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, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year's Giveaway

It's time for another giveaway!  How fun!  I told my tumblr followers I would do a giveaway when I reached the 100 follower mark and I now have 104, so it's time!  I think it's nice that it is also corresponding with the new year.

Here's a photo of the three items I'm giving away:
1. Merida's Bow and Arrow  - 
Hone your archery skills like the heroine Merida with our Brave Bow and Arrows. Brave Bow is made of sparkly plastic with purple accents and strung with elastic. Bow also comes with two arrows that feature suction cups on one end for sticking to smooth, flat surfaces. Working Bow and Arrows is safe for use against enemies, real or imagined. Recommended for ages 4 and up. Brave Bow and Arrows is an officially licensed ©Disney/Pixar product (description from partycity.com)
Brave has become one of my newest favorite movies and I was going to dress up as Merida at DragonCon, but it didn't work out. I wanted a bow and arrow like the one she used in the movie, but the one I got is sized for a four-year-old, which is why I am giving it away. It would make a great birthday present for a little girl or boy. Or have fun shooting arrows yourself!

 2. "Queens': Black Women, Fabulous Hair" photographs by Michael Cunningham, written by George Alexander. -
Crowns photographer Michael Cunningham and author and journalist George Alexander have captured the marvelous trinity of black women, hair, and beauty salons in the glorious Queens: Portraits of Black Women and Their Fabulous Hair. Angela Garner says that “The beauty salon is the one great thing we get to share as African American women. It’s therapeutic.” Tisch Sims says that wearing fantasy hair makes her feel “like a goddess, a queen.” From the afro to the ponytail to dreadlocks to braids to relaxed hair to fantasy hair; from “good hair” to bad hair days, in this stunningly designed book black women from the United States, Africa, and London explore the fascination with hair and beauty that has long been a cherished part of African American culture. In fifty gorgeous photographs accompanied by vivid, personal narratives, Queens, by turns moving and funny, is the ultimate all-occasion gift book, perfect for Christmas, Kwanzaa, Mother’s Day, and birthdays.
(The cover, which I unfortunately don't have.)
I'm sorry that the book comes without the cover, but otherwise it is as good as new. To be honest, I'm not sure why I bought it-it was a Borders "bargain book" and the pictures are great. I think I thought it would be a great coffee table book, but as I do not have my own coffee table anymore, I don't need that type of book anymore. The pictures in it are great-black and white photos of Black women's hair in all kinds of styles, with words by each explaining why the woman loves her hairstyle. A neat book.

 3. The movie, "Across the Universe" (Two Disc, Special Edition) -
Across the Universe, from director Julie Taymor, is a revolutionary rock musical that re-imagines America in the turbulent late-1960s, a time when battle lines were being drawn at home and abroad. When young dockworker Jude (Jim Sturgess) leaves Liverpool to find his estranged father in America, he is swept up by the waves of change that are re-shaping the nation. Jude falls in love with Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood), a rich but sheltered American girl who joins the growing anti-war movement in New York's Greenwich Village. As the body count in Vietnam rises, political tensions at home spiral out of control and the star-crossed lovers find themselves in a psychedelic world gone mad. With a cameo by Bono, Across the Universe is "the kind of movie you watch again, like listening to a favorite album." (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)
I love an artsy musical, but I'm weird and prefer my movies lower budget. My motto is "A low budget gives a movie its heart." I really thought I would like this movie, so I bought it without having watched it first, but it was just too polished for me. Polished, and I thought it had a cliched and disjointed story line. It has cool sets and costumes though. A lot of my friends like it and I certainly don't think it's a bad movie-just not my style.

I hope whoever gets these things enjoys them! But first, to enter:
1. Become a follower of this blog.
2. Become a follower of my tumblr blog.
3. Comment on this blog.
4. Reblog any post about the giveaway that's on tumblr.
5. Tweet - Hope is Real! Blog New Years #Giveaway

I will post the winner in two weeks, Tuesday, January 15th. Good luck!
"May you always have love to share, health to spare, and friends that care."

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Longest Day in Bright Pictures

Yesterday was the last day of my vacation, so I'm glad that it was a long one. In fact, it was one of the longest and most full days I've had in years, as I was up from 10am until 7am! Probably the last time I had stayed up all night was either when I was sick or when I was attending college. I will tell the story of my fun day through lots of pretty pictures.

