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Just One Thing: how simple changes can transform your life

First corn of the season at the market this morning, and for the first time ever, I bought beets. Because my new friend Dr. Michael Mosley told me to.

I devoured his book, Just One Thing: How simple changes can transform your life, quick chapters with sensible, doable advice. Much of what he proposes I already do: Dance, sing (loudly, often), read 30 minutes a day, nap after lunch, spend time in nature, get sun on skin, have houseplants in the rooms most lived in, learn something new (piano), brush teeth standing on one leg, exercise regularly including short daily bouts (cycling, stairs, gardening), eat dark chocolate,  eat an apple a day (for me, not quite but almost).

Some things I will probably not do, including eating sauerkraut for breakfast, playing video games, and taking cold showers.

But it’s the other things I’ll perhaps try – like delaying breakfast an hour, having nothing to eat in the evening, eating oily fish 2-3 times a week, drinking water with every meal, meditating. Etc. As he says, simple changes. (However, not enough about the importance of chilled rosé on a hot summer day, Michael.) I used to watch his entertaining program Trust Me, I’m a Doctor on TVO. Unfortunately, this bright, valuable man who lived a profoundly healthy lifestyle died recently on a Greek island, at age 67, probably of heat exhaustion after getting lost on a hike. But he left behind many good ideas and books, including this one.

He advised eating beets. So I’m going to try eating beets, previously used only in borscht. My mother loved them, grown in her childhood British garden, so a learning curve started for me with the bunch I bought today. Stay tuned.

Another book just picked up from Ben McNally: BoyMom: reimagining boyhood in the age of impossible masculinity, by Ruth Whippman, whom I heard interviewed on CBC. The mother of 3 sons, she is anxious about the many difficulties facing men and boys these days, and as the grandmother of two young boys facing a difficult world, I agree with her. Anna has been telling me horror stories about what some of Eli’s friends are up to, smoking weed and having sex at the age of twelve, and more; a friend of his just ran away and the police are looking for him. Most of these boys are without fathers. It’s the wild west out there; I hope this book will give me a guide map, so I, Glamma, can be helpful.

The boys and I just finished reading Michael Morpurgo’s Kensuke’s Island, another story about a boy surviving alone, with good sense, courage, and resilience, just as in Hatchet. A moving story from the author of War Horse. 

Today is my father’s yahrzeit; he died 36 years ago today. I burn the candle and think of him. He would be appalled by the world hurtling into fascism, and by the descent of his own birth country into absurdity and terrifying incompetence. We are watching a Greek tragedy in Joe Biden, destroyed by the very things, like his tenacity, that helped him be a successful politician and president. Enough, Joe. Give it a rest. Time to hand over the torch, the reins, the nuclear codes. NOW.

The good news is that the garden goes on without us, as poet Lorna Crozier wrote. The new milkweed is planted, I hope the monarchs find it. Soon there’ll be a lot of cukes, tomatoes, and chard. And the Annabelle snowball hydrangeas are ridiculous; I have to hack them back.

Another thing Mosley suggests is a gratitude journal. I am always grateful, as perhaps you know, but have started to keep one anyway, writing down last thing at night 3 or 4 things loved during the day. Today, so far, it will be running into Annie at the market this morning, the walnut raisin bread from St. John’s Bakery, and eating the stir fry my son cooked for me yesterday. My son the Viking, who just sent this from his gardening job, saying, “Greetings from sweaty work day! Love you.”

Men, including this one, may be having difficulties, but his sense of humour, kindness, and loyalty remain intact. And I could not be more grateful for that.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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