Friday, 14 November 2014

A Haunting Dream

I need to share a dream that I had.  Partly to get it down in writing but also because it had a haunting message behind it.

My boyfriend and I visited the beautiful city of Prague in late August, early September.  On our trip we visited the medieval town of Cesky Krumlov, Sound of Music land itself, Salzburg, the cute little hipster city of Graz, and where much music began, Vienna.  It is not a surprise to me that when I came home I had a dream that was influenced by this trip abroad.

 The dream goes like this:  

My boyfriend and I are in a resort like place, such as the ones most North Americans stay at when travelling to Mexico or the Caribbean.  It was gated and protected.  We were in Prague, but it was not the same Prague that I came to love in waking life.  We decided to go off and take an excursion to see the city.  We noticed that the city was really broken.  It was run down and decrepit and filled with thievery and corruption.  The people in the city seemed to all be "off" and had disabilities both physical and mental.  We were waiting at a bus stop to get back to the "resort" and of course we started getting bombarded with these short weird looking street people trying to steal our wallets.  They had a shtick about it, they would first pretend to steal your wallet and show you that they already had it but always show it to us (and others around us waiting) inside out.  So you would get upset and try to get a closer look at it or get it back.  Upon getting a closer look you realize that it is not even your wallet.  So most will go into their pockets or knapsacks to see if their wallets are still there.  Once they go to retrieve their belongings the thieves now will either snatch it from you or know where it is located to snatch it from there. So my boyfriend and I were standing with our backs against each other so that we can watch who was coming at us on all angles as well as to protect our belongings in our backpacks.  Sure enough this one little thief in particular shows me a red wallet inside out and I believe it to be mine.  So I grab it from him to take a look and realize that it is not mine.  During this commotion he manages to steal our wallets and passports and anything else of importance to be able to leave the country and get back home.

We finally get back to the resort crushed that our excursion put us in this predicament.  We are sitting with one of the social workers (or something like that) in the resort explaining what had happened.  She says to look around at all the others like us who had this happen to them as well.  We are all stranded here together now.  She also really emphasized that we need to have compassion for the thieves, that we do not know what they went through in life that brought them to this point of their only means of survival is to steal from the tourists.  I couldn't at that time feel any compassion for the thieves that put us in this mess.  I was angry.

Next we are on the "beach" at the resort when all of a sudden these dark figures on black horses start coming at us from the water.  They literally emerged from the waves and barged at everyone on the beach.  There were young white horses on the beach with us that were starting to run away and panic.  I grabbed one of the white horses and tried to ride it into the water instead of retreat backwards as the dark horsed things were shooting at us.  The beach had boundaries like a wave pool.  So I tried to ride this baby horse along the edge to try and not be seen by the attackers.  The white horse started shrinking to the point where it was smaller than me.  So I held it in my arms and took a deep breathe and went under water to not be seen by the black horsed attackers.  When I came up for air I could see my boyfriend looking frantically for me on the beach ahead.  I tried waving to him to show that I was still alive and another person noticed.  I motioned to tell him to tell my boyfriend that I was here and that he should come out this way. Next thing I look down and the baby white horse was bleeding so I brought it and myself back onto the beach to try and resuscitate him.  At this point I was more worried abut the white horse in my arms than about the attackers.  I held him in my arms on that beach and I cried as he died.  I was feeling so guilty that I had drowned him by bringing him under water with me, you can't explain to a horse to hold their breathe under water.  As it died in my arms the water on the beach receded and was gone, it was really a wave pool.  An illusion.  And underneath the water was like a hospital where we all got sent.

Anyone who wasn't murdered by the attackers were getting rushed into this hospital and being strapped down on beds.  This was not the type of hospital that helped people get better.  This was the type of place that did science experiments on you.  I knew I had to act quick to survive.  Myself and a few others were not strapped down and taken away just yet to the back room.  To the right was a window and who comes leaping into the room, the same thief that had stolen my identity and money.  Of course my first reaction was anger at him.  He leaped around the room as I shouted and threw things at him so he flew back out the window.  At that moment I realized, he is showing me the way out.  So I followed him out that window and leaped down behind some fences.  It was night time out there and I was hiding in the shadows trying to escape the barriers which I succeeded at.  Now I was penniless in the dangerous streets of "Prague" trying to figure out what to do next to survive.

I knew that I would have to "fit in" because standing out made you a target.  I learned that everyone on the streets were made this way because that place (that resort) had actually did experiments on their brains and bodies to make them this way.  Suddenly I understood why I was supposed to have compassion for them, because I was about to become one of them.  I would have been turned into them and thrown on the streets afterwards not knowing who I was or where I came from and the only way to survive would be to join them in stealing from the tourists.  It was full circle.  But I had escaped.

