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.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Should People with Mental Illness be Sterilized? A Response to Bigotry

I was on a date earlier last year and my date made the error of sharing too much personal information too early.  Basically, it felt like a therapy session, only it was supposed to be a date.  Not good.  But what was really not good was that he said something that I found extremely offensive-so offensive that I put him on my "I-never-want-to-interact-with-you-again" list!  (That's bad!)  The person seriously told me that all people with mental illness should be sterilized.  When he saw my shocked face, he tried to get back in my good graces by saying that his statement included himself if he was ever diagnosed with a mental illness. Needless to say, it didn't help.

There are several huge things that are wrong with that sentence, the first being that who gets to decide who has a mental illness?  Do you know how many people in the United States alone have mental illness??  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately one in four adults or 57.7 million people have a mental illness in a given year.  Are you seriously telling me that you are going to sterilize almost sixty million people?!  A lot of people don't realize that not all mental illnesses are of the same severity.  Some people have a mood disorder, like depression, that can be controlled with exercise, good sleeping and eating habits.  People with SAD or seasonal affective disorder can often be helped just by using a light box during the winter.  Should these people have to pay for a little light depression by being sterilized?  Does having the winter blues really disqualify one from passing on one's genes?  (My friend did clarify that he didn't see anything wrong with adopting kids, just passing on the genes.)  Or perhaps only people with severe mental illness should be sterilized.  I mean, that's only six percent of the American population or one out of every seventeen.  *Please note my sarcasm*

Besides the number nightmare, what really astounds me is how dehumanizing his idea is.  He wanted people with mental illness to be sterilized, so that they wouldn't pass on their genes.  But what about the fact that I would not be the person I am today without my mental illness.  Yes, I have severe mental illness and yes, I love the fact that I have medications that enable me to be more stable, but part of my stability is due to having to learn how to cope with the mental illness, itself.  As weird as it may sound, I am probably more healthy than I would be without my mental illnesses.  I eat regularly and get enough sleep, because I know that these things affect my mood.  I practice many coping skills to alleviate my anxiety and I am a calmer person.  Because I have been in treatment for an eating disorder, I probably have a better relationship with my body than the average woman.  And my "addiction" for support groups?  It gives me a supportive social network that many people lack.  Having a mental illness, especially one that is "severe," is a tough thing to live with and there certainly are many times when I wish that were "normal," but there are also many times when I am grateful for what I have gained due to my illness.  To say that having a mental illness is all bad and that people with it shouldn't be allowed to procreate says that they are less than human.  It says that their experience of life is devoid of any goodness that is worth passing on to another individual and that is just not true.

It is also dehumanizing, because it denies them choice.  Sure, offensive-guy has no problem with the concept.  Personally, I also have no problem with infertility for myself.  My reason is that I'm pretty convinced that I would have post partum depression from it.  I'm afraid that the hormone changes would make me unstable, but also I am not a particularly maternal person.  Being a mother does not really interest me.  I also do not have any desire to experience a baby growing inside me.  Some women long for that experience, but I do not, but just because I do not does not mean that I should force my choices upon someone else.  Having free will, or the ability to make our own choices, I believe is part of what makes us human.  If I decide that someone can not make their own lifestyle choices, because they have a mental illness, then I am taking away their humanity-at the very least, I am infantilizing them.  Historically, black womyn have been sterilized against their own will, because they were considered unable to care for their children simply because of the color of their skin.  We need to learn from past bigotry and not continue to perpetuate it.  Bigotry is what my date was promoting.  The idea that mental illness is so bad that one should be sterilized is bigoted and stigmatizing.  What we need is support, understanding, nonjudgment, and care - not stigma.

It is possible to have a mental illness, even a severe mental illness, and thrive.  Illness is a part of life and even if everyone with a mental illness was sterilized, there would still be people walking around with mental illness.  We are not to be feared or judged-we are simply humans, like you, deserving of basic human care and rights.
Recommended Links:

When the Body Worlds exhibit first opened, an exhibition showcasing plastinates—preserved human bodies— posed in many different ways, many women were incensed at the fact that all the bodies, with the exception of the bodies used in the pregnancy section, were male. The message was clear: men are humans! They can be young or old, they can play sport, they can write, play chess, ride a bike…in short, lead full, complete lives. Women, on the other hand? They make babies.

