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.

Monday, November 30, 2009

More Ezekiel Inspired Poems

The Question

Whether they listen or not
Is not the final question.

It is rather whether you speak
Godde's truth to power.

You can only control yourself
And that,
Is up for debate!

Pieces of Meat

If you think you are a choice piece of meat,
Think again.

The true choice cuts are those
have been tossed aside
And left to die.

We must purge out our gristle
And be hammered by life's trials
To become tender and vulnerable
As people of Godde.

To become a juicy fillet,
We must first go through
The fire.

Ez. 11:7 "Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: The bodies you have thrown there are the meat and this city is the pot, but I will drive you out of it."

Godde Signs

We are signs of Godde to each other.

Some say, "Go!
Be bold in Godde!"

Others say,"Caution-
Change is coming!"

Still others, "Stop!
Godde knows best!"

But all of us hold
A piece of God in
Our hearts

And if we let our
Godde-Light shine
Out strong

The darkest night
Will be but a

Ez 12:11 "Say to them, 'I am a sign to you.'

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Psalm 28 - Do Not Remain Silent!

Those who reside in Hell are only
Those for whom You are silent.
So listen to my plea for mercy
And answer me with Your strength.

Do not remain silent to me,
As You do with those who are false -
Those whose words are like lace to each other,
But are really a web of lies.
Although the world bestows them with honor,
I know You will find them in their web,
All tangled and unable to become unstuck.

Yes! Godde has answered my plea for mercy
And my heart leaps for joy.
I cannot help but sing!

The Holy One makes the weak mighty-
She is a powerhouse for the powerless,
And in the crook of her arms,
She is ready to carry her children home.

To compare it to the original, go here.
I have started reading my Bible right before I go to sleep and as I think about the verses I have just read, I put my thoughts into little poems. Perhaps one day they will be published... Here are a few of mine, all inspired by Ezekiel.

God's Hand

The hand of the Lord is upon me
Just like it was for Ezekiel,
And just like it was for Elisha.
My name may not begin with the letter "E,"
But I am still a prophet.
I am enough!
I am important-
But not more so than you.

So join me now.
Let us journey home.

Ez 1:3 "The hand of the Lord was upon him."

God's Voice

God's voice is in the "roar of rushing waters."
It is in the song of a sparrow.
It is in my soul.

Listen with your inner ear-
Truly hear what Godde is saying:
"You are loved!"

Ez 1:24 "When the creatures moved, I heard the sounds of their wings, like the roar of rushing waters, like the voice of the Almighty, like the tumult of an army."
William Blake
The Whirlwind: Ezekiel's Vision of the Cherubim and Eyed Wheels circa 1803-1805
Pen and watercolour over pencil on paper, 394 x 295 mm

Godde's Radiance

Godde's radiance is like a rainbow.
It sparkles and shimmers
And does not seem real-
Too much beauty!
But it is real.

Open your eyes to the joy that is around you.
Godde promises Her presence is not only near,
But continually filling us up with her radiant joy
If we will just open the door!

Ez 1:28 "Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him."

What do you think? They're very similar in style to my psalms... If you guys like them, I'll continue to post my little sacred poems.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Pretzel Salad

Every Thanksgiving needs a salad! No, not a healthy, leafy, green salad, full of good for you fiber, but a jello salad, full of butter, sugar, and fat! This recipe is from allrecipe.com and it's actually called a "pretzel salad," because is uses pretzels for the base. It turned out deliscious! I made it and took it to a friend's house where we had fabulous food and fellowship. The fellowship was especially great, as my Naval officer brother was able to come home at the last minute.

2 cups crushed pretzels
3/4 cup margarine, melted
2 teaspoons white sugar
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
3/4 cup white sugar
4 1/2 ounces frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 (6 ounce) package strawberry flavored gelatin
2 cups boiling water
2 (10 ounce) packages frozen strawberries

1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
2.In a medium bowl, mix crushed pretzels, margarine and sugar.

3.Press crushed pretzel mixture into the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish, and bake in the preheated oven 8 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Blend together the cream cheese and sugar.
Fold in whipped topping and spread evenly over cooled pretzel mixture.

