Monthly Archives: April 2018

Thrift Shopping for the Environment

Sometime ago, I was thrift shopping for clothes. I’d watched the documentary “The True Cost,” and as anyone would, I’d become enlightened to the sheer waste caused by fast fashion garment companies. And along with this I was aware of how little I need to truly feel happy, and, well, clothed. I can confidently state that there are enough synthetic materials in my wardrobe that I’d have to live well past 150 to need clothes for practical reasons; to stay warm and covered.

So then it’s just all a whim, some fashion thing, a need to be accepted by a bunch of people.

So then me, with this disgustingly “broken” desire, happily dragged myself to the thrift shop where I assumed to be the only person shopping for the environment among a bunch of “poor” others. And I’ll admit it, many of the people there were shabbily dressed, a little weathered looking, just unhappy, you know? Others WERE happy, but they were immigrants, new ones, clearly.

So I felt, different. Until I ran into this woman and her child who gave me the most cutting look. She looked at me as if I were made of garbage. And I realized she was there for the same reason I was… to shop for the environment—what an oxymoron. Except she didn’t realize we were somehow related in our shared desire to do good. We walked out at the same time too, and I saw her strutting to her Benz SUV, another oxymoron.

There’s this book I read a long time ago called The Beauty Experiment. I actually preordered it (if I remember correctly) and let me tell you it wasn’t worth the purchase price but it was still eye-opening because it made me realize that absolutely NOTHING happened in this person’s life by virtue of forgoing makeup and fashion.

You can find it here https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00AALBU3K/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

Of course, she was the married stay-at-home mom of a toddler living in Japan, a foreign country where I assume that visceral need to impress would go down (not our “group”). So the experiment would have been a lot more revelatory and significant if this woman had been someone who had more at stake in not adorning her “social” physical body. Would she have gone on as many dates? Would she have failed in finding a partner? Would she have lost friends or despaired about not having anything to wear to a bunch of parties and work functions? Would she have struggled to find a job? How large was her wardrobe to begin with?

So maybe I should re-write this book and let you know what happens in a year of not wearing makeup or buying clothes?

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Desk Jobs Are Meaningful: First Draft

Misleading title alert! This post is inspired by Plantifulsoul,or Claire Michelle, a Youtube and Instagram personality who upon graduating high school, instead of taking up one of her university acceptances, chose to follow her heart to Hawaii and simply live supported by the income from her Youtube videos and digital products, such as Adobe Lightroom presets.

Here’s her Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/plantifulsoul/

She is a good storyteller and a good videographer, but I feel that at 20 she is going in the wrong path in some ways. And I wanted to write about this.

Firstly, she seemed convinced that having not learned much from school in the 12 previous years, it would be useless to go to university. This is a terrible assumption but one I cannot blame her for making. I can’t deny elementary and secondary school are often lacklustre uninteresting experiences that amount to not much more than counting time and waiting for the hours to pass until “the end.”

But university, if chosen mindfully, IS NOT THAT WAY. The program of choice should not merely be of interest, but also related to a specific career path the person wants to follow. Does the student plan on being a veterinarian? A teacher? An accountant? Etc. The best way to decide, in my opinion, is to look at what careers our society needs most, and then see which of those meld best with personal interests.

If the student would like to start an entrepreneurial endeavour, then a specialized business degree would serve them well.

The point is, the things you learn in university can lead to you achieving your dreams. Imagine, you could be a plant or animal or marine biologist; you could be a conservationist with impact, a dietetics researcher helping to advance nutrition science in a direction that further expands the knowledge on plant-based foods for humans. The possibilities are endless, the potential for impact is INFINITE. And when done with purpose, an education does not have to include withering away in meaningless (to our purpose) classes.

I speak as someone who has struggled (and not given up) more than anybody I know with the university system. But I still see so much value in it. Value that truly cannot be obtained anyplace else.

I am writing this post at this time because just as other fans of Claire’s have noticed, she doesn’t seem to be as happy. She took a year off after school and discovered herself. That’s absolutely wonderful. She travelled for a little more after that, and wow, that’s amazing too. But I don’t see the point of FOREVER abandoning the education system simply because it is imperfect. It is true tried and tested hypotheses (science!) and logic/analytical skills and good thinking that we can help the societies we are in.

I am not at all trying to say that university is the only path to an education, but that there is value in what’s conventional.

