Fortezza, Umilitade, e Largo Core - Courage, Humility, and Largeness of Heart.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

An Ethic of Responsibility: The Estate Tax Debate

There are some that believe that we should sell our possessions and become homeless ourselves; Jesus himself calls for us to sell our possessions and follow him (Mk 10:21; Lk 12:33; 18:22; Mt 19:21) but I know that money equates to power and the ability to be heard within society. Chuck Collins is an example of one that takes the ethic of responsibility further than I feel comfortable with, yet he was able to maintain his power, voice, and influence.
Chuck Collins, the great-grandson of Oscar Mayer and a Unitarian Universalist, at the ripe age of 26 gave the entirety of his birthright “to foundations and groups that he knew needed funding”[1] believing it to be an important step on his journey towards creating a more just society. An article from 2003 covers his defense of the Estate Tax by starting with his early life experience, the source of his authority. Discussing his early life experience working in disadvantaged communities, such as Appalachia, we see how Collins arrived at the decision to give away his inheritance. Collins is a “radical meritocratist”[2], operating out of a responsibility ethic, who believes that each generation should start out fresh instead of inheritance allowing those of less quality to end up in positions of power based solely on the merits of their forefathers.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Next Generation: Think For Yourself

Will the next generation need machines to make their decisions?
I fear for the world we are creating. But more than that, I fear for the generation that will inherit it. We have systematically removed the ability to think for one's self. We are failing at preparing our children to become self-sufficient. When their parents are no longer around to think for them, to make decisions for them what will happen? Interestingly, there is apparently no antonym for "prepare", yet that is what we are doing: the opposite of preparing the next generation. We are systematically removing the ability to think for one's self.

The Republican party is supposed to be about limiting government control yet the apparently "new and improved" GOP wants to control all of our intimate life decisions. They regulate personal safety issues (such as requiring wearing motorcycle helmets or seat belts) and control a woman's ability to make decisions for her own body. It seems to me they are about letting corporations run free while forcing individuals to subjugate individual freedom of choice.

If we teach children how to achieve high test scores instead of how to figure out the answers, what are we really teaching them? Are we preparing them for adulthood? If we regulate all personal safety decisions (i.e. whether or not to wear a bicycle helmet) how are we teaching them to make wise decisions as they grow up?

I am not a conspiracy theorist (although conspiratorial thoughts do flash through my brain occasionally) I do not believe that there is some great conspiracy to create an inept generation. Yet that seems to me what is happening.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The O.S. Bond

Trying to explain the bond that O.S. girls have is a difficult task, it is abstruse in nature.  The closest analogy I can come up with is a sorority, but that does not even do it justice. We grew up together, in close quarters, surviving our most formidable and often challenging years as unit. Our bond is forged by the heat that is teenaged girls evolving together and that is one that cannot be broken.

My fiance was asking about my wedding guests, some of my fellow O.S. girls, and he asked, "when was the last time you saw her?" What he fails to understand is that it does not matter how long we have been separated, or even if we knew each other in high school--an Oldfields girl will always accept another one with open arms.

My dear friend Sarah Greenhalgh graduated seven years ahead of me. The fact that we were not on campus at the same time did not diminish the bond we felt. At her funeral, her classmates welcomed me with open arms, even though I was eight years their junior. It did not matter at all- we are Oldfields girls and we were hurting. We equally lifted our grief and mourned together, as equals.

Oldfields girls have a bond that transcends time and distance- once we are reunited, it as if we were never separated; all that is required is to catch up on the details.

Monday, September 10, 2012


My brilliant friend, John Hawks, came up with an amazing idea- that we the citizens, regardless of political affiliations or leanings, join together to change our broken system.

The way our system stands now, corruption is rampant. As a political science major, I have given much thought to how we, as a country, could fix this system. Sadly, I focused more on political theory than on practical politics in under-grad, so my thoughts tended towards the non-helpful area. However, some ideas that others have come up with that I thought had promise are: getting rid of the primary system and switching our presidential election to a run-off system (thereby giving 3rd parties a shot at winning); of course campaign finance reform (talk about a pipe dream!); and/or term limits. But all of these require, literally, an act of congress.

