Thursday, April 14, 2011

2 Unexpected Observations

Roma Gypsies
There are 3 groups of people who put me on high alert when they come into my workplace: travellers, young boys (unaccompanied by adults) and roma gypsies. More often than not these groups cause trouble- taking food that isn't theirs, stealing milk, wrecking bathrooms... They'll chance their arm at anything! Today though I came to a realisation about roma gypsies. As a group of them walked out of the restaurant today (having behaved very well during their visit- just to dispel my fears about them :) ) I couldn't help but notice how elegantly dressed the women were. In fact, I realised, I have never seen a roma gypsy who hasn't been elegantly dressed. Unwashed and a bit rough around the edges perhaps, but not inelegant.

The women have beautiful long hair, sometimes with their head covered. They wear long, ankle length skirts with high shoes and never bare arms, legs or bellies. They wear their babies and are not ashamed of breastfeeding in public. Hang on... aren't those things that I aspire to? Dressing modestly yet beautifully, baby wearing and exclusive breastfeeding (when the time comes). What an awkward and humbling moment of affinity with a group I usually feel loathe to serve. I will never look at them in the same way again.


After 10 months of working in a fast food restaurant I finally got sick of fast food. Yes, it really did take that long! I was helped along by reading Joyce Meyer's book, "Look Great, Feel Great". I bought this book about 5 or 6 years ago. I didn't think it was worth reading past a couple of chapters when I bought it. I was newly saved and wanted to grow spiritually. What did looking after my body and mind have to do with anything? I wanted to be great spiritually, everything else was irrelevent. I consigned it to the bookshelf. For some reason though, it survived numerous declutterings. Now, 5 or 6 years on, a couple of burnouts later, and numerous warning signs that my body and mind had been stretched past capacity too many times, its contents make so much sense and have so much wisdom. I can now appreciate it.

One thing she says in the book really struck me. To paraphrase, she said that we can only push our bodies and minds into breakdown so many times before they have been damaged irreparably and can never recover to full health and wholeness. As someone who has experienced mental and physical breakdown, this set alarm bells off in my head. If I don't take care of my body (the temple of the Holy Spirit, a gift from God) and my mind (my sanity, my well-being, my emotions) nobody will. I have a responsibility to take care of these and as I do, my spiritual life will also benefit as without my body and soul, my spirit has no way of making an impact on this world (or even just managing to life one day at a time).

From reading this book I learned and was reminded of the impact that different foods have on your body: sugars, proteins, trans fats, good fats, carbohydrates, whole grain vs processed, etc. Within the first week of starting work I learned that carbonated drinks need to be "buffered" through the digestive system (I'm assuming so that they cannot do too much damage?). The body uses calcium as a buffering agent, so the more carbonated drinks you consume, the more calcium is leached out of your bones to try and usher them through, resulting in osteoporosis and brittle bones. I can count on one hand the number of carbonated drinks I have drunk in the past 10 months!What concerned me while reading the book was the amount of sugar, salt and added nasties that I was eating 5 days a week at work. But it's free food! What about the cost to my health? Thankfully, my body has made it pretty clear that that amount of crappy food is bad for me. I no longer drink lattes every day, my palatte gives out about the caffeine. I switched to hot chocolate but now only as a last resort because the sugar is grating against my taste buds and my blood sugar/energy levels were shooting up and then plummeting really fast.

But it's amazing what just 2 days of bringing my own lunch to work has made. Yesterday and today I took a bowl of soup (cream of chicken, then carrot, coriander and fennel) plus half a mini loaf of homemade bread (soda bread with roasted hazelnuts, rosemary and sultanas). Yesterday, I think I ate a bit too much because I got really tired after eating- my body wanted a nap so that it could digest that nice food! Either that or my body was confused- why are you feeding me good stuff now? No more crap? Woo hoo! Today I got my 15 minute break very late, less than an hour before I finished work, so I was a bit hungry. I took some mozzarella dippers with sour cream and chive dip to tide me over until dinner time. I was amazed at how my sense of taste had improved in just two days! I could taste all of the flavours so well. My taste buds weren't already saturated with salt and sugar so they could appreciate it when they experienced it again. However, after a half an hour (and right up 'til now actually) there is a nasty tang on my tongue. The feeling that I've had too much sweet, salty, acidic food. I have gotten that feeling many times before but haven't realised 'til now what it is. I don't want it anymore thanks. One of my colleagues has given up smoking after 22 years. He told me that he can smell the blossoms on the trees again. That's a bit what I feel like. After 10 months I can taste the flavours in my food again.