A Grief Observed

I have just finished reading ‘A Grief Observed’ by C.S. Lewis and found my very own thoughts and emotions written there.  Things that I was too afraid to articulate for fear of being judged were put down in black and white by a man who has long been held in high esteem.  His unflinching look at his own grief after the loss of his wife has prompted me to take a look at my own.

Up until recently I believed that grief was something that happened to me.  I have since been disabused of this notion and have been informed that grief is, in fact, something we need to actively participate in.  This was a revelation and has meant that I have now been setting aside time to look at my grief, examine it, delve into it and understand it.

Writing has certainly helped me make sense of the emotions I feel and acknowledging that I have to take part in this grief rather than let it happen to me has opened an unexpected door.  This was reflected in C.S. Lewis’ own writings when he says “It was as if the lifting of the sorrow removed a barrier…You can’t see anything properly while your eyes are blurred with tears” (A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis).

I have thus far felt that I had to wrap myself in a cloak of mourning to truly honour the memory of Kari-Lee, but what I have found is that when my heart is lighter, when my mourning is less, my memories of her are clearer and my honouring of her memory is more authentic. “…passionate grief does not link us with the dead but cuts us off from them.” (A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis) It is as though when we try to hold too tight, we actually lose our grip and it becomes more about us than about those that we mourn.

But I don’t say this to discount times of mourning and sorrow, for they too are needed.  We need to allow ourselves the time to feel what we feel, to let our bodies process the emotions that such a loss initiates, but we cannot live in those moments for the rest of our lives.  And it is tempting to believe that we can never be truly happy again because of our loss, but how does that honour the ones who have gone?

“Getting over it so soon? But the words are ambiguous.  To say the patient is getting over it after an operation for appendicitis is one thing, after he’s had his leg off is quite another…He has ‘got over it’.  But he will probably have recurrent pains in the stump all his life, and perhaps pretty bad ones; and he will always be a one-legged man.” (A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis)

I think this passage sums it all up quite nicely.  Life does go on but we are forever changed.  That doesn’t mean that we can never be happy, just that we are different and that our happiness will also be different.  We can’t be afraid of our future, of perhaps finding ourselves happy or laughing and then thinking that we have somehow dishonoured our loved one.

“At present I am learning to get about on crutches.  perhaps I shall presently be given a wooden leg.  But I shall never be a biped again.”

There is so much more in the short book and, although I know others haven’t, I have gotten a lot out of it.  The raw honesty of his writings has helped me face the rawness of my own and to face them unashamedly.

agriefobserved

Cinderella – A Review

cinderella

It was my birthday yesterday and because of that my husband could not say no to me and I got to go to the movies! *Yay*  Not only did I get to pick the movie, but it could also be a movie that he would never normally agree to see with me (it’s my birthday after all) so I decided I wanted to see the new Disney adaptation of Cinderella.

I must preface this review by telling you that I am notoriously bad at writing reviews and also that I LOVE fairytales.  Whenever a fairytale movie is made, I want to see it.  There is something about them that appeal to me…give me fairy godmothers, handsome princes and big poofy dresses and I am in heaven.  But I also like to see the adaptations where a deeper meaning is brought out, where the heroine is a bit gritty and the story a little darker, these too make me happy.  As much as I am a big believer in strong independent women, there is also the little girl in me who wants to be swept off her feet.

With the recent retellings of Snow White (Snow White and the Huntsman) and Sleeping Beauty (Maleficent), I went into this movie expecting a different take on the traditional story, I expected a Cinderella with a bit of guts and spunk.  In fact, when I walked into the cinema and saw some young children waiting to watch the film, I worried for them, thinking that perhaps this wasn’t the sort of Cinderella film they should see.

