Understanding the Power Of Now

Floating in water

Imagine you are floating in water. The water represents your past and the future is represented by the air. The space you occupy between them is now. It’s possible to hold your breath and stay under the water but only for a short time, stay too long and you will drowned and consumed by it. The same is true if you spend too much time worrying about the past. It’s said worrying about the past is depression. With a lot of effort you can kick and jump into the air, but you will only splash back into the water. On the other side you can try to spend too much time in the future.

We all exist in this watery in-between for some it’s a calm mountain lake, others it’s an undulating ocean, or it could even be a fast moving river with eddies and rapids ready to pull you under.

At times in life we feel as though the waters of life are too turbulen, we can barely stay afloat. When we are struggling in the water it can feel as if we are drowning, but often the thrashing and splashing are what the cause of our stress. If you can let go of the struggle, find your calm center, you will realize you are the reason the water is so choppy, when you become calm, the water becomes calm as well.

Rest In Peace Dad

On Tuesday night, September 18th 2018, Charlie Schappet passed away, he had been fighting Esophageal Cancer that was diagnosed in January. For those who knew, Uncle Charlie, Pop Pop Charlie or as I called him Pop and Dad my father was a loving and exceptional giving man. He was happiest while sitting at the back of the room enabling others to perform on stage. Typically this meant running the sound board at church. But I’m sure each of you who meet him has a story of how he helped you.

We will be having an open house memorial on October 6th in La Plata Maryland.

I love you Pop, and I am thankful to have been raised by you and proud to call you my Dad.

Rest In Peace
Charles Fulton Schappet
November 2nd, 1951 – September 18, 2018

Family Traditions vs Modern Farming

Written for ANTH:2100

Family Traditions vs Modern Farming

The second most frequent meal I had growing up, right after Cheerios, was Spaghetti. For my family, it was a frequent and special meal. To begin exploring this family tradition I interviewed my father to discover the origin of this tradition. Spaghetti was often the choice for birthday dinners and other family gatherings. Our spaghetti dinners were made of two primary components, dry pasta noodles and a tomato meat sauce. Our spaghetti dinner now spans four generations, and until recently has undergone only minor changes. The family tradition eventually had to face off against a formidable foe, modern farming. There is mounting evidence that modern farming techniques are correlated with chronic conditions, such as Celiac disease. In order for family traditions to endure they must be changed and adapted to new situations.

As long as I can remember spaghetti dinners have been a family tradition. For some families, a spaghetti dinner would be very standard meal. But my family is English and Scottish, with just a bit of German. Typical meals were boiled potatoes or pot roast. We did not eat other pastas, nor were there other Italian meals served at home. As my father pointed out the closest we got to pasta, “Kraft Mac & Cheese.” This was also true for me, it was not until I was an adult that I had Chicken Marsala or Fettuccini Alfredo. My first question I asked my father, “How long has this been a family tradition?” My father is now 66 years old and he did not know where it started, it predated him. Since both of his parents are gone, we may not exact answer. My father suggested that his older sister may know when this tradition started. Together we contacted her, she indicated that there was an Italian Family that lived nearby, and my grandmother and Mrs. Muscarino would exchange recipes. From there it became a regular Saturday meal. As my father grew up he and his three sisters each got married and left the house taking this tradition with them. But as it family continued on with a minor twist. Janet his middle sister moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and before long her spaghetti recipe included the famous Green Chilies.

As I grew up the spaghetti recipe had to be altered out of a medical necessity. After fighting with digestive issues for many year, my mother was eventually diagnosed with Celiac disease. In the process of determining the cause of her digestive problems, she tried many different diets, including removing tomatoes and vegetarian. Neither was effective in resolving the troubles she was having, but they did impact our spaghetti dinners, which rely heavily on tomatoes and meat. After many failed attempts, wheat was identified as the problematic ingredient. However, research is beginning to show wheat itself may not be the culprit, but instead it is the modern farming practice of treating wheat with Roundup (glyphosate). In order to meet the higher demands for more wheat, farmers have been increasing the use of weed killers such as Roundup. From the year 2000 to 2010, Roundup usage increased from 2 million pounds, to over 18 million pounds.  In that same time, deaths related to intestinal infection went from 50,000/year to 300,000(Samsel & Seneff, 2013). While this does not indicate a causal relationship, there is a strong correlation in these measures. Celiac disease has been linked to intestinal infections (Azimirad, Rostami-Nejad, Rostami, Naji, & Zali, 2015).

