The Skinny

(courtesy FF Channel via YouTube)

While scrolling through my Twitter feed this morning, for some reason, the newest spring/summer 2020 fashion collection by Christian Dior video popped up and instantly played while it rolled down the computer screen. I stopped and studied each of the models and their outfits.

Now, before I go any further, I think the last time I ever looked at any type of models showing whatever the new fashions were for the season or year, was probably in my twenties. Since then, if I caught any strange styles in magazines while waiting in doctors’ or dentists’ offices back in my 30s and even perhaps a couple in my 40s, I would shake my head at the absolutely ridiculous and ugly pieces displayed on the glossy pages. I wasn’t impressed with the strange concoction of materials the designers managed to sew together into their supposed masterpieces.

So, if you’re a fan of fashion shows and trends and styles are your thing, you probably won’t get much out of this blog post because I’m about to share my problems with what I saw this morning.

I’ll start with I’d forgotten how terribly skinny the models are. Yes, I remember this has been an issue for several decades, but this show brought it all back to my consciousness.

I found that the majority of the models looked the same, but most especially their body types. They all looked at least 20-30 pounds underweight, their faces a bit taunt, some even looking malnourished. It was actually painful to watch.

One of the models had on a dress/skirt just above her knobby knees, and Lord, have mercy, she practically had match sticks for legs.

Their facial expressions, which I assume are supposed to be expressionless, looked a bit zombie-like.

I thought to myself, these poor young women need to gain at least twenty pounds. Their hips looked like they were about to shatter into pieces as they walked in those exaggerated strides.

The designer might as well have carried out the dresses on hangers, because that’s the image I got of these women’s forms.

Now, in the midst of my concern and genuine surprise and disgust, the styles weren’t really that bad, considering the ones I mentioned I’d seen in my younger years. There were some actual classy looking dresses, with a feeling of a throwback to the 1940s and 1950s beautiful, flowing gowns. I liked the predominantly gold clothing.

BUT… there has to come a day when the modeling agencies need to stop starving their models into near death to slip on the designers’ clothes. I feel it is completely unrealistic, unnatural, and frankly, not very attractive. It only promotes anorexia and bulimia, and those diseases destroy lives.

Give those girls some healthy food with a good amount of protein and calories enough that they actually look healthy and not like they’re ready to keel over at any minute, crumbling into dust.

For the love of everything precious in life, let the young women be healthy!

 

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Too Many Gadgets, Too Little Memory

electronic stuff

We bought a new car in March.  We hadn’t bought a new car since 2005, and before that, 1999.  So, you can imagine how bewildered we were….correction, I was…my husband took it all in without so much as a blink….when the car salesman introduced us to all the gadgets on our new car and how they worked.

To be honest, I was intimidated by it all.  The alert beeps for your blind spot, for warning me when any exterior part of my car was close to touching another car or any other object or person, the annoying humming sound that vibrated me into panic mode if I wandered an inch over the dividing lines on the highway, and all the lit up little icons on the dashboard and little screen.

It was overwhelming at first, but once I drove the car the first time, I relaxed a bit, even if I didn’t know how everything worked outside your regular immediate buttons and such.

It got me thinking about the technological advances over the years and decades since I was a child.  I grew up during my elementary school years with my parents purchasing one of the first VHS recorders.  My growing up years was also the time when TV remote controls came out and cordless telephones.

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Pong, the first video game I remember came out, followed by Atari, for which my parents bought.  Who could forget playing those video games with those ancient joysticks that caused hand and thumb pain within a couple hours?  Good old Atari games like Astroids, Centipede, Pac-Man, Maze Craze, Space Invaders, Frogger, and Pit Fall.

atari video console

In the music realm, boom boxes were in, that were a combination of radio and tape cassette player, with a mic jack and two speakers.  And the Walkman became popular shortly after, I think.

boom box

Dad’s Commodore 64 with its permanent blue screen sat on his desk in my teen years.  When I was sixteen, I used that computer to type up my first novel.

commodore 64 computer screen

I remember when my parents bought me a cell phone around 1993 for me to have in case my car broke down.  It was bulky and weighed a ton.

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And I distinctly remember my first caller ID.  None of my friends or family had one at that time.  It was so cool being able to see who called at that time because I lived in my apartment then and could tell when a guy I liked called, but he didn’t know I knew.  Haha!

Image result for public domain pictures of the first caller IDs from 1993

And then came the CDs, DVDs, desk top computers, etc.  All of those new gadgets were pretty cool.  They didn’t make us too lazy.  But I’d have to say, that’s changed.

I’ve been watching many TED Talks on our addiction to our computers and phones, and also, the gadgets that think for us, like our car’s lights shutting on and off on their own, the doors locking and unlocking on their own, warning lights and beeping sounds to alert us to a danger of a car too close to ours, and the like.

Our cell phones keeping our appointments, waking us up for work in the morning, storing all of our friends and family members’ phone numbers, telling us how many calories the meal is that’s sitting in front of us at lunch or dinner.  You know what I’m talking about.

