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The Girlfriend's Guide to Health will be updated every Tuesday.... Stay tuned dear readers and let me rock your world.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

No Kidding.

Truth be told, I don't want children.

Dogs, yes. Kids... no.

Yes I am that woman you meet at a party at someone's home at 9 pm on a Friday night and you have brought your six month old baby and I have no interest in making cute little faces and holding the child.

Firstly... get a sitter. It's Friday night. Yes, the invitation said "kids welcome", but the hosts were just being polite and did not want to alienate their friends with kids who could not plan ahead. Secondly, I am in close proximity to sick people all day and I like to leave my weekends free to allow my immune system the occasional "night off". And finally, the only thing I want to hold at a cocktail party- a cocktail. Enough said.

I understand that children must be present at baby showers and the occasional brunch but really? Friday Night Cocktails? What has happened to my generation? Back in the 1970's it was perfectly acceptable to leave your infant at home with some teenager who had a babysitting course and a weekend of classes in St. John's Ambulance (remember those videos? I can still close my eyes and see a scissor poking out of a person's forearm).

She was left with a hand written list of emergency numbers, $25 for pizza and a liquor cabinet filled with alcohol (that only the responsible ones did not touch). For $5 an hour in 1978 parents everywhere could only hope for the best. Fast forward 30 plus years and women are breastfeeding in casinos in Las Vegas. True story- would not have believed it had I not seen it myself... hand to God- March 2009, Bellagio Hotel- not the lobby but next to the Craps table.

And evermore I find children creeping into every aspect of grown-up life. Let's face it parents... there are places which should be "grown up specific". I don't know any adult over the age of 20 who would go to Disneyland without a child escort. So can we not keep the infants out of the five star restaurant. Doesn't mommy need both hands to drink her $12 cocktail?

Yes, I can hear you know... I know- it is because I DO NOT HAVE CHILDREN. Yes, and you say this like there is something wrong or missing in my life. Not so. I have thought long and hard about this. I have done the research and spent time with other people's kids and "looked into my soul"....

Guess what? I just don't have it.

The "it" to which I refer to is "the need to breed", the "tick tock", the "mommy gene"... call it whatever you will. I am just not momma material. I am childless by choice and I and my beloved seem to be the only ones okay with the concept.

And no, I don't hate children, I just don't want them. Make no mistake, I have several nieces and nephews- some by blood, some by choice whom I love and enjoy spending time with. But it ends there.

A 2003 U.S. Census study found that a record 19% of U.S. women age 40-44 did not have children (compared with 10% in 1976). The National Center of Health Statistics confirms that the percentage of American women of childbearing age who define themselves as child free (or voluntarily childless) rose sharply in the 1990s - from 2.4 percent in 1982 to 4.3 percent in 1990 to 6.6 percent in 1995 and 10.2% in 2003.

Evidence has shown that child free couples tend to be more educated and more likely to be employed in professional and management occupations. The individuals of child free couples tend to earn relatively higher incomes (both usually working), tend to live in urban areas, to be less religious, to subscribe to less traditional gender roles, and to be less conventional.

David Foot of the University of Toronto concluded that a female's education is the most important determinant of the likelihood of her reproducing. The higher the education, the less likely for her to bear children.

According to a paper "Childless Elderly: What are they Missing?" by Dr. Judith Rempel of the Universtiy of Western Ontario, elderly Canadians without children show similar health statistics than those with children. According to a Canadian Health database both elderly parents and those without children have equal advantages and disadvantages later in life in relation to health, wellness and feelings of emotional wellbeing.

In other words, the evidence suggests that I have the same chance of dying miserable and alone without having had children as if I had three sets of twins before the age of thirty.

And I know my girlfriends with children feel I am "calling some of you out". But in the real spirit of sisterhood shouldn't we do that just a little more? Isn't that what women are supposed to do? Judge each other before we ourselves have a chance to be judged? So consider this my little gift to you my 80% from the new rising minority who will be silenced no longer. I know you are exhausted and overworked and underappreciated and you are hell bent on raising a bunch of individuals who by more luck than anything will not turn into psychopaths who don't take care of you when you are older..... But when did we forget about the women BEFORE they were mothers.

And when did it become socially mandatory to begin every question with, "Do you have children?". Furthermore, when did the sentence, "No I don't have children" become the conversational equivalent to "Yes, I do have Cancer?".

And so I have joined the "Child-Free" because isn't that what this world really needs? Yet another movement hosted by a group of intelligent and angry women who will no longer sit on the sidelines being made to feel badly by other women for their unconventional life choices.

There. I have unloaded my empty uterus and I feel better already.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Driving the Point Home

My dear girlfriends- be it known-I am a terrible driver. Perhaps because I no longer drive on a regular basis. That being said- I was never a fan of cars even before I returned mine for a bicycle.

Perhaps my lack of "car love" is because I think shoes are the be all and end all- try driving a sports car with a pair of great heels on your feet- not going to happen. You now understand my point. Understand my girlfriends, that the whole driving thing is way over-rated. In fact I am quite convinced that I will be one of those women in her 70's who looks forward to havin her license taken away- just so I can hire a driver.

Please know, I was not always a driving hater.

I do believe my husband first fell in love with me when we were first dating and I would drive him to University in my 1992 Dodge Colt. I drove with my knees while putting on a full face of makeup using the rear view mirror as easily as a one of those fancy bathroom magnifying mirrors. I drank my morning coffee, smoked my morning cigarette (heaven forbid the driving should be the only way I would risk my life) and still got us to class on time.

I have no doubt he was petrified and perhaps this has easily contributed to his new found love for walking everywhere. They say that often love spawns out of situations where one is fearful for one’s life…. In fact there is evidence that the brain secretes the same hormones during life threatening experiences as it does when one is in love. Neurohormones such as oxyytocin and Dopamine are at their peak during times of extreme stress and interestingly also at their peak during times of extreme pleasure…

You’ve all heard the stories; the urban love legends, so to speak. The couple met on a plane during turbulence and a hurricane and bad weather made them fasten their seatbelts and commit their lives to one another all while securing their own oxygen masks before helping to assist another.

This is perhaps why they always make contestants on shows like The Bachelor, bungee jump off a bridge or a cliff strapped to each other.

And yes, this is partially why my husband fell in love with me. I drove him to University each morning of our courtship and proceeded to apply a full face of make up (complete with mascara and eyelash curling) while operating the steering wheel with my knees and hoping for the best.

Oh admit it dear girlfriends… you’ve all done it. In fact according to an article published in the London Telegraph on October 2, 2009, 27% of women surveyed in the United Kingdom confessed to putting on makeup while driving. In fact 3% of all accidents in the UK are caused by this, one such resulting in death and a 2 year prison sentence for the offending driver/Max Factor wanna be.