Shakesville – Just No
There is not a woman in America who is laboring under the enormous misapprehension that crying evokes sympathy. Even our most intimate partners are taught to be suspicious of our tears, to regard them as mere markers of our intent to manipulate. We know quite well that crying evokes contempt, especially from those disinclined from extending us sympathy irrespective of our expression of its need. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Inspirational Food

The book of Ezekiel is one of my favorites books in the Bible and it has some really great imagery. I wrote a bunch of passages in my inspirational quote book, so you're going to read scripture for inspiration for a while. Don't worry, if you start missing quotes from my friend's book, Making a Way Out of No Way-I go back to her pretty shortly. Here's my inspirational quote for the night:
Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, "Live!" I made you grow like a plant of the field. You grew up and developed and became the most beautiful of jewels. Your breasts were formed and your hair grew, you who were naked and bare. Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign Lord, and you became mine. Ezekiel 16: 6-8
This is actually part of a larger passage where Jerusalem is compared to an adulterous wife. BUT I really love this part-I think it's beautiful. Jerusalem is compared to a messy baby, who is chosen by Godde. Godde nourishes this baby and helps it to grow. The baby grows up into a gorgeous woman, whom Godde respects and honors by covering her nakedness. Godde then enters into a covenant with her, telling her that S/He will never leave her. Jerusalem may have disregarded the covenant, but to me, that does not negate the beauty of this passage. In fact, maybe it makes it even more beautiful, because the Godde I believe in is always calling us back to a relationship with Her.

So what does Godde provide to nourish us?  Good food!  I've been cooking more lately, so I've got some pictures to show you.  First, here is a new way to cook my favorite vegetable-okra.  I once saw an article that stated that people think okra is unusual and weird.  I think it's yummy.  In the South, everybody fries their okra, but when my mom found a recipe for baking it, I had to try it!

Salt and pepper, olive oil, okra

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Chop okra into bite sized pieces.  Coat it with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Put on a baking sheet and bake it for ten to fifteen minutes.
The okra comes out slightly brown and
so, so good.  These are addictive, slightly crunchy, crispy green gems!  I want some right now!

To go along with the okra, I made pork chops with a pineapple peanut sauce.  (I had a coupon for the sauce!)  The recipe came from A Taste of Thai's website.  I am going to company websites more and more, as I have found that they usually have some pretty good recipes.

4 boneless pork loin chops, about 3/4” thickSalt & pepperoil for browning1/2-3.5 oz box Peanut Sauce Mix, one inner envelope1-20 oz can pineapple chunks in own juiceGarnish: chopped cilantro
  • Trim chops of excess fat. Salt and pepper.
  • In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sear the chops on one side without turning, about 3 minutes. Press down with spatula occasionally to assure even browning.
  • Turn chops to brown on other side. Set aside on plate, covered with foil to keep warm.
  • In same skillet over a medium-high heat, combine one inner envelope of Peanut Sauce Mix. Add pineapple chunks with juice. Simmer until sauce starts to thicken.
  • Reduce heat to medium. Return the chops with their juices to skillet. Turn and coat with sauce. Simmer for 4 minutes or until chops are cooked through.

  • Isn't it pretty?  I love the bright yellow and green.  I don't make pork chops very often, but I've found that I really like them.  It's hard to believe that at one point they were one of my fear foods.  Juicy, sweet, and slightly spicy.

    I'm so glad that Godde's nourishment is so enjoyable!  Okay, so other people might wax poetic about Godde's nourishment being big concepts like, love and kindness and joy and perhaps it is, but it is also found in our basic necessities like food and shelter too.  For someone who used to deny herself the proper nutrition in order to try to control her life, I can attest that proper and enjoyable nutrition is something that can produce love, kindness, and joy when allowed.  By allowing myself to imbue Godde's nourishment, I am choosing a better life.
    Recommended Links:

     Whether the right is attempting to culturally shame and legally prevent our access to abortion or target us for incarceration, above all, they seek to police Black bodies and criminalize Black motherhood thereby limiting our power of self-determination and autonomy.

    Shakesville – Today in Fat Hatred

    Monday, January 21, 2013

    Cheering Up with Books and Cupcakes

    Today has been frustrating, as I have had stomach pains all day.  Yuck!  I have them on occasion and always have.  To cheer myself up, I am going to share a very happy and triumphant memory with you: my last book club meeting!  I meant to share it weeks ago.

