Sitting Kills, Moving Heals.

Sitting up way too late watching the Finals game 3 when it occurred to me that I haven’t moved in 90 minutes. Yeah, it’s 11:30 PM, but still.

I am reminded of the principles in this little book.

El's Reading Room...

sitting kills bookSitting Kills, Moving Heals. By Dr. Joan Vernikos. Published in 2011. 150 pages.

This is another one of those books I stumbled onto while perusing the shelves of the local library. Just as its title implies, this is a little book which explores the science of how gravity, and our use of it benefits our body in terms of health and longevity. I found it fascinating because it the findings of the studies Dr. Vernikos unveiled were an education of gravity that I was pleased to get a refresher on.

It’s not a secret to anyone that sedentary living is damaging to our health and vitality. This is as common to us as our knowledge that the sky is blue. What this life scientist from NASA found however, is that the commonly proposed solutions -30 minutes or more of exercise, 3-5 times per week- is ultimately not the long…

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Wonder Woman fails as an empowering feminist trope.

At least it does in my opinion.

We were a family of four for most of the weekend and our twins wanted to see the new Wonder Woman flick. I was curious about it more than anything, and Benevolent Dictator went along in the interest of togetherness. He was tired, needed a nap, and slept (literally) through half the film.  Of course he has been known to doze during films he attends solely because his girls desire his proximity. This is no way offends us.

But I digress.

One would assume, given the feminist hype and press surrounding this film, that it’s a patriarchy crushing, glass ceiling shattering romp to make the suffragettes turn to one another in their graves and fist bump. One would be wrong. If there was ever a film which exemplifies the idea of feminists grasping at straws for evidence of an empowered woman, this is it.

Oh yeah..spoiler alert.

Despite the reports of grown women crying with joy during Wonder Woman’s fight scenes, there really is nothing novel here. Wonder woman is hardly a new character after all, and there have been other movies with strong, kick butt, human women in the leading roles. Those films were mostly far fetched drivel which received less commerical hype, but at least they fulfill the empowered woman trope.

How does the stellar fighting ability of the female progeny of Hippolyta, Queen of the [mythical] Amazons and Zeus, King of the [mythical] Greek gods in any way translate into something an average girls can aspire to? A goddess is portrayed as powerful.  Perhaps I am missing something because I left the theater telling my husband, “I didn’t get it”.

Despite The Guardian’s going on about Wonder Woman’s questionable sexual orientation, the central theme of her awakening is the love story between her and Steve Trevor, played by Chris Pine. The only slight hint of anything resembling what this article implied was Diana Prince’s revelation that her sexual education (acquired through books on her island homeland) revealed that men while men are vital for procreation, they are not necessarily needed for pleasure. This is human sexuality 101, not female empowerment.

It makes you wonder, if this is what the film makers really wanted to convey, why Diana Prince and Steve Trevor spend a night together as a pivotal moment when their love is “sealed”, given that they were not married and procreation was not the intended aim. If she does not believe men are necessary for pleasure, and she does not want a child, what is the point of their union? It just smacked of more grasping at straws in an attempt to give professional SIW the nod they demand from Warner Brothers and DC Comics.

There are the obligatory scenes to reveal what ife was like for women in government and military settings at the dawn of the 20th century. Again, no new ground was tilled here, and it was nothing that you don’t see in any number of movies set in the early half of the 20th century.

The denoument, however, is where the feminist trope really breaks down. As Diana Prince/Wonder Woman comes to terms with the reality of human nature, she has a choice to make about who she wants to be in this complex human world. It isn’t her personal convictions or strength which drive her to make the right decision.

Rather, the audience gets to go back with her through memories of her moments with Steve, the wisdom he imparted to her, and the love he shared with her before heroically sacrificing himself to save the lives of thousands of people and instigate a moment so pivotal it turns the war toward it’s much needed end. In other words, it was the love a good (not to mention well above average) man which saves Diana from the despair that threatened to overtake her as she comes to terms with human corruption.

Like I said before, as celebratory feminist characters go, this one falls far short. They’d have done better to revamp Thelma and Louise with younger actresses.

Lest I am understood, and for those who don’t know, I have a healthy disdain for feminism and no desire to sit through a film which celebrates the notion of women empowered apart from men because girl power. As such, I was rather pleased that this movie is not at all what the left leaning press portrayed it to be.

The film itself was pretty well done. From an artistic standpoint, the visuals were nice and according to my comic book loving daughter, it stayed true to the original character. Gal Gadot is stunning, as any actress playing Wonder Woman would have to be.