Remember this translates to more than 1 in 5 women. Now let’s do some “Girl Math”. Consider that when it comes to areas of blame, guilt, calories and alcohol, all women lie. We lie about our weight, whether we our angry and if something is indeed our fault (Honey- if you are reading this- please stop immediately). So the 27% of women who indeed ADMITTED to putting on makeup is more likely to be 97%. Furthermore, add another 20% for the women who do not consider lipstick to be “make-up” and you have a whopping total of 117% of women using their rear view mirror for “true applications” so to speak…

And so I no longer drive. I do however take taxis from time to time and there in the back seat I create my very own SEPHORA counter on the way to my destination. The roads are inevitably a safer place and after 16 years… my husband safely (now an avid walker) still is madly in love with his wife.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Solo Project

I’ve been thinking a lot about regret these days my girlfriends. I’m not talking about the usual things we wish we had not done- you know tequila, old boyfriends… that period where we only dated musicians and that little black dress that does not quite fit.

I imagine we all have regrets in life. Perhaps they shape our future choices; perhaps they challenge our behaviours gone by. All in all I’d like to think that I’ve learned a little bit more from roads I’d wished not taken than from the times I was pleased as punch.

Could it be true? Could it be that those art house musicians we dated while drinking tequila wearing a black mini skirt and pink leggings really were the most heightened educational experiences life had to offer us? Is it not basic psychology that life is learned through mistakes made and not successes achieved?

When I was 8 years old my parents signed me up for violin lessons. Let’s be clear- I was no Stravinsky. Frankly I lacked neither the patience nor the foresight to be really good at a musical instrument of such magnitude.

Let me clear- as a kid, I was a smaller, marginally less mature version than I am now. I do not say this to elicit the usual, ”no, that’s not true” response. I am, if anything, my girlfriends, quite self-aware. I don’t propose that I am immature now. Heavens no. In fact, it is quite the opposite- I was a pretty decently self-actualized kid. The problem is that when you are a somewhat bossy, self-important eight-year old- you are going to find it more than a challenge to listen to grown ups about the importance of playing a musical instrument that is neither comfortable nor easy to excel at. As far as a violin goes- I was destined to fail.

Firstly, I hated practicing the damn thing. I lacked the physical prowess to be any good at the violin.  You see I was a rather compact chubby kid. Holding a musical instrument up to my face only served to remind me how big my cheeks were. This is a fact that no eight year old can face with humility and grace.

Secondly, my violin teacher, although a lovely man- was terribly passionate about his art- and I… well… I failed to share his appreciation. I was, in short, a musical lost cause. I wanted a musical instrument that I could sing to…. Musical theatre style. A violin just does not cut it when you want to be the next Bernadette Peters or Patti Lupone. In my young mind, I saw a violin as the kind of instrument a young delicate girl plays in servitude while her overbearing parents stand by.

And so because of a conceptual misalignment between what I perceived a violinist should be and who I was as a self-actualized eight-year old- I quite violin lessons after about 3 horrific months.

This is my first memory of a true regret. Now thirty something years later, whenever I see someone mastering an instrument I look on in longing and remorse. I atone for what could have been had I just stuck it out long enough to self-actualize into a true musician.

Since then there have been regrets to follow. I think of the little ones I’ve made along the way- bad meal choices and bad fashion moments. I think of moderate regrets that range from my third ear piercing to some seriously poorly thought out haircuts.

Finally I think of permanent regrets- friends lost and things left unsaid.

I am fortunate that the five star regrets are few and far between. I can scarcely recall them as I write this piece, which is of course a good sign after all.

However, I do wonder if my musical follies impacted me in the long term. A study published in Nature in April, 2007 showed that taking a music lesson before age 12 significantly influence a person’s brain patterns.

The study began with 20 healthy regular every day people. The adults watched and listened to a movie of their choice.
As they watched movies, the volunteers also listened to Mandarin words that sounded like "mi" continuously at conversation level in the background. Mandarin is a tone language, where a single word can differ in meaning depending on its tone. For example, the Mandarin word "mi" means "to squint" when delivered in a level tone, "to bewilder" when spoken in a rising tone, and "rice" when given in a falling then rising tone.
Researchers recorded the neural responses of the volunteers using functional MRI’s and PET scans. Half the volunteers had at least six years of training in a musical instrument starting before the age of 12. The others had no more than three years of musical experience. All were native English speakers who had no knowledge of Mandarin.
Even with their attentions focused on a movie, the musically trained subjects were significantly better at tracking and distinguishing the three tones better than those who had very little musical training.
What was even more surprising was that the brain patterns of these musical volunteers were different.
Surprisingly, the researchers found these changes occurred in the brainstem, the ancient part of the brain responsible for controlling automatic, critical body functions such as breathing and heartbeat.
What is even more interesting is that music was thought largely to be the responsibility of the cerebral cortex, where higher brain functions such as reasoning, thought and language are seated. The brainstem was thought to be unchangeable and uninvolved in the complex processes linked with music.
The researchers concluded that this study showed us how malleable the brainstem is to experience. Much of course remains to be seen. For example how long do you have to take musical lessons in order to engage your brainstem? Could musical training affect other brain systems and what does this mean in the long-term?
I’ve always been a fan of music of every kind, my girlfriends. You can easily see me on any given day running the sea wall while singing out loud to anything from show tunes to hip hop. Could my exposure to music also change the way my brain adapts to the world around me? Further studies suggest that this is in fact the case.

And so, I will no longer live with regrets about my lost violin solos. Instead I will dwell in the fact that I did in fact have 10 years of piano to shape my brainstem.

Between that and music appreciation runs, I continue to live in the moment and dwell in the possibilities that my brain will continue to grow and change along with me.

Of course my girlfriends, I can only hope that my closet learns to expand with the change. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Talk to the Hand

Sisters of mercy, welcome to another week. It has been almost 5 years since GGTH leapt upon the interweb in search of a voice and a self-centred purpose. Here we are more than 250 blogs later and might I say my girlfriends, sister is running out of things to say.

Here I was sitting on a plane just yesterday pondering the universe and the mountains below and yes… my mind was a blank. What wisdom would be my Tuesday rant? What to discuss this week?

I was stunted. Blank. That is until the woman sitting next to me leaned in and said….

“ I recognize you from TV. You are that doctor on the news”.
“ Yes I am”. I confessed.
“ You talk a lot with your hands.” She reported.
“ Indeed”.

And that was all.

I do talk a lot with my hands. In fact I gesture so much these days that I wonder if my Fitbit really does have me down for an average of 20,000 steps per day or is that just me- waving and flailing my arms around in protest?

