Eat, Pray, Love a Little

Written by Claire Colvin

There’s been a lot of people finding inspiration from books this past year. In the wake of Julie and Julia there’s one woman making over a dress a day on a $1 budget, and another who’s committed to wearing one dress every day for a year.  Not surprisingly,   Elizabeth Gilbert’s best seller, and now major motion picture Eat, Pray, Love is inspiring people to take a journey of their own.

For many of us, taking a year to go find ourselves in Italy, India and Bali is an impractical, if lovely idea. We have finances to consider and family responsibilities and most of us need to show up for work in the morning.  Fortunately, there are ways to try a journey of your own on a smaller scale, to eat, pray and love a little.

A recent report on CNN’s ireport detailed local options for a journey of self discovery.  They suggest New Orleans to eat, Colorado to pray and Hawaii for love.  Great ideas all, but they still require a trip to the airport.  Fortunately, self discovery can be had for an even more modest budget.

Rosamunde Pilcher says that “luxury is the total fulfillment of all five senses at once” and that is a luxury we can all afford, we just need to get a little creative. 

Here’s how to eat, pray and love in your own city.


Is there a restaurant you’ve always wanted to try but never made the time? Try lunch instead of dinner and you’ll spend less.   Sites like or offer daily deal, many of which are huge savings on restaurants you could try one of those.  If you want to stick to just a $5 budget, find a bakery or local coffee shop in your town.  Take the morning off, get a coffee and something warm and sweet and just sit and enjoy it for an hour.  Eat slowly, breath deeply.  You’ll feel miles away from ordinary.


Try to find a place that is quiet and peaceful.  It might be a church, it could be a park or a beach or the library or local lookout.  Find a place where it’s quiet and go, alone to pray.  Take a journal with you.


It’s hard to pick a date on the calendar and declare “I will meet my soul mate on Wednesday!” (well, it is pretty easy to say, hard to follow through on) but you can find love any day of the week if you know where to look.   Focus on loving yourself better or loving others.  Loving yourself better could be as simple as refusing to criticize yourself, or trying a new haircut or eating really, really fresh vegetables at lunch time.

Loving others could mean paying more attention to the people in your life or reaching out to others.  You could love by volunteering for a day – read to someone who’s bed ridden, serve at a soup kitchen, walk a couple of dogs from your local pound.  When you reach out to others, you’ll feel them reach back to you and while it’s not quite the same as falling in love in Bali, it still feels pretty amazing.

“Eat” and “love” are easy, “pray” can be a  little less familiar. If you’d like to learn how to pray, try our free life lesson Embracing Prayer.  You’ll be matched with a study coach who will talk through your answers with you as you learn.

Have you read the book or seen the movie? How will you eat, pray and love this year?

chat-icon-42x42Upcoming online chats: Join us for daily online chats! One of our features will be “Finding Inner Peaceon August 22 at 9:00 pm EDT Please join us to discuss how you can find peace within.

Why do we stay?

Written by Darren Hewer

Newspaper columnists are already speculating that, this time, Mel Gibson’s movie career is over. With five damning tapes released so far filled with profanity and racist rants, it may be too much for even this perennial film star to gloss over. The legal and publicity fallout from Gibson’s rants is ongoing, and so is media attention. That’s why we’re writing about it here: It’s what people are talking about.

What I don’t recall hearing anyone talking about amidst all of the commentary is why people so often stay in terrible circumstances. If you’ve read about the kind of verbal (and allegedly physical) abuse that Gibson’s former girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva had to endure, we may wonder, why continue to stay with someone like that? We could speculate in Ms Grigorieva’s case, but without knowing the details of their relationship such speculation wouldn’t be productive or fair to her, so instead let’s hope and pray that everyone involved, Gibson, Grigorieva, and her children, all receive the help and support that they need.

Another consequence of the news attention has been that people living in such circumstances may realize that they are not alone and seek help. On our own website, we have stories of people who are recovering from abusive relationships, as well as video addressing the subject “How can I persuade my husband to seek help for his anger and emotionally abusive behaviour?“.

If you feel like you are trapped in a situation (such as a relationship) and can’t seem to get out, it can help to talk to someone privately about it. Contact a mentor today to talk confidentially about it.

