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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Surviving The Coming Hard Times

I have recently become aware that some of my readers are struggling with substance abuse and/or emotional issues. Of course, this is inevitable given my thousands of readers, the dreary, sorry state of modern society, and the pervasive, use and abuse of alcohol, pills and other substances. It becomes an ineluctable, statistical certainty that some of those who read my blog will fall prey to alcohol, the pill bottle and depression.

Would that it were otherwise, but it isn't.

The stark reality is that whatever is going on now, things are rapidly going to be more complex as we move deeper into the onrushing Event Horizon that is the theme of this blog, and so we are all going to have to be ready for our "A" game, or be roadkill in the chaotic time that is hard upon us. The ongoing severe flooding in the central region of the mainland USSA is an indicator that the pace of change is starting to accelerate. I'm looking at the same, grim situation there as  everyone else, and it has certainly made an impression on me.

My subconscious brought this harsh reality home to me with a brief vision a couple of mornings ago. 

Just before I awoke I found myself standing with a small group of other men in a deserted, long abandoned, major league baseball park somewhere in the USSA. The stands and dugouts were empty. There was no one there but us. The sky was grey and overcast. We were gathered at home plate, looking out over the field. The main thing that caught my attention was that the pitcher's mound was overgrown with knee-high grass and weeds. On top of the mound, right where the pitcher would stand, was a dead tree about 20 ft high. It had no leaves. Its limbs were bare; the bark was visibly sloughing off the trunk. I thought to myself: "It's going to be impossible to play ball under these conditions."

The purport of the vision is obvious: it's game over. The Great American Pastime (= past time) is dead and gone. It won't be coming back.

Things are going to be changing now. Things are going to be changing a lot. Forget what you used to know or used to believe. That American "dream" you used to reflexively accept as a given is dissipating even as you read these words, and you know that's true.

Lots of people are beginning to grok that, or have already come to that realization. As we move at warp speed into the future we will all need to be flexible, alert, ready to adapt to the changes charging our way, sober and in good mental and physical condition.

Drunk, intoxicated, depressed, weak, poorly nourished, out of shape people will be among the first to succumb to the coming hard times. That is just a fact, and you know it's true.

What am I saying?

Simple: if you are boozing and/or taking pills and/or just sitting around in your pajamas in your easy chair, drinking colas and beer, eating potato chips, popcorn, pie, ice cream, cookies, crackers and pretzels, and channel surfing on TV you had better snap out of it and make a serious lifestyle change, because if you keep doing those things that's a guaranteed recipe for personal disaster and you know it.

Because thousands of people read this blog, it is a 100% certainty that my remarks resemble a certain (hopefully small) percentage of my readers, because that is the way modern society is. And it's a downward spiral -- the pills, the booze, the colas, the salty, sugary, crunchy, creamy, carbohydrate-laden junk food, it all pulls you down. Your health gets worse and worse because you're eating and drinking crap. And you're not exercising. The worse you feel, the less you do, so you reach again and again for the crappy, comfort food, another bag of chips, another tub of ice cream, another bowl of popcorn, another slice of pie, another handful of pretzels or crackers or candy or Cheetos or cookies or fig newtons, another glass of cola, another can or bottle of beer, another little drinky-poo of wine -- and your health gets worse and worse. You feel worse and worse. You do less and less. You get weaker and weaker. You get fatter and fatter.

You drink another beer. Have some more wine. You get depressed. You feel down in the dumps. You don't like the direction in which your life is moving. So you mope. You put things off. You feel things slipping away from you. You have another beer while you think things over. Or maybe a martini, or a shot of whiskey or brandy. Jim Beam. Jack Daniel's. Maybe you take a couple of pills. Zoloft. Xanax. OxyContin. Percocet. Thorazine. You know the pills are not good for you, but you do it anyway. They take the edge off of your pain. or so you tell yourself.

Stop It! Just Stop It!

If this is you, and lamentably for some of my readers it is, you must stop.

