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, May 26, 2015

Vlog - Disability is Natural

Here is a vlog that further explains something I was talking about in my recent post, Combating Ableism at a Wellness Fair.
Link Love:

 I recognize that everything might not turn out okay.
To live without acceptance is to live in a world that doesn’t really exist.  It’s to block our reality in the hopes that not mentally acknowledging something will make it not really real.
But it’s also to deprive ourselves of the ability to change situations we don’t like.  Because when it comes down to it, we can’t really change that which we don’t accept.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Recovery Is... The GA CPS Code of Ethics

I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statues, and you will keep my judgements and do them Ezekiel 36:26-27
You can call that Spirit recovery if you want.  Recovery is when you are no longer totally defined by your mental illness.  Recovery is when you want to tell people about your redemption - that you will always have mental illness, but that it does not control or demean you.  Recovery is when you make mistakes, but you do not let them turn your life into a crisis.  Recovery is when you recognize your worth as a valuable human being, deserving of dignity, respect and love.

I am very excited because I have been accepted to the next Georgia CPS (certified peer specialist) training.  A CPS is a person doing well in recovery who helps other people who have mental illness by relating to them as a peer.  Fundamental to the CPS training is the belief that all people deserve respect and to be as integrated into society as much as possible.  We have a code of ethics that I think are pretty great, so for American Psychological Association's Mental Health Blog Day (unfortunately, I am a day late), I am posting most of the GA CPS Code of Ethics.  I hope they inspire you as much as they inspire me.

GA Certified Peer Specialist Code of Ethics

  1. The primary responsibility of Certified Peer Specialists is to help individuals achieve their own needs, wants, and goals.  Certified Peer Specialists will be guided by the principle of self-determination for all. 

  1. Certified Peer Specialists will maintain high standards of personal conduct.  Certified Peer Specialists will also conduct themselves in a manner that fosters their own recovery.  

  1. Certified Peer Specialists will openly share with consumers and colleagues their recovery stories from mental illness and will likewise be able to identify and describe the supports that promote their recovery.

  1. Certified Peer Specialists will, at all times, respect the rights and dignity of those they serve.

  1. Certified Peer Specialists will never intimidate, threaten, harass, use undue influence, physical force or verbal abuse, or make unwarranted promises of benefits to the individuals they serve.

  1. Certified Peer Specialists will not practice, condone, facilitate or collaborate in any form of discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, race, sex, sexual orientation, age, religion, national origin, marital status, political belief, mental or physical disability, or any other preference or personal characteristic, condition or state.

  1. Certified Peer Specialists will advocate for those they serve that they may make their own decisions in all matters when dealing with other professionals.

  1. Certified Peer Specialists will respect the privacy and confidentiality of those they serve.

  1. Certified Peer Specialists will advocate for the full integration of individuals into the communities of their choice and will promote the inherent value of those individuals to those communities.  Certified Peer Specialists will be directed by the knowledge that all individuals have the right to live in the least restrictive and least intrusive environment.

  1. Certified Peers Specialists will keep current with emerging knowledge relevant to recovery, and openly share this knowledge with their colleagues.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Combating Ableism at a Wellness Fair

Recently I attended a wellness fair and on the brochure was this ableist statement:
Health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind and spirit. When one is free from physical disabilities and mental distractions the gates of the soul open. ~B.K.S
I say "ableist" because it does not acknowledge that the concept of health is on a spectrum and it discounts those with chronic disabilities.
It is ableist to say that a person with a chronic disability cannot still be healthy.
When a person has a chronic disability, their locus of health must be resituated.  Health is no longer not being physically and mentally unwell, but on having peace of mind, on having a life worth living, however differently that may look to each person.  To say that a blind person or a person with depression can never have "the gates of the soul open" is oppressive.  It puts society's view of health on a hierarchy over an individual's view of health.

I say the gates of the soul are open whenever someone has an open mind, heart and spirit.  Whenever a person is willing to entertain the thought that there might be more creative, more positive ways of living then their soul is opened.  Whenever a person is willing to forgive or love more deeply then their soul is opened.  Whenever a person strives towards justice and peace instead of vengeance then their soul is opened.

It is healthy to strive for less "mental distractions" even if one is still experiencing them.  It is healthy to try to take care of one's body, even if one's body will always be disabled in some way.  As I have said over and over on this blog, all bodies will become disabled one day - disability is a natural process that happens as one ages and so it is also ageist to say that physical and mental handicaps automatically make one unhealthy.

