April is a popular month for many causes but one thing we should all care about is our planet earth. We have Earth Day, Earth Week, and some communities hold earth events that run the whole month. Another thing we have in common as humans on this earth is our regular use of beauty and hygiene products. Here are some questions that might make you go hmmm?
Have you ever wondered what’s in the cosmetic you’re about to apply to yourself? Do you assume it’s safe because you picked it up off a store shelf? Are your products safe or could they cause harm? Are all these questions a just cause for alarm?
If Gillian Deacon has anything to say about this then her answer would be - yes! We should all be concerned consumers and this is where I introduce my guest blogger Leslie Garrett, author of "The Virtuous Consumer". Leslie has read There’s Lead in Your Lipstick: Toxins in Our Everyday Care and How to Avoid Them by Gillian Deacon and she wants to share her views on this topic.
Guest Blog Review by Leslie Garrett
There’s generally a stunned silence when, talking to a crowd at an event or consumer show, I note that 89% of ingredients in our personal care products have never been tested…and certainly never been tested in combination with the other ingredients in which they appear in our lotions and potions.
Wha? seems to be the general mood. You mean…?
Yep. Thing is, that stuff on the shelves that promises to strip ten years off our faces, blast cellulite from our thighs and make our cheekbones look chiseled enough to cut through leather is often toxic enough to rob us of ten years of our lives, make cellulite the least of our problems and feminize male reproductive systems.
Surely I exaggerate. I wish. And that’s where Gillian Deacon comes in.
While researching her book, which aims to wipe the pretty smile off the personal care industry, Deacon was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer. And though she admits she’ll never know definitively that a lifetime exposed to various environmental toxins caused her cancer, given the increasingly available research into our products, it’s a fair guess.
And none of us thinks ridding ourselves of wrinkles is worth paying for with our lives.
What’s more, when people (and even I!) wonder if perhaps we’re becoming a bit too paranoid about the ingredients in our products, I generally come up with the same response that Deacon espouses in her book: There are quite safe alternatives that do exactly what their toxic cousins promise. So why take the chance?
Deacon is a subscriber, as am I, to the precautionary principle. It’s basic common sense with a fancy name and it dictates that products should not be on the shelves unless they’ve been proven to be safe. Of course, our North American market operates under quite the opposite principle: Products are on the shelf until they’ve been proven to be unsafe or, as Deacon explains, there’s "unequivocal scientific proof of harm or wrongdoing”. Which is why our kids are soaking in tubs of toxic bubbles linked to hormone disruption, our shampoo lathers up with a suspected carcinogen, and our perfume contains a banned substance classified as hazardous waste and also found in paint strippers. Plenty of this stuff isn’t found in European products, where ingredients fall under much greater scrutiny. In the meantime, however, they’re easily found at your local store.
Deacon is far less alarmist than I, nonetheless offering up relentless research to create a compelling indictment of the cosmetics industry but, more usefully perhaps, a long shopping list of safe – and Deacon-tested – personal care products. It’s like having a green-minded girlfriend steer you straight for the good stuff. And reminding you gently and persistently why you want it over the toxic alternatives.
Note to readers: Gillian Deacon has a handy wallet card cosmetic guide to take with you on your shopping trip.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gillian Deacon is an award-winning broadcaster, writer, television host and mom. She is also the author of Green For Life: 200 Simple Eco-Ideas For Every Day. You can visit her website for more information and social media fans can follow her on Twitter: @gilldeacon.
BOOKALICIOUS BOOK GRAB GIVEAWAY
Penguin Group Canada is offering copies of There's Lead in Your Lipstick for 2 lucky Bookalicious readers who leave a comment below telling us what surprises you found in your cosmetic bag.
Yummy Rules and Regs: You must be a Yummy Mummy Club member to win. Click to sign up! It's free and filled with perks. One comment per member. Entries accepted until April 30th, 2011. Contest open to Canadian residents only. Winners will be picked using www.random.org. Good luck!
