An alien in my homeland

Steph and I have the great privilege of being able to travel a lot — or the burden of having to travel a lot, depending on your perspective. And we encounter a lot of different people. Because of what we do, the conversation often turns to health and we often get to hear personal health stories. One thing that I was struck with recently, is that in spite of our travels, we are kinda sheltered. We are surrounded by people having similar mindsets regarding personal health and healthcare, or at least are familiar with and/or tolerant of our alternative and at-home remedies. I mean surrounded. At work, at home, at church, at the conferences we attend, on various forums, and even on Facebook. Perhaps we all drawn together by commonalities, or perhaps having been drawn together we are all effected by the same influences, and maybe, we are having a small influence on those around us. We just don’t know how “normal” people live, and how they eat, how they endure illness, how often it strikes, how long it lasts, and what a course of treatment looks like. And so, when we see an occasional glimpse, we are shocked at the ignorance, at how conditions and diseases and sickness are considered normal. At how eating Twinkies can be considered a healthy habit because it keeps the blood sugar up. And in the midst of our shock, we are reminded how far we have come and that we are no longer “normal”. Not even close. Most people would consider us to be pretty weird, or crunchy, or far out, or wacko, or one of the other terms that we may have used in the past to describe people like us who were just plain different.

We live here in America, we were born and raised here, but we don’t live like most people do. We don’t eat or cook or shop or treat illness like most people. We have become abnormal. So much so that we may as well have been born and raised in a different country. We are aliens – aliens who are a lot more healthy than most people. But we are going to continue down the path we’re on, and maybe one day, everything will change, and we’ll be “normal” again. 🙂



Treating life as an illness?

Steph just read me an interesting statement from a midwife group something to the effect that they believe that birth is a natural process not an illness to be treated. One of our employees asked for a little bit more clarification as to how exactly one would treat birth as an illness. As I started describing, I realized, that allopathic medicine, and by extension, most humans, treat the ups and downs of life as an illness. And like most allopathic practices, merely treat the symptoms.

What do I mean by that? Humans are very complex beings made up of all sorts of things to which we apply names, the various parts of our body, our minds, will, emotions, heart, personality, spirit, etc. I believe that none of these things are disconnected from the others. And none of these things remains static, they are all changing all the time. That would mean that how they are all relating to each other would be fluctuating all of the time. I would consider this to be normal within certain parameters. And what would fall outside of those parameters would then fall into the category of illness or disease.

Giving birth is a natural process that has been going on for thousands of years before the advent of modern medicine. Most women who have had multiple children will tell you that each experience was different, progressed differently, felt different. However, modern medicine does not take that into account. Anything that falls outside the very narrow window of what is considered “normal”, requires intervention. Normal does not mean normal for the individual. Individual factors like race, age, size, weight, baby weight, gestational period, weights of previous babies, health, and many other factors, are not considered to find normal for this individual. They are however, weighed against this absolute of normal, and to determine if intervention is needed and how much. Sadly, very few hospital births are performed without some level of intervention. And even more tragically, some of the intervention screws up the regular flow of childbirth, and all to often the end result is C-section. In fact, if you study it, you will see a “normal” pattern of intervention leading to C-section.

This is just an example of how many doctors and many of us view the world, where regular life and its vicissitudes, are not considered normal. Everything must be treated. A man feels very sore one day. Takes the strongest pain killers he can get his hands on. It doesn’t matter that he moved a piano the day before, by himself, and it was his first serious physical activity in months. No massaging of muscles. No stretching. No soaking in a tub with salts. Just cover up the pain. It is abnormal. I would contend that it is natural and one should deal instead with the root issues – sedentary lifestyle, lack of wisdom and more immediately, how to relieve the soreness in the muscles and not just cover it up.

A girl can’t sleep. It stems from emotional issues, and stress levels. Insomnia is a natural response sometimes to issues like this. I think many of us have had this experience. All too often instead of addressing the root, a drug is procured from doctor or over the counter, to depress the body and force it into sleep.

