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.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"Bully" is a Damaging Label Too

I talk a lot about labels on this site and how they can be harmful to people's self esteem. I absolutely hate it when people refer to those that have a mental illness as "that schizophrenic" or "that depressed person." How about "that person who has schizophrenia" or "depression" instead? You could say that I am hyper sensitive to noticing when people make these kind of comments. But I never thought about how the word "bully" is another damaging label until a girl I know got called a bully.

According to "The Free Online Dictionary," a bully is a person who "is habitually cruel or overbearing, especially to smaller or weaker people." I cannot go into detail over what happened, but trust me when I say that this person is not a bully. When one is labeled a bully then that person does not have a chance to redeem herself, because people's judgements are already made. But what if what happened was a misunderstanding? What if we could not give each other labels at all and so open the door for reconciliation? Being called a bully opens the door for fear, which opens the door for hate and violence-let us open instead the door for peace and reconciliation.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Psalm 37

Do not worry about evil,
But live with hope
And wait patiently,
For all will be righted.

Stop being angry
But live in peace.
Your soul will flourish
If you water it with time.

Follow Godde's way
And do not be afraid,
For if you should fall,
Godde will lift you up.

So be merciful to others
And give freely.
Godde loves justice,
But it is tempered with mercy.

Do not worry about the rich,
For they may have wealth,
But they might not possess peace.
Be rich in peace and produce abundant love.
******************************************
To compare it to the original, go here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants - An Honest Movie about Dealing with Disability

I watched the movie, "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," last night and I thought it was an excellent movie. I really liked how it sensitively covered the topics of suicide and disability.

One of the girls is dealing with the death of her mother by suicide and it is refreshing in that the movie did not glamorize her death or horrify it. I have had several friends kill themselves and consequently, I can be really triggered by talk or images of suicide, but this movie does not talk about how the mother killed herself at all and it did not show any images of the death either. I have found that when someone kills or tries to kill herself people usually want to know the how, which always annoys me, because the how is not important. What is important is not the specifics, but the fact that it happened at all and how you are going to deal with it. I think people want to know how it happened, so that they do not have to deal with the awful feelings that are left in the person's place. More important questions, though are "How am I feeling?" and "How can I help someone else in the future?"

Another girl in the movie becomes friends with a twelve year old girl who is struggling with leukemia. In her story, we learn the value of honesty. At first, the twelve year old does not want the older girl to know about her illness, because she is afraid that she will be pitied. There is almost nothing worse than pity. When the older girl, Tibby, finds out, she is at first awkward around the girl and instead of treating her like she used to, which was like a pest, she is kind out of pity. The younger girl asks her straight out if she is being nicer, because of new knowledge about her illness and Tibby answers yes. Tibby knew that that was not the answer the other girl wanted to hear, but she was honest anyway. The sickly girl thought about what her response should be and after a moment, decided that the truth was good enough for her and continued hanging out with Tibby. Many times when around someone with a disability, there is awkwardness and that is okay. Tibby did not know what the right thing to say was and in the movie, just like in real life, that is okay too. Right now I am reading a book called, "Jesus Freak: feeding, healing, raising the dead" by Sara Miles and in the part about healing, the author describes that in her healing ministry people are expected to simply sit with those who are in pain-not to fix them. It is harder to sit with somebody, instead of trying to make everything perfect, but sharing someone's pain and being for them even if you do not have the right words to say is still incredibly healing. It heals the soul and the spirit.
I was pleasantly surprised at how well done "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" is and I heartily recommend it. Even more, I invite you to be honest with yourself and with others when in similar situations. Do not glorify or horrify death when it strikes other people, but simply be there for them. Be open to awkwardness. Be open to a different kind of healing.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Conquering More Fear Foods and Cooking Bacon

Yesterday I was back to making dinner, which was a little bit of a relief. The food I had eaten at my retreat with friends was good, but I was ready for something a little more healthy. I had also just missed cooking! But that did not mean that I was done with eating fear foods, because I cooked bacon for the first time ever! I made a dish called "Sweet and Sour Bean Trio" from Phyllis Good's cookbook, "Fix-It and Forget-It Lightly" and not only does it call for four pieces of bacon, crumbled up, but for two tablespoons of the bacon drippings! It was hard for me to believe that it was included in a "healthy" cookbook. I had to remind myself that fat is part of healthy eating and that the bacon drippings would be dispersed throughout the whole bean mixture. I served the beans over rice, and man, they were delicious! I will definitely make them again. The beans were mostly sweet, which was fine with me, as you know I have a sweet tooth.
Ingredients

