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Book: “Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life”

The small book by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles shares advice from the residents of the Japanese village with the highest percentage of 100-year-olds in the world.  In addition to the wisdom about purposeful, active, shared lives of these seniors, the authors note the importance of  the Japanese concepts of wabi-sabi and ichi-go ichi-e.

“Wabi-sabi is a Japanese concept that shows us the beauty of the fleeting, changeable, and imperfect nature of the world around us.  Instead of searching for beauty in perfection, we should look for it things that are flawed, incomplete.

This is why the Japanese place such value, for example, on an irregular or cracked teacup.  Only things that are imperfect, incomplete, and ephemeral can truly be beautiful, because only those things resemble the natural world.

A complementary Japanese concept is that of ichi-go ichi-e, which could be translated as ‘This moment exists only now and won’t come again.’ It is heard most often in social gatherings as a reminder that each encounter –whether with friends, family, or strangers–is unique and will never be repeated, meaning that we should enjoy the moment and not lose ourselves in worries about the past or the future.

The concept is commonly used in tea ceremonies, Zen meditation, and Japanese martial arts, all of which place emphasis on being present in the moment.

In the West, we’ve grown accustomed to the permanence of the stone buildings and cathedrals of Europe, which sometimes gives us the sense that nothing changes, making us forget about the passage of time.  Greco-Roman architecture adores symmetry, sharp lines, imposing facades, and buildings and statues of the gods that outlast the centuries.

Japanese architecture, on the other hand, doesn’t try to be imposing or perfect, because it is built in the spirit of wabi-sabi.  The tradition of making structures out of wood presupposes their impermanence and the need for future generations to rebuild them.  Japanese culture accepts the fleeting nature of the human being and everything we create.

The Grand Shrine of Ise, for example, has been rebuilt every twenty years for centuries.  The most important thing is not to keep the building standing for generations, but to preserve customs and traditions–things that can withstand the passage of time better than structures made by human hands.

The key is to accept that there are certain things over which we have no control, like the passage of time and the ephemeral nature of the world around us.

Ichi-go ichi-e teaches us to focus on the present and enjoy each moment that life brings usThis is why it is so important to find and pursue our ikigai  [a meaning and purpose in life that keeps you busy or as the New York Post says, “ ikigai is the art of doing something—and doing it with supreme focus and joy”].

ikigai-

Image page 9  of Ikigai – Based on a diagram by Mark Winn

 

Wabi-sabi teaches us to appreciate the beauty of imperfection as an opportunity for growth” . . .

One step in lasting longer and being happier in your life is –

Get rid of the things that make you fragile . . .

Ask yourself: What makes me fragile?  Certain people, things, and habits generate losses for us and make us vulnerable.  Who and what are they?

When we make our New Year’s resolutions, we tend to emphasize adding new challenges to our lives.  It’s great to have this kind of objective, but setting ‘good riddance’ goals can have an even bigger impact.  For example:

  • Stop snacking between meals
  • Eat sweets only once a week
  • Gradually pay off all debt
  • Avoid spending time with toxic people
  • Avoid spending time doing things we don’t enjoy, simply because we feel obligated to do them
  • Spend no more than twenty minutes on Facebook per day.

To build resilience into our lives, we shouldn’t fear adversity, because each setback is an opportunity for growth.  If we adopt an antifragile attitude, we’ll find a way to get stronger with every blow, refining our lifestyle and staying focused on our ikigai.

Taking a hit or two can be viewed as either a misfortune or an experience that we can apply to all areas of our lives, as we continually make corrections and set new and better goals.  As Taleb writes in Antifragile, ‘We need randomness, mess, adventures, uncertainty, self-discovery, near traumatic episodes, all these things that make life worth living.’  . . .

Life is pure imperfection, as the philosophy of wabi-sabi teaches us, and the passage of time shows us that everything is fleeting, but if you have a clear sense of your ikigai, each moment will hold so many possibilities that it will seem almost like an eternity”    (p. 172-179).

No matter your age, Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life is likely to give you useful ideas on how to lead a good life.

Aloha, Renée

sunflower-vase

Enjoy the imperfect. 

 

 

 

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Bali Dog – Bite – Rabies?

We returned to Bali.  We love being in Ubud where Barry is particularly disciplined, so we both got lots of exercise, ate good food, and enjoyed the music and the people. Barry  left on November 20; I was to leave on November 23.  My scheduled departure was on the last night before flights started to be cancelled because the Bali volcano, Mt. Agung, actually was erupting.  I was lucky about getting out, but my last day in Ubud was intense.

On that final morning, I was on my way to my Pilates class in Penestanan, just outside Ubud. I was peddling hard uphill.  Motorbikes zoomed past me.   I saw  a brown and tan  Bali dog at the side of the road.  Bali dogs are everywhere.  They are smart, good watch dogs, usually friendly; most are let loose to roam in the daytime.

This one came at me from behind and nipped my calf through my thin Bali pants.  I screamed.  He ran off.

I think he was just playing.  At first, I thought I was okay because it hadn’t really hurt.  I was more indignant that a dog would bite me since I like dogs and am not  afraid of them.   But when I stopped to look, I saw that he had broken the skin on my calf – two little puncture holes – and a bit of blood!  😦

And that is an issue – a Big issue – since rabies is a problem in Bali.

“Bali was rabies free until an infected dog arrived on a fishing boat in 2008.  Since then, over 150  people have died [on just that island] and many thousands of dogs have been killed in the attempt to eradicate the disease.”

adelle

Our Bali Dog – Adelle in 2016 with Barry at our Agus Ayu Guesthouse.  Adelle was friendly, a pleasure to have around: a normal Bali Dog.  During the day, she roamed Bisma Road.

This year when we returned to Ubud and stayed at the same guesthouse, Adelle was missing.  We asked about her.  Sadly, she is probably one of the many thousands of Bali Dogs picked up off the streets and killed in the attempt to rid Bali of rabies.  Many studies show that mass culling of animals is not effective; vaccinating them is.  We miss her.  😦

“The virus is still present in parts of Bali and is proving very difficult to eradicate completely due to the long incubation period of the disease. . .[which] in both humans and animals can range widely from two weeks up to several years (average 2-3 months), with the incubation period being shorter the nearer the entry point is to the central nervous system.  Therefore a bite to the face or neck has a much shorter incubation period than a bite to the foot.  Once the virus has reached the brain, it spreads to other sites such as the salivary glands” (8).

A-frequently-used-image-on-rabies-posters-300x225

A rabid dog

From: https://www.baliadvertiser.biz/what-is-rabies-and-is-my-pet-at-risk/

The Mayo Clinic notes, “Once a person begins showing signs and symptoms of rabies, the disease is nearly always fatal.. . .The first symptoms of rabies may be very similar to the flu and may last for days. Later signs and symptoms may include: fever, headache, nausea, agitation, anxiety, hyperactivity, difficulty swallowing, hydrophobia, hallucinations, insomnia, partial paralysis.