Truth be told- there is indeed a lot to protest in the world these days. Never mind the usual injustices…. Here we are at 25,000 feet above sea level and some random stranger sitting next to me for the next hour feels the need to give me observational feedback on my behaviour that I can neither use nor correct?

And so, this woman (or perhaps it was the cabin pressure) flipped my neurotic switch.

Is it bad that I talk with my hands so much? Am I distracting from the message? Do I look like a fool flailing about? Should I watch myself and try and tone it down?

Shit no. I’m a hand talker…. Perfect stranger be damned. When I am passionate about a topic I gesture even more.

My husband (sweet soul that he is) has even named certain gestures of mine. When I am driving a point home I tend to “bring out the claw” This is a pointed claw like action that I have been known to favour in times where emphasis is paramount.

Said “Claw” is a favourite of mine. Indeed one anniversary, my beloved bought me a lovely silver cuff bracelet in order that “ the claw would have something fancy to wear”.

And so I sat there on that mid-size flight next to my random critic and pondered my handsy ways. I was a gesture-talker, a finger wager and someone who did not just make a point…. She pointed it.

Was this truly a social felony? Were my movements of my wrists and offensive move in themselves?

Turns out, this lady on the plane was indeed full of shit.

A study published out of Humboldt University in Germany shows that hand gestures is a sign of intelligence.

The study looked at 51 adolescents in Grade 11 at 3 different high schools in Berlin. Students were given IQ tests and assigned to one of three groups based on their scores.

The students were then asked to solve visual analogy problems. The problems involved being able to visually imagine rotating pieces on a chessboard.

Not surprisingly the students who higher scores in FLUID INTELLIEGENCE were able to solve the problems much better. Fluid Intelligence is the type of intelligence responsible for problem solving abilities.

The investigators then asked the students how they solved the problems.

Most surprising was that the students who had the highest levels of fluid intelligence gestured more.  More specifically, they made gestures with their hands or fingers that simulated circular movements around an axis.

The students all TALKED about the same things in their explanations, however, the most intelligent of students actually gestured along with their explanations more and even in a rotating fashion- mimicking how the problems would be solved.

The researchers went on to do MRI scans of the subjects brains and found that the cortical tissue in several areas of the brain was thicker in those students with higher fluid intelligence.

Several other studies have shown similar relationships between intelligence and hand gestures. Furthermore, certain studies have confirmed an association between brain function on MRI and hand gesturing.

We do not know yet whether gesturing facilitates the development of fluid intelligence or whether it is a by-product. But we do know that children who are asked to gesture in certain ways while learning new tasks learn better than children who are asked not to gesture.
Mounting evidence has also shown that hand gestures when done properly do indeed emphasize and legitimize a message rather than diluting it.

One such article published in Psychology Today in 2012 shows that certain gestures convey certain messages. For example, palms up convey honesty, palms down is certainty. The “didactic” which is described as a “sweeping claw” (pretend you are holding a bottle of water…. Now lift up your index finger and separate it from the fist as though to make a point) conveys intelligence.

It turns out that my CLAW is a dead ringer for the “didactic” (and my claw has a fabulous silver cuff bracelet on it.

There you have it sisters… make your point here (and there) and point it out- wave your hands and shout it out…. The world is watching and so am I. Talk it out my sweet sisters of mercy and by all means- use your hands…. Not only does it shows you care… it shows that your brain is bigger than the brains of other peoples’. And if by some reason you get a little self conscious about the fingers and wrists moving about…. Get a fabulous piece of jewelry to put on display…. Every sister loves a good show now and then.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Run for the Cause

Good morning sweet sisters. Allow me to report on the weekend’s events. Yes, I had a date with my soul sister of a city…. Manhattan. It was indeed the NYC half marathon and I ran it for guts, glory and an excuse to buy the perfect pair of strappy sandals (spring IS coming and it waits for no girlfriend).

And so on Sunday I laced up my running shoes and joined 20,000 strong in Central Park for a 21.1km race through Manhattan.

I should tell you that it is not easy getting into the NYC half. There is a lottery through New York Road Runners and I am not one of those lucky people. When I was eight years old I won a ceramic plate at an elementary school tea/raffle. I have never won anything since. Silent auctions, lottery tickets, office pools…. I do indeed participate. The Goddess fails to deliver every time. Fret not, I am never disappointed. We make our own luck in life. I am never resentful of my loss at the table of chance. I am lucky in life, love and bargain shopping; Lotteries just aren’t my thing.

For this NYC half marathon I entered the lottery twice and was rebuffed both times. Understanding that in the case “no” was a suggestion,  I did the next best thing… I threw money at the problem. Yes, I paid my way into the NYC half marathon. Before you judge me, sisters of mercy- understand that I ran for charity.

Yes. Most races, especially the big ones have a charity program where indeed you can raise money for a specific charity and run for that cause. All major city marathons have it including NYC, Boston, London and Chicago. The NYC half has a charity program called “TEAM FOR KIDS”. The program is sponsored through NYC Road Runners and is a group of distance runners who raise money to provide running programs to underprivileged kids in NYC. The program sponsors over 200,000 kids per year in over 8000 schools in the city who would otherwise not have access to physical fitness and exercise.

In my mind- this was the perfect cause for me. Most people send out emails and raise funds for causes, as do I. In fact having road cross country for diabetes and done the RIDE TO CONQUER CANCER, I am no stranger for asking those I love to open their wallets and show me the money.

For whatever reason, this time I thought I would give my loved ones  reprieve and so I decided to make the full donation myself. For the price of a very great pair of Manolo’s I could sponsor  a group of kids in a running program.

Having come to running late in life and loving full on in my 40’s, I could not think of a better way to pay it forward than to support a program that introduces the sport to kids at an early age who otherwise would not have the means and opportunity. THAT and I would pay my way to run through Times Square on a sunny Sunday. This was indeed a Win-Win.

And so on Sunday with a TEAM FOR KIDS bib on my back and a racing bib on my chest, I lined up with 20,000 strong to run the streets of NYC. The race was perfection. After a loop through Central Park, you run up 7th avenue, through Times Square and along 42nd avenue. Then a turn onto the West Side Highway with a  view  of Lady liberty the entire way. The race ends just beyond Battery Park on Wall street. Indeed you run the city. This was a Big Apple Bus tour- without the Big Apple Bus.

And yes, at the end… there was brunch.

As my girlfriends know- give me brunch and I will run. It is the promise of guilt free carbohydrates at the end of the “no pain, no gain” rainbow that gets me through every time.

My race, dear sisters was indeed perfection. Fueled by a perfect weekend of fabulous NYC restaurants (you know who you are) and the ultimate girlfriends’ weekend I RAN FOR KIDS and for myself.

My iPhone had the ultimate NYC music mix and I was raring to go.  

And so I did. I ran with a song in my heart and the city at my feet. All 21.1km of it.

According to Running USA 467,000 people in the USA ran marathons for charity in 2009 raising approximately $1 billion dollars. A survey out of the UK shows that 5 million Britons ran for charity causes in 2013 raising on average 280 British pounds each.

The survey found that as many as one in seven people have taken part in a fun run of some kind in their lifetime and nearly one in four would like to run to raise money one day.

Charity running is an entity unto itself. I could not help but think that my little NYC charity run really was born first out of my desire to actually run the race and not out of my desire to raise the funds for the cause. Did this selfish motive actually diminish the moment?

Did my NEED for the SPEED detract from my philanthropy?

I suspect there are those who would indeed argue that the only kid I really ran for was me. That being said, running is indeed a selfish sport by its nature. We run for ourselves. Each runner has a very personal experience along the road. Running is a lonely sport by nature.

And yet I would argue that running is one of those perfect sports where the one and the many collide. You see it is within the individuality of the sport that there is a shared collective. The race is personal but it is a shared experience regardless of where you finish along the course.

Each of us- whether we run for a cause or whether we run for brunch has something to take away from the moment. And it is in that personal moment that the runner is born.

And so, yes, my sisters… this weekend I joined a collective of runners for charity and raised some funds for a very good cause. Would I do it again? Of course I would….

But more important than the RUN FOR KIDS movement was the fact that this little kid indeed grew up to be a runner. Selfish or not, charitable or chaste… the road lays before all of us.

Life really is a race, my sisters…. Get your best shoes of the moment on and hit the road…. You never know where the path will take you.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Block

It’s been an interesting few weeks, my sisters. Full disclosure? I’ve been blocked. No, my colon is working fine and although I do notice that as I get older I am indeed fixated on my bowel function.

When I say blocked, I mean my writing.  Make no mistake, I don’t consider myself a “writer” by trade. Sure, when I was a kid, it was indeed my dream to be a writer.  I pictured myself holed up in some fabulous café with a moleskin and a fountain pen scribbling for  good and glory as the words fell on the page. In my head I was in a fabulous pantsuit and in my heart I was living the dream.

Did it matter if I was good at it? Shit no. Writing was my escape. As a kid I has Hillroy notebooks on my desk with antique fountain pens bought second hand. My fingers were stained blue and black from the leaky pens but I used them anyway. I wrote poetry and short stories, songs and love letters. I poured my heart on pages and left it there to bleed and to heal and to make me whole again.

Dramatic? Sure thing. I was a teenager in the 1980’s enduring one Winnipeg winter after another. I was North End girl with Downtown dreams and a closet full of Club Monaco sweatshirts and Levi’s 501’s. Drama and dreams were all I had.

But dreams have their way of working out because indeed when I shared my pantsuit/moleskin fantasy with my family, I was quickly informed by my father that writing would make a fine hobby once I became a doctor.

“Don’t worry, Alphonse”, he informed me, “you can wear whatever pantsuit you want once you get your medical degree.”

Yes, the writing would be my hobby all these years as I pursued medicine as a career. Here it is decades later…. my father is long gone (I miss him so), I am indeed a doctor who indeed writes for a hobby. As for the pantsuits? I am really more a dress and heels kind of girl.

Make no mistake, I am at a point in my life where I really do LOVE my job. This was not always the case. There indeed was a time when I thought this life in medicine was thrust upon me without a choice and I was doomed to  “make it work”. I saw my work as a job and my job as an obligation. I always liked the work and the people but I just could not make a love connection.

And then as if by magic about 5 or so years ago, I fell in love; truly, madly deeply. I can not recall the place or time, the rhyme or reason…. But something clicked and me and medicine really did make it work.

And then it occurred to me. I started writing 5 years ago. Could it be that my passion for my work sparked and grew when I reconnected with the creative side I had left behind? I really can’t say for certain I just know that when words flow to a white space in front of me, my happiness indeed increases. Perhaps, excuse the drama, writing makes my world make sense.

So imagine my dismay when for the last few weeks, the words have been stuck like nobody’s business. Yes, I had writers block and no pantsuit in the world would mend this fence.

Writers block is an “umbrella term” first described in 1947 by psycholanalyst Edmond Bergler. It is a term used for the condition when writers (professional or otherwise) can’t make it happen. Think of it like Literary impotence and you are pretty much half way there.

Sure enough here are a variety of theories for why the block happens. One such theory is that when the brain gets stressed the limbic system (basal brain functions) take over from the cortex (the thinking system). How can you pen the great American novel when your brain is purely in survival mode trying to not be eaten by the world. We sacrifice creativity for survival in these instances and as such get blocked.

Another thought is that depression, fear, or even audience awareness paralyze the writer from thought and action.

I’m not sure what happened to me. All lives have stress and I am a pretty happy person. Maybe I just got lazy for a few weeks and my cerebral cortex needed a nap.  
You see for the last few weeks the words that once flowed like water have indeed been sticky and slow.

Could it be my writing hobby had run its course? Was it now time to take up quilting? I have no idea why I bring up quilting. I don’t know how to quilt- it just seemed like a classic hobby.

But damn it, “I am a sometimes writer”, I told myself and like anything in life worth having I will endure.

There I sat in front of a blank screen willing the words to come.

I prayed to the goddess and sold my soul and promised to call my mother more often….

And within moments my fingers hit the keyboard and in a flash I was back in that proverbial pantsuit with imaginary moleskin in hand.

Block be gone.

I’m back bitches.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Visible Panty LInes

When I think about it, my obsession with underwear began when I was a little girl. I can clearly remember getting ready for bed each night and my mother would call out the check list from the next room….
Did you brush your teeth?
Did you wash your face?
Did you put on pajamas?
Did you change your panties?

She most definitely called them panties. Now the word seems either very fashionable or very naughty. Back then, it implied a pair of white cotton underwear with the correct day of the week printed across them.

I loved my “day of the week” underpants. You know the ones with a Monday or a Wednesday plastered across the backside. There was something we could rely on. The world made sense when on Tuesday you were wearing Tuesday panties. Under no circumstances did you mismatch days. Hell would freeze over before Friday touched your ass on a Monday morning.

We had control over the world with just a pair of a “day of the week” underwear.

As for the nightly changing of the panties… this was a ritual that has survived with me years later. In fact, my girlfriends, I am quite certain we all have the stories about how our mothers made us change our undergarments.

What is it about Mothers and underwear? Is this yet another generational education of the feminine mystique? Make no mistake, I do think my mother is a source of a wealth of information. I would never openly admit this to her and if she is reading this…. I will deny it in a follow up conversation. That being said, Mommy dearest had a thing about clean underwear at bedtime.