Around noon we started towards Seattle.  I had only been there once before when my brother took me to the first REI a few years ago.  It was fun, but I of course want to see more of a city than just one establishment.  This time, he took my family to the Pike's Place Market, which was a lot of fun.  Here is a picture of the famous public market sign with the new ferris wheel behind it.
The market is so crowded that you have to walk very fast.  It was sort of risky taking these pictures, but I just couldn't help myself!  The market is full of bright and beautiful neon signs.  This is just one:
I would love to have that sign in my house!  There were also fun and festive paintings wrapped around the columns.  I was moving too fast to get a picture of each one, but here's a sample:
I posted another one on my tumblr blog too, along with another example of a neon sign.  The market sells arts and crafts, flowers, produce, and seafood at really good prices too.  I just couldn't believe these beautiful bouquets were being sold for only five dollars.
Aren't they gorgeous? They smelled gorgeous too!  Speaking of good things, the beauty and bounty of the seafood and produce was amazing.  I wanted to buy so much!  Look at these crabs!
Look at these cauliflowers!
If I lived in Seattle, I would have to buy my produce from there at least some of the time.  I really was jealous of all the produce though, even in Anacortes.  Both my brother's girlfriend and I would exclaim about how the onions and everything else are absolutely perfect and so much better than the groceries on the East coast.

After lunch and sightseeing at the market, we then walked just a little ways to the Great Wheel, the new ferris wheel.  The five of us - my brother and his girlfriend, my two parents, and I - all fit into one of the cars:
Fortunately, the car was warm, which was good, because it was very chilly and wet outside.  I took the obligatory pictures of the city skyline, but I don't think they turned out very well, so I present you with a more artistic view of the Great Wheel instead:
The ride was also very smooth and long too, as we went around at least three times.  I recommend it for a once in a lifetime experience.

Sightseeing at the market, lunch, and then a ferris wheel ride sounds like enough for a day, right?  Actually, our day was just beginning!  We then went to a mall and looked around a bookstore for a while-we had a lot of time to kill before needing to be at the airport.

This is my favorite photo of me from the day:
I'm standing next to a Christmas-y pig at the mall.  I thought the golden, caped hog was a little strange, but also cute and sort of regal looking.  As you can see, I was very happy!

But alas, our time with my brother and his girlfriend soon had to come to an end and we were dropped off at the airport.  Even then, we had about three hours still to kill, so I had a delicious bowl of chicken udon, eaten at a leisurely pace.
It was actually my favorite soup of the day-much better than anything I would have had at the Atlanta airport, I think.  The soup was hot, spicy, healthy, and noodle-y - just what I wanted.

We left the airport at 10:30 at night and didn't arrive home until seven, the next morning.  I couldn't sleep on the plane, so that is why my day was so long!  Long, but happy.  I am sorry that I couldn't spend more time exploring Anacortes, Bellingham, or Seattle or just spending more time with my brother and his girlfriend, but still, I am grateful for the time I did have.  Tomorrow I am going to spend New Year's Eve at one of my dearest friends' apartment.  Truly I am blessed to have the family and friends that I do.  What did you do or are doing in the holiday season?

Recommended Link:
 Dances withFat - National Weight Control Registry – Skydiving Without a Chute

 to a study by the Albert Einstein School of Medicine “51.3% of overweight adults and 31.7% of obese adults were metabolically healthy.’   So I propose we study the 51.3% and 31.7% of metabolically healthy fat people to see if we can find some information about being healthy and fat, rather than studying the .001% – .02% of “successful dieters” to see if we can figure outhow to jump out of a plane without a parachute make everyone thin  (especially since there are no statistically significant studies that show that people who maintain weight loss are healthier.)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Artsy Fartsy Anacortes

I'm visiting my brother in Anacortes. My mom and I walked around the downtown area today and I must say, I approve of this town.  It's small, but not too small-after a few hours there were still a few funky shops that sadly, we missed.  There are a lot of used bookstores here and I definitely approve of that-I love a good bookstore.  I wish my own town had more of them!  Except for the weather, I think I like Anacortes better than my own hometown, which is just suburban sprawl for the most part.  I did the typical touristy thing and took a lot of pictures.  I played around with some of the sort of strange ones on Picasa.

Here is the outside of a copying store that had the lyrics to "God Bless Ye Merry Gentlemen" written on it:
I thought it was a neat idea and I felt happy, as I started to hum the song along in my head.

The town also has these weird cutouts of past residents posted on the buildings all around their downtown area.  Some of them are cute and some of them are definitely "creepy," (my brother's word, but I concur).  Here is the creepiest one, in my opinion:
Don't they look like a bunch of nicely dressed zombies?  Weird.

Here's another weird one:
It's a female bigfoot wearing glasses and reading a book entitled, "We Don't Make This Stuff Up: Caution."  I love her-I think she's great! As we were leaving town, I spied another cutout of a bigfoot-a male.  I would have taken a picture if I could.

Here I am, acting scared next to her:
The picture makes me laugh!

I hope that we get to go back to Anacortes to explore some more-as you can see, I had a lot of fun!

