Living with equanimity

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

portrait of Gwen Randall-Young
•  Equanimity (Latin: æquanimitas having an even mind; aequus even animus mind/soul) is a state of psychological stability and composure which is undisturbed by experience of or exposure to emotions, pain, or other phenomena that may cause others to lose the balance of their mind. – Wikipedia

When I read this definition, I chuckled. It says equanimity is remaining undisturbed in situations that may cause others to lose the balance of their mind. This means becoming unbalanced. However, what made me laugh was when I interpreted “lose the balance” to mean losing the rest of their mind.

I think both interpretations are correct. When ego reacts, we certainly have an unbalanced view of things and we lose access to that part of our mind that holds our higher self, our wisdom.

In Hinduism, the idea of equanimity refers to being in pure awareness. When there is no distraction or attachment to thoughts, there is equanimity. It is only when the sense of discrete identity is dissolved that we transcend the apparent duality and see oneself in union with all and everything.

Equanimity is a fundamental tenet in Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam and many other spiritual traditions. It allows for a clear mind, wisdom, freedom, compassion and love. It brings gentleness, contentment and charity.

When we free ourselves from inordinate reactions to people and situations, we can experience equanimity. Therein lies the challenge. Ego mistakes its perceptions for reality and projects intentions onto others and then judges them.

Take the example of a driver being cut off by another. Ego thinks he did it on purpose and must think he owns the road. Equanimity says, “I have inadvertently cut off others myself; it’s okay.” As Wayne Dyer used to say, “Bless him and move on.”

Sometimes people will spend years nursing old hurts and blaming others for their unhappiness. It is like they are trapped in a cocoon in darkness, unable to fly free.

I had a client who talked about a woman at work who was “mean” to her and a co-worker. She could not give examples of truly mean behaviour, but said it was mostly “her tone.” She and her co-worker spent a lot of time commenting on every one of her behaviours.

My client was angry and wanted to “stand up” to her because she didn’t think she should “take it” anymore. I loved the aha moment when I pointed out she was projecting her childhood feelings towards her big sister on to this woman. I also reminded her she too had a “tone” that was often annoying to others. She laughingly agreed.

I reminded her it is never about the other person, but always about how we interpret and react. An inordinate response to things is the opposite of equanimity.

She really understood. It truly was a moment of insight and transformation. The icing on the cake was at the end of the session when she checked her phone. The “mean” woman had noticed she had left work early and texted plaintively “You left me!” thus indicating she liked my client and missed her.

My client had been blind to this because she projected her own story onto the other. What have we possibly been blind to? Can we learn to see with equanimity?

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, “Deep Powerful Change” hypnosis CDs and “Creating Effective Relationships” series, visit, and ‘Like’ Gwen on Facebook.

STAR WISE: September 2016

by Mac McLaughlin

portrait of Mac McLaughlin

We’ll be riding out a couple of eclipses this month. In olden times, an eclipse would strike fear into the hearts of those for whom the eclipse was visible. I don’t think we have much to fear, though. The September eclipses are not visible in our region. What is of importance is that the Sun and Moon are in hard aspect with Mars and Saturn at the time of the solar eclipse on September 1. Saturn has a tendency to slow things down and bind things up while Mars stirs things up. Interpreted, it indicates a possible slow-down with the economy and business in general. As we head into the Labour Day weekend, we may experience all kinds of traffic snarls along with accidents and incidents. The remedy: keep your cool and don’t get sucked into hot-headed, knee-jerk reactions, as they could prove costly. Patience and more patience – minus alcohol and drugs – will help the situation.

On the bright side, the best thing to do is relax and ride out the planetary storms, so to speak. We’re getting ready for the fall season and everyone is jockeying for position. Start early, leave early and take your time. Things will heat up and intensify at the time of the lunar eclipse on September 16. Again, fiery Mars has his finger in the pie and when he’s around tempers seem to flare and egos become bloated. All in all, September promises to be hot and possibly heavy as the war of words and nerves continues on with the US presidential elections looming on the horizon. “The Donald” will no doubt create more controversy as he lets fly with a barrage of maligned comments that will send people into a frenzy. No doubt, the haters and warmongers will be carrying on with their distorted agenda of hate for all things and people not of their liking. Nothing new here.

Something we can do, though, is to give more love, more consideration and more help to those around us. It’s what we really need and will always need. Love is the only commodity that increases when given out; all other forms of fgiving lead to depletion. The September skies invoke the spirit of Virgo, which is the sign of service, healing and caring. The September 16 full Moon is the harvest Moon, in which we gather in the crops, put them up and prepare for the colder days of fall and winter. It’s time to plan and organize.

Mac McLaughlin has been a practising, professional astrologer for more than four decades. His popular Straight Stars column ran in Vancouver’s largest weekly newspaper for 11 years. Email or call 604-731-1109.


Aries ZodiacARIES Mar 21 – Apr 19

The two benefic planets, Venus and Jupiter, will be casting fine energy into your sign throughout September. They bring the promise of good times, love and lucky breaks your way. Even the two heavies, Mars and Saturn, cast good energy into Aries helping to steady and stabilize many aspects of your life. Get moving.

