Saturday, February 27, 2021

A serious commitment to a new future

This is a blog post I didn’t want to write.

My mother died in a nursing home with a form of dementia related to diabetes. Type 2 diabetes runs along my maternal line. Twenty years ago, when I learned that my mother was injecting insulin, I decided to start monitoring my blood sugar. It has always hovered in the slightly elevated range of 100-110. Over the past few months, it started zig-zagging into the 120 range. It was time for a change.

However, this change is not new. I’ve been in a war with body image and food since the first grade when I played a rain drop in a Johnny Appleseed play. Photos revealed that I was the only convex raindrop in a long line of concave little, blue-sequined bodies. 
In many ways, this issue has been a master teacher … it led me into nutrition, exercise, and a deep interest in health, for which I’m grateful. It also led me into every conceivable weight loss plan, all of which worked until I stopped working them.

Two things happened recently, both on my trip to Reno: my blood sugar spiked, and a book fell into my hands on a visit to Barnes and Noble. My first reaction was: Oh &^%$! … not another diet book. However, I took it to the in-house Starbucks thinking it would be the same-ole same-ole. And, it was, but it wasn’t. Little was new, but somehow, it landed differently.

One of my last bright ideas on this journey was: NO BS … meaning no bread or sugar. However, what I really meant was NO BS unless I really wanted it, and all too frequently I really wanted it. This book was saying pretty much the same thing only offering a compelling scientific case against sugar and flour and their addictive qualities. They advocate hard guardrails, which they call bright lines. When they say no, they mean no, none, nada! Plus: no in-between meal eating as well as their own version of portion control. 

I wound up buying the book with no real expectation of doing more than reading it ... until my blood sugar registered 123. On the road trip home from Reno, normally an open invitation to a junk food fiesta, I didn’t indulge in sugar or flour. 
The next day, I finished reading the book and again refrained from sugar, flour, and unhealthy snacking.  My blood sugar dropped immediately and has been under 100 for the past five days. Before, in the 20 years of monitoring, I haven’t registered under 100 more than a handful of times and never in a series.

So here I am, making a change, one that I’m seriously committing to … for my health’s sake, and for the peace of mind that I think might come from ending the war with food. 
The first thing I did this morning was to pack the scale away for 30 weeks. My relationship to scales has always been unhealthy. If I was down, it wasn’t enough; if I was up, it was an invitation to binge. I arbitrarily chose 30 weeks as a time when it might be safe to get on the scale again. 
Bright Line Eating recommends identifying NSVs … non-scale victories. So, that’s going to be my focus. I already have one NSV … normal blood sugar and a reduced possibility of diabetes and dementia! That’s pretty motivating.  
I didn't want to write this post; it's more self-revealing than I would like. I was motivated by the Facebook Bright Line Eating group which I'm finding helpful and inviting. I wanted to post about my blood sugar but realized it would show up on my own timeline. The choice seemed to be to go public or forego the opportunity to talk to people in the group. I believe I need that support on this journey toward a new way of being in my body and engaging with food.

On my morning walk, it was suddenly clear that issue, this experience is part of who I am and I need to embrace all of myself. There is also always the chance that sharing this information might be helpful to someone else.

I recently made an image that intrigued me and have decided to use it as a touchstone for this part of my journey. It's definitely bright enough.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

When did flowers evolve?

  "To know flowers in any real sense 

is to understand something of our place in the cosmos." 

-- Dave Bonta

Flower Evolution ... click here for video

 Breaking News:  tiny angiosperm pokes head out of ground.  Tuesday, 6:37 a.m. 209 million years ago, Triassic period. (Unless it was 125 million years ago in the Cretaceous period.)

A microsecond later (in geologic time), blue petals and bright orange stamen wave in a gentle breeze. Well, that’s the way it might have happened, actually,  no one was there, iPhone in hand to record this momentous occasion for TikTok.

Too bad … it would have been a revolutionary photo, worthy of winning the National Geographic Photo of the Mega-annum (one million years) award. Angiosperms are plants that produce flowers and bear their seeds in fruits. They are the largest and most diverse group within the kingdom Plantae, with about 300,000 species. Angiosperms represent approximately 80 percent of all known living green plants.

Click here to watch video:  When did the first flower bloom?

Click here to watch videoFlower: Sexual parts (unisexual & bisexual)


Saturday, February 20, 2021

A Daffodil moment in spring

 Daffodils remind me that spring will soon return bringing these moments of wonder and awe.

A Moment in Spring

Sometimes there is a moment in spring
When tender shoots of grass
Turn an achingly innocent green
And flowers swirl wild and blue.

