real...because we dared to believe it.
We may know that Santa Claus is an intangible figure...but the heart of someone wishing well for all children (and children at heart) still exists. People still wish there were a present for every child in the world...people still hope for peace on Earth and good will toward men. And people still believe in finding that one special gift for that one special someone...because they dare to believe in the power of giving.
No friends...Santa is not an abstract figure from our past...he still resides in the hearts of all who choose to believe. I choose to believe in Santa Claus! So this year friends...if even for a minute during the Holiday season...dare to believe.
Let's stop adulting momentarily, and remember what it felt like when we believed. Because...once there was Santa...and the world was magical! BELIEVE.
To my son Christopher who is serving our country abroad at Christmas. Love you son.
Ah... the good old days! We all want to know about them, we all want to read about them, and many wish they could experience them...either again...or for the first time. This blog sets out to find the source of that which makes something part of the good old days. I mean, not everything was good back then. As Billy Joel sang, "The good old days weren't always good and tomorrow's not as bad as it seems." So...what part of the old days made them good?
Now...there have been many blogs written about how the old times were times of struggle and not all that great...siting such horrible things in our nation's past, such as school segregation. Yet knowing this, we still long for days to be as they once were. But rather than discussing why longing for the good old days is counterproductive and shouldn't drive us...we will instead take a moment to find out what those good old days provide us that makes us long for them.
In studying this subject, I have identified 2 main themes that drive people to this longing...
Simplicity- It appears the majority of people longing for the good old days are in search of a time when things were less stressful. They seek a time when things seemed much more simple. They seek a time when there weren't as many distractions , rules, safety concerns, etc. Many of the benefits of new technology would be difficult to give up, but many claim to be willing to give up these luxuries, at least momentarily, in order to receive respite from the everyday grind.
Contentment- The other driving force behind this thought process seems to be a longing for contentment. Contentment is being satisfied with who you are and what you have. People seem to be under the impression that people of long ago had this all figured out. They just got up, farmed the land, were good to their neighbors, were people of integrity, and a hand shake settled most disputes. Now...whether this sentiment is true or not is of no consequence if you think about it. The longing is for the feeling...not necessarily the time.
Such is the case with both themes in my estimation. For me...it begs the question...why couldn't we find things, develop things, or create environments for ourselves that promote those same ideas. Wouldn't we be much happier than just wishing for better days?
So here's the challenge. Holidays can be a great time to find ways to celebrate people or things that are important to us.
"Find time and ways this holiday season...to be the next generation's good old days." ~Braden Daniels~
About the Author
Braden Daniels was born in Saginaw, Michigan and has been writing articles and books for over 30 years.