Food and Drink Mindsets

Women driven to drink

This week must be feminism week. No sooner had I published my post about feminism from my perspective as a tone-deaf male, I read Kristi Coulter’s revealing article titled “The real reason why women drink” on Quartz.

I have a feeling the topic of why women drink as a coping mechanism is more complex than it seems to be. I definitely think I need to read this article again. In the meantime, a couple sections stood out for me in my first reading (and justify reading the article at least once).

I mentioned in my feminism post that the concept of “mansplaining” eluded me. I think this quote from Coulter’s article may fill in that conceptual gap for me:

What’s a girl to do when a bunch of dudes have just told her, in front of an audience, that she’s wrong about what it’s like to be herself? What’s a girl to do when a bunch of dudes have just told her, in front of an audience, that she’s wrong about what it’s like to be herself? I could talk to them, one by one, and tell them how it felt. I could tell the panel organizers this is why you never have just one of us up there. I could buy myself a superhero costume and devote the rest of my life to vengeance on mansplainers everywhere.

This next quote took me right back to Gretchen Kelly’s article (which inspired my previous post) and the outrage that fuelled much of my little essay:

Is it really that hard, being a First World woman? Is it really so tough to have the career and the spouse and the pets and the herb garden and the core strengthening and the oh-I-just-woke-up-like-this makeup and the face injections and the Uber driver who might possibly be a rapist? Is it so hard to work ten hours for your rightful 77% of a salary, walk home past a drunk who invites you to suck his cock, and turn on the TV to hear the men who run this country talk about protecting you from abortion regret by forcing you to grow children inside your body?

Coulter’s article is definitely worth reading. I plan to read it again in the next day or two while my mind is still primed. I’m not really a drinker and I’m definitely not female so I am more of an outside observer.

It would also be unfair to suggest that only women drinking points to some or other problem. I am pretty sure there are plenty of men who drink for equivalent reasons and could relate similar stories. At the same time, this article adds another, much-needed, dimension to my understanding of how women see the world I live in.

Image credit: Splitshire

Mindsets Writing

Writer’s remorse and things you can’t take back

Writer’s remorse is a horrible, sickening feeling. It’s usually accompanied by the thought (or words), “I probably shouldn’t have told you that!”.

There are days, weeks even, when stuff happens and my first impulse is to start writing about it and sharing it with BIG BOLD CAPITAL LETTERS because, as we all know, that Makes It All Alright. Actually, it rarely does, but it seems like the Right Thing To Do at the time.

I’ve written about why writing is so important to me (quite a lot) and when I have one of Those Days, writing is one of the few outlets that work for me. I’m not the only person who resorts to words in challenging times. Take this advice by Chuck Palahniuk, for example:

The challenge in times such as these is how to express yourself constructively. By “constructively”, I mean not in a way that wrecks your career, relationships or results in the sort of outcome you know you will regret later.

Flying off the proverbial handle and publishing your most visceral thoughts on the public Web may seem like the right response to a difficult situation, at the time. Unfortunately, it is also often conducive to that profound regret and shame you may feel the morning after a questionable encounter in a dimly lit bar.

In times like these it is usually wise to follow suggestions that you not click the “Publish” button right away. Even if publishing immediately seems utterly necessary and delaying means not having the desired impact.

Just don’t publish yet. Give the fog time to dissipate, give yourself time to process it all. Then edit and publish (if it is still relevant).

There are times when that expression of rage or profound disappointment needs to be expressed. Other times, it’s ok to relegate your verbal fury to your growing folder of post drafts to gather digital dust.

Some days, just the process of taking those thoughts and feelings and expressing them are enough. Publication isn’t always the answer, as easy as it is to do it.

Today is one of Those Days for me and the one piece of advice that bubbles up from the recesses of my foggy mind is this: Don’t be bitter, be better.

I’m going to publish this one, though.

Image credit: Pixabay

Mindsets People Travel and places

Too Israeli for Israelis

Israelis can be an acquired taste but is it possible for an Israeli to be too Israeli, even for other Israelis? We have a tendency to be pushy, argumentative and circumspect about people’s motivations, especially when it comes to commerce and politics.

Even though I’m still acclimating, I sometimes encounter Israelis who are too “Israeli”, even for born Israelis who are accustomed to our culture. Last week one of my colleagues had an experience that made me laugh (and cringe a little).

She received a sales call from an Israeli vendor. The vendor was especially pushy and condescending and pitched my colleague on a variety of services she wasn’t interested in. My colleague, a born Israeli, tried for some time to explain to the vendor that she wasn’t interested in what the vendor was selling, to no avail.

