Commentary #74: The “New Science of Psychedelics”

The New Science of Psychedelics

Image Credit: NPR

Many of you know that I enjoy listening to podcasts. One that I listen to regularly is NPR’s Fresh Air podcast.

This week, Terry Gross interviewed Michael Pollan, a world-renowned author. His books have typically focused on food and agriculture.

However, his new book, titled How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence, discusses the history of psychedelics, and the “new” uses of them to help treat anxiety, depression, and helping cancer patients face their mortality.

There have been two phases of clinical trials up until now, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just approved Phase III, which is “testing of drug on patients to assess efficacy, effectiveness and safety.”

In researching for the book, Pollan himself became a “reluctant psychonaut” with LSD and psilocybin (magic mushroom) to see if these effects were real.

I won’t tell you Pollan’s results, but it’s a really interesting process. I recommend listening to the podcast version of the show, as it’s an extended edition, where Pollan and Gross discuss the history of psychedelics, which is so fascinating to learn. It’s amazing to learn how LSD was first synthesized, and how it has had a turbulent history. Pollan also discusses psilocybin to an extent, which is another interesting part of the story.

For me, I was definitely more than a little skeptical. I’ve never used any drugs or psychedelics in my life. I’ve seen counselors and therapists.

However, Pollan lessened my skepticism a bit during his interview with Gross. One of his interview subjects was a woman who had survived ovarian cancer. She was absolutely terrified of it recurring, and she was paralyzed with fear. She found a guide, a therapist who administered small doses of one of these psychedelics, and helped her along her trip. She discovered this “black mass” underneath her rib cage during the trip, and originally though it was her cancer. The guide helped her understand that it wasn’t cancer, but in reality it was her fear and anxiety. During the trip, she commanded the black mass to leave her body, and it did.

When Pollan’s fact-checker called to verify her account right before the book’s publication, Pollan’s original words were something to the effect of “this black mass was significantly reduced after her experiences with psychedelics.”

The woman corrected the fact-checker over the phone and said, “No, it wasn’t ‘significantly reduced.’ It was extinguished.”

Again, some of my skepticism remains, but as someone who has a diagnosed anxiety disorder (GAD), hearing the woman’s story gave me hope. I truly believe these psychedelics helped her.


For more information, check out the following links:


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Advertisements

Getting Personal #123: Home Improvement, Part 3

Home Improvement - MoneySpace

Image Credit: MoneySpace

Time for another Home Improvement update!

If you’re interested, here are the links to my previous Home Improvement posts:


Master Bedroom

I don’t have a current photo to share, but we finally got rid of the old curtain rods and ugly brown fabric! We have proper blinds now, like the rest of the house. Woohoo!


Living Room

This is an older photo, but we took down the old brackets above the big picture window. We went to Lowe’s and picked out fancy silver curtain rods, and coordinating / complementary curtains. The pattern is so pretty!

Since this photo was taken, Al bought two more panels so we close the curtains if we want to.


Lady Lounge

Nearly complete!!

I took this photo on April 12th.

Al’s dad was delivering the custom doll cabinet and wardrobe, so I needed to clear the space!

Delivery day: April 14th. It’s so beautiful!

On the left, Stephanie is the American Girl doll I’ve had since I was nine years old. She’s 20 now! And Molly was my dream doll. I bought her in 2013.

All six dolls! Left to right: Stephanie (American Girl of Today), Molly (Historical, 1944), Kit (Historical, 1934), Autumn (American Girl of Today), Chrissa (Girl of the Year, 2009), and Z (Contemporary Character, 2017).

The double-sided shoe rack still has room!

One Saturday, I was feeling super stressed and anxious about a lot of things. I went into my Lady Lounge, picked a different outfit for each doll, and re-dressed them. When I was done, I felt so much calmer and relaxed.

Molly is wearing the American Girl of Today Play Outfit from 1998. Kit is wearing the Beachside Outfit, first released in 2003.

Stephanie is wearing one of my all-time favorites, the Earth Day Outfit, which was released in 1996.

Autumn is wearing the Birthday Outfit from 1998. Chrissa is sporting the Picnic Outfit from 1998. Z is wearing one of her own outfits, Z’s Sightseeing Outfit from 2017.


Have you made any home improvements recently? I’d love to hear about it!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #72: Books That Every Reader Needs To Read

Books Everyone Should Read - Imgur

This is a consensus cloud of Books Everyone Should Read. Image Credit: Imgur

Thrice Read! You ladies are on a roll!

Here’s the link to their post:


So, without further ado, here’s my list!

