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, July 30, 2012

July Books 2012

The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mindbody Disorders by John E. Sarno – My psychiatrist wanted me to read this book and we’re going to discuss it the next time I see him. I think it’s pretty cool that I have a doctor who will discuss books with me. I read the whole book, although I really would have been fine reading the first and last chapters. The author is a doctor who believes that fibromyalgia and a host of other painful disorders are actually a disorder called tension myositis syndrome (TMS), which is caused by oxygen deprivation to the circulatory system. He posits that the brain sends the impulse to deprive oxygen to key places in the circulatory system, which causes tender points and other pain, so that one will focus on one’s physical pain and not on their subconscious rage. I liked that even though Dr. Sarno believes that fibromyalgia is a psychosomatic illness, he believes the pain is real. It was the first time that I heard the word “psychosomatic” and not come away feeling dismissed. Dr. Sarno claims that a lot of people with pain disorders are able to live a life mostly free from physical pain just by becoming educated about the nature of their pain and by reviewing what things may be causing their subconscious rage. The idea that subconscious rage might be causing me physical pain is an easy thing for me to believe-I already know that I host an army of subconscious rage. I have known that fact ever since I realized that constantly repressing angry feelings is still a problem way back in 2005. Has my pain gone away yet? No and to be honest, I am a little afraid that it never will. My faith that I will be able to heal myself is not very strong yet. But Dr. Sarno says that education is not always enough and he also tells his patients to write about all the things that might be making their subconscious angry every day. The point of the physical pain is to take away one’s focus from their potential emotional pain. He wants me to prove to my brain that I can handle my emotional pain, so that it will stop sending me physical pain. I know this all sounds new age-y and I feel sort of embarrassed to admit that I believe it, but I figure what harm can it cause? I haven’t started writing about my rage yet, but I plan to start soon. I figure that even if it doesn’t cure my fibromyalgia, at the very least it will make me more self-aware and there’s certainly no harm in that.


The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury – This was the book my classics book club picked out to read and it was a frustrating read. We picked it out since the author died not long ago-June 5, 2012. The book was frustrating, because there was not one positive female character. Every single female character was extremely passive and weak. The only female character that showed any initiative was shown scores and scores of fat hate-basically, only she and one man was left on Mars and because she was fat, the man didn’t want anything to do with her. The reader is left with the message that even if it means a life of solitude, it is better to be alone for eternity than to marry someone who is fat. There were African Americans in the book and it was sort of nice that they were able to give their racist, white neighbors their comeuppance, but still I was disappointed. None of the African Americans in the story had any kind of upper level job or living situation. There was one astronaut with Native American heritage. It’s like Bradbury could imagine people living on Mars, but he could not imagine American life changing in any other way in the future. I know that our society is still racist and sexist, but gains have been made and for a science fiction writer to think that society will not change is awfully shortsighted. I wouldn’t mind it if the future was substantially worse sexually and racially, but for it to remain the same? Just ugh. I know the book was written in the 1940s, but to me, that is no excuse. Even Shakespeare, who wrote in the sixteenth centuries had stronger female characters than Bradbury’s. If you are looking for strong female characters or any strong minority characters, then do not bother reading this book.





When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead – This is a short, excellent read! It’s promoted as a children’s book, but everyone in my family read it and we all loved it. It won the Newberry Medal in 2010. It’s a story that follows the pre-teen girl, Miranda, in New York City. Miranda is obsessed with Madeleine L’Engle’s classic children’s book, A Wrinkle in Time, which made me nostalgic, as I was obsessed with that book too when I was Miranda’s age! (By the way, this year is the fiftieth year anniversary of A Wrinkle in Time!) This is a science fiction book that sneaks up on you; it isn’t until the end that you realize why the book is categorized as science fiction. I loved the surprise ending, but don’t worry, I won’t give it away. The book has a message of tolerance towards those who are different than you-troubled kids, the poor, the homeless-that I really liked. The book also teaches lessons about what real friendship is about and about how to be kind. Better yet, the book does all this without being preachy in the slightest. Although the book is a quick read, it is very deep and I would say it is for mature pre-teens on up. It was my favorite book of July.





