Tag Archives: responsibility

Happy St. Hangover’s Day…

In the post-shenanigans, early morning light, I made my way to the gym. It was slightly less populated, a concession I assume to the late night revelry of all those who like to pretend to their Irish-ness for one day of the year in America. There were, however, considerably more people than I truly expected. Maybe I shouldn’t be so judgmental or pessimistic about these things. I honestly expected the gym to be a veritable ghost town with only the staff for company, but there were sufficient numbers to make finding a parking spot a bit of a challenge… but now that I think about this, the cars in the parking lot might have been vehicles abandoned by their owners in lieu of a safer Uber or Lyft option to risking jail or death on binge-drinking extravaganza day.

I am half ashamed to admit that my own celebratory activities were quite tame in comparison to years gone by… it is perhaps my own concession (to age and responsibility). Though I did have the good fortune (granted by the fae and leprechaun greeting me at the door to the establishment chosen) to spend time with friends, family, and many faces from the past, I gave up my attempts to be cool, festive, or lively before ever the dusk had given way to the dark. I made it home still quite in possession of my senses (and sobriety) and made my normal bedtime ritual. My younger self would have shaken a mournful head (to be quickly followed with aspirin for the pain that action would likely have caused). Yet, I do not feel so disappointed. I was able to have a good time without the overindulgence and bad choices that would have resulted in feeling like poo this morning or potentially even less pleasant outcomes.

And so… I went to the gym and will now head off to work (yes, I’m working on a Saturday). Instead of tired, achy, and vaguely nauseous, I feel relieved and rather proud that I managed to have a good time spending time with the people I love without abusing my body (or liver) to the point of extended recovery necessity. We live. We learn… well, at least until the next time that temptation presents me with potential bad choices from which to learn more lessons. I hope that everyone recovers well today. Remember to stay hydrated, and that time and rest are really the only true cures for a hangover… and for those of you who indulged in copious amounts of green beverages, remember not to scream too loudly in the restroom (the tiles reverberate and your head will hurt worse). Cheers dears!

Attack of the Vapers: Happy Vapoversary!

VapoversaryVB

Despite conflicting arguments, bad press, and junk science working against the movement, more and more people are switching to vaping and electronic cigarettes. I have to loudly say, “Congratulations!” to all of those who have chosen to make a better choice for their health (Action on Smoking and Health, 2014) and their finances by switching from combustible toxicants to vaping and electronic cigarettes. So, good job to all of you!

We just attended the one-year vapoversary of a local establishment, Vapor Boss. I’ve not been to a vast number of vaping events, but I was truly impressed with the turn out for this one. It also made me happy because the folks who own and run this store (and a large portion of their regular patrons) are part of what I consider the responsible voices and presence in the world of vaping and electronic cigarettes.

As it happens this particular vapoversary corresponds with what will be a year free of combustible tobacco in my own home. Since that time, I have watched people I never expected to switch over move from trying to vaping occasionally to even becoming vaping enthusiasts and advocates. I’ve watched social media participants and interest groups become well-informed and take action to make vaping responsible and keep it viable. I have seen vapers and vendors alike become more knowledgeable and resources to their peers and customers. By no means have all obstacles and outcomes been measured, but I have truly been pleased with the fact that vaping has not been a trend or a fad but a true lifestyle change for a lot of people… and one that has been positive for the majority.

What are some of the contributing factors to vaping success?

Technology. Just from my own observation, I would have to say that one of the biggest contributing factors is that the technology has evolved… a lot… in a hurry… and continues to do so. Nothing keeps the modern day internet-and-tech-loving human connected to a trend like the advent of newer and better toys. I’m not kidding, and I don’t mean that in any way as a negative commentary. I’m pretty certain that the advances in mods (mechanical and digital), tanks, and drippers that not only improve the quality of vapor but also engage the ingenuity of the person vaping (not to mention the “shiny” factor) has kept many a dabbler interested long enough to become a full-time vaper. If everyone was still stuck with only the PG (propylene glycol)/PEG (polyethylene glycol) cartridge style e-cigs with no other option, I would bet my favorite mod that the people who have switched to full-time vape would probably be back on their combustible tobacco. No offense to the look-a-likes, but the quality of those original e-cigarettes was deplorable, and without the improvements that the industry has made, I seriously doubt that vapers would be at the 2.7 million strong population in the United States (not counting other countries that have also embraced the vape) that last tallies estimated (Statistic Brain, 2015).