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

  • I’ve expressed multiple times how much I love this book. I re-read it every year. It’s amazing sometimes how you fall in love with assigned reading!

To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee

  • This was another assigned reading book. It was incredibly powerful for me. I don’t re-read it every year, but I have read it multiple times.

The Notebook, Nicholas Sparks

  • Aside from the movie (2004) being excellent, the book is one of my all-time favorites from Sparks. It’s a classic romance, in my opinion.

The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank

  • Another assigned reading book that has stuck with me. Learning Anne’s story was pivotal, as I have Jewish relatives and ancestry. Plus, I’ve been fascinated by anything related to World War II for as long as I can remember.

The Giver, Lois Lowry

  • Lowry is one of my favorite authors. This book initially scared me, and gave me nightmares, so it was left unfinished for years. I think I finally got through it for the first time in college. It’s a powerful book. Plus, the movie adaptation (2014) is decent, too.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J.K. Rowling

  • I don’t think I will ever not mention Harry Potter. Although I was a late bloomer in terms of reading the series, once I started, I was absolutely hooked. Rowling is a literal wizard!

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

  • I dove right in after it was published. This started the big dystopian kick for me. This book, and series, are ones that I will always keep on my bookshelf.

The Help, Kathryn Stockett

  • I love historical fiction, especially set in the 20th century. I devoured it within a few days, and then my mom read it. The movie (2011) is a great watch, too. Mom and I saw it together.

The Glass Castle, Jeanette Walls

  • I can’t remember who recommended Walls’ memoir, but I’m so glad they did. I could not put this book down, although I probably should have been studying at the time. Walls is an amazing writer and storytelling, and her family’s adventures are something to behold. This, and her other books, will always be on my shelves.

Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

  • This was another assigned reading book, for one of our first presentations in Mr. Degnan’s ninth-grade English class. Originally, I hated the book. But, years later, I re-read it, and now I love it.

Night, Elie Wiesel

  • My school district focused on World War II and the Holocaust in middle school. We did a huge unit on the Holocaust, and this book was a big part of it. However, this is one of those books that I’ve only read once, since it absolutely haunted me.

The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton

  • I don’t remember when I first read this book, but it’s always stuck with me. I found myself re-reading it several years ago, when I was going on job interviews right out of college. It’s one of those pivotal books that has so many lessons wrapped up in a good story. Plus, the movie adaptation (1983) is excellent – One of the best adaptations I’ve ever seen.

The Awakening, Kate Chopin

  • I agree with Thrice Read on this one. You either love it or hate it. I loved it from the first read.

The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck

  • Although fictional, Steinbeck perfectly captures the essence of despair as a family leaves Oklahoma to escape the Dust Bowl. But, life isn’t as rosy as they thought once they arrive in California. It’s a classic book about such a tumultuous time in American history.

The Polar Express, Chris Van Allsburg

  • I’m going to recommend Allsburg’s books as a whole (He’s written many, including Jumanji and Zathura), but The Polar Express was a childhood staple. My parents had the hardcover book, the cassette tape, and the bell. We also went to see the movie (2004) as a family. It will always hold a special place in my heart.

This was such a fun post! So much nostalgia!

What’s a book you believe ever reader should read at some point?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Tag #49: Extraordinary Means Book Tag

Quotefancy

Image Credit: Quotefancy

Thrice Read posts some of the best book tags!

Here’s the link to their post:


I would give up the Internet for a month for a signed first edition of this book …

  • The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald is one of my favorite authors. It’s one book that I re-read every year, too.

I would give up pizza for a year if it meant I could sit next to this author on a long plane ride …

  • J.K. Rowling. Hands down. I’ve always wanted the chance to meet her.

I would sit through a thousand hours of commercials if it would ensure that Hollywood made this book into a movie …

  • One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It was assigned reading in high school. I’m usually not a big fan of magic realism, but I’d love to see Hollywood works their magic on this one.

I would never read a new book again if it meant I could live inside this book …

  • I agree with Thrice Read. It would have to be Harry Potter. Period. No discussion. End of conversation.

 

 

I would let my Google search history be made public if it meant I could be best friends with this author …

  • Too many choices! First author that popped into my head – Sarah Dessen. She was a key figure in my Young Adult Literature choices throughout high school, and part of college. Yes, please!

 

I would donate everything I own to Goodwill if it meant I could date this book character in real life …

  • A modern version of Mr. Darcy.

 


This was such a fun and different tag! Keep ’em coming, Thrice Read!

