I am moving AGAIN - or is it STILL? - this weekend. Cheers to stolen moments for reading and browsing this weekend.Read More
Ok so it's Monday.
I spent the weekend packing so I didn't get to share my good reads, and I am off today so here we are!
In a former life, I lived in Northeast India doing research on the process of political empowerment for rural women. I can tell you without reservation that to be a woman in Indi is to be gritty, resilient. No wonder they're making more female Olympians than at any time in their history. I weep with joy for them.
...and more.Read More
'In the now' is a much abused phrase for a concept that very smart, very philosophically-immersed people spend their lives studying and living: presence, flow, mindfulness. I say it's abused because it's often conflated with a pop culture version of carpe diem: do whatever you want, whenever you want, consequences aside. Horace - the Roman poet who originated the phrase - wasn't keen on nihilism. Quite the opposite, he urged people to avoid waiting to live until tomorrow because tomorrow is hardly promised. Do what you can today to make your life better.Read More
I came of age as Donovan Bailey won my country's first 100m Sprint Olympic Gold and set a world record. Twenty years later, we're back. My anxiety about Andre De Grasse's semi-final against Usain Bolt is turning into nervous internet browsing. The race is 20 minutes away, which comprises about half the time I spend thinking about track & field each four years.
Here are some cool things to distract a waiting nation:
The last time I visited Las Vegas, my good friend Melissa and I took an ambitious detour towards the city on our route from Edmonton to San Francisco. We arrived at 11am, her car way overheated and packed to the brim with everything I owned. We stopped at a mall somewhere and the city looked burnt up, like it wasn't built for daylight. People looked sad and wandering lost. We left after a few hours.
We both preferred the desert terrain and glorious, whipped crimson sunsets.
He sat back, exhausted. “I am so worried about where we go from here. I am so worried for how my wife will do without me. We get 70 or 80 years here,” he said, looking at me, “But I know I’ve got an eternity left in Heaven.” He went on to share that he is worried about money, his children and his home. Norfolk General is a bucolic terra firma for faith, fellowship and farming. The idea of an eternity in Heaven crosses cultural divides between the Mexican and Jamaican migrant farmers, the farming families of European descent, the Mennonites and the First Nations. Of course we face the same economic and social challenges as the rest of rural Ontario but it seems these challenges are weathered with stirring self-reliance and closeness.
I am technically an outsider. I am not a woman of faith. I am from the country too, but a different kind, farther north. My Low German is about as good as my Mohawk and my Spanish, which is to say non-existent. I don’t know anything about farming. But despite all of that, each of these communities has made space for me through my role as a provider of care. When I drive to work every morning, I drive through the Norfolk County hamlets, villages and fields, past the side roads, around the tractors and other slow, wide loads, to a new kind of home. Each one of my patients asks me if I think I could stay.
I am prone to Facebook tirades and lengthy arguments with people who think about things differently than I do, and with people that are just trying to get my goat.
These arguments are typically about issues of justice or equity, as I see it. In that sense, the issues are of great import. But in another, the tiresome back-and-forth with Internet acquaintances is not important because it doesn't accomplish anything. I also leave them feeling angry and incomplete.
I am a social media crusader and I don't particularly like it. I like the thrill of the argument, but no one ever wins and a lot of time gets wasted. So there's that kind of social media user.
Then there are these kinds of social media users who produce a whipped cream version of their lives for the Internet. They have pretty faces and wear pretty things and go to pretty places. And it makes me smile.Read More
In northeastern Afghanistan, there is a province called Badakhshan. In Badakhshan, there is a capital city called Fayzabad. In Fayzabad, there is a provincial hospital. In that hospital, there are dozens of women who came from far away to have their babies. They are Pamiri women and women from the Wakhan corridor. They are women from everywhere in between.
In 2011, I took my very best shot at helping out. I was 27 years old and I moved from Ottawa, Canada to Kabul, Afghanistan for a job with a well-known and well-respected global non-profit. I thought I would do some good. I thought I would learn a lot.Read More
As someone training in family medicine, I covet the opportunity to teach young women, and men, about their nether bits and how they work. Young women and men sort of know how the bits work and high school health classes do a decent job covering the very basics.
But when it comes to caring for the vulva and vagina, a little advice can go a long way.
I am so fortunate to be working with a great OB\GYN generalist. I watched him discuss genital hygiene with a patient this week and was really quite pleased to know that a lot of the advice he gives is stuff I've figured out on my own. But that same advice is rarely discussed in routine primary care visits with family doctors. Let's talk about it now!
First, grab a hand-held mirror and follow this tutorial from Women's Health to get your bearings.
Seriously, go. I'll wait. My guess is that less than 25% of you reading this sentence take a regular gander at your anatomy. So, really, no time like the present.Read More
America's Test Kitchen: YEAH PLEASE.
A few years ago, I got the America's Test Kitchen Cooking School Cookbook for my wedding shower. It has all of these great image-based tutorials for classic meals like roasts, turkey, gratin and other important cultural 'meal'stones (ha!).
So then I started looking around to see if they had a podcast because my podcast game has been a little blah lately.
And they do!
Two women led us through the oldest residential school in Canada this afternoon. One was a survivor. People who spent part of their childhood in a residential school are known as survivors. The other had a grandfather who lived in this residential school in and around 1899. They both generously took us - seven Canadian family medicine residents - through one of this country's darkest legacies....Read More
A new nutrition book hit last week: Always Hungry?: Conquer Cravings, Retrain Your Fat Cells, and Lose Weight Permanently.
I listened to the audio version and have tried a couple of recipes. My thoughts? I love it. It's really reasonable in its presentation of the evidence. And the recipes are not aspirational. They make sense.Read More
I think about the years and years of play I sacrificed for my education and my career. And finding space for play - to enjoy my life - is now a spiritual imperative. If I was to die of a rare cancer next year, like Dr. Kalanithi or my friend Jen Young, it would all feel so profoundly unfinished. And it would feel like that because I have a lot of banked play time that remains unused in my esoteric life account.
Over the last several years, I've had a voyeur's view into the lives of people confronting terminal illness. The hoops of medical training dropped me squarely into the existential sorrows of perfect strangers as they realize that these days or months are their last. It feels great to help where you can, and utterly, outrageously sad when there is nothing to do.
But just before Christmas, I found out a truly adored member of my family has two large tumours, likely representing an aggressive cancer.Read More
Yesterday, was talking to a woman who has experienced a great deal in her life. She said to me,
I want to taste peace.
I want to taste joy.
I need to taste my food.
I need to taste my kids.
The past needs a great hug.
I just spent four weeks in a training program for visual literacy at a local art gallery, a program designed to help residents with the art of noticing in the clinical setting. If I pick and chose charitably from the program, the things I loved were the things that helped me see forms of human life more vividly.Read More
Coffee is a warm friend in the winter, a gentle nudge towards alertness on an early morning and a toasted ode to having grown-up tastes. I love it.
But the health consequences?
It's great for you. It's terrible for you. It will make your baby fat. It will give you never-ending youth. It will give you malaria.Read More