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.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Godde is Recovery

I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them, I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God. Ezekiel 11:19-20
Ezekiel has a vision and this is part of what Godde says to him about the Israelites. I relate to these verses a lot, but more in a recovery way. I don't have "a heart of stone" and never did, but there have been times when my commitment to recovery has not been full-on. Ever since I told my doctor almost a year ago that I would agree to go back on Zyprexa, even though I might gain weight on it, I feel like a new spirit has been put in me. And then I took the dialectical behavioral therapy class and what had once been a heart of chaos and drama turned into a heart of wisdom and mindfulness. Now that I know just how precious my recovery is, I will do my best to keep it. That means taking my medication and talking to my doctors and therapist. It means eating regularly and attending support groups. It means continuing to practice my DBT skills and working on my spirituality. I believe my Godde wants what is best for me and that is a life lived in Recovery. Octavia E. Butler says that "God is Change" in her science fiction books, the Bible says "God is Love," and I say that "God is Recovery." Actually, I believe that Godde is all three. The Godde that desires my own serenity, peace, and joy is my Godde and I am one of Her children. It is up to me to let my own heart light shine out brightly in order to show other people how to be Her children too.

Recommended Link:

The Invisible War concludes with the dismissal of a civil lawsuit brought against former Secretaries of Defense Rumsfeld and Gates on the grounds that rape is an occupational hazard of military service. Chillingly, and heartbreakingly, the film makes a compelling case that the culture of misogyny, dominance, and violence has become so endemic and accepted that this judgment has become true.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

I Was Sad, Which Makes Me Happy

I had an awesome moment the other day and it involved being sad!  I was with some friends and something one of my friends said triggered me and I became sad.  Everyone else was talking about happy, positive things and I had to tell them that I was feeling sad at the moment and that I wasn't going to participate for a little while.  I sat back and listened to everyone else talk for a while and after approximately five minutes I felt much better.  It may not sound like much, but I realized when I got in my car to go home, that I had done something that I would not have been able to do half a year ago.  Before getting experience in dialectical behavior therapy, I would have tried to avoid feeling the emotion, with the result that I would either be wildly attention seeking and dramatic or I would have pretended that I wasn't feeling sad and so would feel worse later.  Knowing me, I probably would have at first tried to be happy, wouldn't be able to do it, start crying and then try to get someone else to comfort me, perhaps making them feel used, manipulated, or burdened.  The ordinary sadness would have turned to suicidal ideations.  But this time, I handled the emotion myself and by not denying what I was feeling, I was able to move on to a more positive emotion a lot sooner.  No one had to comfort or soothe me and I was able to stay calm and cool.  I am very pleased with myself!

Speaking of awesome things and being pleased with myself, check out these cool tights: I got them on clearance from Hot Topic.  I was a little skeptical, because the package said "one size fits all" and we all know that that isn't really true, but fortunately they do fit!  I got several compliments on them and I think they really jazzed up an otherwise boring outfit.  (For the rest of the outfit - shirt: Target  skirt: Torrid hairclip: Hot Topic shoes: Abbadabba's - Dansko necklace: gift)

I love this crystal necklace given to me by my aunt, but even more do I love the fact that I can see the progress that I am making.  Not every day is smooth sailing, but my emotions are slowly becoming more and more regulated, which is such a nice feeling.

Recommended Links:

Captain Awkward - #398

Stop commenting on what is on someone else’s plate. Are you sure it’s okay to eat that?” “Should you really be eating that?” Do not wrinkle your nose, call other people’s food gross, or explain in detail why you wish you could eat what they are eating but can’t since you gave up _________. Don’t bring up your health issues or their health issues. Don’t bring up that thing you read online somewhere about the health benefits of x, y, and z. Don’t bring up that diet your Aunt Susie tried that worked so well for her.

