Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Unrequited Unknown

Unrequited Love. A familiar concept from literature, probably because its sting is a common human experience. Who has not deeply longed for something that was beyond their power to obtain?

Think back to adolescent infatuations. You are too shy to talk to the guy, so you spend your free time daydreaming about him. You imagine him saying "I love you," you imagine marrying him and having five kids and living by the ocean. The next day at school you find out he is dating the most popular girl in your class. Your self-esteem plummets and you think your self unlikable. "How could he not have noticed me," you think?

What the teen, getting used to her new hormones and floods of emotion, doesn't realize is that she was not in love with a person. She was in love with her idea of a person. She had formed an image of that guy in her brain, and desired what she saw there. She believes her happiness depends on his reciprocation. Unfortunately, this mindset prevails in many of us even long after puberty.

I have had disagreements with others by maintaining that "being in love" is not the same thing as loving someone. The former, I believe is an emotional response, choatic, sudden, hard to control. The latter is a rational choice, fully thought out, deliberate, calm.

This past weekend I went to the opera with a group of friends. We saw Verdi's Il Travatore. The music was beautiful, and the costume and set design were admirable as well. The story was overly dramatic though. Fitting for an opera perhaps, but considered objectively, I think it was rather shallow, acting more profound than it was. Why? Because all the character's motivations we driven by pure emotions. With lines going  something like this: "What  have you done to me? You've made me in love with you. Nothing can stop my wrath. Avenge me, no matter what...[and, my favorite ] God is my rival, not even He can have her, only I can" -- I realized how irrational the whole thing was. The characters allowed themselves to be taken over by their tempestuous passions. Their happiness hinged on what was outside of them. Of course the play ended with Leonora consuming poison because she couldn't be with the man she loved. And the other man who was in love with her, was trying to force her to marry him by executing the man she did love.



Over the top, but in the end, the overbearing shallowness does teach a powerful lesson. Emotions are fickle. We are intended for a higher existence. Humans are rational animals, as Aristotle defined us. We are lowering ourselves to a bestial level and doing ourselves harm if we follow our feelings at every turn. The level road or rational existence may be less glamorous but is ultimately more fulfilling, more noble and all those good things.

Of course we are not Vulcans, and cannot divorce ourselves from our emotions. Are passions are not bad. They just need to be kept in their place. They can help us persevere, they help us make things more fun, they enrich our lives, they help us empathize and bond with others. But feelings are NOT facts. When the guy in high school asks another girl to the prom, no matter how devastated the girl is, no matter how much she thinks her life is ruined and she must mourn forever, the reality is not so grim. In five years, hopefully, she will have forgotten about him and have moved on. No one can make us anxious, no one can ruin us, no one can take our hope and happiness, unless we let them. It is a choice.

I, like so many others, have experienced good 'ol unrequited affection in the past. In my case, all seamed to be going well, we had tonnes in common, we related to each other about a lot, even seemed to have many of the same goals. Then I find out he doesn't think it will go anywhere. Why? I could ponder that forever, I could dig myself into resentment and despair. Initially, I was pretty upset and confused.  I just happened to be at a party when he send me the dreaded message confirming that he did not feel the same as I. So making the most of the situation, I figured I'm just going to have fun, dance the night away and not think about it. Dancing felt amazing. So in a way I kind of exchanged one emotion for another, but it was a rational choice to do so. I chose happiness over grief.

It may not always be that easy, but the battle is always worth it. No matter how strong the emotions that come over us, no matter if we are denied love by the only person we desire it from, no one can  take hope away from us, as a wise quote from The Shawshank Redemption went.

Love is a choice, not a feeling. No matter what feelings overcome us, for the most part, we choose how to react. We have that power, and it is a liberating one. No matter now much unrequited love may hurt, overcoming it can make you that much stronger.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

THE BEAUTIFUL

My sort of slogan is: In search of the True, the Good, and the Beautiful. That is what I've determined to be my broad vocation in life. Those qualities are eternal, and I don't think could ever soundly be argued as negative. To behold what is true, what is good and what is beautiful, I believe, is ultimately a positive, soul-sustaining experience.