From: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rabies/symptoms-causes/syc-20351821

Local Bali drivers sitting near their cars had seen that I had been bitten.  They said I definitely should get the rabies vaccinations.  At the Pilates class, some classmates said I should get the vaccinations; others said the dog probably wasn’t rabid and not to bother with the shots.    One expat showed me a photo of her friend’s bite that was much worse than the little one I’d gotten.  That bitten woman hadn’t gotten shots, and hadn’t (at least not yet) gotten rabies.  The problem is that once you get the rabies symptoms, there is nothing that can be done: you die – a really painful, gruesome death.  So should I take a chance?

After class, I peddled to the local clinic that I passed by every day on my way to and from class to check what I should do.  As recommended, I  scrubbed the wound with warm, sudsy water for 15 minutes, which is important to do for any puncture wound especially in the tropics.   The clinic technician said I definitely should get the shots since the dog had run away and so couldn’t be quarantined for 10 days to see if it did indeed have rabies.  But I would need about $100 U.S. to pay for the two vaccines I should get before flying out that night.    They only took cash.

After some confusion and much stress (and a long hour of peddling around, up and down hills, trying to get money at an ATM machine that would work – and my stomach cramping and me shaking – so I knew I had rabies and would die, I finally got the needed cash.  I returned to the  Bali clinic.

The clinic is clean, and the clinician efficient and knowledgeable, and like most local people in this tourist packed town, his English is good.  He gave me an almost painless shot in each arm, the paperwork I’d need to get reimbursed from my health insurance, and printed instructions about when I should get the two remaining shots.  I’m very happy to report that the anti-rabies vaccines are no longer the extremely painful ones given in the stomach.

I would just need to get two more when I got home to Maui at recommended times over the next month – and how hard could that be?

I came back more or less directly if you count a 13-hour layover in Kuala Lumpur and two other layovers (we go for the cheapest tickets) although not nearly so long in Osaka and Honolulu as directly.  Exposure to camels was the only thing U.S. quarantine was concerned about when I came through customs, and I could honestly answer that I’d had no problems with camels.

Barry and I are home, and it is good to be back.

Then I just needed to get two more rabies vaccinations at the recommended times.   I was back in “medically advanced” U.S.

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, “Rabies is a very serious disease caused by a virus in all warm-blooded mammals, including humans. On the U.S. mainland, wild animals that are most often associated with rabies include skunks, foxes, raccoons, and bats. Human rabies is rare in the United States however; worldwide 65,000 to 87,000 deaths occur annually due to rabies primarily in Asia and Africa where prompt medical attention and preventive vaccinations are not readily available. Dogs are the most common source of infection of humans. . .

Human rabies cases in the United States are rare, with only 1 to 3 cases reported annually. Twenty-three cases of human rabies have been reported in the United States in the past decade (2008-2017). Eight of these were contracted outside of the U.S. and its territories.”

From: https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/location/usa/surveillance/human_rabies.html

I landed on Maui on a Friday night.  I called my doctor as soon as the office opened the following morning and explained I had been bitten in Bali and needed two more shots.  The next one (it didn’t matter the brand)  was to be given the following Wednesday.

“No problem,” I was told and given an appointment for that Wednesday.   On Tuesday, my doctor’s office called to confirm.  On Wednesday, I arrived a few minutes early and was shown into the doctor’s examining room.  It turns out there was a problem.  They didn’t have the vaccine.  What!

I was then told:

1) insurance wouldn’t cover my shots – cost compared to Bali at U.S. $50. each would be $400 each (which says something about our for-profit pharmaceutical industry here in the U.S. -)

2) no rabies vaccinations were on the island, and

3) only one Maui pharmacy had the contract to procure the rabies vaccination.

I was told that I probably didn’t have rabies.  And the basis for that?  And if the doctor were wrong?   I was suddenly a bit worried.

rabicdc010

Man with rabies shackled to his hospital bed

Image from: http://www.vaccineinformation.org/photos/rabicdc010.jpg

I looked up “YouTube video of people with rabies.”  You do not want to see those images; you definitely don’t want any being to get rabies.  That video terrified me.

I shouldn’t have been surprised that my doctor and the “designated rabies vaccine” pharmacy were rather clueless.  In our whole state of Hawaii, there has never been a case of rabies acquired here in humans or animals!

Friday morning, two days after I should have had my third shot, (and six days after I’d notified my doctor’s office that I needed the vaccines) I still hadn’t gotten the vaccine.  That morning the “designated pharmacy”  told me I should fly to the U.S. Mainland to get the last two shots.   What!!   We get over five million people flying into Maui every year; we have FedX, UPS, U.S. Postal Service.  They had had almost a week to get the vaccine here.  I was feeling rabid!

Barry said, “Okay – this is ridiculous; we are going to the doctor’s office.”   Things didn’t go well there.  I ended up yelling at the smirking nurse (who was to explain to the office manager what my doctor had done – or in this case, not done- to get me the vaccine).  Then  stomping out of the office,  I   screamed: “You are incompetent and unprofessional!!!”  Barry, being more mature,  stayed behind and made the point that he had been a patient of this doctor’s office for 30 years and that my situation was one of potential death for me.

Were there any heroes?

  1. Wailea Pharmacy.   Since it seemed I would get no medical help on Maui, Barry and I drove over to Wailea Pharmacy that Friday morning to see if Shelly,  our friend and the pharmacy co-owner, had any ideas.  She didn’t have the vaccine in stock, but she could get it.  She was very reassuring.   While we were talking, my doctor’s office called to say they had located the vaccine on island; we would just need to drive into town and bring the vaccine back to be administered that afternoon.  So my doctor’s office finally had done something!  And why was that?  Was it because of my screaming behavior that Friday morning?  Was it because Barry had appealed to their medical mission?
  2. ****Maui Clinic Pharmacy in Kahului!!!    This pharmacy  keeps the rabies vaccine in stock!  Not only that, the cost to me because  I have insurance was $30, not the $400 a shot that I’d been told.  For the fourth shot, I just went to the Maui Clinic Pharmacy.  The very competent, nice,  and knowledgeable pharmacist chatted with me and gave me an almost painless shot.
mt-maui-clinic-b-3-17-17-1100x810

Maui Clinic Pharmacy

Image from: http://s3.amazonaws.com/ogden_images/www.mauinews.com/images/2017/03/18034657/mt-maui-clinic-b-3-17-17-1100×810.j

What have I learned from this experience:

  1. Dogs can bite even if I’m not afraid of them.  I need to be more cautious.
  2. I should always have easy access to money.
  3. Because it’s a condition we don’t have on Maui, the medical people here in general don’t know what to do about rabies.  I should be grateful that rabies isn’t an issue here.
  4. In Bali, medical people know exactly what to do for dog bites,
  5. And this is sad – – maybe yelling does work.

No one has to worry about me biting them now – but I had felt like I might need to start biting a few people  to get some help.

Although my bite didn’t become infected or leave a scar — and I’m not going to get rabies —  on this same trip, I did get a scar from a moped carburetor burn, but that’s another story.  Sometimes, traveling can be interesting in ways you don’t expect.

