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.

Friday, January 23, 2015

It's Time to Talk About Suicidal Ideations

Only through consciously remembering the past can we resolve the difficulties and strength that often lie within our past. (Monica A. Coleman, Making a Way Out of No Way, 104)
********Trigger Warning: I talk about Suicidal Ideation
I just completed writings about some of my biggest memories of my life about my episodes of suicidal ideation.  I did this for the "Paul G. Quinnett Lived Experience Writing Contest" for the American Association of Suicidology.

I had suicidal ideations almost every day for over half my life and it is only been one year since I stopped having them entertain me on a daily basis.  It is glorious! I feel free, which I wrote about in my contest entry.  I also wrote about how desperate I felt after being infiltrated with suicidal thoughts day in and day out for so many years.

At first I thought that my subject matter was too morbid to be worth writing.  I thought that surely a narrative that is solely focused on hope and recovery is a much better endeavor, but as I was writing a new thought formed-is not suicidal ideation the most untalked about and stigmatized aspect of mental illness?  We can talk to our friends about feeling a little down and bipolar disorder has even gained some acceptance in popular discourse, but talk about suicide?  That's too scary.

It is scary to think that someone you love is struggling with suicidal thoughts.  Or perhaps even worse, that those thoughts are so common that the person has gotten used to them.  Is that even a life worth living?  We do not want to think about it.  We want to talk about pursuing recovery and offer hope, which are, of course, very good things and worth talking about, but one thing that I have learned from DBT is that I cannot progress if I do not acknowledge where I have been and where I currently am.  If you suspect someone is struggling with suicidal thoughts, don't ignore the issue.  Do not pretend like if you do not talk about it then it will go away, because most likely, it will not.  We worry about how to prevent suicide, well, the first step is to get people comfortable with talking about it.  Right now, there is a stigma against talking about suicidal feelings and thoughts, so people do not talk about it and feel that they are alone, when they are not.  The only way to overcome the stigma of talking about suicide is by talking about it.  There is no other shortcut.  I know it is uncomfortable to think about and to talk about, but the only way that we can grow as a culture is if we throw our insecurities aside and actually talk about how we feel.

We may find that we are not alone.  We may find out that we are loved.  We may be able to get help sooner, but we cannot find out any of these thigs if we do not first talk about the hard thoughts and feelings that we experience.

And so I think my experience of living in a suicidal Hell is an important story.  Perhaps when people read my story they will see that they are not alone too.  Hopefully, they will get a sense of realizing that telling my story has not made me worse, but, in fact, has made me better.  Our stories give our lives meaning and my story ultimately is one of hope.  I lived for over twenty years with suicidal thoughts on a daily basis and that is not my reality anymore.  I know what it is like to suffer and to feel invalidated and so I want to validate your story: you are important, no matter how you feel or think.

If you are struggling with suicidal ideations, you can always call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Link Love:

The New York Times -ToFall in Love With Anyone, Do This 

It’s astounding, really, to hear what someone admires in you. I don’t know why we don’t go around thoughtfully complimenting one another all the time.

The New York Times - What’s Wrong With ‘All Lives Matter’?


When we are taking about racism, and anti-black racism in the United States, we have to remember that under slavery black lives were considered only a fraction of a human life, so the prevailing way of valuing lives assumed that some lives mattered more, were more human, more worthy, more deserving of life and freedom, where freedom meant minimally the freedom to move and thrive without being subjected to coercive force. But when and where did black lives ever really get free of coercive force?  […]Whiteness is less a property of skin than a social power reproducing its dominance in both explicit and implicit ways.   
                   
