So, I’ve made a commitment for a show of my work, my art work, in January. For the first time in 21 years.
(See, my dear journalist friend, I do know how not to bury the headline; I just prefer doing it the other way. Except for today. Except that it isn’t really, actually, today’s headline; you’ll see.)
And so yesterday, instead of writing or sewing or vacuuming or grocery shopping, I made cyanotype prints and showed my daughter a bit about how photography works (as in “where the sun hits the paper, the paper stays blue”) to which my daughter responded, “cool!” And I thought, well yes it is pretty damn cool, isn’t it; and I wondered exactly why it is that I don’t do this more often.
Which is exactly, precisely, what I wondered again a few hours later when I was cooking dinner for my family and some impromptu visitors. Why don’t I do the things I truly enjoy more often?
I remember watching, years ago, an NBC special on aging in which the oldest living adults were asked a variety of questions about their lifestyles and habits. The reporting quest was to identify some common element, some link that would illuminate the dark secret behind living a long life. The people interviewed came from around the world. They were men and women, black and white, all of whom reached or crossed over the 100 year mark. Some were vegetarian, others were meat-eating, whiskey-drinking smokers.
And they did, all of them, have one thing in common: they did not stress over the choices they’d made. The Parisian smoker smoked without regret; the marathon-running vegetarian ate what he ate and ran the way he ran because he enjoyed those things.
If this same program were made today, I suspect hundreds of things would be different. We know so many things now that we didn’t then, about genetics and environment and aging. The one thing that would not be different, I’d wager, would be the common thread of attitude. I’m no doctor, but I am 100% certain that negative stress – the worrisome, anxious, fretful kind – is a killer.
I was thinking about this idea while listening to the completely hilarious Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! episode with guest Dr. Vivek Murthy, Surgeon General of the United States. If you missed the show, do yourself a favor and listen to the podcast, featuring “Surgeon General vs. General Hospital,” Paula Poundstone’s attempt to remember Rod Blagojevich’s name, and some side-splittingly funny predictions about the next Dr. Seuss book.
Anyway, before he was quizzed on his soap opera knowledge, Dr. Murthy, whose vision is “to build a culture of prevention,” shared some thoughts, with considerable good humor, about health in the United States and his goal as Surgeon General. The specific question posed was what else we all needed to do to be healthy, other than not smoking and making sure to exercise and eating more vegetables and fewer cheeseburgers. “What’s the next thing that we love that we’re going to have to give up?” Peter Sagal asked. I expected the answer to be “sugar,” which has been Auntie Dr. Margaret’s crusade for the past few years both for her patients and for her sister. But sugar was not his answer; in fact, he didn’t advise giving up anything. Instead, he offered this:
“There’s actually one other thing that I think is really important, and that is being happy.”
Yep, that’s what the Surgeon General of the United States advised for better health, be happy. Science can’t prove why (yet), but it seems to make a considerable difference.
And so I’m off to make some more cyanotypes (the good kind of blue) and then make another batch of David Tanis’s spinach cake, which I make with twice the leeks and half the spinach, because I adore leeks and only sort of like spinach. Because doing things I enjoy makes me happy, and I suspect the same is true for you, too.
Food | Week of July 27, 2015
You know what else makes me happy? Having a dinner plan for a whole week, and putting it at the end of my weekly posts. So I give up on keeping the food stuff separate from the writing stuff, which I’ve been trying (very unsuccessfully) to do since January. So there.
The line-up, posted on Dinner Prompt, is this:
Spicy Eggplant | Salad with Mint, Arugula & Parsley
Grilled Chicken Tacos with Mango Salsa
Blueberry & Kale Salad
Pan-fried Turkey Cutlets with Spinach & Blue Cheese Salad | Macarons
Flank Steak | Israeli Couscous | Broccoli Rabe
The specific recipes we’ll be using (as guides, if we use recipes) are these: