BASIC NEEDS: When Self-Isolating


When Self-Isolating

By Trevor K. McNeil


I am self-isolating. I have to admit I am rethinking some old assumptions. Such as, what is important? What is not important? Since I was a kid, adults have told me to “sort out your priorities.” Something that is usually easier said than done. Not least because the reasons for my priorities tend to be individualized to me. What I want, and what my mother, or my neighbor, for that matter, are not the same. Certainly the individualization of priorities makes the notion of shared or “fundamental” values, as applies to the human race, something of an absurdity.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

The closest thing to a ranking of needs or priorities, is Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs”.  Abraham Maslow was an American psychologist, who wrote about human needs.  In 1943 he wrote, “Theory of Human Motivation”.   He admitted some of his work and writings were based on observation and some good old-fashioned guess work.  Maslow believed people are motivated to fulfill a certain set of basic needs. Maslow used a five tier pyramid to depict those needs.The base of the pyramid is physiological, the most basic of needs: air, food, water, excrement and sex.

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Switching Gears

Switching Gears

I thumbed through Stephen Shapiro's classic while sitting alone on the beach.

I sat on a deserted beach in front of my vacation home and reread “Goal Free Living: How To Have The Life You Want Now” by Stephen Shapiro.

Switching Gears

D. S. Mitchell

A Box Of Books

While pawing through a box of books I found Stephen Shapiro's classic,

I found several boxes of books in the garage.

Yesterday, I was pawing through a box of books I had stored in the garage.  I have looked around the house, searching for some “keep me busy” tasks to occupy my time during this “stay home, stay safe” order. As I looked at the books I was trying to decide if they were something I should drop off at The Salvation Army when the pandemic passes. Or, should I bring them into the house and find space for them on one of several bookcases.

Self Help

As I was trying to decide, whether it was time to part with the books or find space for them, I came upon Stephen Shapiro’s 2006 self-help gem, “Goal Free Living: How To Have The Life You Want Now.”  It has been more than a decade since I read the book. As I slowly flipped through the pages I remembered it distinctly, and wondered how I had allowed this little treasure to end up in a box in the garage. Standing there, in PJ’s and slippers, I thought the lessons from Mr. Shapiro’s book were so valuable that I should share them with  my Calamity Politics readers.

It’s Okay

Creating lists and setting goals is a typically American mind set.

Setting goals is a near religion in America.

Stephen Shapiro is the first person in my memory who gave me permission to reject the religion of goal setting that permeates the American culture.  His book encourages readers to live without the restrictions, structure and confining limits of a set of goals. His promise is that when you jettison the goal setting, you can find happiness.

If You Can Visualize It

I have been told since I was a kid, that goals of all kinds, big, small, wildly ambitious were all within my reach. I just had to want them bad enough. The rule was, if you can visualize it, you can have it; if you don’t know what you want (can’t visualize it), you might as well be lost at sea without a life-preserver. It was essential to develop a five-year-plan, kind of like China under Mao.

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Insomnia Examined

Getting to sleep is often more difficult than it should be.

Thirty per cent of the population complain of insomnia.

Insomnia Examined

By D. S. Mitchell

PJ’s And A Pillow

Are you having problems sleeping? Well you are not alone. Thirty per cent of the general population complains of regular sleep disruption. Insomnia saps energy and affects mood. Sleeplessness can put your health and work performance at risk. Common symptoms include difficulty falling asleep, waking up during the night, waking up too early, daytime tiredness, difficulty focusing, irritability, depression and anxiety. Sleep, seems like such a normal thing. You put on your PJ’s, hop in bed, and off to na-na land you go. However, for many people, sleep is as elusive as a hole-in-one. Poor or inadequate sleep is the cause of a long list of health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Simple adjustment in lifestyle and routine can often be helpful.

Caffeine Consumption

Stop drinking coffee in the afternoon

Stop drinking coffee in the afternoon.

Obviously a cup of coffee as a late afternoon pick-up may cause insomnia later that night. Everyone metabolizes caffeine at a different rate, so the cut off time for caffeine ingestion is different for each person. Often it isn’t a cup of coffee, but other caffeine laden products we don’t even think about when we eat or drink them. Examples; iced tea, chocolate, hot cocoa, yogurt, headache remedies, ice cream and breakfast cereals.  If you are having trouble sleeping, cut out coffee after lunch. But, don’t stop there; read labels and eliminate those items that contain caffeine.

Schedule It

Seniors often experience increased insomnia. After retirement schedules often go out the window. Often seniors feel schedules are a thing they left behind when they took that gold watch. It may seem as if bed time or wake up time is no longer important, since there is no job to go to.  But in fact, schedules are important whether you are old or young. It is important to promote as regular a schedule as possible, even on weekends. These times affect the release of melatonin.  Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the sleep–wake cycle. Typically, melatonin levels start to rise in the mid-to-late evening, after the sun has set. They stay elevated for most of the night while you’re in the dark. Then, they drop in the early morning as the sun rises, causing you to wake up.

