I S S U E # 24 • S P R I N G 2 0 14 • G T W Y . C A
THE GATEWAY MAGAZINE A D I V I S I O N O F YO U r F R I E N D LY S T U D E N T N E W S PA P E R AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F A L B E R TA
Good Life Q+A THE EXPERTS SOUND OFF LAUGH YOUR ASANA OFF
Tim Caulfield TRIES CELEBRITY ON FOR SIZE
Coming Clean ONE WOmAN’S BATTLE WITH ADDICTION
A president, a professor and a pediatrician share how their experiences have shaped their idea of the good life
16 Laugh your
Discover the role our brain and DNA play in cultivating our mood
The Good Life Playlist The soundtrack to a happy life
THREE apps to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle
Joy of Food
Tasty treats to give you a boost when you need it most
The uplifting power of laughter yoga
the GATEWAY MAGAZINE
Happiness in the Brain
s p r i ng 2 0 14 “THE GOOD LIFE”
The Path to Academic Enlightenment The impact of academia from one side of the world to another
Coming Clean The Edmonton Dream Centre’s Lerena Greig tells her story of redemption
The Happiness Survey We asked U of A students what they think the good life is, and compiled the results into a nifty infographic
Diet and Fitness in the Time of Celebrity U of A professor Timothy Caulfield dives into celebrity life for his latest novel
32 Canadian Chinatown A photographic essay following those who immigrate to Canada in search of a better life
Overcoming disabilities and doubts on The road to Sochi
38Words of Wisdom
we turn to the “experts” for a final snippet of advice 3
g 6 visit us at GTWY.CA
Published since November 21, 1910 Circulation 8,000 ISSN 0845-356X Suite 3-04 Students’ Union Building University of Alberta Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2J7
contributing staff Kate Black, Paige Gorsak, Michelle Mark, Andrea Ross, Katherine Speur
The Gateway is published by the Gateway Student Journalism Society (GSJS), a student-run, autonomous, apolitical not-for-profit organization, operated in accordance with the Societies Act of Alberta. The Gateway is proud to be a founding member of the Canadian University Press.
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contributing photographers Anthony Goertz, Sarah Stonehocker, Sean Trayner, Christina Varvis
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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Dear readers, Most people who will pick up this magazine can say they live a “good” life. With a roof over our head, food on our table, accessible healthcare and the opportunity to get an education, our basic needs are met fairly easily here in Edmonton. And yet, when we think about what makes us happiest, there’s more to it than just those basics. We often measure our lives by the amount of success we garner in other areas: the state of our family life, friendships, romances, employment, financials, spirituality and more. In Edmonton, and even Canada in general, we have the privilege of striving for more than just a “good” life, as we continually work towards achieving the best life we possibly can. In many ways, that’s what The Gateway is trying to do as well with the release of its premiere magazine, The Good Life. Not only are we striving to better ourselves as writers, editors, photographers, illustrators and designers, but we’re also trying to give our readers a different style of content in a new format. It’s hard to say what kind of impact The Good Life will have, but as most people who try a new diet, exercise regime or relationship for the first time will tell you, half the reward is in the effort. That’s certainly been the case for The Gateway throughout this process. To our knowledge, this is the first time the U of A’s official student newspaper has attempted to put together a magazine, and the learning process has been as steep as it was rewarding. We especially thank Omar Mouallem, whose consultation as the Edmonton Public Library’s previous Writer-in-Residence was invaluable to us taking our first steps with this project. Our hope is that The Good Life will set the groundwork for future Gateway magazines, and that this may eventually become an annual staple of our publishing schedule. Just as the idea of an already established newspaper starting a magazine seems simple enough in the beginning — we’ve since learned it’s definitely not — so does the premise of what makes a good life. It’s easy to spout off a quick list of what makes us happy off the top of our heads, but it’s a state of being that’s actually made up of several subtle components. With this connection in mind, using the idea of “the good life” as the theme for our first magazine seemed an obvious choice. Our writers chose to look at this multi-faceted idea in many ways, such as on page 16, where Paige Gorsak examines how the simple act of laughter, seen here in the context of laughter yoga, has the ability to turn our whole day around. Michelle Mark’s story on page 18 examines how one of our most basic qualifiers for a good life, education, can be seen in terms of giving rather than receiving. Later on, Andrea Ross’s story on an Edmontonian who’s gone from businesswoman to addict and back shows just how our priorities and values can change in our constant efforts to strive for our best life (page 23). Ultimately, whether you learn something new, take some advice or simply find entertainment in it, the purpose of The Good Life is not to tell you what a good life is; rather, it’s to hopefully show readers a way to make their life a little bit better in some small way. Sincerely,
Managing Editor, The Gateway
Fur Cure THE
Written BY Caitlin Hart Illustration by Jessica Hong
“Would you like to pet some dogs?” The eyes of stressed and tired students light up at the question, a row of dogs in tiny red capes awaiting them. For a minute, they’re able to let go of the pressure of exams, and understandably so — it’s hard to frown when you’re petting a ball of fur. Their presence on campus is due to an event called Furry Friends, which is part of the Unwind Your Mind program organized by the University of Alberta’s Dean of Students’ office, and began last year during exam season. The initiative gives students the opportunity to hang out and pet a variety of trained dogs to bring a little relaxation and a smile to their day. With students waiting an hour and a half in line last year just to spend time with the dogs, it became clear the animals were popular, and the event now takes place monthly on North Campus, Campus Saint-Jean and Augustana. “It shifts people out of a sense of being rushed or stressed or whatever it is they’re experiencing in the moment,” says Robin Everall, one of the organizers and a provost fellow in the Dean of Students office. “It’s just a shift in focus, and it gives the person a moment to breathe, smile, remember their pet at home. It’s just a different kind of reality and it makes the campus a warmer place.” True to form, frowns are virtually nonexistent around the happy pets, which are specifically trained and tested to work with crowds. Even the dog handlers sport big grins on this month’s outing, taking in the approximately 30 students swarming around the dogs. As laughter rises from crowd, they encourage students to “grab a cuddle,” and many take advantage of the invitation. “It put a huge smile on my face as soon as I saw the dogs,” student Theresa Liddell says. “I’m in grad school (and) I was told you need a pet to survive, so this is a good way to do it,” graduate student Kit Chen says. “I think morale is really down (right now). This is a way to get your love in for the day.” Visit http://www.deanofstudents.ualberta.ca for details on when the next Furry Friends event will be taking place.6 6
On Your Mind
Happiness in the Brain
Written BY ANDREW JEFFrey Illustrations by Jessica Hong
While the idea of happiness, joy and what those mean to different people can be a fuzzy concept, researchers in fields of neuroscience and psychology have long sought answers to how these positive emotions are developed in our own mind. It’s difficult to pinpoint all the complex biological functions within our bodies that influence our emotions, but researchers have found some parts of our brain and DNA that trigger them through studies in positive psychology and affective neuroscience.
in a person. This lobe can be stimulated in obvious ways such as celebrating accomplishments, doing activities you enjoy and spending time with people you love.
The Limbic System
Research in the early 1900s found that emotion is directly related to a set of brain structures called the limbic system. While they also serve a number of other functions, in this area of the brain, the hypothalamus in particular effects emotional expression and pleasure-seeking, as well as a person’s overall mood through synthesizing and releasing neurotransmitters.
Most importantly in this process is the release of several neurotransmitters to regulate our mood. Some of the most important neurotransmitters affecting our behaviour and outlook are: Dopamine regulates our emotional functions, excess levels of which can give us feelings of pleasure, arousal and reward. It’s the most vital chemical affecting our behaviour. It impacts our drive and motivation, and a lack of it can leave us feeling less care or remorse for our actions. A shortage of this neurotransmitter can also prevent us from thinking rationally or reduce our memory function, which can happen as a result of stress or a lack of sleep for instance. With the right amount of dopamine, humans are better able to see their goals, and then seek to attain them.
Left Frontal Lobe Our Genes
Researcher Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin found that the left side of our brain’s frontal lobe (the left prefrontal cortex) is more activated when we’re happy. On the opposite end, the right side is connected to feelings of sadness. So theoretically, if one can find a way to stimulate the left part of their brain, it would induce feelings of joy and happiness
A great deal of our long term happiness is found in our DNA from birth. Research out of the University of Edinburgh suggests that genes account for about 50 per cent of the variation in our levels of happiness. Aspects of one’s personality like sociability, conscientiousness and how active, stable and hardworking you are, can be passed down genetically. Researchers found people with these characteristics tended to be happier.
Norepinephrine is the most chemically similar neurotransmitter to dopamine. It travels to our bloodstream to arouse brain activity. A deficiency of this chemical can be found in people with ADHD, and low levels of it can lead to a lack of ambition and depression. Serotonin, found in our central nervous system, is linked to emotional aspects of human behaviour like controlling anxiety or depression, so it helps maintain a generally good mood.
“The Good Life”
“Good Life” was a single off of Jesse McCartney’s 2004 hit album Beautiful Soul, and has satisfied thousands of awkward junior high tweens and Disney fans. “Good Life” was written for a Disney movie called Stuck in the Suburbs, which explains some of the basic lyrics like, “You’ve got to find out what’s your pleasure.” In an unsurprisingly juvenile way, McCartney tells his listeners to simply relax and discover what they want in life, otherwise the good life might start “slippin’ away.”
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Sleep Talk Recorder $0.99 (Free for Android) Available
for iPhone, iPod, iPad and Android This app knows what you do in the dark. Whether you snore, talk in your sleep or have breathing irregularities, the Sleep Talk Recorder app doesn’t miss any of it, and records it all for you to review in the morning. The app doesn’t record all night though, using a filtered sound system to pick out abnormal sounds, which prompts the app to start logging info. The results can range from insightful — perhaps you’ll discover you have a sleep disorder — to hilarious, depending on what you talk about, and you can save both types of moments to listen to later and share with others.
Pzizz Energizer Lite $0.99 Available for iPhone, iPod,
iPad and Android When you have a big exam or work project due the next morning, oftentimes, going to bed isn’t an option. But when you’re fading fast, sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is take a quick, 20-minute power nap. Pzizz Energizer Lite lulls you into that nap with a combination of music and sound effects that last 20 minutes, the goal being to either give you a few zzzs or simply leave you refreshed if you don’t actually fall asleep. For those who have difficulty quieting their mind before bed, the app also works to help block out your day.
Kanye West We all know Kanye West is a millionaire with a comfortable lifestyle, but in typical Kanye fashion, he also needs to be incredibly vain about it. Unsurprisingly, West’s version of the good life consists of hot girls, expensive cars and hip-hop clichés like, “Have you ever popped champagne on a plane.” Still, if you look a bit deeper, the song also touches on fulfilling childhood dreams of living the good life, and living it to the fullest no matter what the haters might say.
GOOD LIFE THE
“The Good Life”
You may not remember it unless you’re an intense Weezer fan, but this alternative ‘90s gem encapsulates the privilege and freedom of youth. Throughout the song, lead singer Rivers Cuomo continuously expresses his desire to go back to being an adolescent punk — an apparently happier and more carefree part of his life. The song was released on their album Pinkerton, whose ascent As they navigate their way through life, from being one of their less popular albums to musical artists express their personal eventually climbing its way into cult status happiness and success through their art. And was pretty apropos. yet, while many of these songs share “The Good Life” as their title, each track holds its own distinct interpretation of the concept.
by katherine Speur
OneRepublic Made famous by their single “Apologize,” OneRepublic landed in the Top 40 again with “Good Life,” which finds lead singer Ryan Tedder offering listeners a look at the opportunities he’s had and places he’s travelled as a result. Tedder’s globetrotting and the pleasure he derives from that freedom are at the centre of the song: “To my friends in New York, I say hello / My friends in L.A. they don’t know where I’ve been for the past few years or so / Paris to China to Colorado.” The singer’s idea of the good life is clearly one that keeps him on the road, and he’s rightfully aware that he has little to complain about.
“The Good Life”
Tony Bennett This jazzy ballad is an ideal song to enjoy with a tall glass of chardonnay, as Tony Bennett’s masterful voice blends with the sounds of a flowing orchestra to give the melody a nostalgic and romantic texture. As his calming vocals illuminate every line, Bennett swiftly sings, “It’s the good life to be free and explore the unknown,” demonstrating his idealism through his belief in spontaneity, adventure and romantic freedom.
