Idealism is an Attractive Flower: Book Review

Idealism is an attractive flower by Oneida Morningstar Cramer

Idealism is an attractive flower by Oneida Morningstar Cramer

Two of my favorite things, photography and poetry combine in this unique and beautiful book of innovative photopoems by a woman with a unique and beautiful name – Oneida Morningstar Cramer. Her first published work, Idealism is an attractive flower, which won Gold in the poetry category of the 2015 Feathered Quill Book Awards and also received the 2015 North Texas Book Festival Silver Book Award, is a pleasurable wander through the author’s perspective and imagination — drawing the reader to be present and rapt in the wonderment of each moment frozen in her photographs. Cramer is simple in her presentation, occasionally philosophical, and often comical or charming in her compositions — speaking through a child-like voice, the voice of the experienced parent, the voice of the scientist, or her personal perspective.

Perhaps the number of poems in this book relate to one of it’s common themes – music —as in one poem for each of the eighty-eight keys on a piano. Coincidentally, or not, it ends in a musical poem that may  wrap up the overall intention of this book. “Bow for the muse… Bow for the music,” is perhaps a summation of the muse each photograph inspires and the music (or art) created by the author as a result. (I was not surprised to read that she had worked for a music conservatory.)

Then, I think of the title photopoem, Idealism is an attractive flower; and I wonder if it is about using imagination to step outside reality, to create the music, to change the reader’s mental state – which may be all the reader truly knows. The theme that stands out most is of a temporal nature — interestingly, so is music (and mental states). She notes the temporary, “ephemeral” nature of life. Another strong theme, not entirely unrelated to time (or music), are her allusions to the stage performance. We are given a space – a stage, a backdrop, maybe some props, and life awaits our actions. She will also show you her ecological passion, kinetic sensibilities, familial love, and musings on modern life and joys of past times.

This beautiful, Smyth sewn book has eighty-eight stunning photographs (including the cover) juxtaposed with words thoughtfully arranged within and sometimes outside the borders of the photograph in various fonts and colors, although Century Gothic seems to be appreciated. (What’s not to love?!) The result is a mixed media art otherwise known as photopoem. Inspired by her work as a journalist/photographer, O.M. Cramer developed this form of art. In the photopoem, the image on the page and the images the author conjures through words are interdependent and transfix the reader simultaneously. One photograph, not accompanied by words, has no need for them.

Her poems are short – frequently consisting of one stanza with about three stressed beats per line, make skilled use of assonance and consonance,  and often illustrate with action and personification. I suspect she is a fan of T.S. Elliot. Rarely does she make use of rhyme — one exception being the wonderfully musical, ECHO CHAMBER.

It was difficult to highlight my favorites without spoiling the book. While sitting in a drugstore… yanked my heartstrings. The simple image of a butterfly resting atop the orange stamens of a Marigold personifies the soda jerk and evokes memories of sipping on a root beer float while sitting on a spinning stool at the long counter in front of the soda fountain. In the artist studio… is a delight for the eyes and mind. In a playful font, she employs action and props to describe different types of artists. Her finale describes the performance of the chef with vividness intensified by the image of hands working over bowls surrounded by the props of the kitchen bathed in warm light. Down my alley… is one of two photos with felines as subject; but the felines’ challenges become very human in her poetry. This high-bred house cat sitting at an open gate longs to be feral– to take her “chance to run in the wind,” or will she “follow the line?”

Aside from the sublime contents – I particularly love the size (6” x 9”), shape, and weight of this book; as it makes it easy to hold in one hand, bring it in close, and absorb every detail of the photography and layout. The glossy photos enhance the experience. Enjoy drinking in the image before reading the text. This durable hardcover book has a matte finish and includes the author’s photo and bio on the back cover. Aside from a short dedication and introduction,  Idealism is an attractive flower consists of page after satisfying page of photopoems that utilize the space provided unfettered by page numbers or ornate borders. If you appreciate sweet simplicity and creative imagination, I recommend this book from Eudora Publishing Company, ISBN-13: 978-0-9905190-0-3, for $24.99, $4.99 (e-book — available as an .epub on iBooks release date, publisher: 12.31.14, Eudora Publishing Company, genre: poetry/photography).

Idealism is an attractive flower  is available at Amazon – URL: http://amzn.com/0990519007 and iTunes (e-book) – URL: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/idealism-is-attractive-flower/id960973546?mt=11&uo=4.

 

 

 

 

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Sex Trafficking: A Widespread Problem Affecting the Capital Region

I wrote this article for the May 2018 issue of the Co-op Voice. Please read here to get the scoop on the sex trafficking problem in the Capital region:

http://coopvoice.com/sex-trafficking-a-widespread-problem-affecting-the-capital-region

(Text is added below in the event the Co-op Voice shuts down the website, but please try the link to the site first.)

 

On February 22, I attended a screening of Very Young Girls (Schisgall & Alvarez, 2007), a film about sex trafficking in the United States. The Capital District Women’s Bar Association (CDWBA) sponsored the event held at Albany Law School.

Trafficking Overview

Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry. In the United States alone, an estimated 50,000 girls and women are trafficked (Burn, 2011, p. 166). According to 22 U.S. Code § 7101 (2000), “Human trafficking is the largest manifestation of slavery today and involves the exploitation and commoditization of sexual and physical servitude through force, fraud, and coercion” (Ruscito, R., 2017, pp. 34, 35). As a woman, a sexual abuse survivor, and a believer in protecting and caring for children, it is upsetting to learn just how widespread and harmful human trafficking—especially sex trafficking—is.

Despite widespread stereotypes, trafficking affects more than economically vulnerable foreigners smuggled over borders. Although Ruscito (2017) noted the common misperception that physical transportation of a victim is necessary for trafficking, the 2017 Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report states “a victim need not be physically transported from one location to another for the crime to fall within this definition [of human trafficking].” Notably, New York State has the fourth worst sex trafficking problem in the country. Furthermore, socio-economic status alone does not determine vulnerability to trafficking; traffickers are found in low-income, suburban, and higher income communities.

Malangone and Crank (n.d.) observe that traffickers manipulate their victims regardless of the relationship (Ruscito, 2017, p. 35) and use “revenge porn,” which is “nonconsensual pornography, defined as the distribution of sexually graphic images of individuals without their consent,” to force victims into the sex trade. The internet has made it easier for traffickers to target victims, who are predominantly 13-year-old girls, but young boys and women are also at risk. More problematic is that “the “dark web” [has] driven the sex trade even further underground, virtually eliminating most street solicitations” (Ruscito, 2017, p.35). Some people speculate that the recently passed law, Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), will drive the industry even further underground.

Very Young Girls: The Film and Its Maker

One of the producers of the film Very Young Girls is Rachel Lloyd, who founded Girls Educational & Mentoring Services (GEMS), an organization located in New York City that helps girls and young women who are victims of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking exit the industry and improve their lives. Rachel’s advocacy ensured the passage of New York State’s Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Act in 2008. It is the first law in the country to protect instead of punish trafficked and exploited youth. In addition, she has won many awards, such as the Reebok Human Rights Award, and has published the book Girls Like Us and various articles.

The film features scenes inside the GEMS supportive housing facility, on the streets, and footage acquired from pimps filming their victims. In it, Rachel herself mentors the girls at GEMS. She attempts to track down and help a girl who was previously in the GEM program and went back into the industry, but this time in Florida. The film shows that it is difficult for the girls to get out of the industry, commonly known as “the life.”

The trafficked girls featured in the film are mostly 13-years-old and African American, a demographic sadly over-represented among victims of sex trafficking. As the GEMS site states, “commercial sexual exploitation is intrinsically linked to racism, poverty, gender-based violence, and the criminalization of youth.”

Pimps typically seduce girls by treating them like girlfriends in the beginning. Later, they abuse and sell their bodies. Much of what keeps the girls from leaving is that the pimps do not allow them to have money; they use psychological manipulation, isolate them, and track their phones. The footage from Very Young Girls that demonstrates this is heartbreaking. It shows pimps forcing girls to work long hours while providing them little food. There were several clearly exhausted girls. When one said she couldn’t do the work anymore, her pimp told her no one would want her if she tried to leave.

A large part of raising awareness about sex trafficking is to correct the misconception that trafficking is voluntary prostitution. The film demonstrated the fallacy of this way of thinking when the mother of a girl who is only 13 blames her child for being trafficked.

Sex Trafficking, In the Capital Region and Beyond

A discussion with Melanie Puorto Conte, former Schenectady County Safe Harbour Coordinator and Jennifer Abrams, Program Manager for Victim Advocacy Services of Planned Parenthood followed the film screening at the Albany Law School. Both shared a great deal of information about the state of sex trafficking in the Capital region, who it affects, how it is done, and what can be done to help those who are trafficked.

According to Puorto, many trafficked cases in the Capital region are intra-familial, in which a family member engages in commercial sexual exploitation with the child. Child porn charges have increased in the area and 49% of all trafficked are children. Massage parlors, motels, and other ubiquitous establishments are common places for trafficking locally.

Abrams noted the tendency to treat victimization as a criminal matter, because there is confusion between a trafficking survivor and a prostitute. Typically, these young victims have up to 20 buyers per night and bring in up to $1,000 per night. That $365k goes directly to the pimp, tax-free. It is not a career choice for the trafficked survivor. Oddly, the victims are arrested and charged exponentially more than the pimps (Ruscito, 2017), and this can lead to stigma for the victim. Out of every 1,000 victims, only 1% of them are documented as such. Abrams therefore emphasized the need for understanding in police treatment of victims, in hospitals, and in court.

Puorto and Abrams discussed the treatment of women in hospitals at length, presumably because this is the best access an advocate has to currently victimized girls. Abrams pointed out the need for sensitivity and training in hospitals, and the need for cooperation from hospitals to move the victim to a safe place. Additionally, there are difficulties when police withhold a victim’s ID and personal affects, or when medical professionals use rape kits insensitively or not at all. Puorto called this subtle criminalization, another result of stigma. Hospitals sometimes send victims away with no food, clean clothes, or bus fare. Abrams expressed concern that the high turnover in hospitals creates a need for consistent training and for advocates to be present at all times.

The laws in place have not alleviated the problem. Jennifer Abrams said there is a better way than secure detention, which punishes the trafficked individual. She described how authorities wouldn’t permit her to visit a 19-year-old incarcerated victim. These restrictions make it more difficult to help victims and charge traffickers. The Trafficking Survivors Relief Act of 2017 is in the introductory phase. It aims to “expunge [or dismiss] arrests for criminal offenses committed by trafficking victims that directly result from or relate to having been a trafficking victim.”

Trafficking Awareness and Prevention

The main take-away from the Albany Law School event is that raising awareness will increase prevention. It is important to know the signs of a trafficked person, to know who is vulnerable to being trafficked, to understand how traffickers trap and keep their victims. Trafficking is a problem in the Capital region and there are multiple ways to help.

Signs of a Trafficked Victim:

  • Multiple girls returning to the same man
  • Lack of eye contact
  • Odd work hours
  • Bruises/injuries
  • Suddenly have a lot of money or expensive clothes
  • Starvation, malnourished
  • Assaulted, but won’t give a reason for it
  • Tattoos, branding, cutting (used to show ownership of victims)
  • Gang involvement

Who is Vulnerable?

  • Children: Boys and Girls (especially ages 12-14), of all social strata
  • Victims of sex abuse
  • Victims of domestic violence
  • Foster children
  • Children who had a mother who was commercially exploited
  • Runaways
  • LGBTQA, especially children
  • Those staying in motels because of lack of affordable housing — predators seek out families living in motels
  • Those with an incarcerated parent
  • Those with low self-esteem
  • The hungry
  • The homeless
  • Those with a language barrier
  • People affected by social or natural disasters
  • Undocumented or ostracized individuals (no social services, poverty, economic insecurity)
  • Girls and adult women enticed by modeling careers; or, in the Capital Region case of trafficker Keith Raniere (aka NXIVM), self-improvement and spiritual growth
  • Inmates
  • Developmentally-delayed individuals

How do traffickers trap their victims?

  • They prey on addicts or get them addicted.
  • They use sextortion, “private control and the abuse of power stemming from unauthorized possession of a personal image or video.”
  • Cyberenticement (child enticement using the internet) through social media, which is true for the Capital region.

How do traffickers do business?

  • Through sites such as Craigslist, Facebook, Twitter, kik, Reddit, and Backpage
  • Texting images
  • Using bitcoin for currency, which can’t be traced
  • Using psychological terrorism
  • Using legitimate businesses such as motels, nail salons and restaurants
  • Some truckers help traffickers, although there is an anti-trafficker trucker organization called Truckers Against Trafficking.

Why Victims Stay Trafficked:

  • Worries that trafficker will find her. Pimps use GPS to track the girls.
  • They have no place to go
  • They are addicted
  • They need the income to care for their family

How to Help:

Safety Tips for Young People:

  • Never give your phone to a stranger. Predators can track you with GPS.
  • Be cautious of posting YouTube videos. Predators search for young people to victimize on YouTube.
  • Never send nude pictures or videos over the phone or internet.

Other Sex Trafficking Awareness-Raising Work

The CDWBA Committee on Sex Trafficking, which sponsored the Albany Law School event, is the only one of its kind in New York State. For more information about the committee, contact Alyssa Talanker at ‘trafficking@cdwba.org‘.

Annu Subramanian is an educator and a strong advocate for human trafficking awareness. Her novel, Another Heaven, covers human rights abuse, fanatical religious beliefs (fundamentalism), and the psychological fraud of terrorism. Through publicizing her novel, Annu is raising awareness about these issues to colleges, secondary schools, book clubs, and support groups. “Jaagrata,” interpreted her work in a dance production, which has raised funds for women’s shelters. Stay tuned for her campaign on body shaming, called “I Am Enough.”

National Human Trafficking
Resource Center
Call 1.888.373.7888 / Text HELP or
INFO to BeFree (233733)

References:

Burn, S.M. (2011). Women across cultures: A global perspective. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Ruscito, R., (2017). Human trafficking: National problem, local solution. NYCOM Municipal Bulletin: Frame of Reference, Summer, 34-37.

Posted in Freedom, Social Justice, Write | Tagged

You Need Net Neutrality

I wrote this article for the January 2018 issue of the Co-op Voice. Please read here to get the scoop on net neutrality:

http://coopvoice.com/you-need-net-neutrality/

(Text is added below in the event the Co-op Voice shuts down the website, but please try the link to the site first.)

But, First…What IS Net Neutrality?

Although it seems we were suddenly hearing about it starting in late 2017, the conversation around Net Neutrality is almost two decades old. It’s even older, if you include the era before the term was popularized by Timothy Wu in 2002.

Net Neutrality is the basic principle that enables and protects our free speech on the internet. The early years of the internet were marked by heady optimism about its potential for innovation and freedom. Harvard Law professor and political activist Lawrence Lessig, in a talk given at the ninth World Wide Web Conference (2000), describes the internet’s “end-to-end” design for efficiency as the reason it has the capability for competitive neutrality. “What end-to-end meant was that the network was not in a position to discriminate.” He points to its potential for innovation too. “Innovators knew that if they designed a new application or new form of content, the network would run it. … The test of success thus was not whether the innovation fit with the business model of the network owner; the test of success was whether the market demanded it.” Net Neutrality regulations act as anti-discrimination law and allow for robust innovation through healthy competition, according to Tim Wu.

net neutralityThe internet has been determined by the courts to be a public utility. The United States Court of Appeals ruled on this in 2015 in a fight against big telecom and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) after an outcry of millions of activists for a free and open internet. Also in 2015, the FCC reclassified broadband providers as common carriers under Title II, which meant big telecom couldn’t block, throttle (intentionally slow down or speed up service), charge apps or sites extra fees to reach an audience, or otherwise interfere with web traffic — thus preserving Net Neutrality.

What Happened to Net Neutrality?

On December 14, 2017, the FCC under Trump voted to gut Net Neutrality rules, paving the way for internet providers to control what we can see and do online with new fees, throttling, and censorship. Three non-elected officials ratified the future of the world’s internet, dismissing the values of 83% of U.S. citizens. The newly appointed Chairman, Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, pushed for this and announced the plans just before Thanksgiving. He has given no reason for discounting public comments against the plan or for stopping the New York Attorney General’s investigation of stolen identities used to submit comments to the FCC in support of that agency’s plan.

Critics of Net Neutrality argue that regulation decreases innovation and development because it restricts big telecom, which would supposedly use its vast resources for innovation, otherwise. The majority argue the opposite, that innovation will be stifled when big telecom has the power to control access to the internet.

How This Affects You

You use the internet every day, for a variety of purposes. You need it to apply for almost any job, check your credit, book a trip, or look up contact information. You may use the internet to gather or share information about social and/or environmental justice issues. You may rely on it for news, communication, or emergency warnings. Imagine finding favorite sites blocked by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or having to pay for access to them. Could you, your friends, or associates afford to pay?

Is internet access a luxury, as FCC Commissioner Michael O’Reilly would have us believe? World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee and the United Nations say it’s become a human right. Today, the internet is used heavily in all aspects of life (education, medicine, government, business, media, etc.), making it all but indispensable in the modern world.

What Does Net Neutrality Have to Do with Co-ops?

Co-ops have much in common with the internet in their usefulness in connecting and educating people, and in sharing information. As co-op members, we could commit to strengthening a free and open internet, perhaps along with other co-ops, just as co-op members have worked with other cooperatives to strengthen the cooperative movement.

Remember when La Montañita in New Mexico took back their co-op? They made extensive use of the internet to reach out to other co-ops and activists, and they set up a website for information sharing.

The open internet can help create a community or build existing networks. The Willy Street Grocery Co-op, in Madison Wisconsin, lists seven guiding cooperative principles on their website, willystreet.coop, such as “Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities,” and “Co-ops are open to all without gender, social, racial, political, or religious discrimination.” Net Neutrality, similarly, disallows discrimination and ensures affordable access.

  • Also from the Willy Street Co-op, “Cooperatives provide education and training for Owners so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives.” The Internet helps people learn to cooperatively develop their own corner of the world.
  • Co-ops are governed through democratic process. The Honest Weight Food Co-op’s Statements of Conscience reflect the sharing of information for the benefit of all – like the Internet! For democracy to thrive, we need free access to information, education to discern accurate from inaccurate information, freedom to share information, and freedom to organize and build community. At Honest Weight, Member-Owners use the internet to share information with the Membership.
  • From Honest Weight’s website, “We are committed to encouraging an environment where ideas and philosophies can be generated, shared, and expressed freely.” Net Neutrality can generate (or innovate), share, and express ideas without censorship.
  • We need Net Neutrality to help us fight oppression in supporting movements like Black Lives Matter and Save the Internet. The internet allows misrepresented and underrepresented people to speak out individually and collectively for justice by enabling them to call thousands of people to action.

