Tuesday, June 23, 2009
May the voice of Iran continue to sing the human song that can transcend fear.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
No HIPA in IRAN.
The New-York based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said Sunday that scores of injured protesters who had sought medical treatment after Saturday's clashes were arrested by security forces at hospitals in the capital.
It said doctors had been ordered to report protest-related injuries to the authorities, and that some seriously injured protesters had sought refuge at foreign embassies in a bid to evade arrest.
"The arrest of citizens seeking care for wounds suffered at the hands of security forces when they attempted to exercise rights guaranteed under their own constitution and international law is deplorable," said Hadi Ghaemi, spokesman for the campaign, denouncing the alleged arrests as "a sign of profound disrespect by the state for the well-being of its own people."
"The government of Iran should be ashamed of itself. Right now, in front of the whole world, it is showing its violent actions," he said.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Andy and Red. What a duo in the quintessential hero journey. And what a journey. Who doesn't remember the sensation of liberation after the shit-filled sewer (still can't shake the raw language) gave birth to Andy right spank into a river torrent, a cleansing, his final wash before starting life over after 20 plus years in prison? Andy reached such unthinkable lows throughout the movie that the final high had to be as sweetly momentous and it was.
Some great lines from Red:
"Nothing left but all the time in the world to think about it."
"They send you here for life and that's what they take."
In a letter from Brooks after he got out on parole:
"The world went and got itself in a big, damn hurry."
The hero journey in every movie reminds us of the indefatigable human spirit. If Andy Dufresne can do more than survive and LIVE, anyone can.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Ironically, the 26th anniversary of the hanging of these ten young women in Shiraz is today, when Iran is witnessing its most public display of revolt since 1979. These ten young women were sentenced to hanging by a militant government that was threatened by the faith of these girls, a faith founded in freedom, love and justice. Rather than recant their faith, they chose death.
So, in light of the present turmoil in this country, I reflect on the strength of these young Baha'i women and hope their spirit will strengthen others who rise peacefully against radicalism and fanaticism.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
"You ok?" I hear the barking from across the room at a friend's house. Like something prehistoric is trying to climb out of the poor kid's trachea.
"Yeah, doctor says he's got bronchitis or pneumonia, something inflamed." My friend proclaims while stirring the pasta on the stove.
"Geez. Sounds awful."
"He's been home all week with it."
I looked over the poor, listless boy with his eyes glossed over, rolling behind his head.
That was two weeks ago. Since then, I've heard of a number of confirmed cases of H1N1 Virus A/K/A Swine Flu and a slew of long-term absences around town. I'm getting the sense my friend's son did, in fact, have a bronchial something or other but that its underlying cause was something else. But don't mutter the dreaded two words, Swine Flu, because, according to many doctors, "We don't want to cause hysteria."
Today's Hartford Courant reported that CT has now witnessed its third death from Swine Flu. Now people will start putting two and two together. Coughing like a chain smoker with a spiked fever, diagnosed cases of swine flu spreading. But being sick with the flu will not guarantee you a confirmation that it is the H1N1 virus. Doctors just aren't testing these kids (or adults). They claim it's not worth the panic, that they would not treat this flu any differently than any other flu so "why bother?" I suppose I agree with that. The media has a tendency to stir the hype into paranoia. But I'm also a firm believer in transparency and tracking the spread of illness, particularly one that is destined to travel back to the east, mutate and boomerang back to us in the winter with an entirely new strain of challenges. In this case, I say, "Test away."
It is true that the results would not come back for about a week. One mom said, "By then, he'll be back at school so what's the point?"
The point is this.
Call me a public health nazi. It's not that I'm hysterical about my need for tracking these things. I'm rational. It makes sense. Test the people laid up in bed with "bronchitis, some type of flu, a wicked fever" and keep it all on record. We don't do this to raise tensions in the family or even the town. We do this to harness information. We do this because the whiplash from this season's taste of the H1N1 virus might give us indigestion later. At this stage in the flu game, the more information the better, IMHO.
Monday, June 15, 2009
In this study, you'll notice that the subjects decreased carbohydrate intake. When you decrease something, you usually have to increase something else. In this case, FATS were increased. And guess what? The subjects with a higher fat diet were at a lower risk for heart disease. And we all know why. Because eating healthy fats does not give you heart disease. It's the sugar that's gotta go.
