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The true meaning of Christmas: To shop, eat and get drunk (?)

I spent some time yesterday thinking back on the best memories I have from different Christmases.

One memory is from a hospital in northern Thailand where I had given birth to a baby the day before Christmas Eve. On Christmas Eve there was a knock on the door and then my good friend entered dressed in a Santa hat, and with a full dinner in her basket. She brought lamb chops, potatoes and all kinds of condiments. For a few hours she had left husband and children alone just so she could spend some time with our little family, and to bring some Christmas cheer. With my gut torn up by a C-section, boobs that were about to explode and a body that felt like it was leaking both here and there, her dinner and the love warmed me more than an electric blanket.

Sure a good thing that somebody came to cheer us up!

Sure a good thing that somebody came to cheer us up!

I remember my husband and my first Christmas together. We were so poor we could only afford to spend ten simple dollars on each other. I bought him a pair of fleece socks and he bought me markers. Strangely enough, I remember these gifts better than i remember gifts we have given each other in later years, when we have been able to afford more expensive stuff. Perhaps because not as much thought has been behind those gifts.

What parent doesn’t remember his or her child’s homemade gifts, and not to mention, the look of expectancy in their faces while we unwrap the pieces of art: A jewelry box decorated with more glue than beads, a knitted pot holder with holes and uneven stitches, a handmade card complete with enough spelling errors to give teachers a breakdown. I value these gifts, with all their imperfections, more than the most expensive diamond (which is an impossible comparison since diamonds have no value whatsoever for me. But I hope you understand the analogy).

I will never forget Christmases spent with refugees and poor people in Burma. If you ever want to understand the essence of Christmas I recommend sitting with these people under the starry sky while they sing Christmas carols while thanking God that he came and became a baby. Suddenly all stress and worry is forgotten, and only the most important remains: Faith, hope and fellowship with one another. During these times I have felt neither race, class or generation gaps. I have not felt that my makeup wasn’t on right, or that I underdressed for the occasion. Like magic we have melted together like one big pot of Beef Stroganoff, each one of us with our own infirmities.

Christmas a different way

Christmas a different way

These people are able to do something we are not so good at. They have chosen to prioritize the real values, the ones that will last. I am not talking about the added flab around our waist due to too many Christmas calories, but I am talking about the strength one receives from fellowship and care for one another.

When I think back on all our Christmases, I don’t remember the times when we had the most amount of money and bought expensive gifts for each other. I don’t remember the times when I had been able to clean the whole house for the holidays. Our decorations have never followed a particular color scheme, and we will never be considered experts on Christmas interior. But that doesn’t matter. What is left as the good memories are the people and the community, the feeling of belonging and being loved. I think that is what all of us actually want for Christmas. We want it so much more than the new iPhone.

Last year we invited some refugees from Burma over to make cookies with us. I will never forget one of the things they said:

“Here in this country people are not as concerned with fellowship with one another. But they are very interested in buying stuff for Christmas. In our village everybody would gather and celebrate Christmas together. We sang carols and made good food. We miss our own village during Christmas time. We are often so lonely here during this time.”

The true meaning of Christmas? I think it is what we all want. Togetherness in a place where we are allowed to be imperfect and true. The feeling of acceptance, even in our failures. Love that says: I know you don’t have it all together, but that is OK. I am in the same boat. If only one add some marzipan and chocolate to this mixture, one has the recipe for a good Christmas.

I am going to sit down with a cup of coffee now. With my coffee I will have a cookie my daughter made yesterday. It is not a piece of art, but it was made with a lot of love. I can taste it.

This is why I believe Giving Tuesday could create peace on earth

giving tuesday

It happens every year. I suddenly realize it is soon Christmas and I haven’t done what I intended to do a year ago: Buy all the Christmas presents and have it ready before December 1 so I can enjoy the season. Today, my mission was twofold. I was going to stores to see if some of them would want to buy some bracelets refugee women and other poor women had made. I have designed cards to go along with them that explains that by buying a bracelet, you help a child go to school for a year. In my mind it is the perfect gift for the person who has everything. In my naiveté I thought store owners would love the idea and gladly sell them for no profit other than a much better conscience for selling all the other stuff. My second mission was to see if some potential gifts popped off the shelf and called my name, or the name of some of my relatives who expect a present from me.

