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.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Feminist's Guide to DragonCon

Every labor day weekend, Atlanta is busy, busy, busy!  There’s the Decatur Book Festival, Black GayPride, and DragonCon-a huge science fiction and fantasy convention.  One thing that I don’t talk about often is that I am a nerd and I attend DragonCon every year.  This will be my eleventh year!  D*Con is held in five hotels: the Westin, Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, and Sheridan and features many panels, costume contests, parties, dances, musical and comedy shows, film screenings, venders, games, a parade, and much more.  It’s always a great time!  This year I am presenting the Feminist Guide to DragonCon, which is a list I have compiled of all the panels that address feminism in some way.  I have included  a lot of different topics and not just topics that deal with sexism or women directly, because “my feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit” (one of my favorite quotes).  I have the category (track), the title, the description, time, and where the panel can be found.  The banner at the end will take you to the DragonCon website to look at the schedule more closely.

Friday

Who are you really?  A look at ideas about identity.  11:30am Reg V (Hyatt)

Steampunk: Saloon Girls, Actresses, and Other Fallen Women
From dowdy librarian to clockwork hooker, women can fill or break the mold of womanhood.  Desirability and social acceptance are two different things.  10p Intl A (Westin)

Steampunk: A Steampunk’s Guide to Sex
Authors with Combustion Books discuss Victorian kink, alternative sexuality, strange devices, and contemporary subculture.  11:30p Intl BC (Westin)

Art Show: The Five Lies to Bust for Freeing Your Creativity
Talk with career author/illustrator about smashing misconceptions and blockages that divert creative productivity or dull the imagination.  5:30p  Hanover A-B (Hyatt)

British Sci-Fi: Gay Themes in Doctor Who
Doctor Who has broken traditional walls of SF by acquiring a following in straight and gay communities.  Here we examine this idea.  10p Crystal Ballroom (Hilton)

Comics: The Superhero as The Other
What insights into diversity, marginalization, & suppression can we find in superhero comics?  11:30a Hanover F (Hyatt)

Comics: Rise of the Independent
Creator owned, self publishing and kicking @$$!  Find out what it takes to get it done.  4p  Hanover F (Hyatt)

Comics: Gender, Power, and the Superhero Self
How superhero comics present conceptions of masculinity & feminity, in terms of power, transition & coming of age.  7p  Hanover F (Hyatt)

Electronic Frontiers: Trust, Security, and Society
How societies induce trustworthiness and secure themselves against those who abuse trust and how systems fail in today’s technology-driven world.  2:30p 201 (Hilton)

Electronic Frontiers: 10 Rules for Dealing with Police Encounters
Knowing and asserting your rights along with common sense can greatly improve the outcome of any police encounter.  Documentary by flexyourrights.org.  8:30 201 (Hilton)


Horror:  Our Monsters, Ourselves
What each generation’s choice of monsters says about the world we live in.  8:30p  Embassy A (Hyatt)

Sci-Fi Fantasy & Lit: Fandom and Feminism
How are women and feminism perceived in sf and fantasy narratives and fandom? 1p Greenbriar (Hyatt)

Science: I (Do Not) Want My HPV
An update of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV): the virus, cervical cancer & other diseases it causes (with pictures) & the vaccines that prevent it.  8:30 202 (Hilton)

Trek: A Woman Leading Change!
Legend Nichelle Nichols first Q&A about her ground breaking role as Lieutenant Uhura and what she’s accomplished since!  2:30 Grand Ballroom A-F (Sheridan)

Young Adult: Tuff Chicks
Let’s talk about Katniss and other strong female protagonists in today’s YA.  11:30a A707 (Marriott)

Young Adult: Whitewashing of YA
A look at minorities and their portrayal in YA.  1p A707 (Marriott)

Saturday

Steampunk: Envisioning a Better Steam Society
In an aesthetic based on a historial era rife with sexism, racism, and classist thinking, can Steampunk come to terms with its problematic past? 10a Intl A (Westin)

Steampunk: The World is Bigger Than England-Multi-Culturalism in the Alt History Environment
The 19th Century spirit of exploration begs to highlight cultural histories and hallmarks beyond the British Isles.  2:30p  Intl BC (Westin)

