A beach walk with my husband in the distance during our recent vacation.
I found a powerful article written by Arthur C. Brooks and Oprah Winfrey in the Wall Street Journal called The Power to Decide How You Feel. I think it’s exactly what I needed to read.
Here’s an excerpt:
Feelings, in the enterprise of your life, are like weather to a construction company. If it rains or snows or is unseasonably hot, it affects the ability to get work done. But the right response is not trying to change the weather (which would be impossible) or wishing the weather were different (which doesn’t help). It is having contingency plans in place for bad weather, being ready, and managing projects in a way that is appropriate to the conditions on a given day.
The process of managing this weather is called metacognition. Metacognition (which technically means “thinking about thinking”) is the act of experiencing your emotions consciously, separating them from your behavior, and refusing to be controlled by them. Metacognition begins with understanding that emotions are signals to your conscious brain that something is going on that requires your attention and action. That’s all they are. Your conscious brain, if you choose to use it, gets to decide how you will respond to them.
The idea in this article is that we can separate our thoughts and view them as though the emotions are happening to someone else. What would we tell them to do? If they feel trapped in a job they don’t like, they can make a change.
For example, let’s imagine you have a job that is really bringing you down. Let’s say you are bored and stressed, and your boss isn’t competent. You come home every day tired and frustrated, and you wind up drinking too much and watching a lot of dumb television to distract your mind. Tomorrow, try a new tactic. During the day, take a few minutes every hour or so, and ask, “How am I feeling?” Jot it down. Then after work, journal your experiences and feelings over the course of the day. Also write down how you responded to these feelings, and which responses were more and less constructive.
Do this for two weeks, and you will find you are feeling more in control and acting in more productive ways. You will also be able to start seeing how you can manage your outside environment better, perhaps making a timeline to update your résumé and asking a few people for job market advice, and then you might actually start looking for something new.
Thinking about thinking, separating ourselves from emotional outbursts or feelings sounds like a positive approach. I do think journaling has helped me through the years to feel more grounded.
Have you heard about metacognition before? What are your thoughts about “thinking about thinking?”
Olive got into my suitcase while I was unpacking and began scratching and biting it. I got her message loud and clear.
After a week home, I’m starting to feel settled. It’s been a super busy week, filled with long to do lists. What is helping me avoid gripping anxiety is morning walks, a few swims at the YMCA and having Olive fall asleep on my lap.
I read an article about cancer the other day in the Wall Street Journal. I learned something new that I feel is valuable to share. Cancer runs in families.
The article was called “Cancer Runs in Families. Too Few Are Getting Tested.”
“I had no idea that this was possible for me,” said Ungerleider, 43, an internal medicine doctor and founder of End Well, a nonprofit focused on end-of-life care.
Doctors are recommending genetic tests to more cancer patients and their families. Testing costs have dropped, and the results are helping doctors choose newer targeted drugs and encourage relatives to confront their own cancer risk.
“We can test you for dozens of genes at the same time, and it’s going to influence your treatment,” said Dr. Jewel Samadder, co-leader of the Office of Precision Medicine at the Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center in Phoenix.
I’ve had cancer on my mind, obviously after my future DIL was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer and has undergone successful surgery. What this article told me is all too clear. In my DIL’s family several of her sisters were diagnosed and treated for cancer in their 20s and 30s.
I think it would be wise if you have had family members with cancer, to get tested, too.
Here’s more from the article:
Some 10% of cancers are associated with genetic inheritance, including the BRCA mutations linked to breast and ovarian cancer risk in the 1990s.BRCA mutations have since been linked to other cancers, and dozens more gene variations have been shown to raise cancer risks.
Doctors have broadened guidelines for who should get tested, including all patients with ovarian, metastatic prostate and pancreatic cancer and some with colorectal and breast. Some are pushing for universal testing after some studies showed that around half of genetic cancer links are missed under standard testing guidance.
600 Kindergartners Were Given Bank Accounts. Here’s What They Learned.
How San Francisco and other cities are trying to boost financial education and college savings
Tierra Ferrand started saving for college when she was in kindergarten.
She and 600 other low-income public-school students in San Francisco were each given a bank account with $50 in 2011 as part of a program that expanded the curriculum from reading and writing to interest rates. Now 17 years old, she has more than $1,500 banked and is off to Grambling State University in Louisiana this fall. That balance may be small, but Ferrand and her mother, Aisha Brown, 44, said the account changed their approach to money and saving.
“Outside of this account, we don’t have other college savings accounts,” Brown said. “We don’t have those advantages that some other families may have.”
San Francisco’s Kindergarten to College Program, which now gives $50 in savings to every student, has 52,000 active accounts with a total balance of $15 million—$10 million of which came from deposits made by the students and their families. The program aims to be both financial education and a small start to college savings, and has been replicated in 39 states across the country.
I’ve often thought there are many things we need to teach our children in school — or at home. I remember talking to my son’s fourth grade teacher.
