Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Questions That Will Save Your Relationships | Glennon Melton

Intimate Conversation

What is life, if not a series of conversations? You overhear one side of a phone conversation during your morning commute. You discuss last weekend's exploits with your colleague. A child asks you to play a game. You wake up from a dream. The driver in front of you is a moron. The person you are looking at does not look back. The doctor takes a breath, and then asks you to have a seat.

Sure, some conversations are more impactful than others, but does that mean that we can afford to treat less impactful conversations as trivial? As we move through space and time on the stage of life, there are no dress rehearsals and truly no "insignificant" conversations.  Living as if your life were a movie--and in particular, a movie that someone would actually want to watch--means living with intention and passion. Even the small moments may be purpose-filled. Make your words count and your interactions matter!

Many of us ask the same boring questions and then wonder why we get the same empty responses. Glennon Melton's great Huffington Post article recently came to my attention. Here is the Cliff's Notes version:

Don't ask your spouse or significant other, "How was your day?" Instead, try:

  • When did you feel loved today?
  • When did you feel lonely?
  • What did I do today that made you feel appreciated?
  • What did I say that made you feel unnoticed?
  • What can I do to help you right now?

When your kids get home from school, don't ask, "How was your day?" because they don't know. Their day was lots of things. Instead, ask:

  • How did you feel during your spelling test?
  • What did you say to the new girl when you all went out to recess?
  • Did you feel lonely at all today?
  • Were there any times you felt proud of yourself today?

Never ask your friends, "How are you?" because they don't know either. Instead, ask:

  • How is your mom's chemo going?
  • How'd that conference with Ben's teacher turn out?
  • What's going really well with work right now?

The questions we ask reveal how interested we are in the responses we get. To ask a boring question is to communicate that we will be satisfied with a boring response--or worse, that we do not really care at all.

I am going to try asking better questions!  

H/T: JBM via her Facebook post

Photo attribution: Dr. Dana Lightman's blog, accessed 28 Jan 2014 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

L.I.N.K.S. (8): Mood, Memory, & Movement

L.I.N.K.S. that Lure, Intrigue, Nurture, Kindle, or Stimulate, Part 8

This 8th edition of L.I.N.K.S. explores the brain as it relates to mood, memory, and movement. We'll look 5 links to research being done to better understand depression, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's. This fascinating work--the cartography of neurons--is mapping the uncharted territory of the last great frontier, the human brain.

1. Mood, memory and movement: an age-related neuro-degenerative complex?

2. The University of Cincinnati Neuroscience Institute is a research center specializing in collaborative treatment and investigation of stroke, brain aneurysms, brain and spinal cord trauma, Parkinson’s disease, brain tumors, seizures, neuralgia, Alzheimer’s disease and memory disorders, mood disorders, and neuro-muscular disorders.

3. Dr. Andres Lozano's TED Talk about deep brain stimulation,a technique allowing surgeons to place electrodes in almost any area of the brain, and turn them up or down -- like a radio dial or thermostat -- to correct dysfunction.

4. NPR interview with Dr. Andres Lozano regarding deep brain stimulation, aka "hacking the brain."

5. As emerging technologies begin to overcome fundamental human limitations, what are the ethical matters involved? Here is a frighteningly amoral look at the future of our species.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Reference for Beer Lovers in the Washington, DC Area

Craft Beer Lovers who live in the DC area are so fortunate! We have so many brewers, breweries, and brew-pubs in our area now that keeping up is actually getting to be a challenge!

This is a good problem to have, yes? 

One way to solve the "problem" is to make and maintain a list of area brewers. I have been doing that as a service to PhilosFX readers for some time now, via periodic updates to my Burgeoning Brewing Scene post. I get tons of help with this labor of love from readers far and wide. And I am very grateful to fellow beer enthusiasts who appreciate and support this modest effort with suggestions and updates.

Now I am offering a new twist...

A Symbaloo Web Mix of  Current DC Area Breweries

I have compiled a list of DC area breweries (55 and counting!), and saved their web sites on a single reference page called a "web mix." The software that allows me to make this custom dashboard is available free from Symbaloo.com.  I will share a link to this web mix with anyone who is interested. 

The breweries are shown in alphabetical order. I am mainly following currently "open, local, craft" brewers. I define "local" as those within 100 miles (2 hours) of the US Capitol Building. Once the frame of 64 tiles is full, I'll trim the content by removing breweries furthest from the US Capitol Building. 

Beer brewed locally by non-locally owned chains, e.g., Gordon Biersch, Rock Bottom, Chophouse, etc., is not included here, but you can see those, plus "tied house" retail outlets such as the Dogfish Head Ale Houses, on my other post.

The only exception I have made to the above "open, local, craft" rule is Portner Brewhouse and Craft Brew Test Kitchen. They are not quite open yet. Perhaps I am merely offering some positive energy to a venture I truly believe in. 

>> Questions or updates are welcome in the Comments section. << 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Cancer and the True Meaning of Life

My brother, my lovely sister-in-law, and their son

It was Thanksgiving, 2012, when my brother was diagnosed with cancer. Glioblastoma multiforme, or GBM, is a particularly hideous form of brain cancer. The tumor actually modifies its own genetic makeup in a sophisticated display of adaptive defense. Too much treatment risks harming healthy tissue. Too little, and the tumor adapts--literally morphing its DNA to become more resilient. Chemicals that threaten to kill the GBM tumor today will not have the same effect on the tumor tomorrow. A length of GBM tumor may be composed of multiple different organisms.

Think about that! GBM is the Ninja Warrior of cancer tumors...

The tumor is fighting hard to survive. As cancers go, GBM is particularly crafty and insidious. It is fighting hard and dirty. My brother, his medical team, his family and friends, and a global network of Prayer Warriors are fighting back--harder and, if not dirtier, at least with full access to all the weapons available within the medical profession. Todd has endured surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and a second surgery at Thanksgiving 2013.

My brother sees special significance in the fact that his two surgeries have occurred at successive Thanksgivings. The reason? One cannot be full of both resentment and gratitude simultaneously. One emotion inevitably pushes out the other. Wow! The impact of that insight strikes me as Profoundly True. Todd has chosen the high road. He is focused on the lessons his battle has taught him. His acceptance of what he cannot change, and his courage in facing what he can--and must--change, is an inspiration to thousands of people.

It is unfair that my brother has GBM, but no one ever said that life would be fair. The fact is, cancer of any type could happen to anyone, at any time. For reasons beyond our control, the life force of a bunch of atoms took the form of a GBM tumor and took hold in my brother's body. Anger and resentment at this travesty of justice would be understandable. But my brother's response has been one of grace and gratitude. While no one wants cancer, having cancer can take us to the cliff's edge and force us to contemplate the ultimate meaning of life.

Paradoxically, my brother reports that since his second surgery, he has never felt more alive, more purpose-filled, or more committed to helping others achieve lives of significance. The battle raging within him has honed his sense of who he is and why he is here on this planet. He lives now to make each day a holy gift.

As for me, I am not as evolved. I don't just want the tumor gone, I want to kill it with my bare hands. I wish my brother's tumor had eyes, so I could stare into them as I squeeze the life out of it and watch it die in my grip. I want to look into cancer's beady Ninja eyeballs and witness the moment when that tumor yields to its demise and leaves my brother for the last time. My resentment and anger are blocking my ability to accept what I cannot control and to express gratitude for the good that has come and that will come from this experience.

In other words, I need to be more like my brother.... 

May we all find the true meaning of life while we have time to put the knowledge to good use! May we all be truly happy and healthy in the year ahead.


Related post: http://philosfx.blogspot.com/2012/11/my-brother-todds-prayer-network.html

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

Welcome Twenty Fourteen! 
Welcome a New Year, with brand new 
opportunities, directions, challenges, and 
possibilities, and with renewed hope and faith. 
Ah, Twenty Thirteen, we hardly knew ye! 
Fare-thee-well and God be with ye. 
Welcome Twenty Fourteen!