On Being a Vegetarian

I have been meaning to post about being a vegetarian for a while.  So here it is.

People often ask why I made the choice to be a vegetarian.  There are five reasons.

First, I have never really liked the taste of meat very much anyway.  I remember my parents having to force me to eat it as a kid.

Secondly, the decision happened as a result of my daughter.  She was six when she learned where meat comes from.  She was very upset and said she would not eat meat anymore.  My husband and I decided not to make too big a deal of it and we let her stop eating meat.  We thought she would change her mind and go back to eating meat in a couple weeks.  We should have known what a determined young person she is.  She has not had a bite of meat since.  At the time, we did some research about vegetarianism and learned about other sources of protein.  I learned how to feed her and soon realized that this was something I wanted to do also.

The third reason is that I am an animal lover.  I do not feel right about killing animals or having someone else do it for my food.  Honestly, I do not judge anyone who eats meat, just as I hope they will not judge me.  It is a personal decision.

Another reason I choose this lifestyle is that I have learned that meat production is extremely detrimental to the environment.

Lastly, I have found that I feel better when I don’t eat meat.  I have read that your body uses a great deal of energy to digest meat and it is actually quite hard on your body (especially red meat).

As I was considering whether or not to become a vegetarian, I watched the video Earthlings.  That cinched it for me.  It is a very difficult video to watch.  However, it is extremely informative.

Vegetarianism also fits with the Yoga Lifestyle I have referred to in previous posts.

I believe that being a vegetarian is much easier now than it would have been twenty years ago.  There are so many options.  Most restaurants have vegetarian menu choices and vegetarian items can be easily found in grocery stores.

The main protein sources in my diet are beans, quinoa, nuts, seeds and green, leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale.  I really do not like the taste of soy so I avoid it.  I have found many delicious recipes on Pinterest. There is always an alternate way to make anything so I never have to miss my favourite foods. For example, I used to love ginger chicken.  So I found a recipe to make it using cauliflour.  You might think it sounds crazy – but it is delicious!

I would recommend a vegetarian lifestyle to anyone.  The next step for me is veganism!

Now, eat your veggies! And feel free to comment!

 

Yoga Success!

Finally I had a great yoga session!  There were two reasons my practice was a success;  my instructor and the venue.

I found a series of videos by Yoga with Adriene. She has a blog, website and YouTube channel.  I started her 30 Day Challenge.  Adriene’s focus is on paying attention to your own body and making your yoga practice work for you. I love that!  There are many options because every day and every person is different.  Sometimes your body is tight in one area and then the next day your tightness is in a totally different place.  I really enjoyed day one of the challenge.  It’s great for beginners but also good for more advanced yogis. I highly recommend it!

However,  I did feel a bit like a weirdo…. My daughter has synchronized swimming at the University on Mondays and Fridays.  I live in the north end so it’s not worth it to drive home and back again.  So I decided to use the open gym time tonight to do my yoga practice.  (Actually I really wanted to use the dance studio space,  but there was a class in there.) So I built up my courage, grabbed my mat and my phone and went into the gym.  There were a few people that came in to shoot hoops. I felt a bit embarrassed but kept going anyway.  I walked a few laps around the gym afterwards too. I felt great!  Maybe it should be more normal to see people doing yoga at the gym or park or wherever anyway – just as normal as seeing people shoot hoops. No one gave me any funny looks or seemed bothered in any way.  So I will get over feeling weird about this!  I was able to focus on me and my yoga practice,  with no distractions.  I will try it again.

Shout -out to Vanessa who I saw there before I started my yoga. A little spontaneous moral moral support never hurts!

 

 

Should We Be Worried about Young People of Today?

In Felicity Duncan’s article Why Many Kids are Leaving Social Networks she claims that young people today are switching from broadcast social media like Facebook to narrow-cast social media such as Snapchat. Amanda Lenhart’s article Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015  conflicts with Duncan’s data, showing that in fact, Facebook is the most popular social media network among teens (71% use Facebook while 41% use Snapchat). Lenhart’s article was written only a few weeks ago on February 4, 2016, while Duncan’s article was written nearly a year ago. It could very well be that social media use has changed that much in a very short time.

In any case, let’s consider what they are saying about young people, their use of social media and how it affects our ever-changing connected world.

