Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes and General Mental Mayhem


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Book Reviews: Where Am I Wearing? Where Am I Eating?

WhereAmIWearingBookJacketIf you like social justice, you’ll like these books. If you are the teensiest bit curious about the origins of your food or clothing, you’ll like these books. If you like to learn, you’ll like these books. If you like to read, you’ll like these books. In short, a lot of people should give these books a good read.

I’m not quite sure how he did it, but author Kelsey Timmerman has done a smashing job of blending information and humor with an overall narrative you want to continue long after you’ve put the book down. I loved both of these books, and have recommended them to a mess of people since reading them.

In Where Am I Wearing?, Kelsey travels from Honduras to Bangladesh to Cambodia to China to find out the genesis of his favorite clothes: jeans, boxers and flip flops. He takes you through the process of tracking down where his clothes are made, and then into the factory themselves. He speaks to the workers both on the jobs and in their homes.

Eating-Cover1In Where Am I Eating?, his follow-up book, Kelsey explores the humble beginnings of his family’s favorite and most common food and drink. His adventure takes him to coffee fields in Columbia, a cocoa plant in Ivory Coast, a banana plantation in Costa Rica, a lobster boat in Nicaragua, and the apple orchards of Michigan (via China).

Both books are completely eye-opening. I definitely had some thoughts, opinions and preconceived notions going into these books. And they changed me. I thought I was doing a pretty good job of researching supply chains (the process by which goods are made), but Kelsey helped me go deeper. Now, I must admit there are some areas where I have more questions than I’d previously had answers. But I believe I have also created some better habits. If these books do one thing, besides make you laugh, they’ll make you think.

I’ll give you two examples:

  1. I was Miss Western Culture holding up my picket sign for “No Child Labor!” before Wearing. But, his book makes you realize that there is so much more to the face, however young, of the issue. It’s a systemic issue, not fixed over night by the banning of goods or mandates set by those on the other side of the world. In cultures where it is normal for kids to work because the adults have already passed their prime, families could starve. Well…that’s not an outcome I want either. There are layers to this issue. I don’t like it, but they’re there. There are so many things that need to happen in those societies before/during/after children are pulled from the work force. Mindsets have to change. Hearts have to change. And people fear change. So, what am I to do? You know, I am still not 100% sure. I know one thing that has to happen is that I have to be informed. So, I learn and I research, and I make the best choices I can with the information I have. And that’s where I’ve landed…for now.
  2. I used to work at an eco-organization, so I thought I had a pretty good handle on food supply. I know what harsh chemicals are used to grow and treat food, and what we label “food” which could more adequately be described as a science experiment. So, I thought I was ahead of the curve on this one. But again, I realized how short-sighted I had been. It made so much sense when reading it. It felt more like a “duh” moment than an “a-ha” moment. And that was because I’d been buying regular produce for thick-skinned items because the chemicals hadn’t reached the food. I’d buy organic for thin-skinned because they were treated with chemicals. Well, despite my efforts and proclamations to be a good global citizen, I’d completely neglected that the people working in the fields with the thick-skinned items (ex: bananas) had been doused in chemicals. I hadn’t given them a whole lot of thought. But I certainly don’t want anyone to be harmed in the process of getting food to my table. I want to know that these items improve their lives, not send them to the hospital or lead them to an early death. So, what do I do now? I buy organic and local as much as I can.

 

You may be reading this thinking that it’s all well and good for me, but it costs a lot of money to buy organic or a lot of time you don’t have to research clothing. And I get it. I do. I was there once upon a time. But friends, ignorance isn’t bliss. I know the decisions I make when I purchase impact others, and I want those to be good decisions. I do the research and I buy organic because I have personally made it a priority. We all find time, energy, effort and money for the things we decide to make a priority. That’s a fact. Start small.

This is not a guilt trip. It’s just an attempt at a conversation I feel needs to happen. Like I said, these books are funny and honest. Kelsey doesn’t set out to provide you answers and three steps to better buying decisions. He is curious, and he takes you along for the ride. You’ll feel like he’s a friend by the end. I honestly think you’ll want to be a part of the conversation after reading these books. (By the way, Kelsey is very active on social media, so yes, you can actually have a conversation with him. He’s awesome.)

There is good news, however. There are more and more companies who care. I think by making these more informed decisions, we are telling businesses that we want to see more ethical production take place. And I think that’s the best way to move forward.

Besides Kelsey’s books, here are some other resources to get you started:

Free2Work (Website and App: The website has reports on clothing, coffee and electronics)

Purchase With Purpose (Web link: I helped author this one.)

Better World Shopper (Website and App)

Good Guide (Website and App)

If you know of others, please fill me in!

 

And thank you to Kelsey, for these amazing books. I can’t wait to see what you write next!

 

(Note: Amazon links are affiliate links.)

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New Eyes: PRK Surgery

124601433A week ago, I had PRK surgery at Joffe Medi-Center. It’s sorta like LASIK, but not. No flap is made on your cornea, but instead, after the laser does it’s thing, they put a protective contact lens on your eye for five days to help it heal.

Much like my gallbladder surgery, I’m throwing this out there online not because it’s the most interesting thing in the world, but because I’d rather have a first person point-of-view rather than read a bunch of medical websites.