The Joy of Food
food for thought
Written BY PAIGE GORSAK
Everyone knows that what we eat can have a profound effect on our physical health, but some research has moved into the mental arena, examining which foods have an effect on mental health and even happiness. Here’s a list of mood-boosting snacks to consider when you need a pick-me-up.
brazil nuts popcorn Research shows that carb-rich foods, a.k.a. “comfort foods,” do actually have comforting properties: they raise serotonin levels which can lead to feelings of relaxation, while low levels of serotonin are linked to anxiety and even mood disorders. Unfortunately, foods such as fried chicken and creamy mashed potatoes carry tons of calories and can spike your cholesterol levels. Instead, choose carbs that contain dietary fibre and keep blood sugar from spiking (low-glycemic index). Hence, popcorn. Made from whole grains and considered a complex carb, these tasty kernels are digested more slowly than refined grains, staving off hunger and crankiness, but still keeping you comforted Quantity: Two cups of air-popped popcorn can allot for one serving of whole grains from the recommended six to eight servings. Recipe: Toppings like butter and salt negate the positive benefits of this low-cal snack, so consider alternative garnishes like olive oil and parmesan, chili powder and sea salt, or a handful of chocolate chips and a dash of cinnamon.
The Latin name for chocolate’s original plant is Theobroma, or “food of the Gods,” and throughout history, traces of sticky fingers reveal humankind’s love for the enigmatic flavour of cacao. Today, research is growing in support of chocolate’s healthful benefits as well. One study shows that the antioxidant properties of dark chocolate can help prevent the oxidation of bad cholesterol, protecting you from heart disease. Chocolate’s also been claimed to release the chemical substance phenylethylamine and the neurotransmitter serotonin, both of which are credited with enhancing mood and sexual drive. While the two chemicals occur naturally in the body, the addition of morsels of chocolate results in an accelerated process of mood change, elevated blood pressure and feelings of euphoria. Careful though: The efficacy of chocolate’s healthful measures come down to the percentage of cocoa in the sweet. White chocolate has few to no cocoa solids, and milk chocolate and hot chocolate mixes contain far fewer antioxidant flavonols than their dark chocolate brethren. Choose a small portion of rich, dark chocolate and enjoy the mood boost. Quantity: Choose dark chocolate rich in cacao (at least 70 per cent), but enjoy in small quantities. Even though it’s healthy in many ways, chocolate remains high in sugar and fat. Then, enjoy the mood boost and potential sexual stimulation. Recipe: Melt down your dark chocolate into a rich sauce and dip into it with strawberries for an antioxidant double whammy.
These South American tree nuts are one of the richest sources for dietary selenium, and thereby have many healthy properties. A trace mineral, selenium is critical to the body’s antioxidant system and the production of thyroid hormones. But studies also show that a low selenium intake is associated with having a poorer mood. While research can’t presently explain the reasons for selenium deficiency causing depressing moods, a few of these nuts can give you a selenium boost and most likely a mood enhancement. Careful though: As a trace element, we don’t need very much selenium to meet the recommended dietary allowance. Luckily, food sources of selenium won’t result in toxicity, but taking dietary supplements can have adverse side effects. Stick with natural sources such as brazil nuts, turkey and tuna for the best mood-boosting and health benefits. Quantity: Just a handful of these (six to eight nuts) will contain multiple times the daily recommendation for selenium. Recipe: Try chopping them over your salad at lunch time, or making them into a yummy energy-boosting trail mix with mixed nuts and raisins for sweetness.
These tinned fish are chock-full of many important mood boosters and healthy compounds. First, they’re high in vitamin D, which is especially important for northerners like us who don’t get enough direct ultraviolet rays during winter months to produce sufficient amounts of this vitamin. Tuna also has elevated concentrations of the amino acid tryptophan, which is the precursor for serotonin production. Studies link low levels of serotonin (through tryptophan depletion) to negative mood effects. Lastly, the fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which studies have linked to decreased depressive symptoms when consumed longer term. Quantity: Just 3 oz. or 90 g. of canned salmon or tuna will fulfill vitamin D requirements, while two such servings are recommended weekly for adults to get their omega-3s. Moodboosting tryptophan is contained in each bite. Recipe: Tuna and other fatty fish are great whether they’re baked, broiled or grilled. Try it alongside seasonal vegetables and whole grains like brown rice or pasta.
We spoke with three influential people about what it means to live the good life
Compiled by Kate Black Photos by Sean Trayner, Christina Varvis and Kevin Schenk
U of A Students’ union president GW: What does it mean to live the good life? PK: The good life is a happy life. I mean, I’m not entirely sure how I would define the good life, but I think one of the things that makes one have the good life is just learning how to deal with and overcome failure. So I don’t know what essentially is involved in living a good life, but part of it is learning how to overcome failure and adapt and move forward. GW: How has your occupation influenced your take on the good life? PK: It’s made me learn a lot about myself. If anyone wants to pursue a good life, they have to recognize their own ignorance and recognize their own flaws and be very understanding. Beyond that self-reflection, someone
needs to be very empathetic — you have to have a human understanding of who people are and where they’re coming from. So I think self-reflection and empathy are two things I’ve learned from ( being) SU President, and I think those are some of the traits needed in having a good life. GW: What was your happiest moment? PK: I can’t think of the happiest moment, but one of the happiest moments that I can remember for myself was elections night, to be honest. It’s a really, really rough night and it’s hard to run against your own friends. No one really likes the idea of having to out-debate your friend on a stage. But that moment was really fun, like these students gave me the privilege to represent them. You’ll get a job, for instance,
and the board of directors hires you, maybe like 12 people. But to get elected to something is huge. It means a lot because a lot of people are entrusting you. That’s really meaningful to me. GW: What would you tell someone if they asked you how to be happy? PK: I would say, first again, put yourself in a really uncomfortable and challenging situation and see how you act. And I think doing things like that provides students with those opportunities of selfreflection and opportunities to be empathetic. If you want to live a good life, don’t necessarily buy a one-way ticket to Las Vegas, but essentially put yourself in a challenging situation that makes you learn more about yourself and others. At the end of the day, though it might be difficult, that’s how you’re going to live the good life in the long run.