Why the Fight Has Gone on so Long

This long fight over Net Neutrality has been fueled by the extensive resources at the disposal of big telecom to protect its interests. Below are some highlights of actions that have been taken in the past decade:

  • In 2010, the FCC adopted rules on Preserving an Open Internet. These rules were straightforward about the threat of the broadband industry’s potential to place restrictions in its favor.
  • In 2011, the Senate introduced the Protect IP Act (PIPA) and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) bills. If passed, these bills would create mass censorship and restrict competition.
  • In 2012, Fight for the Future organized the largest online protest in history- an internet-wide strike against web censorship, which includes blocking of websites, instant messaging apps, Tor (anonymity service) and other circumvention tools, and detection of systems that could be responsible for censorship and/or surveillance. The SOPA and PIPA bills were defeated!
  • In 2014, the US Court of Appeals rejected the FCC’s open internet rules when Verizon appealed.
  • The FCC ensured Net Neutrality in 2015 by classifying broadband providers as common carriers after another strong public protest.
  • In October 2016, the FCC passed privacy rules aimed at broadband providers and…
  • By March 2017, Congress made it go away. Internet Service Providers do not like restrictions on mining your data for advertising.
  • On December 14, 2017, Net Neutrality was denied by the FCC despite public opposition.

Despite the recent FCC ruling, change has not become apparent yet because powerful telecom companies have been lobbying for their pet legislation and donating to your legislators. The lobbyists push state laws to ensure that big telecom companies control the internet. Big telecom wants their paid legislators to be re-elected, so drastic actions are not likely to be taken until after the mid-term elections.

Net Neutrality Needs You…It Can Be Saved!

It’s important that we protect our basic rights and freedoms by demanding that technology and policy serve the People. The Congressional Review Act (CRA) has the power to undo the FCC’s repeal of Net Neutrality. If you want to help save Net Neutrality, call and/or write all members of Congress asking them to pass a “Resolution of Disapproval” to overturn the FCC vote. There are 60 days from the date the rule was passed (December 14) to reject it, so we have until February 12 to overturn this vote! Visit Battle for the Net website for more info and ideas.

If mass outcry against the FCC’s attack on Net Neutrality does not convince Congress to pass a “Resolution of Disapproval,” there is more to do. Support the resistance and donate to the Net Neutrality organizations listed below. Call for NYS to sue over the repeal. Support legislators who vote for an open internet, call out those who don’t, and get out the vote!

Free Press Action Fund filed a lawsuit against the FCC, claiming that the broadband market didn’t change enough in the last two years to warrant an FCC reversal of rules. FCC lawyers will have to prove that it did and explain why the FCC ignored millions of consumers who supported the rules, and the fraud and identity theft that occurred during the repeal’s public comment period. If you find a fraudulent comment in the FCC’s Net Neutrality docket under your name and address, report it to Attorney General Schneiderman.

There is a new tool that open internet activists created for users to test their internet connections and catch ISPs censoring or throttling. Visit the Open Observatory of Network Interference if you are interested in using the tool to help with the project.

A Final Word to the Wise; Beware of Fake Net Neutrality

Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, representatives, and senators who profess to support Net Neutrality want us to think that regulation leads to stifled innovation and additional taxes, because they stand to profit from our acceptance of that.

The same ISPs that pushed for the FCC to kill Net Neutrality are currently lobbying for a “legislative solution” in Congress under the guise of “Net Neutrality” that would create a law impotent to enforce Net Neutrality and would also prevent the FCC from creating effective laws in the future. The lawyers of the big telecom companies that make fat contributions to your legislators will be writing this law. It would likely give the impression of Net Neutrality by banning the most obvious violations that ISPs can’t get away with anyway while overlooking the actual violations happening now, like Comcast’s arbitrary and unnecessary usage caps and overage fees or ISPs deliberate congestion of peering points (the practice of large networks or content companies that agree to share traffic between networks at various interconnection points) in order to drive up costs for content and transit companies.

Beware the Open Internet Preservation Act. It sounds friendly and familiar, but it would change the fundamental structure of the internet. Small businesses and users would be forced to pay fees and there would be ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ lanes. This would inhibit expression, creativity, and innovation on the internet.

Visit These Sites to Learn More and Support Net Neutrality:

Battle for the Net
Fight for the Future
Free Press Action Fund
Open Technology Institute
Public Knowledge
Electronic Freedom Foundation

Click here for Another article on the topic

PDF’s linked in article:

Cyberspace’s Architectural Constitution, Lawrence Lessig, 1999.
https://cyber.harvard.edu/works/lessig/www9.pdf

No. 15-1063 UNITED STATES TELECOM ASSOCIATION, ET AL., PETITIONERS v. FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION AND UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, RESPONDENTSINDEPENDENT TELEPHONE &TELECOMMUNICATIONS ALLIANCE, ET AL., INTERVENORS,
https://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/internet/opinions.nsf/3F95E49183E6F8AF85257FD200505A3A/%24file/15-1063-1619173.pdf

In the Matter of Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet, GN Docket No. 14-28, 2015.
https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-15-24A1.pdf

Network Neutrality, Broadband Discrimination, Tim Wu, 2003. (not pdf, slow link)
https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=388863

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, 2011.
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/17session/A.HRC.17.27_en.pdf

In the Matter of Preserving the Open Internet Broadband Industry Practice, FCC, 2010.
https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-10-201A1.pdf

FCC FACILITATES REVIEW OF RESTORING INTERNET FREEDOM RECORD WC Docket No. 17-108, November 7, 2017.
https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-17-1089A1.pdf

Posted in Social Justice | Tagged

Quickie Review: A Chill in the Air

This poetry by Howard Kogan touches my heart through stories. I can’t get the image of his mother’s salami sandwich tossed into the gutter out of my head — of all things. Although it is out of my realm of experience (Jewish heritage, marriage, parenting, senior years, homing pigeons), nothing is foreign to people when it comes to family, loss, awe, fear of death, aging, the dark side of human behavior, experiencing the natural world, and the desire to understand life. There are even a few poems for the writer to chew on. If I needed only one word to describe this book, it would be reverent. He is also quite funny. I enjoyed ‘Dick and Jane’ because even I read these books in class.

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Quickie Review: Works and Days by Bernadette Mayer

I loved it. Her writing is clever, fun, elegant in simplicity, appreciative, nonchalant, casual, bold, honest, environmental, socialist, and thought-provoking. Her writing gives me a sense of pleasure and ease and of not being alone in thinking — what-the-fuck people!? To me, her work repeats that everything is so simple and we’ve made it so complicated.

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Quickie Review: The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav

I was frustrated with the outdated lingo and a wee lack of gentleness. With patience, I finished the book. I think it has/is shifting me in a tidal erosion sort of way, rather than a volcanic shift. Grateful for it!

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Quickie Review: The Places the Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times

Anything by Pema Chodron is nourishing! The chapter on the Spiritual Friend was very helpful. Pema takes the teachings of the spiritual masters and distills it into something easily digestible. I love her!

Posted in Book Reviews, Feelings, Freedom, Heal, Self-care | Tagged

Quickie Review: Music for Chameleons by Truman Capote

** spoiler alert ** I love his descriptiveness of characters, his honesty, and rawness. Delicious! His commitment to writing is inspirational. The murder story, which I gather was a draft of In Cold Blood (and based on a true story) was interesting – but disturbing. I try to stay away from that sort of stuff. In the preface, he wrote about getting flack for dishing on his friends. I’m glad he did though. Loved to read about Marilyn. Thoroughly enjoyed his escapades with the housekeeper.

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Quickie Review: Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

I think he’s wonderful. Reading this is almost like reading a religious text for me. The racist language of the time is a bit disconcerting. His love of all people is apparent. I want someone to read Song of Myself to me on my deathbed. Yes, I know that’s a little morbid – but I can’t think of a better way to go out except maybe to also be propped up in front of a forest waterfall and a nice warm fire. Did I say I was morbid yet?

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Quickie Review: Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

I wish I had read this when I was 11. Seems like required reading whether you are a poet or just want to be an artist at life.

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Quickie Review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I enjoyed this story very much. I chose this book for a pre-teen nephew in hopes it would subversively develop some humanity in him – not that he isn’t already a lovely and sensitive young man, but because in these times, books are our armor.

Anyway, there was a lot of humanity in it. People were taking care of each other and fighting evil from the start, well after the very beginning where Jack killed Bod’s entire family. It actually empowered me in a nightmare/out-of-body experience because I recalled the scene where the ghouls take Bod into a different plane and used it to my advantage. If it can empower a grown woman, then I think it might inspire a young adult or two as well. There is even a bullying situation that is resolved – something most school children and many adults experience.

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Quickie Review: Even the Stars Look Lonesome by Maya Angelou

I enjoyed this. It felt like having a conversation with a good girlfriend or my sassy grandmother. What a woman! What a life! She described things I could feel so well, like the power of a gospel song. Her honesty about the subjugation of Africans and African Americans, especially women, is heartbreaking and powerful and inspiring for anyone. Her essay on art is of particular importance in these times. These essays are amusing, insightful, and entertaining.

Posted in Book Reviews | Tagged

Quickie Review: A Dog’s Tale as Told by Lakota

It was a nice little break from the negativity of the world. A mentor told me to read something inspiring, like a biography. She didn’t say it had to be a biography of a human.

While it may be a little more about the “owner’s” version of the dog’s life, it was still charming. It helped to reflect on life in general. I did feel the joys along with the dog and people in this story.

The dog reminds me of a dog I knew way back – similar looks and similar souls.

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May is Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Month

If it’s not obvious, BPD has a high level of stigma associated with it, which is why – with much trepidation – I’m raising awareness with this post in hopes a few may be open to learning more about it. You could help by sharing any of the links listed at the bottom of this post. Thanks!

I could write for ages about the topic of BPD and mental illness (or health), and psychology forever, but it’s not my idea of fun. Instead I’ll share posts, articles, memes, and videos that I feel say it for me. My disclaimer is that I usually don’t agree with everything said on these topics. Sometimes I’ll point that out, and sometimes I’ll let it go.

bpd 3rd degree burns

Marsha Linehan

There are so many areas where all of us need more awareness. I don’t consider this particular issue more important than others. Since I happen to be living with it, I feel obligated to raise it up for examination. And believe me, that is at great risk. People with mental health issues are frequently discounted; ridiculed; abused – especially by people in positions of authority; passed up for jobs or other opportunities; and generally overlooked socially. I’ve had people tell me I shouldn’t disclose my mental health issues because of this. I also have enemies and predators like most people do, so to expose this vulnerability is an act of courage.

I’ve learned to cope better than average with many characteristics of this disorder. A lot of that comes with age and work. I’ve also learned to deal with some of this in unconventional and sometimes unhealthy ways – most of them being rooted in isolation. At mid-life, it’s becoming a very spiritual endeavor to manage life with these challenges. In a world (or a mind) where everything seems so very separate and isolated and “getting myself out there” has not cured it, I gratefully have learned to create or become aware of the rich world of connection and wholeness that is always there.

I’d prefer my life to be perfectly fulfilled; abundant in health, love, beauty, service, creativity, and all the needs of daily life; comfortable, safe, and secure. I’ll notice when these intangibles are in my life. That is gratitude and it is the greatest tool. While life isn’t perfection for me (or for anyone else), I’ll do the best I can and try to remember that this is my contribution to the world — even though many others won’t ever see it that way.

My struggles don’t all fall under this label. This is a label along with multiple other labels that I’ve accepted — not as limitations, but as a means for support. Support of some kind is needed by everyone, even if it ultimately comes from within. As much as I’d like to think I could survive on a desert island (I almost said dessert, you know where my head is at), we all need the knowledge that we are not alone. That in and of itself is support. I think about this every time I’m in a public space.

I’m conscious of others who don’t approve of labels, the term mental illness, using the words depression or anxiety, or the field of psychology (or psychology as practiced). Hey, I’m not in total agreement either. Uniquely, I’ve had less experience with the faulty field of mental health for these reasons:

  • simply because I lacked funds or insurance to seek out care
  • but also because the stigma kept the adults in my childhood from helping me
  • also because growing up in my environment, I was acutely aware that I could end up in foster care if I brought my problems up outside my home and that foster care could make my life all the more complicated
  • and finally because I had seen my mother go in and out of mental wards with no success and come home with horror stories and derision to share

This is not to say that I haven’t had negative experiences with mental health services. I have, but that would be a long, unpleasant write as well.

I know people who have claimed victory over their mental health struggles through the mental health system (or outside of it) and who either want to put it behind them, want to focus on the pitfalls of the mental health system rather than an immediate source of help for those who are still suffering, or feel it should be dealt with excluding mental health diagnoses. I do and have certainly gone outside the confines of the mental health system for managing this set of symptoms (or characteristics).

Still, I stress that labels and services were likely intended to help and do to an extent. I hope people would support any means available to help people suffering, while working on better means of support. (That extends to everything really.) In a proverbidiom, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Terms and ideas change over time for the good, but there is a period of growing pains and people still need support while that is happening. Psst, Trump & alt-right, if you think any one of us is on this planet or in the cosmos to do anything other than love and support one another, you are missing out. This is bigly, the bigliest!

Now I have to say I hate the term Borderline Personality Disorder, but since it is the mainstream term right now, I’ll use it. In the meantime, I’ll be promoting a more positive name change because the current label smacks of stigma and paints a picture of permanent defectiveness, poor character, a dangerous person, etc. The term I currently like best is Emotional Intensity Disorder (EID).

This leads me to say that many labels I identify with have traits similar to the symptoms of BPD/EID. Is there one reason for anything? I think there are many contributors (genetic, environmental, socio-economic, karmic). If there was one reason for anything, I’d say it was a deficiency in love — malnutrition on a metta scale. I do think these traits could use support whatever the individual living with them chooses to call it…

  • Highly Sensitive Personality (HSP)
  • Indigo Child/Crystal Scout
  • INFJ
  • Pisces
  • Addict
  • Empath
  • Clairsentient
  • Co-dependent
  • Survivor…

And by the way, the world would be in a lot better shape if people of all personalities, abilities, socio-economic backgrounds, genders, colors, origins, sexual orientations, just everybody (ok?!) were loved, supported, and honored.

Thanks for hearing me. ♥♥♥♥

eyore love

Links/Resources:

Video Series – Borderline Personality Disorder

I listened to the first video in this series and it was on point. Seems good for anyone who wants to help, understand, or be in relationship/family with someone with BPD/EID- Emotional Intensity Disorder. Anyone with BPD/EID is very lucky to have anyone in their life who cares to learn instead of dismiss or walk away.

 

Schema Therapy for Treatment of BPD: Domains and Their Schemas – HealthyPlace

I used a schema therapy book for a while and I think it’s integrated in to my therapy, which includes EMDR. I didn’t like the language of the book, so set it aside. I did find that I have most of the schemas to various degrees. I’ve also used parts work (family systems).

 

Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Month: What BPD is Like – HealthyPlace

I can relate to a lot of what this author describes and the symptoms. One of the several symptoms that has improved over the years is identity issues. I know I’m a good person. I know I’m bisexual/queer/pansexual. I know what I believe (and I also know that beliefs are no more than that). I have to disagree with the “mood swings” lasting a few hours. They can last 4 or 5 hours, or a day, or three days, or two weeks. They certainly swing though. I can feel ok in the morning, then like hell in the evening, and feel good the next afternoon. When I reach out for support, by the time friends get back to me the mood has often passed and I’d rather not re-hash it. One thing I wish people understood is how intense the emotional pain can be. I often feel so alone when in it. The trouble is none of us can feel what another is feeling. That is why I love NVC (another topic).

 

Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Month: Facts about BPD – Borderline Personality Treatment

The best treatment for most with BPD/EID is a formal DBT program, which is available in limited areas and out-of-pocket.

 

BPD Awareness Month: Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms and Treatment – Borderline Personality Treatment

#8 (anger) is the only symptom that isn’t a consistent problem, but I can remember at least four instances of rage in my life. A (male) sous chef I worked with back in 2003 told me I had anger management issues. The topic of discussion was lack of insurance through my employer. (It’s not always the illness that’s the problem. Sometimes it’s patriarchy or the healthcare system that’s the problem.)

 

About BPD

The basics of BPD (EID- Emotional Intensity Disorder) are on this page. Please read the paragraph on the bottom about medication. Going med-free is not for everyone, and I don’t point this out to offend anyone who benefits from medication. I have tried going with and without meds and had more complications with them. I’m tired of the mainstream assuming everything can have a med thrown at it.

 

BPD Awareness Month

The author describes much of my experience with BPD (EID- Emotional Intensity Disorder).

 

DBT Self-Help

 

Borderline Personality in 60 Seconds

Interesting. I am probably not the only one with Emotional Intensity (Borderline Personality Disorder) who has long forgone desperate attempts to avoid separation, and instead chooses to live in a way that there is no one to lose.

Strange how so much of the information on the web about this condition fails to point out any physical issues other than serotonin deficiency. Defects (faulty wiring) in the pre-frontal lobe of the brain have a lot to do with this.

There’s an anecdote I read in a book about this condition describing the behavior of a man who had survived a spike going through his pre-frontal lobe. He experienced the same emotional intensity those with BPD experience.

Some people with BPD (not many) have had perfectly good childhoods, but something went amiss in their brain. I wouldn’t be surprised if findings emerge that trauma and neglect create changes in the pre-frontal lobe. Some say it is a combination of being born this way along with the addition of trauma that causes BPD.

 

The truth behind (arguably) the most misunderstood personality disorder of our time

This post was well put on many points. Of course I will voice my differences with it as well…

It focuses on the typical outward behavior of the person suffering with the condition and in turn makes that the actual problem. The behavior is not the actual problem. The extreme emotional pain and how that affects the individual’s ability to thrive is the problem.

I wonder if there are any people with BPD out there like me who learned that being a good girl, adhering to all the proper manners, staying out of trouble, and excelling in school would protect you from harm and from negative attention. When I had the rare outburst, it was met with more misunderstanding and punitive remarks. It is possible to have BPD and not be outwardly emotional. It does not feel good to keep it all inside either.

