Moo, Cluck, Carrot

Hey Marisa!!

Happy Friday! I’m here to talk about a veggie lifestyle, whether vegetarian or vegan. As you know, I’ve been a vegan (save for the occasional allowance of non-soy cheese if I’m at a restaurant or in someone’s home) for over three years now, and it was a no-brainer for me after just a few weeks. My motivation had zero to do with health, and was spurned on by a series of eye-opening videos and pamphlets (of which I’ll spare our readers, unless they specifically request links), but over time the benefits have proven themselves, an effect I noticed within a mere week of cutting out meat products, and foods prepared via meat (spanish rice boiled in chicken stock, refried beans made with lard, et al).

My biggest fear in cutting out meat was that I’d be in a constant state of hunger, and even more, that’d I’d have to spend mass-amounts of time preparing special meals; in fact, the first grocery-run I made in order to prepare for the seemingly-bold decision I’d made cost me $300 alone for about 2 weeks’ worth of food, because I wasn’t sure what I’d need on-hand, and also felt that meat-replacements (soy chicken strips, black bean veggie burgers, soy chorizo, soy barbeque ribs, et cetera) would be a necessity in order to replace the “need” I erroneously anticipated.

However, after a few weeks of making the switch, I noticed that not only did I not ever crave or need the meat replacements, but I also began to taste food in a way I hadn’t since being a child; fruits and vegetables had more flavour, and seemed so much more edifying. After the first week alone I felt “clean” inside – all my circulation seemed so much more unhindered and robust, and I no longer felt weighted down and groggy after meals, an effect I knew had been the result of meats being broken down in my digestive system, a much-more complex process than with simple vegetables, nuts, beans, and fruits.

Hey Damon!!

Hold on…I’m eating a burger while I type….YUM! Just kidding.  I know what you mean actually.  I was vegan for a while and my whole body really did function better. I had more energy and was less grumpy.  I remember reading an article that said that it takes meat about 72 hours or three days to completely get out of our system which is such a long time for how long our intestines are.  Animals like tigers, lions, etc. who are natural carnivores, have very short intestines whereas animals who are herbivores, like horses, have long intestines.  Humans have long intestines.  When we eat meat it can actually become a “toxin” in our bodies causing discomfort, etc., while our bodies try to digest it.

People always asked me the “protein-question”.  How do you get enough protein without meat?  You can’t possibly live without it!  There are plenty of places to get protein!  Beans have tons of protein!  So do nuts.  There are a lot of body builders who are vegetarian or vegan.  Do you think they look like they’re unhealthy and sick?

Absolutely not! Just consider Michael Clarke-Duncan in the poster at the top of this post – proteins can be found in so many yummy non-meat sources, and more calcium can be found in broccoli than in a glass of milk, not to mention that almond milk has even more as in its cow-nterpart.

Haha!  Aren’t you “punny”?  The bottom line is that people just need to pay attention to what they’re putting into their bodies.  If you want to eat meat, ok.  If you don’t, ok.  Just be sure that you actually know what you’re consuming, and how it makes your body feel.  I have seen vegan and veggies criticize and look down on meat-eaters and I have seen meat-eaters give the third degree to those who choose a different way.  Why do we do this?  Do we think there is always a right and a wrong?  People have agency.  I believe they should be allowed to use it.  Damon is vegan.  He gets a veggie burger and I don’t.  We can still enjoy each others company at a restaurant. He doesn’t make it a big deal.  He just goes wherever the crowd is going and eats according to his beliefs.  It’s very low maintenance. I eat vegetarian meals all the time because I like them and I feel good when I do.  That doesn’t mean I don’t ever eat meat…I just pay attention to how I feel.

I’m so glad you bring up the point of vegetarianism (or veganism) being extremely low-maintenance. Every restaurant these days (with the exception of the local Braum‘s chain), has menu items that are veggie and vegan-friendly (Google the menu beforehand with keyword relating to vegan or vegetarian to have a heads-up before you arrive with your group). As far as fast-food goes, Burger King is one of the real leaders in this arena.

