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I went back through 9+ years of posts and added links and story! tags where appropriate. Happy browsing!

I went back one year at a time and then worked forward within the years. It was interesting to get an overview of what I've posted about. The interpersonal struggles are ongoing, but I don't even remember whom some of the older posts were about. I'm posting a lot less about my food and fragrance intolerances - my sense is that they've stabilized, even improved slightly, so they're not news. At the same time, I think I feel worse as an ongoing baseline, which is not ideal. Pain levels are mostly better, but digestive discomfort is worse, which feels more global.

I used to post more personal stuff visible to everyone rather than access-locked, and there used to be more folks commenting here. Those might be related, or it might be that there's been an overall drop in dreamwidth activity. Or both.

I keep thinking about making a sticky post about comments and access, and I keep not doing it (this works for now). I love getting comments! As long as they don't give advice or reinforce my self-judgments. Thinking about [personal profile] melannen's post How to Make Discussion Happen on DW, it isn't really my goal to host discussions, more to form friendships and offer mutual support. I worry that I complain too much, but there's got to be somewhere I can talk about what's hard.

Happy to give access to folks who can read and comment with kindness. Let me know if you're interested.

It's always access-change Amnesty Day around here. If you want to stop having access, I can take you back off, no questions asked. Likewise, I may change my reading/access list if I can't cope with something, with no implied judgments.
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Is Sunscreen the New Margarine? by Rowan Jacobsen.

Over the 20 years of the study, sun avoiders were twice as likely to die as sun worshippers.

There are not many daily lifestyle choices that double your risk of dying. In a 2016 study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine, Lindqvist’s team put it in perspective: “Avoidance of sun exposure is a risk factor of a similar magnitude as smoking, in terms of life expectancy.”

It turns out that supplementing vitamin D does not remedy the negative health effects of low vitamin D. The remedy is to go out in the sun (without sunscreen) and make your own vitamin D, as well as getting all the other health benefits of sunshine.

Margarine became a big deal, the new "health food," when I was a kid. My parents cooked and baked with a lot of butter. I clearly remember thinking that something that came from a cow had to be healthier for me than something made in a lab. Sure enough, 20 years later trans fats become something to avoid.

Same thing with sunshine. I only wear sunblock when I'm going to be biking all day and know I would get fried otherwise. If I'm just out and about my normal amount, I don't wear it. And that was my habit even before I got sensitive to most of the chemicals used in sunblocks. I have a hard time convincing some clients, no really, they can't wear sunblock to their sessions with me no matter how automatically they apply it every morning.

It's nice to see science catch up to basic common sense. Sunlight can't be inherently damaging to us, or we'd never have gotten this far as a species. What's damaging is hiding inside most of the time and then getting overexposed all at once. It's a bit of a problem in Portland where it can be rainy and cold until June, when the sun is at maximum strength, no chance to build up a tan gently starting in March.
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If You're Often Angry Or Irritable, You May Be Depressed by Nell Greenfieldboyce

Newsflash! Anger and depression are associated! On the one hand, this seems crashingly obvious. Grief and depression are similar. Anger can certainly be a part of grief. On the other hand, as the article says, the DSM doesn't consider anger a symptom of depression. Fortunately they're starting to do studies that strongly show the link.
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How About I Just Don't Play Laugh out loud funny rants about misapplied dynamic markings.
via [personal profile] amethyst73

Table of Intervals in Music Theory by Espie Estrella. This is for my own reference, how many half-steps in each interval and other info.

Earpeggio is a free ear training app I've been using on the iphone. It's well done, and I think I have gotten better, but I'm having real trouble now that it's adding diminished fifths and sevenths. Aside from repetition, it doesn't tell you anything about how to get better at identifying intervals. I have a good aural memory, so I'm okay with a fixed root note, but when the notes move around I have a hard time.

