It's a new year, and while that's of little consequence to the universe at large, it's a convenient place for us to take stock and up our game. We did as much 2016-bashing as anybody and now that it's behind us, well, beloved celebrities will likely still die and calamity will still befall us in corners near and far. But we can do better.
And so we've made our first issue of 2017 a how-to guide for attacking the coming year. On the off chance you're not living your or Oprah's best life, regular contributors and new voices to our pages are here to help.
Not that we've got it all figured out — not by a long shot. We're in the same boat as everybody else: We can take better care of our health and feed our souls and intellects a better diet than unproductive social media outrage. We can stand up for one another and our beliefs, and we can get the hell out of our o wn way.
Also sprinkled throughout the paper is the best advice our staff, our contributors and our readers have ever gotten. For my money, it's a tie between Donna Wildearth's contribution of a quote from Nkosi Johnson, "Do all that you can with all that you have, in the time that you have, in the place where you are," and the ever-practical Miles Eggleston, who was told, "Never pet a burning dog." Here's hoping their wisdom serves you well. Good luck, Humboldt.
— Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
As the Gregorian calendar comes full circle and a new year is upon us, many people make resolutions to go with their auld lang synes — the most popular being to lose weight, to exercise more and stop smoking. The ones most often broken are losing weight, exercising more and stopping smoking. As a health promotion and education program manager, I urge you to stick with it regardless. It takes an average of seven times before any newly tried habit begins to stick.
For me, tobacco is somewhat consternating. As a Native, I approve of its appropriate use as a sacrament and a conduit to prayer. But as someone who works in the health field, I am concerned about the devastating impact it has on the one's body. Natural tobacco has been an important component of many American Indian ceremonies and rituals. Tobacco is seen as sacred plant used for spiritual, emotional, mental and physical purification, healing and guidance — a powerful medicine if used properly. But if taken as a habit-forming drug, it can cause great harm.
Tobacco has become one of the most used and abused substances on the planet. Nicotine is an insidious foe that will grab you and hold you so tight that you literally can't breathe. People say that quitting smoking is as hard or harder than kicking heroin. I don't know if that's true but just mentioning those two addictions together gives one pause. All I know is that when my father decided to give up his pack a day habit he was quite proud of his ability to do it cold turkey. Sure, he was going through a can of Copenhagen a day but that is beside the point.
What can you do if you really are ready to part ways with your ignominious, cancer-causing friend? Learn to recognize the clues your body is giving you about the cravings that lead to you puffing yourself into an early grave. A great place to start is by learning the acronym H.A.L.T. The "H" stands for hungry — grab yourself a handful of carrots or celery sticks. Not only are they hard to light but they will provide an alternative to that oral fixation. "A" is for angry — learn to read your emotions and look for healthy ways to deal with frustration and feelings. The "L" means lonely — this can include boredom so find something else to occupy your time and let distraction be your friend. This brings us to "T" or tired. Fatigue can be your downfall in the quest to boot your pernicious habit so learn to slow your roll by relaxing and try to take a nap to stave the crave.
All the research shows that the following suggestions make it much more likely for you to achieve your goal of becoming tobacco free:
Set a firm quit date.
Tell your quit date to friends and family and ask for their support. Sure they will become your nagging conscience but they do it out of love and because they give a damn about your health.
Find out what your smoking "triggers" are and have a plan to deal with them.
Decide if you are going to quit all at once or will need or want to use tools that can help you like nicotine replacement therapy, such as gums, patches or inhalers.
Talk with your doctor about options, there are many new medicines that can help.
Hypnosis and acupuncture have been shown to be effective methods of needling you to get off the cigarette death train.
Support groups are one of the best ways making tobacco part of your past. Research has shown talking to someone about your quitting tribulations and as well as being accountable for assisting others makes the process easier.
Reward yourself. With new taxes going into effect cigarettes will cost nearly $10 a pack in some places. Use the extra money in your pocket to buy something that makes you happy.
Take a time out. When you get a craving or urge, find a task to do or make a phone call. Do something to refocus your mind.
Exercise. Yes, this is one of the other popular resolutions that gets broken but try incorporating a quick walk in place of a cigarette. The fresh air will do you good.
Stopping the abuse of commercial tobacco is one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself, your friends and your family. You will live longer, smell better, have extra money in your pocket and reawaken your taste buds to enjoy the flavor of food more. If you need help or want additional information go to www.nobutts.org or call (800) No-Butts (662-8887). Good luck and happy new year. Stay resolute!
— André Cramblit
How to Get Unstuck:
A conversation with life coach Ron Gilliland
Ron Gilliland is a semi-local life coach who works with clients on a variety of themes, including corporate coaching, communication skills and mentorship. In preparation for a new year and new beginnings, we had a conversation about the concept that so many resolutions boil down to, whether we frame it that way or not: getting unstuck.
First of all, let's define some terms, Ron. I think a lot of people know instinctually what it means to be "stuck," but when a client comes to you with that issue, how do you help him or her figure out what it means?
People want to make sense of their progress in some area of their life and they don't have a strategy and how to put one together, or the strategies they do have aren't working for them.
Do you have clients who feel like they're always going to be stuck, or broken?
I believe that everyone is creative, resourceful and whole. Carl Rogers, the father of modern therapy sessions, he said "Always have unconditional positive regard for your clients." In coaching, that's more action-oriented. Nobody gets to be wrong; that's the most productive place. I don't think people are fundamentally broken. If I get into a coaching call and people are saying, "I'm not good, I'm never going to be successful," I tell them ... "I can't coach a gremlin today."
