Chapter 1: The Body

Chapter one was written by Joe Gallo.  In this chapter Joe challenges me to assess my diet, my exercise routine, my ability to listen to myself and develop good habits.  Wild Card Aaron Heinsman challenges me to really look within by spending less time looking on the surface. Below are some images from my June challenge.  Please see the full chapter challenge written below the images or start reading here to see how I responded to Joe’s tasks.


The Lazy Person’s Guide to Health and Happiness

I was slated for the Body / Health / Kinesthetic segment of Beth’s “Living Chapters” experiment. This is the subject I’m least interested in and the one in which I need the most help. I know that I should be a better caretaker of this body and have made sporadic and unsuccessful attempts to act accordingly. This is something Beth and I share. We both lack dedication, fortitude, and discipline in this area. For those who may be experts, the following prescription might seem laughable or naïve. Rather than scoff at my ineptitude, feel free to add mettle to the following outline.  

DIET: The Haves & Have Nots

The “don’ts” out weigh the “dos” in this case. I don’t know what your basic diet is like, Beth, but if you’re living on a boat I’m guessing that your culinary spectrum is limited. The following lists were compiled in honor of your lack of physical space, your tiny refrigerator, minimal storage capacity, and your lack of active passion for the culinary arts. As far as preparing anything on my list your hot plate, toaster oven, and ingenuity is all you’ll need.

The Have Nots

Because I’m a big believer in negative reinforcement I want to start with the food and drink that would be better to avoid… So for June, to the best of your ability, I ask you to forego:

  • Fast Food
  • Junk Food
  • Processed Foods
  • Sodas and other drinks high in sugar
  • Any food dripping with fat, grease, or other emulsions

The Haves


  • Hard Boiled Eggs (you can keep a bowl of them around)
  • Fruit (if you have two bowls you can keep fruit in one of them)
  • Any kind of cereal (as long as it’s not laden with sugar and fake crap): loose granola, muesli, and things like that (if you don’t have a third bowl, improvise)
  • Yogurt (plain is suggested, you can add fruit or cereal to it, even put a little honey or syrup in it)
  • Granola Bars
  • Bread / Toast / Bagels: go for whole wheat (or at least strive for something darker than white bread…)
  • I’m sure there’s more to it than the above, but my imagination is lacking in this area. Whatever you eat, just consider its origins. We’re just shooting for a diet that is wholesome and simple enough to satisfy your rustic and restless palate.

Lunch / Dinner:

You can improvise off of this list, but they’re basically vegetables and grains, etc. Not much of a fuss should go into putting any dish together. Doesn’t mean it won’t taste good, but that all depends on your ability to improvise with spices, condiments, and the like:

  • Fresh vegetables
  • Make a big pot of brown rice… it can hang around for a few days without going bad…
  • Canned beans
  • Canned fish (if you can’t get the fish fresh)
  • Wraps laced with vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, raisins or cranberries of some sort (you can also use dressing, real meat or chicken
  • Miso soup (just boil water and dump Miso paste into it… add any vegetables you like… if you like tofu, by all means…
  • Salads of any kind using all or some of the ingredients above
  • Whenever you can, eat at someone else’s place and enjoy what they serve without being a food snob (in other words if you even improve your diet 75% of the time it’ll be a big improvement)

The above may seem simple, but since we eat every day, it will have to become a discipline, a regular practice that may at first be an enjoyable diversion, but may ultimately become a pain in the ass…


You mentioned that you hate exercising, don’t exercise, and can’t motivate yourself to do so. That is why I am going to make a contract with you that we should stretch daily (for at least 15 minutes) and jog / run sprints, etc. at least 2 or 3 times a week for the month of June. Also you mentioned that you’d like to work on strength. I included a video that features upper body strength that might be a start in the right direction. To ensure success in this area you might want find someone to exercise with so you can hold each other accountable.

Stretching: Good for flexibility (into old age), builds musculature, defines and tones…

Video: This is one of the videos that I found to be less nauseating videos I found on YouTube… let this be your guiding light (or you can surf the web for something more your style) (15 minutes sessions)

Video for upper body strength:

Jogging / Sprinting is good, too (after loosening up with some stretches)… The idea is get your heart pounding enough so you break out in a sweat (or vice versa). You can indulge in some sprints of increasing speed and length. And alternately build up stamina for a 20-minute jog, which might be more enjoyable.

Power Walking: If it’s too hot or muggy outside try a 15 to 20 minute power walk.

Other things to consider:

  • Walk rather than drive, walk whenever possible. Even better, find someone to take a brisk walk with…
  • You can also get a bicycle.
  • Jump rope (for exercise, not travel)
  • Or you can learn how to play like a dog by chasing a soccer ball around an open field.
  • Or you can go swimming.

