Sunday, October 28, 2018

In the beginning was the word

"and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him..."

I was raised with those words as a foundation to my being. Jesus died for my sins and his Father loved me so much that he sent His Son to die for me so that I could live. It was simple... 

As a woman the image of God as Father meant a lot of really complicated things to me and the connection between the white Father figure in the Bible was something one didn't really need to think about- it just... WAS. The sad reality is that it is so ingrained in the culture that you don't even have to articulate that you think god is white or male but the feeling that God is indeed male and white is just there. 

As I grew older I questioned that belief and it led me away from the church, away from belief in a male deity. Any deity actually. I won't go into a long theological diatribe about my own belief system I have had some thoughts I have been left with today that I thought about posting to FB but it would take up too much of a post and also, it's not necessarily something I want to share with everyone. So for those who clicked on the link, I assume you have some interest. 

If God is our father (and let us admit that the preponderance of images of the all the ancient texts show god as male- the female images that women worshiped in pre-bibical times were wiped out by the men, the men who wrote the bible and the few that are left are quite scant.) then men take on a relationship to God that women don't have. It's undeniable and it's subconscious. Men can try to deny this or reorder how they interact with the people in their lives so they more accurately align with who they believe God is, but the intention is still the same, the Men and God have a particular relationship and it is deeply ingrained in our culture. And that's just one of my observations: Men are too close to being God-like no matter whether you are liberal or conservative- it is deep in the religious psyche. So much so that it infects the non-religious. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Breakage



You called me ‘white’ the other night. You called me white and negated everything our life has been about. You might not have realized what you were doing or what you were saying but it was the green bile of what separated your father and I when we were at our worst, fighting about you kids, particularly you- the son, the heir apparent, and my part in your upbringing. And what would ultimately lead to divorce.
The last and most significant time was right after “the sexual harassment” phone call from your elementary school. The principle called for a meeting about our son. “He exposed himself to a little girl on the bus” a very disapproving voice spoke into the ear piece. I was alarmed. Douglas had difficulties with knowing what boundaries were appropriate in the best of scenarios. He walked away with strangers and tried to hold hands with people he didn’t know. He exploded over the slightest discomfiture- real or perceived. Life had been complicated for him since he was three let alone now as he hit the the pre-teen stages. It’s not fair that we assumed it was him without asking any questions but he was already well known for inappropriate behavior and it wasn’t unusual to get a call from school saying he’d thrown a temper tantrum or run out of the classroom so here we were- one more thing.
The problem was that we weren’t quite sure how we were going to get through to him. Your dad was ranting about how Douglas was going to be labeled a sex offender, police would be called, he could wind up in jail or even dead, that’s how boys wind up shot if he didn’t learn to behave… (those were days before Trayvon Martin and Philando Castile- a time before there was a national conversation- or avoidance of one depending on who you are talking to- about how many young black men were killed for being black in America) I agreed hesitantly but pointed out that the even bigger problem was that we couldn’t seem to get him to see how his consequences were related to his behavior at all. How was that going to change now? We were at our wits end when we sat down with the teachers and she began, “So, we need to talk to you about the incident that occurred on the bus with Mack.”
Mack?
As the teacher told it you pulled your pants down to show her your underwear. The school was very alarmed at this “sexual harassment” toward one of the little girls. I am not one to explain away your behavior, saying you were “just being a boy” but it was a bit of an overreaction considering that at six years old we had not yet had occasion to explain to you that exposing or even threatening to expose yourself to other people, let alone girls, was not appropriate. But schools don’t really take that into consideration and at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter because it falls upon the parents to react appropriately- or not.

