It Begins with Me

Posts tagged ‘life lessons’

Sustaining Progress

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I’ve been on my new diet now for five months. I have gone from 330 pounds to 277 in that time frame. I still suffer from reactions and hunger, tiredness and overall crankiness, but overall I feel better than I have in a long time.

My jeans are loose but still fit.

I am hungry often but nothing looks or tastes all that good. I tend to push eating out of my head and often go all day without eating more than an apple or some corn chips with a Naked juice.

My end goal was not to lose weight, but to feel better – less bloated, less painful, and less nauseous.

The moment I stray from my diet, I suffer from all three.

I drink a lot of peppermint tea.

I am tired a lot. My pain levels are higher than I would like but diet has little to no effect on that as long as I stay away from Nightshades.

When I eat regularly, I stop losing weight almost immediately. I gained 2 pounds when I had Lactaid ice cream or snacks like sweet potato chips. Cheating is apparently not allowed. I also bloated up and felt generally icky the next day – signs that I should not veer off track. sigh.

I have been struggling with depression and anxiety in high levels for the last few weeks. I have had a headache during that time above and beyond my daily level. I am having a hard time dealing with the constant pain and bleh that goes with all of this, and I miss my comfort foods.

I don’t miss them enough to go back, however. It just sucks.

I stopped seeing my shrink around the time of my last entry, which likely isn’t a coincidence. My depression, anxiety, and mood swings returned almost immediately but my insurance will not cover it and there’s nothing to be done about that. I will not put my family into debt or take away food from the budget so that I can find some stranger to talk to about crap in my life that will never change.

Pragmatism.

Summer is upon us and I will be spending a great deal of time and energy getting my house clean, fixed up, and in better shape than it is currently. My children and I will be doing that adventure together. I am putting my weekend job on hold for now so I can focus on the weekends on all the things that need to be done.

I plan to write here more as I progress, and show pictures and write about all the things happening – good and bad. I look forward to that.

My blood pressure is normal.

My cholesterol is fine.

My blood sugar levels have been constant and within acceptable ranges.

I need a mammogram and other tests for my age.

Oh, and I turn 50 tomorrow. Meh.

More later as I find it… stay tuned.

Jaz

Unrest and Everyday Life

Depending on what media outlet you listen to will influence how you view or understand the growing unrest worldwide. This is simple fact – some media outlets are lying to you without a shred of moral hesitation. It’s not hard to see which ones, if you actually pay attention, but the level of ignorance on this point is astounding to those of us who watch and press for answers without hesitation.

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As you can see, your choices for balanced news are pretty limited. Fox news, CNN, USA Today, and Huffington Post are out, along with most “local” television news stations, as are a host of liberal and conservative sites. However, using the central position more toward the top, you can find yourself news that is both balanced and more likely to check sources before they say a word.

So what’s wrong with using a news station that caters to your existing viewpoint? Well, to put it bluntly, they are lying to you for the sole purpose of gaining your advertising dollars. It really isn’t more complicated than that. However, the deeper question should be, why do you need to ONLY hear the news from the slant that agrees with you? Are you that easily led or discouraged that to digest a counter viewpoint is dangerous to that viewpoint? If so, perhaps you need to do some serious soul-searching as to why you are that gullible in the first place, or that happily delusional and clinging to a viewpoint that isn’t either true, balanced, or fact-checked.

Yes, you are part of the problem.

By perpetuating poorly researched news (or outright lies), you spread disinformation and ignorance. Now, if that’s all right with you then we can stop right there. You and I will never get along or agree. However, if you truly do want to understand the truth of it, then you will take a step back and realize you need to re-prioritize your digesting of news sources that are less than reputable.

Early on in my quest for knowledge, I discarded news that seemed biased and/or plain untruthful. I slowly moved toward news sources such as BBC, Wall Street Journal, NPR, New York Times, and The Guardian. I was rather pleased when they came out as trustworthy and have held that position for some time now. While they often have opinions I disagree with, and sometimes their view of the facts challenges my own, I feel overall they certainly come across as less bias and a lot closer to the actual truth of the matter than say Fox News, CNN, or any of the local networks.

Now, what is bias exactly?