Wanda Lynne Young
Julie Booker is a Canadian author who really has a witty way with words. Her first book is a collection of short stories called UP, UP, UP. Booker has already earned impressive awards from the literary world. Her fiction has been shortlisted for the Metcalf-Rooke Award, and published in the 2010 edition of Best Canadian Stories. In 2009 Booker won the Writer's Union of Canada's Short Prose Competition for Developing Writers.
To celebrate the April 16th release of UP UP UP, House of Anansi Press is having a book launch at the Toronto Women's Bookstore. See the invite details below. If you can't make it out to the UP, UP, UP launch then join the online fun during the Facing Out live streaming event on Saturday April 16th, from 3pm-5pm EST.
UP, UP, UP takes the reader on 20 short trips. These vignettes or scene snippets are windows into the worlds of fun, fallible and fiesty characters. These tales highlight the truth that everyone has a story to tell. Here's a tasty example with an excerpt from the UP UP UP short story "ENCOUNTER".
The ad for the speed-dating event lands in her email inbox.
subject: Cna ouy dera htsi?
Olny 55 plepoe can raed tihs. The phaonmneal
pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to rscheearch at
Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in what oerdr
the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is
taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae.
The ad is targeting word geeks, crossword addicts, bookworms, lit lovers like Jill. She thinks, Why not? Now she sits in the chi-chi bar, waiting for the bell to ring, for the steady stream of three-minute encounters.
There’s the standard get-to-know-you questions. “What book is on your bedside table?” “What book has changed your life?” Then there’s Lee, who asks, “So why are you still single?”Jill feels the guilt of her forty years, the cross on her back. Because I want to make my own bloody life and I just need to get past these next few years of cultural pressure, those smug married people with their “C’mon over to our side, it’s wonderful” smiles. To give myself permission to finally leave the party.
Lee’s a skinny guy. He works for the Toronto Star, and at first Jill circles yes next to his name on the Speed Date sheet, but at the end of the night she looks at her decisions.
She’s circled five other yeses and they are hunky guys. Two private investigators; another owns three houses. She looks around at the men scattered at tables, marking their Speed Date sheets, and thinks how unfair it is to pick a guy because he works somewhere she wants to work. She puts a thick black X through Lee’s yes and circles no a bunch of times as if she’s circling a track. It turns out that Toronto Star Guy is her only match. The email comes the next day. She emails the speed-dating coordinator. Are you sure? Jill asks her to check if she’s missed any of the hunks. No. Toronto Star Guy’s the only one who picked her, and Jill has definitely circled yes. Jill arranges to meet Lee. She’s nervous, because she’s always nervous before she goes out to meet a man. The hair’s not right, the jeans don’t fit, she needs new shoes — till she can’t even get out the door because her self-concept is doing the Why bother? dance. But this night, Pastor’s words come to her and she asks Jesus to help her out the door. She’s walking down College Street with Jesus. He’s in his long white robe, the one He always wears, with the dolman sleeves and the gold rope belt. He’s wearing the crown of thorns and there’s even a bit of blood dripping on His forehead, and then there’s not, because Jill wants to keep it happy. The two of them are swinging joined hands like two friends in the playground. On Sunday Pastor says he prays to Jesus as if He’s a friend. A friend who always comes when he calls. “Nothing’s too small for prayer,” Pastor says. Jesus, just hold my hand to the coffee shop, just get me there without once saying I’m not worthy. At Café Luna, when she sees Toronto Star Guy, she lets go, because Toronto Star Guy is human. So human. Kind of nervous looking and tired in his navy windbreaker, looking as skinny as she remembers.They sit and Jill fluffs the left side of her hair because that side always goes flat, and after all, he’s still a guy and she wants her hair to be right so he’ll have no excuse to reject her before she makes a decision.
The waitress starts clicking her pen. Toronto Star Guy asking about lattes.
“Is that in a cup or one of those bowls?”
“You can get either.”
“Is it the same amount?”
“No, you get more in a bowl.”
“Oh, so the cup is like a regular cup?”
“And what’s the price difference?”
“I’m not sure. Like eighty cents or something.”
