I talk honestly and openly about my experiences with mental illness, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome through the lens of feminism, fat acceptance and process theology. I also do recipe and book reviews. My mission is to spread the message that hope is always real for a better life, despite living in a world that is often very harsh.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

November Books 2011

Vampire Kisses 7: Love Bites by Ellen Schreiber A book so forgettable that I had forgotten everything about it until I went to the author’s site, so that I could remember its name. Alas, the girl I work with loves this series and so I am condemned to read book after book from it. Fortunately, we only have a few more books left in the series to read. Alexander’s vampiric best friend, Sebastian, comes to town and falls for Raven’s mortal best friend. That’s it. That’s the whole freakin’ story. The town Raven lives in is called “Dullsville,” but that’s what I’d call this whole series of books. 

 A Long and Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott – This is a fabulous book with drama and suspense around every turn. It’s such a daring work that it’s hard to believe that it is written by the same author that brought us “Little Women!” Alcott wrote this sensationalist drama for a magazine to pay her bills. She was asked to end each chapter with such intrigue and excitement so that the reader would not be able to wait to read the next issue. But Alcott didn’t just want to pay the bills, but to also write something of substance and shock. The story proved to be so shocking that it was banned for a long time and once I had read the ending, I was shocked too. But this is not just a shocking story, but a feminist story of substance about why it should be easier for womyn to obtain divorces. (Remember this was written in the late 1800s…) This is a book I will definitely read again.
(Louisa May Alcott)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Sweet Dreams are Made of These...

One Friday a month, I attend a "Dreams" group.  We're a group of women who each have some kind of big goal and we meet to share what we've accomplished and to receive feedback about what else we could do.  We meet at L'Madeleine restaurant.  I went a few weeks ago and even though I had already eaten, I purchased two cute, little pastries. To tell you the truth, they were a little bland, but at least they're pretty!  (Sorry about the picture quality...)

So what is the dream that I'm working on with this group?  It's to get on disability.  No, it's not a trip to Paris or a course at a prestigious college, but to simply receive disability benefits.  Only it's not so simple.  To get disability, you have to prove you have a disability, which means filling out long, complicated, governmental forms, going on interviews, and collecting paperwork.  This would be hard and stressful for anyone, but put on top of everything that a person with a disability has to deal with, it's a very daunting and stressful task.  Really, I know what to do.  I have another very close friend who got disability benefits on the first try and I'm pumping her for information on how she did it.  What I need is encouragement, which these ladies provide.

But why would why I want to prove I have a disability?  Isn't that just more anxiety provoking and frankly, depressing?  Well, the process IS hard to handle, but for me, proving that I have a disability to the government is making my life a little better.  It's not that I want to mooch off the government, but that I need some help.  To be honest, my goal isn't really to get onto disability, but to be more independent-to have my own space and I can't do that on my own.  If I was a regular thirty-year-old, I would just strap on my bootstraps and get a job.  I'd work hard and with my college degree and my go-getter spirit, I'm sure I would make enough to support myself.  And I am not being too sarcastic here.  I do know how to market myself and one of my strengths is how well I promote and sell myself during an interview.  In my experience, if I interview for a job, then I am almost bound to get it.  Unfortunately, keeping it is another story.  Soon, I am so full with anxiety that I cannot perform my job as well as I thought I could and certainly not as well as I said.  Then I feel embarrassed, under pressure, and eventually so depressed I have to quit the job.

It sometimes feels weird to have this as my current big goal, especially when others who do not know me really well start talking about what they're looking forward to.  I feel fine talking to people that really know me, like the people at my small church or my family and close friends, but around a gathering of people around my age who are starting families, careers, or exciting, "regular," dreams and I don't know what to say.  The problem is partly my fault and partly society's-my part is that I am judging my insides to other's outsides, which never leads to the truth, and society's part is that it stigmatizes disability.  As I have said before, having a disability is natural.  We all have an ability that loses its functionality at some point and the ones in our society who have a tougher time because of their disability should be lifted up and helped in our society instead of being condemned.

My dream is to become more independent and if that requires me to try for disability, then I will with all my heart.

Discussion Question: What are your big goals and dreams?

I loved the Eurythmics in fifth grade and I still love Annie Lennox!  Here is what we've both really wanted all along (But what's with the cows?!):

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Social Justice & Spiritual Events in Atlanta

"God calls us to some things we cannot do alone." This is from the Regional Council of Churches of Atlanta Church Action eNewsletter  (RCCAtl.org)  All of these events have to do with social justice, feminism, spirituality, world healing, or World AIDS day, which is on Thursday, December first.

1. Unity North Atlanta is hosting the Tibetan Buddhist Monks Nov 27-Dec 4. They will create the Medicine Buddha Mandala Sand Painting for world healing. You read about the interfaith meditation service coming up on November 30 in last week’s eNewsletter. On December 3, the famed multiphonic singers of Tibet ’s Drepung Loseling Monastery, whose sellout performances in Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center received national acclaim, will perform Sacred Music Sacred Dance for World Healing, ancient temple dances and music. We are fortunate to again have the mystical, colorful, peaceful monks at Unity.

2. Faiths Act at MedShare is hosting the first Sweet Talk of the year on November 28, 11:15 to noon. Join the MedShare community to learn about the importance of biomedical servicing technology to save lives in developing countries. Eben Armstrong, an award winning biomedical engineer at MedShare, will discuss his international experiences in South America and Africa . He has trained hundreds of biomedical technicians to build the capacity of hospitals to serve impoverished communities. Additionally, faith communities are invited to learn about the Faiths Act Campaign for Sierra Leone at MedShare this year. Please R.s.v.p. to srahim@medshare.org by 11/25/11. Sweet Talk will be held in the volunteer sorting room at MedShare, 3240 Clifton Springs Road , Decatur , 30034. 770-323-5858.

3. The Light of Hope Church of Inclusion honors caregivers with an inclusive worship service each month. On December 4 there will be free healthy food for all diets, musical entertainers, dance, motivational speakers, awards, prizes, and more. Rev. Shon L. Freeman, Sr. would like to invite everyone to this special event being held in memory of the late MaMa N’Jere Alghanee for her many years of caring and giving for those differently abled. Event is Sunday, December 4, from 3 to 5:30 p.m. , KES, Building, 6615 Tribble Street , Lithonia 30058 , Call 678-358-1180 or emaildisabledinaction09@yahoo.com if you need info.

4. The Third Annual “Taste of Faith” celebration for the Atlanta InterFaith Leaders Fellowship is scheduled for Sunday, December 4. Come and bring family and friends. This year at a new location, First Christian Church of Atlanta, 4532 LaVista Road, Tucker 30084. Tasting of foods from multiple religious and ethnic traditions will begin at 3 p.m. and continue until 5 p.m. Ben Johnson will bring greetings and brief comments midway through the event. No charge or pre-registration for this event. Saeed Raees, chairperson for this year’s Taste of Faith, invites all who are willing to help assure a broad representation of foods from our diverse traditions. If you can make a contribution in this way, please contact Saeed as soon as possible at saeedraees@gmail.com. The focus of the celebration is conversation and fellowship to build new bridges.

 5. Decatur United Church of Christ, 109 Hibernia Ave , Decatur 30030 , has announced a new time for its Taize` Service, first Sunday, 6:00 p.m., in the sanctuary. December 4 is the upcoming service. Their telephone number is 404-373-2933.

