Tag Archives: Taylor Swift

Why You Should Always Read the Book First

the giver bookWhen I was in elementary and middle school I was the level reader snob that competed in an annual competition called “Battle of the Books.” For thos unfamiliar, BoB as we affectionately called it, was a competition where students had the entire school year to read a list of 20 or so books, or as many of them as they could. Then they would compete in a team against other schools in their district by answering questions that always began with “In which book…” Three points if you could correctly identify which of the 20 books and the author the questioned event came from. Two points if you only got the title correct or answered the question after the first team didn’t give the right answer. The team with the highest cumulative total of points at the end of the day wins. It’s basically a wet dream for library rats who have a penchant for trivia.

Battle of the Books is responsible for me discovering many of my childhood favorite books, some of which are sitting on the book shelf next to me because I couldn’t bear to part with them even during a 3,000 mile move away from my parents’ house. Ella Enchanted, Lily’s Crossing, Trumpet of the Swan all top the list. And then there was The Giver. The Giver is a book by Lois Lowry (Number the Stars) set in the future when humans have created a way to eliminate suffering by basically suppressing all basic human emotion. People are assigned their role in the Community when they are 12 years old and are to accept it without question. When Tobias is assigned to be the Receiver of Memory he learns the truth about human history and how to feel – and it begins to make him question things in the Community. Soon his probing begins to unravel the very fabric of the existence he’s known his entire life.

I was in 4th grade when it was first put on the list. It’s insane now to think about reading that book at 9 years old considering how it grapples with death, sex and that bit at the end (spoiler alert) about forced abortions. I read it again in middle school when my ability to comprehend the underlying messages of the book was a little more advanced. I re-purchased it recently when I heard they were turning it into a film. The trailer for that film premiered today:

And it concerns me. It’s not just a feeling of “Oh god, the movie is never going to live up to the book.” (Please see: The DaVinci Code, most Stephen King novels etc). I know why The Giver was finally produced now despite being around for a couple decades. The time is ripe for dystopian young adult literature. ‘Sup The Hunger Games and Divergent. I see you hanging out over there too, The Maze Runner. The difference is that TGH, Divergent and The Maze Runner work on a broader scope – their worlds are so large they demanded cinematic attention. And, not to put any of them down because they are all great series (Okay, The Maze Runner has some sexism issues but that’s another blog entirely), but their messages are pretty direct. The Hunger Games is separate but equal isn’t equal with a bit of commentary on the inevitable corruption of oligarchies (There could also be another blog on the essential facts that were left out of the first film that dulled Suzanne Collins brilliant writing, but again that’s another blog). Divergent is about finding your identity and the freedom to be more than one thing. The Maze Runner focuses on the importance of working together and finding yourself in the face of adversity.

The Giver’s message is more opaque though. It’s hidden in the memories that Tobias receives from his mentor. The fact that the first half of the film isn’t shot in black and white and then transitions to color as Tobias learns more about the Community’s shared history is a big red flag. That’s a huge part of the novel – that being emotionless may lead to a more colorful life but also a grey one. As Tobias starts to fill in the colors, that’s also how he begins to find the truth. The trailer seems to focus more on the adventure aspect of the book – which is really only the last couple of chapters. Can you really show Eric from True Blood killing babies to a young adult audience and maintain a PG-13 rating? Are you going to be able to do it in a way the depravity of this way of life despite it being founded in the name of human preservation? Despite my high hopes with actors like Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep backing this, the fact there’s an alien like space ship chasing Tobias to close out the trailer doesn’t make me that optimistic anymore. (Did I mention that Taylor Swift is making a cameo in this movie? Yeah, that’s a thing.) It seems to me that film companies were just trying to cash in on the Young Adult angst craze making crazy tons of money at the box office these days at the sake of great literary works of art.

The movie junkie in me is hoping that they do it right. The cautious book nerd is saying don’t take any chances – read the book first.