Anime: Miyazaki, Gender, and Joseph Campbell on the Heroic Quest
Hayao Miyazaki revisions Joseph Campbell’s universal myth of the (exclusively) male hero, expanding it to feature girls and young women.  5:30 Courtland (Hyatt)

British Sci-Fi: Time Ladies in the Whoinverse: The Portrayal of Women in Doctor Who
Why do ladies love the Doctor?  Is it the flashy threads?  The sleek vehicle?  His hat collection?  This & what it says about women in DW.  1p Macon (Sheridan)

British Sci-Fi: The Monty Python Experience
A celebration of all things Python, from skits, to sing-alongs, to chats to what they are doing now.  10p Macon (Sheridan)

Comics:  Strong Women in Comics
Discuss how the industry is breaking out of the “damsels and babes” molds to depict fascinating, strong, layered characters.  Hanover F (Hyatt)

Kaleidoscope: Geeks rule!
Geeks are trying to save the world.  From Level Up to Lab Rats how are these teens saving the planet?  1p L405 (Marriott)

Kaleidoscope: Girlz rule!
Grab your glitter nail polish and learn what girls like best!  Including tv shows, music, and more.  1p  L405 (Marriott)

Sci-Fi Fantasy & Lit: The State of Black Science Fiction
Local African-American writers discuss the place of Black science fiction today.  7p Fairlie (Hyatt)

Star Wars: Masculinity in SW
Vader, Han Solo, Lando-just what does it all mean, & where was the Maker going with chivalry, patriarchy, & the definition of masculinity?  5:30p  A706 (Marriott)

Video Gaming: Sex in VideoGames
Games are often found at the intersection of sexuality and sexism.  Hear how games from Bioware tackle issues like sex, gay romance, and inclusiveness.  10p  209 (Hilton)

X-Sexuality in Supernatural
A discussion on sexual orientation and identity on SPN, paired with a discussion on “shipping,” including the pros and cons of different “ships.”  10p  M106 (Marriott)

Young Adult: Advice for Young Writers
So you’re a teen or a young adult who has a story to tell.  Come hear some advice from seasoned writers about getting your start.  5:30p  A707 (Marriott)

Sunday

Steampunk: Race Relations in Alternate History
Examine how the imperialist 19th century can be reinterpreted through alternate history for a modern, multiracial world.  7p Intl A (Westin)

Anne Mccaffrey’s Worlds: LGBT on Pern
Gay men on dragons are standard practice on Pern-but they’ve got company, and not everyone approves.  Todd weighs in.  (Here be spoilers!)  11:30am  Vinings (Hyatt)

British Sci-Fi: Theorizing  the Doctor: Then and Again
The evolution of Doctor Who will be academically explored through a social and ethical lens.  1p  Macon (Sheridan)

Comics:  The Status of Women in Mainstream Comics
Roundtable discussion of the status of women creators and the representations of women in mainstream comics, historial and contemporary.  7p Hanover F (Hyatt)

Comics: Black Masculinity and Comics
Jonathan Gayles Ph.D screens his film “White Scripts and Black Supermen: Black Masculinity in Comic Books.”  Q&A with filmmaker.  8:30p  Hanover F (Hyatt)

Gaming: Gamer Girls Unite!
Whether it be at the table top, in a computer game, over an MMO, or even with a foam sword, we talk about gamer girl culture.  11:30a Grand Salon C (Hilton)

Sci-Fi Fantasy & Lit: Race in SF and Fantasy
An examination of the way ethnicity is used in science fiction and fantasy literature.  But please, keep it civil.  4p Fairlie (Hyatt)

Sci-Fi Fantasy & Lit: Native Americans in SF & Fantasy
The use of Native American characters and mythology in science fiction and fantasy: done well or done poorly, should there be more?  8:30p Fairlie (Hyatt)

Young Adult: LGBTQ in YA
Are the portrayals of gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgendered, and questioning teens realistic?  Audience participation encouraged.  4p A707 (Marriott)

Monday

Steampunk: Women in Alternate History
Are women in Steampunk “feminist” or “traditional” compared to Victorian social roles?  How are women represented in Steampunk books and films?  2:30p  Intl BC (Westin)

Costuming: Recycling: Turning Existing Oddiments in Costuming Art
Don’t let it sit in the garage collecting dust.  Grab those spare parts & odd pieces and let’s create!  2:30p  M103 (Marriott)

