Sunday, July 25, 2021

To Vax or Not To Vax, That is The Question, and Delays in Bocas Del Toro Pfizer Vaccinations

by Gary Stamper, CPC, MSIP, DSPS


With all of the virus misinformation (I'm being kind) from all quarters, and the extreme politicization and rampant conspiracy theories, I have been reluctant to get vaccinated.

I'm well aware that in the United States, a long list of diseases have been nearly eradicated by vaccines: diphtheria, polio, bacterial influenza, measles, mumps, rubella, smallpox, and tetanus, among others. I'm definitely not an anti-vaxxer.

But...

I'm also aware that pharmacological companies are notoriously well known for corruption and greed, lying, knowingly harming people, placing profits above people, and that they bribe (okay, so bribing is legal thanks to Big Pharma lobbying... it's still bribery through campaign donations). A quick internet search will give you an idea of just how rampant the problem is, and it's by no means limited to the pharmacological Industry.

So, my acceptance of something like the Covid vaccines is situational. It depends. Too many people - on both sides of this issue are sheep and blindly take their cue from their chosen leaders on both sides of this issue without discernment, but rather based on what they want to hear. Both sides, but not everyone.

Very early on in the pandemic, I started researching ways to boost my immune system. As much as possible, I've eaten a primarily organic diet for almost 20 years and have not had a cold or flu for ten years or more. I realized early on how important diet was to our health. I tried to stick to specific foods for specific results. At 76, I'm still not on any prescription meds, and when I see new doctors they are amazed because apparently, that's very rare for men "of my age."

What I call my "COVID-19 Immunity Building Protocol" (read about it here) seems to have served me well and kept me safe as I 
have successfully navigated a 5-day cross-country road trip, a temporary move to Texas (sometimes known as the Covid Capital of the U.S.), and an international flight and relocation move to Panama during the height of the pandemic with absolutely no repercussions - that I'm aware of - from the virus.

I'll be the first to admit that, with all of the above, I have a certain amount of what I'm thinking of as "invulnerability syndrome" (my superpower?).


It apparently comes from growing up in the Boomer generation, and it was said that boomers thought they would never die. (disclaimer: Strictly speaking, I'm not a boomer, I was born just before WWII ended. Culturally, I'm definitely a boomer). Many of us know differently now, but ingrained cultural customs, habits, and beliefs die hard.

I imagine I may carry natural immunity, as many do. Not everyone gets sick. Not yet, anyway, but with new variants like Delta, it's possible that immunity to one variant does not guarantee immunity to the next variant, and in a world where warming guarantees new variants and viruses (possibly contributed to by intentional "gain of function" experimentation where Murphy's Law reigns), this, and more, as I've written before, is far from over.


To Vax or Not to Vax

My vaccination quandary was solved this week by two new developments, but there are others as well.

The first was a reversal by a lot of Republicans that formerly held anti-vax views, including red-state governors, GOP members of Congress, and even (gasp!) Fox News' official new stance encouraging everyone to get vaccinated. Not all right-wing adherents agree, but one of the reasons the new position is taking hold is that the unvaccinated are now the primary source of new Delta variant infections mostly occurring in red states, the second reason my quandary has cleared.

In other words, their former position is now killing their constituents. 

 

As welcome as this turn-around in vaccine philosophy is, let's not forget that it's not out of their goodness of heart, but rather, knowing that it will be difficult to win elections as they're being blamed for the death of their constituents. How strong is this as a motivator? Alabama Governor Kay Ivy, who emphasized ten days ago on a visit to Birmingham that there's no need for an incentive plan to increase vaccination rates in Alabama, is now blaming the unvaccinated for the stunning increase in cases.

As Fox News hosts and anchors, GOP members of Congress, and other right-wing pundits were decrying the loss of freedom with vaccinations (they did the same thing with seatbelts, remember?), many were secretly being vaccinated, and even now refuse to disclose whether they've been vaccinated. It's not that they're saying "I haven't been vaccinated," it's that they have refused to answer when asked "have you been vaccinated?"