I wanted to go into a brief history of the reasons why I chose veganism, but in the end it doesn’t really matter – you either consume meat products (including the use of leather and fur) or you don’t; the issue here is how it affects your body either way, how low-maintenance it is to choose to be in the growing population of vegetarians, and lastly, how judgment shouldn’t factor into either camp; people are free to be who they are and want to be, but our understanding of those choices is key!



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A Skeptic’s Journey

Hey Marisa!!

I want to share with our readers a fantastic documentary covering a lot of the same topics we often discuss here at ish. Something Unknown is Doing We Don’t Know What (2009) by filmmaker Renée Scheltema is an exploration into the concepts of energy, and how breakthroughs are coming to light scientifically, after many centuries of stigma that often disregarded such occurrences. Billed as “A spiritual journey into the science behind psychic phenomena”, Ms. Scheltema was rather a non-believer in anything considered outside the usual given scientific realm, until an experience her daughter had caused her to begin exploring such phenomena, a journey which began to blow away all her previous conceptions strongly enough to prompt the creation of this film.

Within the 105 min. running-time, she explores all manner of phenomena, and reveals some very shocking footage (in one scene we see a large cancerous tumour being shrunk out of existence via an X-ray screen as an Eastern healer uses the body’s natural chi energy to dissolve it within the patient!). Other topics include Remote Viewing (seeing another place in real-time without the eyes, but with the mind), Precognition (seeing future visions), Telekinesis (moving objects with the mind), and Telepathy (the transmission of information from one person to another without using any of our known sensory channels or physical interaction).
Whether you believe in such phenomenon at all or not, this film, produced by Paul Verhoeven (Robocop, Basic Instinct, Starship Troopers), is an exciting and illuminating journey of a skeptic into the realm of the previously unknown, which is more and more being explained away in our modern era due to the study of such science as Quantum Mechanics.

Check out the trailer below, and click on the hyperlinked title at the top to go straight to the official site for a streaming rental or DVD purchase.

Hey Damon!

I am usually skeptical myself of things like this but after watching The Secret and learning more about how energy works and understanding that we are made of energy and that everything IS energy, I am more interested in learning about this subject.

I am going to watch this DVD.  I am interested in how our bodies can heal and be healed.  The more we know the better we do.  The more we learn the more we can pass on to others who can then pay it forward to those in need.  One of my favorite quotes is from George Eliot: “What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?”  I’ve always loved the way she worded this.  I’m glad that Renée Scheltema learned something new and decided to share it with the rest of us.  I hope that we here at “ish” are doing the same.


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Walk with Confidence

Hey Damon!

Today’s post is all about self-confidence. We all lack confidence in some area of our lives.  There isn’t a person alive who is good at everything or who has zero insecurities-it’s part of human nature to have these feelings.  But we don’t have to dwell on the negative.  There are things we can do to build our self-confidence if we are persistent and honest with ourselves.  I’ve read several articles over this topic and have compiled a list that I think contains some of the most beneficial information so we can be on our way to being our best selves.