The author says it is only apparent in social situations and that someone with BPD on a deserted island would be fine. This is absolutely not true. It only means the person wouldn’t affect anyone else. The person would still struggle with intense emotions.

On a more positive note, I have found other techniques to stress this “middle way” approach to healing in the Sedona Method, EMDR, yoga nidra, and other meditation forms. DBT has some very Buddhist characteristics – see The Buddha and the Borderline.

 

“I wasn’t wrong” – The gift inside Borderline Personality Disorder

I’m very impressed by this article on BPD. It is mostly accurate and perceptive in my opinion.

Again, this does not mention problems in the pre-frontal cortex that I wish we mentioned. Gift or not, our brains are different either from genetics, environment, or physical injury.

I feel the following statement is misleading, “It is extremely unlikely that someone with a placid, passive, unengaged, aloof temperament would ever develop borderline personality disorder.” Someone who has experienced trauma and abuse can develop “no affect / flat affect” and therefore appear to be placid, passive, unengaged, and aloof and also have emotional intensity. It is just not often apparent.

Further into the article, it talks about parents’ rejecting of the emotionally intense individuals’ perception and I am reminded of how that is a reflection of society and magnified by society. I’m recently becoming aware that this thing I call society is actually the result of white supremacy. I’m seeing how it is harmful to white people like me as well as to people of color. That may seem like a totally different topic, but they intersect. I plan on doing some writing around that in the future. Everything is connected.

 

Twenty-three year old Sophie on experiencing Borderline Personality Disorder

Very grateful my insurance covers a therapy session a week. It’s tough when my psychologist is away though. Been two weeks. I think UK has better healthcare than we do. If it’s bad there, it’s worse here.

 

 

Posted in Freedom, Heal | Tagged , , , ,

A Poem for National Poetry Month

Hi! I’ve noticed folks are going crazy posting poetry. Maybe that’s because I tend to follow the blogs of poets, but I think that April being National Poetry month has a little more to do with it. So one hour left to the month and I will share one of my poems with you.

I’m choosing the poem, Tulip Fest, because I was at the park yesterday and found the tulips out full force. Spring is in full force too. It was a grey and slightly chilly day, but people were all over the park enjoying it. Nature definitely is a balm for depression. The lilacs, violets, and magnolias are out. I made sure to bring samples home.

The Halfmoon Market was going on as well at the Lake House. I was drawn by the sound of a woman singing in French, like Edith Piaf. When I got there, the music was gone, but there were all kinds of neat crafts and foods made by hipsters. It’s cool seeing people getting back to the Earth, even if it is still capitalism. I’m reminded that I might want to keep some of my diy secrets under wraps in case I decide to capitalize on them.

Perhaps this poem needs a little background for non-Albanians. There is a Tulip Fest in Albany every year – something started in an attempt to impress a Dutch Queen I hear, or maybe it has something to do with the Dutch heritage of Albany. Anyway, it draws a lot of people and it sometimes has a bit of a festival atmosphere (like the modern use of the word festival – which includes drunkenness, pot smoking, and pathetic attempts to attract attention). I’m sure they’re having fun too and many stay sober.

Does anyone else hate wordpress’ inability to keep the intended format?! Imagine this poem without the extra spaces.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Tulip Fest

tulips that look like roses

tulips that look like fringe

white tulips

black tulips

pale peach tulips

bright coral tulips

brassy red tulips

butter – cream – tulips

 

Tulips look better without the crowds.

 

sea of people with nothing to do,

but stare at each other

buy some grease

and a trinket or two

 

Buy a bonsai.

Don’t let it die.

 

food

bad food –

lots!

 

sloppy drunks

Men – staring at my tits

declaring, I must pay them attention!

 

Yes– I’ll take your photos–

happy, young, sweet couple.

That’s what odd old gals like me

are for.

 

sweet babies

in their strollers

sweet babies

in the grass

puppies and babies

in the grass

 

grass wafting in the air

 

tiny dancer in the grass

Pure joy!

That kid can feel the music!

 

The colors are beautiful,

but I’ve had enough.

I go – in gratitude.

 

© J. Rae

 

 

Posted in Poet | Tagged , , , , ,

Just Saying a Bunch of Shit on April 18, 2017

chill lamb

the sweet life

Oddly folks have been looking at my website and facebook page. Hopefully, not the same folks – that would be creepy. It’s odd because I don’t post regularly. It’s seems I un-publish more than I publish. I took down four poems today. The reason is good I think. I’ve submitted them to journals.

I’m writing this random post for the random person who visits my silly site. I don’t know what people are thinking when they visit. I try to be as uninteresting as possible, and I think I do an exceptional job.

I’m hoping to publish something this year – to a journal that doesn’t know me. I’m trying to take my work semi-seriously, which is something I don’t normally do.  I take myself much too seriously though. I’m learning that I might not be a poet, not yet. I’ve learned that I’m not going to get better at it if I’m not writing and reading. I get serendipitous insights just by practicing. I’m pretty good at observing and emoting, but that doesn’t make a poet. Maybe I missed my calling as an actress. I might have. My two attempts were ill-timed.

I just went to a poetry reading. Cool stuff. I just wish people would enunciate and speak slower. I get tense trying to take it all in. I’ve always been this way, with music and reading as well. It’s as if my bandwidth doesn’t have the same range as the average human. I’m slower than the rest of the world. I hope this uniqueness pays off in some way. I listened to the cards today and joined a group activity. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough though. I’m more of a one-on-one person.

I just worked on my writing prompt for a good stretch. Now to hone it into a poem. It was fun.

So my boring life of late is consisting of physical therapy for an incessantly tense neck which started to mess with my ability to type. I can type alright again, but I’m still sore and tense. I guess it will be an ongoing battle needing regular stretching and strength training. I’ve started going to the gym because I guess I care about high cholesterol. I bet they’ll say it’s not a thing ten years from now. I needed more exercise, especially since I can’t give up chocolate.

I volunteer on a farm once in a while. It is hard work, but I get so much out of it.

forsythia

things you find on the way to the outhouse

I fuss over living in affordable housing for the elderly and disabled. I get tired of giving a shit about the nut-balls and perverts, the lack of privacy, respect, and peace and quiet. I’ve got a home and that’s a lot. I’ve got some great plants. Most of them have names.

I occasionally write posts about the food co-op I belong to on another site. I don’t know if it’s worth it. The drama is ridiculous, but we’re still here. That’s something.

I’m going to an NVC practice group, and practicing NVC. Can you tell I’m tired?

I’m corresponding with potential friends I meet on stupid dating sites. It’s more of a bother than anything. It turns out the same in the end. I’m Eeyore! I love Eeyore, so that’s something.

I made a big batch of chicken soup. Most of my efforts are toward balance. This leaves little time for progress. Sometimes I wonder what it’s all about. Don’t you?

Posted in Feelings, Vent | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Writing Routine

Writing Routine

Hope it sticks.

· Clean desk, or move all the shit on your desk to the table.

· Feel grateful that you put some things away – especially the important stuff.

· Put things in places where they make sense, or where they will be a step closer to making sense.

· Disinfect, wipe and dry the desk and the contents on the surface of the desk.

· Put recharged crystal on desk – to keep the energy light.

· Fill up the humidifier and add essential oils. Vetiver is your favorite.

· Get water.

· Get tea.

· Moisturize hands.

· Set timer.

· Shift monitor and keyboard to best possible positions.

· Open new document.

· Start typing.

· Feel tense in arms and hands. Worry about ulnar nerve entrapment, tenosynovitis, carpal tunnel, and if you can afford regular trips to the clinical massage therapist who plays Grateful Dead while she works.

· Feel good about this new habit you’re starting. Beat down doubting Harriet. Fuck you Harriet.

· Beg for more time.

· Wonder why it is an effort to write in one voice or one tense. Tick-tick-tick-tick…

· Watch your mind busy itself with…

o wondering what’s going on in facebook. Same shit. Don’t worry about it.

o wondering if you’ll ever meet someone super cool. Whatever. Meet yourself. Peace.

· Is the time up when it dings, or when it’s stops ticking?

Posted in Poet, Write | Tagged , , ,

Projectile Vomit the President

Projectile Vomit the President

I vomited around 1pm today – the day a man named Trump became the president of the US.

I’ve absorbed the feelings of the people around me and my body has rejected the fear, vitriol, and pride swirling through space.

What do you do when you’ve consumed something that isn’t pure, something that’s toxic, something that doesn’t nourish you, something viral that plans to systematically attack every cell of your body?

You vomit.

Your body knows it shouldn’t be there, so it ejects the offending substance.

 

I want to eject this money worshiping lost man from the presidency.

It’s difficult to call him a man. A man is meant to be so much more – a protector and provider, never a predator.

Piles of gold do not make a great man.

Popularity does not make a great man.

Trump is not a great man. He is a small man lost in the illusion of power, yet having none.

 

I want to reject money worshipping everywhere.

I want to reject all the poison-

poison air,

poison water,

and mostly poison words and beliefs.

 

Money worshiping is no different than heroin. People will kill themselves – even each other – to feed the ego. We are all vulnerable. If not money, it is something else.

We must bring each other cool cloths for our necks and rub each others backs while we projectile vomit everything that is not true and nourishing. Then we must give each other love and support to silence the ego that worships poison.

Posted in Poet, Social Justice | Tagged ,

Women’s March

I just joined the Disability March, which was a pleasant surprise to discover – especially since I cancelled my reservation to March in NYC is Saturday. See explanation below:

Decided not to go to the Women’s March in NYC after much deliberation and many signs from the Divine – that deep reflection, prayer, meditation, and even some grieving is needed from me more than my presence at the March. Despite wanting approval from others and wanting to be a part of this, I’m following my guidance. I believe every action and thought is powerful. This is not about my physical and mental health or courage. It is about making a conscious decision. I’ll be giving my seat and signs away to someone who wants to go.

I’ve known that my soul is starving to write — write about this March, write about my frustrations with activism, write about my personal relation to this big picture… Don’t ask me why I resist writing. I don’t know. It makes no sense since it is nourishment to me. I am grateful for this little push that actually stuck and I plan to write some more – after I pay my damn bills, which I’ve been resisting as well. I may be in a little depression (pretending that I’ve ever been out of it). Me and at least 25% of the US are pretty depressed at my estimation. That’s not including people all over the world biting their nails over what this giant infant will do.

I made this meme for my application to join the March. I hate putting my face on the internet, but a gnarly belly button doesn’t bother me.

disability-march-meme

 

I also had to write a “why do I want to join the Disability March” essay under 300 words. At first, I wondered how I would get past 10 words. Then, I ended up whittling it down before I could get it all out. (See below.)

 

I planned to attend the Women’s March over a month ago with concern over whether I would be feeling well enough on the 21st. If I did go, I would have to dehydrate myself, miss meals, and wear leakage protection. I would be down for the count days afterward. Prayer, meditation, and writing would be the best use of my specific talents and more energy efficient.
I was willing to go because I value human rights and the planet. We need to protect women and girls from physical and verbal abuse and slavery. We need to protect women’s rights to healthcare, freedom of choice, and equal pay. We need to protect the rights of physically and mentally disabled people, people of all skin tones, origins, beliefs, sexual preferences, gender identities, and socio-economic situations. We need to protect our Mother Earth who nourishes and shelters our animal cousins and us.

I march because it is a matter of life and death. I march because my nephews, niece, all the children and their children deserve to be nourished and sustained by this beautiful planet. I march for peace.

I watched as legislators chipped away at women’s rights to healthcare and voter’s rights. I watched as they made it easier for corporations to profit off the people. I watched as people were bombed by drones; shot with rubber bullets, water cannons, and clubbed for protecting their water source; as police murdered black men and women all over this country, as privileged white men raped women without consequence and killed out of hate.

I didn’t just watch. I marched. I spoke. I wrote. I sang. I donated. I organized.

I march to wake up those who are sleeping. I march to build our Power. I march because the world needs us.

 

Now I’m wondering how I forgot to mention that my life is going to be seriously fucked if I lose my healthcare, Social Security, and other social services. I try not to go there. No use in feeling bad about things that aren’t happening. That is wasted time.

#poetsandwritersstandagainsttrump

#westandagainstthispresident

Posted in Poet, Social Justice, Write | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

POETS & WRITERS STAND AGAINST TRUMP 01.20.2017 AT 8PM

Write.

R.M. ENGELHARDT

 

 

POETS & WRITERS STAND AGAINST TRUMPPOETS & WRITERS STAND AGAINST TRUMP  : JANUARY 20th, 2017 AT 8PM


On Friday, January 20th Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as The President of the United States of America.

This will be a very sad day indeed. And as poets and writers everywhere we need to speak up and say what needs to be said, and share those words with our nation and the world.

So here’s what we do.

At EXACTLY 8pm on the evening of Friday, January 20th I’m asking all my friends and fellow writers and poets to simultaneously all post a poem or prose piece against the election and presidency of Trump. Post it on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, WordPress …

EVERYWHERE.

That’s it, that’s all we need to do but we must all be united in this protest.

No matter who you are, what country, what race or what nationality…

View original post 49 more words

Posted in Freedom, Social Justice, Write

Hydrogen Breath Test

hands of grey clock

Tick, tick, tick

 

latex, stale, ink

drink acrid green liquid

 

blow breath into device

watch the numbers rise

 

wait in cool room on squishy seat

overgrowth = dysbiosis

 

explosion of greedy bacteria

decimates the gut region

 

Corporations are killing us.

 

 

My breath is life.

 

free-flowing, comfortable joy

big love

 

connections astound, exchange energy

Forgive.

 

Things that are empty can be filled.

Take heart.

 

Things that are blocked can be cleared.

Move on.

 

 

 

 

 

Connections astound, share energy

Forgive

 

Things that are empty can be filled

Take heart

 

Things that are blocked can be cleared

Move on

coloring-in-progress

 

© J. Rae

 

Posted in Poet | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Bomb Trains! – the Song & Poem

Bomb Train Response 5-7-15

Here’s a song I wrote about the dangers of Bomb Trains (trains carrying crude-oil all over North America), that I truly believe was given to me by God. The melody came to me in my sleep, and I got up and completed the lyrics by morning. Wish that happened more often. You would think it would be otherworldly, but it’s just an important message. Maybe it’ll piss you off, give you hope, or motivate you to take action.  If anyone wants to publish one or both of these, or alter these for social justice work – please private message me. Sharing is encouraged.

I haven’t gotten around to writing out the melody and chords, but listen to the Bomb Trains! song for an albeit, rough rendition on youtube. My thanks to Terri Roben for her guidance on melody and lyrics, her voice and guitar. Also thanks to my friend who wishes to remain anonymous. (The odd spacing and fonts are of no significance other than the orneriness of wordpress. I have no patience to sit and tweak it for hours until it comes out right.  😡   )

The Song

Bomb Trains!

(Verse 1)

47 dead in one small town
when a train explosion took them down-
Giant sticks of dynamite
terrorize our neighborhoods every night.

We demand environmental justice.
No such thing as acceptable life losses!

(Chorus)

Bomb Trains, Bomb Trains-
How many lives will be sacrificed
for Big Oil’s corporate gains?

(Verse 2)

Global made their plans behind our backs,
running unsafe tank cars on the tracks.
(200) black cars everyday
filled with crude oil makin’ their way

down to the Port of (Albany)
threatening our public health and safety.

(Chorus)

Bomb Trains, Bomb Trains-
How many lives will be sacrificed
for Big Oil’s corporate gains?

(Verse 3)

The company profits on a gamble,
but disasters will be left for us to handle.

Safe energy is attainable,

divest in fossil fuels, choose sustainable.

With 5 explosions in two years,
similar tragedies could happen here. It could happen here!

(Chorus)

Bomb Trains, Bomb Trains-
How many lives will be sacrificed
for Big Oil’s corporate gains?

(Bridge)
No more oil, gas, and coal.
Solar power is our goal.

It’s time to change, make new choices.
The world NEEDs us

to RAISE our voices!!

(Chorus)

Bomb Trains, Bomb Trains-
How many lives will be sacrificed
for Big Oil’s corporate gains?


(Verse 4)

Spread the word – with neighbor residents.
Make your voice heard right up to the president.

We have power to build traction.
Won’t give up ‘til there’s appropriate action.

(Chorus)

Bomb train, bomb trains-
How many lives will be sacrificed
for Big Oils corporate gains?

Bomb train, bomb trains-
How many lives will be sacrificed
for Big Oils corporate gains?

How many lives will be sacrificed

for Big Oils corporate gains?

 

The following a poem version of a song I wrote to raise awareness about the short and long-term dangers of transporting crude oil by rail in the city of Albany and beyond.

The Poem

Bomb Trains!

47 dead in one small town
when a train explosion took them down.
Giant sticks of dynamite
terrorize our neighborhoods every night.

We demand environmental justice.
There’s no such thing as acceptable life losses!

To call them Bomb Trains is no exaggeration.

Time ticking towards the next Conflagration.

Global made their plans behind our backs,
running unsafe tank cars on the tracks.
200 black cars everyday
filled with crude oil making their way

down to the Port of Albany
threatening our public health and safety.

To call them Bomb Trains is no exaggeration.

Time ticking towards the next Conflagration.

The company profits on a gamble,
but disasters will be left for us to handle.

Safe energy is attainable.

Divest in fossil fuels, choose sustainable.

With 5 explosions in two years,
similar tragedies could happen here.

It could happen – here!

To call them Bomb Trains is no exaggeration.

Time ticking towards the next Conflagration.

No more oil, gas, and coal.
Solar power is our goal.

It’s time to change, make new choices.
The world NEEDs us to

RAISE our voices!!

We have power to build traction.
We won’t give up until there’s appropriate action.

Together we will be

stronger than this rabid greed.

Spread the word – with local residents.

Make your voice heard, right up to the president.

Ask him –
How many lives will be sacrificed
for Big Oils corporate gains?

 

© J. Rae

 

Posted in Poet, Social Justice | Tagged , , ,

Albany Opposes Pilgrim Oil Pipelines in Late Night Vote

Glad someone blogged about this!