Addressing and reducing my exposure to glyphosate has become a personal challenge. The health risks of long-term exposure to glyphosate through our foods is not worth the risk. But then how do you carry on a family tradition when the key ingredients are so troublesome. Over the Thanksgiving break we enjoyed our typical spaghetti dinner, almost. To avoid glyphosate in my diet, I have removed grains, rice, barley, corn and wheat from my diet. Instead of wheat pasta, I had Butternut Squash with Spaghetti sauce. It was not the same meal may father had every Saturday night for dinner, but the tradition lives on. Azimiradhas shown there are an increasing number of gestational issues in the US and farmers are using more Round-up to increase crop yield. Can we expect others to alter their traditional family meals in order to remain health, or do we need new tools to improve our food production?

Azimirad, M., Rostami-Nejad, M., Rostami, K., Naji, T., & Zali, M. R. (2015). The Susceptibility of Celiac Disease Intestinal Microbiota to Clostridium difficile Infection. Am J Gastroenterol, 110(12), 1740-1741. doi:10.1038/ajg.2015.360

Samsel, A., & Seneff, S. (2013). Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases II: Celiac sprue and gluten intolerance. Interdiscip Toxicol, 6(4), 159-184. doi:10.2478/intox-2013-0026 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24678255)


Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy
 viral disease brain Risk of developing infection identified
 potential side effect, treatment disease modifying drugs natalizumab
 a common infection completely normally under control
 immune system, causing no problems. immune system weakened
 virus can reactivate cause serious potentially fatal
 inflammation and damage to the brain progressive
 multifocal leukoencephalopathy
 damages nerves, some weakness
 visual problems impaired
 speech and cognitive

The text of this found poem is taken from the Multiple Sclerosis Trust Website (MSTrust). It is a description of Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). This is a personal topic for me because my mother died from the debilitating disease of the brain. PML is a condition that affects the brain in random ways. Each patient has a different experience along the path to an almost certain death. I wanted to capture the progression of the disease and regression of person afflicted with it. When creating this poem I focused primarily on two elements, word choice and the structure to convey a declining terminal path. To start the words in this poem have negative connotations “problems”, “weakened”, and “damage”. I also wanted to remove expectation of recovery or promise return to a normal life. PML has a survival rate of less than 1% over 1 year. It would have been helpful for some of my family to be able to relay the weight of the situation my Mom was in. Some people took any slight improvement as a sign that she was going to get better. The structure of this poem highlights the path of this disease. There are a few ups and downs through the progression, but your cognitive function begins to slip away, to an eventual death. I tried to represent this by beginning with longer lines, representing the better and higher functioning days. And as with the disease stealing cognitive function, in my Mom’s case her ability to talk, each line has fewer and fewer words. Adding strange breaks also illustrates the trouble my mother had communicating. Like what can happen stroke victims, my Mom had aphasia, an inability to say the correct words. This found poem represents my efforts to deal with my mother’s death, through the negative and harsh words, I wanted to convey the cruelty of this disease, and using the structure I worked to reveal the path to an ultimate terminal. When dealing with a sick parent or loved one, it is important to have hope. It is possible for people to recover and they may get better. But we are often blinded by hope, and only hear what we want. Doctors will often give a grave prognosis, with a tiny glimmer of hope, and we response so there’s a chance. Relying on this chance has a heavy cost to be paid in the form of disbelief and crushed spirits.


I was forced to buy some roses, but at least I got this photo

via 500px http://ift.tt/2Bt2KRH


We all live our lives as rivers, the banks keeping us on track, always flowing the same way. But can a river change? Absolutely, they can be dammed or redirected. But more importantly, the river can change course on its own, slowly eroding one bank and adding to the other. You can see this in rivers all over, they create small isolated Ox bow lakes, that are now disconnected from the main river. So when asked if people change, yes, yes they can change, but it takes time and diligence, slowly building good habits, eroding old ones, until the old is not longer part of the new streamlined you.