Thursday, January 24, 2013

Lessons I learned from Chief Theresa Spence

Theresa Spence has been on my mind. As she ends her fast today, I have been considering what I have learned from her and how I can take these lessons forward in my own life.

1. Sometimes, some of us hear a call to action, and we make an effort to heed it. Sometimes, our actions inspire others, and that's when the real fun starts. Chief Spence became the unwitting face of the #IdleNoMore movement, which is probably the most organized, most widespread, and most inspirational movement of First Nations activism in recent Canadian history. We witnessed supportive action arising in the most unusual places over this time. In the midst of our Christmas shopping, our malls were transformed into places of inspiration and conversation, the likes of which most of us have never had. All because of one woman.

2. There is in fact a collective sense of responsibility for the rights of First Nations people in Canada. Nothing has revealed that sense more than the absolute venom we have all witnessed being spewed at this warrior woman over these past weeks. I purposely am not providing examples of what I am referring to because, frankly, these people, and these media outlets, get all too much attention already. Anger like what we have seen over the last while can only come from a place of major guilt, and having a sense of guilt indicates a sense of responsibility.

"Ogichidaakwe Spence challenges Canadians because no one in Canada wants to believe this situation is bad enough that someone would willingly give up their life." 
-Leanne Simpson, Fish Broth and Fasting 

3. We can all make room for meaningful action in our daily lives. While we are wrapped up in our life's business and meeting our personal requirements to make our way through our days, there are simple things we can do to make a statement about injustice. Chief Spence chose to stop eating, and while this is a drastic and dangerous choice to make, the outcome demonstrates that sometimes, the simplest of actions can precipitate far-reaching outcomes.

4. Sometimes, you set out to accomplish a specific goal, and in the course of trying to reach it, you inspire action and create change that you never imagined would be sparked by your actions. While Chief Spence set out with the goal of securing a meeting between the Prime Minister and the Governor general, and this meeting has yet to take place, she can rest assured that her actions brought other important goals to light and succeeded in bringing international attention to the plight of the majority of First Nations people in Canada. In short, she exposed Canada's dirty little secret to the world.

Thank you, Theresa Spence for these lessons, and for all those we are not yet aware of. Thank you for your spirit and your strength. You are in inspiration to us all. May your vision come to fruition. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

What I learned from 22 days of gratitude

This month, I participated in the Mused 22 Days of Gratitude - November Creativity Challenge. The mission was for participants to take a picture every day for 22 days which depicted something we are grateful for in our lives, and post the pictures to a shared photo album on the event page. I'm really glad I decided to take on this challenge because it was a real learning experience for me.

I dutifully took a photo every day for 22 days. If you would like to see my photos, you can visit my Facebook album. Firstly, I learned that I was not nearly as grateful as I should have been, or perhaps I was simply not as aware as I should have been of the things that I have to be grateful for in my life. It was actually challenging for me at first to find things that I was grateful for. It felt like I should be picking something monumental, but as a few days passed, I realized that I could be grateful for any little thing that came to mind.

I also learned that it was not difficult to take a photo every day for the same sort of reason I noted above: I had a mindset that something had to be "important" to be worthy of taking a photo. This may have been related to the fact that I never really saw taking photos as a creative pursuit for myself. I did it to document events in my life only.

I took all my photos and did all my editing on my iPhone, so I also learned a lot about my phone's camera. Plus, since I wanted to get a bit creative with my photos, I downloaded some of the many apps that are out there. Some were duds, but some of the ones that I really like are FrameUrLife and the Adobe Photoshop App. I'm going to continue checking out apps and experimenting with them.

Anyway, I'm really glad that I did this. It helped me to be more creative every day, it helped me to realize that I have a lot to be grateful for in my life and I will definitely be watching to see what other challenges Mused comes up with.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Safe and yummy chocolate chip cookies

Huh, it's been awhile since I've posted here. One thing I've been busy with is learning how to cook well while avoiding a bunch of food intolerances. I never baked much before, but one thing I'm a sucker for is a great home baked chocolate chip cookie. After much experimentation with ingredients, I have a recipe that is gluten-free*, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free and sugar-free. Sounds awful, eh? But these are really great cookies. The recipe is based on Chef Michael Smith's recipe and it's fantastic. I've included links to the ingredients I used where possible. This recipe made 24 small cookies.

1 cup gluten free baking flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour**
1/2 cup coconut sap sugar
1/4 t salt
2 T honey
1 egg (replacer)
2 T warm water
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 cup chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Mix all ingredients except the chocolate chips thoroughly. 
  3. Stir in the chocolate chips. 
  4. Drop mix by the spoonful onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. 
  5. Bake for about 13 minutes, or when the edges of the cookies have slightly browned. 


*When I say sugar-free, I mean no granulated white cane sugar, and no "brown" sugar, which is really just white sugar died with molasses.

**I tried making these with just the gluten-free baking flour and they were too hard. The buckwheat flour seems to keep them chewier.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Pumpkin Muffins

OK. Any time I post a recipe now, you can assume it's wheat/egg/sugar free/cow's milk free, made with all organic ingredients, from sustainable and healthy packages. Because that's how I roll now. Whether I want to, or not.

After much experimentation with The Muffin Formula, I have perfected one recipe. Muffins are easy for breakfasts or snacks, and that's why I've missed them.

This makes a moist and spicy muffin that is just sweet enough.

Dry stuff:
1 1/2 cups Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Baking Flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
2 t baking soda
1/2 cup coconut sap sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 t ground ginger
1 t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg

Wet stuff:

3/4 cup soy milk
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup applesauce (to replace an egg)
1 cup pureed canned pumpkin

Pre-heat your oven to 400. Line a muffin tin with paper muffin cups. Mix the dry stuff together in a big bowl. Mix the wet stuff together in a separate bowl and then add it to the bowl with the dry stuff. Mix well and fill the muffin cups a little fuller than you normally would (because these don't rise as much as other muffins). Bake for 20 minutes, or until you can insert a fork in a muffin and have it come out clean.