The Purple Fig http://thepurplefig.com Mon, 30 Mar 2015 14:45:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 See Video: Baby Brielle Will Teach Us All Something In This Life http://thepurplefig.com/baby-brielle-will-teach-us-all-something-in-this-life/ http://thepurplefig.com/baby-brielle-will-teach-us-all-something-in-this-life/#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 18:37:32 +0000 http://thepurplefig.com/?p=7658 I met Brielle a few hours after she was born. My husband and I had her brother and sister over for the day while she was working her way into this world. Her mother Paula, a very good friend of mine, looked happy and calm (as she does most of the time) feeding her new daughter. I held Brielle and kissed her little cheek that day.

Nobody knew then how she was about to change the lives around her. 

A few weeks later, Brielle was diagnosed with Achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism occurring in about one in 40,000 babies born. Achondroplasia is a form of short-limbed disproportionate dwarfism. Dwarfism is defined as height less than 4 feet 10. 

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Brielle with mom Paula

Dwarfism is a medical condition caused by abnormal (slow or delayed) growth. Often parents of children with achondroplasia do not carry the mutated gene themselves. The mutation in the child occurs spontaneously at the time of conception. It is a seemingly random occurrence that can happen in any pregnancy. 80 percent of Little People are born to average sized parents. 

An estimated 30, 000 people have dwarfism in the United States and 651,700 in the world. So yes, it is rare. Often, the more rare, the more beautiful. And there is something quite beautiful about Brielle.

Over this past summer I went out West and saw another good friend of mine who had given birth to a boy just a few weeks before Paula. Holding her baby was very different. He could hold his head up without difficulty. His torso was strong and straight. I was so used to holding Brielle; I couldn’t believe they were the same age. He even looked different to me. Brielle had become my new normal. I had no idea anymore what an average baby’s developments should be at 3 months, 6 months etc., because Brielle was creating the new mould.

When she started holding her head up on her own, we all congratulated her. When she rolled, we practically threw a party. Because although milestones will be reached a little later than other babies, she has to work so damn hard to achieve them and in turn, we are going to celebrate, celebrate, celebrate.

Me with Brielle when she was four months old

 

For now it is physiotherapy with mom and therapist, trips to Sick Kids for tests and a whole lot of chilling and smiling. She is a happy baby and in my opinion, a perfect baby. For now she is Baby Brielle, the little baby that my boys are obsessed with and always trying to make her laugh and kissing her cheeks. It won’t always be this way.

We have talked about what life will be like for Brielle when she is a teenager and how tough it is for young girls to begin with. We live in a society where teenage girls post videos asking the internet if they are pretty or not. The world is a nasty place. It’s scary for any mother to let her child go out there and be vulnerable to all the cruelty that exists beyond our comfort zones.

And then I think of Brielle sitting there on her mother’s lap looking up at us as we gab away, and there is this calm knowing that she seems to possess. It’s like she knows something more about life than I do–than anyone else in the room for that matter. It is as if through her many smiles and playful stares, she is telling me that she has the perfect soul for the perfect body. She knows it. 

She will teach the people around her about disabilities and how she can do everything else her peers can do, but that she just has to work harder. Her physical differences will make sure of it every step of the way. She will also reveal how ignorance can shape a person and how they are not worth any time unless they have an opening somewhere in their heart.

But the most important lesson we will get from Brielle is to remember what really matters. Yes, she will stand in the face of adversity every day, but that calm knowing that she has will always be there. Whether it be through her smile, or her words, she will remind us all that life is not about how you look, it’s about what you see. 

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Paula and Brielle

 

 


Watch this beautiful video about Brielle:

 October is Dwarfism Awareness month. Learn a little bit here and share with others. 

More information and videos: 

Little People have normal intelligence who live long, fulfilling lives. They have lives and families and work. They have dreams and aspirations too. This is why it is so heartbreaking to find that people can still react to differences in such an ignorant way as Jonathan Novick discovered during the filming of his documentary, Don’t Look Down On Me


 
 

A small change in social attitude can make a big difference:

*Side note: The term ‘midget’ is regarded as insulting. The preferred term is “dwarf” or “little person”. 

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Working Out During Pregnancy Is About Not Falling Apart During Pregnancy With Help From The Belle Method http://thepurplefig.com/working-out-during-pregnancy-is-about-not-falling-apart-during-pregnancy-with-help-from-the-belle-method/ http://thepurplefig.com/working-out-during-pregnancy-is-about-not-falling-apart-during-pregnancy-with-help-from-the-belle-method/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 16:25:51 +0000 http://thepurplefig.com/?p=7989 Every pregnancy is different. Yada yada yada. 

