Spreading the Word!


One of the reasons I love reading blogs is that sometimes you get hooked onto GREAT things that you otherwise would have gone about the rest of your life with no inkling of their mere existence.

I recently read a post by one of the WordPress blogs that I follow called Birth Junkie. The blogger highly recommended checking out a podcast called The Tribecast. And now I must do the same.

The women of this broadcast basically affirm all of the feelings that I have surrounding birth – they are vocal proponents of natural, midwife-assisted birthing (I think like 80% of the women are doulas or birth workers in other capacities) and they have the knowledge to back their opinions up. They are a tight-knit tribe of impassioned, intelligent women talking about the beauty and power of birthing and motherhood – what’s not to love?

I highly recommend tuning in and giving it a try. You might learn a thing or two. Beware: some episodes are real tear-jerkers, so have a tissue on hand.

If you love it, spread the word! These women are doing a great service in sharing the love and light concerning birth ( a message I hold dearly close to heart) and other women out there need to hear it. Fighting the good fight, one podcast at a time.

Enjoy!

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Sports officianato Pat Shields always give an interesting popular perspective concerning the goings-ons in pro sports of all types. He’s also blood of my blood 😉 Here’s an exciting blog about his recent run-in with an NHL-er. Very cool!

PShields Sports

I must say, inspiration was not too hard to come by to write this piece. Going through security at the Pearson Airport, I couldn’t help but look over and see a man who is thicker than I am tall, and who I instantly identified as NHL-er Shane Doan. Yes, the one and only Shane Doan, in the flesh (you should be very jealous).

After chatting with him for a few seconds I realized that he had a Philadelphia Flyers duffel bag, so naturally, being a die-hard Flyers fan, I simply had to inquire. Unfortunately, he told me that the bag was his son’s, but nonetheless I told him that he would look awfully good in Orange and Black (better than most).

This star-sighting, aside from nearly giving me a heart attack from excitement, is also interesting because Doan’s whereabouts for next season is a hot topic right now in the…

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Why so long?


I recently recommended to my sweet and awesome little brother Pat that he beef up his journalistic chops by starting a blog which, being amazing advice, he of course initiated immediately. Shout out to PShields Sports, check it!

His success, in turn, reminded me of how very, very long it has been since I did a little ditty of my own. Evidently, inspiration is circular.

What I have been thinking of lately revolves around my recent return from a long overdue vacation to visit the familia in Canada. Aside from having a great time seeing family and friends from my many walks of life, I have been given the opportunity to realize and reflect upon the fact that somewhere along the way, Israel became “my home.”

Why the quotation marks? Indeed, I am Canadian and the great white north will always hold my roots. However, upon my return to Israel this time around, I seem to have avoided the feelings of displacement, depression and lack of bearing that usually accompany me.

Aside from being an obvious improvement emotionally, this new reaction to returning to “my home” has certain implications in terms of self-identity and sense of belonging that I find to be of interest. I cannot help but think that the recent and major shift of becoming a mother to a little Israeli must affect my bearings on this subject. Also, my relative proficiency in Hebrew and the effects that this has had on my ability to integrate are likely to be held accountable.

However, when I really ask myself in honesty what has changed since the last time I returned about a year and a half ago, what comes to me is acceptance. Acceptance of my choice to live half a world away from my roots; acceptance of my less than perfect language skills; acceptance that I cannot know what the future might hold, and that trying to control it only brings suffering. Acceptance of myself. Period.

For these realizations I am very grateful, as I am proud of myself for getting to the level of awareness to make them. Life is good. What more can I say? 🙂

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The Weight Loss Roller Coaster… or is it a merry-go-round?


I have been meaning to post on this topic for some time now, but have found the hours I spend each day making lovey-eyes at my two-month-old getting in the way… funny that.

SO, here I am getting around to a topic that I hold very dear to my heart (and other body parts); postpartum weight loss! Yippee!

Basically, I consider myself to be a totally regular woman, with all of the regular struggles, triumphs, pitfalls, tears and joys that accompany weight and body image. While I am a dancer and fitness instructor by profession, I do not see myself as being any fitter than your average bear, especially not at the moment.

About two and a half months ago, I gave birth to my beautiful, healthy son. You can read more about that here, should you fancy. During the pregnancy, I really tried to eat moderately, and I continued dancing and teaching fitness until 38 weeks.

I did really well in terms of my weight gain until that 38-week mark. But once I stopped exercising BAM! I gained like 5 kg. (over 10 pounds) immediately. Granted, I lost 10 kg. within the first month after giving birth (the “easy 10” as I like to refer to it) but seeing as my goal had been not to gain more than 13 kg., the 20 that I ended up with when all was said and done was slightly vexing. But only slightly. You see, I’ve done this before and never with such a good excuse as pregnancy.