Taurus ZodiacTAURUS Apr 20 – May 21

Money and health will be on your mind. It seems we can’t do much without either of them. Joint monies, shared and inherited monies and legalities may dominate the scene. Your instinct is to put it all together – and you should. Work on your health, namely, for without it money won’t matter much.

Gemini ZodiacGEMINI May 22 – Jun 20

September may prove intense in all kinds of ways. The eclipse cycles, along with Mars and Saturn, will be a handful to handle. Kindness, compassion and patience are the remedies for September’s maladies. There are plenty of opportunities to use this energy to clear the air and get things straightened out. Use your time wisely.

CancerCANCER Jun 21 – Jul 22

Health, family, home, land and real estate dominate the scene for Cancer this month. It’s a whirlwind time and you won’t have much time for daydreaming or lazing around. Hubba hubba. Take advantage of this opportunity to get a whole lot done. Scholastics, sales, applications and publications are at the forefront. You can do this.

Leo ZodiacLEO Jul 23 – Aug 22

The planetary energy in September goes like this. You can admire a brand new car or you can get in it and drive it away. All you have to do is turn the key. Interpreted, it means you can be successful, but you must make a dynamic effort in order to make it all happen.

Virgo ZodiacVIRGO Aug 23 – Sep 22

It’s your time to shine. September is not so much about results, but very much about what it is you would truly like to accomplish. Two eclipses in Virgo this month indicate a most powerful time has arrived, in which your life may shift or change significantly. Diligence and hard work are required.

Libra ZodiacLIBRA Sep 23 – Oct 22

Venus visits Libra until September 23, casting its lovely energy your way. Venus enhances life, bringing love, creativity, beauty and resources. Her presence certainly brightens the picture. Jupiter visits Libra for one year starting September 9. Travel, expansion and good fortune are his general attributes. It’s your time. Make the best use of it.

Scorpio ZodiacSCORPIO Oct 23 – Nov 21

The past we cannot change and the future will never come, but we can do so much in the present to shape the future. It’s that kind of time now for Scorpio – hard work, burning the midnight oil while others party and play. When success comes your way, everyone marvels and wonders how you did it.

Sagittaurus ZodiacSAGITTARIUS Nov 22 – Dec 21

You’re going to have to bite the bullet, tighten your belt and basically trim off the fat or any type of excessiveness. No, it’s not a pleasant task, but it’s a must-must scenario. Legalities, limitations and frustrations keep you somewhat corralled this month. The clouds part and the bright, warm Sun shines again.

Capricorn ZodiacCAPRICORN Dec 22 – Jan 19

Travel to distant places in indicated. Spirituality figures strongly. One way or the other, you’re in the midst of a huge transformative process. Career opportunities loom on the horizon. Be clean and let your works be seen; it’s the best way to roll. Negotiations come up and it is important you don’t sell short.

Aquarius ZodiacAQUARIUS Jan 20 – Feb 19

Soul plus mind equals man. Soul minus mind equals God. It’s time for you to go deep and break through with an understanding of these deep, spiritual truths. Money, name and fame will not get you through to the light. A time of research and discovery is at hand. A high probability of travel comes up.

Pisces ZodiacPISCES Feb 20 – Mar 20

The solar and lunar eclipses in Virgo this month might have a profound effect on your sign as well. Illumination is indicated. It’s time to take stock of what is real and important and to truly make an effort to make changes in your life. The results of your efforts are peace, love and tranquillity.

Finding Common Ground

A journey of 300 editions

by Bruce Mason

Words and pictures of a shared past, present and future, from founders, friends and fellow travellers

Common Ground Magazine 300 issue

To page through the first few issues of Common Ground magazine (beginning in winter, 1982) is to pry open a time capsule and be astonished and awakened by the contents. And to hold – first in your hands, then in your mind, followed by your heart and soul – proof of not only how far we have come, but also a reminder of how far we still have to go. They are the first few footprints in an ongoing journey of a hopeful, engaged community – our community.

The first impressions from initial glances leap from the sepia-toned black and white copies. And we are awed by how much technological change has taken place, how much graphics have evolved and elbowed into the forefront of our consciousness and daily lives, and how sophisticated we and our tools and toys have become in just over 30 years.

Kolin Lymworth, founder of Banyen Books & Sound, recalls the early days when publisher Joseph Roberts was one of the first people to actually work in his store, in the early 70s – “Then a skinny, blonde long-hair with a compelling gleam in his eye – and considerable chops on the piano, by the way. At that time, many communities were growing resource-listing-connection publications, serving awakening humanity in whatever ways they could, kind of like a local Whole Earth Catalog.”

Many of the problems and solutions are there in the first few editions, along with some of the same people, including therapists, psychologists and counsellors, spiritual practitioners, rape crisis centres, small businesses and services, the Kirpal Ashram School, UBC’s Centre for Continuing Education, Greenpeace, the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation, Western Wilderness Committee and the West Coast Environmental Law Association, the Canadian Centre for Nuclear Responsibility. Oxfam, alternative health centres, Coop Radio, Black Swan Records, the Bicycling Association of BC, astrologists, naturopaths, food co-ops, the Canadian Health Food Association and Naam Restaurant.