 Fairy Wings by E.D. Baker – This is the book that the young woman I work with picked out and this time she had good taste! This book was written by the same author who wrote The Frog Princess. I was only lukewarm towards that book, so I wasn’t really looking forward to reading Fairy Wings, but I was pleasantly surprised-this was my second favorite book for the month! The story is about a teenage girl named Tamisin, who wakes up one day to discover that she has wings! I thought the premise was very original and so was the fey world that she travels to with her new friend, Jak. It is in this world that Tamisin discovers the truth about her identity and her power. I love how Jak and Tamisin work together to solve their problems and I also love that Tamisin saves Jak on at least one occasion-a refreshing change from the usual boy-saves-girl meme. It turns out that Fairy Wings is the first book in a series of books about Tamisin and I would like to read them all.


 Books I Am Currently Reading:
 The Mind’s Eye by Oliver Sacks














A Twist of Faith: An American Christian’s Quest to Help Orphans in Africa by John Donnelly 















 Once Upon a Full Moon by Ellen Schreiber

Friday, July 27, 2012

My Recovery Story

I belong to Ridgeview Institute's alumni group and we put out a quarterly newsletter with a theme.  This quarter's theme is "Falling Into Recovery" with stories about how one got started living a life of recovery.  If you've been following my blog, then you know that my story has many ups and downs-I don't just go into the hospital once, follow the steps, and then my life is magically cured.  Because I have serious mental illness, I have to continually work on finding new solutions to problems and learning new coping skills, which is probably true for everyone, but not everyone admits it.

I don’t really know how to start my recovery story.  I first started seeing a psychiatrist the summer of 2001.  I came home from college and was so depressed that I would spend all day sitting and staring at the wall.  My mom is in recovery from depression herself, so she was able to see the signs and was able to convince me to see her psychiatrist.  I suppose that was the beginning of my journey towards recovery.  After months went by and medications alone were not helping me enough, my doctor suggested I see a therapist.  Unfortunately, the therapists at my school were not very good and I continued to worsen.  I was hospitalized two times as an inpatient and attended a partial hospitalization program at the same hospital three times, before obtaining a second opinion from a doctor at Ridgeview, who said that my mental illness was severe enough to need long-term help.  By now, even though I was labeled “severely” ill, I was also incredibly motivated to get better.  I was going to graduate college no matter what!  And so, I took a break from college and attended Skyland Trail, a long-term mental illness and addiction recovery center for eight months in Atlanta.  I, of course, had to get still worse before getting better and a month into my term at Skyland, I spent two weeks at Ridgeview’s Women’s Unit, getting help for my eating disorder (restricting) and for suicidal thoughts.  It was at Ridgeview and SkyLand Trail that I really got introduced to the concept of living in recovery.  I learned that the goal of recovery is not for life to return to how it used to be, not to be free of mental illness or to ignore it, but to learn how to live with it.  I learned how to test reality and the importance of support groups.  I finally found therapists that I felt I could trust and I met other people with the same diagnosis that I had, which was such a relief.  Ridgeview taught me how to eat in a healthy way and introduced me to Anonymous type support groups, specifically Eating Disorders Anonymous.  I learned that only eating non-fat foods is unacceptable and I started seeing a nutritionist.  I made recovery friends, which has proven to be invaluable to me, as they can understand what I am going through in a way that few people can.  Skyland Trail got me singing and playing the piano again-I had stopped my lifelong musical passions when depression overtook my life-and for that, I will always be grateful.  When I left Skyland Trail in August of 2005, I found a therapist that I could trust – she used to work at the same institution – and with her help, and the help of my other recovery friends, I was able to graduate from Georgia State University with a B.A. in English in December of 2006.

