We have all the power

People hold all of the power and I’ll tell you why.

Every single decision we make as consumers in the free market place plays a major role in how our future will be determined.

It is not up to corporations.

It’s not up to big business or big oil.

It’s not up to the elites or the government in the USA. (Yet)

We decide.

Every decision you make is a conscious choice to go one way or the other.

We ARE the disease and cancer ridden society.

We purchase the chemicals from Monsanto to spray our gardens.

We decide to spend and spend and spend and wonder why we are being bombarded with advertisements.

We choose to drive cars. We pump our gas.

We buy the harmful medications and blame big pharma.

We get delivery after delivery.

We listen to the trash music.

We make stupid people famous.

We buy from Amazon.

We buy fast food and wonder why our reputation in America starts with the word obesity.

We buy the junk food on the shelves and watch the produce rot at the grocery store. We aid our children to get diabetes.

We consume all the plastic we can get our hands on.

We use single use packaging on such an immense level it’s almost hard to fathom.

We use the garbage service because we’re too lazy or busy to take it ourselves.

We are the reason avocados surged through the market a few years back.

We are the reason DVD players and razor phones are out of style.

We are the reason there are 50 different variations of deodorant to chose from on the shelves.

We are the reason counterfeit products and illegal drugs surge though the country.

We are the reason that high waisted pants and crop tops are still in style.

We are the reason animals get treated poorly in factory farms.

We are the ones who are toxic.

We are the consumers.

We are the demanders.

We are the deciders.

We are the ultimate controllers.

We are the single most powerful asset to our nation.

We keep every single business IN BUSINESS.

It’s us doing all of this.

No one is forcing us.

I think many people are waiting for someone else to solve the worlds problems, when the problem is always right where you are.

The knowledge is available at your fingertips. We know right from wrong. The truth is, by nature we are all selfish.

Have we been deceived and tricked in the past?

Yes.

But the knowledge is out there for the taking and choosing ignorace out of comfort or convenience is something I will never do.

Human consciousness has expanded so rapidly these last couple years and I actually think people are aware of all of this but don’t see themselves as a major contribution to any issue we face.

That is by far our biggest issue.

Everyone’s looking for other people to make moves and take responsibility and not allowing themselves to be at fault.

Little to people realize, the ball is in their court.

You can’t go to the polls and get the result that we need to make a drastic change for our future.

I’m sure many of you think that you’re too broke to make a change or too trapped in your current situation to sacrifice anything (you have to drive a car, to get to work, to only afford poor quality food) but that’s not even close to being true.

We have allowed it to become this way.

You want your desired results? You want to end climate change? You want to fight cancer among children? You want to tackle obesity?

How about you start at home.

Because if you’re looking for drastic systematic change to happen so you can fall in line, you’ll be waiting until you’re dead and your great grand children will be in a hot-heaping trash pile up to their necks.

Sure there are certainly legislation and bills that can be passed to speed the efforts but even that isn’t enough!!

Life as we know it will have to come to a complete halt and enter an epic rejuvenation phase in order to be that change you want to see.

I’m talking total shut down of the free market, stopping all transportation, all manufacturing and MASS food production and distribution of every product in the world, every service known to man would have to stop in its tracks and change the way it works on a systematic level.

We can’t even fathom the life it requires in order to change our current system.

But I can tell you right now with absolute certainty that WE WILL BE THE CHANGE IF WE TRULY DESIRE THE CHANGE.

Just look at what vegans have accomplished. They get made fun of, but they are the ones shutting down dairy farms and exposing horrible agribusiness practices.

They are the reason for the milk variations and for the beyond burger.

DEMAND.

Whatever happens in our country is a direct result of everything we chose to purchase and everything that we allowed to happen because we are the people in control of what is being demanded in the market.

The market only supplies the demand. On a basic and very simplistic level, everything that you see is a direct result of what we want.

When you come to know this, you can be more aligned with the world you want to see.

We have to stop thinking of ourselves and start thinking for the future. The change is all around us. People are spreading knowledge and awareness and the market is responding accordingly.

This is why you see more organic produce on the shelves, solar farms, taco trucks, memes about shit that should never be memes.

IT IS US.

When you INTERNALIZE this information you TAKE BACK YOUR POWER and you decide your life, your values and your world.

Start making small changes TODAY. DO NOT WAIT because every second that passes determines our future and my God we have such a long way to go to reverse the damage being done.

I bite my lips

A lot of people think biting lips is sexy. I’m sure it can be.

The way I bite my lips is not sexy.

The first couple nibbles are usually in my subconscious. On autopilot. Typically giving my body a “task” while my mind rummages through fear, anxiety, obsessive thoughts, self loathing… the works.

I have A LOT on my mind.

Bite, bite, bite.

It’s my body’s way of diverting my mind to a different place. Bite.

There comes the blood. Ow

By this point my partner says “stop biting your lips”.

Shit. I didn’t realize I was doing that.

Why am I doing that?

Hmmm… bite, bite, bite.

I ask myself “what’s troubling you?”

Hmm… maybe the fact that you’re biting your lips until they bleed!!!

No self control.

Bite, bite, bite.

How I know God is Real

You wanna know how I know God is real?

This one time my friend and I were driving down the road in the middle of the night.

Picture it.

Curved road with fields on both sides. It was a pretty secluded area. Pitch black out. So we’re driving down the road hysterically laughing at something if I remember correctly. We go around the sharp curve and BOOM a man was walking on the right hand side, one foot inside the MAYO and next thing you know we’re both screaming bloody murder. Like, to be honest I have never screamed that hard in my life. The sound was absolutely hideous lol but by the grace of God himself, Shy jerks the wheel last minute and misses him. Mind you, it was real laaaate o’clock and this guy comes out of nowhereeeee. We both got quiet for a couple seconds and then let out sighs of relief because wow, that could have been BAD.

So.