I had a necklace around my neck so I quickly ripped it off and hid it in my pocket.  Anything of value would stand out and be stolen.  I acted weird and slow and made sure my clothing was torn up.  My friend, who I escaped with, and I found a place to hide out in.  We went into this old abandoned building and tried to recuperate.  It turned out to not be abandoned and we had to once again flee through a window.  Eventually we are on the street at night just walking not knowing where to go but knowing we should just keep moving. Every person around has been experimented on and have that same messed up mentality.  Stealing and lying is their only moral code, whatever the experiments did to them, that was first and foremost.  Some people were more disfigured than others and some looked normal but who was to be trusted?  We meet a man who is pushing a shopping cart filled with all sorts of things (probably stolen things).  He seemed  pretty normal so we befriend him and we tell him we need help and a place to stay.  He says we can come stay with him and we start following him.  As we are following him the streets we are going down get darker and more desolate.  My gut instinct suddenly kicks in and I sense danger.  This guy could be trying to take advantage of us.  Wherever he is leading us could be even worse than the hospital.  I realize that even he should not be trusted and following him was probably a stupid move.  I look to my friend and I say, RUN!

I wake up.    

The message in this story is to have compassion for those who you think do not deserve it.  We do not know their stories and what got them to whatever desperate point they are at.  The thieves in the story started off just like me.  They got turned into what they became because of science experiments.  The one that put me into that mess also helped me to escape but I had to let go of my anger towards him to see the window leading out.  We can be blinded by our anger sometimes and cannot think objectively.  Anger makes us weak and stupid.

I just found this article online which is what inspired me to share my dream.  I saw the images of the deformed people and it was exactly what the people on the streets of my dream looked like.

Do not ever think for a second that there are not forces out there who are trying to control your mind, because they are there and they are sneaky.  They come in all shapes and sizes.  Think for yourself.  Occupy your own mind or someone else will.  

*All pictures taken during our stay in Prague.

Friday, 31 January 2014

The Deal

So, here is the deal, the gist, the lowdown of what is happening here.  This was intended to be a travel blog first and foremost.  Lately, it has turned into more posts about my new found love for nutrition than my deep rooted love of travel.  I feel that this is inconsistent and has to stop.  My solution:  I have started another blog about my life in Holistic Nutrition.  This will be a professional blog where work opportunities can stem from.  Here it is:

As for this blog, it will now step away from talking about nutrition and go back to travel and also personal revelations, of course!  I have been too busy lately to write because I am in school full time, but I miss it.  Having started this blog a few years ago was a great idea, because it got my creative writing juices flowing.  I am finding it easier to express myself on writing assignments because of this.

I appreciate all the readers, the people who purposely come here and the ones who accidentally stumble upon it.  For that, I say Thank You!

I finish school in July, and I am itching to get out of this country!  I've been looking up flights all week and have been finding great deals.  This year, I head to Eastern Europe!  But I will not be travelling alone this time.  I am grateful for the experiences that backpacking on my own has brought me; but to be honest, I don't want to do it again, at least not right now.

Monday, 30 December 2013


The Importance of Probiotics

I'll be honest, I did not know what the heck probiotics were before I started school.  Now I find them to be one of the most fascinating topics.  Most people understand the concept of "good bacteria" and "bad bacteria".  Well probiotics, are the "good guys".  I say "guys" on purpose because you must think of them as living beings.  Much of our digestive issues are caused by too many of the bad guys taking over our digestive tract.  Antibiotics are used to help fight illnesses caused by these bad guys but the problem is that it also kills the good guys.  Taking probiotics regularly and even more importantly, after the use of antibitotics, helps to replenish the good bacterial growth.

Probiotics have many roles in our body.  They offer vital help with physiological processes from digestion to growth to self-defense.  There has been a rise of modern diseases such as obesity and autoimmune disorders which can very well be linked to not having enough of the good guys inside of us.  Specifically, 2 species play a very large role in our digestion and regulation of appetite.  Bacterial cultures living in our GI tract help to break down complex cards and absorb nutrients.

We all have an individual and unique "microbiome" which is a community of microbial cells and the genes they contain.  In other words, inside of us lives a colony of living organisms.  In a European study it was founded that there are 3.3 million microbial genes found in the gut from more than 1000 species.  That is 150 times the 20,000-2500 genes in the human genome.  Our individual fates, health and even actions may have more to do with the genes found in the microbiome than what is in our own DNA.