Birdsong brightens the soft, southern breeze
Honeyed by fruit-hinted blossoms,
While sun and shadow dance a light show
Through clouds heavy with new rain.

At that one moment, the flood of spring
Crushes the pale breath from my chest
And spins my mind into a muted daze,
Stunned by the shimmering grace.

I yearn to capture it, control it,
Make it mine . . . but then it’s gone;
Passed on to another moment in time,
Leaving me shaking with a need unfilled,

Knowing I can only wait and watch
For that next moment in spring.

(c) Joyce Wycoff, 2021


Friday, February 19, 2021

Finding the core of life purpose.

This post from nine years ago reminds me of how much time I've spent trying to find "my life purpose."  Once again, as I contemplate a potential project, I'm trying to see how it fits with my idea of what should be my purpose for this incarnation.

When I wrote the poem below,  I thought I had come to clarity on this question. However, it continues to repeat like endless waves lapping at the shore. I have to stop and remind myself that as long as my choices bring me joy and lovingly connect me to the world, they are part of my purpose ... they are part of the sea of "perfect possibilities."

I no longer believe I should pack up and go serve the starving children in Africa. While that could be soul satisfying, there are other projects that fit my life and skills better.  

The less dramatic project under contemplation could serve people and perhaps there are ways to increase the possibilities for contribution. Maybe that's the real issue ... finding ways to do what we love and fits our skills and talents in a way that serves others.

Life Purpose
The child walks 
toward passion
as naturally 
as she reaches toward 
a bright toy.
Wherever she looks, 
a world of joy beckons.
No thought of “should”
 or “ought” enters her head.
She just points herself 
in the direction of 
the bright beloved
and puts one foot 
in front of the other,
moving forward, 
totally focused.
She doesn’t stop
to ask for it.
She doesn’t worry about
whether or not
it’s the right it.
She doesn’t stop to 
consider the possible responses.
She feels no fear;
she hears only
the siren call
of her one true joy.
Oh, that I felt
that clarity,
that ability
to feel passion
for every cloud 
and dust mote,
every shiny bauble
and every glittering face.
Rather than searching
high and low
for that one
right calling,
that one
all-fulfilling wish,
that one bright island,
we can recognize
that life is a sea 
of perfect possibilities,
infinite choices,
to serve the world 
with love and joy
thus expanding
our own spirits. 


Thursday, February 18, 2021

Questions call answers into being

Red Spiral by Joyce Wycoff

Josh Waitzkin, author of The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance, offered a simple 2-step exercise on a Tim Ferriss podcast. 

  1. At the end of the day, write down your most important question (MIQ)
  2. First thing the next morning, brainstorm answers to that question.
This elegantly simple exercise can promote a powerful interaction of conscious and subconscious, sometimes prompting powerful results and even breakthroughs. However, there is a pebble in the stew.

Which Question?

“Most Important Question” is pretty intimidating. What if I ask the wrong question … or a stupid question? Struggling with finding the right question can waste a lot of energy. Try changing one word: instead of important, substitute interesting.

Just ask an interesting question, one you really would like to have answers for. If you really want to know why the sky is blue, go for it. However, you might find it more productive to ask questions about something you're trying to learn or accomplish.

One easy way to find an interesting question is write down 10 of them. Make a numbered list of ten empty lines and then fill in the lines. Find questions that start with Who, What, Where, Why, When or How. Don't worry about whether or not they're reasonable questions.

For example:
  1. How could I find a mentor?
  2. What would make me stop eating sugar?
  3. Where could I find a puppy?
  4. What’s keeping me from getting the raise I deserve?
  5. When should I post on my blog?
  6. What online course would appeal to my target audience?
  7. Why am I not healthier?
  8. What would make my writing more compelling?
  9. Who needs what I can offer?
  10. Where would I love to live?
Somewhere in the process of writing ten possible questions, you’ll probably write one that interests you. If not, write five more.

A second easy way to find an interesting question is to use some of these prompts:

Where can I find more information about … 
Who could help me …
When would be the best time to …
What do I want from …
How could I …
What would happen if I …
How can I make X better?
What would make X easier/more beautiful/ more fun?
What do I need to do about …
Who knows how to ...

The Secret Revealed

This can be a daily practice rather than a one-time exercise. Because you can do this every day … or even more often ... it doesn’t matter whether or not your question “works.” Tomorrow you will try again with the same question … or a different one if you find a more interesting one.

