I NEVER CRY. Well, that’s not entirely true, but I am generally not sentimental, and I almost never cry over international tragedies over which I have zero control. But this morning, the New York Times gave me the dubious opportunity to open up my tear ducts. I get most of our news online, but on Sundays, I indulge in an old-school, paper newspaper. This morning, it came, incongruously, with a small cardboard virtual reality viewing box. We downloaded the app on John’s smart phone and watched the virtual reality story The Displaced.
It is a simple story – a snapshot of 3 children’s lives across the globe who are part of the 30 million who have been displaced by war and persecution. The video puts you on the boat with the Sudanese boy, in the very swamp he ran to – choosing between death by crocodile and death by the fighters. It puts you in the cucumber field with the young girl, living in a country that doesn’t want her. You can almost sit in the desk in the bombed out classroom in Ukraine, and you are there with the grandmother and grandson as they work in the garden in which they found the grandfather’s body, which had lain for months after they escaped. I feel overwhelmed. I can’t adopt 30 million children, but I will be looking for ways to help those I can.
New York Times Article Introduction: The Displaced
ARE YOU GOING TO GIVE UP BACON?
In stronger terms than any organization has every used, on October 26th, 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially identified processed meat as a Group 1 carcinogen, which means it is strongly linked to cancer. Red meats were a close second, falling into Group 2A, meaning they probably cause cancer. Hard to believe red meat is now listed right alongside mustard gas and DDT as probably causing cancer. Yikes!
Topics like this are great for your Saturday Salon hat in and of themselves, but also because they bring up many other issues, such as vegetarianism and climate change. It also brings up questions about studies and statistics.
Who funded the study? Who funds that organization? Were the results agreed upon by everyone? (In this case, 68% confirmed the results-a unanimous vote was not required before the announcement.) What is a meta-analysis vs a single study? If cancer is a complex disease with multiple causes, how can they say a single food causes cancer? What about blood pressure, obesity, exercise and other factors? Don’t those play a role? What does ‘an 18% increased risk’ actually mean?
In everyday conversations, we usually avoid any topic we think may result in an argument. That, or we don’t have time to get into it, so why bother? But we don’t change the world by clinging to our opinions or being afraid to consider an opposite point of view.
Saturday Salons give you the opportunity to not just share your current opinions, but your whys. WHY do you think as you do? As the Talking Stick goes around the circle, we also get to hear other people’s whys – one or more of which may ring true with us. After every Saturday Salon, at least one topic sends me to Google to learn more.
So start making that guest list and pick your next free Saturday…! As the host, you can throw a few good questions in the hat to get things going, but be sure to allow your guests to write their own. The discussion will be richer if you talk about what’s on everyone’s mind, not just yours.
A Saturday Salon host gives their guests the gift of time and space to share ideas, thoughts, and feelings – and the tools to keep things civil when the topics get hot!
GLUTEN FREE? REALLY?
Who really needs to be gluten free? Can you simply eat less bread? What’s the difference between celiac disease, gluten intolerance, and being allergic to wheat? And is this all some plot to get us to buy the plethora of new, usually more expensive, gluten free products sprouting from our grocery store shelves?
One out of every three people in America say they need to eat gluten free. Be honest…don’t you roll your eyes just a little when they say that? With all the confusion swirling around this topic, it’s no wonder we get a little skeptical when someone says they’ve decided to eat gluten free, lactose free or any of the other frees out there. And what if you’re one of them? It’s so much trouble to read labels and so hard to take a pass on the aromatic french bread basket at the restaurant. Just a little won’t hurt…will it? It might…and it might not…it depends.
There are many reasons people avoid gluten, which is found in wheat, rye, barley. Often, they are looking for solutions to intestinal symptoms they’ve suffered for most of their lives: gas, bloating, urgent bowel movements, diarrhea and/or constipation. They know where every public restroom is within a 10-mile radius of their home. They’ve been inundated with confusing, conflicting possible causes: irritable bowel syndrome, Chrohn’s disease, food allergies, colitis, or just plain stress. Well-meaning friends, relatives, and often, doctors tell them to ‘just relax’. Right.
If you want to do a little quick research, the Celiac Disease Foundation is a good place to start:
CELIAC DISEASE The granddaddy of reasons for avoiding anything and everything with gluten in it. According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, “When people with celiac disease eat gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley), their body mounts an immune response that attacks the small intestine. These attacks lead to damage on the villi, small fingerlike projections that line the small intestine, that promote nutrient absorption. When the villi get damaged, nutrients cannot be absorbed properly into the body.” Not only do you get cramps, diarrhea, bloating and/or constipation, but you can’t absorb nutrients your body needs. It can lead to anemia, osteoporosis, intestinal cancer, bone or joint pain, and a myriad of other life-limiting or ending diseases.