But John came up with such a brilliant idea that can implemented immediately, without legislation or the polis standing out in the cold or rain holding signs. Taken from his Facebook group "About" page:

This group will attempt to find a civil common ground we can all support. The initial premise is, that while Romney & Obama generated heated factions amongst us, we CAN come together on working to get the idiotic morons out of Congress. OneUSA believes there are four ways to identify a MORON IN CONGRESS:

1. If they ALWAYS vote party lines, they are not Voting for the USA....they are voting only for their Party.....They are MORONS
2. If they won't listen to the other arguments in a civil way, then negotiate and finally compromise....They are MORONS
3. If they claim they want smaller Government except they want Government in control of a Woman's Body......They are MORONS
4. If they manipulate the truth, fail to reveal the truth or lie......They are MORONS.

Help us to develop techniques to recognize MORONIC CONGRESSMEN and CONGRESSWOMEN.
Help us point them out to others as MORONS who need to, at least leave Congress if not our OneUSA!!

If we ALL commit to voting these "morons" out of office, things will change. Will we end up with someone who aligns with us socio-politically? Probably not. However, if everyone agrees to vote out those who only vote their party lines, who refuse to except reason or to compromise, who obfuscate the truth, or who generally act like morons, and we do this regardless of our political affiliations, then the politicians will finally realize who they are truly beholden to: the citizens of the United States of America. If politicians become more driven by fear of not being reelected than by their lust for power, then we finally stand a chance of beating back the plutocracy and reclaiming our country as OURS.

Will you join the movement? Will you commit to stand for truth and against hypocrisy where possible. Come join us in our search for the truth and share accurate information when we find it! OneUSA [ ]

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Hunt for the Green Lion

My first husband was a theoretical chemist (with a fascination for alchemy). While he was working on his PhD at The University of Washington we lived on a very meager budget. What we lacked in monetary funds we made up for in creativity.

One of our favorite ways to entertain ourselves was going on a Hunt for the Green Lion. We would select a "destination" at random (for example: there was a building with interesting lights on Capitol Hill and we wanted to figure out what it was but it could be less concrete, such as finding a better shortcut or a new bar to hang out at) and we would set out on the hunt. Keep in mind, the price of gas was much lower then than it is now; now this would not be an economical way to pass the time.

Sometimes we were successful on our quest, other times not. Sometimes we would find our goal months later (such as the building on Capitol Hill- turns out it was the Seattle Asian Art Museum). It is about celebrating the journey while still focusing on the destination but not basing the success of experience on arriving.

While searching for a graphic for this post, I discovered that the green lion has alchemical ties. I do not know exactly where Bill came up with the concept or name for our hunt. I have a vague recollection of it being a Johnson family tradition. It is possible that he was inspired by alchemy. But like the Hunt itself, the path of journey is of little consequence, nor is arriving; what matters most is savoring the experience.

May you savor your Hunt for the Green Lion.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Our governmental system is flawed. Our founding fathers, in order to prevent tyranny of the majority inadvertently created tyranny of the minority. Because of this, creating bills that can pass congress is a tricky art (and I use the word "tricky" intentionally).
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or "Obamacare", as it is affectionately known, it not a good bill. It began as a great bill but in the process of adjusting it so that it could pass congress this great bill was chipped away to a pile of rubble that barely resembles the original idea. That being said, a pile of rubble is better than nothing. At least with a pile of rubble we have our foot in the door and have set a precedent. If we have nothing, well then, we have nothing.