Interval Ear Training App another free ear training app I downloaded a while ago. It shows a piano keyboard, plays an interval, and has you reproduce it. It can be limited to a small range to start. At first I thought it was too simple, and it doesn't actually teach, but after getting a little better with Earpeggio I'm finding this one more useful.

Toned Ear: Ear Training is browser-based and looks useful. They also offer an app for $4.99.

More ear training apps, article by Michael Hahn. This includes at least one browser-based site, ear training. This browser-based one lets you keep trying different intervals until you get it right, which is useful for me. Their app is Tenuto, for $3.99.

I wish there were an app that would make it easier/faster for me to learn. I've gotten better with unison/thirds/fifths/octaves, but the finer gradations are still hard. I wonder how musicians learn this stuff. Endless, endless practice? Is it easier to learn as a kid?

ETA: One more music link Total Choir Resources tips for running a choir.
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The Thing, With Feathers by Marissa Lingen

Post-apocalyptic, with some attendant horror. Recommending because of the kind, respectful relationship.

Also an interview with Marissa Lingen by Caroline M. Yoachim
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Winter Fox a lovely short animation following a lost fox cub.
via [personal profile] yhlee in a comment on a post asking for cheering links.

"The Nutritionist" by Andrea Gibson a spoken poem about depression, suicidality, and reasons to live. It made me cry, in a good way.
via [personal profile] capri0mni

"Lost World" about the effects of sand dredging in Cambodia to add land mass to Singapore. I linked to [personal profile] asakiyume's entry about it, since she gives a great intro with stills from the video, and then embeds the video. I will admit to only watching half of this so far.

ETA: There is a line in the Andrea Gibson poem about "how gay it was to be sitting in the closet," which is fine if they identify as gay, but might be a slur if not. So I checked, and wikipedia says they have had a girlfriend and use gender neutral pronouns. Whew.
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Grief is as individual and as universal as a fingerprint.
Make Room for Grief

New book responses at Curious, Healing. Have you read these? Comments welcome!

Curious, Healing is a blog, and you're welcome to comment there or here about the books. The articles don't have a comment section. You're welcome to comment here or send me email with any thoughts.

If you want the monthly newsletter in your inbox, along with news about my practice, you can subscribe here.

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Years ago, I bought a pair of Acorn polyester fleece slippers, and wore them a lot. After a while, I stopped wanting to wear polyester fleece anything, and they sat in the closet while I walked around in my socks all winter. This year I finally admitted I wasn't going to start wearing them again and got rid of them.

(I'm seeing posts about decluttering popping up all over. I've been gradually getting rid of things ever since a friend of mine moved to Europe a few years ago. "Would I take it overseas?" is a whole different way of looking at Stuff.)

Somehow getting rid of the old slippers made room for the idea that I would like to wear slippers, just not those - maybe I could get wool ones! I poked around online and semi-impulsively ordered these in charcoal. I was very pleased to find a 30% off coupon code for the site I ordered them from!

Pink and red embroidered flowers aren't usually my style, but these make me smile every time I see them. I even like the sparkly beads at the center of the flowers. And they're cozy warm, too. Perhaps I needed some brightness as well as warmth.

I have some internal conflict about spending money on things like this, but I think this is going to end up being a good exchange of dollars for comfort.
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I like having a reason to notice bits of warmth.
  • The receptionists at my current vet are all notably warm and kind.
  • For that matter, the receptionist at the dentist was warm and helpful when I made my appointment. A nice contrast with the previous one, where they were grumpy and unhelpful enough that I would have to remind myself that they were only incidental to my reason for being there.
  • I saw a friend briefly at an event. We don't see each other often, but she is always warm when I do see her.

Not so much with this friend, but definitely with the receptionists I notice some wariness in myself, wondering what did I do to deserve the good treatment, and when am I accidentally going to break it.
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Her Left Hand, the Darkness by Alison Smith. On showing Ursula K Le Guin around town for a week as a college student.
When she finally grew tired of the silence (this took a while – Le Guin seemed quite content to sit quietly with me) Le Guin told stories. In retrospect, I see that she may have cottoned on to what I was going through, for the stories she told were about being out of place and being brave.
I am still so sad she's gone.