I didn't think they looked THAT ugly. Do you?

I didn’t think they looked THAT ugly. Do you?

At the first store I went to I met a lady whom I referred to as the bi_ch for the rest of the day.With utter contempt she stared me down and sighed a sigh that said it all: “Are you freakin’ kidding with me, lady? Do you really think I will sell these hideous bracelets in my store?” She rolled her eyes while she looked at me, and said loud: “Where would I put these, they don’t fit anywhere.” I felt my voice disappear into my stomach and said, like I had thought when I entered, that she could just put them on the counter next to the cash register. I didn’t really see that it would cause a huge problem. “Honestly,” she said, “no, thanks.” Then she turned on the stiletto heals and stamped out of the room, leaving me alone, feeling like a little school girl who had been caught cheating on a test.

The second store was a little better, although the lady behind the counter said: “Do you mean I should sell these and make nothing myself?” I said that, well, yes, that had been my original thought, but if it was hard for her to imagine doing that, we could give her a percentage of the sale. Better that than not selling anything at all.

After this I had the taste of rejection way up my throat. It is my least favorite feeling in the world. It makes me want to lay down on my bed and cover myself with a blanket. It also makes me want to drink alcohol for lunch.

I thought that to shake the feeling off I could act like a normal shopper. So I walked aimlessly around in some stores, trying to find stuff that people might want. It made me dizzy. I felt like my head started spinning. I felt like I was getting sick. Because all I saw was stuff that I didn’t need, and I couldn’t really find much that my friends or family actually needed either. And then I saw all these over-eager sales people being way too nice because they wanted me to buy their stuff. And all I could think of was what would they say if I pulled out my bracelets and asked if they would sell them for no profit. They would not be as enthusiastic, I am sure of it.

Opening my email today the inbox was cluttered with all kinds of sales and special deals. There is no end to it. On top of all this, I kept getting calls from telemarketers who insisted on giving me good deals on this and that. I didn’t want any of it, and I didn’t even want to talk to people whose voices sounded like soft butter. Then I went to get the mail, and what had filled up my mailbox? You got it, pages upon pages of ideas for how to spend my money on more stuff.

Today is a day that I like so much better. We call it Giving Tuesday. They goal of the day is to create a opposite movement. We are tired of the madness and the materialism. We are tired of mailboxes full of advertisements for things we don’t want.  We are tired of stressed out women rolling their eyes at us because they realize they won’t be making any money from us. We are tired of long lines to the malls, full parking lots, crowded stores with people pushing to get their ways, heavy bags that give us back pains, and mile-long lines to pay at the cash register.

We are tired of getting encouraged to buy more and more stuff when none of us really need it. We don’t want to buy all their things that are using up the world’s resources, killing monkeys and other species,  and forcing men, women and children work for peanuts (not literally). We want to change the meaning of Christmas from shopping, spending and stressing to giving, caring and loving.

I would encourage you to read up on this great idea. You can find lots of info on it HERE, and also HERE. Have you ever taken an UNselfie? Well, you should try. Here are some great examples. If all of us started giving selflessly on #givingtuesday, I am pretty sure the world would start looking very different. Some stores may go out of business, but the employees could do other things, like promote #givingtuesday. Or if they absolutely want to sell stuff, sell fair-trade stuff. Or Partners Bracelets. It is a lot better than selling new iPhones.

This is my unselfie from last year. I stuck to my commitment and gave money to Partners instead. I will this year too. So much less stressful. And so much more for your money!

This is my unselfie from last year. I stuck to my commitment and gave money to Partners instead. I will this year too. So much less stressful. And so much more for your money!

The benefits of losing everything you wrote in one day

Write+exam+study+xxx

The trick is to fit thousands of words and hundreds of pages worth of knowledge into one small essay.

I am terribly late. In just 18 days (or it may be less by now. I just don’t want to think about it) I need to submit the biggest paper of the semester for my class. As always I have put off starting way too long, and now I am regretting it. Like a cartoon dog with ADHD I am throwing papers around, trying to find the perfect quote that can confirm that my thoughts are correct, if not genius.