Chubby and in need of a change at 21

Minus 30 kg. at 22

Rewind about 7 years. I was 21 years old and in my third year of my bachelors degree at the University of Toronto. I had been gaining weight for about 5 years, but at this point was topping out somewhere dangerously close to the vicinity of 100 kg. Overeating caused by stress due to my parents divorce, my studies, my partners’ substance abuse and, well, just being a typical North American teenager, I fear, got me to that place. Enter break-up of my 4 year relationship. This really served as the lynch pin in inspiring me to get my act together and start prioritizing my health and get control of my weight. I changed my diet, starting gyming and running and within about 8 months lost 30 kg. It was like shedding an outer, useless shell of my old self and being reborn. It was amazing.

Fast forward about 4 years. The realization dawned on me that I had been slowly putting on weight again, kind of without realizing along the way. With wedding bells sounding in my not-too-distant future, I wanted to get back to my prime, strongest, healthiest (and, I’ll admit it, sexiest) self before the big walk down the aisle. Another 8 months give or take, and I lost another 10 kg. again through ruthlessly fine-tuning what entered my mouth (like to the point of entering everything into a calorie counter for a month and a half) and exercising like a demon, and realizing my love of running once again.

Peak of fitness at 27

Returning from our honeymoon, I weighed 73 kg., was 23% fat and 34% muscle. That was the fittest I have ever been in my adult life. I felt great. One week later, I got pregnant, thus bringing our little walk down my yo-yo weight-gain memory lane full circle.

One month after giving birth (what I consider to be my starting point this time around for measuring my progress) I weighed 85 kg., was 44% fat (!!) and 26% muscle. I started exercising lightly at 6 weeks postpartum, and in the last 2 weeks have kicked up it to about 5 hours a week of, what was for me pre-pregnancy, medium intensity exercise. Now it doesn’t feel so medium!

Me now... or shall I say us! 🙂

My goal, which I now state before myself, the blogosphere and any gods that might be listening in, is to get back down to my pre-pregnancy weight, at least close to the 26% fat mark (I think breastfeeding will impact this, thus I am giving myself a wee bit of leniency there) and to complete a half-marathon in ONE YEAR. Boom!

It likely won’t be easy, and there will doubtlessly be some tears along the way (“why? why is chocolate cake so damn good?!”) but having been around this way a few times before in my 28 years, I am confident that in the end, I will prevail. And the journey will probably be pretty fun too 🙂

Please excuse me while I rant for a moment…


Everyone is entitled to their opinion. In the world of blogging, social networking and other forms of personal publishing, anyone with a computer, hell anyone with access to an internet cafe can broadcast their opinions near and far for the low, low cost of free. This is fine by me. Sometimes people write really interesting, thought-provoking, insightful things. Other times, they write blithering, bigoted garbage. Sometimes it’s just boring and irrelevant. All of this, is fine by me.

What I cannot tolerate and abide by however, is the improper use of other people’s online social mediums to sell their shit. Without permission! To sell their ringtones, their weight-loss videos, their workshops, their bloody hipscarves. This really irks me, and in Facebook land anyone who has the audacity to advertise their crap on my wall gets blocked real fast. No questions asked. Only assholes pull that, and I don’t need any virtual asshole friends, thank you very much.

But this is not what triggered this post. No. Something even more insidious, and apparently much lower and more time consuming inspired this little rant.

Driven to read someone’s blog post about Brothers and Sisters through the “Freshly Pressed” listings on the WordPress home page, I found myself wandering through the Fibromy-Awesome blog… the author’s tag line on her blog is “Yes, I take 25 pills a day. Boom.” Interesting. ‘Why, pray tell, do you take 25 pills a day?’ I found myself asking. The “Hey Dude, How’s Your Health?” page seemed like it might answer my little query, so I navigated hence. I read her post about what conditions she suffers from, written with humanism and humor. I always like reading people’s comments as well, I find it to be kind of like a social thermometer, when low and behold BAM! Spam attacks.

Some jerk thought this  woman’s personal telling of what she suffers from on a daily basis would be a great place to advertise her stupid, new-agey, gimmicky book. This asshole thought that it would be totally fine, within the range of basic human courtesy and potentially profitable for her to post a comment detailing the book that she authored “through my 6th sense.” Yeah. Awesome. Sign me up for a copy! No wait, sign me up for 10 so I can give them to all of the flakes in my life.

As if this hadn’t sufficiently commandeered the blog for her own profiteering purposes, this person then proceeded to reply to no less than FORTY-THREE (count them! 43!!!!) of the people who had commented to the original blog, commiserating and relating their personal struggles with all sorts of life-long health problems and diseases. In her replies, Asshole claims that her book can heal everything from depression, to Celiac to auto-immune deficiency. Riiiight. All from buddy’s 6th sense.

It’s a free world, and a free market so if some touched lunatic wants to publish his or her rantings, well, they’re allowed to. While I understand that cyberspace does not have the tangible built-in boundaries that real, physical space does, I would have thought that human decency and discretion would step up and delineate where it is and is not appropriate to advertise.

