Wednesday 31 March 2010

Fun & Artistic Easter Card For Your Children, Grandchildren -- or The "Child" In You!


What do children look forward to when it comes around to Easter? That's Carole Anne and I are sharing an artistic card we think will be enjoyed by "children of all ages" - whether at home or at school:

Click here to see it -- or paste the link into your browser. (And don't miss the three extra pages at the end of it all with some very interesting history and tradition around the world regarding eggs and Easter that many probably don't even realize. Just look for a link at the bottom "about eggs.")

Oh, here's the "sequel" - an exhuberant egg decorating "experience" portrayed in the card I sent out LAST YEAR at Easter time to some children. It includes the same little character plus one of his friends, and I especially enjoy the ending of that one!

By the way, here's the new card for the ADULTS this year: He Is Risen!

* Last, but not least, here's a nice tangible little Easter "egg" for everyone who would like to try their hand at personalizing and sending out cards like this for themselves. The artist who creates these, Jacquie Lawson in the UK, has a 24-hour free trial opportunity - if one knows where to look!

If you want to get in on this, you could actually send out as many different personalized cards as you wish - among the 100 or so she has created thus far - to your various friends and family throughout the world. Plus they all have a built-in feature giving the recipient an opportunity to respond back to you personally. Simply go here.

But wait to fill in the form if you don't want to send out cards out just yet, because the 24-hour time limit starts when you actually fill in the form online. You can choose the time frame that works best for you by saving that link - or setting a reminder for yourself to come back to this page - when you're ready to do a "trial run" personalizing and sending out some of these wonderful animated artistic and musical cards for your own friends.

Time to celebrate!
Clair and Carole Anne

Monday 29 March 2010

The Glad Game

(A story I'm excerpting from an inspirational email I've received recently from Simple Truths)

In her wonderful book, The Wealthy Spirit, Chellie Campbell describes how, when she was a girl, her mother taught her to play "The Glad Game." On days when Chellie came home from school complaining about something - a bully on the playground, a harsh teacher, a skinned knee, or difficult homework, Chellie's mom would hug her, kiss away her tears, and then suggest, "OK, enough complaining. Let's play 'The Glad Game.'"

The Glad Game is another name for a Gratitude List. The Glad Game helps you focus on what's right in your world today, instead of what's wrong. Chellie's mom was a very wise woman, teaching her that no matter what your troubles, there are still plenty of things to be grateful for: a sunny day, good food to eat, a loving family, a house to live in, a family pet to love, a handful of friends to enjoy, and much, much more.

Chellie would follow her mothers suggestion:

"I'm glad I have you as my mom."
"I'm glad the weekend is almost here."
"I'm glad I have some nice clothes to wear to school."
"I'm glad I don't have to share my room with my sister anymore."
"I'm glad I get to watch TV when I finish my homework."
"I'm glad we have pie for dessert."

Playing The Glad Game is a terrific way to change your attitude in a hurry. We all slip into self-pity once in awhile; after all, we're only human. The important thing is to cut the pity-party short and shift into gratitude. An attitude of gratitude will get you much farther in life than complaining and self-pity. Try it and see.

The movie you will see if you click on this link is one of many short chapters in Learning to Dance in the Rain...The Power of Gratitude.

Dancing in the rain isn't something that most of us are born knowing how to do. We learn it. We learn it from others; we learn it from Life. The more we dance, the better we get at it. My daughter Megan was proof of that as she grew up doing ballet for many years. With practice, dancing in the rain becomes almost automatic. We no longer seek to run from storms...instead, we toss back our heads, throw out our arms, pick up our feet, and DANCE! (Or in my case, we "try" to!)

Carole Anne and I just did another wonderful "dance of joy" about a half hour ago, when we received a note from a good friend that today the lost had been found: both of our main expensive winter coats (Carole Anne = fake seal fur, me = nice full length brown wool) were found hanging in an obscure closet in their home in Canberra where they had been hanging for a year and a half! Carole Anne had firmly concluded that I had somehow let them fall out of the car and onto the road during a move we'd made out of a 5-month rental in a Uniting Church parsonage in Duffy and into another place - almost six months after they got hung in that closet! She even definitely "remembered" packing them into that box when preparing for that move. Well, now I'm finally exhonerated -- yay!

