I talk honestly and openly about my experiences with mental illness, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome through the lens of feminism, fat acceptance and process theology. I also do recipe and book reviews. My mission is to spread the message that hope is always real for a better life, despite living in a world that is often very harsh.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Fat and Flabulous

I made the mistake of inadvertently taking somebody's space at a grocery store parking lot and I ended up being saddled with the burden of being a fat person.  I don't usually take people's spaces, but the woman waiting was taking her sweet time and I wasn't sure if she was really wanting that space or not and I was in a hurry.  I was anxious about getting to where I was going on time and I was a bit confused-in short, I was human.  The woman who was upset did not pause to consider that perhaps I had other things on my mind and yelled out at me,
I was shocked into silence by her meanness and so I did not apologize for taking her space. I thought to myself, "at least I don't say ugly things to people!"  I am also glad to report that at first I was a little confused, as in,
I am beautiful, although I am more culturally accepted as beautiful sometimes than at others, smart, kind, creative, and I really do try to make the world a better place than it already is-if my worst quality is that I am fat, than I really do think that I am doing pretty well! The best thing I can say about the encounter is that I cannot imagine myself verbally attacking another person like that because they took my space. I might be annoyed or bothered, but I would take a few deep breaths, tell myself it's not a huge deal in the grand scheme of the world and find another space. I feel that this woman must have been feeling very miserable to have lost her temper so quickly and to take it out on another in such a mean way. What makes me sad is that I intuit that she must have a very bad relationship with her own body-being thin does not automatically mean that one has high self esteem or think they are beautiful and for one to think that the worst in myself is that I am fat makes me think that she must be obsessed with her own weight. I know from experience that weight obsession is a miserable place to be and it truly does poison the mind.  Thinking that one cannot be happy or deserving or lovable or truly acceptable unless one is thin is simply NOT TRUE!!

 I am acceptable the way that I am!

 In fact, I am not merely acceptable, but all-around fabulous!

 Here are some pictures of me right before the rehearsal dinner at my cousin's wedding party last weekend. I think I look flabulous!

Link Love:

This Aint Livin - Why Are Women Who Have Cats Such Figures of Mockery?

I can’t help but draw a parallel here: people view a more independent species as less valuable, less trustworthy, and many of those same people are also the ones who dislike independent women who assert their own autonomy in the world. Obviously, women are not equivalent to cats, but it’s notable that in both cases, women and cats are disliked for exercising free will, and are often severely punished for it. Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that the combination of women and cats is considered so threatening, and that the way people choose to deal with it is by mocking women.

Many people seem to believe that sexuality is a natural and necessary part of the human condition (ignoring the fact that asexual people are human beings, and their lack of sexual attraction doesn’t render them inhuman) — which leads me to suspect that part of the hate and fear of disabled sexuality is the general desire to dehumanise disabled people. If we can be rendered sexless, neutered, inert, and nonthreatening, it can be made clear that here lies yet another difference between ‘us’ and ‘them,’ another reminder that we are not quite fully human. For how, after all, could you live without enjoying The Sex?

Captain Awkward #573, #574, #575 and #576: Applying the Sheelzebub Principle

Whoever injected our collective brain with the idea that love is something we earn by making ourselves want only smaller, appropriate, manageable things needs to come here and fight me, with fists.

In my activism I work to destroy the social construct of beauty-as-power by suggesting that everyone is beautiful and the difference is in our choice of whether or not to recognize that.  Regardless beauty is something that we get to claim and own for ourselves if we want to.  I get that not everyone believes that or thinks about it that way and I think that’s totally cool as well. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Mental Health Insurance Parity Law

May is Mental Health Month and so I am sharing with you some information from the American Psychological Association (APA) about the new Mental Health Insurance Parity Law.
"The Mental Health Parity law increases access to mental health services. It requires mental and behavioral health coverage to be equal or better than coverage for physical health, with no annual limits or higher co-pays or deductibles for treatment of mental health or substance-use disorders. The law applies to most employer-provided health plans and to individual plans purchased through the new state and federal health insurance exchanges."

Many people still do not know that the mental health parity law exists or if it will make their mental health coverage/needs much more accessible.  The video helps to explain the new law and the links will help answer your questions and hopefully feel more confident about getting more coverage.  The law does not affect everybody unfortunately, and there are some loopholes, which the links explain, but it is a big step in the right direction.

Resources on the Mental Health Parity Law

Mental Health Parity Frequently Asked Questions

Link Love:

Two Grand Blog

Our bodies need fat. The good kind. This just isn’t communicated very well, especially on nutrition labels.

