Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Dangers of Saying Too Much

   The verbalization of internal thoughts facilitates social interaction. 

   From a purely goal-oriented perspective, one's dialogue must be effective enough to communicate an idea that advances one's motives. From the basic commands, to the uses of gossip in search of self validation, to the spilling of affection vocally expressed, to the discussion of personal theory and perspective in order to gain a higher understanding- conversation aims to bring a means to an end, no matter the subtlety.

  Yet in this day and age, my generation seems to be sorely lacking in the art of effective conversation. We can not clearly communicate because we are not sure what we are communicating, and why. We do not exercise enough awareness during our thoughtless dialogue.
   The shibboleth holds true- we do not think before we speak.
   Like music, art, and the buildings we occupy, clarity and function are a product of a harmonious balance between substance and space. Emptiness and fullness. Nothing and something.

    Good conversation requires clarity and function. Good conversation needs the silence, the spaces between words and ideas, in order to convey those notions more clearly. Substance needs space in order to expand; confinement only brings about the inconveniences of clutter. Clutter tends to accumulate. 

   Saying too much is a practice in excess. Excess is not abundance. Excess neglects the conveniences of simplicity. Excess dialogue muddies potentially clear messages and pushes the conversation into a direction that may serve no purpose. Saying too much screws you over (unless you are very good at making the awkward come off as charming- an art that depends on contrast and tolerance to the most subtle degree.)

   In order not to say too much, we must focus on the core of our notions. You do not weed a garden by the leaves, rather you take them from the roots. By focusing on those roots, we gain awareness of what we actually want to convey and (hopefully) why. We find the reason for opening our mouths and sending forth minute vibrations in hopes of fulfilling our internal motives. 

   By gaining clarity, we bring ourselves into a position where we may easily discard that which is not necessary in order to obtain our goals. In that position, we are gain much more access to our intuition- we tap into that flow that allows conversation to bring about understanding, connection, and pleasure.

   More is less. Speak from the heart (of the subject, at least.)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Why You Should Pay for Your Half of the Date

Do you want a better dating experience?
      Then pay for your own half of the date.

   The idea that a woman should insist upon paying for her half of the date, at least in the early stages, goes against traditional romantic conventions. The notion seems almost anti-chivalrous- an action that prevents men from being the providers they want to be.
 Unless you really, really want to score a few free dinners and movie tickets, I suggest that you refrain from allowing him to pay for the entire outing. But why?
Think about it. How many times has a guy payed for your date, and how many times have you actually thanked him with sincere gratititude? How many times have you brushed off a guy's generosity due to feelings of self-entitlement? How many time's has a guy felt more entitled to YOU because he made a "financial investment" in you?
   Basically, paying for your own half of the date alleviates the common pressure and confusion for both parties.
     The following are the top benefits of footing your own bill.

   1. Less Expectation and Less Room for Disappointment
   How many times have you been through or heard of the disappointment a girl goes through after her date leaves her with her own half of the check to cover?
   Be honest, if your expectations were crushed, you probably thought less of the guy. His refusal to pay for you suddenly makes him undesirable, and you start to see all of his "negative traits." 
Your feelings of self-entitlement put you into a very closed off, uptight stage, far from being fun, positive, and open to your dating experience. Disappointment makes you feel bitchy.
   Don't be bitchy. And if you read Sherry Argov's self help book, you probably understand the distinction between being a "bitch" and being plain old bitchy. Being bitchy equals instant death to your love life.

   2. He Won't Feel Entitled, Either

   Pay for your own date and avoid the hideous beast that arises from a jaded male's overblown sense of authority at having provided for you. His logic goes something along the lines of "I provide for you, you provide for me." That tit-for-tat logic makes sense, but the way he practices is pretty creepy.
   Some guys just equate paying for your dinner as rights to playing with your boobs. 
Although these guys are to be completely avoided, sometimes you can explore the other side of men jaded by women who take their generosity for granted by being financially responsible for yourself. 
   Keep in mind, levels of self entitlement exist in various degrees. Some men are more subtle.  Still, no self-entitlement is best. Foot your own bill. No self entitlement issues.