That little serendipitous development, and also recently having recovered both our passports which were also lost for a very puzzling two months and "found" the hour before going to what would have been a much MORE expensive appointment at the US Consulate in Sydney to replace them...well, it sort of balances out having been caught up for the last two days in the exhausting fallout of another international cyber scam!


P.S. If you liked that one, here are more "mini-movies" on a whole variety of themes, all freely available for your viewing pleasure on "the net." Several of them have picked me up when its pouring - and moved me to "dance in the rain."

Easter Reflections 2010

Dr. Bernard Sabella, Jerusalem

In Jerusalem and the Holy Land, Easter takes on special significance. For Palestinian Christians and for thousands of pilgrims who commemorate the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, these events are reawakened in association with the same places Gethsemane, the Via Dolorosa, Golgotha and the Sepulcher of two thousand years ago.

The story of Lazarus is the most telling of the Easter saga: here is a man who physically died but was resurrected. The compassion of Jesus, individual in the case of Lazarus, was extended to all through His ultimate sacrifice on the cross and resurrection.

For us here, in the troubled land of Palestine and Israel, resurrection is yet to come. We are like Lazarus awaiting compassion.

The landscape these days confirm that spring has arrived. Yet, unlike years where the winter is generally cold, this year the rainy cold days were followed by milder sunny days. As a result we had had green shrubs and wild flowers year round. This is a miracle in itself even if it detracts from the contrast in the scenery between winter and spring.

In early springtime, before the hot summer sun reduces the green into the brownish burnt color, the landscape is a kaleidoscope of a variety of brilliant colors mixing daffodils, anemone, lilac chaste tree, corn poppy, pretty Carmelite and scores of other plants and wild flowers into a beautiful carpet of divine scenery.

Yet in this Easter as we relive resurrection and its promises and as we humbly learn from the wild flowers of the land and their survival and rebirth, we find ourselves, Palestinians and Israelis caught in the catacombs of a political process. For us Palestinians peace is in the essence of our survival as a people and as a society. For our neighbors, the Separation Wall and the control mechanisms offer a mirage of security. Without genuine peace, agreed upon by the two parties, the ground will remain fertile for more death and destruction.

The miracle of resurrection is not simply a physical one nor is it a gift without commitment. Passing from one situation to another necessitates commitment and determination. This cannot be done without a vision: be it freedom, self and group preservation or simply making peace with neighbors and accepting them.

This is the essence of the resurrection and its celebration in this Holy Week.

Dr Bernard Sabella is Executive Secretary of the Department of Services to Palestinian Refugees in the Middle East Council of Churches.

Sunday 28 March 2010

My Palm Sunday Saga: Foiling A Nigerian Cyber Criminal Attack!

Hello my friends, this is Clair back again in control of my own blog - for real this time - having recovered my email account by utilizing a secure computer (other than my own laptop.) Some "blankety-blank" cyber criminal from Nigeria hacked my password to my Gmail account and took over my personal email address book - with about 1900 distinct email addresses in it - plus impersonated me on my own blog (right here) which gets controlled by that same Google password.

He also took over, then took down my Facebook site - out of spite, because I foiled him on the other.

All the postings my friends were putting on FB to warn me and everyone else actually went straight into his hands and probably been deleted, until he got tired of managing that, I suppose. I never had access to any of my personal emails he siphoned off for almost 20 hours - and still don't - except for approx 50 "good" emails he decided to stash into my trash folder (which I rescued later.) So please review your sent folder for any email you sent me from about noon on Saturday onward to mid-day Sunday - East Coast time in America - or during the day and evening Sunday if you live in Australia.

You can resend email to me without fear and trepidation if it was important or still relevant, since I'm back in control of my own email. You can use the same address, since there is a strong layer of security around it now - beyond what I already had! I sincerely hope no one else gets their password hacked like I did, but realistically, these days its more a matter of when, not if. The unsuspecting and naive are particularly vulnerable.

If you want the gory details on what he did, including how I and some friends helped to foil the plot and stopped him in his tracks - read on! (You might learn a few important things about how to prevent this, or at least what to do or look for right away if it happens to you - without having to give up your whole history of email.)

