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Posts from the ‘lifestyle’ Category

Using life skills and recipe of powerful health boosting tea that costs you nothing

Life skills

Many diplomas and grades, but no life skills? That is a very common issue. Lack of life skills leads to numerous problems: we are tested every single day. It is a wide area of not only good practical habits and best recipes for many situations in life, but also people skills and knowledge of things that help us get through illnesses and mentally challenging periods.

Let your experience guide you

Our experience and life skills are a huge treasure. We should have learned something about living and getting along with other people at some point in our life. We could have become expert with our daily tasks: cooking, cleaning, maintaining health, using natural products, staying fit, staying young and maintaining a good energy for life. Do not let somebody convince you that you know nothing and only internet couches and self-help books can tell you what you should and shouldn’t do.

You know who you are

We usually know who we have become by the age of 40 or at least 50. We have some idea of what we have achieved or not, what we would love or not and how we would like to continue. We know our pains, we have a long history of events behind us. We know our weaknesses and strength. We know how to overcome cravings and what has been left unresolved.

Happiness or joy?

While there is a big push towards happiness wherever we look, the main task of life is being satisfied, accepted, having pleasant memories and things we enjoy doing. I leave happiness for special moments, for special occasions, and I think having happy meals every day is a bit too much. If we have only vacations and no work days, we lose the feeling of being rewarded with time off and we get bored. If we eat only dessert, we do not perceive the special taste and delight of a dessert. That kind of thing. There are not only Sundays in our life. When we enjoy the things we do, we invite pleasure and satisfaction in our life leaving less time for disappointments and arguments.

My perfect cures and treatments

If you have a job that does not make you feel good, you should have at least something that takes care of your physical, spiritual and mental wellbeing. I do art and gardening to lift my mood. Art is a very specific area which has so many functions that it is difficult to even list everything great that happens when people start almost meditating when creating art. Gardening keeps one in good shape and puts clean, healthy food on our table.

Real versus improved, modified and altered

Less stuff from the health food store and more from your own backyard and garden is a huge advantage. The older I get, the more I learn about everything simple herbs and plants can do. If you grow your own vegetables, fruit and herbs you most likely not only water them, but also send them some good thoughts, you really enjoy turning seeds into plants, and plants into food.

Do you think there is a difference between an apple that has been grown in a garden for profit and with use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides and a very naturally grown apple from a tree to which you have sent your happy thoughts while it was blooming and ripening? The difference is as big as between day and night.

Beet we grow is good because it has balanced amounts of all nutrients. Beet powder might be advertised as wonderful, but it will cause imbalance in your body. Plant proteins are great, but they come in the right amount only in plants, especially plants which are almost alive and come straight from the garden.

Natural treatments

By using pills, powders and liquids that have been modified and altered, we are always at risk of destroying the balance between nutrients our body needs. Our body definitely does not need or consume properly synthetic vitamins and minerals.

Natural treatments can be a huge health boost.

Warning: if you suffer from serious conditions and if you have to use medications, you should always check with your doctor how the natural products will affect your condition and whether it is safe to use such products.

Using life skills and recipe of powerful health boosting tea

I will share with you a very simple recipe of tea that will definitely make some positive changes and cost you absolutely nothing, just a little work picking and drying apple tree leaves.

Apple leaves: have you ever tried this tea?

Apple leaves have more nutrients, vitamins and minerals than apples, and tea or extract in boiling water are easy to make.

We collect medium size healthy looking leaves either in early spring before blooming or in the fall after fruit has been removed. Apple trees grow almost everywhere, therefore, the main ingredient is easy to find and will cost you nothing.

Tea made of dried apple leaves is recommended for:

Anemia: use 200 ml boiling water over 1 tablespoon of dried, crushed apple leaves, allow to steep for 1 hour, strain, use 100 ml of extract with honey 3 times a day 1.5 hours after meal;

Cold, bronchitis, cough, hoarseness: use 200 ml boiling water over 1 tablespoon of dried, crushed apple leaves, allow to steep for 30 minutes, strain, use 1/3 of 200 ml glass 4-5 times a day. Such apple leaf extract kills germs and causes you to sweat;

Colitis, inflammation of gastrointestinal tract: 200 ml water pour over 3 tablespoons of chopped apple leaves and boil for 15 minutes, cool and strain. Use 2-3 tablespoons of extract before meals 4-5 times a day. Such extract can be also used to improve digestion, decrease the low density (bad) cholesterol level and to facilitate liver function;

Insomnia: cup of warm apple leaf tea will help falling asleep and relaxing;

Nutrient balance, lack of vitamins, depression, fatigue: if you are lacking vitamins, essential nutrients and minerals, apple leaf tea will bring you back to balance and increase energy levels, use approximately 1 tablespoon of dried leaves on 200 ml of boiling water and drink as tea a few times a day;

Skin problems, skin inflammation and wounds: washing face with extract of apple leaves in water will clear your skin, compresses will decrease inflammation and heal wounds faster.

Just like dried apple tea, apple leaf tea will warm you up and help maintaining good health during winter months and in any occasion when you need extra vitamins and minerals.

I know people who used apple leaves as tea or extract regularly for many years, and they reached 100 years while staying energetic and fit.

Using life skills and recipe of powerful health boosting tea

I will share more extra simple and effective health improving recipes as soon as I will have time again. Good luck!

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How social are social media and how they get you

Why am I on social media?

If you ask me, I don’t know why I am on Twitter, on Pinterest, on Linkedin and on Facebook and a few other sites.

My blog and my website need some exposure, additional exposure, because not everybody is on WordPress. That might be one reason

Am I on social media because the widgets make my website look better? That is true to some extent.

Am I there because social medial make me socially engaged? No, that is not always true. They sometimes make me feel worse, more upset and more isolated. In fact, they frequently make me feel physically bad, too. That is, in the most direct meaning of this word. I find that many articles promote doubtful information, as well as push people to inadequate decisions.

There was a time at the dawn of social media activity when they were truly social. They were about real friendships and real lives.

“Social” cover for selling anything

It did not take too long for the socializing part to transition into advertising and selling features until social media became mainly about selling: opinions, propaganda, products, brands and trends.

