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, September 30, 2012

Mutiny! A Book Review

I read a lot of books this month!  I'll do my monthly book review soon, but I am going to go ahead and post a review of the book "Mutiny! Why We Love Pirates and How They Can Save Us," by Kester Brewin, because I agreed to post the review in thirty days and I'm almost out of time!
This is the first book from Speakeasy that I have really enjoyed in a long time!  Brewin gives us a history lesson on all the forms of piracy from the past to the present time and I came to realize that I really didn't know a whole lot about the subject previously.  Brewin describes pirates as people who unblock society from the injustices of capitalism.  Pirates are outlaws, because they go against the government to provide access to "the commons" or that is, information, land, or privileges that should be available to everybody.  Pirates are champions of fairer systems of government and money, where information and wages are shared, instead of one person becoming wealthy off the backs of others.  Of course, this does not mean that pirates are saints, just that they are people who are willing to go against those in power in order to be bearers of their own destiny.  What I loved is that besides exploring real pirates in history, Brewin also analyzed characters with qualities of piracy in popular culture, such as the main characters in Star Wars.  I also loved that Brewin looked at examples of female piracy and even proposed that women are needed to unblock society and enable it to grow to its full potential.  Brewin even goes so far to propose that Jesus was a kind of pirate in that his life's work was to show people that there is no separation between God and God's people.  Like the swashbuckler pirates, Jesus led a short life, which was ended by the authorities that he went up against, because he was trying to unblock society.  I recommend this book if you are interested in pirates, feminism, or feminist theology.  I was already interested in the last two and now I am interested in the first and may end up investigating piracy further.  Lastly, this book actually provides a refreshing analysis of the oft told biblical parable, "The Prodigal Son."  Brewin's feminist take on it surprised me and caused me to think, which I really appreciated.  Still, this book is not complicated - perfect for if you want a quick read that still causes you to think and learn.

Here is info on how to purchase the book.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Abigail-Her Biblical Story Through Feminist Eyes

I think the name, Abigail, is a beautiful name. It comes from the Bible, but few people know Abigail's story, or at least I never heard of it coming from the church I was raised in. I didn't know it until a few days ago when I was reading my Bible. According to The Inclusive Bible,unfortunately it is a story that is often told by anti-feminists.
The story of Abigail is especially remarkable because of its frequent misuse by anti-feminists.  They see a woman who firsts submits herself to a drunken and abusive husband, and whom once God frees her from the husband's control because of her kindness to David, is willing to subject herself to the lowliest form of servitude and become David's new wife; they applaud her submissiveness.  Feminists, however, see a fiercely independent woman who calls her husband a fool, overrules her husband's insulting rudeness, and honors the sacred code of hospitality; and who, when offered marriage to David, first stands, then performs a carefully choreographed humility ritual (the submission of a subject to a ruler, even though David at this point had not yet ascended the throne), then stands again-evidence of her great dignity and self-determination-before going to meet David with five servants of her own.  Abigail was a woman of power.
Her story is found in first Samuel, in the twenty-fifth chapter. David is angry that her husband has refused to obey the code of hospitality, but Abigail realizes just how big a mistake her husband's carelessness is-so big that David plans to kill her family-so she goes behind her husband's back and offers valuable gifts to David on her husband's behalf. Basically, Abigail saves the day with her smart thinking! Sure, she may have been submissive to her husband in word, but in deed she is kick-ass! Abigail is a smart, resourceful, quick-witted woman who not only knows how to keep the peace, but is always able to make sure that her needs are taken care of, which is a quality that every woman needs. I think more girls should have women like Abigail as a role model, but not in terms of submission, but in terms of resourcefulness and leadership. Even today, many women are taught that it is the men that should take care of women, if not overtly, then covertly, by devaluing female achievements and by society always deferring to men's opinions. I am not saying that women should stand alone-no person is an island-but that no woman should depend solely on man. It is a sad thing if you read Abigail's story and all you see is two marriages and a lifetime of submission, because I see a woman of power who knows how to rise above the limitations put upon her by the men in her life. Abigail is a great role model for any budding Biblical feminist like me.
 
