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.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Psalm 24 - Who is the Queen of Glory?

Let the Queen enter in!
She deserves the seat of glory-
Let all shout with delight
Whenever she passes by.

Rachel and Sarah’s children seek Her out
As She seeks the world.
She opens Her hands:
Grab them!

Let Her twirl you in Her joy-
You are found!
Who is the Queen of Glory?
The Holy One, whose Love is strong and mighty.
To compare it to the original, go here.

The words in this reworking are also a play of the words from one of the movements from Handel's Messiah, although really, all of the words that Handel used were taken from the Bible, so it is from the same source, but I think it helps to know what my personal frame of reference is.

One of my favorite assurances is often told by my minister, "You can never be lost, only more and more found."

Today I was feeling a bit anxious as I haved gained some weight and I went to a Halloween party last night where I ate a bunch of sweets. And then I made dinner and it was my ultimate fear food-fettucini alfredo! This pasta was my one of fave foods when I was in elementary school and I can still remember the time when someone informed that the alfredo sauce that I loved so much was high in fat. Since I equated "high in fat" with being "bad" I immediately crossed fettucini alfredo off my safe foods list, which was a great shame, because I really enjoyed eating it.

I had second thoughts about making it, but I told myself that it would be good for my recovery. I will admit that I was a cheat and most of the ingredients were provided by Macaroni Grill boxed dinner, but I added mushrooms and a little bit of chardonney, which made a great dish divine!

At first, I ate my meal with trepidation, but in my mind I chanted, "I am not bad. I am not bad." And after a few minutes, I was fine!

You may be thinking to yourself, "Of course, you are not bad for simply eating!" but my eating disordered brain is not so logical. To me, eating fatty foods, even in moderation, equals being "bad," so if I never eat fatty foods, then I am perfect! And as I fail my goal of perfection, I make more and more rules as I attempt to control my feelings through lack of food. Ultimately, the more I strive for perfection and control, the more imperfect and out of control I become, but if I surrender and follow my intuition and practice mindfulness, then I find that I have just enough control and more than enough joy.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Finally, a Profile Picture!

This is my 115 post and I finally have a profile picture! lol Isn't he handsome? He's my very lovable cat, Arlo, named after Arlo Guthrie.

See the resemblance?! I'm a huge folkie fan...

In my last post, I talked about being excited about a new job. I have not started the job yet, because I have to take a first aid and CPR course first, but I will in a few weeks. But there is something else that I am excited about-I have posted some of my embroidered bags on etsy! There is a link on both my blogs to my shop, Bright Hope Bags. I tried to get the name, Embroider Me, but that was already taken...

There are four bags total on sale, so far. Here are two that I have not previously posted here:

The copper square on the red bag, states "Wish" and the copper oval on the blue bag states, "Memories."
I am hoping that with the Christmas season approaching that people will be more likely to buy whimsical and unneccessary items... But if not, then I'll try to sell them at alumni weekend at Ridgeview. And if that does not work, then there's always the Spring Festival at Skyland Trail. I figure with all the money that I have spent on treatment centers, I should be able to make a little off of them, right? All kidding aside, even if no one buys one of my bags, they will make great presents and even more importantly, I derive a lot of joy in making them.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chilling, But True...

In the spirit of the season, a chillingly true tale sure to give you goosebumps:
Earlier this year, the nation's public mental health care system for adults received the average grade of D... the same grade it received three years ago.

Despite the ghastly grade, many lawmakers continue to cut funding to mental health services as a way to offset the struggling economy.

The state of our mental health care system is frightening.

Your generous contribution supports NAMI's fight to awaken our nation from this nightmare and continue our work to improve the lives of everyone affected by mental illness. Go to Nami.org for more.

Three Men in a Boat Quote & Gratitude

From "Three Men in a Boat: To Say Nothing of the Dog," by Jerome K. Jerome:

It was a glorious night. The moon had sunk and left the quiet earth alone with the stars. It seemed as if, in the silence and the hush, while we her children slept, they were talking with her, their sister-conversing of mighty mysteries in voices too vast and deep for childish human ears to catch the sound.