Thursday Morning Melody: I Want You Back (Cover)

The first cassette tape I ever listened to was by the Jackson 5. My dad would drive us around in his 1992 Toyota Corolla and we’d sing all the classics. The first song on the tape was “I Want You Back” and it was my favorite. It was the first of the Jackson 5 four consecutive Number 1s on the Billboard Hot 100, reaching the summit in 1968. That song had a foundational impact on my childhood and will forever hold a spot in my heart.

You should know how important the song was to me before I introduce this video so you know exactly what it means when I say this cover is even better than the original. That isn’t said lightly (I don’t say anything about Michael Jackson lightly). You’ve probably heard of The Civil Wars from their song “Poison & Wine” or “Safe & Sound” from The Hunger Games soundtrack. They are a folk/country western duo comprised of guitarist John Paul White and singer Joy Williams. Their harmonies are downright haunting, and John’s stripped down, acoustic take of this classic will give you goosebumps. The original was an upbeat pop anthem, but The Civil Wars transformed it into a compelling, melancholy break up tribute that will break your heart.

You can watch a live version of the cover here:

I apologize if this is your first introduction to The Civil Wars since they recently broke up over creative differences. Their debut album “Barton Hollow” is worth a serious listen though.

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Have a song that inspires or moves you? Submit it to our Thursday Morning Melody column in the comments below!

Turning the Dismissal into Discovery

shutterstock_96798010You’ve been fine-tuning the moment for weeks: How you’ll stride into his office, announce you are quitting, deliver your pithy but subtly scathing statement, and stride out victoriously to the sound of Queen singing “We Are The Champions” in your head. At the same time, Maria Shifrin made the video quitting her TV news job, according to NBC Reports, public on YouTube and in an email to Gawker.

Or maybe you are on the other side. Your lover tells you he wants to talk. And when you talk, it’s short and pointed. And the dagger goes straight through your heart.

When one person rejects another, it’s always a statement on the relationship. To be told you’re not wanted — whether you’re a lover, a boss or an employee — brings pain. It can feel, at least for a fleeting moment, like a disaster, a calamity and an injustice all rolled up in a few clichés.

Today, workers think nothing of quitting by email or a public video. Lovers think it’s entirely appropriate to dump someone by text. However it happens, it feels it’s the Last Judgment on your character and your worth. You’re left powerless, which means that all you’re left with is an obsession about why it happened.

And obsess you will.

Dismissal, like failure, is something you have to learn to deal with. Control your reaction to it and turn a dis into a discovery and you’ll be several steps ahead of your dismissal’s power. It’s an important journey to make, because the pain of being dismissed can be particularly hard to shake. Being told we aren’t wanted can badly warp our very understanding of ourselves and the world we inhabit. Think about it: We are inherently social beings. The struggle to gain the attention of others is hardwired by evolution… because without attention, we would quite literally not survive. That is why one of the first skills we develop as infants is to control others.

With that kind of history, it’s no wonder we can’t rationally process dismissal, seeing it for what it is in context rather than as a rejection of our very selves, a confirmation of our worst fears. We get dismissed. So we believe we are, unworthy, and not good enough. It must be our fault. We believe that we have failed.

The first step is to think about it from the dismissor’s point of view. This has to be better than the temptation toward sending raging emails, making late-night plaintive phone calls and cyber-stalking gone mad.

Step one in the journey of discovery is to take a clear-eyed look at the power dynamic in play during a dismissal. On the surface, the dismissor — the person quitting the job, ending the friendship, walking out on their lover — has the emotional upper hand in its entirety. They feel justified, rational, that this was the right thing to do. They are strong and you are weak. They are smart and you didn’t see it coming, did you?

Dig a little deeper and you’ll likely realize that while the dismissor may feel like they’re holding the reins when the final split is enacted, chances are they felt exactly the opposite for much of the relationship. Add that to the fact that they have probably been obsessively focusing on their grievances to work up the nerve to make the final split and you now have the recipe that got you punted. No wonder Joe Jonas reportedly broke up with Taylor Swift in a 27 seconds phone call. By contrast, on the surface, the dismissee is being acted upon, suffering the consequences of someone else’s choice.