Bad Reputation - Found Feminism: HANDSOFF! Women’s Self-defense, 1942 style

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Celebrate Healthy Behaviors and Don't Feel No Guilt

Another picture from my Color Me Calm coloring book:
  I love baths.  So, this picture is about self-soothing yourself in a way that does not involve calories.  I'm not too wild about that sentiment, because it makes it seem as if calories are something we should avoid when calories are really energy that we need, which is why I crossed out the word, "no-calorie."  I think it is totally fine to sometimes treat yourself to a foodie treat in order to soothe or calm yourself.  I usually have a coffee and cookie from Starbucks after my weekly therapy appointment, myself.  People like to reference eating certain foods or not eating at all as being a "guilt-free" activity, but I think all activities that we purposely do to soothe ourselves should be considered guilt-free.  Learning how to safely soothe ourselves is a worthwhile endeavor and can be very hard to do at first.  Moving from self-destructive behaviors to healthy ones may take a while, especially if one is really depressed or anxious.  I have a friend that when she was severely depressed, the only thing that soothed her was eating.  While eating to soothe yourself optimally shouldn't be done all the time, it certainly is better than other things that she could have done, such as cutting or drinking alcohol. I would like for us as a society to stop thinking of things in terms of whether it will help us lose weight and whether we are "guilty" or not, as this only inspires disordered eating and thinking.  We should instead congratulate ourselves each time that we substitute a healthy behavior for a self-destructive one. Today, I choose to celebrate the pleasurable, healthy things that I did today-I went on a walk with my parents, made myself a cup of tea, enjoyed a brownie, and created some artwork.  What have you done today?  Celebrate it!

Recommended Links:

Culturally Disoriented – My Grandmother’s Body

Bodily autonomy is not just about abortion. But there’s a reason people get so mad when our right to choose is threatened. We know that abortion is just the tip of the iceberg. We know bodily autonomy is not some kind of contingent thing where you can say “you control your body up to the uterus, but after that, it’s in the government hands.” We know what happened to us when our bodies were not under our control. And we’re not interested in going back.

If you want to impress a disabled person with your awareness, treat that person like a person, and ignore whatever that person is using to get around; 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I'm Thankful This Thanksgiving

In the past, I have always hated Thanksgiving.  With all the emphasis on cooking and eating rich foods, I was always overcome with anxiety and food fears-gratitude was nowhere to be found.  But this time was different for several reasons.  One, my mom and I decided to have a healthier menu than usual.  I actually do not usually enjoy really rich foods, because I do not like the way they make my body feel, so I was excited to be cooking lighter fare.  The food still tasted great-in fact, I thought some of the foods, like the little, golden potatoes tasted better than the traditional fare-after so many years of having rich mashed potatoes, it's nice to have a change.  Two, my brother is home.  He lives on the other side of the country, so I don't get to see him that often, but I love spending time with him.  And three, I made a conscious decision to focus on being grateful this year, instead of focusing on the food.  Sure, I cooked a lot-I made pumpkin muffins, cranberry sauce, stuffing...but I didn't dwell on what I was making too much and when I found my thoughts turning to thinking about calories or weight, I decided to ask myself to name something that I was grateful for instead.  This way of thinking helped keep me happy, instead of the ball of anxiety that I usually am at this time of year.  And I am thankful for a lot: my brother being home; that my parents and I have a good relationship; that my dad and brother cleaned up the kitchen, so I could get some rest; for having warm shelter and plenty of food; for my medication and the stability it provides; and for my serenity this day.

I thought I would share with you some of my favorites this year.

"Decadent Pumpkin Muffins" from allrecipes.com.

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2t baking soda
2t salt
1t baking powder
1t nutmeg
1t allspice
1 1/2t cinnamon
1/2 ground cloves
1 can pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups white sugar or splenda
1/2 light brown sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup fat free vanilla yogurt
4 egg whites
1 egg
2/3 cup water

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin tins with liners.
2. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves.  In a large bowl, mix the pumpkin, sugar, applesauce, yogurt, and eggs.  Blend the mixtures and add the water to make it smooth.  Transfer to the muffin pans.
3. Bake 16 to 18 minutes.