If you’ve been pregnant once or eight times, you’ve heard this statement before. Well, we hear it because it’s true. Except for one thing: in every pregnancy, you get tired and hungry and you don’t always feel like working out. Unless of course you are Sarah Stage and you look like this at 8.5 months:

640_sarah_stage (I would love to do a shot of myself in a similar outfit and place it next to this picture for comedic purposes as I too am 8.5 months pregnant BUT I’m way too tired and lazy to make that happen)

And if that’s the case, I bet you don’t even feel labour pains and your baby sleeps through the night on week one. I’m not jealous. I swear. I just hope I don’t meet you at any baby mama meet up anytime soon because I wouldn’t know what to talk about with you.

The thing is, even if you were super active before your pregnancy and you love to workout, you could potentially become quite adverse to it during pregnancy, at least at different phases throughout the pregnancy. Point being, it’s not easy to carry on with your regular routine no matter who you are when you are housing another human being inside of you. 

I’m pregnant with my third baby and all that really feels different is that I have the gift of experience this time. And what has that experience taught me? That a huge weight gain without much activity leaves the body rattled and slightly falling apart. I do believe that your body does what it needs to do in terms of gaining weight. I hardly gained anything before December and then in January and February I blew the top off of that scale like nobody’s business. The doctor looked legitimately shocked. I have not eaten differently nor have I stopped my daily walks. If my bod needs to pack it on, so be it. The only thing that I’m concerned with these days is making sure that my knees don’t buckle and my back stays strong. Oh and that I don’t pee pants too much.

Enter Nikki Bergen, pilates extrordinaire and creator of The Belle Method. Recently she released pre-natal videos, designed with the guidance from pelvic health physiotherapist Dr. Sinead Dufour, that take you through each stage of pregnancy, even after the baby is born. 

 

Check out a preview here:

This is a comprehensive pre and postnatal workout program designed with the guidance of a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist. Get full video access here

Since I am no Sarah Stage and I definitely struggle to get in workouts beyond a dog walk, I was reluctant to try these videos. I’ve attended Nikki’s classes in person (before baby) and I can safely say that this woman inspires you to not only attain the body you dream of but the health and mental wellness that comes from being active and strong. So, because of this and the fact that I was afraid to crack the foundation of an already older body this time around, I have been under Bergen’s instructional prenatal videos and I have to say, I am feeling solid. If you’re newly pregnant or even in your third trimester, check out the above teaser and try it out for yourself! You will not regret it.

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I Will Try Not To Nag My Husband…For the Umpteenth Thousandth Time http://thepurplefig.com/i-will-try-not-to-nag-my-husbandfor-the-umpteenth-thousandth-time/ http://thepurplefig.com/i-will-try-not-to-nag-my-husbandfor-the-umpteenth-thousandth-time/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 14:18:49 +0000 http://thepurplefig.com/?p=7983 It happens. You flip the switch and there’s a sudden bright flash of light, and then darkness. It’s your cue to change the light bulb.

My most recent “light bulb moment” came at a routine time of day. I was making dinner and was once again unable to figure out where my husband had put my favorite bamboo spoon when he had emptied the dishwasher. I threw open and slammed shut every drawer in search of that spoon. I even checked the dishwasher. Twice. 

And as I did this, I mumbled under my breath for the umpteenth thousandth time, “Just once, I’d love to be able to reach into the right drawer and pull out my spoon.” And as I mumbled this umpteenth thousandth time, I was accosted by that bright flash of light. 

Somewhere in the back of my mind I heard my own voice saying, “Now that you’ve mumbled it, don’t say it out loud. He doesn’t need to hear it again, because he’s not going to put the spoon where you think it needs to be.” 

It’s true. My husband empties the dishwasher, not so much because it needs emptying, but because he needs to woolgather. While he’s performing this “menial” task (which, by the way, I don’t ask or force him to do), he’s thinking about the next conversation he’s going to have with his client, or the response he’s going to prepare to an email. He’s most certainly not thinking about how important it is to me that he put the spoon in its “proper place,” so that while I’m “winging” it with my latest culinary gem (I rarely look at a recipe), I can simply reach in a drawer, grab a spoon and stir away. It’s not on his radar despite the fact that I’ve told him how important it is to me for the umpteenth thousandth time.

All too often I’ve come up with these epiphanies on my own or I’ve read them (especially on Facebook) and thought to myself, “What a great idea,” but I rarely act on them. I file them somewhere in my brain and that’s where they stay. I hardly ever embrace the fact that I should change. Call it being a creature of habit, or having trepidation about trying something new, or – dare I admit – that I’ve been doing something wrong. It’s rare that I adopt a doctrine that has blinded me. 

There I was fumbling around “in the dark” after that bright flash had blinded me, getting more and more frustrated (yes, we have a lot of drawers in the kitchen where he could have put the spoon, and don’t forget the dishwasher), all the while the sautéed onions were over caramelizing. And I was thinking to myself what a great idea it was for me to keep my frustration to myself. So I filed it away somewhere in my brain. But before I found the truant spoon, I was again accosted by a different bright flash: change the bulb already! Seriously – adopt the notion that you really aren’t going to complain to him. Make the change in your life. For once, don’t utter a word to him about it.