The love scene between Diana Prince and Steve Trevor was reminiscent of the way it was done in eras of more propriety.  In other words, even though you know what happened, you weren’t subjected to the assault of having to watch it.

There is one scene where Chris Pine is 80% naked (not a sex scene, but still). Be warned if you’re tempted to take younger children because it’s a super hero film. DC Comics films are usually edgier than Marvel films anyway as a general rule.

If you’re looking for girl power you’ll find plenty of it, but it’s tempered. Diana Prince gushes over babies, relishes the taste of ice cream, and falls madly in love with a handsome hero. While she may not need him for physical protection,  Wonder Woman is not portrayed as a strong independent woman who don’t need no man.

I was reminded of fight scenes where one fighter taunts another with the question: “Is that all you’ve got?”

Friday Frivolities 3: Els’ Potpourri

We once went to a restaurant with an appetizer menu titled “a little bit of this and a little bit of that”. That’s what this is: a random mix of things I’ve thought about that won’t shake the world, but which I find interesting or enjoyable.

~My quest for the perfectly made bed: I make our bed every day, but I usually go about it the short and sweet way: pull the sheets on straight, smooth out the quilt, throw the pillows on top. In other words, just enough so that when we get ready to get in it later, it’s somewhat orderly.

I’m not sure what came over me Wednesday, but I was suddenly possessed with a desire to make our bed “right”. Y’all know, the whole “You can bounce a quarter on it” test.  By the time I was done, there would be no quarter bouncing on my bed, but it did take a long time to strip it, smooth the mattress pad, put on the sheets, straighten, fold and tuck them, put on the quilt, straighten it. Put the pillows on nice and neat, then arrange the decorative pillows just so.

We have a big bed so just walking around it repeatedly to get things perfectly straight took longer than usual. 15 minutes to make a bed that I usually make in three.

It didn’t look very different, but I put in more effort. If the husband responded positively, I’d keep doing it. He didn’t notice it at all. This is one task that I will unashamedly continue to do in shortcut version.

~ Fashion, proportion, and figuring out what works for you: Hearth posted a link demonstrating why women her height look better in skirts above the knee regardless of age. The woman in the linked post definitely looks better in a shorter skirt, and it wasn’t the least bit immodest.

It was a reminder to learn how to personalize your style based on what looks good on you and hold arbitrary rules loosely. I’m much taller than 5’4″, and much curvier (meaning larger bust, smaller waist, wider hips; not rolls of fat). So the lesson in her example wasn’t necessarily for me but there is a lesson in it.

~Birthday season has arrived in our house! Six of our seven birthdays will come and go between now and September 1st, not to mention a double college graduation celebration thrown in for good measure. This means perpetual “dieting” to compensate for all the communal feasting that will be taking place.

One thing I find very helpful during times like these is the motivation provided by non-scale victories that I will gain from eating healthy 75% of the time as the 25% of the time I don’t slows down the ability to lose the few extra pounds I want to lose over the summer. You can find a list here. Approaching health holistically has been good for me. Last but not least:

~Dance Party!!!

This is low culture and I realize that, but one of the ways I decompress and focus is by putting in one earbud, cranking up music with a good dance beat, and using it to keep up my momentum as I clean house. It’s good cardio too.

So, here are a few of the tunes I bounced to yesterday as I did my work.  I know that there are people who dance and people who don’t,  so your mileage may vary. Just find a way to infuse some joy and energy into you life this weekend.

Better When I’m Dancing from The Peanuts Movie, by Meghan Trainor:

Beautiful, by Mali Music:

Adventure of a Lifetime, by Coldplay:

Beautiful Day, by Jamie Grace:

This last one is by a rapper one of my kids is into. Apparently ALL of his music is free, which hasn’t hurt his popularity one little bit. I don’t do rap and never have even when I was young. However, since the girls are geared up to hit the road to go see him this summer, he’s an unashamed professed Christian (that not without controversy), and this hit song is his tribute to his grandma, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to take a listen.

Sunday Candy by Chance the Rapper

Have a fun, family-filled, worshipful weekend, huh?

Stop it!

Annasach echos some thoughts I have been having about a few things. Since I am low on time -summer school is starting on June 1st here- I’ll poach her thoughts and hopefully have something of worth to say later.

Annasach

I’m thinking some explanation would be good. I haven’t decided quite what I’m going to do but feel like it’s time to start a different project. Of course, I tend to do this often, so even I don’t know how long it will last, but there have been things going on that kind of follow a theme for me.