If the people who have spoken the loudest to discourage others to get vaccinated secretly got vaccinated (that's called hypocrisy), it's almost reason enough alone to get vaccinated. Right-wing anti-vaxxers, are you listening? Thinking?

Last, It's obvious that the vaccines are working. The case rate statistics prove it. New cases, even in Blue states where vaccination rates are higher, are increasing, but at a much lower rate than Red states where vax rates are significantly lower. And almost all of the new cases in both Blue and Red states are limited to the unvaccinated. 


Getting Vaccinated in Bocas Del Toro

I'll take my chances with the vaccine. We can now see that getting vaccinated are much better odds than going naked, or unvaccinated .


The upcoming Bocas Del Toro Pfizer vaccinations have been postponed, with no exact date set yet. Hopefully, it will be here in late August.

This is due to recent storms, as some of the buildings in Almirante and Changuinola that were going to be used as vaccination centers are currently flooded.

Over 5,000 homes and 26,000 people were affected by ongoing storms and flooding in Bocas Del Toro. Isla Colon and Bocas town where I live has largely been spared from flooding... so far.

I intend to get my first shot at that time. I'm also doing it to protect others, a benefit that has been revealed in the U.S. over the last few months in the face of the new Delta Variant.

It's not that the Pfizer vaccine prevents one from getting the virus. it doesn't. It apparently lessens the severity of the virus with some people experiencing lighter symptoms , and some no symptoms at all, and that lightens the death toll and helps ease the strain on healthcare and the economy although people who have been vaccinated can still be infectious and still spread the virus.

I still contend that we're an impatient species that requires everything "on-demand." and that includes completely opening up everything right now. We need to get over that. Mask up, distance, and be careful until we get this under control. so we can pay more attention to the other threats facing us. 

We are on the Hero's Journey, and we are on it together.


The hero's journey is a common narrative archetype, or story template, that involves a hero who goes on an adventure, learns a lesson, wins a victory with that newfound knowledge, and then returns home transformed.

It is imperative that we return transformed from the journey lest it be for naught, because of what we face as we "come home" to life after the pandemic. and the next hero's journey. 

The Pandemic (including the Delta Variant) is probably the most important issue facing us at the moment. Unless we get it under control - and soon - there will be no economic recovery, no next hero's journey. We must have as much economic stability as possible to prepare for the other issues that threaten us, each an existential threat by themselves, nevermind that they're all swoopping down on us at the same time.

We cannot do it divided, and it can't happen if we care selfishly more for ourselves than each other.

We must do this together.

Sunday, July 04, 2021

What Is an Integral Life Coach?

 by Gary Stamper

An Integral Life Coach uses Integral Theory - an emergent school of philosophy and more - that "seeks to integrate all of human wisdom into a new, emergent worldview that is able to accommodate the gifts of all previous worldviews."



The first time Newsweek wrote about life coaches, they defined the profession this way: “Part consultant, part motivational speaker, part therapist and part rent-a-friend, coaches work with managers, entrepreneurs and just plain folks, helping them define and achieve their goals – career, personal or, most often, both.

"Integral Life Coaches are more holistic, complete, similar to the difference in looking at physicians trained only in western medicine and Integrative Physicians who are trained in multiple modalities such as Chinese herbs, acupuncture, and food as medicine"
 
An Integral Life Coach uses Integral Theory – an emergent school of philosophy and more - that "seeks to integrate all of human wisdom into a new, emergent worldview that is able to accommodate the gifts of all previous worldviews, including those which have been historically at odds: science and religion, Eastern and Western schools of thought, and pre-modern, modern and post-modern worldviews*."

Integrally-informed Life Coaches believe the more people that consciously acknowledge and work with all parts of themselves will become truly inspired, healthy, fun, and balanced, to change the world - and themselves - for the better! Integral Life Coaches are more holistic, complete, similar to the difference in looking at physicians only trained in western medicine and Integrative Physicians who are trained in multiple modalities such as Chinese herbs, acupuncture, and food as medicine, just to name a few.


In addition to Integral Theory, I also use cutting-edge Developmental models like Spiral Dynamics to ensure that I'm able to meet every client exactly where they're coming from, culturally and developmentally.


