Just be happy


Red Rock Canyon. Photo by Luke Allen Humphrey

I saw a friend post on mental illness and was compelled to speak out on a topic that’s been on my mind. I find it difficult to draw a hard line to say that suicide is a case of mental illness because is it illness that drives them to suicide or the obsession of thoughts that spiral out of control because they have no where else to go with them and no one who would understand to guide them on a different path? When I think of those I’ve lost, it’s easy to see how we can overlook the deep, dark places within someone when those challenged are often very good at hiding their pain–not to mention our societal mindset to ignore or dismiss those suffering.

In our society, people encouraged to talk about their pain typically when normal situations occur like the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, something like that. Counseling and therapy have a stigma that perhaps something is wrong with you. Saying you have a mental illness definitely sounds like something is wrong with you. No one wants something to be wrong with them. Further, if it’s a pain we consider normal, then it’s acceptable to be sad and depressed, but don’t be sad or depressed for too long because then it becomes uncomfortable for others. It’s like we have rules for how to embrace and accept someone’s emotional vulnerabilities, pain, or challenges. It’s no wonder people feel lost or avoid getting help.

Our society thinks we need to be happy 100% of the time. Just look at our social media. If I post about a hard day, I don’t share that I’ve been crying for most of the day, feeling beyond low and wanting to hole away from the world. Who wants to read that? And, when I post about hard times, inevitably the first thing I hear is “Everything will be ok,” “You are strong,” “It will pass,” “Sorry you are going through this, “First world problems.” While all of these things are true, in the moment of despair, those remarks aren’t helpful. They don’t really see the person for what they are going through. And, in all fairness, the person suffering isn’t about to spill the beans because they don’t want to make it seem like something is wrong with them or appear weak. Sometimes those struggling have been the strongest people I’ve known.

Because of stereotypes and societal pressures, we are turned off from wanting to expose our dark spaces and find it uncomfortable to sit in that space with others.  Instead, we attempt to push those people away from their pain in a way that dismisses it so they can “get over it” sooner.  Or, we simply ignore those that are dark or sad or struggling. In fact, we are often reinforced through social media and media in general, to look for bright and shiny people and to surround ourselves with light so we can be brighter, too.

“…get rid of anything today that does not spark joy…”

Is it any wonder that we turn a blind eye to those in need? Perhaps we are afraid their darkness will infect us?

I lost someone recently and the loss has stuck with me. It’s not that there was anything I or anyone else could have done; but I remember the times I wanted to reach out, the times I was curious how he was doing, and the times I hoped he was ok (because of his profession) and through all of those times I never reached out. I also remember the times when we had connected and how dismissive I was of his vulnerability.

I think about the times over the years when I’ve been vulnerable and hurt and alone and struggling and there was no one there to help me. I know it’s been a long and arduous road to get to where I am today and I am thankful for those that appeared in my life and made a difference, but I’ve hardened myself to others pain because I’ve had to deal with my own, alone. It shouldn’t have to be that way and I’m glad I’m still here to reflect on that past and to acknowledge how far I’ve come. Maybe I can turn this insight into a deeper appreciation for everyone’s individual struggle. Maybe I can work on being a better listener, and a better empathizer.

We need to lose the stigma that mental illness is a bad thing, that people in emotional pain are weak, that seeking professional outlets for dealing with life’s challenges (especially when they don’t fit the societal norms) means there is something wrong with you. Just because we live in a first world country doesn’t mean we are without problems. We are fortunate for a lot, but emotional pain, obsessive mindsets, and mental illness can cloud these perceptions creating only the darkest of images and entrenching dismal impressions. Ignoring people suffering is not going to help anyone. Chances are by ignoring them, you are ignoring your own internal sufferings (even if they are less scarred or jaded).  The first step towards change is acknowledging there is a problem.

Let’s acknowledge our society has a problem and a stigma towards mental illness and vow to make a change by talking about it. Break down the stigma by changing our perceptions, and standing up or be a friend for a friend in need. Create some compassion for those in need and we’ll create some compassion for ourselves in return.

Here are a few questions to think about that could shift the way we interact with each other and those suffering from mental illness:

  •  Am I listening to this person beyond social media posts?
  • Am I connecting with this person beyond their words?
  • Do I have the skill to hear pain and am I willing to step into the darkness in an attempt to empathize and potentially guide them out without the fear of falling in myself?


Posted in Musings, Writings | 2 Comments

Plated, a boxed food delivery option

In a previous post I wrote about trying food delivery services. I started with Hello Fresh, then a friend recommended I tray Plated. Plated was a nice step up in quality and taste from Hello Fresh, but the meals are more involved, take a bit more time and are more expensive. That said, overall I enjoyed the variety, flavor, and portions and would recommend this option, though I’m unclear if meal options get redundant over time.


The ingredients are very fresh, last a few days in the refrigerator and are marked gf, non GMO, etc. as appropriate, even without my requests. For example, soy souce would come in a packet and it would say GF for gluten free. This was handy for sharing the meals with friends who have gluten sensitivities. I appreciated the high quality in all of the ingredients.


Additional ingredients are simple, often only an oil like olive oil, salt and pepper. Everything else is provided and all ingredients are well marked so they are not confused between recipes. I especially like that everything is kept separate so I can toss the onions (or give them to my friends) and I can omit the sugar (as in this pomodoro recipe where the sauce calls for sugar (see the white packet in the lower right corner?). I can easily fine tune the recipe to my liking while not disturbing the base and over all quality. I really appreciated this about each one of the meals thus far.


Making the meals requires a little more prep. Read all of the directions before jumping in and review the side bar for tips and additional requirements (like the need for olive oil, what size pan or pans are required). Usually not many additional things here, but useful for getting started.

The meals are a bit higher in calories, but the portions are much larger, too. I was easily able to feed 3 and with a little supplementing of my own, 4 people off of a 2 person portion. For instance, this gnocchi pomodoro easily fed me for 4 days!

The recipe steps are very clear and easy to follow. This meal was to take an estimated 40 minutes, but it ended up taking me an hour and a bit. It was slow going to read and follow but the steps are repetitive once you get the hang of it after the first few recipes. I still have not been able to produce these meals in the time they specify, but it’s not as bad as the first attempt.

What matters, outside of the time it takes to prepare, is the end result. I love the special touches, the flavors are awesome, the meals are creative and all in all very simple. I love that everything is included so I don’t have to worry about buying bay leaves, for example, using one and then discarding or holding on the rest for an unknown amount of time. There is always just enough soy sauce, just enough, white rice vinegar, etc. No need to stock these in the fridge any longer.


Ok, my photo didn’t quite turn out like the one on the recipe card, but the flavors, texture, and quantity surpassed my expectations. I have enjoyed the meals so much that I have ordered multiple weeks of them and am on my 3rd box now. The price is a little steep for me, but the fact that I can skip weeks, and that the meals last me a lot longer than they project, means I’m getting high value for my money. The meals are very healthy and their customization and variety makes them a great option. I would recommend this service. Let me know if you want to try a box and see what you think!

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Rock Climbing FAQ

I’ve started a Climbing FAQ. It’s not completely refined, but it’s a good start. Try it out and let me know what you think.

Click below to ask a climbing question.


Posted in Climbing, Computer Science and other geek things, Fun | Leave a comment