Aloha, Renée

Banner photo: from – https://www.2checkingout.com/asia-blog-posts/2017/7/23/an-amazing-story-of-love-kindness-and-sacrifice-for-bali-dogs

This Bali Dog was named Mandi.  She looks much like the dog that bit me – but she was a sweet dog, a victim of poisoning – an effort by some Bali neighbors to rid their community of dogs.   Go to the above link to know more about how some people are helping (and some are hurting) Bali Dogs.

“The Benefits of Trashing the Garden”

What’s an easy way to get nutrients to your plants? How can you avoid chemical fertilizers?

The Garden Doctor’s suggestions will help you get rid of yard and vegetable waste – and make your plants happy and healthy.

The Benefits of Trashing the Garden

‘Dear Garden Doctor,

I want to use natural fertiliser [sic] but don’t have the patience for a compost, do you have any ideas for other easy ways to give my plants a natural kick with organic fertiliser. I’ve heard that banana peels can be used in the garden from vegetable gardens to flowers, palm trees and even thrown in the tops of staghorn ferns. Do you have any other easy ideas for natural fertilisers that can be made from ordinary household scraps that would otherwise end up in the rubbish bin?

Rafa from Ubud’

Adding any sort of organic matter to the soil to will improve the nutritional content and vitality of the soil whilst also inviting worms and all sorts of other beneficial micro-organisms to move in. A living soil that is teeming with life will always show the results by producing a lush green garden.  The easiest place to start is to re-use waste that you find within the garden.

All of the leaves that fall, the pruned offcuts, and the flowers that you deadhead contain vital nutrients that have been drawn up from deep within the soil. That’s why composting is so beneficial, it’s all about recycling the nutrients back into the soil. If you don’t have the patience for composting, then do it nature’s way and cycle the nutrients directly back into the soil.

Leaves and Garden Waste

Raking up old leaves and spreading them around the garden as a layer of mulch is one of the easiest and most effective ways to get started. Leaf mould or decaying leaf material is so simple, yet extremely beneficial. It’s one of the most readily available amendments you can add directly into your soil to improve it.

The benefits are twofold, not only will the soil benefit from the slow release of nutrients, it also retains moisture within the soil or can prevent moisture loss from evaporation if layered on as a mulch. Alternatively, you can dig it into the soil, where it will aerate the soil and improve drainage in combination with the action of worms, insects and microbes working to break it down.

When tidying up the garden recycle the garden off-cuts, making sure that they’re pest and disease free. Old dry palm fronds can be cut up and reincorporated into the soil. If your off-cuts are green, leave them in a pile out in the sun for a few days so that they dry up, turn brown and then can easily be shredded and reincorporated into the soil. Dead or dried up flowers can be pruned and scattered around the garden beds. Dried grass clippings are also one of the best nitrogen boosts you can give to your garden. Collect all garden waste, and cycle it back into the garden, it is full of the nutrients that have been sucked up from deep within the soil.

Kitchen Scraps

 They are great for the compost, but can also be incorporated directly back into the soil, decomposing rapidly and releasing nutrients for your plants. Fruit peels such as banana peels, mango, papaya and avocado skins will decompose quickly when lightly dug into the soil, alternatively simply just throw them around the base of your plants and cover with a layer of soil and leaves. Peels will provide potassium, phosphorous and calcium as well as many other trace minerals which will promote root and flower development and overall plant health. If you are concerned about attracting pests or animals, dry the peels in the sun before adding them into the garden or liquefy the peels in a blender with water before pouring it on to your garden.

Coffee Grounds and Tea Leaves

Coffee grounds and tea leaves are a source of nitrogen for the garden. You can either scatter coffee grounds around the base of your plants or fork them into the soil. With the teabags I normally collect a few then tear the paper and throw them in a bucket with water and pour the onto the soil. Coffee grounds and used tea leaves will give nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, and magnesium. The same goes for herbal teas, the green tea, rosehips or whatever sort that you drink can be poured out onto the garden or around your pot plants.

Eggshells

They consist of over 90% calcium carbonate and contain small amounts of other trace elements that make them a beneficial fertiliser. Collect them, wash and crush them, and then sprinkle them around the garden. They will add a hit of calcium and other minerals to the soil. Spread them around pot plants, your vegetable garden and outdoor trees. If you are growing an edible garden crushed egg shells sprinkled around plants will discourage snails and slugs, as they won’t crawl across the sharp jagged shell grit. Not only are you providing a natural fertiliser but also protecting your plants from slimy pests as well.

If you like boiled eggs, save the water until it cools and pour it on the garden as it will contain calcium and other minerals. Eggshells can also be used as seedling planters. With a pin make a few drainage holes in the bottom of an empty eggshell, add soil and then put them back into the old egg carton. Sow the seeds and care for them as you would any other seedlings. When they are ready to transplant into the garden, squeeze the shell gently to crack it and then place it in the ground. The roots will push through the cracks in the shell which will eventually decompose naturally, the best bit is… no transplant shock!

Eggshell+planters+seedlings

Start seedlings in egg shells

Starchy Rice Water and Other Sugars

When you wash your rice, instead of wasting the starchy water by pouring it down the sink, water it around your plants and flowers. Just make sure to pour it directly onto the soil and avoid getting it all over leaves and flowers. The starches will promote beneficial soil bacteria, whilst also adding nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous and other trace elements to the soil. Empty or near empty drink containers can also be used to water to the garden. If I go to the fridge and find the last remains of a milk or fruit juice container I fill it up with water to dilute the contents and then pour it straight onto the garden. Milk diluted with water is a well known fertiliser for the garden. The same goes for any drinks that have passed their use-by.

Simply dilute old containers with water and pour the contents around the garden. Even old bottles of soda can be rinsed and poured onto the garden, the microbes and plants will love the sugar hit. The added benefit is that you will have clean rinsed containers, instead of smelly sticky ones filling up the rubbish bin.

On a final note, the napkins, paper towels etc used at meal time are also thrown into the compost along with the old newspapers – the worms absolutely love that stuff. Who would’ve thought that trash could be so useful in the garden!

Dr. Kris

Garden Doctor

Contact: dr.kris@ymail.com

Copyright © 2017 Dr. Kris

You can read all past articles of Garden Doctor at http://www.BaliAdvertiser.biz

 

Happy gardening – and getting rid of waste.

Aloha, Renée

Article from: Go to – https://baliadvertiser.biz/the-benefits-of-trashing-the-garden/

Images from: <http://www.17apart.com/2012/01/how-to-plant-seeds-using-eggshells.html&gt; and  the egg shell heads from:  The Bali Advertiser, p. 7.

“The Scary Truth about Childbirth”

If you are a mom, hope to be a mom, or love a mom, the information in “The Scary Truth about Childbirth” in the January/February 2017 issue of Mother Jones magazine is important.   Those who know problems can happen can take steps to avoid the worst.

Childbirth can be fatal.  At 37, my healthy mother died in labor  – in a hospital –  in the United States.  I was 9, my sister 7; we had our new brother – but no mom.  My mom’s doctor told my dad that she had hemorrhaged to death – “a very rare occurrence.”

