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.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Virgin Islands Vacation Day Three - I Do Not Need Conventional Beauty!

Day Three was a day of glorious pictures.  First, we went to Trunk Bay Beach.  I did not feel too good that day due to chronic fatigue and fibro, but I distracted myself by taking lots of beautiful pictures.
Isn't that picture inviting?  I just want to walk down that path again...

I loved Trunk Bay, but I got frustrated, because supposedly it had wonderful snorkeling and I was tired of waiting to see what was in the water until I got to look at my pictures at night.  Fortunately, the next day, my mom was a genius and came up with a solution, but in the meantime, it was hard for me not to get annoyed.  It was especially hard for me not to get annoyed because I was tired and hurting.  I did still get some good underwater pictures, though.  Here's my favorite one for the day:
It's some kind of coral.

On our way back to our cute cottage, we stopped at a overlook and I captured some gorgeous pictures:
(That's a papaya tree on the left.)

I just love the different shades of green!

Now on vacation, as in life, it is important to have goals and my mom came up with a good one-she proposed that we have a smoothie everyday!  My dad and I deemed this a worthy goal and the fruity, sugary sweetness soon perked me up.  
Colombo's turned out to be one of our favorite smoothie places! 

After a much needed nap, we went on the Francis Bay Walking Trail.  I still was not feeling that well, but I am glad I went, because once again, I took beautiful pictures.  The trail took us to the beach:

I believe my favorite trail of the day was at Francis Bay, but I am not sure.  We walked it right before dusk, on this boardwalk where we were covered by a canopy of creepy mangroves.  Actually, like a lot of things I would later discover on the island, the nature surrounding me was slightly creepy and yet very beautiful.  The trees provided wonderful shade.  
We stopped at a pond and saw ducks!
I had a good day!  Unfortunately, when I got home my mind was so tired that it was stuck ruminating.  I am embarrassed to say that it was stuck on repeat obsessing about my body.  I felt weird that I was wearing a long sleeved shirt when I went snorkeling when everyone else was wearing bikinis.  I was doing it because I did not want to get any more sunburned, but they did not know that-what if they thought that I am - *gasp* - unfashionable?  I decided to pull out my most tried and true DBT coping skill, which is to distract myself until the thoughts pass.  I pulled out my "Girls Are Not Chicks" coloring book and the first page I turned to instantly got my mind back where it needed to be.

"When she stopped chasing the dangling carrot of conventional femininity, she was finally able to savor being a women."

After reading this quote and coloring the page, I felt free!  During the trip, I thought of the quote often and I even made it into a mantra by telling myself,
I do not need conventional femininity!
This was very handy during the trip, because as I quickly found out, the Virgin Islands are not a place to be classically beautiful. My hair was always frizzy, my skin was greasy from the sunscreen and I eventually gave up from showing skin on the beach at all and instead chose to wear both a long-sleeved shirt AND leggings, just to be extra sure that I would not get a sun-burn. Conventional beauty was out, but health and happiness was in!  The myth is that conventional womanhood is obtainable and at least where I was, it was not.  The truth is that it never really is for long-we might as well be happy with ourselves and our own versions of woman or manhood, whatever that means for us and throw "conventionality" away.

Link Love:


 The idea of weight loss creating health is what I call a Galileo Issue – it’s widely believed, fervently supported, it’s heresy to suggest that it’s not true, and yet it is not supported by evidence. 

Mindless Productivity - Not Everyone Is Beautiful
Beauty is the only trait that everyone gets free access to. Why?

Because we have created a culture that values beauty above all other innate traits…for women, at least. Men are generally valued by their success, which is seen solely as a result of talent and hard work, despite how much it depends on luck and knowing the right people.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Genesis And the Rise of Civilization - A Book Review

I am proud to say that I have been meditating on the Bible two days in a row when I have been really anxious and I must say, it has really helped!  For my non-believer friends, I think meditating on any inspirational book would work for you. (Or music or piece of art or nature...)  I read until I feel positively inspired in some way and then I pause and write down those thoughts.  Since I just reviewed the book, His Desire is For Me, on the Song of Songs, I thought I would start there!  I must admit I was feeling really negative and depressed today, but after reading Chapter 2 of the Song of Songs this is what I wrote:
My Godde has many things to show me-he is not finished with me yet. I am looking at the small picture problems and not rejoicing in the big picture victories.
In my last post I talked about viewing my Godde as my life-partner, rather than as my king:
my Godde was there as my life-giving partner, not my dominating Lord or King, but soul-sustaining, hope-giving Spirit and Friend.
 
Most churches compromise and say that Godde and Jesus is your King AND your friend, but I think that is ridiculous!  King and lord language is distancing language, for everyone knows that one cannot be friends with a king-kings are always power grabbers-they are above even the one percent!  I do not believe that Godde has all the power and so I do not give Her the title of King or Queen.  I really prefer the idea of Godde and I being in a partnership, a give and take relationship, and this is actually supported in the Bible-Godde made covenant after covenant with Her people in the Bible.  A covenant is a promise based on relationship, based on trust-and Godde held Her promises past the point when Her people did - this is NOT something a king would do, but something rather a friend or lover would.

This is why I liked j. snodgrass' book, Genesis: The Rise of Civilization, so much: it posited that Godde is really on the side of the tribal rebels than on the kings.  Snodgrass thinks that the book of Genesis is really about the struggle between the competition between feudalism (civilization) and the more carefree nomads.  Patriarchal history has made it seem like God is on the side of the monarchy and following rules and order, but Snodgrass does not think so.  He sees the loners as being the ones more willing to go out on a limb and follow the one true God, while those who are more well-known as becoming complacent and fitting in with society, ultimately exploiting the poor.  It is a funny book with quotes from some of my favorite science-fiction authors and I think it would be an entertaining read for anyone who is interested in mythology, as Snodgrass brings in symbolism and stories from many cultures.  I agree with how he reads the Bible:
I read the Bible as a thousand-year-old debate about the nature of God. There are multiple sides to this discussion, each with its own ideas about what God wants from humanity [...] and the debate is additionally complicated because there are two Gods in the Old Testament: a god of subjugation and a god of liberation. Obviously these gods will expect different behaviors from us.
He had also had this to say:
It is harsh, but true and I found it refreshing to read someone who also questions what they read and does not gloss over the parts that are problematic.  Snodgrass has written other books and I would like to read them too!  Also, besides writing theology, he writes comedic biblical plays and comics!

Friday, June 13, 2014

His Desire Is For Me - A Book Review

His Desire Is For Me: The Story of Solomon and The Shulammite by Bob Emery




On Facebook   On Goodreads

This was a book I got from Speakeasy and I must admit that I got so disgusted with the super-mushy romantic writing and the bad theology that I only read about half of it.  But that doesn't mean that you do not get a thorough review!  I am still going to talk about the points I liked and the points I really did not.

I was really excited about this book as it is a devotional about the Song of Songs, the rarely talked about love poem in the Bible written by Soloman.  Optimally, it is meant to be read in thirty days, but as I have said before, I do not have the patience for that kind of reading.  Each day opens with several pages with a fictional expansion on what might have taken place between Solomon and the Shulammite and then it has several more pages under "points to consider" that are theology.  The section then ends with a prayer.  Let me say this: not all people, or even all women, are into super intensive romance mush.  I like the Song of Songs, because romance is easier for me to take in and think about in artful and poetic formats, but the sections that are written out are too ordinary and mushy for and I ended up skimming them and then I just skipped them entirely and went straight to the theology.

Here is one example of the cheesy romance:

Wherever we go, I will not be afraid, just as long as you are there. (106)
 Gag me!  And to me that is bad theology-just because I love my partner and agree to follow them, does not mean that I still will not have times where I will not still be afraid.  The point is not that you are afraid, but that you go on anyway.  That's faith.  To state that life with your partner or life with Jesus means that you will never be afraid, to me, is lying and presenting an inauthentic version of yourself.

Unfortunately, I soon became disgusted with the theology too:
Why did Jesus heal only that one man that day?  It was because the Father who dealt within Jesus as Spirit, in Christ's spirit, was showing and telling his Son, "This is the man, my Son, whom I want you to heal today." (115)
 No, it was because the man was ready.  The man consented to be healed-he was tired of waiting and being complacent and was finally ready for action.  A person can be sick, but be complacent in their illness and not really be ready to be well-it is not so much that God chose the man, but that the man made the choice-that is free will!

Therefore, what is happening in my life right now (unless it involves outright sin on my part) must be the perfect expression of the will of God and is for my ultimate good.  (122)
 This is outright BAD theology!  Is my mental illness, my blindness, my fibromyalgia, and my chronic fatigue syndrome bestowed upon me by Godde for my ultimate good?  NO!  And it surely isn't because I sinned, either!  No, I have those conditions, because of genetics and because of life circumstances-Godde did not inflict them on me to teach me a lesson, but instead I eventually chose to find positives in those conditions and I chose to keep on striving for well-being with the help of my parents, my therapist, my friends, support groups, doctors, and yes, my Godde was there as my life-giving partner, not my dominating Lord or King, but soul-sustaining, hope-giving Spirit and Friend.  I do not believe that God purposely gives people hardship for their well-being, but that hardship on its own is a part of life and that if we listen to Godde's urging then we will be able to discern which direction to take in order to see the bad situation or condition in a more positive light.

The book presents the story of Solomon and the Shulammite as ultimately an allegory between how much Jesus loves us and our relationship to him, but I just do not see how that is possible, considering that that poem was written before Christ was ever born.  Context, people!!!  While Emery tries hard to make it work, I still find it too much of a stretch and disgusting to corrupt beautiful poetry that way by trying to make it fit into what you want it to be (I was an English major, after all).

There are some statements in the book that I do agree with and that is the idea that we must rest in Godde and Christ to provide our sustenance before we can adequately give to others.  (Sort of like we must love ourselves before we can love others, so we must be adequately rested in Jesus before we can work for him.)

Before we can adequately serve others, we need the Lord to refresh and fill us so that, out of fullness, we will have something to give. (46)
On Peter: He needed to allow the Lord to wash the dust of this world off of his feet, refresh him, and fill him before he would ever be of any use in serving others. (77)
I like this idea-it really resonates with my feelings of needing time for myself for renewal.  Even though I just got back from vacation (and I will write more vacation posts soon), I still feel like I need to draw away for some internal renewal and several books that I have read-this one included-have made me think that perhaps one of the reasons why I am still not feeling adequately renewed is because I have been trying to get renewal by being alone, but not by being alone with Godde.  It really would help if I started meditating on scripture or bringing my journal when I go out into nature and write spiritual poetry and spiritual reflections, instead of sitting there and receiving blessings that only last for minutes.  Because I am a doer and I need active participation and listening with my Godde-sitting there in silence just won't quite cut it for me, but if I specifically sit with the intention to write down my spiritual gleanings from the experience or do spiritual artwork on a regular basis, then my soul is more easily filled.  Of course, another way to be filled by Godde is to be with people and to serve them, for I find Jesus in the face of every person I help and encourage and in everyone that helps and encourages me!

Do I recommend this book?  Well, everyone else gave it good review, so you may like it a lot! However, I would only give it two stars out of five.

Link Love:

the Southern Baptist convention went from declaring that “War is a scourge, is wrong in principle and morally corrupting” to spending a considerable amount of time arguing that there should not be homosexuals openly in the military because it damages the military’s ability to kill people.

Being sex-positive must also include being supportive and respectful of those who aren’t interested in or aren’t ready for sex, for whatever reason — this includes not questioning, challenging, or harassing people who express a desire to not be sexual, whether for a lifetime or a given period of time.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Virgin Islands Vacation Day Two - Redemption By Snorkeling!

Day two I woke and discovered a cute little lizard in the dining room:
He really blends into the tile!

We also saw lots of donkeys wandering beside the road.  (My dad pronounces it "dun-keys.")
Donkeys, goats, and chickens wander the countryside and roads freely!

This was also the day that I learned how to snorkel:
We went to Cinnamon Bay, which a beautiful beach, but I do not recommend it for your first time because the coral is close to the shore and it will take a while to get used to not getting too close when trying to stand up.  Other than that though, it was perfect!  I was glad that I had thought to buy an underwater camera before we left for vacation.  Something I don't talk about much is that I am legally blind-it usually does not bother me, but I could only see blurry colors in the water, so I would point the camera at the colors in the water and hope some good pictures would result.  Here are some of them:

In the last picture, you can see a sea urchin and when they are huge like that with tall spikes, they are super scary, like something out of a Stephen King novel, but I am still glad that I got to see them in person.  The last time I got a chance to snorkel was in fifth grade and I was too afraid to try-I kept on imagining a giant hand rising up from the depths and pulling me under or some huge sea monster eating me up-sometimes having a well developed imagination can be problematic!

As a reward for conquering my fear, we had to go get a smoothie!
I got a "banana boat" and it was fabulous-bananas and vanilla ice cream.  Yum!!!  We then strolled through the fancy galleries and the national park visitor's center.  It talked about how Columbus' men first killed off the native people called the Taino and then later brought slaves from Africa.  It makes me wonder why this need for colonization?  For dominating other people?  Where did my culture get this idea that it is superior?  A patriarchal mindset that lets you see people as tools to be used surely helps.  I would like to say that as a culture we are progressing and I think we are, but still we must remain ever vigilant against the racism that leads to more people of color being put in prison and being raped.  I saw this sign that read, "Taino Spirit" and thought it was wonderful, but wondered how can they know know what their Taino spirit is when they had all been killed off?  I suppose you could say the Taino spirit lives in the way the people continue to welcome visitors to the island, just like the Taino welcomed Columbus.  Now it is a good thing, but then, not so much.


All that heavy snorkling and pondering made me tired, so we went back to our cottage for a nap and then it was time for dinner at Coral Bay Oasis.

 It's a local bar and restaurant that always has a chicken, pork, vegetarian, and fish entree and plenty of extra sides.  Fabulous food!  I got the cheesy crab pie with a side salad.  The pie was slightly spicy, very cheesy and hearty with a sweet crust-very good.  I v ery much recommend the place if you are in the coral bay area-you can find them on facebook and they post their new menu daily.

In DBT they say that if you are afraid of something to go ahead and do it-I wish I could go back in time and convince my twelve-year-old self to face her fears, but then again, at the time I did not have the skills needed to be able to do that.  I am so glad that I got the chance to redeem myself on day two!  Blessed be!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

My Heart So Full-Vacation Day One on St. John

Right now, I am on St. John, one of the U.S. Virgin Islands and last night and this morning these words from the John Denver song, Falling Leaves, has been playing in my head:
My heart so full of love for you/Sing praise for all I see.
I am very happy! I took a gentle yoga and art class last week, where I did some art and intention around the fact that I felt that I needed to go away into a "sanctuary" and so I am very glad that I have this chance to go away on a vacation that is more peaceful and remote than the usual.
(The art I completed at the workshop - "I Am The One Who Rides The Storm")

First Thing You Do After Departing From The Ferry Onto St. John - Buy A Smoothie!
There are smoothie places everywhere, but this place was so colorful that I could not resist!  I ordered a coconut, banana, pineapple smoothie and it was delicious-not as sweet as the ones from Planet Smoothie, but still better.

After the smoothie, we checked into our perfect little cottage.  Here's the view:
First Thing You Do After You Check In-Take A NAP!!!

My mom and I were exhausted after getting up early, riding a taxi, a ferry, waiting for our hostess, going to the grocery store, driving down winding mountain roads, and we needed a nap.  My dad was gung-ho to go exploring, so he left to find a beach, but I took a two-hour nap and I am so glad I did-when one has physical and mental illness, one has to pay attention to their body's tiredness cues, even if one just arrived at an island paradise.  Otherwise, I would have been too miserable to fully enjoy myself and isn't that what vacation is all about?

First Thing You Must Eat - Mangoes and Papayas!

Since I was well rested, I made dinner that night-a yummy chicken pasta salad.  The recipe originally called for shrimp and for lemon juice and some other ingredients, but when you're on the island you've got to go with the flow... It was still good though, nice and light for a hot summer's day.  Who knew that pineapple juice and thyme would pair so well together or that we would have picked out the best fruit on the island?  Seriously, nothing beats the heat like fresh, juicy fruit!

Some Things You Should Know About The Virgin Island's Food: Astounding, it is hard to find lemons, so recipes may need to be tweaked!  Also, fish are very expensive, because of over-fishing and because of a copper mine that made a lot of the edible fish sick!  Even here in paradise, there are sad reminders of how humans are destroying Eden.  You will have to boil water from the tap to make sure you do not get sick!  Definitely do eat lots of fresh mangoes and papayas! Here in Georgia, mangoes are more well known-papayas taste sort of like watermelon, but with the texture of a cantelope.  Only eat the pink part.

