Life~

Challenging Gender Binary

I wrote this essay about a Dada artist Hannah Hoch and how she challenged gender binary in her photomontage work titled Tamer, 1930.

Tamer

Tamer, 1930 Hannah Hoch

Tamer-Hoch

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Simple Salsa

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This is pic of nachos with the salsa added. I don’t have a pic yet of the salsa and hate when recipes add pics that are not of the actual recipe.

This was one of those…I ran out of salsa and what do I have to throw together kind of recipes. I combined all the ingredients and then left it sitting on the counter for a few minutes to let the flavors marinate. My son-who hates everything remotely healthy that I make-came in and was scooping it up with chips when I came back into the kitchen. He said it was the best salsa he ever tasted and that it tasted like the restaurant salsa.

1 can of Organic Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes (used these )

1/2 medium onion, chopped

2 slices canned pineapple or any form

salt to taste

pinch red pepper flakes to taste

Blend onion and pineapple in food processor until fine. Combine it all together in a bowl. It has the consistency of chunky so if you want it more fluid then blend up some of the tomatoes as well. It does not keep long in refrigerator. Maybe 3-4 days.

Enjoy!

Best Burger Ever!

I have been a vegetarian for 32 years and a vegan off and on for 2 years. I have searched and searched for a decent alternative burger recipe to the processed frozen veggie burgers you can get in the market. I have tried sweet potato burgers, lentil burgers, black bean burgers, oatmeal burgers…I feel I have tried them all. Then I found this burger recipe from a lady that lives in Hawaii and it is the Best Burger Ever! I must give kudos where kudos are due…you can find her here .  I added in turmeric and ginger this batch. Remember to make it yours!

best-burgers-ever

Best Burgers Ever

1 small onion chopped

4 garlic cloves minced

1/2 red bell pepper diced

1 can or equivalent black beans drained

1 can or equivalent white beans drained

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp chili flakes or to taste

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup spelt flour or any flour you use

Preheat oven to 350. Heat a pan with some oil, cook onions for 5 mins, add garlic and red bell pepper, cook for another 3 mins. Remove from heat, add beans and spices, mix. Mash with potato masher, leaving some whole beans. Add flour and mix well. Form patties on parchment paper cooking sheet. Bake 40 minutes, flipping to other side at half way. Makes 6 patties.

Why I don’t say “I am proud of you.”

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I cringe when someone says, “I am proud of you”, to me or anyone else. I have had this reaction for years, not just recently. I hesitated saying it to my children while they were growing up. It just sounds so condescending to me. Like I am saying, I know better/do/think than you and am qualified to point out to you that you are on the right track. I looked up the meaning of the phrase and according to the mass online presence, it means that the person saying it has been through or knows what you have been through to accomplish what you have accomplished. This would involve a very personal relationship to have been developed between the person saying it and the receiver and a very long relationship. In my opinion, teachers, mentors and parents could be included without question. Why did I use it sparingly on my kids, if at all? Saying it made me feel oddly superior and while I know we are superior in many ways to our kids. This phrase made me feel like I was egotistically reminding them of my superiority, like a reminder of your place in the hierarchy of relationships, a putting you in your place with a smile on my face kind of exchange. It took the focus away from the celebrated victory and placed it on my feelings about it. It felt deceptive, a little bit cruel and not at all conveyed the message I wanted to tell them, which was:

You accomplished such a monumentally important thing and I hope you bask in the glow of this feeling as much as I am right along with you.

I seriously rejoice in my kids accomplishments and personally think they are the best human beings on the planet. I also have a decent amount of personal pride in my accomplishment of raising two amazing human beings. I say, “I am proud of you” in the mirror to myself everyday, because, well, I feel superior to myself and need the reminder of where I fit in the relationship hierarchy.

 

Dying Well

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Movies and mythic journeys always talk about “dying well”. When you think about dying well in this instance it usually involves something heroic or being remembered for an altruistic life. Extraordinary experiences of profound impact on others or the world in general are usually what get written down in books or played out on screens. Immortalized character traits that set the bar high for all of us left living to aspire to.

In the Mayan culture a human would  volunteer to be sacrificed to the God’s because it assured them a place in heaven. To be sacrificed was “dying well” to the Mayans. The human sacrifice was thrown into a cenote, a deep dark cave with an underground river and if the bound human sacrifice survived the 60 foot fall, after a period of time they were brought back up and asked what the God’s told them while in the cenote.

