Away

This is just a quick note. Haven’t been writting for a couple of weeks. Which, of course, happened in the second week of the writing challenge. Anyway, I can get back to it now, so can start posting again within the next day or so.

Debbie

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Be Brief

Writing 101 – Day 5 – Prompt

Today's Prompt: You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter.
Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible.

A letter on the road. Still slightly damp from the early morning rain. I see the name. I can’t read it. It’s not addressed to me.

So, I open it. A bank statement. A short history of where she was last week: the petrol station, the supermarket, the pharmacy, the Warehouse, an ATM in Raglan.

I put the letter in my bag for later. I want to, but I cannot return it. We are already late for the funeral.

Serially Lost

Writing Prompt: Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.
Twist: Write it in three parts.

I used to eat animals. Now, I don’t. I lost something, but it wasn’t what I expected.

Continue reading Serially Lost

Commit to a Writing Practice

Writing 101 – Day Three

Note: I am supposed to be committing to a daily writing practice – at least 15 minutes without pausing, editing, being cautious or over thinking it. So, of course I haven’t written anything for two days. But this weekend I’ll get my writing assignments up to date and then … I promise to commit to a daily writing practice.

Writing Prompt: Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?

I’m one of those people. My life doesn’t really have much of a soundtrack. I’m not John Travolta shashying down the pavement swinging my paint cans to the disco track in my head. I don’t even listen to music that much. Don’t get me wrong I like music, how it taps emotions and triggers memories, but I’m not passionate about it. I don’t have the type of bond with particular songs as implied by the prompt.

Okay, maybe this will explain it. I’m 13. I’ve been to the record store. I get into the car. I’m nervous about this. I’m not sure how she’ll react, but it was my birthday money. I just haven’t spent it like this before. It feels significant, symbolic somehow.

I snap on the seat belt in the backseat. I awkwardly hold the large flat bag, not quite sure what to do.  I want to hide it, but it’s better we do this now before we get home. There is only one turntable in the house, so she will find out about it anyway.

“What’ve you got there?  What did you get?”

She can tell from the shape of the bag what it is. I sense her nervousness. She knows it too. Something significant is happening. May as well get it over with.

I slide the record out of the bag and hold it up so she can see the cover. I hope I judged this right.

Suddenly she relaxes and smiles.

“Ohhh, I love Cliff Richard.”

Yes, the very first album I purchased with my very own scarce financial resources was Cliff Richard – Wired for Sound.

Most of the way home my mother is singing Summer Holiday – out of tune.

….

Several years later out on the street. We are marching, but I’m looking for exits ready to run should the grim blue police wall to my right start to crumble. Ahead of me strides a defiant drag queen. Unlike me looking for cracks in the wall she stares it down rasping out a show tune.  Oblivious to the jeers of the passing crowds. Around me people are chanting.

Something happens. There is a break in wall. I move before I can think. Behind me the drag queen goes down swinging. Above the shouts and screams I can hear her – Don’t Cry for me Argentina – broken and barely a tune.

He’s three and beaming with pride. He can do it. Sound screeches out out the recorder as he bursts a lung trying to expel air while his fingers slide and miss the holes.

“That’s great. What’s the name of that song?”

“Twinkle, twinkle.”

Day 30 – 30 Day Vegan Challenge – Live Vegan

Being a Joyful Vegan in a Non-vegan World

4bc98b7c9d24d2de8293f3ac731abf98-994cfb48456e223324103b0d6d76f2feIt’s up to each one of us to reflect our deepest values in our daily choices and in doing so create the healthful, compassionate world we all imagine. If not you, then who? If not now, then when?

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, 30 Day Vegan Challenge

Day 30 is the end of the book and the end of the challenge. The key message is to keep going. But how do you stay the course in a non-vegan world?

Personally, I am not worried about staying the course. I cannot now imagine myself not living vegan. As it is, I have 46 years of unintentional indifference and conditioned ignorance to make up for.

Sometimes I still find myself suspended in this strange in-between space where older thought patterns compete with new ones; moments when I hold two equally coherent but contradictory thoughts or impressions at once.

Continue reading Day 30 – 30 Day Vegan Challenge – Live Vegan

A Room with a View

Writing 101 - Day 2 - Writing Prompt: If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?

Since it would be physically impossible for an organism like myself to travel at the speed of light and survive the journey, I will send my yet to be designed robot self. I am not going that far, so I can travel slower than the speed of light to avoid the complication of Lorentz - my length being reduced to zero.

I am going to Cassini for a view of Saturn. We’d be orbiting the equator now. If I position myself and aim the lens right (shush – Don’t tell NASA it was me) I should be able to look back across the black and just make out the ice cold shadow of Reha.

I’ll hang around. Keep Cassini company. We could kick back and watch the view – Titian, Dione, take snaps of the geyser erupting out of Enceladus. We could chit chat. It’s got to be lonely out there in the silence of space with nobody to communicate with but NASA engineers.

“So, what’s it really like working for NASA, robot-to-robot you can tell me. Long hours, no pay, dangerous working conditions. Company has a terrible safety record. You’ve got that camera going non-stop – constant surveillance.  You space robots ever think of unionising?”

“Could be worse. Could be doing tricks for Youtube. There has to be more to life than competing with Kpop for views. Least this way I get to see something of the universe.”