 6.  Atlanta Community Ministries invites you to participate in an Advent Sabbath Rest Silent Retreat Four Hours of Rest with God Monday, December 5, noon to 4 p.m. at Ignatius House, 6700 Riverside Drive on the beautiful Chattahoochee River . Register by pressing the link. Fee is $22.00 and includes a meal and materials. Questions or scholarship needed? Call Becky Shoaf, Team Leader at 404-358-7760.

7.  More opportunities to take the Mental Health First Aid Training. Learn how to help someone who is developing a problem or experiencing a crisis. Training costs are $155 per person ($125 for students). Each participant receives certification in Mental Health First Aid (valid for 3 years), a manual, and other resources, and lunch each day. Winter two-day courses will be held on Dec. 6 and 8, and Jan. 10 and 12, and Feb. 9 and 10 at Kirkwood United Church of Christ. For more information or to register for a course, go to www.hoperesourcesonline.com or contact Kathryn Bryan atKathryn@hoperesourcesonline.com or 404-919-5179.

 8. Our friends at the National Domestic Worker Alliance are organizing an unusual campaign. If you have felt concern about how our decisions on immigration are impacting families you will want to read about this initiative to ask children and youth to write letters about why families should be able to stay together. http://www.webelongtogether.org/wish
 9. Toiletries, especially deodorant and toothpaste, are in short supply at the Clothes Closet at Holy Comforter's Friendship Center. To help, contact Matthew at 404-627-6510 or HCfriendshipcenter@bellsouth.net. Holy Comforter, an RCCA member, is a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta among people who are marginalized by mental illness and poverty.

World AIDS Day Programs

1. DeKalb County Board of Health's Ryan White Early Care Clinic and their community partners celebrate World AIDS Day with a program featuring noted speakers and a performance by AfriSalsa, December 1 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Free HIV Testing will take place at DeKalb Addiction Clinic, 455 Winn Way , from 9 a.m. till 4 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome.

2. Service of Healing and Hope featuring Voices of Atlanta will be held at Rock Spring Presbyterian Church on World AIDS Day,Thursday, December 1, at 7 p.m. Rock Spring Church is locate at 1824 Piedmont Ave , Atlanta 30324 . The entire community is invited.

3. The Museum of Design Atlanta has special programming for World AIDS Day, December 1. Running now until the end of the year, exhibits include Graphic Intervention: 25 Years of International AIDS Posters and selected panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt. In commemoration of the day, MODA will be open for 24 hours straight, from midnight on November 30 to midnight on December 1. Regular museum admission will be charged with a portion of the proceeds going to AID Atlanta and the NAMES Project. Commemoration will include poetry readings, a lecture about the quilt, dance and musical performances, and much more.

4. Greater than Aids is a national movement responding to the AIDS crisis in the U.S. You can order free World AIDS Day materials this week from their website.

The two  events that interest me the most are the training for mental health first aid and the work for the National Domestic Workers Alliance.   What events interest you?

Friday, November 18, 2011

October Books

I Hate You-Don’t Leave Me: Understanding the Borderline Personality by Jerome J. Kreisman and Hal Straus – I recently underwent psychological testing and while it did NOT say I have BorderlinePersonality Disorder (BPD), it did say that I have a lot of BPD traits.  And I mean a lot, so I decided to read up on it.  This book is considered the leading reference for helping people understand BPD.  Although full of much useful information, it is very easy to read.  While reading it, I resonated with much that was said about being Borderline, especially this line:
A borderline suffers from a kind of ‘emotional hemophilia’; she lacks the clotting mechanism needed to moderate her spurts of feeling.  Prick the delicate ‘skin’ of a borderline, and she will emotionally bleed to death. (p. 12)
I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about the diagnosis of BPD either from the viewpoint of the patient, a family member or friend, or a clinician.  And I would give this book five stars except for one very key point: the book is extremely offensive towards homosexuality.  Several times when talking about rates of homosexual or bisexuality among people with Borderline, it lists them as a “sexual perversion.”  The book is also not very friendly towards those who are into the kink lifestyle, as it also lists kink as a sexual perversion.  I did not mind so much the kink stereotype, as it is a typical reaction, but the authors really should know better when it comes to homo- and bi-sexuality.  Sexuality is not a perversion, even if it is not between a man and a woman and I am disappointed that the days of mental health professionals thinking that they are not long past.  Unfortunately, I am forced to overlook the book’s homophobia, as the book really does contain a lot of very useful information.

Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon – This is one of those rare books where after reading it, you still cannot put it down, because you’re so wrapped up in the emotion and wonder of the story.  This is the story of Hans Christian Anderson’s classic story, The Little Mermaid, only adapted and fleshed out for adults.  This is a truly beautiful story and I almost wept when it was over.  The story does differ slightly from the original, but I am not going to ruin the ending by telling you in what way.  Turgeon’s imagery is mesmerizing and I especially love the grisly shipwreck scene in the beginning.  Except for the music, I have always detested the message behind Disney’s version of the story and I had forgotten that the original Anderson version has a more philosophical bent.  In it, the mermaid is fascinated with humans, because she is intrigued by the fact that humans possess immortal souls and that in marriage, the two human souls intertwine and become whole.  She does not win humanity by merely kissing her human lover, but by getting married, because it is then she will gain her soul-otherwise, she loses her humanity and instead becomes sea foam.  What is especially intriguing about this book, is that Turgeon adds an adult twist by incorporating politics into the story, complicating the relationships between the two princesses and the prince.  She adds moral dilemmas, drama, and issues of justice and war.  Both women are characters to look up to, reminding us that life is much more complicated than the oversimplified Disney version.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Godde does not delight in anyone's death!

Have you ever read a passage that just electrified you?  That upon reading it, just sent a shiver of electricity down your spine, because you knew it to be true?  A few weeks ago, I was reading Ezekiel 18, since I was thinking of writing a sermon and that chapter was part of the lectionary.  I did end up writing a sermon, which I will publish later.  However, it did not get used, as I got sick that weekend and my minister had already found someone to replace her on her vacation.  I did, however, start using Ezekiel 18:32 in my daily practice, as it really struck a chord with me and inspired me.  It is this:
For I take no pleasure in anyone's death, says Sovereign YHWH.
 That means me!  Godde would not take any pleasure in my death!  Yes, I probably should have known that already, but for some reason it provided a much needed boost to my brain and soul.  You see, when I go through my bouts of depression, I become suicidal and a few weeks ago, that's where my thinking was centered.  So whenever I started to think about suicide, I would repeat that sentence paraphased:

Godde does not delight in anyone's death!

Miraculously, by repeating that phrase over and over again, my thoughts would eventually clear up, like the sun shining through on a cloudy day and after awhile I would feel alright.  At first, it took an hour for my thoughts to clear up, but with a few medication changes and tons of Ezekiel repetitions, the hour-long agonies soon turned to thirty-minute long ones to fifteen minute-long moments of torture.  I can now say that my depression is now doing a lot better and it has been about a week of suicidal free thinking.  Hallelujah!

What I practiced is called a positive affirmation and they're one of those things that can sound really cheesy at first, but with practice they really work.  The trick is to find a phrase that means something to you.  And then repeat it.  Again and again and again until you really start to believe it.  Until your brain starts to buy into the positive message and the negative hold doesn't seem so strong.  It doesn't have to be a biblical passage-that's just what happened to work for me.  I do think it is important to tell our brain and our heart positive things, because the truth is we're always going to be telling our brains and hearts something and whatever we say long enough, we will eventually believe.  It is harder to tell ourselves positive things, because at least I have a lot more experience telling myself negative messages, but the more we practice, the easier it gets. 