Bias is defined as: prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair. (google)

I would say that, at this point, I am “bias” against the Tea Party. I find them as a whole to be absolutely disingenuous, thug/bully filled, with little to no regard for the actual truth. That’s my bias, and I struggle with that. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why any thinking person would ally themselves with a bunch of prejudice, hateful people such as snuggle up to that side of things.

It might surprise you (or it may not) to discover that they feel the exact same way about “liberals” (which translates into ANYONE that disagrees with them, regardless to alignment). However, it bears discussion to point out that overwhelmingly, the “facts” they believe with all their heart are -easily- discovered to be falsehoods. Once this is placed in front of me, I cannot accept them or their opinions. In fact, over the last six months, the level of flat out bull-hockey that has passed from their party’s lips has pretty much ruined their credibility for me permanently.

I have no doubt that IS is a terrible group. I also have no doubt that given enough power, the Tea Party would happily be just as bad. Extremists are extremists and if history has taught us anything, if you give an extremist power, they abuse everyone that disagrees with them on any point. It never ends well. For all their rage and rant against “sharia law” (Which they couldn’t identify correctly if you offered them actual cash-on-the-spot) and these “atrocities against women and children,” you would be hard pressed to find a single one that wasn’t 100% for taking away rights from ANYONE that doesn’t agree with them and their warped concept of Christianity and government. They are no different.

So given all this, what do we do? With 1/4 of the country happy about our 45th president, and cheering the changes that strip away our rights, our safety net, our protections, and any concept of free press and free market, how do we get through the day safe and sane?

That’s the harder question, isn’t it?

A long time ago, I was what most would call a moderate conservative. That concept is a misnomer these days, now that the Tea Party has hijacked the Conservative Party. I left the conservatives and went Independent in the 1990s and registered as a Democrat somewhere around 2000. I consider myself a moderate and a progressive, but most would simply call me a liberal. I don’t consider the label a bad thing – but I accept that most people I deal with on a daily basis have no actual idea what a liberal is beyond that they disagree with Fox News.

Today, we are a voting populace divided down the liberal/conservative lines. However, emerging from the black and white mindset are progressives and moderates that align more as an Independent than any one political party. The Tea Party is roughly 40% Democrat and 60% Republican (which boggles, but I digress), and makes up roughly 10% of the voting populace.

For such a small percentage they certainly are LOUD, which gives them a boost in the eyes of the general populace as being stronger in power and voice than they actually are. You combine that with their average age and financial bracket, it places them directly in the most well connected group in the USA. They are more likely to have computers and internet access. They are more likely to take part in online conversations than the average Joe, and they are far more likely to attend local, state, and federal protests, groups, and visibility marches than any other party. This has given the impression they have more power than they do,and has given the general population this idea that they are stronger than they actually are.

Now here’s where things get a bit dicey and may be a bit depressing to hear – so hold on to your hat and I promise I will try to put a more positive spin on things once I get it all out.

Recent polls put 51% of the population of the USA as holding prejudice or anti-black, anti-brown people prejudice.

Yikes.

But that does explain a bit doesn’t it?

Now, given that the ones being asked are likely white, middle income, living in and/or owning their own home/land, and over 50, that number shifts a bit.

The percentage of people around 50 years of age (or older) is somewhere between 25-35% of the population.

That means that 1/4 (a quarter) of the country is at or over 50.

Explains our 45th president, doesn’t it? It also explains that gross 51% racist quantity in our country as well. Polling happens to only hit landlines, and only targets home owners. There are roughly 65% of home owners in our populace.

Of those home owners, 71% are white.

A large bulk of those home owners are over 50. Home ownership is on a decline thanks to the crappy economy and low paying jobs, and it’s not likely to improve unless wages go up (but that’s a whole different rant).

The point of this flash of math is this: If you only ask a certain demographic these questions, you’re going to get skewed results.

So, the long and short of it is, we’re not likely AS prejudice as the numbers would like us to believe BUT it’s safe to say that at least 1/4 to 2/3 of the population struggles with racism and prejudice in their heart.

Why is this important?

Well, first, only 50% of the country actually votes. Our 45th president was elected by less than 1/4 of the country. He didn’t win the popular vote and he only won due to the Electoral College giving more weight to votes in rural areas over votes in the cities. it’s a stupid system and it needs to change, but again, that’s a whole different rant for another day.

Since you are more likely to vote if you own a home, see the above demographics. Again, this explains a lot about how the 45th President got to power.

IF you want to effect a change, you need to vote and you need to get your friends to vote and you need to get your granny to vote and you need to give rides to voting locations and you need to hand out voting registration papers and help people fill them out and take them to the registration area.

YOU need to do this. ALL OF YOU.

YOU need to squawk and fuss and make as much noise as possible. Join marches. Join rallies. Join and be heard.

Why?

Because we have to shout out a loud, rude, and obnoxious populace of voters known as the Tea Party. WE OUTNUMBER THEM about 10:1 (ten to one), and it’s time we remind the country that they are a minority, not a majority.

WE have to stop them from controlling the voice of the senate and house IN EACH STATE as well as the federal level.

Get involved in your local political groups!

How to Get Involved!

More: How to get involved!

http://votesmart.org/

Yep, you heard me right. Get in there with both hands and elbow deep and start working. Nope, it doesn’t matter who you are or what you believe. THE ONLY WAY THIS WORKS IS IF WE GET OUT THERE AND GET INVOLVED!

I’m out there. I’m considering running for office. Let’s get our political process back from the oligarchs and corporations and rich men/women who have no idea what it means to struggle.

I want my country back. Do you?

There you go.

Onward and upward. :)

Jaz

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Death by Intent

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Corporate America is killing you as sure as you sit reading this. They do it and they don’t care. All that matters to these individuals is making money and getting richer. Your life, who dies, who lives, how much someone suffers, all do not make it into the consideration room. Policies and actions slated to be implemented are all kicked into motion without one real thought to who will suffer, how much, or how often. The only part they consider is: can we be sued if someone figures it out, how much money will we lose when they do, and how much money will we make until them.

Lines on a graph for profit and loss. You aren’t even in the equation.

This callous disregard is not new and in fact, its probably more cautious now than it was say, 200 years ago. Litigation has made them wary and it has made them clever. They make choices based on collateral damage and plausible deniability. You are a speck on a graph. It’s important not only to understand that fact, but to understand that to the powerful elite, the little guy has never mattered and that isn’t likely to change in the near future.

That said, you have a lot more power now than you did even 100 years ago. The mob-mind can and does make choices that will effect the bottom line, so the fact that they even weigh the cost says a great deal about how things have improved for the common man. So, while it is disheartening to face that you don’t really matter to them, you can take heart that on some level, your power to retaliate against their profits does matter to them and choices are made with that in mind. It’s a start.

The biggest way to gain control over corporations is, logically, to stop giving them your money. Well, I hate to break it to you but that’s simply not going to happen. Everything we use, buy, sell, and covet is owned by a very small group of people in this world. Choice is an illusion and through advertising and flat out deception, we have all been played.

Take a look:

who owns everything

These companies are in cahoots with each other. So in the end, you can’t really outsmart them save living off the grid and growing everything, making everything from your food to your soap and your clothes yourself. Who has time for that? Not me. So in order to gain some control over yourself and your buying choices, for your own health and benefit, what can you do? You can, for starters, stop buying processed food. Learn to cook and make your own food. It’s a huge step forward for your personal and family health and welfare. And, even better, it’s within your grasp as a way to take back some control of your life from the giant mega-corps that run our country.

One of the ways you can win is doing your research, and giving your money to local people instead of chain stores. Buy pet food from small companies that are privately owned. Buy your food from stores that are employee owned or owned by local business people. Buy online from small businesses. It’s a process and it’s largely hit or miss, but it’s a place to begin.

Another way to outsmart the corporations is to stop buying processed food. Stop buying prepackaged food. Buy from a meat locker or local grocery store (not a chain) that supplies fresh meat. Learn to cook food yourself. It’s not hard and once you are used to it, you’ll never think processed food tastes better than your own.

So how do we navigate the grocery store to find food that is good for us, without going broke? Processed food is prepackaged and portioned, low priced and easy to get. Perfect right? Well, just like the old adage, “nothing good is free” and “nothing is ever free,” comes the “nothing worth doing comes easy.” The very fact that it’s easy, pre-packaged, and cheap should tell you something – they had to cut corners to do all those things and you will pay the price in the long run.

It’s also important to buy only what you need, to avoid wasting the food you bought. Part of the reason that the myth of good, green food being more expensive is that people buy too much at once. If you only buy your fresh food for recipes, and limit snack foods and extra items you won’t use in a recipe, not only are you going to contribute to your overall health by limiting fatty/sweet snacks, but you also limit your waste.

The best way to do this is to find a recipe site you like. Most sites offer the option of changing the servings, so you can shift the amounts to only what you need. I use “AllRecipes” and there’s not really a reason, other than I feel their site works better for me. My name there is “Jazybee” and you can drop by and take a peek at some of my favorites should you be inclined.

Due to my dietary restrictions, I have to “fix” any recipe I find, but I’m an accomplished enough cook that substitutions are not difficult for me and usually end well (not always!) and if not, I learn and try again. For instance, I tried to make cheesy broccoli soup with coconut milk and it was a total fail. I couldn’t even eat it. But live and learn, a little research and I’ll try again. Cooking is like that.

Processed food are full of sugar and cheap, unhealthy oils. Now that we know that it isn’t the fat that’s necessarily bad, but the sugar too, and that sugar can cause the body to overreact or underreact to the fat and other ingredients we consume, we can make proper choices and limit what isn’t good. This is wholly in our control. Shifting away from refined sugars and sticking to “healthier” fats, we can change our consumption and get healthier.

Your health is your choice. My gram always said that, and she’s right. It was easy to blame a lot of factors but in the end, your health is your choice. I can’t fix that I have Celiac’s and I can’t fix that my immune system is likely permanently out of whack but I can fix the rest of it. I can choose what I put in my mouth. I can choose what I buy and from whom and how often. I have choices and while they may be, in reality, limited, I still have choices and I will make them as much, and as often, as I can.

One of the most difficult battles I faced was giving up sugar. I also shifted my family away from refined sugar to “raw” sugar. Eventually we’ll make a full shift away from “white” sugar entirely, but I don’t want to give them too big of a shock. Baby steps and all that. :) We are cooking with less and less sugar and consuming less and less sugar on a daily basis. We switched to lard, coconut oil, olive oil, and ghee. We limit our fried foods to once a week. We upped their raw fruit and raw vegetable intake. We increased their overall vegetable intake. We increased their water intake. All in all, the transfer has been fairly smooth and I doubt they even really noticed.

While our change in diet wasn’t initiated or encouraged by desiring weight loss, it has been an unintended consequence. Every member of my family has lost weight, on a healthy level, since our switch away from sugar. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I am seeing them snack less and make healthier choices. They still eat with gusto and everything on their plates. I am confident that as we gradually shift away from less healthy options, they will learn to eat well and healthy and never miss a beat.

Until later.

Jaz

Sugar is the Problem

Fake Sugar Isn’t Better

Truth About Sugar

Why Processed Food is Bad

Timeline of Processed Foods

 

Being Me: This is how it Starts

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I took the picture you see, with all the multicolored string. It’s a self portrait of sorts, stemming from a class I took at Iowa State during my time striving for my Bachelor degree in Design.

If I could be anything I wanted, I’d be an art photographer and a writer.

I turn 50 this year and it feels a bit surreal. I don’t feel 50. Does anyone feel 50? I don’t look 50 and I suppose that’s a good thing. When I was young, I was told I had an “old soul” and a wise mind. I never felt old or wise. I still don’t. I keep wondering when that will kick in.

I have four children, one through adoption and 3 from my body. My oldest was adopted in a previous relationship which ended badly and he wanted nothing to do with our son afterward. He has special needs and requires round-the-clock care. When J came into my life as more than a friend, he accepted my oldest as his and became in every way his father. That was part of what drew me to him, to be honest – I saw in him the most amazing ability to be a dad. And he certainly is.

He gave me three children who are now 14, 12, and 6. My oldest is 22 and will be 23 by year’s end. It truly is strange how time passes quick yet slow, and then you blink and it’s 20 years past. I can remember their first steps, their first laugh, their first true tears. I remember it all and watching them grow up has been both a joy and a terrible pain. As I understand it, that is simply how parenthood goes.

I have been many things in my life. I have done just about every kind of job imaginable in the service industry, spanning food service to administration. I have driven trucks and buses. I have run businesses and I have worked for others. I have handed out tools and I have processed pigs into meat. I am a jack of all trades.

I used to think that was an insult when I was young. Now, it feels like a badge of honor. There’s not much I can’t do or learn to do. I am not afraid of challenges. I have lived without running water and I have left signs of civilization behind to camp and hunt. I was taught to take care of myself: I can hunt, sew, clean, cook, and gather. I know how to make soap and I know how to chop wood. I love technology but can walk away from it and just be. I love to drink and I love to be sober. I have always been of at least two minds about everything. I like myself.

I set out as a young adult to be myself. I had no idea what that meant. In the last 30 years of tears, struggles, and triumphs, and quite a few disastrous failures, I have learned who I am and I have proven to myself that I am stronger, and weaker, than I could ever imagine. I am not going to live forever, despite my young assurances to the contrary. I am flawed. I am imperfect. I am a pain in the ass, but I am me.

I am coming to the realization that if I want to change things, I’m going to have to get out there and do it. It’s a terrifying thought that my opinions and what I am driven to say and do could get me killed, but it’s worse to think my children would be harmed. I’ve been living carefully since they were born, walking that fine line between being involved and being too involved. I need to raise my children.

The other night, one of my sons – the 12 year old – said he was surprised I didn’t attend the women’s march in DC. I told him I wanted to, but it wasn’t something that I could realistically do. He asked me why. I said, we can’t afford it and I can’t leave you guys alone that long – what would your father do? He gave me an odd look and said, “Pretty sure we’d be fine. We do fine in the summer when you travel. Maybe you just don’t really want to go and we’re an easy excuse.”

It gave me pause. Was he right? I suppose on some level, perhaps. I realized that I am sending a message by my inaction and I’m not sure it’s one that I want my children to learn. I suppose I will just have to jump in, and land where I can. I worry that my choices will hurt my children, either from action or inaction. I worry constantly if I am putting them first and being a good mother. I worry often that I put too much on my plate and then fall short of my goals, which puts a strain on our finances and on my husband. He never complains however, and has never fallen short in his support of me, my dreams, goals, and plans.

I’m slowly inching toward the idea of striving for human rights and change within the government, running for office and seeking to get face to face with the people that I have spent half my life angry at. I have no money and I am not a professional anything – can I run for office and do any good whatsoever? These are the questions that plague my mind late at night.

In the end, I suspect I will simply be laying the groundwork for my children to strive forward into the fight. There is pride in knowing I am raising good, decent, strong men for the next generation. I teach them patience and compassion. I enforce the idea that they are people and I don’t have a right to destroy their ability to choose, whether or not I agree with them. I feel strongly that these young men I am raising will one day rattle the status quo and challenge the world.

For now, that’s where I am and where I start my fight. We shall see where it goes from here.

Jaz

 

Resolute

Resolute

Rising over 1,500 feet above the desert floor stands the magnificent Shiprock. Shiprock is the most famous landmark in the Four Corners Region of New Mexico. Located on the Navajo Nation, Shiprock plays a significant role in Navajo religion and mythology. Locally known as “Tsé Bitʼaʼí” (rock with wings), the rock is mentioned in many Navajo legends. The amazing beauty of this place has brought many film and television productions out to New Mexico to use Shiprock as their backdrop. (Exclusive Limited Edition of Two Hundred and Fifty)

We live in dangerous times for those outside of the “normal.”

Yesterday, I removed all my bumper stickers. Today, I pull down my journal posts and start, once more, anew.

Last night I had a long, passionate, heart-wrenching conversation with three friends, all conservative and all telling me that I have nothing to worry about.

They are all straight. They are all white. They are all male. And they are all mainstream and safe. I tried, I really did, to explain the fear and the reaction to that fear but it fell on deaf ears.

Is the answer to retreat and hide? Probably not. But, I have children and must consider their safety before I place myself into the path of the storm. It isn’t fair to them, and it isn’t safe.

We shall soon see if these worries are justified, or if the people will rise up and fight back in ways that I do not have the luxury to do.

Be resolute, but be safe. I am a safe place for any who need it. I blend in. I can camouflage and that has already begun. I am one of the lucky ones. I was raised Christian and I know the bible and the language. I was born speaking English and my skin is pale – as a white person I am safe in that herd as long as they do not look too closely beyond the carefully laid illusion over who I am.

I lived in the closet for long time and I gave myself a day of mourning and rage but today is a new day. The closet will keep my kids safe, so that casual passersby do not see me as threatening, or challenging. I will remain in the background, fighting quietly, until this storm is upon us.

And it is coming. I just hope it is not too late.

Jaz

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