New York Times Article “Five Easy Ways to Go Organic”

October 23, 2007

Here is an article in the New York Times that lists five steps families (especially those with children) can take towards going organic. Since I think many of us have given up the idea of large numbers of people making significant, big changes that are better for the planet, the best we can hope for is a lot of people making a lot of small changes. This will at least somewhat lessen and slow the damage – to ourselves and the planet – where possible. And articles like this are a great place to start.

I must say that the first suggestion in the article about milk seems important if you drink milk, but having switched to soy milk a few years ago (it does take some getting used to) you also might want to think about that. You can avoid the pesticides and hormones that way too, and its healthier for you and happier for cows. They have made great strides in soy milk (and they now have soy creamer which looks white just like milk which, for some reason I really like).

For other postings on the environment, you can see my post “I could keep living generally the way I wanted” which actually sort of contradicts my somewhat new-found resignation to incrementalism, reflected above. There was also a recent post on environmental legislation vs. personal conservation over at Looking for Faith. You can also read about how our clothes choices and food choices impact the environment here and here.
Happy planet saving!

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On not being that sick anymore and hope.

October 5, 2007

Some of you who have been reading this for a while or who know me know that I was sick for a long time. No one really knew with what. Various diagnosis included chronic fatigue syndrome, allergies, candidiasis, irritable bowel syndrome, low DHEA, “everything is just out of wack and we don’t know why” (a doctor actually once said this to me), and what I like to call the “you’re just fine maybe you should get therapy” diagnosis. Nobody really knew, is what it came down to. On top of this, I also inherited a pretty strong predisposition to depression and anxiety from both sides of my family which seemed to be totally unrelated to any sort of situation – just a general predisposition to sadness and anxiety.

This was quite serious from about 16 until I was 20 and had been problematic but sort of touch and go since then. Until about a year and a half ago when I started going to an acupuncturist in Cambridge. Over the year and I half I have been seeing her, things have improved a lot. Less sadness. Less stomach aches. Less headaches. More energy. Until. One. Day. They were gone.

I joined a gym. Three years ago, walking the five minute walk from my car to classes was an ordeal. I can’t believe I can join a gym, exercise, and still be able to breath and get out of bed and move my arms and legs without exhaustion. I take the lowest doses possible of antidepressants, and I think it is only a short time until… until those are no longer part of my life.

I write all of this because a lot of people seem to find this blog by googling chronic illness or sickness or chronic fatigue syndrome. When I was sick NOTHING anyone told me helped. I was sick of recommendations of doctors. Of treatments. Of cheerleading about how well I was handling it. Sick of people telling me I looked pale and maybe I should see a doctor. Sick sick SO sick of trying to explain to ANOTHER f’ing doctor my symptoms, previous attempts at treatment, and of this constant feeling that because no one could figure out what was wrong with me that somehow, maybe, I wasn’t really that sick and was sort of making myself sick because, well, you know, I was struggling with depression.

So this is not a cheerleading session to those who are experiencing chronic illness. You might get better. You might not. But, I guess what it is a statement of hope that you really might not be like this forever. That there are people in the healing arts – doctors, alternative medicine practitioners, other chronically ill folks who believe you. Who will listen to you. I guess I just want to say that you can get better, even when it looks pretty damn dark and miserable.

I am so thankful to be so much better. Thankful for my acupuncturist who listens to every little thing that my body does and feels and wants to know it, and doesn’t judge or imply that maybe it isn’t there or maybe it is because of something I am doing wrong.

We are taught that our bodies – our sickness – somehow happens to us. Or that we cause it. When it is really neither. We are in relationship with our bodies – we are our bodies – yet, they have a mind of their own. Both. And. And neither.

May we love our bodies. May we be fully in them – listening to them – open to the healing that can take place, yet gentle on ourselves knowing that incongruence between body and soul and spirit is both real and something we might be able to draw closer together. When I was sick I hated my body not cooperating with me. Yet, I had to also to come to terms with it being me. Me being it. Yet, also not.

This might not make sense. But I think especially for those who have been there, it might. I hope it does. I wish you so much hope. And a life without pain. Without that constant need for assessment – how is my stomachkneeheadfoottoe today?

In deep deep thankfulness for not feeling tired and sad and sick so much of the time,

and with heartfelt prayers for those who are still struggling with this,

E


Maybe I am a charasmatic UU?

October 1, 2007

So the search for a home church is on. It is so much harder than I thought it would be and brings up all sorts of issues. One of the main ones is: I want to want to go to my church. I don’t want to go to church because I should join a church. I don’t need to be ultimately fulfilled each and every Sunday. Everything does not have to be perfect, but I need to find a church that I am excited to go to. And for this to work, I need to feel something during worship. And I need to feel welcome and not awkward. This has both to do with me and my mindset, as well as the way churches are. This brings me back to my megachurch days where there was a whole team of people trying to make church welcoming and enjoyable and they did a great job. I know that this can cross the line and turn into “church lite” or all warm fuzzy feelings without grappling with the hard challenges. But, for me, it didn’t. What it meant is that I could bring my coffee to worship with me, people were friendly and nice to me, I could sing along with the songs and feel them, and I could even get so excited about a song or about something that was being said that I could put my hand up in the air and say “amen!” All the prayers were not written out – they came from people’s hearts right then and there. And the sermons were not all written out – they were not polished or perfect, but they were more spontaneous. There was a sense that we didn’t have to control everything, or think everything out, and we could give some of ourselves, even recklessly give ourselves, over to some power that was awesome and overwhelming. I am not trying to hark back to the good old days of megachurch life – there were lots of problems with it too. But I guess what I am trying to express is a desire for something more charismatic. For something to get lost in and overwhelmed by. For something more welcoming and less stifled feeling. It sucks so much feeling like an outsider each Sunday. Is there a way to make visitors not feel like outsiders? Maybe it is impossible. I don’t know.

It is important for me to stress the balance here – this is not meant to be some sort of indictment of Unitarian Universalism. I feel like too often individuals’ struggles with an aspect of UUism turns into a “Gosh, UUism can’t get anything right.” So I don’t mean to imply that there is some sort of crisis and we need to rethink everything. I suppose I am reflecting on whether or not I am longing for something that we are not. For me, and others that want get overwhelmed by God and lost in the spirit and warmly welcomed by people who really seem to want us there, is this just something we need to find somewhere else? Or can this be us? Or is it asking us to be too many things to too many different people?

p.s. Afterthought: I wonder if this has more to do with being in New England than being in Unitarian Universalist churches? Or, if it has more to do with me feeling more at home in churches that are like the one I grew up with and it is really about me and not the churches I’m visiting? Probably all of this plays into it.