And so I leave you with this: Godde does not delight in anyone's death, so please do not delight in yours. Delight in living instead.

*What are some positive affirmations that have helped you?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

September Books

This book is a humorous take on the now famous fairytale about the princess that kisses a frog prince and ends up turning into a frog herself.  It’s written with lots of humor and the girl I read it to loved it, but I wasn’t wild about it.  It lacked depth and even though it was located in the “teen” section, it seemed more like a book for preteens or younger.  Not that a book for preteens cannot have depth-I just wish this book had had some.  I felt like it was a book that catered specifically to its market and could not appeal to older readers.  A truly great book appeals across generations.  Also, this book had unfortunate vibe of being regrettably predictable, even though creative.  There is definitely an art form to rewriting fairy tales-the writer has to take great care to write a story that is probably very familiar to its readers in way that is new, while still honoring the original.  In my opinion, this book did not succeed.  Of course, anyone younger and not quite the literary snob would probably disagree.

The Captain’s Verses by Pablo Neruda
Fabulous!  This was by far the best book I read this month.  This book of romantic poetry was originally written for his wife in secret and while I do not usually like love poetry, I loved this volume.  It was sensual without being mushy, intense without being esoteric.  I could understand why Pablo Neruda is a celebrated poet and I am glad I discovered this book of poetry – I found it in a used book store.  I have a feeling I will read this book over and over again.

I’m Not Okay, You’re Not Okay, But That’s Okay with God by Shelley Hussey

I got this book from a recovery themed book sale at the treatment center that I am currently attending.  The book is an autobiography with informative notes written by doctors and therapists about living with mental illness, specifically living with extreme anxiety.  The book is written with a lot of humor and it really helped lift my mood.  It did not teach me anything new, as it is written mainly for the newly diagnosed and I am anything but that.  At first, I really liked the title, but I have since rescinded my approval.  Why?  Because when I got sick, I started to think that something was wrong with me.  I felt like something was innately wrong with my being and I was full of shame.  I am still battling these intense, overwhelming and negative emotions.  I know that the title was appealing to not feeling like she’s okay, but when it comes to the truth of our condition, I need the truth and the truth is that we are okay.  We are Godde’s children and so we are intrinsically okay.  In fact, we are more than okay, we are blessed, and I have to surround myself with messages that reinforce that particular truth.  Otherwise I will believe my feelings of unworthiness and those feelings are not facts.

Monday, September 26, 2011

If I Were a Spice...

If I were a spice, I'd be nutmeg. One, you can put some in pancake batter and the pancakes will taste marvelous. Two, I seem to be adding diagnosis to my list everyday. Lately, I have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. I am both overwhelmed by this diagnosis and relieved-overwhelmed, because it's a pretty major mental disorder with some really heavy stigma attached to it, but I am also relieved, because the diagnosis does seem to fit my characteristics. There is a sense of relief that comes when a diagnosis resonates within you, even if it is a diagnosis filled with stigma and misconceptions. Knowledge is power and the more I know about my diagnosis, the better I can help myself move into recovery.

And if I were a spice, I would be in a store like Spice It Up in Asheville!
Actually, the shop is in the lovely, artsy town called Black Mountain, which is near Asheville. (
130 Cherry St
Black Mountain, NC 28711)
And my friend and I just had to step inside when we saw this open sign.
Also outside, was a lovely herbal garden....The words on the window excited me too-I just love tea and before even entering the store, I was thrilled by the fact that the store supports fair trade and organic products.

Like my new diagnosis, the store was a bit overwhelming, but in a good way.
Isn't the interior beautiful? As you can see, on one wall, there are many different types of flavored salts and sugars. The tea has its own room! Here I am, sampling some sugar: I make a lot of cookies with the teenager I work with and I got very excited thinking about the baking possibilities...

Each jar of sugar had a little bowl beside with a little bit of the sugar and a spoon. How delightful! There were little bags of sugar nearby, although you could get more if you wanted. The sugar was expensive, so it would not replace regular, but still, have you ever seen cinnamon sugar look so pretty? Since I can make it myself, although not like this, of course, I did not buy any.
What was even prettier was the raspberry sugar. I absolutely love raspberries, so I did buy a bag. Won't it look beautiful on some Easter cookies? I'm thinking sugar cookies with a lemon glaze with the raspberry sugar sprinkled on top. Yum! My mouth is already watering...

On the other side of the store, there is a wall with Custom Blends and Rubs. I was very happy to learn that the rubs were very popular and that the store has a hard time keeping them in stock. I bought a few for Christmas presents-I won't say for who!
The smell of the tea room and the herbs outside...The taste of the sugar...The beauty of the decor...The excitement of foodie possibilities...The memory of these things are beginning to a passion for living in me, which has been long absent. I have been struggling with depression for several months now, but I can feel my soul beginning to waken up. I think it's time to get cooking...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Enriching Recovery, Spiritual, and Social Justice Events in Atlanta

Since this blog addresses spirituality, social justice through feminism, and mental illness, I've included all these events in Atlanta that have to do with these topics. The one I am really looking forward to are the ones about suicide prevention, as that is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. I will probably attend the vigil on September 6.

"God calls us to some things we cannot do alone."

Regional Council of Churches of Atlanta

2. Tapestry of Faith: How Diverse Faith Traditions Inform Nonviolence, Thursday, September 1, 7 p.m., American Friends Service Committee, 60 Walton St Atlanta 30303 . In conjunction with Windows and Mirrors: Reflections on the War in Afghanistan, an interfaith panel of religious leaders will address the topic of peace and nonviolence from their faith traditions. Panelists include Rev. Timothy McDonald, Senior Pastor of First Iconium Baptist Church , Rev. Michael Ellison, Abbot of the Atlanta Soto Zen Center , Rev. Marti Keller, minister, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta, Dr. Rashid Naim, of the Islamic Speakers Bureau and professor at Georgia State University, moderated by Christina Repoley, Atlanta Friends Meeting. The American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization dedicated to peace and nonviolence, sponsors the free exhibit, Windows and Mirrors. For more information, see afsc.org.

4. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention - Metro Atlanta Chapter is hosting a vigil to remember those lost to suicide as a kick-off for activities for National Suicide Prevention Week. Speakers include GA Representative Stephanie Stuckey-Benfield, Pastoral Counselor Adam Garner, AJC Columnist Jim Osterman, and survivor of her mother and son's suicides, Sherre Yager, and more. Music by Lindsay Rakers. Tuesday, September 6, 8 - 9 p.m. No registration necessary. Take MARTA or park in SAGE parking facility. 50% off coupons for Willy's Mexicana Grill available Piedmont Park at 12th Street Entrance (inside the park) http://www.facebook.com

5. Want to learn why supportive housing is the solution to homelessness in Atlanta ? Want to learn why congregations need to talk with their state legislators about supportive housing? Want to find out more about the November 15 Conference on Supportive Housing sponsored by the Georgia Supportive Housing Association? Then attend the next meeting of the Regional Housing Forum on Wednesday, September 7. Read all about this morning of sought after speakers and important information at Forum. More on supportive housing at www.supportivehousingassociation.com