  • Avoid perfectionism-many of us have a tendency to think we are failures if we are not perfect.  Well, I hate to break it to you, but everyone makes mistakes.  Many times we forgive others for their shortcomings easily but have a really difficult time forgiving ourselves.  Realize that life is about learning and some of our best learning takes place when we make mistakes and overcome them.
  • Recognize insecurities- we are all insecure about something.  Fear is the thing that keeps most of us from following our dreams and trying new things.  Take a good and honest look at what makes you feel insecure whether it’s getting into a healthy relationship, asking for the promotion at work, or going back to school to learn something new.
  • Have support. Surrounding ourselves with positive people is one of the best things we can do.  When we are around people who motivate us to be our best we feel better about ourselves and our outlook on life radiates positivity.  Look at who you allow into your life and make any necessary changes. (Also, make sure YOU aren’t the one bringing others down.“Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you can’t do this or that. That’s nonsense. Make up your mind, you’ll never use crutches or a stick, then have a go at everything. Go to school, join in all the games you can. Go anywhere you want to. But never, never let them persuade you that things are too difficult or impossible.” Douglas Bader
  • Look at the good you do. We all do something good.  We smile, we hum a happy tune that makes others tap their foot, we are great with kids, we love animals, we are natural-born teachers, we are patient with others, we help a neighbor or a stranger in need, we volunteer our time.  There is something good that we all do.  Focus on your strengths as you build up your weaknesses to make them strengths.
  • Bounce back from mistakes. As was stated before we all make mistakes.  We don’t do it on purpose.  We are learning.  Bounce back with a forgiving attitude and the resolution to do better next time.
  • Be thankful.  Showing gratitude for what we have is proven to raise our vibrations.  Our energy is good when we are giving thanks.  Whether you write it down every day or just take a few minutes on your drive home from work, it’s important to show your gratitude daily.
  • Be positive!  Some days we don’t feel positive.  We feel like curling into a little ball and avoiding the world, or crying.  Remember that a positive attitude works wonders!  It creates good energy around us and makes good things come our way.  Plus, it feels better than dwelling in negativity.
  • Smile! “Smiling stimulates our brain reward mechanism in a way that even chocolate cannot match. Researchers have found that one smile can generate the same level of brain stimulation as up to 2000 bars of chocolate!” (Ron Gutman.) Take a look at this amazing video about the power of smiling!!  It’s eye-opening!

  • Accept compliments gracefully. When someone gives you a compliment just say “thank you”.  Being negative only makes the person feel badly as well as yourself.
  • Help others.  Serving others is a sure-fire way to build confidence.  When we are doing something nice for someone else we can’t help but feel good about ourselves.
  • Stick to your principles.  When we go back or give in to something that we know is wrong it makes us feel poorly about who we are. Even if the whole world is against us, if we know we are doing the right thing, we can sleep peacefully at night.
  • The way we look and present ourselves to others says a lot about our confidence.  Looking our best through good hygiene, healthy eating and exercise makes all the difference.  Walk like you feel good.  Don’t slouch.

Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the face.”Helen Keller

The last thing I want to say is to support a wonderful quote that I found:“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” Dale Carnegie

I really like this.  Fear seems to perpetuate fear when we don’t just dive in!  Action is the answer to overcoming so many of our issues.  We can sit home and stew about how we are going to be better and do more or we can get out there and DO IT!  I challenge us all to be people of action and confidence.  Let’s make a positive change in the world and in ourselves!

Hey Marisa!!

Wow! It seems you really covered this topic in great detail – I honestly can think of nothing to add here, but encourage everyone to really refer back to this often as a guide for when you start to feel down; the methods you describe really do help, as I’ve used them myself through some very rough patches. Good post!!


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Art, and its purpose!

Hey Marisa!!

Here’s a topic VERY near and dear to my heart. As you know, my Master’s degree is in Art, and though film and video are my main media, I love to engage in all artforms, and also in appreciating it. One of the core topics we covered in seminar was “What defines art?” We debated almost every conceivable medium in light of this question, from cooking, to dance, video games, to pornography, to temporal works.

For most people the answer to this question simply means that a landscape painting or cheery, nostalgic view of a yesteryear-that-never-was, which just happens to have a colour scheme matching the room decor, is art because it can be hung above the couch and “bring the room together”. Certainly illustrative paintings of this sort have their place in the commercial realm of interior design, but the conclusion I came to about what defines art is quite different.

I say the conclusion that ‘I’ came to, for we never did hit upon any real answer in either seminar or Philosophy of Art, nor do I believe it’s any more possible to answer that than it is to definitively answer, “What is the meaning of life?”. But in my own opinion, art is merely a creative act (or the result of one) that makes you think or feel.

The best art in the world, whether it be a movie, song, sculpture, dance, et cetera, is that which gives you a sort visceral reaction, but even moreso if it makes you stop to question, to consider, to think. For some this may mean the piece may offend certain sensibilities, which then forces the patron to stop and evaluate why they’re having the knee-jerk reaction they are – what does it say about their life experiences or beliefs that a creative act on display has suddenly made them question the nature expressed through the piece? Or even better yet, once the patron has then read the artist’s statement accompanying the work, does the material now make more sense in the assumed context? Does this new understanding enhance the appreciation of the work, or does it devalue it? Sometimes this is especially true if the work is more about the statement being made rather than in the object’s execution of technical expertise.