For dinner, I made one of my new favorite dishes: roasted potatoes, bell peppers, onions, and sausage.
This dish is SO good!  The roasting makes the onions sweet, the potatoes soft, and everything else extremely flavorful.  Yum! Yum! Yum! Here is the recipe:


Ingredients

  • 1 pkg. Turkey Smoked Sausage
  • 6 cups red new potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch-chunks
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400° F. Cut sausage in 1/4” slices; set aside.

  • Place potatoes in medium saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer 10 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain potatoes.

  • Combine sausage, potatoes, bell peppers, onion, garlic, chicken broth, olive oil and seasonings in a 12x8-inch baking dish; mix lightly.

  • Bake for 30 minutes or until potatoes are lightly browned and vegetables are tender.

Like I said, this dish is extremely flavorful.  It does involve a lot of chopping, but once you're done chopping,

 then your job is basically done!  Blogspot is acting a little weird, so I'm going to go.  It's so nice the way I've

been able to fully enjoy myself in the present lately.  I hope you're able to do the same.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Vacation 2012 - Fun in Bellingham

Today we did not just lounge around all day, but instead went sight seeing in Bellingham, Washington state and we had a lot of fun!  After looking around a few quirky shops, we had lunch at Mount Bakery.  Mount Bakery is a cute cafe with excellent food.  In fact, the restaurant has won many awards for their sweets and soups.

Here is my very pretty chai tea latte:
Everyone drinks hot tea or coffee in Washington.  I have never seen so many coffee shops in my life, but I can feel why-it is much colder here than in Georgia!

I also had a delicious half sandwich and salad:

"Hot Turkey and Gouda - Hempler’s Turkey with mayo, sliced red onion,our homemade cranberry relish, and Dutch Gouda" Great sandwich!  The cheese was hot and stringy, the mayo kept the sandwich moist, the relish added sweetness and color.  Yum-yum.  I love a good sandwich.  Still, I was glad I got the half portion-size, because it was a bit rich.

The cafe was painted in bright colors, which I loved.  The bathroom was especially bright and cheerful with bright red polka-dots on a gold background:
Isn't that fun?  It sort of reminds me of Swiss cheese or of clown noses!

After lunch, we walked to an interactive museum called Mindport:
I really recommend this place!  It's a funky and fun museum with hands-on experimental and scientific art and music displays.  If you have no idea of what that means, then you should come to the museum and see for yourself!  Every display in the museum is meant to be played with and the displays were as beautiful as they were fun.  Unlike some museums, it was extremely accessible and fun for both adults and kids-my parents and I had a great time and so were the children we saw there too.  Here is an example of one of the exhibits:
The colorful lights are moving to the beat of fast polka music!  I was also really impressed that there was a small library towards the end of the museum with art and science books, chairs, and two guitars.  The guitars were hung on the wall just waiting for anyone to pick them up and start playing.  I was surprised that the museum owner's would trust their patrons to start playing on nice instruments.  It made my heart happy.

Tomorrow my mom and I are going to poke around the little town of Anacortes.  If you ever go to Bellingham, I strongly recommend eating at the Mount Bakery and experiencing the wonders of Mindport.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas 2012 - On Privilege

Merry Christmas from Anacortes, Washington!  Here's my brother's Christmas tree:

I am very happy today.  We unwrapped presents and then lounged around for most of the day, which is why I was glad to get up and help my mom make dinner and dessert - pecan rice, asparagus, beef tenderloin, and apple pie!
(My mom's in the middle juicing a lemon.)
Yummy!  The cinnamon apples with their crumbly crust tasted great, especially with the vanilla ice cream.  We had apples left over, so we made applesauce too.

It's wonderful days like this when I realize just how privileged I am - I have a loving family, stable shelter, an abundant amount of food, warm clothes, the medications I need, and I received presents of things that I really don't need.  I also cannot overlook that I am stable on my meds, which hasn't always been the case-I have spent many a Christmas in the depths of anxiety and depression.  One thing I am not privileged in by our society's standards is being a woman.  Someone that reblogged a quote on tumblr about men's privilege also commented that women have privilege too:
What about feminist women who don’t understand privilege? Female privilege is that people assume you understand and are automatically empathic/familiar with the world of ‘privilege’ and ‘oppression’. Women can’t possibly be sexist pigs and can be accepted as a feminist, no questions asked. Men who actually care about women’s rights are scrutinized or labeled as ‘false allies’. The only way for them to have a place in the conversation is to be a submissive doormat.
 While it is true that women can do some things that men cannot, like birth babies, from a societal standpoint, we are still oppressed.  Now different women experience different levels of oppression-I have talked about this intersectional way of thinking before-I am oppressed as a woman, but I am not, because of my skin color.  I am oppressed, because of my disability, but I am not, because I am cis-gender.  Those are just two examples.  So, I have some privilege, but it is for reasons other than for being female.

