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, May 31, 2010

Quote of the Day

You're blessed when you're content with just who you are-no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought. (19, The Message Bible)

Memorial Day-Let's Remember GLBTQ Soldiers

This Memorial Day rejoice, because the U.S. House of Representatives voted to repeal the horrible don't ask, don't tell policy! This summer, the Senate will vote on it and I really, really hope that they repeal it. There is no logic to the policy-how does preventing people who want to fight help a win a war? It doesn't! (Although I do not support the war, myself...)

It seems to me that right now we are a nation of fear. We are fighting a war, because we are fearful and we do not let those that want to fight do so, because of fear. As for myself, the times that I feel truly patriotic are not when I am supporting a war, but when our country takes a step forward towards true freedom.

Last year, when I visited my Naval aviator brother on the boat-according to my brother, aviators call the craft a "boat", while everyone else calls it a "ship,"-once again, I felt stigmatized. "If only they knew," I thought to myself. If I applied to serve my country under the don't ask, don't tell policy, I would be denied, because of my bisexuality. Of course, I would also be denied, because of my illnesses, so it is a good thing I have no interest in being a soldier!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Quote of the Day

You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. [S]he's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat. (19, The Message Bible)

When I was sick in my eating disorder, I did not want to spend money on food. Under the guise of being thrifty, I would save money by not buying food, but really, I was being miserly. And sick. The truth was that I did not believe that I was worth spending money on. I was not worth food. My father told me that if I want to save money, it is much better to spend money on food, than ending up in the hospital and having to pay a big hospital bill. Makes sense, doesn't it? His statement did help me see logic, because as we all know, eating disorders are not logical.

Now that I am no longer depressed, I enjoy buying food at the grocery store and at restaurants. Logic and joy has been restored to my life! Like the quote, because I am so grateful to Godde for restoring me to health, I am hungry for spiritual fulfillment as well. Fortunately, you can satisfy both at the same time!
Look at all that food! I got fajitas last Saturday after my Saturday night AA group. The group usually goes out to eat after the meeting in order to continue fellowship. We have a lot of fun and I love being with a whole group of people that are committed to recovery.

Fajitas are a sort of overwhelming meal for me to order, because so many plates come out with food. In the past, I might have wanted some fajitas, but I would have felt that my food should not take up so much space. It would be another manisfestation of my low self esteem and believing that I am not worthy to take up more space than I absolutely require. But not anymore! I am a child of Godde and if I am craving fajitas, then I am worth ordering them.The next day I went out to eat with my church at The Corner Pub. I love these people-Circle of Grace is the family I have chosen for myself. From left to right the people are Antoinette, Dede, and Karen, the minister's wife. Karen and I laughed and laughed as we tried to figure out who the musician was we saw on a poster in the restaurant. The singer was a black, dynamic singer that was in the movie, Blues Brothers, and I finally had to call my dad. Just as I came back with the answer, Karen shouted out, "Cab Calloway!" Good thinking, Karen!

Dede and Karen shared nachos, which looked great, but I had my own dish: the ABCLT Sandwich! (apple, bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato)

The sandwich reminded me of the provolone and apple sandwich I had made earlier in the week. Let me just say that bacon and apples go very well together! The sandwich had a great crunch. You may be surprised to know that a well made sandwich is actually my favorite kind of meal!

Eating with the folks at AA or church not only feeds my stomach, but my soul. I cannot think about fat grams or calories when I am laughing and smiling. Sometimes after church, my minister will pose a thoughtful question and we will have a thoughtful debate with dinner. I also find that as food and thought obsessions die down, I am left with a hunger for Godde. Right now I am studying with my minister, because I hunger to learn about Godde and to preach. I am definitely blessed!

Stigma Madness

Yesterday I was involved in a major car accident. It was very scary! I was driving on the interstate when another car pushed me out of my lane and I ended up spinning around and hitting the guard rail. My car may be totaled and I may have to get a new car, which means I have to speed up my process of looking for a summer job-I've already applied to a few places.

I am sore all over. The accident threw my glasses off my head and it is a miracle that I am not badly injured and that my glasses were not broken. It was a terrifying couple of minutes when I was searching for my glasses, because I am legally blind without them.

Since my neck was hurting, the police called the EMTs and they took me to the hospital. I had never ridden an ambulance before and there was a moment when I thought, "Well, this is an adventure!"