These are all very convenient, easy, and helpful.  But they also make us lazy and lose our ability to remember/memorize things, such as an appointment date or a friend’s phone number.

I don’t even know my family member’s cell numbers, except my husband’s.  I don’t know my sister’s or my mother’s by heart.  That is truly pathetic.  When I was a teen up through my thirties, I could dial a number no more than twice, and it would be stuck in my memory from then on.  Because I don’t have to remember these numbers since they’re stored in my phone, they aren’t memorized.

Now, I realize when one gets older, a little help in the memory department is needed, but our brain’s memory can be boosted by walking or doing jigsaw puzzles, for example.

So, I ignore focusing solely on the camera on the small screen in my car and physically look behind me when backing up, and make sure I still look toward the blind spot before moving into another lane.  I manually lock my car doors when I get into my car most especially in parking lots.  I think it’s the safe thing to do for us women going grocery shopping and other places by ourselves.

I don’t think we can rely so much on computers.  They do malfunction at times, have glitches, and can be hacked.  Obviously, you can guess I’m not one of those people who is anxiously awaiting buying or traveling in a driverless car.  I think I’ll skip that, thank you very much!

In my psychology course I took a couple of years ago at my university, I learned the twenty-first century sedentary lifestyle is not normal or healthy for the human body and mind.  We are meant to move and move around often, and use our minds critically.  If we’re not careful, we’ll become like the folks in the Pixar movie, WALL-E.  Was that not a glimpse into the future, or what?

WALL-E pic 2

We have to find ways to exercise these days.  Join a gym.  Join an exercise class.  Buy exercise equipment.  Pencil in jogging several times a week.  When in the generations before this age, people walked or rode their bikes to work, worked outside, walked to stores, opened their cars’ hatchbacks, manually rolled up and down their cars’ windows, lifted their garage doors, and got up to turn off their TVs.

Since being a sloth is too familiar to me, I struggle to get up the energy, and it’s even harder because of my time spent on the computer for too many hours a day.  It is my goal to keep doing things that jog my memory, such as walking and doing jigsaw puzzles, and doing what I said above with regards to my car.  I even started doing tai chi two weeks ago.  It brings me stress relief and serenity.  Do you do anything to keep your mind working and body in motion to counter today’s sedentary lifestyle?

 

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Writing: Harmful & Therapeutic to Your Health

writing in notebook a story

As a writer, I tend to sit a lot, which isn’t exactly healthy.  However, I do walk every now and then, and I found out that writing and walking are a natural marriage of mind and body.

But to be honest, I don’t walk enough…two or three times a week for twenty minutes per day the majority of the time.  Ideally, five days a week for twenty to thirty minutes is my unattained goal thus far.

Incidentally, along with discovering the marriage of writing and walking, I discovered some fascinating information on this topic.  Many famous writers walked a lot.  Authors such as Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf, and William Wordsworth.  Of course, if you think about it, walking was much more commonplace for getting around back in Dickens’ et. al’s eras.  They benefited before studies were done on what walking does for writers.

walking sneakers

Other than getting some good exercise, other positive things happen when we trek around our neighborhood or local park.  In a study done by England’s Cambridge University of more than 334,000 Europeans, it discovered a brisk walk twenty minutes a day might be sufficient to decrease a person’s risk of premature death.  In addition, walking aids in stress reduction and alleviates symptoms of depression (Bianchi).

Walking also clears the mind and actually leads to creative thinking.  A Stanford University study asked participants to do mental tasks, such as producing analogies to convey complex ideas, that are common in creativity tests.  The results showed that 81% to 100% of the participants formed creative ideas walking compared to sitting (Andrews).

Now, about writing.  I found that writing is a way to help heal from traumas and also releases emotional stress and eases anxiety.

A study by Spera, Buhrfeind, and Pennebaker shows expressive writing, which means scrawling down your feelings on paper, improves mood, well-being, and decreases stress levels.

Expressive writing can be used to write in a daily gratitude journal, a journal for recording emotionally stressful events, or through the created and written situations of characters’ lives in your novel.  For example, a study was done on engineers that had been laid off recently and were separated into three groups:

1) A control group with no writing,

2) A group assigned to write about time management, and

3) A group to expressively write about the raw feelings of losing their jobs.

Both writing groups did this twenty minutes a day for five days, in which they also elucidated the emotional difficulties of job hunting, “relationship problems, financial stressors, the immediate experience of being fired, losing their coworkers, and feeling rejected” (Grant).

The results were stunning.  Three months later, the control group with the exception of five percent, were still seeking employment.  Twenty-six percent of the expressive writing groups obtained new jobs.  These groups also reported consuming less alcohol.  Eight months later, the control group still struggled to acquire a job with less than nineteen percent finding full-time work, whereas, fifty-two percent of the expressive writing groups had new jobs (Grant).

writing

In writing her novel, author Jessica Lourey states, “Little by little, I was carving out new space for thoughts that were not about death or depression.”  She adds regarding Dr. Pennebaker’s study, “Two elements above all else increase therapeutic value of writing: creating a coherent narrative and shifting perspective…Writers call them plot and point of view” (Lourey).  Therefore, expressive writing heals.