4 Slices bacon
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 clove garlic chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup vinegar
16 oz. can lima beans, drained
16 oz. can baked beans, undrained
16 oz can kidney beans, drained
1. Turn your crockpot on low and dump in your three cans of beans.
2. Brown the bacon. I don't know how to make them pretty and able to lay flat. If anybody knows how, let me know! Not that it really matters...
3. Crumble the bacon and combine it with 2 T drippings from the bacon, onion, brown sugar, mustard, garlic, salt, and vinegar. If your brown sugar has hardened like mine did, put it in a microwave safe bowl and cover it with two wet paper towels and then cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap. Microwave it for about a minute and a half and you will have soft brown sugar again!

4. Mix with beans in slow cooker.

5. Cover. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Serve over rice.
Beans and rice are perfect for cold days and yesterday was definitely a cold day-for the South, anyway... It's funny, but when I was a kid I hated lima beans, but then again, my mom never made them with crumbled up bacon and brown sugar...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Even My Plate is Smiling!

Doesn't that picture look delicious? It's a large peanut butter cookie with Reese's peanut butter cups in it. Yum!!

This weekend I went to Lake Alatuna with a bunch of friends and had a great time. Even better, I kicked ED in the butt, as I ate many foods that were high in fat and were on my "fear foods" list.
This is a Cuban pastry with guava jelly and cream cheese.
Juicy sausage!
Look, even my plate is smiling! A biscuit with sausage gravy and ham.

I also had fried fish and fried okra-although as you may remember fried okra is not one of my fear foods...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

SAMHSA Wellness Campaign Training Teleconference

Focus on Wellness to Increase Life Expectancy and Healthy Living of Individuals with Mental Health Problems


How will we assist people with mental illnesses to recover if we cannot keep them alive and healthy? Whether we are in Federal, State, or local government, in the private sector or advocacy, this is a shared problem that demands a shared solution.

-CMHS Director A. Kathryn Power (2007)


What are the implications of the findings of higher rates of illness and shorter life spans among people with mental health problems than among the general public, and how can the mental health community promote wellness?

To help consumers and providers explore this question, the SAMHSA 10x10 Wellness Campaign invites you to a free training teleconference entitled "Focus on Wellness to Increase Life Expectancy and Healthy Living of Individuals with Mental Health Problems."

Register Today!

To learn more and to register, please visit the following page: http://www.esi-bethesda.com/10x10teleconference/. We encourage you to share this invitation with interested friends and colleagues.

Please note: Registration will close at 5:00 p.m., ET, on Tuesday, March 23, 2010.

Date and Time
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
3:00 p.m.-4:30 p.m., Eastern Time (ET)


Presenters
o Joseph Parks, M.D.
Missouri Department of Mental Health

o Margaret (Peggy) Swarbrick, Ph.D., O.T.R., C.P.R.P.
Institute for Wellness and Recovery Initiatives, Collaborative Support Programs of NJ

o Lauren Spiro, M.A.
Vanguard Communications/SAMHSA 10x10 Wellness Campaign

Questions?

This training teleconference will include a question and answer session. We invite you to submit questions at any time before or during the teleconference. To submit questions before the teleconference, please e-mail 10x10@samhsa.hhs.gov. Speakers will answer as many questions as possible during the question-and-answer session, but we cannot guarantee that your question will be answered during the teleconference. We will provide each presenter's contact information so that you may contact him or her directly for a response or additional information.