But chances are you had at least as much power and control in the pre-game — the many, many interactions that made up the relationship and led to the final dismissal. Most dismissals are only the final straw of a process that has been going on for a long time, in which two people are careening toward an ending. Both of them probably see it coming at some level and both are a little at fault. Just as the dismissor forgets the good times when working up to the final blow, the dismissee tends to forget the bad when absorbing it. The relationship suddenly appears rosier than it had been in weeks or even years.

Remember the ultimate TV dis? The Sex and the City episode where Berger breaks up with Carrie Bradshaw via Post-It note? The shock and horror of that little yellow note temporarily erased months of her knowing in the back of her mind — and sometimes the front — that this wasn’t the man for her. He was a Berger, not a Filet Mignon.

The feeling of “How Can He Do This To Me?” clouds all other truths. Because being dismissed, dumped, fired, got rid of is an insult. It’s the equivalent of a name-calling in the street. You are bad, he is good. You are an idiot, he is smart. You did wrong, he was saintly. He is dreaming. And so are you.

The temptation is to keep those blinders on, to nurse your wound for as long as you can, because feeling sorry for yourself is often easiershutterstock_rejection-378x334 than doing the hard work of examining the relationship for what it was — and shouldering some of the blame for what it became. Do it anyway. Even if it takes a bottle of very fine Chablis, make yourself understand and feel that someone who dumped you wasn’t a perfect someone at all. This was someone who was at times weak, fearful and woefully lacking in self-worth or self-knowledge.

It’s worth thinking about these things before it happens to you again. Then again, it doesn’t always work one way, does it?

Very rare is the person who is only the dismissee and never the dismissor. Think carefully about your own motivations when you reject others. Then put yourself in their Choos when it happens. Sometimes, those who get dismissed a lot only do because they never work up the courage to do it themselves — when they know it should be done. At the same time, be careful not to slip into self-loathing — turning the tables on yourself and beating yourself up for somehow “deserving,” this. Again, return to the center, to reality.

Sometimes, though, people are just miserable or terminally unhappy: the woman who dumps a man straight after his mother dies because she can’t stand to see him weak, or the man who casts a woman aside because he’s scared she’s discovered who he really is, hence making him vulnerable. In these situations, don’t wallow. Accept that you are fortunate to be free of them.

Still, the rules for a good dismissal are pretty simple. Do it in person. Technology gives you too many chances to be a coward. Set a time limit so you don’t spend hours rehashing past slights and hurting each other more. Know your reasons but don’t feel like you have to list them. Remember that what you say in the moment will resonate for the other person for a long, long time. Just as it did for you, when it happened to you.

And finally, for both the dismissor and the dismissee, leave time to both mourn and to feel grateful. In the midst of all the feverish emotion, the recriminations and the guilt and blame and anger there was a living, breathing relationship there. It may not have been the best one. You may well discover you are happier in your way as you continue your journey of discovery about yourself.

But at the very least you must recognize that by their leaving, they have cleared a path for you to move forward. While you’re on the path, grab some champagne — it’s time to look back and celebrate how dismissal steered your great understanding.

Thursday Morning Melody: Paper Doll

John Mayer and “prancercise” all in one? This must be too good to be true. The internet has been in a tizzy recently over the unearthed video of Joanna Rohrback’s hilarious and endearing exercise video, “Prancercise.” Picking up on this YouTube sensation, John Mayer decided to release a music video for his new song “Paper Doll” featuring Rohrback’s routine. The original Prancercise method was developed in the late 80s – so it’s particularly sweet to see Rohrback revive her technique 20 years after the fact.

The song, itself, is a bittersweet ballad about the fleeting nature of love – a (not so) hidden message to Taylor Swift, some speculate. Celebrity drama aside, Mayer is a singer/songwriter worthy of respect, if not for his education from Berklee College of Music then certainly for his longevity and experimental creativity. He won the fans’ hearts with his croony, acoustic sound, but pushed them to new levels of appreciation with detours into hip hop, jazz, and blues. Love him or hate him, you have to give the guy some credit for pushing the envelope.