Australia has known about the Glycemic Index of Foods for a long time -- their food packages even include the "GI Index" to teach people exactly what foods have the ability to spike the blood sugars, which, on a consistent basis can lead to many health problems. In this country, when we lowered the fat, we increased our collective carbohydrate intake. And, as a result, Type II Diabetes is diagnosed in epidemic proportions.
The study just backs up what many people have been trying to say all along, "Low fat makes you fat."
Saturday, June 13, 2009
What a mockery Iran has made of any attempt at democracy! What a sham!
VOTING IN VAIN should be the title of their newspaper headlines this morning. Seriously, read the following:
Ahmadinejad had the apparent backing of the ruling theocracy, which holds near-total power and would have the ability to put the election results into a temporary limbo.
Then why bother voting, is my question? I have real issue with the conflict between how things appear and how they actually are. I am not a fan of mere appearance. Pretense boils my blood.
Iran lives under the veil of a pretense, a fearful government busy accusing its questioners of fabricated crimes, hiding any semblance of truth underground because truth will threaten this authority that just cannot be trusted. Lies must topple and yield to truth. It's just a matter of time.
So, Iran. Maybe the lies will remain in "authority" for now. But darkness cannot live when the light of your people are demanding truth. The time of deceit is short. Too many people see the truth.
Why again do I care so much? Like I said earlier, the history and fate of Iran is also the world's history and fate. In this country, we were taught to speak out against tyranny. This is part of my heritage. And I am speaking out against a tyranny in the world. No more. Let the United Nations count your votes if you're so certain they point to a landslide win for "whatever his name is."
There is spirit in this election. The spirit is in the eyes of those people living in a country that rules by fear. I have seen the eyes of people who, in spite of living under tyranny, smile with faith. It is that same faith of these Iranian people I have met I will hold to now. In times like these, they understand better that Spirit is far more powerful than a few egotistical men. I will cling to what they know in their hearts to be true. Their faith in a future filled with truth will not be shaken. I will cling to what it is they need to survive.
And to correct an earlier statement I made, I would point my American finger right into their faces, if given the opportunity.
Friday, June 12, 2009
In advance of my comments, I apologize for any blatant misunderstanding I might display in my blog about Iranian's political process. It is a country with which I have been obsessed since the hostage crisis in 1979. But, as always, I remain more "big picture" than detail-minded so forgive my ignorance as I blog about this historical day.
Today, the voting for a new Iranian president begins. Will the world say goodbye to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or not? I watch the election closely. It is one that has a worldwide rippling effect because Iran feels like the shaky brick in the building of a foundation for world peace. Even though we might not want to pay attention, we must.
For many Americans, Iran is just one more backward country in the Middle East. We seem to lump cultures from that part of the world together and shelf them under "veil-wearing, misogynistic, tyrranical, illiterate terrorist fanatics" and distance ourselves from those sweeping prejudices that are constructed under a lot of fear and misunderstanding. I see what others see because I, too, am human and am afraid of people whose paradigms clearly fit nowhere in mine. As a matter of fact, my Americanism seeped in my veins when traveling to countries whose political ideals felt repressive to me. Objectivity could not be found as I wrestled to make sense of other country's political structures. No free speech? I would have to kick someone, for sure.
But, being indignant, and riddled with fear and misunderstanding, would only get me so far in those countries -- in jail, I'm sure. So, rather than yell, I watch. And I wait. What will happen this week for the people in Iran?
I have selfish reasons for a more open Iran. I would like to travel there with my children some day. Persia is home to one of the world's oldest continuous world civilizations, rich in art and culture. Have you read Rumi's poems? Iran's Pre-Islamic history dates back to 3200 BC! This cannot all be lost to our future generations. Their history belongs to the world. With a closed Iran, we have a closed history book. There are no closed books in my vision for the world. So, will the book open with a Mir Hossein Mousavi at the helm? Iran's crucial political policies are controlled by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Kohmeni. So, in no way will Mousavi's presidency be a a green light to full disclosure. We can hope, though, that it is the opening of some kind of a flood gate.