Protecting Our Waters

Community to Council: “We Aim to Stop These Pipelines”

Albany Willie White testifying Common Council May 16 2016Willie WhiteAVillage Executive Director, testifies against Pilgrim pipelines. Photo: Iris Marie Bloom

The City of Albany Common Council voted on Monday, May 16th to oppose the Pilgrim oil pipelines, two proposed pipelines which would begin and end in Albany, New York. A standing-room-only crowd, 18 of whom testified against what one speaker called the “preposterous Pilgrim pipelines,” packed into City Hall at 7 PM. The energetic crowd, including Ezra Prentice Homes residents, faith leaders, union members, health professionals, and environmental and climate justice advocates, toughed it out in the increasingly warm and airless chamber until the vote was called at 11:15 PM.  “That was a real nail-biter,” commented Albany resident Roger Downs, Conservation Chair, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, after the vote. Downs had been the first to testify in favor of the Resolution Opposing Pilgrim Pipelines, more than…

View original post 2,512 more words

Posted in Social Justice

AIP Celeriac Salad

Talking with a friend about what to do with celeriac inspired me to transpose my “chicken scratch on a post-it” to a recipe. I have not tested this in awhile, but I do remember that the mayo was never quite the thickness of store bought mayo. It worked though. You will need a good hand blender. Add the liquids to the coconut mayo gradually — reduce the amount of liquids if needed.

Photo by Aad'm B.

Photo by Aad’m B.

Scrub the dirt out of the nooks and crannies of the celeriac root. Pat dry. Then, cut all the lumps and bumps off. I cut it into chunks small enough to fit into my food processor, and grated it. You may use a hand grater if you like. It may be neat to try a spiralizer on it for a noodle-like quality.

Mix the shredded celeriac with enough coconut mayo to make the salad.

For a non-AIP version – add craisins, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, parsley –whatever you like. Shredded carrot and or broccoli could make nice additions too. Garlic can be substituted for asafoetida if you’re not worried about FODMAPS.

Ingredients:

  • 1 celeriac root – shredded
  • Coconut Mayo (see below)

Coconut Mayo:

  • 1/2 c coconut cream – (not concentrate or butter)
  • 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon –juiced
  • 1/2 t turmeric powder
  • 1/2 t ginger powder
  • 1T raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 t salt
  • pinch asafoetida
Posted in Recipes, Veg | Tagged , , ,

Tonglen

 

Dappled Interlacing Roots

(I have mixed feelings about this poem. I feel a bit sorry it was actually published in a student journal. On the one hand, it was my sincere thoughts, observations, and feelings that I hoped would be helpful. On the other hand, I’m a white woman crying about feeling helpless about cops killing people of color – and that just sounds shitty when I say it out loud. Please contact me if you have thoughts on improving this, or if you think it’s irredeemable.)

 

meditating – window open – bird song – neighborhood sounds…

 

man across street on stoop talking on cell – distracting me

Cancer…

just found out… not sure what’s next…

 

contractor cursing with co-worker near white van — irritating me

abnormalities found in his autistic kid —

needs brain surgery, he says

 

Stop.

Find your attention

empathy expands

This is meditation.

invoke health & peace

 

another one killed by blue uniforms for

skin color, poverty, mental suffering

shot by ignorance – fear turned inside out

lifeless on the ground

senseless

 

so helpless

nothing to do but burst your heart open

tremors from Inside

branch Out

when faced – felt – spoken

 

painful sorrow

not wanted – treated with contempt – needs unmet

so many people sad, hurt, disconnected

 

open with compassion – include yourself

invoke health, abundance, joy, peace – include yourself

 

heal the world faster –

heal yourself,

be Love All the way.

 

 

 

© J. Rae

 

 

Posted in Blog Talk, Poet, Self-care, Social Justice, Vent | Tagged , , , ,

Resonating

Deep Breath. In and out. Repeat.

It’s funny how quickly my vibration can go from emanating and attracting love, creativity, and joy to drawing in lack, insensitivity, and cruel behavior. I could take it personally. It happens. Sometimes I feel hurt and sad – because I’m human. Sometimes I get pissy with people because I’m in a shit mood, but more often I turn on myself and isolate when the needle is hovering over the opposite end of my happy place.

I will change this trend when it is time. If it can switch so easily in one direction, it can switch just as easily in the other direction. I won’t rush it. I won’t feel less than the Law of Attraction evangelists. Their vibration isn’t any better than mine. It’s just different. It’s what each of us needs at any given time. In fact, they may be so hung up on their ideal of how they are supposed to think and feel that they are unaware of the limiting mask they are wearing. Not my business anyway. I know I’m armed with Divine resources at my service at all times. All I need to do is be quiet, be observant, be patient, listen, act on what I hear, let go, be grateful, know, trust, and love.

In the meantime, shit will happen. Actually, there is no insurance to prevent shit from happening. My bank card could be shut down because of some fucked up bank policy. Someone trusted could pull the rug out from under me without a warning, and throw in a great big smile. Old relationships may resurface with reminders of why they became old relationships. I will get hate mail. For example:

 

Angry Postman!!!

Angry Postman!!!

Sorry postal man!!! but since the landlord doesn’t adhere to state law on tenant mailboxes, the state won’t enforce it , and neither will the USPS; you will have to deal with this shit until you’ve put in enough time to collect your pension (if the USPS still exists at that point). I’m just doing my civic duty. Has the “return to sender” policy ended? Do we just throw ex-tenants mail in the trash? And who is going to update this list you demand? People are moving in and out of here like it was a Holiday Inn. My landlord certainly won’t.

I assume these are all lessons from the Multiverse. It certainly echoes what the planets have been doing. Last month I was shining energetically — maybe not up to the standards of the ladies who lunch, the average cheerleader, or LoA junkies; but I was rocking it in my own unique way. And no, I didn’t get showered with the attention of a prom queen. I quietly enjoyed my creative output, and a few friends showed their support. This month Venus is complicating things with a retrograde. September is another ball of wax – if I’m still alive. It’s all good in the end. I’ll learn a little more and get a little better, like I always do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Astrology Muse, Feelings, Freedom, Self-care, Vent | Tagged , ,

Turmeric Gingersnap Smoothie

Turmeric Gingersnap Smoothie

Enjoy! This is healthy! Turmeric is a very powerful anti-inflammatory. I know this from personal experience, and there’s plenty of data out there to back it up.

Adapted from this awesome recipe from a website called Natural Health in Action.

Mangoes that are ripe are likely to have some yellow, red, and a little green in the skin. Still, color is not a guarantee for ripeness. Press it gently with your fingers. If it gives easily, it is ready. Unripe mangoes usually take a few days to ripen at room temperature. Cut along the widest diameter of the fruit. When you hit the hard seed, angle the knife to just graze over it. Take the seedless half and use a knife to score a checkerboard design into the flesh, but not through the skin. Push it from the skin side with your fingers until it turns inside out. Then, slice the cubes off into a bowl. (This same technique works for avocados.) Then carve around the seed, and carefully pry it out with the knife. Repeat the scoring and slicing off the other side of the fruit. Once ripe, the mango can be stored in the fridge whole, or sliced and covered, for about 5 days. Mango can also be frozen after cutting into cubes.

I used the beverage version of coconut milk, which is really not the healthiest. There is often carrageenan and/or guar gum in it, which is bad news. Ideally, watered down pure coconut milk is best. I used a half a banana instead of a whole one, a tablespoon of chia instead of a teaspoon, dumped in the spices, and added a couple of tablespoons of hemp protein. I also added my usual nutrition boosters, which are optional. The result tasted almost like a gingersnap cookie.

Turmeric Gingersnap Smoothie 2

Here’s my adaptation broke down:

  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 c mango (or less)
  • enough coconut milk to reach the minimum mark on the blender (about 4 oz.)
  • 2 T hemp protein powder
  • 1 T chia seeds
  • 1 T coconut oil (best quality)
  • turmeric powder (to your liking)
  • ginger powder (to your liking)
  • cinnamon powder (to your liking)
  • couple shakes of sea salt (unless salt is something you need to avoid)*optional
  • couple shakes of kelp powder *optional
  • big pinch of ground eggshell *optional

 

Posted in Liquid, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Art Appreciation

Here’s my take on both being appreciated for your writing (or any other art form, or any contribution) and appreciating the writing (or any other art form, or any contribution) of others:

First be grateful for what your (writing) gives to you,
but remember that
what you think of your art is none of your business.

Then remember that this world is now highly saturated with information —
more than can be absorbed in it’s entirety.
People have varying levels of saturation as well.
There is nothing wrong with that.
It just is.

Different people are attracted to different things.
For example, I’m rarely attracted to mysteries, horror, or noir;
but I love books on spirituality.

Many friends won’t pay for your work.
That doesn’t mean they don’t value you.
It may mean they have no interest in your genre,
or that they have budgeted for something they value to a greater degree (rent, for instance).
If you touch even one person with your writing
that is success.

When you have the energy, inclination, inspiration, or motivation
to appreciate the work of someone else;
then open yourself up to it.
It doesn’t count if it was done from a place of scarcity, reluctance, or resentment.
You are not a bad person if you did not read or finish the book.
There are gems to be found in just one line of poetry, or one paragraph of prose.

Once in awhile stretch yourself and be open to the work of others.
Support the work of others as much as you can.

It is good for you.
Someone will return the kindness.

All My Guts and Soul

© J. Rae

Posted in Feelings, Write | Tagged , , ,

Chocolate Zucchini Bread Minis

I tried out this recipe from PaleOMG for the chocolate zucchini bread. I’m making desserts for a potluck, so I thought minis would be nice.

Here’s my experience:

2 small zucchini were slightly over 1.5 cups before pressing. I choose to squeeze the zucchini in my hand over a fine strainer. Afterwards I pressed the zucchini into the strainer with my hand. I held the strainer over a bowl to catch the juice, which is full of magnesium and stuff—so DRINK IT. I’m dreaming of a zucchini juice with lemon and ginger, and maybe some avocado. Yum.

Next time I’m trying 3-4 eggs to make up for it’s lack of bread quality and to add some moisture. It was more like a brownie consistency.

I found that 1 3/4 c of sun butter was basically a whole 16 oz. jar, so skip the measuring unless you are making the sun butter homemade or have a bigger jar. I highly recommend making it homemade if you have the right equipment because my sun butter cost 6 bucks and change. This is expensive zucchini bread.

Unless you’re not into sweet at all, use 2/3-1 c of honey because this wasn’t even close to sweet. I know —  it’s bread. I have a sweet tooth.

I’m doubling the cocoa as well next time. It tasted more like sun butter than chocolate.

I was wondering if I should sift the coconut flour first, but I didn’t. My batter was more like play dough and it was not so moist, so I think next time I will sift the coconut flour first.

So I reduced the heat to 325 for the 24- to- a- silicon pan minis and baked them for 20 minutes. They came out a little dry. I also made some larger minis. These were 12- to- a-nonstick pan. I cooked them for 20 minutes as well. I think I will try 10 minutes for the mini-minis and 15 for the larger ones next time, so they will have more moisture.

I want to come up a nice frosting to make up for the lack of sweet and moist. This frosting didn’t cut it. I used palm shortening for the first time, and I’m not sure I like it. I also know I never want to use date sugar in frosting again. It was too chewy.

I like the simplicity of this recipe, and that it is paleo and nut-free. I will try it again and update this post with my findings.

Ok, I just learned something new. My baking powder isn’t fresh enough. My next batch will probably come out much better with some new baking powder.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread Bites

Cute heart shapes!

Juice from squeezing the zucchini pulp

Posted in Recipes, Sweet | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Infinity

Started poetry

left unfinished.

Sometimes about despair that never ends.

Sometimes about gratitude that never ends.

 

NeverEnding possibilities

NeverEnding opportunities

Limitless abundance

Limitless Love

 

There is so much poetry left unfinished.

Poetry—

like existence

has no limits.

All My Guts and Soul

© J. Rae

Posted in Poet | Tagged , , , , ,

Chocolate is Legal

In the spirit of the old Burma-Shave ads. Prompt thanks to NaPoWriMo 2014.

 

Instead of prison

For a mere joint

Taste a flavor

That won’t disappoint

Chocolate is legal.

 

All My Guts and Soul

 

 

© J. Rae

Posted in Poet | Tagged , ,

Socializing Blues

Leaving a social gathering

is followed by the blues.

I’m heavy and unequal.

A triangular conversation leaves me

feeling ridiculous.

The woody area

where my grounding tree comforts

attracts the snout of a dog

that reminds me of an otter.

The mourning dove

is my bird.

She sings the blues,

and she always finds me.

I saw you walking in a Peruvian hat,

like Lazarus in leather.

Her strawberry hair was lovely.

Was it awkward

when you told her

you couldn’t place me?

Your ghastly memory

trying to forget

the time I told you

to take your shuttlecock and blast it into outer space.

I seek bittersweet love

of the best chocolate

there is to offer

at the bodega—

not the bodega

where the owner

smoking outside

looked at me

like I was a turkey wing.

I went to the other bodega—

careful not to be too friendly.

Sparse interaction

could be confused

with flirting.

The tricolor ice cream winks at me.

The mourning dove sings the blues.

Ever since my gut was incised,

I’ve not been quite right.

The moon looks different now.

I feel conquered.

It angers me.

There’s not enough nutmeg

to change it.

The mourning dove sings the blues behind me.

Cup and saucer waiting for me to warm

while bantering of things half false.

The mourning dove sings one last song before

I drop my earrings in the jewel box,

close the top,

wonder why I don’t have a striped cat,

rub my shoulder blade,

and dream about the Atlantic sea—

where I’m digging for clams in a sunbonnet.

If this seems a bit ridiculous, that’s because I’ve slipped in parts of the names of 18 different kinds of seashells (another prompt from NaPoWriMo 2014). It was fun. Analyze that, lol. Smile

All My Guts and Soul

© J. Rae

Posted in Poet | Tagged , ,

Introduction to my poetry

I’ve been spiffing up my silly little blog lately– before I promote it to a wider audience. This blog is unconventional because I started out writing about managing my health issues, then social issues, and now I’m adding poetry; something I’ve always loved, but only recently embraced.

I didn’t major in writing, English, or literature. I wrote my first poem at age 6, but it’s no masterpiece. I wrote sporadically throughout my life, mostly in my 20s; but I never did anything with it. I never published anything—well one letter to the editor about bomb trains and the foolishness of fossil fuels. I’ve only been putting a noticeable effort into poetry since about 2011. (Update: I’ve published a few more things since then, but nothing to brag about, yet. I’m working on it. Also, I am working on an undergrad degree in English. It’s awesome!)

This renewed passion for poetry has a little something to do with being involved in communities that appreciate and promote it. First, I snuck a poem into the Occupy Albany collection of writings. It has probably been sucked into a black hole. Then I submitted a few poems to the Oracle, a yearly (depending on those who work on it) arts journal put out by my religious society. I stumbled into an open mic one night. I asked what it was they were doing. They said, “poetry.” So I decided to stay and listen. Then I came back and started reading and going to other poetry events too.

So since I have no hoity- toity blah, blah, blah to say about my work, I came up with a creative and slightly sarcastic bio for myself. Before the introducing the bio, I want you to know that I have paranoid thoughts and am very cautious, so this is a big deal that I’ve got all this stuff out to the public. I do believe I’m making some progress! I figure if Ed Snowden can handle living in a surveillance state —well poor example—umm…

This is the long version: (Updated)

Jessica Rae is a middle-aged, perimenopausal, child-free undergrad student, writer, and poet with chronic illness. In her spare time, Jessica enjoys reading, writing, attending forums, films, plays, volunteering at community events, cooking healthy food, spiritual practices, non-violent communication, and riding her bike along the Erie Canal.

She misses her friends in Albany, the food co-op, the activist community, volunteering at her religious society, and walks in Washington Park.

Jessica Rae wrote her first poem at age six and attributes Mother Goose as her primary influence. Sensing that her wordy tendencies were frowned upon and likely, just a lot of bullshit, she hashed out her emotions through poetry in secret until 2013.

Jessica’s poetry might be described as rhyming, imagistic, literal, musical, egoistical, gynocentric, angsty, didactic, self-deprecating, and often dialectical. Her ferocious need to process emotions, describe an emotional moment, or make sense out of nonsense drives her writing. She is grateful to be constantly learning and changing in her writing as well as in life, and to have such a wonderful community of poets, activists, and spiritual friends to influence her.

Jessica lives near Rochester, NY, but her heart is still in the Capital Region of NY.

On that note, I hope you enjoy these samples of my work.

Posted in Poet | Tagged

Bomb Trains

Lac-Mégantic-explosion

Do you  know that trains carrying hundreds of tank cars filled with volatile crude oil everyday criss-cross the US and Canada? The cars are highly explosive upon impact. Technically they are not explosions, but conflagrations capable of vaporizing anyone within a half mile of the blast. Do you know if there is a bomb train moving through the area where you or someone you know lives? Check this map by Forest Ethics to find out.

Why would this crude oil be allowed to continue shipping by rail— an infrastructure in dire disrepair—even after 47 people died in Lac Megantic, Canada and nine more explosions occurred in the last two years polluting water and air, destroying habitats, and disrupting communities that must respond to these uncontrollable fires and attempt to recover the damage done? Surely, laws protect the massive numbers of citizens who  in danger. The powerful oil industry  more valuable to our elected and appointed officials than the lives of millions of Americans.

Surprised? Why? While we were busy working our asses off to make ends meet; and decompressing with substances– including junk food, pharmaceuticals, media, gambling, shopping, and other addictive habits (all designed to render people spiritually impotent and helpless to affect positive change); policy changes were made and continue. The changes are influenced by large corporations that have no interest in the well-being of citizens. Changes that we were too busy to care about weighing in on or that were made under a veil of secrecy. Feel used and abused?!

People all over the continent and the world are standing up for a safe and healthy people and planet. Groups like People of Albany United for Safe Energy are calling for a ban of the trains carrying crude oil, for further environmental impact studies before permitting crude oil infrastructure, for a stop to all fossil fuel infrastructure, and for investment in clean & safe energy. 60 people in Oregon blocked the train tracks, 100 in Seattle, 3 people were arrested in Maine for the same, and more were arrested in Oakland, California when activists tried to drop a banner from a rail bridge calling to “Stop the Bomb Trains Now.” These are just a few examples of what happened around the country as part of a week of action in memory of those who died two years ago in Lac Megantic, and in protest of the ongoing transport of crude oil by rail.