Even today, maternal mortality in the U.S. is disgustingly high.  A 2016 article in Time notes“A  2015 report from the World Health Organization (WHO) pointed out that the U.S. has a higher maternal mortality rate than Iran, Libya and Turkey. The WHO determined that half of the U.S. deaths were preventable [my emphasis.  No one in that hospital, for instance,  was paying attention to my mom as she bled to death] .  . .

The United Nations set a goal to reduce the global maternal mortality rate by 75% between 1990 and 2015, and while most nations succeeded in lowering that number, the U.S. has experienced an uptick in recent years. A report published in the September issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology found that from 2000 to 2014, the maternal mortality rate for 48 states and Washington, D.C. increased 27% from close to 19 deaths per 100,000 live births to close to 24 deaths per 100,000 live births. In Texas, the rate doubled between 2010 to 2012.”  [A likely reason for that upswing in deaths is that Texas has closed almost all its Planned Parenthood clinics – which give birth control, family planning information, treat medical issues, and do legal abortions; leaving few or no low-cost medical alternatives for the poor in Texas].

From: http://time.com/4508369/why-u-s-women-still-die-during-childbirth/

Even if the mom and child make it through the birth, “The Scary Truth About Childbirth”  highlights problems and injuries that happen during labor but are often not recognized.

Almost no one talks about the possibilities of incontinence or prolapse or severe pain or . . . (and this includes most doctors – who don’t check for possible injuries).  A woman may not know until 20, 30, 40, 50  years later that she has a problem.

For one  woman I know who had two children, her pelvis bones were broken each time because of the intense pressure during childbirth. What was wrong with her doctor to let her go through two labors like that?  Obviously the doctor  didn’t know what to do, and my friend has had many issues as a result. 😞  Perhaps if she had known (or her doctor was more aware and competent), my friend  could have long ago taken steps to improve her situation – or at least not had to repeat the ordeal during the birth of her second child. 

I also know three  women who have had the surgery for incontinence.  This is a condition that most women won’t talk about, and maybe the fact that I know of these three  (none in my opinion “successful” operations) reflects that people are more likely to complain when something goes wrong than to tell that they have had a successful procedure for an embarrassing condition.  It must work for some, but of those examples I know, one woman has had the operation three times (at a current cost of $28,000 each time, so you better be rich enough to have good medical insurance)! The second says she will never be able to have intercourse again because of the misplacement of the mesh insert, and the third, a Maui woman who was touted as having a “successful” operation and had been an avid hiker says that she will never again be able to hike Haleakala, our Maui volcano, a long and a bit challenging adventure.

Please read and share “The Scary Truth About Childbirth” by Kiera Butler, a well-researched and disturbing Mother Jones article – with your friends, your doctor, with every woman you know.  If you are  mom, find a doctor who takes these problems seriously.  If your gynecologist doesn’t check for these rather common issues, your future quality of life may very well be impacted.  Also do Pilates and yoga that will strengthen your pelvic floor. 

Be aware.  What you don’t know can hurt you.

Please read:  “The Scary Truth About Childbirth”

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/01/childbirth-injuries-prolapse-cesarean-section-natural-childbirth/

In a related posting several years ago, I shared the Atlantic Monthly article, “How Long Can You Wait to Have a Baby?”

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/07/how-long-can-you-wait-to-have-a-baby/309374/

lead_large

“How Long Can a Woman Wait to Have a Baby?” – image from The Atlantic Monthly

That article focuses on the faulty information that fertility rates drop dramatically after a woman is 35.  That idea, says the author, is based partially on a study of French women from the years 1670 through 1830 —  before electric lights, antibiotics, or fertility treatments.

Both articles have information we should know.   Be healthy; be informed; take good care of yourself.

And my friend Chris sent me the link to “After Texas Stopped Funding . . .” – an LA Times article:  http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-planned-parenthood-texas-births-20160203-story.html

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If you can’t afford birth control, you probably can’t afford a child.  If you don’t want to use birth control, don’t use it.  If you are against abortion, don’t have one.  Let others decide what’s best for themselves.  Pregnancy has serious consequences.

Wishing you and all you love health and happiness.  Aloha, Renée

Will Power?

How have you been doing with your 2017 New Year’s resolutions?  Like me, your intentions may have been easy to make —  but not that easy to fulfill.   One of my resolutions was to take swimming lessons.  Although I can swim, I’m not really competent nor confident in the water.  It’s taken me until this month to enroll in a class.  I’ve gone to the three lessons.  There are five more classes, and I should be practicing during the week, which I’ve done once.  Why is something that I know would be good — and many people especially here in Hawaii love to do – so hard for me to accomplish?

Happiness-Advan

In his book The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor says that “whether it’s a strict diet, a New Year’s resolution, or an attempt at daily guitar practice, the reason so many of us have trouble sustaining change is because we try to rely on willpower.  We think we can go from 0 to 60 in an instant, changing or overturning ingrained life habits through the sheer force of will.  Tal [the author’s mentor] thought telling himself he was on a diet would be enough to keep him away from his mother’s chocolate cake. [But after struggling and resisting for hours, he got up in the middle of the night and ate the entire remaining cake!].   I thought telling myself to follow some spreadsheet would discipline me enough to practice the guitar.  Well, that worked . . . for four days.  Then I went back to regularly scheduled programing.

WILLPOWER GETS A WORKOUT

The reason willpower is so ineffective at sustaining change is that the more we use it, the more worn-out it gets” (152). . . .

“Unfortunately, we face a steady stream of tasks that deplete our willpower every single day.  Whether it’s avoiding the desert table at the company lunch, staying focused on a computer spreadsheet for hours on end, or sitting still through a three-hour meeting, our willpower is consistently being put to the test.  So it’s no wonder, really, that we so easily give in to our old habits, to the easiest and most comfortable path, as we progress through the day.  This invisible pull toward the path of least resistance can dictate more of our lives than we realize, creating an impassible barrier to change and positive growth.

THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE

As Cathy sits tethered to her desk on Tuesday, she daydreams about the upcoming Saturday and all its possibilities.  She wants to go biking on the trail by her house, join in a pickup soccer game at the local park, and see that Matisse exhibit at the museum..  She might even dive into that pile of books she has been wanting to read.  Like all of us, Cathy has a number of hobbies and activities that engage her interests and strengths, energize her days, and make her happy.  And yet, when her free Saturday actually does roll around, where does she end up?  Conspicuously not on her bike or at the soccer field, and certainly not at that art exhibit everybody was raving about–it’s 20 minutes away!  Her remote control, on the other hand, is within very easy reach, and Bravo happens to be airing a Top Chef marathon.  Four hours later, Cathy has sunk deeper and deeper into the couch, unable to shake a listless sense of disappointment.  She had better plans for the afternoon, and she wonders what happened to them.

