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.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

I watched the new movie version of "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" and it was cute, although, of course, the book is better than the movie.

I liked that many of the scenes from the movie were taken from illustrations in the book-it made me nostalgic for my childhood when I read the book over and over again. Although my favorite illustration was not included, because the premise is not that the town of Chew and Swallow is made up by a Grandpa telling tall tales, which made me slightly sad. (My favorite picture was the sun coming up from behind snowy hills, making it look like a pat of butter on top of mashed potatoes.) For some reason whenever books have a plot that is out of one of the character's imagination, the movie has to make the plot much wilder, which leaves out some of the earlier innocence and magic. I heard that that's what the movie version of "Where the Wild Things Are" did, but I still want to see it.
I also liked that the moral was to be yourself, although it did seem a bit preachy AND I did not like it that it seemed to me to be the guy telling the womyn how to be herself. Being yourself is a great message, but I want the womyn to discover this message for herself and not because some other person tells her to. But I can let that slide, as asking for truly feminist Pixar movies are expecting a bit much...


What I cannot let slide is the fat=greedy meme that the movie was promoting. In the movie, even though the main character's contraption gives the town tons of food, only one character eats uncontrollably and it is the town's greedy mayor. As the movie progresses, the mayor gets fatter and fatter and the way the mayor is portrayed, it is obvious that the mayor's fat is supposed to gross out the audience. While I know that cartoons, especially children's cartoons, are usually very simple cariacatures, I feel that this portrayal is dangerous. By watching this, children are programmed to think that fat=greedy, disgusting, bad, and out of control and that is simply not true. People who are fat might be those things, just as people who are thin or of medium build might be. But they also might be creative, lovable, smart, and reasonable. We must teach our children to judge people based on their actions and not on their looks or our nation's epidemic of bullying will never end.

Ella Baker - Womyn of the Week

Since I posted a video of the group, "Sweet Honey in the Rock" singing the song, "Ella's Song," which was named after Ella Baker, I'm doing Ella Baker as Hope is Real's first "Womyn of the Week." (And yes, this post is repeat of a post from Femi-Nation...) The main words in the song are, "We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes" - one of her famous sayings.
(painting by Robert Shetterly for the "Americans Who Tell the Truth" project)

The painting has this quote:

“In order for us as poor and oppressed people to become a part of a society that is meaningful, the system under which we now exist has to be radically changed. It means facing a system that does not lend itself to your needs and devising means by which you can change that system. That is easier said than done.”


Ella Baker was born in 1903 and was a major civil rights activist. She believed it is better to work behind the scenes than to have centralized figures of authority. She is famous for saying, "Strong people don't need strong leaders."

In 1927, Baker graduated from Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. She then moved to Harlem and started organizing consumer cooperatives during the Great Depression. In 1938, she became part of the NAACP's staff. She traveled South to build up local branches, which became the start of the Civil Rights Movement. But by 1946, her duties for the NAACP were more focused on integrating New York City public schools.

In 1957, Ella Baker helped create the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which helped establish Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a major Civil Rights figure. Baker and King clashed, for Baker thought that King was too controlling and did not put enough energy into empowering others.

Baker founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1960, when four students were denied service at a university cafeteria. This committee led sit-ins in cafeterias across the country and opened the doors of activism to people who had previously been overlooked, like young people and women.

In 1964, Ella Baker moved back to New York and worked tirelessly for human rights until her death in 1983.
****************
Ella Baker was right-"We who believe in freedom cannot rest." She is also right in that human rights leaders should always be more concerned for the people, and especially the most marginalized people, of whatever group they represent than their own ego. I think of how Pat Robertson, who is so obviously misguided and is nothing like Martin Luther King Jr., recently said that the Haitians are better off now than they were, because now they have a chance to repent. He has said similar things about every kind of natural disaster that has occurred since he has been in a public position. What a fool! I wish that people did not listen to him. I wish that his idiotic sayings were ignored by the media and that the Ella Bakers of this world were the ones uplifted, but that is not how this world works-those who do the truly great works in this world are never verbally given the credit they deserve, for they are the ones who know that receiving credit is not what is truly important.

Change Is Coming!

