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Showing posts from 2016

The Beautiful Sleepy Vacation

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In today's rush we all think too much, seek too much, want too much and forget about the joy of just Being.  ~ Eckhart  Tolle Right now I flying home from Key West, Florida.  I know, I am very privileged and lucky.  If I could name this past holiday vacation anything, it would be, “The Beautiful, Sleepy Vacation.”  Because of I-don’t-know-what, I have a very annoying condition where if I don’t get to sleep in until at least ten a.m., then I usually stay sleepy for the rest of the day.  I am extremely grateful to have a job that accommodates my need for late mornings.  Because we couldn’t sleep in much AND because I did not have a day to rest in between a work-day and the leaving-for-vacation-day, I was sleepy for most of the trip.  The only day I did not feel sleepy was ironically the day we left, because I got to have a good nap in the morning.  Such is a disabled life. However, I still had a great time!  The weather was perfect and so was the sea.  I have never been to a be

Finding Your Holiday Spirit When Feeling Bitter

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Christmas is not a time or a season, but a state of mind.  To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. ~ Calvin Coolidge Until last week, I was not feeling the holiday spirit.  I guess you could call me the Trump Grump.  With so much uncertainty and fear in the air, I just did not feel like celebrating anything.  Being in the holiday spirit means a lot to me.  I have always thought it important to relish the joys of the season - it fills the coldness of winter with love and gratitude and kind warmth.  I eventually was able to pull myself out of the pit and into genuine holiday happiness and so I wanted to share what I've learned with you. Lesson 1 - Authenticity and Validation  It is a terrible, although common, feeling to feel like one has to lie and say they're fine when they're not.  When at my church two weeks ago and all I could think of was the fact that Trump is going to be president soon, I decided that I

A Vegan Thanksgiving?

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I am grateful for what I am and have.  My thanksgiving is perpetual.  ~ Henry David Thoreau   I used to hate Thanksgiving, but every year of my recovery, I am starting to like it more and more.  I actually can appreciate it being about gratitude instead of cynically thinking it is only about stuffing ourselves silly.  One of the reasons why I used to hate Thanksgiving was because of the rich food.  While traditional food does contain some happy family memories, the richness makes me feel overly full and slightly sick.  I have a very sensitive stomach, so sensitive that even the Morningstar veggie burgers at Burger King are making me feel queasy nowadays.  My brother's fiancĂ© and my mom are both vegan and this delighted me, as it meant I could try my hand at some lighter, healthier versions of classic Thanksgiving dishes.  We had turkey and nonvegan stuffing, but the mashed potatoes and sweet potato dishes were both without dairy.  I was a bit worried about the mashed potatoe

My Letter to Governor Nathan Deal

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Your silence will not protect you.  ~ Audre Lorde Last Thursday, like many people, I was devastated.  I cried and did not want to interact with anyone, even though I had a job to go to.  Worse yet, at my job I am expected to be an optimistic person who embraces recovery, but I did not feel that way at all then.  I am still devastated, but fortunately I am no longer in the pits of despair.  Just because Trump is the president elect does not mean that all hope is lost - it does mean, however, that no one with a conscience can rest and be silent anymore.  A friend of mine said that we just need to wait and trust in the Lord, well, my theology is different.  I believe that the Lord acts through us and so the time for waiting is over if we truly want to show others that ours is a God of Love and not a God of discrimination.  Activism, for me, is also a form of self-care.  It makes me feel powerful and useful and it prevents the darkness from consuming me.  I decided to write my governor

DBT Class Over But I'm Not Done Growing

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All around us we observe a pregnant creation.  The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs.  But it's not only around us, it's within us.  The Spirit of God is arousing us within.  We're also feeling the birth pangs.  These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance.  That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother.  We are enlarged in the waiting.  We, of course, don't see what is enlarging us.  But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.  (The Message Bible, 322) It's hard to believe that I started my third Dialectical Behavioral Therapy  class six months ago, but it's true.  I wish I could say that my life is magically stress free now, but that would be a big, fat lie.  What is true is that I am able to handle my stressors a whole lot better than I could before.  Now, when I am stressed out, I try to focus on the moment.  