As I’ve noted, this is an endless debate, but hopefully this discussion will help encourage our readers to occasional stop to question the intent of a piece, even if it is seemingly an innocuous landscape or sentimental painting, and even go so far to read a bit of the artist’s description to assess the intended context if it’s one that’s particularly moving. A pleasing painting (or movie, et cetera) is fine on its own, but if the artist has ALSO infused it with some rich tapestry of history, political motivation, religious influence, et al, then it’s something that goes from being merely a shiny curio, to a living, breathing document of contemplation that can allow us to really converse with our own minds about how we react to the world and its inhabitants that surround us, in all their myriad forms and uniqueness!

Hey Damon!

I love how two people can look at the same work of art and have completely different reactions to it based on their individual tastes and life experiences. I also like how art in its various forms, allows us to express ourselves and many times heal emotional pain.

Being creative is something that gives me some of my greatest joys in life. Dreaming up ideas and putting them into action is the part of art I enjoy most. Art allows us to show others how we are viewing the world in the moment or it can take us out our the moment altogether into some fantastical place.

I hope that whatever people’s creative and artistic endeavors, they will use them to inspire, shine, and heal.


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The Traveler’s Gift

Hey Damon! 

It’s Monday!  And our first book review.  I’m excited to do a short review of this book that I really love.  We have been reading The Travelers Gift by Andy Andrews.

In this book we follow David Ponder, a man who feels like he’s lost everything and is a failure.  I think that he is easy to empathize with because we all know what it’s like to have your life just falling apart around you and you’re trying your best but nothing seems to work. As he is contemplating suicide he is whisked away to an alternate reality where he visits several people who have been influential in history. They all leave him with a note that contains words of inspiration and guidance.  This book is really confidence building!

These “Decisions for Success” are really motivational.  The letters that these characters leave him with help him transform his life.  They are:

  • The buck stops here
  • I will seek wisdom
  • I am a person of action
  • I have a decided heart
  • Today I will choose to be happy
  • I will greet this day with a forgiving spirit
  • I will persist without exception

These are outlined so beautifully in the book with exciting places in history.  The stories are told in a simple yet heart-piercing way. David Ponder can choose to implement them into his life and make a positive change or to ignore the whole incident as a weird dream.

I would encourage everyone to read this book.  I learned a lot and felt inspired. It truly teaches us ways to shine and helps heal areas of our life that may need work.  It’s a very “ish-ish” book!

Hey Marisa!!

I just finished the book moments ago, and have to say that the concepts the book outlines are indeed very powerful, essential maxims for everyday life. One of the main tenets that really resonated with me was the idea of how we’re each born as unique beings, but it’s up to us to end life having been much more than just “average”. Everything that is the key to that lies in the seven decisions, and as the protagonist is told near the end of the book, “…even one decision that you make can literally change the world”.

And this concept is illustrated throughout, with many examples from history of this having been the case. That is the power of the book’s nature, in that it blends self-success principles with actual historical fact. The added fusion of David Ponder’s fictional tale is the element that makes the book most relevant to a mainstream audience who normally wouldn’t read non-fiction and/or self-help material. I personally would like to see this same approach with a more in-depth, historically-gritty rendering, without the outer-fictional element, which retreads the film It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) (one of my personal top favourites, by the way) to a degree, but I also recognise that element is the number one thing that will attract and hold the attention of most readers.

All in all it’s a very fast and easy read, and definitely something that can help others see a way past all the frustrations and accumulation of negative energy in our life. So if “life” seems to be getting in the way of you actually living, give this book a shot for a quick pick-me up, and also for its dosage of real life-lessons that can be utilised to press forward through the cloud of confusion and pain we may encounter along the way.


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Relax this summer with great flicks..old and new

Hey Marisa!!