What happened to Cathy was something that happens to all of us at one time or another. Inactivity is simply the easiest option.  Unfortunately, we don’t enjoy it nearly as much as we think we do.  In general, Americans actually find free time more difficult to enjoy than work.  If that sounds ridiculous, consider this:  For the most part, our jobs require us to use our skills, engage our minds, and pursue our goals–all things that have been shown to contribute to happiness.  Of course, leisure activities can do this too, but because they’re not required of us–because there  is no “leisure boss” leaning over our shoulder on Sunday mornings telling us we’d better be at the art museum by 9 A.M. sharp–we often find it difficult to muster the energy necessary to kick-start them.  So we follow the path of least resistance, and that path inevitably leads us to the couch and the television.  And because we are ‘mere bundles of habit,’ the more often we succumb to this path, the more difficult it becomes to change directions.

Unfortunately, though these times of ‘passive leisure,’ like watching TV and trolling around on Facebook, might be easier and more convenient than biking or looking at art or playing soccer, they don’t offer the same rewards.  Studies show that these activities are enjoyable and engaging for only about 30 minutes, [my emphasis] then they start sapping our energy, creating what psychologists call ‘psychic entropy’– that listless, apathetic feeling Cathy experience.

On the other hand, ‘active leisure’ like hobbies, games, and sports enhance our concentration, engagement, motivation, and sense of enjoyment.  Studies have found that American teenagers are two and half times more likely to experience elevated enjoyment when engaged in a hobby than when watching TV, and three times more likely when playing a sport.  And yet here’s the paradox: These same teenagers spend four times as many hours watching TV as they do engaging in sports or hobbies. So what gives? Or, as psychologist [and writer of Flow, The Dynamics of Flow, & Creativity] Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi put it more eloquently, “Why would we spend four times more time doing something that has less than half the chance of making us feel good?”

The answer is that we are drawn–powerfully, magnetically–to those things that are easy, convenient, and habitual, and it is incredibly difficult to overcome this inertia [my emphasis].   Active leisure is more enjoyable, but it almost always requires more initial effort–getting the bike out of the garage, driving to the museum, tuning the guitar, and so on.  Csikszentmihalyi calls this ‘activation energy.’ In physics, activation energy is the initial spark needed to catalyze a reaction.  The same energy, both physical and mental, is needed of people to overcome inertia and kick-start a positive habit.  Otherwise, human nature takes us down the path of least resistance time and time again” (152-156). . . .

“In the workplace, the path of least resistance is especially maladaptive, luring us into a whole host of bad habits that breed procrastination and undercut productivity. , , , Regardless of our job description, we never seem to have enough time to get everything done.  Eight-hour workdays turn into 12- and 14-hur ones, and still we feel behind.  How can this be?  Why do we have so much trouble being productive?  . . .The American Management Association reports that employees spend an average of 107 minutes on e-mail a day.  , , . And I suspect that if most office workers tallied up all the minutes they spent each day on blogs, social networking sites, Amazon.com, and so forth, it would paint a very alarming picture indeed.  . . .

And that’s not even the worst of it.  The actual time we give to these distractions is part of the problem, but the larger issue is that our attention hits a wall each time we stray.   Research shows that the average employee gets interrupted from their work every 11 minutes, and on each occasion experiences a loss of concentration and flow that takes almost as many minutes to recover from.  Yet in today’s world, it’s just too easy for us to be tempted.  As a New York Times article put it, “distracting oneself used to consist of sharpening a half-dozen pencils or lighting a cigarette.  Today, there is a universe of diversions to buy, hear, watch and forward, which makes focusing on a task all the more challenging. . . . It’s not the sheer number and volume of distractions that gets us into trouble; it’s the ease of access to them.  . . . In short, distraction, always just one click away, has become the path of least resistance. . . .

[However, you can]  lower the activation energy for habits you want to adopt [put the guitar on the chair where you usually sit], and raise it for habits you want to avoid [freeze your credit cards in a block of ice if you are trying to stop impulse buying].  The more we can lower or even eliminate the activation energy for our desired actions, the more we enhance our ability to jump-start positive change” (157-161). . . .

For instance, “in our quest for healthier eating habits, researchers have found that they can cut cafeteria ice cream consumption in half by simply closing the lid of an ice cream cooler.  And that when people are required to wait in another, separate line to purchase chips and candy, far fewer will do so.  In essence, the more effort it takes us to obtain unhealthy food, the less we’ll eat of it, and vice versa.  This is why nutritionists recommend that we prepare healthy snacks in advance so that we can simply pull them out of the refrigerator, and why they recommend that when we do eat junk foods, we take out a small portion, then put the rest of the bag away, well out of our reach (163). . . .

For the author Shawn Achor’s example of  Ted, the guy who is working almost all the time,  and yet is not getting much done, there are specific actions that will help him establish better work habits.

                                                                SAVE TIME BY ADDING TIME

“The first step is a seemingly counterintuitive one–disable many of the shortcuts that were originally designed to ‘save time’ at the office.  For example, I encouraged Ted to keep his e-mail program closed while he worked, so it would no longer send jarring alerts whenever he received new mail.  Any time he wanted to check e-mail, he’d have to actively open the program and wait for it to load.  While this reduced involuntary interruptions, it was still too easy for him to click on the little Outlook icon whenever his mind wandered, so to protect against habitual checking, we made it even more difficult.  We disabled the automatic login and password for the account, took the shortcut off the computer desktop, then hid the application icon in an empty folder, buried in another empty folder, buried in another empty folder.  Essentially, we created the electronic version of Russian stacking dolls.  As he told me one day at the office, only half jokingly, it was now “a total pain in the ass’ to check e-mail.

‘Now we’re getting somewhere,’ I replied.

We did the same for his other distractions, disabling his stock widget, changing his home page from CNN to a blank search page, and even turning off his computer’s ability to process cookies so it couldn’t ‘remember’ the stocks and websites he usually checked.  Every additional button he was required to click, even every additional address he was required to type into a web browser, raised the barrier to procrastination and improved his chances of remaining on task.  I pointed out that he still had complete freedom to do what he wanted; just like in an opt-out program, his choice had not been taken away at all.  The only thing that had changed was the default, which was not set to productivity, instead of to distraction. . . .

Ted was not only skeptical, but a little annoyed with me.  It seemed to him (and to the other executives on whom I had inflicted similar miseries) that I was only making their busy lives more difficult.  . . . But a few days later, once they realized how much more work they were getting done (and in less time), they had come around.

                                         SLEEP IN YOUR GYM CLOTHES

. . . Limiting the choices we have to make can also help lower the barrier to positive change. . . studies showed that with every additional choice people are asked to make, their physical stamina, ability to perform numerical calculations, persistence in the face of failure, and overall focus drop dramatically.  And these don’t have to be difficult decisions either–the questions are more ‘chocolate or vanilla?’ than they are Sophie’s Choice. . . .