The vendor kept going. At one point the vendor pointed out that my colleague was clearly ignorant of the space she was working in and didn’t appreciate what she was being offered.

Eventually the call ended and my colleague, exasperated, commented that this must be how non-Israelis perceive Israelis to be. I laughed and told her that this is pretty much the reputation Israelis have outside Israel. At least for the general public.

I was mostly amused that there are Israelis who are too Israeli, even for other Israelis!

Image credit: Tel Aviv Carmel Market fresh fruits, licensed CC BY-ND 2.0

Events and Life Wellbeing

I am now an insulin-dependent Diabetic and that’s ok

I haven’t written about my journey with Diabetes for a while and I thought I’d share some updates because my Diabetes has changed. I am now an insulin-dependent Diabetic but that is ok. Well, it is now but it wasn’t when I made the transition.

The reason why I want to share this post is because I really struggled to find other people’s stories about their experiences with Diabetes which I could relate to. Perhaps my experiences will be helpful to someone else who is going through something similar.

It is scary when your body changes and your Diabetes progresses/deteriorates. It is especially so when you can’t peg it to a particular cause. It helps to know that other people have been through (and are going through) what you are dealing with.


So, as you may know, I was diagnosed as a Type 2 Diabetic a few years ago. It was a shock, initially, but I realised that it was actually a blessing. Before I was diagnosed I was way overweight and not doing much about it.

My journey with Diabetes … so far

Two of the ways I started to take control of my condition were to eat healthier and to exercise more often. I shed about 20kgs of fat in my first year or so and I’ve managed to stabilise at a much healthier weight.

My levels were pretty stable until about December 2015 when something went wrong and my Diabetes deteriorated/progressed (I’m never really sure whether to describe it as a deterioration or a progression – Diabetes is a progressive condition, it will become more advanced over time).

When it all changed

We’re (me and my doctor) aren’t sure what caused the change but my blood glucose levels started to rise dramatically in mid to late December. The main factor that comes to mind is that I was pretty sick. I developed a chest infection that was about a day away from pneumonia (before I saw my doctor and started medication). Getting sick always pushes up my blood glucose levels so I initially ignored the spike when I saw it in my routine self-tests.

That was my first mistake.

Tip: Do your tests regularly, even if you know something is distorting the results.

When my high levels persisted and I still felt sick, I started testing less frequently. I just attributed the high levels to my illness.

This is called “compounding” my first mistake.

Tip: Keep testing regularly so you have consistent data for later.

Then, after I recovered and my high levels persisted, I decided that my tester must be faulty and procrastinated dealing with it for a couple weeks. In the meantime, my levels continued climbing while I focused more on improving my diet.

This was my second mistake.

Tip: Focusing on your diet is great but don’t procrastinate seeking help if you notice a problem. Go talk to your doctor, even if you feel like your habits created the problem.

Although the shock forced me back into a more disciplined diet, it took me far too long to go to my doctor and confess my neglect and seek help. To my credit, I even took a notepad and made notes, determined to fix My Problem and Return to Controlled Diabetes.

The change

My doctor referred me to a specialist (again) and told me to go have blood tests done and my feet examined. Why my feet? Well, one of the warning signs of poor control is peripheral neuropathy – loss of sensation in your extremities, like your toes. That leads to toes and other parts of your body being deprived of blood and falling off. It isn’t the fun part of Diabetes (there aren’t many).

My HbA1c blood test series confirmed my fears. My blood glucose levels had risen dramatically. My spot blood glucose test put me at 258mg/dl – the upper end of the normal range is 140mg/dl. My HbA1c put me at 8.4%. My levels should be under 6.0% or so. The HbA1c is one of the key metrics for Diabetes control which I clearly lacked.

My doctor decided it was time to change my medication. I was previously on a dose of Metformin, twice a day. It was a slightly increased dose but otherwise roughly the same medication I had been on since I was first diagnosed. The change was to switch me over to a pill called Januet which combines 50mg of insulin with the Metformin, twice a day.

When my doctor mentioned adding insulin it scared me. I don’t like needles at all and the prospect of injecting myself wasn’t a happy one. Fortunately, there was a pill option for me!

For some reason my condition progressed/deteriorated to the point where I now needed insulin to control my Diabetes. Initially the Januet was a sort of test run. The idea was to monitor my levels and see if they came back down to a normal range on the new medication. If they did, the new medication would become part of my new treatment regime.

