You might call it Halloween, someone else might call it Alfablot

It is the Friday before Halloween, and where I live that’s a big deal. Its a fun holiday and it should be better this year as covid restrictions are relaxed (at least where I am). We get a lot of kids at our house nearly 100 every year. We live in one of those developments where people drop their kids off, its safe lot of houses, one way in and surrounded by deep woods. The town I live in also has a curfew on Halloween, 8PM. It’s not a militant curfew, I mean the cops aren’t out in riot gear… but at 8PM they ask you turn your light off and not hand out any candy.

But, how did all this start?

“Today’s religion is tomorrows myth” a wise man. Many celebrations, holidays and religious observances are overlap, borrowed or redundant. When we as a species were in our formidable years around 2000 years ago, religions competed with one another for followers. This isn’t meant to be cynical it’s just how it was. That doesn’t detract from the piety of those at the time, but religion was different then, faith was an absolute. Meaning, there was no internet, cell phone, most people couldn’t read.

Here we are on the cusp of the western worlds holiday season. Halloween ushers in the season, we get veterans day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah and New Year’s Day all within 70 days ( a touch over 2 months). Where do these holidays come from? You likely know some of the stories, you likely know, as an example, that the “12 days of Christmas” run nearly concurrently with Chanukah.

So, what are some of the other holidays that coincide or more accurately, preceded our current festivals? For Halloween there is Alfablot. Here is a link that describes it in more detail

What did your ancestors think?

In short, Aflablot is the sacrifice of the elves. Elves in the Viking world mostly represented dead spirits. So, this was a celebration of the dead, for lack of a more eloquent, and lengthy discussion. Sound familiar? Your Norse ancestors would have celebrated this blot toward the end of October. It was after harvest when the world was becoming bleak and barren.

In antiquity, in the Norse world, this was the time of the dead. You prepared most of the year to survive the winter and this was a time when people died to the elements and illness. The Alfablot was a singular ceremony, meaning each house conducted their own, in an effort to reach ancestors and elves in the hopes of communal discourse.

The hope was you would be able to convince the spirits to protect your house and family. There were no trick or treats but, indeed it was similar to Halloweens origins in spirit. Its symbolic of the end of the harvest, a preparation for winter. This Halloween, have fun, enjoy the celebration where you are as winter is coming (Is that you John Snow?).

Happy Halloween and Happy Alfablot !

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How to turn your anxiety into a super power

For years now I have been doing posts on anxiety where I seek out articles and cite them for the purpose of giving people information. Inevitably many of these articles come boil down to a very simple proposition: change the way you think. I mean anyone with anxiety will tell you If they could do that they would. We get these over simplifications in many areas of life and its tiring. I found an article here that somewhat does this, but gets to the critical aspect of the identification process.

From the article: “Suzuki talks about “the superpower of productivity,” which you can tap into simply by listening carefully to the actual content of your worries. “A very, very common manifestation of anxiety is that ‘what if’ list that comes in your head: What if I get sick with Covid, what if I don’t get an A, what if I can’t remember what the professor said on this part of the test? The superpower that comes with that anxiety-induced what-if list is shifting that into a to-do list,” she explains to Newman. “ 

Chronic Anxiety is like having an itch that you can never scratch.

So the critical point here is identifying the source of the anxiety. Worried about an exam? Study more. I know simple right? The point here is identifying sources of anxiety and attempting to address them directly. This action begins the process of the infamous “change how you think” narrative and why this article is so valuable. You are likely never going to escape anxiety completely but if there are reoccurring issues that create anxiety, identifying them and working toward addressing them directly is going to bare a lot of fruit for your mental state.

Many of us, myself included have a multifaceted issue. Meaning it’s never just one thing, it’s an accumulation of many small issues that converge and lead to intrusive thoughts and debilitating mood swings. Take one issue at a time, if its work, well what part of work specifically? Try and drill down here, get into the weed and really figure out what is driving your anxiety. When you do this you create the conditions by which you can recover faster as you can in many cases address the issue directly and resolve it.

One down, hundreds more to go but its progress….

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Anxiety: Back to Basics

Let me start this post off with a link to a great resource the Anxiety and Depression Association of America . This site has excellent information for anyone who thinks they have an anxiety disorder or knows they do and you just need more information. This website has a lot of information and resources and can assist with a multitude of issues. I strongly recommend taking a look at the site and the reference material it offers.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is essentially a catch all for nonspecific anxiety triggers most of us call them phobias. “GAD is diagnosed when a person finds it difficult to control worry on more days than not for at least six months and has three or more symptoms” . When I read this I realized that at several points in my life this applied to me. GAD isn’t a constant condition it can come and go but I’ve found in my travels that more often than not it is always present just to varying degrees.

