Monday, August 15, 2011


Consumption of nutrients is a basic requirement for sustaining life in humans. It is a primal instinct in each of us. Nutrients give us energy, strength, and allow us to grow. Hunger is the alarm by which we are prompted to eat. If it is ignored we experience discomfort, and by continuing to ignore it, we experience pain. If enough nutrients are not consumed we become malnourished; our bodies become weak, our minds confused, and our energy is limited. If this situation persists, the body slowly begins to devour it’s own flesh, bones, and organs.

Unfortunately, there are billions of people in this world who feel the warning bells of hunger every minute of every day. They feel the alarms, but they can do nothing to silence them. This is true hunger.

Every year millions of Muslims observe Ramadan, which is a time of making peace with neighbours and letting go of any bitterness or resentment held against others. Most importantly however, it is a time in which each healthy man and woman abstains from all food and drink, while the sun is in the sky, for the cycle of a moon. The purpose of this restraint is to experience hunger and thirst, in an attempt to better understand what millions of people are forced to experience every day.

Hunger is a very powerful thing. It is hard not to feel resentful when smelling your co-worker is eating hot pizza at the desk beside you. In the middle of the day your stomach rumbles uncomfortably, and halfway through the afternoon you start getting hunger cramps. Water starts to look like the nectar of the gods, and your tongue is stuck to the roof of your mouth. You berate yourself for not having just one more glass when you got up at 5:30 am for a quick breakfast. By the time mere 10 hours have passed since your last meal, eating your next one is all you can think about, yet you know you still have several hours until the sun sets.

So you go grocery shopping for the evening meal, but you forget that you’ll have to pass the free samples of cheese, lasagne, steak, or even the newest cereal. You reach for one of the toothpicks offering a taste of ambrosia, but just as your fingers touch it you remember why you can’t have it. Not because of a religious commandment, or god-induced guilt. Those are not the reasons you do this to yourself for a month each year. You do this because it helps you to better value what you do have. When it is finally time to eat in the evening you appreciate your food, no matter what it is.

You do this to be grateful you have the opportunity to eat at every meal, every day. Suddenly your petty complaints diminish in importance. You remember that you have only experienced hunger, but that people in the world are starving. Hunger is all you can imagine, because it is all you have experienced, and it is so awful it sometimes overrides your ability to control it. You realise you just can’t imagine how terrible starvation must actually be.

For those of us who observe Ramadan the experience is incomplete, and mercifully so. When lunar cycle concludes those who have been fasting give gifts of food and money to those who need it, whether they are neighbours, or strangers who live in a distant country. If we are not able to afford to give these, we give the gift of time, and volunteer at shelters, soup kitchens, or housing development projects.

This commentary isn't meant to make anyone feel guilty for eating out or owning a dozen shoes. Instead the purpose is to encourage us all to remember playing in the playground as children. To appreciate the toys we have, and to share with the children who sit against the wall and longingly watch us play with them.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

your body is beautiful

Most people I know are unhappy with at least one body part, and some with the whole package. I am a Massage Therapist, and I see different sizes, shapes, colours, weights, and heights. I see scars, malformed limbs, and parts which no longer function (or never have functioned) properly. It frustrates me when wonderful people despise about what they see as ugly about their physical selves.

You are beautiful. Your body is beautiful. This is a subject about which I am most fierce.

Whether you like it or not, your body is like your biography. Every scar, wrinkle, sag, extra pound, and mole has a story to tell, and each of those stories are a part of the anthology that is you. I don't care who you are, where you are from, what you look like, or what you have and haven't done. Your body is a part of you, of how you think of yourself, and if you hate your body, how can you love, and be happy with who you are?

If you hate your "baby weight" and struggle to lose it, maybe you need to see it more positively: you are a mother, and that is something to celebrate. Look positively on your road to a healthy body and take each day at a time. If your goal is too far away, it will feel impossible to achieve, and then you have lost it before you have even started to reach it.

Stop worrying about not having flat abs, slender thighs, or a straight nose. Don't despair over your receding hairline, small chest, or crows' feet. You are not cut from a cookie cutter! You are a unique and wonderful person!

I want for you to see yourself the way I see you. You are a person with hopes, dreams, aspirations, heartbreak, and fears. You have preferences, favourites, dislikes, and things that make you gag. Some of these will be reflected in your body. You should be proud of your scars, stretch marks, and wrinkles, because they show that you are a person with a story. Confidence is beautiful, and if you are happy with the story you have to tell, you should be confident in the beauty of the body that tells it.

I think your body is art. I think your body is beautiful.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Today I turned on the tv and there was a movie playing called Motherhood. The movie highlights a single day in the life of a writer-turned-wife-and-mother of two. This day is also the sixth birthday of her daughter, and revealed is all the stress, chaos, and emotions that go with motherhood for this particular woman. Now, I only caught the last 45-minutes or so of the movie, but I found that although the script is about being a mom, really it is about life.

Motherhood is about accepting the limitations of time and energy, which stretch beyond you, even if sometimes it feels they could consume you. Search for and hold on to your own true self.

If you lose that, what kind of mother can you be?

Things are always changing, no matter how much we might want things to stay the same. You could take a picture of your kids every single day, and every single day, they'd just be getting older.

That's a fact. A heartbreaking fact, but still a fact.

So seize your days and dwell in them fully. Look to your children because they know how to inhabit brief periods of time with extreme passion. And for nothing more, really, than the sake of those moments. They can help you remember that, if you only slow down and let them.

Feel fortunate, because chances are good you actually might be.