Category Archives: opinions

Christmas Eve

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Our Somewhat Wonky Christmas Tree!

Our Somewhat Wonky Christmas Tree!

Hello everyone. I hope you are all having a peaceful, joyful, non-stressful Christmas experience so far.

Christmas has become so commercialized, with too many people just spending money they don’t have on things they don’t need. This isn’t a rant, honest! For years, we didn’t really “do” Christmas. Well, we kept the traditions we liked, and shed parts we didn’t.

When the boys were younger…I think ds1 was about 12, so the younger ones would have been 9 and 6…it got to the stage where having “Santa” come to our house on Christmas Eve and leave presents on the bottom of their beds became too difficult. It was the oldest who used to get so excited that he couldn’t sleep, and I was having to stay up later every year to get the presents delivered to their rooms so I could go to bed. That year that ds1 was about 12, I said to him that if he couldn’t get to sleep then Santa would just leave his gifts downstairs by the fireplace instead. And that’s what happened.

Afterwards, I rehashed Christmas entirely. Santa no longer came to the house. I broke it to them that Santa wasn’t real (they didn’t seem too surprised!) and that we were going to celebrate by giving each other gifts. From that year on, Santa was persona non grata and we called it Yule! We started having our main dinner on the Solstice, the 21st, I no longer sent Christmas cards, we kept the tradition of the tree and lights and explored other pagan roots of the season. For a few years, we went wassailing around the garden, leaving donations of bread and apple juice for future fertility. The boys made a huge effort to give each other numerous small gifts so that the base of the tree was loaded with fun stuff to open, and we didn’t miss Santa at all.

Gradually, we settled into a tradition that felt right for us. A small family gathering (because all of our extended family are on the other side of the Atlantic), a big vegan dinner, gifts with a reasonable budget. Baking which might include fruit cake, gingerbread cookies, mince pies. A couple of years running, we delivered gingerbread cookies to the neighbours…that was lovely. And of course a real tree.

As the boys have grown, things have changed slightly. Ds1 is now 22 and living with room-mates. We work around his festivities with friends. Tai Chi Man has only certain days off over Christmas and New Year. And now I have work hours too – I worked on the Solstice and will also be working New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

This year, the plan is to actually have our big dinner on Christmas Day and give gifts then. (When Tai Chi Man and I first met, I adopted the Swiss way of giving gifts on Christmas Eve. Then it became the Solstice. Now it’s any time that works for everyone.)

Now I am flexible. Have you noticed that the less rigid you are about something, the less stress you have? It’s taken me a long time to realize that I have less control than I think, and that trying to control everything invariably leads to stress. Best to relax and go with the flow. If that means having Christmas dinner on a different day, then so be it. I think the important thing is to enjoy being with family and be grateful for the abundance of good food. This year, of course, Tai Chi Man is thousands of miles away – his mum’s funeral was Monday and he will be spending Christmas with his dad and two brothers. My plan is to have a second Christmas when he gets back.

The fewer attachments we have to the outcome of things, the easier it is to accept what happens.

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas, however you choose to celebrate it (or not), and a healthy, happy, peaceful and joyful New Year.

vaccinations

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Vaccinations. A Really Hot Topic. Mention childhood vaccinations in any group of parents and you’ll have strong opinions on both sides of the fence. Rarely will there be anyone sitting ON the fence.

A couple of weeks ago, a Facebook friend of mine (I’ll call her Jane) posted a link to an article about whooping cough. The article said that whooping cough outbreaks are higher among children who are vaccinated, and that vaccines often cause the infectious diseases that they are designed to prevent. Jane feels that we are being fed lies about the necessity and efficacy of vaccines and that maybe we’d be better off without them.

Immediately, another friend, I’ll call her Jill, responded with a different link. A whooping cough death that has had the powers-that-be reminding people to vaccinate. She did allow that vaccines aren’t perfect and that some are less effective than others. But she was adamant that Jane should get herself, her husband and her kids vaccinated.

A third person weighed in, saying that she was definitely going to vaccinate as she didn’t want her child to get German measles like she did. I responded to that – I had all the vaccinations that were available in the 1960s, and I still got German measles. I was told that I had measles too. So it’s true that vaccinations aren’t infallible.

