Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wellness Wednesday

A recent study found that cholesterol levels can be lowered without the use of medication.  This study found four types of food that lowered bad cholesterol levels.  The four foods were:  plant oils or sterols such as margarine; viscous fibers such as oats, barley, and psyllium; nuts; and soy.  Read about the study here.    

Monday, August 29, 2011


Cross of Carhuaz beach
Sorry about the harsh title to this post, but that's what I sometimes think when I hear that I should support certain businesses because they're "Christian."  As if slapping a fish or a cross on a piece of merchandise makes it superior to any other unnecessary product that is marketed to the general public.

Often I hear about companies that are Christian- or faith-based.  That the company's founder is a Christian and that they include the name of God or some Bible verse in their title or motto or mission statement.  

Somehow I think this might anger Jesus.  For my readers who are familiar with the New Testament, remember how Jesus turned over the money changers tables?  I mean, how is this different, really?  These companies are pushing products that are probably not made with renewable and sustainable materials; probably use overseas slave labor to produce it; and most likely create a variety of nasty chemicals in the manufacturing process.  In sum, they're allowing the destruction of creation in order to make a buck.

One faith-based company's web site says their mission is to "offer quality products and an outstanding opportunity to become successful business owners."  How is it Christian or Biblical to push "quality products" or to be a "successful business owner"?  I am often amazed at the quantity of items people purchase from these business owners.  Customers are not purchasing them to satisfy a need; they're purchasing them because they feel they need more shiny baubles.  And although they're touted as quality products, when you start looking at the cost and how everyone down the line is getting a cut of the sales, it turns out to be impossible that these trinkets are made of quality materials.  They're manufactured for pennies, at a high cost to the health of individuals and the environment, and they are sold for far more than their actual value in order to help the company (mainly) and the "successful business owners" (somewhat) acquire more money.

Another company says, "Building this business on Biblical principles as made this business strong as well as enabled us to enrich lives."  I'm still trying to understand how selling these products can enrich lives.  

So again, I go back to the thought that I've blogged about before.  If we don't purchase these items, we would have more money available to do good in the world:  to alleviate poverty and hunger; to care for the ill; and to rehabilitate the incarcerated.  Sounds a lot more like what Jesus would want us to do.

I understand that we are in tough economic times and that individuals are often just trying to make a living.  However, using religion to market a product just doesn't seem right.  I cringe every time I hear reference to a company that is founded on "Biblical principles" as it seems more like pimping God.

(Photo source:

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Quote for the Day

"I cannot be optimistic but I am a prisoner of hope."
~Cornel West

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Fairy Tales and Magic Spells

Growing up, I loved fairy tales.  I was such a girly-girl, I wanted to live the life  of a fairy tale princess.  Of course, I always focused on the ending (and the clothes, of course) and not on the tragedy that was the impetus for the story.  Often, the story began with a magic spell being cast upon one or more of the characters, or even upon the entire village.  The magic spells that were cast had a way of making the characters see the world in a false way.  Even though I've outgrown fairy tales, I've come to realize that magic spells do exist.  My latest no-spending challenge has brought me to this discovery.

Marketing executives and psychologists work very hard at creating the consumer fairy tale.  Buy this and you'll instantly be thinner, smarter, prettier, hipper, name it, the product exists to help sculpt the fairy tale.  We see beautiful, affluent people in the advertisements, commercials, television programs, and movies and we want and expect what they have.  The fairy tale tells us that all of that is within our grasp, if only we loosen our purse strings.  And that, my friend, is the spell.

Having sworn off shopping (and, of course, frequenting stores), I've discovered there is a magic spell behind the fairy tale, without which the fairy tale will not function.  By avoiding the media that spins the tale, I have discovered that I am immune to the magic.  I don't feel like shopping and think of it as a time waster.  In fact, I've become happy with my limited, yet very functional, wardrobe.  Without the media telling me I need new electronics or furniture or anything else for my house, I find that I'm much more satisfied with what I do have.  I've broken the spell and now want to live happily ever after, in the real tale.

It saddens me when I think of the people who, when confronted with this reality, don't want to hear it.  They say it spoils their enjoyment of life, as if being a part of this never-ending quest is a satisfactory way to live.  It can be painful at first to give up the dream, but it is really a dream that can never be attained.  Once that realizations sets in, there is freedom in being released from the spell.  

