From Overstimulated to Activated

When you consider how much information is around us, and how our brain functions to filter and prioritize all these things, it’s a wonder that we can get anything done. It takes an incredible amount of energy and focus to do something or learn something with excellence, consideration, and passion, and then of course to follow through on what’s been done or learned in some meaningful, valuable way. So often, we (or, at least people like me) feel pulled in a myriad of directions, only half-attentive, distracted, giving only a surface level thought to what we’ve read or seen or heard. If anyone out there is like me, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the volume of information pouring in from every direction. Predictably, technology is at the center of this overabundance of stimuli, coupled with a fast-paced social structure propelled by competition, and the subsequent shifting of our brains, our consciousness, our unconsciousness, constantly sorting through it all.

I read an article, The Consequences of Living in an Overstimulated Society (collective-evolution dot com). Ironically, on this page, surrounding the article about over-stimulation, you will find 3 social media links in two different locations, 1 email link, 7 advertisements with links, 6 menu links, and an intro and link to 3 more related articles. The page looked so dreadfully busy, I almost didn’t read the article. But, we have gotten accustomed to that, haven’t we? It wouldn’t look right, wouldn’t look legitimate, without all the links and buttons and bling.

The evidence that my mind splatters into multiple directions could be proven by what I’ve deliberately watched or looked up on the computer so far today, within a few hours (minus email and all of its splatterings, which I limit). And the reasons I looked at all this seem quite responsible and reasonable on the surface. That’s just the thing; it’s all on the surface, unless another step is taken.

This morning I listened to a lecture about sentence structure; read news about the hurricane; read advice about how often to clean your bath or shower (which led to how often to clean a whole buttload of things–thank you, Martha Stewart, for trying to replace my writing time with chores); read an article about Eliud Kipchoge’s new marathon world record at the Berlin Marathon; looked up how often the American Heart Association recommends eating fish (twice a week); read an article about a new MRI technology that will predict outcomes after cardiac arrest; looked up how much it cost to pressure wash a house; and finally, looked at a cooking club for kids with gift ideas in mind for my youngest. And then the article about overstimulation. Ha!

The only way to transform information from surface-level to value-added level is to do something—change a behavior, share the information, or take action. So, with that, I need to write better sentences, clean more often (ugh), donate to hurricane relief, eat fish twice a week, share the MRI article with patients or coworkers, schedule a pressure wash on our house, and sign Carolyn up for the cooking club. With these steps, my newest brain connections won’t be left idle at the surface, but will extend and enrich and enhance at deeper levels than before. Now, I just need time and money.

What about you, readers? Are you overwhelmed with stimulation? What’s the last thing you read or looked up? What are you going to do about it?


What Really Happens on a 12-Mile Run


You start off the day drinking fluids and timing your breakfast at least an hour before you run, so you don’t taste vanilla yogurt and granola the whole time.

You convince yourself that two cups of coffee is almost as good as drinking water.

You laugh as you hit one mile because thinking “only eleven miles to go” sounds absurd.

You feel good through about mile six, then things get interesting.

Your feet cramp.

Your hamstrings don’t want to extend your legs very far.

Your calves feel like two inflexible blocks of wood.

You pass a catering restaurant and smell burgers, which makes your mouth water—even at 9 o’clock in the morning.

You pass other runners, lifting your hand in a half-wave and smiling, happy that you found another person who appreciates the level of commitment/insanity required to run in 75% humidity.

Your hands swell.

Your face feels like you’re holding it over a burning stove.

Your bulky GPS watch is sliding up and down from sweat.

Your shorts feel weird.

You momentary stop to stretch out your calves before they cramp up, and as you bend over, your back is so tight you feel like you are ninety years old.

Your train of thought is amazingly sporadic, a jumble of ideas and whims and observations.

You are too tired to change your playlist, so you are listening to the same songs over and over again.

You see a mean looking dog barking and running across an unfenced yard in your direction, but breathe a sigh of relief that it’s been trained not to attack runners on the jogging path.

A bug flies up underneath your visor, so you flap it out while trying to maintain your pace.

You catch your reflection in a glass door and wonder why you don’t look at all like the runners in Runner’s World.

You repeatedly check your distance on your watch on the last mile because God forbid you do even a tenth of a mile too long.

You stop your watch right at 12.00 miles and hobble the rest of the way to the car, crossing the parking lot diagonally so you don’t have to walk more than necessary.

In the car, you sit on a towel because you are soaked.

You have the unique ability to scrape white salt off your red face.

Your legs don’t really feel like driving and your glutes feel achy and your second toe on your right foot feels bruised, but you make it home.

You can’t move very quickly the rest of the day because your lower body is not cooperating.

And then you plan the next long distance run.

Because you are a runner.

And that makes you just a little mad.

When the iPod Stops

I’ll confess vehemently that I do not like technology. Of course I’m lying; I actually love technology when it works quickly and flawlessly. What irks me is having to keep up with the changes and upgrades in order to keep things working nicely. Being a middle-aged person and a veritable cheapskate who has learned that money does not grow on trees, I find this requirement akin to getting teeth pulled without lidocaine and then having to shell out money for it.

I don’t spend a lot of money on tech. I never waited in line for the newest model of anything—except I do look forward to the latest Saucony Guide Running shoes, but I have yet to see a line outside a store for those beauties. I have an ASUS laptop from 2013 with no frills, a standard PC—from 2012 which is getting tired, a printer from 2006 that HP can’t run updates on because its too old, and a cheap AT&T smartphone that only has enough memory for the preloaded apps and takes terrible pictures. When I see little kids holding their sweet little iPhones that are bigger than their heads? Ah, the pain becomes real.

But it’s my iPod nano from 2006 that “they” don’t make anymore which is causing my current dilemma. It is a 2nd Generation which means it’s from the Industrial Age. Every year I seem to have been able to still keep it working with the upgrades, even having to manually move songs on it because it will no longer sync, and I learned how to reset it whenever it glitches. But, I’ve come to the point where the computer refuses to recognize it when I plug it in. It’s like the club doors have been shut, and the little iPod can’t knock loud enough for the big, bad updated bouncers to hear it. I’ve Googled fixes, but nothing has worked.

I need to acknowledge that it’s old and decrepit, and I might just need to replace it. But besides the cost, I feel bad for my iPod. She’s been with me for twelve years; she’s been the perfect size and weight—I don’t want something bigger. She’s been to all of my races—even the one where she glitched at the starting line and wouldn’t turn on, so I had to run with earbuds and no music. When she shuffles songs, she’ll sometimes play Christmas songs in July which makes me laugh. She’s lived in five different states. She’s been on airplanes. She’s been in hotels with me when I run on the treadmills at 5 am while the rest of the building is sleeping. She’s actually the only reason I can tolerate running on a treadmill in the first place.

Maybe by some miracle, the next music player I find will be even better, and I’ll make peace with the replacement. But, right now I’m truly grieving and mad at technology. Like a kid, I will stick my tongue out at it. Like a rotten teenager, I will flip it off. Like an adult, I will blog about it, then figure out how many hours I have to work to buy something brand new that will be old in five years.

Eh, at least it’ll keep me running.