This was the original message, which that perpetrator sent out in great batches of email as well as posted on my blog for a chunk of time over the past day:

I'm sorry for this odd request and I'm writing this with tears on my eyes due to the situation of things right now,I'm stuck in London United Kingdom with my family,we came down here on vacation and we got Mugged at GUNPOINT.. worse of it was that cash cell phone and credit cards were stolen,it's such a crazy and terrifying experience for us,I'm scared and so worried right now.. we need help flying back home, the authorities are not being 100% helping, but the good thing is that we still have our passports,Our return flight Leave back home Today,But i still have problem in sorting out the hotel bills ..

I'm freaked out ..............

Clair and Carole Anne.

It's apparent this automated system was controlled by a spy 'bot, because several people reported to me during the aftermath that if they responded with an email of concern, they all received an IDENTICAL follow-up histronic comment in return (identical as in key stroke by keystroke) but which still was effectively designed to heighten the angst:

RE: Carole Anne and i needs your help!!!

OMG!!!I'm so glad to hear back from you I'm scared and so worried right now,it's was so Terrifying....thank goodness i still have my life and passport,my return flight leave back to the state in few hrs time,but i still have problem in sorting out the hotel bills,i was just wondering if you can loan me some cash $$ till i get back home to refund you back. All i need is 1000 pounds and you can have it wired to my name via Western Union

Here are the details you need :

Name : Clair Hochstetler

Address : 30 Leicester Square

City : London

Country : United Kingdom

I'm so happy you are helping and I promise to pay you back


Yeah, right -- so glad to hear that "your happy!"

Trust me, we won't ever likely be "stranded" anywhere in the world, even if we have cards and money stolen. We know how to protect ourselves from all that crap, being quite world travel-savy by now. As one of my friends said in a message posted to Carole Anne today - if something like that ever happened to us anywhere in the world, knowing us and our "resourcefulness", he was quite confident that we would have made 20 new friends in the first ten minutes who would be willing to help us make connections! I imagine he's right about that...

I do hope nobody got suckered into this scam so prevalent now world-wide. This story yesterday from CNN describes the problem well. I do have good anti-virus, anti-hacking and spyware detection security installed on my laptop (using a reputable package from Comodo which I auto-update three times a week) so I'm still not sure how this cyber criminal pulled it off. They must have accomplished it while I was online because I thought it was strange when I was accessing my Picasa Web sit (my photo storage site online, also controlled by Google) and it asked for me to type in my password again which I never had to do before. After I typed it in, the trouble began, it wouldn't work, and I simply went to bed to figure it out in the morning. Then the bogus emails began flowing out in batches - as I slept. Probably to my whole list!

But I can tell you that scammer happened to pick on the WRONG GUY this time around! I've traced him down got his phone number in Nigeria, and am in the process of contacting a good personal friend originally from Nigeria and living in Chicago who is actually back in Nigeria there right now visiting and working for a few months in his home area around Lagos where this crap happens all the time. I'm sure hoping he will help me figure out WHO the best authority is to report this to and we can "nail" the perp.

Fortunately most of my friends quickly figured out something like this was happening when they read the terrible grammar of that message, and Carole Anne and I got a slew of text messages, mobile phone calls, and several skype voice mail messages from friends all over North America and Australia wondering if we were safe - or simply warning us of the breach of security. I wonder how long this will string along? Maybe until all the batches of email get sent out, I suppose...

When I awoke this morning and was warned by an early phone call from a very concerned friend I quickly logged on with Carole Anne's computer and we change all our passwords for the online access to a couple different bank accounts so no money was taken or accounts compromised there. What they were really interested in, though, was not MY bank accounts, but my friends each sending a thousand pounds to London on "my behalf" into the Western Union account "I" had set up!

That friend who called me this morning was quite worried because the description of what happened to "Carole Anne and me" in that first email actually happened "for real" to a chaplain friend of his in Rome a while back, when the guy got mugged at gunpoint, had literally everything taken off him except his passport returned, and was left stripped down to his underwear, keys and money gone and all....and then he had to go to a hotel nearby mostly naked, and emailed my friend for help from Rome. Yes, this is true!