But I needn’t have worried.  This adaptation sticks pretty much to the traditional story and once I got my head around that, I enjoyed it.  It wasn’t what I was expecting to see, it wasn’t want I wanted to see, but for a traditional retelling, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

If I had to describe this movie in three words they would be lavish, opulent and sumptuous.  The scenery is absolutely picturesque, full of rich, beautiful colours and breathtaking vistas.  The sets are incredibly lush and the palace is everything a princess could dream of (the chandeliers OMG!).  The costumes are decadent with bright colours and fabulous designs (oh, to be the costume designer on this film!).  Visually, this film is a feast for the eyes and the cinematography is wonderful.

lilyjames1As for the film itself, there is nothing notably new.  Lily James (Downton Abbey) plays Cinderella and she does a fair job of it, although I found her a little too sweet at times.  Her wide-eyed wonder and innocence was a little far-reaching, but she does embody the quintessential Disney Princess.  I would have liked her to get a little mad, at least once, with maybe a tantrum thrown in just to take the shine off her practically perfect princess routine.  And I can’t write this review without mentioning the furore surrounding her slim figure in this film.  There has been a bit a of thing about how tiny her waist is and I tend to agree with her arguments that although she has a naturally slim waist, with the added corset and large skirt it does have an optical illusion effect.  I also want to add that we, as a society, need to stop judging people by their CINDERELLAoutward appearance, whether they are too big or too small.

Prince Charming or Kit is played by Richard Madden (Game of Thrones) and he is delightful.  I love the relationship that he had with his father and that he was torn between obeying his father’s wishes and following his own heart.  It is refreshing to see a father/son relationship that is based on mutual respect and love.

CateBlanchett

My most favourite performance had to be Cate Blanchett (The Hobbit) as the Stepmother.  I love Cate and think that she is a phenomenal actress.  She is deliciously nasty in this film and it endeared her to me even more.  I love that she owned her nastiness, and set against Lily James’ too sweet Ella, it was a fabulous contrast.  She was unapologetic in her desires and ruthless about achieving them. She is also stunning in this film and her costumes are a wonder. I think she may have stolen the show for me.

helenaAnother fabulous performance was by Helena Bonham Carter (Great Expectations), who plays a wonderful villain (in Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland to name two) but in this instance is a wonderful fairy godmother.  She owns this role and brings a bit of spunk to the film.  I didn’t like the use of the “Bippity Bobbity Boo” magic words, but apart from that, she was fantastic.

Stepmother

Other notable performances were from the Stepsisters.  I did spend all of the film trying to place the actress who played Drizella (who incidentally is Sophia McShera from Downton Abbey,the other actress is Holliday Grainger (Great Expectations)), but I loved their performances. They were just the right amount of vapid and spoiled and, OMG!, their costumes!  I can’t tell you how much fun it would have been to be the costume designer!

nonsoI can’t finish this review without mentioning Nonso Anozie (Game of Thrones) who plays the Captain.  He was a delightful character and it takes a special person to carry off those tights with such aplomb.  And of course, Alex Macqueen was great as the Royal Crier.

The CGI on this film was also done really well and added, rather than subtracted from the film.  The mice, lizards and goose were good comic relief without being too over the top.

The most poignant part of the film is at the end when Prince Charming finally tracks down Cinderella and finds her to be nothing more than a servant girl.  She comes to him as she is and asks him if he can still be happy with her knowing that she has no title or lands.  As the narrater says, there was no magic or fairy godmother to help her this time and the biggest risk we take is to be seen as we really are.  I think that is the perfect message to take away from this film.  It takes a lot of courage to allow others to see the real person inside of us without the masks and the smoke and mirrors that we all try to use.  We live in a world that constantly tells us we are not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, thin enough, tough enough, rich enough and we all try, in some small way, to portray ourselves as more.  Maybe we can take a leaf out of Cinderella’s book and not be afraid to be who we really are.

So, in conclusion, I enjoyed the film.  It is not a masterpiece, it does not deal with the tough issues, but it is fun and magical and a delight to watch.  Admittedly it won’t be everyones cup of tea, but if you are looking for a bit of lighthearted entertainment that will make you feel good and give you an escape from the real world for a while, then I recommend it.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things

Slow-Regard

This started out as a review of a novella by Patrick Rothfuss named “The Slow Regard of Silent Things”, but became something else.