As such, social media are the biggest consumerism promoter ever. Our task is actually straight the opposite: decrease junk, avoid consuming useless and harmful things and stay away from products that we never needed in the first place. Social media makes us believe that we will be considered a decent, happy and worthy person only when we have have all the attributes which are advertised.

Social media will impose trendy pictures, trendy products, trendy people and trendy opinions on you. I have even seen: health trends. Is there anything else as healthy and unhealthy? Does that mean that sometimes only mental health matters, but some other time: skin disorders, digestive, nervous or cardiovascular system?

I do not agree with trends. I suppose, trends disagree with me.

Consumerism

Consumerism is killing every one of us by taking away the air we breathe and turning it into polluted smog, it is taking away the clean drinking water and causing soil damage, it is making you into somebody who consumes what you never needed and what makes you sick and poor.

Internet selling is based on positive attitude, lack of education and greed. Greed is the biggest driving force of any so-called economic growth.

Is it economic growth or destruction of the planet in reality? If we did not interfere so badly with anything that the Earth has to offer us for free: natural air and water recycling and purification, clean and nutrient-rich soil, natural food that helps us staying fit and healthy, we would be fine. However, everything must be sacrificed for the economic growth which ironically leads us into more and more debt and disasters.

Offers and missed posts

While Facebook wants me to sign up for all kinds of services or products, I never see what my best friends and relatives have been up to. Facebook will persistently invite me to buy products and services which I do not require, which I am absolutely not interested in and which I do not need or like. That is all based on their algorithms and my likes which I place here and there.

The page I initially created as a Fan page, has transitioned into business page, and I wasn’t even sure I wanted that. I can see it is helpful, however, I have limited time and therefore, I most likely cannot reach the exposure I am expected to.

Facebook makes one pay

The thing I really have to wonder about is as follows: Facebook makes absolutely no distinction between a single person’s business (hence, they invite me to join my team, which would be I am joining me), and so they want to charge me the promotion fee for anything I put on that page. Huge businesses which have hundreds of employees and specific media managers and other executives can certainly use a specific budget for that. I think there should be a chance to show that one is working alone, maybe part time or something similar.

They make me compete with sites like Wayfair.com or Artfulhome.com and similar that sell art prints while I am selling only originals.

Dear Facebook! I am just a single person, who creates art, does painting, promotes, writes about art and teaches it also, and I need to cook, clean, do daily chores, do medical research and writing to support living, and every day has only 24 hours. If I wanted to be successful on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook advertising, I would not only need a lot of money to promote every post, every picture, every article and every event, but also a lot of time.

My taste disagrees with trends

I do not spend hours scrolling through trends or looking for viral videos. They are not trendy for me most often because my taste often disagrees with them. I disagree with dumbing the population more and using bad and harmful products for such purpose. I am against the noise everywhere. We need a break from music, a break from shows that do not teach anything, that have no content and make no sense, but stand out due to bad acting and simply bad screenplays.

Facebook does not represent me as a person correctly and it does not allow me to become socially more involved. If I do not promote everything and comment on everything, I am practically non-existent.

It is time we turn to critical thinking and sort out our preferences. The narrow-minded and to more consumption leading and directed I-need-it-all thinking has caused enough trouble. Enough is enough.

We have to stop being sheep to such a huge extent.

Social media pressure

I have come to conclusion that instead of allowing one to be true and honest, social media imposes on me their message. Their message is not always my message. It can be quite contrary, in fact.

So, Facebook when there is going to be time when I see everything I choose based on what I prefer as opposed to posts that have been directed to me depending on my age, gender and previous likes?

I once clicked on Artfulhome.com image because I was reading about some artist. They would not let me free afterwards. Wherever I go, the Artful home is trying to sell me something. The same about the flight: I booked it already. I booked it a while ago. Wherever I look, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo mail or any other site, there are Flighthub advertisements. I did not even use the Flighthub.

If I click on a gardening image, Facebook will only put gardening posts in front of me. If I click on shoes or cosmetic product: that is all I am going to see for quite a while, until I do not spam that product everywhere.

I have moods, I have good days and bad days, I have curiosity, I have preferences and I have interests, and they do not match the Facebook algorithms. I am a human who is changing, who has personal opinions and, most importantly, who has a very personal taste.

Misleading social media

Twitter sends me trends and trendy tweets, as well as, lies about people who followed me because they did not. That is to cause a counter-reaction and feeling that I am actively using Twitter. I am not. The tweets are all automated and it looks nice in the widget area of my website, that’s all.

Pinterest does the same, they let me know that somebody pinned an image which I never put on any of my boards, Pinterest also has picked out topics for me. Well, Pinterest, don’t do that. I do have my own brain and my own opinions. That is already too much care, way too much care. If I looked at an old barn yesterday, it does not mean I want to look at old barns for the next few years. If I looked up a spinach recipe today, it does not mean I will be eating only spinach for a few months.

Facebook means a lot of wasted time for me. I would click on like when I am seeing a few posts of people who I have never met, but who I know distantly from the blogging community. I would leave a comment here and there if the post makes sense. Well, Facebook will show me posts only created by these people for quite a while, and, no, it will not show me what my daughter has been up to.

I am finding all the social media very superficial, very ignorant because they try to make me feel meaningless. Just compare yourself with influencers! Go ahead, compare!

My preferences

Well, I am not going to compare me with nobody. I do not care about lots of products just because I find them useless. I don’t literally care about powders, liquids, pills, gels, creams and other things which are advertised as miraculous. These miracles last only as long as there is a decent research done, and it proves rather the harming, not healing effects of this product.

Choose carfully

Social media should take a huge blame for poisoning and making people sick with bad quality, never tested products because while they do not endorse them, they make one see these products and the fake promises which come with such products.

There is a lot of pressure from the social media. A lot. The pressure wants you to subordinate the main mood and the main tone. If you do not, you are not a decent person. Why? There are guys who have nothing better to do: they use any chance to attack somebody. I posted once a comment that gluten-free products have absolutely no effect on people who do not have a celiac disease which is 100% scientifically true, yet, much denied fact because they want you to spend more on gluten-free and more processed products and imagine that you feel better. Somebody did not read it; they just noticed the first line and totally attacked me: what was I thinking because people who have celiac disease would be at such a disadvantage, etc. That was not at all what I was saying. They did not read, but they felt they had to attack me. So, it goes. One will understand only what they want to.

