I talk honestly and openly about my experiences with mental illness, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome through the lens of feminism, fat acceptance and process theology. I also do recipe and book reviews. My mission is to spread the message that hope is always real for a better life, despite living in a world that is often very harsh.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Summer Vacation 2016 - Take My Body Love Pledge

I am now traveling home.  It will take approximately ten hours, so I should have plenty of time.  I am condensing the rest of my vacation into one single post in several parts because I always struggle with timeliness after getting home from a vacation.  This last post is about the most important lesson I learned-to love my body. I. I could not be totally body positive forever. As the fattest woman in our group who is woefully athletically challenged, my self-confidence and self-love started to diminish.  So I took a picture of me in my bathing suit to see if I looked as awful as I felt and to my surprise, I loved the picture!  Here it is:
This is not an expensive bathing suit-I got it in the plus size section of Target for twenty-something dollars, but it's a superb suit.  But this is not just about the bathing suit. I took my picture fully expecting to see an image that I would have to berate and instead, I felt nothing but love.  I love my haircut, I love my bathing suit.  I love the fact that I am not depressed so that I am caring about my appearance again.  I love how happy I look because I really am. I see a person who is proud of herself despite what society says she should be.  Today, I wear my fat with pride, as it means that I am not trying to control myself with neurotic food rules. My funky hairstyle that is long in some places and shaved in others makes me feel proud because it means that I no longer am hiding who I am. I am an artist, I am self confident, I am queer, I am happy, I am peaceful, I am proud, I am gorgeous and I will not be ashamed of being these things.
 
II.
After taking the picture and analyzing it, I had to accept that I am a. fat b. Not as fat as I thought c. Still happy and beautiful even so.  I also started noticing what it felt like to eat as a person on vacation. I let myself eat and drink more often and eat and drink things that I normally would not because I would deem them too unhealthy.  I reintroduced myself to moderation. I also realized that I had mentally poisoned myself when I started weighing myself on my roommate's bathroom scale several months ago.  I am not able to weigh in moderation-I am ashamed to say that I had gotten to the point where I was weighing myself five times a day and eating less to get my number to one more desirable.  When it comes to the scale, I am very much like an addict-I weigh myself once and soon I am craving more steps on the scale and less food to somehow make me feel more in control and more worthy, acceptable of I-don't-know-what.  As I said in a twelve-step meeting once, I make the scale my god.  The only way I can get on a scale safely is under my therapist's or doctor's care. (Unlike most people's therapy sessions, before we begin therapy, I am weighed.  Whether I need to process the number is the first topic on the table.). This week I noticed that I felt freer and happier directly as a result of not weighing myself.  I must not have gained an obscene amount of weight - my fear when I don't weigh myself - because my clothes still fit in the exact same way as it did when I left for the vacation.  
 
III.
My Personal Promise
 
I seem to have to realize and internalize the lesson on my weighing neuroticism over and over again.  Will you take a pledge with me?
 
I solemnly swear to love my body.
*To recognize the truth that our bodies are not objects to control and diminish.  
I solemnly swear to take up the space that is rightfully mine-
That all humans deserve but few realize.
I also swear that I will take up space in a way that is respectful to all people.
That I will remember my own privilege and empathetically listen to others
While still honoring my own heart.
I swear to listen to my body and treat it with compassion
Even when I feel depressed and hateful.
I believe that it is only through self-love that the gospel can be realized-
For myself to truly love others, I must honor the sacredness of my own soul.
Tending to my heart and sanity will be my highest aim always
And I will fight anyone who tries to convince me that I should strive for anything else.
With my higher power's support, I will conquer my deepest fears.
Nonjudgement shall be my guide and love my salvation.
 
Come join me-let us love our bodies together.
 