Muscle Memory

Recently I asked you whether you were still playing guitar… I now propose, Beth, that you find a way to fit the guitar on your boat. If there’s no place for it on the boat, how about keeping it in your car? The idea here is Muscle Memory. Your fingers will remember what you think you’ve forgotten as soon as you start playing with any regularity.

Although this may not fit into the scheme of my assignment, I propose you gather a bunch of people who play and sing and invite them onto your boat for a late Sunday afternoon songfest. Maybe learn some sea chanties for the occasion (optional, of course).

A Few Exercises Regarding Muscle Memory and the Senses

Basically, Beth, the idea is to become aware of the affect the senses have upon the body. It’s another way of becoming aware of what makes a difference to you and the degree to which it does. It occurred to me the other day that fewer sensations seem to cut through the morass of my daily life, however, when I started to apply some of the methods as described below, I realized that I was just not paying attention. So these exercises are just a way of reminding us to pay attention, stay awake, and take heed when the little voices that sing within us creep to the surface.

Attention Exercise: Look at the second hand of a watch and see how long you can pay attention to it before your mind starts drifting.

Hearing: I learned how to experience music after reading the book The World Is Sound: Music and the Landscape of Consciousness by Joachim-Ernst Berendt. It’s a subtle thing but if you try to listen to music with your whole body (volume is not always necessary) you should become more affected by it.

  • The more familiar we are with a piece of music the less we tend to actually listen to it. As an experiment choose a piece of music that you have never heard before and take the time to actually listen with your whole body and see what happens. Then take a piece of music that you love, try to listen to it in a new way and see what happens.
  • So much of the experience we have with art is associative… what associations come up through the act of listening, viewing photographs, etc.

Voices: note how certain voices irritate, dredge up assumptions, resentments or have the power to seduce you or induce a coma…

Speaking: Be aware of what goes in different parts of your body when you tell a lie, when you relate a rarely spoken but necessary truth to a friend, when you run into someone and exchange banalities, when you accidentally insult someone, say something that’s funny, say something else that’s not funny or in bad taste… It’s interesting to note where in your body you feel a weird twinge or an abrupt shift of consciousness.

Also be aware of what happens when you are on the listening end…

Silence: If you experience an uncomfortable silence try to milk it for all of the discomfort you can get. Also, recognize the comfortable silences, too… It’s not always obvious what the quality of any silence is, so give it an extra heartbeat, just to make sure.

  • Exercise: See what happens if you are not the one to break the silence (after you, of course, locate where the discomfort within the body resides).

And this concludes the Living Chapter for the month of June.

IMG_3076-1IMG_Aaron H
I’ve felt a big responsibility being the inaugural Wild Card for Living Chapters. What we players dream up for Beth in this first month will in many ways set the tone and even perhaps a standard for the months to come. Talk about pressure! And then to discover how wonderfully wide-ranging and comprehensive Joe’s Chapter was in provoking Beth to become more aware of her body, what she puts into it, how she employs it, and what it means to live inside it…the bar is set quite high. And I couldn’t be more pleased with how Beth has manifested the challenges presented to her by Joe. I cannot see anything that I can, in a sense, improve upon. So how to add a new action/variable that will up the ante?
I started to think a lot about a particular phrase Joe used that I think Beth could more fully explore: “take heed when the little voices that sing within us creep to the surface.” 

So how might Beth hear and heed the little voices singing within her body in a way that builds upon the great work she’s doing with exercise, diet, and muscle memory while still playing into this month’s theme of Body/Kinesthetics?
Here’s the challenge I propose for you Beth, for the rest of the month of June: in order to be more fully attuned to what your body is telling you from within, do not look at yourself in a mirror. Not once. 
While you won’t be able to avoid them in public spaces, your challenge will be to resist the temptation to glance at yourself, to see if you “look right.” Not that you are a particularly vain person, but this will force you to only listen to your body to know if you’re looking, and more importantly feeling, right. 
Now, I do know you’re recording this project with lots of photos and videos, and I think it’s fine to view them after the fact for posting/blogging purposes. The key is to resist the temptation to look at your image for affirmation in the moment. One exception: if you’re doing exercises and must use a mirror to ensure you’re doing them properly and to avoid possible injury, fine. But in those instances I’d ask that you avoid looking at your face, just observe your body.
Good luck, and keep up the good work!
Beth Reads June Wild Card:

5 thoughts on “Chapter 1: The Body

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  4. Sandra Harriette

    It’s fun just even looking at the gallery. I can imagine that June was beautiful and enjoyable. I am so glad we got connected. You had a marvelous, power-packed start and I’m so inspired that I could witness it within the early stages. Keep going, Beth!

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