She argued that cotton underpants were the key to not getting a bladder infection. In fact at the time, the science did back her up. An article published in the Journal of Pediatrics in 1978 cited that “tight fitting undergarments made of synthetic material” increase the risk of urinary tract infections in children.

Unfortunately the article has no evidence or studies to back it up and thus I can safely say that Mama was in fact severely mislead. But with age comes wisdom and I would like to think that 30 years later, we are smarter about our bodies and the fabrics we place upon them.

Three decades of panties and briefs and thongs should be enough time along with a substantial generation of women to “shake the bacterial myths” from any tree of knowledge?

The generation before me spent a decade burning their bras. The generation of women after me has spent countless time showing said bras to the world. Shouldn’t there be a bit of evidence behind my mother’s urban underwear myth?

I ponder these life altering questions as I am now too near to 40 and still stuck in cotton briefs. Make no mistake, I call them “boy shorts” now so as to be cool. But really, the are just a small styling choice away from being “granny Panties”.

I have tried thongs. Hell I even spent $25 at Holt’s last week in the name of research on a pair of lacy “Hanky Pankies”. They have been recommended to me as the most “comfortable thong in the world”. I rushed home. I washed and laid them out to dry. The next day, I put on said lacy devils and realized that yes they may be the most comfortable thongs I’ll ever wear… however, I HATE thongs. Can’t handle the whole up the but thing. Never will. And if an expensive and trendy piece of clothing won’t cure my dislike for all things thong…. Nothing will.

It’s my dear Mama and her pantie rantings. I can not shake the need for cotton briefs. It’s as ingrained in my psyche as brushing my teeth before bed. I was hiking in the Andes mountains last winter and still found the water source to brush up before crawling into a tent for the night.

As for thong underwear, there is theoretical risk of increased urinary tract infections due to the fact that fabric from the underwear touches both the anal area and the vaginal area. That being said…. Good hygiene is everyone’s responsibility. To be blunt… wipe well and you have earned the right to wear a thong. There is in fact no hard evidence pointing to thong underwear as a source of increase bladder infections in women.

An 2003 study published in the European Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology looked t risk factors for vaginal yeast infections in over 1100 Italian women from eight different hospital or university gynecology clinics throughout Italy. Of 1138 patients recruited in the study, 931 were evaluable. A recent history of vaginal yeast infection was documented in 43.5% patients (358/823) with a mean number of 2.9±2.7 episodes per patient (N=302). A total of 77 patients (10.0%) had a history of recurrent infections defined as four and more episodes in a 12-month period. Of these 77 women more than 1/3 were related to life style. Such risk factors as synthetic fabric underwear, vaginal douching and bike, training bike and motorbike use were cited. The numbers were too small howvere to calculate any actual risk.

So the evidence continues to be controversial at best. I really did want to like the lace underwear, my dear cybersisters…. Science be damned. There was no evidence to the contrary.

Do I feel better wearing cotton underwear? No. Not at all. For I wear said natural fibres while riding my bike to work and back each day. According to the Italians… I just can’t win. Perhaps this is why a generation of women burned their bras in the first place.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Dental Damns

Yes, I have been to the Dentist. I do try and go every six months for a good cleaning and check up. Unfortunately as my lovely Dentist will attest to- I suck at keeping appointments. I am forever changing and rescheduling. It’s not that my teeth aren’t a priority…. They are. It’s just… well… I suck at the self maintenance thing.

Here’s the deal… between the hair root touch up every six weeks, the hair cuts every 8 weeks and the eyebrow groom (don’t poke fun- have you seen my brows?) every 3 months…. I’m tapped out. Factor in a routine medial exam annually along with time for fasting blood work (I hate going without the coffee in the morning) and I’m fully booked. Then my bike needs a tune up every 6 weeks. Along with all the other duties a girlfriends gotta do and I’m locked up. After a while, the dentist becomes an after thought.

But here’s the thing…. My gums are receding. No shit…. I kid you not. I have spent a lifetime trying to make every other part of my body look smaller (my hair, my uni brow, my ass) and here I am finally getting my shrinking wish. MOTHERFUNHOUSE. What is that? Is God now a girlfriend with shitty cell phone reception.

There I was a hefty little kid lying in bed praying to the goddess for a smaller waist size… Did she finally get the message all these years later only to screw it up? I said BUM God damn it NOT GUMS? What is that?

Yet here I am being told that I have “pockets” between where my teeth should be.

This is not the first time I have heard such news…. When I was in my twenties I had to see a periodontist who did some God Awful gum work surgery on me (the surgery I am sure was excellent- it was god awful in that it was truly unpleasant) because I am told that I have small gums to begin with.

Great. The goddess divides. Big ass… small gums…. Huge hair… no chest…. Big Brain…. Small attention span. Big shoe fettish… small closet space… Lovely.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics in 2008, gingival recession (fancy words for gum shrinkage) is actually quite common. Approximately 15% of young people presenting to a dentist’s office for routine exam have it. It is most commonly related to previous orthodontic treatment or oral piercing.

This study looked at risk factors for gingival recession in a young healhy Israeli population. Of the 303 people randomly selected the most common risks for recession included age and whether or not the subjects had had braces. The average age of people in this study was 32.

There was no correlation in the study between smoking habits or gingivitis and gum recession.

An older population studied in Turkey of 831 people with an average age of 52 showed a much higher rate of gingival recession.

The average rate of recession was 78.2% in this population. The study involved a statistical model that looked at a multiple regression analysis to look at what risk factors contribute to gingival recession. The analysis showed that age, smoking duration and traumatic toothbrushing increased risk of gum shrinkage. Gingival recession has also been linked to a high frenum. ANATOMY ALERT Girlfriends… a frenum is that ridge between your two front teeth that connects your gums to your upper lip.

So there you have it. I’m getting older and maybe I’m brushing a little too hard… either way… one day I will have to have plastic surgery on my… gums. No breast implants, no facial fillers…. Just a small intimate gum enhancement.

Life has a fabulous sense of humor. Doesn’t it my sisters? Have a fabulous week and don’t forget to floss… be good to your gums my girlfriends. You never know when they will disappear on you.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Cheese Please.

Truth be told I have cellulite. Yes, at times when I am as honest with myself as a three way mirror I will easily acknowledge that butt looks like two scoops of cottage cheese. Make no mistake, I am okay with the divets that scatter my backside like pushpins on a map of the world. I like that at the ripe age of almost 40, I am safely in the best physical condition of my life. I can run and swim and bike as long as I want to and even do 20 "boy" pushups with ease. My body has become my opportunity to get things done. No longer am I hindered by my limitations in a physical sense.

Quite frankly, I am happy with my physical sense of selse, and yes, dressing up has become one of my favorite sporting events. But there are times in the flourescent light of of day , when I must acknowledge that my ass is a place where dimples go to die. Yes, the medical term is cellulite and NO the best cream in the world will not fix my “field of indentation dreams”. Rarely is there an occasion for me to stand in the bathroom and appreciate my backside for all its cottage cheese glory.

But recently I have developed a new appreciation for all things cellulite, when I discovered it is not only very common, but can be quite satisfying as well. In fact I would go so far as to argue, that cellulite may very well be “the great equalizer”.

A few weeks ago was invited to attend an ECO Fashion Show.  Yes I am aware that we have nothing on New York City- This is not fashion week and Vancouver never pretends to be anything it is not. But a little delusion can be healthy and after all- New York IS New York and we are having a brilliant winter so... suck it. 

An ECO Fashion Show for those of you who don’t know is a regular fashion show where all the clothes are reclaimed fabrics and materials. Imagine my surprise to see fur and leather on the run way? Apparently as long as someone else has killed the rabbit or the cow, it can be used lest it be thrown into a landfill.

I have never professed to be the authority on all things fashionable, but as far as this ECO fashion show goes, it is safe to say that some things were meant to be in a landfill. I realize that these fabrics were considered "throw aways" but there is no excuse for parading down a runway dressed like the maid of honour at a circus. Sisters note- if the bearded lady ever marries the tattooed man- do I have a dress for you!

Let me set the scene. We stood in the courtyard of the Vancouver Public Library which as some of you know looks like a coliseum. The models for this ecological event stood on the second floor balcony above us- each in an alcove with a clothing rack behind her. Every few minutes the spot light would shine on a new model in a new outfit. The model would pose like a moving mannequin for a few moments showing off the latest and greatest in recyclable fashions. The spotlight would go out and the model would then strip down to a body suit and put on another outfit while the spotlight shone on another model in another outfit.

There we stood drinking organic wine and watching the models pose to a mix of 1980’s dance music. And just as my macrobiotic buzz took hold (yes, one glass later…. even organic wine will do) I had a revelation. High above me in the second balcony was a woman easily 6 feet tall tall with 5% body fat. Her perfect blond hair was perfectly styled, her make up professionally done. She was long and willowy and her eyes shone with a hunger that only a diet of nicotine and diet coke could produce. I am sure she was born a model and would never see the inside of a gym unless it was for a fashion shoot. And yet when the spotlight went out and she stripped down to her body suit I could see it like a beacon of hope for all chubby girls everywhere. Cellulite. It was a ray of sunshine as bright as the spot light to come. Her thighs had more cheese curds than the Quebec House at the Winter Olympics.

Here was a woman who could not spell the word CARBOHYDRATE let alone bring herself to eat it and she had a backside that looked like the cold salad section at a Las Vegas buffet. On me, cellulite was expected, on this fashion stick insect.... it was a revelation.

One of the medical terms for cellulite is Gynoid Lipodystrophy. In fact the medical community remains in disagreement as to whether this condition is actually an abnormal state. Cellulite is a condition affecting 85% of post adolescent women characterized by dimpled tissue on the upper outer thighs, posterior upper thighs, and lower buttocks. Ultrasounds of fat tissue have shown that cellulite is caused by a deterioration of the skin's dermal matrix and vasculature (structure and blood supply network) particularly loss of the capillary networks, leading to excess fluid retention within the subcutaneous tissues and the skin. Fat cells then clump together and fluid collects in the tissues between them causing a dimpling of the skin.

This formation is thought to be influenced by genetic factors and certain genes have been implicated in the predisposition to the formation of cellulite. Hormones play a dominant role in the formation of cellulite. Estrogen may be the important hormone and initiate and aggravate cellulite. However, there has been no reliable clinical evidence to support such a claim. Other hormones including insulin, the catecholamines adrenaline and noradrenaline, thyroid hormones, and prolactin are all believed to participate in the development of cellulite.

So my dear girlfriends.... most of us are destined to dimple from the waist down. Embrace it as the great equalizer as common as chin hairs and as welcome as control top pantyhose.

And so the lights went up again on the 6 foot amazon wonder. Her dimpled butt cheeks were now covered with an outfit that was once bound for the city dump. There in the atrium of the Vancouver Public Library a new world was born.... I found solace in a universe where no outfit is every thrown away, where even the wine is organic and therefore good for you and where every ass, regardless of its creed, colour or constitution can be as "dimply" as nature will allow.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sweet Thing

I’ve been doing some research lately my dear cyber sisters and I have concluded and yes, you may quote me…. High Fructose corn syrup is a motherfucker.

Now I realize this statement is quite bold and somewhat brash, but the truth often is. Let me mix no words here. Let me fully assert my opinion - “grey” is a fabulous colour- but the only place is belongs is on a PRADA summer runway. Fences were made to keep people in or out- not to sit on. PICK A SIDE....

High Fructose corn syrup or as many of you may now refer to it ; “the motherf*&ker” is also called glucose-fructose syrup in Canada. It comprises a group of corn syrups that has undergone enzymatic processing to convert glucose into fructose and then has been mixed with pure corn syrup. (essentially the sweetening equivalent of an "acrylic blend")

The most widely used form of high fructose corn syrup is HFCS-55 which as the name suggests is 55% fructose, 45% glucose. This form is used in most soft drinks and sugar drinks. HFCS-42 (again 42% fructose) is used in most baked goods, while HFCS-90is used in most candies.

The benefit of this Mother of a molecule is it is cheap and sweetens like no other. Import taxes on foreign sugar have raised the price of sucrose, while the government in the US and Canada have offered a significant amount of subsidies to corn growers. This amounts to HFCS being a relatively cheap alternative to beet sugar or other forms of sucrose.

High fructose corn syrup was first produced by Marshall and Moffat in 1957 and was mass produced for industry in Japan in the late 1960's. From 1975-1985 it was as common in processed foods as a Madonna remix at a gay pride parade.

And now, my cyber sisters... a lesson in sweetness....

Cane sugar and beet sugar are essentially pure sucrose. Sucrose is a disaccharide- meaning it is composed of two monosacharides (glucose and fructose) put together with a relatively weak bond. Think of sucrose as a fabulous power suit, while fructose is this season's boyfriend jacket. Both do the job- but for different occasions.

Honey has a glucose/fructose ratio very similar to HFCS and in fact the motherfucker has been used to "stretch" honey during production.

Make no mistake, sugar is sugar regardless of the source. Cane, Beet or Honey if eaten in large quantities will still make your ass look big. It does not matter if the sugar source is a rainforest in Peru, a sugar beet in Saskatchewan or the product of a bunch of honey bees vomitting for queen and country.