What are some things you guys would give up for bookish opportunities?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #71: “My Non-Fictionalized Love”

Image result for love quotes

Image Credit: BrainyQuote

I’m part of a really cool group on Facebook called Bloggers Helping Bloggers. It’s a unique community, where members can share their recent posts, publicize their blogs, and provide tips and tricks to the group as a whole.

Through Bloggers Helping Bloggers, I recently discovered Melissa, the author of Perspective Changes Everything.

She posted a link to her most recent post to her Facebook page this morning, and I devoured it immediately. What a powerful message!

Here’s the link to her post:

 


Image result for love

Image Credit: Thought Catalog

Melissa and I are a lot alike. We’ve always had our noses in books, since we were kids. She loved Danielle Steel as much as I did.

She watched more soap operas than I did, but I remember learning about them from my grandmothers and a few other female family members. Personally, I never saw the appeal of watching them religiously, although I did see a few episodes when I stuck home sick in middle school and high school. I always found myself rolling my eyes, hardly believing the drama that the actors were projecting, and changing the channel within a few minutes.

Melissa also referenced the movie adaptation of The Notebook, which I still watch occasionally. I’ve read almost all of Nicholas Sparks’ books at this point, plus seen most of the movies. I told Melissa in a comment on her Facebook post that I did my senior thesis in college on the perceptions of love and romance with the Nicholas Sparks books. True story!

But, as time has passed, I noticed that my perception of love and romance had always been heavily influenced by the books I read, and the movies I watched.

And, today, those perceptions are very different from the media portrayals.


I’ve seen this evidence in my own relationships. I’m a Christian woman, so I was raised to save sex for after marriage.

However, as early as middle school, I noticed that some of the Disney Channel Original Movies (DCOMs), and young adult literature was already shaping my young mind. I thought about, dreamt about a boy kissing me in front of the entire school, youth group, what have you. PDA all the way, LOL.

When I was in high school, I found myself fantasizing about being swept away by a handsome boy/man, falling in love, and eventually having sex with him. Marriage would be nice, too, and hopefully kids (ideally a boy and a girl), but I knew that was a long way off. I’d dated two guys by the time I was headed to college, and I was a full year into the third relationship by the time I started at Longwood in August 2007.

Some of you know that my third relationship, from 2006-2010, quickly became manipulative and eventually abusive. Not a Lifetime movie type of situation, but there was definitely drama.

When I first met Al in 2010, I was just starting to heal. I’d been through immense trauma, and it’s taken me many years to deal with all the repercussions. Nearly four years of manipulation and abuse is a long time. But, I’m grateful that I was able to finally recognize the signs, and escape when I did.

If I had stayed with John any longer, he would have proposed to me less than a month later, the day after my birthday in 2010. Knowing me, I would have said yes.


It’s interesting to think about my first date with Al. When I’ve told the story to people, I usually get the following comments:

  • Oh, wow. That’s so sweet!
  • It sounds like a fairy tale.
  • It sounds like something out of a Nicholas Sparks book / movie.
  • That’s so romantic.
  • Awwwww!

I’m always flattered. Trust me. That first date was something truly special, and I think about it often.

I learned on our wedding day, more than five years later, that Al knew he wanted to marry me after that first date.

For me, it took me about a week to realize that’s what I wanted. Mainly because I wanted to make sure this whole thing wasn’t a dream – That it was reality.

Nearly the first year of our relationship was “long-distance,” because I was a senior at Longwood, three hours away. Thankfully, we got along so well from the very beginning, that we didn’t have a lot of fights, disagreements, arguments, etc.

Were there stressful times? Absolutely. I remember multiple times feeling incredibly guilty because I only had 5-10 minutes to talk to him on the phone, because my schedule was so packed. It’s a wonder that I slept well at all during those two semesters!

I’m grateful that we both are good communicators, because I’m convinced that’s one of the main reasons we’ve been together for so long. Sure, there are definitely times that we struggle with it.

Because of the manipulation and abuse, I was truly afraid to speak my mind and express my feelings for the longest time, and Al helped me overcome that fear. He was so respectful of me from the get-go, willing to listen, and to just hold me if all I could do at that particular moment was cry. I’ve learned to become a better listener throughout the years, and I know that’s improved my communication skills.

Another revelation for me was being diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) in the summer of 2015. I always knew that I had anxious tendencies for many years, but getting the actual diagnosis was huge for me. It answered so many questions. I know Al was grateful that I saw the need to see a counselor at that time, given my expression of unresolved feelings regarding my relationship with John, and we were toward the end of planning our wedding. I knew I needed to lay everything on the table before making this life-long commitment to Al a few months later. At the time, I was also struggling with a friendship/relationship with a male classmate-turned-friend, Justin.

We got married on November 14, 2015. Al makes me so happy, truly. Together, we bought our house in the summer of 2016, and we hope to adopt a greyhound later this year.

We both have stable jobs. We look forward to doing some traveling before 2018 ends. And, we’re starting to plan for the future, too.

One of my favorites :)

One of my favorite photos from our wedding. Image Credit: Stellar Exposures

I believe that everything happens for a reason, and that we were meant to find each other. Al’s brother, Nick, was the main instigator for getting us together, and I can’t properly express my gratitude.


Throughout the years, I’ve witness multiple “true love” stories, many in my own family.

  • My parents, married for 36 years.
  • My in-laws, married for 36 years.
  • My mom’s parents were married for 64 years before my grandfather passed away in 2008.
  • My dad’s parents were married for 51 years before my grandmother passed away in 2011.
  • Both sets of Al’s grandparents were married for decades before his grandfathers passed away in 2004 and 2006.
  • Many of Al’s aunts and uncles have been married for more than 30 years.
  • My Aunt Marny and Uncle Butch, married for well over 40 years.
  • Many couples in our church congregation have been married for 30, 40, 50, 60 years.

Every couple that I’ve listed has gone through their own trials and tribulations. My parents struggled to get pregnant, Mom had three miscarriages, and then I was born 15 weeks early. I was the only child. We were a Coast Guard family, and moved twice before I was five. Dad retired from the USCG in 2002, and worked for NOAA until his retirement in 2016. Our wonderful federal government brought its fair share of stress and frustration, but they stuck it out.

Al’s parents didn’t have a lot of money at first. They started dating when they were in high school – Their best friends also married each other. Then, Al’s dad got a job with Newport News Shipbuilding, and stayed there until he retired in 2014. They both have had health scares, but they’re doing great now.

All of our grandparents, in some way, shape, or form, were touched by war or military service.

Several of our aunts and uncles have children, but several don’t. Many have had health issues. A few have had mental health crises, and a couple have been unemployed for periods of time. But, through it all, their marriages have been strong and solid.

I think about all these strong, stable, solid marriages often. More often now that I myself am married. I feel blessed, knowing that I am surrounded by so many people, mostly family, that have made their marriages work, blossom, and prosper. I learn from all of them, constantly.


I love what Melissa says about never throwing in the towel. Never giving up. Realizing that marriage is work.

This is the third time this week that I’ve seen Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages book come up, in either blog posts or conversation. I’m taking this as a sign that Laura Beth needs to read it!

Through Melissa’s post, I’ve resolved to read Chapman’s book, give my marriage more attention, helping Al and I grow even stronger as a couple.

I know Al’s not going anywhere. And neither am I. We’re in it for the long haul.


So, thanks, Melissa. I needed to read your post today. I needed to write about it. To share it. To digest it.

Thank you. I’m so grateful!


What about you?

Do you have a “non-fictionalized love” story?

What do you think about the influence of media on love and romance? Let me know!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

 

 

Tag #47: Amazon’s 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime

Smedio

Image Credit: Smedio

I found this post through someone else’s post (Cannot remember who, however!). But, I wanted to share my list!

Here are other bloggers’ takes on the list:

Thrice Read also did this tag recently!


How many of Amazon’s recommended books have you read?

  1. Include the link to Amazon’s List
  2. Tag the creator of the meme (Perfectly Tolerable)

*The names of book titles U.S. versions, rather than U.K.

