Has it already been five weeks of this Saturday Reading series? I can hardly believe it.
Once again , I am incredibly honored to bring you the inspiring blog work of women and queers of the Internet. This week’s round up includes topics of social and romantic health, nutritional health, community health, and mental health. All of these have been wonderful and inspiring reads for me this week, and I hope you’ll enjoy them too!
First of all, do you know the work of Michelle Tea? You should! She’s a great writer, a down-to-earth writer, a hilarious writer, a smutty writer, a damn power house of a writer. She runs the Sister Spit tour (ANOTHER THING YOU SHOULD KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT) and has written multiple books that I would call my favorites. (Her latest, The Mermaid of Chelsea Creek, is just wonderful.) ANYWAY, this article is a slight departure from her fiction and creative non-fiction. Instead, it is a how-to on the topic of the live-in partner. I live with my current partner and it truly is a special sort of wonderful that can turn into a special sort of terrible if mischief isn’t managed.
Michelle’s article is succinct, to the point, and just straight up helpful. A quote: “There is a saying, and I think it might be Buddhist in origin, which is something like: When you have a problem, you have a problem. Knowing that my darling beloved is sensitive to disorderly spaces and open drawers (an OCD-prone friend calls such things “a hair across my heart”), I do my best to try to keep them closed, with all bra straps tucked neatly inside. But when I forget – and I will, because I am human and/or an Aquarius and the little details can escape me – she doesn’t make a thing about it. She has the problem, and she does something about it. I think this is a good tactic, generally. Like, if you want something done in the house, just do it yourself. It’s faster, it’s easier, there is less disturbance. Of course, you have to be really okay with it and not all resentful.”
There you go. TRUE, right? Do your relationship (romantic or otherwise!) a favor and read the whole thing. It’s lovely.
I knew this all-vegan magazine existed, but had never picked it up. I somehow stumbled across this web sneak preview (I’m talking 85 pages worth of sneak preview!) this week and was totally blown away. Not only are the recipes inside very Lacy-friendly (meaning vegan, gluten free, whole foods based and not sugary) they are also photographed BEAUTIFULLY. Healthy food can be so inviting and appealing, and as I delve deeper into the work of Super Strength Health I find myself really geeking out on the lush look of fruits and vegetables. This magazine totally touches on the part of me that wants to look at pretty stuff in good lighting while sipping a green smoothie all. damn. day. Check it out!
First of all, let’s talk about the term bossy, just briefly. YES, as an assertive woman I am called bossy all the time. YES, I think if I were male it would be referred to as “Powerful”. YES, I think that is total bullshit. I also identify as “femme”, which you can read all about in this article.
Bossy Femme just SPEAKS to me. This article lists just some of the things that make up a femme identity. An example:
“Femme is defiance. Femme ignores the male gaze & tells patriarchy to fuck off. Femme is a refusal of the pressure to be thinner, whiter, pimple-free, wrinkle-free, smaller, quieter. Femme says that we’ll take the short skirts but you can keep the catcalls to yourself.”
YES feminine, NO perfectionism, YES dressing with flair, NO to jerks taking that as invitation to make their thoughts heard. (News flash: you are a random man on the street who likes what they see of my outfit? NO FUCKS GIVEN. You are another woman who wants to tell me I look great? WELL SHOOT. I’ll take it. SORRY NOT SORRY.)
4. Affirmationz and Gratitude List- started by Me, cause I can include my own projects, right?
I started an affirmation and gratitude group this month, and I love it. Basically, members write in with their intentions and appreciations for the day and we share it with one another via Google Groups. The act of writing these lists daily has helped me get super clear on what I’m doing with my time and energy. It has helped me grow a keen awareness of the things that happen (even on the bad days!) that have been sweet, helpful, or nice. Reading other member’s lists has helped me to feel like I am a part of someone’s community and like I have a gaggle of people I can root and cheer for. It’s amazing! Some days I am lonely, exhausted, overworked, or discontent and my daily digest will pop into my inbox and I feel refreshed. You should give this practice a shot! (and if you want to join our group, as long as you’re not a creep, get in contact!)
Laci Green is simply awesome. The video speaks for itself!
Have a wonderful weekend!
Hi everybody! I’m Dr. Davis!*
I was sick to my stomach for most of my life, and recently, through a series of methods, I have mostly healed myself. I want to tell you all about it.
First there was chronic illness. As a child, through puberty, before I went vegan, after I went vegan. I had a brief reprieve from stomach pain when I gave up gluten, but then it returned. My stomach hurt before I struggled with eating disorder behaviors, had a moment of peace when I basically wasn’t eating at all and then got much, much worse in the process of my recovery.
When I say my stomach was sick I mean this: Sometimes it was so tender and bloated that I couldn’t leave the house. I struggled with intense gassiness and literally every single thing I ate seemed to make it worse. I would grow exhausted from dealing with chronic pain and simply want to sleep. I never felt like having sex because I felt like the least sexy person ever. My belly was so distended that people constantly asked me if I was pregnant. Sometimes my poop would be liquid for months, sometimes I couldn’t go at all.