   3. Less Feelings of Obligation

   You meet a nice guy, he pays for the entire date, the night goes okay, but you don't want to do it again. But he's was so nice. Some women guilt trip themselves into accepting another date because the guy treated them well. Avoid this at all costs.
   Pay for yourself and you will not feel any bit obligated. 

   4. You Can Have Whatever You Like

   The guy isn't paying for you, therefore you need not worry about whether or not the item you choose is too pricey or too cheap. Most women choose cheap items because they don't want to be a "hassle" or ask too much of their date, which is a nice thought. Still, paying for whatever you truly want is even better. Just make sure you can afford it.
     Your freedom of choice also extends to activities. If you can afford the activity, you merely have to ask your date if he'd like to join you. You two can have more fun when the dates aren't restricted to what he can pay for the both of you.

   Pay for your own half and enjoy a wider variety of activities and a lighter sense of freedom during your nights out.

   That being said, you should only let a guy pay for you IF YOU ACTUALLY REALLY LIKE HIM.

   When a guy pays for your date, he is showing you that he is a provider and that he can take care of you. Allowing a guy to pay for you shows him that you actually like the idea of him taking care of you. Make sure you thank your date for treating you, and never dismiss his generosity as mere social convention. 

  Most importantly, don't let money be a huge factor when it comes to your dating experience. Have fun, be thoughtful, and accept and take on action for valid reasons. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

How To Wean Yourself Off of Overly Sugary Coffee

   A cup of black coffee is a mere 2 calories. 
   The average coffee drinker adds at least 3 tablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of creamer to their cup of joe, increasing the calorie content to 130 calories. 
   130 calories of mostly sugar plus the estimated 130 milligrams of caffeine per serving makes for a pretty unhealthy concoction that not only adds empty calories and carbohydrates into your dietary intake, but also increases insulin thus increasing fat storage.
   130 calories is pretty mediocre in comparison to an icy favorite. The Starbuck's 12 ounce Vanilla Frappuccino contains 210 calories and 47 grams of carbs. We all have friends who order this drink on a very frequent basis, and they usually opt for a larger serving and pile on the whipped cream. This drink is also expensive. You are paying 4 dollars for a sugar rush and inevitable insulin spike and fat storage. 
   Fear not, for with a little determination and dedication, you can ween yourself off of these very unhealthy drinks and learn to appreciate a modest serving of BLACK COFFEE.
   Black coffee might scare you. The thought might make you gag. Surely, black coffee must taste bitter, rough, and unpalatable. There is no way you'd ever enjoy coffee just as it is. Black coffee is gross.
   I used to fall prey to such misconceptions. Now, I thoroughly enjoy a cup of freshly ground black coffee every morning. The taste of sweet, milky coffee no longer appeals to my tastebuds. 

   Truthfully, black coffee is an acquired taste and is not for everyone. But hopefully these methods will at least LESSEN your empty calorie intake and help you appreciate more subtle flavors.


   Pour your usual serving of coffee. Instead of pouring your sugar and cream directly into your mug, measure them out with a tablespoon and add them into a small container. Take a mental picture, or better yet, an actual one. 
   Resume preparing your usual serving of coffee. Taste it. Now, is this how your usual coffee tastes, or did you measure the ingredients inaccurately? Take note of the extra spoons of sugar and creamer you add until you reach your average consistency. Record the amount. 
   Now, take that amount and convert it into calories and sugars and fat. Use your nutrition labels. Read them. 

   Decrease your usual sugar/creamer mix by a teaspoon each everyday. These small increments will adjust your tastebuds so subtly you won't really notice. Keep track of your progress.
   Substitute unhealthy additives. Use raw sugar or honey instead of white sugar; they taste much more flavorful meaning you will need less. 
     Creamers also need to be substituted. Those flavored coffee creamers are horrible. Read the ingredients. They're just really, really bad for you. Ditch them.
   Progress onto using real half and half or whole milk. Once you conquer this stage, progress onto using almond milk/coconut milk/hemp milk. These non-dairy natural milks are not as creamy as half and half, so you might need to use more on an ounce by ounce basis. This is perfectly fine. Natural "milks" are MUCH more nutritious than artificial creamers. They also taste..well, more natural. Such flavors tend to complement coffee better, at least in my opinion. I recommend vanilla hemp milk as a substitute- hemp milk is ridiculously creamy and earthy tasting.