This Science Fiction Novelist Created a Feminist Language from Scratch by Rebecca Romney about Suzette Hayden Elgin and her feminist constructed language Láadan.
“Not once did any feminist magazine (or women’s magazine) ask me about the language or write a story about it.” In fact, Klingon became the foil to her Láadan. “The Klingon language, which is as ‘masculine’ as you could possibly get, has had a tremendous impact on popular culture,” Elgin observed. In a blog post on her experiment, she couldn’t help but note, “Meanwhile, the Klingon language thrives — from which you are free to draw your own conclusions.”

Home items are getting smarter and creepier, like it or not by Anick Jesdanun.
With every additional smart device in your home, companies are able to gather more details about your daily life. Some of that can be used to help advertisers target you — more precisely than they could with just the smartphone you carry.

It’s Not a Government Shutdown. It’s a Right-Wing Coup. by Adam H. Johnson.
What we are really facing is a liberal government shutdown—which is to say programs designed to help the vulnerable and poor are gutted, while institutions designed to serve the rich and powerful remain unscathed.

Here's What Happened When an Alaskan City Took Fluoride Out of Their Drinking Water by Peter Dockrill. People think I'm anti-fluoride because I'm sensitive to chemicals and fragrances. Nope! That stuff works. I clearly remember my parents pointing out that my sister and I didn't have cavities because we grew up with fluoridated water, while they didn't and had many cavities.
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When Robot and Crow Saved East St. Louis by Annalee Newitz. An intentionally adorable robot with sophisticated programming, a curmudgeonly crow, and a marginalized human child track a flu outbreak. This is a story about good intentions, with skill and care, being understood across cultural divides. Delightful!

ETA: The helpfulness of the robot in this story reminds me of another helpful AI in "it me, ur smol" by A. Merc Rustad. /ETA

Commentary on the story: No Robot like Robot by Janelle Shane.
Having a well-meaning mind behind our algorithms would save us from a lot of the harm that we’re unwittingly inflicting—algorithms that copy our biases, that recommend extreme videos and articles, or that censor non-white, non-binary, non-heterosexual, and/or disabled voices. [...] Instead, we’ve got to be careful not to expect our algorithms to behave like fun fairy-tale Robots.

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You Don't Want Hygge. You Want Social Democracy by Meagan Day.
People all over the world value time, company, and security. What Scandinavians do have is a political-economic arrangement that better facilitates the regular expression of those values. That arrangement is social democracy. [...] All of this has a profound effect on individuals’ ability to experience pleasure, trust, comfort, intimacy, peace of mind — and of course, the composite of these things, hygge.

Kyrsten Sinema’s Swearing-In Look Was A Bold Queer Statement by Lily Burana.
The outfit was composed of bold statement pieces, and the entire ensemble was itself a bold statement: I’m here, I’m a femme queer, get used to it. [...] Sinema ― who is cisgender and femme and bi ― is declaring herself in word, in deed and in fashion.
I'm hopeful about our new House of Representatives, and the strong women who are representing us without hesitation or apology.

Modifying Silk Ring Theory for Allyship by Namira Islam.
Comfort IN, dump OUT. [...] What allies should not be doing is dumping in by providing unsolicited advice, centering their own stories and emotions, or avoiding accountability for harmful actions.

Hannah Willow open edition prints. Glowing golden pagan prints with badgers and hares and stars and trees. Gorgeous. via [personal profile] jenett

Personal Bill of Rights. This post says "by anonymous" but I did some digging around and it might be from Assert Yourself by Gael Lindenfield. via a client.

Alt Codes - ultimate cool characters. A definitive list of codes for accented letters, etc. On a Mac or iPhone, one can also hold down a letter and see accented alternatives to choose from.