The scariest part for me was not that I might be physically hurt, but that I might be losing my mind, because for a little while I started hearing voices again. Schizoaffective disorder is triggered by stress, so it is no wonder that my schizo symptoms would reappear, but it's been a while since I've had those symptoms and I desperately do not want them to return. Some people have positive or funny voices, but mine are always negative and scary. This time was no different. It was like thinking really loudly and the voice was saying, "You're bad. You've done a bad thing. You are so, so bad." If I had listened to the voice I would have started crying, but I did not want to do that-I did not want to give in to the voices and become a slave to their fear. I told myself that I am not bad and that I am not cursed. Most importantly, I quickly realized that the voice started yelling at me when I first started thinking negatively-when I would tell myself that I am bad or when I would start worrying about what my parents would say. I discovered that first comes the negative thought and then the negative voice. If I do not want to hear the voice, then I need to stay in the moment.

Now this is a positive thing. The fact that in a time when I was really, really stressed and possibly injured, I was able to identify my triggers and stop the voice from terrifying me is a testament to my recovery. But one of the reasonse that I worked so hard to keep from giving in to the disorder does make me angry-I was afraid to tell the emergency medical technicians what was going on in my head due to its stigma. When the EMTs were asking me where I hurt, I desperately wanted to tell them, "My knees, shoulders, lower back, neck all hurt and I am hearing voices again," but I was afraid that they would overreact, so I just told them about my physical pain. I wish that emotional and psychological pain was taken in the same way that physical pain is. I wish that when a professional asks you how you are doing, that you could feel comfortable telling the person the whole story. But I have to have a certain amount of trust in the person to tell them what is going on in my head and unfortunately, I have been scarred by some medical doctors. I remember the time when I went to the emergency room in Milledgeville, because I thought I was going blind and when the doctor heard about the kinds of medications I take, she just acted like I was totally crazy. One of my friends was with me and she humiliated me in front of her. There is also the time when I was attending Georgia State University and I had my first panic attack. I went to the school doctor, because I thought I was having a heart attack and the doctor told me I was lying and yelled at me for being such a liar. All she did was make me more nervous and ensured that I never used the medical services at that school again.

You know, there may be mental health parity now, but mental health services are far from equal to that of physical health, which is "crazy" anyway, because I believe that mental illness truly is a physical disease. It's not that people make up their own "crazy" symptoms, but that they have a chemical imbalance in the brain. Chemicals are a physical thing, so mental illnesses should be treated just like any physical illness, but they often are not. Instead, the mentally ill person is many times mocked, babied, or avoided. I am angry at the stigma, but I am proud of myself.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Quote of the Day

You're blessed when you get your inside world-your mind and heart-put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. (19, The Message Bible)

I have some posts coming up about disability and sex, but I just fell down the stairs and do not have the strength left to finish the posts, so you're just getting this quote for today. I'll probably be really bruised tomorrow, but maybe I'll get around to finishing the posts then. I will have some free time in the morning and in the afternoon-I am not going to the fun festival that my parents are attending tomorrow morning, so that I will not be too tired to attend a wedding that night. I get tired so easily now... I'm going to bed.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Quote of the Day and Another Lesson on Inclusive Lanaguage

[...]and taught people the truth of God. God's kingdom was his theme-that beginning right now they were under God's government, a good government. (18, The Message Bible)

In my church, we would say Godde's kin-dom, instead of "kingdom," because we believe that God's land is a place where people and animals live in a state of equality and not of domination that one would normally think of in a monarchial system of government. This is why my church also does not usually refer to Godde as "king" or "Lord." I must say my feelings towards this are a little mixed. Saying kin-dom, instead of kingdom has become part of my usual vocabulary, so that when I am in a setting where everyone else is saying the word, "kingdom," I naturally say "kin-dom" instead. This happens fairly often, as I attend an AA meeting usually at least once a week and they end with saying The Lord's Prayer, where kingdom is said several times. At those times, I prefer saying kin-dom, because it counteracts the sexist language that is so prevalent in Alcoholics Anonymous. I really get a lot out of AA, but sometimes it is hard to sit through a meeting where the language about Godde is predominantly male. I often think when I am in an AA meeting, "What would happen if I referred to my higher power as a She? Would I get uncomfortable glares? Would I be told that I am wrong?" As my sponsor reminded me today, then I would know that I am in the wrong meeting, but it is what goes through my mind. I am still relatively new at this and I am sure that with time I will become more comfortable in expressing my relationship with my higher power.

So, in one way, the word "kin-dom" is an equalizer for me and a little bit rebellious, but the way "kingdom" is used in the verse I quoted, it is also rebellious and that there is truth there also. To say that Godde's kingdom is above any earthly kingdom is powerfully subversive, especially if you believe that God is within you. It was powerfully subversive when it was written, for it meant that the Jews allegiance did not really belong to the Roman empire, but to God. It is still incredibly subversive no matter where you live, but I think especially so for Americans-I mean, we are the main empire right now, and this passage is saying that perhaps domination is not the goal, for we are already under Godde's good government. To me, Godde's spirit speaks to me daily and that is the voice that I should follow-not my government's. Now there are some good things about my government and I am not an anarchist, but my first allegiance is not to my country, but to my Godde and myself.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Truly Stringy Cheese!

Last Friday, I went to a place called The Metro Market in Atlanta. It's an indoor farmer's and artist's market. The atmosphere is very relaxing and easy going. I had fun talking to the artists there, but the artist's booth I liked the most was the cheese booth! There were many different cheeses to try, but I just fell in love with this provolone. The cheese is hearty, with an intense flavor that will make you swoon.

I decided to use my provolone to make an apple and provolone panini. Regular bread is too soft for a panini, so I bought this "wholesome harvest" oatmeal bread.

I made one for my mom too!

Grill it on the George Foreman grill and the cheese gets really soft and stringy!
Isn't that beautiful?

Look at that long cheese!
This was a fun sandwich to eat! Real cheese tastes so much better than when I used to eat the fat free stuff. Yuck!

Quote of the Day

People sitting out their lives in the dark saw a huge light; sitting in that dark, dark country of death; they watched the sun come up. (18, The Message Bible)

This passage is about the Christmas Story, but I think it also applies to recovery from depression. Depression feels like you're living in the "dark country of death" and some people cannot wait until recovery and end up killing themselves. It can take a really long time to find the right medication, to gather a supportive network of people around you, and to learn effective coping skills, but the wait is worth it. I am still not used to not being depressed, but I can tell you it is wonderful. I am thankful for my life and that I did not end it before my time. It used to be so hard to plan for the future and now I have many plans. Don't give up-The darkest hour is just before dawn.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Quote of the Day

It's your life that must change, not your skin!

(16, The Message Bible)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Psalm 38

O Godde, Do not remain angry with me.
I am angry enough with myself!

I have destroyed my body
And I am bound by stress.
I repeat my foolish ways over and over
And no one wants to be near me.
Why should You?-

Every time You speak,
I plug my ears.
Every time You listen,
I stop talking.
Every time You try to calm my heart,
I stop Your hand.

Do not give up on me!
Be patient, for I am
Trying to surrender unto Hope.
Soon I will wear myself out
And then I will let You catch me.
Do not let me go.
Oops! Somehow I skipped over this psalm when posting! For the original, go here.

I'm a little mad at myself right now, because I wasn't feeling good this morning and so missed one of my favorite meetings for the second week in a row. I am trying to tell myself that this is what happens when one is sickly and that is not my fault. I am still trying to deal with my limitations. My feelings did make it easier for me to write this psalm. The psalm is about being sick, because of the person's sin, which made me think immediately of my eating disorder. Like I have said many times before, I do not believe Godde hands out sickness as punishment, but one can cause one's self to be sick through stress or addiction. And while at first, the consequences may not be the person's own fault, as the person learns coping skills, then the person can begin to see choices to make. Early in recovery it is very hard to choose health, because it is so easy to do what one has always done. But as one starts choosing healthier choices, the road to recovery becomes easier and easier. So this psalm is dedicated to Eating Disorders Anonymous, which I missed this morning. If anyone is struggling with an addiction, keep on trying and eventually you too will be able to "surrender unto hope."

Friday, May 21, 2010

Quote of the Day

Thunder in the desert! Prepare for God's arrival! Make the road smooth and straight! (16, The Message Bible)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Quote of the Day

Every day we wake up in the middle of something that is already going on, that has been going for some time: genealogy and geology, history and culture, the cosmos-God. We are neither accidental nor incidental to the story. (11, The Message Bible)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Quote of the Day & A Lesson on Inclusive Language

For Jesus is the descent of God to our lives, just as we are, not the ascent of our lives to God, hoping [s]he might approve when [s]he sees how hard we try. (10, The Message Bible)
The Message Bible is written in contemporary language, which makes it easy to read. Unfortunately, it contains way too many colloquialisms, which often times makes the writing slightly cheesy and too wordy. I feel like the editor failed at his/her's job. Still, it has some beautiful passages and it is what I am currently reading before I go to bed at night, so you will be seeing some passages from it over the upcoming days.