If you're interested in breaking the magic spell that has been cast upon us by Wall Street and Madison Avenue, I suggest embarking on a shopping moratorium.  You may find yourself in your very own fairy tale, minus the evil spell.

(Photo source:

Friday, August 26, 2011

Wellness Wednesday

Gamers room, I mean Friday.  I was out of town and didn't have time (or enough internet access) to research a wellness topic so I'm presenting it a couple of days late.

Here's a link to an interesting Time Magazine article about a study on longevity and television viewing.  According to this study, "watching too much TV is as detrimental to longevity as smoking and lack of exercise."  Further, those "who watched an average of six hours of TV a day lived an average 4.8 years fewer than those who didn't watch any television."

Last year, when I cancelled my television subscription, I had no idea that I could be increasing my life span.  Now when I tell people the benefits of not having a television, I can add that to the list!

(Photo source:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Update on Shopping Challenge

shopping by the sea
I have a little over a month left in my shopping - or should I say not shopping - challenge.  Since my last update on the challenge, I've refrained from spending any more money, except on essentials.  I did use a gift card I had to purchase some blank books for myself.  I feel this is within my challenge as 1) I didn't spend any of my money; 2) I consider journaling to be an essential part of my life so am always in the need of a new blank book; 3) I rarely have access to a good selection of journals so I took advantage of the opportunity to stock up on this necessity.

This challenge has not been oppressive at all.  More and more I realize how little I really need and that I have enough material possessions that I can almost always made do.  This exercise is helping me rethink some of my spending habits and, once I'm "off the hook," think I will be much more mindful of purchases.  

(Photo source:

Monday, August 22, 2011


While modern technology such as emails and voice mail are extremely convenient, I often think that it also has lead to the degradation of manners.  Lately, I've started thinking about the number of emails and voice mail that I send with personal information, sometimes information I've had to spend time researching, and yet I never receive a response.  I understand that we live in busy times and sometimes it might take a while for someone to get back to you, but never?  Even when one is extremely busy, it seems like a quick response like, "Thanks for the information" or "Thanks for thinking of me" or "Thanks.  I'm tied up right now, but I'll get back with you on it" or even just "Thanks."  A response like that doesn't take but a few seconds beyond actually reading the email.  Voice mails, of course, do take more time to respond to, but often even those can be handled with an email response.  

What really makes me believe it is not busy-ness but simple rudeness is that I often see or hear about the same people on facebook.  I suggest that anyone who doesn't want to respond to emails should refrain from posting and commenting on facebook as it shows others that you don't care about them.  

I make it a habit of responding to all emails I receive that seem to require a response.  And, even though I'm not as busy as others, I do know some extremely busy business people who are prompt with responding to all emails.  As for me, sometimes I don't get back with other as soon as I should, but I do get back to them.  For anyone who hasn't received an expected email from me, I apologize as it was clearly an oversight.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Clouds 4
"May flowers always line your path and sunshine light your day. May songbirds serenade you every step along the way. May a rainbow run beside you in a sky that's always blue. And may 
happiness fill your heart each day your whole life through." 
~Irish Blessing

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Women and the Church

One reason we need more female pastors, priests, and leaders in the Church:

This past June I accompanied my husband to Kentucky where he attended a class as part of his seminary degree.  As this class involved numerous field trips, I ended up tagging along and got to know one of the two women in the class.  She and I spent quite a bit of time together and we exchanged views on a variety of things.  She told me that the residential seminary was composed of about 30% women and it was often difficult being among the minority there.  She also talked about the difficulties of being a single woman looking to get a church assignment once she graduated.  As we parted, I tried to encourage her by telling her what a wonderful pastor she would be - because I know she will be.  

After returning from the trip, I really started noticing that even the contemporary, "hip" churches are made up of mainly white men.  I started looking at church web sites and noticed that when there was a female on staff, she was usually in a traditional role, either as the secretary/office manager or the children's minister.  Rarely does one find a woman as the lead pastor or in any kind of leadership role.  It seems kind of lopsided to me as many people turn to the church for counseling and in times of crisis.  Personally, should I ever need to confide in a church leader, I would only do so to a woman and the church secretary or children's minister would not be the appropriate person to turn to.  I don't think I'm alone in this so I think the Church is failing 50% of the members.

