10 things that will make your day brighter


  1. Open all the windows in your house and let fresh air in.
  2. Clean out a drawer; any drawer. Throw away the clutter!
  3. Purchase a plant or flowers. Put them around your home. The Peace Lily is a great plant, as they are hardy and remove toxins from the room.
  4. Take three long, deep breaths; breathe from your stomach.
  5. Fill a tall glass with water, and drink!
  6. Put on some upbeat music.
  7. Change the sheets on your bed. Put a few drops of eucalyptus oil in the final rinse.There is nothing better than climbing into a freshly-made bed!
  8. Ring  a friend and arrange to meet up.
  9. Go for a thirty minute walk.
  10. Tap on your collarbone whilst thinking good thoughts. It resets your mindset!
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Vegetarianism


I became a vegetarian as a pre-schooler in an act of rebellion. My family were dedicated carnivores, and frozen veggies were used as an aside to the main dish. I hated everything about meat; the smell, texture and the very thought of eating an animal. I guess that some of us are meant to partake in salads decorated with edible flowers instead! The more I was made to eat meat, the further I rebelled. I simply couldn’t bear it. Every cell in my body rejected it. This was back in the days when vegetarian food wasn’t found in supermarkets, and as a teenager I would spend a fortune in health food shops and whole food grocers and also partake in feasts gifted by the Hare Krishna’s. I have been to many parties where the only thing I could eat was a piece of bread with butter, and still long for the day when fundraising sausage sizzles have a vegetarian option (controversial, I know)!

People ask about nutrition, and worry that we vegetarians aren’t getting what we need. I will tell you a story… At seventeen, I was set to have a major operation, where massive blood loss was anticipated. As a result, I had to go to the blood bank every few weeks in order to store blood in advance. I had filled in that I was vegetarian on the form, and they were certain my iron count would be low upon testing. As it turned out, it was extremely high! I make sure I get enough protein too, which has been imperative. I have had months laying in hospital, recovering from spinal surgery. As a result, my muscles atrophied, and I had to work hard in rehab every day in order to walk again and keep myself upright. I also have grade 4 endometriosis, and it has been suggested by more than one specialist that you should limit your intake of meat. Rather than have it every night, have a day or two off. I had already banished it!

The most annoying thing about my chosen diet is that on night’s out, everyone is more interested in my meal, asking for a bite. It also happens when I order a vegetable pizza! They abandon their meat-lover’s and come over to mine! Despite having chronic spinal pain, I am healthy. I have enough energy to rise at dawn and race through the day. I believe that your body tells you what it requires, and I simply obeyed the request.
For further information on how to be a healthy vegetarian, go to Eating Well.

Home


Two of my favorite people had devastating news this week. They live on opposite sides of Sydney, and a week ago were connected only by their association with me. Now, they have a health diagnosis in common. One is in Intensive Care, and the other is going into hospital tomorrow. If they met, I know they would adore each other. Cheeky, irreverent and making me laugh to the point of tears. I have never found a place that truly feels like home. Could it be that it is contained in people, because these two feel like home. No social niceties and pretense; you come as you are and are loved for it. 

I spent yesterday with my soul sister. She is being admitted to hospital tomorrow. We talked for fourteen hours without pause. We talked about many things, none connected. We showed each other silly pictures on our phones, my friend proudly displaying the various poses of her beloved dog. We determined that she is going to set up a blog for this pooch, to gift the world with its wisdom. We laughed at nonsense, and reflected on times gone by as we looked through old albums. Man, the times we have had! She is afraid, and I would give anything to trade places with her. I wish it was me, rather than her and my other dear friend. I would sell all my possessions if it meant they didn’t have to go through this. 

We had cups of tea and drinks of water, food and Stevie Nicks playing throughout our day, afternoon and night. I wanted my friend to stay over, and she dearly wanted to stay as well. She couldn’t, as she needed her medications, which were at her place. We prolonged the inevitable for as long as we could. “What kind of tree is that?” she asked as she looked up in my front yard. “Canadian maple, I think,” I replied. She laughed so hard, when she realized that it wasn’t, not even close. “Well, whatever it is, it’s got buds, and will be in bloom when you come next,” I smiled. We talked some more at her car, and I held her longer than normal, tearing up. “I love you so very much,” I whispered. She told me that she loved me too. 

Our Saturday was raw, intimate and real. I looked at this spectacular human in awe and wonder. She has gifted me so much. I wish my other friend could have been with us. In the morning, she will be in hospital, undergoing tests. I looked at her tiny feet and laughed, recalling when I gifted her red sequinned ruby slippers. I had to get a child’s size for her. I wish she could click those heels three times and be anywhere other than hospital. You are both my home, and I love you. You have both been through so much; this is yet another battle, of which you shall handle with your usual pizzazz. I will be there, cheering you on. If you falter in your step, I will lend you strength; all those that love you shall. You can do this. Life has only just begun.

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Tests and Life


It was my friend’s funeral this week. My little girl sat beside me, holding my hand, and whispering, “I love you mummy.” Two funerals for two young mums is two too many. Life is an excruciating mystery. Would we dare open our hearts inviting others to view the contents if we knew we could lose each other at any moment? Would it make life more precious or less bearable?