Yields 24 - 30 muffins
The recipe states that the batter makes 24 muffins, but I made 30!  However, I am not sorry, because these muffins really did taste decadent!  I was a little skeptical of the recipe, because it was so healthy, but these muffins were incredibly moist and flavorful.  Smelling the cinnamon and other spices as I took them out of the oven was a treat in itself too!  This recipe is definitely a keeper.

Now for the little, golden potatoes.  Just buy a bag and dump them onto a cookie sheet.  Coat them with olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper and bake them twenty minutes at 425 degrees.
Be careful when you eat them-they'll stay hot for a long time.  These bite sized gems also smelled good, thanks to the rosemary, and were a delightful change of pace from the usual mashed potatoes.  These were soft and salty tasty treats.  This was my mom's own recipe.

Cranberry Sauce from The Pioneer Woman

1 bag of cranberries
1 cup of orange juice
1 cup of real maple syrup

Stir together ingredients on the stove and turn heat on high until mixture reaches a boil.  Once it comes to a rolling boil, turn the heat down to medium low and continue cooking over lower heat for about 10 minutes, or until the juice is thick. Turn off the heat.
This recipe is not so healthy as there's so much sugar, but it's so good and beautiful that I think it's worth it.  I've made it for several years now.  Cranberries always make me feel festive-soon it will be time to make my famous cranberry bread.

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving, free from body policing, eating anxieties, and food fears, although I know that that is a lot to ask.  If not, then take a deep breath and think of one thing that you are thankful for-even if it's just the fact that Thanksgiving comes once a year.  I am so glad to say that I am thankful for a lot this year-I hope you are too.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

My Disability is Beautiful

My most popular quote on my tumblr blog is this, from the blog, This Aint Livin':
And why is disability never included in discussions of natural beauty, when disability is natural?
 The quote has gotten a lot of reblogs and a couple of additional comments, including one where the person mentioned that she thought it is hard for an able-bodied person to find a disabled body as beautiful and to not be fetishizing if one does.  This caused me to think.  I think there is a difference between fetishizing a person's body and finding it beautiful.  I can appreciate scars, or fat, or amputated limbs and I am simply a person that has a perspective open enough to be able to include those things in my own definition of beauty.  It is only if I need to see that scar, fat, or amputation to be sexually turned on that my appreciation becomes a fetish.  To say that an able-bodied person can only see a disabled person's body as beautiful if they are participating in a fetish is extremely narrow thinking and is an excuse for bigotry, in my opinion.  In Christianity, we are called to see the face of Jesus in everyone we meet-now, I don't know if Jesus was classically beautiful, but surely if you can think of everyone as being a part of the soul of Godde, then you can see the beauty in everyone.

The comment also made me think about the beauty of my own disability.  The original quote was only about physical disabilities and my disabilities are mainly invisible, but it makes me feel good to think of my disabilities as beautiful.  And really, mental disabilities are still a physical disability, as the brain is a physical organ and my brain is beautiful.  I'm sure that if you were to do a brain scan, my brain would look different than the average brain.  For instance, here is a PET scan of the brain of a depressed person as opposed to one that is not and you can see the differences. 
My mental illnesses can be terrible things-having depression, anxiety, and borderline is not fun at all, but I do find a beauty in what I have been able to accomplish despite having disability.  My mental illnesses are terrible teachers, but they are beautiful teachers too.  I have learned that I have massive inner strength and that I am incredibly motivated.  I have discovered that I am a leader.  I have learned to be kinder to myself and how to self soothe.  Indeed, I am a powerful person and I would not know this without the help of my mental illnesses.  My mental illnesses may not be physically beautiful, but they are beautiful in what they have taught me.  For that, I am grateful.