And the Oscar goes to…

Written by Claire Colvin

This Sunday millions will watch as the Oscars are handed out for the eighty-second time. I will probably watch, although I find the choice of hosting duo Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin a dubious one.  Couldn’t they let Steve handle it alone? I miss Billy Crystal and his musical monologue.

An article in the New York Times suggested that Oscar is due for another change.  Author Kim Elsesser  asks why, after all this time men and women are not allowed to compete against each other for the Best Actor Oscar? We’ve done away with the term “actress” for the most part but on Oscar night, the divide remains.

She writes:

Since the first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929, separate acting Oscars have been presented to men and women. Women at that time had only recently won the right to vote and were still several decades away from equal rights outside the voting booth, so perhaps it was reasonable to offer them their own acting awards. But in the 21st century women contend with men for titles ranging from the American president to the American Idol. Clearly, there is no reason to still segregate acting Oscars by sex.

It’s certainly an interesting idea, but what struck me most about her comment was that I had genuinely never thought about it before. I did not even notice that the Oscars were gender-split.  I wonder if that’s a good sign or a bad one?  You don’t have to look far beyond our own borders to see that women in North America have it pretty good.  Yes, there are still places where things are unfair.  But in North America no one is altering our bodies without our consent, or forcing us into unwanted marriages or telling us we can’t leave the house.

It’s interesting to think that in the midst of so much positive change, there are still splits that have stood for so long we don’t even see them.  The Best Director category is not gender-specific, nor are any of the technical Oscars, where admittedly there are more men than women in the field.  What are the messages hiding behind our attempts to be inclusive? Elsesser goes on to say that “separate is not equal” which is true, but equal is not always fair. So here’s one more question for your Oscar ballot: do you think the Oscars should be gender-blind?

How do you define yourself? Try our interactive Life Lesson What’s in Your Bag? for an intriguing look at the way we tell our own stories.

Image courtesy of Jeroen Miedema . Used with permission.  You can see more of Jeron’s photos on Flickr.

Transformers: Not Just for Kids

Written by Nicole Wiebe

transformers-11I might be a bit of a geek. Maybe I just like action packed movies with flashy effects? The fact that I shared my life with three older male cousins until another girl came along five years later, might have something to do with it, but no matter what the reasons are, I feel no shame in declaring it aloud:

I love Transformers.

Growing up, it was not an odd thing to find me playing with Transformers action figures or watching the cartoons. (I preferred the ones that turned into animals, naturally.) What’s not to love about a band of good hearted and noble alien robots looking out for humanity?  And it wasn’t just me.  Transformers were a large part of growing-up in my generation.  For many a boy (and some gals) Transformers fill childhood memories with warm fuzzies.

It was less than shocking when Hollywood realized that in this day and age of technology and CGI, this franchise would be a huge moneymaker.  Even less shocking was the amount of attention that the movie garnered from young and old alike.  Preying upon fond childhood memories of Generation X was a sure way to bring in viewers. Add in fast-paced plot twists and scene stealing, larger than life, special effects and you’ve got yourself a blockbuster.

When the first movie came out in 2007 showcasing the plight of the Optimus Prime and his Autobots against Megatron and the evil Decipticons it was a runaway success.  And I don’t think it is by chance that the ending of the movie was left wide open. Almost immediately after the colossal success of the first film, the second film was in development.

And now the time has come.  On June 24, 2009 director Michael Bay’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen hits theatres.  In the second film, the Decepticons have found a way to bring their previously killed leader back to power and are out to get revenge on the Autobots.  And they won’t let humanity get in their way.   The battle to save the world is underway.

This second movie aims to one-up the first in terms of visual and special effects.  It also introduces even larger and more formidable creatures sure to entertain the masses.  But the question remains as to whether the story line will carry the flashy effects. Box office smash hit?  It seems to have all the makings.

I, myself, will be going to see it full of wonderment and with high expectations.  I am more than sure that it will meet them.  How about you?  Will distant memories of playing with your cousins move you to go check it out?