Taking steps to regain control

That was a reality check for me and it reminded me of the importance of doing my self-tests regularly, even if I don’t like what I see. The point is to be aware of the problems because that awareness is your first step towards addressing them.

Managing Diabetes isn’t just about the medication although that can be critical. I noticed that my blood glucose levels rose on the days when I ran out of my Januet and returned to just Metformin. I am insulin-dependent and that means that, given my current lifestyle, I need the insulin to stabilise my blood glucose levels. Period.

Something else that makes a noticeable difference is exercise. My mother visited us in April and we did a lot of walking during one of the weeks she was here. On an average weekday I walk around 5 to 6 kilometres. When we were on holiday with her and touring locally, we walked 8 to 11 kilometres. I noticed that all that walking helped bring my levels down, usually to below 120.

Another big realisation was how much of an impact stress can have on my blood glucose levels. It can cause a huge bump in my levels.

What Diabetes taught me about work stress

Where I am now and where I am heading

Diabetes isn’t a disease although living with it can be challenging. It is easy to pick up bad habits and eat the food you know you shouldn’t. I also noticed that my body has less of a tolerance for carbohydrates and eating more than a little pasta and bread can really push my levels up. We have switched to wholewheat breads and pastas but even those seem to be problematic so I tend to avoid them.

Walk more

My morning routine has changed a little since I wrote about it just over two months ago. I now start work at 7am instead of 6:30am and that means that I miss the bus I used to take to the train station. The positive side of that is that I have to walk to the station. That, of course, means more exercise every week day.

Unfortunately I spend most of my working day sitting and that isn’t good for me (or anyone). I put my back out in the holidays and sitting every day probably delayed my recovery by about a week too. I try make a point of getting up and going for a walk out the office for a bit every day. I don’t always do remember to do that, though.

Get out of the office more often

I do make a point of leaving the office for lunch, though. I understand why many companies offer their employees food. They want to keep employees close to their workstations so they can eat and get back to work. I don’t think that is particularly healthy and, if anything, I need to leave the office for lunch just to give my mind a break and get some outside air. It helps a lot with work stress too.

This morning I tested myself: 121. I’ve managed to stabilise my levels in the last two months or so and just need to remain vigilant and disciplined to maintain that. I plan on living a long time and I am constantly reminded of the importance of taking better care of myself as I grow older.

It’s a work-in-progress

I am due to do another set of blood tests in the next week or so, along with my long overdue feet examination. Being Diabetic is very much a work-in-progress but, on balance, it has been a positive thing for me and my family. I am in better condition than I was in the years before my diagnosis and that is just going to be increasingly important in the years and decades to come.

As I wrote in the beginning of this post, I wanted to share my experiences in case there are other Diabetics who are going through something similar. There is a lot of information about Diabetes on the Web but I haven’t seen many stories from Diabetics who face challenges I can relate to. Perhaps my experiences will help someone who is going through something similar and isn’t too sure what to make of it all. It can be scary when your body changes like this.

Image credit: Pixabay


Challenging #FML

At first #FML was a rare sighting online and, slowly, it began to find more use as people tweeted about their misfortunes online. The term has its own website featuring everyday uses and it is probably one of the most depressing memes I’ve seen online.

Sure, some people have huge challenges in their lives and have every right to be pessimistic about their lives and yet so many of those people find a way to survive and even thrive because, when faced with the alternatives, they have no choice but to keep climbing that hill.

When I see people tweeting about their lives and hashtagging it #FML, it signals a deep pessimism about their lives even though the things they tweet about are pretty minor in the Grand Scheme of Things.

Is this about more 21st century problems we don’t seem to be able to handle because our expectations of our lives are so skewed? You may say that #FML is just an expression, a sort of grand #Fail but think about it for a moment: #FML doesn’t stand for “Forgot My Lunch” or “Faked My Laugh”. It stands for “F*#ck My Life”. That is a pretty nihilistic take on life, particularly when your challenges are lousy broadband for a couple hours, no soy lattes at your local coffee spot or Facebook going down for 15 minutes when you wanted to procrastinate most. Our words have a power we underestimate. They reframe how we perceive our world and the experiences we choose for ourselves.

Perhaps I’m reading too much into the meme. I’ve been thinking about this for a while and it just seems so destructive, particular when it comes to our thoughts about our life. Maybe #FML is appropriate if your life fundamentally sucks because your family rejects you; you don’t have a safe home; you are destitute or worse. Even then, I am inspired by people whose lives have been constant struggles to survive for a decade or more and yet they are some of the most optimistic people I know.