I am not going to address everything that is wrong about the comment, as I think most of my readers will automatically see what is so laughable about it, but I will address a few things. This man seems to think that all women are feminist or at least are accepted as feminists and that is simply not true.  Just because you are a woman does not automatically mean that you are a feminist-I have witnessed this confusion on tumblr before and it bothers me.  A feminist works to end sexist oppression and not all women are committed to that cause. Also, personally, I absolutely do not believe that a male ally has to be a "submissive doormat."  I do see that comment as being incredibly defensive and so I do not think that he is being a good ally, himself.  The commenter needs to ask himself why he is so bothered by the thought that men need to recognize their own privilege (my original quote).  If men are sometimes questioned in their roles as allies, it is only because women live in a world where we learn to fear men.  Most men are not actively working to end sexist oppression.  And all men are going to oppress women in some way at some point in their lives, just from living in our culture, and so women have many reasons to be cautious with men.  That being said, I appreciate my male allies.  I want them to speak out against sexist oppression when appropriate and I want them to respectfully listen to what women have to say too.  I want them to take a step back and give women some of their room, but I still do not think that that is the same thing as being a "submissive doormat."  Basically, I want equality for everyone and submissiveness for no one-unless freely given, of course.

As this delicious and thought-provoking Christmas comes to an end, I hope that you had a great day like I did.  If not, then there's always next year!  Happy holidays!
Recommended Links:

One thing that was powerful to me was when a pro-choice woman pointed out that a fetus doesn’t just grow *in* a woman’s body, it is *made from* a woman’s body.

White supremacy is a low-level assumption about characteristics that white people allegedly have which transforms inequality between them and everyone else into something natural. It often masks itself as fairness and goes unquestioned as a result. Using this definition, our current tax code is a work of white supremacy.

This Ain’t Livin - ONE OF THESE THINGS IS JUST NOT THE SAME: LUMPING KIDS WITH DIFFERENT NEEDS TOGETHER

 There’s a strong desire to standardise education in the United States, to make it one-size-fits-all, to promote a single unified theory of educational experience and methodology, and it just doesn’t work. Different student needs are not a bad thing, something to be punished, something to medicate students for in order to force them to conform. They’re just needs, and they need to be identified and addressed rather than shoved under the table and ignored.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas Eve!

I'm on vacation with my parents, visiting my brother in Anacortes, Washington state.  Anacortes is a small town on Whidby Island.  It's very beautiful, although cold and rainy.  Like the time when I was in Florida earlier this year, I'm going to try to blog everyday...We'll see if that happens!

The view near my brother's house:
I haven't done a lot today, but it's sort of fun to just lounge around sometimes, especially in a nice, warm house with a scenic ocean view and a brother that I don't get to see that often.  The one big thing we did today was do a big grocery store.  I must admit that I got really anxious towards the end and almost started crying.  The place was really crowded and I got overstimulated, plus we were buying a lot of food, which triggers some old eating disorder anxieties.  I decided to use the DBT skill of distraction to get my mind off of the food.  Fortunately, I always have a book with me and so when I got to the car, I read until my mind was focused on the great story - The Diamond of Darkhold by Jeanne DuPrau - instead.
Great book!

I am very happy today doing almost nothing.  In my last couple of posts I've forgotten to leave my recommended links at the bottom of the posts, so there'll be more than usual left there today.  Happy reading and happy holidays!
Recommended Links:

Living My Social Work - Evil. Insane. MentallyIll. Autistic.
Is the philosophy of pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps more important than a country prioritizing funding for excellent accessible mental health services 

I don't think that a feminist man who doesn't understand what privilege is can actually be feminist.
Owldolatrous:

 On FOX News and elsewhere, religious political and entertainment entities Bryan Fischer and Mike Huckabee each laid this horror at the feet of secularism, declaring that God didn’t protect the innocent victims of this shooting because we’ve taken God out of schools and “God doesn’t go where he’s not wanted.”
I’ve always known Bryan Fischer was a ghoul, but I didn’t know he thought God needed an invitation, like a vampire waiting on Sookie’s stoop. Since when has God been so small? What is the Bible but the story of God and God’s messengers going precisely where they weren’t wanted?
 Telling the (Queer) Christmas StoryThey’ll hear again the ancient story of the baby, the undocumented foreigner, conceived out of wedlock, child to two dads, born in a filthy shed and laid in an unclean trough, a fugitive from the law from his very first breath. They’ll be told that this baby is God—that there’s something in this world greater and more important than wealth, or political power, or the laws of birth, or even the “laws” of nature, and they will find it worthy of praise. In this act, as much as church leaders would often try to deny it, lie the seeds of revolution.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

"Lose Your Way" With Some Snacks

This is another entry from my Color Me Calm coloring book.  It says,
The only way to find what you're looking for is to lose it.  Lose your way.

