Thursday, March 31, 2011

Why I Am a Quaker

I was born a Quaker, although it took many, many years before I realized there was a name for it and that there was an organized group of like-minded people.

1) Peace and Non-Violence - Many Quakers find this to be one of the most important things about being a Quaker.  The Peace Testimony is the belief that war is wrong, as is any form of violence.  As a follower of Christ, I find it hard to combine Jesus' teachings with Constantine's "Just War" theory.  Christ never advocated any form of violence; righteous anger, yes - violence, no.  I've had people try to convince me that there is a time for war and use the Old Testament as explanation.  I don't buy it, especially since most of these people discount almost everything else that was commanded in the Old Testament.  Further, as Jesus is described as the "Prince of Peace," how can that be combined with war?  I believe that when we delve into history, for every example of war, even what has been described as a just war, we can point to past violence as the cause of that war.  Violence breeds violence, not peace.

2) Simplicity - The Quakers believe in living a simple life.  They once donned unique clothing, such as that worn by the Amish and some Mennonites; however, most came to believe that wearing clothing that set them apart  actually drew attention to them.  The belief in simple living stems from the belief that people should spend their time and energy focusing of what is important rather than on things they consider frivolous.  The old-fashioned dress became something frivolous that detracted from truly important matters.  

3) Equality - Quakers were actively involved in both the abolition movement and the early women's rights movement.  Male and female, black and white (and all other races), all are considered equal in the eyes of God within Quakerism (also known as the Religious Society of Friends).  Early Friends had no problem accepting women as church leaders.  They were also instrumental in mental hospital and prison reform. In the early days, Quaker men refused to remove their hats when greeting others, especially those of a higher social station, as they felt this was an indication that one person was superior to another.

4) Sacred Life - Quakers hold a number of beliefs that seem unusual to outsiders until you consider this very basic concept.  As a general rule, Quakers do not practice baptism or communion as they believe we have inward holy experiences that occur in everyday life that do not need to be represented by physical ceremonies.  They consider baptism to occur as an inward experience and that every meal is a form of communion.  Further, Quakers often will not swear an oath as they believe the truth is something that should permeate our lives and that we should not change our behavior just because we swear to do so.  Often days that are considered holy by other Christians are not observed as they consider every day to be sacred;  no one day should be singled out as special.

Essentially, Friends believe that everyday life is sacred and that we should not behave differently just because a certain time is designated as special.  For instance, Lent is usually not observed because of the belief that it is wrong to fast part of the time, and then to be gluttonous the rest of the year.  This belief that everything is sacred extends to the belief in equality (no one person is above another) and to the peace testimony (violence harms people whom God loves), and even in eliminating unnecessary distractions from one's life (unnecessary attention to man-made things).

Friends don't just believe, they act.  Although the denomination is a very small one, members have been instrumental in founding organizations such as Greenpeace, Oxfam, Amnesty International, and the Christian Peacemaker Teams.  In 1947, the Religious Society of Friends won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Even though I am a Quaker, I was a member of the United Methodist Church for many years and still find much of the official doctrine appealing and enjoy many of its traditions.  For instance, I enjoy attending Ash Wednesday services at a Methodist church as I love the beauty of the imposition of ashes and the idea that Methodists (and other Christians around the world) are participating in that ritual.  And some of my best memories are of our children participating in the Christmas Eve services at our church in Florida.  I feel that enjoying these traditions does not conflict with my Quaker beliefs because, although I find personal inspiration from the rituals of the various branches of the Church, I do not find them necessary. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wellness Wednesday

In the theme of the rise of overweight and obesity in the world, I've been wanting to do a post listing the calorie and fat content of various dishes found in fast food and chain restaurants.  I never seem to have the time to adequately research this topic.  However, Quickie Chick compiled a list from Fitness magazine and I'm sharing it with you.  These "hidden" calories go a long way to help explain weight gains over the last few decades.  Many of these dishes are more than a small, sedentary woman should eat in a day!