If you’ve ever tried to start up the habit of early-morning exercise, you have probably encountered how easy it is to get derailed by too much choice.  Each morning after the alarm clock sounds, the inner monologue goes something like this: Should I hit the snooze button or get up immediately?  What should I wear to work out this morning?  Should I go for a run or go to the gym?  Should I go to the nearby gym that/s more crowded or the quieter gym that is slightly farther away?  What kind of cardio should I do when I get there?  Should I lift weights?  Should I go to kickboxing class or maybe yoga?  And by that point you’re so exhausted by all the options, you’ve fallen back asleep.  At least that’s what would happen to me.  So I decided to decrease the number of choices I would have to make in order to get myself to the gym.

Each night before I went to sleep, I wrote out a plan for where I would exercise in the morning and what parts of my body I would focus on.  Then, I put my sneakers right by my bed.  Finally–and most important–I just went to sleep in my gym clothes.  (And my mom wonders why I’m not married yet.)

But the clothes were clean, and I had essentially decreased the activation energy enough so that when I woke up the next morning, all I had to do was roll off my bed, put my feet (which already had socks on them) into my shoes, and I was out the door.  The decisions that seemed too daunting in my groggy morning state had been decided for me, ahead of time.  And it worked.  Eliminating the choices and reducing the activation energy made getting up and going to the gym the default mode.  As a result, once I ingrained a lifetime positive habit of morning exercise, I now don’t have to sleep in my gym clothes anymore. . . .

This isn’t just about getting yourself to exercise.  Think of the positive changes you want to make at your job [or at home or with personal growth], and figure out what it would mean to ‘just get your shoes on’ at work.  The less energy it takes to kick-start a positive habit, the more likely that habit will stick.

                                                   SET RULES OF ENGAGEMENT

Whether you’re trying to change your habits at work or at home, the key to reducing choice is setting and following a few simple rules . . . like deciding ahead of time when, where, and how I was going to work out in the morning. . . . [S]etting rules in advance can free us frm the constant barrage of willpower-depleting choices that make a real difference in our lives.  If we make a rule to never drive a car when we’ve had more than one drink, for example, we eliminate the stress and uncertainty of trying to make a judgment call every time we aren’t sure if we’re too drunk to drive (which probably means we are).  At work, setting rules to reduce the volume of choice can be incredibly effective.  For example, if we set rules to only check our e-mail once per hour, or to only have one coffee break per morning, we are less likely to succumb in the moment, which helps these rules to become habits we stick to by default. . . .

The key to . . . permanent, positive change — is to create habits that automatically pay dividends, without continued concerted effort or extensive reserves of willpower.  The key to creating these habits is ritual, repeated practice, until the actions become ingrained in your brain’s neural chemistry.  And the key to daily practice is to put your desired actions as close to the path of least resistance as humanly possible.  Identify the activation energy–the time, the choices, the mental and physical effort they require–and then reduce it.  If you can cut the activation energy for those habits that lead to success, even by as little as 20 seconds at a time, it won’t be long before you start reaping their benefits.  The first step metaphorically–and sometimes literally–is just to get your shoes on” (163-170).

Or for me, just jump in the water – and swim.  I will go to my five remaining swimming classes.  In October and much of November, I will have easy access to a pool, so I’ll continue practicing there.  My goal is to swim for an hour without stopping.  Surely, I can do that (and not hate it) before the end of December — when I’ll write another New Year’s resolution list.

swimming_swimmer_female_216789-1-copy

This could be me before the end of 2017 – and, I hope that I’d love swimming

Image from – http://www.freeimages.com/search/woman-swimming

The book has other good advice including a section on the importance of relationships.  I encourage you to read The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor.  If you can’t get that done by the end of the year, you could add it to your 2018 New Year’s resolutions.

What about you?  It’s not too late to revisit your 2017 New Year’s resolution list.  Perhaps you’ve been relying on your willpower to accomplish your goals.  It’s probably not enough.  As Shawn Achor suggests – Figure out how can you put your desired actions as close to the path of least resistance as humanly possible.

Besides working on my swimming, I’m putting my vitamins on the counter each morning right by the sink; the bottles must be back in the cabinet before the end of the day. Learning to play a ukulele is also a goal, so like Shawn Achor, I’ve been leaving the instrument on my chair.

The year isn’t over.  You can still accomplish what you resolved to do.   Good luck.

Aloha, Renée

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor <https://www.amazon.com/Happiness-Advantage-Principles-Success-Performance/dp/0753539470/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1503851065&sr=8-1&keywords=the+happiness+advantage+by+shawn+anchor

P.S.  I recommend this book for other good insights.  Although the focus is for success and performance at work, you can apply the principles in all aspects of your life.  “Principle #7 SOCIAL INVESTMENT – Why Social Support is Your Single Greatest Asset” is particularly useful.

 

 

 

“Why Do Men [and Women] Stupefy Themselves?” Substance Abuse and Addiction

Life is sweet; life is hard. How we handle the hard times is essential to our growth.
Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher, cultural critic, and poet, whose work has exerted a profound influence on Western philosophy and modern intellectual history, realized that difficulties of every sort were to be welcomed by those seeking fulfillment.

“Like his pastor father, Nietzsche had been committed to the task of consolation.  Like his father, he had wished to offer us paths to fulfillment.  But, he said, ‘The worst sickness of men has originated in the way they have combated their sicknesses.  What seemed a cure has in the long run produced something worse than what it was supposed to overcome.  the means which worked immediately, anaesthetizing, and intoxicating, the so-called consolations,were ignorantly supposed to be actual cures. . . . these instantaneous alleviations often had to be paid for with a general and profound worsening of the complaint'” (de Botton, The Consolations of Philosophy, p. 244).

Instead of facing their difficulties, many turn to drugs and alcohol to anaesthetize themselves.
According to a recent New York Times article:

AKRON, Ohio — Drug overdose deaths in 2016 most likely exceeded 59,000, the largest annual jump ever recorded in the United States, according to preliminary data compiled by The New York Times.

The death count is the latest consequence of an escalating public health crisis: opioid addiction, now made more deadly by an influx of illicitly manufactured fentanyl and similar drugs. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50.

Although the data is preliminary, the Times’s best estimate is that deaths rose 19 percent over the 52,404 recorded in 2015. And all evidence suggests the problem has continued to worsen in 2017.

Because drug deaths take a long time to certify, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will not be able to calculate final numbers until December. The Times compiled estimates for 2016 from hundreds of state health departments and county coroners and medical examiners. Together they represent data from states and counties that accounted for 76 percent of overdose deaths in 2015. They are a first look at the extent of the drug overdose epidemic last year, a detailed accounting of a modern plague.

The initial data points to large increases in drug overdose deaths in states along the East Coast, particularly Maryland, Florida, Pennsylvania and Maine. In Ohio, which filed a lawsuit last week accusing five drug companies of abetting the opioid epidemic, we estimate overdose deaths increased by more than 25 percent in 2016.

“Heroin is the devil’s drug, man. It is,” Cliff Parker said, sitting on a bench in Grace Park in Akron. Mr. Parker, 24, graduated from high school not too far from here, in nearby Copley, where he was a multisport athlete. In his senior year, he was a varsity wrestler and earned a scholarship to the University of Akron. Like his friends and teammates, he started using prescription painkillers at parties. It was fun, he said. By the time it stopped being fun, it was too late. Pills soon turned to heroin, and his life began slipping away from him.