This saying made me think a while. It's sort of like sometimes in recovery, you get so caught up in what you're supposed to be doing that you forget why you're doing them in the first place, which is to be able to enjoy life for what it is. A good example is when I was following a meal plan-I was consumed on trying to follow it correctly, but I wasn't really enjoying what I was eating. I still needed to let go of trying to be perfect. It took a while, but once I let go, or "lost my way," I was able to savor and to truly enjoy my food. As any person in recovery from an eating disorder knows, snacks are an essential part of the day. Snacks get a bad rap in our culture, but they keep our energy up, which in turn means that we are more productive and happy. Snacking is absolutely nothing to feel guilty about. So here are several yummy snacks I made recently.

The first is a kiwi pineapple popsicle.
I got the idea from the book, Pops: Icy Treats for Everyone, by Krystina Castella.
I had just bought a bag of kiwis from the grocery store-on sale!-and I had no idea what to do with them, so I flipped through the pages of this book to see if I could get any ideas. And I did!  One of their recipes was to blend pineapple, kiwis, and a little bit of sugar together, so that's what I did.  It was fantastic!  I used about four kiwis and one can of crushed pineapple.  I love the crunchy texture of kiwi seeds and so crunching them in ice form was even better than usual.  The treat was both tangy, sweet, and full of fun flavor.  I haven't made popsicles in a while, but after creating this post, even though it's cold outside, I may have to make some more.

Here's fancy snack number two: Apple Bagels!
I got the idea from tumblr, actually.  It's one of those things that seems so obvious, but I had never thought of it before.  Just core an apple, cut it up, cover it with peanut butter and then add the toppings of your choice.  I did shredded coconut on mine.  It's a very fun and filling snack.  The topping choices are endless: dried fruit, bananas, nuts, granola, sunflower seeds...or coconut!  So go ahead, "lose your way" for food-it's fun and your recovery will thank you.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Is Rise of The Guardians a Racist Movie?

**It has come to my attention that several of the characters are actually aliens, including the bad guy.  Some people are of the opinion that this makes the movie not racist.  I still stand behind my opinion that there should be more people of color represented in the movie and in children's movies, in general.  I still think that if there is an evil character that is represented by darkness, then there should definitely be some good characters who are dark-skinned too.  I still believe that always positing darkness as evil is racist.  But I did concede that perhaps the fact that some of the characters are aliens does change some of the racist overtones that I see from the advertisements, and so I changed the title of this blog post from a statement to a question.  What do you think?**

Here are pictures of the good guys and the bad guy from the new children's DreamWorks' movie, Rise of The Guardians.  Look at both pictures and see if you can tell me what the problem is!

Good Guys:


Bad Guy:

 
If you guessed that the problem is that only the bad guy is a person of color, then you would be correct!  This trope is so tired-so often the only people who are of color in a movie or a book are the characters that we're supposed to hate and when these images are used over and over again, the message that gets internalized is that Black people - or any other people of color - are evil.  Now, I get it, "darkness" is inherently scary; people are naturally afraid of shadows, you say.  To this I say that it is not exactly "darkness" that people are afraid of, but rather the unknown.  There is a potential for violence that is scary, because it is unseen, but I would argue that this is more a product of our culture, than of darkness, itself.  If darkness, itself, was so scary, then blind people would be forever paralyzed by fear, but that is not the case.

It almost seems that the makers of this movie have gone out of their to enforce the idea of whiteness being always the good guy, because there are so many obvious choices for characters of color.  This is an animated movie, as such the creators are not bound by normal laws of nature, meaning the animators can create a character to look however they want.  They don't even have to follow normal skin colors - why not make all of the tooth fairy green and blue and yellow? Why not make the elves red?  I can see why Jack Frost would need to be White - he is, after all the maker of frost, which is a white substance, but I do not see the need for any of the other characters.  I guess you could say that Santa Claus should be White, as that is how he is traditionally seen, and yet it is not unheard of to have a Santa of color.

 (Look!  One quick search using Google images brings up this lovely Black Santa candle holder!)

So saying that you need Jack Frost and Santa Claus to be White, which is not what I am saying, you still have the Tooth Fairy and the Sandman.  These two characters do not have a standard representation and so they could easily be any race that the creator chooses.  In fact, the animators were pretty creative in making the tooth fairy birdlike, so what I want to know is why did they stop drawing her colored feathers?  She is covered in blue, green, and yellow feathers and yet when it comes to the skin on her hands and face, she is White.  Frankly, I don't think that even makes sense.  And then there's the Sandman, who is White with a golden glow.  The elves also are all White, at least as far as I can tell from the previews.  I don't like the idea of only the helpers being the people of color, but it'd be a step up from nothing.

