yellow safety first sign

How to keep yourself safe

  1. Stop worrying so much about being safe.

Life isn’t safe. Excellence isn’t safe. Innovation isn’t safe. Fun isn’t safe. And truly, what’s “safe” for the short-term is often not so over time. Staying at home and watching TV is safe, but it boredom and inactivity are perilous in their own ways. Staying in a job that you don’t love is safe, but burnout and lack of interest are real dangers.

It’s OK to get dirty, to get a few bruises, to get lost. These are often some of our most memorable and transformative experiences. Sure, there are limits. Common sense things— wear a helmet, tell someone where you’re going. But for pete’s sake, go! When I go to my krav maga class, I don’t take hard hits to the head, but I get hit. I get bruises. This is a good thing— it lets me know that I don’t need to shut down and freak out if I get a little roughed up. Because in life, you WILL get roughed up, even if you’re  careful. Continue reading

glass door of "Alias Investigations"

The badass female project: Jessica Jones

Jessica Jones: she has the surface-level badass bonafides: leather jacket, attitude, drinking problem, super strength (!?).  But Jessica’s rightousness is buried a little deeper—and her exploits throughout the series poke relentlessly at the question of what it means to be a hero.

So what was I doing watching Jessica Jones in the first place? I’m not really a comic book person. I like me some great graphic novels, but the superhero stuff hasn’t ever really been my thing. When I first saw ads for the Luke Cage TV show, I thought it said “luge cake” and I was excited about that. But Netflix thought I might like Jessica Jones, so I gave it a shot. (Aside: I did read some of the Jessica Jones comics when I got interested in this project, but they’re more Marvel-y than the TV show, and I don’t want to go down that rabbit hole— not today, anyway). My first impression was that the first episode drew heavily on Lisbeth Salander for inspiraiton, so I was ready to like it. And I did.

So, what is Jessica’s deal? Continue reading

It’s the iliopsoas, stupid!

What do low back pain, knee problems, poor pelvic alignment, hip popping, and weak glute muscles have in common? Besides the fact that all of these things suck and they are common complaints in my clinic. . . read on.

illustration of iliopsoas musclesThe iliopsoas (the p is silent) muscles run from the lumbar vertebrae (lower back) and interior of the ilium (hip/pelvis bones) to the inside of the femur (thigh bone). There are actually two muscles that make up this group: the psoas major (origin at T12-L5 vertebrae) and the iliacus (origin at iliac fossa of ilium). They are generally considered together, and they generally act together and insert together at the lesser trochanter of the femur. Phew. Ok. Why should you care about these little dudes?

Mirror muscles, they are not. Because they’re located deep to other structures, it’s not easy to see and feel them, so many people aren’t even aware that they’re there until something goes awry. But they are critically important to function and performance. The iliopsoas mucles are major hip flexors, pulling the thigh up to the abdomen, and stabilizers of the trunk and pelvis. They get major action with movements like running and cycling, or the constant external rotation of things like ballet, but they can also get weak and tight from sitting in a chair for long periods of time. Think about where those muscles go and what your position is doing to them. Sitting followed by hard training? That sounds like a perfect storm. No wonder they are often troublemakers!

What happens when things aren’t right in iliopsoas land? Sometimes it’s hip-specific problems like:

  • snapping hip syndrome, thought to be related to iliopsoas tendinitis or tendinosis
  • Iliopsoas bursitis, painful inflammation of the cuishioning fluid sacs
  • iliopsoas syndrome- pain and stiffness that can travel to the abdomen, butt, groin, lower back, hip, and thigh

But the trouble can also be more insidious. Continue reading

The Badass Female Project: the Woman who hates Men who hate Women

I’m starting with Lisbeth Salander because she’s the one who got me thinking about this. I liked the idea of working more with female creators as well as female characters, and I still do, but I love Lisbeth so much that I can’t leave her waiting. It took me years to start reading this series, because it seemed like a fad, like a throw-away thriller. . . but no, no, no. They’re  action-packed, yes, but also smart, creative, and thought-provoking. (There are movies, too— a Swedish triology, and an American version. They’re all pretty good, but read the books first. I’m just a book person, OK?).

First, a little background (but no spoilers): Lisbeth Salander is the protagonist of Swedish writer Stieg Larsson’s “Millenium” series, the first and most well-known of which is called The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo in English. The translation of the original title, however, is Men Who Hate Women. They should have kept it, because it’s the heart of what makes Lisbeth a badass. Not her boxing, hacking skills, tattoos, or motorbike (but those are all pretty dope). Lisbeth Salander has a solid internal moral code, and she is not cowed by anyone or anything. She will not excuse men who hate women, and she has plenty of material to work with.

Continue reading

Running on a Hot Day: Why Bother?

There are lots of tips out there for how to surive running in the heat— basically, go early or late, hydrate appropriately, wear light clothing, run slower. But if you’re not training for a hot race (Badwater? what are you, nuts?), why bother?

Well, there are likely physiological benefits, so if you care about that sort of thing, or you’re looking for a performance goal, keep reading. Training in the heat can potentially improve VO2 max, blood plasma volume, sweat rate, and skeletal muscle force— and this translates into cooler conditions. Neat!

Continue reading

protester at science march

Why “badass”?

The badass female is on the rise! As I’ve been thinking about this project, the first question that comes to mind is: What is a badass, anyway? Sure, you know it when you see it— someone’s in full-on fight mode, kicking ass and taking names, and you watch, awe-struck. What a badass! But what makes a badass different from a villian, or a soldier, or a bully? I did some reading (because that’s what I do).  Megan Garber wrote in at Atlantic blog, pointing out that the term has shifted beyond big tattooed guys with guns to also include women with swagger. Jim Taylor wrote on Psychology Today about different kinds of badass— the macho and the humble. And Tyler Protano-Goodwin has a Thought Catalog piece suggsting the softer and more complex charactaristics of the female badass.

Dictionary.com says badass is vulgar slang for a person who is difficult, mean-tempered, or touchy— OR, “distinctively tough or powerful; so exceptional as to be intimidating”. Similarly, Merriam-Webster suggests two definitions: one suggesting a troublemaker, and the other a person of “formidable strength or skill.” These second definitions— strength, power– are closer to my meaning.

Better still: urbandictionary.com suggests a badass is “fearless, authentic, compassionate, and ethical.” Now we’re talking— add that to the strength and power, and we’re in business.

How about: A person who channels her strength and power into value-driven, authentic, and compassionate action.

This has a tinge of Paolo Friere’s definition of praxis,too, doesn’t it? Transformation through action and critical reflection. A distinct willingness to stick it to the man when called for. Grit.  That, my friends, is badass.

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