Gandalf

The Wisdom of Tolkien…. Again….

Yes it’s time for another piece with J.R.R. Tolkien. Even if you haven’t read the books you likely know who this author is. His impact on culture has been immense to say the least. His books sent me down a path of imagination that nearly 40 years later I am still on. To the wisdom…

“It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life.”
― J.R.R Tolkien

I suppose we need to determine what is a simple life? Today many people aspire to have more… In the sense that your motivations are often suspect internally. As an example I want 500 subscribers to my blog. Why? money? reach? affirmation? competition? For me its just a number I want to attain, I believe that its a worthy goal but have no real difinitive reason why other than Id like more people to read what I have to say.

A simple life to you might be something completely different from what I think it is. The point here I think is to reflect on what we have and appreciate it more rather than be constantly driven to obtain more, whatever the venue. Tolkien in context is using the hobbits as an example of his “simple life”.

They enjoy family, home, a good harvest, a warm meal, a soft bed. While the rest of the world is engaged in conquest, power, politics, war, turmoil. Bring this back to your life, what are the simple things you enjoy? Have you celebrated them lately? Meaning really appreciate where they come from, how you obtained it?

Me, I am really thankful for my pillow. I know that sounds silly doesnt it? Its a simple thing, that makes my life better, I am going to celebrate it by washing it today. Yes, sometimes a simple celebration of something that makes your life better is a good avenue for your energy rather than a focus on something you want to obtain.

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Squats

Lower your anxiety with Exercise

I know we have all seen plenty of articles on this subject. Well add another one to the list because a new year is around the corner and you should, once and for all, make exercise a priority. Notice I didn’t say lose weight, I didn’t say diet, I didn’t say train, EXERCISE.

Just exercise more, that’s it. I’m not saying change your eating habits, I mean if you want to down a pint of ice cream a day that’s cool. If you increase your exercise and everything else in your life remains the same you will lower your anxiety (and improve your health!).

I found a good article here that discusses this a little more in depth.

From the article: “More specifically, the follow-up analysis showed that “people with the lowest combined aerobic and muscular fitness had 98% higher odds of depression, 60% higher odds of anxiety, and 81% higher odds of having either one of the common mental health disorders, compared to those with high levels of overall fitness.”

Based on these findings, the authors speculate that aerobic and resistance training may offset the risk of experiencing depression, anxiety, and other common mental health disorders. “While broadly increasing physical activity will be beneficial, structured aerobic and resistance exercises with sufficient intensity to improve fitness may have a greater effect on risk reduction,” the authors note.”

Do something, anything ! GET MOVING !

Again this article isn’t pushing the fitness industry narratives we are all currently swarmed with. You know the super fit models doing some exercise and eating a handful of berries on one leaf of spinach? It’s creating an unobtainable goal for many people to pull you in, get your money, sell you products (fitness equipment, supplements, sleep aids, on and on) and keep you literally on a treadmill to extract as much money from you as possible.

Cynical enough? The point here is, and this study confirms that ANY increase in exercise is a net positive in combating anxiety and general mental health issues. This can be as little as once a day doing as many pushups as you can. Maybe increase your steps 2000 a day, jump rope for 5 min… you get the picture.

You don’t have to go on extreme diets, train like a professional athlete or be a genetic specimen to benefit from exercise. Small incremental increases in activity begin to translate into planned exercise. This can directly lead to anxiety relief and isn’t that what we are all looking for? This article supports that notion so go ahead, go out for a walk, every day.

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How a notebook helps me with anxiety.

It’s listed as .99c but with tax well it’s a little over a dollar. I often splurge and get the 2.99 version (thanks Walmart!). I take notes almost every day. Not the type of notes you would take during a college lecture but when something occurs to me “crap I am at a quarter tank of gas, I need gas soon” I try and jot down a quick note. I know this seems manic to a degree but hear me out.

First you don’t have to get the notebook, you use the notes app on your I-phone. More importantly the notes help me sort out the random panic thoughts from the actual “I need to do this” stuff that comes up every day. I look at this notebook once a day, often more but I sometimes rewrite the notes in numeric order this helps me know how many things I need to do.

Once a task is complete I cross it out. While this may seem a simple and a common task for those of us with anxiety we can be invaded at any moment with literally hundreds of random thoughts that pull us back, in some cases, decades into the past. As an example, I had a random thought while I was driving from 1985 I remember saying something to Nancy Fargene (name has been changed) that was less than pleasant. Not only that it was in the company of others, let’s just say it wasn’t one of my more chivalrous moments. This “thought” expanded to replaying many scenarios from that time of my life out in my head.

