Category Archives: C

Ain't Nothin' Captious About That




Cavil: cavilled, cavilling

To quibble, trick; To raise captious and frivolous objections; To find fault without good reason; To oppose by finding trivial faults.

Captious: captiously, captiousness

Apt to ensnare or perplex especially in arguments; Apt to notice and make much of unimportant faults or defects.

Reading the one, led to making sure I completely understood the other … so today’s post has two C words: cavil and captious.

I like these words because I can envision them fitting in nicely somewhere in a narrative of one of my novels or short stories. E.g., I wanted to smack him for his captious rejoinder. Or perhaps … I was tired of him cavilling every point I made. 🙂

Years ago, I delegated the district school board on relocation and boundary issues. Our community was a new one, and overpopulation at our local schools was rampant. The planning department was using outdated models of 1.5 children per household to determine the size and location of new schools. While that may seem like a reasonable number, in this particular community, with basement apartments and multiple family members residing in the same dwelling, that number was grossly under representative of the actual picture.

It was a challenging fight. I had local newspapers following the story closely, even the big city publications had their eye on the dilemma. I arranged for buses to bring parents to the meeting. I handed out flyers, knocked door-to-door collecting signatures for a petition. I spoke to everyone I could whose children were affected by these rigid, old-school practices. I went to the city. I obtained maps, and statistical data representing both past and projected future enrollment. I poured through figures. I worked out solutions. I polished my speech.

When the day came for my audience with the school board, I had four busloads of parents and their children in tow, not to mention the families that drove to the board head office to support us, including families from out of our immediate school zone. People scattered throughout the school board’s territory came in droves to lend their support. We were all fighting the same battle! We weren’t the only school whose children had been displaced and shuffled. My son attended four different schools and was subjected to four different boundary changes in five years of his elementary school life … and we NEVER moved! We lived at the same address, but the schoolboard wasn’t prepared for the influx of children and had nowhere to put them. Each change broke friendships and undermined any semblance of continuity in our children’s lives.

Back to the big day. There I am, in front of the trustees and superintendents with the support of hundreds of parents, the press in solidarity at our backs, even the school administration supported our efforts. I gave them no quarter. There was no loop hole in my arguments. There were suggestions and alternatives. I gave my all. The crowd of parents roared to their feet at the end of the presentation … and what did those elected representatives and educational leaders have to say? A captious, frivolous cavil of a response. They said, “Well, we’ve always done it this way.”

To say it was a staggering blow, is well, an understatement. The papers called it a travesty, where elected officials didn’t even bother to rise to the concerns of their constituents. The school board conceded on only one point. They changed some of their wording in their policy documents, so residents, when they looked hard enough, could read between the lines and come to the conclusion that by moving into this area, there was an understanding that their children were going to be relocated and moved about, consistently and constantly. At least this way they were being transparent.

In the end, our family stuck it out another two years in that district then moved away all together.

If someone has an objection to something I say or believe in, I’m a pretty easy going person. If they can base their opinions on balanced, reasonable, or well thought out responses, I will listen and respect their point of view, they might even sway my opinion. But, if they are going to cavil based on an outdated, ignorant view of history, or a familiar way of doing things, so as not to rock the boat, or just because they say so, well, then we have some work to do.

Check out this little nugget of wisdom:

Kalama Sutta: To the Kalamas

“Now, Kalamas, don’t go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, ‘This contemplative is our teacher.’ When you know for yourselves that, ‘These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness’ — then you should enter & remain in them.”

What do I take away from that passage? We are meant to think for ourselves, not to take things at face value just because someone has said it, thought it, or written it, but rather contemplate the true meaning, the true resonance/essence of the words, thoughts, or opinions. Then, if we look deep within ourselves and see that when they are put into action they will lead to happiness and wellbeing, well, then you know you have something. And there’s nothing captious about that! 😀

In gratitude,

Marissa xo

Christmas – ABCs of a Passionate Life

Campbell Family Christmas 2014
Campbell Family Christmas 2014

Christmas is done and gone.