Until the Church begins to encourage more women to go into the ministry and to rise to leadership positions, I believe the Church will continue to look backwards and out of step to the outside world.

(Photo source:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Don't Take It for Granted

Today marks the anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, ratified in 1920, which gave American women the right to vote.  Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton drafted and introduced this amendment to Congress in 1878.  

File:Susan Brownell Anthony older years.pngFile:ElizabethCadyStanton.jpg

It took 41 years for the amendment to be submitted to the states for ratification.  Sadly, neither woman lived to see their dream come to fruition.  However, women across the United States owe them much gratitude for their hard work and foresight.  

Women like Ms. Anthony and Ms. Stanton fought long and hard for our right to vote; let's not take it for granted.  And please remember women in the following nations where women still have limited or no right to vote in elections:  Brunei, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Vatican City.

(Photo and historical source:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wellness Wednesday

Doctors and scientists already know that tanning (especially with tanning beds) ages skin and can cause skin cancer.  However, now there is yet another reason to avoid tanning.  New research shows that people who use tanning beds have a change in brain activity that mimics drug addiction.  That is, not only are you putting yourself at risk for deadly skin cancer, your body begins to actually crave the experience.  Go here to read about this study.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Where is "Away"?

When Americans throw away their broken, unwanted electronics and other items, most of us rarely think about where "away" really is.  One broken keyboard here, an obsolete cell phone there, it can't add to much, right?  So, it's just all shipped to the local landfill, which really doesn't take up much space, right?

Wrong.  Multiply your discards by the the millions in the United States, then add the millions from other countries and we have a real problem.  It's called "e-waste" and it doesn't just go "away."

Here is where most of it goes:

E-waste is processed and recycled overseas, mainly in places like India, China, and Pakistan.  According to Greenpeace, "25,000 workers are employed at scrap yards in Delhi alone, where up to 20,000 tons of e-waste is handled each year, 25 percent of this being computers." Processing e-waste is hazardous work.  Electronic components contain many heavy metals and other toxic elements.  Often children are among the workers processing this waste:  

Each time the latest, greatest gadget comes out, we need to really ask ourselves if those new fangled devices are really necessary.  Is your cell phone providing the service you actually need?  Does your computer still have the capability to allow you to conduct your business and personal tasks effectively and efficiently?  If so, why buy a new one?  

This also brings to mind conversations I often hear where people are talking about "our" jobs going overseas.  How many Americans would want the above-mentioned 25,000 plus jobs?  I'll save that topic for another day.

(Photo sources:;

Monday, August 15, 2011

No More Plastic

Rigid Plastic Bottle 14

Or at least less plastic.  Today I got thinking about the steps I've been taking to eliminate, or at least decrease, plastic in my life, especially plastic bottles.  Here are a few ways I've been working towards this goal:

Started carrying my own reusable bags
Started using shampoo and conditioner bars
Started making my own laundry soap from soapnuts
Started shopping at bulk bins

Here are two things I was doing for a while but fell out of the habit:

Baking bread in my bread maker
Making yogurt in my yogurt maker
Making household cleaners

I'm sure there are a few other things I'm doing that I've become so accustomed to doing that I don't consider the fact that by doing those things, I'm not generating more plastic trash.  Also, since I'm a serious recycler, my trash mainly consists of plastic items that cannot be recycled so I'm continuing to evaluate what goes to landfill and how I can eliminate those items.  I'm open to any suggestions from my readers.

(Photo source:

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Quote for the Day

Glass Window
People are like stained glass windows, they sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when darkness sets in, their beauty is revealed only if there is light from within. 
~Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Taking a Sabbath Day

 Hand on keyboard

I love the internet and how it allows me to keep in touch with people and events around the world.  My problem with the internet is that I often end up going down a rabbit hole, searching for some bit of information, finding another, following that to yet another link.  And then hours have passed by and I really haven't accomplished anything.  So, beginning a couple of weeks ago, I decided to take an internet sabbath on Sundays.  That means no email, no facebook, no blogging (except for posts I've already scheduled), no internet period.  I think it's good for me to take break.  It frees up a lot of my time and keeps me from being a slave to technology.  To paraphrase Martha Stewart, a little radio silence is a good thing.