Oh man! It was hard enough to admit that I’ve been wrong all these years for admonishing that dear man for not emptying the dishwasher to my standards (can you believe my audacity?), but to actually embrace that fact and appropriately act on it?  Sheesh! I wasn’t sure I could do it. 

I found the spoon in the knife drawer and immediately started stirring the onions. And the second he walked into the room, I started sounding like Charlie Brown’s teacher. Big time. 

And then it really happened: Instead of trying to find the spoon for me like he always does when being accosted by me for the umpteenth thousandth time, he asked why I didn’t look for the spoon before I put the onions in the skillet. 

I think I went blind at that moment. 

So I changed some light bulbs that night. This time I opted for brighter, longer-lasting LEDs. And now whenever I’m cooking, I find the all the utensils I need before I heat up the skillet. For the umpteenth thousandth time I mutter to myself and only to myself whenever I can’t find them on the first try. 

Yet, being human and having been raised at my mother’s knee: a place for everything and everything in its place, not to mention that I sound just like her (or is it Charlie Brown’s teacher?) when I’m frustrated at someone, I falter some times. But mostly now, Brightness Is Mine.

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International Women’s Day: What It Means To Me To Be A Women http://thepurplefig.com/international-womens-day-what-it-means-to-me-to-be-a-women/ http://thepurplefig.com/international-womens-day-what-it-means-to-me-to-be-a-women/#comments Sun, 08 Mar 2015 13:00:37 +0000 http://thepurplefig.com/?p=7970 Recently, as we sat around the dinner table and looked back on our day, my three year old son told us about how upset he had been. “What happened?” I asked. “Dorrwin (not sure what name he was saying) called me a gwuurrl (girl),” he said, eyebrows firmly arched above a pouted lip. As my husband was about to sympathize with him I jumped in and said, “What’s wrong with being a girl? Being a girl is amazing!” And I meant it. But after a bit of thought I realized, well, I wouldn’t want to be called a boy because I sure am glad I’m not a boy. 

From that simple anecdote from a three year old, I got to thinking. Boys call boys girls as an insult. Women say, ‘be a man!’ to men who are appearing weak. ‘Grow a pair’ implies a guy should lose the ‘vagina’ and be stronger and more brave (which apparently balls help to imbue these qualities). We are told very early on that women are the weaker sex and that we will come second in pretty much everything we do because men will always prevail. And yet, I have never actually felt this way.  I have always felt a deep sense of honour being a woman, a sort of gratitude that I won the gender lottery. However, this hasn’t come without reminders that some others don’t feel the same way. 

When I was a teenager I was in a few rock bands throughout high school. Playing my imitation Stratocaster, I was always the only girl. I wasn’t trying to make an impression among the sea of boys, I just loved music. I was desperate to play in a band and if there were no girls to play with, I would join the boys.

One night, in a small pub in Banff, Alberta, I moved around the small stage wearing ripped jeans and a white tank top as we thrashed our way through Black Sabbath and Soundgarden numbers. I was sixteen years old and filled with excitement and adrenaline. Then, in between songs as I was doing a quick pedal change  (it was the 90s), just like out of an 80s movie right when the lead character is starting to feel good about themselves, a man from the crowd yelled: Girls can’t play guitars! She’s got a vagina! 

There was this moment right after he said it when my band members looked at me, the crowd shuffled their Doc Martins along the dirty floor and my mind just sort of stopped all thought. I was stunned. I had never been singled out for being a girl before. And here was this drunk hoser calling out a girl in a room laden with boys sporting a half grin swaying his doughy figure against the wall. It was dark but there were spotlights throughout the space so I could see him.

“What a loser,” I thought. And with that I looked to the singer of the band and nodded, as if to say, I’m good, let’s go ahead. Because I was good. I made a decision in that moment to see him as an unsightly, small-minded hose bag with very little intelligence and how there couldn’t have been anyone else in that room who didn’t agree with me. I launched into a Pearl Jam number with more passion and fervour than ever before, not trying to prove anything to anyone but instead to myself that as a girl I could face this stupidity with a sense of thanks for being born with a vagina.

His ignorance was my power. 

And as long as I spent the rest of my life reacting to ignorant men this way, the powerful beauty of being a woman would show itself time and time again. If one knows something about themselves, one doesn’t need to stand on a rooftop screaming it. One doesn’t need to start a war to prove it. One harnesses that power and uses it for good. Women seem to know these things. Not all of them, of course, but it is a part of us. 