From the Website: “GAD affects 6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the U.S. population, in any given year. Women are twice as likely to be affected. The disorder comes on gradually and can begin across the life cycle, though the risk is highest between childhood and middle age. Although the exact cause of GAD is unknown, there is evidence that biological factors, family background, and life experiences, particularly stressful ones, play a role.”

stressed-out-woman
Anxiety doesn’t care about your ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation.

I thought this excerpt from the site was particularly potent. 6.8 million adults… Ya we aren’t alone. I found it very interesting that they claim women are twice as likely to be affected. I can logically extrapolate some instances why, pregnancy, physical appearance and family pressures come to mind. The worse part though is the multitude of factors and the lack of specificity as to why this occurs.

Essentially anything can trigger this, maybe you went to a concert Saturday and your ears were ringing when you got up the next day “am I going to go deaf?” you ask yourself. A common seemingly sterile situation right? So the next time you don’t hear something correctly are you now delving back into anxiety? Technically yes, again its degree’s but you are anxious about a future outcome based on an example of the past. You can’t absolutely say that your past experience will be identical to your future outcome but it’s your best gauge.

Then you begin to think “god if I just didn’t go to that concert I wouldn’t have this issue” and on and on it goes. That’s just one very simple example but it’s a prelude to Generalized Anxiety Disorder. There is no definitive moment as to when it begins for anyone, but when you are “in the moments” of anxiety you know it. The sensations are unique to everyone but if you’ve had panic attacks you know the gambit it can run. You can be highly functional and then for days struggle to get out of bed because you can’t overcome the anxiety.

Then, one day you feel good. Not perfect, not “wow that was silly I am free and clear” but the fog clears for you and you go on without worrying about it at all. This is GAD and it can flip day to day, week to week for your entire life. Knowledge is power and remember you aren’t alone. There are millions of people all over the world that have anxiety and deal with it sometimes daily, sometimes randomly sometimes just situationally with specific phobias. Hang in there, one day at a time.

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Anxiety: How to deal with a Recession

Yes, you are going to hear this word “Recession” more and more. Let’s establish clearly what a recession is. A recession, in economics, is a downward trend in the business cycle characterized by a decline in production and employment, which in turn causes the incomes and spending of households to decline. Inflation is part of this but basically the best way to measure a recession is to check on what the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is in your country. If it decreases for two consecutive quarters, it’s a recession.

The GDP is a broad measure, but it encompasses many different economic factors. In the U.S. the 1st quarter of 2022 declined from the previous quarter. So in July we will get the 2nd quarter results for the U.S. and it’s likely to decline again based on the inflation we are seeing. We also have the oddity of the economic conditions from the Pandemic. Manufacturing was silent for long periods decreasing supply (which makes things more expensive). You also had governments increasing their production of currency in the form of aid (increasing the money supply, makes it less valuable). Last, you had many people leaving the workforce. Boomers retired and many people went to the “Gig” economy.

This is putting pressure on companies as there are not enough workers. When you have a shortage of labor, what generally happens is the higher end positions fill up first. What is left is the lower pay jobs that most don’t want to do. So you get this weird situation where there are jobs to be filled but those looking for work don’t want them. Then you get a war, which impacts commodities (oil and wheat) which inflame all of the above.

A storm is brewing, are you ready?

So this is a perfect storm of economic factors. It would be a real stretch to say that a recession isn’t coming. For those of us with anxiety this is going to be the next fear proposition. This will come at a time in the U.S. where mid-term elections are happening as well. It’s going to be a mess if you have anxiety. I wish I had some wonderful advice to get through this, I really don’t. Over the summer the noise will pick up, you will be bludgeoned with it. If a recession drags through the end of the year earnings will be impacted for companies and the employment situation might flip as well.

Yes, this is a mess. So as someone with anxiety how do we deal with this? STOCKPILE CASH NOW. I normally recommend people have a 3-6 month emergency fund, I would now recommend 6-9 months, a year if you can. What is that? You take the average of your monthly bills time 9 months and that amount of cash should be sitting somewhere for you to easily access it. I know that’s a tall order for many but that cash will allow you to weather a short to mid-term storm.

Start tightening up the budget now. Start selling extra possessions you don’t really need/use and bank that money. Hopefully you don’t need it, but I suspect 2022 is going to be a down economic year for the world. I don’t see things improving much until after the U.S. mid-term elections and even then there are no guarantees. Build up your cash reserves now.