Social media and socializing

Do I see social media as a great socializing opportunity? To some extent, it is a place where to advertise. However, it is not a place where to find somebody or something. I want to see all variety of topics, all the multi-faceted life, everything which I might or might not like instead of “topics picked out for me”. Social media, you don’t know me, you do not want to know me and you do not believe I have my own brain which allows me making my own decisions that are based on my own experience, education and preferences.

I wish social media started trusting me instead of limiting my choices and free speech.

P.S. I had written this post already when I accidentally saw an interview with the high-tech insider Jaron Lanier on CNBC. It was about his book: Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now. This interview absolutely echoed what I do agree with. Too much advantage taking, definitely!

Link to article about him and his book: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/may/30/ten-arguments-deleting-your-social-media-accounts-right-now-jaron-lanier

Spring: gardening for everybody

Waking up after a very long winter

We’ve got spring finally! It is the second spring-like day with sunshine and warm air. It feels so good!

I mentioned that in my previous posts: if you have a severely manifesting seasonal affective disorder, this is the time of the year you live for. This is the time when I wake up. All my vitals normalize: blood glucose becomes perfect, energy returns and mood goes up. This feels as if somebody opened a curtain to a previously hidden scene where everything happens. Life is beautiful once again.

The only sad note is the upcoming surgery in May. I am trying to work every day because I need everything done by that date: everything planted, watered and myself prepared. I could not walk for a long time after 2016 surgery, but I certainly believe I am much better prepared this time. I know by now that with the health care we have in Canada, the patient has to double-check everything. So, I have already prescriptions for post-surgery medications, I have a home-care nurse who never stopped attending me anyway, but it is going to be much more frequently. I usually cut my hair shorter because it is sometimes impossible and sometimes difficult to wash it.

Garden is awake, too.

Any place is good for gardening

This place is not what one could call a splendid living space. It does not have many of very necessary things to live easily and get chores done without problems. We do not have practically any storage and the place is also overloaded with my paintings. They are everywhere. I could fill up a few big galleries or at least sell some to be financially prepared for the post-surgery no income period. The wonderful thing is this garden, however. It wasn’t here before I arrived. I made it from scratch. I am good at making gardens and I have started at least some 10 of them, maybe more, because I moved a lot in Latvia and it is the fourth place in Canada. I always make a garden wherever I go. I do it always myself: prepare for hard work, find the best spots with the most suitable soil: less roots, good sunlight; get the shovel, remove the sod, and ahead I go. The rest is the easy part; digging can be a problem, especially with my previously broken joints and other fractures. It can be hard. I was walking around and working in the garden with infusion pump and its tube inserted in my vein the year before. However, I am extremely happy afterwards.

Gardening is a Latvian thing. I would say I do not know anybody back in Latvia who does not do some gardening: big or small. This means providing oneself with the best things possible: clean fruit and vegetables and also getting a lot of exercise in fresh air. In my opinion, that is the biggest plus: air smells like flowers, grasses and trees, sunshine, birds are literally pouring themselves out in songs, extreme beauty and such a pleasure to watch how everything grows.

Starting from seeds

I am seeding everything this year. I used to buy plants before, but it makes no sense. It is a lot of money, however, that is just one side of buying quite big plants. We did not have a good summer last year and I had to replant literally most of my garden. The plants that I bought at garden centers died off after I tried to rescue and revive them for numerous times, they got plant diseases and were doing simply bad. All plants I started from seeds, were doing extremely well, it felt the bad weather was not affecting these. I think: wherever money is made, something will be off. Basically, my own plants were much stronger and much more resistant to bad environmental effects. Therefore, I am starting from seeds everything.

How to place seeds in a seed starting container

I would advise to get some packs of early spring vegetable and herb seeds and put them in tiny containers in a very light and warm place whether that is already outside or inside. We seed one to tops 2 seeds per container. It can be difficult with small seeds, use plastic or metal tweezers. I do reuse all my seed starting containers from previous years (I have very many) or when I am still too short, I cut wrapping paper in longer slices and roll them around a small bottle or glass or any cylindrical object. Fold and press together the bottom and as you add seeding mix or soil, its weight will create pressure enough to keep the container just fine. It is ok to start in plastic containers (small yogurt containers or similar), but paper is better. Also: the parsley plants I started from seeds last year, survived winter and they will be just fine, so, I do not need new ones. They are already up. Chives are also up, although, it is just 2 days after freezing temperatures.

Nature awakes

Well, and the newborn rabbit had crawled out of the rabbit hole. It seemed it went back after a while, but I don’t know what to do with it because I will dig up that part of the garden, as well. It’s good I noticed the hole; otherwise I could accidentally injure somebody inside it. Even though rabbits, just like squirrels here destroy quite a lot of what I am growing, they are still so nice. What’s a little bit of lettuce compared to how nice they look! Squirrels can be nastier, but I discovered a way to plant so that they do not get to dig up roots. It is inexpensive and simple way and I wanted to sell this stuff after testing it last year because it is very safe, easy to apply and it doesn’t involve any chemicals and any substances, but did not get to that part.

Baby-rabbit looking for adventures

Everybody can do gardening

Gardening is so easy, absolutely everybody can do it. Think about the great healthy and clean things you get with a little bit of work! It is not a rocket science. Use common sense and planting instructions. Things like herbs grow on their own, literally, just plant or seed them. Choose the least sensitive plants at first. However, tomatoes and cucumbers are just fine if the plants are good quality and healthy and the weather does not do any absurd things. Good luck!

From the past to the future

We all come from our past and we all are going to our future. The small while in between is our present where memories and dreams meet. That is also the short, sparkling moment when the art is born, poem is written and story told.

Our creative potential is huge and very often extremely neglected. It is quite often that people leave their artistic intentions to the moment when house will be paid off, kids have gone to study, garden is planted, retirement has started, recovery has happened and so on. It is supposed that only these things that cost a lot of money or pay a lot of money are worth doing and everything else can wait.

How many of you have advised your kids and your spouses or parents to pick a pencil or brush and pursue something simple and rewarding like drawing or sketching? Even if you have, how many of you have helped them with suitable and supportive environment for creativity to blossom? Kitchen table isn’t the place when the best art is done. In order to return to drawing and painting, art requires a specifically designed space. Basement is a bad choice if there is no daylight. Drawing and painting needs daylight, bright and undisturbed, just as we do.

I have seen the statistics for the recent years: the potential of keeping memory flexible and brain active is not in favor of most people, especially these over 50.

While everybody knows all the risk factors for absolutely any disease which there only exists: overweight and obesity, heart and blood vessel damage, high blood pressure, diabetes (these are all body stressors), lack of exercise or any movement, bad, highly chemical or modified food, especially if it has been already processed, artificial food, food with added or removed ingredients, GMO sources of food, contaminated water and air, alcohol and drug use, smoking either tobacco or cannabis because of toxins that occur in burning process, abnormal stress levels with zero coping ability, long-term stress without a rescue plan and social isolation and self-removal from any social activities and mental states that involve huge anxiety, severe depression and severe, systemic disorders, very few people ever pay any attention to the brain fitness and brain cell exercising. Meditation is fine, but it is supposed to make one rather stress-free than activate the brain to the impossibly high activity level. We are talking about an active brain involvement, the state when we would say: the brain is steaming.

If you are doing everything right, but you rather think it is better not to worry about learning and studying or scientific research after you are out of school, you are so wrong. Only very active brain which is used to  tackle challenges and make thousands of decisions, as well as resolve problems is able to create new brain cells, at any age actually.

In one of my previous articles I wrote about the trial that compared physical exercise group, group which did crosswords and similar brain games, and the group that started doing drawing, although, students did not even seem to like or be interesting in drawing from reality. The drawing group excelled and outdid both other groups in all target indicators.

Why is that? It is because when we look at some object and try to recreate it with all dimensions on a flat paper or canvas we use all of the brain. We use all kinds of mechanisms and synaptic pathways to get the job done. While it is something meditative and pleasurable, it is also very challenging and a very active process. If you do it in a group, you add socializing to this activity.

Healthy brain

We all come from the past and we are all heading to the future. This is done much better by maintaining our cognitive abilities, memory and brain flexibility. The one thing that means a lot more than all the money and power on the Earth is our brain. Losing our brain, we lose everything. Therefore, let us do something useful and keep it flexible, sharp and well-performing. You do not know how to get started? Please find all kinds of advice on my art website which is solely devoted to art, creativity and learning drawing, sketching and painting: http://inesepogagallery.com/

Becoming an observer

It sometimes feels as if everything is simply flowing by.

There are lots of small distractive things to deal with, and they pretty much keep me away from doing something more meaningful.

Then, there is a feeling of pointlessness.

At a young age we are under impression that we have enough time to do whatever we will choose, to achieve whatever we have decided to and to engage in all kinds of undertakings that eventually lead us to the goal: a good, honest, happy and abundant life. This includes different things for different people. Some want children and some do not, some love studying and some would rather not, some of us see the importance of roots and family and some believe that family is holding them back.

When I was twenty, it felt like 60 years is eternity away: it seemed I have plenty of time to enjoy, to explore, to pursue real life goals and to correct mistakes which everybody makes.

My life involves much unexpected turns, very bad accident that changed everything 25 years ago and after that all a completely unexpected relocation across the ocean. I might not been ready for that. However, I am somebody who goes for an adventure or opportunity if there is one.

Years between 2004 and 2010 were wonderful, so full with life, so full with discoveries. I had huge expectations.

When I got health issues in 2013, lots of things slowed down and became hard to continue. I realized suddenly that nobody can ever regain the energy and the willingness to jump onto new beginnings we do so naturally at 20 when we pass the 50 line. That was the time when I had to push myself extremely hard to accomplish just simple everyday routine tasks, yet, I managed that.

I have become more an observer than an active participant.

I have always been a creator of situations, much engaged in the social scene. I was a high school teacher and college lecturer meeting literally hundreds of people every day. I loved my role as a smart, intelligent and well-educated person.

The one thing that matters to me is learning, studying and keeping the brain extremely busy and active.

I have always admired the brain power, the ability to think and find solutions, to make decisions and to act upon them. I do that still, I learn every single day. The medical writing job requires that. I am certainly thankful for the huge knowledge in any health-related matters due to this.

However, I miss the social engagement. I feel lost. Once you see that nobody actually needs you, you start to experience feelings of being abandoned. It seems that the big goals are also getting crashed. I have become a stranger in my native country and I am still a total stranger in the country to which I immigrated to.

This might be an issue of acceptance. I am quite frequently unable to accept some things here. I will never understand how mediocrity gets to the top because of their wealth. I will never understand how it is possible to idolize and adore some fancy person to the extent that people want to dress like that person and look and speak like that person.

I will never understand over-consumption which is the cause of most of our issues. I will never understand how people are lied to and cheated because of somebody making bigger profits. They get even praise for poisoning other people. That is awkward.

I am for fairness, truth and open-mindedness. Truth is not loved. Truth is frequently escaped using different means, would these be drugs, alcohol or convincing oneself that everything is great while it is far from that in reality.

I used to be a fashionista. I learned sewing very early: at 12. Ever since, I have designed and sewn plenty of designer-quality outfits not only for me, but for hundreds of other people, as well. I stopped doing that also because of pointlessness. How much does one really need? When I paint, I cannot wear anything good because it will have paint spots all over anyway. Fast fashion made it impossible to buy any good quality shoes or jeans or similar things. I just simply refuse to buy more low quality, made in China outfits. They are made of bad materials, they do not last and they do not fit either.

One more aspect became meaningless. So, most of them have.

It is more difficult to stick to the true you when there is no actual demand for being the top you. I am currently an observer. I will wait for a while yet until the troubles settle down to figure out the next steps. Where do I go from there? I don’t know yet. It is a process of re-inventing me. Will that be a better me? I do not know that either.

I do realize that these feelings might be caused by late and delayed spring. It has been a very long winter, and that can affect anybody with the seasonal affective disorder. I remember me hating winter ever since I was a tiny kid. That never went away. I cannot live normally in winter. I have lost many years of life due to winter. I believe these of you who also experience strong seasonal affective disorder know this very well: one only regains energy and willingness to be active once the weather turns warm and sunny again.

