Even though my academic and professional expertise is conflict resolution and post-conflict work, I just cannot stop reminding people of the importance of eating well.
It became such a core part of how I transformed my own health.
The energy I have, the abundant health I now experience comes in large part from my food.
And now connecting with my food in deeper ways (gardening, cooking) has been taking me to another level.
What good are hopes and dreams if I cannot get out of bed or poop out at 3pm?
But now eating well means more to me than health; it's about power.
Who makes money off your sickness?
I get livid when hearing what schools/families feed kids and them medicate them for things diet alone would change. Then don't get me started the food & pharmaceutical industries' manipulation (purposeful or not) of our knowledge about health.
Seriously. I can't stand it. The majority of medications people are on can be eliminated with taking better care of yourself.
Sorry, folks. Yes even all those "mental health" drugs.
As my friend, who worked at as trauma psychiatrist at Columbia said, "I can give people drugs, but I cannot give them a reason to live. They have to find a sense of purpose."
They tried to give me some silly drugs those two when I was a teenager. I flushed them down the toilet and changed my life instead. Now, I'm happy as a clam. I fixed my legs and my brain; just had to live a bigger life.
Oh, and seriously, please stop drugging your kids for being vibrant.
How do I know what I am eating?
If you want to skip the food journal, just take a look in your trash can.
I started looking in my trash can to get a better sense of what I was putting in my body.
Trash is like a road map of what I have been up to the past few days.
If there are wrappers and lots of cardboard boxes, I realize I'm probably not eating a great deal of fresh food.
This photos is of a rather proud moment. Trash was from harvested radishes, garlic skin, and a used lemon! Wow, so cool.
Just have a look at your trash next time you tie it up. If there are lots of logos, you're probably on the wrong track.
For all you activists, entrepreneurs, managers and others out there struggling to breakthrough in your work, I'd like to turn your attention to an incredible resource you may have overlooked.
For the past -- maybe ten years now -- I have had the good fortune to spend time with my mother and stepfather as well as aunt and uncle in their retirement community. What astounds me about my visits is the absolutely incredible amount of talent, life experience and brilliance of these healthy and retired people.
So many of them care about the world -- want to contribute and do not know how or have tons of business experience and time to teach you.
Mentors, Mentors Everywhere
Rather than elbowing my way to the proverbial CEO or Dean's office, I slap on some flip flops and head over to the pool. There, seated next to "you never know who" I can learn about Canadian politics, the real estate business, academic publishing, teaching, sales, cooking, planting butterfly gardens and anything else.
This generation of retirees, isn't old those who succeeded in financial terms just have choice about how they spend their golden years.
Many people I visit can crush me in tennis, almost all can leave me in tears on the golf course. Just because they're retired doesn't mean they're not still in the game or have much to share.
If you have a conundrum or a non-profit you're supporting, I suggest you tap the resources at your local retirement home.
Plus, I find because these communities are generally a single demographic, they tend to appreciate having younger folks around. Your problems may seem like an interesting challenge to them. They won't make fun of you, they'll help you.
Today's grandparents don't knit, they build homes, travel the world and take on new challenges.
Bringing together the elderly and the very young!
Some folks (ah-hem, the Canadians) are getting hip regarding how to engage with the very elderly. They've begun something I hope continues throughout North America.
In Invermere British Columbia, the Garden Village retirement home has partnered up with a local kindergarten. The retirement residents teach the kids and the kids love all these "grandparents" doting on them. One girl even wanted to have her birthday at the home.
Heck, when I'm 100, I want kindergarten kids all around me. What a joy!
I hope programs follow this example. We need our retirees and our elderly; they are a treasure. Let's bring them back into the fold.
Click here to read the Globe and Mail article about the program.
(Photo below by John Lehmann of the Globe and Mail)
Sometimes a loved one or colleague experiences a death of someone close, an illness, a major life transition, or loss of a partner and we are too deep in our own lives to really take notice or be there for them. We feel guilty; we just were not able to really be there.
Then months later or even years later we surface from whatever occupied us and we feel embarrassed that we failed our loved one. We may tell ourselves, "I will be there next time." Or we withdrawal from the relationship.
In this blog, I want to say that you can still support the friend through that same issue.
The following two examples, one from my personal life and the other through my academic research in post-conflict contexts and trauma, show the importance of being there now...whenever "now" may be.
Missing the Cancer Treatments
The first involves a a friend who went through a double mastectomy last year. At the time I actually did not want to bother her; I figured she had many people taking care of her and I was buried in my research.
Instead of burying my embarrassment, I decided I would just be an amazing "aftermath friend." I have learned from spending time with people who survived persecution or lost family to senseless persecution that the aftermath can be the worst.
I told her my plan and she said, "Thank you. Most people do not realize how difficult it is after the cancer even when you are in remission." The experience was really difficult for her and changed the way she saw her life. Her children and husband were still struggling to emerge from that difficult period. So we talked about what life was life for her now.
Not many people paid attention to this phase of her recovery and I was able to step up and be there.
Missing the Atrocity
Then there are the atrocities that occurred either before we knew the person, overseas or even before we were born. Holocaust survivors, for example. I am not able to go back to the 1940s and help them during the persecutions or even in the immediate aftermath when many told me they starved and barely survived homeless and without work.
The assumption here might be that, "well, it happened before I was born. It's too late for me to help."
Not so. Many Holocaust survivors and likely survivors of other life traumas are isolated and alone with memories that resurface during their final years. People think that because they married, had successful careers, and children that they "made it."
If you were open, you could be there for all kinds of people years after their actual suffering. Some of my most profound moments this past year have been with people who suffered long ago and said after our time together things like, "Wow, I haven't told these stories to anyone. I wish you could stay; there is so much more to say."
Call them now...
If someone came to mind as you read this, send an email or call them. When you reach them just say, "Hey, I know you went through a rough patch and I was not able to be there for you. I wanted to see how you are now and how you feel about what happened."
Just be honest...they will be touched. And surprised!
Let me know how it goes...
Sarah Federman, PhD
Enjoy these short blogs and videos designed to bring you a little cheer.
My other blog Language of Conflict addresses the importance of word choice and narration in conflict.
Finish and Flourish supports writers struggling to complete projects.