Quality of Life

Some people like to say, "Eat well, do good, get exercise, and die anyway," as some sort of excuse for partying, being unhealthy and/or being inconsiderate. This logic has no place in a happy, fulfilling and successful life. Regardless of when you die, you want the life you live today, and tomorrow to be the best life you can possibly have. There is no excuse for not doing the best for yourself and the best you can for those you love. Even if I were going to die in six months, I still would continue my diet exactly as I do (if not do even better) because I want the highest quality for my life. The quantity is quite irrelevant.

~Raederle Phoenix Jacot

"Are you really sure that a floor can't also be a ceiling?" ~ M. C. Escher

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Breast Augmentation, Circumcision, Abuse & Beauty Pagents

I posted the following to my facebook stream to share, with the following comment:

Imagine if you got breast implants for your 15th birthday from your father who took out a loan from the bank. The bank gives your father the loan because the bank understands that you are more likely to be successful and make money with big boobs. Sound absurd? In Venezuela it's reality.

You can read the full article and donate to the project by clicking here.

I was surprised by the array of comments that were posted, and I think the discussion is worth posting here for others to think about and consider. Many of the comments brought up issues that affect us, in our own country.

I have added some notes in [brackets].

The discussion:

Jim Welke: It's reality in Hollywood.

Donna Bowen: Would love a bit of a nip and tuck, lol.

Matt Goehrig: This reminds of the time when I was 15 and my dad paid for my breast implants. [Being sarcastic.]

Cheli Bremmer: "Tits and Aaaaasss, got myself a fancy pair, tightened up the derriere... did the nose with it, all that goes with it. It's a gaaass".... now THAT dates me.

Raederle Phoenix: I just find it incredibly sad that people are willing to mutilate themselves in the name of beauty. It's incredibly ugly.

Matt Goehrig: I know right? who would ever get a piercing? or a tattoo? or a circumcision? Okay, well.. two out of three of those seem like good ideas... but I agree with you on the breasts thing.

Cheli Bremmer:
It comes of being too caught up in things that are by their nature illusory. We exchange Reality for Illusion and then chase the things that are the most fleeting. Something like that.

Donna Bowen: I got a tattoo I was having a midlife I put my kids names on it.

Marie Johnson: I'm sorry but I'm surprised at how lightly everyone is taking this clip that Raederle shared... Even if you are okay with plastic surgery, there is a whole other facet here that everyone is overlooking, and that is the rampant abuse that is going on over there because of the fact that these girls are truly seen as objects.

These young girls are being beaten and killed as if their lives was not worth anything. With the prevalence of plastic surgery here, in California at least, and the fact that younger and younger girls are starting to get it here as well... The question is how long before our own girls are treated as harshly?

Raederle Phoenix: In response to Matt -- I honestly am not for piercings, tattoos or circumcision either. I don't make a fuss about it though -- people can do what they want with their bodies. There is a big difference however in a tiny hole through the ear that has little to no risk and costs very little and a long expensive surgery with multitudes of risks that has no health benefit or necessity.

In response to Marie -- Thank goodness someone has some sense. I cried through that video. It's one of those bits of information that is hard to carry. Obsession with perfect appearance and abuse go hand in hand. I think the project is worth donating to, and if I had the money, I'd at least make a small pledge.

Vviolent Vickie: I wouldnt want my dad thinkin about my tits... and yes i do find this very disturbing.

Matt Goehrig: For the record, I think tattoos are cool, but I dont like peircings. I think that silly, if you'll forgive me for using the word "silly." Its like putting make up on.... What crackpot thought it would be a good idea to paint your face and put holes in your skin? That should be left to clowns and surgeons.... I think some aspects of our culture are just silly. Tattoos, on the other hand, can be pretty cool...

I think the reason why I can like some tattoos but not piercings, is that tattoos are not cosmetic (and if they are, I don't think i'd like it). Things that are purely cosmetic just seem to vain and ridiculous to me. Sometimes I think the line between self-expression and vanity is blurred though, and I can understand the use of piercings and makeup for those reasons, though it more often both are attempts at something else...

Cheli Bremmer: Tattoos and piercings are a personal choice. Breast implants come from a message in our society that we have to have breasts look a certain way in order to be pleasing. Whatever. Overall, it's still a personal choice, but if women would refuse, then our perception of women's bodies would change. Circumcision is cutting the genitals of babies who ARE NOT GIVEN A CHOICE IN THE MATTER.