I have Lyme disease. I was diagnosed with it in 2007. Luckily I was married to a man who owned his own business and we had great health insurance. In a stroke of bad luck for me, in 2008 my husband cheated on me. I almost had to stay married to him inorder to maintain coverage for fear of being denied due to a pre-existing condition. I reiterate: I almost had to stay married to a man who abandoned me while I was sick in order for me to keep health insurance! If it were not for the changes put in place by Obamacare, I would be trapped. That or bankrupt, which would be a much larger burden on society than PPACA.

I look forward to our elected leaders adjusting the Act so that it returns to its originally intended greatness. I pray that it is not repealed, for if it is, I do not know what would happen to me. In my opinion the best way forward is adjusting the current Act and not repealing its flawed form and starting from scratch, for I fear that if it is repealed, Big Money will prevent another bill from passing Congress.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Torn over boycotting Chick-fil-A

I love the country we live in. I love the fact that my right to decent from the popular opinion is supported in our Constitution. I love that fact that I am able to vote with the power of my dollar by supporting organizations that I agree with philosophically. I also appreciate the fact that even those I disagree with are also able to vote with their dollar and support organizations they believe in. For example: I appreciate Home Depot. There are a lot of things that I don't agree with in regards to Home Depot: they support the Republican National Convention, they are blamed for driving the independent hardware store out of business. However, due to their size, they are able to help those in need when natural disaster strikes. They are also huge sponsors of the Georgia Aquarium. But returning to their support of the RNC- if I am able to support the political party of my choice, is it not fair that others are able to support the party of their choice? Home Depot is enacting an important right that we have in this country, one that we should not take for granted nor let atrophy.

So this leaves me torn. Which do I believe in more: our inherent right to support causes of our choice or the causes themselves? I do not like the idea of my money going, indirectly, to causes I am passionately against (such as homophobia). Yet, if I am to expect my right to support my causes, doesn't that mean that we should respect others' right to support their causes?

Chick-fil-A is getting a lot of attention recently. My liberal friends are calling for us all to boycott them. Once their views on marriage equality came to light, about a year ago, I significantly cut down on the business I gave them. I could give you a long, sob story as to why I did not cut them out cold turkey but it comes down to this: at least the revenue they received from me was markedly less.

Truth be told, this could be me justifying my continued patronizing of Chick-fil-A. Yet I am left with the question: if I want the freedom to support my causes, doesn't the reverse seem important? Chick-fil-A is engaging society, supporting causes they are passionate about, and inadvertently creating important dialogue. Does this call for an all-out boycott?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

An Interesting Observation

I've said it before and I will say it again: my personal views might be wrong. But something occurred to me while reading a status update from my friend Rev. Roger. He spoke of a former congregant who had been knotted up by hate- "hatred for gays, liberals, immigrants, and 'towel heads'," but after a painful divorce, the man was touched by Jesus and he allowed love into his heart. Roger noted the visible changes in the man. The man was kind to those he interacted with and seemed to be at greater peace.

When I think of those who are living in judgment of others, they are knotted up with hate. As I decide which role model to follow, am I going to follow in the footsteps of those twisted by hate or those who are at peace with the world surrounding them?

It seems to me that the proof is in the pudding and that love is the answer.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Thinking about Love and Heaven

I am a non-materialist. This is not to say that I have given away my possessions or even that I don't enjoy a good shopping spree. What I mean by the term is that I believe that everything is one, we are all interconnected energy, any separation is merely due to human perception. Those that know me know that I factitiously say that I don't believe in time or space, that they are merely human constructs, that the Universal Divine is beyond time and space. While I say it factitiously, there is truth to it.

We are all part of the Infinite, Universal Divine. What this means is that if I enact hate towards you, I am in truth hating myself. I strive towards enacting basileia in the Here and Now. Many, myself included, claim that Heaven and Hell are what you make it, that they exist right here, right now. Now what if that were true? And what if each of us chose to act out radical love in each moment? Is it possible that if we passed some unknown critical mass that Heaven would become a universal reality for everyone? That the divisions that we are perceive would disappear from our awareness?