Please note: You may submit anonymous questions. If you provide your name and organization when submitting a question, we may use it during the call.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Relaxing Addiction

Okay, I have a confession to make-in cold weather I am addicted to hot beverages. I consume mug after mug of hot tea, chocolate, and coffee. It is comforting and relaxing, besides warming. Now that it is a little warmer, I will be drinking less hot drinks-although I will still have my morning coffee or black tea, but I had to share this really cool tea contraption that a friend gave me when I oohed and ahhed about hers. It's from the store, Teavanna, and you put in your hot water and loose tea leaves, let the tea steep, and then when you put it on top of your mug it automatically drains the tea into your mug. I love it, because I've tried loose tea in the past, but until now I had never found a way to not have the tea leaves pollute the water.
What I love about drinking hot drinks, especially hot tea, is how relaxing it is. Drinking something hot forces me to drink slower, and to breath deeper, as I take in the hot steam. When I drink the tea, I am forced to pause and enjoy the moment. I am discovering more and more that it is important to pause and to relax. Today I had planned to make a pasta dinner-it was easy and simple, but I was so tired when I got home and I still had somewhere to go, so instead of making dinner and consequently making myself exhausted, I had a sandwich and a nap. It is so important for peace of mind to take breaks and to savor life, for life is more than merely surviving-it is about thriving!
(By the way, the tea I used is called "Alaskan Lady" and is a blend of blackberries, strawberry pieces, and "several other healthy fruits" and is actually from Alaska!)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Psalm 36

The wicked dread facing Godde,
But I look upon Her with awe,
Admiration, and wonder.

The wicked disregard wisdom
And even in their sleep
Do they dream of doing evil.

But I dream of your loving mercy,
For your marvelous lovingkindness
Is endlessly deep and wide.

God is like a mother bird
Who nourishes and protects her young.
She gives them life!

O soul sustaining Mother Bird,
Mother me some more-
Fill me with your lovingkindness
*********************************
Go here to compare it to the original.
**********************************
I am really busy! Today in one of my groups, I talked about how I am constantly having to decide what stays in my life and what doesn't. What do I do and what don't I do. Sometimes I wonder how I got to be so busy! But the one thing that must always be first in my life is a life committed to recovery. I am slowly learning how to listen to my inner, deeper self.

Last year I attended a workshop about the Enneagram, which is a way to understand different personalities. According to the program, I am a 4, or a Romantic. On our best days we are intensely creative, but on our worst, we are intensely centered on people pleasing. I say that because today I had to turn down an activity with a friend and it was really hard, because I wanted to please that person so badly, but I also felt that there is somewhere else that I may need to be that day. In any case, I had to say no to someone, which can be so hard to do, but I think it is vital for recovery. It is very important in recovery to learn how to balance life's demands and that is something that I am currently really struggling to do.

On another note, I really love the idea of Godde as a mother bird. I must say that I really do look upon Godde with awe, admiration, and wonder and I give thanks every time I eat something that I would not eat before my journey into recovery. It may seem sort of funny, but the other day as I was eating my lunchtime sandwich, I thanked Godde for the mayonaise! So rich and creamy-I just could not believe that there was a time when I was afraid of a condiment! I may be busy, but I am even more grateful to be where I am and to eat foods that nourish both my body and my soul.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Savor Life, Savor Soup

Yesterday when I got home from work, I immediately started cooking and I totally exhausted myself. I did not have a good feeling about the recipe I was using-the proportions seemed wrong and I was right. There was way too much vinegar in the recipe and I threw away the leftovers-I did not even offer any to my mom! Afterwards I felt physically and emotionally drained and I still had a church meeting to attend. I say "emotionally drained," because I put my heart into my cooking and if a recipe does not turn out right, I have to take some time to mourn the passing of something that could have tasted great. I was so tired after cooking my awful dinner that I had to take a nap and come to the meeting late.

Fortunately, today's dinner was different. First off, I decided that I would take my time making dinner tonight. The recipe was not as involved, but I did not have anywhere to go, so there was no need to rush. More importantly, I learned something yesterday-when one rushes around, there is no time for joy and enjoyment. In the future, I am going to try to honor my limitations more and try not to pick out recipes that are so involved, especially when I still have places to be. Secondly, the recipe turned out fabulously! I made "pizza soup," which I got from allrecipes.com and it is a keeper. It is fast, easy, and it really does taste like you are eating a pizza in soup form. I used turkey pepperoni instead of sausage pepperoni and it tasted great. I also added oregano.

Ingredients
1/2 t basil
1/4 t oregano
2 cans stewed tomatoes
1 chopped onion
1 chopped green pepper
1 cup chopped mushrooms (the original recipe said 1/2 cup, but it was not enough...)
1 cup beef broth
1/2 package of turkey pepperoni, cut into fourths
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 T olive oil
(When cutting the pepperoni, it is faster if you stack them first.)