You have to cut it out, turn over a new page, strike out in a new direction. Or you're cruising for a very brutal bruising.

Do what you have to do. Gather up all of the beer, port, stout, lager, ale, champagne, wine, sherry, vermouth, whiskey, liquor, brandy, pisco, absinthe, schnapps, rum, vodka, sake, poiré , gin, ouzo, anise and whatever else, take it all to the kitchen sink and pour it down the drain.

If you need to join a 12-step program or AA, then do that. If you don't know a chapter in your county, town or neighborhood, open the telephone book and find one. Alcohol is bad for you, bad for your health, bad for your mind, bad for your career, bad for your personal relationships; it's a causative factor in many highway and workplace accidents, is positively correlated with domestic violence and criminal activity, and more. Get rid of all the alcohol in your house. Don't buy any more. It's expensive. It wastes your money. It's no good. It causes problems.

Likewise, if you're on pills or other substances get off of them if you can. If you need to join a 12-step program or AA to help you do that, then do it without delay. If you need to talk to someone, call your county's mental health unit. There's no shame in that. It's your life and you are entirely justified in saving yourself or in enlisting the aid of others to help you to save yourself. It is your rare privilege and sacred duty to come to your own aid! Never apologize to yourself or anyone else for rescuing yourself -- just do it!

EFT Tapping and Positive Affirmations 

Many people use EFT tapping to resolve personal issues with very good results. You can check it out here and here. The idea is to use a combination of verbal and tactile stimuli to communicate with the subconscious level of your being, neatly sidestepping the conscious mind, which can come up with 100 reasons why you can't possibly change or do anything about your life situation. But, in fact, you can change and daily EFT tapping is one technique that has helped many people to effect positive changes in their life. Try it out. You tap yourself and talk with your subconscious. What do you have to lose?

Many people also find that daily positive affirmations help to reprogram their life. Make no mistake about it: if you're in a negative rut, reprogramming your life is exactly what you need to do. The world is full of all kinds of programming, and all kinds of people trying to push their program on you. But that's bogus. Why should someone else program your life? It's your life, so it ought to be your own, personal programming for a maximally optimal life. Draw up a list of positive affirmations. Use no negative words. Keep the affirmations short, positive, self-referential and active. The subconscious actually wants to have direction! It's waiting for suggestions, commands and directions. It's waiting to hear the master's voice -- you! It's very malleable and obedient. Madison Avenue knows this very well; witness the profusion of advertising in the modern world, all designed to program your subconscious and thereby your thinking and behavior, the better to control you, mind, body and soul.

So why not program your own subconscious, instead of leaving it to the alcohol, cigarette, food, automobile, clothing, music, sports, movie, TV, pharmaceutical and financial industries?

Try these:

I am getting better everyday in every way.
I naturally select the most healthy food choices.
I enjoy exercising for better health.
I attract good luck like a fortunate magnet!
I do what is necessary to strengthen my body, mind and soul.
I prefer to associate with uplifting people.
I like to regularly spend time in Nature.
I use intelligent exercise to maintain my optimal body weight.
I authorize my subconscious to maximize my positive opportunities.
I easily motivate myself to regularly exercise.
I delight in improving my well being.
I always seek the best in every situation.
I know how to help myself and others.
I have a special knack for finding optimal solutions as I go through life. 
I reward my health with a nutritious diet.
I do what is necessary to properly nourish my divine spirit.
I bask in the Creator's universal love and wisdom.
I devote my self to higher pursuits.
I find personal meaning in working with others for the greater good.
I unleash my inner healing power. 

And you can think  of many others. The bottom line is: program your own subconscious, because if you don't, someone else will by default.

Will To Prevail Is Vitally Important

I know what I'm talking about. My regular readers know that I was almost killed in the last days of 2012. I was hurt so badly that I spent over four months in the public hospitals here in Ecuador, and am still recuperating from my near fatal injuries. I spent months in four and six man wards with other gravely ill patients. I watched other men die, and each time I would think: "That's that guy, not me -- I'm not leaving here via the morgue."