I cannot begin to demonstrate the insanity and urgency of this issue so please take a look at the links above and below, and check out Rachel Maddow’s report on this situation.

http://earthfirstjournal.org/newswire/?s=oil+trains+protest

http://priceofoil.org/rail/

http://www.desmogblog.com/

I know not everyone wants to stand in crowds chanting with signs, and some people simply aren’t able to do so. There are many ways to advocate and take action. I enjoy the arts and prefer to use my passions in those areas to help in social and environmental justice causes. Letter writing, phone calls, petitions, attending city and town hall meetings, making signs for protests, and providing financial support are some of the ways people can help.

 

© J. Rae

Posted in Poet, Social Justice | Tagged , , , ,

The Human Cost of Freedom: Thoughts for the 4th

Good read for the holiday weekend:

bay witch musings

If you are American, particularly if you are a white American, male, Christian (especially if you are Protestant), and most definitely if you are rich; basically, if you have any of the markers in our society of possessing what is called privilege (and certainly there are others–if you are straight, thin, attractive, able-bodied, you too have privilege in our society), you should take the time to read Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States.  For me, it is something that I take the time to read and reread every few years, but I truly think every American should read it at least once, because it is eye-opening and instructive, in a way that very little of the history you learned in school was, particularly on the matter of how this country was actually built.  There is a lot I considered saying here…in defense of my own privilege…

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Posted in Social Justice | Tagged ,

Fuckin’ Fireworks!!!

Oh how wonderful that small fireworks are now legal in NYS. Does it really matter? All summer people are poppin’ off fireworks in this city as if it were no danger or inconvenience—whether it’s legal or not. The empire state plaza already has fireworks— it seems twice a week. And if you live near the plaza, you have the pleasure of hearing every blast five times for each massive state building the sound bounces off of.

Isn’t that enough? Why do you have to go up on the roof in a  tree lined, historic residential area at 5 in the fucking morning? Does it make you feel free?

Guess what, you’re not free, from a governmental and corporate standpoint. So set off those chemical laden, carbon emitting, made in China, dog traumatizing, PTSD triggering, fire and health hazards while you swill your beer, grill your hotdogs, and wave that flag of colonialist, imperialist, corporate glory cuz that’s what is means to be free. Thousands of soldiers died, lost limbs, struggle with PTSD and/or addiction for that flag. Their families struggle with loss of income, medical costs, and the mental stress of having a family member with illness. The government loves to wax poetic about the American military service men and women, but when they come home they are served bread crumbs. Thousands of innocent children, women, and men were killed or displaced for the 1% to continue to play monopoly while the rest of us buy their bullshit, are made sick by their bullshit, and suffer for their bullshit. In fact a bull’s shit does not deserve to be associated with the psychopathic 1%.

(Deep breath.) Ah yes, pointing fingers is not the Buddhist way? Ok, I have an immense amount of compassion for these poor rich white men who choose to take their one precious life to amass imaginary power while incredible heights of peace, cooperation, intelligence, creation,and energy are at their fingertips. Poor, poor souls.

So I will spend this holiday writing,  meditating, soaking in prana from the very wet park, practicing my song for the upcoming rally to ban the bomb trains and go sustainable, wearing ear plugs, possibly numbing out on movies to distract from the heart and ass leaping, adrenal hormone spiking effects of blast after unexpected blast of explosives. Let’s purposely light explosives to see the pretty lights. Ooo! Aahh! The lights are inside and all around you– blind numbskulls.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for listening to my griping, nothing new take on it all. I sound angry, and I am; but I have many facets. Right now this is the one that’s shining (as I yawn from a sleepless night).

 

© J. Rae

Posted in Feelings, Vent | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Blog Insecurities

I started blogging, in 2007, before I knew what it was— on a support group site, when illness made my life so challenging and isolating that I turned to the internet for help. In 2009, I started a blogspot where shared a lot of what was going on emotionally for me. I gave it up. “Too personal. No one cares,” I said. The aforementioned blog was likely swallowed up by the google monster never to be seen again. Then, in 2010, I started this food blog on wordpress, followed by a mental health blog because those in the know were saying that you had to keep your blog to one subject. Then I started a blog to vent about everything that wasn’t included in the first two blogs.

I had many insecurities about blogging. Am I doing it right? Does it matter? Will someone hurt me with my personal information? Will people even care? Is my title any good? It has to be under six words they said. Do I sound like an idiot? So, I started my blog, but I wouldn’t publicize it. I wouldn’t even tell my friends–the worst critics. I went under many assumed names, so I couldn’t be found out. I’d write a post, feel self-conscious or unsafe about it, and delete it; or I’d forget about posting for months.

I’ve been debating about opening up this blog for more to see and actually writing in it. I’m not going to pressure myself about it because that will likely not help, but I’ll see what I can do. This is really for me, but I do hope other people get something out of it.

This practice does challenge me. My perfectionist part doesn’t like how my posts are never finished being edited. And my overwhelmed part doesn’t like the standards fellow bloggers and subscribers have set. There’s no way in hell I’m writing a post a day. My paranoid part thinks this is just making it easier for the government, stalkers, estranged family members, and jilted ex-lovers to spy on me. My protector part is saying it’s not safe to share so much.

I’ve often felt that by allowing people to see my writing, they will also know how I think—and that somehow I’m less safe when I’m more known. Good thing I go to therapy weekly, lol. I’m ready to take my own advice on feeling uncomfortable sharing your personal self with the world. I said, “say (to yourself) “so what” and “fuck ’em all,” frequently, lol. There is great freedom in letting your art out into the world, and you never know how it will enrich the lives of others. It won’t if you keep it to yourself.” I sound kinda wise, ha-ha. (Oh but lols, ha-has, and emoticons are not acceptable in a blog—fuck that shit. It’s my fucking blog. “Fuck ‘em all!”) Or maybe I could take the advice of a fellow blogger and life hacker who said, “sometimes ‘improving’ means you no longer care if it is perfect and are no longer are afraid of making a mistake. Or no longer does being criticized feel like a dead sentence:)” And she probably won’t spend the next 30 years worrying about misspelling death.

But I’m evolving. I’m ready to let my mistakes be visible, to open myself up to vulnerability. I hear that’s the only way to the good stuff in life. If I need to put on the brakes until I feel more comfortable, then I’ll do that too. Sorry narcissists—I’ve got boundaries. Like my favorite Goddess says, “You cannot possess me!”

I appreciate this quote by John Wooden. Google says he was a basketball player and coach. No wonder I never heard of him. “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is really what others think you are.” So I’m glad to feel free enough to dive deeper into who I really am. If it turns out I get disapproval from others, it doesn’t matter.

I’ve always loved poetry. After many years of being taught that poetry, literature, art, music, dancing were unnecessary, impractical, and wasteful; I forgot how much I loved these things. I forced myself to fit an acceptable box. I was pretty miserable too. Now I think that I was born a poet—not a great poet, just a poet. So when I read this quote by Joseph Campbell, I felt validated in my pursuit of authenticity and freedom.

Poets are simply those who have made a profession and a lifestyle of being in touch with their bliss. Most people are concerned with other things. They get themselves involved in economic and political activities, or get drafted into a war that isn’t the one they’re interested in, and it may be difficult to hold to this umbilical under those circumstances. That is a technique each one has to work out for himself somehow.

But most people living in that realm of what might be called occasional concerns have the capacity that is waiting to be awakened to move to this other field. I know it, I have seen it happen in students.

I have been the one caught up on economics and political actions, and have been pulled into belief systems that don’t serve me. I doubt I’m done, but I’m grateful that I can be my authentic self. I can free myself by following my bliss. And I say, “fuck off” to those people who are constantly reminding me of the practicalities of life. I played that game and lost–or I won because it taught me to go my own way.

I’ve been thinking about the dichotomy between navel gazing and stoicism. I’ve noticed that it’s more common for those 30 and under to acknowledge their “feels” and the “feels” of others, while the older folks tend to look at this behavior as TMI, unnecessary, and just inappropriate.

Life is hard. You just buck up, and put your big panties on. Sometimes there’s nothing deep behind feeling tired. You just are. There is no such thing as depression. That’s just feeling sorry for yourself. Nobody got depressed during the Depression. They just kept going. People aren’t supposed to be happy all the time. I could go on with the snippets of wisdom that stress denying one’s own feelings.

I have hope for younger generations because they know more about expression, honoring individuality, and working together in more efficient and cooperative ways. I just hope that they can get past the harmful legacy we have left them– a belief system full of judgment, conformity, self-denial, hierarchy, withholding, patriarchy, material worship, blame, fear….

What does this have to do with my blog insecurity? It has to do with letting it all hang out authentically, and accepting myself with compassion. I hope one day everyone can embrace each other and communicate with compassion. Imagine–no more war, no more starvation, no more racism, no more fossil fuels…. (Sigh.) I’ll start with me.

 

© J. Rae

Posted in Blog Talk, Feelings, Vent, Write | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Delicious Chocolate Fruit&Veggie Smoothie

Delicious Chocolate Fruit & Veggie Smoothie

  • 1 frozen banana (sliced)
  • 5 frozen strawberries (approx.)
  • 1 handful of frozen spinach
  • 4 oz. Coconut water (approx.)
  • 1 1/2 T chia seeds
  • 1 T cocoa powder
  • 1 t maple syrup
  • Dash salt (if you have adrenal depletion)
  • Dash kelp powder

Into a blender add 2 oz. coconut water first, then chia, cocoa powder, salt, kelp, banana, strawberries, spinach, maple, and fill to the 10 oz. mark with the rest of the coconut water. Blend until smooth. Enjoy!

I have a smoothie with chia or flax nearly every morning as a pre-breakfast meal. The chia is a good form of fiber to keep me regular. It tastes good, has a nice crunch, and thickens in liquid. I hate psyllium, and it makes my guts hurt. Yuck!

Posted in Liquid, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Daikon Soup (Paleo AIP & Low FODMAP)

I’ve been eating daikon ever since I learned that daikon can help remove intestinal blockages in Virginia Harper’s book, Controlling Crohn’s Disease: the Natural Way. It’s a type of radish that has a slightly less heat than the red radish when raw, and no heat when cooked.

Adapted from Roger Mooking’s recipe, Daikon Soup with Shiitake Cigars and Steamed Sweet Potatoes with Green Onion Vinaigrette. Sounds delicious, right?!

Ingredients:

Broth:

  • 2 stalks celery coarsely chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro or parsley stems
  • 1 1/2 Bay leaves
  • 1 bunch green onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 inch fresh grated turmeric or 1/2 t ground turmeric
  • 1 inch fresh grated ginger or 1 t ground ginger
  • 2 t Celtic sea salt
  • 2 coarsely chopped turnips
  • 1/2 large daikon coarsely chopped
  • 1 carrot coarsely chopped (optional)

Soup:

  • 2 T coconut aminos
  • 1 T fish sauce (optional)
  • 1 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T date paste (skip for 21 DSD)
  • 1 1/2 c thin sliced daikon
  • 1/2 bunch thin sliced green onion
  • 3-6 c bone broth (optional)

Feel free to eyeball amounts and flavor to taste. That’s what I do. Throw all the broth ingredients in a 2 quart pot and fill the pot with water, bone broth, or both. Simmer 1 hour. Strain out veggies. Add soup ingredients to the strained broth. Simmer until daikon is at desired tenderness. Makes 6 servings.

Daikon Soup (Paleo, AIP)

Daikon Soup (Paleo, AIP)

 

Posted in Recipes, Veg | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mercury Retrograde

Not everyone subscribes to astrology—I do. The more aware I am of myself , the more I make a point of learning about it. I’ve noticed in the last few months that I am sensitive to the changes of the moon, and decided that it was in my best interest to make sure I prepared for those changes. I’m guessing that’s true for all the satellites out there (not the ones putting your house on google image, Silly). It is certainly true for me when it comes to Mercury when it is in Retrograde. I’m clumsier than usual, more emotional, technology gives me more trouble, and communication gets confused. I wish I could sleep through the whole damn thing, but that would be a good quarter of the year. Mercury Retrograde is a time to slow down, to be impeccable, to reflect, to research, and prepare for what’s coming.

How lucky for me, that I chose to find a new home and to sign a lease during this time. That’s a little sarcastic, but I’m guessing it was meant to be. It was meant to stretch me a little. Many things went awry during this time. You may get a hint of some of that from the following post I shared with a Mercury Retrograde “support group.” Yup, it exists.

I’m thinking of the lessons I may be called to learn: Never put your keys in shallow pockets. Never buy clothes with shallow pockets. Never push yourself to go outdoors after sunset when you’re tired. Triple check for keys, phones, and bus pass. Have extra keys made up, label them, and write down who you gave them to. When moving, have a central container for all those things most important and always know where it is. Stay focused on the important things even when distracted by the demands of others. Never trust a landlord.

Never let a landlord rush you to make a decision. See the entire building and meet the neighbors before signing the lease. Refuse to sign the lease without a copy on site. Read the lease before signing. Never assume a friend is going to keep you from doing something stupid.

During retrograde, assume all emails, texts, calls, and conversations will be misunderstood. Take extra care to be clear and send reminders. Assume you will be late. Leave earlier. Watch where you’re going. Keep a good grip on what’s in your hands. Sleep well. Meditate often. Avoid getting wound up by someone else’s shit. Wait. Write. Reflect.

Mostly I’ve noticed that my intense feelings of being unsafe are still not resolved. I’m easily triggered by another’s similar feelings as well as by dishonesty or lack of concern. That is old childhood shit that I’d like to stop carrying around, or at least I’d like to drop what is not necessary.

This particular Mercury Retrograde was very powerful since it was in the sign associated with the planet Mercury–Gemini. That’s what I gather from the experts anyway. The effects started several weeks earlier than the actual period of retrograde, and the effects are still being felt now. It is supposed to be resolved by the 27th. I’ve done my best to avoid communication and technology and to use my time for reflection and research. Gradually, I’m testing the ground. I found my bus pass—to bad it’s two weeks expired. My landlord finally gave me my lease. I’m working on the soft release of my blog. Good stuff is on it’s way!

Artistic Impression of Mercury

Artistic Impression of Mercury

 

Posted in Astrology Muse, Freedom, Heal, Self-care | Tagged , , , , ,

A Charm Against Lost Poetry

A response to a prompt to write a charm–from NaPoWriMo 2014.

 

Moleskin from the nightstand,

Flowy pen set beforehand,

Blood shot eyes from tired head,

And a brilliant string of words not yet fled—

Always excite thee poet’s mind,

No matter what the time.

All My Guts and Soul

 

 

© J. Rae

Posted in Poet | Tagged , , , , ,

Impermanence

Some of my most present moments have to do with public transportation.

The driver of the cab— a man in his 60s with a long, ragged, white beard— approaches the stoplight on the other side of the cold and windy street I stand on. I watch the steam leave my nose, and clench my muscles against the cold.

Coffee in hand, he fusses with the pages of a newspaper in the passenger’s seat, grabs it, and tries to read a few lines while waiting at the red light. The light turns green, and he drops the paper.

It’s time to move forward.

There must be a lull in the cab business because he drives back through the intersection and pulls into the bus stop lane in front of me. There he fumbles with the newspaper again, turns toward the window facing me, stretches his legs out, and rests his feet on the passenger seat. He balances the coffee in one hand, and with a sigh, picks up the newspaper. His eyes soften, as if dinner has just been served.

I look on with compassion because I know my bus is about to arrive, and he will be pressured to move his cab.

He drives away.

I wait for the passengers to unload from the bus. I wait for my turn to board. I settle into a warm seat, and notice a new scene outside my window.

All My Guts and Soul

 

© J. Rae

Posted in Poet | Tagged , , , , ,

(R)Evolution

I attended a video screening and discussion today of The Next American Revolution featuring historian and political economist Gar Alperovitz.

I’ve never been enamored with economics or politics. There is a necessity in understanding both however. Thank God— or whatever you like—this guy finds it fascinating. For someone who professes to be purely analytical, he has managed to add a high element of humanity to his presentation. He says “maybe” an awful lot. I suspect he is more of an optimist than he thinks.

All this aside, my mystical mind was tickled pink with the validation of my longtime vision of what would fix this and what the future could be. I love being in groups of people whose intention is to understand better and make change to benefit all. I was basking in the energy created by this meeting. The energy flowing up from my legs to my noggin continued for quite some time. I also had a hard time allowing the pain I felt for the world. I came to the conclusion that it’s necessary for me to feel it in it’s entirety.

Make all the products! Grow all the food! Own all the companies! Activate all the co-ops and credit unions! Work all together! Be strong like the unions of the past! Etc. and so on. Woo-hoo!

This song popped into my head today.

Actually the phrase, “you know it’s gonna be alright” was whispered in my ear by an unseen angel. It pertained to my personal life, but it reminded me of the bigger picture. It may not be alright for awhile. It’ll take patience and time. Damn another Beatles tune. I adore them. Actually it’s a George Harrison tune. Pretty catchy. Smile

Posted in Social Justice | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Damned Beggar

This is a response to a prompt to write a curtal sonnet. Although it is a six line stanza followed by a 4 ½ line stanza, it doesn’t feel like a sonnet to me. I decided it was actually 3 couplets followed by an extended quatrain. What does it matter anyway, lol?

I looked up the inventor of the curtal sonnet, Gerard Manly Hopkins, and am pleased with the three he wrote, especially “Peace,” which has some similarity in ideas to this poem I wrote– in my eyes. Ash Boughs” is special to me as well, since I worry about my Ash tree friends’ survival.

 

Curse thieves of my energy,

or curse me being a fool.

 

Curse takers that not give,

or curse me forgetting myself .

 

Curse life’s injustice,

or curse me obscuring peace.

 

Please help me be open and soft.

Please help me be brave and strong.

Please save me from hell on Earth.

Please take me from misery.

Have mercy.

All My Guts and Soul

 

© J. Rae

Posted in Poet | Tagged , , , ,

My Pillow

My response to write a love poem to an inanimate object. I must have been tired because I wrote a haiku.

 

 

I can’t wait until

we are together in soft

sumptuous slumber.

© J. Rae

Posted in Poet | Tagged , , ,

New Day

I tried my hand at the lune, just one stanza. It was written after one of my insomniac nights.

 

Sky is dark.

The birds are softly chirping.

New day soon.

All My Guts and Soul

© J. Rae

Posted in Poet | Tagged , , ,

Turning Forty

(I want to work on this sometime, but posting anyway. Please contact me for revision advice.)