6. Registration is open for the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Georgia Conference, Together We Can: Looking Back, Moving Forward, September 8-10, at the Macon Conference Center in Macon . Online registration is open until September 1 and daily onsite registration will be available. There is no registration fee for conference participation. Continuing Education Units (CEUs) have been applied for through UGA’s School of Social Work and the Alcohol & Drug Addiction Certification Board of Georgia. Accommodation information is at www.marriott.com. Submit conference questions via email to RegistrationMHDDAD@dhr.state.ga.us

(Pearl Cleage)
8. All around the world change is happening. A one night only conversation at the Alliance Theatre will feature three women who are changing our world today. Featuring four-time Tony Award® nominee, Tovah Feldshuh, Lois Frank, community volunteer and advocate, and Elizabeth Omilami, Civil Rights activist. The panel discussion will be moderated by author, playwright, and Civil Rights activist, Pearl Cleage. Panel discussion is Monday, September 10, at 7 p.m. To purchase tickets, contact the Woodruff Arts Center Box Office at 404-733-5000 or if you are bringing a group of 10 or more, contact Quidana Bosman at 404-733-4690

11. Put it on your calendar if you are in Cobb County . Cobb Faith Partnership General Meeting - Wednesday, September 28. Join Cobb Faith Partnership at Turner Chapel AME Church , 492 North Marietta Parkway , Marietta . Lunch will start at 11:45 a.m. Don’t miss the fall kickoff and be sure to bring a guest or two. For more information email info@cobbfaithpartnership.org or like CFP on Facebook

12. Author and priest Barbara Brown Taylor will lead a luncheon program on "Everyday Sacraments" Saturday, October 1, at Grace-Calvary Episcopal Church, Clarkesville. The program is sponsored by the parish's Episcopal Church Women, and the Grace-Calvary Cookbook Committee. The Cathedral Book Store will provide books, other publications, and gift items for sale. Tickets are $30. For information call 706-754-2451 .

16. The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change and the Metropolitan Atlanta Violence Prevention Partnership have joined forces with local officials to launch a major initiative to combat violence in six metro Atlanta counties and eventually throughout the state of Georgia. The Peace Plan is aimed at coordinating great programs throughout metro Atlanta under one umbrella to educate and inspire residents. MAVPP and member organizations are soliciting 100,000 individual supporters of the 21st Century Nonviolence Movement Peace Plan by September 30, 2011. To sign up as a supporter, visit http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/thepeaceplan/ “Once again, Atlanta is at the vanguard by leading the nation in the 21st Century version of the nonviolence movement,” said Dr. James P. Griffin, Jr., Research Associate Professor, Morehouse School of Medicine Founder and Convener of the MAVPP.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

July Books (Or Book, Rather...)

I only read one book this July, but it was a great one. I was at my favorite used book store one day and I was at the counter when all of a sudden the thought occurred to me that I should look in the sci-fi section to see if they had any books by my favorite author, Octavia E. Butler and they actually did have a book that I hadn't previously read!
This is the sequel to her book, "Wild Seed," although this book was written first. The ending was really awesome and creative and left me feeling good. I really need to get the next book in the series, as I am dying to know what happens to Mary's community. Mary is a product of the awful Doro and she is the first person who is a successful threat to him. When she is going through her transition period into her psychic abilities, she forms a community of people by using mind control. The novel, besides bringing brilliant insights to race, also brings about questions about community. Can a people be a community if they are forced into it? Mary's connects telepathic people, who at first are incredibly angry that they can be controlled by her, but then they see that she can bring together a people that once could not stand to be near others like themselves. But Mary's people also enslave "mutes," or people without telepathic abilities. They justify it by saying they are not harming the mutes and so are not like the harmful Doro, but one has to wonder. It brings forth the question, is a person who feels enslaved and victimized doomed to enslave and victimize others in their quest for their own empowerment? Perhaps, if a person is under the influence of a false sense of empowerment, but true power comes from within, not from controlling others.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

National Relaxation Day!

According to Facebook, tomorrow is National Relaxation Day. Sounds good to me! Unfortunately, tomorrow will probably not be so relaxing for me, so I am relaxing today.

What do I listen to when I'm in my room and I want to relax? Usually classical music, like Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, or ancient chants. Here is some music for you to enjoy.

I hope this music relaxed you,as much as it did me! Light a candle, listen to this music, and send your dreams to Godde.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

New Recovery Poetry

My depression has lifted for the most part. Yay! When my depression first presented itself, I started writing poetry, but I felt the poetry was too dark for me to share with my followers. Fortunately, now that I am feeling more hopeful and am transforming my life, so my poetry has been transformed too. Here is some recent recovery poetry I would like to share:

How Far

How far am I willing to go for recovery?
Will I continue to catastrophize;
Will I continue to lie;
Will I continue to spend days
Just wishing to die?

Or will I take control?
Not control over others,
People, places, and over others,
Not even so much control of my
Emotional ascent,
But of what I am to do-
And who I am to be.

Will I listen to my gut?
Will I take care of myself?
Will I listen to the voice inside?

I am worthy.
I am valuable.
I am myself-
With no one else to please.
I am enough.

(from the blog, redbubble. You can actually buy this picture on a tee shirt!)

Life's Song Dance

My soul is free!
Listen to my song-
I'll sing it all life long.

I would whisper,
But my soul wouldn't stand it-
My body trembles with excitement.

My song is in the wind.
My song is in the storm.
My song is in the crashing waves-
My song is life!

Depression will cover it up,
Schizophrenia will silence it also.
Paranoia will turn the beauty into terror.

Get help! Speak! Listen to you own song!
You are a part of life.
Your song is a part of The Song.
Do not diminish it.
Make it louder and stronger.
Join the SongDance of Life!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Bone Sigh Art, A Review-Strength Must Come from Within

When my friend and I took our mini-vacation to Asheville, we also visited the town of Black Mountain, NC. Black Mountain is an even smaller town than Asheville, but it is absolutely chock-full of artistic and folksy goodness and because we were under a time frame, we did not get to see all that we had planned. Oh, well... I guess that means we'll have to take another road trip!

One of the best stores that we went to is called, Mountain Spirit Cards & Gifts. Frankly, I was a bit hesitant to visit, because I thought the cards and gifts might be really cheesy, but they are not at all. The store is full of recovery art, even though the owner of the shop didn't even know that her arts and cards qualified as such. My friend and I talked to the owner at length about how much we liked her store and about recovery in general and she was very personable, interested, and enthusiastic.

Her store features a lot of watercolor paintings with recovery poetry on it created by a woman named Terri. Her art can be found at http://www.bonesigharts.com/. Terri writes:
"During the most painful time of my life, I made a promise to myself. Instead of numbing my pain, and avoiding it, I would turn into it. I feel what was going on inside of me and explore it. At times the emotion was too much for me, filling me up so completely that I needed to let some spill out. It is in that spilling "bone sighs" were born, adding watercolor to the words was my way of completing each thought that came out, my way of honoring them."

I bought one of her "Bone Sighs" paintings for my room. The vow is a writing that resonants deep within my soul and I need to read it every day. I am so inspired by the words that I instantly knew I would need to share them with you. (I am not going to scan it in, even though the watercolors are beautiful too, because I want to support her work and if you would like to have one for yourself, I suggest you visit her website, and purchase one.)

i commit to me, myself, today.
i vow to listen to and follow and believe in my goodness,
to recognize my strength and wield it
with the added power of compassion
to know my heart and trust it and not
turn to outside expectations to feed it,
but rather turn to my own inner
guidance to lead me,
to know that i am the person i want
to be and to work to uncover more
of my beauty daily.
and to be gentle with myself when
i slip-loving myself even in
the darkness.
to me, myself, i give my love-
and it is from me, myself, my
love is returned.