DAY OF: The longest I waited for anything was in the waiting room. Once I went back, I watched a short video with oodles of info about the meds/drops I’d be receiving or already had (They gave me my Rx to fill ahead of time.), and then walked through it all on paper with me. The paper was way more helpful than the video as I’m not an auditory learner, and just kept thinking that I’ll never remember all of what it said. And, of course, they gave a list of do’s and don’ts to follow post surgery. After that, they gave me some Valium and eye drops to prepare and relax me, but I was way more excited than nervous. Then I went back to the little “lab” where they do the surgery. They said to dress warm because it’s cool in there, but I was fine. The right eye took 18 seconds and the left eye took 22 seconds! Easy peasy. Honestly, the thing I was worried most about was how they secure my eyes open for the procedure. I think I’d seen too many movies where this is done as torture. 😉 But they used this soft tape type stuff, and it wasn’t bad at all. By the time the doctor asked me a question or two, it was done and they were walking me to the door. I could already see a difference!

After arriving home, the meds started wearing off and I was to start taking my drops and Rx. I drifted off to sleep for a few hours after that, just in time to wake up for dinner. Here came the worst part. The pain meds they gave were ones that I’d taken before for migraines. I told the person who initially consulted with in the prep room, but I didn’t realize how much tolerance I’d built up to it. Ouch. It was a rough night. I slept about one and a half hours because it wasn’t really working. And when your eyes hurt, they water. And when your eyes water enough, your nose runs. So, I also went through almost two boxes of Kleenex in just a few hours. So, my biggest tip would be to make sure the pain meds are strong enough.

 

NEXT DAY: Luckily, the next morning I had my first follow-up. I told him about the issue, he wrote me a stronger Rx that would prove to do the trick. The most interesting thing, though, was that he told me since I had fair skin and blue eyes, I was more susceptible to pain. I had heard that before, and even read an article about it concerning the dentist, which is one of my worst fears. Strange, but apparently true. Proven by me, yet again.

The next stop was the pharmacy, and then off to bed. I slept almost the whole day, and felt much better. The protective contacts were really starting to annoy me now, though, after a very long night and now many hours of sleep.

 

DAY THREE: The pain was less today, noticeably. Thank goodness. I was finally starting to feel over the hump of the initial “contact period” and ready to move on. Again, I slept through most of this day. Felt good! And you don’t get bored while you’re asleep.

 

DAY FOUR: I guess I’d had enough rest now, because I was awake like a regular day here. Less pain, too! And my vision was certainly feeling more sharp. But that could also be because I was awake enough to notice it. I was able to watch TV without my eyes watering much, and checked my email. Until this point, I was encouraged not to do so, or at least at my own discretion. I watched a couple short sitcoms on Sunday, but they made my eyes water, so mostly, I just listened to them. Other than that, I’d been listing to a book through my Audible.com account.

 

DAY FIVE: Time to remove the contact—man, was I ready! It was a good follow-up appointment and everything went fine. And I was almost finished with one of the drops and one of the pills, so that was good too. But a bad trade-off: for one month I have to put what equates to Neosporin in my eyes each night. Yes, it’s as gross as it sounds. I can’t do anything after because it makes my eyes goopy and blurry, and really, they still feel that way when I wake up. I have to flush the stuff out of my eyes with drops before they feel more normal. Ready for this to be over.

 

NOW: I’m only at one week, so my eyes are still fluctuating a bit. Today was/is a bit of a blurry day. I’m assured this is normal, and it will take one to three months for my eyes to really find their new focus. I’m certainly ready. But I’m so excited not to need contacts and glasses! I’ve worn them for almost 30 years, so it’s quite a change.

Honestly, my last used pair is still sitting in my case by my sink. I don’t know why I haven’t tossed them yet. Sorta of a crutch, I guess, since I couldn’t use them now anyway with that prescription. But I guess it’s just been hard to let them go, in spite of everything.

 

TRICKS AND TIPS:

  • Hopefully, like me, you’ll get your Rx before you arrive for the procedure so you can go straight home.
  • I had to wear my glasses, rather than contacts, for five days preceding the surgery to let my eyes get back to their natural shape.
  • You need a driver for the procedure, and the first two follow-up visits. Special thanks to Ben, Michelle and Amy!
  • If you were like me and had taken a lot of pain meds before, be sure the one they give you will actually work. Speaking from experience, make this a priority if you need to get something stronger.
  • Your eyes are pretty sensitive to light while wearing the protective contact lens, but seem to be back to normal after. But they do ask you to wear sunglasses anytime you are in the light. And I live in a pretty dark apartment so that helps.
  • No eye makeup for a week. Luckily, I worked from home once I was back online. 😉
  • Don’t rub your eyes for three months, I think.
  • They ask you not to drive at night for the first month if you can help it until your vision gets more steady.
  • I really liked that I had the doctor’s personal email and cell number if I needed them, before and after. I emailed him with questions before my appointment, and he responded to me personally.
  • I really liked that they had a bin I could donate my glasses and unused contacts to.
  • I was a little annoyed that I couldn’t give them back or donate the sunglasses they gave me. Seems like they could easily sanitize and reuse these again. Wasteful, so I had to recycle myself. (They aren’t pretty.)
  • Make sure you know how you’ll distract yourself while you’re needing to rest and stay offline and away from computers. Thank you, Audible.com!

Ok, I think that’s it. I hope it helps you.

I’m going to throw out those old contacts now!