    Over a year ago, I started attending a classics book club in order to meet more people in my area.  I was nervous at first, but I have grown to feel very comfortable in the club and I look forward to attending it.  What's more is that the other members seem to genuinely look forward to me coming too.  I love the opportunity to read more classics, as I focused my English major more on poetry than prose and so I missed out reading a lot of the classics that people have assumed an English major would have read.  We're a passionate bunch, as we argue over why we did or did not enjoy the book and what we think it means.  Despite all this, I started to want more.  I wanted a group that would argue with the same kind of passion about feminist literature. I had always wanted to study women's studies in college, but I never had the time.  I study feminism on my own, but I wanted some people to discuss the liberating ideas with and so I started my feminism book club in October.

    I had to be patient, as our first several meetings had low attendance-in December, only one other person showed up!  Fortunately, January was my saving grace, as five other womyn attended!  It was a really triumphant moment for me and proof that I am capable of accomplishing my goals.  Not only that, but that my goals resonate with other people as well.  Our little group stayed and socialized until the cupcake shop, Sweets on the Square, closed.

    Beside enjoying scintillating conversation, I also enjoyed a great Mexican hot chocolate cupcake:

    chocolate cake; cayenne pepper chocolate ganache filling; vanilla buttercream; cinnamon sugar
    Sweet and spicy and chocolate-y.  I don't like how early this place closes, but I really do like their cupcakes.  Fulfilling goals are sweet!

    Thinking about that day a few weeks ago has gotten me to smile and my stomach has stopped hurting. Hopefully tomorrow will be pain free also.

     Recommended links:

    Owldolatrous Press –MLK: Part of the Problem

    On this special day, when our first African-American President so eloquently gave gay and lesbian equality its first acknowledgement in his inaugural address, let’s remind ourselves that the drive toward dignity and freedom is not a masculine trait, or a feminine trait. It’s a trait we all share.

    That Crazy Crippled Chick – I Have a Dream

    I have a dream that the heavy black curtain of stigma and shame that smothered FDR will be drawn aside in favor of the blinding light of pride.  That my future children will not have to face questions about the competency of their upbringing, just because they have a disabled mother.  That all ways of experiencing the beauty of the world will be seen as equally valid and equally breathtaking.

     You don't have to prove that you have the worst oppression ever, to state unequivocally that what you are experiencing is damaging to the soul. 

    Sunday, January 20, 2013

    Evolution's Purpose - A Book Review

    Evolution's Purpose: An Integral Interpretation of the Scientific Story of Our Origins by Steve McIntosh

    This is another book provided by SpeakEasy.

    You know how I thought the last book was not scholarly enough?  Well, you get what you ask for, because this one is so scholarly that it errs on being dry and inaccessible.  Which is a shame, because I've always been interested in evolution and was looking forward to reading this book.  I like the premise, which is that evolution is not a random thing, but is ultimately about always choosing towards becoming more good, true, and beautiful.  I kept on waiting to be inspired and engaged in the material, but by the middle of the book, I decided to abandon my efforts to something that would capture my attention more readily.

    So now I'm much more engaged and interested in a book I've read before-Kindred by Octavia E. Butler.  It's the book my feminist book club picked out.  I definitely don't mind reading it again!