I was injured so badly that I lost the ability to stand up, or even take one step. The pain was off the charts, week after week after week.  I was in agony and yet, when the doctors would prick my skin with pins, I felt nothing beneath the knees, albeit that I was in excruciating pain. The neurologists would bang me in the knees with their little rubber hammers and there was no reaction at all from my lower extremities. The nights were the worst. It felt like my feet were hollow and there was a glacial wind blowing in my lower legs and feet. But I was determined to walk again, so I would try to hold onto my bed and stand up by propping myself against the wall. I would try to do it for one second before collapsing onto the bed, then two seconds, then three seconds. I wasn't ready to concede defeat and resign myself to life in a wheelchair. 

In this way, I gradually developed the ability to remain standing for 15 seconds and take one or two steps. I gradually increased the duration until I could remain on my feet for a minute or two at a stretch without falling over, and walk for 50 feet. I was as unsteady as a young baby learning to walk, even more so, because I had greatly reduced feeling and function in my calves, ankles, toes and feet. Thankfully, the swelling and excruciating pain very gradually abated as time went by. 

One day the doctors told me I had to go, that they needed my bed. I hobbled out of the hospital with a walker like little old ladies with blue hair use. I barely made it across the hospital parking lot to hail a taxi. My whole body hurt. I was at the limits of my endurance.

After a while I graduated to crutches. After about a half year I mustered up the strength, coordination and confidence to ditch the crutches and walk without them. I fell a few times and got a couple of bruises and scrapes, but was bound and determined to walk again. 

I have been walking now for 5 years without crutches. I still have numbness and markedly reduced strength, movement and flexibility in my calves, ankles, feet and toes, and some swelling. But I continue to improve. I'm immensely better than I was six years ago. I have a regimen that I have been following for years that has proven far more effective than anything the MDs did for me in the public hospitals. It comprises diet, rest and exercise -- and it's working very well for me.

Let me tell you how I eat and how I exercise.

My Magic Menu

Here's a list of the cheap and nutritious foods that I eat  Things like oatmeal, rice, hard boiled eggs, lentils, etc. I cook on a $12 hot plate in my room. I live very spartanly in a small, rented room with a bare light bulb in the ceiling. I have very little money, and receive very few donations, so I have had to strip my life down to the bare bones. Actually, in light of what is coming, that's not a bad survival strategy. Here's my food selection:

brown rice / white rice
pasta
oatmeal
cheese
milk
yogurt 
butter
eggs
peanut butter
walnuts
sacha inchi nuts
almonds
lentils
black beans
maca flour
broccoli
red cabbage 
asparagus
carrots
beets
turnips
onions
hot red peppers
garlic
sweet potatoes
zucchini squash
spinach
beet greens
turnip greens 
cilantro
avocados
squash seeds
sunflower seeds
bananas
dried dates
raisins
mandarin oranges
pineapple
papaya
apples
pitahaya
cactus pears
mangoes
watermelon
zapote
nispero/loquat (if it's in season)
chirimoya
guava
guanabana

apple cider vinegar
sea salt
black pepper
hot pepper flakes
curcuma/turmeric
oregano
rosemary
boldo tree leaves
milk thistle (occasionally) 
sacha inchi oil
hemp seed oil
100% chocolate  (cheap in Ecuador, which produces tons of cacao)

vitamin-C
borax
Lugol's iodine
magnesium chloride

the purest drinking water I can get

That's it. That's my food, condiment and nutritional supplement list. It runs me maybe $120 or so per month. It seems to do me good. My health is gradually improving. Notice that there is no alcohol, sugar, fast food or meat on the list.  It's all bad for you.

I haven't eaten meat for most of my life. In the hospital the doctors noticed that I wasn't eating meat and kept urging me to eat meat, so that I would get better.  In exasperation, I finally told them one day: "Look! All the other men here are eating meat and they're all in worse health than I am; some are in danger of death or are even imminently going to die. By contrast, I am not eating meat and I am getting better!"