However, there appears to be more to the High Frcutose Corn Syrup than just the sugar itself....In fact, recent studies have shown just what an asshole this sweetner really is.

A study published in the Journal of Nephrology on July 1, 2010, looked at HFCS consumption in 4528 American adults. The study was sponsored by the National Institute of Health and found taht those inidvuals drinking more thhan 75 grams of fructose per day (2.5 sugary drinks per day) had the highest rate of high blood pressure. This study controlled for all other risk factors for hypertension including age, obesity, family history and smoking.

A further study out of the University of Colorado in 2007 looked at the effects of fructose on certain metabolic factors in otherwise healthy men. Two groups of men (12 in each group) were fed two different diets for 4 weeks. One group had a diet rich in fructose the other rich in glucose. The high fructose group had a significant increase in their blood pressure, abdominal fat and insulin levels compared to the glucose group after only four weeks.

One of the theories as to why frucotse is so toxic is that it breaks down in the body to uric acid, which in high levels increases blood pressure and insulin levels and cardiovascular risk in the body.

Interestingly, fruit in its raw form does not have the same effect as fructose. The theory behind this is that the fibre and Vitamin C in fruit counteract the effect of fructose.

Look, I know that that fructose is not the only thing to blame here In fact I have never been a fan of just holding one culprit accountable. I like to blame multiple people and have them share the resposibility for the world's current state of affairs. Last week it was the skinny jean, the week before it was BP oil, next week is really a crap shoot. Who knows who will disappoint me in the next 7 days?

But for now, I have raged a war on all fruit juices, jams, canned soups and cereals. Our pantry is now down to one single cupboard which contains mostly spices and a few cans of tuna (more on mercury at a later date).

No it won't solve the world's problems but at least I can sit on my high horse for another few hours and feel a sense of self importance that no sugar rush could even hope to compare to.... so it is written, so it shall be done.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Turkish Delight

Sisters of mercy, hello from Istanbul. First things first, my Turkish sucks. Yes, I am that traveler who really does enjoy to learn a few words in the language of the country I am in. As a guest in another land, I always think it is polite to say “good Morning”, “please” or “thank you in my host nations’ native tongue.

I landed in Istanbul and had no clue. Thanks to Wikipedia and a free Internet connection at the airport and I was well on my way.

Having now been here for 5 days allow me to share with you my observations on one of the world’s great cities.

Istanbul is a city that spans Europe and Asia. It has been conquered by pretty much everyone. These two aspects of its history and geography give it the most unique of flavours. There is a blending of life’s rhythms that make it truly special.

Despite the mixes of culture, space and time, Istanbul in nothing but honest. It does not pretend to be anything other than itself. There is no assumption here. Many other cities talk about being “the Paris of the Middle East” or the “Vegas of Asia”. Not Istanbul. It is what it is and it does it quite perfectly.

My new love of Istanbul stems from a few unique features of this place. Allow me to elaborate:

First things first- they have a coffee named after them. Nothing garners my respect more for a country than when they ply me with good quality espresso. Turkish Coffee is espresso with mud. It is not for the faint at heart and it is awesome.

I am drinking Turkish coffee at any all opportunities. I have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I’d have it for tea, but that is when I indeed have tea. Tea is also big here. Namely “tea time”. This happy experience happens at around 3 pm every day when the world stops for a good cup. Every hotel has high tea where literally a buffet of desserts are served along with the tea.

Turkey is known for its sweets.

Yes sugar is the devil but I am training for another race and I do love a country that puts sweets on display. They indeed are everywhere. From the bakeries in the old city to the stalls that sell Turkish Delight (it really is a homegrown candy here- and its pretty perfect) in the Spice Bazaar.

Istanbul is truly a walking city. Today my beloved and I made our way from Besikstas to Sultahnamet in the old city. We easily made our way through 15km on foot (my fitbit is out of batteries and my charger is back in Canada… shit)

Nothing makes you fall in love with a city more than when you walk it.

My love for Turkey extends to its concept of hospitality. This is a country that knows how to host… and they know how to host a woman who needs to keep running even though she is miles from home.

The Turks love a good gym.

Hotel gyms here are more of an experience than a place to get fit. Even city parks have workout equipment in them (think jungle gym meets bow flex).

But hotel gyms here are something else. We are not talking a small room with a treadmill and an elliptical.

Instead, hotels are usually stocked with 2000 square feet of a training facility that boasts at least two pools.

Turks are big on water. It’s big part of the culture. Turkish baths can be found in various parts of the city as public bath houses. Each hotel also has a hamam (Turkish bath) with 2 pools (one indoor, one outdoor) and yes, you can swim laps. Translation- when a bath is a part of your national pride- pools have got to be on the menu.

Yes I realize that this is my shallow summation of a city that is on a short list of ones where “the cradle of civilization began”. But this place and its wonders suit me just fine. I will no doubt elaborate on its details in future posts.

I realize to some I may have reduced this magic down to a few beverages and some fitness facilities but please do not misunderstand that my time here in Istanbul has indeed been one of reflection. I’m letting this place wash over me and now that my jet lag has officially settled I see things with a much clearer eye.

A moment on jet lag?

I spent the first 4 days here with a wicked case of it. Yes, I took melatonin and yes I took prescription sleeping aides. But alas, nothing chemical could fix the fact that my body was in Istanbul and my pineal gland was in Vancouver.
(yes, I was a science geek just there- I know- the pineal gland is the part of the brain that regulates circadian rhythms).

My pineal gland is an asshole. Two nights ago, it woke me up at 3 am. Not to pee but to be wide awake and watch television. At 2 in the afternoon, my pineal gland wants to go to sleep- no not a nap… but a full on change into your pajamas and call it a day sleep.

I have tried everything. Here I thought that I was well ahead of the game. I had done the research, I had slept 8 hours on the plane over here- I would be well beyond all this jet lag bullshit.

But sure enough my circadian rhythms were dancing to the beat of their own drum.

Light, dark, day, night…. My brain was a rebel and it was on its own time.

It is now 5 days later and I still want to nap at noon. I am comforted by the fact that by Friday I will have adapted nicely…. For my return flight home where, yes I will be screwed physiologically for another week.

Various remedies for alleviating jet lag have been proposed including certain foods, exposure to light and even the use of melatonin. Melatonin is chemical known as methoxyindole secreted by the pineal gland in the brain. It has been shown in animals to play a role in resynchronizing animals to a day and night cycle. It is thought to play a role in an animal’s ability to distinguish between night and day. 

A study published in 1986 in the British Medical journal recruited seventeen healthy volunteers. (10 women and seven men aged 29-68) from the University of London. The subjects flew from London to San Francisco (eight time zones west), where they remained for 14 days so that they had adapted to local time before their return home. Before their flight half the subjects were randomized to placebo and half to melatonin. Subjects were “blinded” to whether they were taking melatonin or placebo.