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

    2 Samuel 21 - Another Untold Story

    I was reading the Bible when I came upon this story about a woman that I thought was really hard to understand. Of course, besides being a complicated story, it's also harder to understand, because no one ever talks about it! I'm going to do my best to present this story to you. The story is found in 2 Samuel 21:1-14.
    21 During the reign of David, there was a famine for three successive years; so David sought the face of the Lord. The Lord said, “It is on account of Saul and his blood-stained house; it is because he put the Gibeonites to death.”
    The king summoned the Gibeonites and spoke to them. (Now the Gibeonites were not a part of Israel but were survivors of the Amorites; the Israelites had sworn to spare them, but Saul in his zeal for Israel and Judah had tried to annihilate them.)David asked the Gibeonites, “What shall I do for you? How shall I make atonement so that you will bless the Lord’s inheritance?”
    The Gibeonites answered him, “We have no right to demand silver or gold from Saul or his family, nor do we have the right to put anyone in Israel to death.”
    “What do you want me to do for you?” David asked.
    They answered the king, “As for the man who destroyed us and plotted against us so that we have been decimated and have no place anywhere in Israel, let seven of his male descendants be given to us to be killed and their bodies exposed before the Lord at Gibeah of Saul—the Lord’s chosen one.”
    So the king said, “I will give them to you.”
    The king spared Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, because of the oath before the Lord between David and Jonathan son of Saul. But the king took Armoni and Mephibosheth, the two sons of Aiah’s daughter Rizpah, whom she had borne to Saul, together with the five sons of Saul’s daughter Merab,[a] whom she had borne to Adriel son of Barzillai the Meholathite. He handed them over to the Gibeonites, who killed them and exposed their bodies on a hill before the Lord. All seven of them fell together; they were put to death during the first days of the harvest, just as the barley harvest was beginning.
    10 Rizpah daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it out for herself on a rock. From the beginning of the harvest till the rain poured down from the heavens on the bodies, she did not let the birds touch them by day or the wild animals by night.11 When David was told what Aiah’s daughter Rizpah, Saul’s concubine, had done, 12 he went and took the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from the citizens of Jabesh Gilead. (They had stolen their bodies from the public square at Beth Shan, where the Philistines had hung them after they struck Saul down on Gilboa.) 13 David brought the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from there, and the bones of those who had been killed and exposed were gathered up.
    14 They buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan in the tomb of Saul’s father Kish, at Zela in Benjamin, and did everything the king commanded. After that, God answered prayer in behalf of the land.
    First, a summary, to help me understand it as much as help you.  When Saul was alive, he killed some of the Gibeonites, which he wasn't supposed to do.  David is now in power and is trying to do things right.  He asks the remaining Gibeonite leaders what he should to make it up to them and he is told that they should be allowed to kill seven of Saul's descendants and let them lie exposed.  Two of Rizpah's sons and five of Merab's are chosen to be killed.  Here's where the story gets interesting.  Rizpah spreads sackcloth out on a rock and she does not let any of the wild animals scavenge on the dead men's bodies.  When David heard about this, he retrieved the bones of Saul and Jonathan, which had been stolen, and the bones of the seven men.  The bones of Saul and Jonathan were buried, the king got what he wanted, and God answered their prayer and ended their famine.

    It seems to me that Rizpah is here to remind David of what is important.  He needs to honor the past king (Saul) and especially his sacred relationship with Jonathan.  Rizpah reminds him of this by honoring the bodies of Saul's children better than David is honoring Saul.  David hears of her actions and probably feels a little shamed himself, I'm guessing.  This passage is also important, because it gives some humanity to Saul's concubine.  It is all too easy when reading these passages in the Old Testament to disregard women, especially since 2 Samuel is mostly about David rising to the throne.  It is also easy to disregard a character like Rizpah, because she is a concubine. This is a story about a concubine, a typically disrespected woman, who shows men how to show respect.  I love it when the Bible tells stories that give a voice to the typically voiceless-what I don't like is when our culture chooses to only tell the stories that are easy and that help to keep those that are in power, in power.  When was the last time you heard a sermon on Rahab (a prostitute) or Rizpah?  Not very often.  We tend to mostly emphasize the stories about women giving birth, probably because that is how women have typically gotten their worth validated.  That's sad.  Rizpah is a concubine and she has worth.  She is more than a sex toy, but is a smart, sensitive woman who has things to teach the men in charge.

    She was also probably grieving terribly.  As I said, it was through a woman's offspring that she was granted her worth and her two sons were just killed. She was grieving for her sons and for herself.  Her act was not just about teaching David a lesson, but about preserving her own worth and dignity. It is the real human story about a mother's grief that needs to be told and yet seldom is.  You know, it occurs that at least in the Protestant tradition, we hardly ever talk about the many stories in the Bible about mother's grief, but they are important stories to tell.  Life isn't always roses.  It is okay to take time to pause and reflect on the grief that the men in the Bible caused.  Just like today, there is a lot of issues that deserve our grief and it is often true that we must take time to grieve before we can act.
    (picture from the blog, Dwelling in the Word)

    Monday, January 14, 2013

    Self-Soothing the Sadness Away

    "Freedom isn't an anomaly.  Let go."  A picture from my Color Me Calm coloring book.  The person in this picture is freeing herself by letting go of some of her emotions?  Preconceived notions? Anger, greed, desire?  The picture is up to interpretation.  I have been struggling with some sadness and exhaustion lately and I have been trying to free myself by letting go of some of my expectations of other people and of myself.