They said nothing in response. They had no effective rejoinder to the point I raised. They never brought up the issue of eating meat again.

The Mad Max Exercise Routine

As I got better at walking, I started to tackle stair climbing. I had to, because Quito is located high in the Andes mountains and is full of neighborhoods built right up the sides of steep hills and mountains, with long, stone staircases that often run to one hundred or more steps. 

So I inevitably had to incorporate stair climbing into my recuperative regime. There was no way around it. Plus, the building where I live has no elevator. There are 35 steps to climb to reach my room. It was agonizing at first. I would climb the steps to my room -- barely -- and collapse onto my bed for hours. Walking a few blocks was like running a marathon. 

It took a couple of years, but little by little I got better at it. I began to do stair climbing as a sport. I worked up to doing 1,000 steps up and 1,000 steps down, for a total of 2,000 steps in half an hour. Quito is at about 9,300 feet elevation, meaning the air is thin, so doing all of the step climbing also radically improved my cardio-respiratory functioning and endurance.

Then I had the bright idea to begin doing weighted stair climbing. I went to a local market and bought a couple of empty, 20-liter cooking oil jugs, of the sort that restaurants use and then discard. I put a little bit of water in the jugs and started going up and down the stairs with them. As I got stronger, I progressively filled them with more and more water all the way to the very tip-top, making about 100 lbs in total.

I now go up and down hundreds of stairs carrying 100 pounds. It's great exercise. I absolutely lack the money for a gym membership, but for $4 I have a 100 lb weight set that I can lug up and down hundreds of steps. I routinely do hundreds of steps up, and hundreds of steps down, carrying the full water jugs. Of course I stop at intervals to rest and catch my breath. I've gotten a lot stronger and steadier on my feet. My balance has improved. It also helps my digestion and appetite. Last year I did some time trials and built up to the point where I could do 1,000 steps up and 1,000 steps down in about 62 minutes or so. Yesterday I took my sweet time and did 514 steps up and 514 steps down. I got a little pump.

The point is that even when you are in extremis, in agony, in a traumatology ward on an IV drip, cannot stand up, cannot walk, and can barely even roll over in bed to piss in a gallon jug that the nurses have given you to fill up with urine, that you can come back from that.

It may take time. It may take effort. It may be painful at times almost beyond human endurance, but you can come back from that. I have! Even though my lower extremities are still numb and sub-functional. But I get around and I continue to slowly improve. It's just one of those things.

Let me say that if you exercise heavy, if you haul heavy weights up and down many hundreds of stairs, you must take periodic rest days, you must sleep at night and you must have an adequate intake of nutrients -- enough calories, protein, carbohydrates, essential oils, minerals, vitamins, fiber, water. You have to give your body the fuel and nutrients that it needs.

After I work hard, say that I haul my 100 lbs up 1,000 stairs and down 1,000 stairs in an hour, I might eat something like a couple of bananas with big globs of peanut butter, half a dozen hard boiled eggs, a big bowl of rice and lentils with a couple of spoonfuls of maca flour and a dollop of hemp oil mixed in, a handful of walnuts, a few cactus pears, an apple or two and a couple of glasses of water. 

I mentioned this routine to one of my readers and he remarked that I am Superman. In reality, no I am not. I'm just an average 64 year old man, with very limited financial resources, still very slowly recuperating from a near-fatal assault years ago, who has happened upon a weighted, stair-climbing routine that is both therapeutic and restorative. 

Actually, my ambition is to slowly increase the weight to 200 lbs, if possible. 

Why?

I know what is coming, and I want to be in the best physical condition that I can.

I recommend that anyone who wants to survive the very challenging times that lie just ahead adopt the same mindset as I have. 

The events that are coming will not be a spectator sport that you will passively watch on TV. Oh, no. They will come right to your house. They will require your direct, personal, physical participation.

Either you prepare yourself or you don't. It's your life and your decision. 

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