Recommended Links:


Yin and Yang – Seeking & Giving Help

 I think many people don't go to meetings because of that vulnerable quality, but in sharing your vulnerability and recognizing that we are all vulnerable, all in the same boat, there is a kind of liberation.  I'm not saying that going to a support group a couple of times is going to solve all your problems.  It won't, but, with a good attitude, it can help a lot.  Not only do you get the chance to learn from others' mistakes and successes, but you get to share your own. 


Majorities speak for themselves, minorities speak for the group.

Winner of Giveaway Announced!

I had eighteen entries, with each entry assigned a number.  Number three won and that is Shebangshebang from She bang on tumblr.  Besides getting coloring books, markers, tea, a tea infuser, body wash, sponge, a variety puzzles book, a feminist book, and an HRC bumper sticker, you'll also get an...

hahaha  Just kidding. I couldn't resist!  Everybody have a great weekend.  I'll do a regular post later today most likely.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Being Calm in the Midst of Bacon!

Here is another picture from my Color Me Calm coloring book:Mmmmm.....Soothing tea!  I like what it says too:
On the surface, calm may seem weak.  It is anything but.
It's true-it takes a lot of strength to use my coping skills and remain calm when I am triggered.  There have been a few times lately when I have been triggered and I have managed to remain at least somewhat calm and to not act out.  That is a great accomplishment for me.

I am also a lot more calm around food than I used to be.  It used to be that I only felt secure eating salads and boring salads with no dressing or cheese or anything else tasty, at that!  Ugh!  I'm so glad that those days are behind me.  So here is a salad that is anything but boring, as it is based on a sandwich that features two of my old fear foods: bacon and mayo!

BLT Salad with Basil Mayo


Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound bacon
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 4 slices French bread, cut into 1/2 inch pieces croutons
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 pound romaine lettuce - rinsed, dried, and torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered

Quartered Tomatoes - Don't they look like beautiful, sparkling rubies?

And the ingredient that used to be feared:


Directions

  1. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside, reserving 2 tablespoons of the drippings.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the reserved bacon drippings, mayonnaise, vinegar and basil and let dressing stand, covered, at room temperature.

I





















3. In a large skillet over medium heat, toss the bread pieces with the salt and pepper. Drizzle with the oil, continue tossing and cook over medium-low heat until golden brown.  Or just buy some croutons in a box!  lol
4.  In a large bowl mix together the romaine, tomatoes, bacon and croutons. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well.

This was a light and very delicious salad!  Perfect for summer dinners and I am so glad that I am now able to be calm around the once-so-scary bacon and mayo combination!
 As you can see, I made a little sauce to dip my roll in made out of tahini and honey.  Yum!  Salads don't have to be boring and just so you know, being calm is not being boring either-it's being strong.  It's a strength that comes from seeing myself triumph over previous triggers and being able to now rest assured that I can do so again.

Recommended Link:


Stalled at 12 - There is only so much mileage you can get off of being intuitive in disturbing ways.


Intermittent psychosis is not a gift, but I'll be damned if somewhere in all this I didn't learn to relax a little more....

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Broaden Horizons for Peace and Self-Love

Peace is not ignoring the reality of the world, rather, it prevents us from from seeing the world as narrowly we otherwise might.  (69, Monica A. Coleman)
Today was a hard day for me body image wise.  I went out to eat with some friends, but I wasn't very hungry, so I didn't really want to order anything to eat.  I'm a little embarrassed to say that I had trouble concentrating on the conversation, because I was so focused on my food and weight.  I'm having trouble accepting some recent weight gain.  Right now, I'm keeping a food log and together my therapist, doctor, and I are going to try to determine if the weight gain is from my food or the medication.