Skeptic: How Slippery is the Slope Between Same-Sex Marriage and Polyamory?
Insanity about same-sex marriages influence debunked with research on poly relationships, ethics provides boundaries without religious morality.  2:30p 205 (Hilton)

Stargate: She Blinded Me with Science: Sexism in Stargate
Do female characters get slighted in the SG franchise or was some of the now-cliché dialogue and plot an attempt to move gender equality forward?  11:30a Intl FGH (Westin)


Recommended Links:
Aesop to the Right: Why I Believe Pristol Palin

But it’s important for you to recognize that there is a vast difference between facing ridicule or even occasional civic rejection, and facing systematic social and political inequality. […] Supremacy is the habit of believing or acting as if your life, your love, your culture, your self has more intrinsic worth than those of people who differ from you.

The Fat NutritionistFood and Exercise are Not Matter and Anti Matter

Food and exercise are not enemies. They are friends. They work together to create and sustain life.

RD Magazine - Masculinity and Mass Violence

Still, in a world in which even the most progressive of religious groups struggle to move away from the He-God of the sexist tradition, the problem is clearly not solved. If we’re looking at race and religion as important elements that mass killers have drawn upon for their violent rage, there’s no reason for us to look away from associated cultural constructions of masculinity as a comparably important a factor.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Serenity in My Words, Clothing, and Body

Here is another picture from my Color Me Calm coloring book:It states,
Serenity is Life's true brass ring. It's yours for the taking.

It's true too. Serenity can be yours and is a very valuable thing. However, there was a time when I would have disagreed with that statement! I used to think serenity was overrated-I only wanted to have wild times. Wild times are great, but they are exhausting and a lifetime of only wildness would definitely end up in burn out. For the majority of my life, my emotions were always super intense and wildly out of control. I pushed people away and I often regretted what I said or did. I wore myself and other people out. I consider it a great marker in my recovery when I was able to choose serenity at a time when ordinarily I would not thanks to my new DBT skills. I was with a group of friends and one of them was pushing my buttons. I was just about to give her a colorful retort when I noticed how high my energy was. In DBT, we spend some time being mindful of what our emotions feel like in our spirit and in our body. Because of my previous work, I was able to notice that I felt amped up and I realized that if I chose to say my brilliant comeback, then I would probably say something that I would regret. Then I would be embarrassed, ashamed, regretful, remorseful, and angry at myself for the rest of the night and I would obsesss and obsess about what I shouldn't have done. I also realized in this split second of mindfulness that I could choose a different path-I could choose serenity by not saying a word for a couple of minutes until I was sufficiently calmed down enough to not be worrying about what I may do. Recognizing my energy level and that I had so much power was definitely a new thing for me. Fortunately, I chose the path of serenity-I grabbed "Life's true brass ring." I decided to be quiet and I simply listened to the conversation for a while. Then, once I did not feel so "amped up" anymore I rejoined the conversation and had a really nice evening with my friends. No regrets or embarrassment-no pushing people away. Instead I found a power in choosing serenity and contrary to what I had always thought life is like, I found confidence in being quiet. My silence gave me confidence, because it gave me time to be sure of my feelings, my words, and my actions. A little bit of silence enabled me to be sure that what I was doing was the next right thing, instead of a wild fling out of desperation. There is power in being that sure of one's self.

Another way that serenity has entered my life is that I feel more at peace with my body. A couple of weeks ago, I bought two pairs of leggings at Dillard's in fun colors-hot pink and purple! Besides the fun colors, I like how they are made out of a thicker material than most leggings-I think it makes them look nicer. I also like that they have real back pockets. They were sort of expensive, but who can pass up hot pink and purple pants? Not me!

Here are several outfits with the leggings-I love the way I look in them!
The necklace was a present from my mom.  I think she got it from the store, Ten Thousand Villages, but I'm not positive.  The navy blue tank top is from Old Navy and the rainbow one is from J.C. Penney's.  The shoes are from Marshall's.
Gotta wear some rainbows-it is pride month, after all!!!
Sorry this picture is a little bit fuzzy.  The green tank is from Old Navy and the flowered shirt is from Delia's.  I'm wearing the same shoes as in the previous picture.  Aren't they just fun?  Those leggings truly are hot pants!!!  (Sorry, I just couldn't resist!)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Finally Finishing Asheville - Tupelo Honey Cafe

I talked a little bit about my trip to Asheville almost a year ago when I blogged about the awesome spice store called, "Spice It Up," in Black Mountain, North Carolina.  Well, I got bogged down by life and I never finished blogging about my fantastic food finds in that area.  I'm going to finish what I started by talking about the best restaurant I ate at while on my vacation in Asheville: Tupelo Honey Cafe.