Many will write me off as a kook. Many of the great mystics in history were (not that I would count myself among them). As I write and think about it, I suppose that you discounting me is merely me discounting myself. Do I doubt the veracity of what I have just written? The truth is: yes, I do. Part of me doubts that we have the ability to create it. I know too many humans. Humans have an unending ability to love. We also have an unending ability to fuck shit up. We engage in self-sabotage.

Given that, I suppose one of the keys to this vision is enacting radical self love.

Sometimes it is easier to love "the other" than to love ourselves. Of course, given my initial premise, by loving the other, we are loving ourselves. We have to start where we are, be patient with our current limitations but aspire towards realizing Radical Love.

Source: via Allegra on Pinterest

"Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me." 

Friday, July 6, 2012

My review of Snow White and the Huntsman [Spoiler Alert]

I should start by saying that I normally like almost every movie I have ever seen. There are a few notable exceptions: Wild Wild West and Strange Days, for example.

This evening I paid full price to see Snow White and the Huntsman and as a cash strapped graduate student, I am regretting the decision. This is not to say that the movie was terrible, however it was definitely one that I wish I had saved money by seeing as a matinee.

Before seeing the movie, a friend and I joked that this film would redeem Kristen Stewart from The Twilight saga. I am now thinking that it may not be the movies but the actress that is at fault. If I am wrong, Ms Stewart will need to continue to find work that will redeem her as an actress. And how does she always manage to end up in awkward love triangles??

The movie is very very beautifully shot and this is one of its redeeming characteristics but also part of its downfall- the lengthy scenery shots began to have a self-important feel to them, as if the director thought it was a great art-house film instead of a Hollywood blockbuster (wanna be). A lot of this movie could have been left on the editing room floor.

Charlize Theron is amazing as always and even the terrible script could not hold her down. (In my opinion, this is the mark of a great actor: their talent can shine through even the worst of scripts.) Chris Hemsworth (of Thor fame) has a lengthy speech towards the end of the film and all I could hear was my 8th grade English teacher, Mrs McPherson, saying, "Show!! Not tell!!" The script left a lot to be desired.

[Spoiler Alert!!] My very favorite part of the film was the ending: Snow White triumphs and succeeds to the throne... alone. I was so relieved that the filmmakers didn't crap on their film by having Snow choose one of her suitors to be king but instead opted to allow her to demonstrate strength and independence (as well as allowing the viewer to imagine the plot continuing instead of spoon feeding it to us).

As a side note, I don't think I have ever checked my watch as many times during a movie as during this one. I had to fight the desire to pull out my phone and tweet about how bored I was; the only reason I didn't was out of respect to my fellow movie patrons, who sadly also paid full price.

In my mind...

In my mind I am Jessica Rabbit. 

But I fear that in reality, I am Pippi Longstocking. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Zen Koan on non-attachment and thoughts [updated]

"If you own a teacup that is very precious to you, you have two choices: you can be obsessively careful with it, and live in fear that you'll drop it, or someone will chip it, or an earthquake will come and it will fall out of the cabinet. This object, intended to bring you pleasure, can become a burden.

Or, you can imagine that it is already broken -- because in an important sense, it is. It's sure to break someday, just as you're sure to die and the universe is sure to come to an end. Then, every time you drink from the cup will be a pleasure, a gift from the gods, a special reunion between you and something you had lost. You will be sure to appreciate every chance you have to use it, but having already said goodbye you will not need to use it with fear.

When I read this to Jeff, he went to the fatalist extreme, asserting that if this is the case, then why not commit suicide now, if all is already lost? Non-attachment is not about grieving over what is lost, it is about celebrating the joy when it is found. And knowing that moment will not last. Practitioners who have mastered mindfulness (of which I am not one) are so immersed in the moment that the moment prior and the one to come are not relevant. Whether the teacup exists in the next moment does not matter (or whether or not it existed in the moment previous) what matters is that in this moment the teacup exists and that is what is to be celebrated.

