I’m de-stressed. Time to get back to work

Engine 999

Engine 999

Joe: Good morning Calliope.

Calliope: Good morning Joe. I wondered when I would hear from you.

Joe: I haven’t forgotten about you. I told you I was taking a break to work on diabetes. It took longer than I thought to hear, take notes and organize them. I finally finished. I also had a newsletter to do for today. I will add it to the end of this post for you.

Calliope: I thought you must be up to something. How is the editing on your stress book coming?

Joe: I’m up to page 26 so far. I added a couple sections and might think of more as I go along. I am happy working at my own pace and also taking time to enjoy life along the way. Carol and I just got back from a few days in Albany, Connecticut and Cape Cod. I have also been reading Natalie Goldberg’s books on writing.

Calliope: Glad you are keeping busy. Keep me posted.

Joe: I will. In the mean time, here is the latest newsletter:


Relax and Leave the Thinking to Us

For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong.

~H.L. Mencken~

I once read H.L. Mencken’s opinion that only twenty percent of our citizens are capable of thinking. I found it hard to believe that so many people could be incapable of thinking. I neither agreed nor disagreed with this opinion. I decided to ponder it for a while. I am done pondering. Although I am still not sure about the percentage of thinkers, I have come to the conclusion that there might be other reasons people do not think than inability to do so.

Anyone who went to college knows that thinking is hard work. Thinking means using your mind to consider or reason about something. One way of doing this is to gather facts and evidence to see what they add up to. That approach is called inductive reasoning. The other approach is deductive reasoning. Here you start with well established general principles and draw conclusions based on them. I told you it was hard work.

So what about people who could think for themselves if they chose to? Some people are afraid to think for themselves. What if they reach the wrong conclusions? They would prefer not to have such responsibility. They are happy to have someone else think for them and tell them what to do. Others are too busy seeing to their own comfort and possessions. They might read the paper or go to meetings but seldom take an active part in decision making. In most organizations, a few people are left with the responsibility of making and implementing decisions.

Two large scale examples of organizations are government and religion. In any jurisdiction from village up to the national level, we elect representatives to act in our best interest and sometimes they do. Most of the time they act in their own best interest (being reelected). They also work hard to be seen as acting in their constituents’ best interest.

Religion is the other Great Decider. Over time, religions develop rules, commandments, and traditions seen as necessary to follow in order to obtain salvation. It is the job of the believers to follow these dictates in pursuit of a better standing in the afterlife.

Governments, religions and other organizations help you make sense of the world and of your life. Yet it is up to you to make sure the rules you are asked to follow fit the principles by which you live regardless of the community in which you find yourself. Taking exception to the rules has consequences. Yet even well established rules do not always continue to make sense as civilization evolves.

Life Lab Lessons

  • Take responsibility for how you live your life.
  • On occasion, spend some time evaluating your beliefs and principles.
  • Don’t leave living your life to the whim of anyone else.
  • If you are not satisfied, decide what changes you can make.
  • Maybe you can help change the percentage of thinkers in the world.


Distractions, Distractions

Sailing at Sunset

Joe: Good afternoon Calliope.

Calliope: Good afternoon Joe. What news?

Joe: My book has been chugging along nicely for the past couple months. In the last post, I mentioned the Diabetes Summit on ways to prevent or reverse type two diabetes. I thought I would listen to a few of the presentations but found many of them fascinating and highly informative. After all my quality of life lies in the balance. Most of them grabbed my attention and it was usually well into the afternoon before I was ready to move on. Fortunately the series ends this Friday and I will be back to business as usual.

Calliope: So you haven’t worked on your book at all?

Joe: Not quite as bad as all that. I have done some work on it but not as much as I wanted. And then I have a column due this Saturday.

Calliope: So, another post

Sailing at Sunset


Joe: Not quite. In reviewing the manuscript, I realized I had omitted a section on toxic shame as a stressor. I decided to write a column on shame which I could also insert into the book. So I have not lost complete touch with my project. Talk with you later.


Time Out for Diabetes

Aquinnah Lighthouse

Aquinnah Lighthouse, Martha’s Vineyard


Joe: Good afternoon Calliope.

Calliope: Good afternoon Joe. How are you ding with the stress book?