Shakesville – I Write Letters
There is no neutral in rape culture. Being silent is not neutral, and talking about what a great guy an accused rapist is sure as shit isn't neutral, either.                   
                                                                                  


Friday, January 16, 2015

December 2015 Book Reviews

The Dark Crystal 1983 Comics – I got this two comic series at the last DragonCon and they are delightful.  It’s interesting to see how comics have evolved over the years-the quality of the graphics are definitely not up to today’s usual standards, but reading the story was great.  (I am a huge Jim Henson fan and I own the movie version.  An acquaintance recently said she hated The Dark Crystal and my heart literally hurt.)  While I love so many of the characters, Fizzgig stole the book.  OMG-the pictures of him were just hilarious and adorable.  I will absolutely name my next pet after him. 
It was also much more apparent when reading the story of the Christian elements present-it speaks of the trinity in metaphor and the story took on even more spiritual meaning for me.  I had never gotten that the Skisis and the Mystics are two parts of the same being, who must die in order to be whole again and move onto a higher enlightenment.  Very deep.  I am in awe of how Jim Henson took Christian and other spiritual religious concepts and made them palatable to all kinds of people.  I love him.
Fire in the Streets by Kekla Magoon – This is the follow-up to The Rock and The River and I loved it.  In fact, I liked it better than the first book, which is rare.  It is the continuation of the story of what happens with the burgeoning Black Panthers group in Chicago, but this time told from the point of view of Sam’s on-and-off-again girlfriend, Maxie.  The story doesn’t start where the last book stopped and while you could read it by itself, I think it makes more sense to read it after reading the first in the series.  The book is much more fast paced, as Maxie doesn’t wrestle with indecisiveness that Sam did, but has already made up her mind to be a Panther.  It tackles issues of race, gender, class and growing up too soon.  While Maxie is concerned about her relationship with Sam, her main concern is her family and politics and it is so nice to meet a female character-a teenage one, at that!-who looks beyond impressing boys, but into justice and making her community a better place.  The book continues with the theme of family alliances and sacrifices by explaining a possible reason why someone might rat out their own group.  Maxie learns about the world’s complexity and that sometimes a question has more than one right answer and by the ending, so has the reader.  This is a book full of heartache and hope.  I loved rooting for Maxie and for her future-I would love to read more books about her.  The first book in the series won a lot of awards, which is great, but I wish this book would get more attention-it was my favorite of the two and I don’t want people to skip reading it.
Camo Girl by Kekla Magoon – I just like each new Magoon book more and more and this is my favorite of hers so far.  This book, set in the present day, really moved me.  It covers issues of race, mental illness, class, and identity all with subtlety and grace.   All of the characters felt very real and relatable and again, I respect Magoon for tackling some tough subjects with great skill.  My only complaint is that I was left wanting more and I really hope that there will be some sequels soon-the characters feel so real, that I long to know what happened to them and their relationships after the story ended.  
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins-OK, I know everybody else has read this series, but I was very skeptical of a book where the plot is about children killing children.  Call me weird.  BUT, despite the depressing subject matter, the series is definitely worth reading.  I listened to the audiobook and the narrator was fantastic.  Collins’ style is mesmerizing and incredibly relevant to the #BlackLivesMatter movement-the fact that some do not seem to make the connection between the book’s story and the news astounds me.  Some themes are how poorer kids are considered easy to throw away; a divide and conquer mentality by the state; violence, extreme fashion and body modification considered acceptable even for children and how far our society is willing to accept in the name of entertainment.  I can’t wait to listen to the next two books!
Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins – Catching Fire was not immediately available at the library, so I decided to listen to another book by the same author.  I was really surprised because the writing style and story is incredibly different from The Hunger Games.  I do not think it is written as well, but it certainly is interesting, if not also weird.  The story is about how an eleven-year-old boy and his young sister travel under the earth and go on an adventure to find their father.  I found the boy annoying, egotistical, and unbelievably mature for his age.  However, I kept on reading because I found the story interesting.  I was surprised that I ended up liking the cockroach characters!  I found the story both inventive and predictable, which is a hard task!  I do not think I will read the other books in the series.
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel – This graphic novel was for my feminist book club and I enjoyed it, although if it had not been a graphic novel, then I think it would have been quite dry.  I thought it was interesting the way Bechdel was able to draw parallels between her life and those of great literature and wish I was that creative-I wonder what famous stories and plays could signify the events in my life!  Sadness permeates the book and is a reminder of why the closet is not a good hiding place.  When a person denies who they are, the suppression of their true self will eventually suffocate their spirit and they will end up even more miserable than they would have been if they had been true to themselves in the first place.  And many times they still end up hurting other people too.  I was glad that Bechdel was able to get some closure after her father’s death, but I did not like how his relationships with boys was downplayed-I thought that was a more serious subject than the author made it out to be.  Conversely, sometimes it seemed like the author was a bit self-indulgent, giving more weight to memories that seemed not that important to me.  All in all, I recommend it, but it was not my favorite out of the graphic novels that we have read in the past.  It has, however, been made into a Broadway musical, which I think is way cool and would love to watch.
Haunted Horror Comic #14 was a lot of fun to read!  I love old horror comics from the 50s & 60s and this was a compilation of some of the weirdest.  The artwork was great and the stories were more funny than scary, which is what I like.  “Horror of the Cannibals’ Dinner” is exceptional because it actually has a social justice ending; “I Walked at Midnight” is cute, but my favorite is “While the Iron was Hot.”  I love the line, “But life was not all beer and skittles for Jeremiah Krump…not with a wife like Mamie!” I will have to start wishing people a life of “beer and skittles!”  That story was not only funny, but also had the most horrific ending and it reminded me of a story that would have been a part of Tales from the Crypt.  I want to read more from the Haunted Horror comics and I also want to start reading “Weird Love,” a collection of weird love stories from the 50s & 60s that was advertised in Haunted Horror.  I am sure that it is also hilarious!

