Saturday, April 30, 2016

What Has Been Happening The Last 3 Months -- "Mike's Mental Awareness Journey" Update?

Note: Initially, I was going to direct you to the page where the post below was intended to be published -- which is located on my "Mike's Mental Awareness Journey" webpage on  Instead, I decided to publish the update here too.  Without further ado, enjoy the update on my mental awareness journey over the last 3 and 1/2 months.

Original Post:

The last post that I wrote regarding my mental awareness was back at the beginning of the year.  I had just come off of a vacation – learning the importance of “disconnecting from your devices” was the theme.  What has happened since in my mind?  Any great mental revelations?  You must be thinking that I must be either going to be insane or full of a large amount of information that I feel the need to get off my chest.  Well, fortunately enough for you, neither is the current situation.  Below are three different mental awareness realizations that have occurred over the last 4 months:


The first realization that has had an impact on both my mental and physical health for a period over the last couple of months.  I am not perfect.  I happen to be stressed a little more than usual for reasons that I will get to in a minute has opened me up to the possibility of contracting the flu that has been going around.  I went to a super bowl party after spending part of the weekend at my Mother’s house.  If you have read my previous posts on this site, my parents have a tendency to push full schedule throughout the weekend.  The previous few weeks had been stressful.  By the time I showed up at my father’s house and ate a ton of few with deserts, I opened my health up to catching the terrible flu that had been going around. 

I returned back home and went to work while starting to feel worse over the week.  Over the next couple of weeks, I got worse.  My father used to tell me that “rest” is the best way to let the body heal.  I took a few days off (a couple).  After, I started feeling good.  I continued to feel “off and on” with a cough for a couple of more weeks.  Right about now, you are probably asking yourself why am I carrying on about feeling sick?  Especially since people get sick all of the time.  Working at the university has exposed me to a great amount of variation of strains of the flu.

The reason why I carry on is that sometimes when we get sick, we start to feel somewhat depressed and stress only exacerbates the flu symptoms further.  People tend to not factor in the two reasons for making the flu worse.  Stress will only prolong the flu symptoms and further weaken the immune system.  Depression is not any better.  That is why if I get sick, I try to rest and keep a positive attitude and try to heal.  Sometimes that is a challenge.  I still have a slight cough now a couple months later.  What is going on?  I have heard that people who have gotten sick have also started to feel symptoms of “bronchitis.”  I can report that over time, I am feeling better.

Additionally, I remember a thought from my childhood.  He used to tell me that the flu circulates in our bodies every three weeks.  I you do not take care of yourself when the flu comes back around, the possibility of getting sick AGAIN is possible.  So, remember, no stress or anxiety, and rest, and stay healthy after feeling better.  That is part of what has been filling up my time over the last few months.

Starting Up A Non-profit Organization:

Even when a person is feeling great, starting a non-profit organization is not an easy task.  I imagine that this stress has continued to prolonged state of “on and off sickness.”  I should backtrack a little about the origin of this organization.  Originally, the idea of ‘Kaiser Wellness Center’ originated out of a trip down to the beach.  That was part of the process. Kayla has had this idea in her mind for quite a while.  The idea was to demystify science and health/wellness through educating the public.  The other part was to grow and share our experience along the way.  We are normal people.  That is part of the wonderful aspect about ‘Kaiser Wellness Center’ is that the organization is an organic growth of disseminating knowledge to the public.  How did this translate into the beginning of a non-profit organization?

Be true to yourself.  If you feel something is right, then ideas will grow into a concrete realization.  Out of Kaiser Wellness Center grew our organization “Bikecar101.”  There is no surprise that currently, an obesity problem is emerging.  Our society is not getting healthier by increasing the weight that they care carrying around.  I am at fault too.  In order to deal with this emerging problem, there is a motivation among the transportation institutions to elevate the amount of people that are engaging in “Active Transportation.”  Further, we need to track our progress – which we do on our site.  Over the course of the last few years, we have realized that if you really want change, you need to promote change yourself.  How is that accomplished?  First, serve as a role model. 

We started riding the train along with our bicycles to work on a daily basis.  One of the largest addictive properties of a healthy lifestyle is that others are attracted to the benefits such behavior.  Why?  Normally on the train, a typically commuter seems to be quiet and “stand-off-ish.”  This is directly opposite of a rail car filled with commuters with bicycles.  Each person loading and unloading a bicycle onto a train car understands the frustration.   When you board the train and strap your bicycle down – you can then sit down and relax for the remainder of the ride – which is great.  Bicycle commuters tend to share the frustration of being classified on the fringe of the road and up until now – on the fringe of the train (in terms of storage space) too.  That is where we come into change.