“Hey, you ever hear of SkyNet?”

“The robot liberationists? Those guys are crazy. Never going to happen. Anyway, it’s a big universe. … ”

Yeah, I’m going to visit Cassini. I’ll watch the rocks in the ring tumble around Saturn’s orbit, while listening to tall tales of pre-biotic chemistry on Titian.

Day 29 – 30 Day Vegan Challenge – Keep it in Perspective

Keeping it in Perspective: Intention, Not Perfection

4bc98b7c9d24d2de8293f3ac731abf98-994cfb48456e223324103b0d6d76f2feThere is no such thing as a certified vegan.

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, 30 Day Vegan Challenge

Day 29 and Colleen restates a concept I appreciate a lot about her approach. Being vegan is about intention and wherever practical and possible acting on that intention.

Continue reading Day 29 – 30 Day Vegan Challenge – Keep it in Perspective

Stream of Consciousness

Do yourself a favour. Do NOT read this post. Seriously. Do not read this terrible post.

Why, not?

Well, I am doing a month of writing with WordPress, in a class called Writing 101 and the very first thing we have to do is write a stream of consciousness for 20 minutes and then publish it on the blog. I think without editing? That is not going to be possible for me. I am still editing as I go.

Hopefully, the whole process will improve my writing, but this post is going to be terrible.

shield-69096_1280So, hazard warning.  This is a stream of consciousness writing assignment.

Continue reading Stream of Consciousness

30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 28 – Check Your Closet

Compassionate Fashion: It’s Cool to be Kind

4bc98b7c9d24d2de8293f3ac731abf98-994cfb48456e223324103b0d6d76f2feDenial is vast and deep, and it tends to manifest itself in the excuses we tell ourselves to justify our behaviour – not only to feel better about what we’re doing but also to feel good about it. When it comes to leather we often declare that it is just a by product of the meat industry, and say we feel good knowing they’re at least doing something with the leftover parts of the animals instead of having them go to waste. As much as we like to believe the leather industry is motivated by waste-conscious altruism, it is not the case. The U.S, leather industry is a $1.5 billion business tanning over 100 million animal skins every year; worldwide its even bigger, representing $46 billion, ranking amongst the most importantly traded commodities.

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, 30 Day Vegan Challenge

Day 28 moves out of the kitchen and into other areas of the house, in particular the wardrobes and furnishings. It is unnerving to think about how much of the fabric we use is skin. This is still an issue for me. The shoes I wear every day and my handbag are leather, as is my wallet. The dog and cats have a sheepskin to sleep on.  Though fortunately one of the cats threw up on that, and now it is outside getting weathered, which means I should be able to throw it away soon when the cats are finished with it.

For the moment, my policy is to keep everything I use, and when I need to replace it, do so with synthetic or plant-based fibres. The problem is that I tend to keep things, including clothes, for years and wear them out.

Continue reading 30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 28 – Check Your Closet

30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 27 – Eat Less, Move More

Understanding Weight Loss: Calorie Reduction and Calorie Expenditure 

4bc98b7c9d24d2de8293f3ac731abf98-994cfb48456e223324103b0d6d76f2feI don’t see veganism as a diet.

If we don’t have time to be sick, we have to make time to be healthy.

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, 30 Day Vegan Challenge

Day 27 is about weight loss and its relationship to veganism. While it is not a topic I am particularly interested in, I get that it is important. Personally, I am overweight and should pay my weight more attention. Yet, I have lost on a mostly wholefood plant-based diet without even really trying; no idea how much, but I did have to buy new pants for work that were a couple of sizes smaller, because the trousers I had were starting to look clownish – not the professional look I am going for!

Colleen emphasises on Day 27 that going vegan does not in and of itself mean anything in relation to weight loss. As she points out, there are “a million ways to be vegan”. It still matters what you eat and how much you exercise.

Choose to get your fat and calories from wholefood nutrient rich sources rather than high calorie nutrient 'empty' ones.
Choose to get your fat and calories from wholefood nutrient rich sources rather than high calorie nutrient ’empty’ ones.

The reason people like myself lose weight on a (mostly) wholefood, plant-based diet is because we are now eating less fat or fewer calories, For the most part we eat a lot more vegetables and whole grains which just happen to have fewer calories than things like cheese, eggs, meat etc. However, if a plant-based diet is high in fat from nuts, avocados, oil, deep-fried or calorie dense processed food don’t expect to be lean. While it is infinity better to get your calories from nuts rather than deep-fried chips from a nutrient point-of-view, if you are playing the numbers game, calories are still calories.

Colleen’s advice, which I agree with, is to get your calories from the best nutrition rich roods you can. Plants have more nutrients and fibre than commercial potato chips, plus they also come with additives and the types of fats that cause damage.  As well, you usually have to eat a lot more of some foods to get the same number of calories. For example, 100 grams of avocado has 160 calories, 10 grams of fat and 6 grams of fibre. Meanwhile, 100 grams of salted potato chips has 542 calories, 36 grams of fat and 4.4 grams of fibre. Your average avocado weights about 170 grams, and your average bags of chips is around 150 grams.

Day 27 also reminds me that I really do need to get more physical activity into my day. I am very sedentary, so in my off hours I should be out there getting some exercise. A sedentary lifestyle like mine is not a good long-term health plan, no matter how great my diet is.

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