Today was the day I was going to get a good solid introduction and some of the content down. For six whole hours I sat in front of the computer and resisted (sometimes) the urge to check Facebook instead of writing my thesis. Satisfied that I had 1/5 of my paper down at the end of the day, I decided to close the program. Bewildered as I tend to be at times, I told the program not to save my whole day’s work and in one nano-second it was all gone. I said some words that are better not repeated. I had to walk around the office for a while. I needed to take many deep breaths. I had to share my misfortune with some people who would tell me how sorry they were. Then I started all over and tried to re-write what I had written once already. The second draft wasn’t half as good, but I just don’t remember what it was that made the first draft so much better.

My one consolation in my deep despair is that having to start over again, I will know the material so much better. Boy, do I know about Psalm 103:6. The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.

Having to rewrite so many Bible verses has given me more time to reflect on them, and to let God speak to my heart. At the end of the day I am more convinced than ever that God’s heart is justice. That he wants his people to care for the poor, the oppressed, the vulnerable, the downtrodden. We are to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to care for the sick, to invite strangers into our homes (not weird men on the street, but immigrants, refugees, homeless, lonely and perhaps sad people), to visit prisoners. As I remember from my first draft,  a Bible verse that told us to spend more money on stuff for Christmas or to get some more imported steaks at an exclusive restaurant was never mentioned. No, I am pretty sure there are no verses with that being the admonition.

I have a book next to me as I am doing research on human rights, advocacy and Christian faith. The book is called Generous Justice and is written by Timothy Keller. I would recommend it if you are serious about following God. And even if you are not, you may benefit from reading it. In it he says, for example:

 

Caring for these...

Caring for these…

If God’s character includes a zeal for justice that leads him to have the tenderest love and closest involvement with the socially weak, then what should God’s people be like? They must be people who are likewise passionately concerned for the weak and vulnerable. He continues by saying: If believers in God don’t honor the cries and claims of the poor, we don’t honor him, whatever we profess, because we hide his beauty from the eyes of the world.

Do I hear a WOW?

 

 

 

Helping others to help myself. Self care

The Good Samaritan. Did he have pure motives? Beautiful painting by van Gogh.

The Good Samaritan. Did he have pure motives? Beautiful painting by van Gogh.

Once, some years ago, my daughter, Elise, who has always been wise beyond her years, asked this: I have some money I would like to give the refugees, but the reason I want to give it is so that people will think highly of me. If that is my motive, should I or should I not give the money? Did I mention she was 11 when she asked this?

I told her she should give the money, because the money has the same value whether it is given by a selfish bastard, or by a selfless nun. But that her goal should be to work on her heart so that eventually she would start giving simply because it was the right thing to do. Not because of the praise, or other benefits, she will receive. Eventually, I said, the joy of giving will be a reward of itself. If people know that you gave or not will be of less importance.

I honestly don’t remember what she ended up doing.

I have thought about this though, because living in a rich nation where people have everything they need at all times, where people seldom have to fight really hard to get food on the table and warm socks to wear in the winter, I am often faced with people who want to help for the wrong reasons. They want to help because they want to feel good. They want to help because they want to be challenged. They want to help because they want to have worth, and what better way to increase your worth than to be seen helping starving children?

That kind of attitude sickens me. I heard once: The poor don’t need your charity. They need justice. And justice, what is that? Sometimes I think justice would be to place all of us in a slum where cockroaches abide close to our sleeping mat, where food is luxury and medicines only for the rich and privileged. Justice would be to allow the poor to storm our houses, our shopping malls and our cruise ships.

It is a good thing for you, and me, that I am not the judge of the world.

Is it right to do the right things for the wrong reasons? Is it OK to fly to Africa (or to Asia, or anywhere else for that matter) and spend some days giving of our abundance, get some photos taken and then go home and feel better about our lifestyles in the small part of the world that spends most of the world’s resources? A lot of people are doing just that nowadays. Travel agencies advertise for vacations with a meaning. People say they are tired of just vacationing on the beach. Now they want to go to an orphanage too.

To be totally frank, I don’t know. Part of me says: No way! No to charity tourism. No to turning poor people’s dwellings into zoos so that some rich people can have a good experience and feel like they did a good deed, and then go back home and continue their extravagant lifestyles.

We have all met them, the nerd outreach teams.

We have all met them, the nerd outreach teams.