2-3 years later. Middle of the night. We’re driving down either a similar road or the exact same road and the vibes were very similar so I had a flashback of the time we almost killed that guy. I start to remind Shy about it and again… we start hysterically laughing remembering how loud our screams were 😂😂😂 We’re coming up a sharp curve again and AS SOON AS I’m about to make a joke and open my mouth to let out that blooding curdling scream I did before… BAAAAMMM!!! there’s another guy walking half way in the road on the same side of the car!! Because I was already mid scream and we were prepared, BOOM she swerved and missed him too.

And that’s how I know God is real.

Make America Healthy Again

The Western Diet = Undiversified and Unhealthy Human Microbiome

Consider this: Many see themselves as a singular organism. Unless they are pregnant, most will sit down for dinner and think, “this is a nice dinner for one”, however; this is far from the truth. In reality, humans are hosts to trillions of bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites which feed off the food we consume. The bacteria typically coexist peacefully to make up our Human Microbiome, or gut flora, and there are far more of them than there are human cells in our body. “There are approximately 10 times as many microorganisms within the gastro-intestinal tract of humans (approximately 100 trillion) as there are somatic cells within the body” (Bird and Conlon). That’s right: our human cells are outnumbered ten to one by these microscopic bacteria. With this knowledge, we can conclude that the human host has a direct relationship with the trillions of tiny living organisms staking out in the body and ultimately how we feed them determines their ability to function properly. Due to the high consumption of processed foods, carbohydrates, meat and sugar with a low intake of fiber, the standard western diet of the American people has negatively affected the gut flora of everyone consuming it and as a result the microbiome is now undiversified and unhealthy.

This complex ecosystem of bacteria is unique to each individual, meaning that no two microbiomes are the same. These tiny organisms can be found living throughout the body in places such as the skin, uterus, lungs, placenta, mouth and stomach, to name a few.  The microbes living in different areas of the body have unique duties to maintain which keep their human host healthy. For example, the largest cluster of microbes can be found inside the digestive tract, which is also known as the gut flora. These specific microbes have the important role of keeping the metabolism functioning properly and maintaining homeostasis throughout the body. Being that the stomach is widely considered the second brain, the job of the gastrointestinal microbiome is very vital to our health and happiness. The high-profile job of the human microbiome is a two way street, as it is also our responsibility as the host, to play a part in providing these bacteria with the optimal nutrition from the foods we eat to create a suitable environment so they can do their job of keeping us healthy. Equipped with this knowledge, wouldn’t it be best that we only consume foods that help our good microbes flourish? After all, they do so much for our health that it is only right we do something for them in return. This is not the case in America.

It doesn’t take Christopher Columbus to discover America has a toxic and scandalous relationship with high processed and fast foods. One quick drive into any local town, in all 50 states, will reveal several fast food restaurants or dessert shops within a mile from one another. People and children around the entire nation are addicted to sugar which you can find hidden insidiously in almost every food group from salad dressings, canned goods, bread, all the way to candy and restaurant meals. America is known for quick convenience, big portions, cheap costs and delicious taste. Although it may be cheap, what is the real cost of this type of diet? You would think that health is a top priority, but we are only human and lets be honest, the food is just too good to turn down. Why would you choose a celery stick over a juicy cheeseburger? A salad over pizza and wings? What about local veggies over pasta and bread? That answer is perfectly clear: it is hard to make these tough decisions.

So, what really happens if we fail to play our role in sustaining a healthy diet for our microbes? If our gut bacteria does not receive the quality of food that is necessary for them to thrive, it starts a war in the lining of our stomach. This war is similar to the ever-familiar spiritual war on human life. It’s the battle of good and bad. “The microbiome consists of microbes that are both helpful and potentially harmful. Most are symbiotic (where both the human body and microbiota benefit) and some, in smaller numbers, are pathogenic (promoting disease) (“The Microbiome” 2019). That’s right, there is a diversity of good microbes and bad microbes that coexist in unison inside every one of us. The good microbes help to enable our health and prosperity and the bad ones aim to burn our health to the ground with diseases and chronic inflammation. Like many of us, there is also a third type of microbe that is neutral and can be persuaded by a sort of “peer pressure” from the bad microbes, which can lead them to the disease-promoting side rather quickly if the host consumes a bad diet. It is optimal to maintain a healthy diversity of good and bad microbes so that there is balance in the body. The only control we have in the war of good versus bad microbes is the human diet, which is responsible for feeding the good bacteria, wiping out the bad and keeping all the bacteria diversified. Researchers from the University of Harvard have spent decades observing the microbiome only to concluded that “diet plays a large role in determining what kinds of microbiota live in the colon (“The Microbiome”). In other words, if we don’t have control over our diets, our diets can very easily have control over us.

To lay the groundwork for this argument, it is important to understand exactly what Americans are consuming before assessing the damage. According to Judith Thalheimer, a Registered Dietitian specializing in community education and author of the article “Undoing the Unhealthful Western Diet: The Typical American Diet May Be Hazardous to Your Health” suggests that:

“Most Americans eat lots of refined grains (like white bread, pasta, cakes, and cookies), red and processed meats, fried foods, sweets, and high-fat dairy products (like ice cream and cheese). On the whole, we drink too many sugar-sweetened beverages, and don’t choose enough fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains, nuts, seeds, or legumes (beans and lentils).”

We have been conditioned to think choosing food for pleasure over purpose has no consequences, but with technology advancing and knowledge expanding at rapid rates, we are discovering that we may have been misguided all along. While the food is tasty and satisfying, western-style diets are on average, considerably low in fiber, beneficial nutrients like prebiotics, probiotics, dark leafy greens, healthy fats, unprocessed meat, vitamins, minerals, and microbiota-accessible carbohydrates (MACs) which allow the good microbes to live abundantly. At the same time, there is a surplus of industrialized and processed foods containing alarmingly high amounts of sodium, added sugar and saturated fats which feed the bad guys. This combination leads to a very undiversified bacteria profile in our stomach. Due to the lack of diversity, the bad microbes multiply and coerice us into craving the unhealthy foods which allow them to flourish and inturn, we eat more, gain weight, and increase our chances of illness.