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The Human Need To Reunite

The Human Need To Reunite

By Anna Hessel


Getting It Together

We all have a basic need to reunite with those who are important to us; there are many types of reunions: high school, college, and family, being some of the most popular.  We see television, movie, and band reunions, all of which bring together memories which allow us to reminisce about times gone by.

Reunions in the Media

There are a multitude of films about reunions between old flames and friends – I have watched dozens of these movies on the Hallmark Channel, alone.  I am sure we can all remember “Class Reunion”, “Peggy Sue Got Married”, “Beautiful Girls”, “10 Years”, “The Big Chill”, “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion”, and “American Reunion”, just to name a few.

Novels Too

Multiple novels about reunions fill the book shelves. “The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion” by Fannie Flagg, “After The Reunion” by Rona Jaffe, “The Odyssey of Reunion” by Abhisek Pani, “Blake’s High School Reunion” by Marcia Carrington, “Murder at the High School Reunion” by Steve Demaree, “How to Prepare for your High School Reunion, and Other Midlife Musings” by Susan Allen Toth. There is a bevy of books titled “High School Reunion”, and plethora of ones simply titled “Reunion” or “The Reunion”.  There is even “The High School Reunion Diet: Lose 20 Years in 30 Days” by David A. Colbert – this particular book reminds me of my husband’s ten year high school reunion – lots of preparation on our part to visit three hours with many people he barely knew.

How To Survive Your Class Reunion

Psychology Today has dubbed the high school reunion as “psychological time travel”.  Guideposts Magazine offers several tips for enjoying your class reunion.  A good start is recognizing that many of your old classmates may also have anxiety about attending. A great suggestion Guideposts made was to reconnect ahead of time on social media. Another suggestion was to pick up the old year book and leaf through it, reminding you of the faces, the fashions and the vibe of the time.  When at the event introduce yourself, get up and move around, ask others about their current lives, and spend time with people you didn’t know back in the day.

New Eyes

Definitely avoid heated and divisive topics such as politics, instead focus on the memories. Everyone has experienced setbacks and troubles, as well as happiness in their lives since you knew them.  Allow the passing years to disappear by looking at everyone with new eyes and a forgiving heart.  Don’t obsess about losing that last 10 pounds before you reunite; the fact is  we all age physically, even the prom queen, football star, and cheerleaders.  If it is any comfort, Chicago Magazine tells us, “your 50th high school reunion will be much better than your 20th.  Let’s face it, folks, as we age, we learn to not sweat the small stuff”.

African-American Suffering

Whether called reunions or just “family get-togethers” families have gathered for centuries for no other reason than to celebrate family heritage, faith and fun. Reunions not only give a sense of intentional preservation and family bonding for people, but satisfy a need to nurture. In the United States reunions have deep roots in African-American history, painfully recalling slavery and its toll on family units as they were torn apart and sold off to various plantations.  African-American family reunions may well date back to the Emancipation.  “Information wanted” ads were common in newspapers of the day, and may be the root of African-American reunions as people searched for lost and separated family members.

A Shifting Population

Between 1915 and 1940, a period dubbed as the “Great Migration” close to 4 million African-Americans traveled south-to-north, many heading to New York and Chicago.  The enormity of that black population shift encouraged the growth of family reunions in that demographic.  The significance of extended family formed the idea of the need for togetherness at specific times when all could be reunited.  For more information, please visit the website of the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture: #APeoplesJourney.

Today, family reunions in all cultures symbolize heritage, fellowship, and a sense of community.

Ms. Hessel is a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists

10 Ideas To Help Relieve Depression

10 Ideas To Help Relieve Depression

By David L. Jones

Depression Has Taken Over My Life

It’s Dave, here. I have for the last month been living at the bottom of a black hole. I have spent all day in bed with the comforter pulled tight over my head.  I won’t lie to you, depression has taken over my life.  Feelings of immeasurable sadness, hopelessness and utter emptiness are consuming me. This time of year is always a struggle for me, but this winter has been excruciatingly painful.

A Dark and Windowless Room

The only reason I have found the strength to pull the comforter off my head and pull up a chair to my computer and start writing, is that hopefully sharing my story, can help someone else that has found themselves trapped in a dark, door-less, window-less room.

Four Generations of Suffering

A friend of mine who also suffers from depression offered me some advice recently. She reports at least four generations of depression, alcoholism and suicide in her family. She told me that when she begins to experience depression she refuses to give herself permission to suffer.

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By Trevor K. McNeil

Always With Us

Archeologists have long known that as long as there have been people there has been sex. And nearly as long as there has been human sexuality there have been representations of it.  Whatever medium was available at the time, cave wall, animal tusk, clay or papyrus pornography was available. Obviously, our forefathers understood the benefits of pornography.

Across Cultures

Through sculpting, painting, and pottery the ancients depicted the benefits of pornography.  Egyptian artisans depicted the beauty of human sexuality. This goes for the written word, there being some pretty racy entries in the Bible.  The Song of Solomon being a famous example. The Romans through sculpture glorified human sexuality.  Pre-Christian Viking sagas told of great adventures; and no great adventure would be worth telling if there wasn’t plenty of sex.