I’m not sure where it started, but it may have been when I flipped out last month and decided I wasn’t going to smoke anymore. I came to the conclusion that most so-called addiction is really mostly habit. It’s not a genuine addiction but a compulsion. It is the habit pull that is hardest to break, and you simply have to be either very stubborn or very determined in a way that once you make a decision, your integrity depends upon you sticking to it.

It’s been over a month and…

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On the contrary: Getting proper sleep keeps you young.

One of the wonderful things about a household where there are multiple adults is that there is always good conversation to be had and myriad perspectives to consider.

Among the topics du jour this morning was the subject of sleep. Like most Americans, we struggle to get enough and when I have gotten six hours, I consider it a good night. My goal is seven hours, but I only hit that twice a week. On a good week.

Of our older daughters, one in particular is pretty zealous about her sleep, and during a discussion with co-workers about how little sleep they all get, she mentioned that she makes sure she gets 7 hours of sleep most nights. The questions started:

“What time do you get up in the mornings?”

“5:30”

“Even when you don’t have to work?”

“Yes, I run with my mom and sisters the other mornings and we have to do it at 5:30.”

“What time do you go to bed?”

“10:30.”

“That’s so specific! You’re like an old person!”

We laughed at that because not only is she routinely mistaken for a 16-year-old (she’s 21), she is also pretty energetic. She’s not the only one of our daughters who prioritizes sleep and that decision doesn’t in any way indicate a staid, dull, life lacking fun or vibrancy.

They go out with friends, got to movies, go to concerts, out to dinner, and travel occasionally, things that cut into getting a full night’s sleep.  In short, they live like young, single people with the exception of those norms which violate their faith and values. They’re not living like senior citizens, although I know quite a few senior citizens who don’t live “like senior citizens” either.

Of course, no one goes to dinner with friends or concerts every night, so when home, rather than stare at screens or text until the wee hours, they go to sleep. I reminded them as we discussed it to mark this day because the time will come when their good sleep and health habits will be more evident than ever as they grow older alongside some of these friends.  As if on cue, I ran across this today:

Too little sleep can increase risk of stroke or heart disease.

This article, however, targets people who are already at increased risk to begin with (and most young people are not), so I wondered about the general population, and found this:

How sleep deprivation affects your heart

And since I am personally interested in staying sharp, I did another few clicks and found this:

The Science of How Sleep Changes Your Brain, from Infancy to Old Age

There really isn’t anyone regardless of where you research, who would discount the importance, restorative power, and preservative nature of sleep.

So the next time someone tells you, “You can sleep when you’re dead”, let them know you have no desire to speed up the process unnecessarily just to have one more drink or catch a television show that you can stream tomorrow without the annoyance of commercials. And got to sleep.

I’m feeling like a power nap before I cook dinner.

 

 

 

Contentment with ordinary life marks you as extraordinary.

…most modern women are not even themselves. They’re grasping after some notion that they’re supposed to have moxie (when they don’t) or are hyper-sexual when they’re clearly uncomfortable with it. ~Wannabefarmwife

If not those things, they are trying however they can to be special. This is partly due to the overwhelmingly successful childhood self-esteem campaigns of the past thirty years. Some of it is due to the proliferation of platforms available for self-promotion. No small part is owed to the watering down of education which induces most people to believe they are smarter than the average bear.

Recently, Benevolent Dictator acquired new subordinates, millennials who had to be disabused of the notion that they know everything. After working primarily with older men who respect hierarchy, knowledge, skill, and problem-solving ability, it takes supernatural patience to deal with youngsters who know little yet think they know it all.

This isn’t unique to the young.  Generation Me notes the trend began in earnest earlier, with my generation in fact. The erudite concluded that the best route to stable, confident children was to convince us that we are all smart, kind, and important. Additionally, to convince children that they possess these qualities in at least equal measure to every other child, regardless of whether it was true.

The goal is to convince everyone that they possess large amounts of whatever attributes are currently deemed valuable, and to ignore or reject anyone who would insinuate otherwise as a jealous hater trying to extinguish their light. Everyone must feel good about themselves, whether they are good or not. I’ll offer examples from the 80’s onward.

I’ve read several commentaries which debunk the assertion of the 80s as the zenith of American materialism. That the lifestyles of average Joes and Janes at the time paint a starkly different picture. The materialism of the 1980s, however, was mostly of aspiration. Unlike today, television was the primary source of entertainment for most and television shows promoted lifestyles of the rich and famous as the American ideal.