Everything's Gonna Be Alright

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 Recovery is a whole series of storms, storms that help to sprout new growth, storms that flush clean our own clogged drains.  The peace that comes after a storm is worth singing about.  ~  Each Day A New Beginning: Daily Meditations For Women by Karen Casey A few weeks ago, I performed with The Rise Theater as the goddess of creativity.  I strolled around a recovery fair and sang songs to people with flowers in my hair:    One of the songs I sang was the Bob Marley song,  Three Little Birds.   If you can't recall the song, it's the one where the chorus sings,  Don't worry 'bout a thing 'cause everything's gonna be alright   It's a really lovely song and I enjoyed singing it.   About half a week ago, I was late for an event and I was beginning to lose it.  I could feel myself begin to become agitated in the car when the song lyrics popped into my head.  Internally hearing the song lyrics again enabled me to be able to pause and take some deep br

Grieving for My Younger Self - A Poem

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Through the heartfelt mercies of our God, God's Sunrise will break in upon us, shining on those in the darkness, those sitting in the shadow of death, then showing us the way, one foot at a time, down the path of peace. (The Message Bible, 121) Clinical words can hurt immensely - the picture they paint seems so drastic and horrible at times, which if you think about it, is sort of funny considering that usually clinicians are trying to get us away from all or nothing, doom and gloom thinking.  The other day I was cleaning up my art room when I stumbled upon a big binder with no label.  Curious, I opened it to discover that it was my clinical records from when I attended an outpatient program a few years ago.  As I thumbed through the pages, I was overcome with sorrow and empathy for the person I had been at the time.  Memories of a much worse time flooded me and I cried.  Sometimes I just wish that I could go back in time and treat my younger self with loving kindness - the kin

Morbid Positivity

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The acceptance of death gives you more of a stake in life, in living happily, as it should be lived.  Living for the moment. ~ Sting  You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope.  With less of you there is more of God and Her rule. (The Message Bible 18) This is something I wrote during a concert at DragonCon :  (I am such an introvert that I had to get away from the crowd and instead plopped down in a corner, pulled out my tablet, and started blogging.)  Listening to Voltaire  and feeling sentimental.  He just sang Hallelujah. sigh  Shortly before that, he told a story about how he was bullied in school growing up because he wouldn’t play football and liked puppetry and sci-fi instead.  He was called horrible names  and told to kill himself. (What a horrible thing to tell anyone!)  One day, he accepted death and said that he would kill himself the next day – but that for this last day on Earth, he would stand up for himself.  That day, he found that all the p

Morbid Positivity

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The acceptance of death gives you more of a stake in life, in living happily, as it should be lived.  Living for the moment. ~ Sting  You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope.  With less of you there is more of God and Her rule. (The Message Bible 18) This is something I wrote during a concert at DragonCon :  (I am such an introvert that I had to get away from the crowd and instead plopped down in a corner, pulled out my tablet, and started blogging.)  Listening to Voltaire  and feeling sentimental.  He just sang Hallelujah. sigh  Shortly before that, he told a story about how he was bullied in school growing up because he wouldn’t play football and liked puppetry and sci-fi instead.  He was called horrible names  and told to kill himself. (What a horrible thing to tell anyone!)  One day, he accepted death and said that he would kill himself the next day – but that for this last day on Earth, he would stand up for himself.  That day, he found that all the p

Empowering Inspiration

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Change your life.  God's kin-dom is here! (The Message Bible, 15) I've been thinking about inspiration lately and when it is empowering and when it becomes harmful.  This is what I posted in response to the article,  Inspiration Porn: What It Is and Why It Hurts : I have much conflict with this.  I feel like it applies if a person is born with a disability.  But if it happens later in life, then choosing to give up is a much more realistic choice. I feel like especially when it comes to severe mental illness, the success I've achieved IS rightly inspirational.  I graduated college and it was one of the hardest things I've ever done and the only thing that made it so hard was my disability-severe mental illness. So yeah, I'm proud of that.  I do a lot of mental health presentations where I put myself as an inspiration to others. On the other hand, sometimes I am used as a commodity.  Like people only see me as inspiration and not as human, like I've got sup

Summer Vacation 2016 - Take My Body Love Pledge

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I am now traveling home.  It will take approximately ten hours, so I should have plenty of time.  I am condensing the rest of my vacation into one single post in several parts because I always struggle with timeliness after getting home from a vacation.  This last post is about the most important lesson I learned-to love my body. I. I could not be totally body positive forever. As the fattest woman in our group who is woefully athletically challenged, my self-confidence and self-love started to diminish.  So I took a picture of me in my bathing suit to see if I looked as awful as I felt and to my surprise, I loved the picture!  Here it is: This is not an expensive bathing suit-I got it in the plus size section of Target for twenty-something dollars, but it's a superb suit.  But this is not just about the bathing suit. I took my picture fully expecting to see an image that I would have to berate and instead, I felt nothing but love.  I love my haircut, I love my bathing suit.  I