Mr. Parker’s story is familiar in the Akron area. From a distance, it would be easy to paint Akron — “Rubber Capital of the World” — as a stereotypical example of Rust Belt decay. But that’s far from a complete picture. While manufacturing jobs have declined and the recovery from the 2008 recession has been slow, unemployment in Summit County, where Akron sits, is roughly in line with the United States as a whole. The Goodyear factories have been retooled into technology centers for research and polymer science. The city has begun to rebuild. But deaths from drug overdose here have skyrocketed. . .

From: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/05/upshot/opioid-epidemic-drug-overdose-deaths-are-rising-faster-than-ever.html?_r=0

 

There are many ways to anaesthetize yourself:  alcohol, smoking, over-eating. . . . Heck, you can be addicted to running or paddling (but then at least you will have a clear head).

Many years ago after being introduced in a terrific literature class to Leo Tolstoy’s novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, my friend Melinda introduced me to some of Tolstoy’s non-fiction.  One convincing piece was Why Do Men Stupefy Themselves? 
Recently, I came across Maria Popova’s blog on Tolstoy’s “Stupefy” essay.  Tolstoy’s ideas still ring true today. 

“The seeing, spiritual being, whose manifestation we commonly call conscience, always points with one end towards right and with the other towards wrong, and we do not notice it while we follow the course it shows.”

“The people of the United States spend exactly as much money on booze alone as on the space program,” Isaac Asimov quipped in a witty and wise 1969 response to a reader who had berated him on the expense of space exploration. At no other time of the year are our cultural priorities more glaring than during our holiday merriment, which entails very little cosmos and very many Cosmos. Long before Asimov, another sage of the human spirit set out to unravel the mystery of why such substances appeal to us so: In 1890, a decade after his timelessly enlightening spiritual memoir and midway through his Calendar of Wisdom magnum opus, Leo Tolstoy penned an insightful essay titled “Why Do Men Stupefy Themselves?” as a preface to a book on “drunkenness” by a Russian physician named P. S. Alexeyev. Eventually included in the altogether excellent posthumous volume Recollections and Essays (public library; free ebook), Tolstoy’s inquiry peers into the deeper psychological layers and philosophical aspects of substance abuse and addiction.

 

Decades before the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous and nearly a century before alcohol abuse was recognized as a disease by the World Health Organization, Tolstoy writes:

What is the explanation of the fact that people use things that stupefy them: vodka, wine, beer, hashish, opium, tobacco, and other things less common: ether, morphia, fly-agaric [hallucinogenic mushrooms] etc.? Why did the practice begin? Why has it spread so rapidly, and why is it still spreading among all sorts of people, savage and civilized? How is it that where there is no vodka, wine or beer, we find opium, hashish, fly-agaric, and the like, and that tobacco is used everywhere?

Why do people wish to stupefy themselves?

Ask anyone why he began drinking wine and why he now drinks it. He will reply, “Oh, I like it, and everybody drinks,” and he may add, “it cheers me up.” Some those who have never once taken the trouble to consider whether they do well or ill to drink wine may add that wine is good for the health and adds to one’s strength; that is to say, will make a statement long since proved baseless.

Ask a smoker why he began to use tobacco and why he now smokes, and he also will reply: “To while away the time; everybody smokes.”

 

https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/12/30/why-do-men-stupefy-themselves-leo-tolstoy/

 

 

Let’s Get Cooking: Coconut Milk

Coconuts are an almost perfect food: highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6 and minerals including iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous. Unlike cow’s milk, coconut milk is lactose free so can be used as a milk substitute by  those with lactose intolerance as well as vegans says, https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/ingredient-focus-coconut-milk

Given proper care and growing conditions coconuts palms grow rapidly, can produce up to 100 coconuts a year, and live to be 100 years old!  So if you are lucky enough to have access to coconuts – and they are grown in more than 90 countries around the world, one delicious way to use them is to make your own coconut milk.

In the May/June 2017 issue of Maui Nō Ka ‘Oi magazine, “Cuckoo for Coconuts,” Ryan Burden shares his knowledge and passion for coconuts, including this recipe for coconut milk:

Coconut-Information-Ryan-Burden-copy

Ryan Burden, a young man from Hā’iku, Maui, on a mission to get more people to eat coconuts, niu in Hawaiian.

How to make homemade Coconut Milk:

Ingredients

  • One older, shaker coconut [almost fully mature, these coconuts have thick meat and are rich in coconut oil].
  • 1 or 2 rubber or spoonmeat coconuts [younger coconuts with jelly consistency meat]
Coconut-information-Milk-1-copy

You will need coconut meat

STEP 1

Split the coconut in half by tapping firmly around the circumference. Tip: You can use any hard surface, like the back of a machete, a cleaver, even a stone.

Scrape out the meat using a coconut tool or butter knife; cut into 2-inch pieces.

coconut milkINGREDIENTS
STEP 2

Fill a high-powered blender halfway with coconut pieces and top with water. Water from a sweet coconut is best, but you can use plain H20. If you do, add a teaspoon of honey and a pinch of salt.

Tip: Make sure the water is at least 73 degrees; otherwise, the oils won’t emerge.

Blend on high for 30 to 45 seconds. Tip: Coconut meat is tough. Gradually increasing the speed avoids overheating the blender.

STEP 3

Strain through a nutmilk bag or fine cheesecloth. Squeeze out every bit, and put into a jar.

Fill to the very top, leaving no air in the jar to spoil the water. Chill immediately.

After the jar is opened, milk will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator, but is best enjoyed within two days.

For the complete article including how to open a coconut, go to <https://mauimagazine.net/coconuts/

Have fun making – and drinking your homemade coconut milk.

Aloha, Renée

Thought for the Day: Compassion +

“Compassion isn’t weakness.  Compassion is strength,” says John Lewis, M.B.A. CEO and founder of Bad Ass Vegan

From: Thrive Vegan Magazine: Plant-Based Culture, Food, Lifestyle, Athletes, Health, Issue 7, p. 46-47.

During a podcast with Rich Roll, John Lewis also said,

“No one is responsible for your well being . . . take control of your own health,” says John Lewis.

Rich Roll notes,

John Lewis wasn’t always the exemplary model of health and advocacy he is today. Tipping the scales at 315 pounds by his freshman year in high school, things could have easily gone sideways for this young man growing up in Ferguson, Missouri.

But instead of drugs and gangs, he turned to sports, finding solace and refuge in basketball and football. Honing his skills in both high school and college helped him ditch his fat kid image and triggered his life-long love for healthy living.

bad-ass-vegan

John Lewis

Nonetheless, John began experiencing some serious, negative health issues despite maintaining an athletic nature post-college. He sought medical advice and was informed that excessive animal protein consumption just might be the culprit. That advice, combined with his mother’s colon cancer diagnosis, catalyzed an experiment with vegetarianism. Little did he know, that experiment would change his life.