I realized, though, when reading this quote from my friend, that I had not had peace today, because my view of the world was way too narrow.  Only believing that thin people are beautiful, healthy, or deserving of positive attention is wrong.  I am beautiful, fairly healthy, and loved and I am fat.  Not only that, but I seem to be gaining weight.  In order to have peace, I need to broaden my world.  I need to constantly remind myself that I am beautiful and I am loved just the way that I am.  I am as healthy as I can be.  There is nothing wrong with me and my body.  My fatness does not make me bad or wrong-it just is.  I still want to find out what's going on with me medication wise, but with my viewpoint broadened, the sense of urgency is gone.  I am at peace.

And one day when I felt beautiful, I took some pictures of myself in one of my favorite skirts:
The skirt is from Cato, which is an excellent store-they have lots of great plus sized clothes!

My hair almost matches my flower and shirt!  It makes me feel happy and beautiful to see these pictures of myself.  For the rest of tonight, I am going to remind myself to keep my thoughts about beauty, health, and love broader, so that it includes everyone-not just those who are supermodel size.

Recommended Links:



Not everyone would be thin even if all of us were the picture of nutritional health.

Which is why nutritional health should be the goal—not thinness.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Steeple Envy - A Book Review

I am reviewing the book, Steeple Envy, by Victor Cuccia before next month, because I got it from The Speakeasy and they require that I write the review within thirty days.  Soon, I'll review the other book I got from them recently.

To be honest, I'm not sure what to say about this book...it has a good message, but it's written very poorly-I really wouldn't recommend spending money on it.  It's a very short and easy read, with so many humorous parenthetical expressions that I sometimes had a hard time taking it seriously.  This is not a scholarly work, but more of a witnessing to how Godde has worked in Cuccia's life.

Cuccia describes how many people are becoming disenchanted with big churches and with always putting on appearances.  He makes a good point that the American Dream of striving for success is not what Christianity should be about, but that we should really be more focused on being and showing others Godde's Love.

Victor Cuccia tells his story about leaving his ministry at a mega church.  He then starts a Bible study that eventually turns into a much smaller, but more intimate church.  Cuccia posits that more intimate, relational, and giving churches are really more in line with how the early churches were than the big, impersonal mega churches are and I can believe it-my church is also a small, intensely relational organization.

Cuccia is also the co-founder of the 12x12 Love Project, which is an organization that builds houses in Guatemala.  Again and again, he talks about how the things he needs for his church and Guatemalan project seem to just fall into place.  He credits all of this to Godde and emphasizes the need to trust, but I must say that the way everything comes together for him gets really old after a while.  For while I believe that all things eventually come together for good, I don't believe we always get our needs met just because we believe in Godde-if that were true then so many people wouldn't starve or die from poor sanitation every day.  If you manage to get your needs met, then you are very lucky and should be very grateful.  You should use your privilege to help others get their needs met too, but you should not make the mistake in thinking that your privilege is the result of superior trust in Godde.  My Godde does not play favorites!

All in all, I liked most of the messages of the book and even wrote some quotes down in my inspirational quote book, but I do wish that it had delved deeper into the issues written about and that the writing was of a higher quality.  Personally, I would save your money for a different book.  If you want to know more about Victor Cuccia, you can find him on facebook and on twitter.

Recommended Links:


In the Midwest, the number of Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) is actually on the rise, with an upturn in permits for new facilities. Iowa residents are speaking out, as are Iowa farmers, because they’re concerned about the impact growing numbers of CAFOs may have on the environment and their quality of life.


"I cry all the time thinking of [my child]. … There should be something out there to help children come home," the mother told Justice Department investigators, according to the letter.


According to the American Medical AssociationAmerican Psychiatric AssociationWorld Professional Organization for Transgender Health, severalprofessional organizations in the fields of medicine, mental health and social workand surprise, surprise insurance companies such as Aetna,  hormone replacementtherapy and sex reassignment surgery are medically necessary.

