Monday, December 14, 2015

Conformity in Food

Displaying IMG_7239.JPGMy Mom wrote on my blog a couple weeks ago about yoga and how it has transformed her life. When my mother started her new job, she started using yoga as a way of relaxing and escaping from the stress of her four children. Soon, she became immersed in the yogi-culture.

Over the past two years, my mom took her granola way of life to a new extreme. She stopped eating a lot of meat and started consuming only non-processed, organic, non GMO foods. Everyday for breakfast, she utilizes her shiny new Nutribullet to make herself a smoothie made of hemp seeds, chia seeds and frozen fruit. Then she will make another smoothie for her lunch. This time a green smoothie concocted of kale, spinach, bananas and who knows what else. She's also invested in coconut oil: a substitute for the fat-rich canola oil. Coconut oil significantly reduces the unhealthiness of chocolate chip cookies and other desert options. They are interchangeable except for a slight distinction in taste. For dinner consists of mainly a spinach kale salad, or a different vegetable option, and small piece of meat.

My mother says her new way of life is based on research indicating plant based diets reduced the rate of developing cancer (read more about it here). However, I believe the motivation for the change in diet initially came from her place of occupation. All of her yoga friends always talk about their new 'diet fad' and how amazing switching over to the 'green side' has been. My mother took their persuasions of the granola people to heart, did a a couple days of research, and began conforming her life to the new information. She bought new cook books and began making quinoa. As a result, her whole family has started eating healthier. The word 'conformity' is usually associated with losing individuality and carries a negative connotation. However, as my mother conformed to the healthy lifestyle of her friends, she started feeling better physically and emotionally. She now believes she's on the right track with her food decisions and if she "had know better would've never fed you the same junk back when you were little."

My mom has twice taken her plant based diet to extremes. It's called her "Ten day cleanse". She coerces my dad into joined her and together they go vegan and gluten free. They are on strict diet with every calorie  mapped out each day. They are attempting to 'rid themselves of toxins' and loose weight.  Only allowed to eat beans, fruits and vegetables, my parents are cranky for ten days. My dad, whose an avid runner, went hungry between every carefully planned meal. My mom relished the challenge and felt proud of her new food accomplishments. This extreme form of conforming to new fads and trends frightened me because I thought I would be the next victim to coerced into the ten day cleanse. My mom loved the extremism and drastic change from her daily life. There cleanse is also an example of nonconformism because both my parents steered far from a 'normal healthiness person's diet' of chicken, salad, and fruit.

Every person has a different relationship with food. Some see it as an outlet for their feelings. Other's see it as the devil and leads to their destruction. My parent's viewed their new diet as a way of bettering themselves. No matter where the initial motivation came from, our whole's families diet has changed for the better even if my mom sometimes takes it too far.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

What is the Point of Finals?

With finals week just on the horizon, emotional breakdowns are increasing, sleep is decreasing, and stress is skyrocketing. As we prepare for the seemingly important tests, we have to ask ourselves: what is the point of this terror.

Some might say finals measures growth and learning. However, isn't that what teachers and the administrators were supposed to be measuring all semester? We hardly ever receive our finals back and get to review our mistakes. Their is no room for growth after the final.

Finals promote a culture of learning for the grade. The pressure of high school finals causes students to only study for the grade in order to get into their dream college. Finals create a short term memory bank for students that is cashed in on the test and then forgotten. Relearning the material just to forget it again seems quite pointless.

High school finals are unnecessary and help no one. For teachers, they have to write a massive test and spend hours on hours grading. Meanwhile, Students must forget about health, family members, and their lives for one to two weeks. And in the end no one wins.

If Students are taking finals with low Cs and Ds, finals probably won't help them enough to make an impact, even if they do, should they be receiving the higher grade if it stayed consistently low over the semester? Students with high performing standards who have studied long and hard all semester and then their grade drops dramatically from the final. What does this teach them? They are left with a grade that is not a reflection of their long term effort.

I understand reviewing hard material and attempting to understand it is a key process in learning. However, learning is gradual and is done over a long time. In a real life situation, no one will ever ask you to sit down and take an accumulative test to measure your knowledge. There are alternatives to finals- take home projects and test that also measure the knowledge and force students to review the materials. Memorization is not learning. Final exams cause unnecessary stress for all parties involved.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Trump 2.0

I know I've already expressed my opinion on Donald Trump but his latest racist comment against Muslims cannot be ignored. 

On Thursday, November 19th following the attacks on Paris a reporter asked Trump, "Do you think we might need to register Muslims in some type of database, or note their religion on their ID?" 

Trump replied," We're going to have to look at a lot of things very closely. We're going to have to look at the mosques. We're going to have to look very, very carefully."

On Friday, November 20th a separate reporter asked, "Should there be a database or system that tracks Muslims?"