We celebrate strong women in history because they fought for our rights; they have stood up against men in perilous conditions; they have shown great bravery in the face of oppression and conflict. But beyond rallies and loud voices, there are women who are just as feminist by walking away from ignorance in silence, knowing way being a woman really means enough not to engage in conflict. There is no argument with a man that will ever measure up to a teachable moment with a young boy.

So, as I sit here pregnant with my third boy I smile with the knowledge that my sons will never ever single someone out for being incapable because she is a girl. They wouldn’t do it because it wouldn’t even cross their minds. 

 
Brilliant ad #LikeAGirl from last year:

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Losing It Less and Choosing Happiness More http://thepurplefig.com/losing-it-less-and-choosing-happiness-more/ http://thepurplefig.com/losing-it-less-and-choosing-happiness-more/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 17:40:08 +0000 http://thepurplefig.com/?p=7956 One day, after the fourteenth emotional breakdown from one of my two young boys, I found myself preaching the idea of happiness being a choice. “Choose happiness! It’s a choice. You have the control!”

Yes, my boys are three and five years old so I realize that without their fully evolved ability to self-regulate, this concept is not actually applicable. But I figure, why not start the dialogue early? Are we right to assume that because it’s hard for children to put things into perspective that we as adults have mastered this skill simply because we’ve been around for longer? I’m not sure about you, but I know all too well how easy it is to get stuck in the weeds.

Those damn weeds. 

It can be quite comical to witness a child stuck in these proverbial weeds. There they are arms stretched out, looking to the sky, “Why why why me?!” they seem to be lamenting. I may sound insensitive but after about a hundred of these outbursts that mainly stem from such things as the wrong colour straw or being called a poo poo face, one has to laugh at the rationale behind the emotion.

Ahhh, but when we’re in it ourselves, there isn’t much humour hovering close by.  I can know that something is not that big of a deal but if I’ve been swept up by the drama already, it’s hard to stay mindful of that. I have to admit that even though intellectually I can know all the right things to do—be present, choose happiness, be positive—it’s not always innate in me to follow through. I think happiness is all around us—we just have to choose it to see it. Here are a few things I tell myself when irritation, frustration, and anger get in the way of the pure happiness that is right there for the taking. 

 

It’s better to try things than sit around and think about it.

Franklin D. Roosevelt said this:

It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.

The first time I saw this quote, it was written on a wall behind the bar of my favorite pub. Perched on a bar stool, I stared at that quote for a while and then back to the novel I was writing, with the cursor blinking in front of me on my laptop. I realized that if this thing never saw the light of day, it didn’t matter as much as it did that I was at least doing it. I was writing a book. And after five years, several workshops, a thesis advisor, an entire degree, I placed it in the hands of my mentor, a very successful novelist. She said it wasn’t finished. I agreed. I decided to admit frankly that it simply wasn’t good enough.

I put it in a box never to be seen again.

I was sad for a little bit, and I felt bad for my characters that they had died in a way but then I felt a release. This release was from my own impatience. My new attitude reflected a sense of positivity. I had tried something that I had thought about trying since I was twelve years old. I had to realize that there were other projects in my future and that the skill of writing well may take a few thousand hours pecking away at a keyboard. The only way you fail is when you don’t try. Having too much ego about putting yourself out there is incredibly boring and will inevitably end up in unhappiness. There is alway happiness in the pursuit of passion. 

 

Don’t compare yourself to anyone.

Every week I go to my family medical clinic and get allergy shots and every time there seems to be a hotter, younger resident floating around. Last week I met with one of the residents to take a look at my knee that’s been bothering me lately. I watched her porcelain-skinned hands move my leg gently forwards and backwards as she spoke in her sweet, soft voice. She did not have one wrinkle, nor did she have the edge of someone who’d been there, done that, seen this and cured that. I stared at her thinking, “How in the hell have you completed medical school and you’re working as a doctor in a clinic and your skin looks so damn hydrated?!” What have I been doing with my life? What did I do with my twenties? I’m a total failure. 

And this is where things can go South.

For every hot body, there is another one up the road with flatter abs, tighter thighs and a perkier butt. For every woman who has kids, makes six figures and run charities, there is another who runs a country. And for every person you think has the perfect life, there is a therapy bill to prove that we are all only human and the world is sometimes a pretty crappy place.

Being competitive in sports is hot; being competitive in life is not. All it does is suck the happiness right out of the moment. So, I commented on her amazing hair and how impressive it was that (warning her to please not take offence and only as a compliment) she’s so young and successful. I walked out of there feeling really proud of her as a woman. That made me happy.

 

Impact people by what you do, not by what you tell people about yourself.

Have you ever been mid-story, telling what you think is a pretty incredible tale that sums up your entire existence and then someone interrupts you?