Directions

1.Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir-fry onions, mushrooms, and green pepper until soft but not brown.



2. Add pepperoni, the basil and oregano, and the stewed tomatoes.

Also, add the beef stock.Cook until heated through.
3. Put a big handful of cheese on top and let it melt.Yum! This really did taste like a pizza and I think it would make a great potluck dish. It would be great paired with crusty bread, which alas, I did not make, but you could! Savor this dish and savor every moment you have in this life. Life is too precious to throw away, like I did with yesterday's dish.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Psalm 35

I am on trial
And yet I am blameless.
Hear my case, O Godde!
You are the Supreme Just Judge.
I know that You will judge fairly.
I know that You will look upon me with favor.

There are people that want my life-
Show them the ways of peace.
Show them your lovingkindness.
Let them know that there is a better way-
Your way!

All I have done is be myself
And that is no crime.
I know you delight in me,
Even if no one else does.
I know that I am not alone-
You are on my side.

We must prepare for battle-
It is a war for peace.
We must battle the demons of the soul
And those who wish to destroy me.
I know we will win
And I will know peace,
For peace is found in You.
*************************
The original is here.

Right now I feel like the person in the psalm-I feel that there are people who are against me when my only crime is to be myself. My being includes mental illness and the fact that I am queer, which unfortunately means that seminary probably is not right for me and yet I feel called to preach. It is very confusing, because previously I thought that if you felt called to preach then you had to go to seminary. Of course, this is not true, but I feel sort of flummoxed. (How's that for a million dollar word?!) I am also trying not to feel bitter as I think about how seminary should be a loving and nurturing place and yet I know many students leave seminary feeling depressed. That is a true shame and not how it should be. On Wednesday morning, I am going to meet with a spiritual director who helps people discern Godde's call. I am excited and a little nervous at the same time.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Proof is in The Cake

In case you need further proof of much better I am doing, here are pictures of an orange-chocolate cake that I helped eat at my church last Sunday. Oh my God, it was like heaven, and best of all, I did not feel guilty once!

My Turning Point

As I have already written, I went to a candlelight vigil last Thursday honoring those who still struggle with eating disorders and I became very emotional. I know that I already tried to explain what I was feeling, but as I have had more time to think about it, I will attempt to explain even further. Today is probably the first day that I am not really emotional, since then and the reason why I was is because the service was a major turning point for me.

While the first speaker was speaking, all of a sudden it dawned on me that I can not fall back on my eating disorder anymore. You see, even though I have been going through the twelve steps for several months now, I still had the mindset that if I ever found myself in a stressful situation that I would probably relapse into my old ways. I don't know why it was that exact moment, but I had a moment of clarity that brought me to tears. I cannot go back to my old ways, no matter what. I just can't. Until today I was in mourning, because I lost an identity, even if it was a negative one, that I had had for a very long time. I am no longer suffering from an eating disorder. I am a person living in recovery. Now I feel free. I feel adventurous, excited, productive, and grateful. Lately, I've had more energy during the day and I have been more productive-it's amazing all the things I want to do when my energy is not consumed with ED!

February Books


1. “The Princess and The Bear” by Mette Ivie Harrison. I heartily recommend this book to preteen girls or to anyone that likes well written young adult fantasy. I read this book aloud to the girl I tutor and we both enjoyed it a lot. It has a very strong female character, who does not shy away from danger, sword fighting, magic, or freeing animals from cages. I also liked how the book does not shy away from tough issues without becoming too deep. The book is the second in a trilogy and I would like to read the other two. The book also carries the theme of ecological responsibility without being too preachy. I would recommend this book to preteens/teens over crap like the “Twilight” series any day. I did a post about the author on my old Femi Nation blog.

2. The Bible’s Hosea – I thought the metaphors in this book were beautiful and I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was so beautiful that I often wondered why this book is so neglected in talks about the Bible. “I will betroth you to Me forever, yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord.” Hos 2:19-20

3. “Variable Star” by Spider Robinson and Robert A Heinlein. How do you know you’re reading a great book? When you finish reading it and you’re mad, because you don’t want it to end! I wanted to keep on reading about the main character’s adventures. The book is basically a character study and I liked the book a lot more once I realized that was why it didn’t have a lot of action. There’s a twist at the end that I was totally not expecting that made me not want to put it down. I think Spider Robinson did a wonderful job writing from the late, great RAH’s notes and I will certainly have to read more of Robinson’s work.

