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Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Are you an emotional pawn?

Hello lovelies!  I've just started reading a book entitled Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator.  The author, Ryan Holiday, tells his stories of "marketing" for his clients, many of whom have millions of dollars for budgets.  He starts off by telling about a time where he designed, paid for, and put up a billboard, then drove to it in the middle of the night, dressed in black, defaced it, drove around the block, took pictures of it, and then sent it to various media outlets in the morning.

The response was astounding.  But he wasn't finished or satisfied - he submitted anti-women articles about it to feminist groups, anti-Christian articles to Christian websites, and made repeat calls for anonymous complaints about it.  

It blew up astronomically.  People were angry from every corner of the world and he got exactly what he wanted - overwhelming attention with very little effort.  He played on people's emotions in order to suck them in.

Even though it was completely fake, it became an event - a "true" living, breathing, emotionally charged reality - for hundreds of thousands of people who became entangled in his deliberately artificially manufactured emotional net.  He got them.  He owned part of their minds.  He won.

He refers to a political cartoon from 1913 that is more true today than it has ever been before. In it, we see a businessman throwing coins from a gigantic bag of money labeled "money for business announcements" into the mouth of a tentacled monster, whose head is the press and whose arms include "cultivating hate", "slush to inflame", and "distorting facts".


I believe that we are at a critical time where if we do not pay very close attention and fight back, the monster will destroy all of us.

Right now, if I asked you who your enemies were, would you easily be able to rattle off a list?  Consider it -

The right hates the left.

The left hates the right.

The vaxers hate the antivaxers.

BLM hates the police.

Half of the country hates the post office.

Antifa hates everything and everyone.

These, we are told, are our enemies.

What if we're being played?  What if our real enemy is the media?  

Our national presidential election was last week.  On election day, after being told daily for months by every single person across all social media platforms, through billboards, on television and on radio, to vote, to let our voice be heard - we went to the polls.  We did our civic duty.  We felt proud of our little patriotic stickers. We were so proud that we took pictures of ourselves wearing them like a gold star on our foreheads in a kindergarten classroom, some of us posting our picks to social media, watching the likes stack up and watching the haters react.  We regurgitated and reaffirmed that we had a voice and that our voice mattered.

The counting began and the main event started.  Even though we knew that we would not likely see results until at least the next day, millions tuned in to watch as if it were the big game, cheering for our side, feeling more tribal than ever.

We cheered when our team got a point and likewise boiled, muttering and scoffing in wonder at those who voted against what was clearly a sane, educated, forward thinking choice.  We thought of those with the yard signs - the ones on "our side" and those who were on the enemy's side - and our love and hate grew yet more.

I have the app for Ted Talks on my phone.  A week before the election, I got a notification from Ted, telling me that I might be interested in what would surely be a valuable talk.  It was entitled, "What if a US presidential candidate refuses to concede after an election?"  It was given by Van Jones, a CNN political commentator.  

Huh.  That's interesting.  Are we predicting the future?  Or are we just setting it up?  Do we have a history of this that I need to be alerted to something that I should expect to happen every four years?

What we saw next in the days following was surveillance videos, personal tiktok videos, and eyewitness reports showing that our votes - our voices - may have been compromised.  I watched a ballot counter in a yellow vest and a white mask lift up a ballot, point to the presidential section where it was marked, and then rip it up and throw it over his shoulder.  I watched a personal video and heard eyewitness reports of ballots being brought in to downtown Detroit in coolers.  I heard that the Dominion software (funded by the Clinton Foundation) used in critical states was flip-flopping candidates names (like in Antrim county in Michigan).  Attorneys were called in, and what was thought to be a guarantee was now being contested.

While questions were still ongoing, we watched CNN declare a winner.  There was a speech.  People reposted a video of Ms. Harris making a phone call to tell Joe that they did it.  We watched women repost all over social media to "watch out" because there was "glass all over" since the glass ceiling had been broken. 

Without taking a side on the previous two paragraphs, I want you to think about what was really going on.  Fly yourself up above this and go big picture.

What was happening was the creation of a slush to inflame.  Whatever "side" you find yourself on, you are wired and pulled and tempted and played with to become emotionally entangled.  Why?  

Because we know that fear and anger will turn your attention and potentially drive you to action, and that, more than anything, is what they are there for.

They are not there to create peace.  They are not there to unite.  It does not pay to make peace.  The clicks on the media slow down when things are at a state of equilibrium.  When the world is in an uproar, it is good for the media.  It pays their bills.  The advertisers crank out even more, in hopes to get your attention. 

My concern is for what will happen once they've hooked most people onto one very passionate, die on this hill side.  

What if the legal battle turns the decision the other way from what the media declared?

The fire will engulf us.  Those who thought that the glass ceiling was broken will crumble in despair at it being so unfairly snatched out of their hands.  Those who thought their voice was silenced will rejoice that they were not eradicated.  The media will have created another group to be us versus them, another team to be on, and another source of heated, passionate division.

What is the end of this?  A civil war?  The thought of that gives us so much pause, but it brings gleeful delight to the media.  How juicy!  How absolutely fantastic!  They will have unleashed the monster for near complete annihilation of the American people and what we know as our culture, our way of life, and the future of our children's lives.  

I submit to you that those that you think are your enemy are not.  We know that we can believe differently and still be civil, unless we are perpetually fanned to do so and swallow it.  Contrary to what you've been told, Don and Joe aren't your enemy.  BLM and Antifa aren't your enemy.  The keepers of the glass ceiling aren't your enemy.  The police aren't your enemy.  The post office isn't your enemy.  Hunter's laptop isn't your enemy.  Joe's blond leg hairs aren't your enemy.  Don's border wall isn't your enemy.  Those are all logs to make the fire bigger.

Our enemy is the media.  You feed them every time you bow to worship their almighty proclamations, swallowing all of it whole: hook, line, and sinker.  Every time you feel the burning in your chest to smite that "other group", they found another hook to own you, to leverage your own emotions for their purposes.  They mock your pain, your desire to be justified and vindicated, and do it all while hiding in the background, throwing out fiery arrows to the middle of your street wrestling match.  