Take for instance confronting a truth, say for example, that one is gluten intolerant. Embracing that truth will lead to freedom, because that person will begin to feel better and be liberated from their sluggishness, brain-fog, indigestion and whatever symptoms the allergy presents. Whatever the analogy, truth always brings freedom.

Think about an act of kindness, an example of goodness, an altruistic move of a stranger to help you when you've been having a bad day. It inspires us, touches our hearts, reminds us that in all our toil, and suffering, reality is, as good 'ol Samwise Gamgee responded to Frodo's desperation, indeed more good than it is bad: "There is some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it's worth fighting for!" The world is not an amorphous  mix of good and bad, but rather goodness prevails, like a sail. The sail has hole but the ship still moves. Evil is not a thing, like holes are not a thing, just a lack of the presence of goodness. The good news is that we have the power to bring good into those holes. That, in fact, I believe is our duty and a very rewarding one to fulfill.

Lastly, Beauty. As a visual artist and an art enthusiast, I take great pleasure and consolation in beholding beauty. Whether it is in the greenery and majestic cloud plumes of a country vista, the intricate details and mastery of light and color in a painted masterpiece or the ingenious design of a tabby cat's furry patterns as if it were make-up adorning its eyes and nose and chin. Beauty inspires, lifts us up out of ourselves and our mundane preoccupations to contemplate something higher, something more eternal. We are left with the image or sound of beauty in our minds, dwelling there to be recalled when all else seems dim and ugly.

Though all three of these things are important I would like to place  "The Beautiful" in the limelight this time. I recently came upon a very good documentary about beauty, what it is, what it isn't and why it is important. As you will find out in this film, we have somewhat lost our understanding of beauty and the result is a post-modern spiritual depression.We have need to regain something that was understood in former centuries when life in many respects was simpler. True beauty will inspire and continue to better us, not bore and make zombies of us.

Hope you enjoy Why Beauty Matters, by philosopher Roger Scruton


G&C Free: Muffins & Macaroons

Well, after an attempt to post gluten and dairy/casein recipes for a week I sort of succeeded. I posted seven times, but not consecutively. Between trips to the cottage, family visits, preparing to move I consider that a success.

In any case, I shall continue my posts on the subject since I'm having an adventure baking away. And with Gems of Gluten-Free Baking that I bought at Costco, it's a great and delicious experience!

Firstly, Chocolate Applesauce Muffins:


Cocoa, Enjoy Life chocolate chips and applesauce are some of the ingredients that make these delicious and moist. I also halved the sugar, as i often do both because I don't like things very sweet and I think the rest of the world is sugar addicted, and because they still taste good but are healthier!

Secondly, Macaroons!


This field of these tasty cocoanut treats was slightly over-baked only because I think they were too small. They also became a bit drier than i think they were meant to be. Definitely need to be bigger than a table spoon....I think I will try a small ice-cream scoop next time. Maybe halving the sugar affected them too, But with all that said and done, they were still mighty tasty and good friend to a cup of tea!

Happy gluten free adventures!

Monday, August 20, 2012

G&C Free ~ Day #7: Enjoy Life!

While trying to enjoy life to the fullest by spending time with people I love, savoring the beauty of nature, crafting and drawing and writing, exercising and attempting to eat well on my gluten and dairy (casein specifically) free diet I stumbled across something that makes this a lot easier...Enjoy Life!

Enjoy Life! is a brand of food products, I mentioned recently, with no gluten, dairy, corn, nuts, or soy...and a few other things I think...anyhow, perhaps the first thing one thinks when they hear that is that this food must be gross. But nothing could be further from the truth! Their cookies and cereals are really good.

I am specifically really loving their flax cereal...which I just ate for breakfast. The best part is, my picture looks pretty much the same as the one on the front of the box!


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

G&C Free ~ Day #6: From the Land of Saints, Scholars and Leprachauns, I give you...

Irish Soda Bread!

 And what a success! I don't know that I've ever baked bread before, and certainly not bread that has no gluten, dairy, yeast, corn, eggs or soy.

I bought a fantastic GF cookbook from Costco recently called gems of gluten-free baking: breads & irresistible treats everyone can enjoy. The great thing is Wendy Turnbull, the author, developed a gluten-free flower mixture that makes your baking so similar to the wheat variety that we're all so used to. Though I find, GF is always lighter, but maybe that's just me, being intolerant and all.