 

But then there is a part of me who thinks that it can be good to take the rich to experience the lives of the poor too. The experience may change them. The afternoon they spend with orphans blowing bubbles and throwing balloons in the air may actually make them realize that these are kids just like our own kids. They just don’t have the opportunities our own kids have. Would they have come to that conclusion if they had stayed on the beach? Or in their own living room watching the news? Most likely not.

In my country there is a group of people who wants to send immigrants and refugees out of the country faster than I can say Asshole. They want to give less money in foreign aid than we currently do because in their mind the people who are poor are largely responsible for their own problems. They also want to prohibit begging since beggars mostly are criminals or plain lazy. It often occurs to me that their inhumane attitude must come from the fact that not one of them have had dinner with a refugee, they have never wiped the nose of an orphan, and they have never sat down to share a cup of tea with a beggar. They have never actually spent any time with the people whom they reject. It is likely their attitudes will never change, unless they become friends with one of the people they despise.

Our goal must be to work for a just world. Our goal must be that the goods will be distributed in such a way that we all can have full stomachs when we go to bed, be warm enough, feel safe, get medicine when we are sick, study, work and dare to dream about the future. The best thing would be if we all willingly gave up some of what we think of as ours to give to them, and then the problem was solved. We all know it is not that easy.

Then there are the times when the chemistry is just right.

Then there are the times when the chemistry is just right. Here is my good friend, Haavard with new friends on the border of Burma.

So, the answer to the question I asked myself is that, yes, sometimes one has to do the right thing for the wrong reason. Eventually that may turn into doing the right thing for the right reason.

It reminds me of when I emptied my closet and gave the clothes to refugees. I wanted to help, that is true. But I also wanted an excuse to buy new clothes. The refugees who were blessed with my old clothes were happy. They needed clothes. And I, I confirmed the theory some people have about humans being corrupt, selfish and even dishonest.

 

 

 

 

How an expensive power bill can make you thankful for healthy legs

Originally posted on Oddny's Blog:

There is a photo that has been haunting me all day.

Another haunting thing is the huge power bill we got yesterday.

This has been the most expensive power-month in the history of Norway. It has never been more expensive—ever, ever. The reason: It has been very, very cold, and the power companies accidentally sold a lot of electricity to Germany and other countries last summer. Now there is not enough for us. They claim they forgot that we would have a winter. The consequence for me: We got the most expensive power bill in the history of Gumaers. 939 USD to be exact. 5500 NKr to be exact. And that was with no heaters on at night and hardly none during the day. Must be the showers every other day. (Is this too much personal information? Sorry. I shower after every workout, just to get that straight. Some times…

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The search for significance. Looking all the wrong places.

Today I lost it. The world is for sure joining its forces against me. I was denied the grant to help fund my new book. And get this, this happened a day after I got a crappy grade on my exam in human rights and advocacy. As if this is not enough to ruin my day I can add a list of strikes against me:

A good friend nominated me for a women’s prize, but my name must have gotten lost in the pile of other names because I never even made the list of the people the committee recommended. (Or perhaps the nominating committee just held their stomachs, pointed to my name and laughed through the whole meeting).

I called, emailed, texted and wrote to a dozen people about Partners, and they never even bothered replying to me.

I wrote articles that I personally thought were masterpieces and got polite replies back from a long list of magazines and newspapers saying that they are sorry they cannot publish my piece this time, but good luck to you.

My blog is not gaining any followers.

My Instagram pictures have fewer likes than my children’s.

My husband got a better grade on his exam than I did, and that despite the fact that his writing is crap, and he spent two hours on it.

The new government in our country sucks so bad I am starting to feel like hiding the fact that I am Norwegian. I feel that even this could be a reason for me to fail in life.

And now the sheets I hang out to dry got rained on.

My daughter gave me a makeover some days ago. It was fun and it made me feel beautiful. But, strangely, it didn't make me more popular. It also didn't turn me into a better person. But, did you know how to put on bronzer?

My daughter gave me a makeover some days ago. It was fun and it made me feel beautiful. But, strangely, it didn’t make me more popular. It also didn’t turn me into a better person. But, did you know how to put on bronzer?

