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“Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom shall be as noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.”
– Isaiah 58:9-12 (ESV) [NOTE: I wanted to use the whole chapter. Go read it 🙂 ]

I ended my last post asking us to accept what happened Tuesday and move on. Since then, there have been a ton of responses to what happened. I got so emotional reading them, I had to take a break from social media.

The responses seem to fall into two categories (I’m generalizing for simplicity’s sake, not to put anyone in a box. Also understand I’m not singling out any particular friend; I’ve seen them all over the place, from all ages, ethnicities and faiths). They are either a) anti-Trump posts saying anyone who voted for him is a racist bigot and to unfriend them, or b) pro-Trump posts saying God and the people have spoken, so grow up and move on.

When I said to accept what happened and move on, I wasn’t saying it wasn’t OK to be upset, disappointed, even angry. It most certainly is. I just wanted us to recognize the similarities we all share, in the hope that we wouldn’t lash out at one another. But of course that was idealistic.

To my friends who supported Trump, may I ask something of you? Pretend you’re an immigrant. You’ve heard Trump say he’ll build a wall and begin mass deportations. Pretend you’re an LGBTQ individual or someone wrestling with your sexuality. You’ve heard Trump say he supports a law you believe is highly discriminatory. Pretend you have a disability. You’ve heard Trump mock people like you. (IMPORTANT NOTE: The story about his mocking the disabled reporter isn’t true. The clips were spliced together to imply that, but it isn’t true. It’s worth looking up again. Regardless, people saw it and it affected their opinion of him. It can be hard to get those kind of images out of your head).

Let me be clear. I am NOT saying you have to agree with their beliefs. I’m only asking you to consider things from their point of view. This is not the temper tantrum of a spoiled millennial who didn’t get their way. It is genuine, deep-down-to-the-core fear, sometimes for their very lives.

I heard a story yesterday of an immigrant (a legal one) who is afraid to go to work, out of fear he’ll come home to find his mother gone. I’ve heard people express fear that Social Security and/or Medicaid (which many with disabilities rely on) will be done away with. And I’ve heard a lot of LGBTQ individuals afraid of a lot of things. Are these fears irrational? Probably. But are they completely unfounded? No.

So, the next time you hear someone complain, resist the urge to tell them to move on. Instead, try to see things from their perspective. Ask what they’re afraid of. If you don’t understand, question. Tell them you love them. Don’t say all Trump supporters aren’t racists and bigots. Show them.

To my friends who supported Hilary: I love you. I’m sorry you’re hurting and afraid. I wish I could tell you it will all be OK. But since I can’t, I’ll do what I can to make sure it is. And I’ll try to do a better job listening too.

In the meantime, can you consider the idea that your friends who supported Trump weren’t doing so to vote against you? They didn’t picture your face in their head and make a conscious choice to vote Trump because they want your rights taken away. They might have done so unhappily, with a sinking feeling in their heart, disgusted at the thought of either person winning. They might have voted on the one issue that’s more important to them than anything else. They might not understand how deeply his policies could affect you.

To my friends on all sides: I understand you’re upset, disappointed, even angry. Feel it. You won’t be able to move on ’til you do. But, please, watch your words. Stop the pointing of the finger. Answering hate with more hate doesn’t solve anything. Instead, support each other how you can. Civilly debate where you disagree. Make each other think. Be the repairer of the breach. May it begin with me.

(Thank you to the friends who expressed some of what I wrote and helped me see a different perspective. You may not even know who are, but this post was inspired by you! Also thanks to CCDA for the Call of Lament yesterday.)

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Don’t let the date or title scare you; this isn’t a political post…

Well, it sort of is. But not one in which I’ll tell you who I’m voting for and why. Or where I’ll try to get you to side with me because my choice is the only suitable one. Or where I’ll assume things about your faith or lack thereof if you vote one way over another. We already have too much of that. It isn’t helpful. I’m tired of it.

I still haven’t decided who I’m voting for. I have an idea, but I’m still researching, thinking, praying. I may not make my final decision until I step into the booth tomorrow. But the process has brought me to a conclusion…

We all want the same thing.

There are deep wants – love, belonging, a purpose in life. There are more “surfacey” wants – doing what we want, when we want, the way we want, with whom we want. Feeling safe while doing those things and knowing our kids and friends are safe too.