Before I begin my review, I need to out myself on a few things…

 slowregardFirstly, I am a Patrick Rothfuss fangirl (that is if a married 41 year old woman with two adult sons can even be considered a fangirl). I first read “The Name of the Wind” a few years ago and was unashamedly captivated by it.  I had only just started tentatively reading fantasy (previously I had been a strictly crime/political thriller reader…i.e. James Patterson, Tom Clancy, Patricia Cornwall, Dale Brown, Sue Grafton) and I had been intrigued by the books title…”The Name of the Wind”. They say to never judge a book by its cover, but to me the cover (especially in the fantasy genre) tells its own story and if it doesn’t interest me, then I’m likely to pass on the book.  I have read other books simply because the cover caught my eye (Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files is one such series, before they changed the covers which is a pet hate of mine, they were made to look like old files…kind of cool…and then there is Joe Abercrombe whom I read just because I liked his name), so with a title like “The Name of the Wind” I was definitely interested.  The story that was contained within that cover was even better than the name had hinted at.  Mr Rothfuss’s use of words, imagery and world building wrapped around me like a cocoon and by the end of the book I was converted completely to the fantasy genre. I have since re-read both “The Name of the Wind” and book two “The Wise Man’s Fear” (something I had never done until reading these books) a couple of times and have tried to get them into the hands of as many people as I can.  So, yes, I am a fan.

The second thing I need to be upfront about is that I am grieving.  My beautiful daughter-in-law died two and a half weeks ago (here is her story) and the world just hasn’t seemed the same since that day.  Many things in my life seem meaningless (vanity of vanities, all is vanity) and I even considered whether or not to write this post (but I have and I hope by the end of it you will understand why) and so it is under the very heavy grey cloud of mourning that I read this novella and now write this review.

And thirdly, this is not the book three that you are looking for.  Mr Rothfuss made it very clear in the lead up to and in the forward of the book that this was not Book Three of “The Kingkiller Chronicles”…this is a novella that expounds the story of one of the characters in it. It is an addendum to the original story, not a continuation of it.

So, with all that out of the way, let me get on with my review.

Illustration by Nate Taylor

Auri – Illustration by Nate Taylor

Quite simply, I loved it…but I know that not everyone will.  Mr Rothfuss admonishes us in the forward that this book is not for everyone, and I agree, not everyone will understand it.  This story breaks a lot of rules and there are some people that will find that hard to deal with, but again, we are warned of this in the beginning.  To be perfectly honest, I don’t think anyone could fully tell this story without breaking the rules. Auri is not a character that can be explained by conventional means, she is an enigma and so too is her story.  And, quite frankly, I don’t think everybody should read this book.  I think that something like this should only be read by those that will appreciate it; people who get Auri, who are maybe even a little bit like Auri.  It almost seems indecent to expose Auri to the unwashed masses, those that only wish to impose their will on the world and are not at all interested in being changed by something or someone else.  If nothing else, then this is a story for those of us who have known great loss and have been forever changed by it.

This short story spoke to the part of me that was broken, the part of me that now looks at the world and wonders why.  Although we don’t find out the why of Auri, we do get to know the who.  In very cold and clinical terms, Auri would be considered obsessive compulsive, but in my bruised and battered frame of mind, I see beyond that.  I’m sure that if a psychiatrist got a hold of Auri, they would have a field day and in doing so would destroy her. To me, Auri, through her brokenness, has found a deeper meaning.  She looks only for harmony, she desires only for the things around her to be in harmony with each other. I envy her.

You may think it strange to envy a character who is quite obviously damaged, but it is her very damaged-ness that makes her enviable.  She is no longer consumed by the trappings of materialism, she no longer feels the need to impose her will and desire on the world around her and she takes delight in the simple things.  We have become a world of cynicism and disdain and we have lost the most sacred of emotions…wonder.  Where is the childlike wonder of imagination?  The powers that be have reduced our lives down to scientific theories and financial facts totally disregarding that part of us that calls to the deep mysteries of life.  Children have lost their childhood and adults have forgotten how to dream.  Our world has been broken by the very things that we created to fix it and yet we keep trying to fix it with the same things.  We need more wonder in our world and Auri shows us a glimpse of wonder and my heart yearns for more.

So, perhaps this isn’t a book review at all, but more a study on finding meaning in life when you are broken.  Auri’s world is not perfect, she is still broken, but her brokenness is beautiful. As I grieve the loss of a beautiful person in my life, I look at Auri and I see that there can still be life after loss, not just existence and there can be beauty in brokenness even though it looks different.

Discovering the Diabetic Diet – What The Hell Do I Eat?

