Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Frankenstein's Monster

After quite a few dateless months, suddenly three "yes"es were plopped into my lap. But unhappily, I only liked one aspect of each. 

Bachelor 1 had the similar background;

Bachelor 2 had reliable employment; and

Bachelor 3 was a local. No long, grueling journeys! 

But the rest of their information failed to ignite any sort of flame of hope in my chest. I wasn't saying "no" to any of them, yet Ta was still trying every which way to pique my interest. Except, he couldn't decide who to focus on. 

"You know," he would suddenly say over his morning breakfast, "about Bachelor 1, it's not a terrible thing that . . ." 

By dinner, he would pipe, "And after all, regarding Bachelor 2, you can't hold it against him that . . ." 

At a commercial during The Big Bang Theory: "As for Bachelor 3, it's not unheard of that . . ." 

"Ta," I asked dryly, "do you intend for me to marry all of these guys?"

"Well," he grinned mischievously, "there's a thought . . ." 

Or I could sew various parts of them together.
We were made for each other!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pay It to Get It

"Why didn't he say hello to me?" he groused. 

As casually as I could, I shuffled sideways. 

Did you perhaps consider, sir, that if it means so much to you to have an interaction with this "he," there is the option of, say, hello-ing him first?

If I feel the smart of injustice (I am thin-skinned, so it happens rather often), I try to recall the Chofetz Chaim: One cannot change others. One, however, can change oneself, which, in turn, can inspire others to change themselves.
In "The Science of Paying It Forward," by

What did we find out? The bad news was that the willingness to help suffered from what social psychologists call “the bystander effect”: When participants observed a low level of helping, it increased their own likelihood of helping; but when they observed a high level of helping, they did not themselves help — they appeared to feel that their own sacrifice was no longer needed. This finding was consistent with many previous studies of “social loafing,” “free riding” and “diffusion of responsibility.”
The good news was that receiving help reliably increased the likelihood of being generous toward a stranger, and that participants who benefited from generosity were also less susceptible to the bystander effect when they themselves observed high levels of helping in their group.
We conclude that observing an act of kindness is likely to play an important role in setting a cascade of generosity in motion, since many people can potentially observe a single act of helping. But we found that it was receiving help that sustained the cascade as it spread through the group.
Our research suggests that the next time you stop to help a stranger, you may be helping not only this one particular individual but potentially many others downstream. And who knows? In the end, maybe what goes around will come around.
To get the world to be nicer, be nice first.

The pure righteous do not complain of the dark, but increase the light; they do not complain of evil, but increase justice; they do not complain of heresy, but increase faith; they do not complain of ignorance, but increase wisdom. 

—Arpilei Tohar (1914), p. 2. Rav Avraham Itzchak Kook 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Battle of the Bulge: Food Combining?

When I first discovered LT, reportedly based on the principles of the Rambam, I was expounding on it fűnek fának (Hungarian phrase which roughly translates as: "She told it to every tree and every blade of grass"). 

As I was enthusing the concepts to my sister-in-law, she nodded and countered, "Sure, sounds like Fit for Life."

"Right!" Ma said. "A friend of mine lost a ton of weight years ago on that."
To pad my knowledge database, I requested the one lonely copy from my library. Since I am incredibly gullible, I was relating the Gospel of FFF until I did a wee bit of googling . . .  

The basic premise of LT and FFF is food combining, which is also present in Aryudevic and Chinese medicine: Certain foods should not be consumed with other certain foods. FFF describes the reasons for it having to do with digestive enzymes canceling each other out when attacking proteins and starches. According to contemporary medicine, that is not so. Officially, FFF has been discredited.

Yet the ancients were unfamiliar with the pH levels churning around in our guts, but they still advocated food combining. I have noticed a difference, too, in how I physically feel when I eat fruits alone, and when I don't regularly combine proteins and starches. 

I few weeks ago I began to heartlessly combine once again, and even though I was being quite aware of portion size I noticed a difference as opposed to when I do keep my chicken and potatoes separate. 

But on the other hand, various systems classify certain items in different categories; LT considers beets and carrots, for instance, as medium-starchy vegetables, while FFF views them as starches. Then there's what Aryudeva thinks.