Arran Stephens, co-founder of Nature’s Path, says, “Common Ground has been my home-grown, BC go-to resource magazine for all things good: preservation of nature and the environment, organic agriculture, social conscience and activism, pro-vegetarian, plant-based articles, questioning of the status quo, natural healing, herbalism, art, defence of endangered species, spirituality, yoga and religion.”

Ask publisher, Joseph Roberts, for his all-time favourite issue and he will answer, “The next publication, the one we’re working on. I’m a very active member of the community we serve and each month is a process that emerges from it, literally, organically. Every four-week period has been a unique, separate adventure in a 33-year journey. The magazine is free, completely independent and 100 percent Canadian, our gift to our community.”

Back in 1982, Roberts and two others (Alana Mascali and Michael Bertrand) sensed a need for a quarterly, Vancouver-based, healing-arts-body-mind resource listing, based on a similar Common Ground in San Francisco. But Roberts had a vision for this Common Ground, a publication that was more than a clearinghouse of information on the burgeoning alternatives to the status quo. “I felt strongly that we needed to take on tough issues, be someone in left field, making a noise, pointing out to people in the bleachers that something was happening and we needed to get to first base, a place for ideas to get out. And I decided to go it alone.”

Alongside information on health and wellness and personal growth were early articles on uranium mining, nukes, fish-farming, GMOs, pesticides, LNG and pipelines. The first issue featured the Vancouver skyline on the cover. The second, a gardener. And the third, a jaw-dropping shot of some of the 65,000 people congregated at Sunset Beach in support of Peace. It also included articles such as famed liberal journalist I.F. Stone’s eerily prophetic, Send in the Machines, an excerpt from Jonathan Schell’s The Fate of the Earth, the seminal description of the consequences of nuclear war, a key document in the disarmament movement, a piece signalling The Information Economy is Here and a letter and eyewitness account by Bruce Cockburn from Central American refugee camps.

There is a wise adage in journalism: “Freedom of the press can only be guaranteed if you buy an ad, once in a while.” And advertiser Chris Shirley has done just that, many times in fact, with a listing for his Pacific Institute of Reflexology in all 300 editions of Common Ground. “I feel good about the magazine and support what it is doing. It’s unique and important, unlike other publications that have a seedy side, that I’m just not comfortable aligning with. Common Ground continues to raise our profile in the community we want to reach, through a local production that is widely distributed and read.”

Advertisers also read each edition. “It’s amazing and relevant, presenting a valid point of view you don’t find at newsstands, or in commercial, mainstream media,” says Michael Pratt, owner of Celtic Traditions.

Vocal coach and teacher Lynn McGown – another long-time supporter – needs no prompting to sing praises of Common Ground. “It’s inclusive, a look at society through a prism of health, politics and justice that includes spirituality and touches much more, rooted in community and melded together in a global vision that raises consciousness and hope for human beings. Joseph is a local boy, actually a local treasure, and I admire him for continuing to tell it like it is.”

Long-time advertiser Lorraine Bennington ( shares her story: “Common Ground has been around for almost as long as I have been in Vancouver, a newly minted Vancouverite fresh from Montreal in 1979. I first met Joseph Roberts long before Common Ground emerged, as he chose one after the other meaningful causes to support. CG became the forum for them all to coalesce into a larger voice, the voice of the alternative thought community.

We didn’t all see the world in the exact same way, but we all shared a “common ground” of wanting organic food and clothes, practising yoga, choosing to respect the earth, and holding a vision of a planet that would endure for our children and their children’s children. We needed a magazine to support a world without corporate greed takeovers of our lifestyle, our medicine and our choices.

I consciously continue to advertise in this magazine, not only because the people who read it share some of my core values, but also because I believe a magazine like this serves a vital part in the keeping and nurturing of sentient community.Common Ground, the Naam, Banyen Books, Amethyst Creations, Lifestream, Folk Fest – and all the original or slightly later arrivals of merchants, yogis, health oriented and creative merchants and other beings ­– birthed and expressed their consciousness on W. 4th Avenue. Then, as real estate prices became more and more unmanageable, some headed east, first to Main and then to the Drive and beyond.

A community needs a voice, and Common Ground has served and continues to serve that significant purpose, and I am glad to be part of that community/family.”

Elizabeth Murphy, a private sector project manager, formerly a property development officer for the Vancouver’s Housing & Properties Department and BC Housing, says, “Common Ground has been the consistent voice of integrity for truth, justice and real democracy. Every month, I have always looked forward to reading it for the issues that matter, with confidence in their open content. And over the last few years, it has been an honour to contribute.”

She adds, “The 300th edition of Joseph Roberts’ Common Ground magazine is a milestone to celebrate. I say thank you for working to make the world a better place and best wishes for another 300 editions.”