Beyond the Trees
Write it down and see the light amongst the Trees

No, I am not putting that in my notebook, but my point is it was random, there was no trigger for me. For you, if you are unsure of some of the thoughts you are having, by writing them down and revisiting them later you can sort them out and create clear lists of things that you have to do. This organizational trick helps relieve some of the overwhelming feelings you might get from too many things bouncing around in your head.

Additionally, you might come out of it with an actual task list, and when you finish a task you get an instant anxiety reliever. This isn’t meant to give you something else to do, but rather help to organize the randomness of things that might be coming into your mind. By sorting through the items and organizing just a little bit you could save yourself grief down the road. For years I would try and remember all the things I had to do and had varying success.

In the end any small tool we can use that helps us manage our anxiety is a good thing. Next time you are at the store and see a notebook (I like hard covered ones myself) and its within your price range give it a shot. Try this for a month, if its not for you your only out a couple of buck’s tops. If it helps you a little bit, it was priceless.

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Surviving 2020 & covid

Nothing in this world is permanent, not even our troubles. Anxiety SUCKS!

2020 has been a tough year, and for those of us with Anxiety? It’s been absolutely brutal. I know for me personally I have had some very serious moments of complete isolation due to being in a lockdown. I haven’t been to my office in months, I haven’t seen elderly relatives in months. I have been sitting in this same room, working from home for hours, days, weeks, months…. It’s wearing on me and I am sure its wearing on you.

I keep telling myself “nothing in this world is permanent, not even our troubles”. It works for a short amount of time. I’m grasping for anything that gets me through the anxiety moments. Even if it’s some stupid meme I picked up from the web.

I wish I had great advice for you, I wish there was some magic elixir of words that I could type that you could read that would magically reset your anxiety triggers. I can’t, I don’t know what they are. I’m looking for the right mix myself.

I am going to repeat what I said though “Nothing in this world is permanent, not even our troubles”. Some troubles though linger, some troubles are allowed to fester longer than necessary by outside sources. I usually look forward to the holidays, unlike many with Anxiety I do well this time of year. This year? I can’t travel and I can’t see the people I want and its wearing on me.

Nothing in this world is permanent, not even our troubles

Nothing in this world is permanent, not even our troubles

Nothing in this world is permanent, not even our troubles

Nothing in this world is permanent, not even our troubles

One day at a time…. Thank you for coming by and supporting my blog I appreciate it. Want to see more posts like this? Click here.

Glogg

It’s time for Glogg!

For all of my Scandinavian readers (yes there are a few), my Norse enthusiasts and general pagans it’s that time! Around thanksgiving is when I create my first batch of Glogg for friends and family. This year we aren’t having many guests but I will still make it. Now this drink isn’t for everyone, it has a lot of booze lol but it is a traditional Scandinavian drink. Its origins are not precise but it goes back many, many years.

What is Glogg? Glogg is a hot spiced wine and liquor punch served in Scandinavian countries as a Christmas drink. It’s often served on St Lucia day 12/13 but has become most identified with the general “holiday season” So how do I make it? Below is a traditional Norwegian recipe that I have been using for years. I use Cognac, but you can use Vodka instead. Remember like any food or drink, the better quality of the ingredients the better the recipe turns out.

Drink and be Merry !

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle of red wine
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom or nutmeg
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1 large sliced cinnamon stick
  • 1 2-inch piece of ginger, chopped
  • 1.5 cups white sugar
  • ½ 750-ml bottle of Cognac
  • ½ cup of raisins (ROUGHLY)
  • ½ cup sliced almonds (ROUGHLY)

Directions:

Heat the red wine slowly in a saucepot over medium-high heat. Put the cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and ginger in a spice bag (OPTIONAL, YOU CAN JUST PUT THEM IN) and add to the pot. Stir in the sugar until it dissolves. Let this get to a temperature of 175f. Then put in the Cognac, let it simmer for 5-10 min. This depends on the mixtures journey to 175, did it get very hot and you brought the temp down or did you bring the temp up slowly? When the Cognac was added how did the temp drop? This is really the only part of the recipe where you have to be mindful and pay attention to your creation.

