When I think about scarcity, I think of the unequal distribution of the words in the image above. Sandro Galea, explains the premise of his book in the World Health Organization Bulletin interview about Galea’s book, Well: what we need to talk about when we talk about health. He talks about a prevention framework that is evidence-based and measurable, yet we don’t choose to invest in the social determinants of health that guide general public decisions about their lives unless there is some money to be made.
Isn’t buying stuff fueling the buzz about self-care? It’s fine to splurge on fun and relaxing experiences, but those are short term. Going to a spa day doesn’t solve fatigue if someone is not getting enough sleep because of work demands…for example.
Anyway, it was a good and short read and you can access it below. I think though that public health professionals can talk and talk about this until they are out of breath. Galea writes this book for general audience and I am grateful for that.
For the past 2-3 years, I have thought a lot about scarcity and the mindset it brings. I have learned a lot about how I have allowed scarcity to affect me and I know that I am not alone. Not by a long shot, but that doesn’t help me feel better. Culturally, our collective circumstance of scarcity is alarming. The scarcity mindset affects us on all levels so it’s no surprise we believe that this suffering is normal. We also believe that “overcoming” scarcity in terms of success (success is often defined within a small box) gets the cultural blue ribbon. I kind of hate this hero’s journey.
See example below. Scarcity content. New Mexico (where I happen to live) ranks last in terms of providing our children a basic need–Food. I mean, really imagine how it must feel to look in your cupboard and see two cans of green beans, tuna fish and maybe a box of cookies. The fridge has less than a half gallon of milk, a pitcher of green Kool-aid, some wilty celery stalks, margarine, browning iceberg lettuce, leftover fried potatoes, a few slices of bologna and a few slices of bread.
How will food scarcity affect our future? It’s not usually a hero’s journey.
I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico during the 1980s and
1990s when Presidents Reagan and Clinton rolled back social welfare programs
helping families through hard financial times, often harming single family
households most of all. I lived in a subsidized housing community with my
sister and mom, spending unsupervised afternoons and summers playing with other
kids for hours going home only to gulp gallons of Kool-aid and to grab a snack
and dinner. During summers we had daily picnics eating the free lunches through
the summer lunch program.
During these slim times, I watched my mother make meals out
of almost nothing and I ate it up. We lived on pinto beans, chile peppers,
canned fruits and vegetables, potatoes and different gravy-type concoctions
made from tuna and ground beef served over toast. Salads, fresh vegetables,
chicken and other meats were occasional treats. A fried bologna sandwich with
mustard, chile dusted potato chips, and hot peppers is still one of my
favorites despite that most of my career is in the health field.
Due to my mother’s work schedule, we also spent a lot of time
in the small town of Los Lunas with my
aunt and grandparents. I observed food from seed to table every summer. Taking
part in some of the processing like helping shell peas and putting red chile
marinated pork through a sieve to extract chile pork broth for use in the masa
for tamales to sell at Christmas time. I sneakily stole rich, flavorful masa
right out of the massive stainless-steel bowl. I learned to can pickles, make
preserves and dehydrate fruits just by watching.
I ate it all with gusto.
Topics I am passionate about
I write about the American Southwest, specifically New Mexico because I do live there, a frontier border state and a first stop for immigrants from Mexico. As the fifth largest state geographically in the U.S., population is sparse and mostly rural. New Mexico unintentionally competes with Mississippi for last place in topics such as “great place to raise children,” stellar educational outcomes, and percentage of people in poverty. However, its multicultural population, gorgeous landscapes make for a great place to produce films, build gigantic companies like Intel that are warmly welcomed by communities with little to no tax burden only to lay off hundreds of people when their tax-free incentives expire.
I have background in Geographic Information Systems and food
supply chains in New Mexico. I also have served on advisory groups to change
small school meal programs that use locally grown food. I want to see more
health care institutions serve a proactive role in community food security. As
a former faculty member at New Mexico State University, I participated in a
study to develop a survey to help food pantries devise systems to serve
healthier food items in a welcoming environment.
In some of these blogs, I will describe my community health work with SNAP-ed witnessing immigrant exploitation through agriculture and multi-level marketing supplement businesses. I also have a strong concern of supplement industry promoting a culture of being too busy to engage in wellness activities like eating well and getting some movement. The supplement industry offers products as a solution for wellness without robust research or regulation while glorifying busy-ness.
I don’t know a whole lot of people that claim to love exercise. I didn’t always like it either unless it didn’t feel like exercise or it was a vehicle to a different activity that was efficient. Think about it. Physical activity is hard. It’s painful sometimes during and after (I have witnessed people in High Intensity Interval Training just give up and leave). Have you tried sitting on a toilet after working your legs to death?
I used to run frequently and I would feel that endorphin high. With that high came a clear head, different perspective if I was stressed out or mad, and great ideas for my next assignment during grad school. It was worth the time and pain. Running also really helped me push through a hangover.
Whether we like it or not, we were born to move. As little as 50 years ago, we were nowhere near this sedentary. Our sedentary nature has culminated insecurity, lack of confidence and skill to our perceptions of our interactive space in the world. We don’t want to engage in physical activity the wrong way and in front of others. That’s embarrassing. Sedentary life has depleted our innate sense of essential movement.