International Woman’s Day: history gets revised

Since the International Woman’s Day March 8, resonates with Me too and Time’s up movements in North America recently, this day has become more visible and more important by now.

It wasn’t actually this way before. I have been writing March 8 articles every year, and they quite often didn’t get much response. I believe it is because the day as such did not feel very important for many women or they associated it only with socialism and political movements, thus, it wasn’t widely popular.

While general articles mention North American and British suffragist movements as origin of this day, it is not entirely true. It is quite visible that the contribution of women fighters for female equality, such as Clara Zetkin, Inessa Armand, Alexandra Kollontai, the first soviet woman ambassador, and Nadezhda Krupskaya, Soviet Union’s Deputy Minister of Education and women’s rights advocate has actually not been acknowledged globally. I would think it is because they were all socialists, to some extent representing communism, and it is assumed that nothing good came out of all this movement and their personal fights. They actually addressed issues such as sexuality, abortion, marriage, divorce, morality, sexual relations between genders, family relationships, motherhood and role of mother, getting rid of male dominance in any area of life and physical abuse about 100 years ago in Russia and Western Europe at a time when nobody dared even to speak out about these issues. One has to remember that the state of education wasn’t really the same what it is right now, in 2018. Only the richest women would be able to obtain good education and it was rare they would have important political and executive positions, hence woman’s role was mostly understood as the one of a family member and mother.

The United Nations began celebrating International Woman’s Day on March 8 only in 1975.

This day was celebrated always in former Soviet Union as far as I can remember, and I am 60 this year. To me and many soviet era women from former soviet republics this day felt as one of the most wonderful days in the entire year. White and pink tulips, bright yellow daffodils and mimosa, as well as any early spring flowers were given to every woman. It was always celebration of a woman. This tradition continues in the independent Republic of Latvia, and it still goes very strongly.

What are the achievements due to the highly recognized role of a woman during the soviet and post-soviet era? There are actually many, although, we do not want to admit that. First of all, it was free education for everybody from the nursery school to the University. I had only excellent grades also while studying at the University, so, the government actually paid me monthly which was a huge financial aid. That means that the higher education was not only free, but also promoted in any possible way. The female dominance in higher education was absurd. I was studying foreign languages, and among students of many departments there were just very few male students with about 90% being female. This sounds crazy, and so it was. Male students would be choosing the Technical University and similar establishments, but still at a much lesser rate.

The aspect that was definitely promoted was female participation, equality and recognition of female achievements. It went way beyond that.

The period after the World War II was dominated by women in Latvia. First of all, there were more women who survived the war, and secondly, more women were well-educated. It went way too far in regard that women lost their female side and became work heroes: woman, the tractor driver and heavy machinery operator, the “rifle woman”, woman, the chair of an industrial plant who deals exclusively with work matters, denies make-up and fashion, denies any weaknesses and puts their political and social role above anything.

People who have seen the great movie of that era: Office Romance by Eldar Ryazanov (1977) certainly can recall the boss Ludmila Kalugina who is described by her subordinate employee as “dry, heartless and inhuman”. The actress portrays this image extremely well. Although, she is a very successful at work and managing the Statistics Bureau, she has lost absolutely all female attraction, she wears terrible, old fashioned clothes, her hair isn’t done and she looks at least 15 years older than her actual age. She is single. During this comedy, she gets transformed into a very attractive woman who has it all: excellent work position, beauty, love and family.

Office Romance, part 1 with translated subtitles

This image realistically depicts the overworked woman who neglects all other aspects of her life, and, therefore, she is single and replaces love and family with reading scientific literature and watching TV. The movie had huge success because it was true. Lots of women were so much in work and they had such highly responsible positions that there was no time or opportunity for them to address personal matters and their personal life.

Office Romance, part 2 with translated subtitles

You Tube

The scientific sector is dominated by women in Latvia: it is at 51% which is the highest rating among all European Union countries. It is not surprising, because traditionally and historically women have always been at the top due to excellent education, devotion and intelligence in Latvia. I mean, while living in Latvia I never felt any restrictions, any discrimination to me as a woman. It was, in fact, the opposite: starting with elementary school and ending with University, my success was always much acknowledged and I was always sitting in the first row when students were receiving yearly awards for state competitions in essay writing, geography, math, physics, foreign languages and visual art. Latvian women have also always been socially very active. It is pretty well-known that the Canadian Latvian Vaira Vike-Freiberga became a president of the Latvian Republic not that long ago.

 

The list of women high-achievers in Latvia would be very long and large. I suppose the roots and origins of female dominance in such countries as Latvia is somewhat historically and traditionally related to our life style and way of thinking. Latvian women have been and still are extremely independent and mentally strong.

I do miss a lot of that Latvian free spirit here in Canada. I’ve become invisible and I do not enjoy the social recognition I had back there. Well, I am kind of newcomer to Canada also, and I have been here for only 14 years yet. Ones efforts become much diluted in such a big place like Canada, and I feel that anything I do goes unnoticed to a big extent.

Well, this day is referred to in Latvia as simply Women’s Day, and it is celebrated in every family, at any workplace, at every school and at every office. It is a beautiful tradition which comes with spring flowers and feeling that spring and woman are synonyms.

This is a contribution to all women who are trying to be and feel equal in any walk of life. You certainly deserve all the most beautiful spring flowers that exist!

Being a freelancer: the tough ride

My work requires huge knowledge and insight in medical matters, conduction of clinical trials, knowledge in chemistry, biology, physiology, anatomy, as well as lots and lots of understanding of human genetics, brain function, including cognitive function and any mental disorders, pharmaceutical mechanisms of action and all kinds of dosing rules, medical interaction of pharmaceutical ingredients and things that apply to clinical indications, such as contraindications and also exceptions when using medication off-label.