“So when you hear a false equivalence that somehow, well, Congress is just broken, it’s not true.  What’s broken right now is a Republican Party that repeatedly says no to proven, time-tested strategies to grow the economy, create more jobs, ensure fairness, open up opportunity to all people.”

Friday, May 16, 2014

You Are Worth a Maple Bacon Cupcake! Happy Birthday to Me!

In my last post I talked about finding Godde in my maple bacon cupcakes and that is surely true! When I tasted the cupcakes I made for my 33rd birthday last weekend, something happened that’s never happened when I’ve eaten something before: I sang the doxology in my head!
Praise Godde to whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all Creatures here below. Praise Him above ye heavenly host. Praise Godde, the Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.
Some might call this sacrilegious to sing the doxology over a cupcake, but I say when the Spirit moves you, the Spirit moves. A church that I used to attend would say every Easter, “Taste and see that Godde is good,”- well, if Godde has been compared to the land of milk and honey, then surely She can be compared to a maple bacon cupcake. I made a maple cupcake from the blog, Cupcake Adventures and then maple buttercream frosting from Just A Pinch Recipes, to which I added bacon bits. The cupcake by itself is marvelous, like an already syruped pancake! Yum! Of course, each cupcake was also topped with a large chunk of bacon too! Yummm. That chunk wrapped in the rich maple frosting was the best part to me. Orgasmic! My Friends and I could not help sighing and exclaiming, “wow!” Really, you’ve just got to try making this cupcake!

 Maple Cupcake Recipe:

2 /12 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 stick unsalted butter (softned)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk

Heat oven to 350ยบ. Sift together Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs, syrup, and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture by thirds, alternating with the buttermilk.
Fill 18 lined muffin cups and bake until tester comes out clean, about 20 mins. Cool completely.
Frosting Recipe: with my own adaptations

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
4 TBSP pure maple syrup
4-5 strips of bacon
Start by frying 4-5 pieces of bacon.  Then whip the room-temperature, un-salted butter until smooth and creamy.  Sift in 2 cups of powdered sugar, mixing on low speed until combined. While continuing to whip on medium speed, add 4 tablespoons of Maple Syrup; tablespoon by tablespoon until well combined. Cut 3 of the bacon strips and add them to the frosting and stir.  Frost the cupcakes and add a bigger piece of bacon to each for a garnish.

 A friend of mine thought that I should not make my own birthday cupcakes, but for me it was a form of self-indulgence, self-soothing, and self-care. One, I genuinely enjoy cooking and so making my own cake is not drudgery for me, but is a form of self-indulgence, because I get to make the cupcakes exactly the way I want them. I want more maple syrup? Why, yes, I’ll pour a little more in! I want bacon in the frosting? Don’t mind if I do!!! Food almost always tastes better when you make it yourself. If you don’t cook a lot, then you have got to trust me on this-I have had bacon maple cupcakes before and mine were definitely the best by far!!! Another thing is that I have been a little depressed recently and I had been wanting to try out this recipe recently for a while now-making myself do something productive, being mindfully engaged in it, and that it was something that was to make myself and others feel good was a great help against my depression. It seems to me that in our culture we have this idea that if we are being celebrated then we should not have to do any work, but doing work that we enjoy can help get us out of our heads, make us more appreciative, more grounded, less anxious and help keep our egos at bay.

 The next day, my family and my new boyfriend (!), went to my favorite local restaurant, The Georgia Pine. We went there last year and I got the same dish, because it is sooo good:
honey pork and greens sandwich; grilled okra and onions; ginger beer. Afterwards he took me to get a foot message!!! Yeah, it was a good day! Pamper yourself whether it is your birthday or not, whether you are depressed or not-do at least one thing nice for yourself to help keep your mood up, whether it’s trying out these astounding cupcakes or simply making yourself a nice cup of tea or reading a good book. You are worth it!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Living the Questions:The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity-A Book Review

Who are we to declare some things holy or not holy? 226 Living the Questions: The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity
This was a Speakeasy book that I thoroughly enjoyed-in fact, I think their book selection has gotten a lot better than when it first started and I heartily recommend joining!
This book is a series of excerpts and elaborations of the popular living the questions series that many churches use to introduce lay people to progressive theology. I have never taken the series, but have always been curious about it. I did not really learn anything new, as I have already been introduced to progressive and process theology but I agreed with just about everything I read. The only main problem I have with progressive theology is that I feel it sometimes others poor people-unlike liberation theology (another theology I love), it seems to assume that if you are reading about it, then you are at least moderately well-off and it asks how do you help the poor people-when if this book was studied in a small group at my church, it is very possible that there would be homeless people attending and it would be much more empowering and compassionate to ask how can you, as a poor person, still help yourself and your fellow neighbor-how can you be part of the community and not othered? Then it is not us helping them, but we helping each other-all of us being liberated together. So, that's my one gripe-I feel like progressive theology can unintentionally become classist and we should always strive to be intentional with our religion and our spirituality.

That being said, I really did like the book-it would be a great gift for one interested in learning about progressive Christianity. My favorite aspect of the book is that it encourages people to embrace mysticism, which is something I already strive to do. Mysticism, as I see it, is living in the moment and seeing the Spirit of Godde in every living thing (this is called panentheism) and in experiencing Godde's Spirit as the embodiment of Love, always working for our well being. This Love is always within us and around us and we can rejoice in it and be glad if we attune our energy to this pulse. We do this by being mindful and grateful for our daily victories and by letting go of grudges and disappointments; by making sure to take delight in the beauty of this world, even despite the horrors that continue on and by being of service to one another in big and small ways. A mystics knows that one need not be in a temple, church, mosque or monastery in order to feel holy for one can experience the breathe of Godde wherever they are. Even in a prison one can choose to accept their painful situation and so not suffer, but be able to turn their mind toward more heavenly thoughts. This is called Radical Acceptance and is the example used by Marsha Linehan.
(A Creative Commons License)    For me, almost anything can be experienced as a spiritual connection with the Holy One, from a tender hair washing at my hair salon to passionate kissing to hiking in the mountains to a soulful music concert to cuddling with my cat, Arlo to a heart-to heart conversation to delighting in a bacon maple cupcake!

(I made some for my birthday-the recipe will be posted soon!)  It is recognizing the goodness in the moment, in all of humanity and in myself and most importantly, in the Love that I recognize is the ground of my being, my way, my truth, my life-this mystic's mission to experience and share.

 Blessed be!

  Link Love:

 Some Things to Consider When Writing Fat Characters; 
Our fights against fatphobia are not generally welcomed in social justice contexts. We’re an oppressed group whose liberation movement is not generally considered a liberation movement at all.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

March 2014 Books - Feminist Reading

I spent April writing WEGO Health HAWMC prompts and spiritual posts and so I am only now getting to my book reviews!

 Here are the books I read in March:
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

 March was the month I spent reading for my feminist book club and I got to finally read the book that it seems like everyone but me has already read! I thought it was very well-written, but I probably will not ever read it again-I found the story of an ultra-religious, patriarchal, self-hating, condescending and abusive missionary triggering at times. The missionary takes his family to the Congo in the 1960s and the chapters are told from the women’s points of view-his wife and three daughters, which I found refreshing. The story certainly has a lot of adventure and drama! One thing that I really did love about the book is how it deals with disability. First, one of the daughters, Adah, has a disability. She is hemiplegic, meaning that she has “severe weakness on of the limbs on one side of the body.” This causes her to walk slower than everybody else, to retreat into silence, to fall into self-pity, but she is also brilliant, clever, skeptical, and quotes my favorite poet, Emily Dickinson. Some people had trouble relating to her, because her character is so dark, but as someone whose disability also gave me a darker side when I was younger, I can definitely relate to her character. I loved watching her grow up and mature.

 The second way it deals with disability is that the daughters make a point of talking about the way people with disabilities are treated in their African village, which it seems is just like everybody else. Many people in their African village are amputees or have some kind of deformity and they are expected to work as best as they can, just like everybody else-they are NOT expected to hide away or feel sorry for themselves; at least in the beginning of the book, there seems to be much less, if any, stigma towards people with disability in their African village.

 I think the book wonderfully portrays how much the roots of awful, patriarchal, abusive men are based on self-hatred. At least this is what I believe. It is obvious that the father in the book hates himself and because he cannot love himself, he cannot love anyone else. I find this incredibly ironic, given the fact that he is a preacher and is supposed to be spreading the message of God’s love-didn’t Jesus say in Matthew 39, “Love your neighbor as yourself?” Nathan (the father) does not love his neighbors or himself. I believe the only way that we will overcome the patriarchy is by and through love-we must show and teach our men, women, sons and daughters what true love really is. True love is not always fluffy good feelings and it is not abusive either-it is steadfast and true, always working for the good of this world.