I could go on and on, but I don’t think I need to. Most of us have seen the people that have like 30 prescription meds and as many over the counter meds. Uppers in the morning. Downers at night. Anti-depressants. Painkillers. Anti-inflammatories. Antibiotics. Pills to counteract the bloating caused by other pills. Pills to counteract the rashes caused by other pills. Pills and pills and pills. But it isn’t just the pill poppers.

Life is full of ups and downs, but it seems like the attitude of many is that anything off of a static straight line, is an illness. There are so many things that we experience in life that are natural, they are normal. Normal is not static. We wake up tired. We have more energy one day than the next. We have some aches and pains after sleeping wrong, or working out. This is normal. However many choose to whip their bodies with caffeine, or taurine, or sugar, or other substances, depress feeling with painkillers,

Life is a gift and a blessing. We should be trying to support our bodies with good nutrition to promote great health. We should be trying to support our minds with great input to promote great thought. We should be trying to support our emotions with great experiences and attitudes that promote contentment and joy, we should be trying to support our wills with wise commitments and standards, that promote meaningful achievement. We should seek out and root out those issues causing ill health, not cover them up. We should seek out and root out those issues causing mental angst, not depress them. We should be learning ourselves who we are, what we are like, and what are the varying degrees of normal. It is work. It may be hard. But like almost any hard work, there is profit.

Your life is not an illness. Don’t treat it that way, and don’t let anybody else treat your life that way, regardless of the number of years in school, or the diplomas on the wall.

Fixing leaks

When we moved into our house 3 and a half years ago, the main tub faucet leaked. Along with some other things. Actually, a lot of other things. There was a leak where the fireplace met the roof, which poured serious water in, but only about twice a year when it rained really hard. There was a leak around one of the sewer exhaust vents. One of the toilets started leaking sewage onto the floor below. One of the toilet shutoff valves leaked. One of the toilet towers leaked. One of the sink shutoffs developed a leak. I think that completes the tally. Oh, except for the two separate downspout issues that led to the flooding of the basement two springs in a row. Oh, and the two double door leaks that damaged the wood floor. Oh, and the refrigerator leak. That’s it. I think. Wow, that sounds pretty bad in retrospect. If only that were the extent of the problems with this place. 😀

There are a lot of things that I tolerate and a few things that I obsess about. Fruit flies drive me crazy. So do those little moths that get into the grains. I’ve become adept at swatting both out of the air – WAY more practice than I would like. Then there are mosquitoes. I will go hunting all over the house if I see or hear a mosquito. Steph just laughs at me. Leaks are another one of my obsessions. I don’t like them – especially when they can or do cause damage. I have been repairing these various things as I have found them in order of urgency – except for this tub faucet. Since it was just leaking down the drain, it was no big deal.  I had tentatively looked at what it would take to fix it a number of times and it always seemed like a big, big job.

Some of the fixes were easy – replacing the shutoff valves for example. Some required several tries, like the fireplace – which had to be done after the rain, after it dried out, and with enough time for the patchwork to dry out before it rained again. The worst was the toilet sewage leak. I tried “quick” fixes of pulling the stool and redoing the wax ring a number of times. I finally ended up reworking the whole assembly which took only slightly longer than the “quick” fixes, but seemed to do the job.

But this shower has just drip, trickle, dripped along until a few weeks ago. Now to be fair, it did stop leaking for a while. I don’t know why, but when I changed out the tank tower in the upstairs toilet, the downstairs tub stopped leaking. Weird? Definitely. Until I did some other plumbing repair – replacing one of the shutoff valves, I think. Then it started it’s continual dripping again. It looks like the previous owners had tried to do something about it, because they punched a whole in the wall in the bedroom directly opposite the leaky tub faucet. Of course, that could have been random as there were other holes in various places as well.

My great hope was that we would sell the house and the leak along with it. That hasn’t happened, so after 40+ months of money just running down the drain, I decided to tackle this problem.

I finally was able to find an internet site or two that explained how to fix a leak in a faucet like mine. And it seemed pretty straightforward. Simple even.