4. The Bible’s “Joel” – This one is my favorite of the prophet books of the Bible so far. This book is very short, but contains several famous verses that I had heard before, but didn’t know where they were from – “Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm. Joel 2:13 As I kept reading this book, I kept on thinking that the “Old Testament God” seems a lot kinder than what people say. I guess it’s all a matter of perspective.

5. Vampire Kisses 3: Vampireville by Ellen Schreiber. Awful! The girl I tutor picked it out and I am so nice that I said okay. We read it together and it is so clich├ęd. There’s another version of the book in manga form and she loves mangas. I have to believe that it is better in the other form! The main character is goth and it’s like the author believes that if she throws in enough gothic allusions (Nightmare Before Christmas, Emily Strange, etc.) then the book will be authentic, but I kept thinking about my friends who are really goth and I inwardly cringed.

6. The Bible’s “Amos” – So there’s a lot of talk in this book about Israel’s sin and how wrathful God is and I think that probably scares a lot of people, but I think it’s important to note that Godde is wrathful towards those who do not help the poor. In other words, God wants justice. I can appreciate that, but to be honest, I did skim this book a little bit-it just didn’t capture my attention the way the past few biblical books did.

That’s it for February. Currently I’m reading “The Parable of the Sower” by Octavia E. Butler.

Stop the Stigma!

Earlier today I was listening to my favorite radio station, DaveFM, when my internal stigma alert started beeping-one of the djs said this:"...and some of the psychiatric places are closed today, so there are more crazies out on the road." Really? Did you really need to say that?! It may sound harmless, but it's the kind of statement that fosters fear and discrimination. It is a very othering statement and it stigmatizes. For what kinds of people are the kind that visit psychiatric places? All kinds of people. Millions of people in this country go to psychiatric offices in order to see a doctor or therapist and the majority of these people are not dangerous. What is dangerous is stigma and fear, because it leads to intolerance and discrimination. DaveFM is still my favorite radio station, but I will be listening more intently to their speech. If I hear many more words like that, I may need to write the station!

Unleashing Your Inner Goddess has Nothing to Do with Shaving Your Legs!

I am a little peeved. Venus Razors has a commercial that at the end asks womyn to "unleash your inner goddess." That's all well and good, but one's inner goddess has nothing to do with removing one's leg hair.

This is how you unleash your inner goddess: by listening to your body and to your own inner voice. By standing confident in the knowledge that you are a child of Godde. By pursuing justice! But whether you decide to keep your leg hair or to shave it off has nothing to do with real empowerment or living up to your true potential. I'll let you in on a little secret: I do not usually shave my legs! I don't even always shave my armpits. My skin is very sensitive and when I shave my legs I get a bunch of ugly, red, itchy bumps. Because of this I have decided to stay natural. This is my own decision and it does not matter to me one bit if you shave your legs-just please do not mistake shaving your legs for womanly empowerment.

Want a real way to "unleash your inner goddess?" Try feeding yourself good food instead!I made my first quiche last week and it was delicious-so light, fluffy, and yummy! I got the recipe from allrecipes.com and now that I know how to make one, I am excited by the prospect of making quiches filled with all sorts of cheeses, meats, and vegetables. The one I made last week was your basic cheese and broccoli quiche. The one in the picture does not have a crust-I thought I had doubled the recipe when I was following the directions, but it turned out that I had tripled it and I had run out of pie crusts. Whoops!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Psalm 34

Godde's reputation is blameless,
Shameless, unlike my own,
So praise Godde
And all that She has done!

I look to Godde and I am humbled.
I hear this truth:
"There is no need to feel shame
for you are My child."

Praise The Blameless One with all your senses!

Open your mouth
And taste Godde's goodness.
Open your mouth
And speak kind words.
Open your heart also
And seek peace.

Be in right relationship with Godde
And with each other-
Then it will be easier for The Holy One
To hear your plea.

For yes,
You can be holy and depressed.
You can be humble and hurt.
You can be righteous
In an unright world.

Godde hears you.
Godde loves you,
And will deliver you.

You are not lost
Or broken,
But are more and more
Found
and
Whole.
************************************
Sorry it's been so long since my last psalm! To read the original, go here.
I'd write more, but I'm really tired...