Matt Goehrig: Babies don't get to choose anything about their lives.. Maybe we should only feed them food they like when they want it, and only send kids to school when they want to, and never take them to the doctor, and have them buy their own clothes... yea, lets just treat babies like they're adults who can make decisions for themselves.

Vviolent Vickie: Maybe what we should be thinking about here is how they are linking the obsession with plastic surgery/the objectification of women with domestic violence. how r these things related?

I found this: "Individual sexist acts may seem harmless, but they ultimately foster disrespect for women and women’s well-being, which makes rape and abuse seem more acceptable. In this way, telling a sexist joke, using sexist language, blaming a victim of sexual assault, or displaying an objectifying poster actually contributes to a culture that allows sexual violence to occur."

And this: Sexual objectification is seeing a person as a sexual object and emphasizing their sexual attributes and physical attractiveness, while de-emphasizing their existence as a living person with emotions and feelings of their own.

Annelie Russell: When I was around 11, my parents sent me to "charm school", because I was too much like a tom boy. It was basically modeling, and we had to participate on the run way. Some people like it, I remember hating it and didn't wear a dress for years! It starts in the home, and one by one they will wake up.

Cheli Bremmer: Matt, I think it's wrong to cut off someone's body parts. They scream their heads off, and it's unnecessary. I think you're taking my point a little far to the extreme. [Agreed Cheli.]

Nikki Scott: Perhaps the populace could demand that beauty pageant officials change their terms of entry. Anyone who has had surgeries to augment appearance (ie: lip injections, breast augmentation, eyebrow lifts, etc.) are disqualified.

Raederle Phoenix:

In response to Matt -- It's true, babies can not choose for themselves, which is why every human should do their best to research and educate themselves about all possible options, pros and cons, etc, before making huge decisions that will affect their child for their entire life before they make such decisions.

In response to Vickie -- Great quotes you found. It is important to draw that connection, indeed.

In response to Annelie -- Everyone is their own person. (I'm agreeing with you, just expanding:) Some men want to stay home and raise kids and take care of the home, and if the woman makes enough money for kids and husband, that's fine, and vise versa. If a woman wants to play sports, that's fine.

It's when we start to say "you shouldn't cry because you're a man" or "you need tits because you're a woman" that we cause people to force themselves to be something they are not in order to "fit in" which makes them miserable people who are not productive/happy/fulfilled members of society.

Cheli Bremmer: We are a group of people who agree on the basics: live and let live -- stop messing with nature and enjoy who we are and what we are, and try to live within reasonable bounds of goodwill and health. Agreed?? By the way, Nikki, I think your idea is brilliant.

Raederle Phoenix:

In response to Cheli -- Indeed. But Matt has trouble accepting anything that is not conventional wisdom. "If circumcision is what they do in hospitals in America, it must be okay" sort of attitude. It's common and unfortunate. I know several men who have not been circumcised. It takes a few extra moments in the shower of cleaning. Before we had showers and knew about hygiene, infections were a problem. Now we know, so it's just pointless mutilation.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Craft of Writing

I attend a Writer's Group every other Tuesday evening. We have two scheduled hours, but sometimes we stay longer and chat. The two scheduled hours include half an hour for business at the beginning, followed by three readers who eat get ten to fifteen minutes to read, and then fifteen to twenty minutes of feedback (or we just chat about the piece until we have nothing left to say).

I was at the very first meeting a couple years ago, and until I moved to California I never missed a single meeting. Since I've moved back to Buffalo, New York, I have not missed a meeting. In just a short while I'll be heading off to one of the member's homes for tonight's meeting, which is a very special occasion for us.

Instead of doing the general three readers tonight, we'll be sharing our tips and tricks on writing itself. We'll talk about the craft. I'm really excited to hear the process behind the other writers in the group. We're friends now, the entire group, but while we've heard each other read a lot, and know much about the lives of one another, we have not yet done a meeting to discuss our craft at length.

For the meeting I've prepared a handout of some of my favorite writing advice from various sources as well as a couple things I think may be helpful to writer, even if not directly relating to writing itself.

The handout goes as follows:

A Collection of

Writer's Craft Tips

Assembled by Raederle Phoenix

"Good books don't give up all their secrets at once." — Stephen King

"If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that." — Stephen King

"The road to hell is paved with adverbs." — Stephen King (On Writing)

"Humor is almost always anger with its make-up on." — Stephen King (Bag of Bones)

“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.” — Stephen King (On Writing)

“Only enemies speak the truth; friends and lovers lie endlessly, caught in the web of duty.” — Stephen King

Bill Harper: “Try not to edit while you’re creating your first draft. Creating and editing are two separate processes using different sides of the brain, and if you try doing both at once you’ll lose. Make a deal with your internal editor that it will get the chance to rip your piece to shreds; it will just need to wait some time.