It’s the same with food and nutrition. We want food to be easy and comforting. Getting extra physical activity and good nutrition into an already demanding and busy day is just added work with more planning, shopping and preparing meals for yourself and others. Some of us really don’t feel like we have the time or energy. Lucky me, I enjoyed cooking and it was my creative and relaxing outlet that also led to lots of wine or beer drinking. I still have a Pavlov dog association with drinking while I cook so cooking is definitely not as enjoyable as it used to be. Sometimes I wish that my family would just stop being hungry.
We are physiologically programmed to take the easy route because at one time it was essential to our survival and still is to some degree. When we were not constantly working to maintain a food supply, which is physically demanding, then rest was essential. I don’t know about you, but my mind wants to move much more than my body. I mean, my mind is a powerful freight train full of information that thinks it must keep moving. Why would we add one more thing to learn and busy up our minds even more? Is that opportunity worth the cost of time and vulnerability? (Remember the insecurity part I mentioned above?)
So we engage in mindless activity (or is it?) through social media, Netflix or Hulu. Screen time. Not all of it is mindless or horrible. I am definitely looking forward to new episodes of Stranger Things, but screen time is not so great when it’s for hours and gets worse if you are pondering all night about your always super happy friend on Instagram and why can’t you be that happy too. You lose sleep. So much for mindless activity.
I think the last time I was in this good physical shape, I was about 10 and now I am 42. I am in a good mood most of the time. I don’t make mountains out of molehills with life’s little annoyances. I am solution oriented. Building muscle has been a fountain of youth for me and I drink it up. I have a twenty-something year old metabolism. I am 122 pounds and I don’t feel deprived of food. I feel this life buzz and I can’t figure out why more muscle creates that. Fitness is definitely a feeling. And I love it. My point is that life got easier when I invested in my self-care.
Physical activity is a way for my mind to stop. I have a high tendency towards depression and I had some crushing events about two years ago so exercise is necessary and my family knows it. Not only I am I witness to it, but the mental wellness/physical activity correlation is evidence-based. My physical fitness became a mindful activity for me and I have reaped some huge rewards.
However, we live in a culture that projects a collective perception that we feel rewarded for being chronically busy. It feels like everything we do has to be “work” if we are going to feel good about it. God forbid that we actually have fun or “play” while we exercise because if we have fun, we don’t earn our constructed reward for “hard grueling work” even if it is actually work. I think physical activity is work, but if it turns out fun, we feel guilty although it’s necessary self-discipline.
To this day, my husband and I often feel like we were burdening the other with more chores if one of us goes to the gym. When Zumba first hit the gym we went to, I fell in love with it, but felt guilty about it because it was fun. Isn’t that dumb? Dumb or not, it is totally how I felt. In college, I took Physical Education classes just so I could exercise while at the same time earn a grade. Earning the grade was the work part that justified my self-care and just plain enjoying myself. I am overcoming guilt for having fun exercising and partly because I make money teaching classes, but I have spent a lot too for those certifications. More guilt.
We have the perception that we don’t have grasp or control of our future health (fatalism, prevention).
Ask yourself the following questions:
What is perception of your current health? Are you overweight, overtired, stressed out? What do you do to cope with current health status? Is it working? What’s working and what isn’t?
If and when you have been in great physical and/or emotional shape, what was different about your life? What did you value doing? Was it healthy?
What is your definition of self-care?
What keeps you sitting?
What situations, people and environment in your life prevents you from making healthier choices? What small steps can you make to change the situation?
When I was a little girl, I lived with my dad for a short time in Denver. My dad needed to get away from the New Mexico environment so he could change his life for the better. I always had a bond with him and I liked it there although we were dirt poor.
I have a sister site that helped me grow this site. As much as I wanted to stick with the other site, I felt that it was exclusively for women due to the title that wasn’t even spelled right so I thought that would be problematic for SEO.
I learned something as I wrote on that site and as I build my business as a health coach and it was that I felt so much relief and freedom after I wrote something or sat down to do a creative process that was truly for the benefit of me. That small seed of creativity benefited my family as well because I was much cheerier.
I stopped. I stopped telling myself that I was too busy to write. I stopped saying it was a waste of time because my creative process is not a waste of time. I was surprised that I grew a reader audience and it was an audience that I wanted to reach. People like me, who felt deep pain and sorrow and sometimes don’t know what to do about it.
This pain comes from grief, bad self talk, dissatisfaction, rejection…etc. I work hard to not feel that way and this is one of my outlets.
I found that I kept insanely busy to avoid confronting myself and my pain. Now I want this site to help with that and call me on my own shit—and possibly yours, but in an honest and gentle way. Good luck to me.
In the meantime, Petticoat is still running through April, but I will post new content here and export oldies, but goodies from that site to The Un-busy Life.
Categories will stay the same and the Un-busy Life was one of the categories and lucky me to find the domain available. Anyway, I hope to grow more readership because I feel better although I do struggle sometimes (even today).
Here’s to being creative and productive no matter what state you are in.