Celiac disease can be diagnosed with a blood test, followed up by an endoscopic biopsy, but it’s not that simple. Say you’ve learned by trial and error that avoiding gluten works for you. You feel better when you don’t eat it, you have flare ups when you do. But, you want to narrow it down and find out if it’s OK to eat once in a while. Are you simply allergic or do you have true celiac disease, where you must avoid gluten completely? If you get a blood test after not eating gluten for a while, it will come back negative, saying you don’t have the disease, even if you do. The blood test looks for antibodies to gluten, which won’t be there if you haven’t been eating it. You would have to eat gluten for a couple of months, sometimes, in order for it to show up in a blood test for celiac disease. Most people can’t afford to have symptoms that long. They have to work and function in their daily lives, which doesn’t include being tied to a toilet.
According to their website, “not all people who react negatively to gluten actually have celiac disease. The symptoms of gluten sensitivity are similar to those of celiac disease. People who are gluten sensitive experience symptoms in response to eating gluten, but will not have intestinal damage and will test negative for celiac disease antibodies.
What to eat? The Paleo diet looks very appealing to those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Simple. You don’t have to make any big decisions, just eat meat, vegetables, nuts and fruit – all of which are gluten free naturally.
So, next time you throw a Saturday Salon – have some compassion for those who are struggling to know what to eat. Put a little something out there for everyone. Paleo is a good way to go – as long as you have plenty of meat or fish (unbridled), veggie and fruit options, you’ll please your vegetarian and even Atkins friends, too.
For additional perspectives, check out this New York Times article, The Myth of Big, Bad, Gluten.
WANT A BREAK from the election debates? Throw in a question about Fashion into the hat at your next Saturday Salon and watch the fur fly! Defending fashion is a tough task in any audience, but even though my husband and I toss the NY Times Style Magazine onto the floor every Sunday morning with disgust, I bravely picked it up this week and thumbed through it.
Yes, the laughable excess and pre-pubescent models posed in almost pornographic poses were there; and they continue to offend me and every other thinking person on the planet, but there was more. This week, in Andrew O’Hagan’s Karl Lagerfeld interview, a thoughtful gem of truth caught my eye. First paragraph. (I must admit I stopped there – I was not interested in the whole article.)
He said, “It’s about one hundred years since fashion took its place alongside literature, painting, and music as a way to look for the social essence of one’s era.”
Hmmmm…which led me (as everything does) to Google, where I typed in …the relevance of fashion…, which led me to Katherine LaGrave’s article, which explores the topic and puts up a pretty good defense. Interesting read.
Throw a couple of fashion questions in the hat and see where it goes…
WILL CHECKS AND BALANCES PROTECT US from political collapse, or is it already too late? Does it matter who is in the White House? Whether you host a Political Saturday Salon or not, there is always room in the hat for a question or two about what effect we have in our world. And if we don’t think our vote matters….what are we going to do about it?
THINKING OF HOSTING A SATURDAY SALON in Orange County, CA? Learn about the origins of the Saturday Salon and the basics of how to host one. I will be happy to answer any questions you have about starting or managing your conversation salon. With elections coming up, you’ll have no shortage of topics!
A GOOD EDUCATION Our parents insisted on it. We go into debt for it, but what is it? In this era of Common Core, student loans, and the shrinking job market, what constitutes a good education? Throw this question in the hat at your next Saturday Salon – strong opinions will abound and lead to discussions on everything from states’ rights to whether the purpose of a college education is to get a job and make a good salary, or become a well-rounded human being. Or both?
Be sure to invite guests from a variety of backgrounds – immigrant, young, old, blue and white collar, and entrepreneurs.
YOU ARE IN THE BOX…
Family, friends, coworkers and neighbors are about to arrive for your service. What would they say about you?
Pop this question into the hat and you’ll make some people uncomfortable. That’s OK.
Saturday Salons have their light moments, but we also host them to remind us to stop and think. Are we living our lives as we want to, or just letting them happen?
IS COLLEGE JUST A DOORWAY TO A JOB…or does knowledge have intrinsic value?
For those who view college as simply an entrance requirement to a job, the logic goes something like this:
“A girl’s gotta eat, and to eat I need a good job, and to get a good job, I need a college degree, or in most cases, degrees. I don’t have the luxury of taking Philosophy or Art classes for fun, or Physics just to see how the world works.”
Check out this school in HARLEM..they get it…
WHAT IS SACRED SPACE? The concept of sacred space can be approached from many perspectives, leads to deeper thinking and feeling, and so makes a great well from which to draw questions for the Saturday Salon hat:
Where is your sacred space? If you don’t have one, why?
Is sacred space a place God dwells and humans should not enter?
Is sacred space a place you go to reconnect with the infinite, to receive inspiration, to realign yourself with your spiritual values, or….?
When was the last time you spent more than 30 seconds in or near your sacred space?
What benefit does spirituality give our lives? Is it important to create sacred space in our lives?