Emily Willingham - Fathers? Do they matter or are they just to blame for autism andschizophrenia?

Second, people with autism or schizophrenia are not by definition “wildly dysfunctional,” no matter how you translate that phrase. Autistic people are all around you, reproducing, sometimes working, yea verily even “flourishing romantically.” Ditto people with schizophrenia, a term that often gets vague use and can reference a diverse group of conditions with a range of manifestations. And given the popularity and romantic or reproductive success (if you can call it that) of truly “wildly” dysfunctional people, such as the Byronically dysfunctional Heathcliffs of the world, “bad boys,” murderers, or Keith Richards, I can't even buy the statement that "wildly dysfunctional" people don't flourish romantically (although, of course, romance isn't required; just ejaculation at the right time and place).

Saturday, September 8, 2012

My Favorite DBT Skills Super Giveaway!

I have been doing this blog for several years now and I have decided that it is finally time for a giveaway!  Aren't you excited?  I am!  Nothing in the giveaway has been used before, but they are all items that I already had that I felt needed a new home.

The giveaway is dedicated to the fact that I finished my DBT class just a few weeks ago.  All of the items reflect my blog.  They are divided into three categories: two categories represent my two favorite DBT skills and the last category represents my commitment to feminism and equality.  All of the items represent my most favorite skill-the ability to create a positive experience.

DBT Skill #1 - Distraction

Both of the DBT skills are crisis survival skills, probably because my feelings used to be so intense that I felt like I was in crisis mode most of the time.  I say "used to be," because lately my emotions have been a lot more balanced-keep your fingers crossed that the balance continues!

Distraction used to be the DBT skill that I used the most often.  I've talked about using the skill before with Pinterest and that distraction works to help me from getting too anxious when confronted by bothersome hallucinations or painful emotions.  Click here to go a printer friendly page from a DBT workbook that outlines the principle of distraction if you want more information.

(Is this sexist? lol  It may be, but I still think it's cute.)

(It's so nice to see a person of color on a coloring book, even if it is a cabbage patch doll.  I am sorry, though-both coloring books no longer have stickers.)

(Made from recycled plastic and solar energy!)
DBT Skill #2 - Self - Soothing

According to dbtselfhelp.com, self soothing, "has to do with comforting, nurturing and being kind to yourself. One way to think of this is to think of ways of soothing each of your five senses."  I actually find coloring to be very self-soothing, besides distracting, as I wrote about here.  I also wrote about why continually doing self-soothing activities every day (in other words, building experiences) is important.
1 package of Cacao Mint Black tea from Teavanna.
1 single-serving tea infuser.
A green sponge and Crabtree & Evelyn body wash

Feminism
The book, Rosie the Riveter: Women Working on the Home Front in World War II by Penny Colman - It has great pictures!
A Human Rights Campaign bumper sticker - I got it from a Pride parade several years ago!

How to Enter the Giveaway:

1. Comment on this post on this blog.

2. Reblog this post on tumblr.  My tumblr post is here.

3.  Tweet this message: #DBT Skills Super Giveaway @hopepersists

You can enter three times (obviously) and the winner will be determined by a random number generator.  The winner will be announced and contacted exactly two weeks from today-September 22, 2012.  Good luck!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

August 2012 Book Review


A Twist of Faith: An American Christian’s Quest to Help Orphans in Africa by John Donnelly – I already reviewed this book here!

