Happy Father’s Day.


Maintaining a healthy weight in our culture is becoming more difficult. Just look at the people around you. Most of us are overweight. As the epidemic of obesity continues to grow, we seem to be less concerned. We seem to be more concerned about the consequences of fat shaming and not on the fact that life expectancy in some segments of the population is declining. Obesity is primarily a disease of excess compounded by a lack of insight.

If we want to change the trajectory of this epidemic, we need first to acknowledge that there is a problem. As I have gained several kilograms over the last few months, I’ve had to confront the trip wires in my life. It seems to me that we all need to honestly evaluate the obstacles preventing us from maintaining a healthy weight.

Let’s challenge our obstacles and surrender to the facts. 1. I’m making poor food choices 2. The people around me are allowing me or encouraging me to eat poorly 3. I don’t recognize appropriate portion size 4. I eat too much and too often 5. I buy too much food 6. I move too little 7. Everything I believe about exercise is wrong 8. Dessert is food 9 Calories matter.

My simple advice, which I should take myself. Stop listening to the people in your life who overeat and are always complaining about their weight. Stop eating out. Eat whole foods. Eat a plant first diet. Remove the highly processed carbohydrates. Eat less often. Count your calories. Sleep better. Stop worrying about what you will look like after you have lost the weight.

Dads, be an example to your family. Be disciplined and eat better.

Happy Father’s Day.

 

Exit


Life has both a tenacious and fragile grip on our flesh. Acceptance of its challenges is the beginning of enjoyment. The rose bush comes with her thorns, and her flowers are much less fragrant than we expect. Her flowers are beautiful and surrounded by sharp barbs. How we deal with the thorns is all we can pretend to control. Life is the struggle.

I will push on. I will not allow the pain to prevent me enjoying the fragrance and the beauty. I will enjoy the jabs and chant the reminder. Life is the struggle.

I will allow the breath of life to penetrate deep into my soul and catch the fragrance of the flower. The struggle is life as the scent of a rose is fleeting.

As I slide down the backside of life, I will not forget that life is the struggle. I will hold tight and breath deeply as I traverse the thorns. I will lick my wounds and recognize the magic of my bleeding. I will affirm that life is the struggle.

On that day when the struggle becomes too much, I will exit on my terms. My exit may be your thorn. Feel the pain, breath deeply and remember, life is the struggle. The rose is less fragrant that you remember and the view from the mountaintop is only as beautiful as the struggle to get there.

Enjoy the struggle until the enjoyment is gone. Exit without any apologies.

Battle Cry of Freedom.


History is filled with stories of both great victories and damning defeats. The story of the American Civil War has all those components. The story of why, where and how is fascinating and is worthy of investigation. The central question today of the reason for the civil war was never a question at the time. It was clear to all why and who started the war. The many compromises made to keep the Union together are documented in national documents. As such, the pre-war the question was, could this Nation survive half free and half slave.

The Negro question, the question of slavery, the issue of the right of the States with the “peculiar ” institution to continue to perpetuate an unethical institution was the base of all decisions. The essential flashpoint was the question of slavery in Kansas. Many citizens of the Northern states saw the admission of a slave State as unethical and worthy of dying to prevent. To that effect, many took up Arms.

The story of how the Civil war played out is filled with many twists and turns and is a reminder of the depth of sacrifice made for the advancement of the idea of freedom and equality.

Battle Cry of Freedom by James M. Mcpherson, is a must-read for all Americans. The great divide then as it is today, is the color line. The joy of emancipation is spoiled by the fact that too many today hold the same view of people of color as was the state of affairs in the 1800’s. If more Americans knew our history, we would be both prouder and more depressed by where we are today. Knowledge is power and those who ignore history will repeat it.

Reading the Man.


I have a fascination with knowledge. Knowledge, for its ability to inform, captivate and clarify. Reading this collection of the Lee letters gave a new look into an old hero. In the South, many have caricatured his memory to that of a hero of State’s rights. However, his life and legacy was and is much more complicated. He was distant to many but incredibly intimate with family. He was a man of his upbringing.

Like the engineer General Lee was, this book is structured from a strong base and expands to give a fuller view of the man. It does not over sentimentalize but humanizes by exposing both his incredible strength and destructive failings. He was an advocate for self-discipline and quality education, but only for white Americans. He was a racist; he was paternalistic with a wicked temper.

In contrast to the fairy tale that the post-war South cultivated and many white supremacists advocated, he was not a state’s rights advocate. The book, Reading the Man by Elizabeth Brown Pryor, eloquently demonstrates how the post-war Lee and others tried belatedly to portray a State’s right agenda outside of their advocacy of the continuation of slavery but his writings have betrayed him.

This is a story in his own words of a man that was ambivalent and racist, who preferred to maintain slavery or dispose of the slaves because like his Virginia peers he thought blacks to be inferior. He was not a righteous warrior. His cause, the cause of the Confederacy was not just.

In the end, he was like many today, indifferent to the suffering of non-white Americans because fundamentally they think us inferior. They believe that keeping us subservient is in our own best interest. The paternalism is clear and is killing us.

Go ahead, read this book and examine our current state of affairs, and you too will realize that our country has not come far enough. Later in his life, General Lee suggests that the struggle was more important than the possibility of victory. Too many of us have not come to that realization.
The struggle is real, and those who choose not to join have chosen the side of indifference and death.

Memorial Day – A Celebration of Life.


