I am happy, thank you very much, and my brain is not broken

This has been a most interesting morning.

Sipping my first latte of the day I was thinking that LaptopI’d like to do some writing.  Took out my laptop, plugged it in, and entered the world that lives inside this small silver container.  I’d fallen asleep with the idea of writing about a group of women who opened so many doors and expanded opportunity for so many other women educators in Ontario, but when I started to write I just wasn’t sure how to begin.  So I decided to just wait a while and sip my coffee and read the morning paper.  I’d PVRd a PBS show on “The UltraMind Solution” and it was playing in the background.  Can you picture it?  I’m sitting in bed (with my head resting on my fabulous new 1,000 thread-count pillowcase incidentally … feels amazing) with my laptop in front of me, the newspaper to my right, the TV to my left.  Happy.

Margaret_Wente_mug_1283bio4And then I came to an article by Margaret Wente.  When I worked for the Ministry of Education one of the things I most dreaded hearing when I picked up the phone was “Hello, this is Margaret Wente from the Globe and Mail“.  Why dread?  Because I knew that (a) she was “on” to something (she’d stumbled upon something that the government would rather she not be talking about), and (b) that there would be a real flurry (complete with the anxietythat comes from high stakes and high stress) once I notified my Director (who’d notify the Assistant Deputy Minister who’d likely notify the Deputy Minister who might notify the Premier) that a media request had come in.   Yes, the “handlers” – aka communications staff – who showed up in my office once within 30 minutes of  my getting the initial call came directly from the Premier’s office.  A lot of people read Wente’s columns and she can influence public perception, so responding to her can be a priority item. Thank goodness for the media training I’d had which enabled me to respond to the initial request with: “What time do you need to file your story Margaret; I’ll make sure to get back to you well before that.”  That would give us a window of time in which we’d have to get the response approved (all the way up to the Premier that one day) and back to her.   Thing is that much of the time I’d be crafting drafts of that response – adding things, removing things, changing nuance – I would also have to be dealing with – and not explosing – a sense of  internal delight because I knew that she was following something important that should see the light of day and so I wanted to do as much as I could to make the response as “transparent” (to use a government word) as possible.  Sometimes she got it right.  Anyhow, there was her column in today’s paper.   Under a sad line-drawing of a face was the headline:  “If we’re so equal, why aren’t we happy? I think today she got it wrong.

The Ultra Mind SolutionNow on my left I’ve got Dr. Mark Hyman talking about The UltraMind Solution.   Instead of trying to put it into my own words let me use the words of his publisher:   “DO YOU HAVE A BROKEN BRAIN? This seems a strange question but this invisible epidemic affects nearly 1.1 billion people worldwide — one in six children, and one in two older people. One in four will be crippled by it during their lifetime.If the answer is yes to any of the following, you too may have a broken brain:• Are you depressed, feeling down, and don”t have the drive to do anything?• Do you find it next to impossible to focus and concentrate on tasks?• Do you find it hard to remember … read more”   To both Margaret Wente and Mark Hyman (who also wrote The UltraSimple Diet which we all know is either not simple or a Sarah Palin special) I say a resounding … “NOOOO!!!!” 

To Margaret:  You are defining happiness by a set of conditions which evidently occur most often in married men.  Does that mean things like (I’m guessing):  a sense of security that somebody will be there to take care of you if you’re ill, living with somebody who takes real (and if needed full) responsibility for home and family – a true partner;  living with someone who nurtures you and comforts you?  Years and years ago, when I was a single-parent, my friend Roni and I talked about putting an ad in the newspaper for a wife we could share; somebody who’d take care of us.  Little did we realize then that as women friends we could take care of each other.  Anyhow – I digress.  My point is that how close I am to “having it all” is not how I measure my happiness and I don’t believe – although this one’s still a bit of a struggle for me – that I have, as  you put it, “the obligation to do it all”.   Isn’t it about time we redefined happiness in a way that includes women?

To Mark:  Give me a break!  I do not have a broken brain!  That said, I did go to your website and I took your Broken Brain quiz (on which I scored a 7).  How is that surprising though when I have to respond yes or no to statements like:  “I have mental fogginess or trouble concentrating”, “I get less than 7 or 8 hours sleep a night”, or “I find it hard to do math in my head”.   You’re right in that many of us need to change our lives and transform our health.  That isn’t going to happen because we buy your book or subscribe to your program.  Once again – it isn’t as simple as you want to say it is (just take these supplements and you’ll be young again).  I actually took the time to google <sarah palin mark hyman> trying to find the connection (simple mind – simplistic approaches) and did come up with a “hit” (but it wasn’t you); it was some right-wing nut-job with your name who wrote this about Sarah Palin:  “Women want to be her. Men want to be with her and not just because she is very attractive. Guys feel comfortable with her, rather than threatened by her. She could hang with them all day watching football on TV and it would feel genuine. Contrast this with Hillary Clinton. Guys would expect Mrs. Clinton to lunge for the remote and turn on some man-bashing, made-for-TV movie on one of those men-hating channels.”  I do have to thank you for my first really good laugh of the day.  Isn’t it about time we accepted that living a life is complex and start focusing on deep awareness rather than marketing shallow quick-fixes?

To my blog family:  I’m ready to finally get to writing about those remarkable women but it’s after 9 o’clock now and I have to get up and get going.  The sun is shining and it’s finally getting hot outside.  We’ve got a busy day ahead, starting with honouring our dear friend Doug Wilansky on his 80th birthday; what incredibly special people he and his wife Ruth are.  Afterwards we’ll hopefully spend some time with my mother (another amazing human being), we’ll hopefully take a long walk or short bike ride (or maybe kayak???),  and then we’ll have our own Barack-and-Michelle date night … going out for dinner and on to see the play Loot.

 Nothing broken.  Unhappiness doesn’t live here (although it does visit from time to time).  More about the women next time.


One response to “I am happy, thank you very much, and my brain is not broken

  1. I think women subscribe to the idea of meaning when they discuss happiness and unlike men, numbers (as money in the bank, percentage returns on their portfolio, how much they make, or whose boat is the biggest) have little to do with it.

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