One of the arguments that pro-vaccinators make is that, by not immunizing your child, you are endangering other children. I can’t see that somehow. Surely if I choose not to immunize, then it’s only my child who’s at risk, because the vaccinated children supposedly won’t be able to catch the disease.

I did read a while back that many of the diseases that used to be around 50 years or more ago would naturally have declined anyway, thanks to better sanitation, cleaner water, etc.

Jane feels that she contracted shingles because her children were vaccinated for chicken pox. Chicken pox vaccine is a pretty new development. When my kids were younger, if you heard about someone with chicken pox you might actually take your kid over to play in the hope he caught it, because getting it over with when they’re small was said to be less traumatic than catching it when you’re older. My two older sons had it, but since my third son was born I’ve not heard of anyone getting it – is that because it was dying out anyway? I’m sure the vaccine hasn’t been around for 14 years.

Another person mentioned rabies. Would a non-vaccinator allow their child to receive shots if bitten by a rabid raccoon? I think most people would agree that if your child was in that situation, then agreeing to the shots would be a reasonable response. However considering how few people actually find themselves in that situation, I don’t think we should insist on blanket immunization against rabies.

I was somewhat hesitant to weigh in on the discussion, as these days I find myself getting tense and anxious when in a situation where I have to argue my position. I used to be a person who felt it necessary to express my opinion, being brought up in a family that did just that on a regular basis, but with my Tao studies I am learning it is better to be softer and more yielding, allowing others to have their say but not necessarily saying anything myself. Opinions tend to develop, mutate, change and mature, and I have found that if I am 100% firm in my stance, and rigid in my views, then I may realise later on that my mind has changed and I regret having been so rigid. New information often comes to light that makes me see things in a different way. So what I often do when faced with people like Jill is to just allow them to have their say and watch the reaction in my body and let it go.

However, I did end up posting more in that thread. I said that after my first child had had some vaccinations I decided not to accept any more for any of my children. It’s not that he had a violent reaction, though many do. I did my research and found that monkey cells and eggs were used to grow some vaccines and that didn’t jibe with my vegan ethics. When thinking about how vulnerable tiny babies are, I had reservations about the wisdom of invading their immune systems with multiple viruses. I refused to cave to the fear-mongering tactics that the establishment uses to guilt people into accepting things that they feel is not right. I also feel that big corporations are making big money from vaccines and drugs that may not be effective and may even be dangerous. I think that making money is their main objective and that in many cases substances are being released for public consumption without proper testing, ethics and integrity.

When I mentioned “gut instinct” Jill scoffed. She thought that scientific research should be the only criterion that convinces us all to “do the right thing.” It’s true that googling on the internet will lead you to more information than you can ever read in a lifetime, and that you can find something to support your point of view, whatever it is. However “scientific research” is not pure. It is often tainted by the fact that the funding is coming from someone with a vested interest in the results. Imagine McDonalds funding research into whether beef fat blocks arteries! Do you think that, when the scientists find out that animal fats in the diet lead to heart disease, they are actually going to publish those results? No, they’ll keep it quiet, and lie about it.

We all need to use the parental instincts that we’re born with to consider what’s best for our child. Yes, we’ll make mistakes (hopefully small ones), that’s inevitable. Only hindsight is 20:20. We can try and arm ourselves with as much information as possible to make an “informed decision” but ultimately it all depends on where our trust lies. Mine lies more with natural health practitioners who have a holistic view of health. Can we even trust the Government to give us the right information? I don’t think so. How often do we hear of pressure being placed on Government (who, by the way, is supposed to be representing our best interests) to maintain the status quo, when a change would be beneficial? (A recent example comes to mind of Texas meat producers having a hissy fit over Meatless Mondays.)

Remember how, a few decades ago, doctors were encouraging their patients to take up smoking, because it was “good for them?” Then new evidence came to light, and now it’s the opposite. Now imagine that in ten years’ time the same is true for vaccinations. Won’t we be kicking ourselves because we believed those who said they were necessary, but now it seems that they just wanted to make the population sicker, so they could sell them more drugs, and make more money? We consider ourselves to be so intelligent, so smart, that we think we have all the answers. Well, we don’t. One day, people will be looking back at 2012 and thinking, wow, they were so ignorant and backward in those days – it’ll be like us looking back at the Middle Ages. We just need to realise how much we don’t know, retain our humility and openness and flexibility, and yes, gut instinct.

 

 

cancer

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The word “cancer” is usually dreaded. It often strikes fear into the hearts of men (and women) as it conjures up visions of suffering, baldness, surgery, pain and death.

Most people have experience of it, whether directly or second-hand. How many of us have relatives or friends who have had it, whether they recovered or died?

I remember when I was a child, playing at a friend’s house, seeing her father walk slowly down the stairs in his bathrobe, looking grey-skinned. He had lung cancer and died not long afterwards. You don’t forget something like that.

Fast forward to a few years ago. My best friend Anne and I used to take walks around her neighbourhood with the family dog, Amber. One day, she told me about some lumps under her arm. The only other person she had told was her husband. She didn’t want to go to the doctor – maybe she knew, or at least suspected, that it was cancer, because eventually she did get it checked out and it was confirmed. I recall the day she phoned to tell me she had breast cancer. I cried. I told her I loved her. Strange how we only ever say that in extreme circumstances – we should really be saying it every day.

She tried natural remedies, juice fasting and herbs. But also, for her family, because she wanted to feel like she’d given everything a shot, she accepted chemotherapy and radiation. She lost her hair, of course, got thin from the fasting, got bigger with the steroids. Her body went through a lot. SHE went through a lot. Her cancer was more external – inflammatory breast cancer rather than discrete lumps in the breast. Surgery wasn’t an option. She had an open weeping wound on her side which needed constant attention – lots of showers and re-dressing and painkillers. During the two and a half years, there was a period when we all thought she’d beaten it. She broke her ankle in an icy parking lot once – she suspected that it broke easily because of the radiation weakening her bones. The last few months, her lung filled up with fluid. The first time, she went into hospital and it was drained and she went home. Shortly after that, she told her oncologist she was done. No more treatment, thank you. When you tell them that, they give you all the dire warnings and then put you into palliative care. The nurse visits you at home. Gives you a prognosis. In this case, she didn’t want to hear it, but was told anyway. She told me – I didn’t believe it. I thought she was strong enough to get through this alive. The last time I saw her at home, she had lumps up the side of her neck – lymph I suppose, though I couldn’t ask. I just sat quietly knitting while she painted. Her mum and I talked. I hugged her that day, which happened to be my birthday, 2010. Didn’t realise it would be the last time. I saw her only once more, when I went to the hospital to visit but the only thing I could do was squeeze her hand and leave because she wasn’t up for visitors.

All of these memories came back to me this year while I was spending time with my dad. I flew over to the island of Jersey in April, knowing that my dad had had breathing difficulties and something serious was wrong with his lungs. Maybe emphysema. Shortly after I arrived, my sister and I accompanied him to his doctor’s appointment following a scan where he was told he had lung cancer. We even saw a photo from the bronchoscopy of the tumour sitting in the right bronchial tube, blocking it, hence the collapsed lung and breathing trouble. I am so glad I was there to spend lots of time with my parents, and grateful that I was able to afford the time and money to get back for a whole seven weeks, while my husband capably kept the home fires burning. During those weeks, I was able to help my parents out around the house and drive dad to hospital appointments. We had to go to the hospital’s travel department a couple of times to book flights to Southampton, England, first for a PET scan, then a pre-radiation appointment, and finally for two weeks of radiation treatment.

Because the Jersey hospital doesn’t have the facilities for the standard cancer treatments, patients are flown to Southampton and are accommodated in a hotel. A couple of floors of the hotel are allocated to Jersey cancer patients, and there is a lounge provided for their use too. A shuttle bus takes the patients to the hospital every day so they can receive their treatment, then takes them back again.

Taking the shuttle with my dad, and sitting in the waiting area in the radiotherapy department, I observed many people with bald heads or headscarves, some patients looking underweight or just washed out, and felt an anger arise in me while I thought, “WHY?”