“Yeah. Let me get the menu,” the waitress says. And she’s looking and she can’t find it right away and Jill looks at Toronto Star Guy and sees that the difference between the cup and the bowl is important. And she decides right there this isn’t a date, and he decides on decaf because it’s late and he has to work the next day. They start talking and they both went to the same university, got the same communications degree, had a lot of the same teachers, and followed a similar path, except Toronto Star Guy gave up his dream of being an editor and took a dead-end job at the paper and Jill is desperately holding on to hers of being an editor. She’s staring at his regret and it looks pale and wrinkled and hard, like something you hold on to when the Devil’s whispering in your ear.
“It’s like our lives have run parallel,” he says.
“Have you ever explored religion?” she says.
Pause. Then, “I’m a Christian.” He looks at her as if he’s confident she won’t ask for the bill, like he’s taking a chance but he’s not too worried.
“I just started going to a really Christian church,” Jill says.
“Really? That’s my church. I haven’t seen you there,” he says.
“I’ve only been going for like five weeks.”
“I’ve missed the past five weeks.”
“Wow.” It’s aha for both of them. Jill can finally have a conversation with someone on the inside. She’s been dying
to do that. And he seems normal.
“You can ask me anything,” he says.
He’s having a crisis of faith. A mini one, he tells her, but he’s a total believer. He was drinking a lot, he says. Before. The words are like part of a code they already share. He assures her he’s never alone now. It’s everything they say it is. And then she tells him she asked Jesus to walk down College with her for the first time tonight. Using a voice like she knows what that means.
“Why did you do that?”
“Because I was nervous.”
“Why?” He’s got his finger pointing at her like an investigator. Like maybe she’ll confess her desire for him. Like there’s hope for him.
“And who was here?” he says. “Who? Me! That’s no coincidence. That’s the Holy Spirit. This night is all about you, Jill. This is your moment.”
And Jill thinks, Could the Holy Spirit slip into the coffee shop without me noticing? Without all the disco lights of Downtown Church and the Hammond organ in D minor. Jill’s laughing because it feels joyous. She remembers the no she circled on her paper and how God must have changed it to a yes. She asks him everything. If I’m a Christian will I lose my sense of humour? Will I have to stop saying fuck? Will I stop feeling like a walking lint-collector of guilt that I spend each night picking off with a roller brush and reapplying each day? Jill doesn’t ask this last thing but she knows this is why she wants to go to the other side. To where those eyes shine, Toronto Star Guy right in the middle.
“Will I walk around seeing everything as a JC sign? How will I get anything done?”
“You can call me twenty-four hours. You have my number.” And then he takes her to his car and Jill sits in the bucket seat of his rusted-out Honda and he prays for her. “Thanks, Lord, for this amazing happening.” And Jill bows her head and hears the words “Jesus open her heart so that she may know You,” and she practises visualizing her heart opening. And tries not to think of how the words sound like every TV evangelist she’s ever switched channels on. She remembers hearing that the human mind does not read every word but absorbs the gist. She thinks how she is one of the fifty-five people in the world who are able to see right through to the message. She thinks how wrong she’s been about how a Toronto Star Guy dresses and the kind of expensive car he must drive. She pictures those thoughts leaving her heart so she can make room for the love that will soon come pouring in. Maybe it already has and she just hasn’t noticed.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Julie Booker lives in Toronto, Ontario and she is the proud mom to twin boys. Social media fans can follow the author on Twitter. I highly recommend you check out Julie Booker's witty guest post in the House of Anansi Press Blog. You can follow House of Anansi Press on Twitter and find them on Facebook.
YUMMY MUMMY BOOK CLUB
Lucky members from the Yummy Mummy Book Club will be having a virtual book club chat about UP, UP, UP on Wednesday, May 4th from 9:30 - 11:00pm EDT. To follow our regular book club updates search #YMBC but use #UPUPUP during the UP, UP, UP discussion.
BOOKALICIOUS BOOK GRAB GIVEAWAY
House of Anansi Press is giving away a copy of UP, UP, UP to 2 lucky Bookalicious readers who leave a comment below telling us why you want to win. The BBGG is open to Canadian residents until April 22nd, 2011.
Yummy Rules and Regulations
You must be a Yummy Mummy Club member to win. Click to sign up! It's free and filled with perks. One comment per member. Contest open to Canadian residents. Winners will be picked using www.random.org.