Gratefully, there are researchers out there who dedicate their lives to discovering which foods are good for us and which are bad by studying our gut flora. Unfortunately, the western diet has been proven to cause more harm than we were once aware of. In order to study the microbiome, researchers conduct in-depth comparison studies using humans, mice or rats as test subjects. They take fecal samples from the test subjects to get an in depth observation of which bacteria lurk in our system. These studies are effective in determining how the western diet affects the quality of the bacteria in the microbiome, and can help determine how certain diets cause symptoms like obesity.

According to The International Journal of Obesity  “obesity prevalence has increased worldwide at an alarming rate, primarily due to reduced physical activity and Westernization of dietary habits” (Bortolin et al.). This journal also concludes that one of the standard archetypes of people in the USA are the 70% of overweight adults according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. One group of researchers in China have affiliations with the Department of Biochemistry, and the Department of Education in Saúde, sought to confirm that the western diet causes obesity. They conducted a comparative study using a diet-induced obesity model (DIO). They designed a prototype of the Western Diet (WD) which were pellets with high-fat, high-sugar and high-salt with low-fiber and compared it to two other DIO models. The two in comparison were a high-fat diet (HFD) which used various fat sources in different proportions and a cafeteria diet (CAF), which included highly palatable energy-dense foods like cheese, salami, cakes, and cookies. The CAF diet was intended to mimic a different style of western diet that contained substantial amounts of salt, sugar and fat while also including processed foods. The study was conducted on ten week old rats where three groups were assigned different DIO models for 18 weeks. At the end of the study period, the rats fecal samples were taken and the results gave insights on the different diets effects on the microbes. By observing the different study groups excitement for their food, they concluded that the western diet and the cafeteria diet prototypes were the most palatable. It is reasonable to think that the most palatable diets tend to lead to overconsumption because the foods are very delicious and addicting. These types of foods mimicked the western diet of cheeseburgers, fries, milkshakes, pizza, hot dogs and sugary drinks. Overall, the western diet most effectively promoted obesity because it was palatable and the rats developed more fat due to the desire to consume more. From this they discovered “excessive fat accumulation is a hallmark of obesity” (Bortolin et al.). This test is useful because  humans and rodents digest foods in a similar fashion.

Obesity isn’t the only concern revolving around the western diet. “Diabetes is one of the fastest-growing diseases in the United States and currently affects about 26 million Americans. Another 67 million Americans are estimated to have prediabetes, of which 60 million are unaware that they have the condition” (How Common Is). It is very common in America to have, or to know someone that has diabetes. This study also confirmed that the WD promoted a pre-diabetic condition. The insulin levels and insulin resistance were three times higher in WD-fed rats than in rats fed other diets. This data shows that the WD also led to a greater impairment in glucose homeostasis than the other diets, meaning that sugar levels were all over the place. Lastly, they noted changes in the type of bacteria living in the gut flora of the WD-fed rats. They discovered an abundance of 4 types of bacteria thriving in the WD-fed rats which are considered to be the best friend of obesity.

If you take a look down every single aisle of your local grocery store outside of the meat and produce sections, you can easily tell that highly processed foods go above and beyond being readily available to the public. Your local food store will showcase dozens of aisles dedicated to chips, cookies, crackers, ice cream, carbohydrates, and candy, while the produce aisle is limited to one small section. We are so desensitized to processed food that it is actually uncommon to visit the produce aisle alone and leave, because if it were common, our guts would have a wide range of diversity from the fresh fruit and vegetables, instead we have quite the opposite.

We can learn a lot about what the microbiome likes by observing the way people eat and their health as a direct result. Profoundly enough, some researchers suggest the paleo diet is the key to restoring our gut bacteria. A 2019 study composed by researchers who affiliate with the Unit of Microbial Ecology of Health in Italy aimed to understand the specifics of the human microbiome makeup based on certain dietary patterns. Their approach was effective as they evaluated extensive meta-analyses of human microbiomes of 15 Italian subjects following a modern paleolithic diet (MPD) where there is high intake of fish, vegetables, fruits, lean meat, nuts, seeds and eggs with no consumption of dairy, grains, refined sugar or salt. Their observative research approach led to the discovery that “increasing the consumption of MACs . . . and minimizing the intake of processed foods . . . could be the key to rewild the Western microbiota, counteracting the loss of GM diversity and thus restoring evolutionarily important functionality to our gut” (Barone). This shrinkage of GM diversity of western cultures depict a “maladaptive microbiome state which may contribute to the rising incidence of chronic non-communicable diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, asthma and inflammatory bowel disease” (Barone et al.).

An article titled “Gut Feeling for Diversity”  written by Leslie Beck goes into detail on the specific foods which help the microbiome flourish. A study included in this article conducted in the journal Cell Host & Microbe that concluded that “compared with people who ate a typical American diet, those who followed a lower-calorie, mostly plant-based diet had a far more diverse microbial community in their gut” (Beck).  Beck suggests to consume more beans, nuts, raw oats, chickpeas and unripe bananas in order to feed a healthy gut diversity. With that being said, how many times do people in American pull up to the drive thru window and order oats or nuts?

It is because of this that Americans lack diversity in their gut flora. One of the biggest drivers of various illnesses such as obesity, crohn’s disease, atherosclerosis and diabetes, is the lack of diversity in the microbiome. In the study conducted with the DIO model, they also found that gut microbial diversity was drastically decreased in CAF-fed rats, a diet with a western-style influence plus processed foods,  suggesting a  “microbial community dysbiosis, which is a disruption of gut microbiota composition that is known to participate in the pathogenesis of diverse diseases, including obesity, type 1 diabetes and autism”  (Bortolin et al.). The overwhelming rates of these illnesses in America is a direct result in their choice of diet. People often come into the United States with a perfectly normal microbiota and find that their bacteria gets quickly disrupted after only a few weeks of consuming the delicious, high-carbohydrate diet of the American people.