Duncan expressed that there have been “alarms sounding” because teens are leaving Facebook. My question is “So what?!” Who am I concerned for here? Marc Zuckerberg? Advertising agencies? CEOs of major brands? I don’t think so. I think they will be just fine. Am I concerned for young people today because they are leaving Facebook? No.  Let me explain.

 

Photo source:Instapop

It seems to me that social media will continue to be an ever-changing landscape, at least in our lifetime. Advertisers will evolve and find new ways to advertise each time there is a new popular platform. Mark Zuckerberg and other CEOs will continue to retire with pockets full of money. I’m pretty sure they will be okay.

So what about young people today? Are they becoming more narcissistic? And if so, could it be due to social media use and too many selfies? I did some research online to learn more.  Dr. Peter Gray concluded that there is in fact, a rise in narcissism. However, he attributes this increase to a decline of children’s free social play. Read more about this interesting topic at Dr. Gray’s blog.  Dr. Lisa Firestone found that narcissism is on the rise but is due to changes in parenting styles and not to social networks.
Lynne Malcolm also found that the rise in narcissism is due to a change in parenting style.

Finally, Brooke Lea Foster takes issue with much of the research out there and states that every generation of young people is more narcissistic than its elders.

 

I strongly agree with Brooke Lea Foster. I believe that human beings are, generally, more self involved when we are young and become more empathetic and service-focused with age. There have always been self-involved people. There has always been cruelty. These are not new concepts. At the same time there has always been kindness, love and generosity. These are not new ideas either. Parents can pass down cruel ways or kind ways. And young people can choose to be kind even when they have been mistreated or oppressed. People make choices. It has always been and will always be. I choose to have hope and be optimistic. I choose to believe in the goodness of young people and that through our interactions as educators we can encourage all young people to make healthy choices that have a positive impact on the world around them.

 

Photo source: Positive Parents

 

I remember when I was in grade seven my teacher read our class a letter written to a newspaper editor. The writer of the letter complained about young people these days and how they have no respect and are completely self-involved. The letter was written in the 1800s. I appreciated my teacher sharing this with us and, obviously it has stuck with me. I tried to find this letter to the editor. I don’t think I found the same source. However there are many like it out there, such as this collection at Mentalfloss  and this one at Proto-knowledge.  I find these quite humorous as well as poignant.

As for Facebook, perhaps it will fade out in time. Or perhaps young people will grow into it and increase their use of it as they get married, stop partying, have children and want to connect in a different way. I will miss Facebook if it disappears one day. However, I will adapt and connect on whatever new platform is available at that time

Already I have begun to use Snapchat. Previously, my husband and I had not allowed our twelve year old daughter to be on Snapchat. After this week’s reading I allowed her to get a Snapchat account. I got one along with her to see if I could keep up with the times. (I don’t think I can by the way! I can barely keep up with my current accounts! But I will give it a try!) I have also started following The Insatiable Traveler who is also a grown woman attempting to use Snapchat. I will also be closely following Sarah Wandy’s journey on Snapchat.

Felicity Duncan also raised a possible concern that with young people moving to narrower platform their views may become more partisan. I take issue with this concern as I wonder what could possibly be more partisan than television over the past seventy years? Really?
Most of what we see on television are forty year old white, rich men and the sexy women and products that are meant to satisfy them! Partisan views are certainly not a new problem. (Sorry forty-something, white men. I do not mean to offend or generalize. I realize there are an abundance of wonderful, kind forty-something white men out there. In fact I am married to one. However,you just have to Google white privilege to get the research to support the claim that forty year old white men are far over-represented and generally, the most privileged group around. It just is what it is.) Regardless, young people who are connected to positive role models can still manage to learn about other ways of thinking and being.

I do believe that technology is changing the way we interact and think. You can read more about this at Mashable, The Age or Psychology Today.  As educators, I believe this is what we need to focus on. I am fascinated by brain research. Truly, that is our business; understanding how the brain works and helping young people use it to the best of their ability to do good things in the world; a world that is connected through technology. Thanks to Vanessa Braun for sharing this diagram. This is basically what teaching using technology is all about.