The benefits of pornography have followed us through the ages; emerging today primarily in streaming videos on the internet.  Thanks to the vision of our forefathers we have reached for the stars and surpassed them.

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60,800 Professionals Agree: The President of the U.S. is a Crazy Ass Criminal

26000 mental health professionals signed on to a letter warning the public about Trump's mental health.

A Crazy Ass Criminal

By D. S. Mitchell

Mental Health Professionals Agree

60,000 mental health professionals have signed on to a letter warning of Donald J. Trump’s mental instability. Now 800 former prosecutors claim if Trump were not president he would have been indicted for obstruction of justice. So, that is 60,800 people who point to the president of the U.S. as a crazy ass criminal. Hmm.

800 Former Prosecutors Sign On

Recently 800 former prosecutors signed on to a letter stating that if Donald J. Trump was not President of the United States he would be indicted for obstruction of justice. Sadly, Donald J. Trump is president of the United States. This is not the first time that Donald Trump has been identified as unfit to be president of the United States.

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I Resolve To Have a Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

By Ross Turner

Welcome to 2019!

If it’s anything like 2018, it will be both over before you know it and close sometime in late 2035. But fret not; if the paradoxical currents of time have you feeling disoriented, it’s probably not that days-old mimosa you finally finished. It is much more likely the dizzying flurry of news, tweets, and arguments constantly vying for your attention. The country is changing and more divided than ever before, and every Tom, Dick and Harry is ready to prove it. So, in the spirit of retaining and regaining a little sanity, here are some helpful New Year’s resolution ideas for you and yours, for when 2019 is taking too long or moving too fast.

Less Face Time

I resolve

I resolve to use proper and attractive lighting

I, _______, hereby resolve to spend no longer than four hours per day on Facebook, and to limit my political arguments to two. At a time. Unless people are especially wrong, because are you really going to let that go?

I, _______, henceforth resolve to Instagram no more than one (1) meal per day and to use proper and attractive lighting so that my minced jackfruit soufflé doesn’t resemble spoiled dog food. I will also sharply limit my use of the following Snapchat filters: Big Eyes and Mouth, Big Glasses and Freckles, Crown of Flowers, Crown of Butterflies, Crown of Thorns (alleged), and Cat Ears and Nose. Dog Ears and Nose shall be used exclusively for Good Boys of the canine variety. Face-Swap is always okay.

I, _______, from this point resolve to keep my tweets to under 25 a day, to master Proper use of Capitalization and Speling, to be more consistent and transparent in my lies, to make new Fox and Friends, to learn to President good like Putin, and to finally put Eric up for adoption.

Go Outside!

Frantic bird house painting

Financially induced panic birdhouse painting

I, _______, solemnly resolve to get out in nature at least once a month, and to leave my cellphone at home. Well, maybe in the car. But I should put in my purse just in case. Hold on, I’m getting a call.

I, _______, resolutely resolve to pick up a new hobby this year, among them possibly: anxiety knitting, stress furniture-making, worry yoga, neurotic beekeeping, fret cycling, financially induced panic bird house painting, or CrossFit.

I, _______, resolve to resolve to meet new people, have their backs, help them up when they fall, carry them up wind from tear gas, bring ample water and protective gear, have a clear list of demands, make the elites tremble, fear nothing but fear itself, E pluribus unum.

You Can Do It

I, _______, here and now resolve to eat more healthily. I resolve to have a salad with every pizza, to drink more water than I get from opening my mouth under the shower head, and eat at least one entire stick of celery, for some reason. And, from now on, only unfrosted Pop-Tarts. It’s time to grow up.

I, _______, decidedly resolve to kick a few of my vices. No longer shall I have my pre-glass of wine before wine. No more will I procrastinate on the things I really need to do, starting tomorrow. Never again will I eat half a box of cookies before bed, even though they’re sitting there, right by the bed, right now, just waiting, so delicious.

I, _______, finally resolve to take care of myself, to spend more time around the good people in my life and let them know they’re appreciated, to slow down a bit and enjoy the small things, and of course, to bumble through my resolutions and sometimes fail, knowing I’ll get another chance soon enough.

With this exhaustive list of all possible resolutions in mind, there’s no way this won’t be your best year ever. And if it’s not, that’s okay. 2035 is right around the corner.

Editorial: Teen Suicide Streaming


Teen Suicide Streaming

By Trevor K. McNeil

Thirteen Reasons

There is often a debate about whether art is imitating life or life is imitating art. Then there are cases when the situation is clear. The thoroughly depressing Netflix series, “13 Reasons Why” is based on the Young Adult novel of the same name. The book, and now the series is a direct response to instances of teenagers, and even younger kids, posting social media videos that either directly detail their plans to commit suicide, or are released just before these  young people tragically take their own lives.

A Playlist on YouTube

So-called “suicide videos” have become so common they almost constitute a genre unto themselves. There are even playlists of them on YouTube. Let’s all just take a minute and reflect on that. Everybody thoroughly disgusted and disturbed? Good, then we’ll continue. While they came as something of a shock at first, suicide videos are really more of a natural side-effect of social media itself. Give people the ability to record and release anything and they will. For better or worse.

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