There are more ways to determine how diet impacts the gut by doing actual studies on people, which is what Ed Wong, a scientific journalist, Michael Nuenlist from the Institute of Digestive Disease and Tim Spector, an author and Professor of Genetic Epidemiology did. They are a few of the people who have dedicated their lives studying and observing the microbiota in the body. Together they composed a 2016 documentary titled “It Takes Guts” that revealed a lot of information on scientific studies comparing the microbes in the western populations to those of some of  the oldest tribes in the world. In one segment, Tim Spector wanted to see exactly what the Western Diet would do to the microbiome after 10 days of heavy fast-food consumption. He decided to let his son eat burgers and fries for every single meal with the occasional order of chicken nuggets for ten days straight. After this study, he got his results by taking a fecal sample from his son and the results were were than he hypothesized. After just 10 days, the diversity of his sons microbiome plummeted. The fast food consumption wiped out 3,500 of his 6,000 microbiomes and it took two weeks of an intense high-fiber diet to put his gut back on track. Tim Speculates that Americnas aren’t getting enough fiber in their diets and as a result, their diversity in their stomach bacteria is lacking. These types of studies are crucial to understanding how microbes develop and operate in the stomach and to understand which bacteria emerge from which dietary patterns.

In contrast, diet is not the only determining factor in the development of our gut flora. According to and article titled Gut Microbiome Response to a Modern Paleolithic Diet in a Western Lifestyle Context “The reduction of biodiversity have occurred at multiple stages along the recent transition to modern urban societies, and several aspects typical of the urbanization process-such as sanitation, antibiotics, C-section and Western diet-have been pointed out as contributing factors” (Barone et al.). One of the most influential ways to get beneficial bacteria happens at birth. Babies who are born vaginally get their first colony of microbes from the mothers vaginal wall after coming out of a completely sterile environment also known as the womb. This sets the foundation of the newborns health, as these first-contact microbes play a huge part in a well-developed immune system of the infant. After birth, the babies build on to their microbiome by being breastfed, as the milk transfers necessary beneficial bacteria from the mothers microbiome to the babies. There has been a change in the last 10 years in birthing and feeding practices which has had a huge effect on gut health. Women are now getting more cesarean sections and formula feeding and in doing so, the babies are not being exposed to the necessary beneficial bacteria as the babies before them. This is where diet comes into play. Since the odds are against most of us at birth, it is as important as ever to feed our guts with the foods it needs to colonize itself with the proper bacteria, but we are learning that America has failed this quest miserably.

People always say that diets are hard, and that is certainly true because in America we are surrounded by foods that bring us pleasure before they bring us health. Due to the fact that no two microbiomes are alike, it can be hard to conclude that one diet works for all because the complexity of the microbiome function makes for very difficult research. Nonetheless, the help from several professional researchers, we now understand more about these tiny microbes than ever before. With this knowledge we can take measures of adjusting our diets and changing the food system in America so that ourselves and our microbes thrive. While there is still much to learn, it is safe to conclude that our diets can help us manage which type of bacteria grow and flourish as a result and it is one hundred percent our personal responsibility to make the right dietary decisions for our health even though we are tempted to do otherwise. We have become a very ill nation and the time is now to reevaluate our food system and give ourselves the chance to make America healthy again.

Works Cited

Bortolin, R C, et al. “A New Animal Diet Based on Human Western Diet is a Robust Diet-Induced Obesity Model: Comparison to High-Fat and Cafeteria Diets in Terms of Metabolic and Gut Microbiota Disruption.” International Journal of Obesity, vol. 42, no. 3, 2018, p. 525.

“The Microbiome.” The Nutrition Source, 4 Sept. 2019, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/microbiome/.

Barone, Monica, et al. “Gut Microbiome Response to a Modern Paleolithic Diet in a Western Lifestyle Context .” PLoS ONE, vol. 14, no. 8, 2019, p. e0220619. Gale Health and Wellness, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A595927386/HWRC?u=pcc&sid=HWRC&xid=ce83dda6. Accessed 8 Nov. 2019.

“How Common Is Type 2 Diabetes?: Diabetes Type 2.” Sharecare, https://www.sharecare.com/health/type-2-diabetes/how-common-type-2-diabetes.

Conlon, Michael A, and Anthony R Bird. “The Impact of Diet and Lifestyle on Gut Microbiota and Human Health.” Nutrients, MDPI, 24 Dec. 2014,

Eisen, Leora, director. It Takes Guts. Syndicado, 2016.

Thalheimer, Judith C. “Undoing the Unhealthful Western Diet: The Typical American Diet May Be Hazardous to Your Health. EN Explores Which Dietary Changes Can Have the Biggest Positive Impact.” Environmental Nutrition, vol. 41, no. 5, May 2018, p. 7. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=hxh&AN=128955370&site=ehost-live.

A different kind of trauma

Consider this: You’re laying in bed on a Saturday night. You’ve had the best day ever. You were productive. You ate healthy. You are well. You learned something new. Life is good.

You close your eyes. Your mind begins to wonder. It floats past your meal plan for the week. You pray. Your prayers fade. Your partner is laying peacefully next to you. You need to go to sleep. You’re trying.

You think about your dog. Fantasize about future travel plans. Think about past embarrassing moments. Business plans. Product designs. New ideas. Colors. The sky. Your friends. Your friend. He’s dead.

No. No. No. Not that again. Adjust your thoughts.

Hmmm what else can I think about?

Shit. He’s dead. Damn really.

This will be the night I will finally get this figured out. I’ll just sort it out one more time in case I missed something. Let me just go back in time and THINK.