I have decided that it is too hard trying to maintain two blogs at once and so I am going to try to merge my Femi-Nation blog into Hope is Real! Hope is Real will look pretty much the same, except that the posting should be more frequent. It will be slightly more political and there will be more book critiques. There will be a weekly feature - most weeks, anyway - called "Womyn of the Week" that features a feminist or womanist that you should know. In one of the side columns, there will now be write ups for inclusive feminist events. Hope is Real! main focus will still be on recovery and food and spirituality-its just that I will be incorporating the stuff that I do on my other blog. Hardly anyone visits my Femi-Nation blog and the whole reason why I created it is because I wanted a feminist online community, with people sending me articles and events and artwork, but that hasn't happened. I still would love to post other people's feminist or foodie or recovery-centered events, so if you know of one and would like me to post it, send it to me at kcjones89@yahoo.com and I will be more than glad to do so. I am excited about these new changes and I hope you are too!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Creamed Spinach and Beef Pie!

I have a cookbook where every recipe only has four ingredients. I got it years ago when I thought the recipes must be simple enough to not overwhelm me and I finally made a couple of recipes from it a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, both recipes were only so-so. I was left with tons of filo pastry from one of the recipes and so I decided to make up my own recipe and I must say, it was a lot better!

Creamed Spinach and Meat Pies

Ingredients

filo pastry
small carton of cream
1 package of frozen spinach
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil
Fresh Chopped Cilantro
1 lb Beef
2 Garlic Cloves, Cut
2 Handfuls of Mozzarella

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Put the frozen spinach in a pot on the stove. Follow the directions on the box for cooking.

3. Coat the bottom of a pan with olive oil and put it on medium heat on the stove.

4. Cook the meat with the garlic.

5. Pour the carton of cream and the cheese in the pot of spinach. When the meat and the spinach (and the cheese is melted) is cooked, pour the spinach mixture and chopped cilantro into the meat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, of course.

Here is the hard part!

6. Put a large spoonful of the mixture on top of about five sheets of the filo pastry. Then wrap it up. This is harder than it sounds, because the heat and the liquid makes the filo pastry a little messy. I ended up using a lot of the pastry, because it would start to get soggy and then I would have put some more down, but it still turned out tasty, so I say don't worry about what you're doing and just go for it. You can seal the pies or leave a little hole, whichever way you like is fine. Dab on some olive oil.

7. I would do the above step on whatever pan you're using to bake them on-then you don't have to figure out how to move their soggy asses. I used a glass casserole sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes.

8. There will be leftover mixture-pour this over the whole pastry and enjoy!

This was a hard one for me, as I used both cream and beef-two ingredients that I very rarely use, because the fat content has always scared me. BUT it's a meal that has your carbohydrates, protein, veggies, fat, and dairy all in one dish, so it's actually pretty healthy and certainly a complete meal. It's really filling and very satisfying.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Eating Humble Frittata

Look! My frittata is smiling! Frittatas are my new egg craze-they're light, fluffy, and yet still filling AND you can fill them with all kinds of fabulous stuff! Usually I make them with ham and cheddar cheese, but today I made it with fresh spinach and a dollop of Marie Callendar's new yogurt dressing with feta cheese. Yummy!

Making frittatas are really easy - just put two eggs in a bowl and whisk them with a fork. Then add other ingredients, which absolutely must include some kind of cheese and pour it into the pan. Use a small pan and the egg mixture will fill up the whole pan. When the mixture has cooked for about 1.5 minutes, then take your spatula and flip it like a pancake.

Voila! Doesn't it look like a bright, happy sun? The dressing made the inside slightly creamy, while the spinach was slightly crunchy. The sun sure is tasty!

Today was really productive! Besides making a fabulous frittata, I went to a seminar about working with children with developmental disabilities and I made some great contacts with people and I even might get a job where I can use my training in music therapy. It occurred to me as I was driving home that I am doing what I always wanted to do, just in a roundabout way and then that's when I had a thought breakthrough, because my next thought was, "Yeah, but it doesn't matter, because I still live with my parents..." But then my immediately next thought after that was, "Although maybe that isn't the purpose of life! Maybe life isn't about achieving big things, but is more about the process of getting them." I was astounded! Surely that thought did not come from myself, but has been absorbed through going to so many meetings lately, with a liberal helping of Godde. I instantly felt very humbled and thankful for the insight. It is still hard for me to get used to the idea of not being resentful for not living on my own, but it is getting easier. My sponsor says that humility is "not thinking less of yourself, but thinking about yourself less often." It has taken me several weeks to process that statement and, in fact, I am still processing it, but I really like it. My sponsor also says that "being humble is the closest way to get to know Godde." When I was a child, the word humble seemed like such a dopey word-nothing I wanted to be like at all. But with these new definitions, I am learning that being humble really does get one closer to Godde and it really is a wonderful place to be.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Psalm 32

Blessed are the honest
And blessed are those that sin
And yet are secure in their forgiveness.