When I am quoting from any Bible, you may notice that I will make the language about God more inclusive by adding an "s" in brackets. I believe God is beyond gender, with the qualities of both and I am not going to deny Godde her femininity. People may say that the male pronoun is all inclusive, but do not believe it. Language has power and when one only hears Godde referred to in the masculine sense, then one can subconsciously really believe that men are above womyn. I also believe that when we only acknowledge Godde's masculine side, then we are denying some of Godde's creative power and that is a shame. Just as Godde loves us, just as we are, so we should love Godde-just as Godde is.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Quote of the Day & Mindfulness

It does make me feel holy, being connected with my body and brain like this.

I wish I knew who spoke this sentence, but all I wrote down besides the quote was the date: 7/29/06. I unfortunately do not remember what the "this" is, but the quote reminds of a practice that I learned in my eating disorder recovery called "mindfulness." Mindfulness is when one is mindful of what she is eating and how she feels intellectually and how she feels physically. People with eating disorders are not connected with their body or their emotions and it is important to reconnect with them. When one is eating, it is important to ask one's self questions like, "How am I feeling?," "Do I feel full?," "Could I eat more?" or "What does this remind me of?" Mindfulness takes a lot of practice, but eventually one gains the ability to listen to the body. This is liberating, for this means that one no longer has to be afraid of her body anymore. The body is not a monster that will never be satisfied, but rather is a friend that will let you know when she has had enough or when she wants more.

This quote also reminds me that holiness involves a mind and body connection. It is a cliche that holy people only think heavenly thoughts, while totally disregarding their body and other earthly matters. But I would say that these kinds of people are not really that "holy." The truth is that anyone can be holy. Being holy means that one sees Godde's glory in all of Her creation-in a beautiful flower or the face of a homeless person. And we must use that connection to connect with all of Godde's creation. That means treating all people, plants, and animals with respect-giving the love, joy, and peace that one feels from Godde to everyone and thing one meets. So it's still being mindful, just in a different way.

Another benefit to being mindful is that it forces a person to stay in the moment. When one is in the moment, then she cannot worry about the future. I have had a lot of trouble with staying in the present, but I am finally beginning to learn how to appreciate now and it is also liberating.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Quote of the Day & A Surprising New Love

Do you really get it? You are loved!
~ Rev. Connie Tuttle
Rev. Tuttle is the minister of my church, although we just call her "Connie" and this quote is taken from one of her sermons in 2005. One congregant often says that telling us about how loved we are must be her calling, because she talks about it so much. It is something I always need to hear, but especially so at that time in my life.

Of course, she was talking about the complete love of Godde, but I am about to talk about a lesser love-the love of a good recipe! Last week, I made chicken wings for the first time ever and they turned out great. To be honest, I didn't think the recipe would work! I don't know why-I followed the directions. I think it's just residual fear from ED, because chicken wings were one of my top fear foods when I was sick. There's no real logic as to why, but I think it's because they're messy. In my mind, a perfect person would never get messy while eating and so a person that is striving for perfection should never eat something that might make her reach for more than one napkin. So deep was my fear that when I was hospitalized in 2008 and chicken wings were served, I couldn't remember the last time I had eaten them. (Although now I can remember that when I was a little girl, I used to love the chicken wing that would come with my dinner at a local Chinese restaurant. Sadly, I also remember wanting to eat them, but not doing so, once I got older and into my eating disorder.)

BUT, the chicken wings tasted great and ED got another kick in the butt! I picked out this recipe, because it features mint and so I got to use mint from my family's garden. Unfortunately, that is my only criticism for this recipe-that I could not taste the mint! Even so, I will definitely make these again.

3 pounds chicken wings
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon butter
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup honey

1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
2.Place chicken in two 9x13 inch baking dishes. Blend garlic and mint leaves and spread mixture under skin of chicken pieces.
3.In a small saucepan, heat butter, lemon juice and honey over medium low heat; mix well. Brush warmed mixture all over chicken skin.
4.Bake for 1 hour, or until golden brown and cooked through (juices run clear). Brush again with honey mixture, and serve.
Caution: Read all the directions first, so you know not to throw away the leftover sauce like I did...
These chicken wings are sweet and juicy and garlicky and simply wonderful-much better than the ones I had at Ridgeview a few years ago. They are easy to make too. It took me a little while to figure out how to put the garlic and mint mixture under the skin of the chicken, but not too long and it was definitely worth the effect. Well, I could taste the garlic afterwards, but not the mint, so maybe I'll add more of that next time, although to be honest, I'm not sure the wings need any mint at all. Yes, I am loved by Godde, and my chicken wings are loved by me!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Quote of the Day - Creatures of Hope

I have a black, leather book that I call my "quote book," because I write down inspirational sentences that I have read in books or have heard other people say. Many of the quotes are from the Bible. I am going to try to share one of these quotes with you once a day. Sometimes I will have an explanation about the quote and sometimes not. Hopefully this is something that I can keep up with daily, although I am sure there will be some days that I will miss posting.

