Thursday, November 26, 2015

What Does Thanksgiving Mean to You?

I have an acquaintance who actively refuses to celebrate Thanksgiving because she won't waste one iota of her time contributing to the misinformed adulation of the American mythology of peace, love, and happiness between the Pilgrims and the Wompanoag people.

I know this acquaintance is not alone in making this political statement. And I think it is a foolish one.

Yesterday, National Public Radio aired a story on how to teach children about Thanksgiving in light of the holiday's muddy history. They offered two concrete ideas for using the holiday to:

1, Introduce children to different cultural (national and ethnic) expressions of gratitude. Thanksgiving, celebrated by in countries beyond the U.S., is but one way. (Did you know that President Abraham Lincoln made the U.S. Thanksgiving a national holiday in an effort to unite the country during the Civil War?)

2. Invite learners to explore the (lowercase) pilgrim experience, by exploring what it means to be a refugee or part of another oppressed people. This discussion could certainly veer in to the realm of Native American politics, by using the Trail of Tears as an example, or present day politics through an age-appropriate focused on the global reaction to the crisis in Syria.


Thanksgiving, for me, is not a joyful holiday, but rather a reflective one.

While I enjoy spending time with family over a beautiful meal, that's not what defines Thanksgiving for me. Nor do the secular expressions of the national holiday make my heart go pitter pat - football, parades, the Christmas frenzy that follows.

Instead, Thanksgiving is an opportunity to express of gratitude for the privileges I enjoy, while raising my awareness of the privileges denied to many due to poverty, inequality, and injustice. It is a holiday I can observe while sipping a cup of coffee in the early hours of the morning as easily as I can celebrate it while enjoying a turkey dinner with all the trimmings.

BMG was released from the hospital on Tuesday, after a 4.5 day stay for treatment of complications related to his Crohn's Disease. Today I'm thankful for my access to the highest quality health care, my ability to work in a job that provides good health insurance, my husband family, who has the means to pay for the best possible care and accommodations, and for the network of friends and family who I can call for moral and practical support.

Conversely, for the duration of BMG's visit to Brigham and Women's, I thought of the families that would be financially devastated by a 5-day hospital stay and all it entails; the people who don't have adequate health insurance to help bear the costs; and the people who don't have family who can work remotely or spend the night, so they are with a loved one night and day.


I'm curious. Do you celebrate American Thanksgiving? If so, what are the rituals that you love the most? And why?

Friday, November 20, 2015

Why Waltz, When You Can Riverdance?

My husband, BMG, was admitted to the hospital last night. The cause? An uncontrolled, high fever of unknown origins. Unwilling to leave him until they have some idea of the disease his body is fighting, I spent the night in his room, sleeping fitfully in a recliner thoughtfully scared up by the nursing staff.

In one of my dreams, my mother waltzes into BMG's hospital room in the morning, having driven all night from her home in Central NY, to be with us. Wearing an elaborately layered red, boiled wool coat, she insert herself in the midst of the hospital chaos and declares, "I'm here!"

So I tell my mom about this dream, during an early morning round of texting. 

I follow-up the story with an all caps admonition, "DO NOT DRIVE HERE."

She replies, "I promise that won't happen. My boiled wool coat is a bluish purple. And I wouldn't Walt into his room. I would Riverdance my way in."

(Now that I would like to see.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Epitome of Lazy (aka the napkin caper)

I was recently at a cafeteria-style quick serve restaurant. While there, I observed a woman open the napkin dispenser to pull out a paper napkin.

"Oh aren't you clever," I started to exclaim.

But my voice dropped off when I realized she was pulling a 4" stack out of the machine. My eyes got wide and I finished my sentence with "And apparently very messy!"

She smiled at me and said, "I do this because it takes too long to pull out each napkin one by one."

Monday, November 2, 2015

SFS Fall 2015: Intermittent Fasting (IF)

I'm doing a six-week holistic diet with Liz Vequist in an effort to start feeling fit, active, and inspired. The diet started on Monday, October 26, 2015. 


Today is my first intermittent fasting, or IF day. As I understand it, and IF day is one in which calorie intake is limited to 500-600 (I normally eat 1,750-2,000 calories per day), and one waits to have one's first meal until one is ready to chew one's hand off. The goals are multiple

  • To make up for "binge days"
  • To make it possible to eat whatever one wants on the other five days of the week
  • To prevent cancer and other health issues like diabetes and Alzheimer's
  • To remind one's body one doesn't actually need to eat as many calories a day as we do in the Western world
  • To force the body to consume one's own fat when exercising

There is also a paleo aspect, reminding the body that our hunter-gather ancestors ate intermittently and they did OK. 

On the diet, I'm supposed to have as many as two IF days each week. To get started, we are doing a 6:1 schedule - eat "normal" for six days, and IF for one. 

After four weeks of participation in Liz Vequist's SFS program, which started with a vegan food cleanse in early October, I'm down 11 pounds. I don't feel deprived, I'm not counting calories, and I'm not perseverating on food. 

I'm also not sure I need to IF. 

But, I'll play along. I also didn't think I needed to eat breakfast at work, but when I tried that, it actually had positive benefits. 

So, what does one eat when one is on an IF day? This is what I'm eating

Breakfast: 1/2 cup of aromatic brown rice and two hard-boiled eggs - 249 calories

Lunch: 1/2 cup of aromatic brown rice and 1 cup of sweet and sour red lentil dal - 233 calories

Dinner - 3 oz. steamed cod fillet, 1 cup roasted squash and broccoli, 1 cup steamed kale - 146 calories

Snack - 1/2 cup sliced cucumbers - 8 calories

Total planned calorie count for the day is 636.

My predictions? I'll eat breakfast by 10:00 AM, instead of 8:15 and then I'll perseverate on food for the rest of the day.

What would you do to make an IF day work for your body?