“A really nice trick is to switch off your monitor when you’re typing. You can’t edit what you can’t see.”

Pete Bollini: "I sometimes write out 8 to 10 pages from the book of my favorite writer… in longhand. This helps me to get started and swing into the style I wish to write in."

Kukusha: "Learn to take criticism and seek it out at every opportunity. Don’t get upset even if you think the criticism is harsh, don’t be offended even if you think it’s wrong, and always thank those who take the time to offer it."

Lillie Ammann: "After editing the work on screen or in print, I like to read the text aloud. Awkward sentences and errors that slipped through earlier edits show up readily when reading out loud."

Professor Strunk: “A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.”

"David": "Write as if you’re on deadline and have 500 words to make your point. Then do it again. And again."

Mark Twain: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

Joanna Young: “One that works for me every time is to focus on the positive intention behind my writing. What is it that I want to communicate, express, convey? By focusing on that, by getting into the state that I’m trying to express, I find that I stop worrying about the words – just let them tumble out of their own accord.

“It’s a great strategy for beating writer’s block, or overcoming anxiety about a particular piece of writing, whether that’s composing a formal business letter, writing a piece from the heart, or guest blogging somewhere ‘big’…”

Caroline: "I watch my action tense and wordiness in sentences when I am writing my technical diddley.

"For example, in a sentence where you say …”you will have to…” I replace it with “…you must…”, or “Click on the Go button to…” can be replaced with “Click Go to…”.

"Think of words such as “enables”, instead of “allows you to” or “helps you to”.

"If one word will work where three are, replace it! I always find these, where I slip into conversational as I am writing quickly, then go back and purge, purge, purge."

Raederle: Only read your favorite writers when writing your masterpiece. What you read will affect your word choice, grammar, punctuation, point-of-view, character depth, syntax, etc. Just as your body is made up of what you eat, your writing is made up of what you read.

The reason I was inspired to use quotes from Steven King was because his wonderful book "On Writing" has helped my writing immensely. I loved the book through and through, and take Steven's advice seriously. Sure, he doesn't writing "my sort of thing" in terms of genre, but he's clearly a successful writer who knows what he's talking about.

*smiles warmly*

Thanks for stopping by and reading.

~ Raederle

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


I used to hate doing dishes. And I do mean hate it.

The idea of doing dishes plagued me. I knew one day I'd have to do them regularly. I expected it to come, and dreaded it.

I didn't mind laundry. Sure, it was tough as a child to lean into the washer to pull out the clothes, but hanging them up on the drying rack was a game. I could even sit on the floor while hanging the socks on the lowest bar of the drying rack. The collapsible wooden rack wasn't replaced with a dryer until a dryer was donated to us after the house fire when I was fourteen.

But I hated doing those dishes with a passion. I had to stand in one place the entire time! That was a big deal to me as a kid. Standing in place. I misinterpreted my dislike of standing in place for a dislike of dishes. The dishes, as it turns out, are entirely neutral.

When I was twelve or thirteen I came to realize what I hated so much was a matter of poor blood pressure. Standing in place would cause my legs to become red, and then blotchy. My circulation was so weak that it couldn't pump the blood back out of my feet and back into the rest of my body. I became light headed and my legs would itch terribly.

I like being bare foot. Wearing shoes always made me feel off balance as a child, so I would be standing in front of the sink barefoot, legs blotchy, red and and itching with my arms raised up high to reach into the sink. To make it worse, water ran down my arms and dripped all over the floor and mixed with the dirt on the floor and then stuck to the bottom of my feet.

I couldn't stand more than five or six minutes before I became so miserable that I threw a tantrum. I was so adamant about not doing the dishes that I didn't spend much time doing it as a child at all. I was so useless when it came to chores and so often sick and kept in bed that I spent little time cleaning in general.

I didn't even realize that sinks got dirty and that someone had to clean then until I was seventeen.

This sounds like a rant about my poor childhood health, but that isn't actually my point at all. I thought I hated doing the dishes, but in reality, I had a root problem: my health.

Many of us believe we have to do things daily that we hate, but in reality, we don't hate what we're doing. What we're doing can be a job, a career, a calling, or nothing to us at all. What we're doing can be a chore, or it can be effortless. It is our attitude and our disposition that determine how we feel about what we're doing.