When I imagine this microbiome I think of a specific Simpsons episode: Treehouse of Horror VII "The Genesis Tub".  Lisa has a tooth that she puts into a petri dish and in time a whole community grows out of it and becomes a very complex world.  Bart comes in and makes the environment hostile and thus wreaks havoc on the little people.  I relate this to the environment inside all of us.  We must create a positive environment so that we don't make the good guys angry and help the bad guys to multiply.  It is like we are the Earth and the bacteria are the humans.  They can kill us by adding to the demise of our over all health or help us to thrive by teaming up with our immune system and our digestive tract for optimal health.

Fermenting foods is a great way to get additional probiotics inside us.  Something that used to be so common and was a way for our ancestors to make foods last longer.  I made my very first batch of sourkrout the other week and I do believe my Baba would be very proud!


Interesting Reads:


Fragrance is the #1 pollutant on Earth

On my first day of Fundamentals Class, the teacher informed us that fragrance is the number one pollutant in the environment today.  That came as a surprise to me considering of all the heavy smoke I see leaving car exhausts and factory smoke stacks.  However, it made sense the more I thought about it.  I can barely walk past a perfume section in a mall without my eyes burning and my chest tightening.  Perfume is a volatile and offensive smell to me, but for so many others it is loved and revered as desirable. 

Fragrance on an ingredient list can indicate the presence of up to 4000 chemicals.  That does not exactly give one a good indication of what ingredients are in it.  David Suzuki states that, “of the thousands of chemicals used in fragrances, most have not been tested for toxicity, alone or in combination.  Many of these unlisted ingredients are irritants and can trigger allergies, migraines, and asthma symptoms.”   This article goes on to state that “in laboratory experiments, individual fragrance ingredients have been associated with cancer and neurotoxicity among other adverse health effects.”   I must speculate why it is so widely used in products that do not even require it.  It shows up in the ingredient list for blush, moisturizer, and make-up removing lotion.  Phthalate (DEP), which is often found in fragrance to help the scent linger, has been labeled as a “Category 1 priority substance, based on evidence that it interferes with hormone function”  by the European Commission on Endocrine Disruption.  Furthermore, “Phthalates have been linked to early puberty in girls, reduced sperm count in men, and reproductive defects in the developing male fetus (when the mother is exposed during pregnancy).  Phthalate metabolites are also associated with obesity and insulin resistance in men.”    Health Canada has recently banned phthalate in children’s toys; however it is still allowable in cosmetics.   The Environmental Working Group rates fragrance to be quite high on the overall health hazards of the ingredient.   It causes irritation to eyes, skin and lungs.  Fragrance is also a “known human immune system toxicant or allergen.”   Fragrance poses as a toxic threat to the environment and to wild life.

There is a loophole in the label “fragrance” that manufacturers use to keep their secret recipes from being exposed.  The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics got together with Environmental Working Group and tested seventeen different fragrance products and found fourteen secret chemicals not listed in the labels due to this loophole.  Ten of these chemicals are linked to allergic reactions such as asthma, wheezing and contact dermatitis.  Four hormone disrupting chemicals were found that are linked to a range of problems including sperm damage, thyroid disruption and cancer.    The main concern is that fragrance is so hidden in these ingredient lists that people do not even consider that these unknown chemicals are being absorbed through their skin.  

It's funny when you think about it, where did we even ever get the idea that we have to bathe in chemicals to smell good?  Somewhere (probably around the 1950's during the creation of heavy consumerism) someone made an advertisement that told you to try their product.  They got celebs to join in and sold a lifestyle.  They use the cheapest ingredients and ask for a hefty price.  That price is not just monetary, but it is doing damage to your body as well.

The way I see it, fragrance is a mask.  If you have a smelly body odour problem, masking it with heavy fragrances, from soaps to room deodorizers, does not actually fix the problem.  When I smell heavy perfumes on people I have to wonder, what are they hiding beneath that fake aroma?

We are what we eat.  Often if we are eating processed and unnatural foods that will contribute to the awful smell that's coming out of us.  A diet in wholesome and real foods can surely help.  Can you image the odour of someone who eats burger king everyday compared to someone who eats fresh salads and organic meats?

Fragrances are meant to mimic REAL life smells.  Like flowers and fruits.  You can get essential oils of your favourite smells and use these sparingly instead.  Plus, oils are even cheaper compared to these over priced bottles you buy at shopper's the day before Christmas.  I also sometimes like to rub flowers and herbs from the garden on myself.  Natural and lovely.