Isn't that message beautiful? I stared at it for a long time in the store mesmerized. In fact, my friend and I argued about which one of us would buy it! The words are so inspirational to me and I hope they are to you too. Terri has a blog, called Honor Yourself, which I am eventually going to add on my blogroll. It's full of beautiful writing and her art site even has a community where people can discuss art, spirituality, and dealing with emotions, mainly from a female perspective. As you can tell, I am in awe of this woman!

Her message reminds me that my strength and self-worth must come from within and my Godde and no one else. Yes, people and community are needed, but still, my own personal strength, hope, and goodness, must come from within. Without a strong belief in myself and the Goddde within myself, I will flounder searching for the approval that I already ironically have within me.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

My Views on Godde-A Need to Remember

Before I get to the meat of this post, I'm going to warn you that I very well might move this blog to WordPress soon. I've heard they handle pictures much better and as you've probably noticed, my last post is having trouble with some very basic pictures. It's very frustrating, because I like to break events up with pictures, instead of spaces, as it adds more interest and is more fun. I'm also the occassional food blogger, so I really need better picture capability for that. BTW, I AM going to do a lot more posts on food soon. I just got back from a vacation to Asheville and I have a lot of good food news to report!
So, I have a new sponsor, who is taking me through the Emotions Anonymous (EA) steps and she had me write out what I believe about Godde and my relationship with Godde. This is what I wrote. I've already written out many of these things in my postings, but I thought it was interesting to see them together in list form.

The Way I View Godde

  • I relate to the female image.

  • I use Goddess imagery. In fact, my image of Godde is the Goddess of Willendorf:

  • We are all Godde's children.

  • Godde is LOVE.

  • Godde is within me and in relationship with me.

  • Godde is mysterious.

  • Godde is with me in everything I do and feel.

  • Godde is change. This view is brought to you by Octavia E. Butler's EarthSeed books and Monica A. Coleman. (Monica, I hope I can say that about you. If not, let me know.)

  • Godde experiences what we experience.

  • Godde is all that we are-Godde is a poor man with AIDS as She is a struggling young woman in recovery as He is a wealthy movie star.

  • Godde is the force continually working on our behalf and is always urging us to follow the better, more constructive way.

  • Godde is Complete Compassion.

  • Godde understands pain, YET...

  • Godde urges us to grow, which although it involves intensely painful moments, Godde does NOT desire us to live in misery.

  • I do NOT believe it is our job to be good enough in order to make it to the Kingdom of Heaven, but instead to help bring about Godde's Kindom to Earth.

  • Godde is Not nice or want us to be nice, but wants us to instead grow, change, and be fully real and authentic to our true Godde-given selves.

I have gotten really depressed lately, because I have forgotten what I believe. The trauma that I have recently experienced caused me to forget, as I drowned in the sorrow of what happened. I need to read this everyday to remind myself that Godde is Real and really does desire my healing, not my misery. I hope this helps you too.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

I'm Back and So Are Tons of Recovery Events in Metro Atlanta! Even More Coming Soon!

Two nights ago, I dreamed that I spent all night posting on my blog, so I knew that I was ready to begin posting again. I have many things to write about, but this one is simply a series of events that have to do with faith, social justice, and disability rights. They are all in Georgia, but remember-if any of you want to send an event that has to do with any of the themes of HopeIsReal! then send me an email. Unfortunately, the email that I have posted is not working right now, so I guess I'll have to change it. I'll let you know when I have a new email that you can contact me with events, questions, or comments. This is a long posting, but these are all really good events and I felt the need to share. Enjoy! BTW, more postings about recovery events will be coming soon-these are only the events that were sent to me from the Regional Council of Churches of Atlanta.
The Regional Council of Churches of Atlanta is a partner in C.H.I.P. an interfaith and community-based group whose purpose is to build and nurture a coalition in which public, private, non-profit agencies, and faith communities work collaboratively to assure that every person, family, and community in Georgia have meaningful access to the full range of information and services related to mental and addictive illness including awareness, prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery services. See a list of current partners and read more at RCCAtl.org Contact us if your congregation or agency would like to hear more ecarter@rccatl.org.

The summer series on justice in Georgia at Central Presbyterian Church continues this week, July 3, with Standing Next to the Person No One Else Will Stand Next To (Capital Punishment in Georgia) with William Montross, Senior Attorney, Southern Center for Human Rights.
(from recoveryswag.com)
The Southeastern Institute on Chemical Dependency is now offering new "day rates" for the Summer Institute on Addiction at Simpsonwood July 9-16, 2011. This will make it possible for you to register only for the day(s) that fit into your schedule. The fee for a full day is $65 and includes breakfast and lunch. The fee for Sunday July 10 classes, which begin at 2:00 p.m. and include dinner, is only $45. The registration deadline is July 5, so please go to http://www.thesicd.org/ review the information and register now. For more information, email jewell@thesicd.org or call Jewell Meringer at 678-525-2692.

Understanding Asset Building Programs and the Myriad of Rules Governing Federal SSI/SSDI, Medicaid, Medicare & Related Work Incentives for People with Disabilities. This 4-hour workshop will give participants a basic understanding of many benefit programs offered by the local, state and federal government. If you are working with someone with a disability, you won't want to miss the most up-to-date information. Wednesday, August 3, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m., The Atlanta Community Food Bank, 732 Joseph E. Lowery Blvd. , Atlanta 30318 . Registration is required by July 29. Register here...

Save the Date for the Suicide Prevention Conference which will be held in Macon September 8-This is the 10th anniversary of the state suicide prevention plan.

9/11/11 Interfaith Gathering, Sunday, September 11, 2011, at 5 p.m., the 10th Anniversary of 9/11. Open to all and free of charge, the event will be held in the ballroom of the Decatur Hotel and Conference Center , 130 Clairemont Road , Decatur . The planning committee includes Atlantans from a variety of faith expressions, including Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, and Muslims. The event will remember those who died on September 11, 2001, while seeking to shift our combined energies toward the building of relationships between faith communities and across lines that have divided us in the past. To become an endorsing/supporting organization, contact the 9/11/11 Interfaith Planning Committee through Jan Swanson, Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta, at worldpilgrims@bellsouth.net or 404-622-3399. More on the event later.

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is the only organization devoted solely to stopping the commercial exploitation of children. "Reclaiming Childhood from Corporate Marketers."

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Patience is a Virtue!

Please, my followers: Be patient! Eventually, I will post often again and hopefully it will be soon, but I cannot make any promises. I have gone through a really rough time and I have experienced some trauma. This has really affected me and I need to take a break in order to take care of myself. Monday I start intensive outpatient treatment (IOP) at Ridgeview. Fortunately, I am able to continue working and the treatment should not affect my job, as it is after hours. This is a blessing! Also, my insurance is covering it 100%. Another blessing! I need a space where I can be brutally honest about what I have experienced and although I am very honest on this site, for various reasons, this will not be the appropriate place to talk about my recent experiences until at least a few years have passed. I am very sad/resentful about this and wish society was different, but it isn't. Sometimes in this world, we have to put our advocating passions and ideals aside and concentrate on ourselves, which can include protecting our own privacy.

I have many ideas for postings and my site will probably undergo a lot of change in the future. Stay posted, keep following, and remember Hope IS Real-Change is inevitable! Good always wins, even in the midst of the worst horrors.