Sobriety: A Graphic Novel written by Daniel D. Maurer & Illustrated by Spencer Amundson – I read many fabulous books in December, but this Speakeasy book was actually my favorite!  Sobriety explains Alcoholics Anonymous’ Big Book in a fun form that I think will be easier to digest for young adults.  I liked that its main angle was how the spiritual aspect of the twelve steps can apply to different types of people, from the already uber religious to atheists.  Yes, everyone in recovery from addiction has to follow the same twelve steps, but it is not true that everyone has to think about them in the exact same way and I think that is a powerful point to make because a lot of people get hung up on that.  I also liked that the book had characters from different races, genders, sexualities, religions and ages-in the past, I have felt that addiction portrayals of people have been too homogenous, but this diversity both modernizes the Big Book and makes it more accessible.  This book covers a lot of material in a fairly small book, including a part about Viktor Frankl, which really made me happy, as his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” also has strongly influenced my life.  I recommend this book to anyone who wants a fun and novel way to read about addiction recovery.  It would especially be good for a young newcomer.
 

Princeless Book 1: Save Yourself Written by Jeremy Whitley & Illustrated by M. Goodwin - This comic was my other favorite!  Like The Dark Crystal comic, I discovered it at Dragoncon in the comic gallery.  It has been voted one of the best feminist comics and I can see why: a teenage princess of color gets locked in a tower, but gets tired of waiting for her prince to rescue her, so she hops on her dragon, rescues herself and goes on a quest to rescue her sisters!  It's funny, touching and groundbreaking in how it teaches feminist concepts to youngsters.  Even though it is probably aimed at the middle school crowd, I love it for myself.  I want to give it as a present to some young person, but I don't know who!  I think it has enough action so that it would appeal to both girls AND boys and would make a wonderful gift to a young person who needs to expand their feminist and reading horizon.

Link Love:

Complexity is a wonderful thing.    

Friday, January 9, 2015

New Year's Goals and Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

One of the first recipes I tried out this year was a "pumpkin pie smoothie," which unfortunately turned out awful!  I thought it sounded so good, but I was wrong.  First, it was a little too thick to really be a smoothie-it had more the consistency of oatmeal.  And it wasn't sweet enough, so I tried adding honey, but that did not work-it still tasted too bland.  Then I tried adding my favorite oatmeal and then even chocolate chips!

It looks pretty, but it did not taste pretty.  So after eating the bits with granola and chocolate chips, I still had a lot leftover and then I had the bright idea to use it as a base for pumpkin steel cut oatmeal.  Fortunately, the oatmeal turned out fabulously and I have been eating it every morning this week.  Just add a little brown sugar before eating.  

I got the recipe from the blog, "Rachel Cooks."

