Material Things

fire alarm

Last weekend there was a house fire in Echo park. One young man died. Two were hospitalized. Two were unharmed. 

One of the hospitalized men is my brother's best friend. I also consider him a friend.

The whole story is quite long, but it appears to have been an electrical fire that spread very quickly. Ultimately, my friend sustained injuries when after having led his girlfriend and dog safely outside he thought the fire was small enough still that he could quickly grab his laptop computer (with his dissertation on it) and escape unharmed. Instead, when he was mere feet from exiting the house, the ceiling exploded and landed on him, throwing him to floor. His laptop slid several feet away and his back caught on fire. He heard a voice inside his head telling him to "Go! Go!" and he jumped up as quickly as he could and ran outside. That same inner voice recalled "Stop, drop and roll" and he immediately hit the ground rolling until the flames were out.

He made it out alive, but ultimately sustained 2nd and 3rd degree burns.

His housemate, whom my friend credits with saving all of their lives as he was the one who ran around the house, banging on doors, waking everyone up yelling, "The house is on fire!" had apparently run back into the house as well with the intention of retrieving something. This mate became trapped upstairs and ultimately he was unable to be rescued. 

It is an incredibly sad case. I never met the housemate, but by all accounts he was a guy whose last acts involved saving the of lives of the people he lived with. 

The question I have, that I can't help but have, is why did he reenter the house?

Maybe he believed one of his housemates was still inside. The timeline gets a bit fuzzy, but one housemate had to jump out the window, following his brother's voice as he called out to him from the lawn. Maybe that was why the housemate went back in. He knew his friend was still inside. 

But the other possibility, of course, is that he went back in to retrieve something material. 

I won't ever know his reason, so I'll stop speculating about his actions. 

Instead, I'll take this time to remind myself that there is never any material possession worth going back for. I absolutely understand going back for a person or a pet. Even in that case, though, I'm fairly certain that emergency response professionals would say to remain safely outside and inform the firemen that someone is still inside so that they can handle it. 

It's one of those classic questions that people like to ask, some version of: "If your house is on fire and you can only grab one possession..."

But the reality is that while, of course, we all have irreplaceable sentimental items or important objects that are critical parts of our lives, we can ultimately do without all of them. We can. Perhaps our lives would have to change or we will have lost something with deep emotional ties, but we can move on from that. 

And it is amazing how people rally together in times of crisis and loss. Friends and strangers alike will pull together to help out those who have lost possessions. As a community, we can replace everyday essentials and help to create new memories of caring and support.

I am absolutely grateful for my few things. I don't own much, but what I do I'm glad I have. I do not wish to see them destroyed or otherwise taken from me. Certain electronics are quite critical to my livelihood. Certain clothes and books are comforts. And I certainly have a few sentimental items. And yet. And yet.

And yet I could move on. I could eventually replace items. Over time and "with a little help from my friends..."

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Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.

Themes of 2013- Part 2

Now, what about the reigning themes of pop culture in 2013?  

via imgfave.com

via imgfave.com

In 2013, American culture said goodbye to Breaking Bad, hello again to boy bands and what the hell? to the most ineffective congress in U.S. history.  But the overriding theme that will probably dominate most 2013 pop culture wrap ups is something else.  In 2013 mainstream pop culture was introduced to the idea of Twerking.  While I have no real interest in talking at large about a dance move, I do think the juicy nugget within that topic is about the larger conversations that went on after Twerking hit the airwaves.

Once again, female sexuality and body image came front and center.

I've read a lot of articles and heard a bunch of commentary about people's reactions to the general omnipresence of mostly-naked pop stars and overt sexual imagery. Ironically, these shouts of outrage are fueling the epidemic and encouraging more of it by garnering massive attention to these displays.  These objections are also not new. This whole cycle isn't new. Miley is being vilified today.  Britney and Christina were vilified 10 years ago, and Madonna was vilified before that.  Why the topic of female sexuality, and women's behavior in general, garner the most vehement reactions by the public is of interest to me.