Apparently, I have once again given humanity too much credit.

Rant concluded. You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming.

Christmas as a State of Mind


First and foremost, Merry Christmas! Peace and goodwill unto you and yours.

I have been blogging recently about my experience of Christmas in the Land-of-No-Christmas a.k.a. Israel. While the overwhelming irony of this situation is almost comical, there really is a palpable lack of spirit of the Baby Jesus variety in the Holy Land. Christmas can be found being kept by minority populations of Arab Christians in little pockets here and there, but due to the discrimination that they have faced by Muslim majorities and the Jewish bureaucracy their existence and therefore their traditions become more and more subaltern as the majority populations grow and dominate.

Celebrating ones faith or cultural traditions as a minority is quite different than just getting swept up in the flow of the cultural celebrations as a member of the majority population. You have to work at it. You have to want to keep the holiday intact, sometimes at great personal expense. I have a friend in Toronto who has to jump through hoops and perform major feats of reorganization to be able to take a break from her strenuous academic schedule to celebrate Rosh HaShana every September. It’s not easy, but as I have found, it is totally worth the effort, the time and the investment to keep the spirit of ones culture alive as an expat.

All pretty heavy and involved for Christmas Day, I know. But don’t worry, here’s where it gets light and cheery.

I have found that it actually doesn’t matter that the rest of the country sees December 25th as being just the same as any other ordinary day of the year. It doesn’t matter that there are no Christmas carols playing on the radio, or that no one has decorated homes. It doesn’t matter that cafes and restaurants aren’t serving traditional Christmas fare, or that there is a better chance of Syria and Lebanon declaring a new-found love for Israel than waking up to a fresh blanket of snow for Christmas morning. It doesn’t even matter that my husband worked both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Why? Because Christmas is what you make it, and while it might be easier, more comfortable and require much less imagination to have it made for you, if the spirit lives in your heart then none of the exterior peripherals have any bearing on how you nurture that spirit.

This might sound all flaky and naive. So, if you can’t take it from me, take it from someone of much more serious stature:

Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did NOT die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him; but his own heart laughed, and that was quite enough for him.

He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived in that respect upon the total-abstinence principle ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!

Surely if old Ebenezer could do it in the face of major identity crisis and re-imagining of self, I can carve out a little space for Christmas in the diaspora.

And so, what I have learned with the passing of this first Christmas away from my family, away from the traditions of my childhood, outside of my own culture is that even as a minority love, strength of character and conviction trumps status quo if you believe.  What a beautiful gift to receive on Christmas Day in the morning.

Love, Light and Life & Merry Christmas!

Christmas Crafting: Golden Garland


Ok! The countdown is ON! Five days until Christmas! But no pressure or anything….

I’ve been super busy being fundamentally festive here in the Land-of-No-Christmas, and feeling more and more like perhaps this category is not so fitting after all.

Last week I had the true pleasure of visiting Nazareth for the first time (why was it my first time, having lived an hour away for the past three years?!) a city which boasts Israel’s largest Christian population, and where Christmas is alive and doing quite well, thank you very much. During this Yuletide excursion, I acquired a lovely Christmas tree with all of the trimmings, and it is now displayed in my living nook (the corridor which doubles as a mini-salon). It brings me great joy every time I pass by 🙂

During this trip, I also got to see my hubby perform as part of a Christmas concert for thousands of people in front of the Greek Orthodox Church in the Old City. Very cool to hear ‘Silent Night’ in Arabic. It was definitely an experience to remember, and was a wonderful reminder that Christmas spirit lives everywhere, even in Israel.

As for my Christmas crafting, I have been busy, busy, busy but with not enough time for blogging. But, going to remedy this right now!

This craft is a classic, and I think every kindergarten student has probably made one. It is simple, involves very rudimentary supplies and can be made with help from little hands, should they be availing.

Supplies Needed:

  • colored paper (I used a sheet of fancy, shiny gold paper for one garland and green Bristol board and red ribbon for the other. Construction paper works just fine though)
  • scissors
  • ruler (for measuring and creating straight lines for cutting)
  • pen for marking lines for cutting
  • glue (I love my glue gun, but if little hands are involved white glue, a gluestick or craft glue works well)

Instructions:

This craft is best done the industrial way, in parts!

1. Mark sheet(s) of paper with lines, 1 1/2 inch apart, for cutting.

2. Cut long strips.

3. Cut long strips into short 6 inch sections.

4. Roll short section into a loop, and apply glue at the end to secure.

5. Insert another short section of paper into the previous loop, and repeat Step 4 to create a chain.

6. Repeat the process until you have a garland of desired length.

The finished product:

Thanks to my girl Tamara for helping out with this craft! Here’s what she created:

This is a simple craft, great for families and easy on the budget. Enjoy!