I made a turkey and survived. I started cooking at 12:00pm and finished cleaning at 11:00pm. After careful consideration, while the meal was healthful: Caesar salad, turkey with wine gravy, roasted new potatoes, roasted asparagus, and sautéed brussels sprouts, I think I will revert to my lazy habits and load the family in the car and head out for Chinese Food—a delightful pastime we enjoyed two years in a row. There is no muss, no fuss, someone else is cooking, and someone else is cleaning.

Unless Christmas is like childbirth and I forget next December just how much effort and money and stress was involved, on December 25, 2015, I will be chasing my eggrolls down with a joyful, stress-free cup of green tea! 😉 xo

In gratitude,

Cooking – ABCs of a Passionate Life

Cooking for a Passionate Life by Marissa Campbell
Cooking by Marissa Campbell

Disclaimer: I don’t like cooking.

There. I’ve said it. It’s out in the open (I also dislike cleaning, laundry, and organizing but perhaps that’s best left for another post.)

Here are a few things you might need to know about me:

  1. I teach yoga.
  2. I dislike vegetables.
  3. ‘I don’t like cooking’ is such a weak phrase, I’m going to try that again—I hate cooking.

As a yoga teacher, people often assume that I love nuts and seeds and binge on berries and pomegranate, all the while sitting cross-legged. While I can certainly eat cross-legged, I can’t eat nuts and seeds, since they irritate my IBS and cause all sorts of debilitating intestinal distress, and I really don’t like pomegranates. I love berries, though. You have me there.

The truth of the matter is, I eat like I did growing up. My mother wasn’t a fan of cooking either, and I often lucked out at super time with delicacies like Kraft Dinner and Chef Boyardee. To me, that was fine dining (and way better than the stews and pot roasts my brother and I would occasionally have to endure.) Dinner was often served with canned or frozen peas and/or corn and mashed potatoes. I really hate peas. Even more than I hate cooking.

With such a varied diet, I never developed a taste for vegetables. At all. Couldn’t stand them. I even went to a hypnotist to try and convince myself I liked vegetables. I didn’t work. What did work was a concerted effort to add these foreign substances to my plate, bit by bitter bit. Several years and many failed attempts later, I can now tolerate Caesar salad, garden salad with balsamic and olive oil (this garden salad btw is just lettuce, nothing else, all right, maybe a shredded carrot ribbon or two, but no other weird crunchy substances.) I can abide mushrooms on my pizza, maybe even adding a roasted red pepper or two, or sundried tomatoes with spinach. I’ve even developed a fondness for onions, though only the Vidalia sweet ones. Regular onions continue to haunt me long after I’ve eaten them.

I love potatoes: mashed with garlic, baked with butter, scalloped with cheese, roasted with oil and herbs. I even enjoy sweet potatoes roasted or julienned for French fries. Of course, a nice chipotle mayonnaise dip is a lovely addition too.

Due to my lack of vegetables, I’m happy to fill the void with carbs and sweets. I love cakes, pies, cookies, tarts, ice cream, turnovers, cupcakes, fudge, brownies, chocolate, candy … am I missing anything?

Are you perhaps sensing a theme? I eat like crap. I’ve known for years that my bad eating habits would one day catch up with me, and I knew I had to do something about it. So, I decided to embark on a quest.

I wanted simple eating, cooked simply.

I gobbled up lots of information on the Mediterranean diet, but there were so many recipes that involved nuts, seeds and fish, I couldn’t do it. Oh, did I forget to mention, I dislike fish as well? 🙂

All my research and internet poking and prodding brought me to Lisa Leake and her book: 100 Days of Real Food. Lisa’s book is all about eliminating refined sugars, grains, and cooking oils and focusing on foods that contain a maximum of five ingredients (the number of ingredients are actually flexible, but they should be things you can pronounce and elements you would use in your own kitchen.) This seemed reasonable.

Armed with the book, my husband and I headed to the Whole Foods Market (a thirty minute drive from our house) and bought whole wheat pastas, organic vegetables and fruits, healthy spaghetti sauce, natural white cheeses and whole wheat flour. We even drove thirty minutes in the opposite direction to visit a mill to pick up organic whole wheat pastry flour.