It is racist to categorize White as good and Black as bad.  If you are going to have a Black character be the bad guy, then you need to have at least one good guy be of color too.  In this day and age, I feel like we as a society should be above these simplistic characterizations, but obviously we are not.  We need to add more diversity to our pop culture and it needs to start with children's programming.  The point was illustrated way back in 1954 with the Clark doll experiment.  Kids were presented with two dolls - one White and the other Brown - and were asked which one was "nicer" and which one they would rather play with.  The White doll won back then and it won again in 2006.  If we do not want there to be internalized racism in our children and for White supremacy to still rule, then we must start with the images that we show our children.  Would it have killed the makers of The Rise of The Guardians to have included a Black, Brown, Red, or Yellow guardian?  No, of course not.  Would it have been one more step towards a more equal and loving society?  As simple as it sounds, yes.

(Look!  It's a Black Tooth Fairy doll!)
















Recommended Links:


This aint livin’ - BE INSPIRED BY WHAT PEOPLE DO, NOT BY ASPECTS OF THEIR IDENTITY

As soon as you start reducing disabled people to their impairments and their accomplishments to something in the background that has to be viewed through the lens of impairment rather than as something that stands alone, you start patronising people with disabilities. You remind us that many people seem to think we exist for your inspiration, not to live our lives. And when you tell people that they’re inspirational just for being alive and performing basic tasks, there’s an implication that you think of them as less than human;


there are two kinds of rapists, and the distinction is not, as the GMP and other rape apologists would have us believe, rapists who intend to rape and rapists who rape accidentally whoooooooops, but is in fact sadistic rapists, for whom the lack of a victim's pleasure isn't a bug but a feature, and opportunistic rapists, who are primarily sex-seeking rapists who coerce victims and/or exploit lack of consent by virtue of their victims having borderline or overtly impaired states of consciousness.

One type of rapist is not less worse than the other.


When it comes to accusations that people with Autism are violent, my mind boggles.  It’s like saying “I got a splinter from a red pencil, therefore all red pencils will give me splinters.”  It’s completely unrelated.  

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Reproductive Justice, Cookies, and Fatshion

A few weeks ago, I had a really awesome experience!  I attended a workshop for legislative advocacy for reproductive justice, which is an issue that is near and dear to my heart.  It was held at the Women's Feminist Health Center in Atlanta.  It was really cool to be in a room with around fifty other people who are all passionate about the same social justice issue.  It was very liberating and empowering!  It is sort of wild for me to think of myself as someone who might lobby for justice.  In my mind, lobbying is something that only people with a lot of power and self-confidence do-definitely not me, BUT then the question remains, if not me, then who?  More and more I am seeing that everybody just plays at being confident at least some of the time and if we keep on deferring activism to someone else who seems better able, then really, nothing much will get done.

But the workshop was special to me for another reason too.  Years ago, I took a NAMI Peer to Peer class and we had to write out how our mental illness affected us.  I was very sad as I wrote and talked about how my mood swings and emotion deregulation prevented me from doing the kind of advocacy that I wanted to do.  At that time, I felt very limited by my mental illness.  Sometimes I still do.  But when I was at the workshop a few weeks ago it was clear to me that I have come a long way.  No longer do I uncontrollably sob when discussing tough topics or have to leave the room.  No longer do I get so discouraged that I think about quitting or killing myself.  Instead, I felt energized and motivated.  There was one moment when I started to get a little emotional and sad, but I then took a deep breath and thought of ways I could soothe myself when I got home and after about five minutes of thinking positive thoughts, I was back in a positive space.  What a big accomplishment for me!  I am very proud of myself and excited for the future!

Another accomplishment for me are the wonderful cookies I made for my church's Christmas party last week.  I made peanut butter Nutella cookies.  I got this recipe from the food blog, Lemon and Anchovies.  Unfortunately, their website is refusing to open, so I can't provide link love today.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar or Splenda
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup Nutella
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions:
1. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat all the ingredients until well blended.

2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease two baking sheets or line them with aluminum foil.  Shape the dough into roughly two-inch balls and then flatten them on your palm.

3.  Place the disks two inches apart on the baking sheets and bake for 12-15 minutes.  I would err on the earlier side with these cookies.  When you pull them out of the oven they will seem too soft.  Use a spatula to transfer them to a wire rack.  Cool to room temperature before serving.
Look at all those cookies-what a wonderful sight!  They're really good too.  These cookies are very dense, rich, and soft-perfect with a glass of milk.  Everybody loved them.  They taste like your basic peanut butter cookie, but with a hint of chocolate included.