WHY do people get cancer? Yes, that was one of my questions. But, more pressing, was my thought, WHY do people accept a treatment like chemo, radiation or surgery (or all three) which often causes them to feel considerably sicker and frequently doesn’t work? WHY is it that it seems to be accepted by the majority of the population that cutting, burning and poisoning the body is the right way to treat cancer? WHY, at a time when people need their immune systems to be at the peak of efficiency, are we recommending treatment that knocks the immune system down? WHY aren’t more people researching other options which have worked for others, which involve cleansing the body of toxins rather than flooding it with toxins?

Back to the WHY of getting cancer. That does not have a cut and dried answer. You can look at a smoker who smokes 60 a day for 50 years (like my dad) and say, yup, I can totally see why he has lung cancer. But then how many other smokers don’t have it? You can look at a drinker who drank a bottle of whisky every day for years and say, yup, can totally see why he has liver cancer. But what about the ones who don’t? What about the good people with no obvious vices, like my friend Anne, who suddenly noticed one day that she had some mystery lumps under her arm? What did she do to deserve that?

It’s complicated. Just thinking of all the things that cancer can be attributed to….I’ll make a list quickly off the top of my head….

  • smoking
  • drinking
  • a blow to the body
  • pollution in the air
  • pesticides in the food
  • chemicals in the water
  • hormones in meat and dairy
  • a crappy diet that depresses the immune system and allows the cancer cells to proliferate

Because, you know, it’s said we all have cancer cells in our bodies all the time, but our immune system is what’s keeping everything in check. I have watched two different DVDs lately on the benefits of a plant-based diet. Many people have cured themselves of serious life-threatening disease by eating a vegan diet. It makes sense to assume that starting to eat a plant-based before you have  symptoms like high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes will ensure a healthy life. And it’s never too late to make the change. But the point is that certain foods, like casein in milk, have been shown to “turn on” cancer cells. Other foods, like vegetables, protect us with anti-cancer properties and by keeping our bodies clean and our immune system strong.

Of course, there is one more aspect that I haven’t covered yet, and that is the spiritual one. I believe that I have a soul that has lived many times in other physical bodies. I believe that karma is acquired from those previous lives, whether “bad” or “good.” At the time of my conception in this life, I entered this physical body with a plan. The plan was not set in stone – the path I took would depend on my choices while here. So what I’m suggesting here is that, in order to clear some karma, the people who get cancer are subconsciously accepting the suffering that goes with it as a life lesson. If they die, then maybe the lesson wasn’t learned, and they go on to another life with more work to do. On the other hand, others who are seen to be “cured” of cancer and go on to live many more years may have learned their lesson and successfully cleared their karma.

This is my belief and I’m not saying I’m right and that people who don’t agree with me are wrong. But believing in a greater plan, a bigger picture, helps me to understand why seemingly random people get cancer (I don’t believe in “random”) and others don’t.

To conclude, my dad completed two weeks of radiation treatment in May. He returned home and wasn’t feeling any the worse for wear and the hope was that the tumour would shrink and ease his breathing and buy him a bit more time. I wasn’t wildly optimistic about a “cure” but I wanted him to be comfortable. Now back in Canada, I spoke to him on the phone a couple of times and he seemed okay. Then, one day when I called, he said that suddenly he’d lost the desire for his Niquitin (nicotine lozenges that he’d been taking since he gave up smoking two years ago). Also he was having trouble doing his daily newspaper puzzles. The next time was different again – he could only answer my questions with Yes or No or I Don’t Know and sounded confused. I asked my mum and sister about it and they agreed there was something going on. He had a CT scan that showed a “lesion” – something growing in his brain that was causing the problem with his thinking. He was suddenly passive, after a lifetime of being quite irritable and forceful in his opinions. He couldn’t do a crossword. Couldn’t even string a sentence together. He won’t come to the phone to talk to me any  more – it’s too difficult for him – so I can’t do anything but get updates from my family and send love in my heart. I am sure that it won’t be long before he passes on and I have to accept that. Of course, however prepared I think I am for the loss of my dad in my life, I know it will be a tough thing to bear when the time comes.

May all be healed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9/11

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I wasn’t planning to say anything about it being the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and all that. I was glad to be busy all day and away from the TV because I really didn’t want to see a single thing about it.