There is no clear consensus! 

But there are some easily quantifiable conclusions: Since food combining bans protein and starch at the same meal but grant carte blanche to vegetables with either, more low-cal green goodness is consumed—always a good thing. 

It's not that any food (except for junk) is forbidden, it's just that they shouldn't be eaten together. Because one is aware, one ends up consuming less calories in one meal. "I can't eat this now, maybe later or tomorrow." Self-control and delayed gratification is vital to weight maintenance, and they both result from food combining consciousness.

LT has really helped me with weight maintenance; I lost yontif poundage without going hungry, a sensation which I had always believed to be necessary in order to shed some digits. It's not that I can never have cereal with milk or a slice of pizza ever again, just that it's only for when I have already reached my ideal weight and I keep it to one portion (unlike FFF, which bans the combo completely). 

There are enough proponents as well as detractors of food combining to leave it a murky topic. (Marilu Henner confused me even more by saying that protein can be eaten with starch as long as there are legumes or vegetables; I gave it a whirl as well.) 

But you know what? Food combining works for me. And for Ma. I'm gonna go with Marilu's "laboratory" method (check out Part 1 and Part 2 of her segment); I'm "collecting data," and that concept is a keeper. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Die Hardly Working


For those of us out there who still have overactive imaginations.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Guilt is Good

My current guru, Brené Brown, the "shame researcher," explains the difference between shame and guilt. 

Shame is: "I am a horrible person." 

Guilt is: "I did a horrible thing." 

See the difference?
Guilt is an effective means for improvement, as opposed to shame. Instead of flagellating oneself after a goof-up that one is pathetic, disgusting, etc. etc., one can calmly accept one can do better, and march forward, instead of looking back. 

This very much applies with parenting; it has been verboten for some time now to refer to a child as "bad" for this reason. Focusing instead on unacceptable behavior—"You were very naughty"—can show results, while the previous merely reinforces despair and fatalism. 

When I first came across the difference between shame and guilt (my copy of I Thought It Was Just Me was lent out and I can't type up specific passages), I was struck by the pattern in our Yomim Noraim liturgy.

"Ashamnu, bagadnu, gazalnu, dibarnu dofi—we have sinned, we have betrayed, we have robbed, we have spoken slander." We don't say, "We are sinners, we are betrayers, we are robbers, we are speakers of slander." 
If I say that I am a sinner, then there is no hope for me; I am what I am, as much as I am Jewish and female. But if I confess my sins, acknowledging them as actions in the past, admitting my culpability, then I can become someone better.

Best Hungarian saying, which I will say yet again: You look back, "you turn to salt." Sólet. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Guest Post: Luke, a.k.a. Eilu v'Eilu

"Arise ye from your slumber” which is the purpose of the only biblical mandate of Rosh Hashana—the blowing of the ram’s horn.

I was in my office building lobby waiting for the elevator door to open. I waited for the person next to me to enter and then, in return for my courtesy, she felt compelled to hold the door for me. Kindness begets kindness, but if either of us were glued to our phones nothing would have happened.

We go to our children’s schools to watch them put on school productions. A brilliant comedian once observed, "We put our smart phones in front of our faces and record everything. You are standing right in front of them and you can watch it in real HD, instead we record it and put it up on the internet and you nor anyone else will likely ever watch it again." We focus so much on preserving memories for posterity that we miss the actual wonderful experiences in real time.

We are attached to things that are supposed to bring us into the future while we are completely sleeping through the present. 
"Arise ye from your slumber" and see the person in front of you, today.  

Monday, September 22, 2014

Dressing For Men: Well Shod

Waiting for public transportation in the early morn', it is often safer to avoid eye contact. No one feels particularly human at that hour, except for me. 

I opt instead to focus on footwear, and no matter how many times Luke quotes The Shawshank Redemption, I am firm in belief that shoes make the difference. 

Exhibit A: 

Young man, neatly dressed. On his feet were a pair of trim, streamlined loafers with a horse-bit accent. Ah
Exhibit B: 

Standing next to him, another young man, but on his feet were, urgle, a pair of black New Balance sneakers. The type that 80-year-old men wear to shul because their feet have given out.
This guy? Still in his 20s. 