Tom Hanks on Angels, Demons, and Christianity

Written by Darren Hewer

angelsdemonstomhanksAlthough generating much less controversy (and interest in general) than Dan Brown’s previous book-to-movie adaptation, The Da Vinci Code, has nevertheless again raised the often socially taboo topics of religion and faith for public discussion.

The latest story Angels & Demons, starring Tom Hanks as the protagonist Robert Langdon, focuses on the Catholic Church and a plot against it by a legendary (literally) organization, the Illuminati. Hanks’ interview with Philippine news site The Philippine Star (conducted in Tokyo) ranges between many diverse topics about God, the Catholic Church, and Christianity in general, including the following clips, among others:

Does he believe in God? “I think you’ll be foolish not to believe in God.”

Is he a Christian? “You know, when you’re talking about things that may or may not have happened 2,000 years ago, I think everybody gets some idea about it depending on what their inclination is. Fascinating to study, great to talk about, but what really matters is what we do day in and day out right now. There’s no use having an argument about what happened or what didn’t happen 2,000 years ago.”

What he would say if he met God? “What would I tell Him? Oh, not a thing. I’d just ask Him a question — ‘How do you do? Are you doing okay?’ That’s all I would tell God.” (The Philippine Star)

It seems to me that Hanks’ views mirror those of a lot of people today. While claiming it’s “foolish” to not believe in God, it doesn’t sound like he takes the subject very seriously, or has given it much serious thought. He’d really ask “Are you doing okay?” if he met God? This is either a patronizing answer or wildly unappreciative of the situation!

What do you think about Hanks’ statements? What would you say if you met God?

Related reading:
Doris Bebee’s story ‘A Mother’s Love’: “In 1993, I met God.”
Christianity: True or False?: “Doubters welcome.”

Angels & Demons (and bears, oh my!)

Written by Claire Colvin

angels_and_demons-mpDo you remember all the buzz surrounding The Da Vinci Code? I remember reading the book and thinking, “that’s it?”  I never understood why people got so worked-up over a work of fiction.   For me, a novel doesn’t have a lot of impact on my personal faith.  But back in the heady days of the book’s popularity I was in the minority.

Now here we are with Angels & Demons the “stunning sequel” and I find myself once again, nonplussed.  I watched the last movie, mostly out of curiosity and was no more impressed with it than I was with the weak-kneed book that preceded it.  I think I’ll save my $20 and skip the movie this time around.

In some ways it feels like people expected this movie to have the same buzz as DVC but from where I’m sitting, no one is talking about it.  There have been some great debates raging about X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  I know some people who awaited Star Trek with baited breath but the “buzz” for Angels & Demons seems to be little more than a fizzle.

It’s like the two kids who hated each other in middle school passing each other in the halls of a high school.  Everyone takes a collective breath to see what will happen only to find it’s high school now.  Having matured another year, they simply pass on by without a word.  Here’s hoping Angels & Demons just keeps walking.  I’m ready for a real summer blockbuster.

Am I missing the allure of this series of films? Did you love The Da Vinci Code?  Will you line-up to see Angels & Demons?

Explore the truth behind Angels & Demons
More on movies
The debate on DVC rages on

Tom Hanks: Angels & Demons plays fast & loose with facts

Written by Darren Hewer

angelsdemonsmovieposterMost of the controversy in Dan Brown’s book and movie, The Da Vinci Code, was due to Brown’s insistence that “All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.” That claim, printed under the heading “FACT” at the beginning of the book, has been proven to be inaccurate in many different ways. If Brown had simply promoted the book as being purely fiction, or clarified the many mistakes and misrepresentations in the book, a lot of the controversy would have been avoided.

Angels & Demons, actually written and published in book form before The Da Vinci Code, is out in theaters today. The book similarly contains a FACT page. Contra author Dan Brown, here’s what film star Tom Hanks (who plays the main character Robert Langdon) had to say about the movie:

In Angels & Demons, Hanks reprises the role of Harvard “symbologist” Robert Langdon from Dan Brown’s best-selling book.

In the long awaited sequel, an ancient secret brotherhood threatens to blow up the Vatican with antimatter stolen from Cern (the European Organisation for Nuclear Research), which houses the Large Hadron Collider.