1. Quizno’s Tuna Melt with Cheese and Dressing (large):
1760 calories
133 g fat
2. Quizno’s Classic Italian Sandwich (Large size, with cheese and dressing): 
1330 calories
68g fat
3. Quizno’s Chicken with Honey Mustard Flatbread Chopped Salad
1070 calories
71g fat
(the honey mustard dressing makes up 500 of those calories all on its own!)
4. TGI Friday’s Jack Daniels Ribs & Shrimp
1910 calories
5. TGI Friday’s Pecan Crusted Chicken Salad
1360 calories
6. TGI Friday’s Loaded Potato Skins appetizer
1430 calories
7. California Pizza Kitchen Thai Crunch Salad
1253 calories
8. California Pizza Kitchen Avocado Club Egg Rolls appetizer
1180 calories
9. California Pizza Kitchen Blue Crab Cakes
1567 calories
10. Denny’s Cheesy Three Pack appetizer (three-pack of mini cheeseburgers served with onion rings)
1940 calories
125g fat
11. Denny’s Granola (4oz) with milk (8oz)
690 calories
12g fat
12. Denny’s Heartland Scramble
1150 calorie
66 g fat
13. Applebee’s Quesadilla Burger
1820 calories
46g saturated fat (the equivalent of two jumbo steak burritos at Chipotle)
14. Applebee’s Grilled Shrimp Pesto Alfredo Fettuccine
1790 calories
15. Applebee’s Spinach and Artichoke Dip appetizer
1590 calories
16. On the Border Dos XX® Fish Tacos w/ Creamy Red Chile Sauce
2350 calories
152 g fat
( 2 to 3 times the suggested maximum daily dose of fat)
17. On the Border Grande Taco Salad with Taco Beef and Smoked Chipotle Vinaigrette Dressing 
1,680 calories
121 g fat
(chosen by Men’s Health as the Worst Salad in America in 2008)
18. On the Border Big Beef Burrito
1,600 calories
110 g fat
19. Outback Steakhouse Bloomin’ Onion appetizer
1560 calories
20. Outback Steakhouse Aussie Cheese Fries appetizer
2140 calories
21. Outback Steakhouse Baby Back Ribs (full rack)
2580 calories
22. Baja Fresh Breaded Fish Quesadilla
1400 calories
23. Baja Fresh Shrimp Bean & Cheese Burrito
950 calories
34 g fat
(Enchilada Style: 1580 calories, 74 g fat)
24. Baja Fresh Charbroiled Steak Tostada Salad
1230 calories
63 g fat
25. PF Chang’s Chicken Chopped Salad with Ginger Dressing
940 calories
68 g fat
26. PF Chang’s Crispy Honey Shrimp
2110 calories
70 g fat
27. PF Chang’s Lo Mein Combo
1968 calories
24 g fat
28. Olive Garden Create Your Own Pizza appetizer (cheese and sauce only)
930 calories
28 g fat
29. Olive Garden Pork Milanese 
1510 calories
87 g fat
30. Olive Garden Tour of Italy pasta
1450 calories
74 g fat

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Blogging My Tree

I recently ran across a post on Love in the City of Lights, a blog written by Kasia,  which featured a guest post by Andi of Misadventures with Andi.  Andi was giving blogging tips and mentioned one valuable lesson she learned from yet another blogger (Becky of Writing Roads).  Andi talked about learning to focus her blog by "finding her tree."  That is, make the base of your tree (or blog) that which you are most passionate about and everything you write about, your branches, should connect back to that tree.

When I first began my blog, I decided to do so because I had gained so much from reading a wide variety of blogs written by other women.  My tag line is "A place to find my way in the world" because I feel passionate about a wide variety of topics.  I'm a work in progress and am always pondering diverse subjects.  However, reading Andi's post made me pause and think.  What is my underlying tree?  My conclusion is my Quakerism.  So much of what I believe in and write about ties into my very strong liberal Quaker beliefs.  In the future, I'm going to try to keep my tree in mind whenever I find myself straying.  However, please forgive me if I do occasionally stray a bit. :)

Monday, March 28, 2011


Joy was a recurring them for me these past few days.  My women's interfaith fellowship bible study finished a lesson on joy on Friday.  On Sunday, our pastor talked about experiencing joy.