I went to the doctor. First a primary care physician, then a specialist. I had test after test after test and they all came back negative.
“IBS!” they said. “Just a little IBS!”
“How do I fix that?” I asked
They just shrugged in response and suggested regular use of Pepto Bismol.
I did not agree that that could possibly be a long term answer.
I beat myself up terribly for my stomach, cried, felt ashamed and embarrassed. I tried eliminating so many different foods to fix it that I lost count.
I went to acupuncture, they needled my abdomen and gave me herbs. Both were great for a spell of time, but then my pocketbook told me that wasn’t a good answer for the long term. Acupuncture is amazing and incredible and very expensive unless you want to be in a room full of multiple people getting work done at the same time, which is not for me. I needed my healing to be private.
When the Paleo diet first hit the scenes and claimed to fix “leaky gut” I was all over it, because the symptoms sounded exactly like what I had. I was not willing to eat meat for ethical reasons, but I did add pasture raised eggs to my meals and did my best approximation of a bean free/grain free lifestyle.
It did not help long term, and for me, it didn’t feel balanced. I knew in my heart that I felt best mentally on a vegan diet and that the only sustainable cure for my gut health was going to have to be plant based.
I have experimented with every single suggestion under the sun for the past year, as long as the suggestion was vegan and inexpensive enough for me to afford on a teacher budget. I don’t always do every single one of these things, but when I remember to, the culture of my stomach drastically changes, which feels like a complete miracle. I write this for you as a working list (Please feel free to add suggestions!) in hopes that if you live with chronic stomach pain, we can work miracles for you too.
So, here we go.
Soak beans and grains, sprout them, and simmer them with kombu: After my Paleo vegetarian stint I cannot tell you how much I loved adding in both grains and beans to my diet. It is IMPERATIVE for me to make these things at home (especially beans) because your run-of-the-mill restaurant prep of these foods makes me feel totally sick. I soak, rinse, sprout, rinse, simmer in a crockpot or rice cooker with a seaweed called Kombu, scoop off the white frothy stuff that comes up when they first start to cook (for beans), and wait to add salt until the end of cooking. My bean and grain prep is rigorous and it is extremely helpful in terms of digestion.
Probiotics: These little dudes can be expensive and sometimes aren’t vegan, which is a drag. But! I found out the ones at Trader Joe’s are very wallet friendly and don’t contain animal products. They are shelf stable (I don’t need to keep them in the fridge) and useful if I have an IBS attack. I tend to pop ‘em whether or not I’m feeling sick for preventative measure too.
Digestive enzymes: I take one or two of these before meals in times when my stomach is not doing so hot, but these days I mostly don’t need them. I keep them in my arsenal for when I eat food that is spicy, beany, or rich. In general restaurant foods don’t sit that awesomely with me, and I don’t want to live a life without restaurants. Enzymes help.
If you can’t poop or you have diarrhea: One cup unsweetened almond milk, 1-2 tablespoon chia seeds, 2-3 tablespoons gluten free oats, ¼ cup blueberries. Shake up and let sit for 2 hours-overnight. Gobble up (it tastes awesome) and you will have the bowel movement of a lifetime within 12 hours. Works every time.
Blend your raw fruits and vegetables: Salads SOMETIMES work for me, on a really good day with no stomach pain, if I chew slowly, and take a digestive enzyme beforehand. Sometimes I don’t want to chew my greens sixty million times and I still want the nutritional benefits. The answer is my Vitamix. Raw soups and smoothies for the win.
Eat a varied diet: I tried eliminating many things in an effort to fix my guts. I was already vegan, then added eggs, then went vegan again. I gave up gluten, processed soy, apples/pears with the skins on, beans, grains, peanuts, bananas, cauliflower and broccoli, nightshade vegetables, and who knows what else, all at different times. Every time I gave something up, I had a week or two of good digestion, and then something would mess it all up again. It felt like I was getting new intolerances every day and like I would soon not be able to eat a damn thing.
I am a creature of habit. I go through long periods of eating the same foods every single day. As my diet got more and more particular the chances that I would have little variation only increased. Here’s the thing: my stomach gets irritated with too much of whatever. If I am not rotating my food, the gut gets all “what the hell is this shit, kale salad AGAIN?” and gets angry at me. Rotate your foods. I don’t know why it works, but for me, it really really does.
Lessen coffee consumption: When I started nutrition school and found an audio lecture about IBS, I gobbled it up. FINALLY! I thought. Someone gives enough of a shit about IBS to spend some time talking about it! Within five minutes of that lecture my enthusiasm waned. The lecturer said the very first thing to do, the thing you should do if nothing else, is eliminate coffee and other forms of caffeine to reduce IBS suffering. At the time I heard this, I was drinking roughly 32 oz. of coffee per day (We all have our vices!) and couldn’t imagine my life without it.