>This is where being a sentient being comes into play I suppose. Parents who want their children in general and boys in particular to act in the world as positive influences and not as users and takers. As a parent you hope to raise young men and women who make choices that are human but TRY to think of others. I want to reiterate here that boys and girls are human. They will make mistakes along the way and sometimes we learn our most poignant lessons through mistakes. The important thing is to learn via our mistakes and not become trapped in them OR to repeat them.<  

In my mind, the situation then alters. You were and are a smart and sensitive kid. We could talk to you about your behavior and feel with some sense of security that you would understand. I knew you might shed a few tears because you got caught and it was embarrassing, but sometimes embarrassment is as good a consequence as a kid needs to not try that again. As your dad and I walked out -well, I say walked but your dad rarely walks. He pounds the pavement as though he has to beat it into submission. I half trot behind him and climb into my seat and breathe a sigh of relief, “Well that was a shock, it wasn’t Douglas for once!”
“I know. I was surprised too.”
We both laughed a little at the mistake.
“Yeah, it kind of changes how we’ll handle things. Mack can understand the situation a little better although I think they kind of overreacted considering he’s six. But we need to have the conversation with him…”
“He definitely needs to know better. This stuff isn’t going to cut it. He needs to know that a black man can’t get away with that. He could wind up in jail.”
WOAH! I thought we’d were in agreement that our youngest had more sense than to do something that would get him put in jail. Aside from that, was he really saying that the only thing that was important was to make our child, or for that matter any of our children, afraid of the police. What if the police weren’t around? Wasn’t your behavior as a basic HUMAN important?
“Well yeah,” I fumbled with my thoughts a bit. I have always felt like I’m on my back foot at moments like this. “It’s important that he doesn’t do anything that is going to get him in trouble but it’s more important to raise him just to be a good person. I mean just putting the fear of the police in him isn’t enough…”
“You have no idea what the hell you’re talking about.” His voice raised was more intense then I liked dealing with and the dread that came over me was a familiar one. “He can’t run around doing things that are going to get him in trouble with the police. You have no idea what it’s like.”
“I have no idea… “ I have no idea? I’ve been the one to bail him out multiple times through the past 15 years. I have been the one who talked to him on the phone while he was in tears as he sat in the holding cell until we could figure out how to pay because his own family wouldn’t help, and I had no idea…?? “Listen all I am saying is, that can’t be the only thing. I mean yes, it’s important to raise him to abide by the law and to keep himself out of trouble, but he also just needs to be a good person, a force for positive in the world and that isn’t going to happen if all we’re focused on is making him afraid of the police. I want my son...”
    “Don’t tell me how to raise my son. I am raising the boys.”
Your boys?”
“You don’t know how to raise black boys. I am raising the boys. You stay out of it.”  Because I was white
was the unspoken end of that phrase. I’d heard it before. It had come up when he wanted to pull out the ace and take the hand to win the “game” and he always wanted to win.
“Don’t know about raising boys…?” The words made their way up my tightened throat but they were stuck in my soul. Sixteen years of compromise, tears, humiliation and isolation strangled me. Why was I still doing this? Why was this my life?    
And now I sit here in the darkness, the labor of eleven years healing wiped out and olds wounds were now bleeding profusely.
“You don’t understand, you’re white…”
I wanted to burst back in your room, grab you by the ears and say “I’m your mother. I understand more than you think I do and I have carried my share of the burden, even if it was by choice.” But I kept my tongue. No Bandaids tonight.

Monday, February 20, 2017

[Sugar doesn't] really fix anything, except for everything.”*

So the hardest part of letting go of sugar in your diet is the initial cravings you feel. It takes approximately a month to clean your body of the toxins that keep you addicted to sugar. It takes a high level of commitment to your body and healthy living to decide you want to clean up your eating, However, I will PROMISE you, it's worth it! There are diets out there that you can follow or you can set out on your own. If you do it on your own, you might want to see if you can find a buddy to do it with as it's not an easy life change and support is critical. 


Shopping is a whole new adventure as it means reading a lot of labels if you want to eat anything that comes in a bottle or is pre-packaged. Even many (or most) organic foods have added sugars in them and if you want to clean up your eating, that's the first thing you want to tackle. I was surprised when I found out that even meats like bacon and ham are usually cured with sugar. The important thing to make sure and do is to eat things you enjoy AND to eat plenty of fruits. I am a fairly picky eater and I don't like a lot of the vegetables that many enjoy but keeping to the foods that I do enjoy has made this journey so much easier. 

