“If you conquer yourself, then you conquer the world”
― Paulo Coelho
I'm finishing up my masters degree this semester after an 8 year hiatus, and I have to distally take a theory class that is now required for the degree. So far it has consisted of dense readings (80-100 pages/week) that I have to synthesize into a one page analysis. It has reminded me more than ever what a problem I have with brevity. Or maybe I don't have a problem with brevity as much as I just want to continue to research, to say, to express etc. There is so much information available about literally everything that it's hard to stop writing. So this week (as usual) I have tried to keep these five random summaries brief. I suceeded in some more than others but I hope you enjoy :)
This week I watched a short film about billy barr, the “Snow Guardian of the Rockies”. Barr has lived in the mountains of Gothic, Colorado (year round population of 1) for over 40 years. He came to Gothic one summer as a 21 year old environmental science research student and has stayed on his own - first in an abandoned mining shack and now in a cabin that he built. To combat boredom, barr (he prefers his name to be lowercase) started to take detailed notes of the snow level, temperature, weather, and wildlife - among other things - each day. He made his own code to record his data twice a day - filling a notebook every three years.
The Rocky Mountain Biological Lab is located in Gothic, and barr has worked for/with the scientists and students who come in the summer in various ways for years. But it wasn’t until the 1990’s that he told a scientist about his detailed notes. Since then his notes have been referenced in dozens of research papers and used as historical evidence of climbing temperatures. He says that in the 44 years he has been recording, the permanent snow pack isn’t present until later in the year and the bare ground has been coming up sooner.
While his records are getting a lot of attention and are indeed super important, I just love his story - his life. Watch the short here.
No Alcohol January
As many of you know, I am giving something up every month this year in an effort to build willpower and become more thoughtful with the choices I make and the things I think I “need”. In January I gave up alcohol and…. it was unexpectedly really easy. I drink a glass of wine nearly every day so I was expecting this challenge to be really difficult - not to mention January sucks, it’s cold, politics etc. but, it really wasn’t.
I think there are a few reasons for this. Telling myself (and others) that I wasn’t going to do something gave me a clear goal. I’ve always been the type that follows through with promises I make to myself - if I tell myself I am or am not going to do something I will persevere through anything to do it. Of course, the key again is that I do this with things I decide and promise to myself.
But anyways, back to Dry January. Health-wise I feel great. Science tells us that within a week of no drinking sleep is improved - definitely true for me. Within 2 weeks people can experience weight loss - not sure if this is true for me, I think food replaced wine for me. Within 3-4 weeks blood pressure is reduced - maybe true? and within a month skin is better and liver fat is less.
I'm not going to quit drinking forever - in fact I might just go get some wine right now - but it will be different. I feel so great (and productive!) Read more about the effects of dry January here and here. Now on to February...
No Coffee February
February is here and I’ve decided to give up another thing that I feel is integral to my life - coffee. I have had at least one cup of black coffee every day for as long as I can remember. In the morning, afternoon, even at night - and then go straight to sleep. I’ve long realized that the caffeine isn't the motivation - it’s the ritual. And I just really like coffee.
I've noticed recently how many ritualized behaviors make up my day. I have very strict morning and night routines - they make me feel calm and centered - but I don't want to get in a rut. I crave freedom in almost all aspects of life and I don't want to be a prisoner to drinking coffee.
I’ve read a lot about what might happen when I give up coffee - withdrawal, sleep effects, less anxiety etc. - but so far I’ve just had a headache. I am drinking loads of tea - some caffeinated - so the caffeine withdrawal shouldn’t be too bad. I think the most important part of giving something up is having a substitute ready. But... I could be wrong. Wish me luck.
Self Care or Self-Indulgence?
If you spend any time on Instagram you've surely seen #selfcare. While the internet seems to have branded self-care as a treat yo self excuse to take bubble baths - self-care is much more than that. I was reading about the French philosopher Foucault and his thoughts on self-care - he said that care for ones self is integral to democracy. Audre Lorde echoes this by saying self-care is "an act of political warfare" -- not just a bubble bath (although those are great)
I think it's important to think about self-care not as something we do or buy but something we feel. Self care is a process of noticing how we are feeling, acknowledging it, and then doing something - not necessarily anything with a monetary cost. The current media version of self care is privileged. Taking care of yourself by spending money, taking time etc that not everyone has access to.
Self-care is about capacity building. It is taking care of yourself in order to have the energy to deal with the things in life that are difficult. Self-indulgence on the other hand is based in avoidance. It's "I feel bad about something so I'm going to go shopping to avoid sitting in the discomfort" while self-care is noticing the feeling, sitting with it, acknowledging it's affect on your life and then making a choice on how to respond. Maybe your response is a bubble bath - that's okay. Just realize that it's much bigger than manicures and bath bombs - taking care of yourself and your health as Foucault says is, "an ethical responsibility" and an act of self-preservation.
The Best Pasta Recipe
This week I stumbled upon a random Pinterest recipe, changed it up to work with what I had on hand, and have found probably my new favorite food. It is a play on bang bang shrimp pasta here but with spaghetti squash.
Spaghetti squash is my go to base for basically everything. It is so super easy to prepare, tastes great, and it’s cheap! If you haven’t made spaghetti squash before follow these simple steps:
1. Buy a spaghetti squash :)
2. Cut it length wise
3. Scrape out the seeds jack o lantern style
4. Roast for about 45 minutes at 375 degrees
6. Scrape out the “spaghetti” strands with a fork - it should be super easy otherwise you haven’t roasted it long enough
Eat all the spaghetti squash things because: you can eat FIVE cups of spaghetti squash for the same calories as just one cup of whole wheat pasta - it only has 42 calories per cup, 0.5 grams of fat, 10 grams of carbohydrates, and tons of vitamins and minerals.
Read more about spaghetti squash here.
Happy Friday :)