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, February 26, 2010

February is National Eating Disorders Awareness Month

February is National Eating Disorders Awareness month and so yesterday night I went to a candlelight vigil at Ridgeview honoring those who currently struggle with an eating disorder, those who struggled and lost, and hope for a recovered future. It was very emotional, with many speakers telling their stories of hope and recovery. I cried and cried. I wish I could say that I was crying, because I was reminded of how I used to be and that was part of it, but to be honest, I was mainly crying, because I miss ED. I miss being able to fall back on that monster when my emotions are uncomfortable. A very sick part of me is mourning the loss of my eating disordered self and I am trying not to hate myself for this. I hate that there is a part of me that wants to be sick. It makes me very angry. But I have resolved to live in recovery and so I must feel these feelings and know that they are okay. It is okay to feel what I feel. I am okay. Sometimes I still want ED, but I will not dance with him. It is okay to want him sometimes, as long as I still keep my distance. It is also good to be reminded of how evil he is. Evil Ed is like an abusive boyfriend and I will celebrate national eating disorders awareness month by kicking him to the curb. You can't come back ED! I may want you, but I know I don't need you. Be gone, for I am not going to feed you any longer-I will feed myself instead.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

You Are What You Cook - a Nutty Chocolate Raspberry Smoothie, That's Me!

Sophia, from Burp and Slurp, wants people to make up a recipe that defines you. I thought that was a great idea and so I dreamed up my own recipe - Nutty Chocolate Raspberry Smoothie and it is divine!

The first thing you will notice about this recipe is that it does not have many ingredients-just a couple scoops of chocolate frozen yogurt, raspberries, blueberries, 1/4 t. of nutmeg, and some milk. Long ingredient lists really overwhelm me. I know that most of the time the ingredients are things that the people already have lying around the house, but seeing the long list just makes me nervous. Now I'm going to break down why these ingredients represent me and I will apologize in advance-there's going to be a lot of puns!
Chocolate frozen yogurt - I absolutely LOVE chocolate! One of my fave desserts is chocolate frozen yogurt with frozen berries on top. I chose frozen yogurt over ice cream, because while I am definitely not a health nut, I do try to make my meals balanced and frozen yogurt is a heathier alternative to ice cream. This translates to my personality-I am currently trying to become more balanced as a person. I follow the twelve steps and go to groups and am working towards becoming more serene, so the frozen yogurt represents my wanting to not be too extreme in life and yet my life has plenty of flavor and is becoming more and more sweet.
Raspberries - These are my favorite fruit. I absolutely love raspberries and everybody in my house knows that if they buy any raspberries, then they better get an extra carton for me, because I will not be able to stop myself! They are also red, which is my favorite color.
1/4 t. Nutmeg - I had never put spices in a smoothie before, but I wish I had! Spice is the adventure in life. It is exciting change, which cannot be avoided. Well, that's partly true. Change cannot be avoided, but one can choose whether to view it as exciting or as something scary. I used to always view change as something scary, but I am trying to change my viewpoint. There were several spices that I could have tried: allspice, pumpkin pie spice, etc., but I chose nutmeg, because I'm a nut! (Sorry, I couldn't resist...) Like I've said many times on this blog, I have schizoaffective disorder and probably generalized anxiety disorder and these disorders are part of who I am. I tried to deny that for many years-I wouldn't take my medicine, I wouldn't get enough sleep, I wouldn't do the things that I need to do in order to manage my illnesses. It has taken me a long time, but I have finally learned that I must mange my illness in order to be the best person that I can be.

Blueberries - More fruit! Blueberries are rich in antioxidants, which are good for you, except I don't quite understand what all antioxidants do, so I am going to really stretch out on a limb and say that's like the nature of God in my life. God is good. God is Love. Godde changes my life for the good in ways that I don't quite understand and that is good. Blueberries are also sweet and delicious and I think the same can be said about Godde's love.

I also intentionally had a lot of fruit in my dish, because I am fruity, meaning, I am queer. Technically I am bisexual, because I am attracted to both males and females, but I prefer the term queer. Why? The term queer denotes a feeling of differentness and it's one of the reasons why I am not going to seminary. Even if I were to fall in love with a man and have a monogamous relationship with him, I would still be queer. It's hard to explain, but I would still find women attractive and I would still have pride about that. I decided years ago that I would stop hiding who I am and it makes me sad that because I will not hide a part of me that I cannot go to seminary.

Well, I could, but my minister thinks that the stigma there would cause great depression in me and she is probably right.
Add milk - Milk helps keep us strong and prevents osteoporosis. This is my committement to recovery. I go to many meetings, see a sponsor, a therapist, and participate at my church. I seek out other recovery oriented people. I take my medicine. Occasionally I see a nutritionist. I read positive books. I must do these things to stay healthy. Recovery is not a halfway thing-you are either living in recovery or you are not. This day, this moment, I choose recovery.