 Paper doll, come try it on
Step out of that black chiffon
Here’s a dress of gold and blue
Sure was fun being good to you

This one we made just for Fall
And Winter runs a bit too small
This mint green is new for Spring
My love didn’t cost a thing

You’re like twenty-two girls in one
And none of them know what they’re runnin’ from
Was it just too far to fall?
For a little paper doll

Fold a scarf, Moroccan red
And tie your hair behind your head
Strap into some heels that hurt
You should’ve kept my undershirt

You’re like twenty-two girls in one
And none of them know what they’re runnin’ from
Was it just too far to fall?
For a little paper doll

Cut the cord and pull some strings
And make yourself some angel wings
And if those angel wings don’t fly
Someone’s gonna paint you another sky

‘Cause you’re like twenty-two girls in one
And none of them know what they’re runnin’ from
Was it just too far to fall?

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This post is part of  our Thursday Morning Melody series. Every Thursday we feature the music video and lyrics to a song that touches us deeply. If there’s a melody you wish to share with the Intent community, please share it with us in the comments below! Click here to listen to past Thursday Morning Melodies.

How Diet Soda Makes You Fat – and Other Food and Diet Industry Secrets (Part 1)

Project 50 #43 Refreshing

How do you lose weight? Substitute diet drinks for sugary drinks. Eat low fat foods. Just eat less of the bad foods – it’s all about the calories. We are told, “Just have more willpower”. These ideas are false.

They are food and diet industry propaganda that make and keep us fat and sick. Lies by the food industry combined with bad government policy based on food industry lobbying are the major cause of our obesity and diabetes epidemic.

Now over 35 percent of Americans are obese, and almost 70 percent are overweight. This is not an accident but the result of careful marketing and money in politics.

We are told it is all about making better choices. If we all took more personal responsibility we could stop this obesity and diabetes epidemic. We have been told there are no good or bad foods, that the key to weight loss is moderation.

And, of course, if we all just exercised more all of us would lose weight. These ideas hold us hostage.

WHAT THE FOOD AND DIET INDUSTRY DOESN’T WANT YOU TO KNOW

Diet Soda and Diet Drinks Make You Fat and Cause Type 2 Diabetes

Diet soda makes people fat? Really? How does that happen?

If losing weight were all about the calories, then consuming diet drinks would seem like a good idea. That’s certainly what Coca-Cola wants us to believe in their new ad highlighting their efforts to fight obesity. They proudly promote the fact that they have 180 low or no calorie drinks and that they cut sugared drinks in schools by 90 percent.

Is that a good thing? In fact, it may be worse than having us all drink regular Coke (and the other food giants making diet drinks also push the same propaganda).

A new 14-year study of 66,118 women (supported by many other previous studies) found that the opposite seems to be true. Diet drinks may be worse than sugar-sweetened drinks, which are worse than fruit juices (but only fresh-squeezed fruit juices).

The study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discovered some frightening facts that should make us all swear off diet drinks and products.

  1. Diet sodas raised the risk of diabetes more than sugar-sweetened sodas!
  2. Women who drank one 12-ounce diet soda had a 33 percent increased risk of type 2 diabetes and women who drank one 20-ounce soda had a 66 percent increased risk.
  3. Women who drank diet sodas drank twice as much as those who drank sugar- sweetened sodas because artificial sweeteners are more addictive and are hundreds to thousands of times sweeter than regular sugar.
  4. The average diet soda drinker consumes 3 diet drinks a day.

You might say that people who are overweight and just about to get diabetes drink more diet soda, but they scientifically controlled for body weight. And they found the artificial sweeteners increased diabetes independent of body weight!

This and other research shows how diet sodas make people fat and sick. And that diet drinks may be even worse than regular sugar sweetened sodas!!

How does that happen?