The Mind’s Eye by Oliver Sacks – Great book!  Oliver Sacks is a famous neurologist, who wins points for me, because he supports music therapy.  He has written a number of books about strange cases of neurology and I have been wanting to read one of his works for a long time.  He is probably most famous for his early book, Awakenings, which was made into a movie with Robert DeNiro and Robin Williams.  (The movie is excellent, by the way.)  The book is a series of case studies about people who have developed neurological disorders that somehow affect their vision and yet all of the people’s stories are inspirational, as they learn how to adapt and live well, even with a debilitating disability.  My favorite story was the story of the woman who lost the ability to speak and to use language (meaning she could not utilize most kinds of language, including sign language), but by using a book with pictures and hand gestures was able to still live an active life and was, indeed, the most popular patient in the hospital she lived in.  I was very inspired by her story.  I also liked the fact that Sacks wrote about his own story in the book.  Sacks has a pretty severe neurological disorder wherein he cannot recognize people’s faces.  He seemed very humble and likeable as he describes how he adapts with this particular disability in his own life.  He also describes his experience of having eye cancer and how strange it is living with vision in only one eye.  Read this book if you want to be inspired or if you are just interested in strange stories about humanity told from a neurologist’s point of view.

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau  - This was my favorite book this month!  I have my friend, Barrie, to thank for recommending this young adult series to me.  The City of Ember is the first book in a four book series about a people in the future who have forgotten much of their past.  I don’t want to say too much, for it would ruin the plot, so I will talk about the characters instead.  I love the two main characters, Lina and Doon, who are very responsible and mature twelve-year-olds, willing to go on a wild adventure in order to save their town.  This is a sort of dystopian book, but without the despair of some dystopian novels.  I love how Lina and Doon stay steadfast in their belief that there is a solution to their troubles and that they will work hard to figure out what’s happening to their town.  I read this book very quickly and immediately ordered the second from paperbackswap.com.  I can’t wait to read what happens next to these kids and their people!

Currently Reading:

Once Upon a Full Moon by Ellen Schreiber

Steeple Envy: Losing My Religion and Rediscovering Jesus by Victor Cuccia

Recommended Links:


No matter how many friends you have, how many people tell you they love you, these things do not cure depression. Some of us need medications, some of us cannot meditate or exercise our way out of it. […]  Hip Hop and the larger community of Black and Brown, progressive, radical, social justice activists must figure out a way to begin a dialogue, to not just break the silence around depression, but to stop the shaming of those who suffer this disease.


We're here. Get used to it. Embrace it. Understand that you are just as different from the people around you as we are from you--you just hide it better. But hiding it doesn't magically make you a better person or more of a person or a more acceptable person any more than that pilot's stealth determination to ban that boy from a flight because of his disability makes that pilot's behavior OK. You see, when people live with filters and can hide who they really are, it can take others time to learn that they are, say, bigoted assholes. But when a person has either the naivete or the bravery to live their every moment in their most honest representation of themselves, you can instantly see how they're different. It can be shocking, I know, to learn that some people have nothing to hide.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cinnamon Bun Cupcakes

 I have a lot to write about! I just spent three glorious days at Dragon Con and it's time to post about last month's books, but first I am going to gush about the cinnamon bun cupcakes I made for my dad's birthday! I need to write about my dad's cupcakes now, so I can concentrate on making my mom philly blackforest stuffed cupcakes for her birthday this Thursday.  

First, I am going to present you with two pictures of myself.  I have been struggling with some body image issues after gaining a little weight recently.  Just a week ago I was being melodramatic, because the weight gain was making me feel out of control and I started to glamorize my eating disorder, when I sometimes felt that my obsessive calorie counting kept my life in control.  I say "sometimes," because as my eating disorder got worse, I knew that my life was actually spinning out of control.

So what do I do to combat my feelings of insecurity?  I continue to take pictures of myself and to look at them!  I really have found that taking pictures of myself in the moments when I feel good about myself helps me, because when I look at the picture later I can see the feeling in my face, body posture, and the way that I have taken care of myself.  I know what I look like when I feel bad, depressed, anxious-my hair is greasy, my clothes are sloppy, and my affect is flat-what I need is the awareness of what feeling good and having confidence does to me-it makes me look and feel good!  It gives me a glow!