The "people of the book," that is followers of the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, believe the world fell when Adam and Eve were tempted and disobeyed God.  Even though Adam and Eve had all they needed in the Garden of Eden, the serpent tempted them into wanting what they didn't have.  In my opinion, the serpent was the original ad man.  He was able to make them think that they needed something that they really didn't.

In the modern world, it seems that marketing is what robs us of our joy:

  • Television robs of our joy
  • Magazines rob us of our joy
  • Newspapers rob us of our joy
  • Stores rob us of our joy
  • Billboards rob us of our joy
  • Radio robs us of our joy
  • The internet robs us of our joy

All of these modern inventions breed dissatisfaction with what we have and steal our joy.  The marketeers understand human psychology and know what buttons to push in order to peddle their wares.

How can we avoid this feeling of dissatisfaction that steals our joy?
  • Stop watching (or severely limit) television
  • Stop reading magazines
  • Stay away from malls and stores
  • Only shop when you absolutely need something and use a list
  • Determine to be happy with what you have
  • Take care of and enjoy what you have
  • Determine what you truly need and stick to it
  • Use time gained to work on meaningful projects and to make a difference in the world
I know; it's easier said than done.  That serpent marketing executive knows us better than we know ourselves.  However, with practice and determination, we can overcome the pull of more, more, more, and find the joy that has been stolen from us.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Quote for the Day

"America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own."

~John Quincy Adams 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Just Making a Living

While looking at a recent issue of National Geographic, I ran across an article about the so-called war against opium in Afghanistan.  One photograph really captured my attention.  It shows a woman, her face covered with her hands, surrounded by her four weeping children.  In the background, the Afghan police are destroying the opium poppies in her field.  She is a widow; the poppies are her only source of income.  (Here is the link to see the photograph; it's the seventh one at the top of the page.)

I live in a community that for several generations has depended upon income from tobacco.  Our state sells "Tobacco Heritage" license plates.  Tobacco is a source of pride throughout the area so you can buy all sorts of decorative items for your home that incorporates this theme.  As I looked at the photograph of the Afghan woman in her field, I wondered how tobacco farmers in our community would react if the police raided their farms and destroyed their crops, sometimes their only source of income.  

Don't get me wrong; I know that illicit drugs can destroy lives.  However, tobacco, although legal, can be just as destructive.  Many individuals in my community sport the tobacco heritage license plates and fill their homes with tobacco paraphernalia, yet are very passionate about supporting cancer research.  I wonder if they see the irony in it.  And I wonder how they are any different than the farmers in Afghanistan, just trying to make a living.  Perhaps what we need to do is look deeper into the problem, look at what is driving the demand for the drugs and the tobacco, address the issue, and find new ways for people around the world to make a living.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Earth Hour 2011

Earth Hour, which is this Saturday, is a way to bring global awareness to our precious resources. The current crisis in Japan shows us how fragile our energy system really is and that we need to find clean, renewable alternatives for our energy needs.

On March 26 at 8:30 p.m., join with others in 128 countries around the world by turning off your lights and anything else that requires electricity for one hour. During that time, think about how much we rely on electricity, how much we waste, and the price we and the planet pay for having modern conveniences. Of course, should the need arise, please made sure to use reliable birth control as we do not need to add to the population problem while helping with the energy crisis. ;)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wellness Wednesday

Last week I posted about how, over the last thirty years, Americans have increased their daily caloric intake by 600 calories.  One of my readers, Adrienne, commented that this amounts to a one pound weight gain per week.  Although this seems far-fetched, this article from Bloomberg News about municipal bus manufacturers having to re-think bus design, especially seating size and suspensions, seems to confirm the fact that we Americans are increasing our girth at a startling rate.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Quote for the Day

I will be the gladdest thing
Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one.