  • Artificial sweeteners are hundreds to thousands of times sweeter than regular sugar activating our genetically programmed preference for sweet taste more than any other substance.
  • They trick your metabolism into thinking sugar is on its way. This causes your body to pump out insulin, the fat storage hormone, which lays down more belly fat.
  • It also confuses and slows your metabolism down, so you burn less calories every day.
  • It makes you hungrier and crave even more sugar and starchy carbs like bread and pasta.
  • In animal studies, the rats that consumed artificial sweeteners ate more, their metabolism slowed, and they put on 14 percent more body fat in just two weeks – EVEN eating less calories.
  • In population studies there was a 200 percent increased risk of obesity in diet soda drinkers.

I love Taylor Swift, I met her last summer. She is a wonderful person with great integrity. I don’t think she knows about this research and I hope someone shares it with her so she can save millions of children and fans from drinking Diet Coke because she endorses it.

Bottom line: There is no free ride. Diet drinks are not good substitutes for sugar-sweetened drinks. They increase cravings, weight gain, and type 2 diabetes. And they are addictive.

Eating Fat Does Not Make You Fat

The diet and food industry has brainwashed us to eat fat-free foods, which seems like common sense. Eating fats makes you fat. Right? But the science tells us otherwise, not ALL calories are created equal. And even though fat has more calories per gram (9 calories versus 4 calories or carbs and protein), eating fat can help you lose weight.

This low-fat idea was based on bad science. Our government told us in the 1970’s to go on a low-fat diet and to eat 8-11 servings of rice, bread, and pasta a day.  And unfortunately we listened. This was the beginning of our obesity and diabetes epidemic. The food industry happily created a flood of fat-free foods.

But the science has proven that eating fat doesn’t make you fat – SUGAR does. And it is sugar NOT fat that raises your cholesterol despite what people and most doctors still believe.

A 20-ounce soda is fat-free but that doesn’t make it a health food. If cookies were fat-free, then you can eat the whole bag, right?

But the fat is replaced with flour and sugar, and the result we now have is one in two adults with diabesity – that’s pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes, and almost one in four teenagers with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes.

We did a 10-day sugar-free detox with our online community and 600 people lost more than 4,000 pounds in 10 days!!

So why does eating fat free make you fat and diabetic?

In a recent Harvard study, Dr. David Ludwig found that in two groups eating EXACTLY the same calories, the group that had the low-fat diet (which means higher in sugars and starches) burned 300 calories LESS per day. Their metabolism was slower than the group eating the higher fat and higher protein diet.

If you ate the higher fat, higher protein diet (of exactly the same calories) it is the equivalent of running for ONE hour a day. In other words, if you just swap out sugars and starches for good quality fats and protein it will be like you added an hour of free exercise a day to your life without any change in calorie intake!

Bottom Line: The key point here is that all calories are NOT the same. Swap out sugar and starch for good fats such as nuts, avocados, olive oil, and grass-fed animal products or wild fish. Be a “qualitarian”. Focus on quality, on real food and the rest takes care of itself.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article next week!

Originally published on Dr. Hyman’s website.

Photo credit: Flickr

Addictions, Confessions, Your Health and Beyoncé

Diet Coke with IceAs a prelude to the upcoming release of my book, Confessions of a Middle Aged Hippie, I thought it might be good to reveal one rather embarrassing, public confession first.  A confession that only those who know me well, would already be aware of.  When I was much, much younger, I was addicted. Seriously and completely addicted.  To diet Pepsi. For a lot of years.

Weekly, I would scour the grocery store flyers to see who had the best price.  I would buy case loads at a time, to feed my eight-can-a-day habit.  My ex and I would make sure we hit the stores early, to stock up and not miss the low price sale.  Everywhere I went, I took one with me.

In our apartment, there were trails of opened cans that almost looked like they were part of our decor.  No one, other than my wise mother, ever suggested that maybe, just maybe, drinking so much Diet Pepsi might be contributing to my worsening health issues.  Major gastrointestinal problems that kept me in chronic and often acute debilitating pain, eventually leading to major surgery.  My gut was a mess.  That is putting it mildly.