It took TWELVE HOURS after my system was compromised to reset my account with a very strong password (my backup email address was my account at the hospital and I couldn't access it no matter what I tried - because the hospital's computer/email system also apparently had a some sort of major glitch to repair today and "took a holiday".) So I was FINALLY able to trace down the abnormalities within my Google account as soon as I got back in control and reset the four "switches" he had messed within it's inner workings:

1) He had reset the Google account home country to Nigeria

2) The phone contact in my account (the greatest mistake on his part) was reset to his own phone! All I had to do was do a quick "screen shot" of all that so the authorities have it.

3) He had established a fake email account on - with his own password so I couldn't access it - which closely resembled a legitimate one I had at Yahoo, and hit the switch so that any password reset information would be sent there: -- I stayed ahead of him on that one by adding some more options for email addresses to receive password reset information and changed the password twice in quick succession during my own reset, so he lost out on that one!

4) The perp turned on the forwarding email switch so all email anyone sent me after this happened went to that new email address he controlled with his own password instead of staying in my Gmail inbox. (I didn't find that extra "glitch" for a while.)

One friend was savy enough to deliberately string him along in a series of email communications back and forth and obtained the ISP tracing I can use to report him, and another friend has been had some bold conversation (stringing him along deliberately via IM "chats" with "me" on my Facebook) to try to get the information from this scammer on the account number he was setting up in London to receive the money. All useful for filing the report to Google and the authorities. I hope they won't take too long to respond - but I won't hold my breath with the great amount of this criminal activity going on. It will be interesting to see if/when the authorities in Nigeria feel like even dealing with this.

Meanwhile I'm steaming angry about how the perpetrator took down my entire Facebook later today, probably in retaliation for being traced. I finally was able to get my FB site restored with a DIFFERENT and exceedingly strong password - as I did with my Gmail account - but it took 24 hours of waiting without access to get it.

UPDATE -- see the note I made to my friend Val below: I finally shut him out of Face Book as well, and sincerely hope that there will be no more "faux" conversations with that Nigerian scammer posing as "me." But I sure do want to hear about it if such occurs again after the point in time that I made that comment below.

If you have a Gmail account like I do,
here is some very valuable info about ways to monitor any suspicious activity. However, I'm actually having some second thoughts about Google's vulnerabilities, lack of personal support, and particularly what can happen to users like me who are stuck with using a comprehensive one-password system powering many different applications Google owns. The crim gets one password and can access "everything" in the Google family "system."

I've pulled down all five years worth of email which was stored only ONLINE, back out of "the cloud" now and inside my new Thunderbird 3 (compatible with Firefox) but in the process saw that he siphoned off all my individual and group contacts - yep, all 1900 + of them. I grabbed my email back just in case they decide they have to shut down my Gmail account for good and force me to start a new one. I sure don't want to lose all that history.

Theoretically anyone's email can "go down" if a spy worm intercepts your FaceBook or other social networking site when online. (Yep, that's where I now suspect it all started - and I hear that's where the most vulnerability is.) We have got to figure out how to stay protected from the dastardly designs of such scum! However, what I'm reading now is not too encouraging...and a lot of it is written by people with Macs who are not traditionally plagued with viruses and worms in their computers - but it's all happening to them now, as well, while online interacting with their data in "the cloud."

Jeepers, what a way to waste a perfectly good Sunday - and it was Palm Sunday at that! And most of the next night, too, calming down my very worried peeps.

I suppose in the "Big Picture" of things....a very good thing to come out of this debacle is just knowing we still have many good friends - both here in Australia also scattered around the world - who really care about what happens to Carole Anne and me!

Somewhat calmer now...

Thursday 25 March 2010

The Nature of Success (inspirational little movie)

Click here
for a nice reflection about integrity and other keys for "success" in life.

ANZAC Day (Weekend) 2010 Conference: ‘Putting an End to War’

Though I currently live within two blocks of the National War Memorial and the "ANZAC Parade" below it, where tens of thousands will soon gather again for the annual Dawn Service, here is where I hope to be on ANZAC Day this year:

"Putting An End To War" - a 3-day workshop on personal resistance to war and military action. This conference will be held from 23-26 April, starting with Friday dinner and an evening session and ending soon after Monday lunch at the Australian Quaker Centre, “Silver Wattle” 1063 Lake Road Bungendore, NSW.