And here I am wearing my Christmas outfit for the party.
The tights give it a sort of Valentine's Day feel, but hey, God is LOVE, right? lol  I got the tights on clearance at Hot Topic.  They remind me of some tights I had when I was a kid and they definitely put me in the holiday mood.
For the rest of the outfit: shoes, DSW; sweater and skirt, Torrid; undershirt, Old Navy.  I had a fun night with lots of laughter, good food, and great cookies.  I told them about my wonderful experience at the workshop and they were very encouraging.  It's sort of funny to think about how much better I am doing and yet with my chronic fatigue, I still feel like I need to be on disability.  Regardless, I now know that I can still contribute a lot to this world despite having disabilities and I now accept that I will continue to get better too.  In this time of Advent-waiting, it's very exciting for me to think of what the coming year will bring-it may bring some sadness, but I am also sure that it will bring more recovery too.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Wise Woman Must Be Heard

We are fed the lie that the Bible has hardly any stories in it about women, but I think it is really more true to say that the Bible has hardly any female-centered stories in it that are deemed acceptable by our society.  I keep on stumbling on violent and powerful female stories in the Bible that I never had heard of before, like this one in second Samuel: (Note - Sheba is not a country, but is a bad guy in this story.)

 Sheba passed through all the tribes of Israel to Abel Beth Maakah and through the entire region of the Bikrites,[b] who gathered together and followed him. 15 All the troops with Joab came and besieged Sheba in Abel Beth Maakah. They built a siege ramp up to the city, and it stood against the outer fortifications. While they were battering the wall to bring it down,16 a wise woman called from the city, “Listen! Listen! Tell Joab to come here so I can speak to him.” 17 He went toward her, and she asked, “Are you Joab?”
“I am,” he answered.
She said, “Listen to what your servant has to say.”
“I’m listening,” he said.
18 She continued, “Long ago they used to say, ‘Get your answer at Abel,’ and that settled it. 19 We are the peaceful and faithful in Israel. You are trying to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why do you want to swallow up the Lord’s inheritance?”
20 “Far be it from me!” Joab replied, “Far be it from me to swallow up or destroy! 21 That is not the case. A man named Sheba son of Bikri, from the hill country of Ephraim, has lifted up his hand against the king, against David. Hand over this one man, and I’ll withdraw from the city.”
The woman said to Joab, “His head will be thrown to you from the wall.”
22 Then the woman went to all the people with her wise advice, and they cut off the head of Sheba son of Bikri and threw it to Joab. So he sounded the trumpet, and his men dispersed from the city, each returning to his home. And Joab went back to the king in Jerusalem.
I think this is a powerful story about a woman saving her town and yet I doubt I will ever hear about it in church or see it in the lectionary, because it is so violent.  Popular sentiment says that women are not supposed to be violent.  We're not supposed to be aggressive, opinionated, or even just assertive.  We aren't supposed to take initiative or save the day.  We're supposed to be pretty, empty, weak victims.  It helps me to hear stories about wise women like this.  By the way, the Greek word for wisdom is the feminine word Sophia, which appears throughout the Bible.  When the Bible says that "The Word" was with God in the beginning, it really means Sophia Wisdom.  Feminine wisdom was with God always and She is with us still, but our culture tries to convince us not to listen to Her voice.

This "wise woman" did prompt her people to cut off a man's head and this violence is why we will never hear her story in church, but her wise advice stopped Joab and his troops from destroying her city.  The siege ramp was made and the troops were in the process of battering the city wall down when this woman took initiative and saved the day.  What is also striking to me is that the people in her city actually listened to her and followed her advice, so she must have been a very respected woman.  In my opinion, she should be used as an example that girls and women do not have to always be the victim.  We can make the first move and we can do what is necessary to preserve what is important to us.  We are worthy of respect and of having an attentive audience.  I propose that we honor this unsung, unnamed woman by promising to listen, respect, and speak up for the Sophia voice inside each of us.  She will help us preserve that which is most dear and to live our lives with wisdom and dignity.
(picture from The Morgan Bible)
Recommended Links:


Dances with Fat – Diane Wants to Slap Me

it helps me to remember that the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable, not contingent.  They are not based on size, health, habits, or the approval of others.  I don’t need to prove anything to anybody in order to claim these rights for myself.  They are absolutely mine and nobody has the right to take them away.

Friday, December 7, 2012

One: The Gospel According to Mike - Another Book Review

The company, Speakeasy, is having me review another one of their books:
One: The Gospel According to Mike by Michael Williams

 Unfortunately, mine isn't a favorable review.  I'm finding a common theme in that many of the spiritual books I am getting are written in a very eager style.  I suppose they're supposed to come off as passionate, but to me, they just seem annoying and a bit unprofessional.  This book's author is so eager to share his version of the good news - which does not seem all that good to me! - that half of the book seems to just be about how happy he is and not on the facts.  I just want to shake his editor!