    I have decided that I am not going to push myself into getting a full time volunteer job right away, but just take it one step at a time.  I'll add the job at a nursing home gradually.  I think I was beginning to expect too much out of myself and I need to continue focusing on my emotional needs.

    DBT skills that I have used today is self-soothing myself and mastery.  I did these things by cooking a good dinner-a yummy chicken salad with a homemade dressing.  I wish I had taken a picture!  Usually I stay near my therapist's office after my session to wait for a support group a little later, but I was feeling really tired today.  Oddly enough though, I didn't want to go to sleep right away, but I wanted to do something that I do well to make me feel better, so I made dinner when I got home.  I find the repetitive actions in cooking, like the chopping and mixing, to be self soothing.  It was amazing how much better I felt after making my dinner, especially since I enjoyed the taste of it too!

    Sadly, I didn't take any pictures tonight, but here is the recipe for the slightly spicy dressing:
    mix together 3T of A Taste of Thai peanut sauce mix, 1/2 cup coconut milk, and lime juice.  Enjoy!

    Recommended Links:

    By the time most trans people come out, they have been hanging on by their fingernails for years. When they come out to their spouses as trans, they have reached the end of their rope. Whatever coping mechanisms they had in the past are no longer working. 

     I realize, of course, that each person's definition of "quality of life" is different, but it seems to me that our fears about what will happen when we can no longer take care of ourselves stem from a society that prizes self sufficiency above all costs.  […]  I urge both British and American citizens to think about assisted suicide in a new way - how can we make our lives better, instead of our deaths?

    Saturday, January 12, 2013

    Book Review - The Enoch Factor

    I feel sort of bad about this review, because it's not going to be pretty.  I promised Speakeasy that I would review all of the books that I received though...
    The Enoch Factor by Steve McSwain
    I read about four chapters before I gave up on this one.  It was the "insanes" that did it for me.  McSwain has a very lax writing style and after using the word, "insane" as a descriptor for the fourth time, I just couldn't take it anymore.  Seriously, I felt like the book was fulfilling an assignment that he really wasn't interested in and was just filling it with as much generic, spiritual filler as possible.  On each page, there are quotes from famous philosophers that don't seem to have much to do with anything else on the page.  I got the feeling that he was trying to fill a certain page quota, which was very annoying.

    McSwain also seemed to be insensitive to those who may have mental health issues.  Besides using "insane" as a descriptor, which is ableist, he seems to not realize that there is a difference between feeling or experiencing Godde and actually following Godde.  McSwain talks about how great it feels to experience Godde, but he does not seem to acknowledge that no person is going to feel great all the time.  Even if it were possible, where does that leave depressed people?  If someone is unable to feel an euphoric oneness with Godde, does that mean that there is something wrong with them?  It seems no one told McSwain that Mother Theresa spent the majority of her life incredibly depressed and did not "feel" God.  That fact points to something deeper than McSwain's new age-y feel good philosophy.  Reality is deeper than our feelings.  Godde is with us, no matter how we are feeling.  "Knowing God" is not about feeling good, but about knowing that throughout all times of trouble, all shall be well. 

    I do not recommend this book, unless you want to cut out the quotes for crafting purposes....

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

    How Could I Not Know?

