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, July 26, 2013

Sunset Beach Day 4 - Despite Pain, There Is Beauty

I just woke up and it is Friday morning-the last full day of our vacation.  I will try not to be sad.  Blogging about the fourth day of my family's vacation and showing you that day's beautiful pictures will surely help!

Day four was all about beauty.  It was also a day when my fibromyalgia really acted up, so I wasn't able to do much of anything physical-no bike rides, beach walks, or swimming for me that day.  I stayed in my yoga pants and tank top all day (my pajamas) and took it easy.  It would have been all too easy to mope around and feel bad for myself and it is true that I would sometimes feel a twinge of jealousy when someone announced that they were going to take a walk on the beach, but really, day four was a very happy day for me.  I guess it has been a blessing in disguise that I have never been a super athletic person and that I have already developed a bunch of hobbies that I can pull out and pursue when my fibromyalgia gets out of control.

Lucky for you, when I'm on vacation the hobby that I like to pursue the best is photography!  I took many beautiful pictures of food and of nature that day and so this post will mainly be about the photos.

First off, my uncle made his famous pancakes.

My stomach was hurting, so I didn't eat as many as I normally do, but I enjoyed them all the same!  He doesn't use baking soda, so they don't rise and they resemble crepes more than the average pancake.  They're thin and buttery and yummy.  A side of cantaloupe sweetens the meal.

Next was girl time!

There is a really nice screened porch at the beach house with chairs overlooking the dock where a bunch of us often gather to talk, read, and watch the people fishing.  This time several of us women gathered to do our nails, which is something that I don't do much anymore.  Do you like the color?  I call them "fairy fingernails!" It's light purple nail polish, with a pink sparkle overcoat, followed by a dash of furry turquoise.  Yes, you heard me right-one of my aunts found a nail polish that is supposedly furry!  How weird, right?!

Now comes the scenery:

A calm picture.

The next few pictures come from the crow's nest on our beach house.  We climbed the stairs that led practically to the rooftop and took gorgeous pictures of the sunrise and some interesting shots of the countryside.

An interesting shot of one of my relatives sitting on the dock and the whole harbor.

"On the roof, it's peaceful as can be/And there the world below can't bother me"

Get ready for some gorgeous clouds:

Here's my favorite picture:

Aren't those pictures pleasing?  It's hard to be dissatified with my situation when my situation also involves so much beauty!

After the sunset, we had a beautiful dinner and dessert.

Dinner was fried spaghetti with bacon, roasted carrots and broccoli, salad, and lemon rosemary chicken.  My favorite part was the chicken, which was incredibly moist and juicy.

As if the day had not been filled with enough sweet satisfaction before, my uncle then made an ice cream sandwich out of two homemade chocolate chip cookies and butter pecan ice cream.

OMG!!!  The flavors blended together perfectly and it was the best ice cream sandwich I have ever had.  I may have had a painful day in one way, but it was still a day full of joy, beauty, and satisfaction.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Sunset Beach Day 3 - "Wild Hair Me"

My two first cousins once removed spent most of day three at the dock throwing a net into the water in   an attempt to catch crabs and they caught many things!  By the end of the day, they had caught small squids, minnows, bigger fish, crabs, shrimp and even an eel!  I didn’t get to see the squids, but I did get to see the eel and I was surprised by how beautiful it seemed to be to me.  I’d always pictured eels as ugly creatures, but this one was a quite pretty shade of green.  I wish I had held it in my hands to see what it felt like!  

Sometimes I view my body in much the same way that I viewed the eel’s.  My cousin took several pictures of me swimming in the ocean with my parents that day and when I looked at them, they sort of took my breath away, because I am not used to seeing my body in such an objective way.  In several of the oceanic pictures, my back is to the camera and one can plainly see my full figure.  It was a little startling to view at first, because normally I do not think of myself as being “fat.” (I wanted to show you one of these pictures, but I couldn’t find one where I could crop out my parents.)  I don’t think of myself as being thin either-I just think of myself as being myself!  It’s funny, because during my more eating disordered days from before I was fat, I often complained about feeling fat, which really meant that I felt gross or ugly or out of control.  Now that 1., I love myself more and 2., I am more self- aware and mindful of my body, I now know that fat is not a feeling and so I no longer say that I “feel  fat.”  Certainly there are times when I feel gross or ugly or out of control, but I can now separate those painful feelings from mere physical facts.  It’s amazing though that spending a long time looking at these pictures of myself nonjudgmentally (a DBT skill) really helps me accept and appreciate my body.  I always thought eels were supposed to be ugly and when I was younger I thought all fat people were ugly too-now I know that beauty can be found in all things and beings.  Even if one is not beautiful in the way that society defines it, one’s true beauty, or inner light, can shine from within and is available to all those with a heart open to Love (paraphrased from the religious section from Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth).   