Your partner puts his hand on yours. You cringe. That interrupted your thought.

The one second you took to remember.

Back to it. Your friend is gone. That makes you sad. You’re not in the mood to be sad. No. You’re angry.

Think about something else. Enjoy life right now.

Why God?

Kittens. Good food. Tacos. My family. His family. Oh God.

He did that. He shot himself. Back to this again. Why? Couldn’t he of…. but why didn’t he… if he only…. but I guess I get it…

No. The blood. His parents. The gun. Anger. Justification. He was tired. He was over it. I know he loved life… surely?

Your partner moves in closer to hold you. You almost made sense of it.

If only you I had one more second to finish that thought.

Concentrate. Any clues? Then? There? How?

Wow.

They kiss your cheek.

Interrupted with the love your friend so desperately needed. You try to enjoy the moment. You’re so lucky. Let these thoughts go. Self hate sinks in. I can’t enjoy this moment. You need a minute to figure this out. Don’t touch me.

You move away. You need more time to think. How could someone do that? Where are they now? This is what we’re left with?

You think about science. Religious theory. The bang. Him dropping. The nerve.

Your partner breathes you’re way. Annoying. Think about all the things you probably did wrong. They touch your arm. No thanks.

Busy.

The Bible. Gods Mercy. Angels.

Can’t say what you’re thinking about. Depressing. On such a good day like today? Why? The impact. The stress. The bang. The moment before. During. After. How did that feel? Did he feel it? Contemplating.

This is what we’re left with.

You nudge an inch to your side of the bed to your own space. I need a second. I’m drowning. Disturbed. What’s wrong they ask?

Nothing I’m tired.

You’re mad at yourself because you want to be in a good mood. A good nights sleep. Pleasant thoughts. I wish.

That trauma. Even on your best days.

Think positive. Think positive. Think positive.

…..

This is different though.

………..

………………..

Trying. Trying. Trying.

New thought…. where are you?

Bang. The impact.

A lot of people probably never even think about someone they love getting shot… much less this. I really hate this.

That image.

Will this ever go away?

It’s hot. Please move.

Your partner gets tired of your attitude and rolls over.

Silence. One second of mental silence.

Sheesh.

You’re cold now. The warmth from their love fades. How ironic.

Another day of this

This is out of place and wrong. I don’t want these thoughts. So creepy.

Why am I like this?

You look at your partner in the dark. They probably think you’re a monster. They drift off to sleep.

Back to the beginning. You pray. Your prayers are long. Desperate. You pray for peace.

Think nothing. Think nothing.

Your partner is asleep. You got the space you wanted.

Now you’re done obsessing.

You really need a hug.

So cold.

If they only knew.

This is what we’re left with

On your best day ever.

Changes in our Economic System

The United States runs by a supply and demand structure and is very much a profit-driven nation. As a whole, we all aspire to earn a living wage to take care of ourselves and our families. A few leading industries that drive our success are the oil industry, healthcare industry, meatpacking industry and technology industry. We are living in a time that is different from all the other economic systems that have been apart of the story of our world. We now have advanced technology, finely tuned logistics and an extremely large consumer base. The people we would have called “peasants” during the feudal economy days are now considered to be apart of the working class as described in the Economic Systems” article. “The peasant was the dominant figure of human existence from the stone age up until only about 100 years ago. Most people have been peasants.  Peasants fed humanity and the biggest concern of most humans has been to get enough to eat. Peasants are the heroes of the economic story.” (McDonald16) People in the working class have responsibilies that keep our encomony flowing and while they have many luxuries, it is still an advanced form of slavery because people are working very long hours for small wages. People are now slaves to the clock and are owned by corporations rather than temples.

 

There are major changes that could possibly take place in the oil, health care, meatpacking and technology industries that could alter our current economy.

 

An article written by Kimberly Amadeo titled “US Economic Outlook for 2019 and Beyond” states that “the oil market is still responding to the impact of U.S. shale oil production. That reduced oil prices by 25% in 2014 and 2015. The good news for the economy is that it also lowered the cost of transportation, food, and raw materials for business. That raised profit margins. It also gave consumers more disposable income to spend. The slight slowdown (from previous years) is because both companies and families are saving instead of spending” (Amadeo). While this is very good to hear, it can also take a drastic turn at any minute. If there was a spike in oil prices, this could shift the current trend and alter the oil industry. We have reached a time in history where people are speaking out to say that what we have been doing in our economy all these years has been working for big business but has also destroyed the planet in the process. More and more people are standing up to fight climate change and part of these efforts focuses on less use of fossil fuels. By eliminating and replacing the need for fossil fuels, we will lessen our carbon footprint and direct the future to a more “clean, green” pathway. Part of the change would require less cars that require gas, eliminating fuel-driven cars from crowded cities all together and manufacturing electric cars. The oil industry is being put under the microscope by politicians and climate change advocates for a number of reasons and I forsee major changes coming in the future.

 

There could be a potential change in the healthcare industry upon passing a bill that would require health care for all. A candidate in the 2016 presidential election, Bernie Sanders has created an uproar by encouraging free healthcare in his election campaign. This has caused many people to respond in both negative and positive ways as it has it benefits and consequences, both of which could care a change in our current economy. “While 88% of all occupations will experience growth, the fastest growth will occur in healthcare, personal care and social work assistance, and construction.” (Amadeo) Being that healthcare is a major part of the United States economy, caution needs to be taken upon altering current trends. The healthcare industry employees hundreds and thousands of employees each year and yet, many still complain of long wait times, rushed or poor care and high hospital bills. This means that even though care is available to everyone at some cost, there still isn’t enough people to work and not enough doctors offices for people to go to. Imagine a world where everyone receives health care for free? The demand would skyrocket. More people would need a college education to practice healthcare, more health practitioner offices would need to open, and these things would have to happen rather quickly considering it is now offered as a free commodity to the public. The health insurance industry would also take a nosedive.

