May 30, 2011

DISCONNECT

I am watching the footage of flood tornado
tornado flood ravaged large swaths of our mid-section
that middle America piece of us with a River
a mighty River running through us, be she Mississippi or Missouri
that piece of our land where farmers grow our midsections fat
plant our American midsection fat with corn
that piece of us which takes its lead from Mother.
The greatest Mother. One to be feared, who unleashes her Power and Fury.

Seeing pictures of the people, the average people, the poor people
the basic people of this mid-section...they survive.
They hold on, barely.
They are us, and not lucky.
There but for Grace, Amazing Grace, go I.

These people have all mushroomed in the past 40 to 50 years.
Actually, there is no "these people" as it is All We.
We have all mushroomed.
Compare group photos of US 40 years ago. Bodies now viewed
as almost thin, sleek, fit.

Watching the parade of tragedy and the people affected,
the nightly footage is relentless and almost predictable.
The reporter in L.L.Bean or Columbia wear, crosses a flooded street,
stands in the middle of some tragedy of tangled trees and homes,
showing us the visibly damaged homes, towns, lives
which we get to watch comfortably dry and unscathed
in living rooms on sofas which have also mushroomed.

As I watch, I see the extreme pain, tragedy, suffering
of people who can least afford more pain and hardship
in their too hard lives.
I look and cannot help but also see the disease and disability
which these "unlucky I" concomitantly suffer.
These but for fortune unlucky I
not only suffer their typical daily, weekly survival;
now made worse by Mother River, Mother Rain, Tornado
they suffer too the painful facts of their disease and disability.

The diabetes which eats away bodies as surely as any past plague.
The straining hearts aching from being over larded, aching too from
Mother River, Mother Rain, Tornado's wrath.
The teen aged girls who are too young to be so large,
their mothers too young to be obese,
and the pregnant men.
All of the men carry at least four month olds, a few are full term.

This over larded midsection carries the ache of loss
and the ache of disease and inflammation.
The fiery burn of stomach acid tossed into mouths made
bitter from unexpected tornado flood loss, and disease.

I watch the nightly view of destruction and ask:
What is wrong with a cultural, societal, group ethic
which believes that the remedy is better than prevention?

We've created a multi-billion dollar industry to remedy us.
To fill us with potions and pills to treat our mushrooming midsections.
The remedy industry.
The people who do not question
that popping pills to cure our pains and ills
is an acceptable way to deal with mushrooming disease.

The pill for erectile dysfunction,
for an intestinal tract burning, screaming daily for respite.
For cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar
mushroomed too high from our groaning excess.

An industry which accepts the presumption
that mushrooming people is not the problem
rather just treat the results of being over larded.
Cure with a remedy.
One which we're quite happy to sell you.
We'll take your money, little as it is.

A cultural normal of remedy rather than prevent
creates entire industries creates employment creates profit
for those who traffic in the pain of others.

Pharmaceuticals employ our educated doctors schooled to
dispense pills
not facts about disrupting the too large midsection's
cause of inflammation, disease, burning pain.

Our larded mid-sections cause diabetes, heart disease, erectile missteps,
intestinal woes, arthritis, dementia, loss of vision, even cancer.
Pharmaceuticals provide financial security for retirement accounts and
ad agents. Our six o'clock TV ads exhibit the inflamed sufferings
of our midsections, all one cause, remedied with sundry pills.
The 20 second new age tech and networking ads for heartburn, erectile
relief streamed through computer, smart phone.
Please God keep the need for pills to feed our profits.

The hospital-medical industry thrives along with pharmaceuticals.
The one job segment not losing workers to China, India, Singapore.
Affording women decent pay as nurses; medical tech jobs still abound
in markets bereft of hope.
Physicians unschooled, unpaid to teach real relief not gotten from a pill.
Thus the teaching doesn't happen.

We surrender ourselves to the care of the uncaring.

Who in the national discourse sees the DISCONNECT
between the growing girth of us, the incessant cultural picture
of inactive too doughy icons who use, or will soon need to use
pharmaceutical products.
Who links the growth of our mid-sections with the growth of medical cost?
Our mushrooming bodies yield mushrooming bills, debt,
private, state and federal.

We see eating, having fun having jolly
laughing more jolly reflections of us,
having fun as we down the things
which cause disease and pain.

Who is talking about the insanity of continuing what we have
made readily cheaply available for people to eat.
The too salted, fatted overly refined grains shaped into cleaver
new scoops to hold a newly discovered dip.
The candy everywhere society.
The college and high school campus selling candy
large parents bringing sweet treats for their large star performers.
Sugar, candy, fat, salt, processed is everywhere.