This was brought to my attention in particular today by washing my feet in the shower after they became dirty from wandering around the kitchen floor barefoot. I realized I wasn't troubled by my dirty feet or by washing them. It then occurred to me how much I would have resented it as a child. It would have been an affront to my livelihood. Perhaps even something that might have made me feel depressed.

My poor circulation prevented me from being able to enjoy many simple tasks. If you asked me as I child how I felted about showers, I would have literally replied, "I hate them." Baths were acceptable, since I could sit the entire time.

I came off as a very negative child who hated everything about life. In some ways, I was, but that wasn't the real me. That was a lump of unresolved issues. The real me was an artistic creative fun-loving compassionate person: and that me was buried beneath my problems.

Many people go on ignoring the root causes of their unhappiness their entire life. I'm very blessed and very grateful to discover that my health was the main source of my misery so early in my life.

I could have gone on to become several hundred pounds overweight at the rate I was going. I went from 120lbs at the age of thirteen to 153lbs at the age of sixteen. At the rate I was going -- 33 pounds in three years, or 11 pounds a year -- I would have been 219lbs by today.

My self-esteem was already bad at sixteen, imagine what it would be today if I hadn't done something about my health.

Health might not be a problem you're struggling with, but we all have problems that affect the quality of our life. Until we acknowledge them and work on self-improvement, we continue to be easily agitated. We curse under our breath about every little thing. As unhappy people we might even adopt "easily annoyed" as a personality trait.

"Easily annoyed" is not a personality trait. That is a personality flaw. Or more accurately, it's not your personality at all, but just a sign that your real personality is being blocked by circumstances. It means that you are not satisfied with your life. It means you're not satisfied with you.

People take on things like "commonly angry" as part of their identity. They become confrontational and defensive when others ask them "What's wrong?" This sort of behavior drives away loved ones, prevents possible friendships, and destroys opportunities to find fulfilling employment.

I'm not saying, "Oh, I've discovered my big problem and solved it, so now I'm perfect." If that were the case I might not even be writing this right now. If I had achieved a state of being where I was always calm, never lost my temper and never felt depressed... then I might not easily recall how important and how difficult it is to pull oneself from situations of denial, confrontation and anger.

I'm constantly amazed on a daily basis how much has changed in the past few years. I look different, I think differently, I dress differently, I interpret people I encounter differently, I look back on memories differently, etc. And I believe all of these changes are positive. It is a great source of joy in my life to see how much I've grown and improved.

It's draining to feel like you're "screwing up" your life. It's double-draining because you not only feel like you're creating a mess, but simultaneously you're not achieving your dreams in life. You're not getting closer to your long-term goals. Perhaps you don't think you have any long-term goals, but that is an even bigger problem.

Long-term goals are your desires, but more than that; they are desires you are actively planning on achieving. They are not just absent wishes. Goals are something you are striving for regularly, perhaps even on a daily basis.

When your goal is to become a published author you write regularly, perhaps every single night. You have a book you're working on for hours each week. Those hours make your entire life feel like it's going in the right direction. This is because your life has direction when you have a goal you're working towards. It's not just "oh, I'd like to be published," it's "Hey, I'm working on this book and it's coming along great, and yesterday I was invited to an event where I'm going to meet a lot of people -- maybe I'll meet an agent!"

If your goal is to become a rock star then you spend your free time jamming on your guitar or your drums or singing. Even if you never become a rock star, you'll still accomplish a lot. You'll be a happier person, you will attract good people into your life, you will learn several musical talents, and as a result you'll have successful performances that earn you respect and money. But most importantly, you'll feel at peace with yourself.

You can't ever love yourself if you're working a job you hate, living a lie, denying your desires and blocking out all possibility of achieving your dreams.

Your identity does not involve being depressed, angry, annoyed, upset, or being a "loser." Your identity does involve who you desire to be, your aspirations, your goals and your talents.

Once upon a time I defined myself as a "pitiful barbie" and I used that as my main e-mail address for over ten years. I deemed myself as frivolous as a doll, and pitiful to boot. Perhaps that title wasn't completely serious, and perhaps I just thought it "sounded cool" at the time, but I think there is an underlying message there... The simple fact that I was okay with something like that representing me. I allowed that to define my online persona to people.

I'm not pitiful. And I'm made of flesh, not plastic. I'm an organic being (and not conventional -- no pesticides or for me... Human version of pesticides: white sugar, excessive salt and cigarettes). I love and respect myself on a level completely unknown to myself just a couple years ago.