But be wary of silence!
When I was not humble,
I could not see Your face,
Because my head was bowed in shame.
But when I lifted my head
And admitted my sins,
I felt washed anew in Your
loving presence.
I knew that Audre Lorde was right,
For I was not protected by my silence-
Ony through humble honesty am I
Truly freed from bondage.

I follow The Great Forgiver willingly-
I am not like a dog who must be lead upon a leash.
Rather, I have a new leash on life!
I only want to follow Godde,
Because Godde is the greatest freedom giver.

If I hide myself in Godde
Then I will still know pain,
But I will know a greater joy
And I will never be silent again.
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What do you think? Do you think the pun is too cheesy? To compare it to the original, go here.
If you don't know who Audre Lorde is, she was a wonderfully gifted poet and activist, who is famous for sayng, "Your silence will not protect you." It's true.

Other news: I went to my doctor today and he is back to thinking that I have fibromyalgia. I find it frustrating to have my diagnosis change so much, although I suppose it shouldn't, since arithritis and fibro are treated the same way. I was given a shot of cortizone to help with the pain. I hope that it helps me have a better day than I did today, because I was in so much knee pain today that I had to cut my time at my job short today. Certainly following Godde does not erase physical pain, but I do find that it helps with the emotional.

I remember I used to know a girl when I was a freshman at Berry College who had a sign on her door that had a picture of a frowny face under the words, "Before God" and a smiley face under the words "With God." The sign pissed me off, because it spoke of a faith that was too simple for me. At the time, I was really in the throes of schizoaffective disorder, which includes depression as one of its symptoms, so that sign to me, was dishonest. Whether one is "with God" or not, they will still have moments of great pain. I also believe that Godde will give us moments of joy and peace to sustain us through those difficult times. I hope that the lives of my readers are filled with joy and peace, but if not, remember that your time of trial will pass, for change is one of the few constants in this life. That is my truth.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sweet honey in the rock - Ella's Song

I am sorry that I did not post this yesterday, but I worked and was too tired to do much of anything when I got home. We sing this song every Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday at my church. It uplifts my soul and spirit! Enjoy!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Living In The Moment

Living in the moment has always been excruciatingly hard for me, but very slowly, I am beginning to have glimpses of moments where I am happy to be only where I currently am. Last Thursday I had two such moments. The first one was when I was at the local dog park. The day was absolutely beautiful-the first sunshiny day in a very long time. Even our dog was happy! There were a lot of people with their dogs at the park and Georgia, our dog, who usually does not play, ran with several other dogs. She is a rescue beagle and did not learn how to do many typical "dog" things, even though she is eight years old, so to see her running and enjoying herself with the other dogs really made me feel good. Then on the way home, the girl that I'm working with told me that she was glad that her mom had hired me and I was just filled with an overwhelming sense of "right where I am, is where I am supposed to be." (Which, by the way, are also the words in a Dave Matthews Band song...) It was a powerful feeling. Later, as I was driving home from my AfterCare group, I received the feeling again. It was beautiful!

Being able to feel right in the moment gave me hope. People at my AfterCare group like to say that "When you think life can't get worse, it does, but when you think it can't get better, it does that too." So I am hopeful that life can get better and that I can feel "in the moment" more and more often, because I think that is what we are called to be. If we trust in The Holy One, then we should not be living for or in tomorrow, but damn it, that can be REALLY hard! But the truth of the matter is that I could die tomorrow-all we really have is today, so we should be grateful and joyous in this exact moment. My hope for my readers is that they are blessed with those same feelings sometime soon.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Be Proud of Your Imperfections

Yesterday I was comforting a friend who is struggling with the fact that she simply cannot be the "perfect" student. I felt so bad for her, as she mentally beat herself up for not being able to study as much as she had planned, for the simple truth of the matter is that no matter how hard one tries, no one can be the perfect anything. It is a guaranteed recipe for failure! It is a cliche to just say, "Be yourself," as if one can be one's self perfectly, be one cannot even do that, because there will always be times when one is not their true self-when one does something that goes against her beliefs or wants to be like someone else. One cannot "to thyself be true" all the time.