From what Ryan Holiday tells us, why shouldn't we believe that much of what is out there is literally created out of thin air for the purpose of getting that attention?  

How willing are you to place your emotional stability into the hands of an entity that lies to you and uses you?  You get a choice to answer that question every single day, multiple times a day.

We can get above it and see the big picture or we can continue to be pawns, fighting amongst ourselves, never looking up and seeing that we're really in the middle of a boxing ring on the Truman Show.  


I'll leave you with this picture quote that I found today that I hope makes you consider the true state of what is going on.

Who and what will you willingly give your power and your life energy to?  It is no small thing and you should not bestow it haphazardly or unthinkingly.  Will you stand up and fight for humanity?  Will you help reconnect us?  Will you reframe your thoughts to recognize that others who believe differently than we do are not so different from us?  Will you be hooked and swayed by every wind that the media blows at you?  Will you believe all of it, whatever "side" it comes from?  Will you ignore the fact that the only thing they want is your pocket, your will, and your passion so that you can be shaped to carry out their desires, schemes, and plans?

Will you live the rest of your life content to be a pawn?

Peace, love, and reach out - one person at a time, one day at a time - we can do this,
Ms. Daisy

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Lament for Liberty

Lament for Liberty
14 July 2020

Liberty, I remember you well
When I was a girl in this land
Freedom to go as we pleased
You took us by the hand
We played outside and went to school
To God we bent our knees
We dreamed of what we would become
As grownups, as we pleased
To open a business or to pursue our dreams
And nothing stand in the way
We stood united, proud and undivided
And had freedom in what to say
In our chest, you paved the way
For innovation and design
In our hearts, our minds, and souls
We knew the way divine
With freedom we knew we could go
As far as we should will
And marching shoulder to shoulder
We advanced up every hill
Our teams – the best –
we proved it year by year
our open streets and flourishing businesses
we were safe from fear
what has happened that we have let
our land now slide away?
Where once stood men,
Girls now blaze a violent way
With purple hair and screaming fists
They taunt those who made them free
The men like girls and girls like men
Who mock your liberty
They use the freedom given them
To burn this to the ground
And good men stand back and watch it happen,
With not a fight, nor even a sound
The Witch declares your freedoms gone
You’re muzzled and bow your knees
And crawl along empty grocery store shelves
Without care for liberty
You slink along inside your homes
Afraid to go outside
Small, pathetic creatures,
Full of Netflix in our eyes
They told us to be afraid,
And so afraid we are
That we cannot drive somewhere
A masked lone person in a car
The air is scary, and people worse
We cannot get too near
A hug will kill us, six feet will save us
Conditioning perpetual in our ears
What kind of life are you living?
What could you stand to gain?
Is this a life you want to live?
Are we really sane?
“There are some lines I will not cross,”
You say as you muzzle your face,
Your gloved hand bleaching groceries
Seems normal, not insanity or disgrace
The men who founded this country
Are rolling over in their graves
This land they fought so hard to gain
Is being willingly turned to slaves
Women and children are looking up
To find someone to lead
None are there that can be found
We are pitiful, indeed
So turn it over to the powers that be
Who test your shackled strength
The slippery slope moves very quickly
Who knows how far its length
We shall care when it’s too late
And we’ve lost all liberty
Lament aloud, and say a prayer
for the once great land of the brave and free

Monday, July 13, 2020

The Facebook Divorce

Hello lovelies!

As humans, we have a shared existence at times.  The feelings that well up within us and crash over us are not unique to us as individuals - there are not many among us who have not felt the pangs for the summer sunset in the middle of dreary grey, cold winters, nor those who are foreign to the way that sweat forms upon our brows as we labor beneath the blazing sun.  Many of us know the feelings of longing, of hunger, of thirst, and of satisfaction.  But above all of these things, I believe that we all share something even more basic to the human condition - a question, one that looms deep within our very souls, and the tremendous wonder at moments in our lives - why on all of God's green earth do we have a facebook account?

This question, although it seems ancient for all of the times this river of thought has driven a path by coursing through our very souls, is relatively new on the planet in the scheme of things.  Perhaps you have wondered it yourself recently.

What makes us wrestle over it?  What holds us back from a clean break?  Why do we cling?  Why do we wish it gone?  Why are we tugged in both directions?

I cannot answer that for you, but what I know I will offer for your consideration.

But before I do, I want to tell you of my relationship with facebook.

It started out really early.  I was one of the early adopters.  I have a younger sister and younger family members who joined when it was advertised as a college yearbook.  As soon as it was open to non-college students at the end of 2006, I jumped in.  I was fascinated with being able to have a page that I could make and post whatever status I wanted while also being able to hop around and visit people I knew virtually.  What a novelty!  What a genius and fun idea!  I was excited to check in on a regular basis to see how everyone was doing, to look at their pictures, and to have a view into a corner of their lives - I was exploring that interesting new balance of socializing through a screen.

I loved seeing new people finally come aboard, people that I had known from high school or college that I hadn't seen in a long time and didn't have contact information for.  I loved seeing that they had children and that they were happy and that some of them looked exactly the same as they did when I knew them.  It was fun to be able to see how the teenage person I knew grew into a mature adult (for most of them, anyway) with jobs and adventures.  It was nice to see that they had made it and what they had made of themselves.

Years and years later, more and more people joined the party.  And then one day, The Thing happened.  I got a friend request from my mother.  My mom was on facebook?  My mom?  For real?  And then my dad joined.  And then my grandmother-in-law.  The community was looking very different and my "audience" was spread from friends out to family and over to people I worked with and everyone else I had ever known on earth.

It was fine for a few years and then the arguments started.  Some people were really political and it seemed that this was the place to try to further your political party with your undying support.  It was a forum for discussion, and for the most part in the beginning, it was fairly civil, although I am sure people felt some heat in their bellies when they were arguing their cause.

I'm not sure exactly what the line was, but I watched it happen right in front of my eyes.  I watched people behave differently to others because they were behind a screen and then removed the person from the information that they were connecting to on the monitor.  It was as if all social rules were off of the table and you could just open up and say whatever you wanted to because it wasn't in real time, and it wasn't in your voice, it was only text, and that isn't a big deal.  I watched people remove personhood from those who were called their friends so that they could argue perpetually about different things.

At some point, I decided to delete my account.  I wasn't happy with all of the crazy and it really just didn't feel worth it.  After all, if I was looking for connection, this certainly wasn't it.

After a few more years went by, I decided that I missed seeing people and I would just jump in and keep it fun, check in only occasionally, and use it as a way to help others with health coaching and my business.  It was okay, but it wasn't how it used to be.  I didn't get the kind of personal interactions that I was looking for, but that was because I wasn't putting it out there on my side.  It was boring, but also kind of mean out there.  It was a place where I used to scroll through and make sure I was caught up on everyone, but it became a place where I couldn't be bothered to even read more than a few updates.  I would only comment on something if it seemed like something that was impossible for me to personally neglect.  I checked on it less and less until I deactivated it for a few months at a time.

I loved Facebook for the advertisement of my book and for a place I could share myself being silly in videos or peeking in on long lost friends, but it was really losing its luster.  I wanted to have a place to share my writing, but even that seemed like it couldn't possibly be worth the garbage I had to dig through to get it out there, not to mention the way that we are being mined for data, violated on privacy, and advertised to in order to line the pockets of Zuck and his homies.

Finally, I decided - it was time.  What it was taking was more than what it was giving, and it had run its course.  

Last month, I clicked "Delete Account".  If you have done this before, you know that it isn't a swift process.  They send you a message letting you know that for the next 30 days, your account will be in limbo.  It will hover between heaven and earth, accessible for you if you will just simply log in and ask for forgiveness and get back to it.  This time, I counted down the days until it would come true and everything would be really gone for good.

Today the sun sets on the last day of me being part of a facebook world.  It was fun while it lasted, and that era had some good things, but it is over now.  It is not worth feeling angst and revulsion over people that I think I really like in real life.  It is not worth the data mining.  It is not worth feeling like I'm making my stress level go to 100 from looking at people's opinions and arguments.  It is not worth being part of a place that censors information.  It is just not worth it.  Life is better without it.

I'm glad to be on the other side.  Maybe you would like it, too?

Peace, love, and freedom,
Ms. Daisy

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The Year the World Lost Its Entire Mind

Hello lovelies!

I'm writing to you from the middle of June in the year of our Lord 2020, a time in which all persons inhabiting our once beloved planet are absolutely and wholeheartedly certain of one thing: we hit the tipping point and tipped waaaay over.

Is it because of the rona?  No - unless you have hooked yourself up to an IV of CNN, you are easily able to see that the predicted terror ended up being quite a bit of an overblown issue (not to say that it didn't exist or affect people - it did, but not at the levels we were being terrorized with initially).  The rona was so like, spring 2020 and we are totes like, mega over it.  Figuratively and literally (if you hear of the waving of a "second wave" flag, I'm pretty sure it's because the media misses all of those clicks and the powers that be miss all of the diabolical levels of control they get out of bludgeoning the masses with the scaries.  That level of power is highly addictive.), quite frankly.

Is it the media-stimulated race riots?  No, but it is linked to that.

Is it ANTIFA burning down buildings and smashing windows with bricks and making a lovely tent village with speeches and dance parties for themselves where naked people run down the street saying that they are prophets looking for their children, proudly declaring that they aren't part of the United States (but rather, "Chazikstan"), while still using our wifi, EMS and hospitals for the drug overdoses, building (the very literal and social) walls (that they ironically hate and riot and terrorize about), and silencing any differing opinion?  Well, no, but that touches the fringes of it.  (And if you're mad about Chazikstan, I hear you, but just let them be for a couple weeks and you can have a front row to watching the inevitible rise and fall of a very sad social experiment.)

No, it is none of those things, and neither is it even the chaos of the liberties that people have allowed to be stripped away from them out of fear.

What is it, then?

It is the silencing of rational discourse with the rise of cancel culture.

Could it be any more in your face (literally?) to silence people symbolically by forcing them to wear a mask, stripping them of their identity, individuality, oxygen levels, and muzzling them while taping directions on the floor of their local grocery store, telling them how they ought to walk?  This is the physical that has translated to the emotional, out into the atmosphere, that is now flying around the internet-sphere.  And flying it is.

Over the last couple weeks, we have seen countless examples of the vocal mob crying out to crucify anyone and anything that they deem as inappropriate, whether or not the person's opinion was justifiably and/or intentionally offensive or not.  This crucifixion is not only social, by people declaring they are now unfollowing them on social media (OH, THE SEARING PAIN!), but it is an outcry to demolish their livelihood, business, passions, and future.  This is once again a physical parallel in domestic terrorism of the destruction and arson of physical buildings as a result of the emotional world.

What once was "only" name-calling (you misogynistic, transphobic, fascist, homophobic, sexist, racist!) and slander on social media as a result of differing opinions is now full-blown catastrophic destruction if someone is caught in the crossfire and dares to think for themselves outside of the popular groupthink that is making an attempt to burn through the nation. 

Why did that name-calling start?

Name-calling in this realm exists most often from people shying away from the difficult work of digging through something together in order to try to understand another viewpoint. 

You don't like what someone is saying and you don't want to consider their points?  Call them a name.  Block that conversation from going anywhere.  Feel much better about yourself.  Nod in victory at your obvious moral high ground.  Threaten to unfollow, share with friends.  Spread the virus of the inability to have an intelligent conversation over a subject with which you strongly disagree.  Never even entertain that any aspect of their point of view could be valid because you are busy not listening to anything they are saying, convinced of your superiority.  Such intelligence.  So noble.  So big brain.

What harm could it do?

That is the catalyst that has led to a college football coach grovelling and begging for forgiveness because he wore a certain t-shirt while fishing. His running back, offended at the sight of his coach wearing an OAN News Network t-shirt while fishing tweeted that it was unacceptable and that he will not be doing anything with Oklahoma State until things change. 

I just want you to back up one second really quick with me here.  A man went fishing at his leisure.  He wore a t-shirt with the emblem of a news network on it.  Another person saw it and threatened to quit working with him because of it.  The university said that they would not "tolerate insensitive behavior" such as this rude TV network t-shirt wearing fisherman. 

Please.  Go with me for just a second.  This is the United States of America.  You can dye your hair purple.  You can identify as a tree.  You can fill your backyard with rocks.  You can drive a car that has figurines glued to the roof.  You can dance the cha-cha slide.  You can play basketball at midnight in your driveway.  You can refuse to shower for a week.  You can wear a skirt with combat boots.  You can tattoo your neck.  You can name your kid after viruses.  Why?  Because whether you like all of the results or not, we have the freedom of expression.  We are entitled to our own opinions.  We have the liberty to come to our own conclusions and to express them within our free society.  (Yes, I'll admit - that's getting harder for many to practice as we are bombarded with propaganda for what and how to think, but it still exists.)

This bizarre example is not one that is few and far between.  The founder of CrossFit, Greg Glassman, was stripped of his position for tweeting the opinion that there were some that were taking advantage of the death of George Floyd and manipulating it (just as had been done with Covid-19) by his tweet that stated, "FLOYD-19".  Furious tweeters demanded his resignation, saying that he was racist, and then pulled his business partners in, demanding that they withdraw from their partnership (like Reebok).  Reebok jumped ship, terrified to be associated with anything that the masses declared scandalous. His history of funding and supporting people of color did not matter to anyone, nor did anyone want to open up that door to conversation.  They wanted to call him a racist and end him, and that is what they did.

Whether or not you agree that he ought to have tweeted that, and whether or not you agree with his opinion, it is still only his opinion.  It is within the realm of his freedom of speech to declare such things.  You don't have to like it.  You don't have to agree.  You don't have to be friends with him.  But just because you disagree with another person does not mean that they should be silenced and destroyed. It is the mark of intelligence and maturity to be able to have a conversation with someone that you disagree with, and it is the embodiment of a free society to be able to express your personal views, whether they be popular or not.

Another aspect of the danger of groupthink was displayed recently with masses of people displaying black squares all over social media in an attempt to gain traction to end racism.  Perhaps I have been fortunate to surround myself with people for my whole life who think the very idea of racism is absolutely absurd to hold and expressly intolerable - in fact, I've only been aware of a very small handful of people who have ever vocalized anything overtly negative about people of color, and those people were very old and are now dead.  I don't know any person in my generation who has ever leaned positively toward becoming a racist.  It is the very fact of why so many scurry from even the hint of any behavior that would be linked to it.  Am I a minority for that?  I don't know for sure, but I have a hunch that even if a person was closeting feelings of racial superiority, they would never dare express it because they know it is wrong and that it is offensive, as they should.

With that being said, though, what happened on black square Tuesday on social media did not necessarily lend a hand in the right direction to fight racism.  Instead, what it did was influence people to behave a certain way and to display a signal to others that they were not racist and that they were going to prove it.  Instead of being comfortable with who they are (knowing in their heart that they were not racist) and displaying it in real life, in action, in loving others as they ought, they felt discomfort that someone might accuse them of being racist for their sin of omission of not following the masses and what was trending that day by not displaying a black square.

Certainly there were many who were passionate about connecting to other races of people - and we know that they are because they live it in their everyday life.  It was already part of who they are and at the front of their minds, but I fear that the majority of people who posted that did so more out of the fear that others would think less of them if they didn't.  That is not fighting racism.  That is unthinkingly following the vocal mob.  If you need to prove that you are not a racist with a black square, maybe you need to do a little bit more soul searching and think deeply about where you are at and what you believe.  The whole world is better when you're thinking critically.

Where do we go from here?  I beg that you connect with people who don't think like you and who are not like you, not so that you can call them names or crucify them on social media, but to explore the other side in an effort to truly understand - to expand yourself.  I encourage you to shun cancel culture wherever you see it as it is the very epitome of silencing voices.  But most of all, I encourage you to think for yourself and to use the liberty you have to express your own thoughts. 

You never know, your thoughts and opinions might not be a scary minority, even if the media tries to tell you that they are.  But even if you do not hear many other voices like your own, if you're not you, what are you even doing with your life?  Who are you?  Speak up.  The free society deserves it.

Peace, love, and think for yourself,
Ms. Daisy

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Fear Factory

'Ello lovelies!  (Go back and try again in a British accent if you didn't do that the first time around.)

What a year so far, amirite?

It's been enough of a wild ride on the free-flowing, wavy scrolls of hoarded toilet paper, diving deep into the deepest depths of oceans of hand sanitizer for any of us to likely want to climb aboard the crazy train again any time soon.

I am sure that many of us have had significant time to ponder and reflect on many new things (including - but not limited to - what you might trade toilet paper for and if you were going to be adventurous enough to make your own hand sanitizer from your liquor cabinet).  There are a few things that I have been rolling over in my head and I thought to share one with you today.  Are you ready for a ride into my brain?  It's wilder than the life of a Costco toilet paper roll.

I think that if there was one emotion that could be collected and weighed across all of humanity starting somewhere in late winter, fear would come in first place.  In many of our lifetimes, we have never had to deal with something that had such a wide span, affecting so many all at once.  One day we woke up and schools were closed.  And then the next day, they were closed for the year (three months out).  The next day, people were afraid of airports.  The next day, people were working from home.  The next day, we watched Italy singing from balconies, locked in their homes.  The next day, we were locked in our homes and high fives and hugs were essentially declared illegal.  The next, they took away baseball.  The next, people started wearing hazmat suits and disinfecting their groceries.

