Happy Things This Week

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I love the Minions!

Even though I’ve been in somewhat of a depression lately, there were some happy, joyful and glorious things that have happened over the past week or so.  The first of these was that after almost a year of not being able to use my oven, I got a new stove.  Yes, I was able to use the top of the stove, but I haven’t made any baked goods in a long time.  So, this week I bought apples and am looking forward to baking a pie over the weekend.  Yum!

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My daughter and I went to see Beauty and the Beast this week.  This movie was just wonderful.  Belle was portrayed exactly the way I always felt that she was.  A strong, intelligent woman who found her small town to be more than a little too small.  Belle has to be the one Disney “princess” with whom I feel an actual affinity.  Books, books, books!

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This was a big week, since my daughter and I also went to see The Sleeping Beauty by the Russian National Ballet this week.  This was actually my birthday gift from my birthday way back in September.  You have to wait for the good things.  I love, love, love going to the ballet, and this one was wonderful!  What a great time.

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Tonight, we’re going to see a middle-school production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.  I know that a lot of people dislike going to these events, but I love them.  The kids put their hearts and souls into the play, they work really hard, and often-times they are the biggest surprise regarding the talent some of the performers have.  One of the girls my daughter babysits will be in the play, and I really look forward it seeing her.  She’s very talented, and I enjoyed the play she was in last year.  Lots of fun!

Those are my good, happy and fun things lately.  Please share your good things!

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Individualism

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In school, we learned all about “individualism” which according to Webster, is a doctrine where the interests of the individual are paramount, and the individual is totally self-reliant.  I was taught this theory by way of understanding that those who went west (“Go West, Young Man!) were the living symbol of this theory, since they were supposedly self-reliant, made it on their own, and were self-made men.  Except this never made any sense to me, because as a child I read the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and was aware that no one who went west “made it” on their own.  Houses were collectively raised, crops were collectively brought in and help was there even if it was ten miles away.  Yes, the Laura Ingalls Wilder books were a fiction, however, the fiction was based on facts.  And, the facts proved this theory as a fiction.  Read Laura’s autobiography Pioneer Girl which tells a much different story regarding the help that these pioneers gave each other.

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So why is this myth so popular and enduring?  My cynical thoughts on this are that it’s convenient to use as a way to insist that Americans historically “pulled themselves up by their bootstraps” by themselves.  However, even our first colonies were created by group effort – otherwise they all would have starved.  Individualism is a lie of massive proportions as shown by our elected officials insistence that: education, health care and a living wage are not rights of citizens.  They often insist that our ancestors were all self-made men, and in order for anyone to succeed, all we have to do, regardless of background, education or opportunities, is to work hard. That way, when people don’t make it, we can blame them.

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Therefore, even though plenty of people work two jobs, it’s still their fault when they need government assistance.  That way, we don’t have to have a conversation regarding the fact that low minimum wages are that no one can live on them, poor education, and lack of opportunities.  This blame-game is used for a variety of problems.  Welfare, food stamp and fuel assistance recipients can all be blamed, and that way we can avoid any conversations regarding why working people need so much help.  Meanwhile, CEO pay has increased a staggering 340 times that of the average worker and the poor often pay federal taxes at a higher percent than the rich.  Do you believe in individualism?  Let me know in the comments below.

 

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/may/17/ceo-pay-ratio-average-worker-afl-cio

http://www.economicpopulist.org/content/poor-pay-more-taxes-5660

 

An Empty Nest

My contemporaries often talk about their grown children moving back home after college due to the job market and low pay.  However, I’ve never had an “empty nest”.  My son chose to work instead of going to college, and now he has a great career where he actually earns quite a bit of money.  He however, has told us that he plans to never move out.  But, at the ripe old age of twenty-six, it’s more than time for him to leave.  Make no mistake, I love him dearly, however, he really needs to get out and live life on his own.

Ah, what a rant!  Our daughter is another story.  She’s stayed at home to go to college on-line, and will be graduating in August.  She helps with the housework, cooks dinner sometimes, and is usually quite sweet.  We have no drama, etc. with her.  She works by babysitting, dog-walking and creates content for a web-site related to her area of studies. Her plan is to stay at home for a year after graduation, and then hopefully go to graduate school in the U.K.   She would love to move out, but needs to save as much money as she can.

With all this, I must admit that I’m dreaming of a house of my own.  A little french country cottage or a hobbit house would be just wonderful.  Think of all the peace and quiet!  Family, you can’t live with them, and you can’t live without them!

 

Parenting manual.

Food and Exercise

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I’ve been on the Engine 2 Rescue Diet now for almost three weeks.  This diet is a no oil, no preservatives plant -based one.  How is it going?  Well, at times all I really want to do is to eat all the chips in the bag!  However, I haven’t done that, and it’s going pretty good.  I haven’t fallen “off the wagon” at all, and when I do get chip cravings, I tend to eat either some grapes – which are totally delicious, by the way, or an orange.

Learning how to make stir-fry without oil was a little hard to get used to, but I’ve got that down, now.  Tonight, is Chinese night, so I’m really looking forward to the steamed veggies with white rice.  A meal that I don’t have to cook is always a source of excitement.

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I’ve been having Quaker Quick Oats for breakfast with some maple syrup, cinnamon, banana and blueberries.  At first I thought yuck! I hate oatmeal, but when I have it like this, it’s really good!  If I get hungry later in the morning (sometimes I’ve already eaten by 6:30, I’ll have an orange.

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Here’s a lunch that I love.  I just cut-up some onion, mushroom, squash and peppers, then I stir-fried them in a little water.  I put them on a Sandwich Thin (again, no oil), added a little no-oil homemade hummus and dug in.  I also ate the leftovers.  Good lunch!  Next week I’ll give you some dinner recipes.  I have to take pictures, since I haven’t gotten around to that, yet.

I’ll also eat a salad with extra veggies and chickpeas. If I still feel hungry I’ll throw a small red potato in the microwave and cook it up.  I’ll then eat it with some garlic powder.  No vegan butter for me.  This was actually a little strange at first, but I’ve gotten used to it, and now like the potato with only some herbs on it.

I’ve added some more exercise to my routine also.  I now work-out in the morning, then go for a walk with my dog around eleven, then come home and work-out some more.  In the afternoon, I’ll do so again.  So, this is what I do:  Monday, Wednesday and Friday I’ll do my Soloflex machine (yes, I’ve had one for more years than I want to admit), then a Denise Austin DVD with weights in the morning.  In the afternoon, I’ll do a Denise Austin Pilates DVD.  I hate Pilates!  Tuesday and Thursday, I’ll do a Fitness Blender video in the morning.  In the afternoon, I’ll do a bunch of Sun Salutations very slowly.  On the weekend, I usually mix it up with some Denise Austin workouts and different Fitness Blender videos.

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The whole process has been a major time-commitment, what with the meal planning, making things that I usually don’t from scratch and working out.  However, I’ve finally seen a positive change in my body.  Have you changed anything about your diet or exercise routine?  Let me know how that’s going for you.

 

A Story – The Life of an 87-Year-old Woman

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My name is Agnes, and I was born 87 years ago, in an area known as Jamaica Plains, N.Y.  I was raised in a shack with an outhouse in the backyard.  My “home” was the only shack in the neighborhood and we were the poorest family around.  My mother ran off when I was five, and my older brothers raised me because my father was a drunk.  At fourteen I got a job working full-time at the local Five and Dime, so I quit school to make money.  At 17 I got pregnant and married Charles.  I had always wanted to work as a secretary and live in NYC, but that was one dream that didn’t come true. Once I had the baby I became a stay-at-home mother, and soon we had four children.

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Charles worked hard, but he was only a “helper” for a carpet-installer and the money wasn’t there.  So, he went out and started his own business.  We ended up living all over the Midwest, and life was pretty good.  Once the children were in school, I took a typing course so that I could become a Secretary, just like I’d planned.  However, somewhere in there Charles’ started gambling his pay away, and then he took up drinking, too.  I never knew if and when he would come home, or what kind of a mood he’d be in when he did come home.  Thankfully, no matter where we lived, I managed to get a Secretarial job.