DW: How to mute users in comments across the site by [personal profile] muccamukk

Thank goodness for dreamwidth saving post drafts in the browser! I closed the wrong tab when I was almost through putting this together.
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My word of the year got off to a good start. The friends I stayed with up in Bellevue were warm and kind and low-key, and the folks who host the puzzle & game party are warm and kind as well.

Last night a visiting family came to Sunday night dancing. The kids are 3 and 7, and they know me from past visits, so they climbed all over me and wanted to dance next to me. The adults are living some version of the life I was supposed to live (tenured professor, and professor's wife with a PhD of her own), but I couldn't do it, and don't even want that. I admire and respect that they can pull it off. They openly express liking and respect back to me. Too bad they live so far away!

One of the benefits of choosing a word of the year is it brings my awareness to parts of it I already have. I'm fortunate in my long-distance friends.
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"Can we talk about what completing treatment and stopping would look like?"
How to Leave Your Practitioner

New book responses at Curious, Healing. Have you read these? Comments welcome!
Word of the year
Happy New Year! May the coming year bring you delight, nourishment, and healing. Perhaps you want to join me in choosing a word of the year. Last year I chose "care," and this year my word is "warmth."

Curious, Healing is a blog, and you're welcome to comment there or here about the books. The articles don't have a comment section. You're welcome to comment here or send me email with any thoughts.

If you want the monthly newsletter in your inbox, along with news about my practice, you can subscribe here.
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I've been thinking about warmth. I do want to try to treat myself with more warmth, even though I'm also wanting it from others. I went back and saw "empathy, warmth, and respect" in my entry about what I want from therapy, and empathy is definitely in there too.

I love this quote I ran across today.

Hanne Blank says, re: self-care, "Respect means you pay attention to what's going on. That you provide the right kinds of support, that you don't belittle, that you take needs seriously, that you take boundaries seriously." via [personal profile] jamie

I want to treat myself with that kind of warmth and care.
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It’s been interesting to commit to post publicly (almost) every day in December. (I’ll be busy tomorrow, so I’m stopping today.) At first I felt like I should be posting thoughtful essays every day on engaging topics, and my posts were too slight. Then I felt like I was taking up too much space posting every day and it was good I was pointing to other people’s content.

I noticed similar concerns with posting more comments on other people’s posts, too. Did those folks want my commentary?

I wondered if I would find things to post about. Much like my monthly articles, ideas did float up as needed. It made me pay attention and focus on dreamwidth in a different way to be keeping an eye out for (public) topics. I did end up posting fewer locked rants than I might have otherwise.

So there you have it! A 30 day window into some of the things I think about.
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Occasionally my biking friend and I take a walk instead, and then we can include his wife, who doesn't like to bike. This morning we took two buses to get up the hill on Burnside, and got off at Mt. Calvary Cemetery. We walked up the shallow steps set into the hill and poked around the mausoleum at the top. At least they did. I poked my head in, took a breath of the heavily scented air, and explored the plants and gravestones outside instead.

We had planned to follow the Portland Stair Walks route around to another stairway, but it was foggy, windy, and starting to rain, so we decided to catch the bus back instead. They went off to Powell's and lunch at a restaurant, and I came home. Luckily the second bus came pretty quickly at the transfer point.

I'm not very adventurous on my own in terms of following directions in a guidebook, so it was good to have their company. We'll try it again sometime when the weather might be nicer. There are supposed to be good views up there. What we saw was trees artistically draped in fog. Great morning for filming a spooky movie!

Here are some photos and descriptions of Mt. Calvary Cemetery from the Portland Stair Walks kickstarter.
sonia: Chocolate fluffy cat on a chair in the sun (basil chair)
My word of the year this year was care. I ended that post with, "Active care, tangible practical care," and it has certainly been that! Lots of taking care of projects around the house, and getting care for me with acupuncture and vision therapy and several brief attempts at seeing therapists. Lots of self-care, getting things done as a way of coping with isolation. The word seemed very present and active all year.

