Sunday, August 6, 2017

It’s Called Chemistry for A Reason

You often see this scenario:

Boy sees Girl, Boy meets Girl. Boy and Girl go on a date.
Boy is handsome/smart/funny/perfect
Girl is beautiful/smart/funny/perfect.

No Spark.

Why??

No chemistry or, more accurately, no pheromone reaction.

What is Chemistry?  How does it work?

Well, who cares how it works, we know it does. 

We know there are some people we are more attracted to than others. We know that sometimes when we meet a person that we, or our friends, think we should connect with, for some unidentifiable reason we just don't.

Chemistry.  

Most species on our planet have some kind of hormonal and/or pheromonal attraction system that helps them choose a mate.  Humans are no different.

Additionally, throughout our own species, we show a variety of conditions that are usually referred to as “abnormalities” in the form of syndromes, genetic mutations, birth defects, etc.  We also show a small percentage of people who are built a little differently, ie:  left-handed people, people with 2 different eye colors, and people with both sex organs.

This being the case I think it only makes sense that there is a percentage of our species who’s bio systems respond to pheromones from the same sex instead of the opposite sex, and still others who’s systems are attracted to both sexes.

We don't choose what types of hormones/pheromones our bodies respond to, it's just the way we are born.


  




Sunday, February 5, 2017

Syrian Refugees - My 2 Cents

I know its been awhile.  I've been spending more time in my studio and reconnecting with my family after my Australian adventure.

SO, I'm weighing in my 2 cents. There has been a lot in the news again lately about the refugee issue thanks to President Trump. 

As a Christian, I put it to other Christians who may be in favor of refusing admittance to refugees:

If you are truly the good Christian you think you are you would remember a few lessons the Bible tries to teach us:

One-the parable of the Good Samaritan,
Two-the Golden Rule. (remember, this rule teaches us to treat other the same way we want to be treated, not the same way they actually treat us.)

Regarding the Wolf in Sheep's clothing "refugees" that are committing 
acts of terrorism in the host countries.

(I put them in parenthesis because I don't consider those individuals as actual refugees, they are people taking advantage of a situation to cause harm.)

Removing one way for these individuals to cause trouble (ie: refusing admittance to refugees) is not going to stop them from finding other ways.  

It will only punish the innocent families who are simply trying to keep their family from harm and death and find a new home so they can go on raising their children in a safe place. 

As a parent, I completely sympathize with this.

We need to remember something else as well.  This country as it stands was started by refugees. Most of the settlers and immigrants came here to escape from something. This is just the current version of what they did. So unless you are a descendant of one of the tribes that were indigenous to these continents before explorers and settlers barged in and took over, there is really no argument that can be made for not excepting more people wanting a new life.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Rare Does NOT Equal Unnatural.

“If homosexuality were natural there would be no procreation.”

Implication of this: homosexuality is unnatural.

So commented a co-worker recently when they made the naive mistake of randomly bringing up the subject and possibly thinking I would agree.  Instead this co-working was given a quick and brief set of arguments that basically blew that train of thought out of the water.

In the years of hearing homophobic people give excuse after excuse as to why they feel homosexuality shouldn’t be accepted, I can honestly say the above argument is one of the most inept I’ve come across.

To show why, here’s a few seemingly unrelated facts gleaned from the internet, please note that the following statistics are approximate based on multiple resources:

  • 17% of the population is born with blue eyes.
  • 10-30% of ethnic populations where it is commonest (Celtic descendent, etc.) have red hair.  
    • Fun Fact: Red hair is actually caused by a series of genetic mutations.
  • 10% of the population is left handed.
  • 1-2% of the population has some form of Autism
  • LESS THAN 1% of the population has Down Syndrome (1 in 700-900)
  • 0.0055% (1 in 18,000) of the population is born with Adrenoleukodystrophy, or ALD (the genetic disease featured in the movie Lorenzo’s Oil)

Why are some people born with traits that are not commonly found within the general population?

Just 50 years ago or so most children were discouraged or even punished for preferring to use their left hand.

Do these traits make us any less natural that the general population?  I know I didn’t choose to be left handed.  I know that trying to use my right hand feels very unnatural for me.

I know that I’ve had to adapt to a certain point to get by in a predominantly right handed world and that consequently I’ve become ambidextrous in some tasks as a result but that doesn’t make me right-handed.

Then there is the whole, “if it were natural there would be no procreation of the species”.

Science has already diagnosed numerous disorders that involve the reproductive system.  I have known 2 separate women in my life that were born without ovaries.  They just don’t have them.

They didn’t choose this.  It happened to them on a genetic level.  They will not be able to procreate the usual way but that doesn’t make their condition unnatural.

