We can’t help it.

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I was reading an article on Medium about a week ago on transgender issues. One of the commenters had a startling take: he said that as a psychotherapist he refused to call one of his female transgender patients by her preferred pronouns, because she was living in a “fantasy of a female body” and he couldn’t validate that.

Other commenters predictably attacked this comment for its harshness and inhumanity. I found myself objecting to the refusal to use pronouns, while at the same time agreeing with the fantasy part of his comment.

Hear me out.

I am against transphobia. I…

This is why the police have to be restructured. Society needs to start over with law enforcement.

Some people just pissed me off.

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I have done a lot of things in my life more or less out of spite. Like learning to play the violin because my best friend in 1971, a spoiled ten-year-old girl, told me I would never be able to play it. Fast forward fifty years, and I’m learning the first Beethoven violin sonata as my retirement project. So there, bitch.

But an initial spiteful impetus can lead to meaningful outcomes. And time mellows rigid ideas like an autumn ode by the unforgettable romantic poet John Keats, who coined the term “negative capability,” the ability to accept ambiguity.

When I…

At age 60, I have finally embraced my radical incompetence.

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I started playing the violin when I was 14. My parents bought me a second-hand violin for $30.00 way back when we still lived in Newfoundland in the nineteen seventies. It was signed inside by the maker who was a man named John who hailed from a village called Joe Batt’s Arm. I think he also carved the black wooden case it came with. It was my Christmas present in 1973.

I didn’t actually start playing until two years later when we moved to Ontario. There was no music program at my junior high school in St. John’s, and my…

Wonderful! A great explanation of the archetypes.

As an English teacher, I used to teach archetypes using the theories of Jung and Northrop Frye. Reading this, I almost wish I could teach again and use your article as a reading and model for the assignment on personal and literary archetypes that I used to give.

Too bad I read it one year too late!

But that doesn’t mean we can’t do anything about it.

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Are humans just smooth primates? Yes and no. It’s complicated. We have an inherent, biologically driven nature and a socially constructed nature. The relationship between them has been debated ever since biology was first defined as a science. In the late twentieth century it became a tired, cliched discussion known as the nature-nurture debate.

In the early twenty-first century, it seems that the reality of human biological nature is far, far more complicated than most thinkers in the last century suspected.

When philosophers get involved, the discussion gets heated. But I’m jumping in anyway.

An overview of human nature

Humans are hardwired to seek status…

My best friends are all in my family.

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Today is Family Day in Canada. It’s a statutory holiday invented a few years ago to help strengthen the Canadian family. It sometimes seems a little artificial. Or like it should come with a trigger warning for people who don’t have strong family relationships. People who might feel even more alone and vulnerable on a day like today when so many families are getting together to go skating or or watch hockey or do whatever typical Canadian families do.

I wouldn’t actually know. My Canadian family is anything but typical. But it’s all I have. You see, at age sixty…

I feel like there are a few things you’re not getting.

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This morning I woke up early, as I usually do, and picked up my phone from my bedside table. It’s kind of a ritual. I turn on my phone, take it off night-time mode and check the weather.

Something was different this morning. Something told me to click on the Medium app first. I’m glad I did. I saw this amazing article from Jessica Wildfire:

Jessica explains, very brilliantly IMHO, that Americans today are in a financial bind because they can’t save money, they can’t buy or pay off a house, they don’t have healthcare, and, therefore, they can’t invest…

What you eat is as important as how much.

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In the first article of this series, I wrote about how I learned to control my weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol through a structured approach to diet and exercise:

When I first worked with my nutritionist, she had me do a blood test that would determine my optimal foods for weight loss and a healthy metabolism. The test generated a list of specific foods that I would eat for the duration of the diet. A friend of mine used the same nutritionist and her blood test generated a completely different list of foods.

The diet was successful for both of…

Maybe you need more structure.

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I was originally going to call this article “I tried intermittent fasting for a month. Here’s what happened.”

I had just read Life in the Fasting Lane by Jason Fung, M.D., Eve Mayer and Megan Ramos. It is a book that advocates the strategic use of intermittent fasting for weight loss. I found it very convincing. It also seemed easy. The testimonials from the other two co-authors were inspiring. It suggested that body-transforming results were possible just from limiting food intake for 16 hours per day.

I lasted about two weeks and I didn’t lose any weight.

Intermittent fasting was…

Shoshana Kaufman

Mother, Teacher, wife, food lover, spiritual searcher.

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