As we celebrate Memorial Day lets us all take a deep breath and look at those around us. Celebrate with remembrance. I would like to suggest that we continue to remember those who are struggling as much as we celebrate the fallen. The fallen are a reminder of how terrible we can be to each other and a caution to us all. Let us not lose focus, we celebrate because some were taken before their time.

Let us celebrate life and work to preserve our essential freedoms without the need for the loss of life. Let us celebrate nature and the circle of life. Happy Memorial Day to all.

DO YOU LIKE COOKING?


I can still remember my first time cooking a full meal. It was summer-time and we wanted soup. Soup was what we had for dinner every Friday. For months I had observed. It was mine time to repeat what I had observed. I followed the recipe as I had seen. I made what I thought was great soup. We enjoyed to the last drop. Since then I have enjoyed cooking. I enjoy cooking and would love my girls to have the same joy from cooking. Cooking is an excellent way of learning science and may help us eat better. By better I mean great tasting food with lower caloric density.

Making breakfast for my girls this morning was a wonderful expression of my love for them and my indirect way of passing unto them great eating habits. I suggest we all cook more. We all should eat more home cooking. Eat more home cooking for better health and family unity. I made what the girls requested, one fried egg with two strips of Turkey Bacon and blueberries. What is on your breakfast menu this morning?

HAPPY TO BE HOME.


The sound of music off in the distance was a gentle reminder of where I was waking up. I was back in my childhood bedroom and the day had started. The heavy drum line of the music was just what I needed to rouse me from a great night. The cool Sunday morning did not disappoint. I looked out the window and saw in the distance the rising sun just above the Caribbean Sea. The sounds of sound birds flavored the air with joy and anticipation. I opened the window and my ears were treated to the full cacophony of morning time in the countryside. My nose was filled with the smell of Sunday morning in rural Jamaica. I filled my lungs and remembered. I was transported back decades to my childhood. I could almost smell the wood fire and the roasted breadfruit. The scent of sauteed salt-fish and boiled ackee. The slight sharpness of the scotch bonnet pepper just above the scent of salt-fish.

The sun rose more quickly than I wanted it to and I could feel the heat. The birds started to disperse and the smell of food grew stronger. The aroma of cocoa tea made me smile and reminded me of all the advantages of growing up in a rural farming community. The music off in the distance diminished and the chatter of farmers taking out life stock became the background. The bleat of goats and the moo of cows off in the distance. I was happy to be home. Missing some of the conveniences of the big city was worth it. I loved my rural up-bringing and would not trade it for anything in the world.

SUDDENLY THE ROOM WENT DARK.


Bang! Bang! I was awoken from a deep sleep and jumped up from bed. My head collided with something hard and I fell back into bed. I felt an intense pain race down my neck and into my lower back. My face felt as if I was walking under a sprinkler. Immediately I knew what was coming next. I could taste the viscus liquid on my lips, I was bleeding. I looked up and  noticed the nail on the bottom of the upper bunk. I had not slept in a bunk bed in many decades and the bed had taken its revenge on my head. The pain became more intense and I grabbed the blanket and applied pressure to my head, but the flow of blood was stead and unrelenting. I felt as if I could not breathe. I tried to open my eyes fully but my sight was being obscured by the red flow.  I called for Paul, but there was no answer. I more carefully stood from the lower bunk.

I tried to move forward but did not get far. I was pulled  toward the floor by an unseen force at my left ankle.  I used my hands to cushion my fall and let go of the blanket and the stream of blood became a torrent. I heard the scrapping of metal against concrete and felt the coolness of the concrete floor under my elbows. The impact was painful and I screamed from its intensity.  I thought the pain in my elbows would be the worst, then my chin meet the concrete floor. My jaw was on fire. I pulled at my left leg but it was not going anywhere.

Bang! Bang! Bang! I had forgotten about what had awoken me. It was gun fire. I was certain of it. I shouted for Paul again, but there was still no answer. Suddenly there was an intense beam of light. The door slammed into the wall with a loud bang and the intensity of the light made me realize how dark the room was. I heard a loud voice in a strange language. Suddenly the room went dark again. There was a bag over my head.

Get Dirty


well said

Storyshucker

I’m going to be dirty today.

As a kid, Mama often met me on the back stoop as I came in from playing outside. With a broom in her hand she’d have me slowly turn in a circle while she brushed dirt from my blue jeans. She wasn’t against sweeping my bare legs either if I happened to be wearing shorts.

“Don’t bring that mess in this house.” She’d say. “Did you plan to get dirty?”

Well no. I hadn’t planned to. I was a kid. There was dirt. We met and fell in love. The end.

I remembered that this morning as I thought about where to plant some things in the yard. I still love dirt. Not potting soil in shiny garden-center bags. I don’t care for the sterile smell of plastic and perlite. I love real dirt. Earth.

One of the finest smells of spring is that…

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A Simple Hello


great

Storyshucker

The evening commute home was a scramble as people rushed and crushed onto the train fighting for a place to sit or stand.  A last-minute couple pushed through the door dropping tourist maps in their haste. Forced by the crowd to split up, the man went one way and the woman another.

The woman sat down in the last vacant seat next to where I stood and began to refold maps. Beside her sat a well-dressed business woman who appeared to read something work-related even after a day at the office. The two glanced briefly at each other, said nothing, and went back to their tasks of reading and map folding.

Things calmed as the train doors shut and people settled into seats or places to stand. As we waited for the train to depart, only the rustling of newspapers or the occasional ring of a cell phone could be heard…

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