Basically, we all want life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What sets us apart (politically at least) are the ways we want to achieve those things and who we think will do a better job getting us there. But deep down we are the same. We are all created equal.

Here’s another thing I’ve realized… this isn’t going to end tomorrow. The campaigning will be over. The constant political posts might be over. What won’t be over is the pain this election cycle has caused. The anger won’t just dissipate, the hate won’t stop and the friendships lost won’t magically be repaired. And that hurts my heart more than anything.

Donald and Hilary might have started it. The media might have worsened it. But we continued it. And for what?

My faith teaches me that hope shouldn’t come from a political party or president. Regardless, I can still do my part to make the world a better place, to repair the damage done during this horrible season. Anybody want to join me? I confess I don’t know how to do it any better than you… or Trump, Clinton, Johnson, Stein or anyone else on any ballot. But I do know anger, hate and only being friends with those like you isn’t the answer. As Abraham Lincoln wisely said (quoting the Bible by the way), “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”

So, research, think, pray and go to the polls tomorrow. Cast your vote for whoever you feel has earned your vote, but remember that yours isn’t the only “right” option. Respect the choices of others who are, deep down, just like you. Then… accept what happens, and move. on. Please! We have work to do.

Its ironic that I’m writing this post tonight, because I am just coming off a day of feeling terrible, complete with vomiting. Not fun. I do think its related to something I ate and I have it narrowed down to two things. But more on that later.

Now that I’ve written about the reasoning behind starting this diet and which one I chose, I get to talk about the awesome part, which is the changes I’ve seen in my body and how I feel now, six months in.

The diet starts with a two-day green smoothie fast. I should note that I like this method because it is a quick way to start detoxifying your body, but does not go overboard. Some diets call for a week of only green smoothies – in my opinion that’s too long, especially if you’re prone to headaches like I am. I also liked that there was no limit on how many you could drink per day – basically, if you’re hungry make a smoothie.

I got through the first day with no problem and was very excited to be starting this process. It was something I had been planning for like 6 months, after all. The second day was very hard – I was very hungry and had a bad headache most of the day, and almost decided to skip ahead. In retrospect, I’m pretty confident those issues came from not drinking enough water, which has always been a problem for me.

After the green smoothie fast is over, you eat a pretty limited list of food for the next week. Basically rice, quinoa, a few other grains, most vegetables, some fruits. The goal here is to eat whenever you feel hungry. For most people that’s pretty often because the foods you’re eating are very low in calories.

I’ll be honest… this first part of the diet was not fun. I felt worse. But apparently that’s normal because your body is getting rid of all the junk. But around day 17 or so I started noticing some changes. I can’t remember which changes I noticed first and they didn’t happen all at once, but gradually my stomach felt better, I didn’t have as many headaches, my back didn’t hurt and my shoulders didn’t pop (or hurt) every day. This really encouraged and motivated me – I didn’t care what I couldn’t eat if it meant I could feel this good every day! And it only got better from there! Plus, I was able to add lemons, limes, tamari soy sauce (wheat free) and apple cider vinegar without a problem.

I had made it to phase 3, which is where you really get to start experimenting. I started by eating a baked potato. Potatoes are in the nightshade family, along with tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and some other random things like tobacco and goji berries. If that seems like a really odd mix of stuff, it is. I’ve researched all about why they’re all grouped together and the only thing I can come up with is the way the plants look when they flower. Who knows?

Anyway, the first thing I noticed after eating the potato was that my body felt tired all the sudden and I didn’t have much energy. I actually ended up falling asleep shortly after dinner, which is a big deal for me – I’m usually a night owl! But in the grand scheme of things that’s really not a big deal.

The next day I ate tomatoes in a salad. Reactions are often delayed a little, so I went to bed without any issues. But the next day I woke up and noticed that my fingers were stiff again. My fingers had been stiff for several months prior to starting the diet. I honestly thought the stiffness was from knitting and I really didn’t care. I like knitting too much, and my fingers didn’t actually hurt, so it wasn’t that big of a deal to me. So I was surprised when I woke up and the stiffness had come back. But it wasn’t only my fingers; it was also my legs and toes too, sort of like what I imagine arthritis to feel like. So I cut those out again and went back to feeling good, a little discouraged and scared, because if that happened from the first major food group I added, what would happen with the rest?

