Monthly Archives: May 2016

May Is Mental Health Month

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May Is Mental Health Month

May is Mental Health Month. There have been quite a few Facebook posts lately about depression and anxiety. I thought it was appropriate to do a blog post on this topic, not only because it is Mental Health Month, but because depression and anxiety are conditions that I am all too familiar with. I even published a book back in 2009 that included my story as well as the stories of others who struggle with these issues.

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Depression is complicated. There are many wonder drugs out there but they don’t always work for everyone. In actuality they sometimes may cause the condition to worsen. In my case, when first diagnosed, it took months of different combinations to find the right ones that would help me to feel better. But there is something else that helps and that is talking about your situation and reaching out for support from others.

However, there are two big hurdles to overcome here. First, it’s not easy to talk to other people about this. It’s not easy to even admit to yourself that you have this condition and that you require treatment. So how are you to feel comfortable in sharing this experience with others?

Secondly, unless you have experienced the darkness of depression yourself, you cannot truly understand how devastating it can be. And because you can’t comprehend it, you are reluctant to offer the needed support, whether it be out of ignorance or perhaps even fear.

What is the solution to this problem? Society as a whole needs to be educated with regards to depression and anxiety. Those of us who struggle with mental health issues are not crazy. This stigma must disappear. Depression and anxiety are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Telling people to get over it and think positive thoughts is not the answer. This just contributes to the problem.

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I have learned the importance of reaching out for help when I am feeling down. I am fortunate in having a network of supportive friends and an outstanding therapist in my life. Given my past, without these people, I highly doubt that I would be here today writing this blog post.

If you know someone struggling with depression and anxiety, please be there for them. Be patient and understanding. Encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings, and let them know that you are more than willing to be a part of their support system. Do not be afraid of saying the wrong thing as often your presence means far more to them than your words. After all, wouldn’t you want someone to be there for you if you were the one spiraling down that black hole?

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So I Took A Mexican Cooking Class

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So I Took A Mexican Cooking Class

I have always loved Mexican food. As Winnipeg is seriously lacking in Mexican cuisine, whenever my travels brought me to the USA I would always seek out Mexican food. And I must admit that the food served in North Dakota differs greatly from that in Arizona. But when  arrived in Culiacan in 2010, I discovered what real Mexican food is.

I have lived in Culiacan, Irapuato, Guadalajara and now Mazatlan. The food in Sinaloa is definitely different than in Jalisco, and Sinaloa wins hands down. I have always wanted to take a course in Mexican cooking. The opportunity finally arose this month when I saw an ad on Find It Here Mazatlan.

Sofia Vargas is a very talented young lady whose new business enterprise is called Kahlo’s Kitchen. In fact, I was a part of the inaugural class of five gringas yesterday. Sofia and her mother were our teachers and they are to be commended for their efforts. The menu was selected well, and we were all drooling by the time we sat down to lunch.

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Sofia and her mom demonstrated, but also let us become involved in grilling vegetables, preparing salsa as well as creating chilis rellenos. And of course we were great samplers of both jamaica and margaritas. Sofia had also prepared handmade cookbooks for each of us with all the recipes.

It was interesting to see how the vegetables were grilled, and the aroma was tantalizing.

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Next came preparing the salsa, And it goes without saying that we sampled it as well.

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Then came cooking the jamaica. Once it was chilled, small bits of canteloupe and watermelon were added. Extremely refreshing in the Mazatlan heat! Here is a photo of the hibiscus flowers before cooking.

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Next was an explanation of various types of cheeses that are used to stuff the chilis. The tray provided us with samples of oxaca, chihuahua, panella and a regional organic cheese. Once stuffed, Sofia’s mom prepared the batter to dip the chilis in before frying. Doesn’t this look incredible?

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We were also shown how to prepare red rice. It’s amazing how a simple tomato sauce turns plain rice into such a delicious delicacy.

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The mango margaritas were awesome! Fresh fruit and tequila and no flavored syrups here. Salt and spice on the rims.

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We then were treated to a sumptuous chocolate flan for dessert. it’s amazing how the flan separates from the cake batter as bakes.

I can hardly wait until the next class!

 

Happy Mother’s Day

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Happy Mother’s Day

Today is Mother’s Day in many parts of the world although here in Mexico the actual date to celebrate is always May 10th. It’s always a day of reflection for me as my own mother has been gone for twenty years. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t think of her and wish I could see her smile or hear her voice one last time. In my heart, it’s always Mother’s Day. It isn’t necessary to designate one specific day a year to honor mothers.

I was fortunate to live in the same city as my mother until the day she died. We lived ten minutes away from each other, talked for hours daily on the phone and saw each other several times a week. My situation with my children is very different because we live in different countries.

I live in Mazatlan now and my children are back in Canada in different provinces. Today my daughter sent me a photo of the two of them at a Blue Jays game in Toronto. How nice that they were able to be together and how thoughtful of them to send me that picture!

The last time the three of us were together on Mother’s Day was in 2009 when my daughter made a lovely brunch for us. I have been able to spend a couple of Mother’s Days with my son when I returned to Winnipeg for visits, most recently last year. I recall other years when my children were small and would make me greeting cards to commemorate this special day. Sometimes there would even be a hand print included  with the verse. But what I remember most is their beaming faces and loving hugs.

I had a wonderful day today at the beach and then lounging around the pool at home. But the highlight of my day is this photo.

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Kyle and Kimmy, thank you so much for making my day extra special. I hope someday all three of us will be together again on Mother;s Day. Love you lots!