 

Photo Source: Vansclassroom.files  Created by Alec Couros

We can have an impact on young people. We can use their interests, including Snapchat, Minecraft and other forms of social media, to pique their curiosity, get them creating and solving problems and help them become positive citizens who can make a difference in the world.  We do not need to worry about the future of our world being in their hands (yes they can hold their devices and hold the world up too!).  We just need to give them tools to learn and some loving guidance as they go!

Roller Coaster Yoga Life

Over the past two weeks I have had a difficult time fitting yoga into my life as it has been a bit of a roller coaster.

After getting sick I found I didn’t have much energy and so chose to do Restorative/Yin Yoga.  I found this was very relaxing and helped me to recover.

On Thursday, February 11 my family and I went away to Phoenix. We had a wonderful vacation. The weather cooperated so we were able to swim in the pool at our resort, go shopping and go to the zoo. We also celebrated both my daughter and my husband’s birthdays during our vacation.  We were getting a great deal of exercise swimming and walking, I felt fantastic and I was focused on family time. As a result I only attempted yoga on one occasion and, even that attempt was interrupted. Although I was able get some rest and relaxation, there were also the plane rides and hotel beds to consider.  These are not so conducive to proper body alignment!  It was difficult to evaluate my yoga progress due to these factors.

While we were away my generous parents were looking after our cat. Upon returning home from our blissful trip we learned that my poor mother had broken her leg that morning. The fault was my cat’s, who had escaped out the door when my mother opened it to get the mail. My mother chased after her and slipped on the sidewalk. (Freezing rain in February in Regina is rare and dangerous, isn’t it?). I have spent most of the day at the hospital and my dear mother is in surgery as I write this. During our visits today, as usual, my mother was more focused on how all of us were doing. I’m sure she wished she had some food to offer us! She is strong, healthy and spirited. I’m sure she will be up and about in no time. However, it will be a long time before I will forgive my thoughtless cat!

Needless to say, my energy, my focus and my stress level have been a bit of a roller coaster over the past two weeks. It was difficult to self-evaluate such a variation, especially when very little of it is due to yoga. However, I always do my best to practice a yoga lifestyle. For me, this means kindness to myself and all those around me as well as looking for peace, calm and joy in everyday life. Vegetarianism and healthy eating are also part of my yoga lifestyle. While on vacation for seven days I felt it was easier to practice these values.

Photo source: Lifetales Brianna Carrion

See my self-evaluation here.

I will keep you posted on my mother’s progress as well. All prayers and happy thoughts are appreciated!

UPDATE ON MOM:

It is Saturday morning.  My mother is an inspiration!  She got out of recovery at 2:30 in the morning.  By 9:07 this morning my dad texted me that she was up in a chair having her breakfast and was ready to bear weight!  I’m sure she is ready to get back to looking after everyone else!  Her mother (my grandmother) lived to 93.  At 75, I’m sure my mother plans to have another 20 years or more to look after us all!  So she knows she has to look after herself.  She exercises three times each week, eats healthy and always on the go!

Grandma always said “things are never so bad that they couldn’t be worse!”  I guess another way to look at this is that there is always something to be thankful for.  Perhaps this is the answer to a long, happy life. Today I’m thankful for my determined, amazing mom!

Photo source: memions.com

Yoga History 101

 

I love history and am fascinated by the story of Yoga.  Historians are not exactly sure when yoga began. It dates back to between 5 000 and  10 000 years ago, possibly beginning in the Indus-Sarasvati (or Indus Valley) civilization,
(near what is now Islamabad, Pakistan) in Northern India. The Indus Valley is one of the oldest known civilizations and is considered by some as one of the “Cradles of civilization”.  Yoga was first mentioned in the Rigveda and the Upanishads, early sacred Hindu texts, used by spiritual Hindu leaders of that time.

Yoga is thought to have developed over a period of six historical eras: pre-vedic India, the Vedic Period, the Pre-Classical era, the Classical era, the Middle Ages, and Modern History.

I’m always amazed at how one thing leads to another – in life in general, and certainly in a Google Search or any research! Since I began to learn about the history of yoga, one thing has indeed led to another. During my research I also discovered 30 different types of yoga.  Additionally, I was intrigued by the fact that yoga is more than exercise, but can and should be considered a lifestyle.  This wasn’t new information, but simply confirmed for me how important it is to remember this.  I will continue my research and share what I have learned in the future.  Until then, Namaste, my friends.