If you’ve ever read Eckhart Tolle you know how he explains that the path to happiness is through the present moment. Spiritual teachers throughout history, along with Buddhists, have suggested the same thing. Being present is a beautiful thing, although impossible for some people. We may think the only way to practice this is to meditate or stare at a flower but really, a cocktail party is the best place to start.

It sounds easy but there you are, listening to someone telling a story and your response is being concocted at the same time, just waiting for the right moment to interject and share your thoughts. “I have the most interesting thing to say right now. I have a response! It’s going to blow everyone’s mind. I must share!!!” Being so eager to share our experience, we completely miss the moment and at the same time, we cut off the oxygen to someone else’s important experience.

I have done it. I’ve done it more times than I care to admit. But when I really sit there and listen and take in what someone is saying without any thought of past and future, or personal anecdotes, my soul is nurtured.  

Happiness not only lies in the present moment, it also comes from giving of ourselves.

As the late Maya Angelou said,

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

 

Look in the mirror and be honest with yourself.

The only person in the world I can’t lie to is myself. Once we become brave enough to strip away the rationalizations and mitigation in the dialogue to ourselves, we become free. We may not like ourselves for a little while but as Marilyn Monroe once said,

“Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.”

 

Don’t take things so damn seriously. 

When I was sixteen my aunt moved in with us. My mom had just died and she was going through a nasty divorce so my dad figured we’d offer each other a source of comfort. In the end, he’s never been more right about anything.

One day, she asked me to join her in court to offer support and hold her hand. My dad sat on the other side of her. At one point, about halfway through the proceedings, as her ex was questioned on his previous employment (trying to establish that he actually made a dollar here and there), he mentioned working as an animal homicide investigator. “You know, looking into, say, the mysterious death of horse,” he’d said proudly. This was a man who had lived off my aunt for decades, sometimes drinking away her hard earned cash and living in the apartment that she had purchased while working as a nurse. But here he was establishing himself as a legitimate animal homicide investigator. It was too much for my aunt to bear and so, the giggles began to penetrate her entire body. As her shoulders pumped feverishly and her face became cherry red attempting to suffocate the laughter, my dad passed me a note. “Make her stop laughing,” he implored. But like anyone sitting next to someone laughing at a time when one should not be laughing, I joined the giggle fest. The judge was visibly annoyed but we just couldn’t stop ourselves. It was then that I realized, there can be humour found in the darkest of times. 

We all have problems. Whether it be within our marriages, our friendships, our work, finances, inner demons–we can all attest to have some type of struggle. We could try and remind ourselves how lucky we are to live where we do with freedom and justice as we try to unhinge ourselves from sadness or frustration over first world issues. But the reality is, whatever the challenge, it is our reality and ours alone.  So respect the emotion but don’t stay there long. At the end of this life, will that problem be what you remember? Or will the moment at which happiness was reached be the vision that sticks with us after years of getting stuck in the gutter of negative thinking, over and over? I’m hoping and I’m thinking the latter. 

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TPF Must Read: Celebrating Amanda Lindhout’s Courage and Spirit http://thepurplefig.com/tpf-must-read-celebrating-amanda-lindhouts-courage-and-spirit/ http://thepurplefig.com/tpf-must-read-celebrating-amanda-lindhouts-courage-and-spirit/#comments Tue, 17 Feb 2015 17:22:14 +0000 http://thepurplefig.com/?p=7926 Recently, while reading A House In The Sky by Amanda Lindhout, I found myself so totally and completely captivated by her prose that I started hiding away in the bathroom just to finish a few more pages. I’d also flick on the T.V a little earlier than normal for my kids and I was staying up later than I have since the eighth week of this pregnancy. The book was so moving, so jarring, so incredibly claustrophobic and beautiful at the same time, that I just wanted to get to the end so that she’d be okay. 

 

A House In The Sky tells the story of Amanda Lindhout in first person with co-author Sara Corbett, covering Lindhout’s experience of being held hostage for 460 days in Somalia after many years of backpacking around the world and eventually starting to work as a journalist. After living in Afghanistan and Iraq, carving out a career as a television reporter, Lindhout decided to make the trek to Somalia to try and show the decent side of war-torn countries. She was not given that chance.

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Lindhout reporting in Iraq in 2008. Credit: Canadian Press

Instead she was captured after four days, along with her photographer friend Nigel Brennan, and subjected to ongoing gang rapes, isolation, and starvation. She converted to Islam as a survival tactic and did her best to keep her spunky spirit alive inside but as I read these pages and felt the complete barbaric nature of her captors, I thought, nobody is that solid. She was kept in chains in a dark room, starved and raped repeatedly by a group of teenaged boys for many months. 

So when she was released fifteen months after being captured, Lindhout returned to Canada and began to heal. Rather than allow the hatred and anger to seep into her soul and take hostage any goodness in her after an experience like this, she became a much sought after speaker on the topics of forgiveness, compassion, social responsibility and women’s rights.