The book is touted as a very progressive book, which makes me feel like an oddball, because the book still isn't progressive enough for me.  I'm finding most of these books aren't, in fact.  The book is progressive in that Williams posits that God is not, in fact, angry with us, is not sending us to Hell, and that every little negative thing that happens to us is not a punishment from God.  So far, so good.  But then comes Williams' reasoning-it's because God was satisfied by Jesus dying on the cross.  This view is not so progressive and I have heard versions of this theology all of my life, but I just do not buy it.  I don't buy that God needed to torture his own flesh-and-blood in order to not need to send us to hell anymore.  The way Williams describes it, God almost seems to take pleasure in torturing his son, because it saves all of his human children.  Killing Jesus seems to satiate his anger and bloodlust. I have heard versions of the message before, and it has always seems to me that it makes God chose between loving his people and loving his Son.  Unlike most people, that God chooses to value the people He created over "his only begotten Son" does not comfort me, but repulses me.  I don't think we should make God choose.  To do so, is not very loving of us and to believe that God was satisfied by the torture of one individual just does not make sense to me-not in a logical way and not in a loving way.

I choose to believe instead that Jesus is my Savior, not because his death satisfied God, but because Jesus showed us a way to live that is in integrity to God, ourselves, our neighbors, and our world.  It is the way of loving kindness, forgiveness and peace. It is Jesus' way that saves us-not from going to Hell, but from living in a hell of our own making.  He teaches us how to bring Godde's kin-dom to Earth and how to know serenity and peace in the midst of great pain.

I do not recommend this book if you are as progressive as I am-I got very frustrated with it, as you can see, and only read a few chapters.  But if you are a conservative Christian, then this book might be the right stepping stone to a more progressive, more loving mindset.
(I meditate, I do yoga, I chant...and I still want to smack someone!)

Recommended Links:


Letters from the Asylum – Republicans Oppose the Disabled

It is America's great shame that the Republican Party voted against a United Nations treaty to support the disabled. In doing so, the treaty failed to pass the American Congress (link). Despite the treaty being modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act, some Republicans voted against it simply because it is backed by the U.N.

They have an irrational fear that the U.N. is trying to control America's power by inserting itself in our laws. Yet the treaty spells out that it would not change U.S. law. It's pathetic, disgraceful and infuriating that they support a conspiracy theory rather than the world's disabled population.

xojane.com - KICKSTARTER PROJECT SEEKS TO BATTLE RAMPANT DISCRIMINATION AGAINST THIN, ATHLETIC, PRETTY WOMEN

Nobody should be shamed for being healthy, and nobody should be shamed for being unhealthy. Nobody should be shamed for being thin, and nobody should be shamed for being fat. We should all extend a mutual respect for one another and our natural diversity, and appreciate that our differences -- and our willingness to bridge them -- make us powerful and even beautiful. There is, in the immortal words of Glenn Marla, no wrong way to have a body.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

November 2012 Books

Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie - I first heard about this book when I was studying contemporary poetry in college, as Alexie was a poet before also becoming a novelist.  I meant to read the book then, but I soon forgot.  Last year, a friend of mine recommended the book to me, which reminded me that I had originally wanted to read it years ago.  I wish I hadn't forgotten!  This book was really good!  In fact, I think it has the makings of a modern classic and I immediately put his other two works of fiction on my Christmas list.  Alexie speaks from an American Indian viewpoint, which is one that is sadly underrepresented in our culture.  It is a story about an Indian rock group called Coyote Springs.  The book talks about the hardships that American Indians face: the extreme poverty, alcoholism, mental illness, abuse, race relations, lack of resources, education, and hope, and yet the story is not one of extreme gloom.  Ultimately, the story offers beauty amidst desolation, hope where common sense says there should be despair, and a humor that offers healing.  One of the best things about the writing was the rich descriptions.  Alexie has a way of describing things that is unexpected and reminds one that he was originally a poet.  He provides very inventive descriptions and metaphors, that although they may seem like an unusual way of describing things, never seem out of place.  I greatly recommend this book and look forward to reading more of his works.
What Looks Like Crazy On An Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage - I reread this for my feminist book club.  I first read it in 2010 and I reviewed it here.  I highly recommend it and now I really want to read more of Cleage's works.
Once Upon A Curse by E.D. Baker - I am beginning to like Baker's books more than I used to, which is good, because the young woman that I work with loves them.  I thought this book was very cute, with interesting characters.  Of course, it's pretty obvious from the beginning that the curse on Emma's family is going to somehow be cured in this book, so I appreciated that at least the way that it was unbroken was not obvious.  In fact, the cure was really quite romantic and not in a cheesy way.  I am not an overly romantic person, so if I like a romantic ending, then I like to think that it was then written really well.  I enjoyed reading this book with Chrissy and wish we were reading another one of Baker's books, because the next book she has picked is another one of the dreaded Vampire Kisses novels.

Currently Reading:
The Odyssey translated by Samuel Butler
One: The Gospel According to Mike by Michael Williams
Immortal Hearts: Vampire Kisses #9 by Ellen Schreiber