BTW, these clips are from my childhood. Enjoy! (Of course, it's missing my favorite one-the one where the singers switch heads! If anyone finds it on youtube, let me know!)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

"Easter People: Side B" - My Unedited Sermon on Feeling Depressed on Easter

Last Sunday, I preached at my church and led most of the service. I think it went well, even though I overslept that Sunday and ended up writing the bulletin and the sermon in basically three hours. I felt bad and a little embarrassed about that and I was going to let the congregation know before I began my sermon, but I decided not to let them know after all. It's not that I wanted to procrastinate, but that I had been very stressed, tired, and busy all week. Of course, once they read this blog, they'll know...haha I don't think it was my best sermon ever, but I have certainly heard a lot worse ones in my lifetime! People seemed to like that I was honest, although I felt like I wasn't honest enough. I hope that when I said I had been depressed on Easter that people believed me, because the way I painted it in the sermon, it sounds more like a case of the blues to me, which it definitely was not. I am not going to go into the details of my depression here, but I am going to post the scriptures that I used and the sermon.

By the way, I am posting my unedited version of the sermon. When I preached, I had to edit as I went, which is perhaps why I was left feeling like I did not really portray my depression. I figured dropping words like "shit" and the f-bomb were probably inappropriate. If anyone agrees or disagrees, I'd love to hear your comment! (Mostly unedited, anyway-I took out specific people's names, even though they were in the spoken sermon. It is the creepy internetz after all...)

"It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start."
— Mother Teresa
(These were my words for reflection.)

Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19

I love you, YHWH, for you have heard my cry for mercy. You have listened to me; I will call on you all my days. The bands of Death encircled me; the messengers of Sheol ambushed me, I was overcome with trouble and sorrow. Then I called your Name, YHWH- “Help, YHWH, save me!” How can I repay you, YHWH, for all your goodness to me? I raise the cup of deliverance, and call on the Name of YHWH. I will fulfill my vows to you in the presence of all your people. The death of your faithful is precious in your sight. YHWH, I am your faithful one-I am faithful to you alone, the child ofyour fidelity. You have freed me from your chains. I will offer you the sacrifice of praise, and call on the name of YHWH. I will fullfill my vows to you in the presence of all your people, in the courts of the house of YHWH, in the midst of Jerusalem. All: Alleluia!

Luke 24:13-35

That same day, two of the disciples were making their way to a village called Emmmaus-which was about seven miles from Jerusalem-discussing all that had happened as they went. While they were discussing these things, Jesus approached and began to walk along with them, though they were kept from recognizing Jesus, who asked them, “What are you two discussing as you go your way?” They stopped and look sad. One of them, Claopas by name, asked him, “ Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things that have happened these past few days?” Jesus said to them, “What things?” They said, “About Jesus of Nazareth, a prophet powerful in word and ded in the eyes of God and all the peope-how our chief priests and leaders delivered him up to be condemned to death and crucified him. We were hoping that he was the One who would set Israel free. Besides all this, today-the third day since these things happened-some women of our group have just brought us some astonishing news. They were at the tomb before dawn and didn’t find the body; they returned and informed us that they had seen a vision of angels, who declared that Jesus was alive. Some of our number went to the tomb and found it to be just as the women said, but they didn’t find Jesus. Then Jesus said to them, “What little sense you have! How slow you are to believe all that the prophets have announced! Didn’t the Messiah have to undergo all this to enter into glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, Jesus interpreted for them every passage of scripture which referred to the Messiah. By now they were near the village they wer going to, and Jesus appeared to be going further. But they said eagerly, “Stay with us. It’s nearly evening-the day is practically over.” So the savior went in and stayed with them. After sitting down with them to eat, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, then broke the bread and began to distribute it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized Jesus, who immediately vanished from their sight. They said to one another, “Weren’t our hearts burning inside us as this one talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?” They got up immediately and returned to Jerusalem, where they found the eleven and the rest of the company assembled. They were greeted with, “Christ has risen! It’s true! Jesus has appeared to Simon!” Then the travelers recounted what had happened on the road, and how they had come to know Jesus in the breaking of the bread.

The Sermon-"Easter People: Side B"
Easter I was really depressed. I felt guilty, because if there is one day when Christians are not supposed to be depressed, it’s Easter. I mean, we greet each other saying things like, “Alleluia! Christ has risen!” and we are expected to respond by saying “Christ has risen, indeed!” But I am not going to lie and say that I do not have doubts. I 100% believe in rebirth and renewal and in celebrating those things, but I have a hard time believing that Christ rose from the dead. There, I said it. I have my doubts. The more I thought about how I’m supposed to be happy, even though I was home alone on a holiday, my foot was in severe pain, and I felt like I was having a crisis of religion, the more depressed I got. Not surprising. I reached out for community and I only sort of got it. My needs, though, were not fulfilled. This Easter, I was not feeling it and I was offended at the phrase by my minister, “We are Easter-people,” when I felt more like death was still at my door.

But then I thought to myself, “I think all this celebration is a bit unfair.” What I mean is, we spend six months (haha, that's what I wrote-fortunately, I laughed about it in my sermon and clarified that it only FEELS like six months-it's really six weeks. lol) in Lent, a time for introspection and in preparation for Christ’s death and sacrifice and then magically, on Easter, we’re supposed to be super joyous in the blink of an eye? Speaking from someone who is partly bipolar-it seems like we’re celebrating mood swings, only it’s the opposite of what happens in bipolar disorder-instead of going from mania to depression, we’re going from depression to mania. Strikes me as fairly unbalanced.

I kept on thinking. Surely this isn’t how it really happened? Surely this isn’t how the original followers of Jesus really felt? Surely we humans are more complicated than only experiencing one emotion on one day, right?

Now I know the modern-day Christian response to this question: The disciples were confused, because they were in middle of it and so couldn’t understand what was happening. We have the Bible and so we get that Christ has risen, that joy and life always triumphs, and so we by now should fully understand that Easter is a day to be unabashedly joyous.

Except I disagree. Now I don’t disagree that Easter is a day to be filled with joy if that is how one really feels. In fact, I think that’s great. I sincerely wish that I had felt that way two weeks ago, myself. BUT, for those who do not, I want to say that there is nothing wrong with that emotion either. And if people are feeling conflicted about Easter in general, say they are partly excited and happy, but also confused and stressed-well, frankly, that encourages me, because I often find that people are more complicated than they let on. I know that I am complicated and it sometimes is a big relief to know that I am not the only one.

In Luke 24:13-35, two disciples have already heard the news from the women that Christ has risen and yet they do not understand. They are still grieving; they are still broken-hearted.

Now let’s look at the women who first visited the tomb: first, they are grieving and broken-hearted-then they are struck by fear and anger as they discover Jesus’ body is missing-then they are terrified as they meet an angel-confusion abounds!-they are filled with joy at learning that Christ is alive, only to not be taken seriously by the men they tell their good news to. While I am sure they are still overjoyed, I am also sure that they are disappointed, frustrated, and majorly, majorly confused.

Then there are the disciples who are waiting in a little room, terrified that the religious leaders who just crucified Jesus are going to kill them too. They’ve just heard stories that Jesus is still alive. Should they be happy? Should they laugh? Should they make fun of the women? Should they be fearful? What if Jesus is angry that they didn’t believe? How can they believe? In short, when I think of Easter, lately all I see is CONFUSION!!! CHAOS!!! WTF is GOING ON HERE??!!!!!