I kept glancing back and forth between the two pairs. 







This is unacceptable. I don't care how comfortable they are. He wasn't not limping, so I'm guessing he isn't recovering from bunion surgery. 

I'm not unreasonable. I don't demand designer, just a wee more discretion when it comes to shoe fit. I've managed to discover flattering footwear for the familial menfolk in my life with just a few extra minutes of research. Rockport, for example, possess a number of options that aren't murder on one's feet yet are still fit to be seen in public.
If you insist on wearing sneakers anyway, don't get sneakers that are pretending to be something other than sneakers. Get sneakers that look like sneakers, that aren't ashamed of themselves.
Converse are just brimming with self-confidence. Although they may require in-soles.
Sneakers are actually "in" right now (there is even a "sneakerhead" movement), so dress shoes aren't even necessarily required. So get something fun, with a pop of color!
I get it, I know, shopping can be a drag. But so's dating, right, and that hasn't stopped any of us. You want to find the one? You've got to look first. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

"Turned Down For WHAT!?!"

I liked the sledgehammer touch. 


Not all Shadchanim are created alike, ladies. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Stockholm Syndrome

You are being open, I told myself firmly. 

He continued to yakkety-yack, and when I had the audacity to profess an opinion, irritation flashed across his face. 

Okay, he doesn't seem to be very nice. But at least he's rather bright . . . 

Maybe I just wasn't meant to be with someone kind, I fatalistically decided. Maybe I was just meant to be with that guy who only has his height and his wardrobe to recommend himself.

Thankfully he said no, at which point I realized, ARE YOU INSANE?
Beauty and the beast!. . BEAUTY THE BEASTIE Hltk : R LOCKS. Stockholm Syndrome : The Movie
Via, posted by Surfred
After recovering from a few horror-movie-material evenings, if I go out with an eligible of not quite Star Wars villain-pseudonym posts, that must mean he's perfectly valid potential husband material. 

Since who one marries is not based on a clear-cut sign from Above, I have shaky moments where my criteria (such as "decent human being") go rogue. Oh, is that really so bad? Gee, is this something I would really feel a need to murder another person over? 

Plus it doesn't help when people who know you and people who don't know you tell you, repeatedly, that you are being picky. That you are limiting yourself. That even though they have never even tried to set you up, they know exactly what you are being unreasonable about. At some point, after hearing this sort of playback enough times, you inner voice is no longer so adamant. It begins to take on a cautious, "Gee, I dunno anymore" Kermit-ness. 

But then Hashem considerately takes the situation out of my self-sabotaging hands. No, dear, he's not for you. The Eibishter is really on my side in the dating nightmare.

What? Just because he wasn't a raving lunatic doesn't mean he's for me? 

That makes sense.  

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Concentrating on Kavanah

In my constant, ever uphill battle to achieve some level of davening nirvana, I have recently fathomed that prayer is a form of meditation. 

High school had been a wonderful davening era, where I would plunge into the depths of the words themselves, wipe my mind of all extraneous thought, and simply commune, complete with a residual buzz following.
I swiftly lost that ability, and have been struggling these last 10+ years to acquire it yet again. But I would try through gimmicks, through shtick, through shortcuts. It is only now that it has dawned on me that there is no easy path to focus; one simply must focus

In an article about using mindfulness methods to treat A.D.H.D. ("Exercising the Mind to Treat Attention Deficits" by Daniel Goleman), meditation practice is explained:
To do so, researchers are testing mindfulness: teaching people to monitor their thoughts and feelings without judgments or other reactivity. Rather than simply being carried away from a chosen focus, they notice that their attention has wandered, and renew their concentration.
The first minute or so of davening can go so well. "Yeah, I'm focused! I'm enunciating every single word, boo-yah!" Then my train of thought frantically unravels . . . "Oh, shoot. Why was I thinking about that friend I had when I was 5? How exactly is she relevant to this conversation?" 

This is the moment of choice. One can become frustrated and give up, monotonously rattling off the rest of shacharis with self-loathing, or one can calmly brush the idle ruminations aside and recenter one's concentration.   

"All or nothing" is a bad habit, and it has certainly held too much sway over my tefilah practices. Bit by bit, bit by bit.