They awe us, these strange stars, so cold, so clear. We are as children whose small feet have strayed into some dim-lit temple of the god they have been taught to worship but know not; and, standing where the echoing dome spans the long vista of the shadowy light, glance up, half hoping, half afraid to see some awful vision hovering there.

And yet it seems so full of comfort and of strength, the night. In its great presence, our small sorrows creep away, ashamed. The day has been so full of fret and care, and our hearts have been so full of evil and of bitter thoughts, and the world has seemed so hard and wrong to us. Then Night, like some great loving mother, gentlylays her hand upon our fevored head, and turns our little tear-stained face up to hers, and smiles, and though she does not speak, we know what she would say, and lay our hot flushed cheek against her bosom, and the pain is gone.

Sometimes, our pain is very deep and real, and we stand before her very silent, because there is no language for our pain, only a moan. Night's heart is full of pity for us: she cannot ease our aching; she takes our hand in hers, and the little world grows very small and very far beneath us, and, borne on her dark wings, we pass for a moment into a mightier Presence than her own, and in the wondrous light of that great Presence, all human life lies like a book before us, and we know that Pain and Sorrow are but the angels of God.

Only those who have worn the crown of suffering can look upon that wondrous light; and they, when they return, may not speak of it, or tell the mystery they know. (77-78)

After church on Sunday, there was a beautiful sunset and the sky was full of glorious pinks and purples. I wish I had taken a picture! But if a friend had not told me to look at it, I probably would not have noticed. I don't think I take the time to look at the beauty around me often enough. It is important to notice beauty though, because I think it helps us to be grateful.

Yesterday I went to the doctor and this gave me another instance to be grateful-my doc does NOT think that I have fibromyalgia after all, but common arithritis! This came as quite a surprise, since I thought it was too unusual for a 28-year-old to become arithritic, but he said that it wasn't that uncommon. In fact, he said that he had arithritis when he was my age and then it had mysteriously disappeared after a few months, so I feel even more hopeful and grateful than I did previously.

My doctor is giving me a new medication to help with inflammation and with pain. My fingers do hurt right now, although for an entirely different reason! I have been practicing guitar, because I got a new job and I am so excited! The job will start in a couple weeks and I will be teaching a teenager with a developmental disability life and social skills. This is what I was training for in music therapy and I will be able to use music therapy in my sessions with her. It seems outrageous, but if I had not had arithritis, then I might not have quit working at Sears, and then I might not have this job, which I know will be less stressful, less hours and more money. It feels good to practice guitar again. My skills are very rusty, and my fingers are sore, but it is a good kind of sore. At least today I am very grateful!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

My Sermon - Acknowledge Your Fear and Then Move On

Later today I am preaching at my church, Circle of Grace, and I thought I would post my sermon here, as it very much pertains to the principles I talk about on this blog. I even include my own blog name, because the words, "Hope is real" has become my own little mantra and has really helped my own recovery.

A month or two ago, I was watching the news and I had an “Aha!” moment. The news caster was saying something to the effect that it is okay to drop bombs, because you are afraid and I thought to myself, “That’s not right!” It’s not that fear is a “bad” emotion, but that there is a difference between feeling fear and acting on it. One can feel fear, but not live in it.

I know this, because I distinctly feel fearful everyday. I wake up with fear! Living with several big disabilities-fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, schizoaffective disorder and an eating disorder does limit my life in ways that I cannot fully anticipate. When I get up, I do not know if I will be able to complete whatever it is that I am supposed to complete that day-due to the fibromyalgia, I may become too sore to walk, with the chronic fatigue, I may have to go to bed early, with the schizoaffective disorder I may become paranoid, or have mood swings, or be too agitated to be able to socialize properly and with the eating disorder, which I doing really well with right now, but even so, there is always the possibility that I will become stressed and will not want to eat and will spend my hours obsessed with my food. Life sometimes seems like a bunch of scary unknowns with no relief.