There is absolutely no reason that you could have ever gotten to a hazmat suit and a pile of $37 N95 masks that you burn inside out in your driveway on the way in and tossing your Rice Krispies into a bathtub of bleach without being completely terrified of something.  Three and half months ago, if you would have done that, they would have called 911 and put you into a mental institution.  Today, you're asked for your bleach concentration recipe and stared at for your tremendously stylish hazmat outfit.

How did it get that way?  It was that a lot of people truly believed the worst of what they were seeing in the media, and not only that - they believed it was probably going to happen to them and to their loved ones.  Imagining dangerous things happening to you and your loved ones is probably one of the strongest catalysts for change and wild unnatural behavior that you could ever find on the spectrum of humanity.

As people dove in headfirst, the media felt the exhilarating rush of clicks.  They upped the coverage.  The clicks went exponential.  The media stood in their quarantined offices with their fingers spread out to the sky, eyeballs flickering, purple-blue electricity pouring out of their wrinkled fingertips,  voices suddenly strengthening, and erupting with, "No, no!  YOU WILL DIE! Unlimited power!" while launching Samuel L. Jackson into the sky.  In a few short moments of our life, all news turned into coronanews.  In fact, in the first few weeks, I saw an infographic that showed the amount of times a word had been mentioned in the news.  Ebola was in the millions over the course of the entire epidemic.  According to Sprinklr, a company that tracks language and trends and helps manage social media images and brands, just on one single day - February 28 - 6.7 million people mentioned the rona on Twitter and on social media platforms.

 Personally, I am not one who likes to submerge myself into the news machine.  I don't want to support the media getting ad revenue for their hysterical hype, leveraging the novelty of a pandemic to benefit themselves financially. As they play on people's vulnerability and panic, they push others into a downhill spiral, scouring the world to shock them daily with more terrors and horrors, digging up the most random one-off experience you wouldn't find unless you were on page 19 of a google search, and then making it front page news.

I don't know if you noticed this, but it seemed that all of the media everywhere only had about six stories to pick from to broadcast on any given day. No matter what news outlet it was, they were all saying the same thing.  It was like it was either completely lazy journalism (and I use that term very loosely) or otherwise a very united front to decide what stories were going to make it to your homepage.  Those headlines would sit on top, ready to be gobbled up by the eager clicking masses who had barely just opened their eyes for the day, and then re-spread in various degrees across social media, infiltrating every crack and corner of life, giving people the Next New Thing To Freak Out About.

(And then their cortisol levels from stress tanked their immune systems, and they worried more into a perpetual spiral, making themselves more vulnerable to the thing that they were most worried about. SLOW CLAP.  Awesome job.)

You can get people to do anything if you work up enough panic.  Rational, thinking, level-headed people will turn to bleaching their cereal boxes, turning their masked faces 180 degrees away from other's in terror, afraid to pick up a box of pasta without a gloved hand.  These small things are the proof that you can get them to do big things.

This is the place that we stand and wonder at society.  Where are you?  Is it possible that the media may have their own interest in mind?  Do you believe everything that you're told?  How much do you question?  What if you weren't afraid?  Wouldn't you like to feel that way again?  (I ask that knowing that there are some people who totally get off on panic, so even though it could be rhetorical, it isn't.)

You know what?  You don't have to watch the news.  You don't have to read the headlines.  You don't have to know every gory detail of what someone is putting out for you.  You don't have to wake up and throw yourself into panic and depression.  You can just do your thing.  You can avoid any scrolling through facebook.  You don't have to open it up at all.  You don't have to argue with those who disagree with you.  You don't have to read the news before you go to the grocery store.  You can just go.  You can go outside.  You can call your friends.  You can smile at people at the grocery store and interact like they are a human being instead of the Black Plague personified.  You can refuse to drown in it.

Do you know what happens when you do?  You feel a lot better.  You're not fueling people who don't have your best interest in mind.  You're not giving them power over your day and your emotions, creeping into your subconscious, prying one thing after another away from your once much happier life.  When something wild happens, you will be clearheaded enough to react appropriately to it, and not with a knee-jerk survival mode.

I just thought that you should know that you're not obligated.  Maybe you could try it for a day and see how you feel.  Or don't.  Whatever.  It's a free country.  Kinda.

Peace, love, and take back your brain,

Ms. Daisy

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Watch Your Language: "Social Distancing"

Hello lovelies!

Have you heard the term "social distancing" before?  If you haven't, it is likely because you've been in a coma for a couple months or have just flown down from another planet.  Welcome, by the way!  You've landed in the middle of a story nobody could have believed even six months ago.

The first time I heard that phrase, I immediately thought, "That isn't the intention at all.  They've missed it completely!"  Isolation, yes.  Physical distance, yes.  But social distancing?  No.  Absolutely not.

We are social beings and thrive in community with one another.  That is why it is so harsh and repugnant in our souls to hear of those who have to live out a term of their life in solitary confinement (even though it may be warranted, we still furrow our brow at the thought of the experience).  That is why when we watch movies and see the hero in a dungeon, our guts wish him or her out of there as quickly as possible.  It is why the phrase "fomo" is a thing.  It is why we do so much of what we do (yes, like shave - the poor razor companies never saw this coming, either).  It is how new parents get through those first weeks without completely losing it.  It is why when researchers study "blue zones" (areas of the world that have a population that lives significantly longer than the average), they find that they one of the main components of longevity and quality of life is connectedness to others. 

Language is a very powerful thing.  As some of you know, I have a Finnish heritage.  Finland is a unique place - for many reasons.  The history of Finland is rife with attempted takeovers from Russia and Sweden, both of those countries battling to absorb little Finland into their empires, nearly taking turns to do so at every opportunity.

How did Finland withstand and persist in their own independence and freedom in spite of being attacked perpetually by much larger countries with much larger armies?