For a powerful, multi-media presentation on integral theory, click here.


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Gary Stamper is a Certified Professional Coach and the founder and creator of Old Dogs New Tricks, a website that supports men in being compassionate badasses after they retire. He is also the author of Awakening The New Masculine: The Path of the Integral Warrior, a book about evolutionary consciousness and men's spirituality.


Saturday, July 03, 2021

Are you “Partially” Retired? It May Not Be Enough.

 by Gary Stamper

Although retirement is definitely a life event, like turning 21, marriage, or children, it’s not really an event, it’s a significant process.



if you’re like most of us, that process begins with an influencer or a set of influences that start the process. There may be many influences that may kick off the process, some of which may include pre-retirement financial planning, the actual date of one’s retirement, or the question of “what do I do now?”

The influencer can happen at any time and it comes in the form of cognitive awareness of retirement on both individual and relational planes, which hopefully inspires action. On both planes, there are internal and external dialogues, self-reflections, and meaning-makings that needs to be resolved before deciding on a course of action, with every person’s situation and experiences coloring the sense-making that needs to be done.

And while the meaning-making is different for everyone, the process remains pretty much the same. What can be said about the process is that retirement is a psychosocial process of identity transition and search for meaning, i.e., the creation of a new identity, which is triggered by the retirement process.

Self-Awareness and Adaptability


Using the criteria described above, we’ll look at two of the most important cognitive aspects of that meaning-making and we’re taking a very brief look at each from the very different but typical perspectives of (1) career-minded individuals who have held the same employment either with one company, or the same type of job with two or more companies, and (2), more entrepreneurial-minded individuals who have experienced many different types of jobs and employers and perhaps even been an entrepreneur or self-employed at several different careers and fields.

It only makes sense that those who have had the latter, i.e., multiple careers, will have likely developed more adaptability than the former, simply because they have had to adapt, which in turn allows increased self-awareness to rise as it’s needed. That’s basically a learned skill, especially as opposed to an assembly line worker who has perhaps spent the majority of their career doing the same thing over and over. That’s not to say one path is better or worse than the other, they are just different, and, in most cases, each allows its own results and consequences.

So what do you think? What else might be at play here? What about CEO’s of various sized corporations or owners of small businesses and entrepreneurs? How might that affect self-awareness and adaptability and why is it Important?


Traditional retirement planning has typically been all about financial planning with no attention whatsoever ever given to the psycho-social aspects of retirement. The assumption has always been as long as one has enough money, the rest will fall into place.

What we’re now seeing is that partial solutions to life changes just aren’t adequate or sufficient. That's where a Life Coach comes into play.


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Gary Stamper is a Certified Professional Coach and the founder and creator of Old Dogs New Tricks, a website that supports men in being compassionate badasses after they retire. He is also the author of Awakening The New Masculine: The Path of the Integral Warrior, a book about evolutionary consciousness and men's spirituality.


Thursday, July 01, 2021

BOCAS DESIGN & ILLUSTRATION: ECO-ART by Gary Stamper


Here's a brand new addition to the "Eco-Art" series of drawings and paintings I've launched since my arrival in Panama:

Indigenous girl from the Panamanian Ngabe tribe.
Colored pencil on white bond paper

by Gary Stamper


The reality of moving to a new country is rarely what you imagine it might be in so many ways. A lot of new Ex-Pats have been disappointed by their choices, often because of their expectations. Some of the stories around that disappointment are sad and completely avoidable with a lot of homework, including visiting your choice of country before deciding to move there.

My planned exploratory trip in March of 2020 to Panama was cancelled because of lockdowns. Panama's reaction the virus was swift and decisive, a far cry from my home contry's response of denial. Panama closed their borders immediately, and by the time they reopened 9 months later, I was ready to go, exploratory visit be damned as I had done a lot more homework on Panama during the lockdown!

Having turned 75 in May of 2020 in lockdown, I knew I didn't want to continue working the way I had been. After all, wasn't time for me to slow down a bit, relax, and wasn't I headed for the Caribbean and some of the finest beaches in the world? The answer has been a resounding "Yes."