Participants will consider the Beatitudes as a call to radical action, reflect on celebrations of ANZAC Day, and hear about individual witness such as being a human shield, intervening in armed conflict, entering prohibited military areas and refusing to pay war taxes. Recent actions in Pine Gap, Talisman Sabre, Iraq and Palestine will be some of our examples.

Speakers include:

Gerry Guitton “Walking the Way of Peace”

Simon Moyle “Radical Action’

Helen Bayes “Getting in the Way – Christian Peacemakers”

Waratah Gillespie “Out of Love Courage Grows”

Helen Gould “War Tax Resistance”

Doug Hynd “Reflections on Anzac day”

For full details of program, accommodation costs, etc, here is a link to a flier posted on the AQC website, which can also be printed off for sending in the registration.

Wednesday 17 March 2010

Just Having A Bit 'O Fun On St. Patrick's Day!

A Climate For Change?

A few months back I read a Eureka Street article titled "The perverse skills of climate change deniers" - I noticed that a friend of mine (with whom I had never discussed this subject heretofore) had posted these comments:

"I think a contrary view needs to be put. I believe climate change is always with us, but I am increasingly of the view that CO2 is not to blame. Recent empirical evidence (as opposed to computer modelling) indicates that the atmosphere has a negative, not positive feedback effect on CO2 emissions. This would render all the IPCC models inaccurate. We now know that the most respected of IPCC contributors have been guilty of failing the scientific method test (to put it kindly). The new evidence that is emerging surely requires us to maintain an open mind and not apply pejoratives to anyone with an opposing view."

I read a great variety of other opinions expressed at the site, then posted my own comments:

"Dr Rue calls at the end of his article for good sources that help reintegration of theologies of Creation and Redemption. I'd like to offer one for consideration: "A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions" which addresses good questions and straightforward responses to climate change - but without the spin. This book attempts to untangle the complex science and tackles many long-held misconceptions about global warming.

Authored by a climate scientist and a pastor (who are a married couple) "A Climate for Change..." explores the role our Christian faith can play in guiding our choices and shaping our opinions on this crucial global issue/controversy.

I encourage everyone to take the quiz or read preview chapters here!"


Today I noticed "A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions" is now available as a free e-book online here. (And what's really nice is one can select various views depending on personal eyesight needs and preferences!)

The book is divided into FIVE parts, with four or five chapters in each part:
Part 1: What's Going On?
Part 2: Causes
Part 3: Doubts

Part 4: Effects
Part 5: Choices

I think this book is really worth taking the time to digest - and discuss. Some interesting surprises are likely in store for most readers.


Thursday 11 March 2010

Nazareth Village Invitation: ‘Come and See’ Where Jesus Walked!

Michael and Ginny Hostetler, mentioned below, are long-time friends of mine. We three first met as teenagers and fellow collegians at Eastern Mennonite University in Virginia, where Mike and I graduated together, 35 years ago - Ginny a year later. See below a report on the 10th anniversary celebration of a very significant work they helped initiate in Nazareth, Israel. As noted in that article...

"Nazareth Village welcomed nearly 41,000 visitors in 2009 from many countries around the world. This hillside village attracts people of all faiths from more than 75 different countries, making it a uniquely international place. It continues to be a popular site for field trips from local school children. More than 45,000 - roughly 85% Moslem - children have come to theVillage since it opened."

Much more information at the NV website. And if you ever travel to Palestine/Israel you won't want to miss visiting this educational centre - now quite significant to several major religions.



BISHOP’S MANTLE - column by Jim Bishop
"Village Invitation: ‘Come and See’ Where Jesus Walked"

Can anything good come from

A rhetorical question? Not really.

In John 1:46, Nathaniel made that inquiry, and Jesus’ disciple Philip answered, “Come and see . . .”

Since the year 2000, people have come to the heart of
Nazareth, Israel, traveling back in time to the very place where Jesus walked, talked, healed and changed the course of history.

The place is
Nazareth Village, an authentic restoration of a farm and village as it would have existed in the first century. The project occupies about six acres of land adjacent to Nazareth Hospital.