I immediately left Atlanta for Milledgeville to get a degree in music therapy after graduation.  Unfortunately, without my support network in place, I relapsed into my eating disorder in order to cope with the stress of school.  I went back to Ridgeview’s Women’s Unit for another two weeks and this time I worked harder at learning new skills and surrendering the eating disorder to my Higher Power than I had before.  When I got back to Milledgeville, I continued to work hard in recovery, but it was too difficult in that unstructured environment and so I decided to return home, so that I could work on my recovery full-time.  Since then, I have worked part-time “recovery” jobs and spent the other times, focusing on Recovery with a capital “R.”  I renewed some of my recovery friendships, which ended up leading me to discover Ridgeview’s alumni and aftercare programs.  At Sam’s (the leader of our alumni group) suggestion, I found a sponsor and started working the twelve steps.   Despite all of this, I ended up going back to Ridgeview several times last year, but I did not consider myself out of recovery.  I did not relapse into my eating disorder, but needed more intense help for my depression and anxiety.   My mental illness and my addiction are not cured and most likely never will be, but I now have a solid recovery net that I can lean upon for comfort and support.  I have upped my meetings, I go to individual and group therapy, and I am reworking the twelve steps.  I convinced my family to do family therapy as needed.  To get outside of myself, I volunteer every other week at an assisted living home, playing and singing for the folks that live there.  I am willing to do whatever it takes to stay in recovery and to make my life better.  I may have sort of blindly fallen into Recovery, but it is a space I am determined to stay.

I hope this provides hope that life can get better and all the talk about how hard I have worked is not disheartening...  Sometimes I don't know if what I write about is uplifting or frustrating, but I'm just telling my truth.  I hope you'll let me know.
(I know this is a weird picture, but it made me laugh!)


Recommended Links:

Shakesville - Seen
No, not everyone wants a hug. That's a simple idea, in theory, but in reality try being a person who wants to draw boundaries around who can touch you in what way and see how "simple" it is in practice.

In the same way that we all say, "Everyone agrees that rape is bad!" as if there isn't rape apologia embedded in every aspect of our culture, we all say that it's fine for people to choose who is allowed to touch them, but simultaneously judge, and act offended by, people who turn away "shows of affection," which are, in fact, displays of aggression when done against someone's will.


It is important to say these things over and over again. Yes being a wife and a mother is a valid choice and one that is woefully undervalued by society, but it should never be the only choice that is a available to women. Ever. Women are diverse, some of us love children, some of us hate them. Our uteruses do not define us.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Grateful for a Great Birthday

I had a rough afternoon today.  I am applying for disability and today I had to talk to a therapist and tell her why I am applying for it.  It sort of reminded me of doing my fifth step, except that I'm telling all my flaws to someone who is going to write about it and share it with the government and then this information is going to help decide if I am severely disabled or not.  Not fun.  I felt embarrassed and anxious and awful.

But when I got home, I found out that a person I know died recently, probably due to complications from anorexia.  I used to be nearly anorexic, myself.  My mom and I talked about it and my mom pointed out that while our day may have been rough, we are still very fortunate.  It's true.  My afternoon has not been pleasant, but I am still alive.  I am alive and at times able to truly enjoy life.  I am willing to accept help and I am learning new ways of being.  I am no longer afraid of certain foods and for all of these things, I am very grateful.

There have been times not that long ago when I wanted to kill myself and so I was very grateful on my birthday to still be alive and be turning 31.  For my birthday party, I invited some of my friends to go with me to the roller derby and then to Fellini’s for pizza.  Instead of buying a cake, I decided to make my own cupcakes.  I made lavender cupcakes, because I thought using lavender made them gourmet!  I also replaced the white sugar in the recipe with Splenda, so that one of my friends who is diabetic could eat some too.  I had never cooked with Splenda before, but I don’t think it affected the taste at all.  In fact, one of my friends said that they were the best cupcakes she had ever tasted!

I got the recipe from the blog, Jessie’s Kitchen Chronicle.

