Skepticolored Glasses

Life through the eyes of a skeptic.

Quote of the Day #3

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. -Michael Pollan

Reteaching myself how to eat. According to Mr. Pollan, we’ve actually been taught how not to eat when we actually knew how to eat right all along.

Quote of the Day #2

The world needs open hearts and open minds, and it is not through rigid systems, whether old or new, that these can be derived. – Bertrand Russell

I don’t feel like this has changed at all since he penned the words back in 1957.

Quote of the Day #1

“The voice of reason is small, but very persistent.” On Sigmund Freud’s memorial in Vienna.

I’ve decided that if I can’t manage to get myself to write an entire blog post for the day. I will at least post a quote from something I’m reading. This came from Letters to a Young Contrarian by Christopher Hitchens.

Everybody Stop and Breathe

Maybe it’s the holiday season, or maybe I’m just more sensitive to it right now, but I feel like everybody is out to hurt the people around them with words. Facebook has been the primary outlet for this venting of anger and frustration. I’ve been so frustrated with everyone that I seriously want to scream at everybody that they need to stop and think about their words and actions. There have been a few themes that are most prevalent here.

Occupy Wall Street

There has been so much name calling and mud flinging here that I don’t know where to begin. But I have some advice. If you’re against the OWS movement, please stop calling the people out protesting things like “lazy,” “hippy,” “jobless,” etc. For many of the people out there protesting, these things are simply not true. Granted, for some people they may well be accurate. But stop characterizing the entire movement as something that isn’t worth your time. If you are for the OWS movement. Stop presuming that all bankers, investors, and politicians are greedy, unscrupulous bastards. Again, this is not to say that this description isn’t accurate for some, if not many, of the people involved. But it plain and simply doesn’t apply to everyone, and calling people names doesn’t help anything.

Police

I think this problem stems from the publicity that police officers are receiving from the OWS movement. If you are not a police officer, please keep in mind that there are many officers out there risking their lives to help protect you. They have a difficult task and are required to deal with many people who make things rather difficult for them. On the other side of the coin, if you are a police officer, please keep in mind that just because you do your job well, does not mean that every other officer out there also does the same. Taking action against violent offenders and taking action against peaceful protestors are two entirely different things. But notice that what I’m pointing out here is that not ALL police officers are bad, but neither are ALL of them good.

Winter Holidays

This one just sort of baffles me. It’s supposed to be a happy season, and unfortunately right now it’s not as joyous a time for many people as it could be. That person who wishes you Merry Christmas at the grocery store? Probably not trying to exclude you from his or her holiday wishes. On the other side of the coin, the person who wishes you Happy Holidays is not trying to tell you that you aren’t allowed to celebrate Christmas or Hannukah, or whichever holiday you might be celebrating. And I’ll repeat the ALL here again.

 

We have no idea what the person we’re dealing with might be thinking, but the one thing we can know is that no one group of people thinks or acts exactly alike. It’s so easy to quiet our fears and allay our worries by telling ourselves that any out group (any group of people we don’t identify ourselves with) are all just lazy or greedy. It’s much harder to try to ascertain what each person we deal with really thinks and whether or not they have something to say that might add to our own theories or change our own minds. So please, stop and think before you accuse someone of something for the simple fact that they are a member of a group that you don’t happen to identify with.

It gets better, again and again

I wrote a post on things getting better awhile back and I’m glad I did, because I’ve had to remind myself of this regularly this last week. I’ll write with more details later, but suffice to say that things are looking better.

I leave you with Charlotte Bronte:

Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last. To pluck the mask from the face of the Pharisee, is not to lift an impious hand to the Crown of Thorns.

Writing Stats Day 5

So I had a couple of off days. One of them was a REALLY off day. But, this is where I’m learning to be not so hard on myself. I’ll get myself back on track thanks to reminders from the Geek (he’s decided being called the Husband all the time was boring, so he’s now the Geek).

So, the updates:

750words: 2,317

NaNoWriMo: 3,559

Total: 5876

Read more…

Writing Stats Day 2

After 2 days of the 750words challenge and NaNoWriMo my word stats are as follows:

Photo Courtesy of TaylorMiles

750 words – 1553

NaNoWriMo – 1810

Total: 3,363

And feeling on top of the world!

It’s November 1st!

This means three things.

  1. That I have no idea where the time goes, wasn’t it just July?
  2. It’s time for yet another attempt at completing the 750words challenge.
  3. That it’s time for NaNoWriMo!