Blend all these ingredients together and you've got a beautiful drink! All of my qualities are blended together, you cannot separate my queerness from my sense of adventure or my mental illness from the wholeness I receive from Godde. It is all a part of me and it is all beautiful and delicious!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Gratitude for Mental Illness

(click on the picture to read an article by Lincoln historian, T.K. Marion, about battling depression)

I am watching a documentary about Abraham Lincoln and I am finding it to be very inspirational. It talks a lot about how he lived with depression and severe anxiety. Lincoln was perhaps our greatest president and he lived with mental illness. Anxiety and depression gave him empathy and compassion for other people. His wife also was mentally instable and while they did not have a storybook marriage, dealing with her made him grow as a person of compassion. In fact, one of the last things he did was pardon a boy who was sentenced to death, because the crime the boy committed clearly indicated that the boy suffered from mental illness. This news strengthens me-not that I expect to become as great a person as he did, but just the fact that severe mental illness does not have to destroy a person, but instead be a gift is great to me. Perhaps I can be thankful for my mental illness-it has made me who I am and who I am is a person who is growing in compassion thanks to mental illness.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Seminary? A Motivational Speaker?

I promised to tell everyone about how my time leading my church in worship went a few Sundays ago and it went great. I was a little nervous, but not too bad. I didn't preach this time, but I did pick out the readings we used for the prayers and confession. In fact, I used my reworking of the ninth psalm.

Today I met with my minister to talk about possibly going to seminary, because I feel like I am led to preach and to learn more about my faith. The thought of going to seminary makes me very nervous, because I get anxious so easily and the pressures of school trigger my anxiety like few things do. She does not think that I should attempt seminary and I do agree with her, but we also agreed that that does not mean that I am not called to preach. I just need to be creative. I am thinking of becoming a motivational speaker, but how does one become a motivational speaker? My minister gave me the name and number of a woman who can help me discern what Godde is calling me to do. Who knows what my future will hold-whatever it is, I know that if I follow Godde, then it will not be boring!

Monday, February 22, 2010

My Worst Nightmare Sure Is Tasty!

You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you; and My people shall never be put to shame. Joel 2:26

It seems to me that people that say the "Old Testament God" was only vengeful are selective readers. I was feeling really badly yesterday, but then I read this verse and I smiled. During the day I would repeat to myself, "I never will be put to shame." I had had a friend send me a hurtful email and the Biblical verse was a real comfort to me last night.

It also reminded me of a dinner I cooked a couple days ago using...ground beef! Okay, so ground beef perhaps doesn't sound that exciting, but it is one of my #1 fear foods. I made it into a chili, which once again, is about the most normal dish for ground beef for most people, but this was the first time I made chili with ground beef - usually I use ground turkey.

Here are my ingredients:

1/2 Onion
McCormick Chili Seasoning
1 Can Pinto Beans
1 Can Diced Tomatoes
1 Garlic Clove
1 Package Steamfresh Green Beans
1lb Ground Beef
2 T Olive Oil
(I had meant to use roasted red pepper hummus as my secret ingredient again, but I forgot... Dope!)
Brown the ground beef in the olive oil with minced garlic and onion. Then dump in the seasonings and the can of tomatoes.
Add both kinds of beans. The green beans ended up being the yummy not-so-secret-secret in the chili, because they provided great crunchiness. I originally added them so that the meal would be well rounded, but it turned out that their crunchy texture was a nice contrast to the mushiness of everything else.You had potatoes baking in the oven during this, right? This was only my second time baking potatoes and this time I had wrapped them in aluminum foil first and it made them cook a lot faster, although I still had to have them in the oven at 400 degrees for an hour. Put the chili on top of the potatoes and add cheddar cheese and sour cream.

So starchy and so protein-y - this meal was my worst nightmare not that long ago. Apparently nightmares are really tasty!

I've been thinking a lot lately about the fact that sometimes we really want something and we wait and we prepare for this great thing and then when we get it, we decide it's really not that great. And then sometimes we fear something and then we eventually come to the realization that it really wasn't something scary after all. Life is funny that way. I'm reading the book, "The Parable of the Sower" by Octavia E. Butler and the book is all about how "God is change." It's true. God is also Love. I hope you are able to feel loved by Godde today.

Friday, February 19, 2010

January Book List

I posted this list on facebook and have decided to post it here. A friend of mine posted the books he read each month and what he thought of them and I so enjoyed reading them that I am doing the same.

“Can You Keep a Secret?” by Sophie Kinsella – a fun and entertaining quick read. I had listened to it years ago on CD, but I had forgotten enough that I enjoyed reading it. I don’t often read “Chick Lit,” but every so often it’s nice to read something romantic. I did like it when the superficial Jemima starts talking about feminism. Pretty funny! I did a post about how feminism does not equal revenge on my Femi Nation blog, which is based on this book.