It is a worthy goal to be as true to one's self as much as one can, but no more is-or should be-asked of anyone. Treat yourself with lovingkindness, for if you cannot love yourself, then you cannot love anyone.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Psalm 31

I am wasting away from the sickness of shame
And I face fear on all sides,
But there is One in whom I will always trust-
Godde will not let me stay in shame!
With Godde, there is nothing to fear!
I shall not put my hope in myself,
For I alone cannot be trusted.
But I put my trust in my relationship with The Holy One
For She is always there at my side.
She is The Dependable One
Who will gladly give me Her strength.
With Godde as my partner
I need feel no shame, no weakness, no danger-
Only joy and peace and goodness forever.
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To compare it to the original, go here.
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Yesterday I went to a meeting with a friend and it was a cool experience, because it was held in a part of town that I used to live in when I was first starting my recovery from an eating disorder. After the meeting, we went out to eat at a little Italian restaurant. I couldn't believe that I used to live down the street from a restaurant with such good food and I never went there! At that point of time, I still obsessed about my food quite a bit and going to restaurants was still very scary. As I ate last night, each bite of food was me counting my blessings. It was very healing to go back to an area of town where I used to be in such pain and now be in a place of healing. Most restaurants that I go to have awful lighting, but this place was nice and bright, so I took a picture of my "House Calzone" - a calzone with tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, and cheese, of course. Yummy!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Live Fully Into Today

How do you like my new layout? I think it's crisper looking.

Canadian bacon was on sale the other day, so I bought some, as I really prefer it over regular bacon. But then I had a conundrum-I had never cooked with canadian bacon before and the only dishes I knew that call for it are breakfast dishes and I was using it for dinner! So I went to allrecipes.com and typed in "canadian bacon" and a recipe for macaroni and cheese popped up. It looked good, but I was a little unsure. I had never made homemade macaroni before-it had always been on my "no" list of foods, but the recipe looked easy, so I decided that homemade mac & cheese should be on my no list no longer. And I am so glad that I did, because the recipe is fabulous!

Ingredients
1 cup elbow macaroni
6 strips Canadian-style bacon
2 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup canned tomatoes, (Italian seasoned) half-drained
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon dry mustard

Directions

1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

2. While macaroni is boiling, fry or broil bacon and place on paper towel to drain. Cut into bite size pieces.
I'm pretty sure that I used butter to cook them in. There was a time when I was deathly afraid of butter, but I have since amended my ways! But it might have been olive oil-both would work and I honestly cannot remember which I used! Whoops! Caution: A commenter on the allrecipes site warned that one should not fry the bacon too long, or they will be chewy. Fortunately, I did not, but it is good advice.

3. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium low heat. Stir in flour, then tomatoes and mustard and wait for sauce to thicken, stirring occasionally.
The mustard was not in the original recipe, but a commenter added that they used it, so I decided to give it a try.

4.When thickness is to your liking, stir in cheese until it has melted.
5. Stir in cooked macaroni and bacon and heat through. Serve hot.
I served it with steamed broccoli that had a sauce of butter and lemon juice on it. More and more, I keep on thinking about all that I would miss out on if I let my eating disorder get in the way-I would never have made a big dinner for my family, I would not have bought the bacon, or cooked with butter, or used a dish with so much cheese, but I am so glad that I did all those things. Life is meant to be lived intensely, as Monica Coleman would say in her book, "Making a Way Out of No Way," and that includes intense flavors. I am so thankful to be where I am in my recovery, but something that I am striving this year to be better at is being grateful for where I am, period! I have moped about because I do not live where I want to be and it is easy to compare myself to others and think that I have "lost." She has a better house, is independent, has a partner, blah, blah, blah... My goal for this year is to live in the now. So what if I don't have a significant other or live independently? I have people who love me and I live rent-free with them! I have just started on my step four in the twelve steps, which is where one does a personal inventory and looks at all their resentments. I know that I will have page after page of resentments and foolish comparisions to write about and that is okay. I need to address these issues so that I can live more fully for today, for really, we do not know how long we have to live on this earth and we need to live fully into today.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Cooking to Heal



My Broccoli and Cheese Casserole
1 lb of chicken
1 bunch of broccoli
2 boxes of Betty Crocker 3-Cheese scalloped potatoes
Milk
Olive Oil
Butter

Directions:

Cut chicken into bite sized pieces. Saute them in olive oil. Cut broccoli into bite sized pieces also. Put them and the contents of the scalloped potatoes box into a casserole dish and follow the directions on the box.