    Everyone needs an out when incredibly frustrated or sad.  Sometimes when I feel like I'm going to explode with emotion I post my complaint on twitter or tumblr, so that I don't hurt the people in the room with me.  I post it on those sites, because I don't know the majority of my followers personally and so it seems like a fairly safe way of releasing emotions.  I don't post anything mean, it's just a way to quickly release some steam.  This is what I did yesterday after talking to my insurance carrier, who said that I might not be covered for much longer if I don't lose some weight. This is what I wrote on tumblr:
    Thin privilege is not being denied for health insurance, because your height to weight ratio doesn’t match their specifications.  
    Thin privilege is not being told that you need to lose twenty pounds in less than a month in order to get health insurance.
    It felt good to get that off my chest! My comments got mixed reactions-two people "liked" what I said and two people reblogged it and added their own comments, making fun of my words. I set their comments to "ignore," so that I wouldn't be bothered by them anymore. I wouldn't even bring this incident up, except that I wanted to comment on why some of their words were so ridiculous. The negative comment I remember the most was along the lines,
    "I bet this person doesn't even want to know why her insurance has those requirements! Get in shape!"
    What I want to say to this person is, of course I know why my insurance said what they did! Living in this society, how could I not? According to my insurance company, my height to weight ratio indicates that I am at risk for health problems. But there are many ways of determining health and the height to weight ratio thing is about the least effective way to do it. How about the fact that I have excellent blood pressure and cholesterol levels? How about the fact that I am one of the healthiest eaters my friends know? How about the fact that healthcare should be affordable to all, regardless of a person's height and weight, because of the fact that they're human?! How could I not know? I am surrounded by diet talk all the time. Commercials, facebook status updates, conversations by almost everyone I know...so yes, I know that our society takes one look at me and automatically assumes that I am unhealthy and that I should lose weight. And yes, you are correct, in that I do not want to hear anymore about it from an anonymous person that I've never met! I want a space where I can vent and not be attacked for it. I want a space where I will be treated with dignity and respect instead of condescension. I want to be valued as a human being and I want it known that my worth as a person has nothing to do with my weight, height, or overall fitness level. I am a child of Godde. I am a creative and caring person. I have much to offer the world and the fact that I do not fit nicely into your view of what the "right" person looks like will not diminish the greatness of my future.
     Recommended Links:

    Letters from the Asylum – Newton, Guns and Mental Illness
    The American government can't keep draining mental health services and then wonder why people mentally snap and either hurt themselves or others.

    Tuesday, January 8, 2013

    Book Review - Rants to Revelations

    Rants to Revelations: Unabasedly Honest Reflections on Life, Spirituality and the Meaning of God by Rev. Ogun Holder, Illustrations by David Hayward

    I liked this book, especially the cartoons that help introduce each chapter.  This one was one of my favorites:
    "I think the peace that passes understanding also passed me by."

    I was very excited to get this book, because one of my friends had already introduced to David Hayward's blog, The Naked Pastor, which showcases jaded cartoons about what a minister may think and feel.  I enjoyed reading the book, but I would call it spiritual brain candy, meaning it is a very easy read and...there's not much substance.  Holder's book has a lot of big ideas, but the chapters are so short that there's hardly any space to explain his ideas-if I was his editor, I would tell him to "elaborate."  I appreciated that the book from Speakeasy was progressive enough for me, but for once it was actually a little too progressive!  Fortunately, I still found it entertaining.  Holder has some outlandish ideas and he also sometimes contradicts himself.  For instance, he says that God is a "principle" and that "principles don't have feelings" and yet he wants a personal relationship with his God.  But then the question remains, how do you have a personal relationship with a principle?  He never explains.  I wouldn't exactly recommend this book, but I didn't hate it either and I might loan it to my friend who likes David Hayward's blog.

    Some additional links:

    Recommended Link:

    Womanist Musings - When it comes to hatred against GBLT people, the Westboro Baptist church isn’t extremist; it's just Christian

    The Westboros are called a hate group because they’re offending straight, cis people.

    Sunday, January 6, 2013

    Inspirational Scripture: Ezekiel on Freedom

    I will set free the people that you ensnare like birds. I will tear off your veils and save my people from your hands, and they will no longer fall prey to your power. Then you will know that I am the Lord. Ezekiel 13:20-21 
     This seems like a fitting inspirational quote to read after Christmas.  After all, following the ways of Christ is one of the ways that a person can free herself.  Of course, being a feminist, I believe that there are many ways that people can free themselves.  Freedom is for everyone, but I think the main qualifier is that the person is following in the way of LOVE.  Hardcore fundamentalist Christians believe that what we need to free ourselves from is the devil, but I think that's a bit silly.  There is no devil with horns and a pitchfork poking at us to sin, but instead there are the very real consequences of our actions when we do not act in Love.  Fundies also talk about how we need to free ourselves - by being "washed in the blood of the lamb" - from being born into original sin.  I also think that that mindset is a bit silly and sad, especially as Godde called us "good" from the very beginning.  All of us are however born into the patriarchy and that is something that feminists are working towards bringing to an end.  The patriarchy is bad for both womyn and men.  It certainly is not a system based on Love.  I believe that Almighty Love wants us to treat each other as equals, as we are all equally loved and we all equally have worth.