E-juices. This is another area where innovation and human creativity/ingenuity has improved quality and made the industry more viable and given more longevity to the efforts of those making the choice to switch over to what proposes to be a healthier alternative to combustible tobacco. The elimination of PEG has improved quality and decreased some of the identified hazards of the initial electronic nicotine delivery systems. Flavor options, VG (vegetable glycerin) increase, and improved distilling have opened up new options for people and have given those starting on the vaping journey better and more varied choices to help them find what fits their tastes. Additionally, the fact that there are many creative vendors creating new flavors and custom blends has been a boon to the market and kept many a die-hard cigarette user from returning to the ashtray.

Responsibility. For all that people were up in arms about the government sticking their nose into their vaping lounges and taking away their right to flavors, so far, it has not happened. That is not to say that there will not ever be an imposed FDA regulation. It is likely that at some point, the federal government at the behest of lobbyists from the moneybags of corporate America (like big tobacco and big pharmacology) will start to impose tariffs and restrictions on the local markets and small businesses that may sting (a lot). However, one of the major movements that has probably staved off the “big brother” invasion for the time being is self-regulation by the vaping community. Responsible vendors and advocates have recognized that while most of the adult vaping community might be trusted to act in an appropriate way, not everyone who choses vaping for their nicotine delivery system is a responsible adult. As I said to another friend at the vapoversary today, “Irresponsible people are why we can’t have nice things.” (I might have used different words than “irresponsible people” but we won’t go into that.) What has truly been inspiring is how the vaping community has stepped up to self-regulate things like underage sale bans, the use of appropriate e-liquid containers, normalization of content and warning labels, and customer education. Organizations such as TSFA (TN Smoke-Free Association), CASAA (Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association), and The Vaping Militia have stepped forward with other organizations to provide a voice of reason and advocacy by promoting safe practices and responsibility in the use of electronic nicotine delivery systems. Are there still disreputable vendors out there who don’t care what the sell or whether anyone gets injured/ill from their products so long as they make a profit? Of course there are, but the community as a whole has stepped up in providing education and those types of businesses are starving out little by little as the customer base starts recognizing who they can and cannot trust.

Community support. Humans are social creatures, and whether we admit it or not (excepting, of course, certain antisocial or avoidant elements of society), we all appreciate a little peer support now and again. The prevalence of social media groups, local meet-ups, local and state advocacy groups, and YouTube channels have allowed for vapers to connect with each other for support, education, and organization. People are able to find out from other vapers the do’s and don’ts, vendors that can be trusted (and those who really shouldn’t be), the safety concerns of particular devices or practices, “cloud-chasing” tricks, and the latest concerns about “big brother.” That connection has helped spread the word and helped vaping be safer and more reputable. It has served to provide forum for all the previously mentioned factors.

So, my parting shot for this AOTV post is: Keep up the good work, vaping community! Congratulations to all of you who have done your homework and made informed choices. And last, but certainly not least… Happy Vapoversary!

Action on Smoking and Health. (November, 2014). Electronic cigarettes. http://www.ash.org.uk/files/documents/ASH_715.pdf

Statistic Brain. (February, 2015). Electronic Cigarette Statistics. http://www.statisticbrain.com/electronic-cigarette-statistics/

Comments on Living Life Without Giving a F@$%

Stop Giving a F*ck

This post is, in part, a response to something I saw on social media. As I did not want to do something I have recently been educated to understand as thread-jacking* or possibly flaming, I elected to discuss the matter here, in my own forum. I welcome discussion and commentary, as long as it remains respectful and appropriate (from anyone but spammers, who have forced me to moderate comments…sorry).

The article referenced was posted on a site called lifehacker in their section about health issues, discussed and posted by Melanie Pinola (2014). It was recommended as including one of their “favorite pieces of advice” and summarized the information that was originally posted by Julien Smith (founder and CEO of Breather) on inoveryourhead.net in 2011.

