I live on a sustainable family farm and work for a humanitarian aid organization. My goal is to have a simple beautiful life. The Quaker acronym SPICE (simplicity, peace, integrity, community, and equality) guides my life.
A friend is about to launch a program at church that is designed to both raise money for a charity and to help members lose weight. I offered my help and wrote a list of simple weight loss tips. Thinking about this upcoming project and the number of individuals in the US who are either overweight or obese, it dawned on me what is at the core of this epidemic: Americans have lost sight of the meaning of moderation. When it comes to our cooking, eating, and dining out habits, we don't understand that term.
We only believe in excess. In restaurants, portion sizes are now double or triple (or even more) what they were a generation ago. Although serving sizes are listed on grocery store packaging, we blatantly ignore the labels and consume until multi-serving packages are empty. We take seconds (and sometimes thirds) at mealtimes, eat large desserts, and then snack between meals and before bedtime. We are constantly surrounded by food, most of which is high in calories, fat, and sugar. All this excess leads to and sustains weight gain.
Even when we choose to diet and try to cut back on our food consumption, we go all out. We have fads: low-fat and low-carb are the most recent. In embracing these diets, we don't eat less, we continue to eat to excess, just within a particular food group. Once a woman I know who was supposed to be dieting was noshing on a bag of candy. When she saw the puzzled look on my face, her response was, "It's okay; it's low-fat."
Even if we manage to lose weight on these plans, there tends to be a boomerang affect. These unhealthy diets lead to rapid weight loss (often it's just water loss). Most of these diets are unsustainable over the long-run and we return to the eating habits that caused the weight gain in the first place.
So many individuals have an all-or-nothing attitude towards their weight and eating. Either they are on a diet, where they are extremely restrictive in when and what they will eat, or they develop a laissez-faire attitude where the belief is that "I'm not on a diet so I can enjoy eating all the junk food I want."
Of course, we have the other end of the spectrum - those who develop eating disorders in their quest to control their weight and their lives. I'll leave this complicated topic to the experts.
What we need to do is develop a mindset that is based on moderation. No food or food group is outright forbidden, it's just we need to keep an eye towards moderation. Having this approach to food allows for enjoyment of food AND long-term weight loss. A win-win deal.
A blogger I follow has recently read a book about the meat industry and, as a result, has decided to become a vegetarian. Read her post here.
As a teenager, I was a vegetarian but somehow, in my twenties, I drifted away and became a carnivore. However, about eight years ago, I came down with a serious case of food poisoning from some chicken I had eaten. I began to explore the food industry, read a number of books on the subject, and realized how far I had strayed from my own moral beliefs. Some of the books I read discussed the conditions under which "factory animals" live and die. I was horrified and vowed to never eat meat again.
This past year, my husband made the decision to become what he calls a "farmitarian." He will only eat meat from animals that he has either personally raised or hunted. That way, he knows the animals lived a normal and decent life before making the ultimate sacrifice to become food on his plate. II believe if more people know the horrendous conditions of the corporate animal factories, we would have either 1) more vegetarians or 2) a huge public outcry with a demand for more humane treatment of animals. Further, once you see the condition of factory farms, you'll understand why we have so many food recalls and become very concerned about your health and where your food comes from.
For those interested in this topic, there are a number of books available. Here are a few titles to get you started, plus a movie to watch:
Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Market by Gail A. Eisnitz Mad Cowboy by Howard F. Lyman (made famous by the lawsuit against Oprah) Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy by Matthew Scully
Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds about Animals and Food by Gene Baur
Meat Market: Animals, Ethics, and Money by Erik Marcus
Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows by Melanie Joy
Earthlings is a movie (available for viewing online) that I've heard is called "the vegan maker." I haven't had the heart to watch it because I already know how we torture and abuse animals.
Another book, the China Study by T. Colin Campbell exposes the truth behind diets based on animal products and discusses the benefits of a vegan diet.
I hope a few of my readers are open-minded enough to look into this subject, to realize the horror that we're supporting, to possibly become vegetarians, and to share this hidden truth with family and friends. What you don't know can hurt you - and our furry and feathered friends.
Today I'm going to spend recovering from an event I helped my husband and others host at our church. This past week my house has become disordered, so I need to work on getting it cleaned and organized. Even though having my home tidy and organized it something I strive for, it's really a small matter in the grand scheme of things.
