The consequences of neglect

Trash, litter, waste, and rubbish may be our actual four horsemen. We have almost as many words for what we throw away as the Inuit supposedly have for snow. We all face the same problems of lives spent leaving an unsightly trail.

As many of us work to improve our neighbourhoods and celebrate our communities, some can’t be bothered to carry a plastic cup to a bin. Children are allowed to drop garbage as they walk. In fact, children are encouraged in the lackadaisical littering by the somnambulant slovenliness of their supposedly more mature elders. What still shocks me, and shouldn’t, is that this attitude carries over into private homes and places of worship.

As you drive through Surabaya you will see high apartment towers, shining malls, mosques and churches. You will also see quite a number of ornate neoclassical and modernist homes. Many of these enclaves of large homes are ringed by gates and staffed with private patrols.

Even in these fortresses, and the schools and shops that serve them, the lack of care is evident. Tables and desks left strewn with the detritus of a task or meal. Trash piled against a wall or left littering church or mosque steps.

Parents, schools, and communities need to be on board for any change to work. Imagine the reaction from Mom and dad when the satpam tells the kid, “Hey, use the trash bin!” Even if it’s phrased as “please dispose of your trash in the appropriate receptacle”. (Insert correct translation as you like) In the west and in Singapore people have been conditioned not to litter, and of course there are fines. We see it here in Surabaya, and in Bali that quite a number of North Americans, Europeans, and Singaporeans happily relax their morality and social conscience while on vacation.

This isn’t about when in Rome … the long term consequences of our actions and inactions have to be considered. The same goes for us as visitors; you don’t litter at home, don’t do it here.

Locally, people will change, even in more traditional communities. They need to see viable alternatives and workable (within their capabilities and resources) solutions.

Governments and industry are happy to tout their respect for local/traditional wisdom as long as it keeps locals traditionally ignorant. Kalimantan, Sumatra, Lapindo, Bali’s water crisis and the mess that is Kenjeran beach are not the fault of villagers and tukang parkir.

Waste and neglect are not an enviable legacy to be left by any culture.

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Here There and Nowhere

He sings the body incredulous.
Existing between never was, and never will be.
Existing without substance, yet heralding shifting bedrock.
Occupying no fixed space, filling no specific need.
Both the unexpected journey and the probable consequence.
For all his banal and baleful presence, he is neither cause nor solution.

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Hopes For The Year Ahead

Happy New Year.

May the year ahead offer health, happiness, prosperity, purpose and fulfillment.

All the best, Wayne, Emily, Adryan and Wyatt

Conversations

Over the next few days, and weeks, I will post a few conversations that I have written over the years. These are scripted dialogues to encourage student speaking. They have sometimes been used to illustrate or to amplify a grammar point. Perhaps you’ll find them helpful, curious or useful in some small way.

This was originally scripted with no names or jobs to differentiate the speakers. It actually just had speaker one and speaker two. The conversation was used primarily as a warmer, a way to loosen the class up and get a rhythm going. I am grateful to Abbot and Costello, to whom I offer my apologies.

A telephone call

  • Hello.
  • Hello. Can I help you?
  • I want to speak to Mmmmmmm.
  • Excuse me?
  • I want to speak to Mmmmmmm.
  • Can you spell the name?
  • Spell it exactly as it sounds.
  • Please say it again slowly.
  • All right. It’s Mmmmmmmm.
  • Maybe we have a bad connection.
  • May I leave a message?
  • Okay.
  • Tell Mmmmmmmm the Doctor called.
  • Dr. who?
  • That’s right.
  • What is right?
  • No, not what.
  • Who is calling?
  • Yes.
  • Who?
  • Right.
  • I don’t understand.
  • Have you been working for Mmmmmmm long
  • I’m not sure.

The Secrets for Living An Invigorated Life

Health and fitness

Being healthy is often our goal, but just as often our well-being is one of those many things that are put aside. We prioritize ourselves to distraction and to our detriment. Our health, physical, mental and emotional often fluctuates on the smallest upsets. We skipped breakfast; we stayed up late to finish work; or the lady at the counter was snarky. We cannot change the world around us, but we can modulate our reaction to life’s little hiccups. More often than not we don’t need to make drastic changes, as the small changes can have dramatic benefits.

Routines

Adding small routines like a morning stretch or an evening walk. There are benefits to having a glass of water with lemon before the coffee, or getting up a bit early so you can enjoy the solitude of a quiet living room. Just walking around your office/workplace/school periodically is helpful. Change up your routine from time to time by choosing a new restaurant, going to a foreign film, or visiting a new area of the city.

Take a dance class.

Shake your cares away and sweat off a few pounds with salsa, pole-dancing, ballroom dance or even hip-hop.

Volunteer

Soup kitchens, food banks, the Red Cross, the hospital, veterans homes, retirement communities, Boys and Girls Clubs. Get out and pitch in.

Read a book. Lead an aerobics group, or a Tai Chi Chuan class. Deliver mail and smiles around a hospital ward, or serve sandwiches and split pea soup. Run or walk a couple of 10K charity events. Walk with seniors, or help to organize a morning mall walk. If one doesn’t exist, create it. Your hours of dedication will brighten a life. It will most likely make your day as well.