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I was due to have a mammogram, and intended to do so. Life got busy, and I put it off. Then, I felt a lump. I had a few tests done the other day, including the mammogram. When the technician came back and said that the doctor wanted more images of one side, I felt some anxiety. I was there for a few hours, and you know what? It ultimately felt empowering. So much is out of our control, yet when a doctor advises you to have certain tests, it gives control back to you. I felt that my life was valued, and that I was honouring my daughter by having these tests. I wasn’t frightened. Rather, I knew I would cope if anything was found. Fortunately, the lumps turned out to be cysts. I will be monitored regularly, and I know how blessed I am. If you are putting off having tests, or burying your head in the sand concerning a worrying health issue, please don’t. Dealing with it is such a relief.

In the midst of all the sadness, there was the light of my child. We watched A Midsummer Nights Dream, as she is playing Titania in her drama class, and she made art and delighted in the novelty of finding a telephone booth at The Rocks.

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Life is such a funny thing. Heartbreaking, mystifying and everything in between. At the end, only the good stuff ends up on the cinematic reel of your life. I reckon it’s a bit like being presented with the big red book from ‘This is your Life.’ The pain and sickness, the suffering and strife dies. Your unencumbered spirit remains. That is what I like to think.

That Sugar Film


Sugar… The issue is close to my heart. I watched my beloved Grandmother endure the horror diabetes inflicted on her. Her legs were eventually amputated. I was a healthy vegetarian when I fell pregnant, and I was then diagnosed with gestational diabetes. My endocrinologist and dietician looked at my food and exercise diary and could find nothing amiss, nothing that needed changing. I wanted to do the right thing for my baby so dutifully injected insulin and walked several kilometres after each meal. Diabetes runs in my family, so genetically, the gun was loaded. I have a little girl in love with sugar (as most kids are), and I was excited at showing her this movie. She had to see it for herself, rather than through a series of lectures. I am aware that if I become too much of a sugar-free officer, she will rebel, and gorge when I am not around. Everything in moderation.

That Sugar Film
That Sugar Film

Damon Gameau is the hero of That Sugar Film. He ate only (supposedly), healthier choices throughout his experiment. His weight shot up, he was well on his way to cirhoisis of the liver, heart disease and  type 2 diabetes. Interestingly, his calorie intake remained the same, as did his level of exercise. The only point of difference was his sugar intake. We saw a young American man with all his teeth rotted from drinking ‘pop.’ Images that remain. My daughter ate an apple as a snack today and has not asked for anything sugary. I resent sugar’s inclusion in almost all processed foods. How can you have control over how much  you are ingesting?

When I had gestational diabetes, I had to stop eating out. I would select the healthiest option on the menu, such as steamed veggies, only to have my sugar levels go through the roof. The dressings and seasonings they coated the meal in were often to blame. I make most meals from scratch in our place, and we have a big box of seasonal locally -grown produce delivered each week. My supermarket bills have gone down as a result. The film was an eye-opener as is the accompanying book. My daughter will still ask for fairy bread and donuts, but she knows she can’t live on them. The movie inspires critical thinking, and as a result, I owe Damon a debt of gratitude.

Health food, enough already!


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I worked in two health food shops as a youngster. One was in the heart of Sydney. The fellow who ran it had a toupee, and an eye for the ladies. I grew to loathe oat bran, after lugging five kilo sacks into the shop. I would sit out the back, and bag up 250gm of the wretched stuff. It was the hottest item around at the time, sold to executives in need of fibre and the miraculous lowering of their cholesterol. Little effort required and so much gain!

Oat Bran
Oat Bran

The sack cost around $8 per 5 kilo, and was sold for $10 per 250gm bag. You do the math. People felt devout and in control as they obtained their stash. I went on to work for a naturopath who drove a gold Mercedes at sixteen.

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She owned a health food shop, consulting out the back. I first saw her as a patient, and she diagnosed me as having candida, ordering a plethora of expensive remedies. When I started working for her, I noted that 100% of her patients were diagnosed with candida, and given the same costly script. I questioned her on its prevalence. Big mistake. She blew like a loose lid on a slow cooker!

I had been helped by natural therapists at times, and they certainly aided me in my recovery from the fall. However, I did not in fact have candida. I had raging endometriosis, which, if treated at the time, wouldn’t have become the monster it did. I consulted a women’s health clinic some time after, and they failed to diagnose it too. I was given generic bottles of uterine tonics which did nothing. As the disease progressed, and the pain and infertility issues became intolerable, I became desperate. If you had told me to coat myself in cow dung, I may well have. Endometriosis was then diagnosed. By then, it was the size of oranges, adhering to scar tissue from my various surgeries. There is a time and place for alternatives. My advice is do your homework, seek recommendations, and go to someone who doesn’t want to commandeer the show, nor make elaborate claims. Do you know what happened to the revered oat bran? Neither do I. It was a craze. We would sell out by the end of business. It has been replaced by other remedies.

I weaned myself off the oils and potions. Some had been costing $400 a month. You know what happened? Nothing. I felt no different (only richer).  I eat well, ensuring I get enough fruit and vegetables in my day. I walk and drink water. Simple and realistic. I am doing okay. Once you have worked in the places who make a living out of the health food industry, it is rather akin to seeing behind the wizard’s curtain. A bit disappointing. As I am maturing, I have come to understand that it is imperative to partake of things which make you feel good, not because you feel you should. Health is partaking in a hearty meal with friends, and going for a stroll in the sunlight. I like my quinoa flakes and peppermint tea, but then again, I also adore coffee and dark rum chocolate. Enjoying  your life is paramount. Do what makes you feel good deep into your bones.