 

Now I’m a woman of a certain age,

who is tumbling down the hill.

We’re all tumbling down,

and I’m scared for us.

 

The only thing that can stop it

is love —

the thing trained out of you and me.

Only a mere fraction remains.

 

I was supposed to be ready

when the big battle blew in.

Some days I barely lift my head.

Now I’m horrified – and angry.

 

This is the era of autoimmune disease.

Now the trees are dying,

species expiring,

and the water’s running dry.

 

Where are the kind people –

the ones who are not afraid?

Where are the kind ones

who are not afraid of me?

 

My little girls are worried

this woman-child

won’t come through.

 

My room is full of little girls

with no director.

It’s chaos in here.

 

Who will help the people?

Who will help the  bees?

Who will stop the fracking

and the flammable trains?

 

If I want peace for all,

I need to make peace in me.

 

If I want respect for Mother Earth,

I need to respect myself.

 

If I want more love in the world,

I need to give more love to myself.

 

I can’t help the world

if I can’t help myself.

 

If I truly love this world,

I have to prove it to myself.

 

 

 

All My Guts and Soul

© J. Rae

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Protected: The Rape of Our Mother Earth: On Hydraulic Fracturing

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Magic Golden Milk

The orange-colored root native to India known as turmeric is highly anti-inflammatory. For an illustration of this benefit, read Curcumin attenuates inflammatory responses…. It’s so effective that drug companies are working on analogues. The real thing is always better in my book. Before I would resort to medications with harmful side effects that stop helping the problem, I tried a turmeric supplement. I got through a flair very quickly using this, an autoimmune protocol, and plenty of sleep.

Golden milk is a traditional drink. It’s more like a tea, and just as comforting. I’ve made a few changes. My version isn’t strict AIP (autoimmune-protocol). The honey, ghee, and vanilla could be removed to make it so.

Magic Golden Milk

Magic Golden Milk

Ingredients:

  • 4 c coconut milk (I used Arroyo-D Coconut Cream from the carton, and watered it down to a milky consistency. Asian markets usually carry it.)
  • 1 inch knob of grated turmeric (I used a micro plane.)
  • 1 inch knob of grated ginger
  • 2 large cinnamon sticks
  • 6 whole cloves (to taste)
  • 8 t honey (to taste)
  • 1 t vanilla (I use a vanilla flavor that uses glycerin instead of alcohol as its base. A pod open and scraped into the pot would eliminate the need to add glycerin or alcohol.)
  • 1 t ghee

Directions:

  • Pour the milk into the pot. Turn the heat on low.
  • Throw the cinnamon sticks into the pot.
  • If using vanilla bean, open a small bean carefully with the tip of a knife, scrape the black seeds into the pot, and toss the pod into the pot as well.
  • Grate the turmeric and ginger. Put it in a muslin tea bag or tie it in cheesecloth. Add whole cloves if you are using them. Toss it into the pot.
  • If you choose to, add vanilla flavor or extract and/or honey to the pot.
  • Heat on very low for 20 min. Leave the lid loose to avoid bubbling over.

This milk came out a little too oily for my taste, but it was still delicious. I don’t recommend the boxed non-dairy milks made to mimic the consistency of cow’s milk because of the added carrageenan. You may choose to do some research before you decide whether it’s safe to eat. To get light coconut milk from a box or can of full fat coconut milk, and at the same time get some coconut cream for a future use:

  1. Turn the can or box upside down and leave it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
  2. Turn it right side up and pour out the partially defatted coconut milk for use in your golden milk.
  3. Scoop the cream out of the bottom of the can or box with a spatula. The cream can be measured and frozen, or refrigerated if it will be used in a few days.

Enjoy!

Posted in Liquid, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lamb Heart and Bison Chili (Autoimmune-Friendly)

This was a potluck hit inspired by this recipe from Mickey Trescott’s  Autoimmune Paleo and this recipe from And Love it Too!

  • 1/2 lb. grass-fed lamb hearts cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1 lb. ground bison
  • 3 lbs. sweet potato cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 c organic carrots cut into 1 inch slices
  • 2 small beets, peeled and cut into 1/4 cubes (Use gloves, or rub baking soda into your hands to will get the red out.)
  • 1 large sweet onion cut in half + sliced radially
  • 3 c grass-fed beef bone broth
  • 1 T grass-fed beef tallow
  • 1 T uncured bacon fat
  • 3 T raw apple cider vinegar or vinegar of your choice
  • 1 T honey (omit for strict AIP)
  • 1 T blackstrap molasses (omit for strict AIP)
  • 1 T coconut aminos
  • 3 inch knob grated ginger
  • 2 small cinnamon sticks
  • 10 cloves whole garlic–scored
  • Strip soaked and rinsed kombu
  • 3 inch knob grated turmeric
  • 3 t Celtic sea salt
  • 2 t dried thyme
  • 1 t ground cloves
  • 1/4 t rose hips
  • pinch lime or lemon zest
  • 4 T fresh chopped cilantro for garnish
  1. Chop sweet potatoes and carrots. Throw them in a 3 qt. crock pot.
  2. Heat tallow in frying pan on medium-low.
  3. Chop onions and mince turmeric. Sauté in pan until onions are slightly caramelized.
  4. Add onions to crock pot.
  5. Wipe out pan. Heat bacon fat on medium-high heat.
  6. Toss lamb heart in pan until just browned. Then add it to the crock.
  7. Brown bison in pan. Then add it to the crock.
  8. Add cinnamon, cloves, rose hips, zest, and kombu to the crock.
  9. In a measuring cup, add 3 c beef broth, vinegar, honey, molasses,  ginger, sea salt, thyme, and cloves and stir until mixed. Then pour it evenly over ingredients in the crock. *Note: You may have to wait to add some of the liquid until the contents of the crock pot cook down a bit.
  10. Set on low overnight.
  11. Remove kombu. Stir it up. Add garnish; and enjoy!

Note: If you are low-FODMAP, the sweet potatoes may be problematic. You may want to eliminate the onions and add chives toward the end of cooking. Add a teaspoon of asafoetida if you desire. The garlic could be tied in cheesecloth and removed after cooking; or try garlic infused oil.

Be well!

Posted in Protein, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lamb & Kidney Stew: Low-FODMAP & Paleo

Lamb & Kidney Stew

Lamb & Kidney Stew

1 lb. lamb stew meat (or other red meat)

1/2 lb. kidney (whatever kind you can find)

6 carrots

1/2 c stock (whatever you have on hand)

2 celery (Today I’m subbing 1/2 c daikon; which really is no comparison,)

1 parsnip

1 T tallow (or whatever fat you have on hand)

1 T coconut aminos

1 T arrowroot

2 t asafoetida

1 t dried parsley or 4 T fresh parsley

1 t salt

1/2 t oregano

1/4 t ground ginger or a half of an inch diced fresh ginger

1/4 t ground turmeric or a half of an inch diced fresh turmeric

1/4 of a bay leaf

Cut the kidneys in half. Rinse in cold water. Snip the fat and interior sinew from the kidneys with a pair of kitchen shears. Dice the kidneys into 1/2 inch cubes. Dice the meat  into 1 inch cubes if it isn’t already. In a pot, brown kidneys and set aside. Then, brown the meat and set aside. Brown the vegetables. Add the meat and the rest of the ingredients into the pot and simmer 1 1/2 hours. OR Put the mixture into a crock pot; and go to bed (if you want).

Posted in Protein, Recipes | Tagged , , ,

Brownie Treats

This is a great treat that mimics the flavor of a brownie without the gluten, eggs, or dairy. I made some changes to this delicious recipe at Hungry Healthy Happyto lower the glycemic load and the FODMAPS by switching out the honey for maple syrup  and adding coconut milk for a creamier texture. They are heavenly!

  • 1 1/2 c cocoa
  • 20 dates
  • 2 c almonds
  • 3 T maple
  • 3 T vanilla flavor (or more)
  • 2 T coconut milk (or water)
  • 1 T coconut oil (or more)
Process everything at the same time. May get very fudgy, so be careful how long you process them. Form into whatever shapes you like. For balls: Scoop by the tablespoon and roll in hands. Chill on wax paper. For discs: Roll into a log with wax paper. Chill. Slice into discs with knife. For squares or bars: press into cookie sheet. Chill. Cut to desired size.

Warning: not AIP or low-FODMAP

Posted in Recipes, Sweet | Tagged , , , , ,

AIP & Low-FODMAP Cream of Sweet Potato Soup with Vegan Options

This is a great potluck recipe for a chilly day.The whole pot was gone within minutes. Big hit.

This soup made with the vegan options is a perfect fit.

  • 3 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 4 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 4 c chicken bone broth (or filtered water for vegan)
  • 14 oz. coconut milk
  • 1 bunch scallions or leak greens
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 inch ginger root sliced into medallions
  • 3T arrowroot or kuzu root dissolved in filtered water
  • 4T maple syrup (optional)
  • 2T bacon fat; or a couple strips of cooked bacon cut into 1 inch pieces (optional for non-vegan)
  • 3t asafoetida
  • 3t sea salt
  • 1/2 t mace (or nutmeg for non-AIP)
  • 1/2 t turmeric
  • celery leaves, finely chopped for garnish (or a couple handfuls of sliced scallion greens)

In a muslin teabag, tea ball, or tied in cheesecloth

  • 3 t dried lemongrass or 3 stalks fresh lemongrass
  • 1 T fresh cilantro (or 1 tsp dried cilantro)
  • 1 T fresh parsley (or 1 tsp dried parsley)
  • 1 t dried basil (or 1 T fresh basil)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 pinches ground cloves (or a couple whole cloves)

If you have no trouble with FODMAPS:

  • Use 3 cloves garlic instead of asafoetida.
  • Use a small yellow onion or several shallots instead of scallions.

If pepper doesn’t bother you:

  • Grind a little pepper into your soup when reheating.

For a vegan soup. Feel free to include this stuff in a meat version if you like as well.

  • Use virgin coconut oil instead of bacon fat.
  • Use water or vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
  • 2 inch strip kombu (optional)
  • 2 T coconut aminos

Makes 2 1/2 quarts

Put all the ingredients except for the celery leaves and bacon (if you choose to use it) into a 3 quart saucepan or crock pot. Start with the veggies. Add the spices, herb bag, and kombu. Lay the scallions across the top of the pot. Then, add the liquid ingredients. Simmer for 20 minutes on the stove top or cook overnight on low in a crock pot. Let the soup cool. Take out the kombu, herb bag, cinnamon sticks, and scallions. Pour the soup into a blender in small amounts and blend until smooth; or use an immersion blender. Stir in bacon pieces and cinnamon sticks. Return to the pot; and reheat. Sprinkle garnish before serving if desired.

P.S. If your recipe has to be nut-free and/or soy-free DO NOT USE Silk Coconut Milk!!! (Can you tell I’m hella pissed?!) Serves me right for not using regular coconut milk, which does NOT contain the following: cane sugar, “Vitamin & Mineral Blend,” “Natural Flavor,” Sunflower Lechithin, Locust Bean Gum, and Gellan Gum. Glad they finally took out the carageenan, but get back to the drawing board Silk.

Posted in Recipes, Veg | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Prickly Pear Tonic (AIP)

Here’s one thing to do with prickly pears that are on their way out, especially if you don’t like or can’t have seeds. I peeled and blended these babies up, then strained the liquid. The liquid was added to some mineral water and maple. It tasted great.

  • 1 prickly pear
  • 6 oz. mineral water
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup

I always like to see what the benefits of various foods are. According to Dr. Weil,  prickly pear will help regulate blood sugar and reduce inflammation among other things. They contain antioxidants known as betalains.

Hope you enjoy trying this tonic!

Posted in Liquid, Recipes | Tagged , , , ,

Paleo & Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are deliciously soft and chewy with a little bit of crispiness. Thanks to The Preppy Paleo for her recipe.

Here’s how I made them:

  • 2 c almond butter
  • 1/2 c coconut milk
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 2/3 c Enjoy Life chocolate chips (or a little less) *may substitute with raisins or other dried fruit
  • 1 c finely shredded coconut
  • 2 T ground chia
  • 1 c soaked and dried pecans
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 2 pinches of sea salt
  • 4 t cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Process pecans until they are chunky. Set aside. Add all other ingredients except for the chocolate chips to a food processor. Process until well blended. Add chocolate chips and pecans 1/4 c at a time and pulse briefly between additions. Scoop dough by the tablespoon and drop on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Flatten each cookie a little with the back of the tablespoon. Bake 15 minutes. Cool thoroughly. Chill in refrigerator or freezer.

Those who have made it through the provocation process with nuts, seeds, and chocolate without any issues may enjoy this treat. Those who have not can make them for their paleo friends, vegan friends, or friends with egg, gluten, or dairy allergies or sensitivities.

Update on my self-care: It’s tricky. Meditation, breathing, writing, therapy, eating well, sleeping well, and stepping back are all really important.

I’ve been mainlining chocolate lately. I can feel the effects too. It makes me uncomfortably excited and disrupts my sleep. Damn, I should change this blog’s name to “Confessions of a Raging Chocoholic.” I do wonder what’s in it that makes my body crave it so. Sugar and caffeine for energy? Magnesium? I’ve got to get a proper magnesium supplement. I have not forgotten that it’s a gluten cross-reactor and a seed that contains phytic acid, caffeine, and theobromine. Update: I’m learning a lot about histamines (chocolate is high in this compound) with this great book, Don’t Let Anything Dull Your Sparkle. A lot more sleep could help reduce cravings too. I’m noticing that seaweed is making a big difference in hormonal issues, so I’ve been sprinkling kelp powder on everything.

Warning: not AIP or low-FODMAP

Posted in Recipes, Sweet | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Paleo Chocolate Chip Bites

  • 30 dates
  • 1 1/2 c almonds (Your choice: soaked & dried, raw, blanched, roasted, etc. Could also use other types of nuts.)
  • 1 c Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips
  • 1 t cinnamon (or to taste)
  • 1 t vanilla flavor (or to taste)
  • dash sea salt

Process almonds until they are small chunks. Take out half of the almonds and set aside. Add dates, cinnamon, vanilla, sea salt. Processes until it sticks in one clump. Add 1/4 c almonds at a time and briefly pulse. Repeat with the chocolate chips. Process too much and the chips melt. Take a tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball. Repeat about 30 times. Place balls on wax paper. Chill.

Warning: not AIP or low-FODMAP.

Posted in Recipes, Sweet | Tagged , ,

Toasted Coconut-Apricot Bites

Here’s kid friendly treat adapted from this recipe at Alexandra’s Table.

 

AIP Nut & Seed Free Version:

1 c toasted unsweetened finely shredded coconut

1 1/2 c dried apricot

1 t vanilla flavor

dash sea salt

Caution: The following is not an AIP or low-FODMAP recipe. I know. Grrr.

Version with Nuts:

1 c blanched & toasted almonds – (cashews may work as well)

Spread coconut on a cookie sheet. Put in the oven on 160 F or so. Wait 5 -10 minutes. Almonds can be toasted this way as well if they aren’t purchased in toasted form. Don’t leave the room. It will burn. Process almonds until they are small pieces. Take out half and set aside. Add apricot, toasted coconut, vanilla, and salt to processor. Process until it all sticks together in a lump. Add the rest of the almonds; and process until well mixed. Form into whatever shapes you like. For balls: Scoop by the tablespoon and roll in hands. Chill on wax paper. For discs: Roll into a log with wax paper. Chill. Slice into discs with knife. For squares or bars: press into cookie sheet. Chill. Cut to desired size.

Posted in Recipes, Sweet | Tagged , , ,

Cold Nettle Tea

This is a great beverage to have around in the summer! Nettles are good for you. Well– maybe. I recently heard from someone who is terribly sensitive to them. If you are prone to sensitivities, try a little weak tea and see how it goes in the next several days.

I purchased mine dry from the local co-op, but you can also collect them yourself in the wild, very carefully.

I’m most intrigued by it’s ability to help anemia. I’m often an exhausted bumbling idiot before, during and after my period. I think one word and type another. It gets frustrating to communicate, and sometimes I’m a little testy. These are perfect times for me to make this delicious tea.

Maybe it’ll make my skin lovely and help my gut too.  “Curb the action of cytokines”, just what this Crohnie wants to hear. Putting the water on to boil now!

I was amazed with how close to mainstream iced tea this tasted. Of course my taste-buds are no longer mainstream.

Cold Nettle Tea

Please visit 20 Something Allergies for her original recipe as well as a nutritional breakdown and list of healing properties for nettles.

I like to prepare a pitcher at a time as follows:

6 c water
6 t nettle leaf (up to 6 T for a strong tea)
6 t rose hips (I ground mine.)
Sweetener to taste (2 scoops stevia extract, maple, whatever floats your boat)

Boil 2 quarts of water in pot, add nettle leaf and rose hips in a large tea ball or muslin bag. Steep with cover on at least 10 min. After it’s cooled, transfer to a 2 quart glass jar and refrigerate.

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Carrot & Beet Salad (AIP)

Carrot & Beet Salad (AIP)

 

This is a good cleansing salad inspired by these recipes:

Moroccan Grated Carrot and Beet Salad

Grated Carrot and Beet Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. organic carrots
  • 1 lb. beets (skip for low-FODMAP)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 t asafoetida (use garlic if it works for you)
  • 1-2 T evoo (extra-virgin olive oil)
  • 1 T raw apple cider vinegar
  • 2 T maple syrup (skip for 21 DSD & AIP)
  • 1-2 t fresh grated ginger (use dried if needed)
  • 1/4-1/2 fresh grated turmeric (use dried if needed)
  • 1/4-1/2 t sea salt
  • 2-4 T fresh chopped cilantro or parsley (or as much as desired)
  • 1-2 T chopped chives (optional, use onions if it works for you)
  • 2 T toasted sesame, chia, sunflower, or pumpkin seeds (skip for AIP)
  • dash cloves
  • 1/4-2 t cinnamon
  • 1/4-1 t AIP curry (mine has turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, mace, and bay)
  • zest of one organic lemon
  • juice of 1/2 lemon (or a whole lemon)

Grate the beets. Rinse under cold water, strain, and squeeze out excess water by pressing on the beets. Grate the carrots. A food processor is great for this. Put the beets and carrots in a large bowl.  Add the other ingredients to a measuring cup and mix well. Drizzle over salad. Mix well. Let chill for a half an hour before serving.