Because I have been working on ditching all-or-nothing/black-or-white thinking I decided I would just lesson my caffeine. I am now having about 8 oz. of coffee in the morning and maybe a cup of green tea later in the afternoon if I need it. Let me tell you, you don’t need to quit coffee to feel the gut benefits of lowering caffeine. My switch has been a game changer.
Chew and eat slowly: I have always eaten my food quickly, and once I experienced an eating disorder, it got worse. It’s like my body got so used to famine that when food was in front of me I felt like I had to eat it as quickly as humanly possible. NOT COOL, especially when you eat a lot of fiber like I do. The solution is totally to chew, and I try to put my fork down between bites as a reminder. Some people say chew each bite 50 times, but I think a chill 15-25 is more my speed.
Manage stress: The first thing I do when I’m stressed out is fart. THERE, I SAID IT. In order to deal with my life of projects, jobs, interpersonal relationships, and productivity, I need to chill once in awhile. I’m talking meditation (which I prefer to do while taking walks, sue me!), deep breaths, setting daily goals and intentions so as not to get overwhelmed, exercise, stretching, and taking time to make gratitude lists.
For so long, I sorta knew about most of this stuff, but just simply didn’t want to put in the energy to do it, because it pissed me off that being vegan and gluten free wasn’t enough. Since I decided to become rigorous about the healing of my gut, the quality of my life has improved tenfold. I AM WORTH IT, PEOPLE and I’m sure as hell that you are too. If your guts have been the source of a lot of trauma in your life, I highly encourage you to do all of the above. Little changes have made a huge difference for me.
What do you other stomach sensitive people do to keep your guts in check?
*Disclaimer, I am in no way, shape, or form a Doctor. Also DUH, that image is from The Simpsons, and not drawn by me.
It’s National Eating Disorder Awareness week.
Every year this week rolls around the week before my birthday. I am always prone to reflection when February turns to March, because holy SHIT I survived another year and that’s AMAZING considering everything. This year it feels particularly poignant because I am just about to turn 30.
All the time people ask me how I recovered from my eating disorder, which is funny because what is recovery really? It can be dangerous to talk about eating disorders like they are things of the past, because let’s be real—once your brain goes there it can certainly always go there again. That being said, I feel really, really good about my choices around food, body image, and exercise right now, and that feels like nothing short of a miracle.
I’m thinking a lot about how to recover this week and this is what I have to say.
- A lot of people around you have eating disorders. A lot of diets are eating disorders. A lot of people will validate weight loss because they live in a culture of eating disorders. If you know that, and really disagree with that on principal, you are a step closer to recovering. Congratulations.
- If you can find a way to fill your time with things you love and that inspire you, you can eventually be okay. Maybe you’re obsessive compulsive like I was, maybe you spend your time counting calories or watching the number on the scale. That is fucking boring and a waste of your brain. Funnel that shit! Knit or sew or write or become obsessed with some form of creativity instead. You will have more for your efforts, and your obsession with creativity will not kill you. Use that voice of evil for good.
- Go outside. The world is fucking vast, my dudes. The sky is beautiful and will envelope you, the ocean will freak your shit with its enormity. Let yourself be small in comparison to how big the world is and know that that’s all the small you need to be. It doesn’t matter how big you feel, the sky is bigger.
- Find someone you love and have them tell you what they love about you, all the time. My partner now tells me the things he likes about me and my body as soon as I get sad, because I have spent years asking him to tell me that I am pretty as soon as tears started to well. People will tell you to concentrate on features besides your physical beauty, but I think that’s bullshit. You can be smart, funny, motivated, giving, whatever. But you still have the right to know you’re hot. If you can’t think that for yourself, find others who can. I know it’s not all about the body, but be real. Everyone wants to hear they look good.
- Be sad. Like, really fucking sad. Just cry a bunch and then get mad at how societal pressure is making you cry. Get so, so mad. Listen to Bikini Kill. Maybe start a band to funnel all your sad and mad into. Sad and mad can be great. They have power.
- Tell everyone about your eating disorder and your recovery. Because shame keeps people sick and because the world needs good examples. Recovering from an eating disorder is the hardest thing I have ever done, and I want to tell everyone all about it. It’s more important than my Master’s degree, more important than my job. Recovering from an eating disorder is my personal Mt. Everest. I will shout it from the roof top. I DON’T PUKE ANYMORE, PEOPLE. Go me.
- Make food and exercise choices that you would want little girls to make. I lift heavy weights and run fast and bike up hills and eat vegan. I would tell any little girl to do the same. I would never tell a little girl to eat in ways that leave her hungry or spend hours on an elliptical machine if she didn’t like to do that. I wouldn’t tell a girl that she needs to do anything to make up for foods she ate. I wouldn’t tell a little girl to throw up or say terrible mean things to herself or skip her next meal because she ate a cupcake. I would hug that little girl, because little girls are fucking golden.
And guess what. You’re golden too. Even if you have eating disorder behaviors forever, you’re probably still great. Just try one or two of those things I suggested. They might help you be greater.