INGREDIENTS:

  • (I added one cup of Greek vanilla yogurt)
  • 2 cups steel cut oats
  • 7 cups water
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • extra milk for topping, optional
  • brown sugar for topping, optional
  • extra pumpkin pie spice for topping, optional
  • toasted pecans for topping, optional

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Mix all ingredients in a large (6 quart) slow cooker and cook on warm overnight or at least 8 hours
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I recommend putting aluminum foil on the bottom of your crock pot, so that you have less to clean.  I used the smoothie as the base and just added a little bit more of the pumpkin pie spice.  Of course, add some sort of topping before eating.  It is really creamy and sweet, letting me get my pumpkin pie fix first thing in the morning!

I am sharing this recipe because the trial and error approach sort of reminded me of my new year's goals.  (I prefer calling them goals instead of resolutions, as I feel that term carries less pressure.)

This year, I am going to try to be more reliable in responding to people on time, and to continue walking more often. There are some people in my life that I would like to get to know better. I want to spend more time being productive than being lazy on the couch. I want to get back into letter writing and to read more. I want to start volunteering at the nursing home again, because I really enjoyed it when I was there. I want to start building a business as a DBT coach.
Whew!  That's a lot!  Fortunately, some of them are just to continue the good work that I am already doing, like continuing to walk and read.  They are simply goals set with good intentions not meant to be a bat to beat myself up with if I don't fulfill some of them. If I go through a period of depression where I am not able to be productive, so be it. I know the negative feelings won't last forever and I am looking at these goals as a long-term venture and not something to achieve or fail at in one day.
In fact, I fully expect myself to fail at accomplishing these goals sometimes.  I will not walk every day or magically turn into the most reliable person on the planet in one day.  No, just like the oatmeal, first I will have to fail before I will have the desired outcome.  My goal is to be the best person that I can be, but that does not mean that I will be the best out of everyone or even be my personal best at all times.  That is totally normal.  
When I was in the throes of my eating disorder, my goal was to be perfect and perfection meant being unhealthily skinny and having people give me attention.  Now I crave foods that give me energy and an outlook on life that gives me energy and motivation too.  A goal of perfection is unreasonable, stressful, and sets myself up for major failure, while the goal of slow progress and becoming my better self is actually achievable.
One of my major goals this year is to start a business as a DBT coach.  I will not be a therapist, but a person who can help someone remember what skills to use when they are stuck.  I am working on the website now.  I know that starting a new business will be tough, especially since I am an introvert and I expect it to go slowly and perhaps feel like a failure at times and that's okay.  I have many people who are supporting me and will keep me grounded.  I am confidant that some good will come out of the venture, even though I will not have a clue what that good will really look like until after I have started working, which is life.
I am so glad that I embrace failure, stumbling blocks, and even anxiety now. Since I now know how to be mindful and use the DBT skills and supportive people in my life to help get me unstuck, I no longer suffer in paralyzing fear about the future anymore.  It is fear that holds us down and hinders our progress-today I choose love and acceptance.
Link Love:

BY MEGHAN HOLOHAN

Even worse, re-stigmatizing people through lazy labeling may scare some folks away from getting needed help, Reynolds said: "The terms denote disorders of the brain … that frequently have good treatment and can lead to good recovery."

BattyMamzelle - For Feminists Who Resort To Racism When Slut Shaming Is Not Enough

when the simple fact is that BeyoncĂ©'s feminism is not FOR white girls. It's not going to work for you because it's not supposed to. That you might benefit from it is incidental and completely tangential to the point.


I genuinely think that this is the way Suzanne's mother saw her; as a black body from whom difficulties were to be expected and endured.
Most of our congregations were designed in an age when hierarchical, corporate structures brought order and stability to our institutions. Today, we live in a networked, adaptive world where we’ve got outdated structures that are now destroying those congregations. Try simplifying some of your bylaws, bureaucracies, and committees in 2015. Free your people to be in ministry, not management.