Well, I was planning on this being my last “diet post,” but I have way too much more to say for one post. Another day I guess.

A few days ago I shared all the things that lead up to my decision to try an elimination diet. If you want to go back and read that post you can, but a quick summary is I getting tired of not feeling well, but didn’t know what I could do about it. Then I saw a couple of documentaries that absolutely changed my life and a few specific friends really encouraged me. So I researched and researched and researched some, found a plan I liked and went for it.

There are a ton of elimination diets out there and I personally don’t think all of them are healthy. I set out to find one that would work for me and came across Whole Life Nutrition, probably through some random Google search.

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After reading all the info I could find about it, it seemed like a good option, so I asked for (and received) the cookbook for Christmas. I liked it immediately. It met all my criteria and more, and the recipes sounded delicious. I decided to start after the New Year, when there weren’t sweets around every corner and I could have more control over what who made my food and what was in it.

So, you may ask, what were my criteria and why did I decide on this particular diet? Well, I didn’t have hard and fast criteria, and they weren’t even necessarily spelled out clearly in my head; I just knew it when I saw it. But here’s some of the things I like the most about this diet, in no particular order:

1. It looks at the individual. I feel like there are a lot of diets out there that just make blanket generalizations for everything. “No one should eat meat,” for example, or, “all grains are bad,” or “all raw, all the time.” I think that’s ridiculous. Every person’s body is different. A food that makes one person food horrible may make someone else feel awesome, and that’s OK. This diet is all about finding the right foods for YOUR body.
2. The creators of the diet are firm believers in the power of food to improve learning disabilities and diseases. I believe they even serve on committees for autism research and things of that nature. This one is a big one with me, because I’ve seen it first hand. When my brother has aspartame he is a crazy animal…its amazing, but also scary, how one ingredient can have such an affect.
3. Recipes. As someone who did not really cook before starting this diet, I needed recipes. And there are lots of them. The book I have has over 200 and they have a second book, as well as a blog they update fairly regularly with new recipes. And you know what? Every single one I’ve tried (and that’s a lot) has worked well. There’s been a few I didn’t enjoy, but that has more to do with my personal taste preference than anything wrong with the recipe. One major perk in my book is that many of the recipes are Asian-inspired…yum yum. The book also has descriptions of spices, definitions of cooking techniques, etc. As a cooking novice, that info is super helpful!

The one thing that has been a tad frustrating is they leave a lot unsaid. For example, they advise leaving all flours out until the elimination phase, but didn’t explain why. This had me puzzled for quite a while, because if I could eat rice, why couldn’t I eat rice flour? They do have a facebook page, but are not the quickest in responding, so I ended up having to go find some of that info for myself. There are also a few discrepancies throughout the food lists for each phase. Like, in the cookbook there is a phase 1 recipe calling for mushrooms, but then the website says to keep mushrooms out until a later phase.  I’ve seen only a few of these and I think they probably occur as the diet has been revised over the years. Really not a big deal once you get the hang of it.

Well, I still have more to say because I have not yet talked about the changes I’ve personally experienced. But I’ll have to save that for another day. So, until next time…

If you and I are friends on facebook, you’ve probably noticed a myriad of posts about the elimination diet I’ve been doing. In retrospect I wish I had thought to blog throughout the whole process, but I’m just not that consistent of a blogger.

With that said, a few friends have been asking questions about my diet: why I’m doing it, how long it lasts, how I’m feeling, etc. I’ve been wanting to write a post anyway, so I figured I might as well answer the questions here, so I can refer people to something when they ask.

There were many, many things that lead me to doing an elimination diet. So many that they’re all jumbled up in my head and I’m not even sure what order they happened anymore. But I know the first thing was that I was just getting tired of the pain… headaches, joint paint, back pain, etc. every.single.day. And digestive issues, low energy and fatigue as well. With Cerebral Palsy, some of this is inevitable and I know that, but it was getting worse and I was tired of it. I also knew these things would probably get worse as I got older and that scared me. A lot. So much that I didn’t really want to get any older – not a cool thought to have at only 27. But I didn’t know what I could do about it.

A little while later my sister and I watched a documentary called “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead.” Despite the name, its actually very inspiring. I liked it so much I recommended it to a friend, who started doing a modified version of the juice fast in the film. She told me she felt a lot better and encouraged me to give it a try as well. So I did.

