Monday, November 22, 2010

Give thanks

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s the best because I get together with my family and friends and it’s the one day of the year when you are supposed to eat all day. I love saying grace. I love the sleepy, lazy early evening nap and the next day leftovers. I love stuffing and gravy. I love my families’ open door on Thanksgiving policy. I love silly homemade tracing your hand turkey art projects. I love Thanksgiving for so many reasons that sometimes I forget why we are celebrating in the first place.

Remember the point of Thanksgiving is to give thanks for all that we have, hence the name.

In honor of this noble holiday, (a holiday we should be celebrating a little bit every single day of the year) I propose to give thanks every day this week.

After reading this article, I would like everyone to get out a pen and make a list. A list of everything you are thankful, grateful or feel blessed to have or know.

Then you should ruminate on your list all week.

Take a big deep breath and think about whomever or what ever you happen to believe in. I mean God, Buddha, your mother, the flowers, the struggling artist, the nation. You pick. Then when you have the picture of your Universe and all you hold dear, let out a big sigh of thanks because life is pretty good, even when it’s hard or cold or sad. There is always something to be thankful for. Right now at this very moment I am thankful for my job, my family, my friends (I don't know what I would do without you), my full belly, my warm clothes, my beautiful view, my proximity to GG Park and my short work week.

People have even done studies about gratitude and apparently it is actually good for you. Gratitude is supposed to lessen stress and reduce the risk of heart attacks.

“Wait, what did I hear? Lessen stress? And all I have to do is appreciate and express thanks for something I am thankful for and appreciate already? Wow, that doesn’t sound so hard.”

It’s also been studied that people who maintain a thankful attitude throughout their life are less likely to have high blood pressure, depression, phobias and alcoholism.

So this week, every day, including Thursday I would like you to focus on the great things in your life. The special people, the wonderful memories and all the goodness in between. Maybe…hopefully it will stick and you will find yourself being thankful every day of the year.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Be Good to your body, it's where you live!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thank you for not smoking

I used to be a smoker, a proper one. By proper I mean, wake up in the morning and have a cigarette with my coffee kind of smoker. It all started in college. I went to art school and it just made sense to smoke. All of my friends smoked. We would hang out in the smoking area and talk about life, love, art and the intensity of it all. We were cool; we wore a lot of black.

Then I graduated and quit. I moved back to California and started running. I remember the first run I did; I coughed for 15 minutes and my spit was black. All of my clothes smelled like an ashtray. My mother wouldn’t even let me bring my luggage in the house. I had to wash my clothes in the garage before bringing them to my room.

Then I moved to LA and amidst the glitz and the glamour, the stars and the starvation I began to smoke again. My life went through these off/on stages of smoking for many more years. In Scotland I didn’t smoke but in France I did. I smoked in the Castro but not in the inner sunset. Smoking has been a strange part of my life for sometime now and I would be lying if I said I didn’t love it. I don’t consider myself a smoker now but I do still occasionally have a cigarette when the mood strikes. It’s a love/hate relationship. I love it because it seduced me with its drug and I hate it because it’s killing me.

I don’t mean it’s killing me metaphorically. I mean it’s actually killing me. Tobacco causes over 438,000 deaths in the US each year and what seems even worse to me, some 8.6 million Americans live with a smoking related illness. How strong is the magic of cigarettes that they can persuade me to smoke them even with all that information? If I am truly living my motto (be good to your body, it’s where you live) then I certainly wouldn’t put what has been proven to be poison into my home.

Having the nicotine background that I have makes me hyper aware that having someone preach to you about the dangers of cigarette smoking is like listening to someone tell you exercise is good for you. We know it’s good for us but knowing the benefits isn’t going to get us to the gym any faster.

You have to want it. I want it because it smells bad and when I see people smoking I feel bad for them. I want to not smoke because it’s poison. I want to not smoke because it makes the after taste of your mouth taste like death. I want to not smoke because I am vain and I don’t want to have a shriveled mouth. I want to not smoke because it’s killing the people around me and polluting the earth and decaying my lungs. I want to not smoke because it’s not being good to my body. Those are my reasons. What are yours?

This Thursday is UCSF’s great American Smokeout. We believe that if you can stop smoking for one day, you can stop forever. You know that I am all about the baby steps and this is your first step. Take Thursday off. You can do anything for one day, anything, even not smoking. So please, join me. Find something that will make you feel good about yourself and do that instead. Maybe Thursday is the day you get a pedicure or a massage or buy fresh fruit at the farmers market or go for a walk and breath in the fresh air and say "I’m sorry" to your lungs.

Be Good to your Body, it’s where you Live.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Let's go Giants, Let's go!

There is a buzz in the air here in San Francisco. People are high-fiving strangers on the street. Firecrackers are lighting and usually grumpy curmudgeons are smiling like never before. Is it the sunshine? Is it the spirit of Halloween? Has the day of the dead become a day of rejoice? Perhaps, but more than likely it’s the Giants fantastic win of the World Series.

I am not a sports fan. I do not religiously follow any team sports. I do not have season tickets. I do not know the names of team members. I, like many of my sort love a live game of almost anything but have only on rare occasions ever watched a game on TV (world cup games and the tour de France with the BF) and only once done that alone (a giants game last week).

I watched a Giants game… alone… at home and I cheered and got excited and paid attention and followed the game. Who am I? I am an excited San Franciscan.

This buzz, this thrill that is permeating the streets of SF is contagious and even non-sports enthusiasts like me are getting into it and I think you should too. I actually believe that it is good for us and healthy and that it can make people feel better. I don’t mean that you must be excited about the Giants win (but it’s pretty freaking cool). What I mean is that you should get excited about something and you should share it with other like-minded individuals. There is something electric about an entire group of people who are into or participating in the same thing. Think about church. When everyone is singing and praising and loving the same belief, it’s contagious even if you aren’t religious. Have you ever been to a party where someone suggested charades and you decided to opt out because you didn’t want to make a fool of yourself? Next time join in! Participating in something, as a group will take you out of yourself and your own stresses and help you function as a collective bit of happiness. That’s what I think is happening in SF. We have given over to something bigger and we are sharing it together and we are having fun while we do it. We are practically bursting with excitement.

What are you into? Do you like knitting, or music or walking or baseball? Find other people like you and spend time with them. Get excited about the latest pattern or hike, or song or score! We spend so much time every day trying to be “normal” and “not crazy” and “calm”. I think it’s time we let go of that and went wild! Jump up and down! Scream at the TV! Get bummed when it doesn’t go well and then shake it off! Take this week and live it in Technicolor.

Be Good to your Body, it’s where you Live