Joe: I finished the first draft and am now reviewing what I wrote, making corrections as I go along, noting what might be missing from my list of topics and considering its organization. So far, so good.

Calliope: What’s this about diabetes?

Joe: I thought I knew enough for diabetes for now, but found myself distracted from concentrating on it while I am in the midst of working on this book. As luck would have it, I discovered a series of very informative interviews on diabetes, particularly dealing with it naturally rather than through medications. The link is  Diabetes Summit in case any of my readers are interested in a side trip into diabetes world. I am into day three of a two week series and am learning quite a bit.

Calliope: Sounds interesting. Do you find this a distraction from your writing?

Joe: You could look at it that way, but I would rather be alive to be able to write longer. It’s a matter of perspective. Talk with you later.



Joe: Hi Calliope. Here is my latest Sliding Otter newsletter, based on a theme from my book in progress. Hope you like it.

Learning to Approach Life with a Beginner’s Mind

Sculpture Play

Play Sculpture- Nantucket

In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities,
but in the expert’s there are few.

Shunryu Suzuki

 When we are born, we have no idea what we are supposed to do about anything. Have you ever watched a baby looking around with wonderment at the people, walls, pets or anything else in the room? Everything is new, fascinating and unknown. As we grow up, we develop habitual ways of doing things.

We learn about life from what we see others do and from our experiences. Families, churches and communities have their own traditions, often surviving for decades or even centuries. We grow up with these traditions. But the traditional way is not always best for us or for those around us.

I am not suggesting that all traditions are useless. Many have worked for generations and continue to be effective. We find comfort in traditional ways of doing things. We do not need to think about how to act. Doing the “right” thing brings approval from others who share our traditions. Yet traditions can survive well past their expiration date if we never stop to reconsider them.

We go to doctors for checkups to see if the way we are living is good for our health. We rely on the doctor to tell us how we are doing and whether we need to make any changes in how we live. That doesn’t mean we will make the suggested changes or stick with them, but at least we have a way to gauge or progress. Yet doctors have their own traditions and sometimes suggest outmoded ways for us to live.

What about the rest of our lives beyond the physical? How do we make sense of our actions and know if we are on the right track? We expect religious leaders to be of help and often they are. Yet religions have their own traditions, some healthy and some not so much. Then where do we turn?

That’s where the beginner’s mind comes in. We can take a fresh look at our own habits, traditions and of course any ruts in which we find ourselves. For a little while, we can put aside what we have learned to take as truth. We can see whether our actions are consistent with who we want to be in life. If we follow our old path, does it lead us closer to our goals in life? We can also examine our goals to see how meaningful they are.

We don’t have to pore over our every action and analyze everything we do ad nauseam. But stepping aside from the daily grind on occasion to take stock of ourselves and our way of life can help us get back on course. Take time out and give it a try.

Life Lab Lessons

  • Find a quiet place with no distractions.
  • Set aside some time in your schedule just for you.
  • Think about what is important to you in life.
  • Is that still a worthwhile goal?
  • If not, what could you do different?

Calliope: Thanks Joe. Can’t wait for the book.

Subscribe for free biweekly Sliding Otter News at http://www.epurl.com.mSt-P

The Beginning of the End

Nina Replica

Nina Replica

Joe: Good afternoon Calliope.

Calliope: Good afternoon Joe. I trust you have been busy with your new book.

Joe: Indeed I have. I finished the first draft a couple days ago.

Calliope: Now what?

Joe: Good question. Several tasks await. One is to go through the book sentence by sentence to see if it is written clearly. Then second is check my organization of topics. The third is to add any topics I might have overlooked. I already know a couple, namely shame and the relationship between sex and stress. The fourth is to compile a list of suggested readings.

Calliope: Will that complete your work?

Joe: Not quite. I have some readers ready to comb over the book for content, grammar and punctuation. Then I will most likely have more editing to do in response to their comments.

Calliope: Sounds like you have been down this road before.

Joe; I have, over the course of my last five books. At least I know what lies ahead. After all this, I will start with my shopping for an agent and eventually a publisher.

Calliope: No self publishing this time?

Joe: I will try the traditional route at least for a while to see whether there might be a market for it.  As a last result I will resort to self publishing if necessary. I will post my latest newsletter here tomorrow. It’s theme is from the stress book.