Rebecca Hains - LEGO  Friends Comic  Goes  Viral: An Interview with Illustrator  Maritsa  Patrinos

I actually don’t have a problem with the content—I know there’s absolutely nothing wrong with playing with juice bars or shopping malls. I just don’t know if those things should be associated with gender. I thought about the girls who don’t like those things, and the boys who do like those things, and wondered if they felt alienated at all.
I’m sure LEGO’s heart was in the right place and I’m sure they’ve done tons of research to pick their content. But when I saw the men in this documentary talk about how to connect with girls, it sounded a little like they were trying to decipher how to make contact with an alien species.

Scott Dannemiller - The One Thing Christians Should Stop Saying


The problem? Nowhere in scripture are we promised worldly ease in return for our pledge of faith. In fact, the most devout saints from the Bible usually died penniless, receiving a one-way ticket to prison or death by torture.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

HALTT-Taking Care of My Vulnerabilities During Christmas

God knows us from the inside out. (Monica A Coleman, Making A Way Out of No Way: A Womanist Theology, 116) But it is helpful if we start to know ourselves well too. Mindfulness is important. (Myself)
I am back from my Christmas vacation and I am glad. Today, as I took a bath to warm myself up, I reflected on how well I took care of myself on my trip. I went on several walks where I noticed how the rainy northwestern weather created lush, green ferns and moss. So beautiful!


 I also took some cool pictures of boats:

 In one of the marinas, a boat was sunk years ago to provide a break for the water and now there are trees growing out of it!  It is really neat looking, although it was hard to get a good picture because of the cloudy weather.

The best thing about the trip was that I finally got to meet my brother's dog, Bee, who is just the cutest!
Like Bee, in the picture, I had to take care of my body and mind while on the trip.  Sometimes, after being inside all day with the same people, I would find myself starting to get really annoyed.  I didn't show it, but I did know that there was probably a reason why I was starting to feel not my best and that I needed to figure out why and how to deal with it, since I could not leave.  That brings me to HALT, which stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired and I am going to add an extra T for Temperature.  When thinking about it today, I realized that the main ones to watch out for are the physical, because it is being too hungry, too tired, or too hot or cold that influences how susceptible we are to becoming extra angry or lonely.  When in any of these states, we are extra vulnerable to becoming more emotional than usual and not being able to stay in our wise mind.  It is not a bad thing-it just means that we need to stop and take care of that vulnerability.  Many times when I started to feel myself begin to get irritable, I realized that I was either very tired or very hungry and once I had some more rest or ate some food, I was back to my amiable self.  One time when we spent a lot of the day outside, the temperature dropped drastically and I was not prepared for the colder weather-by the time we got home that day, I was freezing and miserable.  Fortunately, I got out my travel self-soothe kit and took out a packet of bath salts.  After a soak in the tub, I felt so much better.  By taking breaks during the day, I was able to keep my levels of irritation down and I am very proud of myself-in years past, I might not have been able to analyze my moods and find a solution before getting upset, possibly resulting in a meltdown.
During the new year, practice taking care of yourself-your body, your mind, and your friends will thank you!

Link Love:

Suicide rates in the transgender community are exceptionally high, with more than 50 percent of transgender teens reporting at least one suicide attempt by their 20th birthday, according to theYouth Suicide Prevention Program.
Transgender people who need someone to talk to can call the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 or the Trevor Project at 866-488-7386.

This aint livin – I Know I’m Fat, Thanks

I could be the bogeyman. I might come for you in the night and suffocate you in my fatness.

Feminism and Religion - Reading “Women” by Laury   Silvers

every time I hear the words “women” and “men,” I think “meaning what?” “for whom?” and “who is missing from those words?”

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Confession of Need for A More Introspective Christmas

I write some of the liturgy for my church and one of the things I usually write is called the "confession of need," which is a special kind of confession where we recognize how much we need Godde in our lives and ask how do we invite Her in more and more fully.  I really enjoy writing them!  This is the one for the Christmas season and so I thought I would post it here.  If you are not Christian, then just wait for my next post.  If you are, then I hope the confession inspires you to become more introspective and ponder the story of Christ's birth a little more deeper and to not be afraid if you do not have all the answers or do not know quite what to believe.  Spirituality is a mystery and it is by opening ourselves up to the unknown that we really grow.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In this season of Christmas, it can be so hard to make time for what actually matters, which is to be true to you, O God.   We hurry and worry and put on the top of our list the agenda of making every Christmas party, while resting at the bottom is mindfulness, wonder, and acting in your image.  In this season we need to pause and listen for your call, just like the characters in the first Christmas story listened to the call of your angels so long ago.