Lymworth writes, “Having carried every issue of Common Ground over the decades, we at Banyen are proud to honour and appreciate Joseph and his magazine’s dedication to helping people connect; to fostering healthy ways of living; to highlighting important social and environmental issues. He truly cares about a kinder, gentler, wiser world and continues to offer resources and connections that help that to happen more fully and more enduringly. Long may the good light shine. Congratulations!”

Stephens concludes, “I have great admiration for Joseph, my old friend, who has faithfully churned out 300 (!!!) Common Ground issues over the decades. Bravo! Looking forward to continuing the good so that we can all find Common Ground for peace, unity and love.”

To view sample pages from our early issues from 1982-3, click here.

Common Ground writers join the conversation

Common Ground Magazine first cover
Common Ground Issue #1


Common Ground magazine and I have been friends for 34 years! I was present at its 1982 birth and launch party in a Vancouver back yard. I like long-term friendships and this has been a good one. The articles throughout the magazine are lively and thought provoking. Common Ground has long been a leader regarding environmental concerns and health and human rights issues. I have appreciated the opportunity to write on a vast range of topics related to plant-based nutrition and have welcomed the tremendous interest in this topic on the part of readers.

Vesanto Melina, registered dietitian and author of CG’s Nutrispeak column. and

Congratulations on the 300th edition! People often say to me, “The pharma world you write about is so important so why do you write for Common Ground?” And my answer is always the same: “Because I can say things here that are too uncomfortable for other media outlets.” Common Ground for me is richer turf; it’s an alternative voice to the droning prattle of the mainstream media that often supports and celebrates some of the worst aspects of medicine. I use my column to dredge up some important, but unreported, nuggets about the pharmaceutical-industrial complex – a topic that I think touches us all. To me, this is a milestone worth celebrating – Common Ground’s 300th edition – and a timely reminder that the public conversations on a whole range of topics that deeply affect our lives are richer – and more diverse – because of this fine magazine. Keep up the good work, Joseph!

Alan Cassels, author of CG’s Drug Bust column and a drug policy researcher in Victoria. His new book is called The Cochrane Collaboration: Medicine’s Best Kept Secret.

I grew up in the same neighbourhood as Joseph Roberts – suburban Harbour Chines in Coquitlam. Later, we lived next to each other across from Kits Beach, sharing news from our back porches about small victories, mine in media, his atCommon Ground. I, too, had attended SFU in the early, heady days, naively thinking that humanity would make real progress in fits and starts, if more people lived and worked for peace and justice. “Things will get better, they have to,” I thought. They haven’t and very well may not. Humanity is at a crossroads. Like you, I hope and work for a better world than we have right here, right now. Contributing to Common Ground is my way of trying to be of some use. Blessings on your unfinished business.

Bruce Mason, CG features writer and columnist (ReadIt!, Music Rising) and author of Our Clinic.

‘Your mind is a garden. Your thoughts are the seeds. You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.’ For the past 300 issues, Common Ground magazine has served as a potent fertilizer to feed those seeds to become flowers. When I arrived on Vancouver Island, my eyes were opened by publications such as Common Ground so it was a pleasure to return this service to others as a contributing writer many years later. Thank you for enlightenment on so many timely issues and subjects that enhance our well being, as we grope our way to a more sustainable future in all aspects of our lives.

Carolyn Herriot, former CG columnist (On the Garden Path).

Probably the biggest reason I write for Common Ground is that from cover to cover, in every article, in every issue, the direction is towards the betterment and upliftment of mankind. There’s no smut or filth, no racism and no misogynistic or gender bias. Publisher Joseph Roberts has worked and toiled tirelessly. He has never faltered or wavered in his steps to bring the truth and shed light on every concern that has come to his awareness regarding the treatment of our Mother Earth and her inhabitants. Joseph, his staff and contributors should be lauded and awarded for their herculean effort to make our planet a peaceful and wholesome environment.

Mac McLaughlin, author of CG’s Star Wise column.

Vancouver has an amazing city culture, which, for the most part, is thoughtful, kind, considerate, sensitive and intelligent. A culture like this does not arise out of thin air. For the past 33 years, the soil of Vancouver’s culture has been enriched by the writers and artists who have shared their thoughts, visions and inspirations in Common Ground magazine, supported by the magazine’s editors. I was proud to be one such writer. Vancouver needs more Common Ground if we are to win the rapidly developing global struggle between neo-liberal plutocracy and social democracy, and between those who see nature as a resource to exploit and those who see it as a being to respect. May your pages continue to inspire us for many years to come! Best wishes.

Guy Dauncey, former CG Earthfuture columnist and author of Journey to the Future: A Better World is Possible.

To me, Common Ground magazine is about intelligence, integrity, truth, humanism and humanitarianism. My mission is to support and encourage evolving consciousness. It is an honour to be a part of this publication and connect with readers who share that desire to grow in consciousness. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Joseph Roberts for starting this magazine and keeping it going through good times and bad. He is a true visionary who has created a space for enlightened ideas that have impacted the lives of so many readers over decades. I congratulate Joseph, his staff and all of you who have picked up a copy of Common Ground and then became faithful readers. It is you who inspire all of us to keep doing what we do.

Gwen Randall Young, registered psychologist and author of CG’s Universe Within column.