Our text states that “equal shares for all makes little sense when goods cannot easily be divided into equal shares or when shares cut up into equal parts would be too small to be of much value to any user” (Heyne, Boettke, Prychitko 62) This could apply to the healthcare industry. The good is free healthcare which cannot be easily divided among everyone equally. Upon cutting up the shares, people could receive poor service because doctors will now have hundreds of more patients and there just isn’t enough hours in a day to take care of everyone. In contrast, more offices would open which would mean more jobs and more people would get the help that they needed.

 

People are now taking a deeper look into the meat industry as widespread veganism is growing increasingly popular. New documentaries are starting to spread knowledge on the poor agribusiness practices and the dangers of consuming meat. Climate change is also known to be affected by the meat industry as well. The meat industry has generated billions in profit over the last 100 years. We have all been fed, the industry has flourished and business went on as usual until the internet gave people more access to information. There was a point in time where no one questioned the quality of their food and they were more interested in convivence and taste but there has been a shift and consciousness has expanded and people have more speculation and questions for the meat industry than ever before. People now are demanding no antibiotics in the meat. People now want local, grass fed meat and cage free or free range eggs. People now want to know how the animals are treated before they are slaughtered. People now want to know how the workers are being treated. With all the new information available, I think there will be a major shift in the meat industry. I foresee more local farms flourishing when they were once bought and overpowered by big business. I see more local farmers markets flourishing over monopoly super stores. I see more lawsuits for the major players in the meat industry meaning more news coverage, even more speciation and less profit. These industries will be forced to remove antibiotics all together, which will change the structure of their profit margins and will change the structure of the workers pay. The meat industry will make major changes that will alter how they do their business or else they will go out of business all together.

 

Technology has made major advancements in the last decade alone and because of that, millions of jobs have opened up to the public. The stocks markets have introduced huge tech companies to their investments lists and because of this, people are putting their money into tech business stocks. The technology business triumphs in logistics, healthcare, social media, and retail companies. I am unsure where technology will take up but I am certain it will pave the way to our bigger and brighter future.

 

For these major changes to take place, the general public must continue to learn and grow in order to make better decisions can change the way we economize. “They won’t, for the most part, have to suffer greatly in order to “do their part” because they will naturally choose those ways to economize that entail the smallest sacrifice; and since they know their own circumstances far better than anyone else does, they will be in the best position to pick and choose among all alternative ways of economizing.” (Heyne, Boettke, Prychitko 63)

Why I Support Price Gouging

During an event of extreme catastrophe, you would see the demand for necessary items increase and in a good economy, you would see the price for these items increase as well. In the event of extreme weather such as a hurricane, these items can include water, batteries, gas, construction material and other items depending on the type of event and geographical region. I have learned that free market prices tend to rise in events of chaos and this will drive a shortage. Using gas as an example: “The price spike reflects the market process at work: the increase in demand and decrease in supply lead to a higher price. That higher price reflects the greater relative scarcity of gas” (122). This increase would act as a signal to help declare cooperation in the economy. What many fail to understand is that changing money prices provide appropriate incentives. The Supplier and the demander always find ways to accommodate each other, even in extreme crisis. Sure, most people don’t prefer to pay $50 for a gallon of gas during a price gouge, but that doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t in an emergency situation. This drastically higher price per gallon allows for the continued tendency toward plan coordination. For example: one of the greatest incentive to increase the price of gas would be that with the higher price you could get the emergency products to the storm torn region much faster. The suppliers would be quicker to send a large supply of gas to NY over the other regular prices distribution chains.

Think of it this way, it will cost much more to get the gas to the dangerous areas. If roads are damaged, areas are flooded or filled with debris, it will take more time, efforts, equipment and work to get the supplies there and all these things cost money. It is better to pay it during a price gouge than to scrap for the funds and delay the distribution chain all together. In a good economy, the demand will increase and so will the price.

Ironically enough, the problematic view is gouging is the real problem in these situations. Anti-gouging law actually prohibits the economy from functionally properly in the event of a crisis. Since the law prevents suppliers from raising prices, the people of New York probably tried to identify alternatives to create an advantage or remedy instead. An example of this would be for gasoline outlets to reduce costs by reducing hours of operations so the non-monetary cost to customers world rise (their time), which would create more chaos. These price ceilings tend to generate an unintended shortage that isn’t necessary and can be very harmful. The shortage would be caused by an price of gas and average amount of gas flowing into the region as a huge wave of demand pours though. There would be no way to meet the demand which is what happened in New York.

If gas hits $50 per gallon after the storm, people would be outraged, however; they would have paid the price regardless. With this increase price, gas would have arrived at a much quicker pace and people would have worked their way through the $50 price until the price decreased. By that I mean, there would be so much gas available that the price would decrease again and things would be back to normal but a huge amount of gas would be available for the public driving the price back down. Some may think “what about the people who can’t afford the $50 price per gallon?” What would happen to them? In the regular market economy, those same people rely on other people who are spending money to control the prices in the market. So in reality, nothing changes. They must wait for people to spend their money for the $50 gallon price until the prices goes back down. Are there moral issues that come along with price-gouging? There sure are. Some people may be left to die or to forced to wait for help to arrive, but the higher price for gas is their solution to quicker emergency aid. Just like the regular gas price, the $50 price would have it’s benefits, as the pricing system works just as effectively during the chaotic conditions as it does during regular, day-to-day life.