Here is a picture of me in the water that I think it is an incredibly cute picture of me!  I look a little coquettish twirling my hair around my finger, as if I am flirting with King Neptune.  

Navigating through the lies of society’s beauty myth can be suffocating and drown out the truths that our own bodies have to tell.  Just like in this picture, sometimes we can barely keep our heads above water.

My psych medication makes it very easy for me to gain weight and while I am still very healthy, I do not want to keep gaining-it is very expensive to keep buying new clothes and each time I go up a size, I have to wage an internal psychological war in order to restore myself to sanity and serenity.  With this in mind, I visited my old nutritionist who I had not seen in three years right before the trip.  She specializes in eating disorder recovery, so I knew that she would approach our session in a caring, non-threatening, non-dieting, and non-restricting way.  It was a great session and I feel very lucky to have a nutritionist who is so great-I know that a good nutritionist or dietician is very hard to find.  We talked about how much I normally eat in a day and we made a rough meal plan. The meal plan is just a rough guide to follow, but really what we are working on is becoming more mindful with my body.  Mindfulness is a DBT skill and even the nutritionist commented that it would reflect my current therapy nicely.   The goal is to eventually get to a point where I don’t need a meal plan and I will be in touch with my body enough that I can intuitively eat healthily.  I have two main issues that we are addressing: 1. I graze throughout the day, eating when I am hungry and when I am not, and 2. I have a lot of pain problems that prevent me from being to tell if I am hungry or not.  On this vacation, I am practicing being more mindful of my food, which really is great, because by focusing my attention on my food and my body, I am enjoying and appreciating the experience of eating that much more.  Also, I am keeping track of what I’m eating and how I feel on an app that I downloaded on my smartphone called Doc’s Diet Diary. I think it will be interesting to see just how often I experience pain and how it affects how I eat.  The app also lets you print out a report, which could be really handy.  Already I have seen that I feel more pain than I thought I did during mealtimes and so I just might have to take the report to my doctor.

How all this relates to the beauty myth is that I want to be very clear that I am not dieting or trying to make myself look a certain way in order to please society.  My nutritionist looked me in the eye and said to me, “This is not a diet.  This is only a rough guide to help you.  Follow it loosely.” Our goal is get me more in touch with my body, to trust its own hunger/fullness cues, which goes against all that society and consumerism tries to shove down our throats.  Consumerism wants us to always be on a diet, so that we will always buy the latest diet products.  Being in tune with our own bodies, so that the only products we buy are the foods within our diet would put the billion dollar diet industry out of business.

Yesterday I showed you a picture of myself without any makeup on and said that I liked it.  Here is another one that I like even more:

 I call it, “Wild Hair Me.”  Of course, we also spent some time at the beach on day three and I emerged from the waves with wild and unruly hair.  I felt fun and happy, which I feel this picture conveys.

Day three was my day to cook and I made the same dish that I made on Mother’s Day and everyone seemed to enjoy it.  So far, I have been enjoying myself so much on this vacation that the experience seems surreal, because it seems so far removed from real life.  Just like the mindfulness that I am working on with my nutritionist, I am very mindful that these days are moments to be treasured.  I must use their memories to bring a smile to my face during days when life is tough again.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sunset Beach Day 2 - Getting My Vitamin D Fix

This was the first full day of the vacation, but for this blog’s purposes I am counting it as day two.