*As said by my therapist
 
Link Love:
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, August 5, 2016

Slow Kingdom Coming - Book Review

whatever we follow is what we’re transformed by - Slow Kingdom Coming by Kent Annan.
Slow Kingdom Coming by Kent Annan - I hated the first part, which seemed like an advertisement for his friend's church but the book got better.  The book is basically about the fact that there are many ways to superficially, consumerally show support for justice but that with more focus and careful consideration, a person can make a better contribution to bringing God's kingdom to Earth.  I liked his section on confession as part of justice work.  I don't confess enough.  His book had nothing I had not heard of before but I put some of his quotes in my inspirational quote book.  I liked what he said about needing gratitude and joy. 
Joy can be a kind of lifeline as we work for justice, which exposes us to suffering and exacts a toll on us.
 I have also found them to be instrumental in keeping me going.  His book seemed to be basically spiritual intentional peer support (IPS) to me.  IPS is a training that I took at work and we also emphasize partnering with, empathetically listening, cultural competency, and showing respect towards all.  It was nice to see what I believe mirrored in a spiritual book, although it would have been nice if I had been introduced to something new.  Instead,  I had what I already believe and practice reaffirmed. (Although I did appreciate the reminder to confess.)

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Summer Vacation 2016 - My Queenly Self

We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we would stand-out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise. (The Message Bible, 315)
On day three, the sea was very calm, just like me:
  The perfect weather for my brother to paddle me around the ocean.  I felt like a queen on the Nile:
And really, I am like a queen-I am the queen of my life. I get to choose how I react, think, and feel.  It takes hard work to realize a certain way does not serve me anymore but I am the one who gets to decide when I have had enough and how I am going to change.  I believe that I have the support of my higher power, whom I call by many names. I believe it is my higher power that prepares me and shows me new ways of being that I would not think of on my own.  It is up to me to open my heart to Her whispers.
 
A being who has far less choice is my brother's dog, Bee.  I've had fun taking pictures of her, as she is the queen of the questioning look, of peering around corners.
 
 Bee and I have the same happy look:
 
 
 My canine namesake, Corey, looks like a queen in this picture:
 
 I cannot be calm forever-I know that emotions tend to cycle but I am enjoying it while it lasts.  I feel very powerful as I take selfies and look at the ocean because I know that I have the power to decide how I want to be.  I want this awareness to stay with me past vacation so that I can have a more peaceful life.  May you be peaceful too.  Blessed be!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Summer Vacation 2016 - Recognizing Privilege

Live out your God created identity.  Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you. (The Message Bible, 22)
Yesterday, as I looked at my big family getting along and being merry together, I thought to myself,
I am so privileged.
I am not saying this because I think I am better than others or because I think I think I deserve more because of somehow working harder.  I do not have time for bootstrapping myths.  What I do have time for is to appreciate the good things in my life.
  • I have a big extended family that gets along for the most part.
  • My family has superb cooks who cook in a way that doesn't upset my stomach.
  • We know how to relax.
  • Despite my lack of money, my needs are fully taken care of.
  • I do not feel judged by my family.
  • I feel comfortable around my family.
  • I feel comfortable in my own skin.
  • I am surrounded by beauty.
  • I am safe.
  • I am loved.
Now do I always feel comfortable with my family or in my own skin? Of course not! However, life for us is much better than it used to be.  Should I hide away in my privilege and pretend that others less fortunate than I don't matter or even exist?  The world really is a hard place often times.
 
No.  I am hoping that this vacation will renew me-that I can reflect on the good things I have, the fact that I am loved, and that the world is achingly beautiful. When I get home, I will work even harder to make it this way for everyone.  My goal is to share the love I have for the world and the hope that one really can create a life worth in the midst of chaos, for even in heartbreaking chaos, there is a beautiful and logical order behind it. 
 
Blessed be for the universe!
   
 
               
 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Summer Vacation 2016-Sacred Sanity

You're blessed when you're content with just who you are-no more, no less.  That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought." (19, The Message Bible)

 

It is time for for my summer vacation posts!  I didn't do them last year because I was too busy.  Fortunately, this summer vacation is more relaxed, so I should be able to post every day.

 

We are at Nag's Head, North Carolina, on the outer banks. I wish we were boycotting North Carolina but as my family decided not to, I figure I might as well enjoy the vacation.

 

Yesterday, as I was climbing the stairs to the house, I thought to myself, 

 

nothing is more sacred than sanity.

 It is so refreshing and wonderful to be on vacation and not be exhausted and depressed.  I feel free.  DBT has helped me the way I knew it would and today I am not anxious but very happy. I feel comfortable in my own skin and it is a very luxurious, utterly enjoyable emotion.  Thanks to mindfulness, I am able to recognize these feelings and fully revel in them. Today, I am emotionally rich.

 

To celebrate my new found confidence yesterday, I took many selfies. So what if I am fat?!  I am still flabulous!  Because of my fibromyalgia, I am not able to exercise as much as I would like but I do genuinely enjoy eating healthy.  Many people assume that I am dieting when they see how I eat but I do not and never will.  One really can be healthy and happen to be fat.  Of course, even if I was not healthy, I would still be flabulous because health does not actually equal self-worth.

 

Here I am being happy:

 

I can take pride in how I look, no matter my weight.

Time to relax!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Rise Theater

And it shall come to pass that just as you were a curse among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so I will save you, and you shall be a blessing.  Do not fear, let yor hands be strong.  Zechariah 8:7-8

 

It's funny how the universe works.   All my life I wanted to be part of a theater company and I thought I would need extensive schooling and training to be great.  When I had to switch majors from music performance to English because of my anxiety and depression, I felt like a total failure.  I was giving up my dream, I thought, forever.

 

All those years spent thinking and dreaming of being onstage since a young child did not go to waste, however. I am now part of a theater company. I've found that our intentions come true but never on our own time frame.  In order to perform successfully, I had to learn how to be totally in the moment and how to let myself go - two things I learned in DBT.

 

The Rise Theater is a theater company in Georgia made up of people in recovery.  We collaborate and figure out ways to tell little snippets of our recovery stories in the most creative way possible.  Our stories are powerful, deep, and empowering.  It occurred to me yesterday after a performance that I am now living my dream - it's not in the way I originally wanted it to be or in the time frame I wanted but I am now doing what I love and have always wanted to do.  I always wanted to support myself as an artist and while I am not there yet, I no longer see it as a failed dream.  I am currently working on another altered book to submit in an art contest and the goal is to get enough funding for The Rise Theater players to be paid.  In short, I now feel like there are possibilities where I used to see failures.  I am on my way. I do not know exactly what it will look like but I now know that I will one day be able to support myself, at least partly, onstage and on canvas.

 

If there is something you really want, think about it night and day.  Think about it in a positive way - don't dwell on your fears.  Take a deep breath.  Unfortunately, our intentions do not manifest instantly.  The universe - higher power - God - has to prepare us and make us ready to step into success.  We have to let go of fear in order to embrace our future in a positive, recovery centered way.

 

Let go.  Divine Love will not let you fall.

 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Thankfulness for Sadness

Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut from the fold , and there be no herd in the stalls-yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:17-18
I am very sad.  Yesterday, my roommate and I had to put our other roommate's dog down.  It was one of the saddest things I have ever done.  Opal was a beautiful black lab with a sweet heart.  She greeted everyone at the door with a shoe and in fact, often would wait up for me late at night, even though she was not my dog.  I thought it was funny how she would turn to look at me and give me a little kick with her back leg when I would stop petting her. 

 I petted and petted her yesterday as she was dying. I cried off and on yesterday, took a nap, ate ice cream, visited with a friend late at night and colored to soothe myself.  It's funny, but as I was doing my nightly gratitude list, the main thing that I thought of was that I was glad for my heartbreak.  I still am.  I am glad that I can feel.  I am glad for the reminders of such a sweet being.  I am glad for the joy that she brought while on Earth. I am glad that she is no longer in pain.  I am nervous for what the house will be like when the roommate-owner returns.  I am sad.  I am glad that I can feel all these things and not want to die. I can get what I need done and still be gentle with myself.  This sadness will probably last a while and the waiting is hard too, but it still does not have to turn into depression.  I can take care of myself and for that I am grateful and proud.

 I am glad I can feel, for if I could not, then I would not be aware of just how much Opal meant to all of us. 

 Give your pets a hug today and be glad.