She started a non-profit organization called the Global Enrichment Foundation  that promotes peace and development in Somalia through sustainable educational and community-based empowerment programs, while undertaking humanitarian and life-saving emergency interventions in times of crisis. She went back to the place that had imparted so much horror on her life just to make it better. She used her awful experience as an impetus for change. 

Lindhout is not your average woman. She is not your average person. She is an example of how incredibly strong one can be in the face of total injustice and evil and how even years later, it cannot and will not destroy the spirit one has within.  

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Videos: What Mama Didn’t Tell Us-Sex, Vaginas and Rock ‘n Roll http://thepurplefig.com/videos-what-mama-didnt-tell-us-sex-vaginas-and-rock-n-roll/ http://thepurplefig.com/videos-what-mama-didnt-tell-us-sex-vaginas-and-rock-n-roll/#comments Mon, 09 Feb 2015 18:15:29 +0000 http://thepurplefig.com/?p=7942 Want to learn a little more about pelvic health, sex after babies and how to keep your marriage strong when the kids make you want to tear your eye balls out? Check out these videos from our event, What Mama Didn’t Tell Us hosted by The Purple Fig and The Belle Method

 
Carol Anne, M.A., M.Ed., CCC is a Psychotherapist & Couples Counsellor with a specialization in sexual & reproductive health at KMA Therapy. She speaks at What Mama Didn’t Tell Us and answers anonymous questions from the crowd. Carol Anne has provided individual & couples psychotherapy services to clients of diverse backgrounds presenting with various concerns. Additionally, Carol Anne has acted as a sexual health educator in her practice and within the community, promoting a sex-positive understanding of our sexual selves.

 

Listen to Dr. Sinead Dufour PhD as she fields questions from our audience at the first annual What Mama Didn’t Tell Us event in Toronto. She covers incontinence issues, “mummy tummy” and pregnancy.

 

Relationship expert Kimberly Moffit takes questions from the audience about relationships and how to keep things balanced within the storm of kids and work.

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This Valentine’s Day, Forget The Chocolate http://thepurplefig.com/this-valentines-day-forget-the-chocolate/ http://thepurplefig.com/this-valentines-day-forget-the-chocolate/#comments Mon, 09 Feb 2015 15:40:00 +0000 http://thepurplefig.com/?p=7923 It’s the season of love and while you’re celebrating with your sweetheart, Trojan has some great tips to spoil that special someone. This year it’s time to #forgetchocolate and gift an experience that actually burns calories.

Tips for couples:

  1. Rev up the cuddling. In a recent study of long term couples, longer “after sex affection” was linked to sexual and relationship satisfaction. 15 minutes of cuddles can really go a long way!
  2. Don’t forget the foreplay. Research suggests men and women prefer 18 minutes of foreplay before the main event. Plus a 30-minute steamy make out can burn up to 238 calories and gets the heart racing with anticipation.
  3. Add a lubricant for extra pleasure. Make sex better by giving the gift of lubricant which not only plays a necessary role, but can enhance the sensations between you and your partner. Indulge in your adventurous side with a motion-activated intensifier, like the Trojan Arouses & Releases.
  4. Kick it up a notch in the bedroom. Make it hot and make it last, all while burning calories. Don’t be afraid to break a sweat!
  5. Set the mood with candles. Kick back and relax in a soothing bubble bath with your beau and some candle light for the ultimate spa-like experience. Treat your partner to a long, sensual massage and burn up to 80 calories in just 1 hour.
  6. Send a love note to someone special. Spread the love by showing someone just how much you care. Whether it’s your partner, best friend, parent or even secret admirer, everyone deserves to feel the love this time of year.

 Trojan-Arouses&Releases

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

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Cutting Grains Is Not Just About Your Waistline: My Chat With Health Crusader Dr. William Davis http://thepurplefig.com/cutting-grains-is-not-just-about-your-waistline-my-chat-with-health-crusader-dr-william-davis/ http://thepurplefig.com/cutting-grains-is-not-just-about-your-waistline-my-chat-with-health-crusader-dr-william-davis/#comments Tue, 03 Feb 2015 17:08:11 +0000 http://thepurplefig.com/?p=7894 So the holidays are well and gone but the lasting impression of food and drink on our bellies is not. You may be a ‘January joiner’  busy sweating away all those dinner rolls and apple pies right now in your local gym.

You may be one of those people who have a plan, oh yes a plan, and you are going to follow a diet that restricts everything from dairy to carbs. You will have a flat tummy by spring and you won’t have to stuff yourself into those skinny jeans that you love and adore—you will slip into them with ease.

Or maybe you’re the type of person who has to scream, “Check please!” right after consuming Eggs Benedict and a few cups of coffee. You’ve got a sensitive little diva gastric system, but the mind of a food lover.