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Mysteries of cold weather, type I diabetes and insulin resistance

It is a mystery for me. The mainstream medical theories deny such a thing as the ambient weather impact on complex diseases such as type I diabetes and prescribe blood glucose fluctuations and insulin resistance to less exercise or more food intake. I actually can and want to argue with that. Whenever the outside temperature drops to minus 15 to minus 30, the insulin injections I take stop working. I keep insulin in a proper place, I double the dose, I drink excessive amounts of water, I take a walk whenever possible. No change. There is practically no change. I keep taking more insulin until the dose reaches scary amount and then it would slightly lower the blood glucose. That would be using three times the normal dose. This also means a lot of finger sticking and using a lot of test stripes, up to 15 times day, so that finger tips become very painful after a while.

As soon as the outside temperature returns to minus 5 to zero Celsius, I have no problem with my insulin. I return to a normal dose and everything returns to normal levels. That is my ongoing problem with the terribly low temperatures during Canadian winter. The biggest issue that comes with it is damage to the body, fatigue and an absolute lack of energy. Doctors say: you are doing something wrong. Well, I am not. I am doing all the same. The only variable in this equation is very low temperature outdoors.

Seasonal menu as a factor?

I have simplified my menu to the point that it does not take too much time for me to cook and it doesn’t play too hard into my blood glucose sensitivity. I am having oat porridge every morning whether it is summer, spring, winter or fall. I cook it while doing something else and eat it with some butter. It isn’t sweet. I am somebody who always prefers salty dishes to sweets or desserts. I was always that way. I do not have cravings for chocolate or ice cream; in fact, I have chocolate very rarely and in very small amounts. I simply do not like it too much. I can still remember the wonderful taste of the 100% real and chemically unimproved and unprocessed ice cream while I got it rarely in summer when I was a kid, some 50 years ago. This ice cream cannot compare to that one, so, I pretty much do not consume any.

I keep my lunches very simple: some eggs, some cheese, some cottage cheese (the Latvian type of it which is available as unprocessed blocks of half a pound), berries or vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, avocado and similar. I do consume lots of onions and garlic. I am adding garlic and onions to practically anything I cook. I love onions and garlic.

For dinners, I would mostly have potatoes (Latvian style, whether with skin or peeled and boiled in salted water with some garlic or as mashed potatoes) with simple salads and fish, meat or chicken. We rarely have rice or pasta. Very rarely. I always cook from scratch, practically every single meal, 3 times a day, every day of the year. I do that because I know that way what is on my plate and what it contains.

I personally cannot eat more than 3 times a day; I cannot eat snacks between my meals because I am simply not that hungry. If I would not have to take injection with my meals, I could easily survive on 2 meals a day. I still do sometimes, but skipping one meal and one injection isn’t that great, that affects the schedule and overall blood glucose level. I do not put food first, it usually comes after to whatever I have to do, and food is just something inevitable for me.

Food as fuel and 3 meals seem like a lot

I am trying to use only such foods that are practically not processed. That is the reason I am only using real butter (I always was) and 35% whipping cream because the sour cream isn’t a cream in Canada, it is something which has a lot of ingredients, a lot of added and free stuff, which means it is heavily modified. I am almost 60, and I haven’t ever been overweight. In fact, my weight and size haven’t changed since I was 21. I do not go to the gym (I simply cannot for the most time) and my exercise is physical work, work in the garden or walking. I frequently cannot walk at all, and there have been periods like after a surgery when I am totally unable to cross even the room.

I am listing this to simply show that my menu is pretty much the same throughout the year. I grow my own greens, herbs and vegetables, so, I would have these in summer and fall. I use herbs and greens a lot regardless of season because parsley, dill, green onions, water cress sprouts, rosemary, celery and basil are available now all year round.

Physical exercise and workload

My blood sugar does not comply with my good intentions. After having some very harsh and very cold winters in Canada, I came to conclusion that when the weather reaches some certain minus temperature, I get insulin resistance. I take walks or shovel snow when I can and, strangely, that does not affect the blood glucose. In summer, if I am not really cautious with physical loads, even walking to the store, my blood glucose is always low and frequently drops like a stone, so, I have to use pure sugar or glucose pills, a lot of them to bring the blood glucose level up to normal.

My workload is also mostly the same: typing at computer medical research works and translations, painting and giving art classes. That is the same regardless of season.

Medical and non-medical causes of insulin resistance

I have been researching this phenomenon a lot, but it was mostly attributed to drinking less water, exercising less (I don’t do it ever, not in summer, not in winter or in any other season) and eating more or eating comfort foods. As I mentioned before I do not eat more in winter. I never change my meal schedule when I am at my place, and it keeps my condition pretty stable. The only exception is a very cold weather. For this to happen, the temperature has to drop below minus 10 or so. We have had recently minus 24 to minus 27 for a few weeks and I have been in a lot of trouble.

I have found that there are more people complaining about this issue. The only advice they are given is: move more and eat less. In my case, the blood sugar level stays high even if I skip a meal and eat nothing. It stays high even if I go outside and do a lot of snow shoveling (our sidewalk is very long, it is a huge lot) or walking fast. When it is really bad I am trying to eat more proteins, especially eggs and drink a lot of water. That slightly helps; however, I would not say it helps significantly.

In a very hot weather, I sometimes have to eat lots of sweet things to keep the blood glucose level up and proceed extremely carefully with physical activity. If I have taken insulin at a normal dose, but I suddenly have to walk somewhere, the blood glucose drops heavily and I have terrible low blood sugar symptoms from which it is hard to recover.

Therefore, I tend to disagree with the fact that the ambient temperatures and weather conditions have no impact on us and on diseases such as type I diabetes. Well, type II diabetes is very different in many ways, so I am not talking about type II diabetes which is also most often not-insulin dependent while I live on 2 insulins: the basal and the fast acting.

Seasonal affective disorder

I am very sensitive to anything, however.  I feel a lot of pressure on joints which were fractured (that is a lot of joints: left shoulder, left hip, left ankle and right wrist plus vertebrae fracture) in rainy weather; my low blood pressure goes even lower when it is cloudy and foggy, I do experience lack of energy and fatigue with cold and hot weather: I would say I can relate a lot the seasonal affective disorder. Does that explain the insulin resistance in very low temperatures? It is hard to say because all scientific advice tends to make everybody the same: if 100 people eat too much and do not move at all one must be the same and that explains their high blood sugar levels. I do disagree with that also. There are many type I diabetics who are rather skinny, who have low and very low blood pressure like me, but there is definitely something within my body which causes my blood sugar and insulin metabolism and its release react the way they do. Maybe that is a slow-down of any metabolism? Maybe that is less active immune system altogether? Or over-active immune system? Maybe that is a leftover of a genetic phenomenon which most medical specialists absolutely disagree with?