There are many conditions, genetic “diseases”, syndromes, etc, we recognize as rare but natural.  For a lot of them, we have no idea what the cause is.  We just know they exist.

This is why I find it so unfathomable that it is still such a stretch of the imagination for so many people that homosexuality could easily be, and probably is, a rare but natural condition too.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Chicken - v - Egg: An Answer to the Age Old Question of 'Which Came First'

To start with, it depends on your school of thought: Creation or Evolution?

Creation School of Thought


God created all the animals and then they started reproducing. So of course the chicken came first.


Evolution School of Thought


Taken directly from http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/evo_02

The Definition

Biological evolution, simply put, is descent with modification. This definition encompasses small-scale evolution (changes in gene frequency in a population from one generation to the next).

I will stand corrected if I'm wrong, but my understanding of, "Changes in a population from one generation to the next" means each generation is slightly different from the one before. So, for any particular chicken, the egg comes first for each genetic generation.

Monday, October 12, 2015

I Must NEVER Let My Guard Down

Most of my life I have worked to keep a certain level of mental and emotional distance from any situation I find myself in. This has stemmed from consistently experiencing situations where the whole atmosphere has turned on a tack and gone from relaxed and enjoyable to uncomfortable and anxious.  Often this is due to either extremely ill timed points being made, or just stupid overreactions where one person destroys the atmosphere for the whole group, even if the rest of the group as not guilty of anything except being there.

Social Phobia is an issue I've struggled with for decades, the above described situations probably being the primary cause.  Consequently I've created an inner wall to protect myself from negativity that I have no control over.

Woman Seated - Converted to B & W - Original Art by Ann-Monique
In the last several years I have finally managed to reach a level of coping that actually allows me to do things on occasion that would have been impossible before.  Things like go by myself on a walk outside the confines of my yard or even take myself on a tour of a new place and explore.  I've also reached a point where I can actually enjoy an evening out with a small group of people without feeling on edge the entire time.

Every once in a while I make a mistake though.  I get so comfortable and enjoy myself so much that I forget to maintain that certain level of mental distance that will protect me in case of a swift change of atmosphere.

This cannot happen.  The devastating feelings I get, the frustration, anger and resentment I feel as a result of these invasions of my stability, are enough to derail me for several days.

I must always be prepared for and expect the worse and not get too comfortable.  Then I run a lesser risk of being mentally punished for having fun.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Sibling Rivalry and the Ultimate Parent

An Answer to the Question, “Why Didn’t God Give the Terrorists Massive Coronaries Before They Hit the Twin Towers?” - Matthew Albie, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip


Disclaimer:  I have done research online on many, many sites, gleaning the basic ideas for this particular post.  Needless to say there are numerous articles out there regarding parenting and sibling rivalry.  I’ve done my best to take the similar information from these articles and put them together to, I hope, best demonstrate what is being said and how it relates to my point.  My resources have included:

  • Webmd.com
  • Psychologies.co.uk
  • Psychologytoday.com
  • Parenting.com
  • GlobalPost.com 

Sibling Rivalry

Older children have an intense need to measure up at home and get positive feedback from their parents. Often conflict arises because children feel they are competing with their siblings for this attention. Avoid comparing your children to each other.

If there is an issue going on between the siblings in your house, don't be discouraged. Dealing with this conflict often serves as a useful training exercise in which siblings gain experience in overcoming problems.

Like much of parenting, responding to sibling rivalry involves walking a fine line. Often parents allow siblings to work out problems on their own and not play favorites.

Teach your children negotiation and compromise then let your kids resolve their own issues.

Rivalry continues into adulthood and can become a bitter conflict.  Even when parents do their best at loving and respecting all of their children, the influence of siblings on one another can be enormous.

It’s important to accept that siblings will fight.  By allowing them to experience their emotions, a parent allows the child to develop a sense of responsibility. This is the foundation of emotional health.

To get to this point, all sides  have to want to make peace, and they also have to want it at the same time. If a dialogue is begun when one person isn’t ready you guarantee that any reconciliation will be artificial and create a bigger breach between those involved.   It’s hard to find just the right amount of space to put between brothers and sisters.

Sibling relationships are deeply ambivalent by nature, and they are fueled by both love and hate. Recognizing and accepting this is a sign of maturity. It allows us to create distance and to find a way of living in peace.  

"Our Father Who Art in Heaven" - The Ultimate Parent

1 John 3: 1-2

1 See what love the Father has given us that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.   2 Beloved, we are God's children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. 

1 John 3: 18

18 Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.