I used to hide $5 bills in my pockets. Obviously I knew I had done it. And the money was always mine. Yet imagine the joy I experienced upon reaching into my pocket and finding money!! While it seems a bit counter intuitive to use money as an example of non-attachment, to me that moment is what this koan is addressing.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

May we learn to celebrate our cracks

When I was younger, I planned to grow old gracefully, to celebrate my laugh lines and wrinkles as testaments to a life well lived. However, as growing old becomes more reality than theory, I struggle with vanity and ego. Intellectually, I know how I want to be, however my ego interrupts my intention. I just saw the above post on Facebook and I am once again re-inspired to celebrate my journey and all the scars that stand as testament to it.

May we all learn to celebrate our cracks and fill them with gold.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Saying goodbye to Shamrock for the last time?

Shamrock at age 41
I have the world's best pony. No really, I do; it is an irrefutable statement. He is famous around these parts.

I got him when I was around 15 or 16 as my Children's Hunter/Jumper horse. He is of unknown age and unknown breeding at this point but along the way we set his age as equal to mine, which makes him 41 years old this year.

Ready for the Hunt! (at the age of 37)
Over the known span of his career, he has taught countless people to ride and was always the go-to horse to help build courage in a timid rider. After he was "retired", he continued to fox-chase until he pulled a suspensory tendon at the age of 38.

My ex-husband is in charge of his care. Ed called me two weeks ago and said I should probably come home and say my goodbyes. Shamu still looks amazing for his age! But I can see that he is feeling old for the first time.

He was also a naughty pony at times.
Just now, I laid down in the paddock with him and told him how much I love him and how grateful I am for all that he has done for me in our 25 years together. I told him that I no longer needed him to protect me and that his "little girl" has grown and will be ok. I gave him permission to not hang on any longer than he needs to.

Now Shamrock is a stubborn red-head, which means he may very well out-live us all. But for all those who love him, and they are too many to count, please keep him in your thoughts- pray for a painless transition when his time comes.

I am the luckiest little girl for having been blessed with such an amazing horse. He will always be in my heart and I will always carry his spirit in me.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Squirrel Hunting?

I live in a condominium complex within the Atlanta city limits. It seems recently that our squirrel population has exploded. Where I'm from in Maryland, we have foot Basseting/ Beagling, which is the sport of hunting hare on foot with a pack of hounds. I propose that we organise all the neighborhood dogs and start to hunt squirrel.

Preposterous you say? I say nay. I have heard that squirrel is good eating, similar to rabbit (hossenfeffer). I just read an article that squirrels are now likely assisting in the spread of Lyme disease. Not to mention that they taunt my poor dog, smack talking him, just out of reach.

Tally Ho!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

My Cat Has an Eating Disorder

Bandit adopted me the Fall of '08. He was a completely ferral country cat who was coming in our house and eating the cat food (we already had 4 cats). I told him that he was welcome to dine "at my table" but that I asked for kitty-love in exchange. When I tamed him, he was covered head to paw in ticks and while being a large Tom Cat, you could feel his ribs.

He was probably 5(ish) years old when I tamed him, which means that he survived on his own, never knowing where his next meal would come from for 5 years. This is a habit that he has yet to let go of. He is constantly yowling for food (and driving me mad in the process). He is now significantly overweight. The vet chides me and says to limit his food. I understand that I am putting his life at risk by feeding him, but if I don't feed him, I am also putting his life at risk (because my fiance or I might kill him). Btw- that's a joke, I would never kill my cat. I am semi-seriously considering giving him to my future sister-in-law though; a thought that breaks my heart.

He is so neurotic about food: He will be eating, there will still be food around the edges of the bowl, but if his nose touches the bottom, he starts panicking.

Until my fiance moved in with his dog, Barron, I just knew to keep food in his bowl. But now the dog (who is the same size and just as agile as Bandit) will eat the cat food if it is left unattended. Since Barron is equally as agile as Bandit, there is no place to put the cat food that the dog would not be able to access. However, I would prefer to figure out how to break my "Fat Cat" (my sis-in-law's nickname for him) of this neurotic habit.