I had some mixed feelings about the article. The general premise of the article appears to be self-actualizing disclosure about letting go of societal strictures on conduct and self-esteem to be a happier person. I cannot argue with that. I really cannot. The author goes on to describe five steps that can bring you (the reader) to the Zen-like state of “not giving a f@$%” about what people think. There are some really good points that he makes: Doing things that you think are embarrassing, accepting awkwardness, refusing boundaries, telling the truth, and beginning your new life by trying new things. All of these are some pretty decent suggestions for living a fuller life. I also agree with the author in his observation that assumptions that people are worried about or paying any attention to what you are doing, saying, or anything else are generally irrational and arrogant. It’s true. While we waste our time and precious cognitive energies on worrying about what people are thinking about us, they are usually doing the same thing and couldn’t give a rip about anything outside their own little self-centered bubble of neuroses. People who worry consistently about what people think of them and about them and live their lives to the script written in their own imaginings of what they believe others to want are a bit arrogant. Yes, arrogant. The rest of the world probably doesn’t care a whole lot about what you do if it isn’t impacting their own freedoms and comforts. One of my favorite quotes from a different source: “Breaking news from Galileo! The world does not actually revolve around you!” People have their own stuff. They are worried about their own lives, their own loves, their own interests. Aside from the occasional busy-body that feels compelled to be in everyone else’s stuff (usually to avoid dealing with their own, shocker!), people don’t actually let their thoughts and concerns drift outside the sphere of their own personal daily concerns.

So far, so good. However, here is where we come to the sticking point. There is a difference between being genuine and confident and “not giving a F@$%”. I can hope that the majority of people who read the articles referenced will glean the pertinent and positive from them. Unfortunately, I fear that there are an equal number of people that will read these pieces as license to stomp all over the thoughts, feelings, and comforts of others that brush their lives in the bustle of daily interaction. One thing I do care about is respect, for myself and for others, and I strongly suspect that there are a number of people who have or will read these articles as “I don’t have to have respect for anyone else’s feelings or thoughts or opinions. I can be a bigoted, opinionated, hateful asshat and that’s cool because I’ve stopped giving a F@$% about what other people think.” I don’t necessarily believe that was the intent of the author, but intent can so frequently be misconstrued and misused by those who are probably going to be bigoted, opinionated, hateful asshats with or without permissive support of electronic or print media.

I have reached an age (or perhaps a phase since it seems to hit people at different times) where I am less concerned about the opinions or thoughts of strangers. I am not so very vain as to assume that most of the people I run into at the grocery store even notice that I am there (though I think I will still avoid wearing my pajamas or see through pants). I do not actively seek the approbation of the world at large for my appearance or actions (though I do try to avoid confrontation with civil and federal statutes that might result in my incarceration). I do not live my life always to the plan of others who share my path, but… and this is a big one… I have people in my life that I care for deeply. Not all of us share the same opinions, lifestyles, interests, or approaches to obstacles in our shared path. In some instances, the differences might surprise, disappoint, or hurt those for whom I have affection. There are many who would say that if they cannot accept the things about me that make me different from them, that I do not need them in my life and good riddance. I cannot embrace such a philosophy. Yes, there are people who it might be no great loss to amputate from my circle of influence, but there are others who it would hurt me greatly to lose or even disappoint. I do not want to cause disappointment or emotional pain to anyone for whom I care. So, despite living my life without seeking the approval of the world, I will continue to live my life in a way that will avoid causing my loved ones pain or shame, and I will hope to make those I love proud to claim connection with me. All that aside, I still embrace the idea of freedom and joy in the spirit of one of my favorite poems by a lady named Jenny Joseph:

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me,
And I shall spend my pension
on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals,
and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired,
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells,
And run my stick along the public railings,
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens,
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat,
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go,
Or only bread and pickle for a week,
And hoard pens and pencils and beer mats
and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry,
And pay our rent and not swear in the street,
And set a good example for the children.
We will have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me
are not too shocked and surprised,
When suddenly I am old
and start to wear purple!

My parting words: Read the articles. The disapprobation of others should never prevent you from making healthy and happy choices for your life. There are some really good points, but try to remember that while “not giving a F@$%” gives you freedom, truly not caring is not freedom, it is sociopathic. So, live a life embracing joy and enjoying activities that promote your wellbeing and self-esteem without worrying about the approbation of strangers. You will be healthier and happier in the long run. But please consider the feelings of people who care about you and whether you are willing to cause them pain. You might still give a F@$% about them, and hopefully, if they care about you, they will support you in your genuineness and positive self-esteem.

References and Acknowledgements:

*Threadjack – To take over the content of message thread by changing the subject of discourse to a topic outside the purview of the original subject and/or forum, while maintaining the subject line. A form of amusement for trolls. Threadjacking is distinguished from flaming, as flames are quasi-personal attack on a poster or on a poster’s style of discourse, where threadjacking is deliberately steering the discussion off topic. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Threadjack

Pinola, M. (2014). Stop caring about what others think, and get back your self-respect. Retrieved from http://lifehacker.com/stop-caring-about-what-others-think-and-get-back-your-1493922746

Smith, J. (2011). The complete guide to not giving a fuck. Retrieved from http://inoveryourhead.net/the-complete-guide-to-not-giving-a-fuck/

lifehacker online web publication/e-zine with multiple contributors and some interesting articles http://lifehacker.com/

Breather is a company that designs and provides peaceful spaces for corporate or private use and can be reserved in a number of different locations http://breather.com/

Hello Boy, Why Are You Crying?