All of this means that I’m going to be doing a lot of writing for the next month. It seems like every month I try to complete the 750words challenge in which I’m supposed to write 750 words every day for a month. I almost always make it for around 3 or 4, maybe 5 days, and then I forget about it for a day and get discouraged, so I stop writing for the rest of the month. This month I’m determined to finish it!

NaNoWriMo is going to be a new one for me. I thought about doing it last year, but changed my mind because we had just moved to SF and I just didn’t feel like my head was in the right place for it. Not so this year, this year I have plenty of time and I’m trying to get my brain wrapped around living more creatively anyway (more on that later this week). So what is NaNoWriMo? National Novel Writing Month. The idea is that you sit down during the month of November and bang out an entire novel of 50,000 words. In other words, you write 1,667 words of a novel a day. The general idea being that if you are so busy just trying to get words on the page, your inner editor won’t have time to bother you.

So… (750 words of journaling a day + 1,667 words of noveling a day) * 30 = 72,500 words this month! I’ll keep you updated on my word counts for NaNoWriMo and my successes at remembering to write my 750 words a day.

Compassion, Sympathy, & Empathy

I want to write about these three *things* because I’ve been asking for a lot of them lately. I think that there are as many definitions of it out there for these words as there are people who need them.

My dictionary tells me that compassion is “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.” That sympathy is “the fact or power of sharing the feelings of another.” And empathy is “the vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.”

What does all of this mean? It means that if you’ve been through the same experiences as another person you can feel sympathy for them. If you haven’t, but think you can begin to imagine what it feels like, you can feel empathy for them. And either way, you can feel compassion.

While sympathy and empathy are useful, compassion is the one thing I find myself seeking most these days. And the part of compassion I need is the “desire to alleviate the suffering.” Because I have trouble doing some things for myself right now, even things that would help make me feel better, I need that desire in people to help me.

It seems like it ought to be so easy to just go and do the things that will make you feel better. For me, right now, most of that is eating. On an average day, I simply don’t feel like eating. I just don’t care to go to the trouble of going to find food. A lot of this is because I’m simply not hungry. (We’re still working out all of the reasons for that and I’ll keep you updated) I will eat if food is placed in front of me. Which is why I will be forever grateful to my husband, who can’t imagine what it’s like to not be hungry and not want to eat. But he understands that getting food into me will eventually help to alleviate the suffering I feel.

So what about sympathy and empathy? I often hear people say, “I don’t want you to feel sorry for me” when talking about an illness or a death. Which is how I feel. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. But, I also think many people equate sympathy with feeling sorry for someone. And maybe they are the same thing. But sympathy to me has the connotation of knowing what that person is going through, while feeling sorry for them simply means that you think what they are going through is horrible.
And in the first case, sympathy is a good thing. It always helps me to know that someone else knows how I feel. It makes me feel less alone. And if there’s one thing that depression does well, it’s to make a person feel completely alone and isolated.

Empathy, on the other hand, is trying to understand how a person feels, even if you’ve never been in their shoes. And that shows me more than sympathy does some days. Just because you know how I feel doesn’t mean you are willing to help me to get better, although it might. But going to the effort of trying to understand how I feel shows me that you care. And that also adds to me not feeling nearly as alone as I once felt.

So while not everyone has the time or the energy to show the compassion that my husband does. Everyone who knows someone who is suffering from disease, illness, pain or suffering can show some sympathy and some empathy and in that way, alleviate that suffering just a little bit.

Just telling someone that you understand or that you want or wish to understand can make a huge difference.

It gets better

Or at any rate I fervently hope it does. It’s times like this where I find myself asking “when?” and “how much longer?” It’s 5:15 in the morning. I’ve been awake since 4:30. Not because I have to be and certainly not because I want to be. But because I woke up incredibly nauseous with my heart racing. These panic attacks are the worst because I don’t know what causes them. During the day I can feel them coming, I can help myself to relax and I reason with myself about what’s going on and why everything is ok. When I wake up in the middle of one, there’s nothing I can do but wait it out. So here I sit, still nauseous although I’ve managed to get my heart rate down. But I physically can’t shake the feeling that the entire world is about to end. Or something life changing is about to happen for the worst. I can’t go back to sleep because leaving my brain unoccupied to ruminate just makes things worse. So I’ll sit here, probably for another hour or so reading and petting the cat in my lap until I either decide to try and get a little more sleep, or give up and accept being groggy most of the day. I just have to keep telling myself that it emphatically is going to get better.

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