Thursday, November 24, 2011

My Thanksgiving Blessing of Gratitude

Today, I am grateful for all of my friends in Flesh and ether. I am grateful to the ancesters who came before and paved the way for all of us to be here today. I am grateful to my family of origin and my family of choice for loving me even though I am flawed. I am grateful to all of the beings, flora, fauna and fungus who have given their lives for today's feast. I am grateful for the Mother Earth who sustains us and for Father Sky who fills our lungs with his breath. Blessed Be. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Finding a Lump in the Road

I have been using essential oils the past few months to stay healthy, and to control pain.

I was pain free for over two months until a bit over a week ago, when i felt like i had pulled a muscle doing, well, i had no idea what.  Then, monday afternoon, after essential oils and NSAIDs all failed to ease the pain at all, I reached around to massage the sore area and found a lump.

In the past, the pre-essential oil near miracle past, I would have ignored the pain.  Pain has been a part of my daily life for so long, that I learned long ago to just live with it.  What is one more point of pain?  Well, since i have been pain free fo a few months, I didn't ignore it, but nothing worked to alleviate it.  So, when i massaged my side/back and found a lump, I was a bit worried.

In the past, my pre cancer past, I would have ignored the lump for a few months until somthing else brought me in to the doctor's office.  But I am no longer living in that past and my partner, the nurse, made an appointment for me for Wednesday.

The nurse practitioner thinks it is just a benign fatty tumor, but I am getting an ultrasound this afternoon just to be sure.  And I will have the results sent to my oncologist, just in case.

I have been cancer free for four years and a couple of weeks now.  But, I must admit I have a small niggling fear about this.  I am not letting my fear take over though.  I am doing what I need to do and not freezing with fear, denying anything, or doomsaying.  I am just taking it as it is.  Maybe a pulled muscle. Maybe a pocket of fat I hadn't noticed when I was 43 pounds heavier (yes, 43 pounds lost since this spring).  Maybe something else.  I am just taking it one moment at a time, bound and determined to keep myself from going crazy once again from anxiety and fear.

The Universe will see that I am safe on my journey, wherever it takes me.  Blessed Be.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Sacred Kick in the Butt

written August 22, 2011

Reverend Deane did her first sermon yesterday as the new minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Flint.  She talked about Sacred spaces-physical, mental, emotional and spiritual sacred spaces and sacred moments.  She did a bit of show and tell of what she keeps on her personal altar: a rosary, other prayer beads, a small quilted altar cloth, a buddha statue, and another statue of a guy emulating buddha in his contented contemplative pose (she got him for ten cents at a garage sale or flea market).  She talked about the difference between habit and moments set apart as sacred.  Deane said that the idea of sacredness may or may not involve belief in deity. Much of what she said, I have put into practice myself in the past or present.   Much of what she said was stuff I've taught others in the past.   And, some of what she said reminded me of my own neglect of keeping the sacred in my life.
My house, for one.  I have been sorely neglecting my house.  Among the material clutter and my mental clutter, I have been neglecting to clean as I should, expecting Deb to pick up the messes I leave behind.  That is not fair to either of us, especially when my lapses of timely tidying cause our shared sacred space to fall into energetic stagnation or a physical obstacle course.
Another habit of neglect that I have practiced pretty much all of my life, is the one of leaving things unfinished.  Simple and seemingly innocuous examples of this cam be found in my closet and in my sewing room.  I have a bad habit of sewing something but leading the cuffs unhemmed, or the blanket binding not sewn on.  In one of the bedrooms, I have two windows and only one set of curtains sewn and hanging.  Over the other window hands an old, holey off white flannel sheet that room has remained unfinished that way for at lest five years.  Throughout those years, Deb has gently asked me several times if I'm ever going to make the second set of curtains.  Each time, I say yes, at some point, when I have time or energy or space in the sewing room among all the clutter in there (I did take care of much of that a few months ago, at least), or whatever other excuse I could come up with at the spur of the moment.
All of these unfinished projects came to mind when reverend Deane mentioned that"unfinished business" is one of the big no-nos in the art of feng shuei.
The really big unfinished business that came to mind as she spoke, is that I still have not re-learned French so I can take the test and be done with my undergraduate degree, for feng shuei's sake!  Some fear or other keeps me from it, most likely.  Fear of completion?  (Probably, considering my track record.)  Fear of failure?  (I can't fail if I don't try.)  Or, is it as Marianne Williamson said, a fear of my own success?  (Ummmmm.....)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Eating a Rainbow