Makes 12 cupcakes (I doubled the recipe)
Ingredients
For the cupcakes:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon red and 1 teaspoon blue food coloring*
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 tablespoons dried lavender buds
2/3 cup cold milk

For the frosting:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons honey, plus a little extra for drizzle
Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the softened butter and sugar together. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each egg. Stir in the vanilla and food coloring.
In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Chop the dried lavender buds into fine, small pieces. (Just throw them in-they'll taste fine.)  Stir into the flour mixture.
Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Stir in the milk.
(Purple batter!)
Scoop batter evenly into lined muffin tins. Bake for 18-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in the tins for 5-10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the frosting:
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese together. Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing on low, until the frosting is smooth and creamy. Beat in the vanilla extract and honey.  I also added fresh cherries.
(Yum!  Honey, Cherry Cream Cheese Frosting!)
Lightly drizzle a little honey on top of the frosting. Enjoy!
*Note: If you prefer a lighter color, just begin with 1/4 teaspoon of the red and blue and continue adding drops of each until you like the color. You can also use purple food coloring if you have it.
I have these really cool cupcake liners that are shaped like tulips.  I thought they were perfect for Spring!
A lavender colored and flavored cupcake with fabulous frosting.  These were seriously good and the addition of cherries were genius (I have to credit the young woman I work with with that one.)  The taste was unusual, but in a good way.  The cupcakes were addicting and some of the best cupcakes I have ever had-definitely gourmet.

Here are the roller derby players:
I like watching these women who are undeniably athletic.  I can really tell that they are having fun and I love their fun names.  The teams were the Denim Demons vs. the Sake-Tu-Yas.

Here is a picture of me and my minister enjoying ourselves.  (I'm on the left.)
I love this picture-we both look so fun, funky, and happy.  I also love my outfit!  The orange shirt was a splurge for me, even though it was on clearance.  I think it was $40!  (I'm poor, so that's a lot to spend on one article of clothing for me)  I bought it a few weeks before my party as a birthday present to me from Anthropologie (I think...).  The skirt is from Torrid.

I may have had one bad afternoon today, but I had a great birthday party and am looking forward to many more years where I can make good memories.  Yes, I am very grateful to be alive!

Recommended Links:


How come we never seem to talk about the mental health crisis in this country when a massacre like the one here in Colorado occurs? We always talk about gun control, which I support, but we guarantee more of these incidents by ignoring the mental health crisis.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Immortality

We are immortal in the influence and the imprint we leave on those around us. (69, Making a Way Out of No Way by Monica A. Coleman)
A lot of people are concerned about immortality.  A lot of Christians are concerned about immortality.  Perhaps concerned isn't the right word-many, many people are afraid of immortality.  We are afraid that we will spend the rest of eternity in Hell and we pray that we believe the right things and that we save enough people, so that we can have an eternal life in Heaven.  Except I don't believe in Heaven or Hell and yet I do believe we all are granted an eternal life.

My friend, Monica A. Coleman, writes that "we are immortal in the influence and the imprint we leave on those around us" and so we really do not need to worry about our immortality after all.  I don't believe our earthly actions dictate where we are going after we die and yet, in a way, I do.  You see, I want my legacy to be one of goodness, lovingkindness, and grace.  I want people to say they saw Love Eternal in my countenance.  I'm not saying I accomplish this on a regular basis, but it is my goal.

I saw the movie, Powder, when it came out in 1995. I was around 14 at the time and its message about compassion, human potential, energy, and how we are all connected stayed with me all these years.  Without realizing it, slowly, the message of the movie has become nearly my whole belief system.  I urge you to watch this video, which shows most of the important scenes from the movie.  (Spoiler alert-It shows the ending, so if you haven't seen it, you may just want to rent the movie.  I promise, it's worth it.)
I believe we are all conduits of energy and when we die, our energy goes out to the world.  Godde, then, is the collective force of that energy and that collective energy force is what we call Love.  And so we return to Godde or Love or Energy, however you want to look at it.  So in a way, you could say we all go to Heaven-if by Heaven you mean returning to Godde.  Songs about a physical Heaven are still very comforting to me and I think they always will be, but my belief is that we should be concentrating on bringing Heaven to Earth.  Didn't Jesus pray, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth, as it is in Heaven?"  In short, meaning, let us bring Heaven to Earth.  Or in metaphysical terms, let us bring the Energy of Love to every being on this planet.
 Here, even Queen is deep, as Freddie Mercury sings, "Who Wants to Live Forever?"