  Like I said in my last post, Georgia weather has been awful lately, so I was really worried about our first full day on the beach, especially since the skies were already cloudy. Fortunately, it did not rain. In fact, I have noticed a pattern here at Sunset Beach that my family has decided is the perfect summer weather-cloudy and windy weather to keep the temperature fairly low in the morning with the sun fully appearing in the afternoon, so that one gets enough vitamin D to not become depressed. Of course, the key element is to have NO RAIN, at least no rain like Georgia has had for weeks straight with no break.  Mid-morning my parents and I, my cousins and their children, and one of my aunts all headed out to the beach for the first time. The wind was blowing something fierce, which made it the perfect day to fly a kite.
Also, that Sunday was the first day that I got to wear my new sunglasses, which was exciting.  That may seem silly, but since I am legally blind without prescription glasses or contacts, I can’t just buy any pair of sunglasses that catches my eye.  I love accessories and fashion and so was one of the main reasons why I wore contacts for a while a few years ago.  Unfortunately, the contacts started really bothering my eyes and I almost always looked like I was crying, so I returned to glasses.  I figured that while Dorothy Parker may be right that, “men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses,” but girls who have red, watery eyes probably don’t get any either.  I ordered these purple sunglasses from Zenni Optical a few weeks ago, but because of all the rain, it wasn’t until Sunday that I got to wear them!   

By the way, right now I am reading The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty are Used Against Women by Naomi Wolf and it certainly is eye-opening to realize just how much the advertising world keeps women's self-esteem and self-worth low, so that we will buy more beauty and diet products.  Fortunately, I am realizing more and more that I like myself and my body the way that it is-in fact, some of my most favorite selfies this week have been of me wearing no makeup.   Here’s one featuring my new sunglasses:

What do you think?  I love them!

Don’t I look happy?  It is so great to be out in the sun again.  Like I said, on this vacation we’ve been having cloudy mornings, but sunny afternoons-in a nutshell, perfection.  All of the rain, fog, mist, and clouds for so long in Georgia had really begun to take its toll on me psychologically.  I have a lightbox, which I sang its praises for a year ago, but this year I can’t seem to remember to use it, especially during the summer when you would think that the weather would be sunny enough to not need it.  Unfortunately, looking back, I probably needed it desperately and when I get home I am going to make an extra effort to start using it again, especially since I heard from a friend recently that it is still raining hard in Georgia.  Bummer!

Here is just another selfie that I like:

I think I look glamorous!

Per the book, advertisers are very successful in making women feel bad about themselves, so that women will buy products in order to make themselves feel and look “better.”  That’s why I think the concept of women and adolescent girls taking selfies is so revolutionary-to take a picture of ourselves, admire it, and post it for the whole world to see is taking back some of the power from the advertising companies.  It’s a backlash that I doubt Naomi Wolf foresaw, for her book was written before social media sites.

In the window of our beach house kitchen there is a curtain which says, “EAT!”  I love it, because it reminds me of the little cakes in Alice in Wonderland with the words, “eat me,” written on them. Nothing could be more apropos for our family!  

I simply could not write about a family gathering without mentioning our food.  We are a family with some very good cooks and of course, some folks who very much appreciate them.  My uncle cooked day two’s dinner and it was a meal that everyone had eagerly anticipated.  In fact, family members even claimed to have dreams about his famous twice baked potatoes!  

(Getting the grill ready for the steaks.  Yum-I don't eat steak often!)

We had flank steak, twice baked potatoes, creamy mushrooms and a BLT salad.  I wanted to post a picture of the finished food, but I accidentally deleted the picture-whoops!  You'll just have to take my word that it was very beautiful and very yummy.  I think my favorite dish was the BLT salad.  My uncle cooks like Paula Dean-he uses lots of butter, cream, mayonnaise, etc.  It’s not a way that I could eat every day, but to have him along on vacation is fabulous.

With all the anxiety that I have had this summer, I so needed these indulgences and these opportunities for relaxation.  I needed a change of scenery and of weather.  It really is amazing how much the weather influences our mood, especially when it is the same dreary rain over and over again.  I am so grateful for this opportunity to recharge my spirit and have fun with family.  Blessed be!  

Monday, July 22, 2013

Sunset Beach Vacation Day 1 - Time to Relax!

Right now I am on vacation with my family at Sunset Beach in North Carolina.
(lettering on the living room wall of our beach house-we were worried that the place might be a dump, but it's a beautiful and perfectly sized house.)

 I was a little worried about the trip, because Georgia has been having rainstorms nonstop for about three weeks, but fortunately the weather in North Carolina has been perfect so far. The beach house that we are renting has also turned out perfectly too. It is ten of us in total – all relatives in some way – and we are having a wonderful time swimming, fishing, biking, cooking, relaxing, etc. The relaxing really is the most important part for me, as I have been experiencing a lot of anxiety this summer.

Don't these pictures look beautiful and relaxing?  Here are some views from our beach house:

(The house isn't quite at the beach, but in a marshy area.  Still, we're within walking distance to the beach, so that's fine with us.)