There are two reasons, and both are practical lessons for us today.

The first is sisu.  Sisu is a Finnish word with no exact English equivalent.  It embodies the philosophy and idea of persisting through what would have otherwise have been thought to be impossible, tenacity, grit, resilience, digging deep and defying the odds, and hitting the wall of what is thought to be possible, moving through it, and continuing to move forward, despite the physical and mental cries against doing so.  It is often referred to as a "second wind" - when one is certain that they cannot go one step further or endure one second more, and gritting their teeth and sustaining it anyway at whatever cost. 

Simo Häyhä
One of the most famous Finnish warriors was Simo Häyhä.  In the Winter War against giant Russia (the Soviet Union at that time) that started in 1939, Finland began with ten working tanks against Russia's 6500+, 114 aircraft (100 of which were unfit for war), and 300,000 soldiers against Russia's 760,000.  The soviets hoped to mop up Finland in a week or less, and with these numbers, they seemed that they had a good chance to do just that.

What the soviets did not have, however, was sisu.  When the Finns realized the odds that they were up against, they did not back down.  Instead, they dug deeper than ever to fight for their homes, for their families, and for the country and culture they deeply loved.  Dressed all in white, Finnish daredevils on skis would deliver Molotov cocktails - glass bottles filled with incendiaries, covered in tar, lit on fire and launched - shattering against soviet tanks and destroying them one by one.

Simo Häyhä was a one-of-a-kind warrior, however.  Instead of launching Molotov cocktails, he was a sniper.  He preferred not to even employ the use of a scope on his bolt-action rifle (as the light from the glass may have given away his position), he shoved snow in his mouth so that his breath in the cold would not be noticed, buried himself behind a mound of snow, and earned himself the nickname "The White Death" from the soviets.  In the four hours of Finnish winter daylight, he totaled more than 259 kills in just over 3 months.  He was awarded a medal for his sniper kills (which lasted from November 30 to March 7 - when he was injured by being shot in the face and having half of it blown off.  Spoiler: he lived - he regained consciousness a week later and lived until he was 96 years old.).  In his personal diary found in 2017, he admits a much higher number of kills, counting over 500 on his self-titled "sin list".

Besides possessing immense amounts of sisu, Finland won those wars and preserved their independence and freedom by guarding their language.  The Finns knew that any country that tried to overtake them would try to absorb their culture.  When your culture is absorbed, you may as well consider yourself truly annihilated.  In one generation, you can clear the whole of history - imagine traditions eradicated (like the sauna and ice swimming), and entire ways of life ceasing to be, only to be read about in history books and wondered over.

Finland knew that one of the strongest ways to preserve their culture was to tightly hang on to their language.  Minority societies can be much more easily overtaken if they give up their language and allow for it to be lost to a majority primary language in the area in which they live.  Language parallels power.  We see examples even today - Norway and Sweden are (rightly!) fighting to push back on English as it has begun to overtake academia and business.

Language is the construct of our communication and shapes our thoughts.  For this reason, we need to be careful and intentional in saying what we truly mean. 

Do you truly want to discourage the aspect of socialization?  Do you want to live in a way that is disconnected from your friends and loved ones?  Do you intend to socially isolate yourself?  That is what we imply as we regurgitate the phrase "social distancing".  I know that it seems like a small thing, but perpetuating that rhetoric is having a tremendous impact on our mental state, our culture, and our way of life. 

Have you ever seen so many people outside in the history of your life?  What are they doing?  What are they looking for? 

They are looking for others.  They are looking for connection.  They do not want to be alone, isolated, and cut off from their tribe.  They are looking for a smile, for eye contact. 

I would encourage you to deeply consider your language as we navigate this strange event.  We need others more than ever.  We need help, we need connection, we need to feel support, we need to feel that we are cared for.  Perhaps instead of using the term "social" distancing, we call it "physical distancing" or "physical isolation" or "separation".

You are not alone and you are not intended to be alone.  You have your community, those who love you, and those who are on your "ride or die" inner circle list.  Disconnecting from the human social fabric is not the new normal and it never will be.  Reach out to your people.  Even if you are physically separated, you are not socially removed.  We are not going out like this.  Hang on tight!  Have sisu!

Peace, love, sisu, and sending ridiculous amounts of double-armed, tight squeezing illegal hugs,
Ms. Daisy

Monday, April 20, 2020

How to Increase Your Covid Risk of Death Tenfold

I really did not want to write an article about covid.  

The simple act of reading the word for a lot of people piles on anxiety and contributes to a disruption in mental health.  The media has never talked about another issue as much as it has with this one; it is ultra-saturation overboard and I did not want to contribute to any of that.  Most of the articles that are scrolled across are full of panic, fear, death, OCD-handwashing, isolationism, potential poverty, job loss, economic collapse, and political fights.  It is no wonder that people are stressed out and on high alert, living around the clock in fight-or-flight mode.  Something as simple and seemingly benign as a trip to the grocery store has people behaving as if every other human being is a threat to their life - strangers hiding behind masks, gloved up, and eyeing each other suspiciously or not at all. 

As the weeks and months have crawled on at a snail's pace, we have thankfully been able to gather quite a bit of data regarding many things surrounding this issue to understand it a bit better.

I have recently come across some information that may be initially a little scary for some of you, but I intend to give you a workaround and provide you with some hope.

Here's the thing, lovelies - we're not afraid of a regular virus.  We're not afraid of the flu, we're not afraid of a cold.  

We are, however, afraid of a virus that we think is going to kill us haphazardly.  We don't want to die.  We don't want our loved ones to die.  We don't want to be a statistic.  We don't like the thought that just going to the grocery store could end our lives.  Many are paralyzed with fear that they could be carriers and kill of their parents, their children, and all the old people in the grocery store, out on the streets going for a walk, and all of our neighbors.  What seems like a random chance of a very unpleasant death alone in a hospital bed is a nightmare that none of us want to participate in.  Nobody wants to play Russian roulette with this.