   One thing I thoroughly enjoy every day is a hot cup of chai, especially in the winter. In the summer I am more likely to have iced tea but the creamy sweetness of chai is something I wasn't willing to eliminate from my diet. Fortunately, chai is delicious and even made more tasty by adding honey. I also use 100% real Maple syrup for sweetening some of the foods that I make in order to keep from slipping back into my addiction. As a migraineur honey is a great substitute as it is also an ant-inflammatory. I make a delicious granola once in a while with maple syrup as the sweetener. 

I hope it's a challenge your ready to take! And as a bonus, here's a recipe that I love for a bean soup:
1 lb dry black beans (or 1/2 black beans, 1/2 red beans). 
8 c. of water
1 yellow onion
1/2 green pepper
1/2 red pepper
3 lg cloves of garlic
1 jalepeno pepper finely chopped
1/2 -1 tsp of cumin 
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 bay leaves
1 T. basil 
dash of cayenne pepper
dash of red pepper flakes
1 lb. of raw chicken (breast or chicken legs)
Cook the "fast" way according to directions on package (takes beans about 3 hours to cook fully) or in a crockpot for up to 8 hours)
Add water as necessary. 
Serve with sour cream and/or grated cheddar cheese. I also serve it on top of brown rice. (white rice has too many starches and has been connected to an increase in diabetes). 

The Pampered Chef Rockcrok is a great way to make this recipe and it comes with a slow cooker set which is available March 1st!  

*quote from Ashly Lorenzana

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

You're in pretty good shape for the shape you are in.



I talked a little about releasing weight in my last post- and I mentioned the 5 letter word that can surprisingly bring out the fight in a lot of people. I say this because I am on a Migraine support group on Facebook and I know that whenever the issue of sugar is brought up, people immediately get angry. On other posts on nutrition, you see the same kind of reaction. Perhaps you aren't surprised by this, but I was. I knew I ate a lot of sugar but I didn't realize just how much until I started looking at ALL the food I eat. But before I get into specifics about what I have done to change my diet, it's important to look at WHY and HOW it came to be that sugar was such a mainstay in our diets. In September 2015, I read an article on (what else) migraines and how sugar is an inflammatory. The idea suddenly struck a chord with me and I began tossing out dietary changes in my mind. A friend of mine had eliminated sugar in her own diet so I talked to her about my thoughts. She  recommended that I watch 'That Sugar Film' to get more information. What I learned was fascinating...

In 1955, the government started looking at what causes people to gain weight after Senator George McGovern had a heart attack. He decided it was time for recommendations that would help people know what to eat to prevent heart disease. The intent was good. The result was not good. Two scientists were at the forefront of the argument at the time: Ancel Keys was one of the scientists who argued that fat was the leading cause of heart disease and unwanted weight gain. On the other side of the discussion was John Yudkin. He looked at the dietary history of humans, the the data on heart disease and he was struck by its correlation with the consumption of sugar, not fat. Keys' study was flawed because he shown a correlation between heart disease and saturated fat, but he had not excluded the possibility that heart disease was being caused by something else. Unfortunately the institutional power and the money was behind Keys and fat was demonized. The food industry responded by cutting back on fat in food and increasing the sugar to improve the taste.

When I initially began my journey, I was having a migraine 2-3 times a week and that was in spite of taking 3 preventatives. They weren't always migraines that kept me from working or from activities but it did always affect my day. And it did mean I was taking too much pain relief- a medication that  reduces the vascular inflammation associated with migraines but also carries with it very ugly side effects. But the preventatives themselves also affected my daily activities.  I took two seizure meds and though they kept me from having debilitating migraines, they caused a great deal of spaciness and lack of concentration. There were also other side effects that I wasn't able to track as easily, like the potential for gall bladder problems.  All of this added up to my desire to find another way to address my migraines.

I still wasn't sure but it was worth a shot!
Migraine brain (without the pain)

*This is a really brief summary of what occurred but you can learn more by going to this article or reading the book That Sugar Book by  Damon Gameau or watch the film 'That Sugar Film' for a more entertaining look at the topic.

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