The first quote is fitting for my blog:

We, as humans, are creatures of hope.

This was uttered by an EA, or Emotions Anonymous, member in 2005. Emotions Anonymous is a twelve step group that I used to attend. In it, people say that they are "powerless over their own emotions" and it has been described as the twelve step group for those with mental illness.

To be clear, I do not think that all people with mental illness need to go to twelve-step groups-they just happen to work for me. I like the concept of a sponsor and working toward serenity, but I will also acknowledge that there have been times in my life when I was too angry to attend certain groups and that is certainly okay too. Anger is not a bad emotion and in fact can be used quite productively, like in my recent post about how getting angry at my illness motivated me in my recovery.

I heard this quote in 2005-the first time I received treatment for my eating disorder and it gave me a way to reframe the way I thought about humanity. At the time, I was clinically depressed and had been for a very long time. My thoughts about humanity were not that we are "creatures of hope," but that we are creatures of despair. This saying helped me reframe my thinking.

And I am still thinking about it, because the sad truth is that I am not sure this quote applies to everyone. I have known two friends who killed themselves-surely they had given up! Or maybe they had hope for something better than the life that were currently living. There's no way that I can know, but I would like to think that I am, at least,a creature of hope. Somehow I have continued living in the midst of some very dark days, because I have had hope that life would get better. Ultimately, I now know that I have a choice: to choose to be a creature of despair or a creature of hope and today I choose hope.

Now don't get me wrong-I don't think saying "Today I choose to be a creature of hope" means that I will be super bubbly all the time. In fact, I don't even think it means that I won't wake up depressed again one day. All it means is that I will not give up before my time. That I will keep on fighting. That I will never forget that recovery is my goal.

To Bones: Please Do Not Stigmatize Psychotherapy!

I just watched an episode of the tv show Bones and it was a great episode. I like the show, because it has likeable characters and the shows delve deeply into topics without being depressing. On this episode, Dr. Brennan was testifying against a killer and the defense attorney questioned Dr. Brennan's credibility, because she sees a psycologist.


Now I know that a defense attorney will try to find the holes in any argument, but that is certainly a ridiculous one. To me, seeing a therapist signifies that a person is healthy or at least is on the path towards wholeness. It means that the person is taking care of herself and that is something I can respect. I would not be as stable as I am without the nearly ten years of therapy I took. It's only been about a month, since my therapist and I decided that I no longer needed to see her. It was a big accomplishment! It is not as if I am fully healed now either-I am finding that I have a hard time saying "no" to people and I can still get really overwhelmed and anxious at times, but now I have a toolbox full of coping skills that I can use and a whole network of supportive people that I can look to for guidance. I am no longer depressed and I would not have gotten to this place without the help of some really helpful therapists.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Way to Joy and Peace Involves Hashbrowns

The fifth promise in AA is that "the feelings of uselessness and self-pity lessen" and I am truly experiencing that promise right now through my cooking for my family. It feels really great to make meals that people appreciate and are tasty. This is a meal that my dad absolutely loved-hashbrowns with bacon, onion, cheese, and apples. Apples?! I know you're skeptical. Everyone I told about the ingredients did a double take when I said the last one, but believe me when I report that apples are perfect for cheesy, bacony hashbrowns.

I got the recipe from my usual site-allrecipes.com But first, a word of caution: this recipe is called "hash brown apple pancake," but if you are planning to truly make it like a pancake, then use a small skillet. Otherwise, the pancake shape will not work.

Obviously, I did not use a small pan! But that does not matter, because the shape really does not influence the taste and the taste is fabulous.

This brings me to another word of caution: double the recipe! The recipe is supposed to serve four, but it barely serves two, which is very sad, because besides those two things, this is a great recipe.

Also, I added bacon. I thought it would go great with the other ingredients and I was right.

1 1/4 cups frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed
1/2 cup finely chopped apple
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon snipped chives
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
4 slices of crumbled bacon

In a small bowl, combine the hash browns, apple, onion, chives,bacon, salt and pepper. (Although I did not use chives...)
In a large nonstick skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Spread half of the hash brown mixture in an even layer in skillet. Sprinkle with cheese; top with remaining hash browns. Press mixture gently into skillet. Cook for 5 minutes or until bottom is browned.