In my experience sitting with people that are dying, people die the way they lived. Those memorable heroic moments that happened maybe once and that everyone always associates with the person…yeah, that isn’t what the dying are sorting through in the end. The end brings what one spends the majority of their time and energy on. If it was being fearful, then it is fear gripping you in the end. If it was regret, then it is regret that wafts over you and spills out of your eyes and soul. Our one defining moment is death and it is at this time that our truest spirit is expressed. Not the many faces we live and use daily in life. Those are only needed by the living. Death being the equalizer that it is, brings us to ground zero where our base energy lies…that which fuels our thoughts, desires, needs, and propels us into action. It rarely is altruistic and even rarer is heroic, at least not in historical or Hollywood terms. It is instead that day in and day out, moment to moment, small hum of energy that is not noticed by anyone but you most of the time. That lingering tug at your consciousness as you are falling asleep at night..there, that is what surfaces in the end, like it has been waiting and trying to get you to acknowledge it for a long, long time.

It makes you think about the way you live now. At this moment. If you spew anger and hatred towards your family, if you judge people, if you are jealous or resentful, if you love and respect others, show compassion, are generous… whatever you spend the most time and energy on is what will be staring back at you from the mirror placed before you in the end. And that mirror comes to us all.

And of course no one knows what happens after death, what if we continue on in some other existence based on these very characteristics that we lived in this life? What if this life is step one and our actions in it determines step two? Would you change the way you live your life now to “die well”?

Water

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I had to sneak in this beautiful water image of a ceynote in Cozumel that my son and I will be swimming in come September, when we take our vacation!

Water is super important and we all know it. We are told to drink it from the time we are old enough to understand the word, “water”.  My kids would tell me their head hurt and the first thing I asked is if they had drank any water today. I called them water headaches. We bathe in it, cook food in it and it is the most amazing natural wonder in our world. Life giving and life altering, we literally die without it.

Do you know what is in your water?

Start your research at the county water service site for your county and there should be a link to a water dedicated website. You have to do some sleuthing to find the information on water quality. I don’t know why but it is not usually clearly labeled, “Click here for your water quality” and it should be. Everyone should read about their water quality. Spend the time to research and find the information. You are looking for the Water Quality Index Summary Report. Find the closest location to your residence that has your water information and take a gander. You can find out where your water source is located, what they add to it to make it safe to use, whether they add chlorine or chloramine, and if they add fluoride. We just moved to a different county and while writing this, I took a look at our new water report, it isn’t good. In fact under the heading “Condition” it says “Poor”. But my current water treatment does not add fluoride to the water supply and they add 1/3 the amount of chlorine that my previous residence area did. I ended up finding this report by Googling “chlorine in >>>>” insert your water district. I could not find this information on the water district site but then all the information I needed popped up on one handy report called the Drinking Water Quality Report.

Chlorine is necessary and good for disinfecting water BUT it is bad for us in the quantities that are added to our water. Just begin researching chlorine and effects and you will see what I am talking about. For me, it was asthma attacks after showers from breathing the chlorinated steam, acne, rashes, hair loss, dry skin, headaches, irritability and an immune system that was overloaded from trying to fight off mass quantities of toxic level chlorine in my system. I bought a shower filter that filtered chlorine, a water pitcher with a chlorine filter and vitamin c tabs for the bath. Britta filters do not filter out chlorine and most shower filters do not as well. You have to read closely and find the ones that do. I use Zero water pitcher for drinking water. There is some initial cost but the results are worth it. My hair stopped falling out, my skin cleared up, my asthma is under control, and bye bye dry skin.

Fluoride is another additive but is not added by every water district. Thankfully I moved from an area that adds it to one that does not. Fluoride  in the excessive amounts that they add to drinking water is too much and causes headaches, stiffness and pain in joints, teeth damage and skeletal damage. Fluoride is a result of strip mining and was introduced to being a water additive as a solution to disposal of excessive quantities of fluoride. NOT because we needed additional fluoride as it was marketed. Unfortunately I have not found any filters for fluoride as it is a difficult process to filter adequately.

Fluoride in water

I see cleaning up my water as the base of my decision to start choosing healthy ways of living. It seems fitting as water is the basis of everything and so I began at the bottom with the most basic need we have and began working up from there.

Blueberry Waffle Me Baby

I love waffles. I have worn out waffle makers. Since I began eating a whole food plant based diet, I have cut way back on flour based products. One because they are processed and therefore far from a whole food and two because flour wreaks havoc on my blood sugar. So eating a waffle has become a once in awhile food that I know will always make me feel really crappy afterwards. Well, recently I decided that I was gonna have my waffle and eat it too! I decided that I was going to nail down the waffle recipe that I could eat and enjoy without feeling horrible afterwards. There are consistently three foods that I will eat that make my body sorry that I ate them: waffles, ice cream and pizza. I will find recipes for all three that are delicious, satisfying and make my body say, “hell yea!”.