Bathing regularly is key.  If I don't feel the freshest, there is nothing greater than I nice hot shower with my favourite all natural goats milk soap.

My mom sprayed the bathroom with febreeze awhile back and I immediately started coughing and choking.  Now she puts cinnamon in a little pot with some water, heats it on low heat on the stove and it freshens up the whole house.

We complicate life too much sometimes.  I think it's time to start taking a few steps back and questioning why it is that we do what we do in this society and if it is worth the price to pay at the end.

   David Suzuki Foundation, “Fragrance and Parfum”,

   Environmental Working Group, “Fragrance”, EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database,

  The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, “Not So Sexy”, 

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Education is Empowering

The long awaited Christmas Break is approaching, less than 2 weeks away.  I will say this proudly, I deserve a break.  A break from responsibility and studying.  My brain has just about reached it's full point, I am not sure how much more information I can get in there.  I've been in school since September.  I treat school like a full time job of a workaholic. I have learned more in these last few months than I have learned in the last 10 years.  I am surprised at how well my grades are, it emphasizes to me that I am on the right path.  You get back what you put in.  I am really looking forward to being able to update this blog on all the new and exciting things that I think are worth sharing.

What I am learning is very serious stuff relating to not only health but the environment too.  It has put me in a very different head space.  It is like the weight of the world is on my shoulders.  There is this constant whirlwind of factual information and enlightening mysteries enveloping my every thought and action.  There is no where to go but up from here.  Education is Empowering.  

With each and every new bit of vital facts that I learn I want to shake people and move them into a direction that will make themselves healthier and happier.  It does not work that way.  People will learn at their own pace.  Those that seek it will find it.

Gaia by Archan Nair

Monday, 28 October 2013

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times /July-August

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way."

~ Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

I got blessed with being handed the best and most important job of my life a few months ago.  I also got faced with the most unusual and confusing family emergency at the same time.  For both instances I could not say, "why me?"  No, I know way better than to ask such a silly question.  I must ask, "why not me?"  I accepted the job with enthusiasm and excitement, fully aware of the responsibilities involved, or so I thought.  It had never occurred to me that someone so close to me could become ill and that I could not ask for a leave of absence to help out.  The moral dilemma that springs forth when you feel helpless.  Giving up is not an option.  Running away is not ok.  

I'd been very busy working away at the theater all summer, a job I have been yearning to obtain for years.  It has been a godsend for me.  I am learning the skills that I have always wanted to learn more about, especially carpentry and painting.  I have made amazing bonds with the friends that I work with, bonds that last forever.  I have gotten such amazing feedback to uplift my spirits and self esteem, helping to reiterate to myself that I am worthy of the job.  When my boss walked into the shop one day and looked to me like he was about to deliver terrible news, he said "Hey Trish, ummmm, I have some news, we need you to work behind the scenes on 39 Steps."  I was thrilled!  I told everyone that walked by, "hey did you hear the news?"  I think my friends sometimes think i'm on double rainbow pills... Apparently it was going to be a shit tonne of work and a crazy schedule.  As more duties got laid on my shoulders, the happier and more useful I felt!  THIS was going to be the time of my life.  

Simultaneously, I get a late night/early morning text from my brother telling my that my parents house flooded, way worst than the last time.  I wake up, 8am and immediately call home.  My mother picks up and tells me all about the storm.  I was in shock.  I am living an hour and a half a way and we did not even get a mere drop of rain.  I get to work and my friend showed me the footage on his phone.  I couldn't believe what I was seeing.  My neighbourhood got especially damaged as we live in a valley next to a creek.  I called home everyday, my mother would speak to me for hours at a time, mainly just to let it out.  I bugged my brother relentlessly to go over and help them, he said they did not need the help.  I felt trapped.  I felt homesick.  I wanted to be there to help clean up the mess, to help ease my mother's troubled mind.  I have no car to get home, there is no bus system here.  I sucked it up and hoped things would get better.

I got my course schedule and book list for school during that time as well.  I knew that I must start researching used books to keep my costs low.  My work schedule barely allowed for this to happen but I was able to spend a Saturday afternoon searching  for the best deals.  I bought 10 books, which covered my first 5 courses.  I felt relieved.  I tried to relay the message to my mom, that I was saving money and doing good but she was starting to slip away.  That night I also had an extremely hectic turnaround (a turn around is when we take down the previous stage and build the next one, we work all night long).  The day before, on the Friday, I got a message from my brother.  I was in rehearsals with the actors.  I was given a roll for the puppet scene. I was more than thrilled that I could actually be in the play. I never asked for such a role, I did not expect such a duty, but I loved every minute of it.  My brother told me that my mother was going crazy, that he was pulled aside by our neighbour and warned him that something very serious was up.  I got home from work that night and called my mom, we talked for over an hour.  I was attempting to keep her on the line because I knew she could not hold up her shtick for too long.  As soon as I started telling her about how the play was going she disappeared.  The line was dead.  The first stage of panic set in.  It's crazy that in this day, with all our many forms of communications, I could not find a single neighbours phone number on the internet.  All my friends are scattered, I couldn't think of anyone who could go and check on her for me.  Thankfully, she finally answered the phone 10 minutes later not realizing that she ended our phone conversation in mid-sentence.