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Anxiety – An hour matters     

This is going to be a quick post today but I think it’s a critical “add on” for your life that if you can execute your anxiety will improve. All of us have things going on, work, kids, pets, significant others, parents. On top of that we have 24-7 access to screens which enable us to view every bit of information (good or bad) that is occurring in real time. The environment for anxiety is horrible right now.

There is one quick thing you can do, take an hour. Yes 1 hour a day where the screens are shut off and you do something else. “Well what the hell am I supposed to do?” That’s a good question, below is a list of things I do on my hour.

  1. Go for a walk
  2. Read a book or magazine
  3. Take a nap
  4. Stare at the ceiling
  5. Sit in my car
  6. Go for a drive

Now of course some of these activities aren’t going to be a full hour, they may be more or less. The point here is you have to invest into yourself and recapture time. Time is the most valuable commodity in the world, hands down. By taking 1 hour for yourself you are creating a habit. Ideally this habit grows and you start demanding more then an hour. Soon you will be creating time spaces in your life where you are doing the things you want to do, when you want to do them.

But first, you have to find and take an hour. You can do that.

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The next fear proposition: Oil

Those in power, all over the world maintain it with different forms of fear. The key component to this power is the notion that they are the only ones who can protect you from the fear. It’s a mutation of the old way fear used to work (and still does in some places) that there was an inferred threat of physical harm. Now that still exists to a degree, you have cancel culture as well which affects the same outcome.

Since we had a steady diet of fear for the last two years in the west, it was clearly highly effective. Most people complied, that’s what people in power want your compliance to ensure their security over power. We saw this after 9/11 as well, we got a whole new government agency “Homeland Security” to deal with that fear proposition, I wonder what agency will be created via the pandemic?

We now have a messy situation in Ukraine, it’s horrible. War sucks, but this is by no means exclusive to Russia. The U.S. has engaged in wars in nearly every decade since WWII. The issue here is Russia supply a huge amount of fossil fuels to the world. There’s the rub, and your new fear proposition. You see oil and gas prices will go up, that affects everything. All those goods you buy are delivered by a vehicle that requires an oil product.

Enough
Comply or else

You should start to see $5 for a gallon of gas soon in the U.S. (for my foreign friends that’s very high for us). This war and oil shortage will be the next fear proposition. Watch closely the legacy media and how this is woven into a new narrative. Conservatives will scream about energy independence and how liberals want to crush the economy. Liberals will scream about converting to alternative fuel sources. Both are partially right, and partially wrong.

The issue is, the tone and immediacy that will be presented by each. It will reach a fervor to the point of crisis. How many times did you turn on the news in the last few years and saw “COVID CRISIS”? Its effective, many people succumb to fear propositions. The immediacy of the narrative is the hook, no one is asking “what will this be like in 2025?” you can’t do that because if the threat isn’t imminent it’s not effective to administer control.

Rationing, limits to vehicles I think the sky is the limit here given the absurdity we saw during Covid (this store can open, BUT NOT THAT ONE!!!!!). This will spike your anxiety, cause you to silo people who do not share you view point on the matter and generally continue on the omnipresent cultural “weight” we have had in the west for years now. All sides do this, and for those of us out there in the world trying to make it through another day? Well you are a number, a statistic. Your personal situation isn’t important to those who want power, only your compliance.

This fear cycle is longer than most that I have witnessed. It’s not going to go on forever but those with power have had their “cages rattled” for lack of a better term. Populism, the internet, free enterprise…. They are losing control, and they don’t like it.

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Anxiety and Ukraine: How do you deal with this?

First let me take a moment and say that I hope and wish everyone health and safety in Ukraine. War is horrible and I am so sorry this is happening to you. The rest of the world is watching, there is only so much we can do but we will endeavor to do our best for you.

For those of us not in Ukraine this is yet another event that piles on the anxiety. So what you will see for the next few months is the constant fear proposition, phrases like “World War 3” and “Nuclear Readiness” and “Spiking Oil Prices” will become common place. Why? Why are these phrases being used? To scare you. Fear drives people to seek information, which translates to clicks. Yes, its sinister, this is an opportunity to pull the public back in for more marketing.

Curious as covid lockdowns and mandates wind down a new threat arises. Conspiracy? No I don’t dwell in that head space but I have lived a little bit. This has happened before. You see those who have power want to keep power. I think we can all agree on that, and one of the ways you do that is to make people rely and need you to hold that power. The flaw here is technology. Literally anyone with an IPhone can give you news, they can record it live.