After the simmer period (7 min approx.) remove from the heat, cover and let it steep for 1.5 hours. Strain the mixture of the non-liquid ingredients if you used a spice bag or cheese cloth remove it. Reheat slowly on a very low heat.  This is a mulled wine it is supposed to be served warm or hot but not scolding/boiling. Warm enough to see slight wisps of steam rising from the glass.

You can garnish your cups with cinnamon sticks if you like, or powder the top with cinnamon. There are many recipes for Glogg out there, some vanilla based, orange, you can really be creative here.

Happy Holidays!

One of the hardest things to do when you have anxiety

Maybe it will be in school, maybe at a family function, maybe at work… At some point in your life its highly likely you are going to have to speak in front of strangers. For some of us this can be crippling and send our anxiety through the roof. For others, they dont shut up anyway, lol.

In life its often the case that we are asked to speak or called on particularly at work. Remember in high school (maybe your still there) when you were called on in class? Same theory really, as you enter the work force you’re going to be in meetings from time to time. You might be called on. Talking to a group of people is one of an anxiety suffers worse nightmare.

So many thoughts run through your head it can be nerve wracking and it can literally cause you physical harm. This post focuses mostly on impromptu speaking, like being called on randomly in class, or being asked a question in a meeting at work.

You are being asked to speak because the person asking thinks you have something of value to add. There are times when someone might ask you something to literally put you on the spot, which is cruel but more often then not people who want to hear you speak on a subject genuinely value what you have to say. That’s probably the hardest thing to realize when you are “on the spot”.

One step closer every day.

In an instant you can be overwhelmed with this situation. Below are 3 things I have always done before meetings to make sure I was moderately prepared. These will enable you to have quick talking points should you need them. These can be applicable to school situations as well. However work is different as we are being paid to be there and there is a level of expectation that is much different then a learning environment.

  1. If I know the meeting is coming I educate myself on the subject.
  2. I run down quickly in my mind, who is calling the meeting, what their role is and why I think they are calling it.
  3. I look to see who else is in the meeting and identify allies.

More on 3. In any work situation, or life really, look for allies. People who are genuinely friendly to you may share a common mindset etc. These people may not be your friends, but you need allies in life to help you through tough situations. If you are in a meeting with one of these people, you can lean on them. Literally you can mimic what they said, they probably won’t be offended. You can look at them as you speak.

Speaking publically can be challenging for a lot of us, anxiety aside its not easy to stand up in front of strangers and speak on the subject. You dont know what they know, you have no idea what you sound like to them. That can be the trigger for crippling bouts of anxiety, before, during, and after the talk.

Life can be a roller coaster at some point you’ll likely be in this situation. Some work environments are very toxic and people who know you have anxiety can be sinister and actually create situations where you have to talk to a group, knowing full well it will create a huge negative impact on you. That’s the reality of the working world, its filled with all sorts of people.

Sit up straight, take a deep breath and speak clearly. If you are nervous, make a small joke about it. If you know the subject matter, elaborate, if you dont know create an out proposition “I need to get more information before I speak into this matter” something like that. If you have anxiety issues speaking publically can be one of the serious pit falls ahead. Many people cant handle it, and thats okay too.

Be ready for it, as best you can. Practice your posture, practice looking at people, practice speaking in a clear voice, note your hand gestures, note how other people handle it. These are skills and tools you will be able to use for decades to come, they are applicable anywhere. From getting the attention of a server at a resteraunt to presenting a report to the board of directors.

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Oscar Wilde

Wisdom from a 50 year old – Me

No this is not one of my “ancient wisdom” pieces all though I am sure there is someone out there who will quip something about my age….. The wisdom?

A person with experience should not be a victim of a person with an opinion

This isn’t specific to any one thing, meaning you may have a lot of experience dating. You may be an experienced gamer, you may have experienced abuse of some kind…. Whatever the condition is experience is paramount. Everyone has opinions, it doesn’t mean those opinions are wrong either.

Ideally in life when you can, if you can, seek out people with experience first, cultivate opinions second. Also, do not discount yourself when considering people with experience. You are after all an expert in yourself, or becoming one. You’re instincts are likely based on your experiences and that is the path to true wisdom.

Don’t let people with an opinion speak into your life and victimize you with attempts at shame or guilt. I post this because we are on the cusp of the holidays and for many of us that means interactions with extended family and friends who are all “experts” in something. These experts, and their opinions can sometimes have a dramatic negative impact on you and in your life.