Invert pancake onto a plate. Heat remaining butter and oil in the skillet. Slide pancake, browned side up, into skillet. Cook 5 minutes longer or until bottom is browned and cheese is melted. Slide pancake onto a plate; cut into wedges.

As you can tell, I tried following the directions and I even tried to flip it, but it totally did not work. Oh, well-as long as it does not affect the taste, then I don't really care.

I've been thinking about how everyone was surprised that the dish tasted good when I told them about the ingredients, specifically the apple, but it is a lot like recovery from an eating disorder. Relapse rates are really high. They're high for any kind of addiction, but especially high for eating disorders. I remember the last time I was at the hospital, I got very sad on the last day and I asked my case worker, "What if I relapse again?" Her response was, "Statistically, you probably will." At the time, that answer did not seem helpful at all. In fact, I was a little resentful towards what seemed like a very insensitive remark, but she was just being truthful.

And her answer did help, because it made me angry. It got me out of my pity party and I was instead angry at the disease. I did not want to be a statistic, but I did want to be useful again. I wanted my life to have meaning and I have found it by putting one foot in front of the other and by cooking one more meal after meal. "Feelings of uselessness and self-pity" have lessened and are now being replaced by feelings of joy and peace.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Eating Disorders are a Feminist Issue

I am currently reading the book, "Eating in the Light of the Moon: How Women can Transform their Relationships with Food through Myths, Metaphors & Storytelling" by Anita Johnston. This book is easy to read and incredibly insightful. Here is a passage that shocked me with its terrible truth:

So we find that, just as ancient societies had special rituals for girls at the onset of menarche to celebrate this rite of passage into womanhood, our modern society also has a ritual for adolescent girls to mark their entrance into womanhood. It is called dieting.

This strikes me as incredibly sad. A friend asked me today why we need feminism and it is because of this truth, if nothing else. There are many other issues, of course-unequal rates of pay for men and womyn, domestic violence, access to birth control, abortion issues, how the media portrays womyn, and the latest news from the American Academy of Pediatrics saying that cutting a girl's genitals, as long as it is small, is okay.

Eating disorders are often overlooked in feminist circles, but it is certainly a feminist issue. Girls are taught to hate their developing womynly body and so they strive to control it through food. They strive to make their curves straight and narrow like a man's. This is wrong. The start of our period should be celebrated and not condemned or ignored. There are some good things about our society, but the female diet culture is not one of them. Start subverting the patriarchy by honoring your own body.

Psalm 41 - The Devil Did Not Do It

Blessed are you when you look the powerless in the eye,
Instead of passing them with your head hung low.
Godde smiles upon those that smile upon Her most helpless.
She heals all troubled hearts.

Godde, my heart is troubled
And my body is sick-
Give me strength and patience!

O Holy Friend,
My so called "friends" gossip
And they blame me for my illness,
But You and I know that is not true.
Illness comes to those it will-
It is not a matter of doing.

Please give me healing,
So that I may show all
Your mercy.

Thank you for your lovingkindness.
You are most blessed
And I love you.

To read the original, go here. You know, Godde really does not give us illness as punishment for bad deeds. Sometimes it is easy to think that way, especially when depressed, but it's not true. Sickness is a kind of evil and it is here in this world, but I do not believe that one's life ends with illness. One does not become bad when they become sick.

Similarly, I do not believe that God creates natural disasters as punishment either. Some people do. These people create great shame and trouble. They are weak, as they cannot look at the bigger picture, so they must find something or someone that is easy to blame. Pat Robertson claims that the disaster in Haiti was due to a "pact with the devil." It certainly is a lot easier to say that than to examine why the same force of winds in other parts of the world do not cause nearly as much damage. Should we analyze why one nation is kept so poor? Should we analyze racism, classism, globalism, terrorism, global warming? No, it's much easier to blame the devil...