The Bible’s “Ezekiel” – I won’t lie, I skimmed the passages about how the temple should be built-it was paragraph after paragraph of measurements. Whenever I read about the outrageous things the prophets did in order to get the people’s attention, I can’t help but wonder if it really happened and I have to remind myself that it is the meaning that is important. My favorite passages would have to be about how God will restore Israel and if I had to sum up the whole book in a sentence, it would be the last sentence in the book, “The Lord is there,” (meaning with the Israelites, in their temple) which I find comforting.

The First Christmas: What the Gospels Really Teach about Jesus’s Birth” by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan. I normally find books written by Borg to be mesmerizing, but to be honest, I thought this one was a little dry, although still interesting and thought provoking. The main point of the book is that the Christmas stories are really parables, full of wonderful meaning, but it is a meaning that is not supposed to be taken literally. For instance, Jesus was not really born of a virgin, but the gospel was written that way not to mislead people, but because it was written in the style of propaganda about Roman leaders, to show that Jesus is greater than those already in power. The people of that time would have recognized this, but we, alas, do not.

“Wild Seed” by Octavia E. Butler. This book is fabulous and Butler is now one of my new favorite writers! It’s a science fiction book that is truly feminist and best of all, it is free of clichés. At times, I thought she was going to do something clichéd, but then she would further the plot in a way that was much more satisfying. I recommend you start reading it now!

The Bible’s “Daniel” – I liked this book better than Ezekiel. It was short and had more familiar stories. I loved the “Do not fear” passages and I thought the eschatological passages (end times, when the world is as it should be) were beautiful. Dan 10:12 - “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard and I have come because of your words.”

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Today I Have Hope

I finally made it to my first water aerobics class this morning and I had a great time! The water felt wonderful and I felt light and bouncy. I had been putting it off, because of several foolish reasons. The first one being that I get very nervous when exercising with people. Usually when I exercise at a gym, I am extremely paranoid the whole time-I imagine that everybody else there came to the gym just to stare at me and is secretly laughing at me. The second one being that I was afraid I would feel awkward, because I knew I would probably be the youngest one there by far. Well, I was, but as a testament to my recovery I found that I did not feel awkward at all. Or maybe I am just more grown up, as I hardly wondered about what the others were thinking. OR maybe I was just too distracted! I loved the way the water comforted my joints. I felt at ease and was totally absorbed in trying to do the exercises.

The women there were a great inspiration to me too. Not one was a skinny mini! There were many different shapes and sizes of women and this was comforting to me. I felt a sisterhood with these women for these were not women exercising, because they are obsessed with losing weight, but because it feels good to move. I suspect that many of these women also have joint pain and we are all doing something positive to further our recovery.

The last time I saw my nutritionist she told me that I need to move more. I replied that it would be hard to not think about exercise purely as a way to lose weight. She reminded me that exercise also raises endorphins and eases stress, but I remained skeptical. I left that appointment feeling like I would never get to that point and I am not totally there yet, but today I felt like I took the first step towards all those things. Today I have hope that those goals can be mine after all.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

It's Valentine's Day - Bah, Humbug!

Ho-hum, it's Valentine's Day... Valentine's Day is my least favorite holiday for many reasons. One, I'm single and have been for a long time. Two, there doesn't seem to be any real meaning behind it. Three, it's the anniversary of the first time I was hospitalized for my eating disorder. Yuck!

I am trying to reframe how I think about Valentine's Day and instead think of it as a second Thanksgiving. I am working on the 12 steps and one thing I have noticed about myself is that I am not grateful nearly often enough. Being grateful helps center one onto the things in life that truly matter. So here are some things this Valentine's that I am grateful for:

1. My Parents - They have supported me leaving college early and coming back home. They are supporting me as I attempt to get disability. They are the wind beneath my wings.

2. My Church - I am a leader at my church and playing for them gives my life a great sense of value and purpose. It raises my self-esteem to contribute to such a fantastic group of people. During our worship, I feel the presence of the Holy Spirit and the food there nourishes my stomach and my senses. The people there are a truly caring group of people.

3. My Ridgeview Recovery Community - I attend several support groups at Ridgeview and they are loving, healthy groups. The people make me laugh and I know they also care for me deeply. Sometimes I feel the Holy Spirit among us too.

4. The Twelve Steps - Before I started doing the twelve steps, I was very bitter and always focusing on the things that I do not have, instead of my wonderful blessings. Now that I am working the program, I feel like my life has a renewed purpose and it is easier for me to live in the moment.

5. My Medicine - I know that without my medicine, my emotions would not be stable enough for me to concentrate on so many activities. I am blessed to have finally found a medicine that works.