Common Ground is celebrating its 300th edition. Impressive! That a relatively small, independent monthly can still be kicking while everywhere print media is shrinking is a testament to the tenacity of its publisher and small, committed team. After initially doing editing work for Common Ground and building the magazine’s former website, I was fortunate enough to write a monthly movie column. I ended up doing it for over a decade. The column evolved over the years, but I really enjoyed having the freedom to explore a range of documentaries and films that shed new light on the world around us, often challenging accepted norms – whether it be about ecology, the arts or justice. Common Ground has covered so many issues over the years that it was an easy place to find a home for such a column.

Robert Alstead, former CG Films Worth Watching columnist and producer and director of the documentaries, Running on Climate and You Never Bike Alone.

What’s new in sports nutrition?

dumbell and eggs

Adding activity to your routine is a key contributor to health and happiness. With your summer workout routine in mind, we have a few tips to help you improve power, enhance performance and optimize hydration.

Boosting power

When looking to boost your power or strength at the gym, you want to stimulate new muscle growth through resistance and endurance training. How effectively you repair and build muscle depends on the availability of protein in your body. Make sure your muscles have access to the protein they need by consuming protein-rich whole foods like lean meats, eggs and fish, vegetable sources such as beans, lentils and legumes, nuts and seeds, tofu, and grains like quinoa.

If you’re looking to supplements for a convenient source of protein, whey and casein-based proteins from dairy sources are the most popular, but the growing trend towards plant-based foods and supplements has led to an increasing number of plant-based protein powders, including pea, hemp, soy and rice protein. Experiment with a few different options to find the fit that’s right for you.

Enhancing performance

Can you push harder, run faster, reach farther and dig deeper? Fuelling smartly before a workout with complex carbohydrates for sustained energy release can give you an edge to push yourself that extra bit.

Chia seeds are a great source of carbs and also deliver protein and omega-3 fats. Whole grains like brown rice are also packed with complex carbs for sustained energy release while being low in calories. Chickpeas are another surprising energy-rich food, packed with protein for an added boost.

Omega-3s are an often overlooked supplement that can help to enhance your performance. These are heart-healthy fats that not only protect our blood vessels, but their anti-inflammatory effects help to reduce muscle soreness after a workout, as well.

Finally, B-vitamins – including vitamin B3 and vitamin B6 – are key players in the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which helps us contract our muscles and process carbs for energy. Making sure you’re getting enough of these vitamins and minerals from foods or supplements is crucial, not just for your overall health, but also for optimal performance when you exercise.

Optimizing hydration

One of the drivers of athletic performance is maintaining the balance of fluid and electrolytes in our bodies. Body fluids are essential for removing waste and toxins, maintaining proper neural and muscle function, regulating body temperature, delivering fuel and taking the brunt of shock absorption while lubricating our joints.

Skip the energy drink and try coconut water or maple water, which are naturally rich in electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals, like sodium, chloride, magnesium and calcium, which keep neurons firing and muscles contracting.

Canadians are becoming more aware of the role nutrition plays in taking their exercise goals up a notch. Some are pushing for a new personal best time on a 10-kilometre run, while others want to add some lean muscle and lose a few centimetres around the belly; many are looking to boost their energy.

Source: Canadian Health Food Association,

images © Nithid18 & © Madmaxer

Renowned Cor Meibion Colwyn visits Canada

by Alan Sanderson


male Welsh choir outdoor performance
Côr Meibion Colwyn pictured at a concert at Conwy Castle on the north coast of Wales.

• Over the Labour Day weekend (September 1-4) the multi-award-winning male choir, Côr Meibion Colwyn from North Wales, will be the featured choir at the North American Festival of Wales, held in Calgary this year.

Music director Tudur Eames conducts Colwyn in the Saturday Concert and also the Cymanfa Ganu (congregational hymn singing). Both events will have audiences of around 700. Eames will also take the much smaller Ysgol Gân (singing school).

The choir has consistently placed first, second, or third in many international competitions and has toured extensively in Britain and elsewhere in Europe. They are four-time winners at the Welsh National Eisteddfod, and in 2015 won third place in the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, one of the largest festivals in the world. It attracts competitors from 70-100 different countries every year. They have also raised over £150,000 for different charities.

Last October, Orpheus had the privilege of performing with Colwyn in Llandudno as part of their seven-concert tour of Wales. Naturally, they are delighted to be able to return the favour.

If you are in Vancouver or Salmon Arm at the end of August, be sure to take in the concert there. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Hear the choir in Vancouver, Salmon Arm and Calgary

Vancouver – Ryerson United Church
Sunday, Aug. 28, 7pm: the choir performs a joint concert with Vancouver Orpheus Male Choir.

Salmon Arm – First United Church
Monday August 29, 7:30pm: The choir performs on their way to Calgary. This concert is organized by Arwyn Gittens and Lawrence Williams, the Shuswap Welsh Club and a number of other local charities and business organizations. Colwyn completed a new CD in June 2016, which they will be selling on their tour in Canada.

September 1-4: The choir performs in at the North American Festival of Wales.

