What My Bike Has Taught Me About White Privilege

Wow. Really interesting article about something I obviously take for granted!

A Little More Sauce

The phrase “white privilege” is one that rubs a lot of white people the wrong way. It can trigger something in them that shuts down conversation or at least makes them very defensive. (Especially those who grew up relatively less privileged than other folks around them). And I’ve seen more than once where this happens and the next move in the conversation is for the person who brought up white privilege to say, “The reason you’re getting defensive is because you’re feeling the discomfort of having your privilege exposed.”

I’m sure that’s true sometimes. And I’m sure there are a lot of people, white and otherwise, who can attest to a kind of a-ha moment or paradigm shift where they “got” what privilege means and they did realize they had been getting defensive because they were uncomfortable at having their privilege exposed. But I would guess that more often than…

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What Nietzsche Said to Me

I have a degree in Anthropology, and one of my linguistic anthropology classes brought up the idea that if we don’t have words to describe something, it simply doesn’t exist for us. It will always be a struggle to contemplate an idea that our language has no words for. It’s interesting to consider that one way to undermine an idea is to change the wording.

I have Multiple Sclerosis. Those words didn’t exist in my language as a sentence until after my diagnosis. They’ve fundamentally changed the way I view the world and the way I view myself. I’ve been struggling with this for years, and I stopped blogging for a long time simply because I didn’t have the words to describe what I was feeling, what I was going through. I didn’t, and I still don’t, want to write about hardship without concluding with a happy ending. But I haven’t had any ideas for happy endings for a while, and I don’t want to just whine! Oh woe is me! Oh Heavens to Betsy everything is terrible! It isn’t, and it hasn’t been terrible, but I get very frustrated when language eludes me.

So anyway, if we are able to undermine ideas through the nuances of the words we use to describe them, how do I rewrite “I have MS” into something… else? Something still true, but less, I don’t know, definite? And I can’t just tack “…but it doesn’t have me” on the end of the sentence. I tried that. It doesn’t really work, because the underlying idea is still there. It has to do with the nuances, the garbage associated with what it means to “have MS.” It takes a LOT more time to rewrite the underlying associations than it does to change the wording of a single sentence. But maybe it’s a start.

I have MS. (Feels like the truth, but it’s limiting.)

I don’t have MS. (Untrue)

I was diagnosed with MS. (But what do Doctors know? Heh. Too weaselly.)

I… need to redefine what it means to ME to have MS. (DAMMIT! I was hoping to change the sentence WITHOUT delving straight in to the underlying associations! But this also feels like truth.)

I DON’T WANT TO HAVE MS!!! (Also true, but not helpful. Sigh.)

So. As you can see, I’m struggling a bit with this. Any ideas? I’d LOVE to hear them, and I’m sure I’m not the only one having an identity crisis over a diagnosis!

Changing the wording isn’t a cure. But maybe it’s a step towards acceptance, a way to balance the way we were with the way we are now? This is my hope, and I think examining our words, the way we speak about things, can be a positive step. Diagnosis isn’t always about disease, it’s also about labels, and how we feel about those labels will always come out in the words we use to talk about them.

Benjamin Ross Hoffman's personal blog

Nietzsche famously wrote that he was writing to be understood only by his friends, which raises the obvious question of why so many people who don’t like what they think he says claim to understand him. This weekend I listened to a few conversations that seemed to get him totally wrong. I resisted the urge to correct them at the time since it wasn’t completely material to the conversation, so I’m dominating that urge into a blog post to get writing practice.

Note that Nietzsche didn’t write this way, presumably for a good reason. You may superficially understand what I’m saying but fail to internalize it, unless you follow up by reading the original until you understand how this is the same thing as that.

According to Nietzsche, in the beginning, there were people and power relations.

Words are Powerful

Words are one of the main ways people interpret, keep…

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Some Inspiration From an 8 Year Old

Hahahaha! Awesome *and* true! This has absolutely been my response this week. Changing meds has led to some unfortunate tumultuousness (is that even a word?) in my system, and I’ve had to take a deep breath, walk away, and take a nap more than once!

Having trouble letting go of something? Maybe it’s time to take the wise words of Maura, the 8 year old, into account: “Sometimes you just need to take a nap and get over it.”

Take a nap. Leave it all behind. Start fresh. Live for now.

Wishing all of you Happsters love and happiness on this beautiful Sunday!

How do you let go of something that’s bothering you? Let me know in the comments!

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The Formula for Happiness & Success

I love, love LOVE Ted Talks, so I was extremely happy to see this post!

PS. Soon (hopefully) I’ll post more reno pictures and talk about not blogging regularly, and the guilty feelings it inspires in me… so sad! I want to blog when I have something interesting to say, not because I feel guilty about not posting regularly!

The other day, Happster Danette introduced me to a TED Talk by Shawn Achor called “The Happy Secret to Better Work“. It is the best TED talk I’ve heard about happiness and I’m so excited to share it with you. I’ve included the video below and a recap below. Enjoy!

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5 Happy Websites You’ll Love

FIND SOMETHING TO MAKE YOU SMILE even if everything else seems to suck!

Happy Websites You'll Love

I’m always looking for websites that will make me smile or teach me new things about happiness. Below are 5 of my favorite happy websites that I think you’ll enjoy too.

1. BuzzFeed: BuzzFeed is “the leading media company for the social age, intensely focused on delivering high-quality original reporting, insight, and viral content.” Reading BuzzFeed makes me happy in general, but the happiness section of BuzzFeed takes it up a notch.

My favorite happiness article on BuzzFeed right now30 Things That Will Test If Your Smile Still Works

2. HuffPost Happiness: I can always count on great articles from the Huffington Post. Their content is quality and engaging. They also recently came out with a fun app called GPS For The Soul.

My favorite happiness article on HuffPost right nowHow To Be An Optimist: 10 Habits That’ll Help You Look On The…

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Monsanto Concedes Defeat in the Face of Europe’s Fierce Opposition to GMOs

Yes, I am a Monsanto hater. I admit it. As much as I abhor the idea of being a h8tr, there it is. There’s just always been a niggling suspicion in the back of my mind that most of our health concerns are somehow linked to how we process food, and it starts with how we treat it as it grows. Plus, Dad had a small farm and found out the hard way that no one can compete with commercial farming methods. 😦

This and That

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Happy Pete – The Name Says It All!

Seriously! I’m really happy that I found another amazing example of a person loving their life, living an awesome life, despite dealing with MS (or any other medical condition.)

I’m continually adding to my list of “personal heroes”!!!



Musical Monday – Ave Maria (Bach-Gounod)

Hello on this incredibly snowy Musical Monday!

I’m getting braver! Here’s a recording of me actually performing the Bach-Gounod Ave Maria in Church for their Jubilee celebration, three nights ago. I got sick a few weeks ago and haven’t quite recovered yet, but now that this celebration is over I can maybe relax and sleep. For a year or so. Or at least until I feel human again. Crappy compromised immune system!

Anyway, this was a “Damn the MS and just do it” situation for me. I had made the commitment, so it didn’t matter how I felt, I just practiced and practiced and then performed, and I’m pretty proud of how it sounds. I wouldn’t want to be in this kind of situation very often, but I proved to myself that… just maybe, I’m more capable than I give myself credit for. Kinda cool!

And yes, it really is snowing at the end of April. It’s been snowing on and off for days. I’d rather have snow than flooding, but I *would* like to see the ground at some point. And, you know, summer and stuff.