Wednesday, September 26, 2012

what early retirement feels like now that I am into it


I wrote this here in my blog rather than my journal because it is more about the meaning or trajectory of my life.

I began writing such things here in early 2010. The last entries were almost a year ago, the end of 2011. I never knew it would happen when I started the blog in Spring of 2010, but just a few months later, in the summer of 2010, at age 56, I began the process that I now call my early retirement. I had been planning such a thing since 2001, but I didn't realize until after it happened that 2010 would be the year.

2010 and 2011 turned out to be amazing and exciting and quite scary at times, as I recorded here and in my journal. But this summer of 2012 it gradually became obvious to me that I am done setting up this new life and now I am just living it.

I am paying close attention to what my days are like now, because this is such a different life from the one I lived for 32 years, from 1978 until early 2010. For all those years, I worked at least 40 hours per week, sometimes much more, sometimes combining work with college. Long commutes also added to the time committments to these "jobs" most of those years. The hours of the day when I had the most energy all went to working for others to get paid.

Until now, I did not realize that who I was for those 32 years was not neccessary "me" but an adapted me -adapted physically and mentally to functioning in the work schedule and the work place.

For example, in terms of diet and health, I simply experimented in the early years until I discovered methods that maximized my ability to function while I was at work, and then stuck with those diet and health habits all the way to 2010, never seriously questioning if they were really good for my body, because my ability to make and save money was so much more important to me. I now believe those adaptations were not good for my body in the long run.

I now also realize that the percentage of my mental energy evry week that I committed to problem solving at work was very high. This is obvious when I consider how much reading I am doing now. I am amazed at the number of books I have read this summer. It is probably almost ten times the number I read per summer during the 32 years I spent in the "labor force". Apparently I have always been a reading junkie, but I never knew it because the part of my brain that enjoys books was tired by the evenings and weekends when I had free time.

So, is that the story of 2012? -For the first time in my 58 years, I've become a serious health and diet nut, and also a book worm?

No, that's just some of what I am discovering.

I'm also experiencing for the first time since I was very young cravings for creative and mental challenge. All the reading I just described is related to this, but it is clear the craving requires more than just reading.

It seems to require me to be sketching designs and then analyzing them. What a shock! My college degree was Mechanical Design, and for the 32 years I worked, I was in either design or technical art. -Of course I still crave those things. I was wrong in thinking that I had become bored and burnt out by them. What I was really sick of was not the work, but the inability to dictate my own schedule and do my own dream projects.

In fact I think I am discovering that I have an urge to refine, patent, and manufacture some things that I've invented in the last few years.

But, as I said, I am still discovering what my true state of health is, rather than my state of health adapted to working long hours for a company.

I am coming to believe, based on some medical tests I did this summer and on other observations and reflections, that my strong tendency toward pollen allergies has been the cause for all the "secondary" health problems I've suffered from all of my life, including depression, episodes of fatigue, and the bladder discomfort (interstitial cystitis) that has become a serious problem lately.

The latter disorder gave me the major scare a year ago when I thought I had cancer, followed by the euphoria when I realized I didn't, coinciding with my bladder symptoms disappearing.

I have not written about it very much, but that nice situation did not last. By January of 2012 the bladder symptoms were returning and they've been bothering me almost every day since. Now I've learned that periods of remission are common for persons with interstitial cystitis but the symptoms rarely go away permanantly.

My belief is that the constant strain on my body caused by the pollen allergies year after year weakens the adrenal glands and that sets off the chain of events that cause my secondary disorders (bladder, depression, fatigue, etc.)

My urge to start patenting and making things I've invented comes right up against all of this:

-I don't want to start something like that unless I know my health is good enough to make it successful.

So that's where I am at this moment...maybe wanting to start a new chapter in my life, but not ready to until I spend as long as it takes to know whether I can be healthy enough. I am optimistic.

However this plays out, it feels good to be writing again. Every year I do very little of it in the summer but it is now late September and the urge to write is back as strong as ever.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Most Expansive View Yet of Corporatism

I view truth in terms of "holons", a word I learned from reading Ken Wilber's book, A Brief History of Everything. This just means that truths "transcend and include" other truths.

I try to have few favorite links here because I want to just link to those unique voices that I think are the most "over-arching", whose view of the truth is the most "transcendant and inclusive" of everything else that is true.

So I am now adding TUC Radio to my list of links.

Not only is Maria Gilardin, the woman responsible for TUC Radio, the creator of the Michael Parenti archive which I already have a link to, but her podcasts/broadcasts week after week show an over-arching understanding of the long history of what we now call Corporatism. This is very important, because I think understanding the truth about this transcends and includes understandings of all the manifestations and symptoms of Corporatism that finally got so egregious they spawned our new Occupy Movement.

And just as the movement was beginning over the last few months, Maria was compiling her latest podcasts, about Richard Grossman, who died right when the movement was gaining momentum.

I strongly recommend especially to anyone participating in the movement or interested in the predicaments that spawned it to listen to these Richard Grossman podcasts, her latest:

( Go to TUC Radio and scroll down to "Most Recent Programs". )

I realized when I heard them for the first time yesterday that this man's insight transcends and includes even the brilliance of Thom Hartmann and Michael Parenti on the topic of how deep and old the roots of our dillemma are. And so they show how radical we must be in our methods now that we are attacking that dilemma of corporatism. Maria is on to something big, and just in time!:

'Richard Grossman said: ".. corporations don’t have rights. Rights are for people. Corporations only have privileges, and only those that we the people bestow on them." In a nutshell that was the essence of his research and teaching for the last 20 years. Richard died of melanoma on November 22nd, 2011, at a hospital in New York City, where he was born sixty-eight years earlier.

Ralph Nader called him the “preeminent historian of corporations” and a new, inspiring reading of history was his special gift. Richard said that the American revolution was fought less against the crown but against the crown corporations. And he believed that it's time to remember that fight and assert sovereignty of the people over the corporate state and ask: Why should the many be governed by the few?"'

Apparently Maria Gilardin will be adding two more TUC Radio podcasts to what will be this Grossman series. I can't wait to see what I will learn from those.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What's Next -Now That Everything's Changed?

This blog began over a year and a half ago as what I now realize was an attempt to live through despair.

Then by April of this year I had made progress. -I had figured out that although sadness about environmental issues was what bothered me most, the political climate was more important in the short term, because if it remained hopeless then the chances for a compassionate response to the environmental crises I foresee are very bleak.

Of course the bizarre events of my rapidly-changing personal life then distracted me with a climax in September when I thought I had terminal bladder cancer and was preparing for the end of my life.

I still am amazed at how that situation suddenly vanished and was replaced by better health than I've had since I was sixteen! Maybe the lack of stress from having no money worries and also being newly retired just suddenly kicked in. Or maybe it was some kind of a miracle as some of my friends have hinted.

For this discussion the weird thing was the timing -I suddenly felt healthy and strong exactly when hope appeared for the problem I had just identified in April -the seeming inability or unwillingness of Americans and others to confront the corrupt political situation.

On September 17th in New York City the Occupy Wall Street movement began. I immediately recognized it as real and viable, because it had all the elements so lacking between 1996 and 2002 when I considered myself a local environmental and pro-urban activist.

Then in early October it had spread to Dayton, and I was immediately involved, and immediately impressed, as the last post, from October 6th makes clear.

Now it's been over two months since then, and although I'm in Florida and not involved in person again until Spring, I'm just as pleased about the Occupy Movement as when I first joined it.

We are at a point now where just about all of our Occupy cities have experienced at least one crisis, several for some cities, such as Dayton. We are evaluating these events collectively and as individual thinkers. We are also contemplating all the other lesser successes and failures we've seen, asking ourselves what they mean and what they teach.

As I do that personally, just like every other individual in Occupy Dayton, the question is "What next?" -for me, for the movement, and for me as part of the movement.

I choose to grapple with that question here -because writing is how I like to sort things out.

First, now that hope has returned, I want to ask myself what I would most love to see in the years just ahead. Then, what happens next makes more sense because it will ideally be toward that longer-term goal.

What I would most love would be to see the neighborhoods in Dayton deeply focused on self-reliance and social health and to be a designer and instructor of renewable energy implementations there, exchanging this for the food, health, management, and other talents of the rest of the people.

In 2002 though I abandoned activism toward such a vision because everything I did was undercut and negated by the political system and yet the public did not want to fix that system.

Now that a large portion of us finally do, I can revive that dream.

But getting back to NOW, how long will it take before the will to fix things finally leads to a system that will not undercut and negate individual work toward dreams such as mine? And, even though current Occupy work is not as fulfilling as my "dream job" of being a renewable energy designer and instructor, will I stay involved in that work anyway for as long as it takes because it will make my dream job possible if it succeeds?

I cannot know these answers now. I can only be optimistic.

But I DO have concrete ideas about what Occupy should begin focusing on next to be most effective and thus make the time we all must spend directly on politics instead of our dream roles in a better society as short as possible.

I first think we need to take over the hollow and ineffective Democratic party from the individual precinct level on up. I became convinced that this is a practical and possibly brilliant strategy by hearing Thom Hartmann argue for it on his radio show frequently in the past few years.

Secondly, I think we should focus a lot on efforts to undue Citizen's United, and to amend our constitution to clearly state that corporations are NOT people and that money is NOT speech.

I see the emphasis now by my fellow Occupy activists on keeping exposure of the widening wealth disparities and on the continued mishandling of foreclosures as healthy and worthwhile. These issues lead more and more people every day to ask WHY they came about. This outrage will make more and more people in the coming months want fundamental change. Then the two ideas I just gave for starting that change will be ready to move ahead. I think we are on the right track. Direct action still is the name of the game here in mid-December. All of our cities are watching each other for ideas now. This is good and I feel good about it!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I've joined in, hoping this is the revolt I've been waiting for

Yesterday, Tuesday October 5th, I joined about sixty-five other Daytonians in a demonstration downtown, Occupy Dayton. In just three days, Occupy Dayton grew from just four people. It appears also to be growing tremendously now as we plan our next gatherings Friday night and Saturday.

By the time I walked back home yesterday to get some rest, I knew this is exactly what I've been waiting for. I knew this is what should have happened exactly three years ago, when there were only FIVE OF US FROM THE WHOLE STATE OF OHIO to protest the bank bailout a few days before it happened.

I have changed since then. EVERYTHING has changed since then. -We were still hoping then that the 2008 elections might change things. Instead America and Ohio are even more corrupt. And then in 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court poured gasoline and lit a match to what was left of fairness in our political system with their Citizen's United ruling.

I'm hearing that the corporate-owned "news" media as usual is clueless about what has begun. Since I abandoned them many years ago I can only imagine the contempt they have for me and the others. -They helped create the mess that this country has become and the managers of those media outlets know it. They know we are criticizing them even if we don't single them out.

My life, as chaotic as it has already been in recent years, probably took yet another major turn yesterday. I will need to keep reminding myself that my family and friends are more important. But I've been waiting many years for the strangers all around me to get fed up and finally come together. When I actually saw them do that this week I thought it was just a fantastic dream that I would wake up from. But it is real and I am now a part of it.

Friday, September 30, 2011

the good news, and the guest post below

The health situation that became a big deal and for which I made a separate page has resolved in a good way. If my luck continues all of this will just be an important memory a few months from now.

But I have learned so much that I never knew before. Just one major example is that I now know what it feels like to think I probably have cancer. That is why I was interested in David Haas' blog about coping with cancer after he contacted me. I was also happy to publish a guest post he wrote that is so relevant to others who are going through what I just experienced, especially those without the good news I just got a week ago.

David's post is directly below...

Support and Love After a Cancer Diagnosis

Guest post by David Haas

Receiving a cancer diagnosis from a doctor can be very scary, especially if you don't personally know anyone who has gone through treatment for cancer. Many hospitals with cancer centers have their own network of support groups for cancer patients and their families. Feel free to ask your doctor or nurse about support groups if they don't volunteer this information. If you cannot find a local group whose meetings fit into your schedule it is a good idea to find an online cancer support group so that you can ask questions and read posts written by people who have gone through the same types of treatments that you will be experiencing.

Local support groups are great for people with cancer and their families because they usually meet several times each month and allow for the opportunity to become closely connected to those going through the same struggle. They may also be helpful because you can ask specific questions about a local doctor from those who have dealt with the doctor or swap advice about the little things that keep you going. Many long-term friendships have been established by people who have gone through the same experience side by side.

Some people would rather not attend physical meetings and are more comfortable sharing their feelings behind a computer screen. Writing an anonymous blog is a good way to record your feelings and thoughts throughout your cancer treatment honestly, without feeling like you're being judged. One benefit of online cancer support groups is that you can often find a group that consists only of people who have been diagnosed with a certain type of cancer. Specific groups range from common cancers like breast cancer all the way to aggressive cancers such as mesothelioma. Targeted information about different tests, symptoms, and treatment options for cancer patients with a specific type of cancer is often more helpful than a group that was created to support people who have received any type of cancer diagnosis.

The National Cancer Institute recognizes that people who receive a cancer diagnosis may respond in a variety of ways and their feelings are likely to change by the hour or even by the minute. Stress, depression, fear, anxiety, anger, sadness, denial, guilt, and loneliness are emotions that are commonly experienced by patients shortly after diagnosis. Leaning on a group of people who have been through similar circumstances is important because they will help you understand that your feelings are normal and you can ask them questions that you don't feel comfortable asking your doctor.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

a new page for latest on health

I just created a new page off to the side. I will update it whenever there is more news about the bladder problem that has become a big issue for me:

latest on bladder situation