(Photo source:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wellness Wednesday

inside our refrigerator
The obesity epidemic is spreading to new places.  France, whose obesity rate is far below the US, is beginning to rise there, with obesity rates matching the US in some places.  According to this NPR article, much of the rise can be blamed on the influence of American eating habits.  Experts believe the following habits are contributing to the weight increase:

1.  Lack of cooking skills
2.  Availability of vending machines
3.  Eating and drinking on the go
4.  Eating too often
5.  Eating high-calorie, processed foods rather than fresh food

Due to the influence of American television characters, the French now  are "copying what we see on American television shows....Now we think we have to do things we never did before, like open our refrigerator as soon as we walk in our front door, no matter the time of day."

Americans may be able to avoid the obesity trap by emulating the traditional French way of eating.  We can learn to cook from scratch to avoid the high-calorie, highly processed foods.  And we can also make cooking and eating a family affair.  We can eat at set meal times and not grab food on the go or whenever it is available.  It is the availability and ease of acquiring food that leads to the consumption of additional, unnecessary calories that helps put on the pounds.

(Photo source:

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Quote for the Day

"One murder makes a villain, millions a hero."

~Beilby Porteus

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Hiroshima Day

Today is a day of remembrance for the victims of the bombing of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki.    It is estimated that between 90,000-166,000 people died in Hiroshima and 60,000-80,000 in Nagasaki.   Today is a time to reflect on the terrible power of nuclear weapons and to contemplate a world at peace.
File:Hiroshima Dome 1945.gif
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial was built around the ruins of this building, the Genbaku Dome, which remained mostly intact despite the fact that the bomb was detonated almost directly above the building.

From the one of the victims, known as a Hiroshima Maiden, who was seriously disfigured as a result of the bomb:  
As a [survivor], I am determined to continue appealing for the elimination of nuclear weapons from the Earth. That is what I must do. We survivors of the atomic bombing are against the research, development, testing, production, and use of any nuclear arms. We are opposed to war of any kind, for whatever reason.  I would like to say to young people in the United States and other countries: Nuclear weapons do not deter war. Nuclear weapons and human beings cannot co-exist. We all must learn the value of human life. If you do not agree with me on this, please come to Hiroshima and see for yourself the destructive power of these deadly weapons at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. (
Nuclear weapons do not make the world a safer place as one day it will be all too easy for a power-hungry leader to push the button that will lead us down the road to human annihilation.  According to Ploughshares Fund, there are approximately 20,000 nuclear warheads worldwide, with around 9,000 in the United States, significantly more than any other nation except Russia.  As Father John Dear, S.J. commented in a speech, when we were looking for weapons of mass destruction, we should have looked in our own backyard.  

In 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr. bravely spoke out against the war in Vietnam.  His position was not a popular one but, as time has revealed, the right one.  It is time for concerned human beings to speak out against the continued existence of nuclear weapons.  For inspiration, here is a YouTube video of excerpts of Dr. King's speech:    

(Photo source:

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Clothes and Justice

Last week my husband put the following John Wesley quote up on facebook:
Every shilling which you needlessly spend on your apparel is, in effect, stolen from God and the poor.  And how many precious opportunities of doing good have you defrauded yourself of!  How often have you disabled yourself from doing good, by purchasing what you did not need.
This quote provoked a bit of conversation as some of his friends wanted to know how many clothes were too much?  Some thought that the price of something indicated that it was "too much."  Another friend commented that she wanted to do the right thing but she also didn't want to wear the same outfit every day.  

Although there is no formula for telling us how much is excessive, it does help to remember that the average American only wears 20% of the clothing he or she owns.  So I suppose it would be fair to say most people have 80% more than they need.

My eyes were really opened to how far overboard we have gotten when it comes to clothing was when I was listening to a Tranquility du Jour podcast which featured author Tina Sparkles.  Tina, who wrote Little Green Dresses did some research on clothing use in the United States.  She discovered that in 2008, 19 billion new garments were "consumed" by Americans.  In addition, 17 billion pounds of textiles and clothing were discarded.  Add to those statistics the fact that department stores such as H&M completely change the styles in their women's departments every two weeks, tells me we've gone too far.  