1) Remove handle

2) Remove cover

3) Remove cartridge pin

4) Replace cartridge

5) Reassemble

Hey, I can do that. There is just a little screw on the underside of the handle that needs to be removed. I got some allen wrenches, found the right size, and tuuuuuuurrrrrrn, BAM. Stripped the wrench. Me not happy. Retire to something else while I think about this problem. Got motivated a couple of days later. Drove to town and got another allen wrench and some Liquid Wrench. Aha! Take that! Tuuuuuuuurrrrrnnn, BAM! Stripped the screw. If I were given to profanity, I think I would have had some choice words at this point, because me definitely not happy. Retire in frustration to something else while I cogitated on this problem. A couple of days later, I drove to town and bought an easy-out, drilled a hole in the screw and tried that with the liquid wrench. (An easy out is used with a drill and digs into the screw but in such a way that as it does, it turns the screw out.) WHEUO! WHEEEEEEUOerrrrruhhh. Bound up the drill a number of times, but that screw was like an armchair quarterback on Superbowl Sunday. It would not move. Let’s just say I was a wee bit frustrated and leave it at that. All of my searchings on the Internet about how to repair these things, NOBODY ever talked about a petulant screw that wouldn’t be removed. NOBODY. I should mention that I also tried essential oils on it and nothing helped.

In the end, I was determined to get that little screw out of there no matter what the cost, and I finally ended up just drilling the entire screw out, ruining the handle, but fulfilling step 1. YAY!!! One down, only 4 to go! Only took 2 weeks of intermittent work and frustration.

The other steps were not without their challenges as well, but are far less interesting than the less than Pulitzer worthy paragraphs above. But the end result is that, finally, the tub doesn’t leak. Only took 3 weeks to complete those 5 simple steps.

Anyway, this give some new perspective on the “continual dripping” referenced in Proverbs. Not only does it drive you crazy, which is how I always took it, but it is possible that it is no easy fix.


More from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose he consequences of those actions. Consequences are governed by natural law. They are out in the Circle of Concern. We can decide to step in front of a fast-moving train, but we cannot decide what will happen when the train hits us.We can decide to be dishonest in our business dealings. While the social consequences of that decision may vary depending on whether or not we are found out, the natural consequences to our basic character are a fixed result.

Our behavior is governed by principles. Living in harmony with them brings positive consequences; violating them brings negative consequences. We are free to choose our response in any situation, but in doing so, we choose the attendant consequence. “When we pick up one end of the stick, we pick up the other.”

Undoubtedly there have been times in our lives when we have picked up what we later felt was the wrong stick. Our choices have brought consequences we would rather have lived without. If we had the choice to make over again, we would make it differently. We call these choices mistakes, and they are the second thing that merits our deeper thought.

For those filled with regret, perhaps the most needful exercise of proactivity is to realize that past mistakes are also out there in the Circle of Concern. We can’t recall them, we can’t undo them, we can’t control the consequences that came as a result.”

“The proactive approach to a mistake is to acknowledge it instantly, correct and learn from it. This literally turns a failure into a success.”

“But not to acknowledge a mistake, not to correct it and learn from it, is a mistake of a different order. It usually puts a person on a self-deceiving, self-justifying path, often involving rationalization (rational lies) to self and to others. This second mistake, this cover-up, empowers the first, giving it disproportionate importance, and causes far deeper injury to self.

It is not what others do or even our own mistakes that hurt us the most; it is our response to those things. Chasing after the poisonous snake that bites us will only drive the poison through our entire system. It is far better to take measures immediately to get the poison out.

Our response to any mistake affects the quality of the next moment. It is important to immediately admit and correct our mistakes so that they have no power over that next moment and we are empowered again.”

As I have read this again and again, different people pop into my mind. They have refused to acknowledge mistakes so often and their self-deception is so deeply rooted, that other people looking at them label them “crazy”. I have seen them and other people completely ruin their mess up their lives over and over again, and with that next decision, they do it all over again – “This time it is going to be better.” They are victims, they are lonely heroes, they are righteous pillars of truth in the midst of vast oceans of wayward folks. Whatever form their self-deception takes, the repeated conflicts, the violations of trust, the persecutions, and the “trials of faith” are all to often very clearly the result of bad decision (which were likely the result of uncorrected bad thinking.) It is so easy to see this in others. Not so much in myself.