As for my own illnesses, I am beginning to think of them as strengths. I am not a victim of my illnesses, but a fighter and I thrive. Learning how to deal with my sicknesses teaches me great lessons about myself and my own strength. It has taught me how to lean upon my higher power and how to take care of myself. I am a compassionate person and not afraid of death. What if our society did not send the message that sick people are damaged goods, but people with lessons to teach? Wouldn't we be a much more healthy society? This is something I think about often these days.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Reflections on a Good Day

I am sitting in front of the television on my birthday enjoying a mug of green tea. Actually, I just finished the mug, but I'll make some more after this post! Green tea is a palate cleanser; it's a light, refreshing taste that is good with honey. The cup I just had did not have any sweetener though, because I needed something almost bland after having a super sugary homemade meringue. The meringues are actually just the leftover topping to a key lime pie that I attempted. I say attempted, because I forgot to add cornstarch to the key lime pie base and so I made two pies that never congealed.
Whoops! Another whoops is that I tried to double the recipe, but I actually tripled it, so I took the leftover whipped topping and made them into meringues! I just baked big spoonfuls of the egg white, cream of tartar, and sugar mixture in the oven at 350 degrees for twenty minutes. They turned out sort of unusual, but good. They have a crispy crust that melts in your mouth and the inside is exactly like a marshmellow, which I like a lot. You only need to eat one, as they are big and so sugary, you feel like your teeth are going to rot. It felt awful to fail at making the pies, but wonderful that I was able to turn my failure into something still yummy. I took the remaining meringues to church and we enjoyed them after dinner, which I also prepared.
It was fun making the meringues, because I got to use my new red KitchenAid mixer! Isn't it lovely?
I wasn't expecting it, but I am so glad that I got it. My mother said that she expects that she and my dad will reap the benefits of me using it and she is already right. The mixer can beat eggs really fast-much faster than I ever could by hand!
I also got for my birthday a drum called a djembe (pronounced gem-bay) that my father made for me. Well, he made the base and he got a professional to put on the skin. Isn't it beautiful?
It certainly has a beautiful tone! I had absolutely no clue that I was getting this exquisite West African instrument, but I'm glad that I did. Now I am truly ready to join a drum circle or band! I will be able to use it to help the girl I tutor too.
My birthday was great! Last year's birthday was good too, but I had bad stomach pains and was not able to fully enjoy it. Fortunately, I felt a lot better this time and I was able to enjoy (almost) every moment, even if I did get tired at times. I feel more relaxed than I did this time last year and more in the moment. I have more hope and joy and I hope you do too!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

How I Celebrate No Diet Day

Two days ago was "No Diet Day," at least according to Shapely Prose, so I celebrated it by making homemade baked macaroni and cheese. Yum! I first made it on Tuesday for the NAMI dinner before the support groups. I had never made baked macaroni and cheese before, but when I saw that NAMI needed some, I decided that now should be the time. I chose this recipe, because it is a large portion and because it is a less complicated recipe than most-you do not have to boil the noodles before putting the dish in the oven, but just dump everything in the pot-my favorite way to cook! Of course, preboiling the noodles is not a hard thing to do, but I wanted a super easy recipe to use with the girl I tutor-cooking uses math!

In the comments section of the recipe, people kept on saying that one really needs to use a deep casserole dish, instead of the shallow dish recommended in the actual recipe, for the dish to work out right, but I did not have one. Fortunately, I did have a gift certificate to Bed Bath & Beyond, so first I went there and talked to a representative from Calphalon. The woman was really helpful and she directed me to a 5 qt. chili pot that can be used both on the stovetop and in the oven.
The pot turned out to be perfect! And so did the mac & cheese. :)

1 pound uncooked macaroni
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 pound shredded American cheese
2 (12 fluid ounce) cans evaporated milk
2 cups water
4 eggs
2 teaspoons mustard powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I replaced both kinds of pepper with 1/2 t. of ordinary black pepper and it turned out fine.)

1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2.In a shallow three-quart baking dish, toss uncooked macaroni and melted butter together, to coat the macaroni and the inside of the dish. Add cheese, and stir lightly to distribute. (Look at all that glorious cheese!)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the evaporated milk, water, eggs, mustard powder, salt, and pepper. Pour into the baking dish-or chili pot!-with the macaroni.

3.Bake uncovered for 45 minutes, or until the center is set. Remove from the oven, and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
It's a macaroni and cheese custard! The result is a sweet, smooth goodness that is nearly orgasmic.

Baked macaroni and cheese was a big no-nofor me for a long time. All those carbs and cheese! It's certainly not a dish that I will be making everyday, but like the doughnut, macaroni and cheese is a dish filled with childlike joy and I no longer will give up joy, whether it be found in food or in other ways. My fibromyalgia has come back and I am often tired. This tiredness can sometimes make me feel a little down and I must be extra conscious in finding joy in life. I do not want my depression to return and making this macaroni and cheese was a great weapon in the fight to remain joyous.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

What I Should Have Said

I am ashamed. A few weeks ago, I was at a dinner with some of my friends and for some reason, the conversation turned to ragging on hispanics for having dirty houses, i.e. being dirty people. I was intensely uncomfortable, especially as our hispanic waiter was standing right behind the main person doing the talking. But I said nothing. I wish I had.