Mir Hossein Mousavi has attracted the young and affluent vote, which is the future. But, in a country where the mobile text messaging system just happened to go down right before voting began, I'm not sure the young and affluent have an advantage right now. But the promise is there. Mousavi voted with his wife by his side, Zahra Rahnavard, a former university dean. This balance of power with the feminine is also the future, the needed respect for women that seems to have gotten buried in so many country's political regimes under fear and dogma, another mark of the past, for sure. Without the balanced power of the feminine, no country has a chance.
So, I keep my eyes on Iran, one country in a world fraught with a myriad versions of fear and misunderstanding. and, rather than point my American finger in the face of a country in dynamic political change, I wait, I watch and I hope. And, while they vote, I pay close attention to those places in our own country where fear and misunderstanding lurk. Because spirit is needed everywhere.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Meeting people for the first time poses an interesting challenge. How does one define oneself?
For example, at the party of a mutual friend, one might say, “Oh, and how do you know Suzie?” to orient the beginning of a new relationship, an entrée into this new person’s life. Or if I’m at a food conference, “What brings you here?” as if our common interest in food will bridge the gap to the stranger, which it always does. Who doesn’t like food? Food conferences are the easiest places to make new friends. We all eat!
But, last night, at one of our daughter’s choir celebrations, one man asked me politely, “What do you do?” I went mute. What do I do? I worried to myself. I am my daughter’s mother. In that context, that answer made the most sense. Any other answer sounded vain and trite.
“Well, I am a nutritionist,” I blurted out nervously. And, yes, it sounded vain and trite. I am not a nutritionist, I wanted to yell. I am my daughter’s mother. I am a soul in search of itself! But I knew to keep my inner tiger caged. Oftentimes, she roars unexpectedly with what would be perceived by others as unabashed insanity. So, I quieted her in my mind and smiled at the man.
He then shared that he worked at The Hartford insurance company. Longing for the bridge, I started listing names of people I knew who worked at the Hartford. My sweet husband reminded me that the company boasted thousands of employees, as if to pat me with the reality that there would be no bridges made with this stranger tonight via The Hartford.
So, I have decided to change my strategy from now on when asked, “Who are you?” or “What do you do?”
Rather than focus on the superficial, I am going to keep an arsenal of unexpected responses in my purse and dig one out when the time comes. Instead of tossing words out into the air to fill a quiet curiosity, I will pronounce, “I am a spirit locked in a middle-aged woman’s body!”
Because that is the truth. I am really just spirit. Oh, go ahead and put the letters after my name and tell someone that I’ve been educated to instruct people how to eat in a healthy way. In a way, that’s true. Tell them I’m a writer because that is an identity I’d like to manifest because it is something I “do” that reflects my spirit. I am a mother, an expression of the love in my spirit. But my essence is beyond titles and clothes and names.
We are all called many things and do many things. But, let’s face it, when the world tears away our titles, our social standings, our talents, our troubles, all we got left is spirit. And spirit just is. And that is how I will introduce myself from now on. I’ll let you know how that goes! I’m imagining it will leave people feeling more estranged from me than familiar but it’s worth a shot. At least it's an attempt to answer the, "Who are you?" question in a more honest way.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Saturday, June 6, 2009
What is high cholesterol? The books say that levels at or below 240 mg/dL means you have "high cholesterol." But more scientifically savvy people suggest it is the ratio of the good cholesterol over the total cholesterol that defines healthy or unhealthy cholesterol levels. HDL/Total cholesterol should be 25% or higher. That makes sense. And, if the ratio is less than 20%, well, we're supposed to take these drugs. Or change our lifestyle. Let's look at both.
Statin drugs work. No doubt about that. They lower an enzyme in the liver called HMG CoA Reductase, which facilitates the production of cholesterol. No enzyme, no cholesterol. But it also lowers other enzymes that faciliate the production of CoQ10, which is significant because low CoQ10 levels have been linked to premature aging (now you're paying attention). So, although the drugs do work and the cholesterol numbers go down, a drug cannot work in a vacuum because the body is an interconnected entity. If a shift takes place in one area, it'll probably affect other areas, too. So there are risks involved. With statin drugs, we risk to wrinkle too young.
Did you know that eating high cholesterol foods does not give you high cholesterol? It's true. There is exogenous cholesterol (the kind we eat) and endogenous cholesterol (the kind we make). Guess what? 75% of the cholesterol in the body is produced by the liver and it is regulated by insulin levels, not the amount of cholesterol-containing foods you eat. So, more important than eating low cholesterol foods is to regulate the blood sugars in your body because higher insulin levels trigger cholesterol production. I do love my sweets but they will be my death, for sure. All signs point to the evils of simple sugars. We just don't want to admit it's true because we're all addicted to the simple sugars (including me) like the bread, the rice, the pasta, the cakes, the candy (excuse me, I'll be right back -- craving a chocolate-covered JoJo).
(yummy, chocolate-covered face)
Now where was I? Yes, the cholesterol in foods.
Eat your eggs. And don't listen to anyone who says eggs are bad or the egg white evangelist who tries to cook you an egg white omelet. And don't buy those liquid chemicals called EggBeaters. What has the world come to that we are promoting artifically colored egg whites over a whole, complete perfect egg. I think it's misogynistic, actually, to deem the egg bad. Damn patriarchal world we live in.
The point is that the cholesterol we eat is a very small part of what contributes to our cholesterol levels.
All that said, don't go out and load your plate with fatty meats saying your online nutritionist said it was ok. We can talk about good and bad choices for meat another time because that steak at Outback has problems that go beyond cholesterol (don't get me started on the beef industry).
Lifestyle strategies that will improve your cholesterol levels include getting enough exercise, reducing sugars in your diet (all simple carbs), eating those foods that come as close to their sources as possible (garden veggies, freshly "harvested" meats, etc...) -- the less processed, the better, and get enough omega-3s in your diet or supplement with fish oil. Omega 3's are so much more important that we realize.
Try all this and then get your numbers checked. If they're still high, you could just be genetically predisposed or you might be a candidate for statin drugs. But, if you're taking statin drugs, supplement with CoQ10 -- in the ubiquinol form for those over age 40.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not one of those conspiratorially minded people who think the drug companies are secretly taking over the world. They're just really good at making a huge profit off of our ignorance. And that just doesn't seem fair.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Below are the kind words of agent, Kristin Nelson, that appeared below the form rejection letter. Kristin has a fun blog called Pub Rants for anyone interested in learning more about her.
note from Kristin: It was so lovely to meet you at the Backspace conference. Thank you for coming up and introducing yourself. My response is going to be a tough one for you as this is close but not quite there yet. I see a lot of promise in the writing. Some really good emotional scenes that are, unfortunately, balanced with a lot of telling. So for me, I can't help but feel that the story isn't quite ready yet. I could be alone in this sentiment though so good luck with this project.
Call me a "glass half-full" kinda gal but I thought this rejection was a GREAT ONE! She said things like "promise in the writing."
"I could be alone in this sentiment," she says as if she doubts her decision to reject me. These are words from an agent with NY Times best-selling authors on her client list. This is an agent who receives 700 queries/week and asks for samples from less than 20. I was 1 in 20 out of 700 (smile).
In the world of spirit, purpose is not defined by our small minds and meanderings. Spirit is much greater. The world sees rejection as bad. Most of you feel sorry for me right now. But, if I strive to find spirit in all things, I see the good, the bad, the ugly and the impossible as gifts.
I will foster the promise, which is the gift of rejection.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
I wake each morning at an ungodly hour to write. Most of what I write is gibberish, an outpouring of thought that attempts to connect to my heart, a conversation with my soul, perhaps. Today I thought I'd share a bit of what came out. I forget what's important in this life sometimes. I wish I could always remember.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
must be renounced, for these prejudices have caused the world's
sickness. It is a grave malady which, unless arrested, is
capable of causing the destruction of the whole human race.
Every ruinous war, with its terrible bloodshed and misery,
has been caused by one or other of these prejudices.
, p. 146
Today I sit under piles of diet books dreading my next step -- gleaning the good, discarding the bad and designing a 12-week healthy-eating program for the employees where I work. It's the same scientific information told in a number of different monotones again and again and again. I'm bored. I want something new and exciting. I want to give my participants something new and exciting! Hard to do without mentioning "carb."
