I’m experimenting with photo filters. This is the new Bridgepoint Hospital, which finally opened last week. I worked here for two years and wrote some of the communications for the redevelopment project. It’s nice to know that it’s finally in service and giving Canadians the best possible health care. Bravo.
Posts from the ‘Health’ Category
Update: The movie has since been pulled from YouTube so I’ve replaced it with the trailer. Sorry and thanks!
We Were Here chronicles the AIDS crisis in San Francisco. It’s the first documentary to fully examine the disease from its infancy. I was born during the rise of HIV/AIDS, and I remember while growing up, how fearful people were about sex, and how homophobic the world seemed. The directors interview 5 individuals who were there from the beginning, and they reflect on the lives that were affected by what was an epidemic.
As lovely as it is to see how the community banded together to support each other, it’s also terrible to see how people used AIDS to further stigmatize homosexuals. Gay people have been kicked down time and time again, but manage to survive the abuse with compassion. It’s a testament to the true strength of the human spirit. Sorry for the cheese!
Here’s the movie in its entirety. I hope you watch it, and that you share it with your friends and family.
Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. She spent the first five years of her decade-long study focusing on shame and empathy, and is now using that work to explore a concept that she calls Wholeheartedness. She poses the questions:
How do we learn to embrace our vulnerabilities and imperfections so that we can engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness? How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that we need to recognize that we are enough – that we are worthy of love, belonging, and joy?
Today my personal essay on weddings was published on The Globe and Mail website. The printed version will appear tomorrow. It is an achievement that I am very proud of. Not many writers get published, and rarely in such a prestigious newspaper. To brag a little, The Globe and Mail is Canada’s newspaper of record, and a trusted source for news around the world.
On Saturday my friends joined me to celebrate, and I marked the occasion by making four recipes from Martha Stewart’s cookbook, meatless. On page 372 Martha provides suggested menus, and I selected the Tapas-Style Dinner which consisted of Bruschetta with Lemon and Green-Olive Relish, Gigante Beans with Feta and Greens, Tortilla Española and Artichoke Hearts Roman Style.
For the Tortilla I had to find saffron, and was unaware how expensive it is. For 100g expect to spend $5. And the Artichokes proved difficult and intimidating, but I made a valiant effort. I couldn’t find Gigante beans so I substituted that recipe with White Kidney Beans (and I just noticed that I forgot to take a photograph of that dish). Oh well!
My food photography is not good as I don’t have the greatest lighting in my apartment. However, what I cherished most about the evening was that I got to spend it with some good friends, who support and continue to encourage me to do the things that I love.
An inspirational story. Please watch.
Page 243. This morning I returned to work feeling better than yesterday, but by four o’clock I was failing. Now I have a sore throat. When I got home I looked through Martha’s book and found a healthy, yet hearty burger recipe to help build my strength. It was, without a shadow of a doubt, delicious.
In a bowl mix two cups of chickpeas and 1 cup of cooked brown rice in a bowl. Mash them hard! Stir in one chopped shallot, minced garlic clove and two tablespoons of fresh parsley. Season with salt and pepper and the add one whisked egg into the bean and rice mixture. Form into half an inch thick patties. Heath olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high, and add patties cooking them on each side for a total of four minutes. On the burger, spread whole-wheat mustard and top with red onion and roasted red pepper. You can either serve them with regular hamburger buns, or wrap the patties in lettuce leaves.
Each serving consists of 250 calories. Not bad for a days work. Now I’m tired with a belly full of chickpeas. I can’t win!
Page 289. Do you like cheese? Well apparently vegetarians do. I made this today from Martha Stewart’s book meatless. My photograph didn’t turn out as well as I hoped so I “borrowed” Martha’s image instead. My version looked exactly like this, I swear on the holy bible. A twist on traditional lasagna, 8 boiled noodles are tossed in a cherry tomato sauce and then topped with ricotta cheese and Pecorino Romano. There’s no oven involved and it’s quick, and easy. Don’t forget some fresh basil and vegetable stock — homemade is preferable, but Martha goes a little crazy in her level of detail.
I would like to note my lack of food knowledge. While perusing the cookbook this afternoon I learned that there is something called Israeli couscous. I didn’t know couscous had nationalities.
Such is life.
So last week I had strep throat. When I get sick it’s rarely the flu or the common cold. Nope, it’s strep throat. I started a course of antibiotics (which I do not like to do) and finish them today. Unfortunately yesterday morning I started to feel a nasal drip in the back of my nose, and I immediately knew what was happening: Sinus infection. Which is another illness I am commonly afflicted with. Unfortunately I am genetically prone to sinus infections and migraines. I love my genes (sense sarcasm).
I am at home trying to nurse myself back to good health. I do not like to call in sick to work. First I’m always afraid that my employer will think that I’m making it up, as people are wont to do. Definitely not me though. Never. But three sick days in two weeks doesn’t look very good while my colleagues are working their asses off. I never get sick, but these past three months have taken a huge toll on my health. One day last month I woke up and couldn’t feel my body. That’s right, my body was numb. It went away as quickly as it came, but that was a strange day.
I’m comforted by the knowledge that the worst thing you can do when you’re sick is to go to work. First, you’ll prolong your illness by a few days and potentially contaminate others. Sinus infections are usually viral, triggered by a cold, or in my case, strep throat. Even on antibiotics you can get a sinus infection, because antibiotics are prescribed to treat bacterial infections. I’m just informing you, for future reference. Randomocity.
Anyway, Toronto is in the midst of winter and it’s usually around this time of year that people are infected with odd diseases. February is always a rough month because it represents the last month of cold weather and the emergence of spring in March.
There is nothing more special than spring and summer in Toronto. There’s so much to do and so many people to do it with. All this thought of warm weather reminds me that Argentina is currently enjoying their summer. I remember the heat vividly. I couldn’t drink a glass of red wine in Buenos Aires without getting a huge headache and for a long time I blamed my tolerance, but then over time I realized that it was the heat that was causing the pain, and drinking alcohol simply dehydrated me more quickly. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
One of the best culinary experiences in Argentina is milanesa, a common breaded cutlet dish. Most importantly it can be vegetarian, using eggplant, soy, or even pumpkin. Milanesa is primarily found in South American countries, and rarely disappoints the taste buds. Ramiro made me my first eggplant milanesa. I visited heaven that night. The next day I tried to replicate his recipe, to disastrous results.
This brings me to an update. I am going to be visiting Bocas Del Toro, Panama for two weeks in March. I have bought myself a speedo and plan on reading on the beach while checking out all the hotties. I have never had a beach holiday in my life, and this was planned a couple of years ago so there’s no way out of it. Unfortunately I have to take unpaid leave from work, which makes me look worse in the eyes of my colleagues, I’m certain.
One more announcement! My Globe and Mail essay will be published February 11, both online and print. An illustration was even commissioned to accompany my words! It’s a full-page article, and I’m very proud of it. Check the Facts and Arguments section next Monday. For those of you unfamiliar, the Globe and Mail is Canada’s newspaper of record, like the New York Times in the United States.
Cignelli out suckers.
I took an ashtanga class at Ahimsa Yoga near Bloor and Bathurst that included an introductory lesson on five yamas, a series of ethical rules rooted in Hinduism. Yama means self-restraint, self-control and discipline. The five rules represent actions that you should refrain from, and by making an effort to rid the ego from our hyper-driven society, we reach closer to enlightenment in body and mind.
- Ahimsa (अहिंसा): non-violence
- Satya (सत्य): benevolent truth, absence of falsehood
- Asteya (अस्तेय): non-stealing
- Brahmacharya (ब्रह्मचर्य): spiritual advancement by education and training. Some traditions associate Brahmacharya with celibacy (but that’s not something I’m interested in)
- Aparigraha (अपरिग्रह): non-appropriation, absence of avarice
I have written before about how our ego intercepts our ability to improve our positive impact on the lives of those around us, not to mention our own personal fulfillment. I often find that I’m surrounded by individuals who care too much about things that don’t matter, such as status, position, power, money and vanity.
Since I’ve begun taking yoga more seriously I’ve noticed that the people in my classes have their own individual reasons for practicing. For most women it’s vanity. For most men, it’s competition. For most gay men, it’s hooking up. If you ask me these are poor reasons for doing yoga, and they indicate a lack of understanding of the discipline. Westerners have an ability to warp the customs of other cultures, yoga being one of them. We lack important knowledge about what yoga offers, and this misinformation is unfortunate because it reflects our overall laziness.
Anyway, I’m rambling. The truth is yoga is remarkably challenging, and requires great strength, concentration and training. To do it well it is necessary to understand its virtues, and a little of its history. If we can rid our mind of all the toxins that plague our ability to demonstrate compassion, by ridding ourselves of the insecurities that drive our lives, we can permeate positive energy into the atmosphere eventually changing our lives.
Practicing the five yamas during my poses brought a deeper perspective to my yoga lessons, motivating me to learn more. We were encouraged to change our outlook. For example, while inhaling we were told to reflect on one yama, and on the exhale, that specific yamas definition, or meaning, until we breathed through all five rules and then gently transitioned to the next movement and finally the next posture. This was really effective, when you consider that some of the poses can be exceptionally difficult. Concentrating on the yamas sharpened my resolve, and deepened my awareness of the authentic benefits of yoga and how it can help alleviate daily stress, while broadening the ability to remain grounded.
Anyway, I thought I would share this lesson, as I’m grateful that I was open enough to receive it. In the past three weeks I’ve noticed a change not only in my body (I’ve lost 10 pounds) but my mind and my attitude. I’m more relaxed, and I breathe more thoroughly. It helps wash the day from me, while providing the tools to cope with tomorrow.
Page 228. When I was in Argentina the only vegetarian meal I could consistently find in almost every restaurant was Caprese salad. In this recipe, tofu takes the place of mozzarrella, making this a vegan dish that everyone can appreciate. A little soy sauce adds a nice Asian flavour, which you can have for lunch or as a side dish at dinner.
I made a few alterations to Martha’s original recipe, for instance I substituted sesame seeds for the heavy omega-3 flax seed. You don’t need to eat fish to get your daily intake of that essential fatty acid. Also because I had a brown bag full of cherry tomatoes, I used those instead of the regular kind. The entire meal took me 10 minutes to make, and as you can see from the photograph above it was tasty and nourishing. I’ve been ill this week so it provided a nice healthy option that will surely help me get better. Also, I substituted sherry vinegar with white wine vinegar, something I plan on correcting the next time I make this.
Again, I don’t believe it’s legal to re-type Martha’s recipe line by line, but you can make it on your own anyway, based on the information I have already included here. There’s only 164 calories per serving in this meal and 5 grams of protein. Plus think of all the dense nutrients and vitamins that build a healthy, strong and active body and mind.
I’m coughing myself to death. Gotta go.