If anyone out there has any suggestions (preferably ones that do not cost a ton of money or require a lot of discipline, as the humans are lacking in that area) I would really love to hear them.

Thank you!!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Addressing Poverty, Privilege, and Faith from a Unitarian Universalist Perspective

My final paper for Christian Ethics.

            I am troubled over the issue of privilege and poverty. As someone who has come from a privileged background, I suffer from the common liberal guilt. I was raised to not get stuck in these situations but to take action and fix it. So I have gone on an academic quest to try to reconcile this situation. I came to seminary to find ways to create the Kingdom of God here on earth, not dissimilar to when Rauschenbusch says, “When our moral actions are consciously related to the Kingdom of God they gain religious quality.”[1]
            I have experienced both ends of the economic spectrum, which gives me unique perspective and credibility with both groups. However this is also problematic in that sometimes I forget that I chose my lifestyle(s) and sometimes I make assumptions that do not necessarily apply to those who were not able to choose their circumstances. Additionally, born into a life of privilege, I had access to an education and connections that helped me survive in a way that others do not have.
There are some that believe that we should sell our possessions and become homeless ourselves; Jesus himself calls for us to sell our possessions and follow him (Mk 10:21; Lk 12:33; 18:22; Mt 19:21) but I know that money equates to power and the ability to be heard within society. Unlike Chuck Collins, the great-grandson of Oscar Mayer and a Unitarian Universalist who gave away the entirety of his birthright when he was 26 years old, I don’t believe that we have to give up everything in order to help the situation.[2] Mainly, I believe in playing fair and want to help others realize that it is possible to share without loss, that generosity builds abundance. I, like most Unitarian Universalists, know “that, regardless of our circumstances at birth, with help and effort most of us are capable of making a positive difference in our own lives and the life of our times.”[3]
As a Unitarian Universalist, I belong to a denomination that holds social justice as one of our highest principles. How far do I go to combat poverty? How do I know I have done all that I can do? How does my faith call me to act in this situation?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Kicking Lyme's Butt and Taking Names

I can't believe how much stronger I've gotten. Last night while walking the dog, it occurred to me that until recently I was unable to to walk down to get the mail- I would have to drive the short distance. Now, I'm walking all over the neighborhood and am even able to do multiple laps!

Five years ago, I was barely able to get myself to the bathroom without assistance. Even as recently as last year, I would need a cane to walk some days. This year, I was able to complete TWO 5k Mud Runs (Dirty Girl Mud Run and Warrior Dash) both in under an hour!! I am in a state of disbelief that I am the same woman.

So many Lymies ask me how I was able to get here. In truth, I have no idea. I think a lot of it is stubbornness. I have also worked hard to assemble a great health support team- a Lyme literate doctor, acupuncturist, massage therapist, chiropractor/ naturopath, therapist, general practitioner, neural feedback- all of whom are willing to work with each other for my benefit. I also practice therapeutic yoga, Pilates, RedCord, ride horses, and have recently added in Kettlebells to my exercise routine. On days that I think I can't move, I know those are the days that I have to move.

When I was working on regaining my strength, I was introduced to a mutual friend who also suffered from Lyme but was able to return to running marathons. I was in awe. I had no idea how she was able to do it, but I figured that if she could do it, I could too!

If you are reading this and are a fellow Lymie, please know that there is hope, do not give up. If you are reading this because you have someone in your life who suffers from Lyme, please do not wave my story in their face, this does not help. We each recover at our own pace, in our own way. If you have recently experienced a set back, know that it is only temporary and we each will continue to fight- for that is our only option.

Monday, June 11, 2012

How to Block Apps on Facebook

Facebook keeps changing things up and makes it difficult to protect your privacy and limit the number of notifications/ requests you receive. With the recent release of their App Center, I was finally able to figure out how to block application requests again (previously we were able to block them via our privacy settings, but now that is no more and irrelevant).