I don't think there is any doubt that men and women are treated differently when it comes to sexuality and behavior.  

via feelmorebetter.com

via feelmorebetter.com

Society at large seems to be fairly uncomfortable with the idea of young women having sex.  All of the laws and conversations about birth control, HPV vaccines, abstinence and abortion tend to stem from a deep seeded belief that young women (and women in general) should not be having sex.  Otherwise, the conversations would be different.  It is a proven fact that teaching abstinence results in more teenage pregnancies than methods that teach safe sex measures.  The HPV vaccine is targeted at curbing an epidemic of the most common STD that can result in CANCER, but some people fear that if a girl gets the vaccine it will magically result in her either having sex immediately or ultimately later having more sex or both (and the implicit connotation there is that her having sex is bad.)  If those who oppose abortion truly are against the idea of a fetus being terminated, then they would support birth control because it has been proven that the number one way to cut down on abortions is to increase use of birth control.  Instead, the powers (and followers) who oppose abortion tend to also be against birth control rights.  Therefore, the central thread is that sex should be minimal and only for procreation.  Of course, the burden of responsibility under that doctrine tends to fall much more heavily upon women than men as well.

But back to the twerking.  Why are we, as a society, so preoccupied with displays of female sexuality in pop music performances?

Personally, I agree that there seems to be a general uniformity and lack of creative diversity amongst the marketing campaigns of pop music.  The entertainment industry does seem a bit stuck in their ability to promote artists.  Interestingly, there is actually way more music (and all other art forms) available today than ever before thanks to technology that allows aspiring artists to publish their own material and make it technically available to a large mass of people.  I say 'technically' because with such a vast amount of stuff out there in internet land, people will only find it if they know where to look.  So yes, I do absolutely wish that the record companies and other influential playmakers will help diversify the market and get different representations of sexuality and human behavior (other than the one-size-fits-all concept of aggressive, in-your-face nearly naked dancing) into the mainstream.  

That said, I think that it is possible to recognize that there are some missing opportunities for a greater range of artistic expression without having a conniption fit every time a woman takes off her clothes.  Seriously, a MTV award show performance probably should not dominate the public conversation for as long as it did.  (And yes, I recognize that I am talking about it, but honestly I'm really talking about the larger issues.)  Granted, maybe it was a marketing ploy.  I assume that controversy still sells, and it could be a conscious choice by businessmen to keep those conversations going. Even if that is true, I would argue that we take the bait too easily.  We shouldn't keep finding displays of female sexuality so shocking and we shouldn't keep feeling the need to scorn these young women.  (I mean, come on.  We are doing this so much that that the term "slut-shaming" now exists.)  After all, we are talking about sex- not violence. As a culture, we seem way more tolerant of violence in representation than of sex.  Why is that?  

So long 2013, I hope 2014 brings some new ideas into the mix and leaves behind a bit of the mania.

via fitnessgoop.com

via fitnessgoop.com

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Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.

Themes of 2013- Part 1

Before we collectively ring in the New Year, what is there to take away from this wacky year that has passed?

via pinterest

via pinterest

On a personal level, 2013 was the year I graduated from graduate school with a M.S. degree.  It was the year I completed my clinical internship and passed my subsequent board exam.  It was also the year I launched this website.  Ultimately, it was a year of books and computer screens.

But what about the intangibles?

I definitely had some inner growth.  Every day has been about becoming a little bit closer to the person I aspire to be.  To gain faith and confidence in myself.  To cultivate my own observer and turn down the volume on any self-judgements.  

I see many more glimmers and glances into that woman.  Everyday she becomes slightly more real.  

I am proud of the person I am becoming.  There are days of doubt and struggle, but I do look back on my early twenties and have thoughts of, "If I knew then...!"  It seems funny and strange, to identify with something so clichรฉ.  But I do.  And I suppose I will continue to have those thoughts as I age.

Alas, it is still a process.

Oh to have the freedom of figuring out exactly what I want to do and how to do it- without fear!  To have the audacity to be me!

I think that is how I shall ring in the new year.  I'll toast to that!

via pinterest

via pinterest

I'm attempting to come up with the word that I want to choose for 2014.  I really like the idea of picking 'my word' ever since reading about the concept of a city or person having their own word in Eat Pray Love.  A person's word can certainly change over time, so I think declaring my word for the year is a nice spin on the classic "resolutions" concept.

I've been mulling it over a bit and I think I've landed on it: GUMPTION.

I resolve to remember to live my life with gumption in 2014.

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Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.