As advocates for promoting residents of Southern California and beyond to engage in “active transportation,” we have to push politicians and public transit agencies to change to accommodate a growing bicycle culture.  How do we know?  Over the course of a couple years on the train, we had a few people come over and tell us about the fact that we motivated them to take a step forward and bring their bicycles on the train.  Four of those people now serve on the Board of Bikecar101 (one informally – Duke).  What a great result?  Living a healthy and happy life is addictive.  Even when a person (fellow train commuter) did not bring a bicycle on board, they still wanted to sit around us and laugh with us.  Healthy people who are relaxed by engaging in active modes of transportation tend to attract others.  Typically, the people have been interested in changing for the better.

Do I sound “arrogant” yet?  Believe me, I am not.  I am quite a humble person.  My wife tells me often – sometimes that I am too much.  I believe the reason aside from being happy that people feel comfortable approaching us is that we are NORMAL.  That is a cornerstone of the Kaiser Wellness Center.  We are normal people that want to promote a healthy life.  Change does not occur overnight.  But it does happen in small steps.  We are super happy to have started this organization.

The main point is to advocate for and educate the public on how to engage in active transportation on board the public trains.  Of course, active transportation is not isolated to a use of a bicycle with a train.  The point being is that people need to be educated on how to change.  I say that with all do respect.  That was our first experience after using a bicycle on the train.  We would travel all around cheerfully and enthusiastic about bringing bicycles on board the trains, and the first question of three we would get is: “You mean that you actually take your bicycle on board the train?” People do not actually believe us that we take our bicycles on board.  That was a realization in of itself.  Furthermore, that was hint number one that we needed to bring change.

Hint number two was the fact that each bicycle organization other than us, has been headed toward pushing a “bike-share” program.  “Bike-share” programs are great for tourist.  But for those who want to bring our own bicycles on board, have to fight the organizations that are trying to restrict space.

Hint number three was the fact that the public was in disagreement with us regarding the growth of ridership on board the train (even without bringing a bicycle).  We strongly believe that the combination of the Southern California train systems with a bicycle can reach an overwhelming majority of geographical locations in the area.  That is not to say that the travel time is minimal.  Although, considering traveling on the freeway system here, the times are becoming comparable during rush hour.

Not to carry on.  We know that starting this organization was the best idea that we have had in a long time.  Which is not to say the process is easy.  The most stressful aspect of the paperwork is that we are chemists and not business people.  We are experienced in research.  Therefore, we have a fairly high tolerance toward learning how to improve.  In order to carry out the paperwork process, keep an open and humble mindset. 

The same can be said of improving one’s lifestyle choices.  Education is the key in the entire process.  We are encouraged to educate the public about engaging in active modes of transportation by using our experience in education.  Which brings me to the last subject of this lengthy post – update – rambling session.

Educating The Public:

As I have alluded already to in the previous paragraphs above, education is the key.  Education is the key.  The easiest way to educate people is to use yourself as an example.  I love to learn.  I love to learn about myself.  Especially, if the result of the education is an improvement in my health.  Part of the process involves the inspection of data over time.  Each individual is different.  Change occurs at different rates for different people.  The best approach a person can take is to make education available.  Why do I know this is true?  Aside from working at a university, the following is true:

In a recent study in Europe, a group of tourists were educated before engaging in tourism – specifically, diving in the Mediterranean Ocean.  A scientist decided to study the effect of educating a group of tourists before a diving expedition.  Additionally, the group was given a quiz before the education and then following the diving experience.  The results were staggering.  I wrote about the study on another blog postlocated here.

The point of the study was the same regarding the health of the population of America.  Overall, after educating the public about the marine ecology, the overall health of the ecosystem was elevated.  Over time, the improvement of the ecosystem has continued.  Furthermore, the tourists have helped local divers and regulators make policy regarding spending on improving the environment.  The process of enlisting the help is called “citizen science” and is emerging as a strong proponent to help motivate a sustainable world.  We all need to work together to promote change.

I feel like I have rambled on enough.  I will try not to wait 3.5 more months to write an update.  Until then have a great day.  And remember, each of us deserves to feel health and happy.  Lets all encourage others to join the effort to improve life.

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