"There should be a lot of systems," Trump responded. "Beyond databases. I mean we should have a lot of systems."

Trump has such proposed that the United States of America needs to keep track of a certain group of individuals based on their religion. This is blatantly unconstitutional and could never be put into practice. However, the very idea this idea is proposed is disgusting. His comments are radicalizing a group of Americans and promoting anti-Muslim sentiments. Furthermore, the Muslims in America who have lived her their whole life are being talked about as criminals. Imagine if
you were a Muslim child and to hear Trump call for your country to keep track of you? It's awful. He is a racist, sexist, idiot and will make America better for rich, white men. America is a country not a catering service for white supremacist agendas. Thoughts?

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Terror Attacks In Paris

On Friday, November 13th, France experienced the worst violence since WWII. Six different locations were attacked in Paris, including a soccer stadium, a restaurant, and the deadliest, Bataclan concert hall. The French say 128 are died, but are expecting the numbers to rise. A hostage situation near the concert hall left nearly 100 dead. Shootings and bombings left 300 people are hospitalized, 80 in life threatening conditions, around 170 in somewhat critical conditions. Attackers were carrying AK-47s and some even strapped to bombs. Eight of the attackers are dead- 7 from the suicide bombings.

ISIS claims responsibility for the attack and President Francois Hollande says, "This is an act of war." The streets are emptied. Terrified, everyone is mourning inside. 
"It's like a warzone right now," said a middle-aged worker at the brasserie Le Goncourt who refused to give his name. "This is very serious. We are living in fear."
Europe and America reaches out it's support after these horrifying attacks and plan to stand united behind France.  Obama said, "This is an attack not just on Paris, not just on the people on France, but an attack on all humanity and the universal values we share." He called the attacks an "outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians." This is a tragic, shocking situation. These devastating attacks of terror have sent Paris into a panic. This historic day will be burned into the memory of all French people, and will stay with them in the upcoming years while the world combats violent extremists. 

This Peace for Paris Symbol is rapidly spreading over social media.
"injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere"- Martin Luther King Jr.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Why Yoga?

-From Ally's Mom- 

Many people start doing yoga because they want to get more flexible.  Yes, yoga is great for improving your flexibility but it is so much more.  I came into yoga when I started working part time at a yoga studio.  At the time I was a gym rat going to LifeTime Fitness 4-5 times a week.  I felt I was in pretty good shape and had never taken a yoga class.  My first beginner yoga class I was able to do most everything and it felt great.  But as I started taking more advanced

classes the poses became increasingly difficult.  I am Type A and wasn't satisfied that I couldn't do it all. I found myself just wanting to do yoga every day and eventually gave up my LifeTime membership.  It wasn't a hard decision - fight to find a parking spot, a locker in a crowded locker room and wait in line for showers or...park easily, walk into a calm studio and take classes with pleasant kind people.

The more classes I took, I came to the realization that the most important part of yoga is the breath.  Learning to link your inhales and exhales to the movements and poses is the hardest part.  If you can master the breath, the rest will come.    

I hope to be practicing yoga for the rest of my life and on that journey I will have days when it all feels great and days that I can barely fold over.  The yoga comes in realizing that every day is a gift.  Every moment is perfection to be embraced.  When life gets stressful or crazy I tap into my breath and see the yoga working.  When life is great I try to stop and savor the moment and again the yoga is working.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Dump Trump

Why do I feel as if Trump for president started out as a joke but has suddenly become all to real? It's almost as if the country didn't think twice about the rich, racist business man but as his popularity in poles rises the threat of having this irrational man for president is becoming to close for comfort.

Let's look at Trump's Campaign Website:

Donald trump, "Make America Great Again!" On his campaign website it says we should, "Consider our selves lucky to have him on our side." It claims that Trump is not reliant on investors and this shows that we are veering away from the pretense that money doesn't buy office. This argument is such bull considering that he has a net worth of 4 BILLION dollars so yes he does have money to run for office. And maybe be doesn't have investors because no one is stupid enough to support him.

He also argues that his loud mouth with no filter is a positive thing because, "Do we wish to be led by an individual who does not speak from the heart but rather prefers to be advised on what to say and when to say it?" Now at face value this seems legitimate. However, lets imagine Trump as the face of American speaking to another world leader. Would we prefer our president to be advised on the culture and hope to respectfully speak, or would we want him to just say whatever he feels and potentially screw up American world relations? Let's translate his aggressive, arrogant nature in his campaign to real politics. A self-entitled, power seeking bimbo in the oval office. Is this the kind of message we want to send to everyone else? 

His website also claims he will look out for us 'little people' and actually protect the interests of the middle class. The website says, "Because nearly all politics are crony-capitalists, tucked into the pockets of Big Business executives who want to outsource your job to China." Trump IS the big business executives. He is the billionaire with tons of capital so how will he be able to look out for the middle class? 

