Thursday, January 31, 2013

A cure for the winter blues: caring for the soul and the body.

I can't help but notice how unaffected I feel by the Canadian winter this year. This comes as a big surprise after recently returning from Nicaragua in December. Before returning to Canada, I spent a little more than a month preparing myself for the shock I would experience going from 27-30 degree heat to -10 freezing cold.

The first quick run I made from the arrivals gate in the airport to the car definitely had my body squirming and shivering but after a few weeks of settling in, I felt relatively "adjusted." Perhaps it is because I spent 1 month mentally preparing myself for the cold that when I did arrive to it, it didn't seem so bad. Or perhaps it was because I was ready to experience some cold. Call me crazy, but I am a proud Canadian who loves  the crispy chill of a cold winter night wind. I guess I see some romance in it. I always see through glasses with a hint of rose tint ;)

Choose to see the beauty in even the coldest months of the year.  (Pic taken on Lake of Bays, Ontario)
I am also seriously owing the way I have treated my body in the last year -- specifically diet choices and medicine -- to the reason why the blues don't get me down. Don't get me wrong, I have my moments, but that slow and dull drag, where winter's lull feels like it is perpetually bringing me down, just hasn't seemed to hit me.
Clare, happy to be in Northern Canada, surrounded by pine trees and snow covered lakes! (Lake of Bays, Ontario)
 For about a year now, I have been living my life as a (very happy) vegan. I also adhere to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), mainly taking herbs and receiving acupuncture sessions from world renowned TCM healer , Jeanette Wayne , who practices right here in Toronto.

I try my best to eat all organic food and so try to keep my body as chemical and pesticide free as possible. This is not only a healthier option for me but it also has major positive impacts for our planet, mainly soil and ecosystem quality, to name a few.

The diet is great and has helped me to feel less fatigued, drowsy (especially in the morning), bloated and all around more energized. The herbs I take have funny labels on them like "happy pills" and more informative ones like "sleep enhancement and energy therapy." The herbs clean toxins from the body, reduce inflammation and each one depending on their kind, work to improve the qi energy that we all have in our body. Some herbs focus on the kidneys and liver, while others on the spleen, for example. To learn more about qi and the philosophy behind TCM, go here.

 Overall, the herbs provide a certain kind of therapy to the body that balances our overall energy. I, for example, have always experienced cold in my limbs since I can remember. Not even 25 degree heat can warm my footsies up! As I have gotten to know Jeanette and experienced her treatments, my body has slowly warmed up, feels more balanced, and I have learned that no one needs to suffer this kind of discomfort!

After a year and three months of taking the herbs, my sleep has never been so deep, my skin glows, and I feel all around like a happier-go-luckier person.

I guess what I am getting at is that we as Canadians, and all those living in the Northern Hemisphere of the world, do not need to watch ourselves experience needless suffering. If we just invest some of our time taking care of ourselves, mind, body and spirit, there is no reason to feel the blues ever again!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Metro Morning @ Idle No More Teach-In

Take a listen to CBC's Loren McGinnis interview myself and other participants at a Teach-In at the Toronto Fire Council a week ago!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My First Protest - Idle No More

Solidarity, joy and communal energy. These are not the sentiments I expected to feel when I attended my first protest, part of Idle No More, a movement which defends the sovereignty of Indigenous Canadians through the protection and defense of treaties and human rights.  I have always questioned the usefulness of protests as a valid form of provoking dialogue. Our society tends to be saturated by them and I have always viewed manifestations under a black and white lens, are they successful or not? What does successful mean? By what standard is success rated when talking about a protest? 

Protests are often critiqued when they turn violent and lack direction or are poorly organized and executed, an excuse to shout and scream without ever actually saying something. Protests have a tendency to be viewed as a trend that peaked in the 1960's and 70's. Those who attend and organize protests can be seen as hippies who smoke too much pot, flighty people who use disconnected jargon for concepts for which they do not completely understand the meaning.
One of the drummers in his red cape at the Eaton Center for an Idle No More flash mob.

 If we pay attention however, to the way our protests and to more importantly how our awareness and dialogue have changed over the years, we must come to the conclusion that there have been no failures in our society in giving voice to causes that lack and demand one. We are learning from past mistakes. The word "hippy" was simply a word used to describe a community of people who opened their eyes to see injustice and who  therefore chose not to accept the status quo. There is no longer one "type of protester" because, globally, there is so much to protest and so many more issues that need a voice. 

The hippy movement may not have succeeded in achieving everything it set out to do, but at least a collective voice was heard and change was made. Change, as we all know does not happen over night but the voice was strong enough that it permeated into the universal psyche and we live with some of the positive changes that were created then. 

As I read and hear so many chiefs and leaders of the movement proclaim, Idle No More is not only a movement important because it represents native Canadians, it is also important for non-natives. The treaties the movement fights to protect, include treaties that speak to the access to public waterways, resources used by all Canadians. The movement could garner so much more energy from non-natives by acting on this sentiment by introducing and educating non-natives to the traditions and the movement itself.
Impromptu dance circle, a very common action to take place at the Idle No More manifestations and flash mobs.

 Perhaps setting up an easy to spot booth in the center of the manifestations where non-natives could come to read and learn more about the movement and why it is important. What about on-the spot drumming and chanting lessons?  In attending the protest at the Toronto Eaton Center, the hairs were sticking up on the back of my neck and I felt a great connection, a rootedness as I not only listened but felt the chanting and drumming. Imagine the impact if all three levels in a massive shopping mall were chanting and drumming. Imagine the sense of unity, imagine the power...

 I may have a European background with a hint of cree, but there is no time to be wasted on pessimism and "white man's guilt." There is only time for learning and growth. Our old ways and systems are not working for us anymore and it is now, more than ever, when it could not be more evident. 

So for the pessimists who do not believe in the effectiveness of a protest, rather than absorb that pessimism, take what you know and turn it into something positive. If you no longer can sit on the couch feeling useless, guilty and pity, feeling sad that such things happen in this world, I say stop feeling sad. Get up and be idle no more. 
Many posters such as this one were floating off of railings on various levels inside the Eaton Center.