Recommended Link:


There is a long history of ignoring or erasing intra-racial violence in the black community. In former Black Panther Party member Elaine Brown’s book, A Taste of Power,  she writes about being expected to ignore the misogyny and violence engaged in by the male members of the movement, because fighting racism was deemed the primary concern, proving that defending those who harm black women has always been historically and socially acceptable.  […]  As Bell Hooks theorized, a black man may face racism in the public sphere, but he can always go home and beat his black wife, and this is a fact that we should not for a moment forget.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Building Positive Experiences with Miss Mamie

I have been taking a dialectical behavior therapy class for about four months now and I only started to understand some of the principles of the emotional regulation section just a few days ago.  I was sitting in my family's TV room, when I became aware that I wanted a cup of tea.  I imagined how good the hot cup of tea would feel in my hands, and how calming it would be to breath in the scents of lavender and vanilla. Unfortunately, my black and white thinking almost prevented me from enjoying a cup of tea, because I recognized that I was wanting to do an activity that is self-soothing and I was already feeling good.  But then, I had an epiphany-to help my emotions stay regulated, I should do self-soothing activities throughout the day, even if I am already feeling soothed!  In dialectical behavior therapy this is called "building positive experiences."  One of the goals of DBT is to learn how to regulate one's emotions, so that one stays in a positive frame of mind for longer periods of time.  It makes sense then that a way to stay in a positive space is by doing positive and pleasing things on a regular basis.  Doing small activities everyday that will help promote or keep one happy and calm is also called self-care and I encourage everyone to do at least one item of self-care a day.

Here are some simple things that I enjoy doing to help me stay serene:

  • Drinking hot tea or coffee
  • Savoring a sweet treat, like ice cream
  • Taking a long, hot shower or bath
  • Getting a massage
  • Coloring
  • Listening to music
  • Playing the piano
  • Cutting out coupons
  • Making a college
  • Petting my cat or dog
  • Watching a cheesy movie
  • Chopping vegetables

About a year ago, a friend and I were walking around downtown Marietta and we stopped inside a cupcake store, called Miss Mamie's, and we shared two cupcakes.  Little did I know at the time that I was using a DBT skill by creating a pleasurable moment.
Miss Mamie's is a cute bakery with very feminine energy.  I ordered a lemon cupcake, because it was so pretty.
Isn't it gorgeous?  It was light and I loved it, but it didn't have quite as much lemon flavor as I was expecting.  My friend definitely got the better cupcake.
S'mores -
A Chocolate Cupcake with a Marshmallow Filling topped with Chocolate Buttercream, a graham wedge and a hershey bar.  Oh my god, this cupcake was divine!  Just look at that ooey, gooey, goodness!
I liked how the cupcakes were served on little china plates.  They were cheery and made the desert seem special.  For a good time, I recommend eating at Miss Mamie's and I also recommend making a good time, anytime - life's a lot more pleasant that way.

Recommended Links:



Action Step: Send Love And Move On

So how do you really stop yourself from comparing yourself to others? Here’s an action step that you can take. When you notice yourself comparing yourself to someone else, stop yourself, and take a moment to just send them and yourself love. Just send them love and send yourself some love and move on. That’s it.  This technique does three important things. First, it stops you from comparing yourself and puts your attention on something else. Second, it acknoweldges an important truth, that we are all one and we all need love. Third, it gives you what you really need, a sense that you are loved and you are okay, no matter how you compare to anyone else.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Vacation Day IV - Neptune Beach

Day IV of our dog-cation was our last full day of fun.  We, of course, started it off with a walk and a swim on the beach.  I just love swimming in the waves-if swimming pools had waves, then I would swim a whole lot more often.
This is the underside of our umbrella.  Isn't it a happy picture?  I just adore rainbows! This picture may be showing up as the main picture for this blog one of these days!