His website is actually promoting how everyone else hates him and trying to spin it into a good thing. In one of the twenty reasons why you should vote for trump, they say you should vote for him just because there aren't any other options. This is like comparing voting for president to what you're going to eat for dinner. Oh, well I guess just because my old options are dirt, dirt, and dirt with sprinkles, I'll go with dirt with sprinkles.

Everything about Trump makes you want to pull his thinning hair out. You really want that to be the new face of America? We need to figure out how to stop this madness. Opinions? 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Ronda Rowdy Rousey

"I swear to God If anyone calls me fat one more time in my life I'm going to kill them." Ronda Rousey told the New York Times. Rousey is filling a unique niche in Hollywood's industry: the intense need for female empowerment and fierceness while looking like your girl next door.
She was the first American Woman to win an Olympic medal in judo. But, she was disappointed coming home with bronze. After her shortcomings in Beijing, she turned to mixed-martial arts for a new challenge to push her and drive her to success. Currently, she is undefeated in mixed martial arts winning all twelve of her professional fights and is the first and current UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion.  

Outside of the ring, she's an actress. She played supporting actresses is movies and television such as Furious 7, The Expendable 3, and Entourage. She is staring in an upcoming movie "Mile 22" which she describes as mix between 8 Mile and Rocky. 

However, Rousey's current fight is against body image in Hollywood. She hopes to be a representative for body types often hidden in magazines and television. Once ashamed of her buff arms and ripped build, Rousey embraces her look and doesn't take rudeness from anybody. Rousey is an inspiration for all women and girls to embrace their inner fighters. She's a role model for people to look up to and know that you can be a women and kick ass in a normally male-dominated field. She motivats others to "contribute to the world, not consume from it." How do you feel about Rousey?

To read more about Rousey click here.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Why Do We Lie?

Lies, Lies, Lies,
Liars Surround Us
They are all around,
Quite commonly found in
History, Hollywood, Politics, and Religion,
Liars aren't very rare,
yet it is rather unusual
to uncover their affairs.

In Hillary and her email disgrace,
A leader of this nation who lost some face,
because she decided not to play by the rules,
and now most consider her a fool.

But do we really?
She's running for office,
even though she's surrounded by so much gossip.
Some feminists praise the woman's drive
but what does Hillary feel the need to hide?

Would inspecting the emails clear the air?
Or make the people more aware
Of the dirty secrets she covering.
That would be an riveting discovery.

How can we rely on others' words?
When the truth can become very blurred.

Why do we feel the need to assume a hero's role?
And make everyone else have villain's goals?
Sometime's we try to protect the one's we love,
so we shove our morals up above
onto a shelf where our secrets lie,
biding their time before coming alive.

When your secrets come alive,
they tend to drive
your life down into a ditch
where everyone labels you as a bitch.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

When Religion and Politics Mix: Pope Francis

Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born in Buenos Airis in 1936. He was ordained the 266th Pope on March, 13, 2013. While revolutionizing the image of the Pope, he is visiting the Unites States from September 22 to the 26th. He's stopping in Washington D.C, and New York, before arriving at the World Meeting of Families held in the Philadelphia this year. Thousands are flocking to see the symbol of hope and peace and he is certainly a man of the people. In D.C, he's speaking with the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the President on a variety of issues from global climate to immigration.

Nether labeled as a conservative or a liberal, Pope Francis has been a perfect politician when it comes to Christianities social issues. He is purposely vague on same-sex marriage, gender and marriage/divorce. His ambiguity on these subjects are enough to keep the conservatives around yet boost his popularity world wide. On an interview on a flight back from Brazil he stated:
"When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them?... The tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem…they’re our brothers." The pope is implying that he does not have a problem with Homosexual tendencies as long as they accept the Lord. To accept the lord's teachings one must only have sex with the opposite gender therefore rejecting homosexual tendency. So he does not accept gay people; he accepts those who might have 'impure thoughts' but does not act upon them. 
However, we still have to realize he holds orthodox views and might not bring the social changes some are rallying for. Be realistic with your expectations; he is speaking with love and compassion but at the same time playing his cards right. He is an influential man in this world with enough power to institution change. However, don't assume radical changes for women, divorced couples, or homosexuals are coming to the Catholic church anytime soon. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

What Are We Fighting For?

As a junior at New Trier, the pressure to succeed engulfs students drowning them until they loose sight of the purpose of the fight. Overstretched and under-slept, the majority of New Trier students experience constant anxiety about their future. Am I involved enough? Is my GPA high enough? Should I take
classes or get a private tutor for the ACT? What's the end goal of everything? A lot of New Trier students picture an elite-flashy name dream school that will justify all the blood, sweat, and tears. But is that how you really want to define your success in life? On the college you spend only four years of your life at? Whether the pressure to attend top-tier colleges is internal, from society, or from parents, New Trier students need to remind themselves what they're really working towards. Because your life will not suddenly become whole if you are accepted into the elite-Ivies. On the other hand, your life won't break in two if you're rejected from your top three schools. Don't orient your life goals around a specific college because college is only the beginning of the adventure.