Sunday to Wednesday were 12-14 hour days for me.  It was worth it because 39 Steps was the best play that ever crossed the stage.  Our dress rehearsal ended up being in front of a live audience on the Wednesday!  We had a few mishaps the first few days, such as curtains not closing properly, a lamp post falling from backstage onto the stage, a smoke machine breaking down... It all came together, while my home fell apart.  I called home Monday during my lunch/dinner break, it was a very scary phone call.  I will not get into the details at this point, I will say this, I called the Doctor's office immediately and left a message as it was already closed.  The next day my mom was in to see the doctor and given some pretty intense pharmaceutical pills.  It got worse.  I had to be present at work for very long hours and wipe the emotion from my face, on stage for the first time, acting for real.

My only day off was that following Sunday.  I decided that if I can't go home to help I would bring my mom to me.  I was going to borrow a car to get her on the Sunday, but instead my dad offered to drop her off on Saturday before I went into work.  Naturally it was raining that day, I sat shaking and waiting.  They arrived and my mother did not look like herself.  2 weeks of intense stress did a number on her physically.  Psychologically, she was gone.  Scariest day of my life.  I made the choice to call an ambulance, she needed help, sedation, something that I could not offer with my own two hands.  I had two shows that day while my mother was in the hospital, my dad and uncles and aunts checking up with her.  Sunday, my first day off in over two weeks, I was up earlier than usual and off to the hospital.  She was smaller than ever before, but much calmer.  My brother came down to help as well.  It rained again on Monday, the stress got to my dad as well, but thankfully we were already at the hospital when it happened.

Tuesday I was back at work, my dad and brother were back in the city and my mom was released from the hospital under my care.  My uncles were nice enough to check in on her while I was working.  Co-workers were asking me how I enjoyed my time off and all I could say was, "I'd rather be working."  By Friday it was getting difficult for me.  Mental illness is something that I've never dealt with in such an extreme case first hand.  Saturday my dad arrived to take her back home but before they left they came to see the play.  That was a very happy moment for me.  A few days before I had missed my cue to walk on stage and pick up the fence because I had started day dreaming about my mom being well enough to come see me in the play.  I knew she would regret it if she didn't come.  Friday I forced her to walk with me around town and I could not get her into the theaters doors.  So for her to come in the very next day was a miracle at that point.

I got through that time and did not break down.  I dealt with the stress the best I could, by living in the moment.  I watched and worked in that play for 3 weeks, 8 shows a week, each and every time I was thankful for every single moment.  The pressure was on me to walk out of work to help my family but I did not think that was the right thing to do.  When I felt tears forcing their way into my eyes while sweeping the stage before a show one day, I chose life.  Life is always happening around us at all moments, I can't focus my life on sickness and death.  Keeping my duties, kept me in one piece.  After all, what is the theater if not the perfect escape from life's troubles?  I knew that when my mom got better, she would regret it if I had to give up my job.  I was working to pay for my school tuition and I needed every single day of work to accomplish that.  I had said to my boss/friend at work during that time, "I am sorry, I feel like I am not at my best right now."  He said, "But no, in fact you are at your best because you are dealing with so much stress but are still pushing through."  He was right, our best is not when we can do great when there are no obstacles in our way, our best is doing great despite the obstacles.

The play was a hit.  My mom continued to get back to being herself a little more everyday.  By the end of August, my parents were down to party for the Mumford and Sons Stopover Tour in Simcoe.  I took on a job as a driver and scored back stage passes.  Trust me, I did not need another day of work at that point, I worked the entire month of August.  At certain times, my beloved sleep can wait.  Like when I am travelling, and when I am working the coolest job ever at such an amazing festival.  With that extra last minute gig I saved up the final amount I needed for my tuition.  The following weekend I came home with a check in hand.  I walked into my schools office and payed for the entire tuition in full.  The most money I have ever spent in one transaction in all my life.  A very proud moment indeed.