MY One Month Work Out Plan

Week 1

DAY 1 Week 1&3 UPPER

Arnorld 2×35

Barbell curl 2×40

5 min cardio warmup

Flat Barbell Bench Press 3×20 rest 90-180

Dumbbell Row 3×30 rest 60-90

Seated Dumbbell Arnold Press 3×35 rest 60-90

Cable Fly (Perform 1 giant set comprised of 5 drop sets) 5 AMRAP

Triceps Push down 3×40 rest 30s

Barbell Curl 3×40

Finisher Circuit:

1.) Bodyweight Push-ups 2.) Lateral Raises 3.) Rear-Delt Raise

Perform 3 to 5 rounds. No rest between exercises but 90-180s rest between sets 3×5 AMRAP

DAY 2 Week 1&3 LOWER

5 min cardio warm up

Barbell Back Squat 3×20 rest 90-180

Romanian Deadlifts 3×30 rest 60-90

Leg press 3×35 rest 60-90

Leg Extensions (Perform 1 giant set comprised of 5 drop sets) 5xAMRAP

Leg Curls 3×40 rest 30

Hanging Leg Raises 4xAMRAP rest 60-90

Finisher Circuit:1.) Bodyweight Squats 2.) Bodyweight Lunges 3.) Bodyweight Calf RaisesPerform 3 to 5 rounds. No rest between exercises but 90-180s rest between sets 3×5 AMRAP

DAY 3 Weeks 1&3 LOW INTENSITY

STEADY STATE (LISS) & ABS & WEAK POINTS

7pm-7:50

6 miles cycle 33mins

30-90 mins cardio

1-2 isolation exercises to target lagging muscles

Exercise 1 50×5

If 2 exercises 30×3

1-2 ab workouts

Exercise 1 50×5

Is 2 exercise 30×3

DAY 4 Weeks 1&3 UPPER

2mile cycle

5 min cardio warm up

Seated Overhead Press 3×20 rest 90-180

Wide Grip Lat Pull Down 3×30 rest 60-90

Incline Dumbell Bench Press 3×35 rest 60-90

Barbell Row 3×35 rest 60-90

Rear Dear Fly (Perform 1 giant set comprised of 5 drop sets) 5xAMRAP

Overhead Tricep Extension 3×40 rest 30

Finisher Circuit

1.) Bodyweight Bench Dips 2.) Dumbbell Bicep Curls 3.) Dumbbell Front Raises

Perform 3 to 5 rounds. No rest between exercises but 90-180s rest between sets

3×5 AMRAP

DAY 5 Weeks 1&3 LOWER

Lunge no weight

Outer/inner thigh machines 3×25

Rope crunch 20

No circuit

Squat 2×30

5 min cardio warmup

Deadlifts 3×30 rest 90-180

Hack Squat Machine 3×30 rest 60-90

Dumbbell Lunges 3×35 rest 60-90

Glute Ham Raises 3×35 rest 60-90

Seated/Standing Calf Raises 5xAMRAP

Rope Crunches 4×40 rest 60-90

Finisher Circuit

1.) Bodyweight Jump Squats 2.) Bodyweight Step-Ups 3.) Bodyweight Hip Thrusts

Perform 3 to 5 rounds. No rest between exercises but 90-180s rest between sets

3×5 AMRAP

2 miles run/cycle

DAY 6 Weeks 1&3 HIGH INTENSITY

INTERVAL TRAINING (HIIT) WEAK POINT & ABS

Elliptical 10 uphill treadmill 10 cycling 4miles

Squats

Love handle abs

Sprints, Cycling, Jump Rope, Battle Ropes, Weight Sled Pushes and Drags 5-10 rounds 1:3all out to active recovery ratio (15secs all out-45secs active recovery)

1-2 Isolation Workouts to target lagging muscle groups.

If performing 1 exercise 50×5 if 2, 3×30

DAY 7 Weeks 1&3 REST

🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

Week 2

DAY 1 Weeks 2&4 UPPER

5min cardio warmup

Incline Bench Press 3×20 rest 90-180

Chest Supported Row 3×30 rest 60-90

Seated Back Neck Press 3×35 rest 60-90

Incline Dumbbell Fly 5xAMRAP

SkullCrusher 4×40 rest 30

Dumbbell Curl 3×40

Finisher Circuit

1.) Lateral Raises 2.) Bodyweight Push-ups 3.) Rear-Delt Raises

Perform 3 to 5 rounds. No rest between exercises but 90-180s rest between sets 3-5xAMRAP

DAY 2 Weeks 2&4 LOWER

No hack squat

Inner/outer thigh

50 sit ups w ball

3 mike cycle

No circuit

5min cardio warm up

Barbell Front Squat 3×20 rest 90-180

Good Morning 3×30 rest 60-90

Machine Hack Squat 3×35 rest 60-90

Leg Curls 5xAMRAP

Leg Extensions 3×40 rest 30

Ab Wheel RollOuts 4xAMRAP rest 60-90

Finisher Circuit

1.) Bodyweight Jump Lunges 2.) Bodyweight Jump Squats 3.) Bodyweight Calf Raises

Perform 3 to 5 rounds. No rest between exercises but 90-180s rest between sets

2mile cycle/run

DAY 3 Weeks 2&4 LIIT CARDIO, WEAK POINT, ABS

20stairmaster

1mile elliptical

2mile cycle

500m Row

Back/abs

30-90 Walking Jogging, Cycling, Stairmaster

1-/ isolation exercises to target lagging myscle groups 1. 5×50 or 2. 3×30

Abs 1. 5×50 or 3×30

DAY 4 Weeks 2&4 UPPER

Close grip bench 3×15

No shrugs

Bicep curl 3×15

1 mile cardio warmup

2mile cycle

Standing Overhead Press 3×20 rest 90-180

Close grip lat pull down 3×30 rest 60-90

Close grip bench press 3×35 rest 60-90

Shrugs 3×35 rest 60-99

Lateral Raises 5xAMRAP

Cable FacePulls 3×40 rest 30

Finisher Circuit

1.) Dumbbell Bicep Curls 2.) Dumbbell Front Raises 3.) Bodyweight Bench Dips

Perform 3 to 5 rounds. No rest between exercises but 90-180s rest between sets 3-5xAMRAP