Think about it.  Even if every single one of those 19 billion new garments was only $1, that is $1 billion that could go to do something good.  And you know the value was much, much higher.  Further, most of those clothes were not purchased because they were replacing worn-out garments.  They were purchased merely because most of the buyers wanted something prettier, shinier, hipper, etc.  Purchasing those items meant fewer personal resources available to help the poor.  So, I think Wesley was right.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wellness Wednesday

Spilled Pills
For today's Wellness Wednesday, I want to share a little anecdote to put many people's attitude about health and wellness in perspective.  Last week I had a much overdue lunch with a friend of mine.  She's a cute, slender woman who works in the health supplement business.  She told me that she had a customer comment on her slimness and asked her, "What do you take?"  as if she could attribute her healthy weight to some vitamin, herb, or supplement she takes.  

Our culture has gotten so accustomed to taking a pill to make everything right that we often don't even think about the role that food plays.  Rather, we think of eating as a recreation and nothing else.  We need to start recognizing food for what it is:  a powerful fuel for our minds and bodies and a major influence on our health, both in the present and the future.

Optimal health - which includes a healthy mind and body - depends in large part on what we put into our bodies.  If we want to have clear thinking and the energy to accomplish our goals in life, we must be careful with what we put into our mouths.  Over-processed foods that have been stripped of all nutrients do nothing for us.  Nor is the fix for our bodies and minds to be found within a pill.  It is in consuming vitamin and nutrient rich foods that we give our bodies and minds what they need to function both now and in the future.  

(Photo credit:

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Eco Stuff

A couple of months ago, as part of my continuing bid to be more eco friendly, I purchased a bag of soap nuts.  Soapnuts grow wild in temperate to tropical climates on sapindus trees.  I learned that because they produce a natural "soap," these nuts could be used in place of laundry detergent.  Great, I thought, no more plastic laundry detergent bottles!  Plus the soapnuts can be composted after use.  Even though I've purchased eco friendly laundry detergent for years, I still had to contend with the plastic bottles - and I worried about all the energy that goes into the manufacturing and shipping of the product.  So the idea of soapnuts was very appealing to me.

The problem was, I was a bit nervous about using them, so they sat in my laundry room until this past weekend.  I knew that the nuts could be placed in a muslin drawstring bag and tossed in with the laundry, but I also learned that the nuts could be boiled into a liquid that could be used just like regular detergent and I liked that idea better.  

After doing a search on the internet, I not only found the formula for making and using the soapnuts liquid, I found a wealth of information on other ways to make it and to use it.  According to this website, soapnuts liquid can be used as a mosquito repellent, a liquid hand soap, a shampoo, and a general household cleaner.  Now I'm thinking I can eliminate a wide variety of products in my house and get greener with every step.  

Yesterday I did my first load of laundry with the soapnuts liquid.  I washed my bath towels and they seemed to come out just as clean as with my regular laundry detergent.  The real test, however, will be my husband's work clothes.  I'm optimistic as this discovery can lead to a lot of good changes around my house.

Monday, August 1, 2011

International Day of Peace - September 21

More on Affordability

Dinner Salad 1

Families that want to find a way to eat a more healthy diet without breaking the bank should rethink how they use meat.  Last week Adrienne of The Rich Life on a Budget, one of my readers and blogger friends, commented on my post about the expense of healthy eating.  She pointed out that one of the major food expenses is meat and that if we treat meat as a side dish or condiment rather than as the main focus of the meal, we can eat much more healthfully and much more inexpensively.  Adrienne said that shifting the focus to grains and vegetables is a healthful and inexpensive way to eat.  According to this article on MSN, "Americans are obsessed with protein, but it's the one nutrient we actually get too much of."  Since we're getting too much of it, cutting down on meat consumption seems to be one of the best ways to save money.   
fruit basket

Processed snack foods are also an unhealthy way to bust your budget.  Shona of LALA dex press, another of my blogger friends, commented that reaching for the real food rather than the processed imitation one is another way to save money and your health.  She says that apples are a much better snack than "Juicy Juice."  The above MSN article also pointed out that "the most inexpensive snacks are also some of the healthiest."  Foods like raisins, popcorn (not the microwave type), carrot sticks, pretzels, cheese, and bananas are much healthier and cheaper than a box of those prepackaged "100 calorie" snack foods where you are paying for empty calories and a lot of packaging and advertising.  

(Photo Sources: and