For generations we have had nukes pointed at us.

Media has always been the keeper of knowledge in the modern western world (post WWII). That is now changing, you don’t need traditional media sources to give you information. Take a step back and think about this for just a minute. Most of you have a little box you carry around in your pocket that can get you 95% of all human knowledge, if you have the data/Wi-Fi of course. The media knows this as well, so does government and they hate it.

Just like centuries ago when the keepers of knowledge at the time, religions had cornered the market on knowledge they hated the printing press. Wars happened, it was a bloody mess and then we got the reformation and enlightenment. The liberty movements were born out of this that gave us our modern democratic systems. We are transitioning again, and those who held power don’t want to let it go.

They are trying to scare you, they want you cowed and reliant on them. Yes, Russia has invaded Ukraine and it is horrible. China right now is committing horrific crimes against its Muslim citizens. The U.S. has trillions in debt it can’t pay for. The world has serious social and economic issues. If you absorb it all, it will consume you. You will be broken you will seek refuge in the power of authority. You hope of course is they make things better so you don’t have to be afraid. Sure others get hurt by this (see covid cancellers) but YOU’RE safe.

The problem is, the minute you are safe you don’t need authority anymore and a new fear proposition comes into play. What will it be AFTER Ukraine?

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Finance – 3 tips to deal with this downturn

Inflation is real, gas prices in the U.S. will be 4.00 a gallon soon. Russia has invaded Ukraine; jobless claims rose in January. We are in a down turn period, these happen regularly. Is this a market correction? Partially, meaning a lot of the market has been inflated due to low interest rates so high amounts of capital were parked in stocks as CD rates were so low. The fed hasn’t raised rates enough to pull capital out so a true “correction” isn’t in play IMHO.

Covid shutdowns dramatically impacted the supply chain. On top of that governments subsidized citizens with money so you have the perfect storm of more cash in the economy and less goods. This always equals inflation when this occurs. The question becomes how long does it last? My initial guess was by the end of 2022 things would begin to even out. The mask mandates and locks downs are winding down, even with them in place people got covid. We have a war now, that’s a new circumstance.

I think this will go the same way the Crimea annexation went. A lot of saber rattling, sanctions and the people of Ukraine suffer. Simply put, Ukraine is not part of NATO and beyond the current president’s son’s income, there are no strategic interests of the U.S. at stake. It’s by no means a good situation but the predictions of WW3 and doom I think are very exaggerated (but not impossible). So we have a lot factors in play here, 2022 is going to be a down year economically. As I am writing this I think the market is down approx. 9.5% for the year and we aren’t finished with the 1st qtr. yet.

War sucks

How do you deal with it? I am going to give you 3 quick tips below that will help you navigate this down turn.

  1. Emergency fund: This should normally be 3-6 months of expenses; you now default it to 6. This is to help you weather inflation. If an emergency happens it’s going to cost, you more now than it did in prior years. Beef up your cushion.
  2. Secure your income sources: Down turns affect companies as well and if this extends to long (2 full qtr.’s) many companies will be looking to decrease expenses which usually means layoffs. Now is the time to make yourself as valuable as possible to your current employer. You should additionally be focusing on alternative income sources (side hustles) and if you had an idea now is the time to get it rolling.
  3. Hyper budget: This is a term used to really control spending. When things are good spending isn’t a big deal unless it’s a ridiculous expense. You should really be watching your budget closely and being very precise in your spending habits. This isn’t a long term effort here but for the next qtr. (3 months) really be sensitive to your spending habits and cut back where you can.

This slide will turn around, they always do. It’s not a matter of if it’s a matter of when. The only scenario where this continues to get worse and doesn’t improve is if the war in Ukraine expands. If Russia invades a NATO country, then all bets are off. You’re going to have much larger problems then a 6 month down cycle if that happens. For now, based on my experience I am betting on the side of a quick conflict and occupation and the damage economically to everyone outside of Ukraine subsiding in 6 months max.

That sucks for people in Ukraine, I don’t want this to seem unsympathetic to their plight but this is a finance piece not a political one. The U.S. every 20-30 years engages in a similar war (50’s Korea, 70’ Vietnam, 80’s Panama, 90’s Iraq, 2000 Afghanistan) so you have those historical markers to gauge the financial impact. In all cases markets and economic indicators dipped, commodities increased and the world has economic down turns for 2-6 months before things leveled off. I see that happening here, our economic issues are more than Ukraine. We were due for a correction, right now we are nearly at a -10% market for 2022 I think this trend will continue through the summer.