Slow Kingdom Coming - Book Review

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whatever we follow is what we’re transformed by - Slow Kingdom Coming by Kent Annan. Slow Kingdom Coming by Kent Annan  - I hated the first part, which seemed like an advertisement for his friend's church but the book got better.  The book is basically about the fact that there are many ways to superficially, consumerally show support for justice but that with more focus and careful consideration, a person can make a better contribution to bringing God's kingdom to Earth.  I liked his section on confession as part of justice work.  I don't confess enough.  His book had nothing I had not heard of before but I put some of his quotes in my inspirational quote book.  I liked what he said about needing gratitude and joy.  Joy can be a kind of lifeline as we work for justice, which exposes us to suffering and exacts a toll on us.  I have also found them to be instrumental in keeping me going.  His book seemed to be basically spiritual intentional peer support (IPS) to me.

Summer Vacation 2016 - My Queenly Self

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We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we would stand-out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise. (The Message Bible, 315) On day three, the sea was very calm, just like me:   The perfect weather for my brother to paddle me around the ocean.  I felt like a queen on the Nile: And really, I am like a queen-I am the queen of my life. I get to choose how I react, think, and feel.  It takes hard work to realize a certain way does not serve me anymore but I am the one who gets to decide when I have had enough and how I am going to change.  I believe that I have the support of my higher power, whom I call by many names. I believe it is my higher power that prepares me and shows me new ways of being that I would not think of on my own.  It is up to me to open my heart to Her whispers.   A being who has far less choice is my brother's dog, Bee.  I've had fun taking pictures of her, as she is the queen of the quest

Summer Vacation 2016 - Recognizing Privilege

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Live out your God created identity.  Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you. (The Message Bible, 22) Yesterday, as I looked at my big family getting along and being merry together, I thought to myself, I am so privileged. I am not saying this because I think I am better than others or because I think I think I deserve more because of somehow working harder.  I do not have time for bootstrapping myths.  What I do have time for is to appreciate the good things in my life. I have a big extended family that gets along for the most part. My family has superb cooks who cook in a way that doesn't upset my stomach. We know how to relax. Despite my lack of money, my needs are fully taken care of. I do not feel judged by my family. I feel comfortable around my family. I feel comfortable in my own skin. I am surrounded by beauty. I am safe. I am loved. Now do I  always  feel comfortable with my family or in my own skin? Of course not! H

Summer Vacation 2016-Sacred Sanity

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You're blessed when you're content with just who you are-no more, no less.  That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought." (19, The Message Bible)   It is time for for my summer vacation posts!  I didn't do them last year because I was too busy.  Fortunately, this summer vacation is more relaxed, so I should be able to post every day.   We are at Nag's Head, North Carolina, on the outer banks. I wish we were boycotting North Carolina but as my family decided not to, I figure I might as well enjoy the vacation.   Yesterday, as I was climbing the stairs to the house, I thought to myself,    nothing is more sacred than sanity.  It is so refreshing and wonderful to be on vacation and not be exhausted and depressed.  I feel free.  DBT has helped me the way I knew it would and today I am not anxious but very happy. I feel comfortable in my own skin and it is a very luxurious, utterly enjoyable emotion.  Thank

The Rise Theater

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And it shall come to pass that just as you were a curse among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so I will save you, and you shall be a blessing.  Do not fear, let yor hands be strong.  Zechariah 8:7-8   It's funny how the universe works.   All my life I wanted to be part of a theater company and I thought I would need extensive schooling and training to be great.  When I had to switch majors from music performance to English because of my anxiety and depression, I felt like a total failure.  I was giving up my dream, I thought, forever.   All those years spent thinking and dreaming of being onstage since a young child did not go to waste, however. I am now part of a theater company. I've found that our intentions come true but never on our own time frame.  In order to perform successfully, I had to learn how to be totally in the moment and how to let myself go - two things I learned in DBT.   The Rise Theater  is a theater company in Georgia ma

Thankfulness for Sadness

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Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut from the fold , and there be no herd in the stalls-yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:17-18 I am very sad.  Yesterday, my roommate and I had to put our other roommate's dog down.  It was one of the saddest things I have ever done.  Opal was a beautiful black lab with a sweet heart.  She greeted everyone at the door with a shoe and in fact, often would wait up for me late at night, even though she was not my dog.  I thought it was funny how she would turn to look at me and give me a little kick with her back leg when I would stop petting her.   I petted and petted her yesterday as she was dying. I cried off and on yesterday, took a nap, ate ice cream, visited with a friend late at night and colored to soothe myself.  It's funny, but as I was doing my nightly gratitude l