“We play fast and loose with an awful lot of fact, but a trickle of authenticity makes it plausible. It’s not important, but it’s fun,” he told the Radio Times. (The Telegraph)

Unfortunately, some people will unquestioningly accept what these pseudo-historical stories say as being factual. Have you read Angels & Demons or The Da Vinci Code? What do you think of them?

For more info on the facts behind the fictions, see

The Reluctant Trekkie

Written by Claire Colvin

star-trek-mainAfter 32 years of dodging the bullet, I might be going to see a Star Trek movie.

I am a fan of science fiction, but I have never been a Trekkie.   Give me Stargate or Firefly any day.  I’ve read Orson Scott Card and have seriously considered attending ComiCon.   I can argue why the most recent Star Wars movies are a blight on an otherwise grand tradition.  I have been to a convention.  Once.  (I didn’t wear a costume.)

I laugh at t-shirts emblazoned with nerd jokes and was a two time Physics Olympics champion in high school.  I am one of those people.  But I’ve always drawn the line at Trek.  It looks like that might be changing this summer.

Have you seen the trailer for Star Trek?  It has real special effects rather than cast members throwing themselves across  the bridge.  There are action sequences.  And as far as I can tell there’s not a single guy in a red shirt.   For the first time it seems that plot has trumped alien make-up effects in a Trek movie.  Talking about boldly going…

It’s time to face that final frontier.  Are planning to see Star Trek?

Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures.  Used with permission.  To request access to official stills to use on your own site, apply to the Star Trek Webmasters Program.

More from space:

Finding God in the stars
Do you read your horoscope?

The Oscars: It’s an honor to be nominated

Written by Claire Colvin

oscars-2-edWhen it comes to the Oscars, they always say it’s an honor to be nominated. Last night at the 81st Annual Academy Awards, it truly was.   For the first time ever, each of the nominees in the top acting categories was honored from the stage by a former Oscar winner.

It was amazing to watch these acting greats pay homage to the standout performances of the year.   Whether it was one old friend congratulating another (in the case of   Robert De Niro’s toast of Sean Penn’s performance in Milk) or a seasoned icon congratulating one of the up and comers (like Shirley McClain’s lovely tribute to Ann Hathaway) this year, even those who didn’t win got something very special to take home.

Of course that surprisingly heavy, little gold statue is pretty nice too.
The big winner of the night was Slumdog Millionaire.  Taking home 8 statues from 10 nominations there’s talk of a Slumdog slam dunk all over town.   Heath Ledger’s win for Best Supporting Actor was no surprise, but well deserved.  In the history of the Oscars his is only the second Oscar awarded posthumously.

Hugh Jackman did an admirable job singing and dancing his way through the night and keeping the proceedings moving along.  Combined with a beautiful set and a brilliant seating plan that significantly reduced the time it took for people to get to the stage, this years’ Oscars were a lot of fun to watch.

Did you watch the show last night?
What was your most/ least favorite moment?  Have you seen Slumdog Millionaire?  Join the conversation in the comments.

Image courtesy of Jeroen Miedema . Used with permission.  You can see more of Jeron’s photos on Flickr.

He’s Just Not That Into You

Written by Dani

The words “he’s just not that into you” originally started out as a line in episode 78 of the 6th season of Sex & the City. Carrie’s boyfriend, Jack Berger, listens to Miranda unravel the events of a date she’s just been on and when asked his opinion, he simply hands her the infamous line. The honesty instantly frees her from her dating chains.

The minds behind that episode, Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo, then went on to make it into a book. Then as soon as Oprah got her hands on a copy, a show titled “The Cold, Hard Dating Truth”, was slotted, aired and created an instant hit.

Well, it’s been about 4 years since then, but coming to theaters February 6 is an all-star cast picking up where the book left off, deciphering the codes and meandering through the maze that is the dating world.

Starring Jennifer Aniston, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Connelly, Drew Barrymore and Scarlett Johansson, the romantic comedy is sure to be a Valentine’s Day box office winner. And I’m also sure that around the release date the talk show circuit will be aflutter with relationship talk and analysis of gender behaviour. It’s an age-old topic of conversation that will exist as long as men and women do.

Do you plan on seeing the movie? What do you think of Greg’s advice and outlook on dating?

image source: getthebigpicture

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