Here I am in a beautiful shirt I got a few weeks ago at a store called Rainbow.
Rainbow was closing, so they were having a clearance sale-bad for the store, but good for me!  My therapist remarked that I got a rainbow shirt from a rainbow store.  Well, you know I'm a sucker for rainbows!  The pink tank top underneath is from Old Navy and I'm wearing a turquoise choker given to me by my father.
Isn't that sparkly and pretty?  Even my hair had to participate in the rainbow fun!

Now onto the cupcakes!  I always feel good when eating something sweet!  My dad loves cinnamon rolls, but real cinnamon rolls take a long time to make, so I decided to make him quick and easy cinnamon roll cupcakes instead.  I got the recipe from the blog, Hoosier Homemade.

Ingredients
1 box cake Butter or Yellow cake mix
4 eggs 
1 cup buttermilk
 1/3 cup oil
Cinnamon and Sugar for Swirl {about 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons cinnamon}
 Streusel Topping
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1-2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup butter, melted
Glaze
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk
    Instructions

    1. Prepare cake mix with eggs, buttermilk, and oil.  Set aside.
    2.  Combine cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl and set aside.
    3.  Combine dry streusel ingredients in a bowl.
    4. Melt butter in the microwave.
    5. Add a small amount of butter at a time, stirring after each addition, until the mixture is crumbly.  (I accidentally poured in all of the butter at once and then stirred, which produced a sauce instead.  Fortunately, the taste was not affected.)  
    6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    7. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
    8. Add about two tablespoons of batter to the liners.
    9. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture.















    10. Add about two more tablespoons of batter on top.
    11. Sprinkle on streusel topping.
    12. Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
    13.  Cool completely. 
    Glaze
    14.  Add powdered sugar to a small bowl.
    15. Slowly add milk until mixture becomes the desired consistency.
    16. Drizzle over cooled cupcakes.
    The cupcakes were light and moist and they tasted just like cinnamon rolls.  They practically melted in our mouths!
    Here are two shots of the inside of the cupcakes: as you can see, they have swirls of cinnamon sugar inside!  Mmmmm-so much sugar!!!!  Pass me some milk please!  My dad loved his birthday present and so did I!

    Recommended Links:

    No one type of abortion is more moral than another, by privileging some types of abortions over others we send the message that these abortions are acceptable whereas abortions in other circumstances are not.  Trying to convince conservatives that abortion in some cases is ok, and providing emotive stories and justifications for this simply adds to the idea that in general abortion is not an acceptable choice. At the end of the day, trying to find situations where conservatives may find abortion tolerable does little to advance the movement because the message remains that women’s bodily autonomy is an insufficient reason for abortion to exist.


    And here we are again. Demonizing women. Limiting birth control. Shrinking access to legal and safe abortion. Daring women to go find the wire. All while men can walk away and be free.

    With Love Dear Apathetic People

    I care about the happiness of people around me.  I care about the quality of life of people around me.  Even the people I don't know.  We all bump into each other, at work or around town or on-line.  We're all members of intersecting communities.  If I hear that someone's going around spitting on left-handed people, I don't shrug it off with a careless, "I'm not right-handed, it doesn't affect me, whatever."  The fact remains (in this scenario, although I hope not in actuality) that someone's going around spitting on people.  That's ridiculous and unwarranted and needs to stop.  Why would I not have an opinion on it?  Why would I not speak up about it?  Why would I not commiserate with the people even more directly affected by it than I am?


    With politicians such as George Galloway and Tony Benn spouting shameful ideas of what consent means (having sex with someone who is asleep is "bad sexual etiquette", not rape, according to Galloway), a worryingly high proportion of the adult public doesn't seem to grasp it either. A survey for Amnesty found 37% of respondents thought a woman was responsible for being raped if she didn't say "no" clearly enough. With attitudes like this, is it any surprise young people may be dangerously confused?