Wednesday, April 24, 2013

March Against Monsanto - May 25, Everywhere

 Think you have the right to know if you're eating genetically modified foods? May 25th is the day to speak out against Monsanto, the agricultural biotech company that doesn't think you do. Cities all over are planning grassroots rallies and marches for this worldwide protest. The success of this event depends And me. Which is why I've stepped up to help organize my city's event.
Click here to learn more, and to find the Facebook event page for your city.
- Click here to check out my post "Whole Foods Market and GMOs in the News."


Friday, April 19, 2013

Best Food Finds

   I've been pretty adventurous with my healthy eating lately, scrolling through my Pinterest "likes" and trying new things. I thought I'd share a few of the very best finds I've made lately.

  From Amanda's Apron comes Sweet and Spicy Strawberry Pizza. It sounds weird, yes, but it's amazing! If spicy isn't your thing, leave out the hot sauce and you'll still have a scrumptiously sweet strawberry pizza.

  I started eating Clif bars during my time as a vegan, and continue to buy them occasionally at school because they have good, real food ingredients. Or so I thought.

   Melissa, at My Whole Food Life, revealed that one of the ingredients, Soy Protein Isolate, actually contains MSG. That's definitely not good. And besides, fresh is always better for you because there's no need for preservatives to keep the food edible on the store shelves for months. I've had mixed experiences with granola bar-type recipes, but I decided to try out Melissa's homemade Clif bars. I'm glad I did! They're delicious, and best of all, you can customize them. So far, I've made them plain with chocolate chips and with cocoa powder in the batter plus chocolate chips. Be sure to scroll through the comments on Melissa's blog post for more ideas for variations.

   Okay, the last recipe I want to share isn't super healthy. It's a homemade mocha frappucino; you know, the one you may be paying close to five bucks for at Starbucks. But homemade is definitely preferable, not only for your wallet, but also for your health. The recipe is written for sugar-free ingredients, but I went with raw cane sugar and Trader Joe's chocolate syrup instead. You can also substitute whatever kind of milk you prefer(I used almond and it worked great). I've tried and tried to make a decent mocha frappucino at home, but have never been satisifed until trying this recipe from Always Chrysti. The "secret ingredient" is so simple, but makes such a difference!

Enjoy! Have you made any delicious finds lately?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Finding Hufflepuff

  Harry Potter, Ron, Hermione, they're all Gryffindors. But I do not delude myself; I'm not very brave. So Gryffindor was never really even an option. Pass.

Then there was Slytherin. Those kids scare me. Not to mention, I'm not evil, or ambitious, or whatever they're calling it these days. Pass.

  I next came upon Ravenclaw. Ravenclaw. My eyes opened wide in amazement. Perhaps I had found a home. I like to think I'm pretty smart, I love learning, and reading is my favorite hobby. I sat back for a while, starting to feel smug about myself. Ravenclaw.

  But then I realized that Ravenclaws are kind of snobby and think they're all that. We'll stealthily ignore the fact that I fell under their cocky, intoxicating spell  for a time. My husband is the perfect Ravenclaw. I couldn't be like him, God forbid. (Yes, he does read this occasionally.) So I looked around and saw...the Hufflepuffs.

       Ah, yes, the Hufflepuffs. And finally, I found my place.
      You see, though I am smart and love to learn, I always argue the
people-first position. As Pottermore so aptly asked, "Save the tomes of knowledge? Or save the people?" Puhleeze, you unethical Ravenclaw bastards, there is only one answer. (Pottermore sorted me into Ravenclaw, by the way. LIES!) And all of my other quirks would fit in here just fine.

                               We're Hufflepuffs, after all.

  Naively enthusiastic, I proudly claimed my Hufflepuff belonging.  I'd come to learn the hard truth that Hufflepuffs are, in fact, on the receiving end of a long line of mockery.