You are here, you are present, you are coping, and you are surviving. You are putting together minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years of life and you are moving forward. Opinions come and go, anyone can step into your life for a minute and give a dossier on what they see. Ignore them, seek people with experience, including the expert on you, you.

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stressed-out-woman

Why you have to deal with resentment ASAP

Most of us at some point in our life have had resentment or have had someone who resents us. Resentment is a feeling of indignant displeasure or persistent ill will at something regarded as a wrong, insult, or injury. Resentment usually manifests itself in your most intimate relationships. You care what these people think, what they say, how they behave.

Further, this resentment is often harbored for long periods of time because we maintain these relationships for years. After all, these are often the people we care most about or whom we have as part of our lives. In-laws, Ex-spouses, Siblings these are all prime candidates for resentment. As individuals with anxiety, resentment is like a fertilizer for our condition. It’s paramount that we deal with resentment if for nothing else our personal mental health, but ideally to nurture our close relationships.

We resent the people we care about the most for that very reason, WE CARE ABOUT THEM. So when they hurt us it festers, and this grows to resentment. Not allowing hurts to grow to resentment is an important skill that is extremely hard to master. It requires a high level of communication ability that many of us with Anxiety issues simply don’t possess.

Communicate with the most important people in your life.

Resentment not addressed, over time poisons you, poisons your relationships and eventually kills positive outcomes. Future events are flavored by past hurts and in the end it’s really you who lose. So how do you deal with resentment? Here are 3 ways to get a handle on your resentment issues.

  1. Talk to a therapist
  2. Communicate with the party who offended
  3. Embrace forgiveness

All three can work singularly or in tandem. None of them are simple, but lets be very candid here, resentment issues are very complex. It’s hard to address or in many cases even understand why you are carrying this baggage around. As people with anxiety we have to work on so many things to survive mentally it can be exhausting. Resentments are one of the key emotional states that’s are sabotaging your most important relationships.

You have to work on it. Be honest why you might resent those in your life. What was the past hurt? Why didn’t you let it go? What wrong was not apologized for? If you don’t ask these questions and give honest answers you will continue to feed your anxiety and undermine your happiness. This is a worthy investment, not only for you but for those whom you have deep personal relationships. The people you care about the most are the ones who can hurt you the most profoundly.

Identify it, address it, be honest about it, own your part of it, get better, and find harmony.

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A Norse God House Found.

As we enter the winter season in the northern hemisphere I was reminded recently that Yule is right around the corner. This blog isn’t a pagan blog I don’t do a lot of pieces on paganism and the ancient ways but I am admittedly a pagan. Like so many other people out there I do not adhere to a strict doctrine of a religion. I am more spiritual and I find that “God” or “Gods” are usually manifestations of the mind to explain the unexplained and the human condition.

To be blunt, I don’t know if there is a god or not, or several. I believe in higher powers but the notion of some old guy sitting in the clouds watching my every move and recording it seems as far-fetched as a god riding on an 8 legged horse and hanging from a tree of wisdom.

In my –pagan- travels around the web I found a great article here, a temple to Thor and Odin has been unearthed.

From the article: “This is the first time we’ve found one of these very special, very beautiful buildings,” Diinhoff told Live Science. “We know them from Sweden and we know them from Denmark. … This shows that they also existed in Norway.”

The Norse began building these large “god houses”, as they’re called, in the sixth century. The god houses were much more complex than the simple sites, often outdoors, that the people previously used to worship the Old Norse gods.” It is a stronger expression of belief than all the small cult places,” he said. “This is probably something to do with a certain class of the society, who built these as a real ideological show.”

This is a great find and it may serve to do a bit more back work on softening the stigma of Norse culture. Of course we have all heard of Vikings, ruthless pagan raiders who terrorized the west after the collapse of the Roman Empire. Yes that’s part of their story, and a big part. They were also very spiritual people, as were most in antiquity. While we can haggle over whose god is the only god, like most civilizations the Norse had representation in their god hierarchy similar to the roman, Greeks, Egyptians and other ancient cultures.

Come from the land of Ice and Snow?

As others who have studied Norse mythology and the dark ages will tell you, they valued home, they valued family, and they strove for measures of equality. They celebrated the harvest, feared the winter and relished the spring and fall. Its great news when we find glimpses into our ancient past. Regardless of what you chose to believe or where your particular ancestors come from, it’s always interesting to see what our distant cousin’s lives through.