~Edna St. Vincent Millay

Happy Spring!

Saturday, March 19, 2011


This is my second year of "Not a Cent for Lent."  Doing this means I don't spend money on anything except necessities.  While some might find this vow to be constricting and painful, I actually find it quite liberating.  During this time, my life is much more simplified as I don't have any reason to go shopping, except to purchase food and toiletries.  When I do happen to be in a position where I'm lured into believe I've just got to have something, it's easy to walk away without any deliberation.  All I need do is ask myself, "Is this something that is a necessity in my life?"  Most of the time, the answer is "No."  Thus, advertising has no hold on me at this time.  I don't spend time thinking I "need" a particular item, that it will make my life easier or better, because I have a better awareness of what is really and truly necessary.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wellness Wednesday

Here's shocking statistic I ran across the other day.  According to the 2010 U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report, Americans have added 600 extra calories per day to their diets since 1970.  600 more calories!  That's at least an extra meal plus a snack.   Many of these calories are a result of all the extra snacking we tend to do as most of the calories come from grain-based desserts such as cookies and cakes.  Think about the weight that could be lost if we lost those extra 600 calories.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Quote for the Day

One day a woman was walking along a river and was astonished to see many women struggling in the water. She saw some people pulling the drowning women out of the river. The woman thought for a moment, then she ran upstream to find out why the women were falling in the water in the first place and to do something about it.

~ Unknown

Important Things

A combination of giving up nonessential expenses for Lent and then spending a good part of the week working on a variety of projects for nonprofit organizations in my community has really got my dander up.  This is what I posted on Facebook a few minutes ago:  
Our community is looking forward to having an Olive Garden Restaurant, which in 2004, had $4.1 million in annual sales per restaurant, and yet cannot fund a domestic violence shelter. Our local shelter closed due to lack of financial support. Shame on us.
About a year ago, our domestic violence (and sexual assault) shelter closed its doors for good due to lack of funding.  The shelter had hung in there for a few months prior, thanks to the dedicated employees who kept the facility running despite not receiving a paycheck for several months.  But it was just not possible to run the shelter without income.  The shelter had received some grants, but it was not enough to keep the program going.  

Our community is one of mainly blue collar workers and we have a very high unemployment rate due to the closing of our largest businesses.  It is also an area where there is a high incidence of the "boys will be boys" mentality so many turn a blind eye to the problem of domestic violence.  Thus, ours is a community with a desperate need for some type of sanctuary for victims of violence (which are typically women and children).  

So I hope you can understand my outrage and anger over the upcoming and much anticipated opening of another chain restaurant.  Our community is not lacking an Italian restaurant.  In fact, we have at least three very good, locally owned Italian restaurants.  Money is tight here and yet the chain restaurants are flourishing.  

In addition, our city and outlying areas have the highest overweight and obesity incidence in the state.  The LAST thing we need is a restaurant where a typical dinner entrĂ©e has 800 or more calories.  The Pork Milanese has 1510 calories, with 87 grams of fat.  And this is before adding a salad, a beverage, and a dessert.  Just the Pork Milanese has more calories than many people should eat in an entire day.  So having another restaurant, especially one with high calorie, high fat fare, is really the last thing we need.  

Some may argue that a new restaurant creates jobs.  Well, yes, but most of the money earned by the restaurant will leave the community.  But having a shelter will create jobs in the community, as well.  It will employ administrators, clerical staff, counselors, and a variety of caregivers, plus it will make for a healthier community all around.  

Not spending any money on nonessentials during the Lenten season really makes me aware of how much money is spent on frivolous items while vital programs are being cut.  Because going out to eat is not essential and yet having a safe haven for the most vulnerable is, I find my blood boiling.  If a community cannot afford to support local programs, I feel that they definitely cannot afford to eat at the Olive Garden (or any other restaurant).  Go home and make a nice healthy plate of beans and rice, served with a side of steamed broccoli.  And if you had been inclined to eat out (and actually could afford it), donate the extra money to a worthy cause instead.