    As I think about the different loving ways and philosophies that can help to set us free, I also think of one that is used often in Recovery and that is the twelve steps, especially steps five through seven.  In step five, a person tells a trusted friend about all of their resentments; in step six the person becomes ready to let them go, and in step seven, the person finally releases their resentments to their Higher Power.  This is an extremely freeing act, because resentments keep us in bondage.  We ruminate about how we were done wrong, about how we cannot possibly forgive another and all of this takes away our peace and serenity.  Forgiveness sets us free and once we are freed, then we can more fully experience and know Godde's Love.

    A Look Back at 2012 - Fabulous Fatshion

    I got this idea from tumblr.  Here is a college of some of my favorite outfits from 2012:And my favorite hairstyles:
    I have a lot more outfits from 2012 that I haven't posted yet, so stayed tuned for more.  2012 was a year where I became a little more comfortable with my body.  In fact, I have become so comfortable with taking pictures of my body that I bought a full length mirror for my room.  That way I won't have to sneak into my parent's bathroom!

     I went to hear Hanne Blank, who is the author of her new book,  The Unapologetic Fat Girl's Guide to Exercise and Other Incendiary Acts, speak at Charis tonight and I was inspired.  I was inspired to get moving, to accept my body, to do what makes me happy, and to tell people to "get out of my way" if they don't like it.  I loved her message that all people of all sizes deserve respect and are worthy.  As she says, "There is no wrong body."  In other words, "Every body is a good body!"  I'm going to start repeating that to myself when I feel down about my body.

    I look forward to sharing more pictures with you this year of my outfits and hair styles.  Blank is right-my body deserves respect and is worthy of people taking notice, even if I am fat-because I am fabulous too!

    Thursday, January 3, 2013

    New Year's Resolutions

    I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but I have a few new year's resolutions this year.  I prefer to call them "goals," because I think it sounds more definite and it feels more likely that I'll actually achieve them.

    1.  To blog more often.  You may have noticed that I blogged more last month than usual.  That wasn't just because I was on vacation.  The main reason is I have a lot more energy than I used to and I feel like now is the time to stretch myself, to do more while I can.  Besides, I have a lot of things to say.  The content won't change much-I'll still write a hodgepodge of spiritual insights, book and recipe reviews, pop culture critique and stories about my recovery-just more often.  My goal is to write a post every day, except on the days when I am too exhausted, like yesterday.  I want to push myself, but I am not unrealistic.

    2.  To work full time.  Before you gasp in surprise, no I don't mean a paid, full-time job.  I spent this past year getting better while working on my recovery and I feel like I am doing well enough to experiment with working full-time.  My plan is to keep my part-time job in the morning and to volunteer for several more hours in the afternoon every day at a nursing home/assisted living place.  My ultimate career goal is to be an activities coordinator/director or at least be an assistant to one at a place where elderly are.  I'm feeling better lately, but I honestly don't know if working eight hours a day will be too much for me or not and I don't know if I will get too anxious and stressed-out or not.  I figure the only way I will know if I am ready for a full-time job is to do full-time volunteering.  That way, if it doesn't work out, quitting won't be as much of a big deal.  Also, I am used to coming home after my morning job and taking a nap.  I am very interested in seeing if I have the stamina to work longer hours.  Of course, there are many small goals I will have to accomplish in order to start the volunteer job-visiting nursing homes, talking to their activities coordinator,  reworking my resume, etc. but I am very excited about this.  I feel like I am stepping out in the right direction.

    Are you making any resolutions?  If you are, what are they?

    Of course, there will still be days when i will feel like this:
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    But a champion of the new law, Adi Barkan, a former fashion-model agent in Israel, told Tayla Minsberg of the Atlantic last year that he was drawn into the issue after meeting an aspiring model who looked like she needed to be hospitalized. "I became immersed in this world very quickly. I gave up the agency and photography and delved into the dark world of anorexics and bulimics," he said. "I realized that only legislation can change the situation. There was no time to educate so many people, and the change had be forced on the industry. There was no time to waste, so many girls were dieting to death." 
    Shakesville – Today in FatPart 2

    The wonderful Marilyn Wann is 
    over at CNN, also talking about the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association which came to the astonishing, ahem, conclusion that, as Wann puts it, "being fat might not be a death sentence."

    Otherwise known as: What living fat people have been saying for years.