The good news is that I can acknowledge my feelings of fear and move on-I do not have to wallow in it or let it consume me. I can wake-up fearful, but say, “I don’t know what my day will be like, but I know that something good will come of it.” This way of living involves joy and hope and love. It involves knowing that even if something negative happens that day that it is all ultimately, for good. Ultimately, I must get up out of bed. No matter what I am feeling, life will go on.

Acting on fear will only beget more fear. I know this with every inch of my being, because I have acted in fear many times, usually by running away from whatever it is I need to face. That is what so many do not understand. When people say, “We need to bomb, or hurt, or kill someone else, because we are afraid” they do not understand that those acts of violence are not going to erase or conquer their own fear, but will only bring about more.

We need to acknowledge our own fears and then move onto joy. Something that helps me is to be grateful. Jesus says in Matthew, “God will certainly care for you.” It is certain-God does not just care about us, but the Holy One cares FOR us.

I feel at this time of the year, I cannot preach about fear without mentioning my two friends, Bryce and Dan. A couple years ago, in September, they both killed themselves. Since then, I have had other friends relapse in their addictive diseases. People going through recovery often ask, “What do you mean, God cares for us! What do you mean, God only gives us what we can handle. Obviously, someone could not handle what they were given.”

My conclusion is that one needs to have an open heart, a heart that says that I am willing to believe in hope and joy and Love, even if I am at a point when I cannot feel those concepts intimately. I just finished reading a wonderful, inspiring book by Marcus J Borg called, “The God We Never Knew” and in it, he describes faith not as believing in something so big that it seems impossible, but in simply having an open heart and I have found that description to be very helpful to me.
Acknowledge your fear and then move onto your day. Open your heart to the possibility that hope is real. Trust in the Holy One.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Enjoy Life! - A Quote from Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome

Let your boat of life be light, packed with only what you need - a homely home and simple pleasures, one of two friends, worth the name, someone to love and someone to love you, a cat, a dog, and a pipe or two, enough to eat and enough to wear, and a little more than enough to drink; for thirst is a dangerous thing.

You will find the boat easier to pull then, and it will not be so liable to upset, and it will not matter so much if it does upset; good, plain merchaindise will stand water. You will have time to think as well as to work. Time to drink in life's sunshine - time to listen to the Aeolian music that the wind of God draws from the human heart-strings around us -

from "Three Men in a Boat" (21) by Jerome K. Jerome


I am currently reading this book and am thoroughly loving it. Shapely Prose did a wonderful fluffy post about it one day and I was inspired to read it myself. It is a humorous book, and even though it was written in the Victorian Era, the humor is still very relevant today. It's basically about three men and a dog who decide to take a trip on a boat for their holiday-every detail in preparation is taken so seriously that the book is quite hilarious. They are extremely ordinary men, which makes them easy to relate to and I appreciate this very much.

Sometimes in recovery, I think we take things too seriously-every book is a self-help book, every food that we eat must be healthy, every show must be educational, etc. Well, that's simply not true! While it is true that all of these are good to do in moderation, it is also good to do something simply because you enjoy it, which is the only reason why I am reading this book. Oftentimes, enjoyment is extra special to us, because we have not had pleasure in so long, so revel in it! Get out your crayons and color. Draw. Paint. Explore. Bake cookies. Pick up an old instrument or join a kickball team. Do something just for you and your own enjoyment!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Psalm 23 - Do Not Fear, Do Not Worry!

Sing to me Your song of peace,
Sing to me Your song of comfort,
And sing to me Your song of hope.

Tell me that the LORD is my own
And that She will lead me home.
When the pain begins again,
Remind me that there is nothing I need
For Christ is holding my hand.

Let me revel in the peace soon to be mine.
Let me feel the care that only my Godde can give.
Let me be whole again.

Speak to me of fear’s replacement-
When I with LOVE shall slip past Death,
Of how LOVE shall comfort away all fear.