It Seemed Like A Good Idea: Creative Writing

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Your task is to be true not to be popular (The Message Bible) Often I lead creative writing at work .  These are two little pieces I wrote one day during the activity: It seemed like a good idea at the time: putting it off til tomorrow.  Not saying anything right now.  Not saying what I want to say.  Not speaking my mind.  Not standing up for myself.  I need to stop ignoring my own internal demands.  My needs are just as important as anybody else's but I am the only one that can enforce them.  Therefore, taking care of my needs are more important than pleasing other people, even if I love them.  By taking care of myself, I give myself validation and love, which frees me to better validate and love others.   The cosmos is within us.  We are made of star stuff.  We are a way for the universe to know itself.  ( Carl Sagan , Cosmos) Without the dark, we'd never see the stars...  Unless the stars aren't there.   And why is it dark?   Maybe it's smog.  Maybe I'm

Going Through Grief - The Pulse Shooting Memorial

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  Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”  ―  Audre Lorde A week ago, I was still really struggling and sad about The Pulse Shooting.  Ok, so I'm still struggling and sad about it but I was much more so that day.  I decided to do a memorial service during the two LGBT support groups that I facilitate where I work  and I had written something long and angry.  Fortunately, I had a therapy session before the service and it was so helpful.  "I want you to feel how connected you are," my therapist said.  She reminded me that I needed to be part of my community, the importance of not hiding and taking care of myself.  I felt bolstered up, being reminded of the interconnectedness of all people and I left knowing that I needed to rewrite my service.  I majorly edited what I wrote, which was a mix-match of several blog posts, and ended it with a question about self-care.  In our quest to make sense of the h

Going Through Grief

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The point of DBT is not to be perfect. The point of DBT is not to never feel pain. I am grieving.   The best way to feel better when something tragic has happened is to allow yourself to go through the grief. Ignore the grief and it will gradually catch up with you. I am grieving The Pulse shooting. I feel like the world is no longer safe. But it was never that safe to begin with. I worry. I go to a church with a large gay population, plus our minister is a lesbian.  What if it gets blown up?  My church is both a safe space and it is not. I lead two LGBT support groups where I work.  What if someone comes in shooting? These are questions, anxieties, that I have had that have gone unspoken until now. Unless you are LGBT, you do not know the fear I feel when I go to church or when I agreed to lead not one, but two, LGBT support groups. The point of DBT is not to never be anxious but not to be crippled by it. The best way to allow myself freedom is to let myself grieve. I give myself perm

Unchurching by Richard Jacobson - Book Review

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Return to the Lord your God, for [S]he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and [S]he relents from doing harm.  Joel 2:13 Speakeasy sent me the book, Unchurching: Christianity Without Churchianity  by Richard Jacobson .  Here is my review:   If I could sum up this book in one word, it would be, “unity.”  It is what the church needs to be and why so many are leaving it.   If I could sum up this book in one phrase, it would be, “the priesthood of all believers.”  All the members of a church are capable of leading and teaching church members.  In fact, it is our responsibility and we are all equal in this.   Why don’t we do this?  As Richard Jacobson points out, “we desperately want someone  else to take responsibility for our relationship with God” and I think this is true.  He also says that, “the church was never meant to become a corporation.[…] the way to unlock  our calling as a genuine church community is to remain focused on Christ, not by becoming di

All I Have Are Questions - The Pulse Shooting

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Moreover, the Kingdom is not somewhere else, rather it is among you, inside you, and outside you.  Neither is it some time in the future, for it is here, spread out on the earth; people just do not see it. ~  Marcus Borg I pass as straight most of the time and so I have a lot of privilege in many ways.  But still, I possess a lot of fear related to my queerness.  It is a level of fear that I think a lot of people don't realize.  For instance, for the past sixteen years I have attended a church with a lesbian minister that is attended by a lot of LGBTQ people, which means that for the past sixteen years I have feared that someone will bomb or otherwise terrorize the place where I worship.  That may sound extreme to some but hate-filled shootings and bombings are on the rise and have been for a while now.  I don't have ease of mind before telling someone about my pansexual poly relationship for the first time.  I have not had any negative reactions so far but I know I will on