I recommend this book, but be forewarned that it can be a hard read if you are sensitive to abuse, spiritual, emotional and/or physical. I probably won’t read it again, but I can certainly see why it was nominated for a Pulitzer prize in 1999.
 That brings us to the second book I read for my feminist book club:
 All About Love: New Visions by Bell Hooks.

 I only liked it so-so while reading it, but its concepts have remained with me since then and have really changed the way I think about things, so I will say that I really recommend this book! If you’ve read Bell Hooks’ Feminism is for Everybody, then you know that Hooks loves definitions and in this book she uses the definition for love by M. Scott Peck from his 1978 book, The Road Less Traveled –
the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth-Love is as love does.” She continues from Peck…”Love is an act of will-namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love.” (Since the choice must be made to nurture growth, this definition counters the more widely accepted assumption that we love instinctually.) (4-5)
My book club thought it would be better if she started her definition at “Love is as love does”-that the word, spiritual adds a level of vagueness that is unnecessary and too complicated and I agree. In order for that whole quote to work as the definition of love, one would need to define spirituality, which she does later in the book, but it doesn’t quite work. To only define love this way begs the question, can atheists love and of course, the answer is yes. Her definition is biased towards spirituality, because she, personally, is more aligned with spirituality, which would have been fine if she was presenting this as her own personal definition that works for her, but to present it as the overarching definition that should work for everyone is misguided, which was our chief complaint-the book would be better presented as memoir than as researched feminist theory.

 Now onto what did work for me:

 I liked her point that women are not considered experts in love, even though they are the main readers of romances. Instead, they are to experts in the subject of death.
Somewhere along the way, in that passage from girlhood to womanhood, I learned female really had nothing serious to teach the world about love. No one around me, professors and students alike, doubted a woman’s ability to be serious when it came to thinking and writing about death. (xxii)
How true this is! Think of how our culture tries to get us to also be focused on starving ourselves for “beauty!” I am in awe of my confessional poet sisters Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, who bravely wrote about their taboo struggles (“Sexton wrote about sex, adultery, menstruation, masturbation, abortion, motherhood, and her own lifelong struggle with a complicated set of debilitating psychological disturbances originally diagnosed as “hysteria” writes blogger Nursing Clio), but I am reminded of what Adrienne Rich said in response to Anne Sexton’s suicide:
“We have had enough suicidal women poets, enough suicidal women, enough of self-destructiveness as the sole form of violence permitted to women.”
I, personally, have had enough of women obsessing over their own death and choosing to dwell negativity. I absolutely love, love, love the confessional poets, but I hardly ever read them anymore. What was really life-changing to me is her romantic insight as I have been dating recently!!! She says to not say that one is “falling in love,” but is “moving towards love,” for where one implies victimhood, the other implies choice and consent. Every day that I am in a relationship with someone, I can choose to keep on moving towards loving that person and this empowering statement agrees with one of my positive affirmations –
“I am no longer a victim.”
This way of looking at love helps me feel grounded and not feel so out of control, but empowered. This books has some faults and sort of drags towards the end, but I still heartily recommend it. It will stick with you and it just might change the way you think about certain things that previously you thought were hard and fast. Not to be cheesy, but love is the answer. It is the way to change the patriarchy, it is the way to embrace life, it is way to a life filled with hope.

Link Love:

If a man is coming on to you (and you are not interested — if you are, go for it, girl!), respond with something like this: “I’m not interested.” Don’t apologize and don’t excuse yourself. If they question your response (which is likely), persist — ”No, I said I’m not interested.”

bell hooks is not the expert on all things Black, woman, Black woman, womanist/Black feminist or life. She is however, human, fallible, brilliant, interesting, accomplished,usually compassionate and thoughtful and a trailblazer in many ways. 

Self-destructiveness: the sole form of violence permitted to women. Isn’t this point worth examining? I don’t think Rich meant to argue that women should go out and perpetrate acts of violence against other people instead, at least not in the literal sense. She meant, I think, that when women’s lives become unbearable, when social and political and personal circumstances make them feel desperate, they often silence themselves, even doing violence to themselves, rather than making noise and fighting against those external forces. And she was right, wasn’t she? At least to some extent? I’m thinking, here, not only about suicide but also about eating disorders and self-injury behaviors like cutting. Women, Rich would argue, express negative emotions and claim whatever small measure of power they can grasp not by striking out at those around them but by hurting themselves.