Good luck and relish reading,
Wanda Lynne Young
This blog is proudly sponsored by our friends at House of Anansi Press"
World Autism Awareness Day is April 2nd. If you read my Bookalicious blog, follow me on Twitter or you're a friend on Facebook then you already know I'm an autism advocate. I've been an advocate for my son for over 24 years. I relish any opportunity to highlight autism awareness events so when one of my favourite autism author experts released his new book "Be Different: Adventures of a Free-Range Aspergian" I was all over it!
Robison is also the author of the bestselling memoir "Look Me In The Eye" and the older brother and bestselling author, Augusten Burroughs of "Running With Sissors" fame. I could go on and on about Robison's insights and storytelling but let's just leave it to the excerpt this time around.
Below you can enjoy a reading from "Be Different", check out the YouTube author video and don't forget to enter the book giveaway in the comments below. Here's to World Autism Awareness Day and all those who feel they are misfits or square pegs in a round world. Vive la différence!
Asperger’s came into my life when I was forty years old. I’m a pretty levelheaded guy, but I was totally shocked by the diagnosis. “Yep,” the doctors said, “you were born this way.” I could not believe I had reached middle age without knowing such a hugely important thing about myself. I was amazed to learn that Asperger’s is a kind of autism, because I thought everyone with autism was disabled. I’d always envisioned myself as a loner, a geek, and a misfit, but I would never have described myself as disabled. To me, being disabled meant having no legs or being unable to talk. Yet autism, and so Asperger’s, was a disability— that’s what the books said. I’m still not sure I believe that.
The one shred of reassurance I got that first day was the knowledge that Asperger’s isn’t a terminal illness. “You’re not getting sicker,” they told me, “and it won’t kill you. You’re actually not sick at all; you’re just different.” Great, I thought. Very comforting.
All of a sudden, the concept of “people like me” took on a whole new meaning. Moments before, I’d have described myself as a middle- aged white male. I was a successful business owner, a husband, and a father. Now I was a guy with Asperger’s. I was autistic. Everything else seemed secondary to that new facet of me. This must be how it feels when you find you have cancer, I thought. I was still the same guy I had been the day before. I didn’t feel sick. Yet somehow, in a matter of seconds, my diagnosis had come to dominate my self-image.
In the weeks that followed, I read everything I could about the diagnosis, and I began to relax. When I thought back on my life, Asperger’s explained so many things. School had been hard for me, and I’d done some pretty unusual stuff after dropping out. My new knowledge of Asperger’s brought those memories into focus, and I saw how the differences in my brain had shaped the course of my life in countless subtle ways. Yet I also realized that the success I enjoyed as an adult was real, and it wasn’t going away. In fact, as I moved forward with new knowledge and confidence, I started to see my life get better every day.
Later, with the benefit of this new knowledge, I studied my Aspergian son, now twenty- one years old, and thought about how he too used to struggle in school and in social settings. He was diagnosed when he was sixteen, twenty- four years earlier than me. I look at him today, and I see how much he’s benefited from understanding how and why his brain is different from other folks’. In many ways, he’s the young man I could have been if only I had known what I had. I made it through life the hard way; he has the benefit of knowledge to rely on. That will make his path easier, and it can make yours easier, too.
Observed from the outside, Asperger’s is a series of quirks and behavioral aberrations. Aspergians are not physically disabled, though an observant person might pick us out of a crowd by our unusual gait or even by our expressions. Most Aspergians possess all the body parts and basic abilities for the full range of human functions. We’re also complete on the inside. When today’s brain scientists talk Asperger’s, there’s no mention of damage— just difference. Neurologists have not identified anything that’s missing or ruined in the Asperger brain. That’s a very important fact. We are not like the unfortunate people who’ve lost millions of neurons through strokes, drinking, lead poisoning, or accidental injury. Our brains are complete; it’s just the interconnections that are different.
All people with autism have some kind of communication impairment. “Traditional” autistic people have trouble understanding or speaking language. If you can’t talk, or understand others, you are indeed going to be disabled in our society. The degree of impairment can vary greatly, with some autistic people totally devoid of speech and others affected in less substantial ways.