First, here is a picture of me that I took in a different cafe's restroom during the vacation:
***Trigger Warning-I talk about my weight.  If numbers trigger you, skip this paragraph!***I am now approximately thirty pounds heavier than I was in this picture.  I can't fit into those shorts anymore.  I am not saying this to make you feel sorry for me-gaining weight is not the tragedy I used to think it was.  It just is what it is.  The reason for my gained weight is that I no longer have an extremely active job, where I am on my feet most of the day.  This is good for my pain and stress level.  Also, I am back on Zyprexa, which is a medication that often causes weight gain.  It also helps me remain stable more than any other medication I have tried, so I'm staying on it.  Turns out, I really like being stable!  Sometimes I miss what I looked like before, but when I think of how better I am doing now that I am back on Zyprexa, there is just no comparison.  I'd rather be the weight I am now than be miserable any day.  My therapist is keeping a close watch on my weight and if I gain a significant amount of weight, then she'll talk to my psychiatrist, but so far, I've only gained ten of those thirty pounds since I have been taking the medication and neither of us considers ten pounds to be an extreme.  There was a time-that thankfully is now over-when I would have thought ten pounds was incredibly extreme and I would have acted out in terror.  I am so glad I do not have that messed up mindset anymore.

One night during my wonderful vacation, my friend and I went to the Tupelo Honey Cafe.  We had heard about how good it was from friends and they were right!  Tupelo Honey Cafe is one of the best restaurants I have ever visited!  I absolutely love Southern food and Tupelo Honey does Southern food with a twist.  According to their website, their goal is 
"to deliver the freshest, fullest-flavored fare you’ve ever experienced, so gather your friends and family and come dig in!"
We did! Everything on the menu looked good and I didn't have a clue as to what I should order, but as I contemplating my options, the woman at the table next to us told us that she was having the best veggie burger and the best corn on the cob she had ever had, so that's what I ordered. Thank you, whoever you are-you have good taste!  I also like that Tupelo Honey really tries to use local farms as their suppliers.
"We are proud to support local farms and food purveyors whenever possible, serving the highest quality vegetables, meats and dairy products available." 
Here's my food:


Appetizer: Fried Green Tomatoes » Served over goat cheese grits with fresh basil, plus one pickled okra Phenomenal!  The only place that has grits that compare to how good these were is the Flying Biscuit Cafe in Atlanta.  The fried green tomatoes were perfect.  And if you'll notice, every dish comes with a pickled okra, which I loved.  Even though okra is my favorite vegetable, I had never had it pickled before, but it was very good.  Sour, juicy, and slightly crunchy.  Yum.

Biscuit with Tupelo Honey and Blueberry Jam  What can I say?  I am positive that biscuits with honey and jam are the foodstuffs of angels.  You can buy their honey and jam on their website.

"Grateful Dead Black Bean Burger » Chef Brian may have perfected this during his salad days, following Jerry and the boys on concert tours, but his is no garden-variety veggie burger. Our scratch-made version is one of our most popular items on the menu. Served with lettuce, tomato, onion and homemade pickles, plus a side of Fried Parmesan Corn On The Cob."   The corn on the cob was very sweet, cheesy, crunchy, and buttery-in short, a delight!  The burger was very hearty, with just the right spices.  It was big too, which would be my only complaint.  I stuffed myself that night and I still had about half of the burger left over.  Since I was on vacation, I couldn't take the sandwich home with me.  I was very sad to see my fabulous food go to waste.