Globalization of medical treatments

Well, we are all so different. Therefore, one treatment, one advice and the same drugs will never help a condition which has the same name, but occurs in different people with distinctive genetics and many variables in their personal and medical history, as well with different places of origin, race, gender and life style. The general medical approach misses that. We are evaluated by using clinically studied results and values which are STATISTICALLY SIGNIFICANT. When somebody does not fit in any statistically significant category, their doctor will say: that cannot be. That’s exactly what they will say. Why? It cannot be because it cannot be. Don’t we know other things which cannot be, but they are?

With globalization of everything, treatments tend to become global, too: if this was working in 100K people, it must be working in you, as well. Is it? No, it frequently isn’t working.

I find that the individual aspect of any condition and disease is the one that is neglected and missed most often. It is so easy to go by the text-book. It takes a lot of courage and extraordinary thinking to get beyond that and start treating every patient as an individual which we are.

Therefore, I am very sure there are more people whose blood glucose levels ARE AFFECTED by the ambient weather and temperature. It could be a more sensitive immune system, their personal metabolism, metabolism of minerals, vitamins, salts and water, sensitivity of blood circulation and blood composition, as well as glandular activity, hormonal balance and genetic settings which play a role.

Individual differences in clinical conditions

The only different article which reviews the insulin resistance in extremely cold weather was this one: https://www.healthline.com/diabetesmine/diabetes-and-the-ice-age#3

Comments under this article showed that most people either did not read it carefully, or did not understand what this article was about. As I mentioned before, type II diabetes is very different from type I diabetes, and methods of treatment and ways of maintaining healthy glucose levels are different, too. Plus, etymology of type I diabetes should be taken into account also, but nobody ever does that. I find that most doctors will view a patient as one of many similar cases. It is very rare when individual specific issues are addressed because the excuse always is: it just cannot be! It sometimes is, even when the cause is unknown or unclear. If there is somebody type I diabetic reading this who has experienced something similar, I’d love to hear from you!

It is terribly cold still. The weather forecast promises milder week ahead, so, I’m very much looking forward to it. I cannot even keep sitting at computer because I am frozen stiff. If I do not respond right away it is because it is too cold to stay on the first floor.

Stop and smell the roses

Yes, stop and smell the roses and other flowers.

When was the last time you decided to do so?

Just yesterday? Today? Congratulations. It’s not true that you don’t have time for that. Believe or not, there is time enough for anything: even with long commute (which is most often our choice), even with small kids and no grandparents or nannies, even when studying or being a workaholic.

Having no time is a habit and lack of focus. Having no time for smelling flowers and recharging is a bad habit.

Are you saying: yah, right? I would like to repeat that it is a bad habit and it comes from chaotic and scattered attention management, or rather, attention non-management.

Being and feeling rushed with everything causes nervousness, unplanned actions and loss of time. We have to pretty much stick with our daily routine, and that means: if you can spend just 1 hour in front of TV, do not make it 4 hours at the expense of your sleep, or if it’s responding to an e-mail, we cannot make it scrolling through all Instagram or Facebook feeds and new posts. We have to stay on the path.

We don’t do that always, do we?

I am convinced that we are experiencing a chronic feeling of always lacking time. Realistically, we should have more time because there is so much help with housework, shopping and lots of other daily chores; there is automation and so many devices are replacing manual work.

Where does the time disappear?

It evaporates with unexpected, unplanned and also forgotten things. There are so many distractions with anything we just were about to start doing. Time over-consumption is also caused by unreliable and chaotic people who we have to be in touch with. Therefore, I am very convinced that it makes a lot of sense not to deal with people who never have time: either for you, for responding to you or for anything in their life; who cancel things because they never intended to do something in the first place, who are always late, who love talking too much or texting too much, or who do not even listen to what you are saying.

Having time for stopping and smelling roses eventually comes down to discipline. First of all: that is self-discipline. It’s not the case that we are always perfect and we never get lost in our good intentions. No human is 100% perfect, and life is never perfect. So, whether we have time for ourselves and whether we can make it for smelling flowers also requires some flexibility in executing our daily tasks, even small ones, and it requires so much more flexibility in tackling the big ones.

Late autumn, but everything in full bloom

Gentle, delicate, beautiful

When my daughter was just 8 months old, her father passed away. So, I was alone. I got German language teaching job at a countryside school because they provided with a free apartment. However, the free apartment had absolutely no conveniences. I needed wood for heating the stove on which I had to cook and also the heating oven in the other room. I had to take to a high second floor every bucket of water and afterwards I had to take it out. We didn’t have easy to use diapers or formulas these times yet, therefore, I had to manually wash everything since I did not have a laundry machine and I had to cook for daughter something she could consume, which was liquid porridge type of thing most often. There was no heating, so every time when I needed to warm up her food I had to get stove going.

My teaching job was full-time. That happened in the ancient soviet times, so, we didn’t have any nannies. There was no free spot in the kindergarten either if somebody would take such a small kid. I took my daughter to classroom which wasn’t far away, but just in another building. The school principal didn’t mind because they really needed a German language teacher. My daughter was either sitting or sleeping between students. She actually started to speak in full sentences extremely early and she also started to walk just at nine month.

My biggest problem was getting the wood: they showed me large logs which I was allowed to use, and before I could utilize them for heating, I had to split these large logs. I had seen my dad splitting wood, and it looked quite easy. I borrowed a huge axe and got to splitting. That was really tough, especially until I grasped how one tries to hit the right spot on the log. Next thing was to get that wood to the second floor storage. I decided to organize a help team from anybody who was around, and I was very lucky that some older teens and a few other teachers assisted in taking the wood to the second floor.

Salaries were miserably small, I mean, really small. I was doing sewing for people who wanted some outfit. After daily lessons I gave at school, I was sewing wedding dresses, suits, jackets, skirts, dresses, blouses, you name it. Some people offered produce and products instead of money. Well, I didn’t refuse.