5.In a medium bowl, dissolve the strawberry flavored gelatin in boiling water.
Mix in strawberries and set aside to cool for 15 minutes.

Isn't it beautiful? It tasted beautiful too!
Before we started eating, I overheard my mother say, "Thanksgiving is the one time when we can eat a lot and not feel guilty." I charge you to not feel guilty any time you eat (and me too), even if you eat a lot. Food is energy and we need this energy to survive. We should give thanks for our food and the ability to live everyday!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Protein Power!

Two eggs, sunny-side-up, on top of refried beans, on top of toasted Arnold Thins, with shredded cheddar cheese. Yummmy! This is my new favorite lunch! I have no idea how I knew that the beans and eggs would go together so perfectly, but somehow I just knew. It is super packed with protein and fiber-two things that keep me going throughout my busy days. It's especially good, because my new medicine makes me extra hungry and these open-faced sandwiches really hit the spot.
My mom thinks that the combination sounds too weird, but push aside those inhibitions, because this is sheer food heaven!
To be honest, I have been having trouble adjusting to the extra weight that I have gained due to my new meds. Sometimes I feel like my eating disorder is not just a disorder, but is more like a really evil entity that I must serve. The gained weight means that I am doing well in my recovery, but when most of my pants do not fit anymore, it can be hard to remember that recovery is the desired goal and not serving ED.

I was feeling really down before going to church today, but when I got to church it was announced that a friend of the church recently died. This was a person that fully embraced life and many people came to her funeral and to my church to remember all the good that she had done. This reminded me what really matters in this life is not how much we weigh, but how fully we live our life. I am thankful that I am now in a place where my mind is open enough to receive these life lessons. So what if I weigh a little more? I am alive and grateful for it!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

NAMI's Multicultural Action Center Wins the Fruit and Nut Bowl Award

At the annual “Alternatives Conference” organized by the National Mental Health Consumers' Self-Help Clearinghouse, NAMI’s Multicultural Action Center and received the conference’s “Fruit and Nut Bowl Award.”

No, the name of the award is not a slur.

It’s an honor.

The award recognized NAMI’s leadership in helping to "make it safe": for the LGBT community "to be proud and diverse" in addressing mental health needs.

The Multicultural Action Center mission includes public education to decrease stigma. In many respects, the Fruit n’ Nut award is a statement of pride that stands stigma on its head and unifies the LGBT and mental health consumer communities.

The award was first presented in 2007 to Bert Coffman of the Zappolarti Society, which runs a weekly LGBT peer support and recovery group in New York City.

Coffman presented the award to the center’s director Majose Carrasco and coordinator Marin Swesey. He specifically cited NAMI’s creation of the center in 2002 to eliminate disparities in mental health care among diverse communities and the organization in 2007 of the GLBT Leaders Group.

"MAC stepped to the plate," Coffman said in recognizing sexual and gender communities as "a culture deserving status akin to African American, American Indian, Alaska Native, American Pacific Islander and Latino cultures."

With the GLBT Leaders Group, the center has set a course for education and advocacy, including “outstanding products” such as Mental Health Recovery and Community Integration Guide for GLBTQI Individuals and its companion publication, GLBTQI Mental Health: Recommendations for Policies and Services.

In presenting the award, Coffman stood in for Mark Davis, a member of the GLBT Leaders group, who like too many people in recent weeks, was side-lined at home with the flu. Davis himself recently received a Voice Award from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
I think it is really great that my organization won this award! When I first joined NAMI, one of the reasons why I was nervous is because I am "out" about being bisexual and I was afraid that I might experience some stigma due to this, but I did not. In fact, to my surprise I was not the only queer person in attendance! I am very proud to say that I have never experienced any stigma or even weirdness due to my sexual identity. I told a fellow NAMI member about how excited I was that NAMI got this award and she said, "Of course, people that are marginalized due to mental illness are going to be accepting of everybody..." It is true that people that are in recovery are more accepting of other people, because they are aware of their own struggles and so know that it would be a foolhardy thing to judge another. Still, I was suprised at just how open everyone was and continues to be. When I read about the award, I knew that it would be what I would write about in our next newsletter. I am out and am proud of NAMI!