All around me I see people who succeed at everything they do. In fact, some of them have succeeded even before they start. Pieces are published in magazines, newspapers and online that get shared and commented on, and I read it and think that my stuff is so much better. Books get published and become bestsellers, and I think: Who likes this stuff? People wake up pretty. Others seem to have all the time in the world to go for runs, hikes, bike rides and exotic trips with their backpacks and tent. Me, I am feeling lucky the days I have time to take the dog for a walk for 30 minutes.

Everybody else seems to have the coolest friends and they are always getting together in the evenings wearing their nice clothes and perfectly manicured nails and drink wine from pretty glasses while they laugh at each other’s jokes and encourage each other. Me, I am often so tired that I spend the evenings at home, watching TV and eating potato chips.

Okey, we may not hang with the people with the crystal glasses. And quite frankly, when I think about it, I would rather hang out with the ones who will sit by the fire with me, drinking wine from paper cups.

Okey, we may not hang with the people with the crystal glasses. And quite frankly, when I think about it, I would rather hang out with the ones who will sit by the fire with me, drinking wine from paper cups.

The list could go on, but I feel that if I keep writing, I will put myself into depression and all the dishes piled up on my kitchen counter may never get done.

As I looked at the denial letter I got in the mail today, I honestly thought: Of course they would not grant me the money I applied for. What do they care? Plus, when will I get it? I am not very good at writing, or much else for that matter.

But then, after a while wallowing in self-pity I asked myself a question that needs to be asked. Who are you trying to impress?

I have been trying to teach my children this their whole life, but it seems I need to learn it myself to: What you do and what people think about you don’t determine your worth. It simply can’t. So often I set my own value based on my successes and failures. Obviously that means that some days I am super valuable, and other days I am completely worthless. The last week I haven’t been worth much more than the broken trashcan I use for composting.

We could say I have been feeling the way I look here.

We could say I have been feeling the way I look here.

What I have told others, and believe is true for them, is that their true worth is who they are when they take away all the exterior stuff. Our true value is not how we look, how much money we make, how many articles we get published, how many prizes we receive, or how many friends we have. Our true value is in the core of who we are.

Once Steve asked me, and I have been pondering this: “What would your worth be if you were paralyzed from the neck down, lost your hearing and your vision? Would that change my value as a human being?” If the answer is yes, then we do live in a world that places people’s value on their ability to perform, as well as on their performance. And to be totally honest, that is kind of the world we do live in.

But is it right? Of course not. A person has his or her value because of the fact that he or she is a human being, created in the image of God. Nothing can take that truth away. If I can just start believing that, and act as if it is true, then a denial letter or a bad grade won’t throw me into the sump of self-pity and depressive thoughts. It will just be a bump in the road, on the road called life.

So, here I am, on a rainy day, determined to keep striving to get better, and to aim for excellence. But at the same time as I am doing this, I will also keep reminding myself that the outcomes don’t determine my value. My value has already been set and it won’t change. In the words of Winston Churchill: Success consists of going from failure to failure without the loss of enthusiasm.

A new quote for my book with flowers growing on it.

oddnygumaer:

Since Steve is in a creative writing mood these days, it will suffice for me to reblog his writing while I go and mop the floors in my house. Enjoy the flowers on your road!

Originally posted on Normal Is Over.:

Van Gogh on normalVan Gogh paints it, Fromm says it, Jesus lives it, and Tolkein turns it into everyone’s story; normal is a very bad place to be.

“As they sang the hobbit felt the love of beautiful things made by hands and by cunning and by magic moving through him, a fierce and jealous love, the desire of the hearts of dwarves. Then something tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking stick.”

Thanks to grand master blogess Oddny Gumaer for digging this out of pinterest and planting it in my inbox.  Hopefully in 2015 I’ll finish my book. Until then lets keep fighting dragons, babe.

“What good is it for someone to gainthe whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their…

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Break the rules and your life doesn’t suck. I promise.

oddnygumaer:

This is a continuation of the blog from yesterday. Written by Steve.

Originally posted on Normal Is Over.:

There are times I feel like I have reasons to say my life sucks. It rains on my day off. We run out of money too often. I get the flu. How would it be if I had nowhere to live when the rain came? How would it be if there were no doctors, and no medicine when my children or I got sick?

In detention for three years and without food; the Rohingya people plan their escape and accept the terrible risk.