It is a privilege to receive the premium education that New Trier offers; we're being molded into the brightest minds in the nation. College is not the final destination; you have your entire lives ahead of you. However, right now, we are learning how to survive in a cut throat, competitive environment. By experiencing New Trier Education we already have a leg up on most of the nation. So stop stressing about getting into the flashy school because that is not the end goal of education. Set your sets higher. Work hard and become an intelligent human because you want to better yourself and society.

Monday, September 14, 2015

When Traditional Justice Fails

I have a firm belief in Karma- what goes around comes around. If you hold open the door for a sweet old lady, you might find twenty bucks on the ground. If you kill a bird with your car, the next day your favorite sweater will rip. The universe has a funny way of always balancing out good and evil. We see this circle of justice in Louise Erdrich's novel The Round House. In the coming of age novel about a young boy named Joe, we learn about the complicated lives of Native American's living on a reservation in 1988. In the book, Joe's mother is attacked, raped, and almost burned alive by a white racist man named Linden Lark. The laws, that are supposed to protect innocent civilians and uphold the common good, failed Geraldine (Joe's mom). Because the judicial system did not prosecute Linden, Joe took matters into his own hands and attempted to eliminate him. Unable to finish the job, his best friend Cappy had to send the fatal shot.

Linden Lark was the worst type of person: racist, rapist, murder. He kidnapped and killed a new mother, Mayla Wolfskin, because he claimed to love her and was raging that she had a baby with another man. He made no positive contributions to society and is a destructive sociopath. So does it make it just for Joe to kill Linden? A categorical thinker would argue that it was absolutely immoral and unjust for Linden to be murdered. They locate morality in the action itself: murder is wrong under all circumstances. Contrasting, a consequence thinker would argue Joe's actions brought justice because Linden's death produced peace for his family and the community.

A consequence theorist would insist one must be proactive and can defy one's morals to protect the one's we love. You could say that by avenging all the lives Linden destroyed, Joe brought back balance and order; that we should rejoice that Linden was eliminated form our gene pool. However, I associate myself as a categorical thinker: act upon your morally instincts no matter the circumstances.

After Lark's death, Joe learns he reacted to quickly too the situation, "(Bugger) had seen her dead body. If we hadn't killed Lark, he'd have gone to jail for life anyway" (310). Lark would not of been charged for rape of Gerdaline, however he would've been jailed for first degree murder of Mayla. Instead of patiently waiting for the inevitable outcome, Joe is haunted by his actions and the involvement of his deceased friend for the rest of his life. When the universe's judicial balance has been disturbed, it has an odd way of re-balancing balancing the scales. So make sure you always have Karma on your side.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Danish Girl

The trailer for the Tom Hooper's new up-coming movie, The Danish Girl, was released four days ago (trailer below). First premiering September 5th in 2015 Venice Film Festival, The Danish Girl depicts the incredible true story of transgender Lili Elbe played by Academy award winning actor, Eddie Redmayne.  Lili was born as male Einar Wegner, a painter and husband to struggling portrait artist Gerda Wegner (Alicia Vikander). Taking place in 1920's Copenhagen, the film follow's Lili's journey to finding her true self and eventually becoming the first transgender individual to undergo gender reassignment surgery. Redmayne has a tender, graceful touch that always bring justice to his complex characters. His feminine features make his transformation not only fascinating yet incredibly believable. 
However, there has been much controversy over a cis actor playing a transgender role. Tom Cooper commented, “I was a great believer in him (Redmayne) as an actor. I think also there’s a certain gender fluidity that I sensed in him, that I found intriguing and it led me to think he might be a really interesting person to cast in this role.” According to Cooper, Redmayne was the only person he wanted for the role. Furthermore, for an already transitioned trans women to play the role, they would have to come off their hormones because Lili is still a male for a large portion of the film. This could cause many issues mentally and physically for the actor. Cooper also notes that they cast 40-50 trans people for supporting roles.

Two months ago, the United States Supreme Court legalized gay marriage. Last April, Caitlyn Jenner emerged on the cover of Vanity Fair encouraging and advocating for transgender individuals across the nation. LGBT communities have finally been making much deserved strides after decades of fighting for their rights. In practicality, The Danish girl is just a movie. However, it has a connotation of being part of much greater movement that is overhauling our world today. The Danish Girl, comes out in theaters on November 27th. 

A Link for more information on the true story of Lili Elbe: