Jan 11

Conquering Guilt & Living Whole

There are a lot of things I would love to do in my life. But like many people, when and how are questions that I struggle with. What is realistic taking into consideration the responsibilities I have? How do I ensure I am not being selfish?

Selfish… as a woman, as a mother, the word selfish is a powerful one because it can so easily knock me down by taking the legs out from under me. What I mean by that is that it is very important to me to be a dedicated, loving mother and a respectful, considerate, and dutiful daughter. I have internalized the messages sent to me through the cultures and society I am immersed in and find myself not wanting to put my needs before others while at the same time having high ambitions as an artist, as an intellectual, as an agent of change.

This conflict is a recurring theme showers me with shame and guilt on a cyclical basis. While thinking about my goals, I have to also think about: What is a good mother? Would a good mother do this or that? Would a good daughter do this or that? Should I not be engaged in political work? Should i not be making music, writing poetry, acting, performing, going on auditions, making films? Should I not be further educating myself, researching, and analyzing the world around us? There is nothing wrong with being considerate of others, but when it consumes you, when the patriarchy tears you apart, leaving you with pieces to pick up on your own, then there is a huge problem because most likely there are other women out there feeling the same way.

So, I propose to brainstorm. I want to put out every single thing I can think of that I want to do this year, in the next 5 years, in the next 10 years, in my lifetime, and then break it down. Focus in on the priorities and visualize them working out. I will manifest my dreams dammit. I will live a full life, none of this shackled stifled paralyzed at the hips because I am a woman, a single mother. I am a sensitive soul but I will not allow their words to fill me with guilt any longer. I have a sense of urgency for the earth and for myself, and I need to live now, today. No day but today.



Dec 10

Goal #1: Waking Up Early

Like a lot of people with the upcoming New Year, I have been thinking a lot about personal goals. Today, I woke up a couple hours earlier than usual, and it made me realize that I would love waking up early every day. Most mornings, I don’t have the time, but today I was able to:

1)      Clean up and put away K’s toys.

2)      Wash the dishes from yesterday.

3)      Make a pot of coffee.

4)      Do yoga (with my new yoga mat and DVD!).

5)      Pack my lunch of leftover Udon Kabocha Winter Stew (recipe from my new vegan cookbook!).

6)      Pack nuts and dried fruit for my breakfast (I have a box of oatmeal at work).

7)      Prepare my transcripts for mailing to a graduate school program and fellowship foundation (crossing fingers!). Plan to go to post office during lunch or after work.

8)      Figure out dinner for the next two days and write up a grocery list. Plan to go to the store after work.

I feel accomplished! It would be fabulous for every morning to start this way! So, how do I make that happen? There is the obvious habit of going to bed earlier on a regular basis. I am one of those people who need at least eight hours of sleep. I don’t know if there is a way to gradually decrease that because eight hours every day is a lot! I mean, eight hours of sleep is exactly 1/3 of my time. Plus work which is another 1/3, which leaves only 1/3 for everything else I want to do with my life! Let’s see if we can change that to seven or even six hours a day…

Some of the difficulties I find with the issue of sleep include two of the things that I believe attribute to the close attachment K and I have: extended breastfeeding and the family bed. K still wakes up during the night to occasionally nurse, which wakes me up, which means I am not getting the best quality sleep. Also, if I get up early, K often wakes up when he realizes I’m not there, so I don’t have much time to myself. Despite these difficulties, my intentions are to allow K to wean naturally on his own schedule and to keep the family bed until K expresses interest in having his own bed. I do have a bed set up for him in his own room so it’s there when he wants it. But these are things I am aware of in trying to wake earlier.

Next: I want to do a 2010 in review post before the year ends. Let’s do this!

Reading: Borderlands / La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria Anzaldua

Listening: Baduizm by Erykah Badu



Nov 10

You Can Live Healthier… Today!

I happened to catch Lisa Garr’s Aware Show on KPFK yesterday, and she was interviewing Dean Ornish, the creator of the Spectrum “diet.” He was quite adamant about it not being a “diet” but more a lifestyle – if you eat unhealthy food (note: unhealthy or nutritionally lacking not BAD) one day, then you eat more healthy food (not GOOD) the next. It was brought up how we place value and judgment on what we eat and in turn view ourselves similarly. “I just ate an entire bag of potato chips and cookies, I’m a bad person.” Instead of internalizing this thinking, it’s important to give ourselves the freedom to indulge without judgment and be able to bounce back and live well by exercising more, eating nutritional food, etc. I definitely agree with that, and although I’m not really trying to lose weight, just be healthy and maintain an average weight, I plan on using that outlook.

Another thing that was interesting was differentiating between the different types of fats. I happened to re-open up Dr. Sears’s The Family Nutrition Book, and the first chapter is all about fats. It took me a couple evenings just to read one chapter because I was fitting it in while hanging out with my son, but despite this, I was able to make some immediate changes to my ways:

Two nights ago, I downed some BBQ potato chips and then I read minutes later how potato chips are one of the worst heart unhealthy items you can consume. Not that I didn’t know this, but reading up on nutrition makes you realize the importance of it! So, last night, we munched on pretzels and apple slices as an evening snack instead.

 

Reading about the healthy fats, I made myself a raw massaged kale salad with olive oil (yay!), shredded carrots, home grown tomato, hemp seeds, and flax seeds (omega 3s!) along with a couple slices of toast with Earth Balance spread (non-hydrogenated and vegan!) for dinner last night.

 

Yesterday morning, I ate a blueberry bagel with crunchy peanut butter, and then read last night how most peanut butters have hydrogenated fats in them. Hydrogenated fats are basically oils injected with hydrogen or something like that. The more important thing to know is that it acts like saturated fat in your body and clogs up your arteries. So, this morning, I had a blueberry bagel dry. I’m not sure if the bagels are whole grain. Probably not. They’re bought every two weeks on pay day for the office. Maybe the next change could be buying my own whole grain bagels and spreading it with hummus, tomato, and cucumber… mmm.

 

Something that keeps coming up in conversations I have is the intersection of health and politics. Healthcare and our well being is a political issue. In mixed income areas of Wilmington, Carson, and Long Beach, a number of us live next to a handful of petrochemical refineries and are breathing in the toxic releases. In South Los Angeles, there is a lack of access to produce and fresh food. In many of these neighborhoods, power lines are exposed emitting harmful waves that can cause mutations in our genes, potentially causing cancer. And millions of people do not have any form of healthcare! Without proper preventative healthcare and real environmental and economic change, our rates of heart disease and cancer will continue to increase.

Living more consciously, I can institute small changes each day that contribute to me and my family’s well being and health. I’m hoping we can educate each other and start a chain of better health and nutrition in our larger community. What changes are you making? How are you taking care of yourself? How are you impacting change in your community? Leave a comment!