For three days before their return flight the subjects took a daily dose of melatonin (5 mg in gelatin lactose) or placebo at 1800 (local time). On their return to Britain they continued taking the same preparation at 2200-2400 (local time) for a further four days.

The subjects were asked to rank their jet lag symptoms using a visual analogue scale which assigned a number to their degree of jet lag.

Six of the nine subjects who took placebo rated their jet lag greater than 50 on a visual analogue scale. None of the eight subjects who took melatonin rated their jet lag at more than 17. None of the subjects taking melatonin had appreciable jet lag, whereas six of the nine treated with placebo did.

The study has been criticized as being a small trial but still it is a place to start.

I hate to be a hater- but I’m on 10mg of melatonin and my world was a physiological hell until this morning. Sure, I’ve read every New York Times Magazine from the past 15 weeks over the last 4 nights and yes, I’ve watched an entire season of Dracula on iTunes (don’t judge dear girlfriends, lest ye be judged), but the midday napping is starting to cramp my Turkish style.

And so I soldier on…. With Turkish coffee in tow and a lap pool in my hotel. Do not worry for me my sisters… I will be fine here in the cradle of civilization. After all, I’m in Europe and I can see Asia from hotel.  

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dear Mr. Prime Minister....

Dear Mr. Harper,

Let’s be clear- I did not vote for you. You seem like a decent fellow- no, that’s not true- I lie. I don’t like you or your politics. It really is nothing personal. Okay- that’s a lie too. Let’s face it a person’s politics can’t help but be personal. Furthermore, I was raised as an NDP lefty in North End Winnipeg by hard working teachers who taught me that a sense of social conscience really is the only way to go. If I did indeed like you, Mr. Harper, it would be against everything I was brought up to believe to be true.  Have always prided myself on a being a girl who remembers first and foremost where she came from- so guess what, sir? You are not coming to my house for Thanksgiving any time soon.

As it stands, I have grown a bit cynical in my old age. I already know that the tooth fairy is bullshit- but I really do still believe that a connection to the human condition can heal this world. I cling firmly to the notion that we can indeed start a revolution through a sense of concern for a hard day’s work, some concrete social programs and healthy sense of the value of culture and education in society. I value the concept that as a nation Canadians do have an innate concern for their sense of community and of others.

I’m a fan of socialized medicine, Mr. Harper. Sure the system is not perfect, but it’s people (and doctors) like me who think that health and access to good care is a right and not a paid-for privilege. I do not mind paying a chunk of my income for the ability to break my leg and not my bank account. I welcome the chance to spend my hard earn tax dollars on museums and culture and television and radio (big love to my sisters at the CBC for that matter). I think we as a nation SHOULD fund social programs and yes I will say it plain- as a society we will be judged by how we treat our less fortunate.

But here’s where I draw the taxation line, Mr., Harper. Hell, Can I call you Steven? After all- I do pay your salary so technically your are on my staff- I have a strict first name basis with my employees… so Steven it is. Steven, Steve perhaps? Why the fuck can I not get a tax break on my bike.

Sorry for the profanity Steve- yes, you are correct- no need to let our emotions take over our manners, I agree. Let me rephrase? It is tax season Steve and my lovely accountant has informed me that had I owned a car I could indeed write part of it off as a business expense for travel. You see Steve- I have a personal corporation- but hey, that is beyond the point. Imagine my surprise when I explained that I do not own a car but in fact use my bicycle to commute to work.

Heads up, Steven- (I’ll use your full name- as to emphasize my disappointment- are you getting it?) I CAN NOT under the current tax laws write said bike off as it is thought to be a “recreational item”. Yes, Bella, Stella and Celia (my bikes have names, Steve- it’s my thing- go with it) are truly enjoyable but in fact without them- I just don’t get the job done.

How naïve of me Steve, I know. To think that a bike- a safe and energy friendly, does the body good mode of transportation would not be encouraged by my government as a means of every day transport.

Steve, I ask you, does this government have such extra funds, what with the cuts to cultural and social programs that it can afford to NOT encourage a healthier way of life.

You see, I was looking at it from the whole point that my bike is very earth friendly and also encourages people like me to be leaner and greener.

Stanford University School of Medicine researchers asked 275 sedentary insomnia sufferers to cycle for 20-30 minutes every other day. After 2 months the researchers did the math. The result?  The amount of time the insomniacs took to fall asleep was reduced by half, and the time they spent asleep increased by almost an hour a night.

The theory behind this is not only the benefits of exercise- but also the benefits of exercising outside. According to the researchers, exercising outside exposes people to more daylight and as a result it helps to regulate their circadian rhythms.

In fact, Steve, as you know, data from King’s college compared 2400 identical twins and found that those who did the equivalent of three 45-minute rides per week were “biological younger” by 9 years than those who sis not. This data adjusted for all other risk factors. Furthermore, studies from Purdue University from our sisters to the south have shown that regular cycling – even as little as 20 miles a week – can cut your risk of heart disease by up to 50 percent.

If health isn’t your thing, Steven (and by what you’ve done to the healthcare system these days, I can only suspect you are not much of a fan), then perhaps we can look at the money issue?

According to the organization Cycling England upping cycling levels by 20 percent in the 10 years up to 2021 could save 107 million British pounds in reducing premature deaths, 52 million pounds in healthcare costs to the National Health System and 87 millions pounds of savings in fewer sick days.  
So you can imagine my dismay Steve with all the planetary concerns, the oil fields debacle and the fact that God can put his fist through the ozone- I thought you might want a healthier population base and a true north strong and free.

I know, Steve, it’s been a whirlwind here- with all the facts and figures and the big words you never learnt in post secondary education (damn that Canadian University system! Don’t get me started on those bastard and their tuition fees, right Steve?)

Your head is swimming, what with taking tax payers jets to hockey games and drinking wine at state dinners- you need some time to digest the subtleties of my letter and get back to me.

So take your time, Steven- tax season is coming- you have some time to reconsider. Feel free to do just that Steven, reconsider- the fact that my bike is not a “recreational vehicle” but a worthwhile transportation asset with many hidden benefits.

Think it over Steven and get back to me. Although it will undoubtedly not change my political beliefs, you may change my mind just a little bit about what a short sighted leader I really think you are…. Sorry Steve- I know we said we’d play nice, but I let my anger take hold once more.

Perhaps I need to clear my head as well. I’m off for a lovely bike ride- you go squander my hard earned money on the Senate. We’ll talk more later…. you likely have my number, Mr. Prime Minister? No worries, Steven, I certainly have yours.

Yours Sincerely,
A Canadian Girlfriend