What We’ve Accomplished

I meant to include a link to this video in my last post, but I forgot it. I did fix that. But the video is something I had been meaning to bring to your attention anyways. It’s a Ted talk by Hans Rosling, a statistician and researcher on international health. The Ted site describes it this way (which barely begins to do it justice):

You’ve never seen data presented like this. With the drama and urgency of a sportscaster, statistics guru Hans Rosling debunks myths about the so-called “developing world.”

It’s internet old, meaning it’s been floating around since 2006, so some of you may have already seen it. I’d love to see a follow-up looking at what’s happened since the 2008 financial crash. Unfortunately, I don’t think our progress is going to be able to outpace the destructive forces we’ve unleashed. But it is remarkable what humanity has been able to do just in the last century.

Anyhow, here’s that video:


Pay your body a visit!

It’s hard to enjoy your life if you are not really there for it.

“I am.” -God

“Be Present” is one of those great spiritual truths like Love, Peace an Compassion.  I’m sure books have been written on why this is so, but so far the teaching of it has been lax at best.  And no matter how much people on TV swear by it, meditating for an hour a day just isn’t practical.  But there are ways to learn to be more present that don’t put you in any danger of falling asleep while in the lotus pose.

To start learning to be present, start where you should always start: with yourself.

Once or twice a day, take a few seconds to be still and pay attention to your body.  The first few times you do it, do it when you don’t need to be paying attention to something else. You do want to be able to focus.  Good times can be when you are rocking or nursing a child.  Or just sitting at your computer.  Don’t do it while driving.

Just close your eyes, notice any noise or smells.  Notice your reactions to them – are they irritating?  Pleasant?  Feel your skin – is there a breeze, can you feel the weight of your legs on your chair?  Notice any aches or stiffness.  Are you thirsty?  Hungry?  Take a good look around your non-visual senses, but you don’t have to go deep here.  Your goal is to notice what your body is experiencing, not to experience the movement of butterfly wings stirring air near-by!

 It’s your body and it likes when you visit!

Shoes are evil!

Well, I feel slightly vindicated now.  You see, as long as I’ve known him, my husband has given me a hard time about my shoe wearing habits (or lack thereof) and the condition of my feet.   I HATE shoes.  So I walk around barefoot as much as humanly possible.  When I do put on shoes they are either cute heels to go with an outfit or the flimsiest things I can get my hands on.  My husband, on the other hand, straps a pair of clodhoppers onto his feet before leaving the bedroom in the morning.  He has this wackjob crazypants notion that our feet should always be soft, callous free and most especially clean.  I know!  I married a lunatic.  You don’t have to tell me.

Well, it turns out that science is siding with me and my barefoot ways. There’s a long article in New Yorker Magazine called “You Walk Wrong“.  It’s all about the damage we are doing to ourselves, particularly our joints, by wearing shoes.  Any shoes at all.  And it turns out that the more supportive and padded the shoe is – the worse off you are.  One study found that people in expensive, cushioned running shoes had over twice as many injuries as those running in hard soled shoes.

The problem with shoes is that they remove a proper sense of connection with the ground, causing us to pound our feet in ways that we wouldn’t if we were able to feel them hitting the ground.  They also prevent the natural rolling motion of the foot which places additional strain on our joints.   I bet it also accounts for the fact that I rarely step on things on the floor and when I do, I rarely step on them hard enough to hurt.  My husband, OTOH, gets some little lego piece embedded into his foot every time he takes his shoes off.  Not wearing shoes probably creates a greater awareness of where you put your feet and what might be underfoot before you impale your foot with it.

There also appears to be a correlation between putting shoes on kids and them having flat feet.  So let their little toesies out!  Shoes are bad, bad, bad.  (Here’s a NYT article about kids and shoes.)

I’m so glad I read this.  I am in dire need of new workout shoes as I don’t think they’ll let you go on the elliptical machines at the Y barefoot.  There is nothing in this world that I hate more than gym shoes.  They make me feel like my feet are stuck to the floor.  I expect to try a lateral move and wind up on the ground like a cartoon character.  Now I know that I’m best off buying some cheap, flimsy, flat shoes rather than the cushy, padded monstrosities I thought I was going to have to get.  Really, I think that my hatred of gym shoes is probably about 40% of the reason I hate to exercise.  (Feeling like I’m suffocating makes up the other 60%.  I hate exercise almost as much as I hate shoes.)

So next time my husband tries to give me a hard time about my feet (which I have been cleaning and buffing everyday, thank you very much), I will smugly rest assured in my superior foot habits.  Nah!