 

 

Reading Response – Why Even the Worst Bloggers are Making us Smarter

One of the articles that fascinated me this week was Why Even the Worst Bloggers are Making us Smarter by Clive Thomson.

Clive describes one particular example of a blogger affecting the world, and politics in her home land.  He tells the story of Ory Okolloh, a Kenyan born law student who began blogging about the political scene in Kenya while attending Law School in the United States.  For seven years Ory blogged about the injustices in her home country and developed devoted followers.  In 2007, after a controversial Kenyan election violence broke out.  Ory wished there was a tool for the people of Kenya to share the violent events immediately, rather than waiting for her to post them.  She mentioned her ideas to some of her online friends and began collaborating to create a tool for this purpose.  Within a few days, a map-based tool was created.  This tool, called Ushahidi, has since been used by governments and non-profit organizations to provide assistance to areas of the world in crisis.  This is one example of how technology and public thinking can have a powerful effect on the world at large.

For those who are passionate about social justice in education this is important.  The implications for using blogging as a way for students to become better writers and to become more socially aware are tremendous.  Young adults and even young children are often motivated when learning about injustices around the world.  They can also be quite creative in thinking of ways that they can do something about a cause that is important to them.   I strongly believe in social justice education.  As I continue to think of ways to assist with social justice teaching around my school, I will add blogging as another strategy, thanks to Clive Thomson.

Weekly Self-Evaluations of Yoga to Increase My Energy

Part of my Yoga project is to find out if I can increase my energy with a regular yoga practice.  I will use the rubric below to evaluate whether I am feeling an increase in my energy and whether I would attribute it to my yoga practice.  I will also keep a journal to help understand this. Be sure to check back for my progress.

Rubric to Measure Effects of Regular Exercise on Mental Focus, Energy & Positivity  Krista McMillen          ECI 831

1 2 3 4
Mental Focus

(And Time Management)

– had difficulty focusing on tasks all week – had difficulty focusing on tasks sometimes – had difficulty focusing on tasks occasionally – able to focus on mental tasks any time of day
Energy level – felt tired all week

– unable to complete many necessary tasks  this week

– felt tired 2 or more days this week

– unable to complete some of the tasks this week

– felt tired 1 day this week

– able to complete most of the tasks in my week

– felt energetic throughout the week

– able to complete all of the tasks in my week easily

Positivity & Stress Management – had many negative thoughts and emotions

– felt anxious, worried or stressed much of the time

– had some negative thoughts and emotions occassionally

– felt anxious, worried or stressed some of the time

– had positive thoughts and emotions most of the week

– felt calm and confident most of the week

– had positive thoughts and emotions  almost all week

– felt calm and confident almost all week

Record

Date (week of): # Yoga Sessions/ Type of Yoga Mental Focus Energy Positivity Comments
Jan23-Jan 30
1 Yoga For Energy 3 2 2
tired in the evenings, felt stressed about completing IIP reports
Feb 6 2 Yoga For Energy 1 1 2
Had the flu on Wednesday night  and Thursday.  Didn’t feel back to health until Saturday.  Very busy weekend.  Not enough yoga!
Feb 13  1 Restorative Yoga  3  3  3
 Left for Phoenix on Thursday, relaxed with family.
 

Feb 20

 1 Restorative Yoga  2  3  2
 celebrated hubby and daughter’s birthday.  Came home to find out my mother had fallen and broken her leg, spent time at the hospital
 

Feb 27

 3

Yoga with Adriene

 3  2  2
 found an excellent site and was able to fit in 3 sessions of yoga.  felt some stress due to the busy-ness of life. definite progress
Mar 5  2

Yoga with Adriende

 2  1  2
 It was a busy and stressful week – just one of those weeks!
Mar 12  2

Yoga with Adriene

 2  1  2
 Was sick this week.  Fit in 2 sessions of yoga.
Mar 19  3

Yoga with Adriene

 3  2 3
 Definitely felt stronger, more energetic, more positive.  Yoga was beneficial.
Mar 26  2

Yoga with Adriene

 2  2  2
 Very busy week.  Tired.