I heard or read somewhere, that in order to get proper nutrition, we are supposed to eat as many different colors of food as we can.  Artificial food colorings don’t count.  Lately, I have been trying to eat the rainbow (not Skittles or playing a field of women- a rainbow of food).  Red cherries, strawberries and tomatoes.  Orange carrots, mangos and sweet potatoes.  Yellow corn, bananas and squash.  Green romaine, broccoli and melon.  Blueberries (which is kind of cheating, since everyone knows they are purple).  Purple onions, peppers and grapes.  White eggs, garlic and cheese.  Black rice, olives and beans.  Pink salmon, apples and grapefruit.  Brown wheat, mushrooms and raisins…
I have been especially paying attention to this equation since I’ve started reading Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma.  He doesn’t talk about eating the rainbow, but he does point out that since you are what you eat, we Americans are pretty much “corn walking”.  Not that I am against corn, by any means.  I love it on the cob, in my freezer, in my chili and salsa, flattened into tortillas and corn chips, baked into johnny cake, or the more southern style of savory corn bread.  However, it seems that corn is being parsed into so many seemingly different substances, that it is in, well, pretty much everything.  Even most of our meat, when looked at through a mass spectrometer, is corn molecules walking.  (He eloquently explains that corn holds an extra oxygen ion or something that distinguishes its molecules from others.)  This means that most of the nutrients that we eat, which as our hunter-gatherer ancestors knew, should be coming from a variety of plants and animals, instead are coming from one source:  corn.
To take it a step further, much of what goes in to our corn is….petroleum.  Black gold. Fossil fuel.   The large monoculture that has developed around growing corn for food for our cattle, chickens, cars and ourselves, maintains a very strong dependence on petroleum.  It takes gas to ship the seed and the products to and from various parts of the country.  It takes gas to run the combines, tractors and other vehicles necessary to maintain huge swaths of land dedicated to corn (and soybeans in some years).  And, the pesticides, herbicides and artificial fertilizers dumped on our once fertile farmlands are all made out of…..petroleum.
What happens when the petroleum dries up?  If reducing our dependence on foreign oil is such a national security concern, why are small farmers losing more and more of their security while large agribusiness processors are feeling more and more secure in their mansions of xanthan gum, ascerbic acid, high fructose corn syrup and corn fed, disease ridden animals?  
Perhaps it is because we have come to value the illusion of variety in our foods instead of the real thing.  Perhaps it is because we have come to value the convenience of a quick meal on the run between paychecks over a dinner made together as a family in the kitchen.  Perhaps it is because we subsidize the corn industry with our tax dollars in order to create a glut in the market, just waiting for some savvy business person disguised as a bringer of the next new miracle food which is really the same old thing, some component of corn in disguise.  Perhaps it is because we would rather not recognize the origin of our food.  Perhaps it is all or none of these reasons.
Michael Pollan doesn’t ask these questions, but as I read, these questions arise almost of their own volition out of the most rebellious part of my mind.  For, what can be more rebellious than to question the very substance from which I am made?  Sugar and spice and everything...skeptical.
I have not finished reading the book yet, so my questions will continue as I read about Pollan’s journey to follow four meals from field to table.  (I have a feeling my questions will continue beyond that, since I question everything.)  I recommend this book for anyone interested in issues of ethical eating, nutrition, farming, business, shopping, cooking, eating, fast food, organic lettuce, American politics, hippie lifestyles, grass, corn, cows, chickens, or dirt.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Hello Hips