Yet as I look back on some of the worst situations in my life, I would make different decisions. I would have acted differently with my in-laws in the days before my marriage to Steph. It was a terrible, seemingly no-win situation, and to this day I do not know what I could do to make it better or what I would do if given another chance. However, knowing the consequences of the choices I did make, I would choose differently. Maybe it would have been better, maybe worse, maybe the same. There are some principles that I wouldn’t have violated though. I would have spoken more respectfully as taught in 1 Tim 5. I would have endeavored to speak no evil as taught in Titus 3 and James 4. I would have made an effort to squelch my pride, to use contentions as an indicator of pride, and seek to act humbly and meekly, without compromising. I would have sought to protect my future wife through it all, and gone to great lengths to do that. I don’t know what this would have looked like in the end, but things would be different today. And this is just one of many situations.

Where am I deceived? Where am I not acknowledging my mistakes? It is so easy to see it in others. So much more difficult to recognize paths of self-deception, while we’re ON THE PATH! I guess this is why we are told to confess our faults one to another, to pray for one another, to love one another as ourselves, and restore one who has been overtaken in a fault. If we have deceived ourselves, we’re not going to undeceive ourselves. We need some help. May I care enough and love enough to do that for others, as uncomfortable as that might be, and be fortunate enough to have others do that for me.

Less Entertainment, more personal development.

So, I’ve decided once again that I need to do things that will contribute to my personal growth. That means, fewer movies, fewer TV shows, less Scramble, and more reading. Specifically I read the “5 Love Languages” book by Gary Chapman last week. Can you believe that I have never read it? Some interesting stuff, especially about the difference between love, and the “in love” experience. This week I picked up “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” again. I started with the first habit again and found some interesting things that I thought I would share.

“[Viktor] Frankl was a determinist raised in the traditions of Freudian psychology, which postulates that whatever happens to you as a child shapes your character and personality and basically governs your whole life. The limits and parameters of your life are set, and basically, you can’t do much about it.

Frankl was also a psychiatrist and a Jew. He was imprisoned in the death camps of Nazi Germany, where he experienced things that were so repugnant to our sense of decency that we shudder to even repeat them.

His parents, his brother, and his wife died in the camps or were sent to the gas ovens. Except for his sister, his entire family perished. Frankl himself suffered torture and innumerable indignities, never knowing from one moment to the next if his path would lead to the ovens or if he would be among the “saved” who would remove the bodies or shovel out the ashes of those so fated.

One day, naked and alone in a small rooom, he began to become aware of what he later called “the last of the human freedoms” — the freedom his Nazi captors could not take away. They could control his entire environment, they could do what they wanted to his body, but Viktor Frankl himself was a self-aware being who could look as an observer at his very involvement. His basic identity was intact. He could decide within himself how all of this was going to affect him. Between what happened to him, or the stimulus, and his response to it, was his freedom or power to choose that response.

In the midst of his experiences, Frankl would project himself into different circumstances, such as lecturing to his students after his release from the death camps. He would describe himself in the classroom, in his mind’s eye, and give his students the lessons he was learning during his very torture.

Through a series of such disciplines–mental, emotional, and moral, principally using memory and imagination–he exercised his small, embryonic freedom until it grew larger and larger, until he had more freedom than his Nazi captors. They had more liberty, more options to choose from in their environment; but he had more freedom, more internal power to exercise his options. He became an inspiration to those around him, even to some of the guards. He helped other find meaning in their suffering and dignity in their prison existence.

In the midst of the most degrading circumstances imaginable, Frankl used the human endowment of self-awareness to discover a fundamental principle about the nature of man: Between stimulus and response, man has the freedom to choose.”

I don’t have to get mad when I get cut off in traffic. I don’t have to get irritated when my employees pull me away from important things to deal with minutiae. When treated poorly, I don’t have to act poorly in response. One other thing that he said that goes along these line is: “It is not what others do, or even our own mistakes that hurt us the most; it is our response to those things. Chasing after the poisonous snake that bites us will only drive the poison through our entire system. It is far better to take measures immediately to get the poison out.” Far better to get my attitude squared away, remember that I am a child of the King, a joint heir, that the joy of the Lord is my strength, and think on things true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report that I can.