    Tuesday, January 1, 2013

    Happy New Year - Happy Reading - December 2012 Book Review

    The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – This was the book my feminist book club chose last month.  I can’t wait to discuss it on Friday-I actually have five other people signed up to come!  Whoo-hoo!  The book is very thought-provoking and a great pick for a feminist book club.  I will warn you though in that it has the potential to be very triggering.  It is the story of a handmaid, which in the not-so-distant future is the name for the women who are the upper classes’ surrogates.  It is a gripping tale, but I was disturbed by its graphic sexual violence and female oppression-at one point I even gasped aloud.  If you are stable enough, I really recommend the book.  It’s really scary, because it makes it seem like our world could become as oppressive as the one in the book overnight.  And who knows?  Maybe it could.  I would like to think that it couldn’t, that us feminists would riot the streets, but the way there’s been so much legislation put upon my uterus lately, I’m seriously not so sure.  While I think it is an important book for women to read, I think it is an even more important book for men to read, because perhaps then they would have just a glimmer of an idea of why reproductive rights and feminism in general is so important.
     The Strange Case of Finley Jayne by Kady Cross – This was a teen harlequin ebook and my first time reading a harlequin.  It was also my first steampunk book.  I feel sort of conflicted about this it.  On the one hand, it was horribly written and I mean horribly.  It’s a good thing that it was so short!  The story was incredibly predictable, which is the main thing that I hold against it.  On the other hand, it was pretty cool to read about a Victorian woman who had super strength and who beat up men.  Finley Jayne had super strength, her “dark side,” that comes on especially during her “monthlies.”  I thought this was awfully clichéd at first, until I realized that a feminist reading of this could be that she is a super hero who protects other women from the clutches of men, aided by the super strength brought on by her menstrual blood.  Pretty cool, when read that way, right?  And so, while I didn’t appreciate how predictable it was, it was good for an afternoon escape.
    The Diamond of Darkhold by Jeanne DuPrau – This is the fourth of the “The City of Ember Series.”  I read it before the third, because I wanted to see what happened to the city of Sparks and I couldn’t wait for after the prequel.  I must say it was a very satisfying end to the series.  I thoroughly enjoyed the characters of Lina and Doon-so courageous and smart!  I wish they were real teens and that I could meet them.  I really, really recommend this series of books from preteens to adults.
     The Prophet of Yonwood by Jeanne DuPrau – I didn’t think I would like it as much as I did The Diamond of Darkhold, but I did.  This book is about the dangers of thinking that one can avert a disaster, like a war, by being good.  The Prophet tugged at my heartstrings and seemed to be the most serious of all the books.  I thought it did a good job of bringing up some tough questions, especially concerning religion and war.  I think this would be an excellent book for a preteen book club, if such a thing exists.  I would love to have a talk with a preteen or teen after having read the book to see what they thought.  And once again, this is a book with a very satisfying ending.  I just love a book with a good ending.  I won’t say more, because I don’t want to ruin it, but let’s just say it made me happy.
     Night Visions: Searching the Shadows of Advent and Christmas by Jan L. Richardson – Fabulous!  This is the book that my church uses each year for our Lessons in Carols service.  It’s a devotional for the Advent/Christmas season, with each short piece followed by a poem.  You’ll read a lot of the short poems as I recorded many of them in my quote book.  I really like this book, because it’s unlike any other devotional or Christmas writing I’ve ever read.  It’s not clichéd and even better yet, it does not put darkness in the category of “evil.”  This book is all about embracing the shadows, the mysteries, the darkness that is present in the winter time and all time.  For that refreshing combination of feminism and spirituality, I give it an “A” plus.
    "Dis same book she was reedin las year She not 2 smart"
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    Burp and Slurp – We Survived
    It’s astounding and miraculous how God answers prayers. Some people believe being a Christian means to restrict and suffer. Christians seem to bound themselves in “biblical” laws. They struggle to follow a list of Christian “do”s and “don’t”s, and the momentary liberation they allow themselves is quickly crushed by guilt. They’re damned either way.
    But every year, I discover that God wants the same thing every parent want out of their kids: He wants us to be happy and independent, while reaching our best potential as unique individuals. And He desires the same ultimate desires we have, too. He gave us particular interests and talents for a divine purpose.
    While the original 'Tramp' revolved around Thomas giving Redding a pretty harsh sartorial critique, and Redding attempting - in an increasingly futile manner - to defend himself from the the verbal barrage, the Salt N Pepa takerefocuses this criticism of men away from the sartorial to the behavioural, and in doing so becomes a searingly honest, not to mention spot on, critique of sexual harassment.