Then, while my mom rested, my dad and I went looking for other beach shops.  We wanted to find another artsy area like the one we had been to the night before, but there wasn't much else in our area, unfortunately. We did find, however, a small shopping center called Cottage by the Seaside Shoppes.

"Shabby chic" is actually the style that I would like to decorate my future house in, so it was fun to look around.

My dad and I then ate at a local cafe and then went back to the hotel for our own rest.  Let me just say that I am thankful for naps!!!

Dinner was at Nippers Beach Grille.  Nippers was wonderfully dog friendly.  In fact, there were many people there with their dogs, which was fun to see.  I wish we could take our dogs out to eat with us where we live...

For my appetizer, I had a cup of conch chowder - chunks of conch with tomato, bacon, and peppers.
The chowder was really filling and I sort of regretted ordering it, as then I was almost too full to enjoy my entree, but I had never had conch before and I would have regretted not trying it.  Besides being filling, the chowder was great!  It was  a little spicy and I really liked the conch.  Yes, it was chewy, but it also had a slightly sweet aftertaste that I really enjoyed.

My entree was garlic crab mac and cheese and it was even better than it sounds!
The mac and cheese was very cheesy and rich.  I loved the crunchy crust on top and the garlic and spice infused in the recipe.  It was some of the best macaroni and cheese that I have ever had! I just wish the portion hadn't been so big and that it had come with a side of vegetables, like steamed broccoli to offset how rich the mac and cheese was.  Since I was on vacation, I couldn't take the rest of it home and I was barely able to eat half, which made me sad.


  We ended the day with another walk on the beach.
Wouldn't you just love to live near Beach Avenue?  Maybe you do and if you do, then I'm jealous!

Actually, my parents went on a walk and I sat and enjoyed the weather with Georgia, our dog.
I really love this picture of me.  I look happy and peaceful and I was.The weather was perfect, not too hot at all.  I enjoyed sitting there, feeling the wind blow in my hair and the sand beneath my feet.  Sometimes being fully present in a moment can seem like a curse, if the moment is something awful.  But when the moment is something beautiful, like an evening on the beach, being fully present in the day is truly a gift.  The next day was a boring day in the car, but I will remember my lessons on being present and mindful of my surroundings for a long time to come.  Hopefully, I will also remember my lessons on being grateful for what I can do, instead of centering upon what I cannot.  Above all, I am grateful for a great dog-cation!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Vacation Day III - Neptune Beach

I hope you like pictures!  On day three of our dog-cation, we as usual took a morning walk on the beach before checking out of our hotel and driving to Neptune/Atlantic/Jacksonville Beach (all three beaches are right together).  We spent most of the afternoon and evening strolling around this artsy area near the beach on Atlantic Ave.

I loved the streets lined with palm trees-it's so different from what I'm used to!
Here I am, posing with a panther!  Cats are one of my favorite animals and I just love this brightly colored feline, especially the octopus on the butt!
Here I am with a tortoise with the yellow submarine on his belly!  I love that he's just my height.  Don't we look like best buds with his arm around my shoulder?  By the way, I am wearing a tank top from Old Navy, a dress from Target, a shirt from Torrid (clearance!), and shoes from Famous Footwear.

We ate at a restaurant called Sundog.
I didn't know this but a "sundog," or phantom sun, is an atmospheric phenomenon that creates bright spots of light in the sky, often on a luminous ring or halo on either side of the sun.  That is your official new factoid for the day, if you didn't already know what a sundog is.