This is understandable.  

But what if it's not exactly that way?

We have read the numbers about how it significantly affects the elderly population more strongly than the youth.  This is still not a relief, of course, but with this we are able to see a pattern.

New information is coming out that is showing an overwhelming and shocking link to the severity of covid with several underlying comorbidities.

Data from the first 2204 patients admitted to the National Health Service in Europe revealed that 72.7% were overweight or obese.  That is an incredible number!  This number speaks only of obesity, and not even of age.  (Please note that this number is the percentage of those who were admitted to the hospital, and not of those who died.)

Those with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome have a ten times greater risk of death than those who are metabolically healthy. 

Because this virus strongly affects lung function, it is no surprise that a study from China found that smokers were fourteen times more likely to get severe disease than non-smokers.   

Other staggering comorbidities reflected that hypertension (high blood pressure) was a prevalent partner in those who were dying from the novel coronavirus.  

With only 12.2% of Americans metabolically healthy, how could this ever be hopeful?

It is hopeful because of something called nutrigenomics.

Nutrigenomics is the study of how our genetic expression is affected by the food we eat and how the food we eat affects our genetic expression.  This branch of science, biology, and medicine offers a tremendous amount of hope to all of us, but especially to those who are living in fear of death by "the rona".  

Here's the deal.  Food is the language of our cells.  Every single bite is information to our bodies.  Every single bite delivers information that turns on or turns off genetic expression.  Maybe you are among those who are suffering from type 2 diabetes or obesity - right now, your body has those switches flipped on.  But it doesn't have to stay that way!

When we think of making a difference in our bodies by changing our diets, many of us think that it takes months or years of nonstop suffering and kale to see effects.  We think with targets out that far away, it's not even worth it - there's no hope.  It will take too long and it will cost us too much joy.  Weight loss may be something that does take a while, especially if you don't have a lot of testosterone and if you are over 40.  But weight loss is not the same as genetic expression.

All of this means that you can do something about it.  It means that you can drastically cut (or increase) your risk of death by the novel coronavirus.  It is not an unknown monster hiding in the closet.  It is not Russian roulette.  You have access to actions that can decrease or increase your risk of death.

Every single bite you take makes a difference.  Every. Single. Bite.  Within two weeks, your body will begin reflecting significant change in genetic expression.  You may not see that in weight loss and you may not see instant toned abs and a six-pack, but at a level that you cannot see, change is happening and it is drastic. 

Type 2 diabetes and obesity can be changed drastically with diet.  It is a wonderful, glorious, and hopeful fact!  It is not easy and there is no magic pill to take, but it will bring results that you will be thankful for.  

If you find yourself in this position and you want to make change, I urge you to do a few things that will significantly affect your genetic expression, pushing you farther and farther away from risk in each bite that you take.

1.  Only eat real food.  

This sounds dumb, but most food in the grocery store isn't real food.  I mean that you should be eating only fruits, vegetables, meats/fish/poultry, and very minimally processed dairy.  You should not be eating food that comes out of a box.  You should not eat foods that have bright colors.  Eat food that grew on trees, grew out of the ground, walked on the ground, swam in the water, and is recognized in nature.  

Cereal is not real food.  Tortilla chips are not real food.  Granola bars are not real food.  At least, none of those are real food for this purpose.  Eat only real food that you put together to make other food, not food that a factory made for you. 

Yeah, I know.  I lost you when I spoke disparagingly about tortilla chips, but since this is a life or death kind of thing, I'm going to tell it to you straight because you need to hear it and because you really can change your life.

2.  Avoid sugar and carbs like the plague.

You already know this, especially if you have diabetes - sugar cranks up your levels like crazy and makes you get into a downward spiral for insulin sensitivity.  That's the problem and that pushes you deeper into metabolic syndrome, type two diabetes, and obesity.  

The other thing is that sugar destroys the good guys in  your immune system and paralyzes them.  That's the last thing you need when there is a psycho virus on the loose.

This includes liquid sugar (which is the absolute worst of all) - soda, juice, energy drinks, and coffee drinks that pretend to be coffee but are actually just dessert.  It includes cookies, cakes, pies, candy, ice cream, and every single thing that you love.  (I know.  I'm just going for it all today, aren't I?  Sorry, not sorry.  I will risk hurting your feelings if it will save your life.)

Bread?  Nope.  Not right now.  Not for you.  Pasta?  Sorry, it's not on your team, either.  I wish they were.  I get it, I really do.

If you don't hate me yet, I'll get you with this - alcohol.  You probably should significantly limit that, also.  

3.  If you have type 2 diabetes, you should consider looking into intermittent fasting.

That looks like eating within an 8 hour window in a day.  This helps regulate insulin levels significantly. 

Here are some things that you should be doing:

1.  If you're not taking zinc, you're out of your mind and you need to get on that immediately.  Research is coming out solidly showing how zinc works with your immune system to fight covid before it can even get in and cause damage. 

2.  Drink your water.  Hydration is huge for helping your body work optimally.

3.  Get outside and get vitamin D on your skin.  This is huge for fighting this virus.

4.  Exercise at least 150 minutes a week.  Go.  This is not for vanity anymore.  This is to save your life. 

5.  Take and eat probiotics.  This includes naturally fermented foods like brined sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir, miso, tempeh.  You can also take it in supplement form.  These not only help digestion and weight loss, they boost your immune system.

I know that many of these things are hard.  I know that reading through this might feel like I am a huge jerk who is raining on every fun party that ever existed in the history of the world.  I understand why you would think that - these changes are difficult! Not drinking wine and whiskey while simultaneously having to suddenly homeschool your children is for some a rather monumental task.

But lovelies, difficult is not impossible.  You can do this.  And with the risk that is out there, you owe it to yourself and to your family to have a fighting chance and to get yourself out of those categories that push you much closer to death.