There are also those who suffer from migraine headaches, arthritis, and such things as heart disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. As it turns out, according to Dr. William Davis, all of these people have something in common. They eat grains, and their bodies are not happy about it.

I got a chance to speak with Davis, bestselling author, cardiologist, and health crusader, about why he is so committed to a grain-free life and the undeniable results that have led him on this journey.

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When Dr. William Davis, the author of the NY bestseller Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health was an interventional cardiologist he attended a talk about the reversal of heart disease using a vegetarian diet. Davis decided to follow the program and ate only vegetables and whole grains for an extended period. He soon became a diabetic; he gained 30 pounds; he was hypertensive; he felt awful and had a 161 blood sugar level at fasting.


He was also jogging three to five miles a day and doing everything that he thought was right: eating only whole grains and vegetables. He was meticulous about eating only whole grains—nothing processed. Suddenly it occurred to him that centering one’s diet around whole grains, fruits and vegetables and little to no fat was causing his body to shut down. That was the turning point for Davis.

After removing wheat from his diet, he abolished the diabetes and lost all the weight. Eventually, he started advising his patients to do the same (because wheat is the worst and most dominant of all grains) from their diets for a three month period, and the results were unbelievable.

“Acid reflux was gone within the first five days. Bowel urgency (IBS) was gone within five days. Joint pains (specifically in the fingers and wrists) disappeared in the first five days. Water retention banished, and migraine headaches gone within those days,” Davis says.

In Davis’ new book, Wheat Belly Total Health: The Ultimate Grain-Free Health and Weight-Loss Life Plan he has expanded his battle against the grain from just wheat to all grains. As he explains, grains are the seeds of grasses. Most of the components of grasses are not digestible by humans—this remains true of the seed of grass.
 

“That’s why when you cut your grass, you don’t save the clippings to toss on top of a salad. If a dog walks on it and poops on it, why don’t we rope it off and save that grass for dinner,” Davis jokes.

Even if we did do that, he says, we still wouldn’t be able to digest most of it, especially the seed. Knowing that, and contrary to popular belief, this is what accounts for the many toxic effects of grains no matter what we’ve done with it over the last 10,000 years.

Quote from WHEAT BELLY TOTAL HEALTH:

“When we started consuming the seeds of grasses 10,000 years ago, this food source may have allowed us to survive another day, week, or month during times when foods we had instinctively consumed during the preceding 2.5 million years fell into short supply. But this expedient represents a dietary pattern that constitutes only 0.4 percent—less than one-half of 1 percent—of our time on earth. This change in dietary fortunes was accompanied by a substantial price.”

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Wheat presents this indigestibility, which is a grass after all. The protein found in wheat, namely Gliadin, for the most part, remains intact and provides the first step in triggering diseases of autoimmunity such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, explains Davis. Even though it was absent from most strains of wheat from the early 20th century, it is now present in nearly all modern varieties, likely accounting for the 400 percent increase in celiac disease witnessed since 1948.

 

He states, “If you had an egg, you break down the proteins in that egg into single amino acids. If you eat the Gliadin in wheat, it’s either not broken up at all or it’s broken down into pieces, about five amino acids long, but those pieces have very unique sequences, unlike any proteins in any other food. And these pieces have the capacity to bind the opiate receptors in the brain. This is what gives all this addictive behavior with grains, appetite stimulation and all these other mind effects that vary.”

 

Davis goes on to explain that kids with ADHD or autism have behavioral outbursts; people who have a tendency to depression experience suicidal thoughts; people with bipolar disorder can have the mania triggered; people with paranoid schizophrenia can have paranoia and hearing voices triggered; people who have a tendency toward bulimia or binge eating disorder can have food obsessions triggered. But most people just have appetite stimulations effect and mind fog.

The reason why people can experience a withdrawal period after giving up the wheat is because of the direct relation wheat has to opiates. This can include a period where things seem worse before they get better.

Quote from WHEAT BELLY TOTAL HEALTH:  

“What happened to those first humans (10,000 years ago), hungry and desperate, who figured out how to make this one component of grasses—the seed—edible? Incredibly, anthropologists have known this for years. The first humans to consume the grassy food of the ibex and aurochs experienced explosive tooth decay; shrinkage of the maxillary bone and mandible, resulting in tooth crowding; iron deficiency; and scurvy. They also experienced reduction in bone diameter and length, resulting in a loss of as much as 5 inches in height for men and 3 inches for women.”

As with everything, Davis has his naysayers, the ones who call it a fad and not a balanced way of living. Probably his biggest opponent, and rightly so, are the wheat lobbyists and trade groups. They say Davis is nuts and that there is no such thing as genetically modified wheat.