   Starbucks is nicknamed Charbucks for a reason. That huge can of Folger's goes stale very quickly. If you do not own a coffee maker at home, you can buy a French Press for $10-15 at your local grocery store. French Press makes tastier coffee anyways.
   Peet's Coffee offers delicious beans- ground and whole. I recommend buying whole beans and grinding them every morning, but this step is unnecessary. There are many delicious beans offered at discount stores like Ross and Marshall's- they offer the leftovers from gourmet shops. Don't turn your nose up at these products- explore them and keep an open mind.
   Read about the coffee you are buying. Knowing about what you are going to enjoy makes experiencing it so much better. Learn about the different factors of coffee tasting on the internet- many articles ranging in depth are available at your fingertips. Become interested. This is a beverage most people drink everyday for their entire lives.

   Make yourself a cup of coffee. Add nothing. Smell it. Savor it. Taste it. Strange? Taste a little more. Don't be surprised if by the end of the cup, you end up really liking black coffee. If not, that's alright, try again later or don't. Bottom line is- you will be a little more aware of what you're drinking. :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Banana Smothered In Almond Butter and Dark Chocolate

Dark Chocolate and Almond Butter Smothered Bananas

   The owner of a sweet tooth (in honesty, an owner of more than just one), I often find myself in the conflict between eating healthily and satisfying my cravings for something sweet. Gooey. Rich. Creamy. Chocolaty. Basically, my taste buds want dessert and they want it now.
   Weening myself off of sugary junk foods cold turkey isn't an option. I believe habits are better formed when one takes a gentle and mindful approach to bettering their conditions. So, the next time I reach for something sweet and creamy, I take note of how I am feeling.
   Is there a need I'm not fulfilling for myself? Am I neglecting an aspect of my life? Am I just bored and understimulated? Do I need to be comforted?
   Being mindful is a habit. At first, it will be a conscious effort that takes a great amount of willpower to exercise. Eventually, like any habit, mindfulness becomes our default mechanism.
   The path to mindfulness can't be an immaculate puritan path, at least not for me. So, here is a healthy substitute for those very unhealthy sugary treats I crave. 
   Preparing this well requires the process of mindfulness. Be aware of the ingredients you use, even though they are extremely basic in this case. How you do it is what matters. 
    Skip the microwave when making this, or at least skip it more often than not.

1 banana
1 tbsp almond butter
1 square dark chocolate

   Warm the almond butter and dark chocolate together in a double boiler or saucepan. Or simply warm the almond butter if you prefer whole pieces of chocolate for texture.
   You can slice the banana and spoon the melted concoction over it, or you can directly put the slices into the sauce.
   Or for a frozen option, dip banana slices into the melted almond butter and chocolate and place on a freezer safe tray and wait a few hours.
   To embellish upon this simple recipe, try mixing the banana with other fruits like berries and apples, or crush some walnuts or cashews or any type of nut you like and crumble them on top.
   This is a great snack or dessert to satisfy your sweet tooth. The recipe makes 1 serving, which contains roughly 250 calories, and loads of healthy fats and a bit of protein. Dark chocolate contains a tiny bit of caffeinne for a mild pick-me-up and also induces the release of endorphins, along with the healthy carbs in the banana. You also get plenty of potassium, manganese, magnesium, B6, folate, and riboflavin.
      Try this recipe. Be mindful. Enjoy your food. :)

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Start

I've failed at blogging many times before.
This failure was not due to a lack of inspiration or will to write,
rather, this failure was due to the lack of purpose and value.
I've finally figured out how to integrate the aspects of my creative writing with my practical knowledge and intuitive sense of value.

I'm going to share the many, many ways I make the most of my life. Sometimes these methods require a solo act, more often, they require a sense of community, or at the very least, partnership. Our world is already a bit isolated, I feel no need to contribute to the increasing levels of social ineptitude.
Basically, I'm going to provide knowledge and instruction which will hopefully help anyone increase their enjoyment with others- happiness is meant to be shared.

So here's to being excellent to each other and excellent to ourselves.
Above all else, here's to being ridiculously good at life.