2016: A Few of My Favorite Things, Part 1
It’s been a tough year all around – from the natural disasters to the human disasters, I’d be delighted to set the 2016 figgy pudding on fire.
With the election, the takeover of our country by corporations and zany billionaires is fait accompli. But our representatives are hard at work. Even now, some of our congressional circle jerkers are fighting to have cow milk named the only true “milk”. I can’t even say we the people without choking up a bit. Self-evident truths are no longer evident. We are being gaslighted.
There’s no denying that this year was shit, but I still managed to find some light. I’m going to share some of my favorite things this year over a few posts. That is not to say that they were released, created or designed this year. I go at my own pace. Sometimes that pace is decades behind.
I’m going to share my favorite things from 2016 and I’d love for you to share yours. You can do it in the comment section or, if you choose to write your own favorite things post, send me the link on my contact page and I’ll add it to the bottom of this post.
Dead Celebrity Bonding
Living in the Twin Cities, the year was about Prince’s death and Garrison Keillor staying semi-alive with political essays in The Washington Post, but not on A Prairie Home Companion. I didn’t really connect with either artist/celebrity, although I can air guitar and yowl through Purple Rain with disturbing alacrity.
My “discovery” was Isaac Asimov. I read his autobiography, I, Asimov: A Memoir over the last month. While I’m neither as smart or astute as Mr. Asimov, I suspect that it was his self-awareness and social skills that I related to most. He’s a very straightforward sort of fellow. I’m not a heavy science fiction reader, but some of my favorite essays and nonfiction works are by writers in that genre.
Good Intentions for News Retention
I’m trying to raise my reading game – reading less online and allowing myself to absorb information in a slow, meandering way. After reading The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr, I began to think about what information I was actually retaining from my internet safaris. It was very little, disconnected from context, and a complete waste of time.
One of the other problems this year was the constant drumbeat of how awful the media has become. While there may be some truth in it, the news suffers from the very thing that our products do – consumers want everything the cheapest way possible. And we get what we pay for. I used to rampage through 10 or 20 online publications, reading full articles until the site yelled at me that I’d used up all my chances to be a cheapskate that month.
My answer to all of this was not inexpensive. We’re cancelling Amazon Prime for 2017, so that’s how we fit it into our budget. I’ve paid to subscribe online to my local paper, which also included a free subscription to The Washington Post online. Offline, I picked two publications that I now pay for in hard copy: World Literature Today and The Atlantic. I’m still trying to break my news gallivanting online habit, but reading more in-depth reporting makes online click-baiting seem much less palatable. In terms of brain and cost-effectiveness, I hope it enriches my knowledge of the world and contributes to reporters doing their jobs well and getting paid for it.
Exercise for the Uninspired
It’s been a tough year to stay motivated about getting regular exercise. I’ve had to make huge adjustments because of my knees and experiencing IT Band Syndrome (Runner’s Knee). Too much running and jumping for this old broad. That being said, I’ve discovered a few things that have inspired me or at least kept me moving.
Kinesiology Tape – There are a zillion arguments among exercise and therapy experts about whether or not this stuff works. I used it to get me through some particularly painful rehab walking. If it’s a placebo, I don’t care – it still felt good and looked pretty. Using online instruction guides, I taped my knees. It felt like enough support without having to wear bulky velcro braces that impeded circulation.
Neila Rey’s 100 No Equipment Workouts destroys any excuses regarding the need for special equipment in order to exercise. The book is based on a website DAREBEE, a nonprofit fitness resource. What I love most about the book is that the exercise routines are clearly laid out, easily modified, and can be referenced online for proper execution.
I’m turning 50 in 2017 and that, in correlation with the many injuries I’ve experienced in the last 10 years, means that I’ve got to have a come-to-Jesus talk with my body about exercise. Yoga has to be a regular thing and not something I do when I’m feeling lazy. I also came across this book by Karl Knopf called Core Strength for 50+: A Customized Program for Safely Toning Ab, Back and Oblique Muscles that is useful.
Without regular exercise, I turn into a bit of a nut job. It helps to balance out all my wonky brain chemicals. When I was in my 20s, it was more for appearance and numbers. In my 30s, I felt like I had something to prove. In my 40s it rapidly became about function. In my 50s it will definitely be about function. I spend a lot of time around elderly people and still being able to move on your own steam is a big deal. Strength, balance and flexibility training can make all the difference.
Reviewing this post, I have reminded myself that I am not a fun person. Exercise, reading, crabby politics? Woo-hoo. Maybe I’ll do some organization and housekeeping tips next. How to have healthy feet. What the next super-grain will be. Hang onto to your seats. Prepare to be underwhelmed.