So, writing and walking are good things, right?  Well…  Walking certainly is good for a person as noted above.  Writing is good for easing and healing emotional issues.  But sitting most of the day writing, staring at a computer screen, and not taking breaks can actually cause major health problems.

Like many office workers, serious, dedicated writers likely sit six or more hours a day.  Physically, sitting for many hours a day elevates the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and premature death.  This includes people who exercise regularly.  Dr. David Alter from the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute states, “Even if you do a half an hour or an hour of exercise every day, it doesn’t give us the reassurance that sitting for the other twenty-three hours is okay.  In fact, it’s not” (CBS News).

In a study by CBS News, prolonged sitting increased the risk of cardiovascular disease by 14%.  The risk of cancer increased by 13%, and the risk of diabetes skyrocketed to 91%.  With sedentariness, the heart is not getting its exercise, and blood sugar isn’t moving well through our cells (CBS News).

Mentally, sitting in an environment with no social interaction or outside fresh air and sunlight causes depression for many writers.  A couple of famous writers who had or currently have depression are F. Scott Fitzgerald and J.K. Rowling.

A study out of Australia of close to 9,000 women in their fifties discovered those who sat seven hours a day and did not exercise were three times more likely to have depressive symptoms, than for those who sat less than four hours daily and exercised regularly.

feeling-the-effects-of-chronci-stress

Incidentally, depression drains a person’s energy, which causes less of a desire to be active (Andrews). Sitting for several hours a day also affects a person’s wellbeing because of lack of social interaction. Connecting with family and friends reduces isolation and loneliness (Mann).

Writers also face emotional challenges such as dealing with perpetual rejections from publishers, editors, and the like.  This also at times includes their peers. A clinical psychiatrist, Dr. Alan Manevitz, states, “A large part of a writer’s success depends on how other people think of him” (Mann).

The majority of writers work by themselves and are isolated from companionship and sunlight, and coupled with unhealthy sleeping patterns if they write into the night, are a concoction for depression (Mann).

That news alone can depress a person who enjoys writing.  But there are ways to counter these dire outcomes.  We can start by standing up for one to three minutes each half hour or so of sitting throughout the day (CBS News).

Apparently, many corporations have purchased standing desks.  Some employees have reported feeling more balanced energy-wise by working at standing desks than when they’d been sitting at desks.  Getting used to standing at their desks did take time and adjustment, but it seems to be proving helpful to their wellness (CBS News).

standing desk

I started taking one to three-minute standing breaks yesterday, and I already felt a difference, and it was a positive one.  My energy level was better, and my mind was more focused and clear.

New story ideas and character dialogue switch on while I’m walking, and walking out in the sunlight and listening to the birds and looking at nature around me boosts my mood and energy.  Spending quality time with family and friends is something I’m trying to do more.  A good balance of social connection and alone time is needed for my introverted self.

With periodic breaks and a regular walking routine, we writers can improve not only our health, but our creativity.

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Works Cited
Andrews, Linda Wasmer. “To Become a Better Writer, Be a Frequent Walker.”  Psychology Today.  28 March 2016.  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/minding-the-body/201603/become-better-writer-be-frequent-walker.  Accessed 19 July 2018.
Andrews, Linda Wasmer.  “What Sitting Does to Your Psyche.”  Psychology Today.  20 March 2014.  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/minding-the-body/201403/what-sitting-does-your-psyche.  Accessed 19 July 2018.
Bianchi, Nicole.  “Want to Become a Better Writer?  Go For a Walk.”  Nicholebianchi.com. 15 June 2016. https://nicolebianchi.com/better-writer-daily-walk/.  Accessed 12 July 2018.
Grant, Adam.  “The Power of the Pen:  How to Boost Happiness, Health, and Productivity.” Linkedin.com.  28 May 2013. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20130528121344-69244073-the-power-of-the-pen-can-writing-make-us-happier-healthier-and-more-productive/. Accessed 12 July 2018.
Lourey, Jessica.  “The Therapeutic Benefits of Writing a Novel:  Research suggests that writing fiction can be a powerful healing tool.”  Psychology Today.  9 June 2017.  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/discover-your-truth/201706/the-therapeutic-benefits-writing-novel.  Accessed 12 July 2018.
Mann, Denise.  “Why Writers Are Prone To Depression.”  Everyday Health. https://www.everydayhealth.com/depression/why-writers-are-prone-to-depression-6709.aspx. Accessed 19 July 2018.
“Too much sitting raises risk of death, even if you exercise.”  CBS News.  20 January 2015. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/too-much-sitting-raises-risk-of-death-even-if-you-exercise/. Accessed 19 July 2018.