Category Archives: Health

A Book That Was Easy and Not So Easy To Read

Hunger by Roxanne Gay is formatted in a way that makes the book easy to read.  Roxanne has divided her memoir into short chapters, some less than a page.  Although these chapters can be read in chronological order each is a kind of essay or story unto itself.  I found myself skipping around reading only one chapter at a time, because the content of Hunger is not easy to read at all and sometimes one chapter was all I could process before I had to put the book down and take a break.  Roxanne is in her own words morbidly obese and in her book she tells us how that happened.  She was gang raped at age 12 and she hid the assault from her parents who she realizes in hindsight would have come to her defense and supported her. By eating obsessively she was able to create a body form that she thought would repel men and thus protect her from further sexual assault. 

hungerToday Roxanne is a university professor and well-respected author and journalist. She describes in detail just how difficult it is to manuever through family life, a career, romances and day-to-day to living when you are morbidly obese.  She tells us in the first sentence of this book that hers is not a tale of triumph.  This is not one of those stories where a person changes their life by losing lots of weight.  This is a story of a woman who wants to try to accept who she is, understand who she is, and have a future.  But……. this does not stop her from still imagining on some of the last pages of the book what it would be like to be slim and to feel comfortable in her own body.  

This is not a book with easy answers.  It relates a very troubling story. But you have to admire Roxanne for having the courage to tell it.  And if you look at the comments for reviews of her book you realize Roxanne speaks for plenty of other people who live with some of the same realities she does.  After reading the book I was left feeling very sorry for Roxane, while at the same time realizing that’s the last thing she would want. 

Other posts……….

Pray Naked In Front of the Mirror and Say This is my Soul’s Address

Healthy Environments?  Not Gyms or Arenas

Weighty Matters


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Filed under Books, Health

Remembering Connie

ms team this yearOn Sunday our family team participated in the MS Walk once again in memory of my cousin Connie who died of MS complications twenty years ago.  Connie and I were the same age and good friends as well as cousins.  It was hard to witness the devastating impact of MS on Connie and her family.  Raising money for MS research is one way for our family to honor Connie’s memory and try to make a difference for others who also struggle with MS.  

ms walkers

ms walk

I always enjoy the visits I have with my cousins and their families as I walk. A big thank you to my Uncle Dave, Connie’s Dad, who once again footed the bill for a family lunch at the Beachcomber restaurant after the walk. 

Other posts……….

Walking for Connie

MS Walk Year Four

Walking for Connie 2016

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Snake Wine Travel Memory

me and shirley drinking snake wine li river

We are drinking wine infused with snake.  In 2005 we made a boat trip down the Li River in China’s Guangxi Province with my sister-in-law Shirley and brother-in-law Paul.  One of the perks offered on the trip was a glass of snake wine. 

snake wineIn this photo you can see the snake in the wine bottle. The Chinese have been drinking snake wine since around 1000 BC.  The snake which is thrown live into the wine bottle dies from the alcohol in the wine. The snake may  steep in the bottle for years.  Snake wine is said to keep you vital and healthy. So far in both my case and Shirley’s this is proving to be true.  So glad we tried that snake wine!

Other posts……….

Family Fun

Now We Have Been in Sister Cities

Don’t Be A Wine Snob


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Filed under China, Health

A Book That Mirrors A News Story

Saturday’s Winnipeg Free Press had an article about a man who while suffering from schizophrenia murdered a fellow bus passenger. This happened nine years ago. The man who committed the murder has been receiving treatment ever since and the Criminal Code Review Board has now determined he can live on his own in the community. The comments people have made online about the article display varying attitudes towards mental health issues.  Many Free Press readers find the review board’s decision difficult to understand and are asking lots of questions. 

cageofstars-cvr-227x350If you want to read a book that addresses this very situation I would recommend Cage of Stars by Jacquelyn Mitchard.  Dave and I listened to an audio version of the novel many years ago and its story raised so many good questions that I put Cage of Stars on the list of books I studied with some of my highschool English classes. In Cage of Stars a schizophrenic man murders two young girls and after rehabilitation and medication he also returns to a regular life with his family and in society.

The parents of the murdered girls are devoutly religious and find it in their hearts to forgive the man who killed their daughters but their older sister simply cannot.  The story shows just how deeply everyone involved is effected, and helps the reader process and think through the many questions that can arise from such a situation. I think the book offers lots of alternative perspectives and could be a starting point for some excellent discussion. 

Other books that would be good for discussion……

Being Mortal

The Illegal

The Elegance of the Hedgehog


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Spacious Places in Hong Kong

During October a set of seven reflections I wrote were featured in Rejoice magazine. The theme of the issue was Faith in the City.  Here is one of my reflections.

rejoiceO God you have tested us. . . . Yet you have brought us out to a spacious place.