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Is CBD A potential treatment for anxiety?

We have to get something out of the way first, CBD is a non-psychoactive component of cannabis, yes weed/marijuana. It does not contain THC, THC, another component of cannabis is the part that gets you “high”. When you smoke weed, you get both but THC is a more potent component. CBD oil (its most common form) is legal in states that allow recreational or prescription use of marijuana.

DISCLAIMER: I do not advocate the use of illegal substances and in some jurisdictions Marijuana is illegal. I am a believer in liberty and believe that adults should be able to engage in behaviors they see fit as long as it doesn’t harm other non-consenting individuals.

Anxiety is a serious mental illness and while there are degrees of anxiety those of us with it can tell you that regardless of where you are on the curve of anxiety, there are days where it can be extremely challenging. CBD mellows you by encouraging your body to produce more cannabinoids which attach to receptors in your brain called CB1. CB1 receptors work with pain, emotion, mood, memories and appetite (ever smoke weed and have the “munchies”?).

Oscar Wilde
Don’t Bogart ! (A Gen Xer will get it)

The best part about CBD is it encourages your body to produce something it already naturally does and this is essentially your body then calming you. The article here: is a very good summation of the how what and why of CBD. I think as we progress further into organic and natural solutions more and more treatments for mental health issues derived from plant based products is a much better way to go then ingesting more chemicals that suppress receptors.

I found a very interesting testimonial here about how it worked for one person.

“After a few days, I already noticed a major difference. I was more mellowed out overall and didn’t have as many of my typical symptoms of anxiety. A couple weeks in, my intrusive thoughts virtually disappeared. My stomach was more calm, my heart rate got to a normal pace, and I didn’t struggle with worrying about the worst-case scenario in every single situation. I would still have the occasional flare-up of my anxiety symptoms, but it wasn’t nearly as consistent or severe as it was before.”

What a great outcome, it’s certainly worthy of consideration if you have extreme anxiety. Many states now are moving toward a more relaxed position on the consumption of Cannabis products. Make no mistake though, Marijuana in most states and at the federal level is considered a controlled substance and usage without a prescription in those states can result in criminal prosecution. That said the next time you see your Dr. ask about CBD and start the conversation, if you don’t ask you don’t give the opportunity for someone to say yes.

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Enough

Never forget – Indulge my rant, I don’t do it often.

Remember this time in our collective history. Remember the pandemic and the voices who demanded cancellation, banning, demonetization. Remember the voices who demanded you be penalized for not conforming to their narrative. Remember the voices who demanded you put something into your body, whether you wanted to or not. Never forget their names, their persona’s, their social media accounts.

These are some of the most dangerous people in the world and the pandemic exposed them.

They are driven by fear, they are weak. These are the types of individuals who will use phrases like “they say” to bolster their arguments as to why you should conform to their desired outcome. You know who they are now, you have no excuses should you chose to engage with them. They were willing to penalize you to the extreme to get their way, will you forget it? Will you offer them quarter when the tide ebbs and in the future they find themselves adrift?

It’s all abstract until you are the one who runs afoul of the narrative. The nature of power is it is all consuming. Those who want it, and taste it, keep pushing for more. Soon even those who wanted you cancelled will be in the cross hairs. Will you come to their aid? Will you stand up for them? Will you recognize that what is happening to them, they themselves tried to do to you?

Plastic destroys the environment
Us vs Them = Garbage

It’s all very dark isn’t it? Its dystopian and it does not bode well for the future discourse. Everyone has a soap box now, a you tube channel, a blog, a podcast. If you were one of those who were advocating penalizing others during one of the most challenging times in our modern social history, you will find many out there who will not forget you.

You typed the words, you created the videos, you made the podcasts, you posted the tweets. You have been exposed, you gave no quarter, and you will get none.

For my frequent readers this is not one of my normal posts and I want to be clear this is not directed at anyone specific. It is more of a cautionary tale really. Consequences is no longer a popular theme in today’s social construct. It’s very rare when it happens, but when it does it can be devastating. Be careful what you say to people, how you frame it, the level of vitriol you emit. The social construct has indeed changed a lot, forgiveness, understanding and compassion are no longer the ideal.

When will the next phase of the social dynamic emerge? Will it be a revisit of our prior ideals or a new harsher one? One based on consequences? I think how we have chosen to treat one another over the last few years is going to have deep social ramifications for many years to come. I for one won’t forget all the noise, the fear mongering, the propaganda, and I won’t forget who was pontificating it. I will never listen to them again.

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