Associate Professor, U of A’s Department of Political Science GW: How would you define the good life? DC: I think it’s fundamentally a life that is active, where the activities use what’s best in us, where those abilities are educated. So that would involve a great deal of reflection and awareness, and also where it involves substantial elements of friendship or love and also health. GW: How does your career influence how you see the good life? DC: The two most fulfilling things in my life are my work and my wife. I didn’t expect either of them and I didn’t merit either of them. Straight up, I came here 44 years ago to work with a guy and I expected that I would write books and be a research philosopher. And over time, I found that I got my best ideas and my best energies from teaching with students at all levels. That’s something I never, ever, ever would have known. So, I was lucky. One other thing that involves being lucky about it is that I think most people
think about life or fulfillment or happiness as some sort of package, like success. And absolutely, it is by teaching texts that think about these things to students who think about these things that has led me away from thinking about that “package,” or the good life, but more in terms of thinking about mindfulness and the depth of things that are going on. GW: What was your happiest moment? DC: I could tell you, in one sense, that my happiest moment was the moment of most intense, absorbing pleasure, like sex. But sometimes very painful things have happened to me. One day, I was meditating, and I realized for the third day in a row I was not getting anywhere. It’s as if I was angry or afraid of something, but not aware that I was angry or afraid of something. Three days before, I got cataract surgery. I was afraid about what was going to happen in the surgery, except the surgery had already happened, and everything had gone well. Three days later,
the surgery’s all over, but I’m still worried because I boxed all that stuff up before the surgery. That’s not like getting the Nobel Prize or having your wife agree to marry you, but holy crap, those are wonderful things in life. The best things in your life aren’t things that you notice. GW: What would you tell someone if they asked you how to be happy? DC: I wish more university students spent more time arguing about this over beers. I think it’s the most important question you could ask. But I don’t think what I would say matters. You’re going to do what you’re going to do. Shit’s going to happen. But also wonderful, unexpected things are going to happen. Just slow up and don’t be in a hurry. And that implies don’t buy all the goddamn garbage that society is shoving at you, like big incomes, handsome face... I don’t know, all that garbage is vile and disgusting. But it doesn’t feel vile and disgusting when you’re busy doing stuff. Slow up a little bit and other things matter more.
Sarah Forgie pediatric infectious diseaseS physician and associate professor in the U of A’s Department of Pediatrics GW: What does it mean to live the good life? SF: For me, the good life is having lots of different aspects where you can find contentment and fulfillment in your life. It’s not just work and not just one thing. So I feel happiness and contentment when I feel like a good life. I live in a country where I have a lot of freedom. I feel very privileged to live in Canada. Most of my basic needs are met here. I have a wonderful family, a great husband and wonderful children who are healthy. I have a really interesting job that keeps me thinking all the time. GW: How has your occupation influenced your take on the good life? SF: There’s lots of different aspects to my profession. There is never a dull moment. With my teaching, which is one of my favourite things about my job, I love working with learners and then seeing that lightbulb moment. With my clinical work that I do, I
am constantly inspired by the children that I see. I think it’s the resilience that they have. If I’m having a bad day, I’ll go up to the wards and play with the child and it just makes it all melt away, and then I just think, ‘You know what? My life is pretty darn good.’ I’m so lucky to have my health and my children’s health and my husband’s health. When I see a child who’s going through a treatment that may be painful and yet they’re so resilient and they still want to play with you, I find that really inspiring. GW: What was your happiest moment? SF: There’s lots, like in my personal life, when I got married, the birth of all my children and days where I’ve watched my children accomplish something and I just want to cry. I think to appreciate that, you have to have some sad moments as well. You have to overcome challenges to really appreciate those happy moments. I think if it was all easy and
all happy all the time, it wouldn’t be good. Labour and delivery was not easy [laughs]. GW: What would you tell someone if they asked you how to be happy? SF: I’ve actually done some of my own research in the area and looking into how different people talk about happiness and it’s not like you’re always frolicking through the fields and everything and happy, but I think it’s a feeling of contentment. I looked back at some philosophers like Aristotle, who had this concept called eudaimonia. And what he said (is) that within all of us, there’s a perfect version of us. We have to strive to become that. It’s different for every person — you have to realize what that perfect version of you is and then strive to become that in all aspects of your life. And when you’re striving, you feel contentment. That’s how I would define happiness — trying to be the best you can be in all aspects of your life.”
Laugh Your Asana Off Written BY PAIGE GORSAK â&#x20AC;˘ ILLUSTRATIONS BY JESSICA HONG
local laughter yoga chapter combines the stress-relieving power of laughter with meditation 16
Try to imagine a group of people in a room together, rolling on the floor, sides stitched in laughter; Who do you picture? For most, it'd be children — carefree and spirited, a mental image of kids giggling endlessly at the smallest stimulus isn’t hard to conjure. Instead, the group that meets in the Kiva room at the University of Alberta's Education building on the first Wednesday of each month is a grab bag of personalities: students with massive book bags, professors in tweed jackets, university support staff on a quick lunch break, seniors from the community. In this space, as they lie in a circle on
the floor with tears of mirth streaming down their cheeks, the external markers of age or stress they carried in with them are somehow absent, replaced with shaking laughter and faces alight with genuine smiles. This is laughter yoga. The phenomenon began with a medical doctor in India in 1995 when Dr. Madan Kataria and five other people gathered in Mumbai in a public park to laugh together, seeking the benefits of the exercise. While the method for stimulating laughter has been tweaked since that day— moving from jokes and funny stories to simply active laughter — the culture of laughter yoga has caught hold and spread. Today, it’s practiced in more than 72 countries, with Edmonton’s local campus chapter started by University of Alberta professor Billy Strean. Formerly with the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation and currently operating from the Faculty of Extension, Strean seems to fit the bill for a chuckleinducing leader: keen blue eyes, an affable personality and a goofy streak that alights when he bursts into gales of laughter on cue. His journey towards the explicit inclusion of laughter and play into his work as a professor and speaker began when he first attended a laughter seminar in the early 2000s. “I went to this annual conference and someone I met, when I was talking about stuff I want to do, said, ‘You should become a certified laughter teacher,’ ” he explains, miming his own confusion and the man’s response: to do a ‘cellphone laugh,’ holding his hand up to his ear like a cellphone and burst in loud, strange laughter. “I was like, 'Ha-Ha, okay. That must be nice for you, I've got an appointment back on planet earth,' " Strean recalls
with a chuckle. But that appointment was put on hold when Strean decided to trust his acquaintance and give goofiness a chance. He attended training to become a laughter yoga teacher, recognizing that the joy that arises when you're laughing is contagious and enlivening. “(Training) was like one of these openings, and it was great; you get a bunch of people together and they laugh. There are so many things about it that fit with (my work). I love fundamentally to see people alive,” he says. “I think that most people walk around suppressed and sort of half-dead.”