Discovering-the-Diabetic-Diet

With having recently being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes (see this post for full details), one of the many things in my life that had to change was what I eat.  Because of my previous bad experiences with diets I had avoided going to the doctor even though I knew I had crossed the line into diabetes.  I was scared that I could not sustain a diabetic diet and that I would fail as I had with every other diet I had been on.  I eat a fairly healthy and varied diet and as a cook and a foodie I thoroughly believe in trying to eat as much fresh food as possible and cooking from scratch wherever I can, but this diagnosis meant that I had to be more vigilant, stricter with the ingredients that I chose to cook with.  Quite honestly, I had no idea where to start.  I have preconceived ideas about what a diabetic diet looks like:

  • No Fat
  • No Sugar
  • No Salt

Basically bland and unappetising.  These three ingredients are what give food flavour and mouth-feel and isn’t that the reason we enjoy food?  This seemed devastating to me.  I am a foodie.  I love food, I love cooking and experimenting with food and I work in the food industry.  I couldn’t imagine having to forgo delicious food for the rest of my life.  I know this seems shallow and irresponsible, but the majority of my life revolves around food.  I work with it every day, I blog about it, I pin it and obviously, I eat it.  Yes, I’ve dieted before, in fact I’ve tried them all and having to restrict certain foods has always been the hardest thing.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t eat much fast food/junk food, but it is the other types of food that are restricted.  I love fresh fruit, but some diets tell you to restrict fruit, some even say to cut it out altogether.  I also like red meat, rare and juicy, a lot of diets tell you to avoid red meat.  There are diets that tell you to only drink powdered shakes and low card bars and cookies but these always contain chemical ingredients that go against my belief in lots of fresh food and leave a bad taste in my mouth.

My doctor didn’t give me any guidelines as to what I was to eat, just a phone number to ring to sign up for some education classes.  I am a bit of a nerd so the first thing I did was go to my friend the internet.  Now the internet is the type of friend that pretty much tells you what you want to hear, whether it is the truth or not.  I’m sure there is some sort of study that shows that the answers we get on our search engines has a lot to do with our previous searches, our interests and our social media accounts.  I can’t prove that of course, but I do believe that to get to the real answers we want, beyond our biases, we need to ask questions a whole lot of different ways and go beyond the first page of search results.  There is a lot of misinformation on the internet and I am an advocate of not believing everything you read.  Every so called “fact” and “claim” needs to be backed up by two, three or more supporting facts and claims.  I also don’t put much stock in personal testimonies of products because I know how easy it is to fake them.  It would be therefore hypocritical of me to let you read this blog and think of it as gospel truth.  I am not a scientist, doctor or other medical professional.  All I have is my own experience and my own research. I encourage you to do your own research and see what answers you find that work for you.

The more research I do the more I am finding that different things work for different people and this is not wholly unreasonable.  Our world is small now but not that very long ago it was quite a bit bigger.  People groups had widely varying diets depending on where they lived.  Before we were able to transport food products across country and across the sea, people had to eat seasonally and regionally.  Now our cultures are merged and food is a lot more readily available in and out of season and we think that there must be a single solution to the health problems we face.  I don’t agree.  I believe, from my own experience and from the experiences of others, that our bodies are so intricately complex and diverse that it only makes sense that we need multiple solutions.  When I was younger I thought that if I ate exactly what my skinny friends ate then I would be skinny.  It didn’t work.  Their metabolic rates, hormone levels and other complex inner workings were different to mine.  Why are some children naturally slim or even super skinny, and others are more robust and fatter?  It is a question which has plagued me my entire life and the only logical solution I can come up with is that we are not all cut from the same cloth.  The extension of that answer is that different bodies respond differently to the food they ingest.  But as I said earlier, I am no doctor and the real answers to these questions are beyond my limited understanding.

So armed with nothing more than my wits and my cynical scepticism, I entered the fray of the Google search.  I have long since held to the belief that the “Food Pyramid” that we were taught as children is baloney.  Unfortunately too many hands were in the pie that created that particular piece of nutritional information and what was originally meant to be a good thing was basically hijacked by special interest groups who had billions of dollars invested in the food industry (wow, that did sound cynical).  If you are interested in finding out more about how the Food Pyramid came about here are some links:

http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2013/09/invented-food-pyramid/ – This is a clear explanation of how the food pyramid came about

http://www.liftbigeatbig.com/2012/11/a-history-of-food-pyramid-corporate.html – I don’t completely agree with everything written in this post, but it has some very valid points.  I especially like the sentences relating to farming cows on pastured land and feeding them grass instead of grain.  I have issues with the way we farm our meat sources, but that is a topic for another post.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_guide_pyramid – From Wikipedia

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/pyramid-full-story/ – This is the Harvard version of the food pyramid and a bit of explanation about how it came about.