Per the request of a friend, I decided to make a step by step guide on how to block apps with the (current) setup. If there are any questions, please comment and I will try to clarify. Thank you and good luck!

Beginning at your Home screen, click on "App Center" which is located in the left hand column.

You are now at the App Center. From here click on "Requests" which is located in the left hand column.

The Spread of Lyme? [Updated]

Recently, via Social Media, I have been connecting to Lymies worldwide. I was shocked to learn that Lyme has spread to Holland, Germany, even Russia! Now I am not a doctor or a Public Health specialist, but I do have some degree of critical thinking and I can’t help but wonder how this is possible. My understanding of the current model of the spread of infection is via the Deer Tick (also known as the Blacklegged Tick or Ixodes scapularis or Ixodes pacificus) and wildlife (such as deer, squirrels, etc). There becomes a self perpetuating cycle of the tick getting Lyme from the animal and the infected tick then spreading it to other animals (even domesticated cats or dogs). [This can be seen on the CDC website.]

Even with this cycle continuing to compound without any intervention, I am at a loss to see how it is able to spread as rapidly and as far-reaching as it currently is. To take a facetious view of it: it’s not as if deer are hitching a ride on steamers from the U.S. to Europe. Ok, that’s flippant, but even with people bringing infected pets to Europe, it seems that the model above is too simplistic to explain the rapid spread worldwide.

So how is Lyme spreading so rapidly? I don’t have the answers but I sure would love for someone to come up a reasonable explanation because the one we currently have does not work for me.

After seeing my LLMD last week, he informed me that Lyme has actually been around for centuries. During the Iceman autopsy, they discovered two strains of DNA, the first being his and the second being Lyme. While reading up on the subject, I also found this article: Lyme Disease Bacterium Came From Europe Before Ice Age. So while there is conflicting data regarding the modes of transmission, the fact that it already existed in Eurasia for centuries explains my observations. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

How About Leaving the Judging to God?

A deep part of my faith is the understanding that I may be wrong. It is entirely possible that there is only one way to “Heaven” and I am not on that path. I am as comfortable with this knowledge as one can be. I pray that if faced with the reality of “Hell” that I do not cave from my principles for fear of eternal damnation. I must live an ethical life at all times, even when no one is witnessing. I make this choice because it is what my heart and mind and my soul say is correct. I live my faith as fully and completely as I am able to.

My whole being believes that we are to behave justly; to act out radical hospitality; that all humans are equal and are to be treated as such. ALL humans, regardless of race, sexual orientation, class, religion, education, life experiences, or anything else. Now this is a tall order—one that I am not perfect at. My goal is to not judge, yet I find myself doing so more than I care to admit, even to myself. My biggest obstacle: not judging those that judge.

Throughout the Bible there are all types of commandments, some we still honor, others we ignore, many we, as a society, have collectively forgotten. If one were to make a database of all the commandments (which I am sure that someone has done) there are many that contradict each other. Many, if we look at them through a historical lens, we can see why they were given to us (such as the commandments to not eat pork or shellfish). Yet, it seems to me, that the one, consistent commandment is to leave the judging to God. Period.

Yet I look around and I see so much judging. I read about pastors calling to put our fellow Americans into concentration camps or spitting on fellow Christians. Jesus welcomed the leper and the prostitute at his table. Why do you, a mere human, think that your beliefs trump that of the embodiment of God? Your beliefs do not make you a better person, your behavior does. Whether this gets me to a magical paradise in my afterlife is of less significance than creating a loving community, in the image of the Divine, right now. And when I come to the end of my time here and I have to account for my behavior throughout my life, I can hold my head up high and say with confidence that I did my very best.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Some Thoughts on Memorial Day

We all love Memorial Day Weekend- I mean really, it is the unofficial start of summer. Most folks get a three-day weekend, if they have a job that is. And with all the fun, sun, blockbuster movies, and barbeques, we tend to forget the sacrifices of those who fought to give us the freedom that allows us to have such fun holiday weekends. 