I really wish that there was a Tupelo Honey Cafe restaurant in Atlanta!  Oh well, we've got the Flying Biscuit Cafe, which Asheville doesn't have, so I guess it evens out.  In fact, I had some of their stellar shrimp 'n grits just two days ago!  Today I am grateful for life-saving medicine, the ability to accept my body, and for really good food.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Be a Beacon of Light

Every piece of writing is ripe for analysis, even religious texts. Excuse me, but it’s more like especially religious texts! Months ago, when I was reading the Bible’s book of Joshua, I noticed something that really irritated me-the book is absolutely filled with the descriptor, “able-bodied.” I underlined the word every time I saw it and by the time I was finished reading that book, there was at least one underlined word on every page. It made me angry! The writers of the book of Joshua obviously valued those who are able-bodied; men; strong warriors-it is a book about war, after all. And who is not valued? People like me-female, weak-bodied. Back then, there were no psychotropic or antidepressant medications, so I would be insane too. I absolutely would not be a valued person in that time period. In fact, by society’s measures I’m really not that valued in our day and time either. I am female, fat, disabled, poor and queer. I do have the privileges of being White, American, and intelligent, which is no small matter. When I flip through my Bible, seeing all those underlined “able-bodies” angers me, but not by too much, because I know that there is a difference between what is valued by society and what is valued by Godde. Joshua is also the book where the prostitute Rahab saves several of these “able-bodied” men, with the result that she saves her entire family from being killed. I take solace in those kinds of stories. There are women in the Bible who are strong and smart and who speak truth to power. I don’t care if the woman was a slut – she is still my shero. But even more than the individual stories about female and otherwise disenfranchised people’s empowerment, what means the most to me are the words like these that are repeated over and over again in Deuteronomy –
17 For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18 (S)He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. 19 And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. Deut 10:17-19
Society may raise high the able-bodied as privileged, especially during these Olympic days, but I know the truth-we are all equal in Godde’s eyes. I think it is very telling that God defends the foreigner, which is a segment of our society that is often treated like an evil presence in our country, instead of a people that should be loved, for we were once like them.

 Of course, knowing the truth about our equality should not be the end of our journey, but our beginning, for I believe our mission is to bring Godde’s vision to Earth. Godde’s vision is of a world where we all live together, interdependently-the rich help the poor, the able-bodied help the disabled-in short, those with privilege help those who do not have and even more than that, but that they are humble enough to learn from and respect those whom today’s society deems as unworthy. So today, the anger that seeing those underlined “able-bodies” inspires is not wasted but instead impels me to move forward in my revolution of offering lovingkindness to myself and to everyone I meet. I am definitely not perfect in this, but I am trying. And that’s all I can do. My revolution of offering lovingkindness gives me a purpose and provides me with hope. I know I won’t stop any wars or reform any politicians, but that’s not the point. The point…the point…not to sound new age-y or weird, but I believe it’s to be a beacon of light in a world that is often dark with despair. As Marianne Williamson has said, and I have quoted this before,
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”  
Recommended Links:

 Womanist Musings The Issue with Chik-Fil-A is Not About Free Speech 

 But y’know what? Freedom of speech, freedom of religion and even marriage equality are all red herrings here. Because this is the real truth: Chik-Fil-A gives money, a part of those profits from all the hate chicken, to hate groups. Yes, hate groups named by the Southern Poverty Law Centre as such, including the Family Research Council, led by Tony Perkins, one of the worse bigots you could ever meet, who calls gay people paedophiles and terrorists. The Family Research Council has not only fought against marriage equality, but has sunk money into fighting against any anti-discrimination laws, any anti-bullying laws, has fought the day of silence and even spent a ton of money lobbying Congress to NOT condemn the kill-the-gays law in Uganda. These people literally want GBLT people dead. Literally. And if you bought some of that hate chicken, you’re paying for that. You’re also paying for torturous ex-gay therapy since Exodus is another of their beneficiaries.

Captain Awkward - #322; #323 “My friend group has a case of the Creepy Dude. How do we clear that up?”

 Can women be creepy? Yes, for sure. They are human and capable of anything that humans are capable of. But when they are creepy, they don’t have an entire culture backing them up and explaining why their creepiness isn’t that bad.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Fourth of July 2012 - Celebrating Freedom from ED

About a month ago, I went to a Fourth of July party at one of my friends' house. Every July she throws a big party and most of the people that attend are in recovery. We always manage to have a good time, eating great food and setting off fireworks! I know that the Fourth of July is when most Americans celebrate the United States' independence, but I celebrated my independence from my eating disorder. I did this first by being proud of the way I looked and feeling comfortable in my clothes, even though I was wearing tight leggings.
The necklace was a birthday present.  I have no idea where the leggings came from and the shirt is from Marshall's.  I sort of look like I'm in camoflage!