I was hoping for more emotional care, and so I settled on "warmth" for this coming year a couple of months ago. Lately I've felt more fierce about my boundaries and I've also been thinking about being respected. There's wanting to be liked and befriended in there too.

After a big breakup in 2003, I decided I was going to bring into my life everything I thought I needed a relationship for. Tangible things like buying a house, and emotional things like feeling good enough. It's still a work in progress. I looked back at the word of the year tag and it struck me that I've been adding qualities of a good relationship, year by year.

I want that kind of warmth, where someone is always happy to see you (and you're happy to see them). Where you really truly like and respect each other.

Basil is nudging my fingers for more pets and then curling up warmly in my lap as I type. He's a good source of warmth already.
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Four story recs by [personal profile] forestofglory. These were all good, all by women, and I had yes-buts on each of them so I'm not picking one to rec on its own.

A Yuletide rec, Magic Yet in the World by Pontmercyingtilthecowscomehome, after Dark Is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper.

Reading this work, and another Dark Is Rising fic, and lots of Narnia fic in the past, it struck me that "What comes after?" for these kids who went through heroic struggles of Light against Dark is a similar question to "What comes after?" for kids who went through horrific abuse. There's a similar dislocation from normalcy, trying to figure out how to move forward with this huge lump of story in the way.

Another Yuletide rec, the leaning grasses and two lights above the sea by Toft, after Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin. I usually like the stories in Le Guin's universes, and this is a lovely one.

Here's another: Three Tellings About Dead Things in the Earth by Melannen after Always Coming Home by Ursula K Le Guin. Beautifully crafted in the style of the original work.

Another story steeped in mystery. Of Tomatoes and Places by Silex after Jackalope Wives series by Ursula Vernon.
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An adorable adolescent seal, complaining about the cold cold water, with very entertaining subtitles.
via [personal profile] jesse_the_k

Warning #1: After watching this a couple of times, I noticed that my cat makes similar noises (not about ice cold water, though!) and I was spontaneously seeing subtitles for his vocalizations. Also when I'm washing my hands in cold tap water in winter, I make sounds like that too. Mammals unite!

Here's the unsubtitled original video, which goes on a bit longer, thus better justifying the video's title.

And here's the original page, which explains more about what the young seal was complaining about.

Warning #2: The video was less funny after I read that.
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I've been thinking about self-care in the context of care being my word of the year. I'm noticing that almost everything I do is self-care in some way. Daily meditation. Vision therapy exercises. Acquiring food. Preparing food. Cleaning up. Maintaining the garden. Maintaining the house.

Even the things that I have gravitated toward because I enjoy them, biking, dancing, singing, I keep doing even when I'm tired or not enjoying much of anything, because it doesn't seem like it would be an improvement in my life if I stopped doing them.

There is a sense that I have to keep moving, that staying functional is a balancing act and I'm barely making it. I was chatting with someone who has recently embraced the Law of Attraction (sigh), so she's giving positive interpretations of everything. When I told her that I worry about getting injured because my life would fall in a hole it would be hard to get out of, she expressed confidence in my determination to get out again. That was helpful to hear (for once), but my concern is still there.

Commenters on [personal profile] firecat's post functional vs. well talk about pouring all their energy into staying functional enough to work. The post links to When You're 'Too Functional' to Have Your Mental Illness Taken Seriously by Karen Lowinger.

My work is care of others rather than care of myself, and at the same time it does feel like part of the balancing act. How many hours can I sustainably work per week. How can I communicate with clients who are wearing something scented in a way that honors their efforts to be fragrance-free and conveys that there is still a problem in a non-blaming way. Making sure everything is in order for the next client.

I would like to feel less like a bear running on a ball getting away from me. I suspect part of the problem is late-stage capitalism, and part of the problem is living alone. I was starting to type that I need to learn how to feel more calm and secure in the midst of it all, and that may be true, and at the same time it is yet another self-care assignment.
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