I really don’t think that all that much has changed, even if we do have the Bible. For one thing, as feminists, we know that there are a lot of problematic parts of the Bible and that we must not merely accept what we’ve been told. We probably have a lot of issues with certain passages in the Bible and just being told that we should know and be happy because the Bible says it’s so is a bit ridiculous for most of us in this room, if not all.

Last Easter, I really thought hard about not coming to church. Why come when I feel like absolute shit? Why come on our most high holy day of even higher joy? I felt like a liar! One, I came because I had an obligation-I was expected to sing two solos. Two, I had stayed at my minister's house that night, so I couldn’t really refuse. [laughter] Three, I know that the times when I do not feel like being around people and the message of God’s Love is when I need it the most. I was hungry for community.

Today, when I was preparing for the sermon, I remembered that I had heard that the Great Mother Theresa reportedly did not feel Godde’s Love for the last fifty years of her life, even though she never stopped serving or believing in the power of that Love. It helps me to know that someone that dedicated her life to serving people did not always, or even usually, feel peace. Maybe there is something more important than our feelings. Here are some insightful comments I read today while researching Mother Theresa:

The comments were directed at an article from the New York Times called, "Mother Teresa's Emptiness..."

In todays Chicago Sun-Times, there is an article on Mother Teresa "going thru the motions" of a faithful follower, but in constant agonizing pain not feeling God's love and devastating emptiness.

The interal struggle in seeking comfort in her brand of belief must have been quite disheartening for her. It says she felt no presence of God in her letters, but kept asking why? As early as 1948 until her death, she kept searching for answers, but never felt a response.

How sad.

I'm not an organized religious follower by any means, but I still liked her for what she accomplished as a humanitarian.

I hope she found her peace.


Mike "Howler Monkey" O. says:

When helping the poorest of the poor in India, I think that is the feeling one might have regardless of religious orientation. The endless needs of others met with limited resources can make things seem hopeless at times. However, her virtuous life and compassion for others makes her Christ-like in many ways and follows his teachings, that "going through the motions" is not a bad thing. Maybe it was her humility of her efforts being a mere drop in the bucket to the sea of poverty around her that seemed so overwhelming. Looking around for God's presence, maybe she was like the forgetful person looking for her glasses: God was in her all along.

brennan s. says:

Even Jesus had doubts about God. It's the natural progression of the human ability to question everything.

"There is a light in this world, a healing spirit more powerful than any darkness we may encounter. We sometimes lose sight of this force when there is suffering, too much pain. Then suddenly, the spirit will emerge through the lives of ordinary people who hear a call and answer in extraordinary ways."
— Mother Teresa

What do I think is more important than what we feel? Community. It is in being community with one another that we find, and if we are privileged enough, feel, the grace, joy, and compassion of Godde. When did the two disciples figure out that life conquers death? When did they realize that Jesus was still among them? When Jesus was in community with them. When Jesus broke the bread and blessed it. Now I don’t know if Jesus as a real flesh-and-blood person was among them or if they saw the Spirit of Jesus in the person who happened to talk with them and broke the bread. What I do know is that in community they found the Love of God. We are here to help each other and like I found Mother Theresa saying often (at least according to the quote pages on the internets lol), this help is more meaningful when it is not just about giving money to people we don’t know. We bring the kin-dom of God to Earth when we help establish communities of love and compassion to the people around us. Let us not forget that we are a community and our first mission is to help each other. We are to be Christ and Christa to one another and that starts by acknowledging the needs of our own members. It starts with not just sacrificing a little money and then forgetting about it, but in sacrificing our time to the people directly around us. Christ sacrificed his life for us. Now I don’t believe in atonement, although I think it’s perfectly fine if you do. But whether or not one believes in atonement or not, does not diminish what Christ did for us. Christ showed us that in a very real way, love hurts. Loving others requires sacrifice and giving in the midst of pain. Because it is not just about us, but about being in community. It is not about excuses. It is about helping bring about light and Love and compassion and hope to everyone we meet, starting with our neighbor. And I know that preachers like to say that everyone is our neighbor and I believe that is absolutely true, but for once I would like us to be quite literal. Our neighbor is our neighbor. As in, the person who lives next door to you. The person who you see everyday, who goes to your church, your work, your family. We say it’s easy to love those close around us, but I think the opposite may be true, because we don’t see the faults of those overseas, but we do see the faults of those who live close by. I think it’s often just as easy to ignore the hurt and pain of those we consider to be our closest friends and family as it is the millions of hurt people we see on TV.

Let us remember that feelings are just feelings. Both doubt and joy are valuable parts of life-the moments of doubt push us to grow as people of faith and the moments of joy are what sustain us through this heavy life. Let us also remember that we are a community. The disciples found hope in being a community together-let us find hope in our own community also.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

15 Sort of Random Things You May or May Not Know about Me

Years ago there was a fad where people would list about fifteen things about them that no one else knew. I loved reading these lists, as they were usually pretty interesting and I desperately wanted to write one of my own, but my self-esteem was too low. I thought everybody that saw my list would think that I was too self-absorbed. Well, these kinds of things are pretty self-absorbed, but since I’ve got a facebook and twitter account AND my own blog, I really don’t think I can use a fear of being seen as too self-absorbed as an excuse anymore. I was also afraid of what people might think, because I’m a pretty open person, so if there’s something about me that you don’t know, then it’s probably because I’m scared you won’t like me or will judge me if you know. Fortunately, partly because of these tools of self-absorption like FB, Twitter, and blogging, I now have better self-esteem. I am, of course, still working on making it better… So even though this is years late, I am now posting my list of…..

15 Sort of Random Things You May or May Not Know About Me

1.If I ever get married, I am in no way changing my last name.

2.If I ever have children, I am adopting. I have many reasons for this, but here is my most cynical one: The world is already overpopulated, so I see no reason why I should add to the population. Personally, I think it’s a far more constructive option to try to better the lives of the children that are already on this planet.

3.I love working with people with developmental disabilities, but my favorite population to work with is geriatrics. They’re so appreciative.

4.I may be more feminist than Christian. I am totally okay with this.

5.I detest the season of Lent and am a little bit bitter that it is the longest Christian season. I always consider leaving the church and returning on Easter. As a depressed person, I find it a bit much.

6.In the same vein, I even more detest it when people tell me what they are giving up for Lent. Please don’t tell me-I don’t care. I think comparing giving up chocolate to someone giving up their own life is extremely insulting and self-righteous.

7.I have always found the idea of the Easter Bunny to be rather bizarre. Even as a child, I found it a bit silly and extremely weird.
8.I absolutely believe in a resurrection of the spirit, but I have difficulty in believing in any resurrection of the body. One of the reasons why I increasingly feel sort of alone as a “Christian” around Easter time.

9.This is my secret shame: My favorite part about Easter is buying and wearing a new dress.

10.I am polyamorous.

11.I totally think that one can be into kink and be a feminist. I am. I am really tired of hearing that those things are incompatible. Just like I’m tired of hearing that one cannot be feminist and Christian.

12.I desperately wish for a feminist mental health organization.

13.My favorite number is 41. This is from my years working at retail: it’s the number you get when you combine a penny, a nickel, a dime, and a quarter.

14.My second favorite number is 42. If you don’t know why, then you really don’t know me well enough.

