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Emotional Work Preparedness

Day 425 and Toxic Positivity

One of my friends Josh Centers became the main character on Twitter yesterday. He’s a stellar writer and I absolutely recommend subscribing to his Unprepared newsletter as he’s my go to guy to for responsible even-handed insights on being prepared for emergencies large and small.

Josh got in trouble for pointing out that survival depends on keeping a positive attitude. But since it’s Russia war time it included the caveat that nuclear war is bad but also survival might be possible.

Nuclear war is bad. Very bad. Don’t get me wrong. But based on my research so far, it’s more survivable than you think. The key to survival is realistic optimism and a positive mental attitude. In the meantime, here’s how anyone can start food prep.

People don’t love being reminded we can in fact take care of ourselves. At first I was surprised. Of course having tenancy matters. But I think people might have disliked it because it suggested our chances met rest on our actions. Sure it’s scary to let go of any sense of victimhood and know in your heart you are responsible for your family.

Josh got called out for toxic positivity. Which if it is legible at all, it is in a millennial woke community. I see it most used when millenials are exhausted from a corporate job that treat them badly but as workers they are expected to be good sports. The idea what we must boot strap our way out of bad times is upsetting but pretty prevalent in a capitalist driven and individualistic society.

Toxic positivity has also become a catch all for substituting personal responsibility for problems like mental health when they are causes by society level public problems. So meditation, fitness, exercise etc can all be labeled toxic positivity if you use them to cope with systemic ills. Church would be considered toxic positivity as well. It’s a classic liberal conservative through line I think. Why should the individual be forced to shoulder a society level burden asks the socialist. The capitalist says why should I be forced to shoulder the burdens of these individuals.

The reality is that in an emergency it won’t matter your philosophy. You will have to cope with the issue, no matter big or small, as it comes and hope that others can improve on your response. But expecting that you will be taken care of or that you can take care of others is just as useless. That’s why preparation is crucial. It’s not toxic positivity but rather the cold harsh reality that only you can save yourself.

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Emotional Work Internet Culture Travel

Day 424 and Meltdown

The zeitgeist is getting stupid and panicky. Which means I’m feeling stupid and panicked. We’ve got folks speculating on nuclear war. It’s all very productive (that’s sarcasm) so don’t be surprised if regular people are on edge for no rational reason. I was surprised to find myself on edge as I know I’m being impacted by propaganda. But knowing isn’t enough to stop the emotional response.

I’m traveling to Europe for the next month and while I’ve got some concern about escalations in the Russian war in Ukraine, there is nothing I can do about it. If things get hot and a real nuclear meltdown happens, I doubt I’ll be any safer in Denver than Berlin. But rationally knowing something and emotionally being integrated on it are two different things. I’m on edge even though there is no point to it. And I am determined to continue living my life no matter the external chaos. I’ve had enough of putting life on old. But that choice has emotional consequences.

I realized how on edge I was when a daily drug I take for longevity and metabolic health, Metformin, was out of refills. I leave tomorrow for a month so I needed to check in with a doctor today to get it fixed. I found myself on the call explaining a bunch of unnecessary extraneous detail to the poor assistant about how I needed a refill immediately but I couldn’t get blood work tomorrow to prepare for a telehealth visit next week as I’m traveling so could I schedule bloods and the visit for April and still get a month refill?

Somehow this simple errand just completely set me off and I felt myself welling up with tears and anxiety. How had I missed this small detail and why couldn’t I communicate it normally? Why did I sound like some flighty woman who can’t communicate effectively? I felt shame and embarrassment overtake me.

I ended up asking my husband for help as I just sounded so loopy and stupid. The assistant didn’t need my entire travel itinerary and the logic for when and why I couldn’t get bloods done. I just needed the refill and to schedule my next visit.

I think we underestimate just how much chaos impacts our daily lives and routines. You can be a zen Big Lebowski type but you are still surrounded by friends who are ready to lose their shit over nihilism or Nazis or bowling Jesus. The world is increasingly complex and our little reactionary parasympathetic system is leaning on evolutionary hacks that are outdated for our current moment. Tigers in the grass are not the same as willingly doomscrolling social media to absorb someone else’s propaganda. Sure they both use pattern matching but it’s kind of an order of magnitude issue.

So be kind to each other as we’ve all been living through two years of chaotic pandemic angst. And now we are asking folks to dig back up Cold War fears. If someone has a little meltdown over a basic choice cut then some slack. And give them a hug. And yes I’m talking about treating yourself better. This shit is wild and scary and stupid for all of us.

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Internet Culture Preparedness

Day 423 and Hot Takes

I am a prolific shit poster. I am a haver of takes. I am a full fledged member of the discourse. But Jesus Christ I never thought I’d see the day where the galaxy brains are feeling good about having nuclear war takes. Literally the hottest of takes.

I am in a preparedness Discord with a number of very level headed people. There are people that I would trust to help me think through surviving a disaster. But none of us are foreign policy experts or plugged into the state department. Nevertheless we are speculating on the possibility that Ukraine’s invasion by Russia could take us there. But we are just speculating!