Here's a thought. And then I must get back to work. Energy is not as we perceive it to be. Sure, all the diet books say a calorie is a calorie but that's just not true! A calorie is a physical measurement of heat dissipation isolated from the human body. I don't know about you but the last time I looked in the mirror, I was not a bomb calorimeter. So, why are the experts trying to convince us that this measurement is the be-all and end-all of the dieting world. No. I rebel. I say that, rather than diminish our experience by "cutting calories and energy," we LIFT ourselves by INCREASING our energy. Does that mean we eat more Oreos? NO. In my schema, Oreos have NO energy. They vibrate at a very low frequency of energy (science will catch up). In my new energy paradigm, the foods that come as close to the earth as possible on their journey to the table have the HIGHEST energy and vibrate at the HIGHEST frequency. Doesn't it make more sense to eat high energy to get high energy. Let's kill the calorie and let's make "diet" the most vile four-letter word in the dictionary. Let's eat and enjoy all the good stuff!
Oh, gravity just grabbed me. Now I must go and write a program that complies with conventional thought.
Lost in the Ocean
But, clearly, I don't understand how vast our oceans are. And that just may be the spirit I take from this devastating news -- that, at times, I am powerless to something greater. No, let me rephrase. I think I am pretty powerless most of the time to something greater. All I have to do is think about the limitless and untapped places in our oceans to see how small I am in comparison.
May the bereaved find comfort in something greater.
I had the impossible task of narrowing my interests into a blog title. Family, writing, nutrition. Yes, I can write about nutrition while spending time with my family but what ties it all together is the larger umbrella of what drives me to do what I do on a daily basis -- finding spirit in everything. Even the mundane, the ugly and the impossible. That's where I go and that's what I will blog about. Finding Spirit in washing dishes, bandaging a knee and sitting on the sidelines of a lacrosse game. Everywhere, spirit lives.
Today, I found it in the gym. I walked into a weight class and saw a room full of strong women pumping iron bars over their heads in a dedicated and powerful way. Yes, I saw women trying to get into shape for the bathing suit season, but, I also saw an amazing, unharnessed feminine power emanating from these individuals -- bundles of creativity and experience. Our culture nurtures a more individualistic approach to success in life but there is power anytime we collect together around a single aim. In this case, the women empowered each other to strength. At a Race for the Cure event, we empower one another to support each other while winning the fight against cancer. In a book group, well, anything happens but we leave feeling stronger. Just put us in a circle and great things happen.
So, today I found spirit in the gym. In my fellow weight-lifting women.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
One of my articles that appeared in Natural Solutions magazine. Trying to upload others!
Feels weird but I can now have a real conversation with my nieces and nephews who have grown up with "google" as a verb. Is that why I decided to come out of online obscurity and cast my pearls (ok, maybe not pearls, let's say quartz) before internet swine - to speak to the younger generation? No. I do this because if I don't, no literary agent will even consider me as a client to pitch my new novel, THE COLOR OF HONEY, to publishers.
I just returned from the Backspace Writers Conference in New York and spent hours listening to experts detailing the perils in the publishing world. I might have a better chance of getting into Harvard Medical School than getting my debut novel published. But there were plenty of other people whose eyes lit up, talking about their "divine persistence" that led them to where they were as best-selling authors. So I weighed what appeared to be the grim reality of publishing against my hell-bent attitude and chose the latter. So, in that spirit, I will blog.
THE COLOR OF HONEY is every woman's story. Elizabeth Saunders takes a horticulture class to heal after a stillbirth. The death of her baby instigated the ache and guilt she had over the death of her own mother in childbirth. Hungry for maternal love, as a giver and receiver, she befriends her professor, Anne Herring, a woman with the wisdom of a thousand saints. A class about "gardening" unearths Elizabeth's whole life. Elizabeth goes AWOL in her marriage, forsaking her country club environs to volunteer in a women's shelter where she grapples with life's cycles of birth, death and rebirth.
But before she can completely heal, Elizabeth discovers a surprising secret about her real mother, a secret buried deep in her past that gives the sisterhood she and Anne share a whole new meaning.
In truth, Elizabeth's story is no one's but her own -- it is quite a unique situation in which she finds herself -- but her inner growth spurred on in midlife will resonate with every woman. Not to say guys can't read my book. Guys have mothers, too, and my brother read it and liked it. But it is a woman's story in that we give birth again and again and again to a number of realities that are unique to women. And that's what makes Elizabeth's story our own.
Nice blogging with you!!