Psalm 66: 10-12

Read: Psalm 66: 1-12

Reflect: We moved to Hong Kong when the city was still reeling from the SARS epidemic. People had become virtual prisoners in their homes. Medical professionals who had risked their lives caring for SARS patients remained isolated from their own families. Businesses were recording millions in losses. Real estate prices had plummeted. Tourism had ground to a halt.

Students at teachers at our school during SARS

Students and teachers at our school during SARS

Schools, places of worship, restaurants, and concert halls had shut their doors. People in our Hong Kong church said SARS was a time when the faith of many was severely tested.   

Hong Kong street sweeper

Hong Kong street sweeper

Yet during the six years we lived in Hong Kong, we watched the city make a remarkable recovery. Expanded sanitation and security departments quickly restored its reputation as a clean, safe place. Slowly the tourism industry blossomed and the economy improved.


Chestnut vendors in Hong Kong

Schools, temples, churches and cultural venues reopened and people confidently returned to the routines of daily life.  

Verses 10-12 of Psalm 66 describe a time of severe testing for the community of God’s people. They have been through fire and water. They have been forced to bear heavy burdens. They have felt trapped. the many faces of hong kongPsalm 66 is a prayer of thanksgiving because God has delivered the people from their time of testing and led them to a place of spaciousness and calm.  

Cities, like the community of God’s people in Psalm 66, often go through times of testing. It may be a natural disaster, political unrest, or a medical emergency. The psalmist encourages people to remember to draw close to God as they go through hard times. God can lead them to a more peaceful place.

Other posts…….

Hong Kong Inspiration

Chestnuts Roasting in Hong Kong


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Harriet’s Story

marylou-and-harrietHarriet and I are the same age. She was our friendly hostess at the Lancaster Bed and Breakfast in Bonavista Newfoundland.  One morning she told me the story of a very difficult time for her family.  

When Harriet was five years old her mother was sent away  from their tiny community in Elliston down to St. John’s for almost a year. Her mother had been diagnosed with tuberculosis and rest and treatment in a sanatorium was the only way to battle the disease.  While her mother lived in a sanatorium Harriet’s father was left to cope with five small children.  Harriet’s mother gave birth to another baby while she was in the sanatorium but she couldn’t keep it there, so the little boy went to an orphanage till his mother was better.

Travel to St. John’s was too costly for their family so they didn’t see their mother that whole time.  They didn’t have a phone so the only communication they had with her was by letter and a regular radio broadcast they listened to where sanatorium patients could submit messages to be read to their families. 

colony-of-unrequited-dreamsI found Harriet’s story particularly interesting because I am currently reading The Colony of Unrequited Dreams by Wayne Johnson and one of the characters in his Newfoundland novel also gets tuberculosis and spends time in a sanatorium. 

Nurse at the hospital with Oviloo

Nurse at the hospital with Oviloo

In a recent exhibit we had at the Winnipeg Art Gallery Inuit artist Ovillo Tunille used sculptures to tell the story of her stay in a TB sanatorium as a young child.

mom at ninette hospitalOne summer when she was in college my mother worked in a TB sanatorium in Ninette Manitoba. 

Harriet’s story is typical of the experience of thousands of families in Canada who were impacted by tuberculosis. 

Other posts…….

Hearing Naomi’s Story

A Terrifying Story Politely Told

A Titanic Story- Annie Funk

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Filed under Art, Books, Health, Newfoundland, WInnipeg Art Gallery

Walking for Connie 2016

ms walk team 2016On Sunday I joined this great group at The Forks for the MS Walk in memory of my cousin Connie who died of MS in 1997 . I’ve been doing this walk for five years ever since I moved back to Canada from Hong Kong.  Connie’s niece Caryn organizes our efforts each year. Our 2016 team was a little smaller than usual but it was good to get together with family and friends, visit and walk in the beautiful sunshine, and meet for lunch. Before our meal we drank a toast to Connie. Kudos to my amazing Uncle Dave, Connie’s Dad, who picked up the tab for lunch AND walked the whole route.  He is 90 years old! 

connie and me picking strawberries

My cousin Connie and I were born in the same year. That’s me on the left. It’s 1957 and Connie and I are off to pick peas from our Grandma’s garden in Gnadenthal, Manitoba. Connie and I were life long friends.  I’m glad that each year I can honor Connie’s memory by helping to raise awareness about the disease that ended the life of my gifted, brave and accomplished cousin. 

Other posts………

MS Walk -Whoop De Doo Clan 2014

Walking for Connie

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