In short shrift, ditching meat resolved his health issues. More importantly, the lifestyle aligned with his values. So it wasn’t long before John jettisoned all animal products from his plate and went entirely vegan.

Needless to say, this was an unlikely move for a football loving gym rat. His friends were not amused.

But John never felt better. The lights went on, opening him to an entirely new way of living and being that brought his life path into focus.”

Be compassionate.  Be healthy.  Aloha, Renée

From: http://www.richroll.com/podcast/john-lewis/

Image from: http://www.miaminewtimes.com/restaurants/bad-ass-vegan-hosting-free-vegan-smart-brunch-in-wynwood-7602956

lewis260_FBquote

What Foods Are Best?

We’ve just celebrated our annual Thanksgiving feast in the U.S.; the Christmas and New Year season with many gatherings and parties is ahead.  So we don’t balloon up in size, it’s a time to be particularly conscious of our eating choices.  But making conscious choices can be more than just looking at the calories we consume.

At the Bali Vegan Festival in October,  in the presentation, “Why Veganism is the Best Choice,” Judit Németh-Pach, the Hungarian Ambassador to Indonesia, provided many compelling facts and reasons to become vegan.

why-veganism

Judith Németh-Pach provided compelling reasons to consider veganism – at the Bali Vegan Festival in Ubud.

One source she sited was EatingOurFuture.com with its compilation of many convincing articles and scientific studies.

Given our anatomy, what foods are best for humans?

human-biology-indicates-our-optimal-food-diet-a-comparison-of-digestive-systems-for-frugivores-omnivores-carnivores-herbivores-hires

“As a group, vegetarians/vegans live longer than meat-eaters. Furthermore, vegetarians/vegans generally enjoy better health:

  • having less of the serious chronic diseases than the meat-eaters suffer;
  • with less of the associated disability and pain than the meat-eaters suffer; and
  • being less of a financial & social burden on their family and friends than are the meat-eaters with their higher rates of chronic degenerative disease.

Being healthier overall, vegetarians have more potential for the freedom & ability to live life to the full and independently for a longer time.”

 https://eatingourfuture.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/human-biology-indicates-our-optimal-food-diet-a-comparison-of-digestive-systems-for-frugivores-omnivores-carnivores-herbivores-hires.jpg

What food choices are sustainable?

vegetarian-issues-meat-cows-are-main-cause-of-pollution-climate-change

“Agriculture, particularly meat & dairy products, accounts for 70% of global freshwater consumption, [and] 38% of the total land use.”

Go to: https://eatingourfuture.wordpress.com/

How do food choices affect greenhouse gas emissions?

vegetarian-good-diet-meat-eat-smart-chart-carbon-foot-print-of-foods

Greenhouse gas emissions from different foods.

Yikes!  Nooooooo.  Low fat, organic cheese is worse than pork in creating greenhouse gases!! (I love good cheeses)!

What about eating fish and seafood?  Aren’t they good protein options?

“1/. The United Nations reports: “According to a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimate, over 70% of the world’s fish species are either fully exploited or depleted. The dramatic increase of destructive fishing techniques worldwide destroys marine mammals and entire ecosystems… oceans are cleared at twice the rate of forests…”
http://www.un.org/events/tenstories/06/story.asp?storyid=800

2/. “Global marine populations slashed by half since 1970: WWF… Populations of marine mammals, birds, reptiles and fish have dropped by about half in the past four decades, with fish critical to human food suffering some of the greatest declines… “Overfishing, destruction of marine habitats and climate change have dire consequences for the entire human population… The pace of change in the ocean tells us there’s no time to waste,” Lambertini [head of WWF International] said. “These changes are happening in our lifetime. We can and we must correct course now.”…”
http://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/world/global-marine-populations-slashed-by-half-since-1970-wwf/ar-AAelC44?li=AA59G3&ocid=iehp

3/. “Seafood hit by climate change, Australian study finds…  “There will be a species collapse from the top of the food chain down.”… Around 61 per cent of wild fish stocks are “fully fished” and 29 per cent “over-fished”, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Just 10 per cent are under-fished, the organization’s 2014 World Fisheries report said…”
http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/seafood-hit-by-climate-change-australian-study-finds-20151012-gk6xck.html

4/. “Rich countries pay zombie fishing boats $5 billion a year to plunder the seas…” – http://qz.com/225432/rich-countries-pay-zombie-fishing-boats-5-billion-a-year-to-plunder-the-seas/

And there is more –

The United Nations “urges global move to meat and dairy-free diet.”

So, what can we eat to be healthy — and have sustainable food sources?

If you give up meat, seafood, and dairy to eat french fries, you will not be healthy.  Vegans need to be conscious of their choices too.

xvegan-food-pyramid-3-jpg-pagespeed-ic-os_lzqytyw

You can be healthy – and happy on a vegan diet

http://www.vegancoach.com/vegan-food-pyramid.html

So what about me?  Have I become a vegan?  I’ve been vegetarian since 2003 and that isn’t hard.  In fact, it is getting easier all the time with almost all restaurants and even gatherings in homes offering tasty vegetarian options.  However, giving up eggs and really good cheeses is a challenge for me.  Right now,  I’m an aspiring vegan – for my own health and for that of our planet.

eating-our-future

Grim – but true.

What about you?  What conscious choices about your food are you or could you be making?

Aloha, Renée

Banner image is of a healthy vegan choice at Paradiso  –  The World’s First Organic Vegan Cinema – and major sponsor of the Bali Vegan Festival. When you go to Ubud, Bali, be sure to go to Paradiso for daily movie screenings, family afternoons, workshops, thematic festivals, live music shows, art exhibitions, private events, and excellent food. http://www.paradisoubud.com/

Image –  https://www.facebook.com/baliveganfestival/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1769340653328856

 

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Let’s Get Cooking: Homemade Coconut Butter

Now more aware of the health benefits of coconuts, I’ve been seeing how I can get more of the wonderful power food.  Here’s a simple recipe for homemade coconut butter that you might want to try too.

Meagen, the Vegan Food Addict, says, “Coconut butter, sometimes referred to as creamed coconut, is becoming increasingly popular. With its popularity, however, it can be expensive and often difficult to find. The good news though is that you can still enjoy it…just make your own! If you have access to shredded coconut or coconut flakes, you are in luck.

flakedcoconut

Coconut flakes. – Meagen’s photo

Check out this recipe:

Homemade Coconut Butter
Yields approximately 1 cup

4 cups unsweetened flaked coconut

Place coconut in the bowl of a food processor and process for 5-10 minutes*, or until smooth; stopping occasionally to scrape sides of bowl.

Store coconut butter in an airtight container at room temperature, in the fridge, or freezer. Coconut butter will begin to solidify after resting.

*Processing time may take more or less time depending on food processor”

Meagen has many more tasty recipes including Tikil Gomen, (Ethiopian Cabbage and Potatoes).  Check out her blog.

Coconut Butter and more from Meagen: ttps://veganfoodaddict.wordpress.com

Aloha, Renée

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