Our children moved out and began their own lives, so we moved to New England to be closer to Charles’ family.  This was a mistake, since they were all big drinkers, too.  I kept working, but my pay as a secretary never really went up, and Charles’ pay never went up, either.  Eventually we retired and collected Social Security, but that was all we got since none of the jobs either one of us had ever provided a pension plan.

Charles died from his many illnesses, and I had to move out of our two-bedroom apartment into a smaller one-bedroom.  I had to part with most of my furniture that I’d been able to keep over the years because it didn’t fit into a smaller apartment.  They also only gave me one week to leave my apartment due to “regulations”, so I had to plan a funeral and pack to move at the same time. This is because I am on housing assistance (funded by the federal government) because my Social Security payments fall below the federal poverty level.

It makes me sad when I see people in our government who want to take these programs away from people like me.  I not only get help with my rent, but I’m on heat assistance, I use food stamps and I get Meals on Wheels.  If I can’t have any Meals on Wheels, I don’t know what I’ll have to eat because I only get $75.00 a month on Food Stamps.  After I pay my rent which is a set price, my heating bill – which is also set at $75.00 per month, so I can’t pay less because if I do, they’ll take away my assistance, I don’t know how I will eat on what I have left-over plus the &75.00 food stamps.  Usually at the end of the month all I have left over is enough to pay for my telephone and my very limited cable service.

My family doesn’t usually help me out since they all have children and payments of their own.  I’m very worried about this new budget that’s been proposed.  Charles and I worked all our lives, but now I’m being made to feel like I am a drain on society.  I would like to try to enjoy my remaining years, but mostly I sit at home by myself with my heat turned down as low as I can tolerate it and watch Turner Movie Classics.

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*Just a note, I paraphrased some of this story, and changed the names of the people, but it’s pretty accurate.  Most of the seniors that I work with have small lives that consist of going grocery shopping and watching movies on t.v.  They don’t have money left-over at the end of the month.  Also, they get government assistance for the following: heat, housing, food stamps, and the notorious “help I’ve fallen and can’t get up” button.  For the seniors who qualify, they also get either a homemaker or companion for a few hours a week so that they can stay in their apartments, as that is a cheaper solution than sending them all to nursing homes.  Most of them see their families very infrequently, in fact, their closest relationship is usually with their homemaker.  It’s very sad to see people who have worked hard all their lives reduced to such circumstances.  These are the people who will be hurt by these deep cuts to social welfare programs.

 

Rising Rates of Colorectal Cancer in Younger People

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It’s no secret that there is a weight problem in the U.S.  Too many people eat fast food, and prepared food.  These foods have been shown to have an adverse effect on the health of the people who consume them.  The troubling thing is that these foods are addictive, they taste great, and they also cause health problems.

While I was unable to find any information on the exact diet that contributes to colorectal cancer on the AMA website, I was rather interested to see that they did advise the following:  physical exercise, and eating a diet that is high in vegetables, fruits and whole grains.  They also advised against a diet that is high in meats and alcohol.  The main thing that they were concerned about was a high fiber intake.  Just a little fact that may (or may not) have to do with colorectal cancer, is that the average piece of red meat stays in the colon for 24 to 72 hours.

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Maybe getting this information out there will help people to change their diets for the better, I would think that eating more vegetables and fruits would be a happy change for most people.   There are many reasons to get healthier, and hopefully the realization that your cancer risk will decrease would be a hopeful one to start with.  Let me know if you feel that you’re eating a diet that’s high in fiber intake.

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-02/acs-sfc022317.php

http://www.alternet.org/food/are-bad-diets-causing-bowel-cancer-crisis-among-millennials?akid=15289.302291.Nls-6K&rd=1&src=newsletter1073670&t=14

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/causes-risks-prevention/prevention.html

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/news/20050111/red-meat-eaters-risk-colon-cancer#1

https://www.reference.com/health/long-beef-digest-within-human-body-833d192464409d6c