With our cornucopia of plenty, we enlightened our children as to our new diet and met an explosion of discord. They would not give up their granola bars or their chocolate chip cookies. This diet was grounds for mutiny. Things seemed pretty shaky.

After listening to their grievances and realizing the amount of work involved to bake cookies and granola bars to appease their adamant taste buds—all the while juggling a wholesome dinner, oh, yeah and a life outside the kitchen—I decided a compromise was in order.

I loved Lisa’s message. I wanted on that bandwagon, but my family was ready to throw mama from the train. Here’s what we came up with:

  1. When I baked, I would use whole grains (see the gingerbread recipe below.)
  2. I would try and use the bread machine I bought several years ago. Using only whole grains, I was determined to find something that didn’t taste like cardboard.
  3. I would try and cook at least two real, honest-to-goodness nutritious meals a week.
  4. I would blare my music and drink wine while I cooked. Lots and lots of wine.
  5. My kids would eat the strange new food stuffs I was slaving over … for hours … creating a kitchen masterpiece of sauce splashes, scattered diced vegetables, discarded measuring cups and spoons, stockpiled pots and pans, and a smattering of waste products worthy of Jackson Pollock.
  6. My kids could keep one favourite refined, highly-processed treat.
  7. We would try and fill our plates at least ½ full of fruits or vegetables.
  8. I would enjoy more wine. J

This week, I made almond ‘sugar’ cookies and gingerbread cookies The gingerbread being a bigger hit than the almond ‘sugar’ cookies. With all the strange and new ingredients in the ‘sugar’ cookies, I knew they’d sense something was amiss.

From Lisa’s book, I’ve made Spaghetti and Meatballs, and Quinoa stuffed peppers and you know what? My kids survived. They complained. They wondered what was inside the meatballs: “Is this real meat?” possibly referring to my stint at becoming a vegetarian and only eating tofu. I honestly did try. I survived on tofu nuggets and fruit smoothies.

The concepts in Lisa’s book are not foreign to me. Reducing our consumption of refined, highly-processed foods, eliminating toxins and foods filled with antibodies, hormones, pesticides, and fungicides are things we should all be striving toward. Making time to sit down with our families, enjoying the satisfaction that comes from a meal cooked with love (yes, blood, sweat, and tears too) is a quarry worth pursuing. I can’t say for certain how this scheme is going to end, but this week anyway, I’m determined to give it my all.

So by now, you might be wondering how this affects you. Here’s another C word “Christmas.” In tandem with this festive season comes lofty expectations and constant stressors. Part of that equation might involve cooking for family and friends. For instance, I’m cooking a turkey (truly my nemesis) but I’ve learned that by compromising, by accepting my limitations and not sweating the small stuff, I can make it through this ordeal relatively unscathed.

Turkey is a lot of work, but fortunately, I’ve learned my lesson and my expectations are low. My side dishes will not be ready at the same time as the main event, and the entire process will be long and involved … but I’m not stressing about it. Whatever will be will be. The same with my real-food cooking experiment. Our family met in the middle. I realized cooking for hours every day was going to be impossible and would set up unrealistic expectations that would add a ridiculous amount of stress to my life—something I strive to eliminate and reduce at all costs.

The house doesn’t have to be perfect, nor does the main course and trimmings. Things may not look like what we had in our minds, and often that’s a good thing. We are, many of us, perfectionists by nature and very hard on ourselves when things don’t turn out the way we expected. Lose the image and be happy with whatever manifests. Let go of expectations and the pursuit of perfection. Be flawed. Accept that. Revel in that.

In the grand scheme of things, life is short. Worrying about minor details is trivial and wasted time and energy. Enjoy being with the ones you love and let go of the end result. Living a passionate life is all about going with the flow and loving the moment. Have fun with it. See where things take you.

Remember when you were young? When you used to ride your bicycle down a big hill and you closed your eyes and lifted your hands from the handle bars. Remember the feel of the wind on your face, the sound of the air whooshing past your ears, the sense of freedom, of invincibility, that anything was possible. Life’s meant to feel like that—wondrous, thrilling, exciting, and fun. Find a way to let go of the handle bars. Loosen your grip. Close your eyes and fly.

Who knows where your passionate life will lead you. 🙂 xo

In gratitude,