Variation: (not for 21 DSD, AIP, or low-FODMAP)

Skip the beets and add about 1/2 cup organic raisins.

Posted in Recipes, Veg | Tagged , , , , ,

21 Day Sugar Detox Part II

Now for part II of my 21 Day Sugar Detox. This plan was created by Dianne Sanfilippo of balancedbites.com.

What were my perceived results of my efforts with the 21 Day Sugar Detox?

It didn’t turn out as glowingly as expected in some ways. I noticed that I was having a great deal of trouble with constipation. I also found myself leaving too much time between meals. I did get a sense of how much I use food to cope with my emotions. I learned a lot from this experience.

At first I blamed the constipation on the few times I had eaten dairy about a month before. I also blamed it on the supplements I wasn’t taking for at least a month because I couldn’t afford them: probiotics, Magnesium glycinate, Vitamin C, Zinc, B-complex, EPA-DHA, Vitamin D3, or 5-HTP. I also had difficulty sticking to a regular sleep schedule—which is nothing new really.

Finally, I concluded that the  problem was a combination of the first three as well as the result of an extremely low-carb diet. This concept occurred to me when I looked at this interesting website called Gut Sense by Mr. Monastyrsky. I haven’t verified that all his information is accurate; but a lot of what he’s got to say makes sense from my experience. Some aspects of his products look good; while I’m skeptical of some of the ingredients especially for those with severe leaky gut.

What’s leaky gut? Learn more by reading Sarah Ballantyne’s What is Leaky Gut? (And How Can It Cause So Many Health Issues?)

Of course, avoid eating foods you are allergic or sensitive to; especially immediately before a detox is important. I have a tendency to go a little overboard with indulgence the days prior to a planned detox. Hint- this is counter-productive. This is only going to increase the amount of inflammation and mucous created in the intestines and throughout the body; making the detox process more slow and difficult.

  • Next, it’s important to eat meals at regular intervals. Depending on your level of health, you may have to eat every 2 hours or just 2 meals a day and a small snack. I personally have to eat every 3 hours for the time being. I listen to my body. It wasn’t as easy to listen to my body when I wasn’t completely prepared with 21 Day Detox meals. I did prepare; but obviously not well enough. Next time, I will do my best to freeze up some meals in the weeks beforehand. Now would be a good time to start because I’ve planned to do this quarterly. July 1st will begin my next detox. Another tip is to have a cooler bag packed. I know better than to ever leave the house without some snacks and full meals if I’ll be out for long.  I always regret when I slack on this preparation. Either my adrenals suffer, or I end up eating something I’m sensitive to. Dehydrated foods come in handy, but please keep them to a minimum. Hydration is really important for detoxifying. Having a small screw top jar of virgin coconut oil in my purse along with a spoon has been a lifesaver. It’s also really healing to the gut and easy on the liver. Read more about coconut oil:
  • Health and Nutritional Benefits of Coconut Oil: An Important Functional Food for the 21st Century

Sleep is really important. It helps regulate various hormones and insulin; which in turn regulates hunger and reduces sugar cravings. It is necessary for regularity of bowel movements as well as supporting the adrenals. I probably missed a ton more benefits of regular sleep. Check out this fun infographic: This Is Your Body Without Sleep. It’s quite the challenge if one’s circadian rhythms are out of whack; but persistence and discipline are necessary.

I have learned quite a few relaxation techniques over the years (meditation, hypnosis, centering/grounding, exercise, diaphragmatic breathing, SRI, EFT, TSM, visualization, writing, energy medicine…). These help to quiet my busy mind in the late hours. I didn’t pull all of those tricks out of my bag for this detox. I regret lapsing on my yoga practice. Yoga not only calms my mind and relaxes my body. It helps my bowels and my lymphatic system eliminate toxins. There are a ton of other benefits for yoga.

So, I had so much trouble with regular bowel movements that I was using enemas sometimes daily. It is really important to have regular bowel movements during a detox so the body can eliminate the toxins efficiently. Having some really misshapen plumbing from years of Crohn’s damage makes it even more important. I don’t want to risk bleeding or bowel perforation.

Yeah, it’s a little gross. Healing is not for sissies. Don’t be afraid of enemas. A lot of old wives tales are out there about how enemas are bad for health. Funny how people are getting sicker while time-tested methods are discarded in favor of “modern” medicine. Learning how to administer them safely is important. I use this Home Enema Kit and Enema Supplies. I find neem oil works best as a lubricant.

I’m still working on the right amount and types of carbs to keep everything on track. I can’t have too many FODMAP foods because I end up bloated and in pain; but I can have them in limited amounts which help me keep up my carb intake. Mastering moderation is unavoidable in my life. Ripe bananas seem to work very well as long as I don’t eat too many. Root veggies work; but I need at least 2 cups of them (provided they aren’t high-FODMAP) in addition to some non-starchy, preferably green, veggies. Carrots were very popular on my detox since they are a 15% carb veggie that aren’t high-FODMAP. One cup of carrots per meal is supposedly around 20 g of carbs. My nutritionist suggested 20-30 g of carbs per meal, so 20 isn’t bad. I had some issues with what felt like sugar spikes in the past with winter squash. It may be time to try using them more often. I’ve found that the health of my gut has a lot to do with the foods I can handle. Instead of writing off certain foods forever, I try adding some back in when my health improves. I want to avoid (or keep to a minimum) gluten, grains, beans, corn, nightshades, and white sugar.

What do I feel was the greatest benefit of my 21 Day Sugar Detox?

I was more aware of my desire to eat emotionally. Honestly, I didn’t have a truly physical desire for sugar or carbs. I attribute this to a mostly clean diet for the last 6 years and a strict paleo and mostly AIP diet for the last 7 months. That is why I was able to go for long periods without eating at times. I was still drawn to calm and comfort myself with food. I ended up getting a lot more done with this awareness. I busied myself with non-food activities. It was actually freeing at times. My life has revolved around my stomach for so long. It is sometimes exhausting. Food is necessary. Breathing is necessary. Focusing on breathing alone creates an unbalanced life. It would get pretty boring. (Even monks do stuff.) The same is true with eating. I also found myself checking in with my emotions and needs more than usual. I’m looking forward to my next detox for this reason. I found myself able to focus more on self-mastery. It was a very spiritual experience in that respect.

Why do I want to detox quarterly?

I know that my body is inundated with toxins from the environment, food, water, and stress that need flushing out periodically. If they aren’t able to leave my body, they will contribute to illness in the future. I don’t think it’s necessary for everyone to do this quarterly, or at all. Actually, I’m open to changing my stance on this depending on how it goes next time. If I feel that it’s making me more neurotic than usual or causing more physical distress; then I may give it up. There are some elements of the detox I can tweak before making that decision.

I want to eat as cleanly and carefully as possible throughout the year. It’s just nice to have a short-term goal like this. My motivation was renewed. It heightened my awareness of what’s going on with my body and my mind.

What will I do differently for my next 21 Day Sugar Detox?

  • I’m going to try adding more carbohydrates. 1 ripe banana per day or more depending on the regularity of my bowel movements. I’ll try to eat more winter squash and bulk up on carrots and root veggies.
  • Sleep more regularly!
  • Prepare more diligently!
  • Avoid dehydrated foods and hydrate more with water, broth, and tea.
  • Use more relaxation techniques.
  • Supplement to the best of my abilities and eat more nutrient dense foods.
  • Focus on non-food activities.

Try my Carrot & Beet Salad (AIP) recipe. It’s 21 Day Sugar Detox friendly!

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My 21 Day Sugar Detox Experience

I started Diane Sanfilippo’s 21 Day Sugar Detox on April 1.  It’s not easy to get all my thoughts out about this experience in one post. So, I’ll be writing more than one post on this. I’m planning on doing this again in July. Next time I’ll write about it throughout the process. I think it will help me with motivation and observations.

Why did I decide to do a 21 Day Sugar Detox?

My body needed a jumpstart, especially since I had been eating large portions of fruit; and had cheated with sugar, nuts, and dairy a few times. I was having increased symptoms like fatigue, constipation, depression, insomnia, dizziness, and nausea. A spring detox is always a good thing, especially for someone who has a hard time eliminating toxins.

How did I choose to do the 21 Day Sugar Detox?

Since my diet is AIP Paleo, I chose to go all the way and then some. I’m a former Body Ecology dieter; so I’m very conscious of sugar. I avoided all fruit except small amounts of cranberry juice. I avoided all starchy vegetables such as sweet potato and plantain, and even winter squash since I’ve experienced sugar spikes from them as well. I avoided coconut until day 12. I was also cautious and moderate with eating FODMAPS. No, you don’t have to get that extreme. It depends on where you are starting from. In fact, I’ll go a little less extreme in the future; and I’ll explain why later.

How did I prepare for the 21 Day Sugar Detox?

  • I made a list of all the foods I could and couldn’t eat.
  • I highlighted the ones that were best for cleansing the body of toxins.
  • I made a list of all the ways I could support my detox: regular sleep, exercise, detox baths, walking outdoors, oil pulling, dry brushing, netti pot, having fun, and feeling & releasing negative emotions.
  • I stocked up on everything I needed.
  • I rendered tallow,  and made bone broth.
  • I made jerky, and dehydrated veggies for traveling.

So what did I eat?!

My trusty food journal has revealed that I ate:

  • lots of ground beef, turkey, chicken, liver, sardines, salmon, and heart jerky
  • some shrimp, bacon, kidney, lamb, steak, cod, crab, clams, and oysters
  • lots of chicken and beef bone broth
  • lots of tallow
  • some turkey schmaltz
  • lots and lots of avocado and coconut oil
  • cultured carrots with ginger
  • lots of romaine and spring greens
  • radish greens
  • collards
  • beet greens
  • turnip greens
  • Swiss chard
  • spinach
  • broccoli
  • broccoli rabe
  • asparagus
  • lots of cucumber
  • celery
  • radishes
  • daikon
  • beets
  • lots of carrots
  • parsnips
  • turnips
  • celeriac
  • cauliflower
  • olives
  • coconut milk & coconut butter
  • herbs & spices: turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, cinnamon, mace, cloves, cilantro, parsley, marjoram, basil, oregano, thyme, chives, asafoetida
  • flavorings: apple cider vinegar, coconut aminos, rose hips, Celtic sea salt
  • thickener (sparingly): arrowroot

I drank:

  • watered down cranberry juice
  • lemon water
  • kombucha
  • beet kvass
  • coconut water
  • Pau D’arco Tea
  • chamomile tea
  • nettle tea
  • dandelion tea
  • valerian tea

Looking back, I could have had so much more variety in my diet. There really are a lot of choices. Healthy choices!

See my post for a 21 Day Sugar Detox friendly Daikon Soup!

 

 

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Cucumber, Radish & Arame Salad

Cucumber, Radish and Arame Salad

Sea Veggies are very nutritious. They are full of minerals which our diets are seriously lacking in. The list of nutrients and benefits of sea vegetable is long. Here’s a short list of nutrients: iodine, calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin A, B vitamins, and vitamin K. Here’s a short list of benefits: supports the thyroid, maintains healthy bowels, detoxifies the body of heavy metals, antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory. For some more information read this post on the Body Ecology website, or check out David Wolfe’s book Superfoods.

My nutritionist warned me to be cautious with seaweed because it is suspected to cause autoimmune issues. I did stop using sea vegetables for a while upon this advisement despite my reluctance to give up such a nutritious food. From what I’ve been hearing, it’s only an issue if one has too much iodine in their system due to a particular thyroid issue. It is possible to get a blood test to check the iodine levels. Since I don’t have any major thyroid issues, I’m going to try sea vegetables again. If it bothers me, I’ll stop. If it doesn’t, then I’m getting some awesome benefits! Obtaining iodine from food is highly beneficial for most people. Do make sure to get quality seaweed.

Trying to improve one’s health on a low-income requires resourcefulness and adventurousness. Eat the super foods! Trying to eat two to three cups of veggies in a sitting is ideal, but not always practical. By adding in some sea vegetables, the nutrient intake is greatly increased.

If you have children, try introducing the super foods as soon as possible. To adults, the idea of eating these “odd” foods can be horrifying. Strangely, these foods were once a part of a traditional diet that kept people in good health. Kids are more open to new foods. I tested this out by offering my small nephews some hijiki salad. They loved it and wanted seconds!

Cucumber, Radish & Arame Salad

Here’s my version of this recipe from Whole Foods Market. I’ve made it AIP friendly by changing a few ingredients and added some other ingredients for taste. Skip the maple syrup if you are on a strict AIP.

Ingredients:

1 cup (1/2 ounce) dried arame seaweed

3 large organic cucumbers, halved & sliced thin

10 radishes quartered

sea salt

5 T apple cider vinegar (or other fruit based vinegar-check ingredients for added sugar)

4 T coconut aminos

5 t maple syrup

7 t extra virgin olive oil

2 T black and/or white sesame seeds (omit for strict AIP)

 

Soak arame for 5 minutes, then drain and rinse. Sprinkle cucumbers with salt and let sit for 10 minutes. Add arame to boiling water for 10 minutes. Then, rinse in cold water and drain. Toast sesame seeds in a covered dry pan on low until the seeds start to crackle and have a toasty aroma. Allow seeds to cool. Rinse and drain the cucumbers. Throw all ingredients except sesame seeds in a bowl together and toss. Marinate in the refrigerator for 30 min. Give the bowl a good shake, then test the flavor. The dressing dilutes as the water releases from the cucumbers. It may need more vinegar, aminos, syrup, or salt added– to taste. Serve with sesame seeds sprinkled over the top.

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Poor Girl’s Magnesium Remedy

This post is supposed to be about sleep.

Mickey has read my mind. I love it when my favorite bloggers do that. Read about adrenal issues here: http://autoimmune-paleo.com/?p=1017 I’ve been down the adrenal depletion road at least a few times. I attribute this mostly to my mental issues. I tend to be hyper-vigilant; often in fight-or- flight. I’ve done the 24 hour saliva test, taken an adrenal glandular, taken DHEA, and adjusted my lifestyle accordingly.

While adrenal depletion is serious; I’m inclined to agree with Stefani Ruper that it’s oversimplified. http://scdlifestyle.com/2013/05/pcos-pms-and-feeling-like-a-woman-again/ It’s an overall hormone regulation issue. I say this because I often use food to cope with my emotions; and the food I reach for is usually high in sugars. When I do this, I notice that I’m getting difficult, heavy, frequent periods often in conjunction with gastrointestinal spasms and paralysis. It took me years to realize this cause-and-effect; but it’s powerful information. If I could afford the 28 day saliva test; I would totally go for it. It makes much more sense to track hormones throughout the cycle.

Okay, back to the subject of sleep. It’s another one of those vicious cycles that can only be broken with discipline. The tendency is to act according to my energy level. I’m tired in the morning and wide awake at night. I should have been in bed two hours ago! I need to get my arse to bed before 10 pm regularly. I need to eat within an hour of waking; and have my last full meal 4 hours before bed. I need to get some early sunshine daily. I need to stay away from (shh, don’t tell my ego) chocolate. I need to turn off the electronics by 8pm. Food cravings, depression, hormone imbalance, decreased mental clarity, increased inflammation, and bowel movement irregularity are more symptoms that can’t be relieved without regular sleep.

I could also use some help from appropriate supplements like Magnesium. This poor girl has been short on supplements for months. I used the cash I normally would’ve spent on supplements for a couple of months to save for a dehydrator. I’m glad I did it; but how was I to know that the Department of Education was going to take my little surplus for the next three months!  Five months without my supplements took its toll. It started with depression. After awhile, I started having difficulty with regular elimination. Then, my legs started aching something terrible.

It occurred to me that I could use some Magnesium. I remember that I still had some Epsom Salts handy.  http://www.amazon.com/White-Mountain-Epsom-Salt-Container/dp/B0064GBCL0/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1367722581&sr=8-2&keywords=epsom+salt+organic

Epsom Salt

I’ve wanted to write about this little trick for awhile; but considering I got this out on the same day that I read this informative post I must share: http://thecoconutmama.com/2013/05/magnesium-why-you-need-it-and-5-ways-to-get-more-of-it/

Here’s my little recipe for calming tension, promoting sleep, reducing sore muscles and Charlie horses, and promoting regular bowel movements. Here I must reiterate that I’m not a medical professional. I’m just a body hacker experimenting with what works for me. Seek professional guidance if you have a serious medical problem.

Poor Girl’s Magnesium Cure

1/4 tsp Epsom Salt

8 oz filtered water

One glass is half of what a child would need as a laxative; so it’s really mild. I take two at night when I’m constipated and just one when I’m regular. When I fail to have the urge for a bowel movement first thing in the morning, I have two more glasses. Of course, refrain from this method if it’s causing adverse reactions. It may cause diarrhea. Reduce the dosage if this occurs. Do this on an empty stomach to avoid competing with other nutrients. Refer to the saline laxative paragraph in this article for more information: http://www.fibermenace.com/gutsense/transition.html

Okay, that’s all the kookiness I’m sharing tonight. I’ve got to get my arse to bed.

Happy Healing!

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Avocado Ice Cream: Dairy, Egg, Nut, and Refined Sugar-Free

Dairy, Egg, & Nut Free Kiwi Avocado Ice Cream

Here’s a recipe I whipped up to keep from caving into the call for conventional ice cream. This is sweet and creamy without the evils of dairy and white sugar. It also contains 14% DV of dietary fiber!

In my opinion, managing cravings is not just a matter of will, or emotional health. It is very connected to physical health. Nutritional deficiencies are responsible for the majority of cravings. Unfortunately most people don’t even know they have a deficiency.

I take supplements – like probiotics, vitamin C, magnesium glycinate, vitamin D, iron, and vitamin B-12 for absorption issues due to intestinal damage. If I’m lacking any of these nutrients, my appetite can become out of control. (Magnesium and zinc also help to keep the anxiety and depression under control.) Regular sleep is also essential. Did you ever wonder why you feel like you could eat a house when you haven’t been sleeping well? It’s because  hormones are disrupted by poor sleep.

 

Avocado Ice Cream

Inspired by: this recipe

1/2 avocado

1/2 c coconut milk

1-3 T date paste, or maple or honey to taste

Add ingredients to a 4 c liquid measuring cup. Puree with a stick blender. Add to ice cream maker or pour into an ice cube tray and freeze. It should freeze in a couple of hours. Pop cubes out. Put the cubes back into measuring cup and puree with a stick blender; or toss them into a food processor and process until smooth.