So let’s talk flours. I have been substituting different flours for white/wheat flour for over a year now in different cake, cookies, pies and desserts. I tried amaranth, almond, coconut, oat, and rice. If you read any recipe that calls for substitute flours, you will know what a pain it is to try and substitute white/wheat flour for other flours. You have to use a combination of at least three different substitute flours and add in ingredients like xanthan gum or guar gum to make up for the lack of gluten. Perhaps it is my lack of interest in working this out but it was too complicated for me and I never found the right combination for tasty edible food. Either it was a texture issue or it didn’t rise or it didn’t taste right.

I was perusing waffle recipes the other night and stumbled across a simple recipe on one of my favorite sites that called for regular white flour but in the reviews, which I always read, a reviewer had substituted spelt flour. I immediately researched spelt flour and found out that it has gluten in it and can be substituted 1:1 for white/wheat flour. What?! No way. Yes way. I bought some.

Last night I threw together the waffle recipe. It is a dry mix I keep in a mason jar and just add water to it.

1 1/4 cups spelt flour

1tsp coconut sugar or any other non-white sugar

2tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1tsp cinnamon

Blueberry Spelt Waffles

This morning I made blueberry spelt waffles with coconut butter and real maple syrup. I had a mouth-gasm. It was amazing. The waffle was fluffy, chewy , with a slightly sweet nutty flavor. I put the blueberries in the mix and grill in the waffle iron, instead of on top. Coconut butter is just shredded unsweetened coconut spun in the food processor until it becomes butter texture and I use it like butter. So my search for the perfect waffle recipe is over. My body loves this one. Now on to find a pizza cheese that satisfies! I will let you know how my spelt pizza crust comes out.

What Do You Eat?

Meat lovers

Potatoes, onions, sundried tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, morningstar farms breakfast links, marjoram, salt, pepper and fried in coconut oil.

This was breakfast this morning. I call it “Meat” Lovers meal because it has lots of texture, and grinding and chewing involved. EXTREMELY satisfying when you just have to masticate. Three months ago I switched from eating a vegetarian diet to eating a whole food plant based diet. To put it simply it is a diet that is based on eating all whole foods and all plants. Processed food out and dairy out. This has been the BEST experience of my life and my body loves me for it. In fact, my skin, hair, nails, asthma, allergies (well my allergies hate it, cause they were eliminated), bones, muscles, memory, stamina etc., etc., LOVE me for eating this food.

A lot of things begin to happen when you change your diet, any diet but two big things that changed for me had to do with digestion. Digestion is where the money is people. If your digestion is not working well, it doesn’t matter what you eat. Digestion is where all the nutrients get taken to the rest of the body and the yucky stuff discarded. There is a lot of information out there on this and I wish I had time to recount it all here but I don’t. What I will tell you is where I began.

Mind you I have to tell you that I grew up hating vegetables and water and ate macaroni, potatoes and hamburgers. Then I also continued to eat all carbs and processed foods as a young adult. Drinking a V-8 or eating some canned corn was my definition of eating vegetables. I began eating fresh vegetables by cooking vegetable soup. I love soup and I bought some really good broth like knorr’s vegetable broth and I made really good soup that had vegetables in chopped really small so the taste was not too noticeable. I ate it everyday. I batch cooked it on Sundays for the whole week. Whenever I needed something fast to eat, instead of reaching for the frozen bean and cheese burrito I had a bowl of soup. When that didn’t satisfy, I made stir fry with brown rice. So something amazing happened with my digestion. Increased vegetables and taking a daily probiotic, my fiber was increased and my body was no longer starving for nutrients that are not present in processed food, I began to really feel alive. Feed your body living food and you will feel alive. The two big things that changed for me was nutrient absorption and elimination. If these two things are taking place in your digestion then you are golden if not you are starving and stagnant at the same time. A clogged up system is no fun. You don’t feel like part of the cycle of life that is for sure. Nothing cycling through you except when forced. We were made for greater things than that image presents.

I do still feel the need to masticate and 95% of my diet is whole food plant based the other 5% is whatever in the hell I feel like eating. I NEVER deprive myself of anything I want to eat. Sometimes I have pizza laden with cheese or a donut or my big love, Denali Extreme Fudge Ice Cream. I used to eat something in the 5% everyday, after awhile you eat it less and less as you reap the consequences. It just loses it’s special feeling. But the key is to keep a balance, our lives and bodies need a balanced existence between “good” and “bad” too much “good” can be just as detrimental as too much “bad”.

Fruit lovers

This was breakfast yesterday morning when I wanted the comforting numminess of hot oatmeal. I threw in some strawberries and blueberries and eating a bowl of grain loaded carbs became healthy. See what I did?