I had a shrimp po boy - lightly battered shrimp tossed in our secret recipe mild, medium, or hot sauce served open-faced on a Hoagie roll with shredded lettuce and tomato.  I ordered the mild version with a side of cole slaw.  The sandwich came piled high with shrimp, so I ate the top shrimp first before being able to take a bite out of the sandwich.  The shrimp had a little bit of a kick, but just right for me.  It was crunchy and yummy, but my favorite part of the meal was actually the cole slaw.  I wish I had the recipe, because it had sort of an unusual taste.  Very light and refreshing-the perfect complement to the slightly spicy po boy.

After dinner, we went on another beach walk.  
Georgia loves to roll around in the sand.  It must feel good.  I love watching her roll around-she looks so joyous and happy that I feel that way too!
Isn't this sweet?  It's two seats inside a heart, with the request to "Please don't disturb" inscribed in the sand nearby.  On our way back, I noticed that the seats were covered with towels and the heart was surrounded by lit candles.  Someone very romantic was preparing for a hot date!  But I am not jealous-I am happy surrounded by the love of my family and friends, even without the romance.

My parents went for a longer walk, but I decided to stay and take pictures, because my legs were hurting.

Here are my legs, being massaged first by the sea and then by the sand.

Once upon a time, I might have felt bad, like I was missing out, by not being able to complete the walk.  This dog-cation though, I have really embraced my disability in a way.  When I feel tired, I tell someone, so that I can get the rest I need.  I don't feel the need to whine or complain about it, but I just state what my needs are or how I am feeling very matter-of-factly.  I have made sure to take my medication every day, including something for pain, which helps a little bit.  I have not beaten myself up for the things I can no longer do.  So I can't do long walks on the beach, so what?  I've got an awesome imagination and a camera!  And even if I did not have a camera, I still have got the beauty of the ocean and the sky all around me to enjoy.  I have been really happy on this vacation and I think a lot of that has to do with a new level of inner peace and acceptance that I have found.  I am hoping to take this state of being into the real world with me tomorrow, as we head home.

I have one more day of vacation to write about-stay tuned tomorrow!  In the meantime, peace!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

July 2012 Vacation Day II - Fernandina Beach

We began the day by swimming in the ocean.  The water felt fantastic-just the perfect temperature!  We even took the dogs in!  Sadie didn't like it, but Georgia didn't seem to mind.  I could have stayed in the water all day.
This is me wearing my new bathing suit out for the first time.  I love it-I feel cute and comfortable in the mini-dress-like suit.  In fact, yesterday was probably the most comfortable I've ever felt wearing a bathing suit and usually I feel self-conscious when I wear a hat, but fortunately, I've been able to rock an I-don't-care-what-people-think-about-me attitude on this trip.  Life is so much more freeing when I don't pay attention to the self-conscious voice in my head.  The bathing suit is from Target.

I'm not going to talk about every meal on this trip-I think I'll just pick out my favorite for the day and yesterday's favorite was lunch at The Surf.

It was just me and my dad and we had a nice time eating and discussing the science fiction books that we are currently reading.  (My dad is the one who introduced me to science fiction.)

I got the fish wrap - Bronzed whitefish with lettuce and spinach, mixed with a southwestern black bean, onion, and corn pico de gallo sauce, with a side of hushpuppies.  The wrap was not too big and was wrapped tightly, so it wasn't a mess.  The fish was very lightly fried, which I loved.  I have a sensitive stomach, which becomes queasy usually after eating fried foods, but the fish was so lightly fried that it didn't matter-a huge plus!  The lettuce and corn gave a nice crunch.  In short, this was a light and satisfying meal.

My drink was even better!  In fact, after my dad had a taste, he was so impressed that he had to order one too.  It's a non-alcoholic drink called a Tropi-colada, pina colada flavored and I want another!  It was very sweet and refreshing.

After lunch, my dad and I walked around the historic district of Amelia Island.  It's really neat!  My favorite place was the Island Art Association, which was covered in beautiful mosaics.  The cashier said that making the mosaic was a community effort that not only included artists, but also the regular townsfolk.  I'd love to participate in a project like that for my community!




