Organizations we trust, we give money to, those paragons whose mission
is to advocate for public health, our health:
American Cancer Society
American Heart Association
American Diabetes Association
Kaiser and worthy others...tell us continually:
EAT MORE FRESH FRUIT AND VEGETABLES.
LESS PROCESSED FOODS AND MEAT.
MORE WHOLE GRAINS. LESS SUGAR. LESS SALT.
LESS FRIED IN FAT WHICH EXACERBATES INFLAMMATION.

The telling, the message, the accepted voice of what we are to do
tells us to consume that which is most difficult to find.
Most costly.
Not easy to prepare when we have forfeited our daily kitchen skills
when we must deal with two jobs to keep us together,
when we must deal with no job and still try to keep us together.
Difficult to find food when one travels away from home, on the road.
Certainly unobtainable after Mother River, Mother Rain, Tornado hit.

What we presently have is hurting us. A DISCONNECT from the reality of need.
Need for icons, systems, cultural supports, cultural norms which afford
relief from disease and pain. Relief from our burgeoning pill box.
I have seen the pain. I continue to see the pain.
We all hurt because of this DISCONNECT.

May 27, 2011

Sweet Doggie Reilly


She is old; soon to be 13 the end of June, 2011. She is deaf; lost her hearing about 3 years ago. She has a growth under her left front paw pit (what would be a human arm pit). She no longer is in the lead when we walk. She's taken doggie Callie's spot before she died, in the rear. My new doggie Leo is now in the lead, with me in the middle, and Reilley dutifully keeping pace.

She is now so very precious to me. Margaret brought her home, to give Callie a friend to play with during our too long work days. Reilley was 6 months old when I first saw her. A too large head, baby teeth which were too widely spaced apart, and a willful attitude which caused her to run away her first day with us. The woman who found her was a dog lover and all was good, but she gave us a scare from the get-go. Callie remained the alpha dog, and Reilley was happy to do Callie's bidding.
Callie was my favorite because of her extreme sensitivity to my moods and the way she could vocalize her pleasure at being held. When Callie died in August 2008 at 13.5 years old, I was thrilled to have Reilley as a living reminder of Margaret.

Now each day, I realize how very precious Reilley's life is to me. I love her smell, a blend of sun drenched dog hair and musky dog. I love her otter shaped head and looks, her loving vocalizations, her ability to know my hand commands and the easy routine we have fallen into. Two walks a day, two meals a day, a "treat" of Mary's vegetables and some grain at noon when Mary cooks lunch, her doggie bed, and the backyard which she is no longer interested in. Her life is 18 to 20 hours of naps and sleep, and 4 to 6 hours of fending off Leo's humping attacks. She is tolerant. She is patient. She is loving. She is precious. She is Border Terrier.

And I will have another loss to deal with when she passes. I pray that we have at least two more years together.

May 26, 2011

Fortune

I realize, deeply, daily, several times daily, that I take into my being,
into my totality,
the fact of my good fortune.
I have been granted my deepest prayer.

I have prayed lifelong, daily: God Help Me To Realize
That Loving You
is the Most Important Thing in my life.
I can honestly say that I have this.
Now.
At this time of my life.

And it came to fruition with Judaism.
I vowed during my Immersion into Living Waters,
my Conversion to a part of my being which always
felt that it was, but truly was not.

I did not understand and now I have so very much to understand
and absorb.
But which feels joyful, loving, beautiful. I have added Beauty to my life.
In comes daily in the form of Torah.
Torah has entered into my consciousness, into my being, into my depths.
At my Immersion I vowed that I would stop the sense of fruitlessness,
of negation, of grief
which twinged my totality.

I am now understanding at a deep level that I have
tremendous love for The Divine/The Oversoul/
The Melech of Creation/Adonai/Eloheinu/Shekinah/YHWH/God/
All Powers/Unfathomable/Unknowable/Compassionate/
Loving/Forgiving/Merciful/Creator of All.
I access this sense of love often.

How fortunate I am that I continue to have a spiritual community.
Such community has been in my life more years than not and I again have this.
People with whom I resonate,
with whom I can praise, glorify, sanctify, worship, love The Divine/Adonai...publicly, for all to see and feel and be part of.
A Rhythm of Rituals, Festivals, Social Being; of Divinity, Gratitude and Praise.

Which fills me with tremendous joy; and new purpose. New goals. New study and learning allowing me to continue to go deeply into my innermost being.

Which is where I like to be.