“All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, ‘Oh, why can’t you remain like this for ever!’ This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two. Two is the beginning of the end.”  ― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Everyone has heard of “Peter Pan Syndrome”. It is generally used in a derogatory way to describe a man (or woman) that is stuck in a perpetual state of adolescence or childhood, neglecting responsibilities and focused only on having a good time. We’ve all seen it. There is always the friend or associate from our earlier years who continue to party like they are still in high school or college, trying to recapture their glory days. They call, text, instant message to say they are going to the club, the bar, the party and may or may not ask you to come along. They seem genuinely baffled when you decline citing work, family, lack of funds, or just plain fatigue. They feel betrayed by your failure to hold onto the pleasures and good times of childhood. They go through their years planning spring break getaways and purchase games and toys, though the prices have increased with their chronological years in a way their maturity just did not. They seem to genuinely be able to shake off or ignore the cares and worries that plague the rest of the world. Fear for the future appears to be an alien concept, and instead, these blithe souls shift through their time on the planet expecting that all things will work out just fine, bills will miraculously get paid regardless, and relationships will work themselves out… or not, and it matters little as long as a good time is had by all (or at least them).

This is the alleged profile of the perpetual child who never grew up. I always wonder whether I am jealous of these perennial children with their life given solely to the pursuits of pleasure and play; or am I genuinely sorry for them as they distance themselves from their associates of childhood, their contemporaries, and potential colleagues, while continually seeking the companionship of strangers as their play groups grow in maturity yet they remain stuck in their eternal childhood with lack of understanding or desire for the adult world of distress and eustress?

That being said, I do not believe that everyone out there is susceptible to the Peter Pan Syndrome. In fact, there are some people that appear to be “born old men/women”. These are the people that always seemed to be thinking ahead, even as actual children. No risks taken in the passion of youth, because it just wouldn’t be prudent or contribute to the solid plan for their responsible life and future; always avoiding the idea of a good time if it might be unplanned and go against the blueprint of stability. However, for the rest of us, there is another category. I’ll call us Wendy, because Wendy grew up. It isn’t an actual desire for maturity or a regret that it happens. It just happens. At some point, like Wendy, we leave Neverland and stay in the real world to go on with our lives. We cannot go back, because when you live and grow up in the real world, you lose the innocence and lack of fear and worry that allows you to experience great adventures.

The truth is, being a grown up isn’t all bad. There are a good many physical and emotional experiences that just cannot be appreciated to the same degree as a child. Certain aspects of life and accomplishment seem to mean more as we have a greater understanding and closer communion with the eventuality that greets us all in the end. Additionally, the experience of parenting with the joys and not so joyful experiences are not something that the child should be required to experience (though some have, I know). It is still possible to have fun as an adult. It doesn’t have to be all work and no play, as evidenced by the number of people who manage to hold down careers, family interaction, and have a decent time in their recreational pursuits. Not to sound like the cliché, but with power of choice and responsibility for the choices made comes some not small satisfaction and joy when those choices result in success and happiness. There is still some envy towards those who have that childlike faith that all things will be just fine, even if the reins are dropped for a while just to enjoy the wild ride; and there is also some resentment that the Wendys of the world must carry the responsibility for all the Peter Pans who can’t be bothered to worry about the future.

Sadly, I think that somehow Peter has gotten a bad rap over the years. Everyone gets stuck on the whole perpetual childhood thing as a lack of maturity and responsibility, but they forget the more important part of what Barrie wrote into Peter Pan: The simplicity and innocence that allows the child enjoyment and play but that eludes adults and is lost with increasing years to never be captured again. Yet Peter needed Wendy to be the “mother” for all the lost boys. Without Wendy to tuck them in and sing the songs of comfort, perhaps even the perpetual childhood of Neverland might have been too harrowing an adventure to be truly enjoyed, and without Peter, Wendy would never have learned to fly.

Hello boy, my name is Wendy. No need to cry. I’ll sew your shadow back for you, and you can fly away to have many grand adventures.