15.I think I may like the movie, Shock Treatment, more than Rocky Horror. I know, I know, this is blasphemy. The only thing I don’t like about ST is that it doesn’t have Tim Curry in lingerie.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

2011 March Books

First off, I promise that there will be other posts besides my monthly book reviews! I have been dealing with the stress of being a supervisor and getting up at 5 or 6am on a regular basis for the first time in my life. THEN, for almost two weeks I had a fibro flare-up and then I had a super stressful week that was topped off with terrible allergies. Whew! It is my hope that I will be able to at least do a blog posting a week. I have a lot of things I want to write about, plus some great recipes I want to share and I have really missed this blog! Here are the books I read in March. I'm not sure if there will be any in April, as I have not really had the chance to read anything so far this month, except for e-mails and facebook postings. Hopefully, I will be able to read something...

Parable of the Talents – Octavia E. Butler – A great read and another book on my recommended reading list! This book is hard to read at times, as it follows Olamina’s community becoming enslaved and enduring tragedy and violence. The book is both sad, tragic, and yet incredibly uplifting and inspiring at the same time! Even though this is a work of fiction, I have adopted some of the main character’s beliefs as my own. This book is a wonderful character study where one begins to really understand just how complex and complicated human beings and our relationships are. It also shows just how fine the line is between righteous passion and obsession are and I found myself constantly flipping back and forth towards the end of the book between supporting the main character’s vision and being pained by her obvious flaws.

Vampire Kisses: The Coffin Club Book 5 – Ellen Schreiber – Chrissy picked this book out and I am embarrassed to admit that I actually enjoyed reading it! I fully expected to hate this book, just as I have not liked other books from the Vampire Kisses series, but this book seemed more imaginative than the rest. This book had a surprise ending that even fooled me. No, this is not enlightening literature, but as a fun preteen read, it’s alright. I want to party at the coffin club!

Gypsy Rizka – Lloyd Alexander – Lloyd Alexander died just a few years ago and I believe he is one of the best children’s fantasy writers EVER! His books are wonderful literature for children and adults-his best known work is The Black Cauldron, which I highly recommend reading. I tried to convince Chrissy to read this book instead when we saw it at the library, because I knew that we could not go wrong with any book by Alexander, but alas, she chose the vampire book, so I checked it out and read it myself. It’s a quick and fun read about a half-gypsy girl’s adventures in a small town in Eastern Europe who is smarter than just about everyone else in the town. I loved it! This is a book that I think would appeal to girls and boys alike and I found it simply charming. This book was a pure delight to read.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Jimmy's Stars - Recommended Reading about the Consequences of War

I only finished one book this month! I’ve already finished three of the books I started in February, so rest assured there will many more books reviewed in March.

Jimmy’s Stars by Mary Ann Rodman – An excellent book that really should have won awards, although the girl I read it to thought it was too sad. It’s set in WWII when Ellie’s older brother goes into the army. Ellie is eleven-years-old and is a strong character who has to learn how to deal with extreme grief. The book deals with the effects of war very matter-of-factly, not only with the consequences of death, but also of the mental illness, post traumatic stress disorder, or as it was known in the 1940s, shell-shock, and the sacrifices that the people on the home front had to make as well. In fact, I am going to include this book on my Related Books page, because of the way it realistically portrays mental illness. Because of how realistic and stark sometimes the book is I would only recommend it for mature middle schoolers and older. Fortunately, the book is not overly sentimental or depressing. Although the story is about the horrible consequences of war on the people at home, it is still ultimately a story of hope, forgiveness, and a young girl coming of age. I heartily recommend this book, although you might want to read something a little lighter afterwards.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A New Job and A Sassy Girl

Inside God, evil and the immediacy of sorrow and pain are transformed into something of value. Inside God, good is saved in relation to the whole.
~Monica A. Coleman, Making a Way Out of No Way

It's been a while since I've posted a quote! I have been hinting lately that something good is happening in my life right now besides cooking good food, wearing cute clothes, and learning new coping skills, but I have been reticent in saying what. No more! The good news is that I have gotten a job where I will work with adults with developmental disabilities. The job is full-time and with benefits, which is extremely good news for me. Hopefully, this job will allow me to fulfill the dream that I talked about in the "Hopes and Dreams" portion of my In Our Own Voice presentation, which is to be self-sufficient and living on my own. Of course, I know that this will not happen all at once and that I need to wait a while and save my money before rushing out of my parent's house. Still, I am extremely happy and excited.

I am also excited, because this job will allow me to be extremely creative and to use some of the skills I learned in music therapy school. Having to leave school due to my mental illness was an extremely low point in my life and I feared that all my hard work was wasted. I had an English degree and half a music therapy degree and for what? A job in retail seemed to be all I could do and then when I had to quit my retail job, because of my fibromyalgia, life seemed really grim. I felt like I was a failure. Eventually I got on medicine that has helped my fibromyalgia and my depression, but still I felt like I was stuck in limbo. When I got the job that I am currently finishing now where I work with a teenager with a developmental disability, I began to feel like I could see some purpose in my life, especially since one of the reasons I was hired is because I worked with a drumming group for adults with developmental disabilities in Milledgeville. Now I am in the process of being hired for a job that also is the result of this group in Milledgeville and my recent work with a person with a developmental disability.

My mental illness was evil for many years. I had to change schools two times-I also left Berry College due to being suicidal in 2003-and I struggled to take my medications, eat, and otherwise take care of myself properly. I doubted that I would ever be able to fulfill my dreams and that I would ever be able to productive member of society. At times, I was very angry with Godde and/or I believed that Godde was out to get me and yet, I always knew deep down that Godde has a purpose for my life and that She loves me. I knew it and yet I often could not feel it.

When I came home in 2009 from Georgia College and State University, I decided that I would dedicate my life to living in recovery and inside the will of Godde. I joined NAMI and eventually became one of their facilitators. I started going to an AA group and an aftercare group provided by The Ridgeview Institute. I started providing music for my church again and now I am considered my church's assistant music minister. This summer, I studied theology with my minister, I serve on Circle of Grace's governing council, and I occassionally preach. I am doing my best to live inside the path of recovery and inside the heart of Godde.

And so I have seen my life transform. I am no longer merely surviving, but thriving. I help others and I feel joy again. Slowly, I am beginning to see how Godde is turning my evilness and sorrow into something good.

The day after I found out that I was "provisionally hired," I took the girl I work with to a new bakery called Sassy Girl.

It's a place that mainly serves custom cakes, cookies, and cupcakes. I told Chrissy that we would each get a mini cupcake. I needed to celebrate my new job and what better way than eating a glittery cupcake?!

I just LOVE glitter! And key lime cupcakes! My cupcake was absolutely delicious-full of flavor and very moist. The frosting was perfect! Many times, I find bakeries overload on the frosting and I find the frosting to be overpowering and way too rich, but I loved Sassy Girl's frosting. It was also full of flavor and just the perfect combination of richness, sweetness, and creaminess.The greenness of this cupcake looks perfect for St.Patrick's Day! Sassy Girl also offers cupcakes and other goodies with alcoholic flavors like strawberry margherita and mojito that I really want to try. I'll have to go back sometime by myself and order a couple!

You probably can't tell, but the bouquet of roses on the top is actually made out of mini cupcakes! Give me another!

Go visit Sassy Girl at 3153 Sugarloaf Parkway, Suite 103, in Lawrenceville, GA, 30045.

"Inside God, good is saved in relation to the whole." Inside my stomach, a key lime mini cupcake tastes good too!