Psalm 27

Psalm 27

The Holy One is my flashlight
And it shows me my salvation.
If I follow it, then why fear?
The Holy One is my foundation
And my life is built upon it.
If I live there, then why fear?
Some people are like the flesh-eating bacteria-
Only they want to feed upon my soul.
Even in the midst of war,
When I am surrounded by the soul-terrorists,
I will stand firm and shine bright.

I do ask to stay inside my house made of love.
Let me stay there all of my life.
I only want to surround myself in beauty
Instead of hate.
I want to stay in safety
Instead of fear.

I know my house is really your house.
I know I am protected by your love.
Therefore I will drown out the shrieks of sorrow
With my songs of joy.

Like the game “Marco Polo”
When I call out your name
Please respond.
I listen with my heart
And I want to see your face.
I search everywhere-
Shine your light upon it!
Do not reject me like my imperfect parents,
But stay and support me forever.
Unlike my other teachers
Teach me to follow Your truth.
For the soul-terrorists breathe out death,
But you fill me with life!

This knowledge strengthens my conviction
To wait patiently for your victorious day.
To compare it to the original, go here.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

On a Rainy Day, Make Marshmellows

It was another rainy day and I was feeling miserable and bored, so I decided to make marshmellows! The recipe was posted last February for Valentine's Day-I can't believe I did not lose it!-in the Atlanta Journal Constitution. When I first saw the article, I did not even know that one could make marshmellows at home! I wasn't too wild about them, so I threw the recipe away after I made the marshmellows, which I am wishing that I had not, because now I will not be able to give the exact recipe to you. Whoops!
Boil corn syrup and some other stuff.

Three packs of unflavored gelatin and some water looks kinda funny.
Pour boiled cornstarch into bowl with gelatin. Add two cups of sugar and some vanilla flavoring. You can add other types of flavoring and food coloring if you want. I wish that we had had other types of flavoring, myself, as I would like to try mint marshmellows!I thought the pictures of me using egg beaters turned out pretty cool.
Grease a sheet of saran wrap and place it in a 9x9 baking dish. Then pour in the mixture and let it set for at least three hours, although the texture is best if you leave it overnight. Cover with powdered sugar.
I was not wowed, although I did like the texture much better in the morning. It tasted great in a cup of cocoa, but I will probably not make it again. Still, it definitely improved my mood that day. You know what they say, when life hands you lemons, make marshmellows?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Remember: Tomorrow Will Be Different Than Today

My NAMI peer-to-peer class is almost over and I have learned a lot, but it was probably last week's class that has meant the most to me. In it, we heard from a loving husband and how he lives with his wife, who has paranoid schizophrenia. The man is also very involved in NAMI. He talked about listening to her and about how much he admires how hard she works for her recovery. For me, it was very inspirational to hear someone talk about having a loving relationship with a person that has a mental illness, because to be honest, I have wondered a lot whether there is anyone that can handle me. Yes, I am much better, but I may always need to be taken care of to an extent-I will at least need to be more careful than most about stressful situations. Stress causes me to hallucinate and to want to restrict, therefore I have to be extra careful about my workload. I also have arithritis at only 28, so I simply cannot do as much as most. I need someone who can help me and respect me at the same time. I need someone who is good for my recovery. I told the man about my worries about finding that "someone special" and he asked me a question.

Are you actively looking for someone?

I answered, "yes" and what he said next shocked me and reassured me.

Stop it! Live your life. The universe will find the person for you.

In other words, Let Go and Let God. Life is a lot better when I just live it and not worry too much about if I am doing everything the way I am supposed to. What he said was also a lot more reassuring than when other people have told me "to put myself out there" with the implication that I am not doing enough. My recovery comes first! I simply cannot spend all my time looking and searching for a significant other, but I must trust that everything that I need will happen in its own time.

Another thing that he said that I keep on thinking about is this:

Tomorrow will be different than today.

This is actually a quote from his father who lived into his nineties. His father was born in 1914 and think of all the changes that have happened in technology in his lifetime! And then think of the changes in his personal life-he said this particular saying in the last year of his life, when he went from being independent to living with his children. The point is, no matter how bad or how good life is, one thing is for certain-it will change! When I was younger, my philosophy could be summed up as, "I hate change," but now I almost love it, because I know that change is often wonderful. I keep on thinking and thinking about how different my life is from a year ago today. A year ago, I was still miserable in Milledgeville, with a horrible job at a major department store. Today, even though I am living with my parents, I am much happier and am about to start a job that should be much more suited for my personality. Change is good and I am glad that I finally am accepting this, because you know, it is inevitable.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Psalm 26

Support me, O Godde.
For I am climbing the ladder of Your integrity-
Do not let me fall.

Your lovingkindness is my goal.
Let me reach it,
Let me feel it,
Let it wash me anew;
So that I may sparkle in Your Love
And that all who see me also see You.
To compare it to the original, go here.

Feeling very achy today, so not going to do much talking, just enjoy the poetry and the picture.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Delicious Cornbread That Has A Lot More Than Mere Corn

Doesn't this look fab?! Well, it tasted wonderful! These are pictures from several months ago, when my family still had homegrown, organic tomatoes and yellow squash. One night I made a compote out of sweet, cream corn, the squash and tomatoes, and munster cheese. I ate it that night over a black bean burger, but I was left with a lot of leftovers, so the next night I took those leftovers and I baked it along with the ingredients to make cornbread. Sorry I am being so general about the process, but for the cornbread, really I use a standard box and follow the instructions on the back.
Since that night, I have made variations of this cornbread many times and I have even brought it to parties and church dinners. Sometimes I add onions, sometimes the cheese is cheddar, although I don't usually use the squash. It was great, though! I do usually add the creamed corn and the last time I made it the tomatoes were not homegrown, but were stewed tomatoes from a can with "Mexican" spices. Really, you cannot mess up this recipe. I give you full permission to make this yourself and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!
(It's best if served with sour cream!)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day and Mental Illness

I promise later today to do a fluffier piece, but this is important!

This Veteran's Day, let us not only remember all those that physically died or became wounded in war, but also all those who suffer from horrible mental illness.
(picture from the blog, SteveAudio, portraying a soldier suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

From Nami.org


Almost one in three veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq confront mental health problems.

On an average day in this country, suicide claims another 18 veterans.

Approximately 30 percent of veterans treated in the veterans health system suffer from depressive symptoms, two to three times the rate of the general population.

More Vietnam veterans have now died from suicide than were killed directly during the war.

Approximately 40 percent of homeless veterans have mental illnesses.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cookie Monster

It is Sesame Street's fortieth birthday!! Can you believe it? You know, C is for many great things: Christmas, COOKIE, it's the first letter of my name, coffee crumb cake, cracker jack, cupcake, cat-my favorite animal... What are your favorite C words? (besides COOKIE?!)

At my church's Christmas party, we are having a cookie swap, so look for pictures of yummy cookies coming soon. Yum! What kind of cookies should I make? What's your favorite kind of cookie? I'd like to make something really creative...
(haha Creative starts with C! So does caring, compassion, and Circle of Grace, the name of my church, and when I was a kid, I made up an animal called a "Cornyrumpus!")

Monday, November 9, 2009

Psalm 25 - A Confession & Being "Originally Good"

To You, O Godde, I lift up my soul.

O Godde, I am in pain.
I am no Atlas-
The world’s weight is over my head and
It will crush me if You do not help.

Patiently, I will wait.
I am not ashamed to hand You my soul.
It may have bruises- tender and weighty
And it may have scars, and tears, and blood.