You may notice that I didn’t include any positive links about the food pyramid.  That is because they all come from sources that have significant resources invested in it.  When you put money on the line, of course you are going to back it up. (Again the cynic in me).  If you are interested in that information (and you should be to get an unbiased view), a simple Google search on the food pyramid will give you ample results.

So with my aversion to the food pyramid idea, I cautiously began my research in the most obvious place – Diabetes Australia.  I have to say I was disappointed.  I was looking for a simple eating plan, something to get me started so I knew what foods to eat, when to eat them and approximate kilojoule intakes.  None of that was available on the website (well none that I could find anyway).  There were a few recipes, but not nearly enough for me to create a lifestyle from.  They have information regarding the food groups and how that relates to diabetics, but that didn’t actually help me determine what I should eat, how much I should eat and when I should eat.  I suppose that is what the education appointment is for, but I had a whole week and a half before I could attend a session, so what was I supposed to eat in the meantime?

I knew I had to cut out refined sugar so that is where I started.  Apart from the obvious sugary foods, there is also hidden sugar in a lot of packaged foods, so they all had to go.  I made the decision to only cook with fresh/frozen ingredients – no more bottled sauces/marinades/salad dressings, no more recipe bases or packet mixes.  I also knew I would have to avoid refined carbohydrates and other high glycaemic index foods.  Bread is my weakness.  I love bread – fresh bread, thick bread, toasted bread, bread rolls.  I have avoided bread for a lot of my life because a. I know I have a weakness for it and b. I always feel clogged up when I eat too much.  My compromise is to only eat good quality bread that is full of whole grains and rye.  The reason I mention bread is because I also realised that I would need to start eating breakfast before I went to work so that I could take my medication.  For most people this is not a big deal, but for me it meant having to get up at 3:45am instead of 4:00am and finding something that I would feel like eating at that time of the morning…toast and vegemite was the answer.  Yoghurt and muesli are also good breakfast foods.  I make my own toasted muesli using coconut oil, honey & maple syrup so I know the fat and sugar content and I only use Greek yoghurt.

So this brings me to a whole other issue…the times that I eat.  As I mentioned, I start work early, so usually I don’t eat until 9:00am or 10:00am, and then I would struggle to eat lunch but by 3:00pm I would be ravenous and then at dinner time I wouldn’t feel like eating and then I am in bed by 8:30pm.  Now I had to eat before 4:00am so I could take my tablets, which meant lunch that I was hungry again by 10:00am or 11:00am.  Not wanting to eat lunch this early, I have been making myself a superfood smoothie.  Smoothies can be a bit of a trap for the uninitiated.  If you are purchasing them from a café or shop, they can be full of hidden sugars and fat.  A lot of places use packet mixes for their smoothies, but we never have.  I have experimented with a lot of smoothie recipes and have come up with one that I find delicious and also healthy.  Based on Coconut water, I add Acai, blueberries, banana, yoghurt and rolled oats.  I also add some supplements – Supergreens powder (a mix of spirulina, wheatgrass, chlorella and barley grass) and Macca Powder.  This smoothie lets me get through until about 1:00pm when I then have lunch.

Lunch has always been a tough one for me, I never know what to eat.  If I was working from home I would normally eat a frozen meal, but with my decision to not eat pre-packaged food I had to go to the trouble of making something.  Chicken and salad sandwiches and tuna and salad sandwiches have become my go to, but it also means I am now eating more bread.  It’s a quandary!  For now, I am doing it, sometimes swapping the bread for a wrap, and I am monitoring the effects on my body.  I am making sure there are plenty of salad ingredients on my sandwich so that my body is getting more vegetables than bread, so hopefully this will be successful (so far so good).

I still have the 3:00pm blues.  I don’t know what it is, but everyday around the same time I get the urge to graze.  I have curbed this to some degree by having herbal tea – Lemongrass and Ginger.  Surprisingly this has been very satisfying both physically and mentally.  I also find a banana helps.