Now I’m not a Bluecheck media personality on Twitter but I do know what it’s like to have an influential opinion. I’ve got a small platform and I try to use my voice responsibly. Or at least make clear when I’m shitposting. Because people will take you seriously. So you have to occasionally do a double take on your takes.

It doesn’t feel like most people are being particularly careful today. There are a few voices that have got things right in the past that are working though thought experiments. That’s valuable. But the bulk of folks are engaging in some terrible information hygiene. Opinions are being had. But also propaganda is being circulated and disinformation warfare is being waged. So far the West is being clearly won by the scrappy Ukrainian narrative. But who knows what will stick. So he careful out there. We are literally at war. Don’t rush to conclusions or to share shit that looks too good to be true. You don’t want to end up pushing an agenda that isn’t your own.

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Emotional Work Preparedness

Day 422 and Very Good Care

I’ve been bouncing around a little in the zeitgeist and media frenzy of last few days. I’ve not done a great job of processing the Russian war in Ukraine. I’ve got ambient stresses related to the generally chaotic moment so the acceleration of conflict felt both inevitable and unnerving. And yet we might outrun the apocalypse yet. Doomer optimism has never seemed so apt a term.

I am going to take care of myself during this tumult. This year of self love and affirmation means thriving in the worse situations. Because I take responsibility for myself. I am a victim to no person or circumstance. I control my response to any situation. That is the freedom to live.

But that thriving only occurs when I prioritize myself first. If I can’t parent my inner child through her fears and reactions, than how can anyone else trust that I will come through for them? Mutual trust comes from understanding the motivations in our relationships and what we get from each other. And that starts with being an adult to ourselves.

This idea of emotional responsibility is a simple concept that is surprisingly hard for people. I work on it every week in therapy. Feeling our emotions (often driven by our childhood experiences) gives the capacity to interact with others as an adult. It’s a step beyond professionalism. I’ve found it’s what separates those who are good at the work they do versus being truly great at their profession. The great are present in who they are.

So don’t be afraid to become truly ok. Thrive. Love yourself and your life even when it feels pointless. Even when the world feels crazy. Especially then. You have no need to attack yourself. Remove the self as an attack vector. We do not harm ourselves. The world is hard enough as it is that it needs no help from us. Now is the time to take care good care of yourself.

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Emotional Work Preparedness

Day 420 and Oxytocin

Stress is sneaking up on us everywhere. Just opening up a newspaper or scrolling Twitter is enough to spike your cortisol levels. I’m not quite ready to make jokes about World War III but I can see why people are.

I knew when I started chaotic.capital that folks might think I was a doomer and even a bit crazy. But I was confident that we’d be moving in a more chaotic world. I didn’t mean it in a bad way. Merely that in a world with increasing complexity we must all become more adaptable.

But today I didn’t feel like I was at my most adaptable. I felt as if my parasympathetic response was all out of whack. The inputs were overwhelming my nervous system. So I did what seemed most rational and also most emotionally appealing. I snuggled up to my husband and asked for a hug. I needed the oxytocin that is released from touch to counterbalance the cortisol that was flushing my system. If this is the new normal I need to up my oxytocin doses.

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Medical Preparedness Travel

Day 419 and Back to Normal

One of my friends texted to say “I’m shocked the hygiene theater at EthDenver failed as half my team has Covid-19!” Which is of course sarcasm. But we are all back in action. Consequences be damned! I’ve booked conferences through June. A venture fund that backs my husband just booked their CEO summit for an in person gathering. I have finally started eating at restaurants indoors again.

But for all this ridiculous talk of getting back to normal it’s just a lull. I’m happy to be out there as I’m confident in my immunity and my own risk tolerance based on having had an infection and being up to date vaccines. But it might not remain that way. And for plenty of people their risk calculus can’t be as liberal as mine. We’ve left behind the immune compromised. America doesn’t give a fuck about the disabled.

I hadn’t really meant this as a Covid post but rather it’s an introduction to this striving for normalcy. The pandemic is wrapping up and we can “Get Back to Normal” is more slogan than reality. If only because there is no going back. We’ve got the annoyance of all the second and third order effects of the pandemic to deal with now. And that is going to suck more than the pandemic

Faith in institutions is shaken and probably damaged for an entire generation. Health and medicine will make big strides as we finally address long virus issues. Maybe more chronically ill folks get better care. But for most people their trust in science is shaken. Not sure if the good will outweigh the bad yet.

We’ve also normalized a wide swath of government interventions we’d previously never tolerated. But it’s for our own good! Sure but who decides on the good going forward? What might else it get used for? And more people than I’d expected cheered on this kind of meddling in our daily lives. All for the greater good obviously. But I’m worried what happens when fascists get to decide on what is a greater good. And since we’ve normalized intervention it will be harder to push back.