Autistic people can also have impairment in the ability to read nonverbal signals from others. That’s the kind of autism I have; it’s what most people with Asperger’s are touched with. The stories in this book describe the ways in which I minimized the harm my communication impairment caused me, while finding the gifts it conferred.
Autism in its many forms is not a disease. It’s a way of being that comes from this nonstandard wiring in the brain. The latest science suggests we’re most likely born different, or else we become autistic early in infancy. We don’t develop Asperger’s as teenagers; life on the autism spectrum is the only life we’ve ever known. We will always be perplexed when we gaze at people who aren’t on the spectrum, and they will always struggle to understand our unconventional way of thinking.
Subtle brain differences often cause people like me to respond differently— strangely even— to common life situations. Most of us have a hard time with social situations; some of us feel downright crippled. We get frustrated because we’re so good at some things, while being completely inept at others. There’s just no balance. It’s a very difficult way to live, because our strengths seem to contrast so sharply with our weaknesses. “You read so well, and you’re so smart! I can’t believe you can’t do what I told you. You must be faking!” I heard that a lot as a kid. Some people with autism are noticeably disabled. A person who can’t talk, for example, cries out for compassion.
Those of us with Asperger’s are tougher to pick out. The hardest thing about having Asperger’s is that we don’t look any different from anyone else on the outside. So why would anyone suspect that we are different on the inside? When I was a kid, no one had any knowledge of how my brain was wired, including me. Consequently, society wrote me off as defective along with millions of other “different” and “difficult” children. My strange behavior was described as “bad” instead of being seen for what it was— the innocent result of neurological difference.
Today most kids are diagnosed earlier than I was, but still, for many of us, knowledge of Asperger’s starts with some kind of failure. Most kids get diagnosed with Asperger’s after failing at some aspect of school, and their behavior has brought them to the attention of the little men in suits who give tests.
I may not have been tested in school, but the differences in me were still obvious. I could not make friends, I acted strange, and I flunked all my courses. Back then, people said I was just a bad kid, but today we see problems like mine as evidence of disability, and, as a society, we supply help, not punishment. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.
Today, many geeks, scientists, and other creative geniuses are said to have Asperger’s. But to some of us, the phrase “have Asperger’s” is misleading because it makes Asperger’s sound like a disease or an injury. You say, “I have a cold” or “I’ve got a broken leg.” Saying you “have” something implies that it’s temporary and undesirable. Asperger’s isn’t like that. You’ve been Aspergian as long as you can remember, and you’ll be that way all your life. It’s a way of being, not a disease.
That’s why I say, “I am a person with Asperger’s.” Many of us shorten this by saying we’re Aspergians, or Aspies. I think that’s more appropriate than saying, “We have Asperger’s.” There’s no right or wrong— you can say what ever you want, or say nothing at all. What ever you choose, you’re in good company. Bill Gates is said to be Aspergian. Musician Glenn Gould is said to have been Aspergian, along with scientist Albert Einstein, actor Dan Aykroyd, writer Isaac Asimov, and movie director Alfred Hitchcock. As adults, none of those people would be described as disabled, but they were certainly eccentric and different.
If everyone with Asperger’s achieved a high level of success, no one would call it a disability. Unfortunately, those people are the exceptions, not the rule. Most Aspergians struggle with school, relationships, and jobs because their social skills are poor and they can’t seem to fit in. It’s all too easy to end up alone, alienated, and unemployed. That’s what life was like for me before I learned how to work with my differences, overcome them, and sometimes exploit them. As I have gotten older, I have come to appreciate how my differences have turned out also to include gifts that have set me apart. One of my main goals in life today is to help young people avoid some of the traps I fell into. We should all be given a chance to succeed.
There’s a lot more to this story than simple disability.
Excerpted from Be Different by John Elder Robison Copyright © 2011 by John Elder Robison. Excerpted by permission of Random House of Canada Limited.
Random House Canada is offering copies of 'Be Different: Adventures of a Free-range Aspergian' for 3 lucky Bookalicious readers who leave a comment below. The BBGG is open to Canadian residents until April 13th, 2011. Winners will be picked using www.random.org.
Wanda Lynne Young"