But You are the One who heals all things.
Give my soul wings to fly.
Show me Your paths of mercy and truth
And I will fly to meet You there.
These were also the words I used for out confession when I planned the worship service at my church a couple weeks ago. To find the original, go here.
I had a wonderful Friday! A friend and I went to see Pearl Cleage, the Indigo Girls, and Alice Walker perform at Charis' Book & More 35th anniversary. The experience was electrifying and even though it was not a religious service, I felt the presence of God.
(The Indigo Girls)

In fact, I am feeling Godde's presence more and more these days. In Marcus J. Borg's book, The God We Never Knew, he talks about the fact that God is always with us and that it is hard for people to see just how present God is in our world. Seeing God in our world is like seeing all the world's colors shine brighter and understanding that all is at its core wonderfully good. I no longer believe in "original sin" as it no longer serves me. The theology behind it served me quite well when I hated myself, but I, thank Godde!, no longer do. Instead, I believe that we are "originally good." This belief was introduced to me by my minister and it changed my life.

Because I now believe that my core is wonderfully good, I believe that it is imperative for my recovery to surround myself by good things. I used to go to many sites that would make me incredibly angry, but I finally realized that the kind of rage it was producing in me is toxic to my system. I rarely go to those sites anymore, nor do I usually watch movies with intense violence. When trying to battle all that I am battling in my life, there is no need to create more stress and negativity and I must say, I am a much happier and more fulfilled person because of it.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Inspirational Quote for the Day

Selfishness seldom has to do with reaching for the biggest piece of cake; rather, it is preoccupation with ourselves. (78)
~ Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time by Marcus J. Borg


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Take Good Care of Your Heart!

This is cross-posted at Femi Nation.

I am taking a CPR/first aid class and today I hearned that hear attacks are the number one cause of death in both womyn and men in the United States. For men, the biggest sign for a heart attack is chest pain, but not so for womyn-they usually experience back, head, or jaw pain. Womyn are also less likely to report their symptoms and so less womyn get treated for heart attacks and heart disease.

This scares me! How many times have you hidden a headache or a backache, because you did not want to worry others or be a bother? How many times have you dismissed your own health in favor of someone else's? For myself, the times are countless.

But knowledge is not only power, for true wisdom requires one to take action!

Ladies, we must stop dismissing ourselves! Not only will we not be able to take care of our loved ones if we die due to our own carelessness, but the simple fact is true-you must advocate for yourself, because no one else will.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Inspirational Quote of the Day

Every choice we make can be a celebration of the world we want.
~ Frances Moore Lappe and Anna Lappe

Monday, November 2, 2009

Support Gray Matters Behavioral Health Caucus on Nov. 9

From a NAMI email:

Support the Gray Matters Behavioral Health Caucus on November 9, 2009. This is the second quarterly caucus for mental health champions in the legislature to meet and learn what is happening and what can be done about it. Our first caucus was held on August 8.

We all know how often we hear or talk about Georgia ’s broken and failing mental health system. Now we can do something about it.

Last year, we had maybe 10 - 12 Champions, legislators who really went to bat for mental health, and we got a new department of Behavioral Health and a new mental health ombudsman Imagine what could happen if we had 50 legislators this year to champion our cause. We could really make things happen.

We began working on this idea in May. Then in June, the new Commissioner of the Dept of BHDD suggested that a Caucus of 50 legislators would be a great idea. We said “We thought so too, and had already begun working on it!”

We’ve done a lot to set it up, like getting Host legislators and a place in the Capitol to have the event. We have 12 legislative and 19 organizational co-hosts. Everyone is getting on board, even the Governor and Lt. Governor’s offices support the initiative.

But we need your help. We need to make sure that as many legislators show up as possible. So we’re asking you to contact both your State Senator and your State Representative and ask them to attend. Let them know how important it is to you that they care about mental health.

Go to Congress.org, which allows you to send an e-mail while on the web site. Click on the link below and then, in the box that is titled My Elected Officials, enter your 5 digit zip code in the top zip code box and then enter your 4 digit "+4" numbers in the bottom zip code box and click "GO". There is no need to enter your full address. On thee next page, in the same box, you will see the titles and names of your elected officials. Find your state Senators and Representatives and click on their name's. You will be taken to a page with additional information about each.