Whisper gently, O LOVE,
Of the banquent waiting for me,
Of the blessings as numerous and shining as the stars.

Now I know my days are filled with goodness
And I cannot wait to live with Godde forever.
For the original, go here.

This psalm is often spoken at funerals, but I have also heard it said that it is a psalm that is really for the living, because it is about living without fear. The person knows what that she will be taken care of and so there is no need to worry. I am actually leading church this Sunday and that is my theme-that there is no need to worry! I am really excited and nervous. The two scriptures that I am basing the service on are Isaiah 41:10-13 and Matthew 6:24-34.

Isaiah 41:10-13

Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your Godde. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. See, all your angry enemies lie there, confused and humiliated. Anyone who opposes you will die and come to nothing. You will look in vain for those who tried to conquer you. Those who attack you will come to nothing. For I hold you by your right hand-I, the Lord your Godde. And I say to you, “Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.”

Matthew 6:24-34

24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. 25“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your Heavenly Parent feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to God than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? 28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, God will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? 31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your Heavenly Parent already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kin-dom of God[d] above all else, and live righteously, and God will give you everything you need. 34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
I am dealing with quite a bit of pain these days in my knees and in my fingers, but at least I am mentally feeling a lot better due to a new medication. And I don't know if I'll be able to keep a steady job due to my pain, at least I've got parents who are letting me stay with them until I figure things out. There is plenty to worry about, but these verses remind me that there is a master plan and that I do not need to worry about the future.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Avocado vs. Slimcado

At the grocery store last week, I noticed something strange-a fruit that looked like an avocado, except it was a brighter green, much larger, and smoother. The label said, "slimcado" and my mom explained that it's supposed to taste like an avocado, but have less fat. Intrigued, I put both a regular avocado and a slimcado in the cart. I tried them both when we got home and taste-wise the avocado wins by a landslide, which is a shame since the slimcado is so much bigger!
Turkey burgers were on sale, so I bought a pack of those too. I soaked them in mixture of garlic and worcheshire sauce, grilled them on my fabulous George Foreman grill, slathered it with goat cheese, and topped them off with avocado slices. A gourmet turkey burger if there ever was one and so deliscious! Quick too, as I only had to grill the burger for six minutes. What I especially loved is that the burger was not greasy at all, but still full of flavor.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Finally Fall and Finally an Adult-A Roast!

Aren't those cranberries and apples just gorgeous? Fall is here! Unfortunately, this has been the rainiest fall ever in my 28 years in Atlanta and I don't like it one bit!!! Flooding was so bad that some schools closed! On the other hand, I've been inside the house more, with more time to cook and so I made my first roast all by myself.

To me, a roast is the ultimate grownup dish, although I did not make the standard pot roast, but I used my beautiful, red, slow cooker once again. And I must say, the dish was divine! The recipe was from my old standby cookbook, "Fix-It and Forget It Lightly" by Phyllis Pellman Good and the cranberries and apples made the pork so sweet, it was like pork candy!

This was another big step for me ED-wise, because pork is another one of my fear foods, but I adore cranberries and my mom had already bought the pork when it was on sale...

2 lbs Pork Tenderloin, fat trimmed
2 Tbsp. Canola Oil
3 cups Apple Juice
3 Granny Smith Apples
1 cup Fresh Cranberries
3/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Black Pepper

1. Brown roast on all sides in skillet in canola oil. Place in slow cooker.
2. Add remaining ingredients.
3. Cover. Cook on low 6-8 hours.
(This is what it looks like when it's done. The apples and cranberries are mushy and the roast is easily cut with a fork.)
This was so easy, yummy, and festive looking that I might make this for a holiday meal!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Psalm 22 - "Only You Deemed My Body Acceptable"

My Godde, My Godde, why have You forsaken me?
My heart is dust without Your presence.
I need You more than my own hands and feet
For my name is Anguish.

I believe in You;
I know You are holy.
But do you believe in me?
Will You show me the love You’ve shown others?

Deliver me from this pit;
Hungry lions and wild dogs circle me,
Looking at me with murderous eyes.
Save me!