Concert details & tickets
Vancouver 604-515-5686

Salmon Arm
250-832-4415 or 250-832-8547

It’s the Year of Pulses

NUTRISPEAK by Vesanto Melina MS, RD

portrait of Vesanto Melina

• The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has named 2016 the International Year of Pulses. Pulses are edible seeds that grow in pods – peas, beans, lentils. They are also known as legumes.

Pulses are packed with nutrients, especially B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, B6, and folate) and minerals (iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and zinc). Their high iron content is especially beneficial for women and children who might be at risk of anemia. They are a fantastic source of protein without the accompanying fat of animal products.

For people trying to control their weight, they can be a great way to keep blood sugar level while boosting protein intake. They have a low glycemic index due to excellent fibre content. Pulses are gluten-free and contain phytochemicals that are protective against cancer, diabetes and heart disease. One dietary feature of the longest-lived population groups in the world – Okinawa Japan, Sardinia, Italy and the Seventh-day Adventist vegetarians in Loma Linda California – is their regular consumption of pulses.

Pulses are important agriculturally as they are closely associated with nitrogen-fixing bacteria, and thus play a key role in crop rotation and soil enhancement. In Canada, they are a very important crop as we are the largest exporter of lentils in the world.

Cooked lentils, beans and peas can easily be pureed and stirred into soups, stews and even sauces. It’s fine to use canned ones; nutrient content is retained. They not only add depth and flavour, but they also help thicken soups and stews to make them heartier and more nutrient-rich. If you are unaccustomed to eating pulses, start with smaller ones such as lentils – red, green, grey, French – in small amounts. Here are some very quick ways to boost your protein for the day:

Heat up a bowl of green peas (fresh or frozen).
Snack on fresh peas in the pod.
Add a pea-based protein powder to your smoothie.
Spread toast with peanut butter (peanuts are pulses).
Grab a handful of peanuts.
Serve tacos (see recipe).
Check out recipes at, and get gold medallist Ron Pickarski’s The Classical Vegetarian Cookbook,

Vesanto Melina is a Vancouver dietitian.,, 778-379-5377.

Timesaving tacos

Makes 10 tacos; serves 3 to 5 people

This nutritious meal is almost instant. Just warm the shells and beans, chop the veggies and set out the colourful fillings in pretty bowls. If you prefer burritos, replace taco shells with soft tortillas. For mixed dietary choices, a meal of tacos is welcome as you can include non-vegan options such as grated cheddar. (Recipe from Becoming Vegetarian and from Cooking Vegetarian, Harper Collins)

10 taco shells
1 can vegetarian
refried beans
2 cups shredded lettuce
1 cup chopped tomato
1 carrot, grated
1 ripe avocado, chopped
1 cup salsa
1 cup grated non-dairy cheese (such as Daiya pepperjack)

Put the refried beans in a small pan and warm through (or heat in bowl in microwave). If the beans are too thick, mix in a tablespoon of water. Warm taco shells in a 250o F oven for 1-2 minutes, or in a microwave. Put the shells and beans, along with lettuce, tomato, carrot, avocado, salsa and cheese in serving bowls. Leftover fillings can be refrigerated in covered dishes and used at another meal.

Evolving beyond judgment

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

portrait of Gwen Randall-Young
•  The more you know yourself, the less judgmental you become.
– Aniekee Tochukwu

The definition of the word “judgmental” is to be overly critical or too quick to criticize others. I notice how ubiquitous this tendency is in our culture. Judgments are usually stated as facts and one can easily see how erroneous the judgments others make are while being entirely unconscious of their own. “I’m not judging, I’m just stating the truth” is typical of how denial manifests in such situations.

The judgment is one thing, but assigning motives to others personally is a whole other level. To say, “There’s no such thing as climate change” is one thing. However, stating that scientists are making it up is another. Saying you do not like the Prime Minister is one thing. Calling him a spoiled brat is another.

Where does this need to denigrate those who don’t think like us come from? Badmouthing a colleague or gossiping about a neighbour is bullying, plain and simple. Does it go back to the immature ego of the child who thinks that when he says, “I am better than you” makes it true? Is it part of the biological impulse to survive and protect our territory?

Do we not mature beyond playground politics and evolve beyond biological impulses? Sure, there are those who truly know no other way. I worked with a young couple where the wife was troubled by her husband’s rages and swearing over something like dropping a fork on the floor. He felt he should be allowed to vent his frustrations in this toxic way. The effect of his behaviours on others did not even enter his consciousness.

But what about those who know there is something wrong with their behaviour, but they do not change. I tell my clients if they would not want their comments or behaviours viewed on national television that night, they shouldn’t be talking or behaving that way.

Then there is the Donald Trump end of the continuum where he is not embarrassed or remorseful and he says whatever he wants on national television. Most otherwise functional adults who bully in the ways indicated above do not do so publicly because they would not want others to see them that way.

It would be wise for each of us to do an inventory and honestly assess our tendency to judge and criticize others and discern whether we attack others personally. Living from the place of “an eye for an eye” results in two blind people. When people reduce their communication to personal attacks, they are both blind to the damage they cause and to wisdom and integrity. When those go, we are functioning at a more primitive level.