This brings me to dinner.  There have been both positives and negatives with my new eating resolves.  The positives are I get to experiment with fun ingredients and have produced some really delicious meals.  The down side is that it means I have to cook every night.  No more lazy night dinner, no more take away and, thus far, my husband has been too intimidated by the rules to attempt to cook.

So this is a start.  More fresh fruits and vegetables, more fish, less carbohydrates, no refined sugar.  I think the biggest change for me has been to eat intentionally…to pay attention to what I am putting in my body, not to eat automatically, but to enjoy my food, savour it and to listen to the cues my body is giving me – paying attention to how my body reacts to the foods I eat.  To date I have found the transition fairly easy, a few headaches to start with as my body adjusted, but generally I have felt pretty good and I have lost weight (nearly 6 kilograms in four weeks), can’t complain about that.

Crispy-Skinned-Salmon

Crispy Skin Salmon

Blue-Grenadier-en-Papillote

Blue Grenadier en Papillote

Crispy-Skinned-Duck

Crispy Skin Duck

Homemade Muesli

Homemade Muesli

Do the Hard Things

hardthings

Today is a hard day.  Today I have to do something that I dread.  Just the thought of it makes my stomach queasy and my heart race.  To other people what I have to do today may not seem hard, but for me, it is one of the hardest…

It doesn’t matter what it is, to me this is a hard thing.  It is something that I have to do, in fact I am required by law to do, but that doesn’t make it any easier.  This thing fills me with so much fear that I avoided doing it for a whole year and then it caught up with me and now it is even harder.  I had hoped that by sticking my head in the sand and flying under the radar that I could go on living in denial, but things don’t happen that way, eventually it catches up with you.

When we do the hard things we actually free ourselves.  When we avoid the hard things they become like chains around our necks and they drag us down.  I thought that by ignoring this particular hard thing, my life would be easier…but it wasn’t.  I didn’t sleep properly, I worried constantly and there was always this haunting feeling surrounding me, waiting for the other shoe to drop and then it did and it was bad and now I have to live with the consequences.

I pride myself on the way I face up to my responsibilities, even when they are hard, but in this one area I failed.  Instead of doing the hard thing, I hid from it and my hard-fought integrity took a hit.  I allowed the fear to rule me, I allowed the fear to win.  I allowed the fear of the hard thing to stain my character and to rob me of my honesty and integrity.  I allowed fear to change me.

Change that is born from fear is never a good thing.  When fear dictates your actions, it eats away at you little by little until all that remains is a husk of your former self.  Fear steals the very essence of who you are and robs you of your potential.  Do the hard things.

Doing the hard thing strengthens you, it reinforces your character and integrity and it changes you…for the better.  With every decision to do the hard thing when you could do the easy thing, you become a better person, a better partner, a better student, a better spouse, a better human being.  Doing the hard thing makes your life easier.

And when you’ve done that hard thing, when you have faced your fear and stood your ground…reward yourself.  Give yourself a pat on the back and say, “Well done” because doing the hard thing isn’t easy and we need to be proud of ourselves when we stand up to our fears.  You’ve done a hard thing, now be kind to yourself…chocolate helps.