You have answered me
and Your answers please my ears.

Only You deserve praise!
For only You set my heart to beating,
Only You deemed my body acceptable.
Now my name is Grateful.

I shall remember Your mercy forever
And I will tell my children,
And they will tell their children,
And we will tell the world.
To compare it to the original, go here. If you do, you'll probably notice that the first line is the same in both. When I write these poems, it's interesting which words speaks to my heart and which words I decide to change.

This thought, "Only You deemed my body acceptable," is so true! Our society is constantly sending us messages that our bodies are not good enough. A recent shoe designer was designing shoes for a high fashion Barbie, deemed her ankles to be too "fat" and reshaped her foot. Of course, there was nothing wrong with HIS designs! *snark (For more about the story, go here.)

I also watched a couple episodes of the new, but not improved show, Cougartown starring Courtney Cox. It is dreadful. The women are one-dimensional and are almost purely obsessed with their bodies. The men are just as bad, which my father observed, although I almost missed it, because I was cringing at the eating disorder behavior being displayed by the womyn. More and more, I think it's important to think about the things that we watch. I cringe when I think of how I would have reacted to watching a show like Cougartown when I was younger and worse in my ED. Yes, it's satire, but it's so close to reality that it's not funny.

On the other hand, a clip for the movie "Where the Wild Things Are" just came on and my heart just melted. I still love well-done children's movies. What movies are coming out that you are looking forward to watching? Any? Are they feel-good movies or just pure escapism?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Country Apple Tacos

Have old apple slices and don't know what to do with them? Cook 'em!

I made Country Apples from the book, Fix-It and Forget-It Lightly, by Phyllis Pellman Good and they were fabulous!

4-5 cups apples, peeled and sliced
2 Tbsp. flour
1/4 cup Sugar
1/3 cup Raisins
1/4 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
2/3 cup Dry Oatmeal, rolled or quick
1 cup Water
2 Tbsp. Butter, melted
1/3 cup Brown Sugar

1. Coat apples in flour and white sugar. Stir in raisins, cinnamon, and oatmeal.
2. Pour water into slow cooker. Add apple mix.
3. Pour melted butter over apples. Sprinkle with brown sugar.
4. Cover. Cook on low 5-6 hours.
5. Serve over vanilla frozen yogurt, or spread it on flat bread, or both. I did!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Spiritual Quote of the Day:

This is cross-posted at Femi-Nation

It is important not to domesticate Jesus' social passion. The point is not that Jesus was a good guy who accepted everybody, and thus we should do the same (though that would be good). Rather, his teachings and behavior reflect an alternative social vision. Jesus was not talking about how to be good and how to behave within the famework of a domination system. He was a critic of the domination system itself. Indeed, that's the best explanation for why he was killed. He wasn't simply a nice inclusive fellow but a religious social prophet whose teaching, behavior, and social vision radically challenged the elites and the domination system of his day.

From the book, "The God We Never Knew," by Marcus J. Borg.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fabulous Fried Okra & Conquering a Fear Food

I have a very "sensitive" stomach and so cannot eat a lot of fried foods, but fried okra has always been my exception. It's my favorite food! Really, I love okra any way that it can be cooked-I'll even eat it raw, which I know grosses out a lot of people.

In January, I had a colonoscopy and it confirmed that I have IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, so while it is definitely true that I have logical reasons for being careful with what I eat, it is also true that when I was really sick, I would use it as an excuse not to eat. Eating fried foods, especially fried veggies, every once in a while is still perfectly okay!

So when I was grocery shopping a few days ago and I saw that okra was on sale, I thought to myself, "Why don't I really torture ED?! Why don't I learn how to make fried okra?!!!"

It may sound silly, but I felt like a rebel as I put the okra in my cart. I felt like any minute the eating disorder god would strike me down with lightning bolts, but I metaphorically "ran in the rain" anyway! And I am so glad I did!