I was in the fourth year at the University; I studied foreign languages at that time. Later at night I was preparing my test works, research works, etc. It was a lot of work for one person, however, I managed to read books, go to concerts or dancing to a local club whenever there was something on, too.

I have been thinking a lot: how did I manage to get this done? Practically on my own: full-time job, studying at University, small kid, home chores: wood, water, laundry, cleaning; sewing to make some additional money? People quite frequently don’t have to do even half of that and they are saying there is no time for anything.

The answer is extremely simple: I did not have a TV. Internet wasn’t invented yet. I didn’t have any phone. Nobody was dreaming about something we call smart phone now. I mean, there were practically zero distractions.

It’s impossible to avoid from all distractions with everything going on at once nowadays, however, there is a line which we can draw. We also learn how to say “No”. We sort out priorities and start with the most difficult mandatory tasks, then we move to easier things, and then we enjoy the time we have saved. It shouldn’t be at the expense of sleep, definitely not.

So, we are now free to go and smell and enjoy flowers.

Health or trouble from the grocery store?

Can we trust any food-producing company and take their word as a guarantee for healthy and harmless food? I know that you are aware we cannot. We should not.

I’ve seen recently organic sour cream which wasn’t a cream, but a mix of different thickeners, taste enhancers and some other things. Hey, cream should consist only of cream! Shouldn’t it? That’s how it always was: when we separate the fatty layer from milk, we get cream. Not nowadays. Dairy products are the most chemically enhanced food, quite often: surrogate food. Dairy products are easy to replicate using all kinds of substances.

Can we trust anybody who swears their produce is organic, grown in organic soil without the use of non-organic fertilizers? Absolutely not. I have suspicion certificates do not land only on organic farms. Some former employees point out such issues. Only after multiple claims, food inspection would do something about it.

How healthy are they?

Where do they come from?

Look at the grocery store shelves: long rows of vegetables. Some are not that great looking (organic since so small?), some are as if from a colorful food commercial (these are the GMOs: the taste and flavor is sacrificed to longer shelf time and more attractive look), some are frequently soaked in the water or they call this process: sprinkled with water to appear greener and fresher. In other words: these green leaves are slowly rotting straight before your eyes.

Leafy vegetables and greens cannot tolerate such soaking: dill, parsley, coriander, lettuce, spinach and other greens start losing nutrients and getting damaged right after they are harvested. They rot literally on the shelf. How much vitamins and minerals have they managed to preserve that way? I bet not much. Especially, when we take into account how unstable some vitamins and amino acids are, for instance vitamin C. I also do not like how these greens practically disintegrate very soon even in fridge. They lack flavor, as well.

I believe selling unwashed potatoes, carrots, beets and similar root crops would feel offensive for aesthetically refined clients, but anybody who ever has grown some vegetables knows that storage time of root crops decreases dramatically after washing them. I just bought a bag of new potatoes. They were most likely packed wet, so some are already damaged. What happens after a week? They are all rotten.

Root vegetables have a protective layer which keeps them undamaged in the soil. When this layer is washed off, this vegetable becomes sensitive to any harmful bacteria and environmental issues. Washed root crops must be consumed fast. Also: avoid potatoes with visible green parts: that is effect of toxins due to improper storage or handling. When peeled, that should be ok, but generally, green color potatoes should not be consumed.

The other issue is too good-looking fruit and vegetables. If vegetables look very neat, are all the same size, have flawless shape and even color: they are most likely genetically modified.

We should require such food to be labelled, but Health Canada, for instance, does not think we should know that. They also emphasize that GMOs do not cause any problems, issues or concerns. Short sighted? More than that: they are protecting farmers that use GMOs in order their profits would not decrease. Insects and animals die out, but they are of no concern for human use, sure!

While greens and vegetables along with fruit that contain only naturally intended things are good for us, especially, if they are not stored for weeks or they haven’t been travelling to the point of sale for months, packaging material matters, too.

As we walk around the grocery store, we can see lots and lots of greens packaged in plastic bags, containers: baby greens, especially, pre-cut vegetable and fruit salads, lots of them. Generally speaking, it’s bad news. Whatever vegetable: it needs to breathe. Believe or not: they really do. When such greens are packed in a plastic container that is practically sealed, vegetables have no other way but to get damaged faster. So, they are washed. They are pre-cut for salads. They are pre-packaged. Who knows when they were harvested? That is all bad news. Such vegetable already loses nutrients in storage. Even without cutting, washing and handling. After washing these vegetables with special dirt removing mixes (it’s not clean water, believe me, because it wouldn’t be able tore move all stuff from leaves) they are dried and then placed in plastic bags or containers. Whatever way you look at it: I cannot see how they would possibly still have nutrients. Not to mention there is nothing fresh. Fresh, in fact, is: straight from the place where it was grown. There is no other fresh. Plus, toxins from plastic packaging, plus, handling with tools (cutting): that causes rapid losses of good things and fast increase I bad things, e. g., bad bacteria.

If you have access to a food lab, please test the vegetable for essential nutrients 2 times: straight from the garden and after a week in fridge. I don’t think you will ever use any pre-cut salads again.

It is too bad that large cities provide with so much life and entertainment, but getting really good food is such problem there because most often we are eating illusion about healthy food.

Congratulations if you can grow something in your backyard and you are in a driver’s seat if you can grow most of stuff which goes on your table.

Please, stay away from plastic packaging. Salad that is not prepared before the meal has practically lost not only its flavor and taste, but also most of nutrients.

While we do not have a decent food labeling system, we will never know what we are consuming. Never. Heavy metals, toxins, pesticides, chemicals: it greatly depends on soil, on farm, its location, climate and soil characteristics, greenhouse location, applied methods, processing plant, its location, its processing techniques and methods and storage and packaging facilities. This matters to a great extent. To a huge extent. Not to mention whether a product comes from a genetically modified seeds and plants. I can see at the present moment only: product of the USA, product of Mexico, product of Ontario. There is no sign of a specific harvesting date or location, nothing. I personally think this has to change. Our health very directly depends on the process of harvesting, sorting, washing, cleaning, transporting, storing and processing foods. Especially, that refers to foods that are deemed to be so healthy and nutrient-dense.

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