“I never said that was true. Genetic modification is NOT the process used to create modern wheat,” Davis states. But what they don’t tell you is that modern wheat was created using other methods that predate genetic modification. They used multiple hybridization to mate wheat with a variety of different strains and with foreign grasses, and also used methods of mutagenesis. What they don’t tell you is that all of this is worse than genetic modification.

Now, as my head is about to pop off from all the information he has already provided me within the first ten minutes of our conversation (we talk for almost two hours) I can’t help but feel inspired by this man who happens to be one ball of passionate fire for this topic. He is not only passionate about this topic because of his experience but because of all the patients who came back to report on life improvements because of the removal of wheat and grains from their diets.

Fatigue was gone; arthritis was non-existent; migraines were a thing of the past; weight was falling off by the truckload. He was witnessing something huge. The results were constant, consistent and astounding.

Now, after a few books (including a wheat-free cookbook) Davis has begun a revolution of sorts. On his website’s success story section today, cholesterol levels had dropped to normal levels without medication, liver diseases are being reversed, and one woman has lost 70 pounds in 180 days. It is nothing short of amazing.

Now as a self-proclaimed moderation girl, I have trouble with the thought of complete abolishment of certain foods that I like. Life is short, I think. But at the same time, when we’re talking about chronic issues and obesity, I wonder if life doesn’t feel so short for those people.

If the consumption of modern wheat and all grains has wreaked havoc on everything from blood pressure to gastrointestinal tracts to nervous systems to hormones, then I say it’s worth a try removing them. It has changed the lives of Davis’ patients well beyond their pant size and millions more after the popularity of his books. One can’t deny anecdotal evidence. For Davis, it’s what sparked the goal of his life: to improve people’s lives. And that, no doubt, has been achieved.   

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Eating Disorder Awareness Week Focuses On Recovery From Binge Eating Disorder, Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia http://thepurplefig.com/eating-disorder-awareness-week-focuses-on-recovery-from-binge-eating-disorder-anorexia-nervosa-and-bulimia/ http://thepurplefig.com/eating-disorder-awareness-week-focuses-on-recovery-from-binge-eating-disorder-anorexia-nervosa-and-bulimia/#comments Sun, 01 Feb 2015 16:01:10 +0000 http://thepurplefig.com/?p=7930 From February 1-7, Canada’s National Eating Disorder Information Centre is set to mark Eating Disorder Awareness Week. If the words “anorexia nervosa” immediately came to mind when you read that previous sentence, you’re certainly not alone. After all, the disorder has had plenty of media coverage in recent years.

While anorexia (where sufferers will refuse to eat) and bulimia (a condition where sufferers feel compelled to eat and then quickly vomit before they can receive any nutrition from their meal) are less common than binge eating disorder, there also tends to be more awareness of these illnesses.

This week, Toronto-based addiction treatment clinic Bellwood Health Services plans to expand the public’s knowledge of eating disorders to include awareness of conditions like binge eating disorder.  This disorder leads to uncontrollable bursts of over-eating and affects its sufferers for around 8.3 years on average.

Lauren Goldhamer, an eating disorders therapist at Bellwood, acknowledges there is confusion and even shame surrounding this condition.  “Most people feel shame, and hide the problem from others.  In fact, in front of others, they may eat normally or even appear to be dieting to conceal the problem,” she said.

Sadly, binge eating is not as uncommon as it may seem. According to the clinic, this disorder can strike 3.5 per cent of women and 2 per cent of men.

            As the clinical director of Bellwood Health Services, Susan McGrail agrees that more awareness is needed to educate the public about all eating disorders. With the right intervention programs, she believes that stereotypes about body type and image can be reduced.  

“These programs could address the normality of weight gain after puberty for girls and dispel myths about dieting, compensatory behaviors and caloric restriction,” she says. According to McGrail, studies have shown that these intervention programs can assist girls who may be at risk for developing an eating disorder.

Of course, eating disorders are also about far more than just food. Often, sufferers struggle with low self-esteem, negative thinking or emotional issues. While fitness is obviously part of a balanced lifestyle, over-exercising plays a role for some men and women with anorexia and bulimia, who strive to keep weight off at any cost.

Then there is the next step, the daunting road to recovery.  Sheena’s Place, a community-based outpatient centre for eating disorders in Toronto, focuses on support for anyone waiting for hospital treatment. As well, it helps those in recovery with making their return to their usual routine.

Deborah Berlin-Romalis, the centre’s executive director, believes that balance is key when overcoming an eating disorder. From staying fit to sleeping well, it’s a long journey for women and men who are battling a disorder.

“Exercise needs to be approached differently, seen as part of a routine that promotes wellness, like adequate sleep,” she says.

While Berlin-Romalis would also like to see increased awareness in schools, colleges and universities, she places focus on access to support services. “Holistic services and supportive services for people struggling with eating disorders and body image issues need to be delivered to people of all ages, to men and women,” she adds.

Featured Photo Credit: National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) on Instagram 

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