This find is great for archeologists and for pagans a like. It’s important for us to understand the reverence that was paid to the gods at the time. This was, for lack of a better term, how they understood they were supposed to worship god(s). They weren’t so unlike our modern interpretations of faith now really, perhaps even more devout. Yes they were Vikings, they were brutal but so were most people and most religions at one time or another.

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Justice

2020 Presidential Election, what the law says happens next.

There is a lot of information, misinformation rumor and innuendo right now on voter fraud, office of the president elect on and on. We all knew it was going to be a mess, and it is. Let’s take a step back from the haze, and take our fingers out of our ears as no one is shouting at you here. Let’s just look at some facts.

Below are the specifics of what happens after Election Day. Yes there is a formal legal process. This has been used before (see 2000 election). In most cases the winner is clear and the loser concedes the contest which allows us to forego the Dec 8 deadline. That hasn’t happened yet, and despite all the screaming at Trump, he is within the rules for not conceding yet.

Source: https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/the-electoral-college.aspx

  • Nov. 3, 2020: Election Day, when voters in each state will select their presidential electors. The 0presidential candidate, s/he is also casting a vote for the electors already selected by the party of that candidate. If a majority of voters in a state vote for the Republican candidate for president, the Republican slate of electors is elected. If a majority vote for the Democratic candidate, the Democratic slate of electors is chosen.

Above is one of Trump’s arguing points, we have an “election day” and the votes on that day are the only ones that can be counted (that’s the crux of his argument). Now this includes mail in ballots received on or before 11/3. Constitutionally he might have a point but I doubt highly the supreme court is going to impose a federal mandate on states here, normally they allow the states a great deal of latitude on how they handle voting.

  • Dec. 8, 2020: Deadline for Resolving Election Disputes. All state recounts and court contests over presidential election results must be completed by this date. (3 U.S.C. § 5) . For the majority of states the date of certification is the same as for all contests, but in eight states there is a deadline that either directly references 3 USC §5  or uses similar language, requiring that disputes surrounding the selection of presidential electors be resolved in time to meet the “safe harbor” deadline: Indiana, Iowa, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. For detailed information on state post-election processes, please visit this page.

This is exactly what Gore used in 2000 and what Trump is using now. He does have the right to challenge the results if he thinks there is fraud. Of course he has to PROVE there is fraud and not just proclaim it. This is the deadline date, once we get here save for ongoing litigation state votes are certified.

Enough
Had Enough of 2020 yet?
  • Dec. 14, 2020Meeting of the Electors. The electors meet in each state and cast their ballots for president and vice president. Each elector votes on his or her own ballot and signs it. The ballots are immediately transmitted to various people: one copy goes to the president of the U.S. Senate (who is also the vice president of the United States); this is the copy that will be officially counted later. Other copies go to the state’s secretary of state, the National Archives and Records Administration, and the presiding judge in the district where the electors meet (this serves as a backup copy that would replace the official copy sent to the president of the Senate if it is lost or destroyed).
  • Dec. 23, 2020: Deadline for Receipt of Ballots. The electors’ ballots from all states must be received by the president of the Senate by this date. There is no penalty for missing this deadline.

Both the points above are essentially the same, but this is when official Electoral ballots are signed by Electors. Generally these follow along the lines of the state mandate, meaning if Biden won NH and got 4 Electoral College votes, all 4 electors for NH would vote for Biden. Now there is no federal law, or constitutional requirement that electors must follow the will of the state vote outcome. There are however STATE penalties if they do not, and generally this never happens but it can. In theory those electors can chose not to vote for Biden and instead vote for Trump or vice versa, or not vote at all.

  • Jan. 6, 2021: Counting of the Electoral Ballots. The U.S. Congress meets in joint session to count the electoral votes.

This is the end of the line, once these are counted by congress and verified by the joint session it becomes legal record. The person with 270+ wins. There is no going back, no more challenges. Now PRIOR to this the Supreme Court can order a delay if it has pending litigation pertaining to the election outcome. It’s highly unlikely but it can happen.

  • Jan. 20, 2021: Inauguration Day.  The president-elect becomes the president of the United States.

Whomever obtained the 270 is sworn in as the next president of the United States. Again this can be delayed if the counting of the Electoral Ballots was delayed. Once the ballots are verified by congress it’s usually 2 weeks after that inauguration happens.

So that is technically what we are looking at. Expect legal challenges to keep happening right until the deadline by Trump.

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