Happy Friday! Even though late Fall/early Winter is the best season for movies, we both thought it’d be good to discuss movies, in a different way than I recently discussed them, to take advantage of kids being out of school. This post is more purely about the fun and inspiration we’ve each received through films, and you’d asked that we break it down by the decades we’ve lived through and cover films produced during each one. I mentioned that I had no real attachment to movies decade-by-decade, and what of the movies I loved while growing up that hail from the 1920s – 1970s?

So, I’ve broken it down thusly: First I’ll discuss some of my favourites in order of release from that first century of the medium, and then hand it off to you to break yours down by decade (80s, 90s, 2000s).If anyone would like further information about any title, just refer to THE ultimate film resource: The Internet Movie Database

So, here we go with a SMALL FRACTION of my recommendations; everyone who knows me knows that my favourite film is Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), tied with the six-film Star Wars saga (1977-2005), but what follows here are just what goes just up to the mid-1970s, with roughly only one film per decade (except for the 70s, which is still the best decade for the medium yet!) :

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919)

Metropolis (1928)

The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Citizen Kane (1941)

The Night of the Hunter (1955)

The Time Machine (1960)

La Dolce Vita (1960)

The Godfather I and II (1972), (1974)

Nashville (1975)

Bonus round for “fun” movies:
Monty Python & The Holy Grail (1975)

The Blues Brothers (1980)

Strange Brew (1983)

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1988) / Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1992)

Young Einstein (1988)


Hey Damon!

Ok, this was hard! I thought of a lot of movies from my childhood as well as movies I’ve enjoyed as an adult.  I think it’s fun to remember some of these movies I loved as a kid.  I think I’ll watch several of them with my kids this summer!  I hope everyone has a good time and adds to our list their favorites as well.  This summer gather around your family, significant other, friends or take some alone time, and relax and watch a movie!

The Little Princess (1939)

Gone with the Wind (1939)

Casablanca (1942)

The Last Starfighter (1984)

The Goonies (1985)

D.A.R.Y.L. (1985)

Anne of Green Gables/Anne of Avonlea (1985/1987)

Space Camp (1986)

The Flight of the Navigator (1986)

Top Gun (1986)

The Princess Bride (1987)

The Mighty Ducks (1992)

The Cutting Edge (1992)

The Sandlot (1993)

Groundhog Day (1993)

Much Ado About Nothing (1993)

The Mummy (1999)

Remember the Titans (2000)

Moulin Rouge! (2001)

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)

The Guardian (2006)

Star Trek (2009)

Red (2010)


Hey Marisa,

Okay, let me just say that your list really surprised me! You’ve told me I know you better than anyone ever has, yet I’d never once heard you mention The Cutting Edge; in fact, I’d never even heard of it! You know I value my near-encyclopaedic knowledge of film, and so I asked you about this one, to which you replied it’s your absolute favourite! Apparently you’d gotten so burned-out on watching it, and you assumed that I was surely familiar with it, you never mentioned it. Now I know a lot more about it than I did, and am set to watch it tomorrow (Tues. the 19th).

I think it’s fun that you mention a lot of young adult movies from the era, such as The Sandlot. I always picture you growing up, and try to visualise you watching stuff – it’s good to get a better idea now of what a few more of those titles are. I think it’s funny that you looked at my list and claim never to have heard of them, but I know for a fact that you’ve heard of them all (I mentioned the first four in the first class), and you have the last two in your possession at-present (time to watch them soon!). Night of the Hunter is the only wild card in that bunch.

How have you never heard of The Cutting Edge??? This has been interesting.  I figured that you would list a million movies!  I had a good time doing this.  It reminded me of a lot of fun times.  My mom was really good about getting us movies to watch on the hot summer days in-between playing on the slip-n-slide and riding our bikes.  She would cut up apples and cube cheese and put them in a cup and we’d watch fun movies in the hot afternoons.  I hope that this list will remind some people of their favorite movies and they will re-watch them and share them with others!  Happy Summer everyone!


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What you don’t know about Feng Shui

Hey Marisa!!