How do we do this?  How do we remember what is really important amid the traffic and the obligations?

Let us set aside a time and be quiet.  Let us listen for your call.  Let us ponder the story of Christ’s birth anew, with the ears of a child.  We do not need to have all the answers.  We do not need to believe in things that we cannot believe in anymore, but we do need to re-imagine how Christ’s story affects our own life story.  We do need to nurture our inner child and our inner Christ.  We need to use this season to not race towards our own shallow agenda, but to gather closer to each other and the call of Christ.


Let us be ever faithful, Amen.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Corey's Travel Tip-Pack a Self-Soothing Kit

Our hopes for the future are implied, and therefore in some way present, in what we have done. (120, Making a Way Out of No Way, Monica A Coleman)

Tomorrow morning I am leaving for Washington state to see my brother and his girlfriend for Christmas and I am excited!  Fortunately, my doctor upped my new medication and I am definitely feeling much better than I was even four days ago, which is a relief.
Here are some pictures from the last time I visited:

(The column is from the famous Seattle Pike Place Market, which was so cool.)
While I was packing today, I made sure to pack my "self-soothing kit"-a coping skill I started practicing last year. The kit is just a bag of small things that usually help me feel better and calm down when feeling stressed out that I have stored in a bag, so I can just pop it into my suitcase when I'm traveling somewhere.  
Mine Currently Holds:
-a small bottle of scented lotion
-bath salts
-packets of tea
-lavender scented eye pillow
-eye mask that you can freeze (good for headaches and panic attacks)
-an easy to read, fun book
Other Ideas:
-markers and coloring book
-a journal
-a small stuffed animal
-a small blanket
-a worry stone or other trinket that feels good to touch
-hard candies or chocolates
I really do not think that I will need it and I usually don't, but it does make me feel better knowing that I have calming things with me.  I also have my journal, camera, a coloring book and markers, my quote book and even my DBT book, so I am definitely prepared.
I want my Christmas to be a fun time full of love, instead of worry, so it is important that I do everything I can to help make it that way.  Of course, not every situation is under my control, but I have become like a boy scout-always prepared to soothe myself in a possible emotional crisis.  It's amazing how just the fact of being prepared helps me feel better about myself.
What items would you put in your kit? Do you have other distress tolerance skills that you tend to use when away from home? 

Link Love:

The St. Louis American - Revolutionary love: Ferguson protest leaders get engaged at City Hall

As they walked out of City Hall, they laughed as Spann jumped up and down shouting, “Revolutionary love, love, love!” They all raised their fists to the air.


We measure success in green instead of the lives we've made better. I don't want to be a part of this kind of world.


Finding your strength and practising keeping your heart open is a spiritual practice. Feminists have enough on their plates, which leaves little time for spiritual practice. However, taking on at least a few aspects of the idea of soft heart would not hurt feminist cause.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mysticism or Mania? Hiking the Doll's Head Trail

Isn't it odd how you can be with a group of people and feel completely different from how everybody else is feeling-or at least seems to feel?  Last week, I was at a gathering and even though I was surrounded by friends I felt very alone, lonely, and out-of-place.  That is an unusual feeling for me now, but a few years ago I felt that way at gatherings all the time.  Fortunately, I was able to reassure myself by telling myself that I don't usually feel that way, so I knew that the feeling would eventually pass.  I reminded myself that these really were my friends, even if I felt out-of-touch for the moment.  I have been struggling with some depression off and on this holiday season, mainly because of a medication change, I think.  It's annoying to experience my moods go up and down more than usual, but I just try to enjoy the good times as much as I can and self-soothe myself during the bad times.  I have started coloring again, which is very soothing to me.  It lets me be creative without thinking too hard about what I am doing.