I'm labeling this as day 1, but it wasn't the first full day-it took us seven and a half hours to arrive. Shortly later, my cousins arrived and I think they set the tone for the whole trip, or at least the trip so far, by rescuing a bird tangled up in string.  They found a bird - not sure what kind, some type of sandpiper, perhaps? - and cut away the string.  The bird bit them a few times, but surely saving a life is worth a little pain.

It was so gratifying to see the bird start swimming away. The bird swam to a pole under the dock, rested for a few minutes and then flew away, which was such a relief-I had been a little afraid that the bird might be injured and unable to fly.

I think the rescue operation really has set the tone for the whole trip so far.  My first cousins once removed (in other words, my cousin's children) are raised without cable and live on a farm.  They are very active and even though the oldest is now thirteen, he still builds sand castles with his mother and younger sister.  Theirs is a family dynamic that I wish more families would emulate.  Every moment is an opportunity to interact and explore with nature.

Here are a few more relaxing and beautiful pictures of our surroundings, this time in the evening:
(I just got a new camera and I'm enjoying using it!)

Doesn't that last picture look like a pretty postcard?

When I get back from the vacation I am going to take the DBT class again, so that I can refresh my DBT skills. I am actually pretty excited, because I know that getting better at using my skills will help me feel more empowered and less anxious.  Right now, my anxieties seem far, far away, but I know that once I rejoin the real world in a week that most likely some of my symptoms will return.  Still, it's nice to have these breaks in life sometimes, isn't it?  Letting myself enjoy the company of my family and the beauty of my surroundings reminds me that there is more to life than the mere management of my anxiety or BPD.  According to NAMI.org, "Recovery is the point in someone's illness in which the illness is no longer the first and foremost part of his or her life, no longer the essence of all his or her existence."  With so much of my focus being on how to effectively and constructively deal with my anxiety lately, I haven't been feeling like I have been meeting that definition of recovery-this vacation is exactly what I needed to prove to me that I am more than my illnesses-I am a member of a loving and fun family who while on vacation is able to let go and spend the majority of her day relaxing and feeling good.  Blessed be!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Boundaries are Healthy

Let me introduce you to Gertrude:
  Gertrude is my fire breathing dragon that I made in my art therapy class to protect my boundaries. I absolutely love her! I think the name Gertrude is a very strong and no-nonsense name, perfect for a female dragon. Here is another, more colorful picture of her:

 Okay, so she may look more like a snake, but the look I was originally going for was based on a Chinese dragon.
See the similarities?  No?  Just use your imagination. As you can see, I wrote down some positive affirmations about my right to set healthy boundaries, because that is something that the universe seems bound to teach me this year.  This past month, I have had to set some really firm boundaries at work and with one of my best friends.  It was incredibly hard, because setting boundaries is new to me, but I had finally gotten to a point when I had realized just how much I needed to take care of myself and taking care of myself means setting hard boundaries and saying "no" sometimes.

Here are the positive affirmations on the base of my artwork:
  • I am NOT the problem!
  • It is okay for me to be happy even when others are not.
  • Loving myself means standing up for myself.
  • Boundaries are healthy.
  • Being firm is not being mean.
  • I have a right to get my needs met.
  • My thoughts and opinions are valid.
  • I can trust in myself.
I came up with the idea myself.  I was very angry one day, because I was tired of feeling like I was being taken advantage of and a friend of mine suggested that I work my anger out in clay.  I had no idea what I would make, but it felt good to physically push and pound the clay in my hands.  Then, as I was playing around with it, I suddenly thought to myself, "I need a dragon!"  And so Gertrude was born.

I absolutely love my art therapy class!  Some people discount therapies like art, music, recreation or horticulture, but I think these kinds of therapies can help people explore areas of their psyche that sometimes they cannot reach by using words alone.  I am very intentional about the art projects I work on in the class-I find that seeing the issues that I working on physically more firmly imprints on my brain than simply talking about it does.  For instance, now that I have a physical familiar for my boundaries, I can picture her when I am about to practice setting them and remembering her and her positive affirmations gives me strength.  And it's not really her, the physical object, that gives me the strength, but the strength of my own conviction when I was creating her that gives me my power.

Look for more of my artwork soon!  I'm probably going to retake my therapist's DBT class, because I've had a return of my anxiety and starting in August, I'm going to take an online program called MBT or Mentalization Behavior Treatment, designed by the blogger for Hope for BPD.  It's not therapy, but just a daily email with some exercises to help me gain "the ability to better understand our own thoughts and emotions and those of others."  I'll let you know how it goes.  Hopefully all of this treatment won't become overwhelming, but I don't think it will - the DBT class is only one day a week (although of course, I will need to practice every day, but still...) and I can always ignore the emails, if they become bothersome.

Have you tried any kind of nontraditional therapy yourself or are you interested?  What kind? 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

June 2013 Book Review

I hope everyone who is from the United States had a good Fourth of July!  I must say I am not too happy about the state of our reproductive rights in the United States of America today.  Despite that, I did have a good Independence Day, which was so nice, because I have been struggling with a lot of anxiety lately.  I took my parents to see the new movie, The Heat, with Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock.  I really, really, really recommend this movie!  It’s a classic cop buddy movie, except that the two buddies are strong female characters.  It is so wonderful and refreshing to see a movie starring two women that isn’t about marriage or even romance.   The movie is absolutely hilarious and is destined to become a comedic classic.  Today was the second day I’ve seen it in a row and I might go see it again next week-it just brings me so much joy to see powerful, strong, funny women in action!

But now on to my book reviews for June:

As always, I give detailed reviews, so there is a possible spoiler alert.

Blue Asylum by Kate Hepinstall
This was the book I chose for my feminist book club and I really enjoyed it.  I saw it in an airport book store and I thought the plot looked really interesting and unique at the time.  I was a little afraid that it might trigger me, because it is about a woman who is sent to a mental institution during the civil war when she acts against her husband.  I was afraid that it might bring back bad memories of when I was hospitalized myself or that it would incite intense feelings over injustices towards people with mental illness, but it really did not. My mom thought that was strange-she certainly thought the book was depressing, but I think I liked the writing so much that the story line didn’t bother me so much. The book is a fast read and a page turner-I couldn’t put it down!  The book keeps you on your toes, as the story of the two main characters is slowly revealed.  I found the details of the mental institution intriguing and except for the dreaded water torture treatment, it really wasn’t that bad-I mean, the patients were allowed to go swimming in the ocean and play checkers in the courtyard, for goodness sakes!  I was really quite jealous!  The book is beautifully written and I love that most of the main characters grow and change during the course of the book.  While Iris Dunleavy is in the mental institution she falls in love with a soldier who basically has PTSD and they try to plan their escape.  Of course, one hopes that they will run away and live happily ever after, but anyone who knows anything about real life and mental illness will know that this is rarely possible.  Iris is very naïve when it comes to love and has to learn the hard lesson that sometimes romantic love isn’t enough to save a person or a relationship.  I found the character development in this book to be intensely satisfying and with the beautiful language and the quirky characters, I think I will probably reread this book many times.  (I just got back from my feminist book club and no one else liked it nearly as much as I did.  They made some good points about how some parts and personalities of the book may not really be that plausible, which really, I did suspect, but I still like the book.)

 My classics book club has a fun way of picking out the next book to read – we each write down three suggestions and put them in a basket.  Then someone closes their eyes and draws one out.  This time one of my suggestions was picked and I was so happy!  I absolutely love Anne of Green Gables and really, anything by Lucy Maud Montgomery (L.M.M.).  I own almost all of her books and my parents even took me to Prince Edward Island to see where she lived and to see the movie set for the Anne of Green Gables movie starring Megan Follows as my high school graduation present.  It was a great trip!  I didn’t really need to read it again, but why pass up a chance to reread a childhood favorite?  It was still such a fun read, although with her troubled background, her impulsiveness, and her penchant for drama I was sure that she had Borderline Personality Disorder, which troubled me-I want my childhood heroine to be unsullied by mental illness!  Fortunately, I felt reassured by her level of maturity by the end of the story to be able to say that she was simply a child with a brilliant imagination and an extroverted personality.  And talk about satisfaction-there is no more satisfying scene to me than when Anne smashes her slate over the head of Gilbert Blythe! The story is about a talkative orphan with red hair who is mistakenly sent to a couple who wanted a male farm hand to help them out with their farm chores.  She charms her way into their hearts and they decide to adopt her.   Anne is a natural leader, loud, incredibly smart, caring, passionate, vain, ambitious, and loyal.  I love that Anne has both qualities considered typical for women to have and those not considered so typical for women.  For a book that takes place around the 1880s, her story is remarkably feminist and very much fun.  Also, in 1985 Kevin Sullivan directed an Anne of Green Gables movie that is utterly fabulous.  I have a copy and I strongly recommend it.  It is the best adaptation of a book I have ever seen!