While I do not support war in general, I am grateful for those that sacrifice for our country. We live in a country that can be truly frustrating at times, no matter which side of the aisle you sit. However, we have the privilege to reside in one of the few countries in the world that allows us the freedom and ability to voice a dissenting opinion. As Voltaire said, “I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Last week, a U.S. Sailor became the 3000th death in the Afghanistan War, per CNN. That is an inauspicious honor. The thing that strikes me is we have now sacrificed 3000 of our honorable, brave men and women to get retaliation for the deaths of 2,977 of our citizens? Where is the logic in that? 

Friday, May 18, 2012

We all feel unattractive at times

I am suffering from body dysmorphia lately. I knew it would happen. A year and a half ago, I was down to 103 pounds and was almost solid muscle due to complications from Lyme Disease- I was vomiting and convulsing in pain almost constantly, which, as it turns out, really builds up muscle. I had the “best body” I have ever had; I put best body in quotes because that is based on our unhealthy, media influenced American standards. Once I got healthier (vis a vis Lyme) recovered from the nausea and was able to eat again, I began to get back to a healthier body type. As I gained weight, I was very conscience to keep saying affirmations that I was beautiful, that growing out of a size 0 is healthy. I knew moving from a media driven “ideal type” to a healthy ideal would be hard on me psychologically but with my conscience effort, my self perception didn’t spin out of control.

I then contracted a respiratory infection and wasn’t able to work out for a few weeks. I also got in a relationship. Before I knew it, I was up to 132 pounds. I found myself growing from a size 2/4 to a 4/6 to a 6/8 and I now find myself no longer fitting in my size 8s and having to purchase size 10s. Per our Wii Fit, I still have a healthy BMI, although just barely. I am 5’2” with a thin frame, so I am definitely heavier than I should be; I most definitely shouldn’t gain any more weight. But here’s the thing that strikes me: I shouldn’t feel as hideous as I feel. I really noticed this when looking at photos from graduation this year and cringing at how much weight I had gained. I went back and looked at last year’s graduation pictures (the ones where I, ironically, thought I was fat) and I saw how I was too skinny then. I went back to the current pics and forced myself to see myself as normal and healthy. I looked at pictures of other women (who I consider beautiful) who are of a similar body type to me. I realized that I look no different from them; it is merely my own negative self-perception that is different.
I know that I am not the only woman who feels this way. I am here to say: you are not alone. I will continue to work to see myself as beautiful, no matter what my body looks like. I will also continue to work out and will try to eat healthier (much easier said than done for me). I want to be strong enough to conquer Lyme and everything beyond that is gravy. (And while I must force myself to say this) I am beautiful as I am, this day. I know that I will eventually learn to believe myself when I say it.

I am beautiful as I am.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

How far we come in a year.

It was this week a year ago that I was in a self imposed hell—swept away in an abusive relationship that I refused to find the strength to leave… until it was almost too late. Everyone around me could see the abyss I was heading towards but I refused to listen to their sage advice; instead I allowed myself to be controlled as if he were Orpheus, playing the strings of my emotions. Mindlessly I followed him as he pushed and pulled me, this way and that, almost as if he was trying the limits of cruelty I would withstand.

When he tried to rape me, I was able to fight him off and he then broke up with me. I was crushed but somewhere from the bottom of the wreckage, I screamed, “No more! Never again.” He didn’t believe me and continued to try to draw me back into his abusive games, but with the strength loaned to me from my support system, I found the strength to resist.

I spent months healing, protecting myself, and fighting to prevent this from happening to anyone else. Then, when I least expected it, I found healthy love—possibly for the first time in my life. I went from the lowest point in human relations to where I am growing and becoming better at communication, giving/accepting support, and trust.

Would I choose to go through that again? No, but I receive solace knowing how I turned it around to make myself a better person and to help others.

My gratitude abounds!

My story from last year: Standing Tall as a Victim