“Can you give them a lesson on how to write a letter and address an envelope?” I asked. I discovered my son didn’t know where addresses went on an envelope. I was sure he wasn’t the only one.
That’s because kids use email and lost ordinary skills that we took for granted. Banking, savings, credit cards and compound interest are lessons that are being taught in some classes in San Francisco along with the $50 deposit into a savings account. I say “some” because in the article I learned that not all teachers use the savings account lesson plan. They said they were busy enough with existing curriculum.
Another thing I realized my son didn’t learn was how to pay for gas and fill up the tank. I homeschooled my daughter for middle school and I included lots of “adulting” lessons. I thought my son would pick up things naturally from observation. But he was always reading — every free minute — like on car rides. He was oblivious to the world around him.
Changing a tire is a skill my dad taught me when I got my first flat. Of course we have AAA now, but isn’t that a good thing to know how to do if you don’t have cell reception?
What other basic life skills do you think should be taught to our kids in school or at home?
I hope you’re enjoying my new M W F blogging schedule.
This is a photo I found of Caeleb Dressel from last year. If you haven’t heard of him, he’s a seven-time Olympic gold medalist and world record-holder. I remember watching him swim years ago at meets with my daughter. They are the same age and he’s one of the top swimmers in the world.
I read something very encouraging. It was from the Wall Street Journal and here was the opening paragraph:
Elite swimmers peak in their early 20s, powerlifters peak at 35 and equestrians later still, on average. Creativity peaks either very early in our careers or later, depending on how we think. Our ability to quickly absorb facts reaches its zenith in our late teens, while our vocabulary skills crest in our sixth decade.
This article is called: “Here’s When We Hit Our Physical and Mental Peaks: Even when we’ve peaked in one endeavor, we’re likely getting better in another written by Clare Ansberry.
I especially like the bit about our vocabulary skills improving into our sixth decade. That gives me hope.
Economists, sports scientists and psychologists have analyzed Olympic performances and chess matches, as well as thousands of online quizzes to determine the average age when people peak mentally and physically. They are trying to understandhow our brain and bodies work and if there are lessons on strengthening each. Checkmate Chess players’ performance rises sharply until the early 20s and peaks around the age of 35.
The good news is that while we may have peaked in one endeavor, we are likely getting better in another.
“At every age, you are getting better at some things and worse at others,” says Joshua Hartshorne, an assistant professor of psychology at Boston College, who researches how various cognitive functions change with age.
I didn’t realize at the time I posted the photo above of Dressel (which I did because of the first words of the WSJ article “elite swimmers,”) that after almost a year off from swimming he swam at US Nationals last weekend. For swimmers, who practice six days a week, often two practices a day — a year is a lifetime.
He left the 2022 World Championships in Hungary while the meet was still going on. Everyone thought that was odd and the explanation was health reasons. Michael Phelps was one of the first Olympic athletes to talk about his struggles with mental health. I listened to Phelps discuss his battle with depression at an event and I wrote about it HERE.
Dressel returned to the pool at U.S. Nationals this past weekend, and from what I’ve read he feels like he’s in a good place and happy to be back. Although he didn’t make the US World team and was seconds off his best times (which as a sprinter is another lifetime) he has his sights set on 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. His coach and teammates say it’s the happiest they’ve seen him in years and his presence on the team is a huge plus for everyone.
Back to the article, above. I think it’s encouraging that although we may lose some skills as we get older, other ones get better as we age. I’m also happy for Caeleb Dressel that he was able to rekindle his love of swimming and took the time to get the weight of the world’s expectations off his shoulders.
I’m a big cottage cheese fan. It’s one of my staple foods. I like a high protein diet and cottage cheese is a good way to get there besides eating fish, chicken and beef. I add cottage cheese to salads. I have it on toast with a poached egg, or eat it plain.
There are some brands I can’t stand and they make me gag. I like the brand above and basic grocery store cottage cheese from Kroger’s and Safeway, too. Growing up in Washington, I liked Darigold.
I was surprised to see that cottage cheese, once considered an old person’s food, is making a comeback. I remember having lunch with my husband’s grandfather in the early 1990s, and grand-dad prepared us a hot dog without a bun, cottage cheese and black olives. I loved it!
In the Wall Street Journal in an article by Julia Munslow called ‘We Knew Cottage Cheese Could Be Sexy’ Gen Z Discovers Lumpy Staple, cottage cheese is now going viral on TikTok.
There are all sorts of recipes of frozen cottage cheese with peanut butter, honey and chocolate chip type mixtures, which is a healthier version of ice cream. People are adding cottage cheese to pasta sauces.
Millennials and Gen Z-ers have started tossing tubs of their grandmother’s favorite weight-management tool into their grocery carts. They blend it into creamy pasta sauces, pancakes, dips, cookies and two-ingredient bread. It’s a departure from when cottage cheese surged in popularity in the 1960s and 1970s and was often eaten more plainly, with fruit or on salads. A “diet plate” once consisted of a scoop of cottage cheese next to a hamburger patty.