  After years of therapy and psychoanalysis, I realized that I could be comfortable with my true Hufflepuff nature, and I accepted those who find their joy in knocking us for the sad, pathetic, bitter fuckers they are.

Of course, I hold no grudges.

I still have huge reserves of Hufflepuff pride. How could I not? We're loyal, just, and unafraid of toil, after all. But best of all,

we're nice.

I concur.

I am so proud to be a badger.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

You Are Not Your Stuff

   I was listening to a speaker recently, who talked about how we are all Divine and have "god-like abilities."  And he said that we are not our stuff.  What he meant was that the limiting patterns of our lives are not a part of our identities. They're just...stuff.  Stuff that has gotten in the way of allowing us to express our Divine selves. In my case, the "stuff" that immediately came to mind was anxiety. When I think of my life and what makes me who I am, I tend to think of my struggle. It has become wound up in my identity, something that I'm almost proud of claiming. It makes me who I am, right? Well, it has played a significant role in my life, and it's probably my greatest impetus for change and growth. So I don't think it's necessarily bad that I see it as having been important. But if that identification with the struggle overtakes identification with who I am, then I need to get my self-image back on track. Anxiety is not so inextricably wound up in who I am that I am nothing without it. If I stop being anxious, I will still be the amazing person I already am...just free of anxiety. I have struggled, but that struggle is not who I am. Who I am is a being with the strength and power to overcome any struggle.

   And it's not just me. You're pretty freaking awesome, too. For me, it's anxiety, but I think we've all got that thing that gets us down that we get confused with who we are. It's easy to forget how beautiful and powerful we are, so it's a good thing you've got me to tell you. ;-) You're beautiful. And powerful.

   Don't forget it.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Dr. Victoria Sweet on "The Healing Power of Nature"

  As I continue to read God's Hotel by Victoria Sweet, an insightful investigation into the history of medicine, I keep coming across intriguing and thought-provoking nuggets. As I was reading recently, I came to a portion of the book which addressed vitalism. Oh, vitalism. While Dr. Sweet is a medical doctor and not a naturopathic one, her perspective was of particular interest to me because the philosophy of vitalism is usually the first objection critics of naturopathic medicine bring upThis is because one of the six naturopathic principles, as identified by the American Association of Naturopathic Medicine, is vis medicatrix naturae, which roughly translates in English to "the healing power of nature." The AANP's website offers a further description of this principle: "Naturopathic medicine recognizes an inherent self-healing process in the person which is ordered and intelligent. Naturopathic physicians act to identify and remove obstacles to healing and recovery, and to facilitate and augment this inherent self-healing process." Critics of naturopathic medicine mock the field for vitalism, never seeming to stop and consider that this very general principle could be interpreted in a wide variety of ways, quite possibly including interpretations that don't even involve vitalism. I'd like to share a short excerpt from Dr. Sweet's book, in which she describes the history of the schism between mechanists and vitalists and gives her perspective on the matter.
The mechanists believed that life was mechanical, simply a series of processes that science could eventually understand and duplicate; the body was a machine that could be fixed.  For the vitalists, the body was not a machine.  They believed that life had something special about it that science could never duplicate.  The vitalists were the romantics of medicine, and in the last decades of the nineteenth century they lost their battle with the mechanists.  By the early twentieth century, any reference to vitalism or the healing power of nature was considered heretical.  Yet vitalism did not diappear.  Instead, it dived down into the subterranean rivers of Western medicine and reappeared in the many side streams of alternative medicine.
Whether there is such a thing as the healing power of nature is, perhaps, beside the point.  What I do know for sure is that it is a useful way of looking at my patients' bodies; it gives me a way of imagining that the body's natural state is to be whole, perfect, and without blemish.  And it is what differentiates the living body from a machine: because if nothing interferes, the body, unlike a machine, will heal itself.
                                                                                                    God's Hotel, Victoria Sweet