I had never truly fried anything before, so I did a little research first and found a recipe from allrecipes.com

10 pods okra, sliced in 1/4 inch pieces
1 Egg, beaten
1 Cup Cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil

1. In a small bowl, soak okra in egg for 5 to 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal, salt and pepper.

2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Dredge okra in the cornmeal mixture, coating evenly. Carefully place okra in hot oil, stir continuously. Reduce heat to medium when okra first starts to brown and cook until golden.

Drain on paper towels.
The okra was crunchy and juicy, but the cornmeal did not stay on the okra very well, because I had put the veggies into the oil too soon and it was not hot enough! I guess that means I will have to make fried okra again...Well, I am not complaining!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Psalm 21 - Let Us Give Thanks for "It's Only a Number!"

L: Great Ones rejoice in You, dear Godde
P: So do I.
L: You have given much to many-
P: Including myself.
L: The sun and moon bow down before You,
P: So do I.
L: All of creation cries out your name,
P: So do I.

L: Trees, rocks, mountains, fish, birds, reptiles, mammals-
All of the world’s righteous love You,
P: For You first loved us.

All: Thank You Godde.

("L" stands for Leader and "P" for People.) To compare it to the original, go to Bible Gateway. (painting by Mark Kuhne)
It is fitting that the next psalm I post is purely about giving thanks, for that is all I was thinking about a few days ago!

Last Friday, my mom and I had some much needed mother-daughter time and we used that time to go shopping for jeans, which I also very much needed. When I was a preteen, I loved to go clothes shopping with my mom, but then as my eating disorder progressed, shopping for clothes became very stressful, with me usually in tears.

But this time was different! The whole time I was trying on jeans, I just kept on repeating inside, "It's only a number, it's only a number..." And they are, you know! The sizes on clothes are just arbitrary numbers, with no intrinsic value! None!

I mostly credit the FA, or Fat Acceptance, Movement for the fact that I am beginning to really move towards sane thinking. More specifically, I credit the fact that I am committed to surrounding myself with positive people and I find the Fat Acceptance movement to be a really positive energy for my soul and mind. I am part of a community called Shapely Prose and I credit participating in their group discussions to be mind altering and soul affirming.

Even more specifically, I am open to The Sacred.

I think it is really important in recovery to have positive affirmations, or mantras, that one repeats over and over again until one believes them. I did not plan to repeat "It's only a number" that day, but when the phrase first entered my mind, I went with my instinct and kept on repeating it.

Are there affirmations that have suddenly surprised you like mine did?
What are your favorite mantras?

Another fave of mine is "Let Go and Let God."

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I Don't Need No Stinkin' McDonald's! - My Own Egg McMuffin

Yesterday, I bought these new round flatbread sandwich buns by Arnold brand bread-I got them for my wonderful toasted chicken salad sandwiches that I eat all the time, but I tested them out first thing this morning, by creating an egg sandwich that was better by far than any one could order at a restaurant!
It's very simple! Toast the bread for three minutes, slather a mixture of mayonaise and mustard - its good, I promise - onto the bread, fry an egg, and enjoy!

Pierce the yolk first-it's nature's greatest sauce!

Is your mouth watering yet?
I was quite proud of myself too, as this was only the second time that I've ever made eggs by myself that did not end up scrambled! I discovered the secret to frying an egg is...patience. But not much, because eggs are really probably the fastest food to cook and so satisfying to the soul! Egg-tastic!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Snacking Beauty

Cottage cheese with almonds and canned mixed fruit, including cherries. I just thought the colors were so beautiful that I had to share!

The snack was so easy and so yummy and yet a few years ago, eating this would have given me a panic attack, as nuts used to be one of my supreme fear foods. People would try to tell me about how nuts have "good fat" and about how healthy they are, but my eating disorder would not let me listen! To be in "control," I had to stick to my own rules, no matter how irrational. Thank Godde, I can eat foods like this without stressing out, for even though I now acknowledge that I have little control in life, I am much, much happier!