Within a month or two of drinking at least one green smoothie a day (plus solid food… I wasn’t going the fasting route), my digestive issues started to improve, I had fewer headaches and was feeling a lot better. Better but still not great. Then one day I stumbled across another documentary called “Food Matters.” It is AMAZING folks. The basic premise is that, if used correctly, food is medicine and can solve all kinds of medical problems, even cancer and autoimmune disorders.

That’s what did it. I had toyed with the idea of an elimination diet for a while, but I was nervous for a lot of reasons – that I couldn’t keep it up, it might be too expensive, etc. My biggest fear about it was that I’d end being sensitive to a ton of stuff and never able to eat normally again. But after hearing the amazing stories from the documentary, I didn’t really care about any of that and just got excited about the positive stuff that could happen.

I could say more, but I’m getting sleepy. Plus, this post is already long enough. So I’ll save the specifics of the diet for another post. In the meantime, if you have not seen them please watch “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” and “Food Matters.” They are both streaming on Netflix. If documentaries aren’t your thing… watch them anyway! Just trust me on this one. 

Rejuvenating my blog

It’s been more than two years since I’ve blogged. I’ve wanted to. I wrote many posts in my head, but just never got around to publishing them; I’m not sure why. Maybe it was because I wrote so much for school that I didn’t feel like writing anything else.

Anyway, I’m back now. Actually, I thought of starting a whole new blog. But I see no point in leaving an outdated blog up and didn’t want to take the time right now to back up all my posts. Plus, I didn’t want to have to think of a new blog name (thus taking it away from someone else) when I really like the one I have. So here I am.

First, let me summarize the past two years. This is more for myself than my readers (because I know I don’t have any). It will be a good look back.

– In August, I finally completed my masters degree in journalism. It was a four-year journey. I am SOOOO glad to be done!
– I have a 12-year-old brother named Ben. In fact, he joined our family shortly before the last post I wrote two years ago. He has been a foster child for most of this time, but the adoption was finalized in September! He sure is an awesome kid!!
– The teenage foster child we had for a year and-a-half left our family almost that long ago. I took it really hard and will always miss her.
– We have a different teenager with us now. She can be hard to live with, as most teenagers can be. But really she’s pretty cool.
– I have a 2-year-old nephew named Malachi, who is too smart for his own good. Some days (like today) he acts like he doesn’t like me, but I know better 😉
– I have a new niece or nephew coming next month 🙂
– This summer I embarked on a quest toward healthy(er) living. Currently, its a little off and on since the cold weather limits the produce available. I’m still figuring out my winter options. There will be more on this soon.
– I’ve seen lots of good days, bad days, friendship, laughter (lots of laughter), a few tears and made a lot of memories. Overall its been a pretty good two years!

I never imagined

I’ve been wanting to update for a long time, I really have. Several things have happened since my last post and they are things I want to remember. Plus, I pride myself that (maybe) a few people actually read my posts and will want to know what I’m up to, especially after the rather cryptic post I wrote last time. I could give you a host of reasons why I haven’t updated… lack of inspiration, time or motivation, the pressure I feel to write something amazing…

All of these are partially true. But the biggest reason is, I haven’t known what to say, or how to say it. The English language doesn’t have enough words to express everything I’ve been doing, thinking and feeling since February, or how my life has changed.

On January 29, 2010, I got a younger sister. My family opened our home to a wonderful, beautiful young woman I’ll call Marie. I wish I could share her story… but its hers to tell. Suffice it to say that if life were about straws, this girl got the short one.

Growing up, my older sister, Sandra, was the ideal older sister. We had our squabbles, like any sisters, but that’s not what I remember. What I remember is how she took me to the library, had sleepovers with me and celebrated my last day of school each year. At the time I didn’t appreciate her. But as I grew older I began to see what a difference she made in my life, and I was sad that I didn’t have a chance to do that for my younger sister.

So when my parents told me they were thinking about becoming foster parents, I was excited. And by excited I mean jumping up and down. I asked them if they were crazy. I asked them what took them so long.

Eight months later I can say that having a foster sister has been harder than I imaged. I never imagined I would get so worried and frustrated. I never imagined all the drama.

But I also never imagined how much I’d change for the better. And I definitely never imagined I would love her so much.