Nazareth Village describes itself as “a living presentation of the life, times and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth for all the world.” Visitors can take guided tours that include homes, workshops, a synagogue, working olive press and first-century wine press and stone quarry. They can observe carpenters plying their trade and herdsmen tending their flock
while hearing Jesus' teachings and parables told as the Man of Galilee would tell them.

Saturday evening, Feb. 28, some 230 supporters and friends of this extraordinary venture that marked its 10th anniversary this year, gathered in the Eastern Mennonite High School dining hall to hear an update on the project and to savor a first century meal.

The evening speaker was Dr. Nakhle Bishara, a physician and medical director of
Nazareth Hospital, 1988-2006, now working in risk management at another hospital in Nazareth. A ninth-generation Nazarene and member of the Greek Orthodox Church, he was a founding board member of the Village and continues in this capacity today.

In 1994, Bishara shared his dream of turning the dry, dusty stones of
Nazareth into living stones with freelance writer-photographer team Ginny and Mike Hostetler who were at the hospital working on a video project. He was passionate about wanting to share the stories of Jesus with the thousands of tourists that come to Jesus’ home town each year.

Nearly a year later, Bishara heard from Hostetler: “I’m coming back to
Nazareth and I need a place to stay for a week – and I’m bringing 11 other people with me.”

That group of volunteer consultants from the US and the British Isles consulted with Christians from throughout the Middle East on a feasibility plan.

In 1995, the Edinburgh (Scotland) Medical Missionary Society, which operates
Nazareth Hospital and owns the desired land, reacted favorably to a presentation by Hostetler and Bishara and granted seed money for the project.

A year later, Hostetler, with assistance from Mennonite Board of Missions (now Mennonite Mission Network), moved with Ginny and their two young children from the US to
Nazareth to lead the project. He would become the first director of Nazareth Village. The project opened the fall of 2000 even while the development moved forward.

Dr. Bishara addressed the group of supporters on the parable of the lost son from Luke 15, telling it from a first century point of view as Christ would have told it in that cultural setting.

The primary point of the story, Bishara said, is that of “heavenly justice, full of mercy and compassion – the lost has been found and there is great rejoicing in the process of restoration. In this amazing story we are assured that God watches out for the lost and welcomes them back with open arms.”

Nazareth Village, which marks its tenth anniversary this year even as staff continues to develop the project, operates under the auspices of an ecumenical, international board of directors. Shirley P. Roth, a native of Big Valley, Pa., has been executive director of the Village since 2005.

"Nazareth Village welcomed nearly 41,000 visitors in 2009 from many countries around the world, Shirley reported. "This hillside village attracts people of all faiths from more than 75 different countries, making it a uniquely international place. It continues to be a popular site for field trips from local school children. More than 45,000 - roughly 85% Moslem - children have come to the Village since it opened," she noted.

One of the most delightful experiences of 2009 was a visit from a delegation and families of the Druze people of northern Israel, Shirley said, noting that there are about one million Druze living mainly in Syria and Lebanon. The Druze community in Israel is officially recognized as a separate religious entity with its own courts and spiritual leadership.

The group took the Christmas tour in the
Village with participation of Village staff and volunteers who played out scenes from the Nativity, followed by a first century meal together.

"It proved immensely popular," Shirley said. "There were 34 Druze leaders in the first group, and because of their approval of the experience, about 40 members of Druze families with children followed a few days later. The sheiks expressed their deep appreciation after the tour.

"These kind of inspirational and incarnational moments keep repeating themselves at the
Village," she said.

Information on
Nazareth Village is available at the web site. A colorful, profusely-illustrated book, The Nazareth Jesus Knew, which describes the project from inception to the present, can be ordered from

"God is calling us to this unique and powerful ministry - offering light, hope and new understandings of Jesus' teachings to all who come from different faith backgrounds in the midst of a region beset by turmoil and uncertainty," Shirley said.

Clearly, something very extraordinary, even life-changing, has come out of

Jim Bishop is public information officer at Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, VA
He can be contacted at

Monday 8 March 2010

Heretofore unseen footage of the most amazing bird in all of Australia!

What a hoot!

Actually, I did find the original authentic footage on YouTube, off of which the above was based. So do enjoy:

Sunday 7 March 2010

Diet-related Disease - the Number #1 Killer Sweeping the Globe Today

In the video below, British chef Jamie Oliver delivers an impassioned plea for America (and the world) to embrace a healthier food movement. He was recently given the $100,000 TED prize for his work - so take some time to listen to his speech. If it's worth 100 grand to the TED committee, it's certainly worth something to the rest of us, as well.

New Campaign to Fight the Deadly Epidemic of Childhood Obesity

As you may have already heard, First Lady Michelle Obama launched a new American "Let's Move" campaign in mid-February to combat the pervasive problem of childhood obesity which has now become a lethal epidemic in the US as well as many other parts of the world. It's good that she is causing everyone to take stock and consider what they are doing to solve the problem rather than contribute to it.

I've been thinking about how my parents actually followed her suggested guidelines as I grew up, and I helped raise my own kids this way, too. But in recent years I've slipped a little myself and am starting to add some pounds, now that I'm in my fifties. I need to heed the wisdom of my own elders inculcated within me - and what Jamie Oliver is preaching (above.)

I found the following notes in a recent column by Dr. Mercola to be helpful food-for-thought and thus decided to adapt and include them in my reflections today, because I think it's important to re-apply these principles to myself and our family lifestyle - and maybe you'll feel the same, dear reader, as well:

It’s interesting to note that it is such a serious issue that United States' military leaders are now viewing obesity as a potential threat to national security. (Apparently obesity is the number one reason why applicants fail to qualify for military service, and is now posing serious health problems within all the services.)

It’s a truly disturbing sign of how modern life, with all of its conveniences, can undermine health and happiness – and perhaps even national (and international) security!

How Food Culture and Obesity are Related

As British chef and food advocate Jamie Oliver explains in the video above, our food culture has changed so drastically over the last 30 years, a majority of young children of today do not know what fresh, whole food is.

They can’t identify foods, let alone figure out where they come from or how they grow.

He shows how the three aspects of the “food landscape,” home, school, and main street, have all abandoned real food in favor of quick, cheap, processed foods.

Three decades ago, the food available in each of these three areas was mostly fresh and grown locally. Now the majority of foods served, whether at home, in school or in restaurants, are highly processed foods, filled with sugars and chemical additives.

During that same time, childhood obesity has more than tripled. Now, one in three children aged 10 to 17 is overweight or obese.

Healthy Eating Starts at Home

Home used to be the heart of passing on food culture. This rarely happens anymore, and children are suffering the consequences.

Many parents don’t even know how to cook with fresh ingredients, because their parents had embraced the novel convenience of the TV dinner back in the 50s.

It’s worth repeating many times over because it’s one of the main solutions to the obesity epidemic – we need to cook more of our food from scratch, at home!

Many people are under the mistaken impression that cooking from scratch is an extremely complicated affair that takes lots of time and costs more than they could possibly afford -- NOT necessarily true!

There are plenty of sources for simple recipes, many of which are free if you have access to the internet. In this previous article, Colleen Huber offers a list of helpful guidelines on how to cook whole food from scratch, while keeping your day job.

It does require some pre-planning in many cases, but remember that learning to plan your meals may actually reduce your stress levels rather than increase them!

Many people resort to fast foods and processed foods simply because they’re too frazzled at the end of their work day to figure out what to cook. Planning a menu and shopping ahead could actually turn meal time into a more relaxed time spent with family.

Also remember that whatever money you think you’re saving now by using processed foods, you’ll end up paying many times over later on when your health begins to fail.

Proper nutrition, consisting mainly of whole, fresh foods, really is your number one health insurance policy.

Likewise, children will not know which foods are healthy unless you, as a parent or grandparent, teach it to them. Poor eating habits at home, combined with poor food selections at school, may set up children up for long-term physical and behavioral problems.

According to a recent national study, preschool-aged children, in particular, reduce their future risk of obesity if they regularly engage in one or more of three specific household routines:

1) Eat dinner together as a family

2) Make sure children are getting enough sleep.

3) Limiting the child’s television viewing time


Well now, I'm telling myself: "If the shoe fits, wear it"- even in Australia!