Another time when I could tell that I was feeling different than the people I was with was actually a very positive time for me-my roommates and I went hiking on the Doll's Head Trail at Constitution Lakes State Park in Atlanta about a month ago and I had an intense spiritual experience looking at the wonderful folk art along the trail.

To get to the trail, you first have to walk on a boardwalk through a marsh, where I took this beautiful picture capturing the turning leaves.
Instead of blazes of spray paint to show the way of the folk art trail, you follow little fishing bobs nailed to trees.
The trail is in the spirit and style of Rev. Howard Finster and other folk art heroes.
The folk art around the trail is made of doll's heads and other trash that have flowed into the area after flooding.

The best part of the trail, to me, were the inspirational quotes and sayings on old bricks and other "trash."  Many of it was urging people to be more ecological and many more was urging people to love one another.
"There is purity and strength here
and places sacred to the People
Places strong in the oneness of
earth and sky and of all things
I AM INDEED ITS CHILD-
Absolutely I am earth's child.
~Navajo Song of the Earth

"Be true;
An eye for an eye will leave everyone blind."
"Keep searching-you never truly find who you are."
"Spread love. It's easier than you think."

Taking in the beauty of nature and the beauty of all the positive, loving words really lifted my soul.  I felt light and enraptured.  I love the symbolism of turning "trash" into meaningful works of art, just like what can happen to our lives when we immerse ourselves into a DBT program.  I believe God and I together have made my life into something very positive and hopeful when previously it was full of negativity and despair.  

I walked very slowly through the hike, taking dozens of pictures, very glad that my patient roommates would wait for me at every fork in the road.  I realized that I was the only one having a spiritual experience when in reply to my exclamation of how much I loved seeing the artwork, one of my roommates said that she thought it was creepy.  Creepy!  Yes, we were surrounded by doll heads sticking out of the ground and lone limbs reaching out to the sky, but in my mind, I was witnessing the transformative power of God and humanity working together, which is beyond beauty.

As we left the park, I carried the many messages of love with me everywhere I went.  It actually took several days for the feeling of overwhelming peace and rapture to fade.  I was very emotional and sensitive during this time and I started to wonder whether what I was experiencing was mystical and beautiful or just an episode of mania.  

I really did not want my experience to be pathologized as a symptom of bipolar.  I felt like I was having an intense mystical, spiritual moment, but many times the world does not see our feelings and experiences in that way. When I had my next counseling appointment, I told my therapist about my intense hike and said that while I had experienced heightened emotions and feelings of ecstasy, I had not experienced the other symptoms of mania, like increased energy or excessive speech.  I wanted to know if I could count on my experience as being a genuine spiritual encounter or if I should make an appointment with my psychiatrist.  To my relief, she said that she believed my experience really was spiritual-that just because someone has a diagnosis of bipolar does not mean that they are not allowed genuine spiritual and mystical experiences.  Of course, if other symptoms of mania appeared then I may want to reassess the situation, but at that moment in time I seemed very sane.

How validating!  Her words validated that I can trust my own intuition and that there is nothing wrong with being a naturally sensitive, spiritual being.  Sometimes when people are being treated for mental illness, our sense of our own spirituality can be diminished or even mocked.  I am glad to know that there is a place for extra sensory wonder, even when diagnosed with a mental illness.
Link Love:
If you understand why telling people without boots to pull up their bootstraps is indecent garbage, then it shouldn't be too difficult for you to understand why sneering at someone with triggers "I got over it" is indecent garbage, too.

This aint livin – A Case for Universal Design
When accommodations must be specifically requested and they stand out from the environment, they can have the effect of leaving disabled people feeling not just like nuisances or people getting ‘special treatment,’ but also like people who are isolated in what should be an inclusive environment.

HuffPost - NYC Clergy Join Black And Latino City Council Caucus 'Die In' To Protest Eric Garner Killing

The clergy also called the lack of accountability within the police department "a spiritual problem," citing the work of faith leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, Dorothy Day, Ana Karim, Fannie Lou Hamer, Malcolm X, and The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr who preached nonviolence.