Dairy executives credit the resurgence to the innovation of the recipes spreading on social media—the #cottagecheese has more than 323 million views on TikTok—and the young consumers who are discovering it for the first time.
I also like potato salad, but I find it healthier if I reach for a scoop of cottage cheese instead. One thing my mom loved, that I couldn’t swallow was buttermilk. She drank a glass of buttermilk every night. Somehow I doubt that will be a trend on TikTok.
What are your thoughts about cottage cheese?
Is it something you grew up with and liked? Or are you not a fan? What’s your favorite brand? Do you like it plain or in a recipe?
My daughter leaning on a block, cheering on a teammate who was trying for her first NCAA cut at the PAC 12 swimming championships.
One of the things I like about the resort we visit in Mexico is a super hot jacuzzi outside our patio with a cold plunge pool next to it. We spend the evenings going back in forth between the two.
I’m not alone enjoying this sensation. I read in the Wall Street Journal that a new home trend — besides backyard bars — is cold plunge pools.
In an article called “The Hottest New Home Amenity? ‘It’s Brutal.'” According to reporter Jessica Flint, “Homeowners are spending tens of thousands of dollars to outfit their properties with cold plunges.”
Here’s an excerpt:
Most mornings after Stephen Garten wakes up at his home in Austin, Texas, he goes into his backyard and starts pacing, preparing himself for what’s next. “It’s brutal,” says Garten, 37, the founder and CEO of social impact company Charity Charge. “It’s a real challenge every day.”
He’s talking about lowering himself into a 66-inch-long and 24-inch-wide stainless steel tub clad in customized zebrawood and submerging himself up to his neck in water that he sets at 39 degrees Fahrenheit, with water circulating at 1,400 gallons a minute. “It’s like being in a river,” he says of the flow rate produced by this particular vessel, a Blue Cube cold plunge.
It’s an experience that Garten typically tolerates for less than two minutes at a time, once or twice a day. And it comes at a price of $19,000. Blue Cube, based in Redmond, Ore., makes cold plunge units that cost between around $18,000 and $29,000.
I don’t know about you, but that seems like a pricey addition to the backyard. Fortunately, our pool only gets a little morning sun and even though it’s June — it’s still pretty cold. Of course not 39 degrees cold, but inviting after sweating during my morning walk! In the winter, it’s cold enough I stand waist deep after a hike on our nature trails. It helps get my legs back under me.
I have a friend from college who lives in Sun Valley, Idaho. Her husband said they have a snowy creek behind their house and he gets in and lays down after working out! Wow!
It reminds me of my daughter’s swimming years. Starting in high school, she’d have an ice bath after prelims. Finals would be in the evening and to get her legs back in shape we’d fill the tub in the hotel with cold water and ice from the ice maker down the hall. She’d get in with some sound effects and sit waist deep in ice water!
Afterwards, she lay on the ground with her legs up against the wall.
Ice baths and cold plunges have been used for years by athletes. Now the trend is going mainstream and the health benefits include less joint, muscle pain and anxiety, boosted energy and more focus.
The good news is you don’t have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to reap the benefits. All you need is a tub with ice and cold water!
What are your thoughts about cold plunge or ice baths? Have your tried it? If so, did it help your with pain, sore muscles or stress?
When our kids were young swimmers on the Piranha Swim Team in Palm Springs.
Have you heard about the power of music and the need for a theme song? I read an article by my favorite Wall Street Journal columnist Elizabeth Bernstein called “You Need a Personal Theme Song: A beloved song can pump us up and get us through tough tasks.”
Here’s a snippet:
Ms. Smith has been singing the song for decades at times when she needs an extra boost of courage or energy. The science supports her habit. Listening to a beloved song can help us manage our emotions and focus on the task at hand. It can also help us access what psychologists call our autobiographical memory, or personal history.
“It reminds us who we are and helps us stay focused on who we want to be,” says Daniel Levitin, a cognitive neuroscientist, who studies how music affects the brain.
Music can inspire us and spur creativity. If its beat is faster than our heartbeat, it can fire us up and make a difficult task feel easier, says Dr. Levitin, who was a session musician, sound engineer and record producer before becoming a scientist, working with artists such as Stevie Wonder and Blue Öyster Cult. A more sedate tempo can help slow our heart and respiration rate down.
What would my theme song be? I listened to several songs I love and I think I need more than one theme song depending on the moment. The article agreed with this point:
Have more than one personal anthem
Your goals, challenges and moods change throughout your day and throughout your life. Your theme song should change with them.
“Music is functional,” says Dr. Rogers. “You have a need. And you want to choose music that fulfills it.”
Another person interviewed in the article said he started each day with his theme song. I may add that to my morning routine.
Below are two of my personal theme songs. What they have in common is they are laid back, soft and have beautiful lyrics. They are also songs I listened to in my teen years. I think the soothing melodies help me stay calm when I am anxious.
Castles in the Air written and sung by Don McLean
Disney Girls sung by Art Garfunkel, written by Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys