Tuesday, February 26, 2013

After much deliberation I have decided to move my blog to WordPress. Sane & Satisfied's new home is www.sanensatisfied.wordpress.com. So please join me over at WordPress for more ways to be Sane & Satisfied.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Why Self Help Gurus Get It Wrong

Self Help is a bit of a misnomer. You would think that if you read a self help book or went to a self help seminar that you would be getting valuable information to, I don't know, help yourself. I've found that this is rarely the case in the self help industry.

For a woman to actually help herself she would need to (I'm sure you know the pattern by now) learn something new. This new something can be a skill, knowledge, practical facts or more information, a new concept or tool she can put in practice or insights about herself that can help get her to where she wants to be. No matter what it is it must be something she can use in her own life.

Self Help rarely ever teaches new skills and mostly hands out new concepts and facts that don't really help. The facts may give us more information about a topic which is a bit helpful but it never really goes farther than being a nice anecdote or informational tidbit. The Self Help industry continues to fall short of ever really, truly helping people yet women continue to give billions of dollars to make themselves feel better.

Forbes.com wrote an article back in 2009 about the Self Help industry from the standpoint of what people continue to pay for even during an economic downturn. Forbes quoted Brian Tracy, "People keep buying because they like to feel like they're improving themselves." Brian is a head of a self help book and seminar business. Notice how he says "because they like to feel" and not "because they are". This is just one article on one website but I think it pretty much summarizes why and how the self help industry gets so much money. You can read the entire article here.

Now, I am not advocating making the self help industry illegal. They are not forcing people to give them money. And for the most part they aren't really even lying or committing fraud. I believe in a free market and if people continue to give money to a non-fraudulent business that's their issue. I just hope that my blog encourages women to stop giving their hard earned money to programs they really don't need.

It's Just Problem Solving, People!

The self help industry's lack of teaching practical skills is just one thing they get wrong. They also assume that what worked for them will work for everyone else. Self Help gurus are extremely good at telling you the problems they had, the struggles they went through and then, that simple epiphany, where everything made sense to them and they were able to turn their life around. What they are really describing is problem solving. Plain and simple.

Every woman has the innate ability to problem solve. You might be out of practice but you have all the resources you need... namely... your brain. You have the same ability to look at your life and figure out what you want to improve and then figure out what you need to do in order to improve it. When the gurus tell you about their epiphanies and stories of success it all sounds magical and mysterious. But it's really nothing more than the classic Brain vs. Problem.

You Aren't Broken, You're Just Human

The self help industry's biggest mistake is making millions, perhaps billions, of people feel like there's something wrong with them. Most women want to improve themselves. Who wouldn't? It's human nature to strive for more. It's also human nature to not be perfect.

You are not broken because you can't meditate or don't know how to "think positively to achieve your goals". First of all, while meditation can be a stress reliever, it's not the only stress relieving tool available to you. And secondly even if you could meditate or "think positively" you are still going to have to do a lot more to make whatever improvement you want to make. The self help industry shows you things that most humans don't know how to do in the first place and then scolds you for not knowing how to do it yourself.

If you want to learn how to meditate or think positively because you believe that it's a tool that can help you to your goals, that's fine. Just don't spend time and money on these things just because some self help guru told you to.

I wish the self help industry would understand that there's no magic pill for life. Humans don't fall neatly into a one-size-fits-all box. And we aren't broken, damn it!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Final Frontier

The most important part of being a creative person and enhancing your creative ability is to be open to new ideas. But not only just new ideas. More importantly you must be open to different ideas. True creativity is born when you are able to take two or more concepts and put them together to form a new thing or concept. True creativity is also born when you take a concept and turn it upside down or take an upside down concept and turn it right-side up. This is hard to do in a vacuum.

Humans have a brain and a mouth and hands and eyes and emotions for a reason: To communicate our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, passions, frustrations and deepest desires which is the stuff that makes up ... us. And by communicating all these things we are able to help each other, solve problems, save lives, have fun and most importantly enjoy our life on this planet (and I hope, one day, that we are able to enjoy life on other planets as well.)

There have been many stories lately about trying to silence people's opinions and beliefs in one way or another. It doesn't matter if this silencing is being caused by the government or politicians, schools, or the public. I will not place the blame on any one party. But when has the answer ever been to limit ideas?

About 6 months ago a friend of mine decided to stop being my friend. We had just gotten into a heated debate during the elections and I'm really still not sure what her reasons are but I think our friendship ended from a combination of miscommunication, frustration and false perception. My grandma asked if we were friends again or if I had heard from her and I said no. She then said, "Well, that's why you shouldn't talk about politics or religion."

I understand that this rule is followed strictly by many people especially people of my grandma's generation. And I understand why people would choose to follow this rule. I also understand that their are certain times when talking politics or religion is just not acceptable at all. But how is not talking about our beliefs helping either?

I love Star Trek, especially The Next Generation. I'm not a Trekkie but I follow many of the philosophies discussed in the series. As you probably know, each episode starts out with Captain Picard saying, "Space, the final frontier." I love that line but I have to disagree with our beloved Captain. The Universe is not our final frontier. We are our final frontier. You are my final frontier and I am your final frontier. No matter how far humans travel away from our home planet we will always be on a quest to understanding each other and other creatures as well.

The only way to accomplish this difficult but wonderful quest is to talk. Talk to your family and friends. Talk to people whom you know have different opinions then you. Talk to people who are afraid to voice their opinions. Get in heated debates. Walk away frustrated, slam doors, stomp off. Then come back and talk again.

It will be hard. Many people are out of practice. It may seem awkward at times to be so open and raw. But I guarantee that after a while you will see creativity and understanding blossoming all around you.

Thanks to HubbleSite.org for the above picture.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Saturday Smorgasboard: Traditional Skills

What is Saturday Smorgasbord?

In Saturday Smorgasbord we celebrate all the skills, talents, resources, hobbies and ideas that humans can use to grow and prosper. You have everything you need to get started right now. So get up and start creating! Because there's no magic pill for life.


Many of us have no need for traditional skills. Things like building a fire, sewing clothes and making shelter are of a past that most of us have a hard time imagining. Humans have made great strides in the past 100 years. And even greater strides in the past 10-20 years. It seems as though the human motto is "Faster & Easier".

I don't want to knock the Industrial Age, but in the grand scheme of things we have lost a lot of the skills we once knew because we have leveraged the power of machinery. This has left, at least countries like America, largely ignorant of the skills that got us where we are today.

Learning lost skills like fire making, building, growing your own food and pretty much any skill that requires you to get your hands dirty is extremely rewarding. Humans are also really big into instant gratification and while it may seem like a lot of work, creating things with your hands is the most gratifying thing I know. I'm sure you've never felt anything like it when you seed your first garden or pick the harvest several months later. Or the feeling when you finally light your first fire without using matches. There are only a few modern skills that make me feel this alive.

So without further ado, here are some common traditional skills to get you started:
  • Building a fire
  • Shooting a gun
  • Sewing clothes
  • Gardening and Composting
  • Cooking and baking from scratch
  • Car maintenance
  • Building a shelter
  • Archery
  • Edible food identification
  • Carpentry
  • Blacksmithing
  • Crocheting and Knitting
  • Basket weaving
  • Riding a horse
  • Soap making
The first step to finding out more about these skills is to simply type them into Google. Keep a notebook to record what you learn, what you'd like to try next and any ideas or tips you run across. There are also many other bloggers teaching these skills including Country Farm Lifestyles and Save Our Skills.

There are so many traditional skills you will probably not be able to learn most of them in your lifetime. But you can focus on the ones you enjoy most and are already most familiar with. If you are a creative person you will probably be interested in sewing, crocheting or basket weaving. If you love to eat you'll probably be drawn to cooking and identifying edible foods. This list is to help you get started. Enjoy learning your new skills and follow your interests and excitement where they take you.

Have a great and creative weekend!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fluff & Circumstance

In a country where we want "it" yesterday and long detailed conversations have been whittled down to "OMG IMO he was DDG!" you would think we would have mastered the skill of concise speaking or "saying what you mean and meaning what you say." But really all we have done is been able to cram more blather into less time.

Effective communication is a key ingredient of creativity. New ideas hinge on the ability of one person being able to clearly communicate with someone else. People who are working on a problem exchange ideas constantly and need to be able to express their thoughts so the work runs smoothly. Likewise, if you are struggling with something you might ask another person for help. The better able you are to communicate to others the quicker you will be able to solve the problem and furthermore, come up with a more sustainable and effective solution.

But something I call fluff is always getting in the way and begins the breakdown of creativity. Fluff is all the extra stuff that's not really important to solving the problem at hand but for one reason or another some people find it necessary to bring into the mix. It's even worse when there's an over-abundance of fluff while defining the problem. Einstein said, "A well defined problem is halfway to being solved." It's almost impossible to reach the best solution when the heart of the problem is clouded by fluff. Fluff keeps you from seeing the path to the solution. Fluff can be anger, resentment, immaturity, money, a budget, the deadline, power, fear, pussy-footing, being PC, the insistence of getting "it" done now. All of which just hides both the heart of the problem and the best possible solution.

A lot of what I'm hearing on TV and from friends and family about the situations our country is trying to work through seems to be riddled with fluff, especially during processes of defining the problem. Most of the time it seems as though politicians and other leaders don't even care what the problem is or how it came to be. Their constituents and lobbyists just want a fix. Now. The politicians, only paying attention to the fluff, end up leaving the best solutions on the floor.

All I hear anymore when I turn on the news or listen to one of our political leaders speak about something is fluff. It's a wonder they can form words with all that fluff in their mouth. So as a citizen listening to all this fluff how am I supposed to make an informed decision about something? Fluff is not truth or information or details. Fluff is bullshitting your way through a high school paper and has no room in a country that is trying to solve some very complex and important problems.

Sometimes in our own lives all the voices coming at us from every direction cause us to rush and leave behind the best, most creative solution. Being creative is being able to get to the heart of the problem and see the problem and solution clearly. You know when you have reached a creative solution when you have cut through the fluff. Demand this creative process from your politicians, families and friends too. Fluff doesn't weigh much but it's holding all of us down.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Halloween Skills To Keep You Safe From Monsters

So, I am kind of obsessed with zombies. I don't know what it is about them but I LOVE THEM!

Yeah, they are kind of gross and, you know, dead but there's just something about them and about thinking of how I would survive a Zombie Apocalypse that intrigues me. I don't feel this way about Frankenstien or Vampires or Warewolves. It's just Zombies.

Whether you are fighting against Zombies or sewing costumes for your little monsters (a great movie, by the way) or baking fresh Pumpkin Bread you definitely need some mad skills at your disposal for the Holloween season. And since Sane & Satisfied is all about learning and honing skills I thought I would round up some skills that will help you survive this Halloween season.

Survival Skills

In an apocalyptic situation you will need shelter, warmth and food before anything else. So building skills, fire making skills and hunting and gathering skills are most essential.

I found this nifty tutorial on How to make a Debris Hut over at wilderness-survival-skills.com.

Here's another shelter. It looks more complicated and you would need a bunch of leaves but it looks pretty cozy. How to build a leaf hut

Over at the appropriately-named artofmanliness.com they show you How to Start a Fire Without Matches.

And here is a Field Guide For Identifying wild berries.

And if the Zombie Apocalypse does not, in fact, happen tomorrow you should probably still know how to make a killer Pumpkin Pie and build the perfect Bonfire.

Character Skill

A Zombie Apocalypse certainly brings out who we truly are. Ever wonder what you are really, truly like? Just take a venture into a zombie infested alley and you will find out in a hurry.

Courage - Obviously the first character skill you will need is courage. Mark Twain said, "Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear." I've also heard something about courage meaning that you are afraid of something but still willing to face that fear. However you define courage you will need it by the truck-load in life and during this scary season.

Honesty - You wouldn't think that honesty plays a big role in a situation where you are watching your friend get chewed on by a zombie but...if you and your friend had been really honest with each other than he would have known that you are not a very good "watch my back" kind of person...just sayin. I used to think that the phrase, "Honesty is the best policy" was kind of lame. But being honest not only keeps stress at bay but it also allows you to view situations with a clear head.

Creative Skills

Every Leaf Hut needs a creative, homey touch. So a trip over to MarthaStewart.com is in order. Martha has got everything from Carving Pumpkins to Halloween Centerpiece Ideas. And here's some plans for making Halloween Costumes.

I love Halloween and I love Autumn and I love learning new skills and being self-sufficient and as you now know I LOVE zombies. While writing this post I think I finally realized why I love zombies so much: They are the complete opposite of humans. Vampires and warewolves still have some human traits and can actually turn back into humans. But aside from maybe Frankenstein zombies are the antithesis of humanity. They have no thoughts or creativity and their only ambition is to eat brains. They essentially feed off the thoughts and creativity of others.

I love zombies because I love the rush that I get from seeing them destroyed. I love seeing a living, breathing human (actor) spearing, spiking, knifing or crowbarring a deadpan, uncreative zombie in the side of the head.

And on that note I'm going to watch the next episode of The Walking Dead!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Musings about Monarchy

I'm going to take a break this week from Saturday Smorgasbord cause I'm rethinking/reworking it a bit. Plus I really want to talk about a book I'm reading right now. It's called The Other Boleyn Girl. I'm sure you've heard about; it's been made into a movie staring two of my favorite actresses, Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson. I haven't seen the movie yet because I have to read the book first. It just seems wrong to watch the movie before reading the book...

But I digress...

I have a love/hate relationship with this book. I love the writing and the description that Philippa Gregory gives is like a yummy desert. It's like she's feeding me the story. And after each helping I'm pleasantly full. But I hate the situations the Boleyn sisters were put in. I understand that it was a symptom of the times and all that but to live and not be able to express your feelings or let anyone know who you truly are is such a horrible thought for me.

Sane & Satisfied is about being honest with yourself and others, even if that honesty is ugly. I could not imagine being forced by my own family to smile while the father of my child sleeps with my sister. Horrible.

I like to compare different eras in history with present day. And it got me thinking about what's changed since Monarchy times and what hasn't. Speaking from an American point of view, we don't have a king and queen. Our women are free to do what they want with their life and pick their own mate. We can speak out against our President and government without the fear of being beheaded in the town square.

But we are still just as much ruled by outward appearances as people were back then. Today we have marketing campaigns and "experts" telling us how we should look and behave. We still have a very small group of people making laws for many. And there are a lot of stories and myths that influence our thoughts and actions and beliefs.

For all the faults of a Monarchy system the people or the peasants at least knew how to take care of themselves. They knew how to keep cattle, horses and other animals alive and well. They knew how to raise a garden. Many of them knew blacksmithing and sewing. And they obviously knew how to cook and bake from scratch. Not many people alive today (at least in America) know how to do all that.

Is that just the way it goes? The more political freedom a people gain the more skills they loose? Because it seems to me that most of us don't think that we can do anything at all. And with all the "bigger, better, faster, cheaper" products we can't stop buying we know less and less every year.

Well that's all the rambling for today. I guess I'll get back to devouring my book...