The result was a people willing to pull out all the financial stops to be “middle class”. That is, the pursuit of material wealth was less the issue than the pursuit of the image that you weren’t working class, which described most Americans at the start of the 80s. To be middle class represented attainment of the ‘American Dream”. It’s a subtle difference but one with implications that extend until now.

The 90s began the education bubble and credentials  became a marker of intelligence. When I graduated high school at 17, no one assumed college was a prerequisite of success. Most of my siblings did fine without it, and expectation of my college enrollment was based on the assumption  that I was “college material”, not that college was necessary for a good life.

By the time I married 5 years later, college was something assumed necessary for a full and prosperous life. Enrollment in prepaid college programs exploded in the 90s, and “responsible parents” invested in the program. By the end of the decade, nearly everyone matriculated, although few graduated. In other words, going to college was no longer exceptional, especially as the response to the exponential increase in enrollment was to implement policies that increased graduation rates. As a result, college no longer meant you were necessarily smart. Not to worry because, in typical American fashion, the goal posts of specialness shift accordingly.

The 90s contained the last gasp of community ties and geographical connectivity. In the 2000s, the mark of superiority is less about the degree itself. Today’s bachelor’s degree is less impressive than it was 20 years ago. IQ testing and the ability to do higher math and science marked the special. This overlapped the increased exaltation of beauty and fitness, which I’ll get to in a minute.

Tech is king now and those who can navigate it, understand it and are otherwise at home with it are the people able to check off all the boxes of superiority. They can make good money, graduate college quickly from a high IQ degree field, and are “smarter” than the rest of us. To quote the theme of a hit television show marketed to girls in at attempt to lure them into STEM: Smart is the new cool.

Of course, there are some of us who despite our best efforts, will never quite *get*  Einstein’s theory of relativity, for whom the differences between a MAN and a WAN is outside of our wheelhouse. However, the other marker of being special in this era is one I alluded to before: fitness and beauty. All of us, we’re told, can accomplish this. With some blood, sweat, tears, and sufficient willpower, it’s easy to push ahead of the masses addicted to junk food and sedentary lifestyles.There are countless books, strategies, apps, and products we can partake of to help us as we work hard and achieve optimum beauty, fitness, and health. In that order.

In the interest of transparency, as I type this, I have sore triceps, lats, delts, and quadriceps from pushing myself via torture of a boot camp class. I track almost every calorie I eat; 1500 most days, and 1800 on Sundays I try to be a good steward of my  “black don’t crack” genes. I’m not against taking care of yourself nor insinuating that it isn’t important.

I am against pretending that this face of a 45-year-old mother of five, is anywhere near the level of youthful beauty young women enjoy as a result of being young. Going to irrational lengths to pretend otherwise is madness I can’t be bothered with.

This is the bill of goods women of every generation are being sold, that if we just try hard enough, we can be *hot* at any age. Rather than chase the wind, I appreciate more with each passing year that I have a man who has looks at me and sees a beautiful woman. The jig will soon be up, anyway. It’s better to embrace reality rather than delusion. There is so much grasping that I concur with the commenter quoted: most people, especially women, have no idea who they really are.

Most of us are varying degrees of average: average intelligence, looks, income, and accomplishment. We’re conditioned to believe that this is bad, but since God made us all, and called His creation good, we insult Him when we chase the shadows of the culture. We should be good stewards, rather than shallow pretenders.

We can be above average in character, in faith, in our relationships, in the way we take care of the people and things we’ve been blessed with. We can be sure not to take for granted that we have families and friends who value us beyond measure. In other words:

Contentment with ordinary life is extraordinary all on its own.

It’s not a bargain if you don’t need it.

As I’m purging my kitchen of unneeded gizmos, receptacles, and gadgets (and also watching my husband gradually purge the garage), I realize how many times I picked up something because it was a “steal”.

The problem with buying into that notion is that these things steal needed space which makes clutter and extra work when it’s time to clean house.

Anything that hasn’t been used in 12 months is probably not needed. Additionally, anything that does something you rarely need, or only does it once a year (exceptions for Christmas and Thanksgiving, of course, may not be a steal, although it is a stealer of space and peace.

So far I’ve rid myself of:

  • 5 sheets sets
  • 10 board games
  • 5 water bottles
  • 2 kitchen gadgets
  • an old tea kettle
  • countless “Tupperware” containers

I’m not looking forward to the toy box and closet of my youngest children. Maybe I can get their sisters to take them somewhere to spare us all the wailing, gnashing of teeth and beating of the chest over toys they haven’t touched and clothes they haven’t worn in a year or more.

I’m digressing. what was the lesson here? Oh, yes:

It’s not a deal if you don’t really need it.