When I was a child, I was taught the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It is so simple yet so profound. We have advanced so much scientifically and technologically, but in truth, I do not see the advancement of the wisdom in these words in all the years since I first heard them. It seems to me that ever-increasing technology without a concurrent growth in wisdom is a dangerous thing.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, “Deep Powerful Change” hypnosis CDs and “Creating Effective Relationships” series, visit and “Like” Gwen on Facebook.

STAR WISE: July-August 2016

by Mac McLaughlin

portrait of Mac McLaughlin

The planetary deities are constantly dialoguing. Astrology is one part science and another part art. When a student truly learns the basic science of astrology, he/she sets off on the path of learning the art of interpretation. This journey can take decades of time and tons of experience to hone one’s skills. The only way to accomplish this task is to dive right into the deep end of the cosmic pool. If the astrologer has done their homework and paid their dues through diligent study over the years, they can deliver seemingly magical and exceptionally helpful information and knowledge to their clients.

Each planet has its basic meaning and quality. This quality may be altered by the planet’s association and aspects with other planets. As an example, Venus represents love and beauty, kindness, caring and all things of a refined nature. Now, if Venus has hard aspects from planets like Saturn, Mars or Pluto, that refinement will be marred or distorted in some way. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch if the astrologer mentioned that marriage could be delayed, or divorce or abuse experienced when Venus is afflicted and the client wonders how the astrologer knew they had just been through a serious breakup. If a person has a very prominent Jupiter in their chart, it will be highly likely they will be considered very lucky, likeable, affable, funny, well educated, etc. A while ago, a lucky Jupiter type came in for her reading. Yes, she had just been through an amicable divorce in which she got to keep several houses and the Maserati! I don’t think she has worked a day in her life and she is exceptionally fortunate. On another day, a person with a very afflicted Saturn can come through the door with a heavy, sad tale of woe, loss and sacrifice.

The horoscope is a cosmic road map that helps us see and confirm just what the stars decree. The astrologer’s task is within helping people understand the script they wrote for themselves through the previous incarnations. Sometimes, we’ll come across a Saturnian person that has a very excellent life of purity, peace and harmony. We may also come across a Jupiter type that is a total mess, with a life steeped in greed and excess. The stars incline and compel and we have 75% fate/karma and 25% freewill to forge our future and stabilize our present status. Shakespeare’s, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings,” says it nicely.

We’re making a few changes here at CG, and the July and August columns are rolled into this one column. The December and January columns will be amalgamated as well. The dominant planetary feature in August is the conjunction of Mars and Saturn. They are both considered to be malefic planets and we may very well see some fiery dramas unfold throughout the month in the form of fires, accidents, terrorism and other forms of chaos, such as gang activity. Mars and Saturn will be in square aspect with Neptune, indicating disasters at sea or other concerns of a water-borne nature. It’s unfortunate that the security forces here and in other countries place no value on astrology. A week before the 2010 Vancouver riot, I was telling people it was highly likely a riot would take place at that time.

Even an amateur astrologer would have seen the great potential for danger if presented with the birth chart of the man that killed all those dear souls in Orlando. Mars was moving very slowly – nearly stationary – and passing over the Sun in Omar Mateen’s birth horoscope. Mars is the planet that rules war, violence, weapons, aggression and anger. and when moving slowly, a planet becomes very powerful for good or ill. Given one hundred birth charts with the identities hidden, an astrologer would probably have picked out his chart knowing the energy was red hot and that if he was a terrorist, he would be on the move and very active. Lives could have been saved and so much suffering avoided if our people in charge only had the wisdom to use the stars properly. Historically, it’s a known fact astrologers were employed in helping their countries during times of war.

Mac McLaughlin has been a practising, professional astrologer for more than four decades. His popular Straight Stars column ran in Vancouver’s largest weekly newspaper for 11 years. Email or call 604-731-1109.


Aries ZodiacARIES Mar 21 – Apr 19

In mythology, Aries the Ram had supernatural powers. You might be quite interested in developing your own supernatural qualities. You are a diamond in the rough and with a little bit of practice, you may do wonders. The past figures prominently now. While other signs struggle through August, you may sail through the month easily.


Taurus ZodiacTAURUS Apr 20 – May 21

If we conducted a study of the top-notch chefs, Taurus would be at the top of the list. Family gatherings, picnics and parties are featured. Action and attraction and possible friction are strong probabilities this month. Mercury, Venus and Jupiter cast fine energy your way throughout August, making it a fine month indeed.


Gemini ZodiacGEMINI May 22 – Jun 20

Honesty is the best policy. The pathway ahead could become distorted or confusing. It might be time to let go of things that are no longer worthy, wholesome or healthy. The reward for letting go is freedom, harmony and happiness. Home, land and real estate feature prominently throughout August. Family gatherings are featured.


CancerCANCER Jun 21 – Jul 22

The New Moon on July 4 indicates a fresh start. You’re in your solar high of the year. Don’t be afraid to make changes because changes are in the wind and it is time to do so. Positive planetary energy is onboard, far outweighing any negative influences. Communications and health considerations are on the cosmic menu throughout August.