Hello hips, it's been a while.  I haven't been able to find you for the longest time.  You’ve been hiding under baggy pants and layers of extra me.  I haven't even felt the breeze of your sway in a while, until recently.
Now and then, I’ve noticed you coming out of hiding, strutting around as if you had never been ashamed. And the other night, when I rolled over onto my stomach and adjusted the blob of scarred fat covering my belly, I felt the bone of you.  I was sooo happy to feel a hint of your bony presence again!
I remember when my body was first thinking about emerging from girlhood to womanhood.  I thought there was something wrong with my vision, my depth perception because I kept hitting you against desks, chairs, the corners of walls as I made left or right turns.  I'm sorry for all the bruises and bumps you endured during that time.
I also remember, as a young woman celebrating her sensuality, you, Hips, were my favorite body part (although my shoulders, I must admit were also very favored).  I used to lie on my side just so I could appreciate your curvy horizon.
I appreciate the Goddess-inherent, life~holding potential of your wide, sturdy shape. Hips like you are sometimes called "child-bearing hips".
I am sorry, hips, that when I lost the ability to bear children, I tossed you aside, ignored as if I had never reveled in your sensuality, had never known you as my center of gravity, had never called upon the powers between your crests to inspire me toward creativity, had never marveled at your diligent protection of my womb witch, I believed, was my seat and seed of power.
I am sorry, Hips, that I allowed my grief at the loss of my womb to coax me to turn my back on you, to cast away my appreciation of and gratitude to you.
I'm glad that you have started to gently nudge me, to remind me that also, as a crone, I still have power and value as a woman.  I'm glad that you don't necessarily demand the spotlight anymore, yet you make your presence subtly known beneath the fatty layers of my neglect, reminding me that although my womb has been stolen, my true power was deeper than my physical form, it is soul-deep.  
I'm glad that you are not jealous of the other parts that protect and uplift me. 
You, Hips, have always been there for me, even though I turned myself blind to your steadfast presence in the face of my grief.  Now, after the worst of it, you remain, peeking out occasionally to see if I am ready yet to reclaim my body, my center of gravity, my embodiment of the divine.
Hello Hips, so glad to meet you again.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fighting the Establishment to Fight My Fat

I went to a restaurant for lunch today and ended up ordering just black coffee because there was no nutrition information on the menu, in the restaurant or online for this particular large chain restaurant.  I ate when I got home instead.  I decided that unless the food service industry is forced by either consumers or the government, they will continue to poison the public with high fat, high sodium, high calorie, low nutrition foods with neglectful abandon.  So, I wrote this letter to my senators:

Dear Senator ____________,

I am an obese woman who has made a committment to myself to eat properly and excercise more.  I am telling you this because I have found that when I go out to eat, it is very hard to find nutritional information.  My partner is also diabetic and has high blood pressure, so she also has to track her nutrition.  Sometimes, if we are out and about, if her blood sugar drops, running home is not an option and we have to stop to eat right then in order to keep her from serious problems.  I thought that there were laws about restaurants needing to provide nutrition information, but evidently not.  For instance, today we went to Cracker Barrel for lunch (it was one of those emergency moments for her), and they had no nutrition information on the menu.  I asked the waitress for something with that information.  She went to check and found out that there was no nutrition information available in the restaurant for their customers.  I then used my smartphone to find information, and they did not provide anything on their website either.

In this country, we have an epidemic of health issues related to obesity and poor nutrition.  It is vital that all Americans have free access to information on the food that we eat.  Please consider making this a part of your mission as a senator.  We need laws that either provide nutrition information directly on restaurant menus or, at minimum, provide nutrition information at customer request.  (Small, single site restaurants may not need to be subject to this, but multiple site companies- either franchises or chains, should be subject to these requirements.)

I have no idea if there is any pending legislation on this order, or if anything has ever been introduced, passed or rejected in the past.  I just feel that this is an urgent issue in today's climate.

I am just one person dealing with this issue.  There are millions of others as well.  I, for one, would be less likely to order something off of a menu if it said that the calorie count was over 500, and more likely to order something with fewer calories, lower sodium, less fat, fewer carbs and, say higher calcium.  (Did you know that many restaurant salads touted as "healthier" options can run 700-1100 calories per serving?)  If that information is readily available, I believe that Americans would make better informed and healthier choices.  "Out of sight is out of mind" as the old saying goes.  The same goes for nutrition.

Please consider taking this up as an issue in the legislature.

Thank You,


I encourage those of you reading this to contact your legislators, state and federal, to encourage them to require nutrition information to be available to the public.