Luke 11:2

2 He said to them, "When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name…

Matthew 6:9

9 "Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 

The following text in italics is directly from an article in Everydaylife.globalpost.com by Eliza Martinez about parents of adult siblings that still have a rivalry between them.

For Parents 

Step 1

Avoid comparisons among your adult children... children always want to please their parents, no matter their ages. Don't compare your kids' jobs, children, spouses, financial situations or homes.

Step 2

Talk to your kids... Help your children come up with solutions for their rivalry that can help avoid fights and conflict. Maybe they'll agree to disagree, decide to make certain topics of conversation off limits and agree to walk away from when things get heated so they can calm down.

Despite what many people want to believe, God is still speaking to us.  We may just not want to hear what’s being said or are not mature enough to understand.   If you are  a parent yourself, you may have an idea of how frustrating this is.

Step 3

Stay out of the sibling rivalry. Clearly tell your children that you won't take sides and don't want to be part of their fights and disagreements. This doesn't mean you can't offer advice and a listening ear when your kids need you, but if they know that's as far as it goes, eventually they won't even come to you with their disputes.

Step 4

Encourage your kids to see each other's points of view. You raised them, but that doesn't mean they think, react or feel things the same way. They each bring their own baggage and personality to the sibling relationships and helping each see their siblings' sides can help your kids understand each other.

Step 5

Seek help. If all else fails, help your kids find a neutral person to assist them in working through their issues. A family therapist is an ideal choice because she can work through emotions with siblings and work with them to come to a resolution to the issues they face. This can help your kids create and maintain a healthy and fulfilling relationship throughout adulthood.

For Siblings

Step 1

Avoid trying to change your siblings. Despite a similar upbringing, you each have your own personalities, likes and dislikes, so it goes to follow that you aren't the same person. Instead, accept your differences and embrace that they make your relationships unique.

Step 2

Don't compete with each other. This doesn't mean that you won't get jealous of your siblings' successes, particularly if those successes are something that you'd like to have as well. The trick to is to keep that to yourself and congratulate your siblings on their new jobs, marriages, babies or big raises instead of trying to one up them with your brand new car or bigger house.

Step 3

Talk to your siblings. Arrange times when you can sit down together without outside distraction and hash out the problems in your relationships. Work together to come up with solutions. This might even mean taking turns going to family functions where emotions run high and conflict occurs.

Step 4

Spend time together in neutral locations. Perhaps you could meet for coffee once a week or have dinner at a restaurant once a month. This lets you create shared experiences away from the life events that cause conflict -- at the same time, being in public can help prevent you from coming to blows.

We have probably all asked our parents Why? before, and not gotten an answer we were satisfied with. 

God is the Ultimate parent.  There is no better.


God provides.  

We have the ability to learn, invent, discover, be curious, and explore.  With all of these skills that God has provided us, we can do anything if we put our minds to it, from growing our own crops to use for clothing and food, to curing deadly diseases.  We can even learn to build transportation that will allow us to explore more of God’s great creation outside of the planet God put us on.  God has provided us with what we need to survive.  It’s our responsibility to use those gifts to help each other.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

My Fight with Depression and Anxiety


Original Art by Ann-Monique

“I know I had become useless before I left. I'd let myself lose my grip on life and was struggling to get it back. I'm working really hard to come back to you both a much better wife and mommy…
…I don't cook I don't clean I don't do laundry I don't do his homework with him I don't mow the lawn…
…I beat myself up over everything. I know I've been failing
…I just want you to understand that I know I've been screwing up especially in my attention to you.”

In my journey down the road to recovering from my last major break down from Depression and anxiety I’ve managed to leave by husband so far behind its inexcusable. I was so focused on trying to fix myself while keeping my son from knowing there was an issue that I basically forgot to spend time with my husband. I didn’t recognize I was doing it. I honestly thought I was maintaining my relationship while I worked to heal myself.

The following is from WebMD. Follow this link for the complete article: http://www.webmd.com/depression/ss/slideshow-depression-overview

Depression: What Is It? 

It's natural to feel down sometimes, but if that low mood lingers day after day, it could signal depression. Major depression is an episode of sadness or apathy along with other symptoms that lasts at least two consecutive weeks and is severe enough to interrupt daily activities. Depression is not a sign of weakness or a negative personality. It is a major public health problem and a treatable medical condition.

Depression is sometimes linked to physical symptoms. These include:
Fatigue and decreased energy
Insomnia, especially early-morning waking
Excessive sleep

Without treatment, the physical and emotional turmoil brought on by depression can derail careers, hobbies, and relationships. Depressed people often find it difficult to concentrate and make decisions. They turn away from previously enjoyable activities, including sex. In severe cases, depression can become life-threatening.

Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment

Depression can make other health problems feel worse, particularly chronic pain. Key brain chemicals influence both mood and pain. Treating depression has been shown to improve co-existing illnesses.

Anyone can become depressed, but many experts believe genetics play a role. Having a parent or sibling with depression increases your risk of developing the disorder. Women are twice as likely as men to become depressed.


Causes of Depression

Doctors aren't sure what causes depression, but a prominent theory is altered brain structure and chemical function. Brain circuits that regulate mood may work less efficiently during depression. Drugs that treat depression are believed to improve communication between nerve cells, making them run more normally. Experts also think that while stress -- such as losing a loved one -- can trigger depression, one must first be biologically prone to develop the disorder. Other triggers could include certain medications, alcohol or substance abuse, hormonal changes, or even the season.


Some Types of Depression
Chronic Depression (Dysthymia, Mild) 
(http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/chronic-depression-dysthymia)

Dysthymia, sometimes referred to as mild, chronic depression, is less severe and has fewer symptoms than major depression. With dysthymia, the depression symptoms can linger for a long period of time, often two years or longer. Those who suffer from dysthymia can also experience periods of major depression--sometimes called "double depression.".

Clinical Depression (Major Depression)
(http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/major-depression)

Most people feel sad or low at some point in their lives. But clinical depression is marked by a depressed mood most of the day, particularly in the morning, and a loss of interest in normal activities and relationships -- symptoms that are present every day for at least 2 weeks. In addition, according to the DSM-5 -- a manual used to diagnose mental health conditions -- you may have other symptoms with major depression.

Those symptoms might include:
Fatigue or loss of energy almost every day
Feelings of worthlessness or guilt almost every day
Impaired concentration, indecisiveness
Insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping) almost every day
Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in almost all activities nearly every day (called anhedonia, this symptom can be indicated by reports from significant others)
Restlessness or feeling slowed down
Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
Significant weight loss or gain (a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month)

My Causes of Depression

For me it appears to run in my family and then can be made much worse from stress and major life events. Fortunately there is even better education and understanding now that there was even 20 years ago when I was first diagnosed. I have very good periods of time when I feel completely “normal” and then suddenly one day I’ll be incredibly sad, despondent and physically weary for no reason I can pinpoint. I have finally begun to see a pattern, pre-menopause has definitely made the symptoms more defined and the time periods more regular as I become more irregular in my cycle.

Part of me is finding the whole process intriguing to observe.  I’ll go 2 weeks or so struggling to maintain a daily routine, still be productive and still try to care about my own health, then one day it’s like a switch has been flipped in my brain and I’m back to normal for a while and working hard to get caught up from when I lacked the motivation to do anything.

I used to get really offended when I would hear people say that depression was all in the head. Of course those people usually meant that it was something you could choose to snap out of. As it happens, they were partially right.  It is all in the head, most specifically in the brain.

Photo from WebMD http://www.webmd.com/depression/ss/slideshow-depression-overview

Depression is a disease. It's caused by changes in chemicals in the brain that are called neurotransmitters. Depression isn't a character flaw, and it doesn't mean you are bad or weak. It doesn't mean you are going crazy. (WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/tc/depression-and-suicide-topic-overview)

I’ve become less frustrated over time about my own battles once I completely understood that the symptoms are linked to actual physical issues in the brain’s chemistry.  It’s been easier for me to accept treatment, now that I understand that it’s not just because I’m “having a bad day”, but because something in my body is actually turning against me. I understand that I can no sooner tackle this condition completely by myself than I could tackle Cancer completely by myself.

My Attack Plan

I have spent most of my life developing Coping Skills to deal both with my depression and my social anxiety.  I’ve been on and off different medications as well as seen several counselors and psychologists as I needed to, depending on what else was happening in my life.  Several years ago my Psychologist recommended this workbook to me: The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund J. Bourne.

This book is a wonderful resource for recognizing what you may be dealing with and helping you develop coping skills in a manner that works best for you.  I was able to not only realize how serious my problems had become but also work toward fine tuning coping skills in a way that has continued to benefit me.  I highly recommend this as a resource for anyone looking for assistance with their depression, anxiety or even a general phobia as these all often become linked and the exercises to overcome them are similar.

I’ve now better recognize what parts I do have some control over and can use my coping skills to use in battle. I’ve also accepted that it’s ok to be on medication in order to assist me with the chemical battles within my brain that I don’t have control over. This has led me to become much less frustrated and more tolerant of myself when I realize I’m not accomplishing my personal goals.  It has also made me more aware of where I am falling short so I can put more effort into those areas of my life.