I bring this up, because I am trying to change. I also think that if I am to be an effective feminist/activist, then I need to own the times that I am not effective at dismantling the patriarchy and when I do not put my feelings into action. Silence is not protection.

The woman who spoke noticed that I was uncomfortable, and she told me that it's okay to be talking this way, because he could not understand her words. What I should have said was, "No, it is not okay." And then I should have changed the topic.

I was told that it was okay for her to talk this way, because she was only talking about what she had observed. In reality, it was an excuse to be a bigot. The thing is, I didn't just let someone talk badly about someone else, but also about me. The way I was talked to was condescending and by remaining silent, I basically told her that that was okay behavior. That my view of the world and her people is not important. But it's not okay and it is important.

I am writing this to be a reminder for myself on what to do the next time something like this happens. If this reminds anyone else of what to do, then my job really is done. I had something to say and I ignored it. I ignored my own power. I must remember how powerful I really am.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you NOT to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won't feel unsure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. As we let our own Light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
~ Marianne Williamson

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Process Art and Cinnamon Doughnuts

Doesn't that sandwich look divine? Last Saturday I attended a process art workshop with my church and I had a great time. We took a break for lunch at Duck's Cosmic Kitchen. I had never eaten there before, but man, oh man, the food was great! Here's what I had for lunch: "Our own Cured Salmon, avocado, cream cheese, arugula, tomato, red onion, capers on a baguette" with a side of potato salad. Then for dessert, I had a mini cinnamon doughnut, which just melted in my mouth.
I do not think life is worth living, if you are not willing to eat a doughnut every once in a while! Doughnuts were on my "no" list of foods for years, which is a sad thing, for it strikes me that doughnuts are a joyous food. The combination of hot sugar, cinnamon, butter, and bread dissolving on the tongue automatically makes one smile and glow with delight. Life is good when eating a doughnut.
Here is my piece of process art and I have titled it, "My Insides On the Outside." Process art is art where you are not concerned about the end result, but about getting out the subconscious and is a form of therapy. I used to see an art therapist when I went to SkyLand Trail and I found it very helpful and enjoyable. When I left SkyLand Trail, I still continued to do process art on my own. In process art, you basically put down the colors and images that come to your mind without question and then you analyze them afterwards. Sometimes the images come together and form a recognizable picture and sometimes they are seemingly completely random. I loved painting such a big painting-with such a big space, the opportunities seemed endless! It had been a long time since I had had quiet time with paper and paintbrush and my soul heartily welcomed it.

After the painting session, we sat in a circle and discussed what we saw in the artwork. One person said it looked like life was coming out of my heart and I really liked that comment. I have decided that it is a self portrait and it shows my insides-blood and veins-on the same surface as outside features, such as an eye, mouth and tears and it is because I am open. I am open to this new world of recovery and opportunities. I am open to the Sacred and joy and perhaps most importantly, cinnamon doughnuts.

Monday, May 3, 2010

April Books

Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side” by Beth Fantaskey – This book is much better than it sounds! I read it with the girl I tutor and I liked it a lot. It’s another vampire book, but this time the characters are actually interesting and I would recommend it to teenagers. The book explores teenage relationships and body image in a positive way, while asking the question: are there any people who cannot love?
“Dawn” by Octavia E. Butler – Fabulous! I just love Butler’s science fiction, because her characters and plots are really believable. I also like it that her stories tend to be set in not-too-distant future, as I think that helps make her stories and characters relatable. This is the first book in the Xenogenosis trilogy. In this series, aliens have saved the human race and I think her imaginng of aliens is really original.
“The Fairy Realm #3 – The Third Wish” by Emily Rodda – Great book for reading to a young child. I really enjoyed this book! Maybe I’m getting senile, but I didn’t catch on to how the problems in the book were solved until afterwards and I liked how there were no truly evil characters.
“Adulthood Rites” by Octavia E. Butler – The ending was unexpected and it just makes you itch to start reading the last book in the trilogy. I think Akin is an interesting character, but I do miss reading about Lilith, the main character in the first book. I think the alien race’s take on human beings is really compelling and disturbing-that our main problem is of having a predisposition towards hierarchical systems and intelligence.
Currently reading: “Imago” by Octavia E. Butler