I feel pretty lucky though.  When I decided to quit, as with most of my significant life decisions, I went for it and just stopped.  Cold turkey.  Days of jitters, shaking hands and mood swings, but overall, I got through it mostly unscathed.  I never went back.

When I recently read that superstar Beyoncé, a role model to millions, especially her legions of young fans, signed a 50 million dollar deal with Pepsi, I was compelled to speak up.  A lifestyle brand!  Seriously?  That’s how she described the soda giant.  Plus, as a public spokesperson for Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign, aimed at getting American youth moving with the goal of ending obesity, I’d have to ask “Where do Pepsi products fit in with that, Beyoncé?”  I’m actually curious if Beyoncé drinks Pepsi products, or if she would allow her young daughter to drink them.

With so much current information on the risks of both diet sweeteners, (like aspartame which Diet Pepsi contains) and high fructose corn syrup, present in regular sodas, it’s important to continue the conversation and raise awareness of the dangers of ingesting these proven harmful substances.  Research confirms that high fructose corn syrup is a major contributor to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and possibly even strokes.  Not just in adults, but in children too!

And then there is aspartame. If you read my piece, Obesity, MSG and Rats, you already know that both MSG and aspartame are excitotoxins, substances which over excite neurons to the point of cell damage and eventually cell death. So, in the case of aspartame, if you think it’s a healthy diet sweetener and you are drinking diet sodas to lose weight and get slim, increasingly the research shows that it can actually contribute to weight gain!  And research also shows that artificial sweeteners, aspartame in particular, might even be more dangerous than high fructose corn syrup!

For convincing research on the alarming health risks of both MSG and aspartame, I direct you once again to the work of John Erb, a former researcher at the University of Waterloo in Canada, and his eye-opening book, The Slow Poisoning of America.

Artificial and low calorie sweeteners can also activate your appetite, increase carbohydrate cravings and stimulate fat storage, leading to weight gain.  A glowing example for me, is from a good, but overweight friend of mine, who was heavily hooked on very super-sized diet sodas.  He recently reported that he finally stopped drinking his daily diet soda fix and actually lost 19 pounds in three weeks.  Just from cutting out his daily diet soda habit!  Personal experience always speaks volumes to me.

With Beyoncé’s Pepsi announcement, there are many who have vocally spoken out against her choice to align with them.  In a poignant and pointed letter to her, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, encouraged her to reconsider and at the very least, donate the money to causes doing research on obesity, diabetes and other soda-related diseases.  So far, no response from her.

A piece in Frugivore Magazine expresses the two sides of the debate on Beyoncé’s deal:

“Reactions have been mixed. Fans view the campaign as a momentous accomplishment for the singer, while others chide Beyoncé for supporting a sugary-soda brand which is a health affront to many American consumers. They even accuse the diva of hypocrisy for appearing in Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative to encourage good health among children and later, selling Pepsi cans.”

We live in a world where transparency is imperative.  This is a good thing, making everything immediately visible, encouraging people to speak out and use their voice.  Do celebrities have a moral responsibility to talk their talk and walk their walk?  I believe they do.  Can they get away with immoral choices anymore?  Not too easily.

With so much information available, it seems virtually unbelievable that consumers are not already aware of the potential health risks from consuming both diet sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup found in sodas.  Apparently, lots of people still won’t listen.

I confess I was one of them way back then, and it was challenging for me to admit that maybe my diet Pepsi habit was contributing to my health problems. And now that Taylor Swift has signed on as a spokesperson for diet Coke, the battle of the cola war superstars is in full swing and I can only urge people to educate themselves and continue to put their health first.  And the health of children everywhere. So many young people are highly impressionable and more so than ever, it is all of our responsibilities, whether a celebrity or not, to bring attention to issues that are important to the overall health and well-being of not only us as individuals, but to us as a collective society.

What are your thoughts on artificial sweeteners, soda pop and Beyoncé’s deal with Pepsi?

Visit me at:  www.beverleygolden.com and follow me on Twitter:  @goldenbeverley

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photo by: Mr. T in DC