Following the “conventional” life path is not at all about languishing away at a desk job. There are people all over the world working very, very hard at desks to increase animal welfare, to come up with solutions to abolish animal enslavement and murder, to educate people in developing countries who through centuries of outside abuse have been left with nearly nothing, etc. There are people taking their skills and education to do very good things every day, and at a desk. A desk job is not self-safe failure. It’s where you work that determines that! A university education can be invigorating, enriching to you and the whole world depending on what you do with those skills after.

Revisiting Old and New Tunes

Spotify picks out soundtracks for you. Little mixes. There are six on my app. The first contains artists like Christina Aguilera, Olly Murs, and Jennifer Lopez, and the second contains ones such as Chingy, Tyga, and Akon, and the third has artists such as Daddy Yankee and Shakira. Etc. etc. Really the problem is not the artists but that my playlists change very seldom and I find myself listening to the same music every workout.

Today as I pedalled the stationary bike, I racked my brain for some new old music; something I maybe hadn’t listened to in a long time, an old favourite. Well, I came up with Postmen, you know? That Dutch rap band from the 80s and 90s? Probably not. Anyway, I had one of their EPs or a single with a bonus song, not sure. It was a gift from my cousin, and I loved the song This Life. You can find it on Youtube. It’s rap but you can definitely also hear a bit of reggae and it’s very articulate and powerful. Many of their songs are/were.

It’s beautiful to really hear the artistry in a genre associated with very, very simple verses that often aren’t saying anything of value. Rap can be so powerful.

After a few songs, I wanted more, and decided to try an old trick in my book. I Googled “Stephen Holden Rolling Stone.” Stephen Holden was a writer and reviewer for Rolling Stone for some decades, and his album reviews never fail to capture the heart of everything I listen to. It’s like this. If I listen to an album and need to know how to put my feelings into words, I can read the Stephen Holden review of it, and he’s nearly always on point. Of course, there are a limited number of those.

Anyway, today I came across a 4/5 review for Stevie Wonder’s “Hotter Than July.” Not having made much of an effort to listen to Stevie Wonder before, I kept pedalling, ear buds in and opened up Spotify where I found the album and listened from the top.

It took maybe a minute to realize this music needed space, air, and that the small space between my ear buds and drums wasn’t enough to create the depth these notes needed. They needed to stretch in the air. It was a very strange intuitive sensation that my ear buds were a problem and that I wouldn’t be able to get the full effect of “Did  I Hear You Say You Love Me” with them in.

So of course I took them out, turned up the sound and the rest of my workout was a dance workout.

But that got me thinking about music; how much the listening experience can vary depending on if you’re wearing headphones or not. I don’t know whether to call it a qualitative difference, because this felt like something essential, a prerequisite. It really felt like the notes in his music needed five metres of space to unravel. When you listen to the same songs but there’s only an inch of space between your ear canal and the source of the sound, it’s something different.

Though not always. For most music I hear, it sounds generally the same whether it’s in my ears or coming form another sound source.

But that still got me wondering about music made for headphones. Does it affect the musicality of the song? Does it have to be less or more complex somehow? And what makes a song that’s good for headphones and one that isn’t?

 

Trump: An American Dream

I haven’t been here in a while, but let me assure you that my health routines are continuously improving. I am getting more protein in my diet, and drinking more greens (green smoothies) than ever. I know these health-building foods are a long-term investment for a good life, and I’m so proud of myself.

I also took last night and this morning to watch the four episodes of the show Trump: An American Dream. I haven’t watched anything on Netflix in sometime, and I wanted to watch something engaging and relatively quick. This turned out to be a series rather than a one hour or so documentary, but I did learn some new things.

The first thing I learned is that Donald Trump didn’t turn this way in his old age. This is something I was truly convinced of before the documentary. There are press conferences and interviews of him in his late twenties on tape on this show, and he just looks and sounds like a younger version of himself. The people that were spoken to to create the documentary are journalists who’ve covered stories on him for decades, and also people that worked for him.

There is lots of footage of interviews from the 80s and 90s and also recent interviews with some of the people closely involved with those stories as advisers or former employees or even the reporters who covered the stories.

And what do I mean by “this way”? Well, it’s clear something is just a little amiss with the Donald, and I suppose one of the symptoms of that is his need to have a big sense of himself. I don’t know if I’d call it a sense of grandeur, because it didn’t seem as though he ever believed in his own grandeur enough to take a break. It’s as though he constantly needed to prove to himself that he was Donald Trump.

Maybe related to this need, he was a bad spender. Spending on projects and creating projects to expand his sense of himself rather than because those were good business decisions. But with this, that perceived/desired sense of grandeur did expand after his successful Grand Hyatt hotel project in Manhattan.

The docu-series made it seem as though that was an important first step in his career, away from the empire his father had built, and on to something he was responsible for and that he did. From then on, he did make several other smart decisions, though several seem to have been marred by his sense of largess and spending in situations he shouldn’t have and taking risks that didn’t make sense. This narrative was really favoured through the documentary, and I don’t have evidence to its contrary, but it might be biased.

After all, I don’t know what the business and work trajectories of other business tycoons look like, or what decisions would have reaped better outcomes for him.

Regardless, my impression from the way this story was told is that if he weren’t so… insecure (is that the word?) so consumed by a need to prove himself or be the Donald Trump he wanted to be, then he might have been a more successful businessman, with less debt, for example. In other words, a smart guy, with good business instincts, but in a way handicapped by his ego. This, again, was news to me because I didn’t consider him all that smart overall, but it was interesting to see how even intelligence couldn’t overcome his insatiable ego.

His personal life was also extensively covered in the series, and for him everything seemed to unravel a little with his divorce from Ivana. It had come out that he wanted to be in an open relationship with Ivana, was involved with Marla Maples, and it seemed as hough Ivana couldn’t and wouldn’t put up with it, so she left him.

I also learned that becoming president had likely been his lifelong dream. It wasn’t something he came up with in 2015 and he had in fact been studying the campaign strategies of others for nearly two decades; it wasn’t an accident at all. The populist slant in his campaign was a strategy, as well, and Twitter was a way for his campaign advisors to find out what issues could move his base of supporters. The Mexico wall, for example, wasn’t his idea. It was his campaign advisor’s, and the intent was to tweet about it to see what the response would be and include it as a campaign issue if it was successful.

I think I remember the advisor saying that his barometer for whether they could win on an issue was 100 retweets. So if Donald tweeted about the wall and got over 100 retweets, then the advisor considered that a success. Remember that this was a few years ago, before he began receiving thousands of retweets.

He never once seemed like someone truly wanting to help others, except maybe when he offered to build the women’s ice rink in New York, but even there he had hired a contracting company on the promise they would receive publicity in exchange for completing the project free and then never mentioned their company’s name and taking all of the credit for himself. They had an interview with the contractor who said he felt they’d been thrown under the bus by Donald Trump because he never once mentioned them.

Instead he seems to have done it for that favour, the fame, and the power it would bring himself.

 

Healing Through Raw Foods

I don’t yet, but I will soon start sounding like a broken record. And some of you might think, well just do it then already. If that’s you, or will become you, then please unsubscribe, click off, and block me—just kidding, the last one is not an option on WordPress yet, haha.

Notepad

I am drinking a green smoothie instead of a wrap I brought home from a birthday party last night (too much really yummy but not so healthy food was catered and the hosts were gracious enough to let us pack some to take home). The wrap was my lunch plan. But I am drinking the smoothie instead because I feel an inkling a calling to give raw foods a real try, to let raw foods heal my mind, my body and my soul.

I have had this inkling for nearly a decade and like so many other inklings I haven’t taken it seriously. But why not? I am worth the little bit of struggle increasing the amount of raw foods in my diet entails. I am worth the five minutes it takes to wash the juicer, to prep the smoothie ingredients, to water seeds for sprouts, etc. I am worth it. It’s just a decision… Partly because in the last month I have found my faith again and I know that it’s my divine birthright to be worth it and partly because I have waited much longer than a decade for the day I would become worth it and it hasn’t happened. I still often fall into the ever-tempting thoughts telling me I am not worth it; the same ones on repeat for a very long time.

So I am claiming my worth instead of waiting, and my weapon of choice? A green smoothie. A green smoothie with bananas, 30+ grams of complementary proteins (non-gmo pea and organic hemp from Bulk Barn) and baby spinach and a little maca powder. It is so glorious.

I want to really give raw foods a shot. Not 100%, not in a an extreme way, but I’d like a major percentage of my foods to be all raw, and always healthy even when not raw. I cannot recall a time in my life when I was either fed or then chose to eat a proper, healthy diet. My diet lacked in essential nutrients and fibre as a child, enough to cause me health issues, and later when I took the reins in adulthood, I didn’t make improvements. I think it’s easier to tell ourselves that things are okay as they are.

So I guess my calling to healthy food is in part a prayer to give back everything I took and was taken through years of physiological neglect through improper diet, a bout of bulimia, improper exercise, and alcohol and RX abuse.

I feel vulnerable sharing this… But at the same time, I think we need a lot more “sharing” in this world, just fewer lies and pretences. I think we don’t share nearly enough.