Awhile back we covered the topic of decluttering, and I mentioned I should address Feng Shui as a separate post. Since you and I share design aesthetics more than anyone else I’ve ever met, particularly in the realm of home decor (we’re both Fire signs), it’s easy for me to understand why you select the style you do, the colours, their placement, et cetera, because aside from sharing elemental signs, it seems that we both just have a naturally-inherent grasp of feng shui concepts. Mine was certainly blocked in the past by the huge ish-ue of clutter in my personal spaces, but in terms of aesthetics, colour palette, and flow, we agree on much that falls so easily into the feng shui philosophy.

I’ve made a quick compilation of tips below that our readers can follow to get the good chi energy flowing into their homes and offices. We can’t always have control over our environments, but if you can at least implement a few of these tips, you’ll notice a remarkable difference. The ancient Chinese put this theory into practice on the basis of everything in the Universe being energy, and it only makes sense that we’re able to route that energy in such a way to route the good energy to us, and to deflect the negative.

1. Obviously the biggest place to start with implementing feng shui is in the realm of decluttering. Once you’ve cleared it all away, spend a set fifteen minutes or so every few days to do maintenance on keeping it away. The less you have to share your space with, the more good energy can flow to assist you in all areas of your life.

2. Raise the energy of your space – The colour red is key to bringing in good energy, as are live plants, lots of natural light, crystals, mirrors, windchimes, harmonious music, and open water sources. Also, hard edges are discouraged – soft, rounded edges are believed to draw good energy rather than dispel it. Any way you can mix these ideas can be fun and double the receptivity for positive energy (e.g. – a round, deep red rug in the entryway is ideal for drawing highly-charged vibrational energy into your home).

A helpful guide to knowing what materials and colours to use in your personal space depends upon your birth element: For example, you and I both are Fire signs, meaning we should use reds, oranges, purples, magentas, pinks, or yellows, triangular shapes, etc. You will also need a strong Wood element in your home, as Wood feeds the Fire in the relationship of five feng shui elements.

3. Placement of furniture and accessories is key – In order to properly assess how to arrange your space, you need to calculate your kua number (based on your birth year and gender), which will tell you which compass points hold the strongest natural energy for different areas of your life (e.g. romance, finances, business, et ceteta). You can take into account each room that matches the compass point, as well as the corresponding wall within that room.

You are a ‘1’, so your best place to put a computer for business purposes is along a southeast wall. A bed for you is best along a south-facing wall.

I am a ‘6’, meaning the best space for my computer is in the west, and my bed should also be south-facing.

Those are very basic examples of furniture placement, but it can get much more-involved, down to the space where you study, where you exercise, et cetera. Obviously the kua number of all who share a household have to be accommodated, so some compromise is in order, but when it comes to your own personal needs and practices, those can be selected with regards to your own best space-alignment.

4. Since we can’t always control the floorplan layout of our homes or offices, you can use things like mirrors or windows to redirect any negative energy: If the ideal position for your front-door is facing the opposite way, you can use a mirror hanging on the wall facing the open door, to reflect negative energy back. You can also buy an octagonal bagua mirror to hang over the doorframe for the same purpose. Portable water fountains and basins, as well as strategically-placed plants are other tools to help reflect or negate negative energy-flow into your personal space.

These are just some barebones examples of how to think of feng-shui; and like I said, it can be utilised as best as you see fit. I myself have implemented a lot of these principles over time and have noticed the differences they can make. What do you think?

Hey Damon,

Everything I know about feng-shui is what I just read in your post.  I have never implemented it because I’ve never studied it.  My overall take is just to give it a try and see if I can tell a difference.  I do like a “zen” feel to my spaces, with no clutter and not a lot of furniture blocking the way.  I am a fan of mirrors also and plush rugs and fun colors.  I think that what we are naturally drawn to should accompany the spaces where we spend time.  I know that if I’m in a stark white room with only gray or black furniture that I feel the same way I do in a hospital.  I need some color.

Thanks for these easy-to-implement tips.  I’ll be trying out a few of them.


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