Thoughtful Thursday: let’s try some positive thinking

How can we maintain some level of inner peace in the midst of so much stress-inducing turmoil beyond our control?

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My self-imposed challenge: who have been the most significant contributors to making the world a better place to live

I have to admit it; once I began my exploration of which individuals throughout history might qualify as candidates for the quest I described in my post last week [The greatest _______ (fill in the blank); how do we decide who or what is most important to count?], I realized that I had bitten off more that I could chew, at least in a week.  The commenters who had said “That’s a lot of thinking” and “What a lot of work” were right!

I’m fairly satisfied with the categories I proposed last week, but each one has an awful lot of scope.  As a reminder, these are my categories for making the world a better place, in absolutely no particular order:

  1. Improve the rights for women (voting, working, education, driving, planned parenthood, etc.)
  2. Improve the rights of children (end forced labour, access to education, access to healthcare, end forced child bride marriages, etc.)
  3. Improve the rights, respect, and dignity of minority groups (overcome discrimination, oppression, enslavement, systemic racism, displacement, etc.)
  4. Fight for safe passage and hope for a future for refugees, whose numbers are growing
  5. Combat global poverty
  6. Promote peace
  7. Provide inspirational leadership by demonstrating the values of peace, compassion, and human dignity
  8. Combat climate change and environmental degradation
  9. Promote wildlife conservation
  10. Advance medical knowledge and improvement in health worldwide

Now to decide who I think is most deserving of being the most significant contributor in each category. In acknowledging the enormity of doing justice to each of these extraordinarily important topics, I’ve reconciled myself to restricting my considerations to 2 categories each week.  As it is, each really deserves its own blog post, but we’ll try for two.  So, let’s get started.

#1 Improve the rights for women

I’m starting with my first category because, well, it happened to be the first one listed.  And, my, what a big topic.  Stop and think about it.  Is the right to vote the most fundamental starting point to ensuring/improving women’s rights?  Maybe.  Probably.  But think about how many issues of women’s rights are being rolled back around the world as we speak, starting in our own backyards.  Everywhere from Afghanistan to Texas and points in between.  Access to planned parenthood, freedom to go to school, freedom to work, freedom from sexual harassment and rape, freedom to drive without a male guardian in the car, freedom to leave the house without a male guardian.  On it goes. Continue reading

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Thoughtful Thursday: thinking about the new abortion law in Texas

I share these observations as someone who is well past worrying about finding myself pregnant, welcome or otherwise.  Very well past! And I don’t live anywhere near Texas. But the self-righteousness of the lawmakers – virtually all men and all people with financial security – who’ve passed such restrictive, regressive, and in some cases downright cruel laws – against women, often with few resources or support – gives one pause. Who’s bearing this burden … and why? Something to think about.

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The greatest ___________ (fill in the blank); how do we decide who or what is most important to count?

Last week I shared the Charles Schulz’s philosophy on what’s most important to us all.  The piece starts with a list of what defines success to many people: extreme wealth, winning pro athletes, beauty pageant winners, Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners, and Oscar-winning actors.  Of course, Schulz’s philosophy goes on to expand on what’s really important to most people.

A few days ago fellow blogger John Persico, with the great blog name of Aging Capriciously, posted a piece that similarly looked at how we decide what or who is the best or greatest in any particular area.  This particular blog post is called The 10 greatest of everything – to me anyway.  John made it clear that the ten categories he chose to evaluate are just his choices.  The criteria he used to determine who or what would be declared the greatest in each category are likewise his alone, and he allowed that someone else might choose very different criteria (like me, for example!).  And he made it clear that he thought about it long and hard, researched the “candidates” for selection, and had a lot of fun doing it.  His categories and criteria certainly gave me food for thought, which is what blogging is all about, right?!

Here are the categories John chose to evaluate for greatest ever: greatest prophet, greatest book, greatest general, greatest empire, greatest leader, greatest writer, greatest philosopher, greatest scientist, greatest individual athlete, and greatest composer.  Any of you who know me very well will be able to identify some of John’s categories that made me alternately drop my jaw and/or smile!  But those are the categories that were of interest to John.  More power to him.

His criteria also intrigued me; if I were going to create my own version of a list of 10 Greatest, I’d be changing both the categories and the criteria.  And he’d be fine with that.  After thinking about this for quite a while (while watching the totally awesome U.S. Open Women’s Finals Saturday evening, even if Canada’s Leylah Fernadez didn’t quite pull it off), as an alternative I’m going to suggest a somewhat different approach.  Any reader who is looking for a fun challenge is encouraged to join me.  We’ll start by constructing a sample list of who has made the most significant contribution to making the world a better place to live in a number of categories.  Here we go, along with a few possible candidates, just to get the ball rolling. Continue reading

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Thoughtful Thursday: what the forest dwellers are thinking

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The Charles Schulz philosophy is a good reminder for us all

The Charles Schulz Philosophy*
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The following quiz explains the philosophy of Charles Schulz, the creator of the ‘Peanuts’ comic strip.
You don’t have to actually answer the questions.
Just ponder them. Just keep reading and you’ll get the point.

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners (or Stanley Cup winners).
3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America pageant.
4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
6. Name the last decade’s worth of World Series winners.

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How did you do?
The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday.
These are no second-rate achievers, they are the best in their fields.
But the applause dies.
Awards tarnish …
Achievements are forgotten.
Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

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Here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with. Continue reading

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Thoughtful Thursday: something to think about

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Our relationship with food

Food can be your friend and food can be your enemy.

Food provides us with the nutrition necessary for survival and good health.  Mind you, this requires that we have access to nutritious food and then that we actually choose the nutritious food over other options.  This becomes trickier all the time as the list of “other options” to avoid gets longer and longer, now including not only too much fat, sugar, and salt, but also red meat.  And in case you haven’t noticed, that includes steaks and roast beef!!

Food can bring us comfort. Most of us have certain meals that we think of as comfort food; it’s often food that reminds us of our favourite meals growing up.  Chicken soup is a classic comfort food, especially if you’re feeling under the weather.  For some of us it’s a turkey dinner cooked to perfection – with the trimmings we are used to of course, not the trimmings someone else is used to!  For Inuit far away from home in Northern Canada, being able to have country food (such as fresh seal or whale meat) is a huge comfort, as well as incredibly nutritious.  My daughter-in-law, who grew up with Korean food, finds comfort and satisfaction in nearly any Korean food, as opposed to what I know how to cook for her (sorry, Irene).  My friends from Bhutan often carry bottles of hot sauce with them when they have to travel to western countries, so that they can drown the dull taste of western food with the hot, spicy taste they take comfort from.

Certain eating experiences can conjure up some of our fondest memories, similar to the way hearing a song from our youth brings back memories.  Meals and music are both associated with good times.

Most of us have favourite foods, our go-to foods of choice or maybe a rare special treat that’s worth waiting for and never disappoints.  Actually, for me some of those come this time of year when fresh fruits and vegetables are being harvested.  Truly fresh corn on the cob and peaches only last for a few weeks where I live, and those are special weeks in my books.  For many people, as I found out recently, it turns out that lemon meringue pie is one of those favourites.  And hence the impetus for this post.

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When I posted about all the special national events celebrated on August 15 in addition to National Acadian Day here in New Brunswick, little did I imagine that my throw-away line about it also being National Lemon Meringue Pie Day would garner more interest than celebrating the independence of India from the Brits or the independence of South Korea from the Japanese.  Or of course what for me was the main event of the day, National Acadian Day. But guess what got the most comments?!  It turns out that lots of people who read my blog really love lemon meringue pie.  So I decided to embark on a little research (googling) on the topic. Continue reading

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