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Finding Passion

   I'm in school, studying biology. I first discovered that I might like biology when I dropped out of my last school's Education program. I was at a community college and they just didn't have that many options. So after finishing three years of an Education degree and deciding I didn't want to be a teacher, I dropped out of the program and switched to Nursing. I decided against nursing, too, but not before going through two Anatomy & Physiology classes. While in those classes, I recognized that some of the stuff we talked about was really fascinating.  To have the kind of complete understanding of the body's physiology that my professor did, I thought, would be pretty amazing. Those impressions stuck with me, so when I discovered naturopathic medicine about a year ago, things began to click. It seemed like a good fit. Damn, it seemed like a perfect fit.  My personality is such that I am drawn to careers that are full of idealism and purpose. One of my education professors once said that none of us would be there if we weren't idealists.  I can't justify going to a job every day and just working. It doesn't make sense to me, and I could never make myself do something I saw as menial and purposeless for the rest of my life. Which is why naturopathic medicine, which offers itself up as an alternative to the current flawed healthcare system, is great for me. It's the kind of career you go into to make a difference, making a statement in action.

   This is the first time I've felt this sort of passion for something, the first time I've sustained that passion and worked toward something for a substantial period of time. My passion for my original purpose when I chose to go back to school one year ago is no less now than it was then. The plan gives me purpose, a goal to work toward. And not just to get through school, but to really have an enduring knowledge of the human body, the human psyche; knowledge that can make a difference and that can help people.  This sort of knowledge isn't gained at once, or even entirely before you start working as a physician. I think it's an ongoing commitment and I don't think any patient deserves a physician who doesn't make such a commitment to learning.  

 Right now, in addition to studying for biology and chemistry, I'm reading God's Hotel by Victoria Sweet.  It's a memoir by a physician who worked in one of the nation's last almshouses before efficiency experts came in and began to dictate their practices and turn it into a modern healthcare facility. The reviews are amazing and it's very good so far.  It presents the idea that short-term efficiency equals poor-quality care and long-term inefficiency.  In other words, spending more time on patients is better in the long run (and definitely better for patients in the short run!).

   I love adding medical-related books to my Amazon wishlist, books that I'll hopefully one day be able to check off.  I get so excited (and impatient) when I think about going to graduate school, where I would finally get to do clinical work.  As a long-time dabbler, it's great to finally care about something so much, to have finally found something that I care enough about, and like learning about enough, that I will choose it over other things.  It just feels good.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Broom Closet and Harassment

  The Wild Hunt recently reported that Kyrja Withers, author of the Rupert series of pagan children's books, had gun shots fired at her home after being the victim of prior incidents of harassment related to her pagan religion. (See the original story here.)  This news saddens me, but it doesn't make me regret my own choice to be "out of the broom closet."
   I was always taught that I should be careful what people think about me, that reputation is a powerful thing.  It's a viewpoint I've come to disagree with strongly, especially as I began to make controversial choices such as being a pagan.  I could hide the fact that I consider myself pagan, or I could let it be known in the same way I let other opinions and interests be known. Growing up in a generation of Facebook users who express their opinions loud and proud on the Internet, combined with the fact that we Americans tend to believe we have the right to be happy while being open about who we are, I can't bring myself to go to great lengths to keep my religion hidden. When I was a Christian, "Christian" was proudly displayed as my Facebook religion status. Now, it says "Pagan."  I don't tell everyone I meet that I'm a pagan.  It's just there on my Facebook to be found by curious profile-stalkers, and I'll mention it once in a while, if it comes up.  So it's not a choice to be in-your-face about my paganism. It's just a choice not to hide who I am and what I do.  There have been few negative implications of this choice in my own life, but we sadly live in a world where such consequences are clearly a possibility.  The choice to be open about paganism or not is a very personal one, and may take into account where you live, your professional life, etc.  In my current situation, I choose to be open and this news does not make me regret my choice.  But I'd love to hear your opinion.

Are you out of the broom closet?  And does this recent story influence how you feel about being an open pagan?