In detention for three years and without food; the Rohingya people plan their escape and accept the terrible risk.

How would it be if I was not just penniless, but also stateless, and imprisoned in a concentration-like camp with no prospects of a better life? In fact, my most likely prospect would be this: Death. What would I do?

Partners has been told that helping the Rohingya is close to impossible. The government of Burma/Myanmar forbids helping them. Ironically they will tell the world that they…

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#dieandseeificare

It’s that time of the year. It’s time for much of nature to die. Seeds were planted, grew, bore fruit, and now their mission is done. They die. My sugar snap peas gave me a lot of enjoyment. Now they are gone.

It’s also time for people to die. Children. Babies. Teens. Mothers. Fathers. Aunts. Uncles. Best friends. Grandparents. Colleagues. Neighbors. This is the time of the year when they shall die.

Rohingya baby

You may think I have smoked something strange and that I am just babbling nonsense. But this is not the case. I don’t smoke anything. Ever. I also don’t lie. And I hear a lot of stories I wish I didn’t have to hear.

Some days ago I was sitting in a small room with people whom I love and admire. There were nine of us. We were from four different countries and three different continents. You could almost say we were from five countries and four continents, since some of us came from one country and lived in another. This is not the point.

The point was that we were all sitting there feeling like a heavy rock had been chained to our hearts. We saw no possible way to get it off. Actually, this is not really the point either. The point is not us. The point is the people we were talking about. The ones who are dying right now. As we were sitting there, looking forlorn, they were dying. A slow death. But a certain death nevertheless.

We all knew the people who are dying. We had all visited them, talked to them, touched them, smelled them, eaten their food, held their babies. We were talking about the Rohingya people of course. Their plight became the heavy rock hanging from our heart, making smiling impossible.

One of us said: For two years the UN has refused to register them as refugees, thus making helping them illegal and close to impossible. With some simple steps from the UN, they could at least be given a small food ration. 

Rohingya in camp

Another said: They are desperate enough to pay a high sum of money to get on a boat that will take them away. None know how may have died at sea, and how many have been sold to traffickers who torture them, withhold money, food and other privileges, how many girls have been sold into prostitution, how many children have died due to lack of food and medicine on the boat.

Yet another said: They are dying a slow death. What is happening is genocide. The government wants them gone, whatever it takes. Their death is a good option. So they don’t allow aid groups to distribute food. Starvation is a quick and certain, though painful, way to die. By withholding medicine and doctors from their concentration camps, their imminent death is more certain. 

My thoughts were: My country gives money to the UN, believing they are the ones who are doing the job best. It is sad to think about all the wasted millions that should have been used to feed, heal and educate children and their families being spent on high salaries, Land-rovers, and rent of buildings belonging to former military generals. It is aggravating to think about what we could do with that amount of money. 

My friend to the left said: What is the point of even feeding them when they will still die. We are just prolonging the inevitable: Their certain death. We can’t feed them forever. 

Rohingya girl

All of us wondered: How can we help get them away from this small corner of hell? How can we ensure that they don’t just disappear? The children with the big dark eyes and the curious stares, the girls with the serous demeanor, and the boys with the dedicated attitude will perhaps not survive for another year. Who survives on a cup of rice, some water and the prospect of living in a small enclosure with no freedom to move, work, grow food, and pursue one’s dreams for long? Who survives when there is no hope? 

I am not making this up. It is the sad, the terrible, the brutal, the honest, the shocking, the sickening truth that without a major change of attitude of the world, the people group called the Rohingya may cease to exist. The dark-eyed children will not be able to live any longer if they have nothing to eat. The fathers will stop living when they can’t go back to their jobs, their boats, their fields, and their communities where they played an integral part.The mothers will die,perhaps not from lack of food, but from broken hearts. Seeing their children die and not being able to do anything to ease their pain is a death-penalty for any mother.

Rohingya woman

My sugar snap peas completed their mission here on earth before they died. They did what they were created to do.

The hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas who right now are living under conditions worse than those of deprived animals will most likely not reach their potential, will most likely not ever feel like they are wanted, needed, sought after and loved. Unless we do something to change destiny.