Last night was an amazing event. Our church hosted a sold out (500+ tickets) concert featuring best-selling contemporary Christian artists Todd Agnew and Pocket Full of Rocks. The concert was a fundraiser to benefit Danita's Children, an orphanage in Ouanaminthe, Haiti. We were fortunate that the orphanage's founder, Danita, and the U.S. Director, Sheree, were able to attend. After a brief video presentation, Danita gave a very moving testimony about her work in Haiti. As a result of this concert, Danita's Children will have over $12,000 to help feed, clothe, house, and educate her children. In addition, at least 13 children received individual sponsors which will bless both the children and sponsors.
It's hard to believe that just over a year and a half ago, Danita's Children was just a web site to me. Now I have the privilege of calling both Danita and Sheree good friends. They are incredible women, as are the missionaries who live with Danita in Haiti. After seeing them last night, I realized I must get back to Haiti. My husband and I have been planning a trip for some time, but haven't nailed down the details. Now I know it's essential that we get back there, even if it's for a brief visit. It's because as time passes, you forget about what's really important. I find myself getting caught up in trivial aspects of living this rich American life and I forget what it's like for most of the world, especially for our neighbors, the Haitians. I need to get back to Haiti so I can be reminded of what really matters.
I've had an "off" few weeks and haven't felt I've had a lot to blog about. Not that there's not a lot going on, just not much to share on the blog. Part of it, I believe, is the season. It's fall here and the days are getting shorter and shorter and shorter....Not my favorite time of year. I find it harder to get up in the mornings and even harder to motivate myself to take on any large projects. I was able to check off a few large items on my To Do list. I spent one afternoon washing my SUV and the front porch rockers. Another afternoon I weeded one of my front flowerbeds, something I had put off far too long. Yesterday I finally sat down and hemmed two pairs of pants I recently purchased.
It's funny when you make a To Do list. Some of the tasks look so simple, like "hem pants." However, the steps involved in actually getting the chore done can take several days. I started to hem two pair of pants on Friday. First I had to try them on with the shoes that had the right height heel to make sure I did indeed need to hem them. Next I had to tear out the old hem. That involved getting out my sewing kit and finding my embroidery scissors. Once the hem was out, I had to cut off the excess fabric. I had to try on the pants again to make sure I didn't trim off too much. By this time I was interrupted (by what I can't recall) and had to put everything away for the day. The next day I was able to trim the pants and begin the process of pinning. Of course, I had to try on the pants (with the right shoes) again to make sure I had the right length. I only did one leg on one pair to make sure I didn't waste time pinning up to an incorrect length and having to start over. At some point, I realized I didn't have the right color thread and wasn't going into town for a couple of days, so once again had to set aside the project. Well, yesterday, I finally had everything ready to actually hem the pants. So they're now done...except now I need to iron them.
So, since my life has revolved around checking off these mundane chores on my To Do list, I haven't had a lot to blog about. I felt bad that I missed out on Blog Action Day this year. It focused on water, which is a very important issue. I really wanted to do a post on that topic but didn't have time to research it as I was busy checking off the work I needed to get done to finish a class. As far as my blog is concerned, I want to return to my previous theme of editing my life. I plan to organize how I use this blog and what I blog about so I have some consistency for my readers. Please stay tuned for a little more order to this blog. And hopefully a little more inspiration.
We all have one, right? Are you also like me, where you reach for a pen or pencil only to find that the pen has dried up or the pencil's eraser is nonexistent? What do you do with these pens and pencils? Odds are, you put them back in the cup and then fish around for one that functions. Soon, you have a cup full of pens and pencils you can't use. It's really such a little thing, but sometimes a big frustration. So, today I've decided to edit. I'm going to go through every one of my pens and pencils and discard all that are defective or that I just don't like to use. And I'll fill my cup only with writing instruments that work, and work well. End of frustration.
Yesterday, I found these images on Style on a String's blog: A number of weeks ago I read about some unauthorized, unretouched photos of Madonna being released on the internet. Madonna is 52 years old. Yet the final, official photograph makes you think she's still a teenager. While some have touted Madonna as a strong, feminist role model as she is her own person, a savvy business woman, etc., however, I beg to differ. Our society is sending a very bad message to teenagers and young women, that there is something wrong being who they are. The woman in the second photo doesn't exist and never really did. But thousands of women see photos like this one and think they're damaged because they actually look normal. There are few true role models for what beautiful is. Lauren Hutton is one.
One of the first supermodels of the 1970s, she has aged gracefully. This quote sums up her attitude about getting older: "We have to be able to grow up. Our wrinkles are our medals of the passage of life. They are what we have been through and who we want to be. I don't think I will ever cut my face, because once I cut it, I'll never know where I've been.”