The party that I went to was a potluck and no longer feeling constrained by my eating disorder, I made cupcakes.  The recipe I used is incredibly simple, but it's still fun, because I cooked the cakes in little mason jars and I colored the batter red, white, and blue!
I must admit, they turned more like hot pink, white, and baby blue.  I guess I should have used more of the food coloring.  Still, they're really fun!  I got the idea from the blog, Lovely Little Details.

Here's the recipe:
ingredients:
white cake mix (or your favorite white cake recipe)
food coloring
4 3 small bowls
spoon
4-oz masons
white buttercream frosting
pretty sprinkles blueberries


directions:1. mix up your white cake mix according to directions.
2. pour in to your separate bowls and add 1-2 drops of food coloring in each. stir well to mix the color.

3. pour about 3 -4 tablespoons of each color in to your mason jars, layering each color as you move up towards the top. leave about 1/4 cup of space towards the top of the jar to leave room for the cake to rise.
4. cook as directed, using a “water bath.” (Put the jars on a cookie sheet that has a raised edge and fill the cookie sheet halfway with water before putting in the oven.  The blogger explains how to do this more thoroughly in her post about making s'mores cupcakes.)
5. remove from oven and let cool off, then frost each cupcake and add sprinkles blueberries to your liking.  Strawberries would be good too!  

As you can see, the cupcakes are slightly browned on top when they are done.  Guests oohed and ahhed about the presentation at the party and I was told that they were very "moist."  They looked so fancy, I felt like Martha Stewart!
Look at all those colors!  How fun!
















As the fireworks exploded into the night, I felt proud of myself and satisfied.  I am only moderately patriotic to my country and as I thought about the meaning of Independence Day, I wished for my country freedom from envy, greed, corruption, prejudice, and oppression.  I smiled as I celebrated my own freedom from ED.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Color Me Calm - Color Me Happy

When I vacationed on Amelia Island, I bought a coloring book, called "Color Me Calm."  I thought coloring would be a great activity to use to self-soothe myself and to keep me present and mindful in the moment. Both of which are DBT skills.

 I love to color. I colored my way even into college as a way to self-soothe, even before I knew that I was using a certain therapeutic skill. Then for some reason, I stopped coloring, but last night I colored for the first time in a while and I had a great time! I felt calmer, peaceful, and happy when I was done. I had forgotten how good it feels to get lost in choosing the next perfect color. Color Me Calm is part of a series of coloring books by Tami Newcomb called "Color Your Way." I like the mix of positive statements followed by corresponding, slightly whimsical pictures. Here is my first picture:
It states, "The present: where once upon a time and happily ever after hook-up to make now."  I love it!  I imagined myself as the woman in the swing.  I have long, strawberry blonde hair and yesterday I enjoyed swinging at the park-another thing I hadn't done in a long time.  No kids were at the playground and my hips hurt, so I decided to take a break from walking and swing instead.  It was fun and I enjoyed feeling the wind as I went back and forth.

The pink dress I colored actually reminds me of a similar pink dress I got from Target.  I wore it last year at the Renaissance Festival.

Dress: Target Rainbow Tank Top: JCPenney  Hat is from the Ren Fest.  I'm just trying it on, because I thought it looked funny.  I think I was enjoying the moment that day too.

"A Twist of Faith" Book Review


Time for another book review.  I'm doing another one so soon, because I have to have the book reviewed within thirty days of getting it.  I got the book for free to review from the organization, The Speakeasy.

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

Here is the book's trailer:


There have been missionaries in Africa for several centuries now, but when the AIDS crisis exploded, then many more Christians came to Africa to try to help, with the majority of them focusing on building orphanages.  John Donnelly, a reporter working on the AIDS epidemic wanted to know if these Christians and their charities were doing any good.  In this book, he examines secular celebrity projects, like the schools started by Madonna and Oprah, and he follows the story of one deeply religious man, David Nixon.