Anne of Avonlea by Lucy Maud Montgomery 
 I decided to go ahead and reread the whole series.  I have read the first book many times, but I believe I’ve only read the other books only once and many years ago, so there is a lot that I have forgotten.  This book starts out when Anne is sixteen.  She decides to stay at home and teach instead of going to college to help Marilla take care of the farm.   I really admire Anne for putting aside her ambitions to help those she loves and also, what responsibility!  I cannot imagine teaching a bunch of kids now and especially not at sixteen!  But then some people are much more gifted with relating to kids and with maintaining discipline than I am.  What is really nice about this book is that even though Anne and Gilbert are now very close friends and in their teens, there is no boy craziness that is so prevalent in most teen books today.  One knows that Gilbert is attracted to Anne, but Anne refuses to let herself think about romance at all.  The book has some new interesting characters and unfortunately two new characters that a lot of people, including myself, are not so wild about: Davy and Dora.  Unbelievably, Marilla ends up adopting two more orphans - twins Davy and Dora.  Davy and Dora are a bit troublesome and annoying to me, because they seem like extreme stereotypes of their gender: Davy is mischievous, violent, and is always getting into trouble and Dora is totally good. And while Davy is always getting into trouble, everyone prefers him over Dora, because he dramatically shows his emotions and his love, while Dora does not. Dora is even compared to a “robot,” which I find problematic.  Anne of Avonlea is not my favorite of the Anne books, but I don’t hate it either.  It’s still a fun read.  It has some more classic Anne impulsive goof-ups like when she  falls through the roof of a woman’s shed and has to stand there for an hour in the rain or when she sells the neighbor’s cow by mistake.  And once again, Kevin Sullivan turned this book into a movie, this time in 1987.  Well, he actually turned the fourth book into the movie-Anne of Windy Poplars.  Originally the movie was called "Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel," which would have made much more sense, as nothing in the movie really corresponds to the second book.  Fortunately, it is another extremely well done adaptation-I also own it and recommend it.  I find it funny that it got named after the second book, when it really follows the fourth.

Help Me Be: Praying in Poems by Dale C. Fredrickson  
I haven’t reviewed a Speakeasy book in a long time!  This is a short book of poetry that is divided into three sections: Orientation (Or, Life is Good), Disorientation (Or, Life is Not Good), and New Orientation (Or, Life is Good Again).  The poems are based on the Psalms in the Bible and one can easily tell the similarities.  In the Psalms the poet shares their personal pain, frustration, gratitude and praise with Godde. To be honest, I didn’t like the first two sections, as I didn’t find them deep enough.  It took me a while for me to realize that Fredrickson’s book is going for the same idea as Samuel Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, in that the first part is purposely simplistic and the last section is more complex to signify the wisdom that the person has now gained.  With that in mind, it perfectly makes sense that the poetry would be simple in the first section.  What I don’t understand is that the poetry in the second section still seemed simple and fairly positive.  If it is truly representing a time in the life when things are bleak, then I want to feel more intense emotion.   I just felt like that section wasn't quite honest enough.  Also, I felt like the first two section tended to fall on clichés/trite sayings at times.  However, I did really like the poems at the end.  These poems seemed to finally have an appropriate level of depth to them and I could see incorporating a good many of the poems into my church’s worship service.  I’m glad I ordered this book from Speakeasy, but would I pay for it on my own?  Not unless it was offered at a really low price.  The last section has some really good poems, but would I put it on the same level as Mary Oliver, another Christian poet?  No, they’re not close in the least, although I will admit that it’s not really fair of me to compare. Mary Oliver's poetry is very lyrical, while Fredrickson's is more in the style of spoken word. If you like poetry and are spiritual, but don’t like thinking hard about metaphors, then this book may be for you.  

You can hear Fredrickson's spoken word on YouTube, which I advise doing.  Spoken word is always so much more effective when listened to than when read.

And now I will leave you with my favorite scene from Anne of Green Gables.  I could watch this movie over and over and over again!  If you haven't read the series or watched the movies, then you need to take care of your inner child and do so at once!