My main focus from here on is going to be my art. Those of you who know me well know art had been a major part of my entire life. I'm beginning a series of what I'm calling "Eco-Art" pieces on endangered species of Panama. The Many of you have seen my Scarlett McCaw (above with added copy) and my Loggerhead Turtle (below,also with added copy). Scarlett McCaws are no on Isla Colon where I live and Turtles are also endangered and all around the world. The purpose is intended to wake people up to the massive species die- taking place now

More recently, scientists at the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity concluded that: “Every day, up to 150 species are lost.” That could be as much as 10 percent a decade. -- link

 


We need to be paying close attention to species die-off. The loss of bees alone would likely eliminate our ability to grow food and would place humanity on our own endangered species list, but our greed tells us it's more important to sell pesticides than worry about the bees that are disappearing because of them.

I'm looking for a online source where I can sell my drawings and paintings that will allow me to tell the story about how human-caused climate change and greed is impacting these species and what it means to lose them. Ultimately, we are connected - one - and as I've repeatedly said:

"we are not the masters of this planet. We are but one experimental subset of a greater web of life and our time here has been short. The planet will be fine without us. The choice is ours."


Earlier Drawings of Other Endangered Species


Wolves, not found in Panama, but there are wild dog cousins


Cougars: North America, Mexico, Latin America, South America
along with their cousins, Panthers and Leopards


Habitat destruction and environmental pollution are the biggest threats to Ospreys


More to come

Monday, June 07, 2021

Here's the Apartment Tour I Promised


The ad said it was a furnished one-bedroom, and it was, although sparsely, but I guess it still counts. It came with the barest of necessities: one very used pan that had a damaged non-stick surface, no pans, no coffee-maker, a smattering of mixed silverware, a medium-sized refrigerator, and the plainest couch you ever saw sitting on 2x4's. It also had an older digital TV, a table and four chairs, two smaller tables - one of which would serve as a temporary desk for my laptop and one that could go on the balcony - three small end tables, and a small double bed. 

The above photos are pretty much as I found the apartment except for my
towels, rugs, and the bathroom and bedroom shelves

My living adventure in Bocas Del Toro, Panama, was underway and I knew it was going to be fine once what was left of my down-sized personal belongings arrived and I could start making it my own. Little did I know it was going to take a little over 6 months before I would be able to get what was left of it here!

When it "all" finally did arrive, I almost wondered wondered how I was going to do this, but I'd moved 4 times in the last 4 years, once all the way across county from Asheville to Napa, and 3/4 of the way back from Napa to Houston before finally leaving for Panama. I'm pretty much an expert on moving by this time, so I knew exactly what  I was going to do.

Even with the smallest load of all my moves, I was still intimidated as I'd never tried it at 75 years old before. Here's what it looked like when I finally got those remaining shipped belongings, paintings, and drawings into my apartment.

Unloaded, with more boxes in the bed and bath rooms... ugh!

At this point, there's still a lot to do as I need some more side seating, a coffee table, throw rugs, live plants, and Jamaican decor and accents. Maybe a decorative surfboard... Right now, I'm going to take a breath, relax a bit, and see if I can find accents that aren't too cheesy. You wouldn't believe how bad the local Chinese version of WalMart is...


Looking to the French Doors from the main room

The TV that came with the apartment and mine right below
sitting on moving boxes covered with a moving blanket!

There's the "couch" that came with the "furnished" apartment.
All of the paintings and drawings are my personal work.

My "art" desk. This where some of the magic happens!

Welcome to "La Petite Gallerie" II. You can almost see the inside of the entry!

The Mini-Kitchen. Not much counter space.

Combination Bedroom and my Computer setup

My computer work space... It's nice to have the "beast" back...

The bathroom, of course...

A lovely north-facing balcony overlooks the only street out of town and it
can get a little noisy sometimes


Looking the other way on the balcony


Front of the apartment building. My apartment is on the second floor right


All in all, I'm getting more and more comfortable, and feeling more "at home" as I get it more together.

Damn good thing!