Leo ZodiacLEO Jul 23 – Aug 22

The pace picks up mid-month and your social calendar fills up as well. It’s never easy for Leo to make changes, but now through August the stars are offering up a time in which you can make changes readily and easily. Mars and Saturn bring energy, courage and sustained effort throughout August.


Virgo ZodiacVIRGO Aug 23 – Sep 22

Here’s a heads up. Take the month of July and seriously contemplate what it is you would truly love to do. Then implement those plans in August and September. You might even have to readjust your goals along the way, but that’s okay because you will be on your way towards attaining your overall target.


Libra ZodiacLIBRA Sep 23 – Oct 22

A fruitful time fast approaches. Now it’s summertime and a time to play and enjoy the days. All of that changes in September as we take a more serious approach to life’s tasks. August is the time to work behind the scenes working up your plan for the fall season. It may be a very good year, overall.


Scorpio ZodiacSCORPIO Oct 23 – Nov 21

Your ruling planet Mars stays in Scorpio until the end of the month. Use this energy to catapult yourself into the future. Move forward fearlessly. Rest assured that if you don’t promote yourself, nobody else will do it for you. August is a time to seriously align with the people you truly resonate with in order to solidify your future.


Sagittaurus ZodiacSAGITTARIUS Nov 22 – Dec 21

You might find yourself delving into some pretty deep stuff as Saturn brings on some stark realities. Things get lighter in the second half of the month. Mars joins up with Saturn in August bringing a stronger sense of commitment and determination as you exert your willpower to battle the forces lined up against you.


Capricorn ZodiacCAPRICORN Dec 22 – Jan 19

Some things will go and some things will stay, but it is a time of letting go and growing in a new way. The Full Moon on July 19 illuminates the situation. You can gain a lot of yardage in August with Mercury, Venus and Jupiter casting good energy your way. Strike while the iron is hot.


Aquarius ZodiacAQUARIUS Jan 20 – Feb 19

It’s time for a tune up, physically and spiritually. You may feel you’re running on empty and it would be wise to refuel and refurbish. Conflicting and contrasting energies dominate until the end of the month. Mysteries come up and secrets are exposed in the month of August. It’s a time of research.


Pisces ZodiacPISCES Feb 20 – Mar 20

You may be restless and desiring change. A career shift is likely. Interestingly, you could meet your significant other through your work. Someone that has a good light in them and understands what you’re all about could be close now. A very active month unfolds throughout August. Read the fine print and listen carefully regarding business deals.

Naturally healthy getaways

by Common Ground’s publisher, Joseph Roberts


beach feets
photo © Syda Productions

• The weather is warming and this means one thing: Cottage season is upon us. Getting away for the weekend is a great way to unwind from a full workweek, but many Canadians may find it challenging to balance a healthy lifestyle with an indulging cottage getaway. What you choose to pack for the weekend can make or break your healthy routine. Here are a few simple tips to help turn your summer weekends into naturally healthy getaways!

Indulge smartly

You’ve worked hard all week to earn your weekend, so you should be allowed to indulge, right?

At the cottage it can be hard to stick to your regular routine, especially during happy hour on the dock. The good news is there are lots of healthier snacking options. For instance, trade in the potato chips for dehydrated or baked kale chips, which deliver a salty crunch without the extra calories. You can also find chips made from beans, root veggies and even lentils or coconut. Try them, love them!

Relaxing on the dock or around the campfire at the cottage wouldn’t be the same without a drink to match the scene. Unfortunately, this indulgence is quite taxing on your liver. The process in which your body breaks down alcohol uses up B vitamins so I try to keep my body well stocked with these through either a high-quality multi-vitamin or a B-complex supplement.

Safe fun in the sun

A quality sunscreen is one of the most important things to pack when heading outdoors. Always choose a natural sunscreen that contains zinc-oxide and titanium-dioxide, especially when selecting a product for your kids. Sunscreens containing these ingredients stay on the surface of the skin without being absorbed, allowing them to actually reflect the potentially damaging UVA and UVB rays.

After a day in the sun, moisturizing is essential to soothe and heal the skin. Luckily, there are a slew of options for effective, natural moisturizing oils. I love to use coconut oil as a moisturizer: it’s rich in medium-chain triglycerides, which have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties that complement the skin’s protective barrier.

A less familiar but equally excellent option may be seabuckthorn oil, which is rich in nutrients and phytonutrients that have been shown to improve skin hydration and even promote healing. There’s a wide selection of these products to explore, from the familiar Aloe vera to the exotic argan oil. I recommend you try a few and see which one works best for you and your family.

Cottage country has a great array of locally owned and family-run grocers and natural health food stores. Make your next cottage getaway a healthy one.

Michelle W. Book is the in-house Holistic Nutritionist and spokesperson for the Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA), an organization dedicated to educating Canadians about the benefits of natural health and organic products. As a busy professional with a young family, Michelle strives to spread the message that small changes in our everyday lives can have significant, positive effects on our health.