Our society likes to put people in divisive categories such as, fit and unfit, well and unwell, healthy and unhealthy, but it would actually be a lot more accurate to put people's conditions and characteristics on a spectrum.  One can be disabled and still be healthy. One does not need to be in perfect health to have an open and willing soul.
 (in Ashville)

Link Love:
Sadly, we spend just under 50% of our life in the present moment. “That means for almost 50% of our waking hours we’re worrying about the future or ruminating over the past and not engaged with, or enjoying, what we’re doing in the present moment,” says Soloway.

New research suggests that in matriarchies, there is no divine masculine per se, because though men have their own important roles, both males and females are encouraged to embody the values associated with mothers and mothering—in other words to be loving, giving, caring, and generous. In this context there is no opposition or sharp contrast between the divine masculine, the divine feminine, and any other divine gender or transgender.

People with SEID needed a term to better describe what’s going on in their bodies: systemic (affecting the whole body); exertion (associated with both mental and physical exertion); intolerance (specific impairment, like in gluten intolerance); disorder — a very real and very serious medical condition.
He adds that parents shouldn’t be concerned that serious talks about mental health will somehow suggest suicide to teens. “Adults are often worried that if they talk about suicide it will put the idea into their kid’s head. This just isn’t how it works

Monday, May 11, 2015

Faraway - A Book Review

Here is my last Speakeasy book review for a while:
Faraway: A Suburban Boy's Story as a Victim of Sex Trafficking by R.K. Kline and Daniel D. Maurer  - I must say, I was a little wary of reading a book about sex trafficking, but I was pleasantly surprised.  The book is a fast read and actually enjoyable, although tragic.  I would NOT recommend finishing reading it at your psychiatrist's office like I did, as you will have to quickly dry your tears.

We first saw Daniel D. Maurer's work in Sobriety, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and he expertly makes R.K. Kline's important story engaging.  Kline's story is important because it highlights how common sex trafficking is in suburbia and for boys.  It is a misconception that all sex trafficking victims are women, but it is women and girls who get the most attention because of homophobia and misogyny.

 Homophobia is the real villain in this book.  From an early age, Kline knew that it was not okay to be out as gay.  His desperation for intimacy and validation from other men was part of what made him such an easy target for the sex trade.  The knowledge that he could not tell anyone of what was happening for fear of being outed made the situation that much worse.

It is sad to note that the place that put young Kline in danger also provided him with his most real and faithful friends.  Through shared adversity, Kine found friends that acted as surrogate family and protectors.  The place that showed him what true friendship and validation is also ended up being the thing that destroys his and his friends' lives.  Now Kline lives with PTSD and wants people to know more about the complex issues surrounding male sex trafficking.  I was very glad for the afterward by Drs. Anthony Marcus and Ric Curtis that detailed relevant research about today's attitudes and issues surrounding teenage sex trafficking.

Faraway is a sobering book that will shock and sadden you and yet it is very readable.  I recommend it for parents and activists alike.  You can also follow Daniel Maurer on facebook and on twitter.

Link Love:
Dippyman - Throwing the book at depression
If you can find something positive in each day, however small, it starts a positive cycle. It gradually builds up so that you’re encouraged and reminded to keep looking – and when times are particularly hard, the stuff you’ve written down is your evidence against the accusing voice telling you you’re not good enough and that nothing good ever happens

CNN - 'Alone time' is really good for you

Our brains need to rest and recharge in order to function as well as we want them to. So even if you're not an introvert, alone time is still important for processing and reflecting.


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Beat is Beatitude - A Book Review

Another Speakeasy review that I enjoyed:

Beat is Beatitude: Poems, Prayers, & Preaching by Andy Smith - This is a book of mostly poetry done in the style of the beat writers, Smith's greatest writing inspiration.  I remember reading the beat poets in college, but I have not read their prose yet.  One thing that has stopped me from reading further is knowing that Ginsberg was a pedophile and Kerouac seems pretty misogynist.  Still, I do like their poetry as poetry.  

For the most part, I love Smith's poetry.  It's no Anne Sexton, whom I've been reading lately, for her writing is perfect every time.  Most of his work is stellar-insightful and somehow able to capture my spiritual thoughts exactly.  For instance, his "Creed" is the first creed I have ever read that describes how I think about my faith perfectly.  I especially like the line, "born from the sacred feminine in the form of the Mother Mary."  It just makes me want to scream, "YES!" because it acknowledges that the story of Jesus' birth is a myth with his mother representing the feminine divine.  I kept on underlining passages and even took some pictures of phrases I wanted to share with friends:

Smith's sometimes shocking words are refreshing in their political honesty.  I like seeing someone unabashedly write about the flaws of Christianity and the American empire.  I love that he is more focused on the humanity of Jesus than his divinity, as that is what I focus on too.
Unfortunately, when Smith flops, he flops hard, like in his version of the Lord's prayer that is centered around a port-a-potty.  I guess I can admire a guy who is willing to put himself so far out on a ridiculous idea for a poem, but it did not inspire me.