Join a Martial Arts class

It takes a certain kind of person to walk willingly into a Muay Thai ring, but kickboxing, Tae Kwon Do, Karate or Judo instruction are all within a more prosaic range.  If you aspire to be Bruce Lee or Batman after a few classes you can always hop a plane east.

Movies

Get out to the movies. There are still good movies being made, and the smell of fresh popcorn can be a tonic for a tired soul. Lose yourself in a movie for a couple of hours. Go with friends or people from the office. Discuss the film over dinner.

Read

Books offer whole worlds of new insights and explorations. Reality and imagination in-between a couple of thick cardboard slices. Get out of whatever space your head is stuck in and explore biography, science-fiction, horror, travel, or even a good detective story. Pick up the Narnia or Harry Potter series. Perhaps you’re into female archers or sparkly vampires? Rediscover a few classics at your local library. Amazon might be a good place to explore. Start a book club. Share the book with children, seniors or veterans.

Food

Eating right isn’t just a good idea, it’s a necessity. The balance of calories, proteins, carbohydrates and fats determines how well you feel, how well you think, and how quickly you can deal, or even bounce back, from an emergency. Apples, bananas, pears, peppers, and grapes are easy enough to find and easy to pack for lunch. Many fruits are natural antioxidants and refreshing, tasty snacks.

Antioxidants are essential to optimizing health by helping to combat the free radicals that can damage cellular structures as well as DNA.

1. Prunes

The deep taste and sticky, chewy texture of this dried fruit is high in antioxidants, as it is considered a cancer protector and a good source of vitamins. Prunes can effectively lower your cholesterol and boost your bone health.

  1. Raspberries

These fruits are loaded with antioxidants and help you lose weight. They’re also very beneficial to maintaining cardiovascular health. “While all fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, the so-called “superfoods” with the higher amounts include berries (wild blueberries, goji berries, acai berries, red berries),” Alissa Rumsey, according to registered dietician and spokesperson for the New York State Dietetic Association.

  1. Cloves

Cloves are known to be a great antibacterial and anti-fungal medicine. They are typically used in spices, but they are effective in reducing inflammation, toothache, and even improve our sexual health. Foods in the brown family like cacao and cinnamon are also excellent sources of antioxidants.

  1. Strawberries

It comes as no surprise, strawberries make the top 10 best antioxidant-rich foods list, especially since they can be very health to eye health and maintaining healthy skin. This fruit reduces the bad cholesterol and can contribute to heart health.  Strawberries boost blood antioxidant levels and can help prevent chronic diseases. Strawberries have a large concentration of phenolic compounds, such as flavonoids known to have antioxidant properties. At a cellular level, they fight free radical production, and therefore, lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and dementia.

  1. Cranberries

This super fruit can help boost the immune system. They are most known for their effectiveness in treating urinary tract infections, and kidney stones.  Cranberry products have the highest level of phenols — a disease-fighting antioxidant — and can even reduce the risk of heart disease.

  1. Walnuts

This super nut is known to deliver a powerful dose of cancer-fighting antioxidants. The American Cancer Society has noted ellagic acid — found in walnuts — may have anti-cancer benefits. These nuts have been known help in the treatment of type 2 diabetes as well as  important for healthy hearts.

  1. Blueberries

This fruit is packed with antioxidants and can, like walnuts, be extremely helpful when it comes to heart health. They can balance blood sugar levels and are considered a diabetic medicine.

  1. Pinto Beans

Although they may seem unlikely to make the list, pinto beans are actually full of antioxidants and very high in fiber. In the U.S., it is estimated 8 lbs. of beans are consumed each year per person, as pinto beans and navy beans are the most popular. They are very beneficial to our digestive health.

  1. Blackberries

Blackberries are considered to have one of the highest levels of antioxidant compared to other fruits.

  1. Soursop

Being abundant in vitamins and minerals, soursop offers several health benefits. It is often recommended by the practitioners of herbal medicine to cure various ailments.

  1. Garlic

Not just for warding off unclean spirits anymore. Garlic may be the wonder cure for all sorts of ailments, but the jury is out on how much is good for you, and how much is too much.

  1. Small Red Beans

Small red beans are known to be very beneficial to bones and teeth, and even lower the risk of heart attacks.

  1. Tomatoes

Sorry to put the tomato all the way down the list. They are very good for skin health. Like a lot of the wetter fruits and vegetables, tomatoes can help to keep the body hydrated.

Mix fruits and vegetables into your meals. Do not skip meals. Breakfast remains important.

Add supplements whenever possible.

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system. Probiotics are often called “good” or “helpful” bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy.

Often vitamins are available in fresh foods, but a few can be supplemented, such as A,B and Omega 3. Zinc is important for the bodies’ immune system and while zinc is available in pumpkins, it can be easily supplemented.