If you've spent your entire life depressed and tired then you'll be in for a huge wake up call when you finally grasp some happiness in your life. I didn't know what it meant to be energetic until I was fourteen, and I hadn't a clue that what I felt then was only a glimpse of what being healthy could feel like (which I didn't discover until I was twenty).

How many of your years are you going to let slip on by without addressing who you are, what you want, where you're going, what your obstacles are and what you really care about? Ask yourself those questions. You should be able to write four types pages on each of those subjects easily. The topic is you.

Do you know you?

Think about it.

~ Raederle Phoenix

Happiness Assignment:

Write four typed pages on each of the following:

What do you want?
Where are you going?
What are your obstacles?
What do you really care about?
Who are you?

Monday, May 09, 2011

Angry Relationships

A good pen-pal of mine (I'll call her Alexis for this entry) whom I've had for years is having trouble in her relationship. I've been critiquing here essays for college for her, and every now and then she's been mentioning her love life in her letters. Her most recent letter:

From: Alexis
To: Raederle
Sent: Friday, May 6, 2011 at 11:17am

Hey Rae,
You're very helpful to my English assignments. I love your ideas. I have to use MLA format so that's why I don't include periods after quotes. Ehh...I just got done writing the final essay last night and included some of your input. Thanks! Get ready for next semester, lol; longer essays. This semester was only five pages or less.

I'm not sleeping very well lately and my relationship is going down the drain. I'm just sad about it. He doesn't want me around anymore, and when I do visit, he tells me to leave... :( He's always mad and I don't even do anything. When other people upset him, he takes his frustration out on me.

I learned in psychology that this is called 'displacement.' I hate it. It's like he's tired of me or the person that I am... because like I mentioned, I don't do anything and yet he gets mad at me. Why me?? I just want to cry. =(

- Alexis

From: Raederle
To: Alexis
Sent: Monday, May 9th 2011 at 6:30pm

Glad I could be of help!

My ex [whom I've told her a lot about in the past] had a displacement issue, for sure. Anger comes from many things, but anger is never 'justified.' It can be understandable. It can be a good reason to give compassion to someone in need. But it is never beneficial. It is an animalistic defense to help us raise our adrenaline to get us ready to defend ourselves -- it's meant to help us fight in a life or death situation. In modern society we shouldn't ever have to deal with a life or death fight, and thereby, most of us should never have any real use for anger. If we reflect on anger, and think about times when we've been angry we can think about how it has affected us and those around us in the past. It makes us do things we regret. It makes us say things we don't mean. It makes others respond negatively towards us. It clouds our judgment. Often it is even physically painful to feel anger.

If someone is perpetually angry they have a very serious condition. It's not normal, and it's not okay. It's even less okay for someone to continually take it out on someone.

You have two logical choices: Leave him is one option. The other option is to be compassionate and understanding towards him when he acts towards you with anger. You can say: "I can see that you're distressed. I want you to be happy and to feel good. If I'm in the way of that, I'll leave. Do you want me to leave?" If he says "Yes" well, then, leave. And most importantly, you have to not let this break you.

While sadness is not as disruptive to life as anger, it is also futile. It is not that you don't have reason, and it is not that it is easy to simply put on a smile -- it is only that being sad about his anger is not helpful. In fact, being sad about his anger is letting his anger, in a way, spread. It's spreading his negativity from him to you. The more people who resist negativity from others, who maintain love, compassion, peace, and happiness in the face of negativity from others, the more beautiful the entire world becomes.

In other words, by walking away peacefully, quietly, with a serene smile on your face, you are literally breaking the cycle and making the world shine brighter. Perhaps by reflecting on both the futility of sadness and the benefit of serenity and peaceful smiles, you may be able to overcome how upset his anger makes you feel. If you can't, then I recommend leaving the relationship in order to preserve your sanity. While it may make you feel more sad for a time, (maybe even a few months), it'll be worth it when someone who isn't angry all the time comes along.

Anger and sadness, by the way, can be dramatically affected by health. The pH balance in the bloodstream is directly connected to how you feel. Having an alkaline bloodstream promotes positive feelings, and having an acidic bloodstream promotes negative feelings. Alkaline creating foods: raw fruits and raw vegetables. Acidic-creating foods: meat, dairy, bread, pasta, beans, nuts, alcohol, and refined sugars. Also smoking creates acidic pH in the bloodstream.


~ Raederle

Related entry: Generating Happiness