Your Emotional Grace

Mary began an eight week support group: Your Emotional Grace at the conclusion of her healing nutrition classes hosted by the Ventura Unitarian Church: Your Body's Grace. She wanted to create a support group for women who required more and intensive prodding to deal with their negative self image. This negative self image which many women carry, which eats at the very heart and fabric of their being. It eats at their emotional health and is the primary factor in their poor physical health, reflected in their poor eating choices. Women are intimately connected to their sense of self via their bodies. Our looks, attractiveness, physical appeal to others has become a way for women to judge their worth.

I wish it were not so.
I wish that all women could realize that the true basis of their worth is the goodness of their actions towards others, the goodness of their intentions, the love they show towards others, the manifestation of God's Spark in their souls.
As the first century B.C.E. Jewish Sage, Hillel said (and this is the foundation for: Love thy neighbor as thy self):
"What is hateful unto you, do not do unto your neighbor."
This is the true merit of our being. Not our looks. Not our looks.

Thus once again, I conducted a group to provide women a safe place to share and become vulnerable to confront deep issues, fears, which keep them stuck in negative habits and thoughts. I have previously conducted such groups, thus felt comfortable with my charge:
(Taken from my 'mission statement' for this group)
I will call this group: Your Emotional Grace. You will learn that what you eat intimately affects your emotions, as well as a host of other body functions.
I will ask you to look at yourselves and to trust that you can tell what you find to other women who vow to not disdain you, to not mock you, to totally respect and hear what you have to say. If you become vulnerable to this group, you will be safe. These women may even come to love you.
This is what I expect and will do my best to assure its cultivation.
We will discuss your deeply held perceptions which have proven to be negative for you. We will find ways to change these perceptions and grow.


Now, at the conclusion of the eight weeks, I am thrilled to note here, publicly, that all of the eight women in this group have in fact made major strides in their emotional/physical selves.

With the goal of aiding women who also seek support to change the negative patterns/thoughts which keep them trapped in a body which they dislike (even despise), I am publishing the questions I've posed to this group to help their transformation.

Group I
1) What is your ethnicity and where did you grow up?
2) Do you cook? If yes, for how long have you done so, and do you feel comfortable doing it? If no, do you want to cook? What stops you?
3) What belief(s) about yourself do you wish to change?
4) When did you first come to believe this thought/idea/"fact" about yourself?
5) How has this thought/idea/"fact" served you in the past?
6) How does it no longer serve you?
7) Name at least 3 things (more of course!) that you do well, have mastered, are more than competent in. (I'm looking for you to talk about the achievements in your life.)

Group II
1) What DO you trust about yourself, and why?
2) When do you begin to take YOUR needs seriously? When do you honor what YOU need?
3) At what point in eating does the comfort turn to discomfort?
4) What does food numb you to?
5) List 3 ways you can increase your physical activity.
6) Stay CONSCIOUS/AWARE of how your naming of a belief which no longer serves you has begun to effect change in yourself. How the desire to change is actually aiding the process of change.

Group III
CONCEPT: It is NOT deprivation to not eat food which causes pain. (Pain of physical discomfort, emotional discomfort, actual disease and disability.) This is not about deprivation; it is about "having." When you feel better physically/emotionally then you are more alive; and are able to share your aliveness with others.

CONCEPT: Dieting will ALWAYS fail because in "dieting" we so deprive ourselves of sufficient calories AND nutrients, that we can only "take it" for so long before our cells literally scream for what we need. When we lack nutrients, we simply crave calories; thinking that the extra calories will meet our nutrient needs. Thus we don't crave say high iron foods when we are anemic, rather we crave the sugary/salty/fatty foods which simply supply calories -- LOTS of calories.
Also, "dieting" is fundamentally seen as "temporary", thus the desire to be "off" the diet.

CONCEPT: The process of changing WHAT you eat literally changes the cellular makeup of your body, which changes your emotions.

CONCEPT: The process of changing HOW you think, changing your thoughts, also literally changes the neuropathways in our brain. We begin to create new neuron pathways leading to new thoughts, new feelings. We open up to new possibilities. We don't get stuck in negative thoughts about ourselves which keep us from feeling totally alive. Joyful. Grateful. Loving.

1) Write about the women who have modeled for you hot to "be" regarding food, your body image, your worth, your work.
2) Regarding feeling "not good enough" write about how your life evidences PLENTY, BEING LOVED, YOUR GENEROSITY. What do you have ENOUGH of? For what are you grateful?
3) MIRROR WORK: each time you encounter a mirror in a private place (typically a bathroom): Look deeply into your eyes and say: "I love and accept myself exactly as I am."
4) Begin to become clear about exactly what is shifting for you. Be able to say what is happening in your body, in how you perceive your self, your abilities.
5) Stay CONSCIOUS/AWARE of how your naming of a belief which no longer serves you has begun to effect change in yourself. How your desire for change is actually aiding the process of change.

