After a short hiatus, Bruce Barber’s movable feast is back. For the first chapter of the next generation of the Real Life Survival Guide, Bruce, Duo and their band of merry guest editors sat down at Barcelona Wine bar and Restaurant in New Haven to discuss living a healthy life. Bruce dubbed Chapter 1, “Self Care” and I have to admit; this episode could not have come at a better time. I’m not healthy. My blood pressure is too high, my triglycerides are extra triglyceride-ish, my waist line is becoming equatorial and my dress shirts have gone from Ralph Lauren to Ralph Kramden. I eat fast food, I eat junk food, I drink too many soft drinks and my alcohol consumption at times makes Charles Bukowski look like Carrie Nation. Anything else? Oh yeah, I stay up way too late and when I do sleep, I stop breathing. I’m wrapped tighter than a tourniquet on Alexi Romanov and I have a temper like Attila the Hun on crystal meth. I have to face it; I’m a bit of a mess. Now this would all be well and good if I was just some nihilistic loner sitting around in a moo moo playing video games with a jellybean feeding tube, but I like being alive and I do have a wife and kids that probably don’t want to see me drop dead any time soon. Because of this, I have begun to acknowledge that the pork train express should probably bypass taco town and instead, chug into healthy valley. Knowing that I’ve got to change my ways or take an early dirt nap I welcomed the arrival of Episode 51. The Real Life Survival Guide is here to help and I’ll take all the help I can get.
To start the show off, Bruce described why he dubbed the first chapter of The Real Life Survival Guide “Self Care” and not just, “Health.” He wanted to incorporate spirituality and how people relate to the world. Duo concurred and spoke about how body, mind and spirituality are not “compartmentalized” but all part of one’s overall health and that finding the perfect balance between them leads to a more healthy existence. Christine Ohlman believes self care is, “Being good to yourself, whatever that means to you.” In Christine’s case the number one spoke in the wheel of self health is sleep. Duo brought up a cheerful study that found that sleep deprivation leads to strokes and Bruce has no problems sleeping, he goes to bed very early like a small child. Bob Tedeschi tries to find balance in physical and mental health so as to not be burdensome to those around him. Julie Braun is evaluating her life when it comes to exercise or a lack thereof. She walks her dog four times a day but doesn’t feel that that is enough of a workout. Duo might take exercise to an extreme and destroys his exercise equipment with his thermonuclear intensity. Tammy Ward brings up moderation as a key to health whether it’s how much sleep you get or how much sex, drugs and rock n’ roll you enjoy. Bruce doesn’t think any amount of heroin should be done in moderation. Which leads me to ask, what if you mix a little heroin with wheat germ and carrot juice? Best of both worlds? Balance? Maybe? Anyone?
Moving along, Bob brought up how scheduling the time and not leaving things to chance is the best way to insure that you are taking care of yourself and that workouts get done. Bruce agreed and finds that seeing his rolodex full of doctor’s and keeping his appointments gives him a sense of well being. Christine discussed her Rock n’ Roll lifestyle and how she keeps herself healthy even with all of the traveling she does. While flying, Christine brings with her an organic peanut butter sandwich, some orange tea, honey and some grapes. She also avoids eating the free snacks that the airlines give out. This is where I draw the line. For the price we pay for airline tickets, if they’re giving something out, I’m taking it. I don’t care if it’s a free pap smear, if it’s free, I’m getting one. Duo notes that much of self care has to do with a sense of control. Whether it’s bringing your own food on a plane or maintaining a strict workout regimen, taking charge leads to a healthier you. Julie admits that while most of her life is on a strict schedule she doesn’t block off a part of the day to exercise or meditate or, “have a spiritual moment.” Bruce understands Julies plight, every morning he watches people exercise as they run past his house, he drinks his coffee and then goes back to sleep. I’m on the same boat, I enjoy walking but I don’t like hills, I live on a hill, so I don’t walk.
Going down the healthcare checklist, Bruce arrived at mental health. Bruce and Tammy discussed how they both, more or less, burn themselves out trying to do too much and don’t take the time to care for their own needs. Part of those needs include, “going off the grid” and being less plugged in to the constant barrage of technology. Bob Tedeschi advises taking the Facebook app off of your smart phone. Bruce mentioned that he stopped his Facebook alerts and found that they were all just alerts for Duo’s posts anyway.
Moving from Facebook to metaphysics, Bruce segued into the most mercurial of health needs; spirituality. Bruce talked about going to church regularly while growing up but that he now, “doesn’t tap into it (his spirituality) as much as he’d like to” and asked how others take care of their spiritual needs. Tammy described how she connects with her spiritual side, “I close my eyes wherever I am… I can take a second, go inside and just find my zen.” Duo goes to church and believes you have to dial back all the noise that surrounds you and find the, “still, small, voice” that is inside of you. Bob has his meditative experiences at the end of a busy day by playing acoustic guitar while Christine has two points of spirituality; gratitude, and “good art and music” which she finds inspiring. Julie finds spirituality in sacred places and by doing random act of kindness which make her feel “awesome” and “amazing.” I am not a particularly spiritual person but all of these methods of finding your spiritual self seem well worth adopting. I would incorporate them all into one religion, throw a brewery and a little Rastafarianism into the mix and you can bet I’ll be in the first pew every Sunday.
Wrapping it up, the guest editors all gave a piece of advice in the quest for self care. Christine said, ”Start thinking about little and big ways that you can be good to yourself and don’t feel guilty about it.” Bob advises diminishing the noise in your life. Tammy thinks it’s wise to admit when you need help and to ask for it. Julie took to heart the need to add self health time to her schedule and Duo thinks we should all, kill the guilt and “…discover that we are all good enough people to care about…”
My road to self care will be a rocky, steep, climb. My inner, still, small, voice is being drowned out by a raging behemoth with a boombox and a case of beer but there is still hope for me. I will take all the advice from this episode and put it to good use. I will eliminate the negative, accentuate the positive and never mess with Mr. In-between. I will straighten up and fly right. There’s a YMCA right down the street from me and it’s fun to stay at the YMCA, I’ve got to be a macho, macho man. If these song lyrics don’t inspire me nothing will. Rule #1 of my new health regimen: Don’t die. Rule #2) Stop being a fat slob. See, I’m well on my way. See you next week. Hopefully.