Towards the back of the book, Smith also includes some essays and sermons and these were not as good as his poetry.  I heartily recommend this book, although the style is uneven, but would advise you to skip the end pieces.  I definitely think the poetry probably works better as spoken word, so I would also advise you to check out his videos.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Book Review - The UNKingdom of God by Mark Van Steenwyk

It is the beginning of the month, which means it is time for me to review books.  I did not do this post last month because I was following the WEGO Health writing challenge, so I have a lot of books to cover.  Today's review will be of Mark Van Steenwyk's book, the UNKingdom of God.

The UNKingdom of God: Embracing The Subversive Power of Repentance by Mark Van Steenwyk - Mark Van Steenwyk is a Christian anarchist and I have been interested in anarchy for a while, so I was glad to receive this book.  Steenwyk says this about what empire is in this passage:
The logial conclusion of the survival instinct is empire. A humane society assumes live and let live, but empire is built on the logic of kill or be killed. Both the instinct to survive and the impulse to empire are driven by fear. Empires are built on enforced homogeneity in ethnicity, language, culture or georgraphy, combined with the impulse to universalize one's particularity. Any who resists this drive to hegemony becomes the enemy of empire. (179)
 We need to build a society that is based on love, not fear.  A society where we actually "turn the other cheek" and "love our neighbor as ourselves."  A society that has no supreme human rulers, but naturally takes everyone's needs into account.  According to Steenwyk, we do not need a president or earthly king, but a heavenly one.

He further explains:
There are seven billion people on this earth just like you. Hardly anyone cared when you were born and hardly anyone will care when you die. No matter what you do on this earth, good or bad, most people aren't going to care becase they are mostly concerned for themselves. Once you get over your heroism project and recognize that life is about living and loving and being loved, then life becomes simple and manageable. No need to strive, no need to ahcieve, no need to prove anything to anyone, no supremacy necessary. Loving God and loving neighbor-this is the way out of empire, this is the way into the kingdom of God. (181)
Steenwyk makes the point that Christianity has become a part of the empire, when it should be supporting a different way.   For Christianity to be what it truly needs to be - a religion of love and change, acceptance and redemption - it needs to repent of its empiric past and present and I fully agree.  True repentance means that one accepts that what one did was wrong, acknowledges it and then turns away toward the better way and this is what Christianity needs to do.  Christianity has committed torture, war, slavery, rape, abuse of people, earth, and animals, and greed and by saying we are Christians, we must take ownership of our horrid past and repent.  I truly believe that repentance is the only way that non-Christians are going to see that Christians value love over judgment.  Right now, all American Christians are caught up in empire thinking, just by being a part of this empire state and we should do what we can to rid ourselves of this brainwashing.  Jesus was not about being a part of an empire, but about loving and reaching out to everybody equally.  As I was reminded at a #RESTINPOWER memorial service last week, Jesus was an activist who upset the status quo and was thus executed by the empire.  Let us never forget that fact.
My only complaint about the book is Steenwyk's use of the word, "kingdom," instead of "kindom."  I know, I know, saying kingdom when refering to God's realm is subversive because it represents the opposite of earthly empires, but the term still does not sit well with me.  To me, the word, "kingdom" is absolutely associated with power over, instead of power with, and no amount of saying that it isn't will make it so.  I need a new term to denote what kind of place God's realm is and so I prefer the term, "kin-dom."  I agree with some feminist and process theologians that it makes no sense to call a loving, personal, sacrificial God a king when that is absolutely not how a king acts.  The title of king separates the common person from ever knowing the ruler on a personal level and I believe that connotation will follow if a person calls their God a king, even if they have the best of intentions.  Likewise, the word, "kingdom" implies borders, domination, and frankly, empire, so to me, calling God a "king" and her realm a "kingdom" is not subversive enough for me.

I recommend this book and I will probably reread this book over again at some point.  Check out the website, Jesus Radicals, for more information on Christian anarchy.
Link Love:

Shakesville - Baltimore Updates

Meaningful justice will only be achieved by dismantling the (in)justice system which is catastrophically contaminated by white supremacy.