I am surprised at how the celebrities seem way out of touch with reality, though I guess I shouldn't be.  They spend tons and tons of money on amenities that the children they are trying to help really don't need, which means a lot of money is wasted and a lot of people do not get the help that they should.  I am also surprised that the Christians going over to Africa seem to think that orphanages are the best way to help the children, even though study after study has proven that that is not the case.  Children who have extremely poor parents or no parents at all are usually much better served living with other family members than being housed in a large institution.  I find it troubling when I am sure that these people would not want American children housed in an orphanage and yet it is good enough for African children.

I like how the book centers on one person trying to make a difference.  David Nixon is a deeply religious man with very good intentions, but even at the end of the book, one is left wondering how long he will last helping the poor in Malawi.  He learns the importance of listening to the leaders in another culture and how plans will always need to be changed.  By the end of the book, he has changed his mind about many assumptions he had when he first arrived in Malawi.

I think this is an important book to read, especially for congregations that want to help African children.    Reading about Nixon's revelations will help mission workers and money donors have a more clear-cut answer as to which direction their help should go.  Perhaps the next church group will not be so eager to build another orphanage or to just give away products, but will invest in education both to educate the children and to educate the farmers in how to better produce crops.  Education and love is always the key-not handouts and not orphanages.

Recommended Link:
Yin and Yang - Holmes is Not Faking It

So I say, James Holmes is not faking being seriously ill.  People who kill other people are not faking it, just as people who commit suicide are not faking it.  I believe violence is a form of mental illness, but in our culture it is almost taboo to say so because so many people justify it as a right.  The right to bear arms for private individuals, for the police force and for the military translates into men, women and children becoming the victims of that right.  We can't have it both ways with some violence good and necessary and other violence bad and tragic, but that's what we do over and over again. 


Saturday, August 4, 2012

I Almost Forgot! Link Love and The Indigo Girls

I almost forgot to talk about one of the things that inspired me to write my last post-last Saturday I attended an Indigo Girls concert in Chattanooga, Tennessee!
 
The concert was great! The Indigo Girls played with the Chattanooga Symphony and the symphonic sound was really beautiful with their song choices. Probably my favorite song of the night was "Kid Fears," a song from their first album. I got goosebumps when the audience sang along. Here's the song:It was their first time doing a concert with a symphony orchestra, so there's no symphonic video yet. Believe it or not, but seeing The Indigo Girls was actually a DBT skill! I was building positive experiences, which helps keep one emotionally regulated by keeping them in a positive space. I've talked about this skill before-it's probably my favorite skill. I just love going to Indigo Girl concerts-I know this may sound cheesy, but there's a closeness in the air at their concerts unlike any other. It reminds me of some kind of musical sisterhood.

 Here are my Recommended Links:

 Kate Harding - Books and Bikinis, Plus Size Edition 

 The F Word - Extending Breastfeeding: Perverted or Praiseworthy? 

If we take away the reasoning that it's because she is adding to the celebrity culture of unattainably radiant motherhood ideals, we are left with this: people are enraged at a woman daring to use her body in a non-sexual way. It completely screws up the value system that's been created for us. Pose topless by all means. Have sex on camera, talk about your empowering career as a lapdancer. But this? Nobody gave you permission to do this! Men who happily watch porn are aghast at the idea of breasts being used for something that doesn't benefit them. 

Gaia Rising - Money in Trust and a Failed First Harvest


The presence and power of God is radical fairness – distributive justice-compassion. The only way to achieve that is through the radical abandonment of self-interest. In Paul’s words, “no concession to the lifestyle of this age and its pursuit of self-gratification.” This is the “inner work” that Matthew Fox calls the via negativa. To do this inner work means acknowledging and owning the conditions that lead to fear for survival, greed, war, and the destruction of the Planet. That “inner work” results in a transformation of attitude that then leads to creative ways to act with distributive justice-compassion – to a share world instead of a greed world. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

"What the Water Gave Me" are Some Questionable Lyrics

A few months ago, I bought Florence and The Machine's new album, Ceremonials.  
I like Florence's energetic anthems, but one song has me concerned.  Her song, What the Water Gave Us, with its big chorus and vague lyrics are obviously meant to make it a popular piece and I must admit its catchy-ness has me hooked too.  But even though I like the song's sound, I am always uneasy when I listen to it, because I am afraid that Florence Welch may be glamorizing suicide.  If she is, I don't think it's intentional, but that still doesn't mean that it's not a problem.  Here are the lyrics to the song:

What the Water Gave Us

Time it took us
To where the water was
That’s what the water gave me
And time goes quicker
Between the two of us
Oh, my love, don’t forsake me
Take what the water gave me

Lay me down
Let the only sound
Be the overflow
Pockets full of stones

And oh, poor Atlas
The world’s a beast of a burden
You’ve been holding on a long time
And all this longing
And the ships are left to rust
That’s what the water gave us

So lay me down
Let the only sound
Be the overflow
Pockets full of stones
Lay me down
Let the only sound
Be the overflow

‘Cause they took your loved ones
But returned them in exchange for you
But would you have it any other way?
Would you have it any other way?
You couldn't have it any other way

‘Cause she’s a cruel mistress
And a bargain must be made
But oh, my love, don’t forget me
I let the water take me

Lay me down
Let the only sound
Be the over flow
Pockets full of stones

Watch the video on youtube to hear the song.   (I'm sorry, I tried to post the video here, but failed due to technical difficulty.)
By the way, just in case you don't already know, "pockets full of stones," refers to how Virginia Woolf killed herself.  With that in mind, it seems that this is a glorious song that is basically glamorizing someone killing herself by drowning herself in the ocean.  I have a problem with that. I'm not saying that a person should never sing a song with references to suicide.  In fact, my favorite group, The Indigo Girls, has a song that references the same event.  The song is called, The Fleet of Hope and it is absolutely beautiful.  Here are the lyrics:
The Fleet of Hope
The fisherman comes up 
Puts his two poles in the sand 
He stares out at the sea 
Just exactly like me 
But I've got a book in my hand 
We will have caught on to something by the end of the day 
But mostly we think about the one that got away. 

I've seen like a bird 
What pleasures the surface can bring 
I've lost my best craft 
Going foolishly back 
To where to Sirens sing 
I've stared up at the place where the water meets the sky 
And though I stopped breathing I still believe I should try 
Maybe a boat in search of lost treasures will pass by. 

'Cause the fleet of hope is so pretty 
When she's shining in the port 
And the harbor clings to the jetty 
For protection and support 
Out in the choppy waters the sharks swim and play 
You're all washed up when Poseidon has his day. 

I've walked through the desert 
Climbed over mountains so high 
Through jungles and plains 
I took buses and trains 
And airplanes across the sky 
But none as seductive as ocean before me alone 
And now I know why 
You layered your pockets with stones. 

'Cause the fleet of hope is so pretty 
When she's shining in the port 
And the harbor clings to the jetty 
For protection and support 
Out in the choppy waters the sharks swim and play 
You're all washed up when Poseidon has his day. 

When I was a girl 
All of my fancy took flight 
And I had this dream 
Could outshine anything 
Even the darkest night 
Now I wait like a widow for someone to come back from sea 
I've always known 
I was waiting for me 

'Cause the fleet of hope is so pretty 
When she's shining in the port 
And the harbor clings to the jetty 
For protection and support 
Out in the choppy waters the sharks swim and play 
You're all washed up when Poseidon has his day.

Here is the song: Now here are lyrics that aren't just about creating a mood.  The song is introspective and while the singer comes to understand why Virginia Woolf might have committed suicide by drowning in the ocean, the singer also understands that that feeling is just a part of the seductiveness of the ocean and is not to be followed.  After all, the ocean is not as gentle as she sometimes looks for, "Out in the choppy waters the sharks swim and play/ You're all washed up when Poseidon has his day."  Florence also sings about how the sea can be cruel, i.e., "cause she's a cruel mistress," but even so, the singer wants to be laid down with "pockets full of stones."  Like I said, I have a problem with that.

This is not the first time that Florence Welch has had trouble with her lyrics' interpretations.  Her fun song on her first album, "Kiss with a Fist," with its violent imagery had some feminists up in arms, because unless one knows what Welch's interpretation of the song is, one is going to assume that it is promoting domestic violence.  (Welch maintains that that was not her intent, but that the violent words are about an intense relationship, but not a physically abusive one.)  I am not going to stop listening to either songs, but I do think that Welch should be a little more careful when composing the lyrics to go with her music.