August 13, 2017

Read It: Go Set A Watchman



I started reading Go Set A Watchman last summer, and, as much as I enjoyed reading the memories that Scout shared from her childhood -- believe me, there was a hilarious story she shared with Jem and Dill that I still think about -- it was was one of those books that I easily put down in distraction of other books. But, I picked it up again this past winter and learned a few life lessons as I continued reading:

I found that there were some startling parallels between a book that was written in the late 1950s and what was going on at the time that I was reading it. It blew my mind that the world has not changed much in the 60 years since Go Set A Watchman was written, and that the things that has been sitting under the surface are still there. Harper Lee was acutely aware of things that a lot of people kept, and still keep, hidden in society.

One thing that a lot of people were upset over was the fact that our dear Atticus Finch is portrayed as racist in this novel. But, what some people are not remembering is that this book was written before To Kill A Mockingbird, which means he always was racist, it just wasn't evident when we first met him. To assume that there is not an ounce of racism in him simply because of his actions and words in To Kill A Mockingbird is unfair, and Go Set A Watchman shows us that we truly do not know the inner workings of the minds of others. To have put Atticus on a pedestal was a big mistake on our part, and Go Set A Watchman sets all of us straight, including Jean Louise.

I thought a lot of my childhood and the moment that I grew into my own person while reading the conversation that Jean Louise has with Dr. Finch, her uncle. That moment when you no longer hang on to the thoughts and ideals of your parents and realise that you have created your own. When you become your own person. It was when he called her a bigot that it really got to me, and I realised that I am the exact same way:

"Dr. Finch bit his under lip and let it go. 'Um hum. A bigot. Not a big one, just an ordinary turnip-sized bigot.'

Jean Louise rose and went to the bookshelves. She pulled down a dictionary and leafed through it. '"Bigot,"' she read. '"Noun. One obstinatly or intolerably devoted to his own church, party, belief, or opinion."...'

'...What does a bigot do when he meets someone who challenges his opinions? He doesn't give. He stays rigid. Doesn't even try to listen, just lashes out...You have a tendency not to give anybody elbow room in your mind for their ideas, no matter how silly you think they are." (p.267)

Reading that passage was a real "a-ha" moment for me, and reminded me of this article that I had previously read about false-consensus bias, people that believe in a different point of view than you, and the fact that our opinion might just be wrong. I am one of those people that does not give in easily when fighting about an opinion that I believe is right, and it is something that I am truly working on. -- "This is not to say the Other Side is “right” but that they likely have real reasons to feel that way. And only after understanding those reasons can a real discussion take place...And you won’t convince anyone to feel the way you do if you don’t respect their position and opinions."

Go Set A Watchman was more than just the "sequel" to a good book, for me. It surprised me by being incredibly relevant. It also taught me that I still have a lot to learn, and made me question if I have truly set my own watchman.

August 07, 2017

All About Food: The Valuable Lesson I Learned From My Visit To Cuba



When it came to what we were going to eat in Cuba, I didn't know what to expect -- see my vacation here. The reviews of our resort were mixed between saying that the food was bland, or that there was nothing wrong with it at all. I knew that we wouldn't be getting French cuisine while we were there, and I'm not much of a sauce person so bland food doesn't bother me anyway. 

What I discovered while we were there was a buffet full of fresh fruits, meats, and some vegetables. I am assuming that over time the resorts have figured out the kind of expectations that we have when it comes to food, and have tried their best to provide us all with food that it similar to what we eat at home as there were definitely foods that were imported -- like the jams and jellies that I liked to put on my crepe-like pancake as there was no syrup.

But this is beside the point. The food that I ate in Cuba was fresh and -- mostly -- local, and I lived my days eating foods that I wouldn't normally be eating at home. I ate very little meat and focused more on the fruits and salads, breads and rice that were available to me -- because there was no junk food for me to gobble up, except for colas.

What I didn't notice then, that I figured out once I was back in Canada, was that my body was detoxing from all the foods back at home, and, as soon as I started back into my old habits at home, I got sick. 

While I was laying at home sick on the sofa, I watched a couple of documentaries on Netflix -- I loooove documentaries on Netflix. One of them was a show about food and the effects that it has on our body called Hungry for Change

As I was laying there exhausted from the illness that I had developed from the food that I had eaten when I came home, and realised that I had been exposed to such fresh food -- and nothing else -- while I was away, I knew that I had to go back to what I was eating like in Cuba.

I'm not going to lie to you, I still eat chips, drink pop, and go out for supper to places that we really shouldn't be going, but my main focus is on vegetables and fruits. I eat salads and fresh cut veggies every day, and I eat fruit and nuts on my porridge instead of brown sugar. I have made little adjustments here and there in my diet that have made a huuuuuge difference to my body that I would have never figured out had I not gone to Cuba.

Most of you that have been following along for a while know that I have been going through a weight loss period for about five years now -- read the history here. While I haven't done a "Weight Update" in quite a while, you can consider this my newest one. 

Around this time last year I decided I wanted to lose a couple more pounds -- the last of my weight loss goal -- and I did it by counting calories, etc. It was difficult, and took me a long time to achieve my goal. Some days I felt like I was practically starving myself, but I never felt good, healthy. My asthma became a serious issue again during my pregnancy seven years ago, and I was still relying on my steroid inhaler a lot -- which is something I don't like to do.

Since I began making vegetables and fruits my main focus, I am so proud to be able to tell you that I have not used my inhalers -- steroid or Ventolin -- once since my visit to Cuba back in January. I do not remember the last time that I became seriously ill, and as soon as I feel myself becoming sick, I do a mental check and realise that I have been eating really junky and get back on track again and the sickness goes away. I have lost the last couple of pounds for good, and even a couple more that I was surprised about.

It's so hard to explain, and not sound super preachy about it. Just know that I learned a valuable lesson that I know has done my body good.



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