However, I just read Gina’s post at A Soapbox with a View and I agree totally with what she said. She doesn’t mince her words, that one! But she’s right. It was a staged event created by the Americans themselves to push their agenda. Simple as that. Shame that so many people were sacrificed for the cause.

 

two smoothies…and a rant

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1) almond milk, banana, 3 pears, kale, agave, Omega 369 oil, Barlean’s greens, frozen cherries

2) juice of 4 pears, avocado, banana, Omega 369 oil, Barlean’s greens, kale, frozen blueberries

I was looking through a raw food recipe book* from the library on Saturday and read, once again, about the pasteurisation of almonds. This came into force a couple of years ago and whilst I heard about it at the time I continued to buy almonds. Of course, they are not truly raw as they have been subjected to high heat – all because of a few cases of salmonella in some non-organic almonds.

This pisses me off for a number of reasons. When I think of the thousands of cases of food poisoning that have undoubtedly occurred from eating animal products that are glossed over by the powers-that-be, it makes me wonder why such Draconian measures are not taken for chickens and other salmonella- or E-coli-infested meats on the supermarket shelf.

I still think we should have a choice between truly raw, and pasteurised almonds.

The book I was reading mentioned a treatment that the almonds are subjected to that’s called propylene oxide, “a former insecticidal fumigant and racing fuel that is banned in many countries throughout the world, and is classified by the EPA as a probable human carcinogen.”

This shines a new light on the pasteurisation process and its potential for harm. I just bought another five kilos of almonds from my local bulk food store. I guess I’ll use them up and in the meantime check out other types of nut for my home-made milk, snacks and energy bars.

* Living Raw Food by Sarma Melngailis

Bay of Spirits

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I came across a book at the library by Farley Mowat. For some reason, that name rang a bell but I didn’t know why. It’s called Bay of Spirits: A Love Story and recalls his life in the early sixties when he was sailing around the coast of Newfoundland and met the woman who was to become his second wife.

Reading the book makes me realise I must have heard his name in connection with environmental or animal welfare concerns. Whilst he spent a lot of time in the company of Newfoundland fishermen, and had no reservations about eating fish and meat, he was against sport fishing, hunting and the needless slaughter of whales and seals.

Whilst his book is mostly non-judgmental, he does describe scenes which move me to tears. Once when his little boat was moored in a Newfoundland harbour, he and Claire woke to a whale slaughter. A pod of whales was in the harbour and every day for three days the men would be going out in their dories to stab and slash at the whales. The sea ran red with blood.

Another time, he was on a ship that became stuck in ice. The harp seals that are so much a part of that area were giving birth on the ice around the boat. How can we forget the traumatic pictures of sealers slaughtering seals, especially those limpid eyes of the white babies? The men on this particular ship were not sealers but all the same they started shooting the seals – for sport. “Rats of the sea” they called them. I was disgusted, as I have been since I first heard about this Canadian abomination when I was a teenager. Thirty years later, it’s still happening.

The final chapter of Farley’s book talks about a whale that was trapped in a pond, waiting for another spring tide to give it enough depth to leave. The men from the nearest village jumped in their boats and shot at it, over and over, for days, just for fun. Farley was out there while it still lived, could see the pockmarked skin where the bullets had hit it. One day it disappeared. It had died, and eventually rose to the surface, a sad reminder of man’s inhumanity. I was going to say, man’s inhumanity to any species other than his own, but that wouldn’t be right. Man’s inhumanity to ANY species.

Another repeating theme of this book is the mention of how the fish are getting more and more scarce. Well, is that surprising, given that humans have been overfishing the seas for so long that they can’t survive. When will people realise that by destroying the land and wildlife around us, we will ultimately destroy ourselves?

I am ashamed to call myself a member of the human race.

Grrr, hunters

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An update to say I spoke to the local Conservation Office today. Apparently it’s hunting season and it’s quite legal to kill bears, though normally people are more sensible about how they dispose of the bits they don’t want.

You can probably imagine my opinion on hunting, being vegan ‘n all. These guys don’t HAVE to kill for meat, they do it for SPORT. In my book, a sport is something you do to have fun and keep fit and it shouldn’t have anything to do with harming or killing another living creature.

Grrrrr, !@#$ %^&*  *&^%$#@!