The fundamentals of laughter yoga build upon research findings that the body can’t differentiate between fake and real laughter. Whether you’re compelling a giggle with a silly gesture like the cellphone laugh or busting a gut at a comedy show, you get the same physiological and psychological benefits. To the skeptics, Strean just quotes William James, an early psychologist who said, “We don't laugh because we're happy, we're happy because we laugh.” “I think it's bi-directional, but when you laugh as an exercise, through a self-generated laugh, you tend to feel a little bit happier,” he says. “It's a natural stress reliever. Studies show these various, mild benefits to all sorts of aspects of health. Almost every illness is stress-related, (and) this reduces stress — it's sort of an all proven thing.”
Research has linked laughter to lowered blood pressure, lowered levels of stress hormones like epinephrine and cortisol, and a happier mood as people embrace positive attitudes. Knowing these facts and feeling the benefits for himself was enough for Strean. Since that first convention in 2002, laughter techniques have seeped into every aspect of his life: from the campus club he started to his classrooms at the University of Alberta to workshops and keynote speeches that he’s given, and even into his marriage and home life. His wife Paula was certified shortly after him, and occasionally hosts the campus club’s meetings. After reading on a book sleeve about a humour researcher that kept track of every session and every person who took part in his yoga, Strean decided to do the same. Counting the class he’d taught earlier in the day we spoke, he’d completed more than 480 sessions and laughed with more than 28,000 people.
“It’s a great way for people to pretty quickly connect with other people, to lighten up,” he says with a shrug and a smile, before turning to a more serious note: “After a group of people have laughed together, you can have a conversation — about wonder, flexibility, kindness, compassion, gratitude, forgiveness, joy. “(A conversation) we probably weren't going to have, that people aren't as open to when you've just walked in the door and started talking.” 6
The Path to Academic Enlightenment Written by Michelle Mark Illustrations by Jessica Hong
Azalea Lehndorff still remembers the drawing an Afghan child made for her when she visited the northern province of Sheberghan. It featured a single dove holding a pen, and Lehndorff says sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll always wonder how the child, at that age, could already be so conscious of the connection between peace and education.
The children Lehndorff met in Afghanistan had faced not only poverty, but societal and familial barriers to attending school. It was in the classrooms she helped build that the students found comfort, enlightenment and ambition for their futures — for Lehndorff, that was fulfilment enough. The rewards of education came from giving, as much as receiving it. Lehndorff has been building schools in Afghanistan since 2010, under the 100 Classrooms project for the Alberta-based organization A Better World. The project recently opened its fourth school, which Lehndorff says equates to nearly 50 of the targeted amount of 100 classrooms. In total, the four schools hold a total of approximately 10,000 students. A graduate student at the University of Alberta’s School of Public Health, Lehndorff says education can be the pivotal factor in creating a quality, fulfilled life. “Beyond basic knowledge, I think it changes how you view the world and how you do things. Your perspective changes, and so how you think changes. So I think that new perspective and that new way of thinking can make you a happier person, for sure,” she says. “I don’t want to exclude people who don’t have that education by just saying, ‘Oh yeah, we’re just happier and we’re better,’ and things like that, but it makes things possible too that would never be possible without the education.” It’s a struggle Lehndorff is only too familiar with. As a child, she says, she didn’t value education until her parents forbade her from attending school. When she escaped her home on a Greyhound bus taking her to a boarding school, she knew she had made the
right move. “I don’t think I really took education for granted because I thought that it was being pulled away from me for a long time,” she says. “Knowing that, I felt I wanted to fight for this and I want to be thankful for the opportunity. And even when it’s hard or boring, or whatever, I’m going to stick with it because I know it’s worth it.” But the community schools in rural Afghanistan are a far cry from the institution Lehndorff calls home. The University of Alberta boasts the types of classrooms, facilities and teachers the Afghan children Lehndorff met can only dream of one day using, and she hopes that one day they will. Still, education at the U of A is anything but perfect. Some say the art of teaching often isn’t as simple as piling students into a classroom and flinging information at them, and many believe post-secondary institutions such as the U of A are in serious need of a pedagogical overhaul. Don Carmichael is a political philosophy professor at the U of A who has been teaching for 44 years, and
says the system desperately needs to change. Carmichael often teaches courses on the history of political thought, particularly the works of Plato and Aristotle. At the ceremony for one of his many teaching awards, his speech was simply, “I want to thank my teachers for getting me there. And I see my life as paying it forward.” He repeats the mantra every day. “The university has changed dramatically in the time that I’ve been here. The single way it has changed the most, I would say, is that people in it — staff at all levels and students — are too busy to think,” Carmichael says. “The university has become a very intellectualized, but unreflective place. “So if the question is, ‘Are we doing it right?’ The answer, sadly, is, ‘Don’t be fucking ridiculous.’ ” Carmichael believes the outdated lecture-based teaching model was useful before the invention of the printing press, when books were rare commodities. But nowadays, holding lectures that provide students with the same information they could just as easily read in a textbook is not only ineffective, but wasteful. It’s a perspective that perhaps
explains why Carmichael has racked up so many teaching awards throughout his tenure as a professor. He advocates for a more discussion-based form of teaching, where instructors listen to students and ask them questions, rather than vice versa. “I don’t know how students stay awake in lectures. When I do lecture courses, I am careful with jokes and pace and oddball things, just because it’s boring as hell,” he says. “You know what it means to say a lecture is boring? It’s to say that your most important intellectual faculties are being put to sleep. How can that be education?” Putting aside the differences between the needs of the students who walk into Carmichael’s classroom year after year, and the needs of those who are first stepping through the brand new doors of Lehndorff’s schools in Afghanistan, there’s one conviction every student can subscribe to: education, from the most fundamental literacy skills to the highest level of political thought, is paramount to a good life. But, is education a right? “That’s way too mild a way to talk about it,” Carmichael says. “It’s the most important thing in life.” 6
Clean A womanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s journey from addiction to redemption
written By Andrea Ross Photos By Kevin SCHENK
Lerena Greig was living in a crack house when she realized she was going to die if she didn’t get help. Only six years prior, she was a successful businesswoman making a six-figure salary in sales at a high-end Edmonton print shop. She bought her own house around the age of 35, got a new car every two years and loved golfing. “I really was what they would (call) ‘living the good life,’ ” she says. “I really had acquired the version of success that the world tends to kind of look at.” Greig lived for Friday evening happy hour with her friends. She worked tirelessly during the week to justify her partying on the weekends. The overindulgent lifestyle led her to try crack cocaine. She was hooked the third time she tried it. 24
Greig left home at the age of 16, following in the footsteps of her two older sisters who left by the time they were 13 years old. Her father was an alcoholic, and Greig saw no other way of escaping what she refers to as “borderline” verbal, emotional, mental and physical abuse. “I just thought that out there had to be better than at home … (I was) just really wanting to get out,” she says. “Thinking that I could do it better on my own than I could with the support of a family, and not realizing that that was kind of not true.” She started working right away, lying about her age to work in high-end dining lounges in Edmonton — an exciting atmosphere compared to the sleepy northern Alberta town she was from. She got by on her charismatic personality and the strong work ethic she learned from her parents, who owned a printing business. She began drinking and partying, but says she was “fairly clean” at the time. Success came quickly when she found work at one of the largest sheet-fed printers in Edmonton. Being the only woman on the sales team for 10 years had battles of its own, but she had a way of gaining her clients’ trust. Her natural ability to foster professional relationships meant the company entrusted her with large accounts and important clients. “It was a tough industry, (but) there seemed to be a lot of faith in how I did it. In that type of business, you’re manufacturing something for people, so it really is about being truthful in the situation,” she says. “(But) if I could say that I was putting on the right face in the business world, my personal life was a mess.”