Recommended Link:

People with disabilities are not broken. We are not symbols. We are people.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

October 2012 Book Review

Not Alone: Reflections on Faith and Depression by MonicaA. Coleman – Great book!  This is a collection of reflections that are from Coleman’s blog, Beautiful Mind.  I really like that it is a forty day devotional, as opposed to one for the whole year-Coleman knows that people with depression have trouble with commitment.  I love Coleman’s theology and her devotionals are thought provoking and affirming.  Her writings are not condescending, cheesy, or trite the way some mainstream devotionals tend to be, but ring with truth as Coleman is a theologian who experiences depression herself.  She tells it like it is and I really appreciate that.  If you are looking for a devotional that isn’t just a collection of syrupy sweet sayings, then I heartily recommend this book.

Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics by Bell Hooks – I started a feminist book club and this was our first book.  This book isn’t quite what I thought it would be in that I think sometimes Hooks is so broad that one doesn’t get a clear picture of what a feminist looks like.  What I like about the book is that it touches on a lot of issues and how feminism still applies to them-the book would have been perfect for when I was a student in college and I was assigned to answer the question of why our society still needs feminism.  I knew without a doubt that we still needed feminism, but I had trouble coming up with compelling reasons for the class debate.  I wouldn’t have that problem now!  All of the people in my book group could feel that Hooks was holding herself back from fully delving into deep explanations and we shared a feeling of frustration in reading the book.  Still, I like Hooks’ simple definition of feminism and have found it very useful.  Unfortunately, even though the book was written in the nineties, the book still seemed very out of date, as Hooks barely talked about body image, eating disorders, trans rights, or ableism at all-all of which are hot topics now.  I would recommend the book for any feminist newbie, with the hope that it would inspire the feminist to research the topics much further.

Candide by Voltaire – This was a fun read!  I read this for my classics book club and it was nice to have a light book that made me loud out loud.  The book is a satire written in the 1700s, which makes fun of the idea that everything is the best of all possible worlds.  I’m sure we all know people who are insufferable optimists that believe that everything is the best of how it could possibly be, but talk to an oppressed person and you will know that that isn’t true.  Everything in the book is outlandish and absurd.  I really liked the ending.

The Silent Years by Alan W.C. Green – This was my least favorite book of the month.  In fact, I didn’t even finish the book, but I am required to review it for Speakeasy.  It’s a novel written about Jesus from the perspective of one of his relatives.  The relative is a Pharisee and by getting to know Jesus, he comes to change his perspective on what following his religion means.  To me, this book just wasn’t innovative or progressive enough.  For instance, Mary’s virginity is taken as a truth, when I think most modern adult Christians have come to the realization that Jesus’ virgin birth was a propaganda myth.  Also, it portrays Joseph as being so understanding and forgiving towards Mary that I found his point of view completely unbelievable.  I have always loved Joseph, because I always imagined that he must have wrestled with extreme anger and disbelief and yet he chose to forgive Mary and love her anyway.  The Joseph in this book is so sweet that he does not seem human.  After a few chapters, I continued to find the characters to be completely unrelateable and gave up.
 Alone with a Jihadist: A Biblical Response to Holy War by Aaron D. Taylor – This book was just alright.  Taylor is not exactly a progressive-he doesn’t believe in gay rights and he does believe in Hell, so I don’t feel comfortable recommending works that he’s written, but fortunately he didn’t talk about those issues much in the book.  He does believe that war is always wrong and that this is supported by scripture, which actually is something I do believe in.  It was interesting to see this viewpoint supported by scripture, but I disagree with Taylor that there can be no compromises.  Taylor seems to think that one cannot be a Christian and support war and I just don’t think that life is that cut and dry.  If not supporting war is a criterion for Christianity then there are a lot of people who do not qualify and I am uncomfortable with any theology that dictates exactly what makes a person a Christian or not.  What I prefer is a theology that is comfortable with questions and that does not pretend to know all the answers.  I do believe that following Jesus calls for radical nonviolence and yet I will not say there is never a time when war is not warranted, simply because I know I do not have all the answers.  This book was an interesting read, but I say read at your own risk.

Currently Reading:
 Once Upon a Curse by E.D. Baker
 Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie

The Odyssey translated by Samuel Butler