The recipe for the vegetables is here.
These pictures show a culinary event that was very healing for me, although stressful. On my family's vacation, there was a day when my brother wanted a big dinner in order for everyone to meet his girlfriend and I volunteered to make the dinner. This was a dinner of about seventeen people! We had the broccoli, potato and cheese casserole, a fruit salad, rolls, shrimp, and squash and zucchini with cheese. I felt very grown up as I ordered people to chop vegetables, fruit, and chicken and as I correctly timed how long it would take for everything to cook. Everyone loved the end result. I made three casseroles - one with chicken, one with bacon, and one with both. This casserole is one that I have made often and I love making it, because it's really quick-cooks in twenty minutes, but my favorite dish was the vegetables-I just love feta cheese!
It was very healing to make this meal for everyone, because I know that there was a time when there would have been no way for me to handle the stress of making a large meal or of eating it. It was a large step in my fight against ED. I must confess that after desert-provided by others-I felt really full and I started to feel very out of control and I wanted to purge in a way that I haven't in a long time. I started to be jealous of all the thin people there, thinking that they were better than me. Fortunately, I did not hinder my progress and instead stayed among people and the moment passed. Everyone praised my cooking, but my cooking for everyone was a greater gift unto myself.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Psalm 30 - Songs of Lovingkindness

I praise You, Godde
For You let the pail drop into the deep,
Murky well of my sadness
And then You hauled me up into safety.
You did not let me drown
Or let the mice of despair
Gnaw at my bones.
You let me live instead!

All of you who have promised
To keep The Holy Comforter’s
Lovingkindness alive, sing out praises!-
Just as there is always a new dawn,
So there will always be justice, joy,
And mercy in the morning.
The value of your promises makes me rich
And I stand strong in the surety of your love.

When I was due for death and needed healing
I reminded You that if I should die,
I could no longer sing aloud your praises-
No one would hear my song of lovingkindness
And I knew I had more to sing!
But I should have known that You
Do not need to be reminded of anything,
For before I could start weeping
You had lowered your bucket.

I no longer mourn, but dance!
I twirl and sway and sing
Full of gladness.
I will never be silent,
But will sing aloud my thanksgiving
Until I can no longer sing.

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To compare it to the original, go here.

Janet Evanovich's "To The Nines" Stigmatizes

First, my computer crashed and I had to buy a new computer and now I am officially broke. Now, blogger is not letting me upload pictures! Gah! I got a fabulous new camera for Christmas and I am dying to show you pictures of meals that I have helped make. Since I cannot, I will write about something else: stigma.

On the way back from Maryland, which is a twelve hour drive, we listened to a Janet Evanovich book on CD titled, "To The Nines." This is the second time that I have listened to one of her books and they are good in that they make you laugh while driving, which helps one not to fall asleep. I loved listening to my dad laugh! But Evanovich relies too heavily on stereotypes. Every bit of her writing is a stereotype and the woman who reads aloud makes me uncomfortable with her caricature of a black woman's voice. But what I really do not like about this particular book is the references to "crazy" people, especially with those who have paranoid schizophrenia.

Twice, when a character is suspicious about the killer being around, she is asked if she had seen a "paranoid schizophrenic around back." The meme about paranoid schizophrenic being dangerous and violent is not true, but it is a very damaging stigma. I know that mysteries are often formulaic and use stereotypes and that's fine, but I do have a problem when the stereotypes enforces a dangerous idea. People who happen to have paranoid schizophrenia usually are not violent. In fact, since they are experiencing paranoia, they are usually more withdrawn. There are some people with paranoid schizophrenia who are violent-just like there are violent people who do NOT have it, but it is rare. Some of the nicest people I have known have paranoid schizophrenia.

I hope you have noticed that when I write about this that I always write about people with paranoid schizophrenia and never "those paranoid schizophrenics." People that have any kind of disease have more to them than just their disease-a person with paranoid schizophrenia may be artistic, studious, humorous, etc. When one reduces someone to just their disease, then one disregards their humanity and the possibility to see Christ in their eyes.

Another thing that just kills me about saying something like that is that Evanovich alienated her reader, which as any writer knows, is the biggest writing no-no. I have schizoaffective disorder, which has similarities to paranoid schizophrenia, so every time I heard the characters talk about paranoid schizophrenics in a derogatory manner, I felt a little stigmatized myself. "Crazy" people read and listen to books on CD! We do many things-our repertoire of activities is not limited to pacing up and down mental hospitals, contrary to popular belief.

Eventually, I would like to be published and I get a little scared sometimes when I realize what sells and that my standards are higher. But I know that I must keep on writing, even if nothing I write ever gets sold.

Friday, January 1, 2010

MIKA - Blame It On The Girls

If this video does not make you dance, then nothing will! Listen to his little speech at the beginning about perspective, because it is so true.

Mika - We Are Golden (official video)

I find the words to this video to be inspirational. It's makes me very happy!