She met a man who eventually moved in with her, and they had an intense chemistry — he looked great on her arm, she recalls. But he worked in labour and wasn’t as financially successful as her. He was also an alcoholic. Being exposed to drugs and addiction wasn’t new for Greig, but escaping wasn’t as simple as
running away this time. “Through that addiction lifestyle, it just led me to the next phase and I got introduced to crack cocaine.” Greig was 37 years old, and it only took her six years to lose everything she had worked so hard for. “I thought it was a street drug, I thought only people on the street did it,” she says. “There are so many myths about it all. Addiction doesn’t discriminate — it doesn’t discriminate against ethnicity, age, class, anything.” At first, the drug made her boyfriend and job seem more manageable, but her life began to unravel as the addiction took hold. By the time she worked her way through her savings, she was funding her crack habit with payday loans. Her addiction persisted despite attempts at some short-term government rehab programs, and she eventually lost her job of 14 years. “Once somebody has progressed into addiction, it’s not normally a quick fix to get out of it,” she says. “I like to say I was financially, emotionally and spiritually bankrupt,” she said. “Broke, busted and disgusted…. but still in the midst of my addiction, so even though I declared bankruptcy, that wasn’t my rock bottom yet.”
Greig reached a point where she was using crack every day, and realized she could end up on the street or die if she didn’t seek help. The woman with the hollow eyes and sunken cheeks wasn’t who she was meant to be. “It’s that moment, that crack of clarity in your delusional thinking,” she says. “I was in delusional thinking, so I had to have a moment of clarity just to crack. That was able to show me that I needed help.” Her parents picked her up from the crack house she was living in and took her to The Edmonton Dream Centre, a residential and faith-based addiction recovery program aimed at healing women and setting them up them for long-term recovery. It began as a branch of the Inner City Mission in 1998, and has developed into
a valuable resource for at-risk women after relocating into an apartment complex away from the temptations of the inner city. The centre offers classes including 12-step, relapse prevention, anger management, denial management, spiritual development, cognitive behavioural and financial responsibility and budgeting. The classes are meant to establish a sense of self-awareness in the women and the confidence to create a healthy lifestyle for their future. Each woman that arrives is given her own room, but a community atmosphere is established early on as they settle into a routine of cooking, learning and living together. The live-in program required a minimum commitment of six months, but Greig knew she needed to stay there for a year. The classes she took started to change her behaviour and way of thinking. She had always thought hard work and success was the key to happiness, but through her treatment she realized that wasn’t the case. Happiness wasn’t about what she did, but who she was. “It’s like we run on batteries, and your battery goes completely dead and you have to take it out and totally recharge it before you can
put it back in,” she explains. “That’s really what you’re doing; you’re taking all your perceptions and your thinking and your community — because by then you have nothing but an unhealthy community — and you have to totally change it.” Her passion for the organization has made her a drastically different woman seven years later. After completing the program and working her way out of addiction, she started volunteering for the centre and now works as their Public Relations and Resource Director. She even completed a stint as Acting CEO for several months last year before returning to her current position. March 2014 marks her eighth year of sobriety. “Failure can bring you into your true identity, your true realization of your next goal,” she said. “I’ve come to realize that people have to have hope to feel valued. We need to celebrate a little bit of our messes because in our messes we can learn some pretty big life lessons.” She’s planning to write a book about her experience with addiction, raising awareness of substance abuse and recovery. Today, Greig is one of more than 400 women coming from a history
of addiction, abuse or prostitution that have been assisted by The Edmonton Dream Centre. The program now accepts women with children, but the registered charity is struggling to accommodate the demand for housing from women in the city. They currently receive around 40 calls per month from women seeking help or looking to enter the program. Every woman is valued, Greig says, and there are people that want to help and guide them through the more difficult times of their lives. “I think that I’d like to see us as a community be more interconnected with each other than focused on self. We all have value, we all have gifts and talents.” Greig’s past as an addict means she understands the hopelessness and loss that comes with addiction, and her warm personality helps her connect with each woman that passes through their door. Her official role is to educate the public about the centre, but she will always be there to help women find a way out of the darkness of addiction.
Sun is spilling through the window of the small room Greig lived in
for a year when she came to the centre. She’s sitting on the double bed, her freshly painted red lips revealing a radiant smile as she poses for her photograph. The room is modestly furnished with a night table, wardrobe, mirror and dresser. There’s a cross on the wall, embossed with the bible verses from John 3:16. Many women come with hardly anything, Greig says, just the clothes on their back. A box of cranberry scented bath products waits on the dresser for the next woman to come. She will arrive soon. The tidy room hasn’t changed much since Greig inhabited it, but the biggest changes are often the ones you can’t see. “I think there’s so much wisdom and knowledge in what my last seven years’ path has been … I always say that I’ve gone from bar hopping to now church and business hopping,” she says with a laugh. One thing that will remain is the sign on the door. Each room is named after a woman from the bible, and this room is called “Esther.” Greig beams with pride as she proudly explains the meaning of the name. “Esther was a queen who saved her people from destruction.” 6
ON THE PREVIOUS PAGE: Lerena Greig sits in the room she stayed in when she was a resident at The Edmonton Dream Centre. ABOVE: A glimpse inside the Edmonton Dream Centre, where Greig now works. 25
From Vancouver to Sochi, Paraalpine skier Kirk Schornstein strives for gold Written by Mergim Bina kaj
Photo by Alpine Canada/
Canadian para-alpine skier 1993, but his birth came with other adults and even family Kirk Schornstein knows the inspiration. That’s what makes some complications. He was members who, because of power of a simple email. me love this sport.” diagnosed with a brachial the stigma surrounding the A mere two years after Schornstein will be racing plexus injury, and although disabled, had a difficult time switching from the ablein the Paralympics in Sochi, Schornstein eventually understanding how he could bodied to the para-alpine Russia this March in all five survived the traumatizing ever achieve his dreams of skiing circuit, he had been alpine-skiing events, and ordeal, the nerves that conskiing competitively. 16 years invited by the Canadian insists he can finish on the potrolled his right-arm didn’t. of unimaginable adversity national team to join them dium in all of them. He admits The injury resulted in a had grown into a massive for their 2009-10 para-alpine the competition level is high condition called Erb’s palsy, chip on Schornstein’s shoulski season. After missing out and the nerves can get to him which caused paralysis to his der, and he used the doubts on qualifying for the 2010 at times, but his reliance on his right arm. The injury someof his critics as fuel going Vancouver Winter Olympics unforgiving work ethic and the times resolves itself within forward. by two tenths of a second, the added luxury of time makes a few months, though in "I had a lot of family then 16-year-old was tapped Schornstein a favourite at the Schornstein’s circumstance, members who said that I by Alpine Canada to take Games this year. Along with it didn’t. will never be successful," over when one of their qualiSochi, Schornstein intends to Despite Schornstein’s Schornstein concedes. "When parti fied skiers withdrew from the unfo cipate in the IPC World rtunate setback from the you don’ t get family support, Games due to an injury. Championship in Canada in get-go, a strong and supportfriend support or even school “Three and a half weeks 2015, and hopes to get another ive family meant approachsupport, it’s a tough challenge before the Games in Vancrack at the Paralympics in ing the now 20 year-old's to push through. But, the couver, I got an email from 2018 in South Korea. condition a bit differently. people that are closest to you the program director saying, But those aren’t his only Rather than sheltering him really stick with you, and that’s 'Congratulations, you are plans; rivaling his passion for from the world — a knee-jerk what meant the most." going to the Paralympic skiing, the idea of attending reaction for some parents It was enough to get him games,' " Schornstein recalls. university has been a constant with disabled children — to the Olympics, an experi"Let me tell you, in three and thought in Schornstein’s Schornstein’s parents instead ence that, despite it’s inherent half weeks, you don’t have mind. After initially considerchallenged him to tackle disappointment in terms time to prepare. You don’t ing the University of British anything he wished, which of results, is one of his most have the mentality to prepare even Columbia, Schornstein is now tually led him to start cherished memories to date. like the other athletes had all but settled on attending the skiing at the age of two. He The omnipresent sight of for four years. I was very University of Alberta as soon competed against able-bodflashing cameras, Canadian overwhelmed... I went to the as he can. ied racers until the age of 14, flags and Paralympic symbols Games more for the experi“I don’t know how long it when he took up racing in the in the crowds overwhelmed ence than for the results.” is going to be until I’m here,” para-skiing circuit, garnering Schornstein at the time, Achieving three top he admits, still needing to do several podium finishes in and four years later, he still 30 finishes in Vancouver, some upgrading after missing the process. remembers what it was like on Schornstein’s first Paralymschool for skiing. “When I looked at myself, top of one of the hills at his first pic campaign didn’t garner “I want to get into comI didn’t see myself as disabled slalo m event. the results he was hoping for puter science. I’m not sure in comparison to a lot of “It was on the weekend — and yet, few, if any, were if I want to be a programdisabled people, so I could so the hill was covered with left questioning whether he mer or an IT yet, but I am never say I had a reason to people. When you’d go in the had the heart of a Paralyma computer nerd … That’s not do something, because gate, and (the announcers) pian. Expecting Schornstein what I love too. After skiing, I was always told to do it,” said your name, you would to finish in the top with little I’m definitely going to get Schornstein says. hear this ‘HHHAAAAAAAA,’ technical preparation was enrolled for that.” “With the inspiration of and it just hits you. These unrealistic, but expecting Schornstein’s computer my mother helping me, and people are cheering for me, him to be a walking embodiexperience is largely a conmy father, I always just kept right now. And it’s not like ment of power, perseverance, on fight sequence of the enormous ing, and I ended up hockey, it’s not like curling. It’s endurance and faith — skills amounts of computer work where I am today.” you. There’s 10,000 eyes on crucial to the intenselyhe assisted his father with But while his time on the you,” he exclaims. competitive environment over the years. Whether it slopes had its challenges, life “That is what I love about of disabled athletics — was a was hobby or chore, Schornoff the slopes was just as diffi- my sport. I go fast, I show what no-brainer. stein’s parents never made cult when he was growing up. I’m capable of, and that’s what Schornstein was born excuses for him — and 20 He often encountered negaI did to get there. And that’s in Edmonton on March 19, years later, their son hasn’t tive reactions from his peers, my inspiration. Canada is my started either.
Diet and Fitness in the Time of Celebrity
With one bestseller to his name already and another (hopefully) on the way, Timothy Caulfield offers suggestions for three other books on the subject of happiness that people should try.
TIMOTHY CAULFIELD GETS INTO HOLLYWOOD’S HEAD
Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert
Written by Alana Willerton • Photo by Christina Varvis
Being a celebrity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Just ask Timothy Caulfield. The University of Alberta professor, who teaches in the Faculty of Law and School of Public Health, has spent the last several months trying to live like one, all in the name of research. He tried Gwyneth Paltrow’s infamous cleanse diet, joined a modeling agency and even auditioned for American Idol — all of which shaped his new, untitled novel out later this year, which examines how celebrity culture influences our ideas of beauty, health and fitness. Combining his experiences with empirical evidence for the book, Caulfield was looking for the answer to one important question: Does being rich, famous and good looking really make you happy? “The answer’s no. I mean, look at Justin Bieber for god’s sake,” Caulfield says with a laugh. And yet, for those who haven’t experienced a taste of celebrity life, it takes a lot to be convinced of that. Caulfield says celebrity culture has a significant, subconscious impact on us all, and that most of the lines the industry
is feeding us — that our goal should be to look like celebrities and that dieting is the way to get there — are inherently false. If anything, he says, it’ll make you less happy. “I went on Gwyneth’s diet, and there’s just no way that any human being, unless you’re Gwyneth Paltrow, can maintain this thing for any length of time. It’s ridiculous,” he says, shaking his head. “Now, hers was a cleanse, so it wasn’t really supposed (to be a full diet), but it’s just ridiculous.” Ridiculous as it may be, the physiques of celebrities like Paltrow are often motivation enough for most to start exercising or dieting. The desire to lose weight for the aesthetics rather than the health benefits is one Caulfield started exploring in his first novel, the 2012 bestseller The Cure for Everything: Untangling the Twisted Messages About Health, Fitness and Happiness, and that he’s now expanding on. Caulfield says attempting to live up to the high standards of celebrities is an almost impossible feat for most people, and that using them as motivation for exercising or dieting can ultimately do more harm than good.
“When people diet and exercise for those reasons, their motivation can fall apart because they don’t get the changes that they hoped for. They might get a little bit short term, and then it kind of disintegrates, and then their motivation disintegrates also. So that is problematic,” he explains. Caulfield warns that the kind of diets associated with the aesthetics of celebrities, such as crash or fad diets, are “the exact wrong kind of diets that people should be going on.” Instead, he suggests that the best way to achieve a happy, healthy life is to make it a lifestyle, and one you can maintain long term. Regular exercise and better eating habits will not only make you feel better, he says, but will also give you more energy and a better sleep — a winning combination if he’s ever seen one. “If you’re just looking at the population as a whole, the research tells us that being physically active (and) eating nutritious meals can have an absolute tangible and measurable impact on your psychological wellbeing, and obviously on your physical well being,” he says. “I think it’s hard to give a percentage to it, but it’s almost a prerequisite to the good life.” 6
“Gilbert is a well-known Harvard psychologist. He breaks down much of the relevant science and provides practical advice”
Happiness: Lessons from a New Science, 2nd Edition by Richard Layard
“A professor of economics at the London School of Economics, Layard looks at the phenomenon of happiness on the level of society. He also sits on the board of the terrific Action for Happiness, which is a wonderful resource for information on this complex topic.”
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
“This is a tremendous book that provides an evidence-based analysis of all the ways in which we often perceive the world inaccurately.” 29
Sean Price ’95 BCom
Current Occupation: Associate Vice-President Alumni Relations/ Executive Direct Alumni Association What’s the one piece of advice you’d give a current U of A student? Try new things. Get to know your profs. Participate in intramural sports. Join Alumni Student Council. Become a Campus Ambassador. Get as much out of your university experience as you can. What impact has the U of A had on your life? The U of A helped me figure out who I am. I literally became “me” at university.
March 21-23 & March 28-30 Travelodge Edmonton South Hotel 10320 45th Ave. REGISTER ONLINE TODAY!!!
What should all new grads know? Thousands of people have graduated before you that are willing to offer guidance and support as you start your new life as a U of A alumnus. The Alumni Association is a great way to connect with fellow grads.
Ca na dia n C h i natow N by Kevin Schenk Living the good life isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t always as simple as eating healthy, exercising regularly and listening to the right music. Many people instead seek it by leaving their homes and settling in new lands. The Chinese have been one of the most influential groups to migrate to Canada, whether it be to
find work or to escape communist regimes. Chinatowns have sprung up across Canada since heavy immigration from China started in the 1800s with the construction of the railroads. Here, immigrants can speak their languages, seek aid from Benevolent Societies and introduce
their Canadian-born children to their own culture. They become hubs not only of Chinese culture, but multiculturalism itself as other ethnicities settle there. Chinatowns arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t without problems though: theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re usually among the last neighbourhoods affected by gentrification, pushing crime and poverty into their
territory. Meanwhile, they lose their authenticity as they turn into hollow tourist destinations due to newer immigrants moving to suburban neighbourhoods with lower costs of living. But they remain a symbol of people seeking a better life in a new country, who then create one for themselves once they get there. 6
Various meat is on display behind the window of a barbecue house. Vancouver
People gather to buy regional newspapers in various languages. Vancouver
A group plays xianqi, also known as Chinese chess. Vancouver
This store features various electronics and leads to another store within it. Toronto
A man goes shopping in the early morning. Vancouver
A small kiosk was put up in the alley between two buildings. Toronto
Electronics, clothing, and even wigs are sold by a street vendor. Toronto
Firecrackers carpet the pavement after a Chinese New Years celebration. Edmonton
Lions visit businesses to spread good luck for the new year. Edmonton
A woman gets a palm reading on the street. Montreal
People watch as a lion eats lettuce then spits it out on Chinese New Years. Edmonton
WORDS OF WISDOM
“Life is not a PG feel-good movie. Real life often ends badly. Literature tries to document this reality, while showing us it is still possible for us to endure nobly.” - Matthew Quick
“Happiness depends upon ourselves.” - Aristotle
“Eat, Pray, Love.” - Eat Pray Love
“A positive attitude
may not solve all your problems, but
it will annoy enough
people to make it worth the effort.”
- Herm Albright
they go.” - Oscar Wilde
“If more of us
valued food and
cheer and song
above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier
- J.R.R. Tolkien
“In the end,
the love you
take is equal to
you make.” - The Beatles
“I don’t know what’s better,
getting laid or getting paid.” - Kanye West