Embroider Me III and a Little Bit of Clarity

I am often too tired to write long, intellectual posts or to do many other things that I would like to do, but in those times, I am finding it much easier to take refuge in my creativity. Instead of long, feminist rants, I am writing short, insightful poetry and instead of using my legs to take me on the long walks that I used to love, I am using my fingers to sew and embroider.

Thursday, I wrote this poem after showing my therapist my embroidered bags for the first time and she agreed that I might be able to make a little money by selling them at craft shows, which gives me a great feeling. I set up another site, called Femi-Nation, in order to be more political and "radical," but I am having to rethink whether I should continue it, since I am too tired to keep up with it in the way that I had intended. I am also rethinking what I am called to be. It is becoming ever more clear to me that I need to focus more on my recovery and on doing things that are positive than on dwelling on the awful injustices in the world. As much as I would love to fix all the world's problems, I have to start with my own and I can only do what I am able to do and it is just becoming more clear that I need to keep my mind in a positive place.

Deep Inside

To reach deep inside of myself
And pull out all that is important-
All the stuff, the matter, of particles and atoms
That make up my cosmos
Are inside of me and my heart.

And I fling my art onto the world
Of pre-made dinners, processed cheese, and
Lies of ease.

And all that was within looks pale,
But the world outside looks even more
Ghostly white.

And here are my two latest embroidered creations:
This is actually an embroidered picture of a cake that my minister's mother made for Easter a few years ago! There are pink beads and yarn was used for the eyes, nose, and mouth.
This picture was taken in 2007 in a New Orleans cemetary and is my most intricate piece of work so far. I used faux flowers, beads, and the cross is actually an old earring.

Both images are sewn onto a super soft 100% cotton tote. They are 13-1/2" x 13-1/2" x 3-1/2" with the straps being 16."

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Support NAMI - Donate Towards NAMI Walks

On Oct. 3rd, this Saturday, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) GA is having a walk-a-thon, called NAMI Walks, in order to raise money to help pay for the services that they provide for our community. I will be there that day volunteering my time and I hope that after reading why NAMI is important that you will donate a little bit of money towards the group in my name by going here . Even if you can’t, please pass this announcement to someone else, because awareness about mental health advocacy is ultimately the goal.

NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots advocacy group for mental illness and I am a member of the Gwinnett branch. This group is dedicated to breaking the stigma surrounding mental illness by educating all the people in a community – those with mental illness, family members, police officers, even President Obama, as representatives from NAMI recently met with him during a summit on mental health. But the reason I am asking you to support NAMI is personal!

If you are reading this, then you probably already know that I have mental illness. The two main ones are schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type and an eating disorder, which means that I get stressed out more easily than most and that when I do, the consequences can be quite severe.

In 2007 and 2008, I moved away from my support system in Atlanta to try to obtain a degree in music therapy. I did well in the music therapy program, but unfortunately, I often felt stigmatized by the fact that there were almost no appropriate mental health resources for me in all of central Georgia. I suffered a relapse in my eating disorder and when I came back and tried seeing a new psychiatrist in Milledgeville, I was sexually harassed. After that incident, I knew that I could not stay for much longer in a town that could not meet my needs.

When I came back home in December 2008, I had to find a new mental health support group, but fortunately, I knew that there was a NAMI group nearby and I started attending regularly. The first time I went it was a wonderful, supportive experience. I no longer attend as regularly as I used to, but I am still thankful that they are there and every time I do go, I see that same joy on each newcomer’s face.

Right now, I am currently taking NAMI’s Peer 2 Peer class, which is a free class that is taught by a peer – someone with a mental illness – to a peer. It is a positive experience, providing me with more coping skills and education.

NAMI needs your support in order to continue providing these classes for free. The organization has not only classes for peers, but for family members, and even members of our police force have taken mental health sensitivity training, as provided by NAMI. Obviously, supporting NAMI is not just about supporting me, but about supporting our community, our safety, and our leaders. Perhaps one day there will not be the kind of overwhelming stigma and lack of resources that I have experienced in these past few years. Can you help me achieve these goals?