That comes from a book called Taming Your Gremlin by Rick Carson. Let's say there's something that really bothers you. There's always a corresponding value to that thing, something good they know about themselves. You give the gremlin a name: That's the "You're a Loser Gremlin" or the "You're Never Going to Make It Gremlin." The way I coach people is I tell them to use their imagination. I ask them which shoulder that gremlin jumps on. Now notice it, name it, turn to the other shoulder and affirm the good news they know about themselves. Say, "I really value economic security" or "I am willing to work as hard as I need to work." What will happen, because of stuckness, is the gremlin will take over. They start to lose sight of who they really are. The things that matter to us are not just chosen values, they really are who we are.
Do you believe in the idea that we 'fear success?'
I think it has some merit. If they don't have a plan for what they're going to do on the other side of their goal, we want to go back to homeostasis, we want to go back to that comfortable groove. I think that's what's important about taking the time to really think about what we want. I go right to values. How will the attainment of this goal put your values into action? When they achieve something I like to hold people there, have them experience it. The tendency will be to divert. That's what we do as a society, we say, "OK, great, next!" No wonder we have so much trouble changing. We don't know how to celebrate.
— Linda Stansberry
Don't get comfortable. Sure, the warnings to not "normalize" president-elect Donald Trump may have faded. The outpouring of social media calls-to-battle may have all but evaporated. But remember how angry and determined you were mid-November, after the initial shock had worn off? Rekindle that. Because the coming year demands action. Posting to Facebook groups will not alone defend the rights of those we love. Too much is at stake to wait for the swing of the pendulum. The arc of the moral universe only bends toward justice when pressure is applied.
So pressure must be applied.
Yes, the election sent us reeling and the subsequent cabinet choices have been delivered like a series of blows. Who wouldn't want to detach and escape into the oblivion craft whiskey and Netflix make so easy?
You. You will not.
Because attacks have been promised. You know this. All signs point toward manifestation of campaign trail threats. The list of those most at risk is long: women, people of color, Muslims, those whose sexuality doesn't categorize neatly into the cis-hetero box, those who need health care, the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the homeless — hell, all of us, truly, given the existential and manifesting threat of climate change.
So refuse to step down. Be unwilling to adapt to tyranny. Use what privilege you have to stand for the rights of those not born straight, white, male, rich. (Eyes on you, straight white men of means.) Maybe you're marching in January? That's a start. Here are some basics to guide you through the rest of the year:
Pick your cause(s).
Pushing back against racism, fighting for reproductive rights and access to them, protecting the environment, making sure what safety net exists isn't decimated, safeguarding public education, refusing to allow "stop and frisk" to become standard policy across the nation, otherwise rejecting bigotry and misogyny and walls and lies and ignorance ... find somewhere to start.
Your priorities are born of your own experience, identity and geography. I happen to be a straight, cis, white chick with three kids, experience with poverty and a career in environmental advocacy. My go-to issues reflect that. But we must show support beyond our own world for all the people who experience institutionalized cultural prejudice and oppression. So link arms.
Do not follow bad leaders.
Narcissists and psychopaths have ruined many a fine nonprofit and meaningful campaign. Charisma is fine. Self-glorification is not. Be wary of those who make the mission about themselves.
Improve your mind.
To win means living and breathing perseverance, generosity, commitment to the larger goal and an ever-present willingness to push oneself out of your comfort zone and through painful times. Useless concerns and poor decisions equal time wasted and ground lost. So read, watch and share what inspires you, then act on that inspiration daily. Get whatever therapy you need and can afford to make your head right.
Improve your health.
Seriously — the battlefield requires you to be in top form. Eat your greens, get some focused exercise and enough sleep, quit smoking, ease up on drinking (much as times might seem to call for an increase), do your physical therapy, stock up on your meds, take advantage of any health care coverage you have while you can.
Know how much you're willing to sacrifice.
Most of us are not used to activism as a lifestyle. We haven't needed to be. But if you're determined to push back against the forthcoming rights grab, you need to assess your own capabilities. Are you willing to give your time? Your money? How much? Are you willing to alienate friends and family who shy away from political engagement? To risk tear gas, rubber bullets, arrest? Attacks on your reputation? Will you prefer to act from the relative safety of your keyboard or will you join those on the front lines? Who are you willing to step in front of when a cop pulls out a baton? You don't have to be an action hero but — for what it's worth — the first step in exceeding your limits is identifying them.
Believe the worst, envision the best.
From his campaign to his cabinet choices, Trump continues to embody, and be rewarded for, rampant ego, greed, oppression. Believe what he says. Hold on to the vision of how far we could go, the decent society within our grasp. Work toward that with every dollar and every minute you spend.
Know your best weapons.
Do your research. Be confident in your facts (and news sources). Do not expect them to sway people. Politics is a game of feelings, as this election so clearly illustrated, with fear the most powerful emotion of all and one that social media magnifies ceaselessly. As a result, a lot of people are afraid of the wrong things. So be prepared to talk about shared frustrations as our rights, safety net and environment protections are stripped away, as we see friends deported and hate crimes increase. Call out what is wrong. Applaud what is right. Connect the dots. Over and over and over again.
The edge where humor and truth meet is wicked sharp and makes for one of our most effective tools in the new regime — we've all witnessed the thin skin and insecurity of the incoming president. Rejecting a conservative white nationalist version of America is serious business but also one that laughter fuels nicely (thank you, SNL). So fill yourself up on the regular. But remember to only deploy mockery upward. Making fun of people less powerful than yourself is what bullies — the incoming administration, say — do. We need to not only rise, but to lift. With a grin.
Barbara Kingsolver in The Guardian
Masha Gessen in The New York Review of Books
Charles Taylor in The Boston Globe
— Jennifer Savage