Feeling out of control and hopeless is a very disturbing place to be.  Certainly life comes with wild things and we cannot control everything, but with what we know and understand of this virus, there are some helpful things that can be done to mitigate significant risk.

Let us not panic.  Take charge and do something about it.  If you are concerned with the death rate, begin taking action that will separate you from being a person of high risk.  

Do hard things.  We're in this together and I'm cheering for your success.

You've got this,
Ms. Daisy

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Locker Defense and New Year's Resolutionists

This morning was the first time this year I had to defend my locker space at the gym, but I was prepared.  It happened a few weeks ago for about 6 out of ten days.  I came back from the pool intending to stash my wet swim bag and water bottle in the top locker to find that someone had put a lock on it.


Initially, I thought, "Surely this will not happen again.  Who would want to stand in the same square footage as another person coming straight from the showers?"  Alas, I was mistaken.  Someone apparently did really want to stand on the same 1x1 foot square of ground as my very freshly showered self.  It happened again, and then again, and again.  I was significantly perplexed and disturbed as all of the other lockers in the section were empty and had no locks, and yet this person chose to select the locker that was directly above mine - the one I've been using for nine years almost every weekday. 

**Side note**
People who wake up at 4:50 a.m. to jump into a cold pool to swim for an hour to start the day and use the same locker for nine years in a row aren't usually people who are generally characterized as those who are laid back and go with the flow.

Obviously, I considered buying another lock and locking the top and bottom locker, but then I decided that probably wasn't necessary, and I could just spread out a bunch of random weird things in there that nobody else in their right mind would want to touch instead and solve the problem just the same.  Since that day, I've tossed in an empty bag, shampoo, a towel to save the spot while I was swimming and today it paid off.

Today, I returned from swimming and the brass lock adorned the neighboring top locker.  SAFE!  WINNING!

(Although, still perplexed.  Why do you insist on being this close to me?  All of the other lockers are available.  Personal. Space. Please.  Thank you.)

Although moderately disturbing, this is not something that is new to the landscape of January at the gym.  It is a magical thing that happens.  In the last few weeks of December at the gym, the parking lot in the morning looks like a barren wasteland.  You could do your entire workout plus cartwheels up and down the parking lot without any concern of being run over or killed.  You could mimic the entire movie of The Sound of Music (complete with all dancing scenes) without bumping into a car. 

And then it happens.  The magical fairy dust of the calendar flips and the first working Monday in January bestows all gyms everywhere with plethoras of swarming humans in the exact places you have been for approximately the last 3,287 days.  You turn the corner into the parking lot at exactly 5:19 a.m. (and 20 seconds) and make the same left and right turns as you have done for forever (so much so that you can do it in your sleep - and half the time you actually are still asleep), and then gasp in abject horror when you see that a non-authorized vehicle has taken your spot.  Your spot - one row back and two places over from the lightpost - is being violated by a random car that you've never seen before.  You close your eyes and breathe, reminding yourself it is too early to commit crimes.  You see all of your friend's cars and they are all out of sorts also, scooched around like this is some kind of sick survival game.

But you are a survivor and you know what you must do - you must summon enough tenacity to bravely face what is ahead of you: the Return of the Resolutionists.

You sling your backpack off to one shoulder to beep yourself into the gym, saying hello to the front desk person who knows you by name.  The man who walks toward you with his towel on his left shoulder on his way up the stairs to walk the track at exactly the same time every morning nods in your direction and you nod back.  You glance at the elliptical machines and every single one of them is whirring as if we're trying to power the entire midwest from the output, and make your sharp left turn toward the locker rooms.  You swing the door open and take the thirteen steps to your locker.


There is a lock there.  There are a bunch of strangers spread out everywhere and you're trying to smile in a friendly way, but you have to squeeze past them, and you're really just trying not to cry from having to think about what to do next because you are not programmed to do so this early in the morning. 

You pull your coat and clothes off, grab your towel, swim bag, water, and conditioner, and lock up.  You stand in the same place you do every single morning at 5:27, holding up the wall and saying good morning to your fellow teammates.  They all are standing in the same place as they always do and arrive in the same order that they do every day.  There are more people here today, though, and they are punctuating the open spaces that are there every other day of the year.  The aquatics manager appears at the end of the hallway and all of us move in a Pavlovian manner to bend down and grab our swim bags.  She arrives with the holy grail at 5:29 and 40 seconds - the key to let us in. 

You enter the natatorium and grab a kickboard and hop up onto the bulkhead to walk to your lane.  And then the worst thing in the whole world happens - someone else that you don't know is standing in front of lane 4.  Half of your soul dies immediately on the spot.  You consider leaving, but remember that perseverance only comes through difficulty.

All swimmers know that we swim in assigned lanes.  You have a primary lane and a secondary lane.  You would never swim in anything but those.  You would never swim with people you don't swim with because you know exactly how the people you swim with swim. You know when they will turn, where they will push off the wall and how far over you need to be to not have a head on collision, and who is most likely to take out the back of your hand with a paddle on a long set, or swipe your butt on backstroke, and who you will 100% of the time one-arm duck under on a returning fly so you don't die.  You know exactly what to do if they might lap you - you've choreographed it every day for years (Is it a wall pause with a foot grab or will you split until they pass?  Will they pass you on the left or will you flip turn and go under them?  And it will change if one of you is swimming stroke, so you know that, too.).  You know who will split and who will circle.  You know the pecking order and how to adjust for pulling and IM and a sprint set.  You know the hundreds of nuances of swim etiquette and who leaves 3 seconds early instead of 5. 

As a result of the invader, everyone is bumped around and the Not Very Laid Back people are pretending we can be flexible, but now we don't even know how to swim anymore and are considering giving up on life in general or starting a war in the middle of lane 5. Two of the very vocal people are making statements aloud that you only barely thought of in your head. 

Somehow - thankfully - we survive the day.  And the week.  Barely.  But not without deep trauma.

Soon enough, equilibrium will return.  Until it happens again next year.

Peace, love, and chlorine,
Ms. Daisy