Here is another art gallery with an awesome idea-painted steps!

This is the Blue Door Artists.  I didn't look around, because I was too hot and tired to want to walk all those stairs, but if I ever come back to Amelia Island, I sure will!

After walking around the historic district and peering into art galleries, we went to a soft serve place called De Nucci's.  It's in a cute pink building and is only a few years old.

I got a small cone of pineapple soft serve dipped in toasted coconut.  Yum!  I had never heard of pineapple soft serve before, which is precisely why I had to try it!  The pineapple was a little too sweet for my taste-I probably would have preferred vanilla with the toasted coconut dip.  The hard dip was great though-you could really taste the toasted coconut, which I think was in white chocolate.  Coconut is one of my favorite foods, so this made me really happy.

Then nap, another beach walk, dinner at a place called Jack n' Diane's, and then bed.  A happy day.

A happy picture!  You know all this talk about bathing suits and food and happiness on vacation reminds me of the beach vacations I had growing up, which were much different.  They were different, because I was so preoccupied with the calories I was putting into my body and the way I looked.  I was so preoccupied with those superficial things that it was hard for me to enjoy myself.  Today I eat what I want and I wear what I want and I try to avoid thinking about what others may think of my choices.  Now that I am not so preoccupied with clothing and calories, I am much more relaxed and happy.  I feel freer to enjoy the moment, even if that moment includes pain or tiredness.

Come back tomorrow for more beaches and restaurant recommendations!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

July 2012 Vacation Day I - Fernandina Beach

Yesterday was our first day on my family's (Mom, Dad, and me) dog-cation!
We spent about six and a half hours in the car. The dogs and I were very happy once we arrived at our destination: Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, Florida.  Georgia is the beagle on the left and Sadie is the black lab/chow mix, we think.... (above picture)

Both dogs were initially scared of the water, but both still enjoyed a nice afternoon walk on the beach.

I enjoyed it too, even though my hips were really hurting.  To help me enjoy the walk and not dwell  solely on my pain, I used one of my DBT skills-mindfulness.  I stayed mindful on everything pleasurable I felt and not the pain.  I paid attention to the grainy sand underneath my feet, the taste of salt on my tongue, and the wild wind whipping through my hair.  Concentrating on these pleasures made my pain much more bearable and my experience was still enjoyable.

For dinner, we ate outside with our dogs at a little burger joint, called Tasty's, and it totally lived up to its name!

I got a veggie burger and it was definitely one of the best veggie burgers I have ever had.  I got it, because it came with tzatziki sauce (gyro sauce), which I love.  Whoever thought of putting tzatziki sauce on a veggie burger is a genius, because it really made the sandwich sing.
 
Look at how red the burger is-my dad thinks the burger have beets in them, but I'm not so sure.  I do think it was lightly fried though, which also added much wonderfulness to the burger.  The patty was crisp and yet moist at the same time.  I heartily recommend this place!

So far, the dogs, the people, and the bellies are having a good dog-cation.  Check me out tomorrow when I talk about today!
funny dog pictures - I could just say the  obvious "You're pulling my leg"  But then you'd probably say "Bite me".
 Recommended Links:

Both of these links are a call for activism-with the first, you are called to tweet or call Viacom and with the second, you are called to sign a petition.  Do as you feel led to do.



Rape jokes are not funny. They potentially trigger survivors, and they uphold the rape culture. They tacitly convey approval of rape to rapists, who do not appreciate "rape irony." There is no neutral in rape culture, and jokes that diminish or normalize rape empower rapists. Rape jokes are pro-rape.

Womanist Musings - Dreadlocks are Unacceptable for Employmentat Six Flags and Many Other Companies

 Natural hair has been constructed as radical, extreme, and unkempt, despite the fact that a natural hairstyle simply means wearing our hair the way it grows out of our head, without the addition of harmful chemicals.