Title Author Read?
1984 George Orwell Yes
A Brief History of Time Stephen Hawking No
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius Dave Eggers No
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier Ishmael Beah No
The Bad Beginning Lemony Snicket No
A Wrinkle in Time Madeleine L’Engle Yes
Selected Stories, 1968-1994 Alice Munro No
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Lewis Carroll Yes
All the President’s Men Bob Woodward Yes
Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir Frank McCourt Yes
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Judy Blume Yes
Bel Canto Ann Patchett No
Beloved Toni Morrison Yes
Born to Run Christopher McDougall No
Breath, Eyes, Memory Edwidge Danticat No
Catch-22 Joseph Heller Yes
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl Yes
Charlotte’s Web E. B White Yes
Cutting for Stone Abraham Verghese No
Daring Greatly Brené Brown No
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Jeff Kinney Yes
Dune Frank Herbert No
Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury Yes
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Hunter S. Thompson No
Gone Girl Gillian Flynn No
Goodnight Moon Margaret Wise Brow Yes
Great Expectations Charles Dickens Yes
Guns, Germs, and Steel Jared Diamond Ph.D. No
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone J.K. Rowling Yes
In Cold Blood Truman Capote Yes
Interpreter of Maladies Jhumpa Lahiri No
Invisible Man Ralph Ellison Yes
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth Chris Ware No
Kitchen Confidential Anthony Bourdain No
Life After Life Kate Atkinson No
Little House on the Prairie Laura Ingalls Wilder Yes
Lolita Vladimir Nabokov Yes
Love in the Time of Cholera Gabriel Garcia Marquez Yes
Love Medicine Louise Erdrich No
Man’s Search for Meaning Viktor E. Frankl No
Me Talk Pretty One Day David Sedaris No
Middlesex Jeffrey Eugenides Yes
Midnight’s Children Salman Rushdie No
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game Michael Lewis No
Of Human Bondage W. Somerset Maugham No
On the Road Jack Kerouac Yes
Out of Africa Isak Dinesen Yes
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood Marjane Satrapi No
Portnoy’s Complaint Philip Roth No
Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen Yes
Silent Spring Rachel Carson Yes
Slaughterhouse-Five Kurt Vonnegut Yes
Team of Rivals Doris Kearns Goodwin No
The Age of Innocence Edith Wharton Yes
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay Michael Chabon No
The Autobiography of Malcolm X Malcolm X Yes
The Book Thief Markus Zusak No
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Junot DĂ­az No
The Catcher in the Rye J. D. Salinger Yes
The Color of Water James McBride No
The Corrections Jonathan Franzen No
The Devil in the White City Erik Larson Yes
The Diary of a Young Girl Anne Frank Yes
The Fault in Our Stars John Green Yes
The Giver Lois Lowry Yes
The Golden Compass Philip Pullman No
The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald Yes
The Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood No
The House at Pooh Corner A. A. Milne Yes
The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins Yes
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Rebecca Skloot No
The Liars’ Club Mary Karr No
The Lightning Thief Rick Riordan No
The Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupéry No
The Long Goodbye Raymond Chandler No
The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 Lawrence Wright No
The Lord of the Rings J.R.R. Tolkien No
The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat Oliver Sacks No
The Omnivore’s Dilemma Michael Pollan No
The Phantom Tollbooth Norton Juster Yes
The Poisonwood Bible Barbara Kingsolver No
The Power Broker Robert A. Caro No
The Right Stuff Tom Wolfe Yes
The Road Cormac McCarthy Yes
The Secret History Donna Tartt No
The Shining Stephen King Yes
The Stranger Albert Camus Yes
The Sun Also Rises Ernest Hemingway Yes
The Things They Carried Tim O’Brien Yes
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Eric Carle Yes
The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame Yes
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle Haruki Murakami No
The World According to Garp John Irving Yes
The Year of Magical Thinking Joan Didion No
Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe Yes
To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee Yes
Unbroken Laura Hillenbrand No
Valley of the Dolls Jacqueline Susann No
Where the Sidewalk Ends Shel Silverstein Yes
Where the Wild Things Are Maurice Sendak

And it’s a “Yes” for Where the Wild Things Are.

Yes: 50
No: 50

An even split!

I have a lot more reading to do, apparently. But, I’m happy that I’ve read half this list. It’s inspiring me to re-read a few of these, too.


What do you think? How many of these books have you read?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Adventure Time: Norfolk, VA Edition (Round 4 – LanternAsia 2018)

We got to experience LanternAsia for the second time with Casey and Beth! We went to the Norfolk Botanical Garden on Saturday, April 21st.

If you’re interested in the exhibit, you still have time! LanternAsia will be there until May 13th.

Enjoy the photos!


This beautiful fountain was at the entrance of the exhibit.

The entrance gate.

One of the first displays.

Each arch represented a sign of the Chinese zodiac.

One of the garden’s buildings / exhibition halls.

This stage was set up at the beginning. There were multiple performances every evening.

A contortionist.

Foot juggling.

The “peacock” Chinese folk dance.

Chinese yo-yos.


Then, after the performance, we walked through the garden. The displays were dazzling, and gorgeous!

Al and Beth are fellow Oxen.

I am a Dragon!

Beautiful lanterns. They also turned and moved!

It’s a whale!

Swimming fish.

The stunning display of porcelain bowls, plates, and cups.

The Venus fly trap. Several of them opened and closed!

The giant cabbage.

My phone died about halfway through our walk, so several of these photos are borrowed from either Casey or Beth.


I think this one was my favorite.

The “Love Gallery.”

I love the aerial displays.


The chameleon display changed colors multiple times!


Beautiful butterflies at the end of the exhibit.

This was so much fun!

Thanks to Casey and Beth for coming with us!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth