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.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Virgin Islands Vacation Day Five - Patience and Freedom from "Stinky Donkey Dip" Days

Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet. ~ Aristotle 
We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. 
Fear of people and of economic (and housing) insecurity will leave us.
~ First and Tenth Promise of the 12 Steps
I am so excited!  After so many years of living with my parents, I am finally moving out and I would not be able to be trusted to do this successfully if I was not living in recovery.  In the past, I have lived on my own or with roommates while I attended college and the situation always spiraled out of control after a while.  Hospitalizations, extreme loneliness and neediness, relapses into disordered behavior would always happen and after coming home from college, I worked hard on my recovery.  Unfortunately, I experienced more relapses; fortunately, those relapses pushed me to work even harder and to take two rounds of DBT classes.  Now that I have been practicing using my DBT skills on a regular basis for several years now, have a strong support network of trustworthy friends, knowledge of support groups, and a future plan should I start to feel a little shaky, I am confidant for the first time since being diagnosed with severe mental illness that I can live on my own with success.  Success means happiness, independence and freedom-it means living in love, instead of fear.

BUT before I get too carried away....I must wait.  For I am not moving out until the end of this week.  The best thing to do when the waiting is hard in my experience is to keep yourself busy in order to keep the anxiety at bay.  Bumpyboobs post, "Ten Things To Do While Waiting for Test Results" has many good ideas, including blogging, which prompted me to write this post.  Instead of pacing the floor (I have already pretty much packed), I will now take you back in time to the fifth day of my Virgins Island vacation.
First we snorkeled at Maho Bay.  I enjoyed seeing lots of coral and fish in beautiful focus using the "turtle board," which we decided to rent out for the rest of the trip.  My dad took some great pictures using my underwater camera:

Aren't those pictures gorgeous?  Argh!  Looking at them makes me want to go back!  If I can't physically go back, then I will just use my imagination as I look at more of these photos...

After a nap, my family hiked on the Cinnamon Bay Factory Ruins Trail.  This cute little lizard greeted us at the beginning of the trail:
The ruins are from an old sugar factory.
I thought it was another instance of creepy beauty.
I especially like how the forest seemed to be reclaiming what used to be a site of exploitation.
The trail is a .5 mile loop that goes through the forest to the crypts of a Danish family.  Creepy....  Besides looking at the man-made structures that were becoming one with the forest, I admired the forest itself.  I thought the trees were simply gorgeous, like graceful goddesses with their arms stretching to the sky:

As I look at these pictures of water, trees, and animals, I am starting to feel more relaxed.
And as I look at this "Stinky Donkey Dip Ahead" picture I laugh and my anxieties seem to melt away.
Anxiety is its own "stinky donkey dip" and the best way to beat is to stay busy, and when I cannot be busy, then it is time to take a deep breath and be grateful for what I have already.  Remembering the love that I have already experienced and my previous pleasurable activities gives me hope for a new, creative future where that love can continue.  

What are you grateful for?  If you are anxious, what is a pleasurable event that you would like to remember? 

Link Love:

Feminism and Religion

Many of the women that I interviewed in my book Baby, You Are my Religion: Women, Gay Bars, and Theology Before Stonewall lived a closeted gay life. Their respect for their gay self had to be hidden in order to survive. It was how they respected the gay inner self—it is how they protected that self’s very survival.
[So] How can we support our gay elders? 

 Feminism: My New Religion by Michele Buscher

Feminism is the reason I get to live healthfully another day. […]Feminism is my new religion.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Story Lives - A Book Review - Being Nonjudgmental

For example, a black man in America is oppressed in a racist society.  If God is the God of the oppressed, then God is on his side.  But if this black man abuses his female partner, does God switch sides to be with her?  What if she abuses her child?  A God who resists oppression does not love or hate, accept or despise one person in this scenario more than another.  God resists the oppressive activity and calls each party to justice in their lives.  (82, Monica A Coleman, Making A Way Out of No Way)

The Story Lives: Leading a Missional Revolution by Henriet Schapelhouman (her website), a Speakeasy book, was sort of a mistake for me-it should have been really obvious that this book was about "winning people to Christ," which is not my theology at all and I would not have ordered it if I had not realized it in the first place, still I would say that for what it is, it is really well written, the best possible book for that genre and even made me think a bit.

I put the quote by Monica A. Coleman with this review, because I think it illustrates my feelings on Godde's favor well-just like God does not choose sides when it comes to supporting and loving those who are oppressed, even if they are being oppressed by each other, so I do not think that God chooses sides on who gets to enter heaven, that is, IF there is a heaven.  I don't believe that there are people who are extra special, that by believing or saying the right things will put a person in a better category than someone who does not when they die and so I do not feel a rush to evangelize.  I want people to have a peaceful and fulfilling life now whether that means living a life as a follower of Christ or as an atheist-both are valid, in my opinion.

That being said, I do consider myself an ambassador of Christiandom, meaning that I recognize that I represent Christians, especially progressive Christians; therefore, I must be on my best behavior.  I must still be authentic to who I am, of course, but basically, what I want is when people find out that I am a Christian, I want them to be left with a good taste in their mouth, which is why I like the book's caution of not being "too salty."  Christians are supposed to be the salt of the world and I liked that this book cautioned against overdoing it and not being in people's face about my faith-what the book called being "too salty."  In fact, The Story Lives, for the most part, is presented in a way that I can support for it is about being authentic, not overdoing or overstepping boundaries, helping others in a nonthreatening way, going beyond the church to help others, looking beyond the church for leadership opportunities.  Since I participate in the feminist, intellectual, and geek worlds, many of my friends are atheist, agnostic, or from different faiths, and I want them to know that I am not judging them or even tolerating them, but that I like to hear what they have to say.  I do not consider a judgmental Christian to be a Christian with their priorities in true order.    
Of course, being nonjudgmental also applies to one's self and funnily enough, I actually find that to be much harder sometimes.  My therapist was reminding me to be nonjudgmental towards myself just this past Monday.  I suppose though, if I taste alright to other people, then surely I must taste fine to myself too, right? That is the goal, anyway.  I am really just a little anxious-it is so hard to be patient!-because soon I will be moving out of the house after five years of living with my parents!!!  A big part of me is still in shock.  Happy shock!   A big smile is on my face just thinking about it.  Don't worry, I will write more in depth about it later. 

Do I recommend the book?  Well, I do if that is your theology.  I think it is very well written and extremely respectful, but just not quite my cup of tea.  If you think people need to be saved, then I think this book could be very thought provoking and could really help you be more respectful and holistic.  I appreciated this book and it helped me see that not all people who think this way are obnoxious, which is how I hope a lot of people see me, so it is perhaps a very good thing that I read the book.  It helped me be a little less judgmental towards people of my own faith.  Sadly enough, it is the "too salty" Christians that the author talks about that I am often the most judgmental or afraid of and I need to look beyond our differences and towards our similarities, just like I do with the other people in my life.  With all that is going on in the news about Hobby Lobby and reproductive rights and gay rights, I am feeling a little sore against conservative Christians, but even so, looking at people as the enemy only breeds hate and despair, while deep inside I know it would be better to breed love and understanding, which would help lead us towards reconciliation. 

Let us look at each other as people to understand, rather than as people to oppose.

Link Love:
Congress should not make any decisions about programs meant to help families living in poverty without people who know poverty first hand at the decision-making table.

He explained that now that I knew what was required, we could have a great time in the bedroom. I told him no. I would not hide from my own body. 

“You can’t change the laws without changing the images,” she said. “It is one thing to say we exist; it is another thing to show it. Art is political, art is about activism. And it’s beyond just the art. I also want to contest the notions of an African homosexuality, and I’m hoping that others will come up with similar visual narratives in Uganda, Nigeria, Malawi, Botswana, Lesotho.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Virgin Islands Vacation Day Four - Revealing Godde In A Recipe and More

We are distinct from God-we are not God ourselves - but we are part of who and what God is, and God is a part of who and what we are. The entire world reveals God. (75, Making A Way Out of No Way, Monica A Coleman)

The fourth day was much better because I remembered my new mantra from the "Girls Are Not Chicks" coloring book:
I do not need conventional femininity!
Also, my parents solved my snorkeling problem by renting me a "turtle-board," which is a plastic board with a clear bottom-perfect for being able to paddle around with my glasses on to see the fish and coral. I recommend it for anyone who is as blind as I am! I discovered that the pictures of the coral do not come out well through the clear bottom, so the next day I gave my water-resistant camera to my dad. Having enough sleep, and with a fresh perspective, I was ready to witness how the Virgin Islands reveal Godde on day four. I saw it in the animals, as we ran into a herd of goats running around and I thought they were so cute!
I tasted God with my tastebuds in a pina colada from Shipwreck Landing, which made the best pina colada I have ever had!
At Shipwreck Landing, I looked awful-my hair was a mess, I was wearing grey leggings over an emerald green bathing suit and sneakers, but I was not there to model, I was there to enjoy myself and enjoy myself I did!  Happily, I had learned my lesson from the previous day.

I touched God by cooking the best meal of the trip that day.  I say, "touched God," because by cooking I was able to feed and thus heal and restore the energy of myself and my parents in a very pleasurable way.  When I cook for other people I am giving part of my essence to them, just like Godde gives part of her essence to us in Her creation every day.  

(from Allrecipes.com with adaptations-originally was Mahi Mahi)

2 T Olive Oil
1 1/2 t Soy Sauce
1 Clove Garlic
1 t Ground Black Pepper
1/2 t Ground Ginger
Salt to taste
1 lb Chicken Breasts
2 Cups Uncooked Jasmine Rice
1 Can Chicken Broth
2 T White Sugar
1 Can Coconut Milk
1 1/2 Butter
1 1/2 White Sugar
1 Fresh Mango, Cubed

Whisk together the olive oil, soy sauce, garlic, black pepper, ginger, salt together in a bowl.  Add the chicken breasts and toss to coat.  Cover and let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bring the rice, chicken broth, and butter to a boil in a saucepan over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the liquid has been absorbed, about twenty minutes.  Pour in the coconut milk and the 2 T of sugar.  Stir and simmer uncovered until the rice has absorbed almost all of the milk.

While the rice is cooking, remove the chicken from the marinade and shake off excess.  Discard extra.  Place chicken in a large baking dish in a single layer.  Bake at 350 degrees for twenty minutes.  

After the chicken is placed in the oven, melt 1 1/2 T butter and 1 1/2 T sugar in a skillet over medium-high heat.   When the mixture begins to bubble, stir in mango cubes.  Cook and stir until the mango is tender, about five minutes.  Serve by placing a chicken breast over a mound of hot rice with a topping of mango salsa.

OMG!!!  The creamy rice is addicting and the super sweet mangoes make your lips go smack!  The chicken is tender and one can really taste the marinade.  This recipe is a WINNER!!!

I am going to make this recipe again soon, this time with fish and I cannot wait!

So what did I learn from day four?  That just when my disability seems to be limiting and frustrating, with some investigating and help, I can often find a solution to help ease my stress.  I learned that I can appreciate Godde's spirit by admiring her wandering animals and that I can experience being a part of Godde by cooking for other people.  I learned that there is value in enjoying the simple pleasures in life and that how I or others feel about my looks should not hamper a trip to get a tasty treat.  I hope that you take the time to notice how the world reveals God to you between now and the next time I write!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Adoration by Martha Kilpatrick - A Feminist Book Review

Adoration: Mary of Bethany-The Untold Story by Martha Kilpatrick is a Speakeasy book in the spirit of His Desire Is For Me, as in it is written by a conservative and it is about adoration that is sickeningly sweet-Boo!  Fortunately, it was short.  The book is written in poetic style, which I did like.  What I did not like was the constant "He," "His" "Him" capitalized everywhere in reference to Godde.  It really seemed excessive and like the patriarchy was hitting me in the face.  The book was about Mary, the sister of Martha-the one who listened to Jesus, as opposed to Martha, who worked and so was chastised.   I found it very frustrating, as it sees things in total all or nothing - Mary was the adoring saint and Martha was the arrogant worker and there was never any room for anything in between.  Kilpatrick needs to learn some DBT!!!  I do not like the idea of vilifying Martha, as Kilpatrick seemed to be doing-women get vilified enough for working hard and wanting knowledge, as it is.

Also, this line deeply bothers me and goes against my personal theology:
The temptation is to believe that to love your neighbor is to love God.
Of course it is! In Matthew 25:40 Jesus says:
Truly I tell you, just as you did it to the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.
If that's not loving God, then I don't know what is! If loving a fellow creation that Godde has made is not loving the Creator Herself, then I don't know what is!

Adoration: Mary of Bethany does have some good bits, but unfortunately they are clouded over by the sheer enormity of the patriarchy present in this book.  I do not recommend it.

Kilpatrick on Facebook.  Shulamite Ministries  Kilpatrick's Blog: Get Along With God

Link Love:

“We need to understand that the mental health issues seen in the LGBT population as a result of minority stress are normal ways of responding to abnormal environmental stressors when our coping is depleted,” she says. “We need to address people’s isolation and secrecy around mental health issues through public education.” 

 Hobby Lobby and similar companies are placing themselves at the spiritual decision table, and they were not invited