I suggest making large batches of this recipe. The cubes can be stored in the freezer until you are ready for a treat.

Also, this can be okay for the 21 Day Sugar Detox by skipping the sweetener altogether. The sweetness of the coconut milk alone is a treat.

This is nice and rich. A great base for other flavors. Although the color may not be desirable. Try coconut flakes or other crunchy toppings.

Serves 2

Kiwi Avocado Ice Cream

Add 1 chopped kiwi to the above recipe. Peel it if you like. I used 2 T maple instead of dates. The result was sweet and tangy. I didn’t even taste the maple.

If you have a lot of gut inflammation, kiwi may not be okay for you. Use your intuition based on how your body reacts to other foods that are raw, citric, contain seeds, or are highly fibrous. Try introducing new foods by first eating 2 T of that food by itself first thing in the morning. Monitor your reaction over the next few days.

 

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My Healing Journey

Up close and personal! Here’s the fast forward, abridged, Cliff notes version.

This is a lot of very personal information that I’ve been reluctant to share. On the chance that someone will benefit from it, I’ve made it public.

I’ve skipped some significant personal emotional stressors and environmental factors. Please know that those things had more impact on my health than nutrition and lifestyle; although they are all very important factors. Also, my frustration with obtaining and keeping informed, quality, and available mental health care is largely undocumented here.

First I’ll start with the road to sickness…

1973: Colicky baby, given formula made from Karo syrup and soy. Stomach issues throughout childhood. Raised on the standard American diet (SAD) in an unhealthy environment. Rare medical visits.

1977: Problems with anemia.

1982: Mysterious swelling of glands. Possibly when copper toxicity began. Bouts of low blood sugar began and increase throughout life.

1984: Severe depression kicks in along with sporadic bouts of diarrhea. Depression varies from mild to severe throughout life. Keratosis pilaris on arms, hips, and buttocks.

1989: Horrible chest pain and burning. Diagnosed with gastritis. Prescribed Acifex. Unexplained weight loss. Anemic. Noticed a pattern of anemia throughout the years. Yeast infections apparent at least twice a year. Rosacea-like rash on face for years. Started experiencing joint and muscle pain.

February 1991: Minimal medical coverage until 2004.

1991: Problems with constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Sigmoidoscopy. Diagnosed with IBS. Prescribed Levsin. Levsin didn’t help me and caused more problems. Problems increase over the years. Start birth control pill.

Anxiety increased and motivated me to seek out counseling. Diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder.

1993: Abdominal pain was so extreme that it was comparable to appendicitis. Passed out one occasion with no apparent explanation.

1995: Started having more extreme bouts of painful cramping and lack of intestinal motility that lasted 4-24 hours followed by vomiting and bowel movements. Pattern could go on for several days. Another dramatic weight loss. Started getting severe cases of “poison ivy” which were likely to have actually been shingles outbreaks.

1996: Increasing distress around menstrual cycle. Increasing distress with extreme temperatures.

1997: Diagnosed with shingles. Continue to get them periodically over the years. Eyes swelled up so bad one day that I couldn’t report to my job.

1998: Started experiencing increased fatigue, back pain, and intestinal distress. Increased anxiety became debilitating at times. Diagnosed with OCPD. Prescribed Paxil, Zoloft, Xanax, and Elavil, Ambien. (Side effects wrecked me physically and emotionally.)

2000: Diarrhea became uncontrollable for weeks at a time! This continues to happen periodically throughout life. Tried acupuncture, but couldn’t keep it up.

Anxiety and depression increased. Diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Prescribed Serzone. When it didn’t help, the doses were increased to extremes. Horrible side-effects (dizziness, weakness, nausea, anxiety, fatigue, hostility), no relief. (Serzone lost a class action lawsuit because of the liver damage it caused. I refused the $100 settlement.)

December 2000: Tapered medication until it was eliminated.

Spring 2003: Started taking Claritin for unspecified environmental allergy that had become unmanageable. Developed varicose veins. Horrible burning,  itching, and swelling of legs and feet along with periodic toe infections. Start having occasional days with flu-like symptoms, especially during hot weather.

2004: Go to dermatologist about rash on face. The doctor says it’s yeast and prescribes me cream.

February 2005: Quit smoking!!!

Fall 2006: Intestinal symptoms increased. They are worst before menstruation. Prescribed Levsin again. Still doesn’t work.

January 2007: Colonoscopy. Crohn’s ruled out!

April 2007: Intestinal symptoms increased. Prescribed acid blockers for gastritis. Higher doses brought no relief. Constant and extreme bloating and pain.

That was the past. Now, the healing journey…

April 2007: I first started to make radical changes to my diet and lifestyle after years of not getting help from doctors and experiencing worsening symptoms despite my efforts with dietary changes, exercise, and meditation. I searched online and found westonaprice.org. I followed some tips that I read there. In about a week, I had amazing relief! Basically, I ate fat and meat, some low-carb vegetables, and no starches.

May 2007: Then I found The Body Ecology Diet and dove into it. This book made me more aware that every aspect of my life was important in improving my health, not just my diet. It’s a very informative book, but it wasn’t enough for me. I lost 25 pounds in a month. I was thrilled at first, but not after watching myself waste away and stop menstruating for 6 months. Later, I realized why it wasn’t working for me. Grains and beans were permitted which are difficult to digest; and I wasn’t eating enough fat, especially animal fat. Also, the vegetables I was eating were too fibrous for my inflamed gut, unbeknownst to me.

Picked up the dry-brushing habit again. Renewed my meditation practice. Started making weekly trips to the farmer’s market, having my last big meal at 6 pm, going to bed by 10pm, sleeping in a blacked-out room, and making cultured vegetables and coconut kefir. I was more conscious of water intake. I stopped taking birth control, allergy meds, and acid blockers. I quit drinking alcohol.

I feel like a nicer person with more energy and less low blood sugar. The problems with my legs and feet disappeared and the appearance of menstruation improved. My skin improves.

July 2007: Effects of inflammation (unrecognized) and detoxification were very harsh. I experienced a heavy discharge of toxins and extreme fatigue!

August 2007: The occurrence of yeast infections dwindles, only to be provoked by sexual activity.

September 2007: I started seeing a network care chiropractor regularly; and received valuable support. Here I learned Somatic Respiratory Integration (SRI); which I still find very helpful.

October 2007: I was giving into my cravings and reversing the progress I had made. I sought out support for food addiction. I still struggle with it, but it’s getting much better.

Started rebounding for health, but haven’t kept it up.

December 2007: Menstrual cycle started back up after 6 months of amenorrhea. Anemic, but iron didn’t help. Started B-12 injections.

February 2008: Started seeing a Board Certified Nutritionist who was experienced with functional medicine. Started eating meat and veggies with a little good fat for each meal. This is the point where I learned that animal protein was key to my health. Improved my weight, but I wasn’t gaining enough. So, I added a small amount of whole gluten-free grains and beans. I did put weight on and have never gone back to the ridiculous weight of 93 lbs. Still, I knew I wasn’t digesting grains and beans very well. Stopped making cultured vegetables and coconut kefir upon advice from the nutritionist, but I’m ready to get going again in 2013!

March 2008: Started keeping a food journal. I’m now on my twelfth notebook.

April 2008: Hair analysis found high levels of mercury, aluminum, copper, cobalt, calcium, and magnesium and low levels of molybdenum, vanadium, and potassium. Planned to remove heavy metals from my body.

May 2008: Used a supplement program to kill bacteria, yeast, and parasites in the gut. Unfortunately, they do come right back if the diet is not continuously on the mark.

June 2008: Had mercury filling removed by a holistic dentist. Health peaks here, then quickly nosedives.

August 2008: I was diagnosed with moderate to severe Crohn’s disease. (I believe it went undiagnosed since I was at least 16 years old.) Saliva tests showed my adrenal levels are through the roof.

September 2008: Uncontrollable diarrhea for weeks. Never been worse. Started taking 3mg Budesonide (Entecort).

September 2008: I decided to give psych therapy another try; this time searching for holistic therapists and refusing pharmaceuticals. This was also much needed support. I began using EFT, Donna Eden Energy Medicine, and EMDR with the guidance of various therapists.

I continued to read everything I could about healing Crohn’s, nutrition, and all aspects of healing. Patient Heal Thyself and The Maker’s Diet by Jordan Rubin were very helpful and inspiring.

October 2008: Tested positive for h-pylori. Took Zinlori for a month and h-pylori was gone. I began using The Sedona Method to release resistance and negative thought patterns.

November 2008: Food sensitivities were worse than ever.

January 2009: Body fat started increasing after being much too low for a very long time. Started weaning off of steroids. Added glandular and DHEA for adrenals. Health improved. Maintained weight.

Ended therapy for financial reasons.

June 2009: Couldn’t complete the first phase of a heavy metal detox program because I had a flare-up. Health nosedived again.

October 2009: Health improved since flare-up. Joined a religious society. Started learning non-violent (compassionate) communication.

January 201o: Depression and intestinal symptoms increased. Struggle with food addiction became more difficult. Sought out therapy again.

July 2010: Diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and Dysthymic Disorder.

October 2010: Diagnosed with PTSD and Major Depressive Disorder.

2011: Around this time I started getting iron infusions because my body didn’t absorb enough iron with supplementation.

February 2012: Another (diagnosed) flare-up.

March 2012: Health has tanked again.

April 2012: I started Dr. Kharrazzian’s autoimmune diet under the guidance of my nutritionist. Lost excess weight and fat. Uncovered more food sensitivities.

July 2012: Started using Wave work and Hypnosis with the guidance of a therapist.

August 9, 2012: I opted for surgery because I had some damage that wouldn’t self-heal after all those years of disease, not within my budget anyway. When I got home from the hospital I was motivated to work harder on my health. I luckily found the group, Hashimoto’s 411 on facebook. (I don’t have Hashimoto’s, but the path to healing is virtually the same.) I also started reading more about Paleo, GAPS, and SCD. The autoimmune diet that I follow is basically Paleo with some added limitations. Just by realizing this, the door to all sorts of valuable information and recipes was opened to me.

September 2012: I vowed no more grains, beans, or dairy for life. I’m okay with that because I want to be as well as I can be.

January 2013: I’m gradually being more cautious with fructose and FODMAPS because I have a small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).

October 2018 Update: Tested negative for SIBO. Structural damage accounts for the symptoms, but I also suspect gastroparesis. Surgery did not resolve the structural damage, although I have less episodes. Surgery also gave me a fucking hernia, another flare, extreme weight loss, and trauma from the hospitalization. I burnt out on the restrictions, but I have not given up on my health habits. My body has responded to the stress of health issues; extreme, repeated weight loss; my persistent aging, and, I suspect, the state of this country and planet, by craving fat and carbs and packing it in my middle. (Women under 35: Beware your body will change drastically every 10 years. It’s mostly biology, not will power. Our bodies pack on fat for survival. It keeps our bones strong, is fortifying for future illness, and the typical loss of muscle and fat that is part of aging.)

I do continue to have complications with my health, but overall I’m doing very well for someone with long-term moderate-severe Crohn’s disease and all of the fun stuff that goes along with it. Then there is the added frustration of an alphabet soup of mental issues. I’ve only had (elective) surgery once and I took a low dose medication for only 6 months to treat Crohn’s disease. I’m now drug free.

I have so much more to learn about healing. The most important thing is that I do the best I can with what I have and know.

Update: Obviously I’ve got a couple of years to catch up on here. I’ve been focused on survival, mental health, communication, social justice, writing, relationships—not so much on my physical health. I want to balance it all out. Advice to former self: Never vow to anything for life. Expect disruptions and get right back on track. When would now be a good time?

 

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Homemade Turmeric Anti-Inflammatory

Homemade Turmeric Supplement

Homemade Turmeric Anti-Inflammatory

Here’s a homemade recipe for a turmeric supplement for those of us who can’t afford the high price of that fancy stuff with the syringe. I’m making it very simple. No measurements. Initially, I thought I’d try gel caps. Well, they are $10 for a bag of 100.

Why would you be interested in a turmeric supplement? Turmeric is highly anti-inflammatory. I’m not sure there is anything more powerful. I have staved off oncoming Crohn’s flares, healed quickly from surgery, and avoided taking steroids (or worse) as a result of using this. (I’m sure someone would debate me on this, but experience is my best proof.) Anyone with an IBD or inflammatory issue such as arthritis may benefit from this medicinal root.

Start with ground turmeric or fresh grated turmeric. Stir in enough melted virgin coconut oil to make the mixture pour-able. Add your preferred sweetener if it suits your AIP (Autoimmune-Protocol). I used stevia. There is some controversy about stevia. The white stuff is obviously highly refined. I also recently learned that it may affect hormones which could be dangerous for autoimmune issues, so I’m phasing it out. The Paleo Mom wrote about The Trouble with Stevia.  Date paste, honey, maple syrup,  and glycerine are other options. I’m on the look out for pill sized molds. Until then, my method is to pour the mixture into an ice-cube tray, filling each square only 1/4 inch high. When the mixture has hardened, break the cubes into quarters, put them in a jar and store them in a freezer.

*Optional: Add black pepper if tolerated to increase bio-availability of turmeric. Add cinnamon for flavor and to assist in blood sugar regulation.

I let one piece melt in my mouth to smooth out the hard edges and then swallow with a little water usually before all of my meals.

Happy healing everybody!

Update: As of April 1st I’m completely Paleo AIP! I also just completed my first 21 Day Sugar Detox!

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Chicken Satay Salad

Chicken Satay Salad

Makes 8 meals.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. chicken cut into bite sized cubes
  • Green leaf lettuce torn into bite size pieces (2 large heads for 8 servings)
  • Finely grated carrot (2 medium carrots for 8 servings)
  • Avocado chopped into bite size pieces (4 avocados for eight servings)
  • Raw Apple cider vinegar to taste

For marinade:

  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp. ground ginger or 2 tbsp. finely grated ginger
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder or 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground cloves
  • Juice of 1 lime or lemon

Mix ingredients for the marinade. Put the chicken in a large freezer bag or in a glass dish. Add the marinade and mix thoroughly. Cover and marinate at least 30 minutes, or overnight in the refrigerator. This makes about 8 servings. Freeze the excess if not needed. Double the recipe if you want a nice dressing, just remember to reseve half for the salad. Put desired amount of lettuce, carrot, and avocado in up to eight bowls. Cook chicken however desired. I sauteed it in coconut oil. It could be grilled on skewers, broiled, or roasted. Top your salad with chicken and drizzle with RACV or preferred dressing.

“Peanut” Sauce (alternative to marinade):

  • 2 T almond butter
  • 4 T water
  • dash turmeric
  • 1/4 t dried ginger
  • dask of stevia powder
  • dash of raw apple cider vinegar

Mix the almond butter with water, adding turmeric, ginger, stevia, and RACV in a pan and warm and stir it until it reaches a nice consistency.

I used these recipes as guides.

http://www.foodiegonepaleo.com/2012/09/foodie-friday-curry-chicken-satay.html

http://cavemanmodernwoman.wordpress.com/recipe-index/cashew-and-hazelnut-chicken-satay/

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Struggles with Healing Diets

I considered keeping this private because it is so specific to my own issues, but I also see that it could help someone else struggling with health issues. To be clear, I use “diet” in the true sense of the word: food that one eats. It does not mean eat less. It means eat specifically.

I started this blog mainly because I want to motivate myself towards optimal health and share with people who are using diet to deal with autoimmune issues.

This post is a short one because honestly I’m struggling to begin another autoimmune protocol. Yes– another. I’ve been practicing healing with diet for five years (since 2007) and less seriously in previous years. What I’m learning is cheating makes it more difficult; and that there is a lot of trial and error involved. You may know the struggles: emotions, cravings, time, energy, ego, pocketbooks, pain, fatigue, sleepless nights, discipline, planning, and so on.

I want to do what it takes to heal my gut. I’ve lived a life of “quiet desperation”; hindered by my physical and mental ailments. The little I’ve gained, I’ve lost. There is nothing left for me to do but create a life worth living. I’m responsible for my own health.

So, I’m currently gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, nightshade-free and legume-free. I will be following the autoimmune plan that I feel is right for me with some careful additions and subtractions to suit my body’s needs.

If you are contemplating beginning an autoimmune protocol, please do so with supervision from a doctor and a nutritionist. Every body is different. So, if something is not working for you– please change it. This is the basic diet I started out with (from Dr. Datis Kharrazian): http://thyroidbook.com/blog/autoimmune-gut-repair-diet/ Now, I’ve tailored it to my specific needs.

I also use a rotational diet to help identify food sensitivities and prevent new food sensitivities: http://planetthrive.com/2010/12/4-day-food-rotation-diet/

Both of these diets have been prescribed by my nutritionist; and I have used them before.

Update: I’m glad to have these old posts hanging around for accountability to myself and to others out there struggling with health issues. I have lost my way a bit, but I’m guessing it is so I find myself again in a new way—and that I’ll be more developed and strong for it.

Sometimes I need to let go a little of one thing to work on another. I’m just doing the best I can, and I’m pretty wonderful in hindsight. My advice to those struggling—get back on track as many times as you need to, make small efforts–frequently, never compare yourself to others, and always be kind to yourself.

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Solidarity & Songstress

After a day of activism in 2011, I was so moved that I had to write something. These two haiku are all I could get out, perhaps because the emotions I felt were beyond words.

I marched with Project SALAM, The Muslim Solidarity Committee, Albany UU, and other allies to show support for Yassin Aref, Mohammed Hossain, their families, and all others who are wrongly persecuted and imprisoned for terrorist activities. After the march, we gathered at the Grand St. Art Center for music and dinner. Taina Asili sang some powerful words that night, and I was blown away.

These marches have been going on since 2006 and will continue until Aref and Hossain are released, in 2018 and 2020 respectively.  The 11th Anniversary Commemoration of the Arrests of Yassin Aref & Mohammed Hossain with a rally, speakers, dinner, march, and movie will take place on Monday, August 3. It will begin at the Masjid As-Salam Mosque on 280 Central Avenue, Albany and end at the Linda on 339 Central Avenue, Albany.

 I.

Solidarity

Marching in hot sun.

Different colors, age, and faith.

Happily join as one.

 

II.

Songstress

Her voice cuts through me.

Overpowering steamy night.

In this sacred place.

 © J. Rae

 Yassin Aref Book

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