Caribbean Pasta Salad

From the website, HowStuffWorks, with adaptations:

Ingredients:

6 oz Uncooked Bowtie Pasta
1 T Ground Allspice
1 T Pineapple Juice
1-1/2 T Vegetable Oil, divided
1 t Ground Dried Thyme
1 Large Chicken Breast, Cut Into Bite-Sized Pieces
1/2 Cup Vegetable Broth
1 T Sesame Oil
1 t Dijon Mustard
1/4 t Salt
1 Whole Papaya, Diced
1 Whole Mango, Diced

Steps:

1. Cook pasta according to package instructions, omitting salt.  Drain and set aside.
2.  Combine allspice, pineapple juice, 1 t oil, thyme and pepper in a small bowl.  Add chicken and coat.  Cook over medium heat until done.
3.  Combine chicken broth, sesame oil, mustard, salt and remaining oil in a large bowl.  Add chicken, pasta and fruit.  Toss and serve.

First Thing To Do After Dinner: Go On A Beach Walk!

Of course, I could not let the first day of vacation go by without having ventured on the beach, so I convinced my parents to take us out on a night stroll on one.  The roads are not marked well, so we got lost a few times, but we eventually found Maho Bay.  Even though it was dark, I still managed to take some beautiful pictures:


My heart so full of love for you/Sing praise for all I see! ~ John Denver
Link Love:

Shakesville - Fat and Happy


I will, however, note that I'm lucky. A very, very fortunate girl—blessed by chance, touched warmly by the fingertips of providence. The fates shine on me.

You see, when people tell me that no one who's fat can be happy, luckily, I don't give a shit.

[…]It remains a radical act to be fat and happy.

My Heart So Full - Vacation Day One on St. John

Right now, I am on St. John, one of the U.S. Virgin Islands and last night and this morning these words from the John Denver song, Falling Leaves, keep on replaying in my head:
My heart so full of love for you/Sing praise for all I see.
I am very happy! I took a gentle yoga and art workshop last week, where I did some art and intention around the fact that I felt like I needed to go away into a "sanctuary" and recharge myself and so I am very thankful that we are on an island that is more like paradise and being one with nature, as opposed to the commercialism of say, Disney World.
(The Workshop Artwork-"I Am The One Who Rides The Storm")


#1 Thing You Must Do Directly Off The Ferry Onto St. John: Get a fresh smoothie!


There are smoothie places everywhere, but this place was so colorful that we had to stop and we were not disappointed. I got a coconut, banana, pineapple smoothie and I will never go to Planet Smoothie again! It wasn't as sweet as the kind you get at the big stores, but still very delicious!  

Then we checked into our cute, perfect little cottage.  Here is the view:

#1 Thing You Must Do After You Check-In: Take a NAP!

My mom and I were exhausted after getting up early, a taxi ride, a ferry ride, waiting for our hostess, grocery shopping, and a crazy car ride.  Exhausted!  My dad was itching to go explore, so he left to find a beach, but I slept for two hours and I am so glad I did-when one has physical and mental illness, it is so important to take care of one's body and pay attention to its tiiredness cues, even if one just arrived at an island paradise.  Otherwise, I would have been too miserable to really enjoy myself and isn't that what a vacation is all about?

#1 Things You Must Include In Your Dinner: Fresh Mangoes and Papaya!

Since I was well rested, I made dinner that night-a yummy chicken pasta salad.  The recipe originally called for shrimp and for lemon juice and some other ingredients, but when you're on the island you have got to go with the flow... It was still good though, nice and light for a sunny day. Who knew that pineapple juice and thyme would pair well together or that we would have picked out the best fruits on the island? Seriously, nothing beats cold, juicy, and sweet fresh fruit on a hot summer's day.

Some Things You Should Know About Virgin Island Food: Astoundingly, it is hard to find lemons, so recipes may need to be tweaked! Also, fish are very expensive, because of previous over-fishing and because there is a copper mine nearby that made a lot of the edible fish sick! Even here in paradise, there are sad reminders of how humans are destroying Eden. You will have to boil the water from the tap to make sure you don't get sick! Definitely do eat lots of fresh mangos and papaya!  Here in Georgia, mangoes are more well known-if you've never had papaya before, it tastes sort of like watermelon, but with the texture of a soft cantelope.  Only eat the pink part.



from the website, HowStuffWorkswith adaptations

YIELD Makes 6 (1-cup) servings

INGREDIENTS
6ounces uncooked medium bow tie pasta
1tablespoon ground allspice
1tablespoon frozen orange juice concentrate pineapple juice
1‑1/2teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
1teaspoon ground dried thyme leaves
1/4teaspoon minced scotch bonnet pepper*
12ounces raw medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1large chicken breast
Nonstick cooking spray
1/2cup fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/3cup finely chopped green onions, green tops only
2tablespoons lemon juice
1tablespoon sesame oil
1teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4teaspoon salt
1cup diced papaya
3/4cup diced mango
PREPARATION:
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt. Drain; set aside.
  2. Combine allspice, orange juice concentrate pineapple juice, 1 teaspoon oil, thyme and pepper in small bowl; add shrimp cut up chicken and thoroughly coat. Spray large nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Heat over medium heat until hot. Add shrimp chicken; cook and stir 3 to 5 minutes or until shrimp are opaque. Remove from heat.
  3. Combine chicken broth, green onions, lemon juice, sesame oil, mustard, salt and remaining 1/2 teaspoon oil in large bow
 

#1 Thing To Do After Dinner: Go for a walk on the beach! 

I could not let the first real day of vacation go by without having ventured on a beach, so I convinced my parents to take us out for a night stroll on one.  The roads are not marked well, so we got lost several times, but we eventually made it to Maho Bay.  Even though it was dark, I still managed to get some beautiful pictures:



My heart so full of love for you/Sing praise for all I see. ~ John Denver
Link Love:

Shakesville - Fat and Happy

I will, however, note that I'm lucky. A very, very fortunate girl—blessed by chance, touched warmly by the fingertips of providence. The fates shine on me.

You see, when people tell me that no one who's fat can be happy, luckily, I don't give a shit.

[…]It remains a radical act to be fat and happy.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Try Listening to Silence

Noise, noise, noise-it seems to be everywhere!  Crowded spaces, loud televisions, phones ringing, speakers always playing bad music at the mall... (They remind me of Edgar Allen Poe's poem, The Bells.)  Many times when I come home I feel very tired and overstimulated and sitting in front of a blaring television is perhaps not the best idea, so I'll put on some light music and relax by doing some crafting.
 
(One of my latest-I'm working on a book of colorful DBT skill cards)

But what about total silence? Many people are afraid of it.  In Alanis Morisette's 90s song, "All I Really Want," she sings, 
Why are you so petrified of silence? Here can you handle this? Did you think about your bills, you ex, your deadlines Or when you think you're gonna die? Or did you long for the next distraction?
I went on a short vacation a few weeks ago to see a cousin get married and my parents and I stayed in a beautiful old mansion. I took some ridiculously cute pictures of Canadian geese and their goslings while on a walk:
 

I also had a room to myself and to my surprise I found that I loved being in my room without the lights  and the television on.  After being with people all day, the silence and darkness was as comforting as a womb.

Fast forward to a few days ago-I attended a gentle yoga and meditation class and we meditated for ten minutes in total silence...and I loved it.  In a world so afraid of silence and so full of noise, it is easy to forget how healing silence can really be!  Being mindful in silence, as opposed to letting your mind run wild with worry, can be incredibly healing.  I do this by repeating the mantra, "let go," in my head until my mind really has let go of all of my anxiety and stress.

We are a nation terrified of silence and our consumerist culture certainly wants to support that fear.  What would happen if we started embracing silence?  Then perhaps we would become more satisfied with ourselves and have less need of material goods to provide external comfort.  Perhaps we would find that we could comfort ourselves without going into deep debt.  I am reading an insightful book right now called, Genesis and the Rise of Civilization by J. Snodgrass, and it posits that the way of Jesus and the Bible is not about being one with civilization, but about moving away from being influenced by society-the power is in the rebel outliers rather than in the ones who try to fit in.  Jesus had a spiritual practice of going alone to pray-similarly, anyone, even those who are not religious, can develop a practice of meditating in silence in order to become more attune to what is most important to them and to finding inner peace.

Shalom silence-hello friend!  May I welcome you more often into my life...

Link Love:
To paraphrase the great John Oliver, listen up, fellow self-pitying nerd boys—we are not the victims here. We are not the underdogs. We are not the ones who have our ownership over our bodies and our emotions stepped on constantly by other people’s entitlement. We’re not the ones where one out of six of us will have someone violently attempt to take control of our bodies in our lifetimes.

The greatest gift of love is the gesture of open arms -- let come what comes -- not because you don't care, or because you hope to steel yourself against pain, but because you care so much that you are helpless to do anything else. And you accept the cost, the inevitable blow to the heart.