Sleep

Get at least seven hours. Take a nap if possible. If you can’t focus, or you’re ready to kill every time the phone rings, nap.  You aren’t helping anyone by trying to tough it out. Sleep is a restorative and it is the time the body and mind need to heal. The early morning hours between two and four are when the body is detoxifying. It’s the reason you stumble to the bathroom in the morning. Your mind is also clearing the detritus of the day, psychically at least. No wonder you’re groggy and irritable in the morning, your biological hard drive hasn’t been defragged.

Insomnia

Prepare yourself to sleep. Turn off the phone. Turn down the lights. Don’t bring work into the bedroom. Lie down and stretch a little. Close your eyes and feel yourself breathe. Do that for a few minutes. It may feel silly at first, just ignore that. Imagine a white light at your feet and imagine as it moves up your legs, over your thighs, up your stomach. It’s at your fingers and hands. As the light passes over, at least in your mind’s eye, allow that part of your body to completely relax. The light moves up your shoulders and chest and up to your neck.

Now do nothing. Float for a few moments. Then get up. Fold the covers down. Get into bed, and enjoy a good night’s sleep.

Quiet time

If you can’t tune out the world for a few moments every few hours then burnout is a very real possibility. This is not just true of people in high-stress jobs, but anyone who is meeting deadlines, dealing with children or just getting back and forth to meetings. This could be a time for meditation, yoga or relaxing with scented candles.

Know your limits

Set boundaries. Know what your comfort zone is and stay within reach of it. That doesn’t mean you don’t stretch yourself from time to time. It does mean you don’t stretch so far that you can’t function or return to a place of comparative safety.

Exercise

Regular exercise is tough.  It takes time, dedication and special shoes, doesn’t it? In fact, it only needs a bit of time each day and the dedication to do it three of four times a week. You only need shoes if you intend to run, or take up parkour. A bit of planking, stretching, push ups and some quality time with dumbbells will do wonders for your mood, your waistline, and your appetite.

Start simply with a simple goal to do five push-ups, 20 crunches and a few curls with dumbbells.  Yes, you probably will need to buy them. Add some stretches. Within a few days, you’ll be past the initial aches and pains and you can add five more push-ups and 10 more crunches. Increase your repetitions. Go swimming. Don’t join a gym, unless you want to socialize. Gyms exist on the basic premise that people will sign up, and for the most part, never attend. Imagine the fun if everyone who bought a membership turned up on the same day. It would be like a scene from the Producers.

Theatre

Speaking of theatre, go see a play. Or better yet, join a community group and get involved in acting, stage management, or set design.

Massage

There are real benefits to reflexology, shiatsu, and the other forms of manipulation. Whether it’s deep tissue punishment you seek, or a more relaxing sleep-inducing pampering, there are many schools and styles of massage.

Yoga

Yoga is a mental, physical and often spiritual pursuit. This is not about religion, but about connections. You are pushing past your comfort zones in a safe place. You are making a connection with the deeper and more quiet parts of your mind.

Water

Everyone has advice on this. Drink a lot of water, but not too much. Drink mineral, or filtered, squeeze a cactus or straight from the tap(the cactus might be safer).  Often we feel hungry or tired when we’re actually thirsty. An amazing number of people walk about in a state of mild dehydration. Avoid the sugary drinks. Avoid juices, unless they’re actually squeezed and without sugar. All of this is a matter of routine. One can of soft drink is unlikely to cause major damage; unless it’s thrown at your head. Water is always the default and a few glasses in the morning, after lunch and then at home will help. Get a refillable sports bottle to take with you. People will think you’re an athlete. Clean it or people will think you’re unsanitary.

Certain teas have natural healing properties and can aid hydration.

Kombucha tea is a fermented drink made with tea, sugar, bacteria, and yeast. Although it’s sometimes referred to as Kombucha mushroom tea, Kombucha is not a mushroom — it’s a colony of bacteria and yeast. Kombucha tea is made by adding the colony to sugar and tea, and allowing the mix to ferment.

Matcha is a finely milled or fine powder green tea. The health benefits of matcha tea are supposed to increase as when drinking  matcha you ingest the whole leaf, not just the brewed water.

Relationships

As with good tea, good relationships take time. Relationships begin with contact. Get out and move around. Join a club. Fitness and bars are fine if you’re the type that can interact with strangers, if not a hobby group or a college course may expand your social network. Spend some time with family. Get out in the yard, or the park. Get out of the city and hike. Explore the city. Go to a farmer’s market. Grab a camera and take shots of sunsets and sunrises, or the cityscape from different locations. Just don’t do this alone. If someone is around, engage them. If not, make an effort to meet people.

None of these ideas are revolutionary. The secret is that it only takes small changes to have dramatic results. Some of these will work, some won’t. Try the next one. None of these ideas take any great investment in money or time, but they need a commitment. Make an appointment with yourself to spend a few moments each day enjoying life. That’s perhaps the true secret; allowing yourself to enjoy your life.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ffj.1951/abstract

http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/sep00/beans0900.htm

http://berryhealth.fst.oregonstate.edu/health_healing/fact_sheets/blackberry_facts.htm

http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/herbsvitaminsandminerals/phytochemicals

http://www.nutritionisyourbesthealthinsurance.com/about_us.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12601669