Firstly, her flour, which she calls GEMS flour:

2 3/4 cups brown rice flour
2/3 cup sweet white sorghum flour
1/3 cup  amaranth OR buckwheat OR gluten-free oat or teff flour
3 tbsp chickpea OR millet OR soy OR quinoa OR white/red/black bean flour

The two first flours are essential, the second two are up to you. Mix these together and shazzam! You have a gluten-free all-purpose flour. You can find all of these and the guar gum needed for the recipe at the Bulk Barn.

Finally, here is the anticipated recipe, as it appears in the book, with my substitutions to make it dairy free and such in blue:

Irish Soda Bread

Legends say the cross cut into the top wards off evil spirits

  • Brown rice flour for the pan
  • 1 cup GEMS flour (or Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour)
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free quick oats
  • 2 tbsp ground flax
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp guar gum
  • 2 tbsp cold butter (or cocoanut oil), diced into small pieces or grated
  • 3/4 cup plain, low fat yogurt (or Amande Plain Creamy Cultured Almond aka almond yogurt)
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease baking sheet and sprinkle with brown rice flour in a 6-inch circle.
  2. in mixing bowl combine GEMS OR gluten-free all-purpose flour, oats, flax, baking soda, salt and guar gum.
  3. Mix in the butter OR cocoanut oil using pastry blender or fingers until blended (a fork works just fine too, and the butter/oil doesn't have to be that cold either).
  4. Stir in yogurt, mixing enough to form soft ball.
  5. Turn dough out onto lightly floured pan and gently pat into 6-inch disk.
  6. With a sharp knife cut a cross 1/2 inch deep in the centre of the disk. Sprinke top with a little rice four.
  7. Bake about 20 minutes.
  8. Best served directly out of the oven.
Copyright  (c) 2008, 2010 by Wendy Turnbull


Randomly, I recently also made gluten-free muffins from a mix by el Peto. Put in bananas and chocolate chunks. Be careful you put ingredients in the amounts suggested. I put less bananas I think and there was a pleasant aftertaste I suspect from baking soda. Otherwise, light, fluffy and yummy!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Artist Showcase

I am so blessed to know so many wonderful artists among my family and friends. So I thought I would post some of their work.

*****

Maximilian Haig

My brother's drawings are amazing, if I do say so myself. He probably spent at least 5 hours a day drawing for as long as I can remember. An animator by profession, his characters are bold, with priceless facial expressions and stance. This video shows the recent flip book of his work:


See more at:

*****

Candace Foy-Chabot

One of my best friends, Candace and I went to high school together and took art every year. We always sat in the same seats across from each other. I hope it's not too much to say we also tied for top art mark in our graduating year. Candace is also an animator and illustrator. Her work is charming and clever:


See more of Candace's work at:
http://www.candacefoy.com/

*****

Nicole Scofield

I met Nicole at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy, a small Catholic liberal arts post-secondary school. There were definitely many people of many talents. Nicole is one of the most unique and talented people I've ever met. She certainly had, and has, buckets of talent for writing, not to mention acting as well. I'm so glad that we've kept in touch since by handwriting letters too each other. Hers are always beautiful. I'll never forget the letter she sent me with pressed, dried flowers and pen ink she made herself! Her blog has this delightful Caveat Lector:


"The usage of all words contained herein is subject to the usual inaccuracies of mortals, and hence may not represent the true opinions either of the writer, editor, critics, jester, or resident ninja.

None of the above are responsible for any trauma induced by the equivocal use of words, known colloquially as "puns", nor other attempts, successful or otherwise, at humor.

The contents may, and likely will, contain elements that are both Random, Edifying and Disturbing, and hence must be read with caution.

Lastly, none of the above are responsible for any accidental shedding of light upon the truth."
The rest of Nicole's blog cat be seen here:
http://jibboomsandbobstays.blogspot.ca/

*****

Nicole Mair

I had the pleasure of going to Dalhousie with Nicole in the Costume Studies program. It's no wonder she was at the top of our graduating class, her costumes are truly professional and breathtaking!