2miles run/cycle

DAY 5 Weeks 2&4 LOWER

.80mile warm up elliptical

Gobble squats

5min cardio warmup

Deadlifts 3×30 rest 90-180

Goblet Squat 3×30 rest 60-90

Stiff ledges deadlift 3×35 rest 60-90

Barbell lunges 3×35 rest 60-90

Seated/standing calf raises 5xAMRAP

Weighted Decline Crunches 4×40 rest 60-90

Finisher Circuit

1.) Bodyweight Step-Ups 2.) Bodyweight Hip Thrusts 3.) Bodyweight Jump Squats

Perform 3 to 5 rounds. No rest between exercises but 90-180s rest between set

DAY 6 Weeks 2&4 HIIT, WEAK POINT, ABS

5min cardio warmup

HIIT Exercises – Sprints, Cycling, Jump Rope, Box Jumps, Battle Ropes, Weight Sled Pushes & Drags. Perform 5-10 rounds with a 1:3 all-out to active recovery ratio (e.g. 15 seconds all-out and 45 seconds active recovery).

1-2 Isolation Exercises to Target Lagging Muscle Groups. If performing 1 exercise, aim for 50 reps in 5 sets. If performing 2+ exercises, aim for 30 reps in 3 sets.

1-2 Abdominal Exercises. If performing 1 exercise, aim for 50 reps in 5 sets. If performing 2+

DAY 7 Weeks 2&4 REST

Devotionals

Bitterness

Lord, I choose to forgive those who hurt me, offended me, abused me, despitefully used me, or wronged me. Help me, Lord, to recognize the enemy’s strategy to trap me in resentment, bitterness, and unforgiveness. Help me not to hold people’s sins against them. Teach me to avoid responding with a judgmental heart when I am hurting. Heal my emotions and renew a right spirit within me. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

Sexual urges

Father, I repent for tolerating Jezebel and ask Your forgiveness, in Jesus’s name. I ask You to heal my heart of any detected or undetected hurts, wounds, offenses, pains, pride, rejection, rebellion, or any other open door that may have let or could let Jezebel into my life.

I break Jezebel’s witchcraft, controlling powers, flatteries, deception, word curses, fearful assaults, false accusations, polluted prophetic utterances, subtle seductions, sorceries, intimidations, and other foul operations, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

A love note

“You must love in such a way that the other person feels free.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Standard definitions of what it means to love are filled with expectations for reciprocity, which often gets us into major trouble. I know this personally, because whenever I have “freely” given my love and it has not been rewarded with reciprocity, I have often come face to face with resentment.

This has been especially true of my intimate relationships. I want the people who fall into this category to reciprocate my love. I expect them to. But, as Thich Nhat Hanh points out, love is expansive, not constrictive.

I had a boyfriend once, for example, who seemed to genuinely like spending time with me, but didn’t make our relationship a priority. This was a guy who was pretty laid back in general, and so I brushed off his reserve and tried to be patient, thinking we’d eventually turn a corner.

What became clear, over the course of five years, is that my patience was thinly falling short and a whole host of disappointed expectations for reciprocity (not to mention cheating) were arriving. And in the end I felt angry and betrayed.

The question is: by whom really?

Some time has passed and I am able to look back on the situation with a little more logic, it has became clear that I’d entered into the relationship with typical expectations for attention, time, comfort, and affection—in other words, an agenda.

I don’t mean to say there is anything wrong with wanting to be loved. There isn’t. It is a good and natural impulse.

We all deserve the love of our intimate others and should be careful to choose partners whose love for us is a natural, abundant outpouring of their feelings, and investment in us and our wellbeing.

The desire to be loved—to the extent that it is fueled by any underlying agendas or feelings of isolation and loneliness—can be very problematic. It often turns a relationship into some version of, “I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine.” And love isn’t contractual.

However, bargaining is, and this, unfortunately, was the weak foundation on which my own compromised relationship stood and faltered. He failed to invest in the relationship while taking advantage of all the intimate benefits, and I failed to draw good boundaries; I settled for being used, rather than being loved.

Revealed in all this was the fact that I hadn’t exactly been looking after my own needs very well. I’d neglected and betrayed myself, in some sense, and needed to assume greater responsibility for my own personal happiness.

To that end I began a mission to locate the sense of inner contentment and satisfaction I craved, but was not in possession of. I read books, magazines, watched Netflix, studied the people around me and made note of what resonated with me and what did not—what stirred my enthusiasm, what made sense and what I didn’t agree with.

I became more curious about my inner life. An act of love in itself.

Later, I began a regular practice of writing my thoughts down. I’m a huge believer in the contemplative arts, which, for me, can include things like drawing, running, yoga, —almost anything that helps you reach a more contemplative state of mind. For me this was important.

What I have learned the hard way is that a robust love stands the best chance of materializing between people who have ripened sufficiently as individuals. And it is always a work in progress.

Love is never complete. Just as life is always moving and re-shaping itself, this is true with love.

Thus, loving in such a way that the person we love feels free is as simple and straightforward as it is complex and discursive.

Essentially, we need to practice being the love we wish to see in the world, and that requires a deeply rooted sense of reverence and respect for ourselves, our intimate others, and the wonderfully complex, extremely vulnerable, flawed humanity we share.

It requires making mistakes, making amends, and trying to manage matters with an increasing degree of skill and intelligence, not to mention forgiveness.

Here is a lovely quote by Rumi that really gets to the heart of the matter.

And still, after all this time, the Sun has never said to the Earth

“You owe me.”

Look what happens with love like that.

It lights up the sky.

Which is to say, we need to be love. That is all there really is to it in the end—simple, but not easy, as with most things worth striving for in life. Then the love returned by others can be received as the gift that it is.

Ultimately, love is its own reward. Generous. Expansive. Inclusive. Receptive. Liberating.

Love well, live well!