Friday, March 11, 2011

What Is Wrong With Us?

This morning I was reading the various blogs I subscribe to in Google Reader and found that Beth Terry of My Plastic Free Life had this video to share:

I don't know about you, but it seems our quest to market and package things has gone a bit too far.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wellness Wednesday

From the March 2011 issue of Health magazine:
A new study published in the British Journal of Cancer suggests that a chemical called acrylamide, which is formed during high-temperature cooking - and found in fries and potato chips - may boost the risk of breast cancer in premenopausal women.  This builds on previous research suggesting it's role as a carcinogen.  Julie A. Smith, MD, director of the Breast Cancer Screening and Prevention Program at the New York University Cancer Institute, says the study is intriguing, but it doesn't prove a definite link between eating fries and getting cancer.  It's more important to focus on sticking to natural, unprocessed foods overall, she says, and watching your weight helps fend off the disease, too:  "Women should aim to keep their body fat under 25 percent to reduce the risk of storing cancer-causing agents like acrylamide."
Seems to me avoiding French fries and potato chips would serve two purposes - keeping acrylamide our of your body and keeping your body fat content down.  A win-win proposition.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lenten Vows

For those in the Christian world, tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of the Lenten season.  It is a time of prayer, reflection, and anticipation as we look forward to Easter Sunday.    Many Christians observe this season by making a token sacrifice.  Lent lasts forty days, plus six Sundays that are considered feast days, days when we are not held to our sacrifice.  Readers of this blog know that last year I participated in "Not a Cent for Lent," which meant I wouldn't make any unnecessary purchases during Lent. 

This time I've decided to give up wine for Lent.  I've read about Blood: Water Mission's Forty Days of Water Project where they ask people to give up drinking everything except water (tap water, that is) and to donate the savings to help build wells in parts of the world where people don't even have access to clean drinking water.  A very worthy cause.  However, as I had already given it much thought prior to learning about Forty Days of Water, I'm choosing to just give up wine for Lent this year.  Maybe next year I'll be prepared to give up my beloved iced tea.

I'm also going to observe "Not a Cent for Lent" again this year.   Last year's experience was a very enlightening one and I want to relive that journey.  I do find that blogging about my vows helps keep me accountable and also makes it more meaningful.  This year I hope it helps remind me that my sacrifices are actually very small and that there is a world full of people who don't have the luxury of taking Lenten vows.  When each day revolves around just trying to obtain food and water, there is nothing to give up.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Quote for the Day

"Who is a hero?  One who turns an enemy into a friend."

~Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Friday, March 4, 2011


Yesterday, while waiting in line at the grocery story, I noticed that many of the women's magazines had headlines about organizing.  The very topic once made me consume every magazine that mentioned it.  I was always on the lookout for new ideas for organizing my home.

However, on reflecting on the topic while waiting for my turn at the checkout line, I had a moment of clarity.  I realized the solution to the problem of organizing.  Lose it!  That's right, start getting rid of stuff.  Buying more plastic bins and labeling systems will not improve your life.  It was in the middle of the grocery store that I realized I do not want to burden my family with the task of going through my *precious* things.  Although I'm far from a hoarder, the thought of my children having to sort through things that were meaningless to them.  

I'm going to start looking at my possessions with a fresh eye.  I need to think about how much each item means to me and whether or not I really care enough about it for it to continue on after I'm gone.  And I need to care about the trouble each item will cause my family after I'm gone, as well, because they are the ones who will have to deal with it in the end.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wellness Wednesday

For some time now, I've wanted to begin having Wednesday as a day to use my blog to share health information.  Anyone who knows me well, knows I have a passion for health and wellness, especially using preventative and alternative methods to preserve health.  However, being the OCD person that I am, I've been waiting for a time where I can set out with a logical plan, laying out basics and then getting into specifics.  However, with my various obligations right now, I realized this is not going to happen.  Rather than not doing it at all, I believe just sharing small tips and research findings is still better than not sharing anything.  So, beginning next week, I will use Wednesdays to spread a health and wellness message.