Group IV
CONCEPT: YOU ARE THE PARENT TO YOUR BODY. As such, as a parent would, do all things concerning your body with Unconditional Love, Patience, Acceptance, Trust in Good Outcome. This is truly about cherishing your body, your Self. Your body as a reflection of God.
As humans, we change because of abject fear, terror, shock...or love.

1) Formulate, state the NEW belief you are forming for yourself. (First state the OLD belief, then the NEW one.)
2) State in detail how you are making the new belief happen.
3) What are you doing for movement/exercise? Be specific.
4) Continue your Mirror Work.

Group V
CONCEPT: Understand that one can NOTICE, WITHOUT FORMING A JUDGEMENT.
You can notice things about yourself, your feelings, your attitudes, your body, as well as notice these things in others....and accept and love, rather than judge.

Remember that each time you do for yourself, any act of daily maintenance, from paying bills, to cleaning, shopping, cooking, housework, even eating.....do it with love. Each time you do for yourself without love, notice this and ask yourself why.
Why not kindness for yourself?

Also, take NO PRIDE in changing how and what you eat. This is NOT about feeling superior to others. Parenting oneself, caring for oneself is not a matter for pride, it is just something we do because we must do it; as a parent must care for their child. As you change your food choices to achieve self care, remember that Hitler was a vegetarian. If we judged one's character based upon what they ate, we would be woefully woefully wrong.

1) What are your beliefs about moving your body?
Continue to stay CONSCIOUS/AWARE of your process of change.


Group VI
In this group we cooked a meal together. We cooked and ate from Mary's "Triad": Protein/Vegetables/Whole Grains.

We had a feast of quinoa; Chinese style tofu and vegetables; Italian style tofu and vegetables; and for those who wished, sauteed shrimp with spinach. We also feasted on homemade crackers and guacamole dip; vegetarian chili beans; and a 3 bean salad. Dessert was a fresh assortment of berries and soy cream.

As we cooked we discussed easy and practical cooking tips, keeping it simple, and no need for fear!

As we ate we discussed how one knows what Satiety/Satisfaction feel like; how to know when to stop eating. And we discussed the process of becoming overweight: how one accommodates the body to slowly and continually being able to eat more. The slow progression of gastro-intestinal problems, aches and pains, poor lab results, dislike of movement, etc. And how likewise, in the reverse process of gaining a body of health, one must slowly and continually accommodate the new feelings of eating less, eating different choices. The things one must stay aware of in regard to what is placed in our mouths. Just as we stay quite aware of what is placed in our bodies, on our bodies.

Group VII
This group consisted of Mary doing individual assessments of each woman's progress.
Nearly all of the eight women were able to fundamentally change their old, no-longer-useful negative self perceptions.

One of the women who felt "not good enough" was clearly able to see that: "There is no such thing as earning the right to be." She is involved in a Course in Miracles and could thus state, with conviction: "Illusion recognized must disappear."

One of women who believed that her entire life is chaos was able to sense a paradigm shift in her perceptions about stress. She had begun to recognize: the point that her stress begins in her day (vs. previously never recognizing stress, and automatically thinking the generalization that her entire life is chaos; and using food to numb to this overwhelming belief). She was now able to drink water, breathe deeply, read, walk, garden, and make better food choices as ways to deal with stress.

Several of the women stated what they are NO LONGER BUYING in the grocery store (ice cream, crackers, chips, chocolate, and white flour products, white rice and refined grain products).
Awareness of what you no longer eat is a wonderful way to see what you now allow into your being/for your being.

For the eighth and final session, the women were asked to respond to these questions:
1) Please state as specifically as you can, how your life has changed in the past eight weeks re: Your Body; Your Appetite/Cravings; Your Moods; Your Sense of Self and Your Love of Yourself.
2) Can you foresee things changing back to how you previously felt? How "ingrained" is your knowing that how you feel now is better?
3) How would you change the group process to improve your experience?

Group VIII
At this final session the women responded to the questions above, as well as reiterating the things they planned to do to continue their changes. And generally, Mary reminded them of the need to Parent Their Bodies: to eat well to create a healthy "cellular soup" for their mental as well as their physical health. To use deep breathing as a tool to relieve stress. To create new intentions and attitudes about loving yourself. To use Mirror Work and KINDNESS TO YOUR SOUL to allow you to totally remove guilt and self abnegation. AND, to take pleasure in eating and doing that which allows you to remain whole, vital, and alive.