I really do believe things are becoming more chaotic. We’ve accelerated a whole swath of changes that are going to shift our world. Some of it may be in good ways. I certainly plan to make a lot of money investing in the belief that we will adapt swiftly and positively. And either I’m right and we survive and so I make a lot of money. Or I’m wrong and it probably doesn’t matter. We’ve got to leap into the unknown to find out. But back to normal? Sorry buddy but we live in interesting times.

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Preparedness

Day 417 and Unprepared

If you are a media junkie today was chaotic as fuck. Last Friday I was talking to a fellow preparedness enthusiast Josh Centers. We’d been discussing the situation in the Ukraine and how it might affect daily life in America. He’d been considering launching a Substack to help folks approach the topic of preparedness during our increasingly unstable times. I am obviously a keen observer of this space as I do firmly believe the word is getting weirder that I named my venture fund Chaotic.capital.

I’m glad he took the leap and launched Unprepared.life today as his analysis has set my mind at ease even as it looks ever clearer a conflict involving Russia is inevitable. Josh is a crisp clear writer that has a knack for communicating vital information in a crisis without alarmism. I very much recommend you subscribe. I believe in him so much I’ve personally invested.

Much as it pains me I do believe the topic of preparedness is becoming more relevant by the day. The Wall Street Journal recently analyzed America’s power grid and its increasing unreliability. And that’s just one example of how life is getting a little bit harder and a little bit more expensive and a whole lot more unpredictable. But just because there is chaos in the world doesn’t mean your responsibilities are any less. Your family still needs to eat even if supply chains are unreliable. Your work still expects you to deliver even if there is a power outage. The bank doesn’t care if inflation is making your mortgage more expensive. Life goes on even during crisis.

I’m of the mind that this means it’s ever more crucial to prepare yourself and your family for life being a bit harder. If the pandemic didn’t convince you of this necessity I don’t know what will. But the good news is with voices like Josh’s we can all get back to the business of living by following some basic preparedness advice.

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Medical

Day 408 and Getting Ahead

My first piece of international travel since the pandemic began is coming up. I’ve not been on an airplane in over two years which is wild. But I needed to get a booster shot for my travel papers.

I was a bit nervous about how I’d react. I didn’t have the easiest time getting vaccinated. But I had a mild case of Omicon in December which made me slightly more optimistic about it.

I got caught in a snowstorm getting the booster yesterday. Which is so far the only inconvenience. I slept fine last night. I didn’t appear to spike a fever. I had no aches or pains other than the ones I live with normally. I’m so far enjoying having little to no reaction.

I did however take very good care of myself. I felt a migraine coming on mid-morning and I rushed in with all the good drugs. I wasn’t going to let myself suffer at all. And I am suspecting that keeping any and all stresses away has in fact been excellent for my body. Just another reminder that drugs are in fact good. Loving yourself can often mean mean treating yourself kindly. Removing the option for suffering and maybe all recovery can be this easy.

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Preparedness

Day 407 and Snow Blind

We’d scheduled booster shots for this afternoon. Even though we’ve both recently had Covid, I’ve got travel coming up so I needed to get a booster to get into Europe. I probably have never had better immunity to the disease than I do right now so I’m feeling optimistic about being around people again.

But I didn’t realize it was going to snow today. The forecast said it would lightly snow for an hour or two. So I thought it’s fine to schedule vaccines now. I wanted them right before the weekend so I had maximum time to rest and recover.

But clearly the forecasts were we wrong as we headed into a significant storm to get our shots. An hour later as we wrapped it up we were in driving snow with very little visibility. The roads were accumulating snowfall fast. The normally fifteen minute drive hour stretched into triple time.

Thankfully we made it home safely. And we’ve been shot up for the sake of paperwork. I only feel marginally worse for wear.

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Preparedness

Day 399 and Life Finds A Way

Postlapsarian literature is arguably the first type of story in the human mind. A fall takes place. What comes after? Paradise Lost is an entire genre of folklore. I’ve been watching the new Station Eleven television show having made that mistake of reading the book early in the pandemic. I say mistake because it’s an emotional book.

Maybe it’s America’s obsession with second acts that gives me optimism. We will have a fall. A shuffling towards Bethlehem style shambles perhaps. But we will rise. Our national bird has never been the bald eagle. It’s been the phoenix.

Maybe this is why we tolerate horrible work conditions and miserable days fighting our fellow man for a scrap of security. Because as the saying goes, each of us is only a temporarily embarrassed billionaire. Don’t worry we will be back. The show must go on.

And so we concoct elaborate fantasies about how this too will pass. One day our chronic poor health will get better. Just you wait. We believe in science here you see. Science means an Epcot better tomorrow just hang in there.

Our Hollywood fantasies are riddled with “life finds a way” punchlines because well the struggle for survival in an inhospitable world is a universal struggle for our species. There is no lost cause.

But also there is no enjoying the moment or savoring the little things in life if we are always watering for our heroic moment in “the after” and holding back in the now. But don’t worry. Life finds a way. And so will you. Just remember that the end of the world is mostly a change in circumstances.