See, I think we can change the course of history. Right now it looks like the Rohingya will continue to die their slow death and the world won’t care that much. An article on CNN, Huffington Post of the Guardian may pop up from time to time. But nothing that will shake governments resolve to get a piece of the pie called Burma’s natural resources. They don’t care that children are dying as long as they get re-elected, or at least get the credit for lucrative business deals. I think we can change this.

Would you write me, or add a comment on the blog and let me know how we can change it? I need your help.

Rohingya boy

 

I am serious about this. Write me and tell me how we can help save lives. Tell me if you have a way to help. Tell me if you know a president that we can meet. It is not yet time for the Rohingya to die. Read more here and here 

 

 

 

 

Carbohydrates, yoga and a small light beer

Diabetes makes you weird.

Diabetes makes you weird.

They say that it is the subject line of your blog that draws the readers. I almost considered putting the word SEX in there as well, but felt like it may also cause me to lose some of you. And although it may have helped me gain a few new followers, I was not willing to lose any of my current readers. You mean too much to me!

This week my husband decided to change his diet 100% .After he got diagnosed with Diabetes type 1 about six months ago he has not been able to control his blood sugar any longer than I am able to control a hula hoop round my waist. When he started reading about the long-term effects of high blood sugar and the unpleasant surprises that come with excessive insulin injections he decided he loved life more than chocolate, and wanted his legs to remain on his body more than he wanted baguettes and mashed potatoes. He cut all the carbs in his diet cold turkey. And when I say all the carbs, I even mean his Friday beer. Unless it is served in a very small glass, and is l-i-g-h-t.

I didn’t want him to live on a diet consisting of scrambled eggs and hotdogs with an occasional leg of chicken or possibly a pork chop. So for the last week I have spent my free time glued to no-carb recipes and I am almost an expert already. I can make bread, crackers, granola, lasagna and much more using only food from Steve’s Yes-list.

But this is not a food blog, although there are days I wish it was. The days when I have nothing smart to say. That is when I wish I could just give you a recipe, followed my ten photos of the dish in the making. But that is a different story. All together.

You can make delicious bread with just lots of seeds and some other ingredients that you can ask me for.

You can make delicious bread with just lots of seeds and some other ingredients that you can ask me for.

 

As I have been going through this rather radical change in our household (the girls and I want to show our support of Steve by disguising the maple syrup, or eating fried cabbage with a sprinkle of chia seeds together with him) I have been saddened by all the things he will not eat anymore. It makes me so very sad to think of the banana splits that he loved to eat. Now there will be no more ice cream, no more banana, no more chocolate sauce. But, he can have as much whipped cream as he wants, unless it is sweet. My homemade bread is the best, and so are my cinnamon rolls. How will his life be now that he no longer can eat either? When (if) we go to Belgium, he won’t be able to try all the monastery beers made by the trappist monks.When we eat fresh cut-up fruit with vanilla yoghurt in the evenings, he can only have the plain, lactose-free yoghurt minus all the fruit. He could have flax seeds however.

But then I thought about this: He didn’t go blind. He didn’t lose his hearing. He didn’t get diagnosed with a brain tumor or cancer. He didn’t get ALS. He didn’t become paralyzed from the neck down. He didn’t get arrested and sentenced to life in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. He got diabetics type 1, which sucks, but which can be managed with some self discipline and perhaps some yoga as well.

And me, the wife, will keep making food that helps him feel that life is good.

 

What I am also thinking is that we live in a country where medicines and doctor visits are close to free, in a country where you can buy chia seeds and coconut flour, in a place where there actually ARE doctors and nurses, in a country where we are free to travel where we want to, despite the fact that Steve is an immigrant. We live in a country where controlling people’s excessive eating habits is harder than their lack of things to eat. We live in a country where fish is abundant in the ocean, and beer is so expensive it is better not to buy it anyway, but to save for retirement instead. Not all people are that privileged. Not all people can say that life is good, even with diabetes. Some people just have to come to terms with the fact that for them treatment is impossible and diabetes is not a disease one learns to live with. It is a disease one dies from.

 

So, I gladly figure out how to make waffles with no flour, no carbs and no dairy. (Flour, dairy and carbs are actually similar things. I just liked the sound of it in the sentence).  I do it in honor of my brave husband and of the thousands who are diabetics in countries where there is no treatment or help available and they just die from diabetes. Like Burma. Or Myanmar, like some people like to call it.

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