If you are like me and are single and are hating Valentine's Day, as you eat another piece of chocolate, write down what you are grateful for and hopefully your mood will lift a bit as mine has.

What's on your gratitude list?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Psalm 33 - Victorious Peace

Sing and shout victoriously!
Godde's truth saves.
Make noise and be loud -
Let all the earth know your joy!

But true victory does not come to those
Who think they are strong,
But to those who have strong belief
In the One True Godde.

Strong belief is believing
When leaders lie
And nations grab -
Strong belief is strong speech!

Godde is victorious
Over the army of Death.
Her weapons are Hope,
Justice, Truth and Love.

May my battle cry be
Strong, loving, and loud
As I joyously journey
Towards victorious peace.
To compare it to the original, go here.
The picture is from gaychurch.org, "An affirming gay Christian (GLBT) site dedicated to 'Building (ALL) the body of Christ in love!'"
This Sunday I am leading my church in worship and I am really excited! I am leading the worship, because our minister is on vacation. We will have a guest preacher, so I am not doing the sermon, but I am picking out most of the other liturgy - the prayers, confession, etc. It makes me feel valued to be trusted to do this work. When I pick out my materials, I will of course share them with you.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Terrific Taco Salad

Everyone knows how to make taco salad, right? I really don't need to lay out the steps and post pictures, do I? Well, I will, anyway! When I was consumed with my eating disorder, eating tacos or a taco salad was incredibly stressful for me, because of a few fattening ingredients. I didn't think about how the salad is a complete meal with carbs, veggies, protein, and fat. Instead, I obsessed about just one food group-the fat. I made a taco salad for the first time last night and I must admit, it was fabulous!
2 Tablespoons of EVOO
1 Big Spoonful of Sour Cream
1 Big Spoonful of Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
2 Big Handfuls of Pita Chips
1 lb. Ground Beef
1 Package of McCormick Taco Seasoning
2 Cans of Green Giant Southwestern Corn

In a big saucepan, on medium heat, brown the ground beef in the EVOO.Did you notice that my measurements mainly consist of handfuls/spoonfuls? I hope it's not confusing, but I mainly eyeball my measurements when cooking.

Drain the meat, then put it back in the pan. Add the McCormick seasoning and 3/4 cups water.

Make sure the meat is coated with the seasoning and then add the cans of corn.

In a big bowl, dump in the bag of lettuce, stir in the spoonfuls of sour cream and hummus - my secret ingredient! - and then add in all the other ingredients. Mix well and then enjoy!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

It's Not About Me

Today was the second day of the NAMI Connections training. For the most part, I really enjoyed it, because there was a lot more role playing than yesterday. The best way for me to learn is through action and imitation, so I definitely think that today's training was more productive, at least for me.

During one of the role plays today, I had an "Aha!" moment that helped ease my stress level-I realized that becoming a facilitator is not about me and I immediately felt a lot better. I had been really stressed out earlier, because I just could not let go a stressful incident that happened this past Tuesday at my NAMI group. To be honest, I really did not want to return to my group and my mind just kept ruminating and ruminating over what had happened. But you know, not everything in life is about me! I can use what I am learning at this training to help other people and I do not have to let what the person at my group say bother me. As my sponsor would say, "It's that person's business what they think of me." I cannot control other people, places, or events and I have come to realize that I too often try to control that which I cannot. I think constant worrying is a way that we try to control what cannot be controlled. As the day went on, when I started to get stressed about going back to the meeting, I would tell myself "It is not about me." Saying that eased off the pressure and now I have a new mantra that works.

We need to be humble and not codependent. I cannot control you and you cannot control me. So don't even try! Let us instead try to live together in harmony.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Where'd My Time Go?

Right now I am down in Waycross completing the training to become a NAMI facilitator for a NAMI Connection group. This is something that I have wanted to do since I first started attending my local NAMI Connection group. I feel honored to be here, as it means that my group thinks that I could be a great leader. It means that I am much more stable than I was a year ago when I first joined and I am proud of that. I am thrilled to now have the opportunity to help others.

I must say, though, that I am a bit nervous about making the committment to facilitate for a year, because I fear that I may be overextending myself. I am so busy that I get really tired at night and I do not have time to compose my psalms, research womyn, or to blog as much as I would like. I am hoping that when I get home that I will be able to find a way to let some of my activities go, so that I will be able to spend the amount of time that I would ideally like to with this blog. Tonight I am going to pray over how I should best spend my time and whether or not I should accept the committment to facilitate.

In recovery, it is important to recognize when you are beginning to do too much and to pull back, so that you will have less stress and anxiety. I am finding that this is something that I continually have to do, because I am a very social person and I have a long herstory of overextending myself. I must take care of myself first, though, for if I don't, then a relapse is sure to be just around the corner.