I'd like young women to have more role models like her.
I've been a couple of weeks without television now, ever since I called our satellite television provider and cancelled, effective immediately. I worried that I would miss it, that I would regret my action and call back to reinstate our service. But that hasn't been the case at all. In fact, when my son and his girlfriend were visiting this past weekend, they never mentioned the lack of television. They even got out our old Scrabble game and played that, as well as another board game.
I often hear people complain about television, how programs lack values and push immorality on us. My question to these individuals is, then why do you watch it? If everyone who feels that television is contributing to the decline of western civilization would just stop watching television, or at least the programs they protest, then the media would have to change. Simple as that.
For me, I've never been a huge television fan. I think it has something to do with growing up in a household where we only had one television and my father's viewing habits dominated. Whenever possible, our television was tuned to either a western movie or a western series, like Gunsmoke. I think that might also be the reason why I detest John Wayne, but that's another story...
I'm a bit tardy with this post as I've been a bit busy these last two weeks, what with school and taking a quick trip to Florida. Part of my personal habit is to establish personal goals for each quarter, rather than doing the traditional New Year's resolutions. For the last two quarters, I blogged about my goals and I'm happy to say I was able to achieve them all. One goal from the second quarter had to wait until the third quarter, but I accomplished it so I feel I was successful.
This quarter, however, I've decided not to set any particular goals. What with my starting another class, assisting with a major concert at our church, hosting Thanksgiving at our house this year, and with Christmas and our children's birthdays, I think I have enough on my plate. Perhaps just successfully finishing my class, pulling off the concert and the Thanksgiving dinner, and enjoying the holidays can be my goals. In the meantime, thoughts of next quarter's goals will be percolating in the back of my mind. Nothing too challenging, mind you, as I hate to start a new year by setting myself up for failure. So for this quarter, I'll just plan on successful living.
My friend Lisa at Retro Housewife Goes Green has an excellent post on her blog about the pinkwashing we see every October. She also shared this video, which talks about eliminating the causes of cancer rather than the illusive "cure." Please watch the video and then go to Lisa's blog for the full article
Just a quick, belated post to celebrate the Tampa Bay Rays winning the American East League Championship. My obsessive baseball fan days are over (actually I was a Dodgers fan during that time period, many, many years ago), but I'm so glad to see the Rays doing well. I remember the day it was announced that the Tampa Bay area would finally get its own baseball team. There had been many unsuccessful attempts to either bring an existing team to the area or start a new franchise. And there was even some underhanded scheming to prevent Tampa from having its own team. Once a team was in place, there were many dark years. However, during these last few years they've certainly pulled out of the slump and are doing the Tampa Bay area proud. Go Rays!
Not all hunters, just a certain kind. Let me start at the beginning...
Last year I blogged about the signs of the changing seasons in our part of the world. You can read about it here. Well, it's that time of year again and what it means for me is that we're going to have hunting dogs running through our farm for the next couple of months.
This past week we had three dogs on our farm. They got stranded in one of our pastures and were there for three days. I didn't realize it until the third day and I spent a good amount of time trying to coax them out the gate without letting out the goats and the horse. There was a phone number on a brass plate on each of their collars. I called the number so the owner could come get the dogs. The problem was, the number wasn't a valid number. My next step was to take the dogs to the Humane Society so they could locate the owner through their license numbers. Before I could round up the dogs, they disappeared into the woods. I thought that they had gone home and didn't think anything of it until Saturday. That was when we discovered one of our chickens behaving strangely, as if a predator had frightened it. On Sunday, my husband learned why the chicken was so frightened. One or more of the dogs had killed at least two of our chickens. The dogs are beagles which normally don't hunt farm animals, but the poor creatures were so hungry they were desperate.
This brings me to why I hate certain hunters - dog hunters. These people use their dogs to hunt deer. While the dogs do all the work, the hunters, dressed in full camouflage, sit in their warm pickup trucks, often drinking beer and probably eating Slim Jims, and wait for the dogs to chase the deer in their direction so they can shoot them. They call this a sport. What makes it really bad is the way they treat their dogs. They like to keep them hungry, because they say it makes them better hunters. And I know these dogs are usually mistreated in other ways. So, because these so-called sportsmen keep their dogs hungry, when the dogs get lost, and they often do, they become extremely hungry and will attack livestock for food. Sunday my husband and I had to witness one of our chickens breathe her last breath after she was severely injured by a hungry dog.
Now, on a lighter subject, why do these hunters feel the need to dress in full camo to sit in their trucks? Fashion statement?