Once you find a question, write it down in a journal or in online note using Evernote or OneNote. Have that journal available when you wake up and write down ten answers to the question. You may wake up knowing the answer, and, if so, great. However, even if you don’t, write ten ideas even if they sound ridiculous. Ten minutes or so should be plenty.

Questions are the energy that calls answers into being. This process can be done anytime you have a question. Write it down. Let it simmer while you do other stuff. Come back later and do the brainstorming. Do this for 30 days and then report back about your results.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Love Letter 32: Julian to Reno: A rolling retreat

Stopping by Mono Lake on Hwy 395

(We know the day we were born, but most of us do not know the day we will die. This love letter to my life is written on the day I've designated as my death day, the 17th of every month, and reminds me to be grateful for my incredible life.)    

Eleven hours of driving time, with podcast playlist queued: Tim Ferriss talking to Seth Godin, Chip Conley, Josh Waitzkin, Jack Kornfield. Plus a panel discussion with researchers and investors talking about the future of psychedelics and explaining the “default mode network,” where our ideas of self are held, our stories take hold, and our ego holds sway. (See below for short video with author Michael Pollan explaining this.)

Tim Ferriss has become my favorite podcasters with almost 500 long-form podcasts (most of them in the hour-and-a-half to two-hour range) of interviews with successful people from business, sports, and the arts. His stated intention is to deconstruct the habits and processes of world-class performers. He does that and more.

Over the past six-months, my view of Tim has changed dramatically. I originally thought of him as a macho “life-hacker”, someone looking for shortcuts, focused solely on improving measurable performance. After spending many long hours listening to around 30 of his podcasts, I now think of him as one of my teachers, something like an on-call mentor. He is far more complex, interesting, and appealing than I expected and his preparation for each interview is meticulous. He asks questions which create deep conversations and allow his interviewees to shine. Over time, I’ve discovered that, even when I think I’m not interested in the person he is interviewing, I find myself engaged and learning. Tim offers extensive notes and links as well as a transcript of each podcast which facilitates review and integration of each podcast’s content.

So, this long day of driving turned into a personal retreat day with many lessons. Here are the primary take aways:

Chip Conley (#374), boutique hotelier: Make a weekly inventory of what I’ve learned.

Jack Kornfield (#300), spiritual teacher“Hatred never ceases by hatred, but by love alone is healed. This is the ancient and eternal law.” 

Josh Waitzkin (#375), super learning coach: Thinking about your most important question (MIQ) in the evening and then brainstorming it first thing after you wake-up. (Also, heart rate variability)

Tim Ferriss, podcaster: The power of a 3-breath break.

Seth Godin (#138) best-selling author and thinker, introduces himself as: Hi. I’m Seth Godin. I’m a teacher, and I do projects”You have more power than you think you have … act accordingly!”  Blog every day. (Also how to make honey-oatmeal vodka)

Blog every day!

In the vast universe of blogging, I am the microstate of Liechtenstein … or more accurately, a square block in the municipality of Planken, population 473. However, the story of this miniscule blog, conceived eleven years ago during lunch with a friend on Boulder's Pearl Street Mall, isn’t told by the slightly over 400,000 views to date, 1100 posts or the 2700 comments to the posts. It is not a story of numbers. It is the cup that has held the unfolding of a life … my life.

My second blog post was titled: My Cup Is Empty. And, it was. I had lost my husband, my home, two mothers, a dream of happily-ever-after, and my dog Missy. Plus, I was adrift in the snows of Colorado when my spirit was anchored in California sunshine. What I didn’t know when I saw a flyer for a Miksang photography workshop with Michael Wood was that life was about to change. 

Michael happened to live in the same small town outside Boulder and his course attracted Diane Walker from the Seattle area who would become a lasting friend and inspiration. In that long-weekend course, my photography transformed and Diane suggested that my cup was empty and suggested that I needed to feed my spirit. When she showed me her blog, a door popped wide open. I had blogged during my years with the InnovationNetwork but let it fall away when life became too chaotic. Now, it was back, calling me into writing about life.

So this blog has ebbed and flowed over the years, gone off on tangents, followed specific interests, and sometimes just went silent. When Seth Godin advised listeners to blog every day, it was like he was pointing his finger at me. So, I’m going to give it a go.

Tim often asks his guests if they would like to leave the audience with one last thought. Seth Godin’s was, 
"Send someone a thank you note tomorrow.”

That seems like a great place to stop until tomorrow.


Jack Kornfield … podcast

"Heart rate variability: A new way to track well-being,"  by Marcelo Campos, MD, Harvard Health Publishing, November 22, 2017