People ask me regularly, “what do you eat?” and in the beginning of the change I had my moments where I thought I would starve for lack of options. It gets better and easier. Make your old standby, mine was soup. When that gets old, make another old standby, my second one now is a wonderful black bean quinoa loaf, I always have one in the fridge for a quick protein. When you bump up against cravings, ask your body what it wants and then listen. My body regularly tells me when it needs protein, fat and carbs. Some days I eat sprouted whole wheat bread four times and other days I eat nothing but sweet potatoes. I eat according to my body and I feel terrific. By the way, oven roasted sweet potatoes mixed with coconut oil, marjoram and salt is better than candy!!

Some of the many benefits: rosacea disappeared, allergies disappeared (no longer take allergy med), asthma symptoms under control, skin blemish free, weight began dropping, skin tone improved, tons of energy, memory fog gone, vision improved, all joint aches gone, bloated abdomen gone, water retention gone, mood improved, hypothyroidism gone. I am medication free. All previous sensitivities to my environment are gone. My body has reached homeostasis and can react to environmental toxins normally and repel them.

Not going to lie, it is hard to make changes to your diet. Our diets are so wrapped up with emotions and memory and we eat for so many reasons and it is so personal. There will be times that you give up and eat whatever you want but that is okay, when you are ready then get back to eating what makes you feel good. I never think of those times as failures they are the 5% when I eat whatever I want and that makes it that much easier to not ever give up eating what makes me feel good.

Up next…Water our very foundation and eliminating chlorine!

 

 

Your mileage may vary

This is a great message for all…young, old or in-between! Go for the dream! Always go for the dream, everything else will work itself out.

Piaggia Del Giuggiolo

Libba Bray

Recently, I received a post that really got under my skin. It’s from Fiona (Hi, Fiona). I started to dash off a reply and then I thought that it required a much longer, more considered answer. With her permission, I’m reprinting her original comment below followed by my response. My response is lengthy; I apologize. But it is from the heart.

“I’m in a bit of a dilemma and I made a deal with my father that I would get advice from three people: my high school counselor, my voice coach, and an author. I want to go into the fine arts: writing, singing, composing. My father wants me to go to Columbia, Yale, or Harvard. I’d be fine with these but I want to go to a smaller school and then study abroad for at least two years. “It’s my life and this is a decision that will alter…

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No Memorial Service For Me

I recently lost my gram. This beautiful woman was such a vital part of me and was inextricable from my life. I feel as if a part of me has died with her. I was blessed to have been by her bed days before she left us to hold her hand and tell her that everything would be okay and that I loved her. To which she replied very lucid, “I love you too, I really do.”

I attended her memorial service to be there for my mom. She was the sole caretaker for the last years of gram’s life, while the rest of the family were off living their lives or too busy to care for the dying. At the end mom couldn’t even leave the house to go to the store or get the mail and yet the family still did not call or come to help. It was a great burden and took a toll on my moms health.

Mom and I did not want a memorial service for gram. Gram would have hated it. Another family member who is very much about the “show” insisted. That is what a memorial service is, a “show” for those who need to pat each other on the back and reassure each other that they were important to the deceased. Those who stand up and read a poem to the deceased while choking back tears, but hadn’t seen the deceased in years. Or the person who recounts a childhood memory and claims to be the deceased’s favorite but hadn’t seen or talked to the deceased in a decade. Who are these people to stand and speak out about a person that they had not loved or respected enough to come or call in years? Yet they have the gall to stand and speak as if they were a part of this persons life.

The whole service turned my stomach. I left before it was over. At the graveside I had had enough of the posers. They could continue their small patting of the backs and crooning over their very distant memories as they attempted to convince themselves that they showed the deceased love, comfort, concern and basic respect.

Memorial services are for this very type of activity. A funeral service ritual came about out of the necessity to transport bodies long distances after WWII, when the body needed to be preserved at a funeral home and a service held later at the deceased’s hometown. The booming and lucrative funeral service industry was born. Now it is big business to capitalize on people’s guilt. People that were not there for the deceased can assuage their guilt with the best and most luxurious coffin, service and buffet meal after while they read poems, recite memories from decades ago and make themselves feel better about neglecting to cherish a relationship with an aging person that was inconvenient for their life.

I do not want a memorial service. If you want to express your love for me, do it while I am alive. When I leave, those that were there in the end will have a party and drink my favorite wine, telling stories of our mutual adventures together. When I leave my body, cremate me and spread my ashes in my chosen places. No headstone, no grave. I will live on in the hearts and memories of those that loved me and showed up until the end. No posers allowed.

To my gram:

We said our words in person and there was no need for me to pretend that we were important to each other. We were together till your end and I will carry you in my heart till my end.

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