So you don’t drive an Audi, you don’t live in a fancy house with beautiful furniture and you don’t have the new iPhone 6 with a fast LTE connection so you can stream whatever you want. Heck, Twitter may even go down for 15 minutes and you’ll have to find something more meaningful to occupy those precious minutes.

What if your life doesn’t truly suck. What if you live a life with wonderful people and opportunities you would have thought fantasy a few years ago. What if you are (relatively) healthy and have all your limbs working as they should? What if you have a pretty solid roof over your head and fairly regular meals to sustain you and, in the midst of all of that, you have challenges to face and which, when overcome, leave you somewhat better off because of them?

Perhaps, instead of “F*#ck My Life”, #FML should stand for something else, something like:

Found My Laugh

Events and Life Mindsets

Don’t be bitter, be better

I wrote a post last night about my frustrations with a trend I have seen in local digital agencies. The post is the result of something that has been on my mind for months and, last night, I decided to get it out. This morning, I took that post offline because of a conversation I had with someone who reached out to me.

I didn’t take the post down because it didn’t reflect what I believe to be true, I took it down because I realised, during the course of my conversation, that it reflects a bitterness and frustration I have increasingly felt for some time.

We have a choice how to experience our life each moment we are awake. The big question is how awake we really are, how conscious we are of our choices from moment to moment? What struck me this morning is that my choices have not been as constructive as they could be.

When I think about why I do the work I do (even as that morphs), I keep coming back to working to support innovation and creative expression through smarter ways to manage digital risk. I’ve been involved in the digital marketing space in SA since it essentially began. I saw the high end agencies we have today being formed and growing.

Although my post probably gave the impression of an industry that is largely derivative, I don’t see it that way. I see tremendous innovation and potential to do even more creative work. As usual, I am probably getting ahead of the industry and the market it serves. I seem to have a knack for that – being so far ahead of the curve that my ideas seem ridiculous until they’re not (well, some never quite catch on).

I remember the dotcom boom. I was at Wits back then and I kept thinking about some Web thing I could do to tap into that new wave of innovation (this was when the big thing on the Web was probably having images in pages) and I couldn’t come up with anything before it all came crashing down. Even then, it was clear that this Web thing wasn’t done yet and it wasn’t.

Its easy to take what we have now for granted because it is so prevalent but this is so new, still. 7 or 8 years ago the social Web was mostly about blogs and RSS feeds. Twitter and Facebook were still a year or 2 away and still pioneers like Mike Stopforth, Angus Robinson, Carl Spies, Rob Stokes and others were almost willing a new digital model into existence, which they did and, boy, they have done a remarkable job.

Despite my criticisms, they still inspire me because they succeeded where I just couldn’t get my head around the value proposition with an agency I hoped to start with a friend at the same time (so much for being ahead of the curve – I missed that one big time).

The reason I chose to leave active legal practice and wind down Jacobson Attorneys, a business law firm I started in 2005, is because I can see the tremendous potential in the digital space. My fundamental belief in this potential to dramatically improve our lives and our relationships underpins Web•Tech•Law although I clearly haven’t done a terrific job expressing that particularly well. Last night’s blog post definitely doesn’t reflect that belief. It doesn’t reflect what excites me about going back to work on a Monday morning and leaves me buzzing when I tap into that innovation and creativity. That is why I took the post down.

I owe the person who reached out to me a big “thank you” for his intervention. He also said something which I appropriated and changed a little:

Don’t be bitter, be better

Events and Life Mindsets

When every experience mirrors your personality

Anil Dash’s first blog post back in July 1999 titled “A Minor Revelation” was a pretty profound and highlights something I think about almost daily:

The premise is that the things we experience in our daily lives are reflections of ourselves. Behaviours and traits we see in other people are perceptions of similar behaviours and traits we see in ourselves. When we see a person behaving in a way that infuriates us, the anger we feel about the other person is really anger at what we see in ourselves.

Becoming aware of this dynamic and how all our experiences are really personal mirrors is both a challenge to our perception of an objective reality and frustrating for our egos because awareness brings the realisation that all those things that annoy or please us about other people are things that annoy or please us about ourselves.

The one question I have is how we can improve our experience of our lives. I suspect the answer lies in the idea that when we look around at our world and all we see pleases us and fills us with contentment, then we have reached a point where we accept ourselves as we are and are content in ourselves. This doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing for all of us. A person you or I may regard as an nasty person may be content with that and, consequently, his experience of the world. The question is what your experience of your world would be if you were completely content with your self?

Photo credit: Mirrors by shareski, licensed CC BY-NC 2.0