No Reservations

I am home, sick, today, snuggled up on the couch watching television. I am watching Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, a food/travel show. He is in Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua…I didn’t even know where that was (Central America for those of you who are ignorant like me). I happen to start watching the show in the middle of it where he visits La Chureca, the city dump.
The incredible thing about this place is that people live there and they sort through the garbage to find food for their families. The sort through industrial and medical waste to retrieve food. They live there, building homes out of refuse, sorting through garbage to find things that can be recycled and sold to support their families.
It really made me think. It made me think about how I live, how I eat. I live in Australia where you need to adhere to very strict regulations to sell food. Our food is sanitised to within an inch of its life. People don’t buy an apple or banana if it has a blemish or a bruise on it. People get upset if there is a single strand of hair in their food. But these people were eating food that had been thrown away amongst industrial and medical waste.
Australians throw away $8 BILLION worth of food every year. 20%-40% of fresh fruit and vegetables are rejected before they even reach the shops because of cosmetic reasons…perfectly fine food thrown away because it doesn’t look right. How do you reconcile this waste with the amount of hunger in the world…the amount of hunger in our own country?
I have always believed that to have a roof over your head and food in your stomach is the very basics of human rights. I am a feeder…I get joy out of feeding other people. I love to see people eating and enjoying the food I prepare for them and when I see things like this, I just want to do something, I want to feed the world.
My daughter-in-law suffers from Cystic Fibrosis and as such, food and nutrition are extremely important for her. She is currently in hospital and the food she is being served is pathetic. Over processed, over cooked, reconstituted gruel. How can our health system feed our most vulnerable people such substandard food? I have heard of a study that was done that showed the health and nutrition of children with Cystic Fibrosis declined while they were in hospital. The food is so bad in the hospital where my daughter-in-law is that she won’t eat it and we try to provide as many homemade meals as we can. We need a food revolution in our hospitals similar to the one that Jamie Oliver did in the schools.
We are a country of contradictions. On one hand we have the most vulnerable people in our society being given substandard food and on the other hand we have 450,000 garbage trucks worth of food being thrown away – 33% of which is FRESH FOOD. We have a national campaign aimed at getting people to reduce their intake of fast food, and yet we are feeding those in our hospitals with food that is no better than that.
Food is such an integral part of our lives, but we take it for granted. I ask you, today, to think about the food that you eat and the food you throw away. Maybe it won’t make a difference, but maybe it will inspire someone, somewhere.

food

The Book Thief

31 Days of Blogging – Day 14

The Book Thief

 

Tonight I went to see “The Book Thief” at the cinema.  Before I say anymore about it, I have to preface it by saying that I have not read the book (shock horror) and I actually didn’t know anything about the story-line (I hadn’t read a review or even a plot synopsis).  I will try not to give anything away in what I say, but just in case, if you don’t want to know anything about it before seeing it, then you should probably stop reading.

The Book Thief is a story about a girl called Liesel who is sent to live with a foster family in 1938 Germany.  She learns to read and write and develops a deep love for books and words while the world around her deteriorates into war.  She is plagued by loss, but manages to endure and bloom in an otherwise bleak environment.

Cinematically, this movie is beautifully shot.  The scenery and camera angles are stunning and give the movie a vulnerability and softness that ease the viewer through the harsh aspects of the story.  The actress, Sophie Nélisse, is lovely to watch and Jeffery Rush is impeccable.

I came away from this movie with a lot to think about, and in some respects I am still processing what I saw.  Having not read the book, I did wonder, throughout the film, if it was missing some key elements.  At times the pace was a bit slow, but I wonder whether that was more to do with me than the film.  It is certainly not a movie that I would normally watch – I tend to avoid sad, true to life films, but having said that, I did enjoy it.  It made me think and question and wonder.

A recurring thought I had during the film was that we have not learnt from our past mistakes.  The holocaust had to be one of humanities lowest points, and yet we learnt nothing from it.  There is still persecution in the world, there is still racism and hatred.  World War II was long and bloody and a waste of life, and yet we still send our sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters out to kill someone else’s sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters.  There have been wars as long as there have been people and yet we still have not learnt from them, we still feel the need to flex our muscles and intimidate those smaller or weaker than us or just different from us. It is not the despots and tyrannical leaders that suffer, it is the innocents, those sent to war because they love and want to serve their country and those non-combatants that get caught in the crossfire.

I was also struck with the cruelty of humans and not just on the larger scale of world wars, but in our everyday lives.  The little things we do that show such disregard and lack of respect for another living thing.  We see atrocities committed daily- from bullying and ostracization to beatings and murder.  These things perpetrated on our fellow man simply because they do not measure up to what we believe to be the ideal or because we feel threatened and insecure.  We see ourselves as being an evolved species and yet we continue to behave worse than animals.

Wars bring destruction not only of life, but also of society.  The things we create, that make up the individuality of our lives, the history and art and beauty are lost when bombs are dropped.  I can’t bear to think of the works of art and literature that have been lost forever in the Middle East because of the wars that have been constantly fought.  The treasures lost forever all over the world because of greed and a thirst for power.  Seeing how this young girl rescues a book from a fire reminds me that there are things in this world that need to be rescued and protected and cherished.

This films begins with the concept that life is finite, we do not live forever. I think we sometimes forget how precious life is – both ours and those around us who are different.  All life is tenuous and each one of us has something to contribute to our society, we should never lose sight of that.